Sunday, November 21, 2010
Over the past few weeks I have turned into the biggest blubber-butt ever. And I'm not talking about fat, because thankfully, my booty continues to shrink - woohoo!
I'm talking about being an emotional mush bucket. For a person who has walled-up her emotions for most of her existence into this tough exterior, believing that to cry (especially in public) was a sign of weakness, I sure have turned a new leaf. The floodgates have opened my friends. Be careful what you say, because if it reeks at all of sentiment, you might set me off.
I cry at EVERYTHING now. Sheesh. Not only am I shedding my physical layers of emotional protection so that these raw feelings are closer to the surface, but we have also entered THAT time of the year in which it is the American Way and the goal of every marketing company known to exist to pull at the heartstrings of poor little people like me. Pass the Kleenex.
Christmas is a VERY emotional time of the year for me from the get-go. I was born into it. My birthday is December 23rd, and I was born at 11:49pm so I was ALMOST a Christmas Eve baby. I popped out of the womb crying "Carol of the Bells" - I'm sure of it. They brought me to my mother wrapped in a stocking and wearing a tiny knit hat (that she still has pressed between the pages of my baby book). There is so much "special" in my life rolled into a 3-day window every year, that I can't help but get a little verclempt when the first chill of winter hits the air.
And while we're on the subject of my mother, let me also mention that she is OBSESSED with Christmas. When she was still a stay-at-home mom, she made a crafting business for herself by selling hand-made Christmas decorations. I remember all too well helping her in her shop. She would have me hold up two fingers to help her tie tiny red bows, since my little pinkies were just the right size. Forget Christmas in July - it was Christmas in my house 365 days a year. Years later, after she went back to work full time, she insisted on hosting the extended family every year since she was the only one with children at the time and it wouldn't feel like Christmas any other way. I became accustomed to lavish party after lavish party with both sides of our family and a number of family friends. Christmas always lasted a week at least and culminated on New Year's Eve when all our neighbours would join my family around our player piano and sing songs late into the night. Nowadays, mom has switched to insisting that she DOESN'T want to host Christmas every year and how much she wishes that someone else would step up and take the responsibility. I hate to tell her that the real reason no one does is because we all know how much it would break her heart if she were stripped of the annual duty. The planning and prepping and baking and fretting about every little detail have become so much a part of the person she is, that without it she would seem sad and broken. That can't be an easy existence. Living your life for Christmas. Every year I watch her wind up like a top, and every year I watch her deflate when it's all over. It's like the most depressing movie you've ever seen. And for 25 years of my life I have tried to avail her of some of that burden. I would wind up with her. Spin through the appetizers, and the Christmas crackers, and the presents and music and guests and dishes. And every year I would eat more and drink more and sink myself into the same depression when the party was over. I lived my life for Christmas too. Until I started seeing my therapist and coming to terms with the fact that Christmas for me is a big mixed bag of hope and hurt. Every year I hope for it to be something that it never turns out to be and every year I walk away a little more hurt.
Last year, in a fog of a feeling that I hadn't really experienced before, I baked 8 different kinds of Christmas cookies. Just me, in my apartment, by myself - I laboured for hours on shortbreads, and nut bars, and gingerbread and peanut butter bon bons. All of the same cookies that my mother makes every year (though I stopped at 8 variations, when she typically does at least 14). I ended up with about 10 cookie platters. A couple I brought to work. A couple of gave to friends. But at the end of the day I still had about 5 plates that I ended up eating all by myself well into the New Year. It wasn't until later that I started talking about my feelings and beginning to understand why I needed to make those cookies. Even though I consumed most of them, the real reason I made them was not in an effort to binge, but in an effort to love. Those cookies to me WERE love. And last year when the seasons turned and my emotions started coming to the surface I needed that love to get me through the intense loneliness. I needed my mom - and baking all of her cookies was, at that point, as close as I could get.
This year I am not baking cookies. I'm not decorating, and I have sworn off television for the time being since every dang commercial that even hints at bells and snow makes me cry. But I can't avoid Christmas. And being that this year is my 30th birthday, I can't avoid that either. So I am coming to terms with the fact that I'm a blubber-butt for holiday sentiment. I just returned from the opening night of my theatre company's annual production of Miracle on 34th Street. I literally walked in the doors of the theatre and started welling up. There's something about the sight of red and gold ribbon that creates a perpetual lump in my throat. And I can't hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas" without bawling like a baby. I am intrinsically linked to Santa Claus and Frosty The Snowman and I don't know if that is ever going to change.
But what I can change is how I deal with my emotions and the yearly pull to drown them in a vat of eggnog (with rum please). I know now that I am lonely. Everyone is at some point in their lives. And though food is and has been my friend in times of need, it's not really going to help me in the New Year when Christmas is back in a box. The January blahs will still exist, and there will always be Christmas again next year. And as much as it sucks to pop the balloon on Christmas, it IS true that Christmas happens every year, so why must we continually live it up year after year as though it's our last day on the planet? Eat, drink and be merry? Or eat, drink and be sorry later.
So this year - bring on the tears. I'll cry every day if I have to. What I'm not going to do is soak up those tears for the loneliness that we all feel around the holidays and the great expectations that they bring with fruit cake, or shortbread, or venison tortiere (my absolute holiday favorite). This year I am making a pact to be honest with myself and honest with my family about my emotions. Because they're not ALL about loneliness. Honestly, most of them are happy tears. Christmas with my family is a joyous and wonderful time (I'm crying writing this, just so you know). It is warm, and inviting, and delicious. It smells of all of the things Christmas should smell of - a fire in the hearth, food in the oven, spiced cider on the stove, pine trees and berries and my grandmother's perfume. So if I get a little emotional at the overwhelming spirit of it all, I think that's only normal. And it's my plan this year to let it all out. Cry, love and tell my whole big, happy, crazy, annoyingly wonderful family just how happy I am to be home.
A phrase we hear often in the theatre while rehearsing a play:
Now once more; with feeling!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
And I blew the number out of the water one week early!
On September 28th I set out to destroy the memory of my last attempt at Weight Watchers with my new found love of SparkPeople.
At 265.4 pounds I was exactly the same starting weight as I was when I joined WW in 2005 - a last ditch attempt to get some control over my life that was in a downward spiral. I was in a new city, depressed, in the middle of a divorce, with no friends or family for support. For 25 weeks I yo-yoed up and down around that starting number, never getting a solid foot on the ground the whole time. At the lowest point, I weighed 249.2 pounds before ballooning back up to 259 pounds by the time I gave up and quit.
The challenge this time was to get to that lowest weight by the time I left for Germany (9 weeks in total), at which point, I would tear that old WW weigh-in book to little shreds and burn it in effigy - removing it and the memory of that horrible time in my life completely.
Well - I haven't gotten to the burning part yet - I'll take pictures of it smouldering on my BBQ tonight, but as of today I AM DONE with that challenge!!!
In 8 weeks I have gone from 265.4 pounds to 246.8 pounds! I surpassed my own challenge by a whole 2.4 pounds!
But that means I'm already well underway for the next challenge. It's another WW challenge (and I think it's only fair that I call it the WW2 Challenge - take that how you will). The WW2 Challenge is the "Weight Watcher Wedding Weight Challenge" and dates back to the summer of 2002 when I joined Weight Watchers yet again to lose weight for my wedding. I was successful that summer in losing 28 pounds, putting me solidly at 230 pounds on my wedding day. Enter the honeymoon though and by the time I returned home I had already gained back 8 of those pounds that I lost and it only went up from there.
Since I am already half way to the finish line for this challenge (my weights from both challenges overlapped in the middle) I only have about 17 pounds left to lose. Score! So I'm setting my goal date a little closer this time to stay motivated through my trip to Germany and the busy Christmas season. By New Year's Eve of this year, I want to be done with this challenge. That's only 6 weeks and means I have to lose almost 3 pounds a week. I'll be honest - I'm not optimistic about those stats - my weight loss is going to slow down - I'm going on vacation, I'm doing a lot of traveling, and I have to go home to face my family (ALL of them) whom I haven't seen since I started this journey. But maybe this challenge will keep me motivated and on task. (And really, setting an arbitrary date in the middle of January - which is probably when I'll more likely hit this goal - just isn't as special as going for the gusto on New Year's Eve!)
New Year/New Me - and another book to burn and more memories to set aside. This is an emotional challenge, just like the WW1 Challenge was. Through this challenge I'll be sorting through old wedding pictures, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. My wedding dress is sitting in a box in my living room right now. I want to put that sucker on one more time, take some pictures, and then give it away or sell it if I can. As much as my prior marriage is a part of who I am today, I'm ready to move on from it in every way - and that means parting ways with the mementos. Freeing up closet space, and brain space, and emotional space for what is only to come - which at this point, can ONLY be good :)
Here are the official numbers from my WW1 Challenge (for those of you who like to count):
Start Date: September 28, 2010
End Date: November 17, 2010
Start Weight: 265.4
Week 1: 264
Week 2: 262
Week 3: 260
Week 4: 258
Week 5: 255
Week 6: 254
Week 7: 252
Week 8: 247! (holy crap, thanks TOM)
End Weight: 246.8
Total Weight Lost: 18.6 pounds
Total Weight Lost To Date with SparkPeople: 66.2 pounds!
Inches Lost: 15.5"
Waist - 3.5"
Hips - 2.5"
Bust - 2.5"
Arms - 1" each
Thighs - 1" each
Calves - 1" each
Neck - 1"
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Despite the fact that when I was born I weighed "eight pounds, two and a half ounces" - a weight that has been drilled into my head as being HUMONGOUS for a baby in those days (I had a big head and gave my mother an especially long and arduous labour which she won't ever let me live down), I have also been referred to for most of my life as "tiny".
It is true that in my adult life, the tallest I'm ever going to be is 5'2" (if I'm lucky). I know I'm probably going to get shorter from here on out - my grandmother is shrinking as we speak and now stands at a mere 4'9". My mother and I stand about the same height, though I think at times, she might have a fraction of an inch on me. I'm little. And now, I'm getting even smaller.
Mom loves to talk about when I was 3, how I was just "a little slip of a thing" - so tiny, so delicate. I was a dancer, I was active, and I was a beautiful child. I can say it - I was frickin CUTE - I hope that my kids look like I did when I was young, unless the man I marry is even cuter than I was - hehe.
But then the weight gain started. And people stopped calling me tiny. They would still call me beautiful, but let's be honest - calling someone beautiful who is grossly overweight always seems to come with a caveat. And it becomes harder and harder to hear and to believe. I was still short, but I was no longer "sleight" or "delicate" or "petite". I grew to be wider across than I was up and down. And I lost my "tiny".
Instead I became known as "larger than life", "boisterous", "big", "powerful" - and to get things done I really knew how to "throw my weight around". I began to identify with that. I began to make excuses for the fat - I needed the fat to be present in a room. I needed the fat to get noticed, to be someone, so that I wouldn't be a shrinking violet. The fat became a good thing because it made me powerful. It showed everyone who was boss. Don't cross me or I might sit on you, or worse - I might eat you. Ridiculous, but who's going to argue with the fat chick?
Yesterday in the office my co-worker and I were talking about running as we now so often do. She paused for a minute, looked at me really hard and said "You know, I never really noticed how TINY you really are. I guess because you were..." she trailed off, but I completed the sentence for her - "So very, very big" I said. "Yeah," she said "I just assumed that you were bigger and taller than you really are. You're tiny." "And I'm getting tinier!" I said back. We both laughed.
Tiny. I've missed that word. I like that word. Just because I'm tiny doesn't mean I can't be powerful. Being tiny doesn't make me less of a person. In fact, being tiny in this case makes me more of a person. For so many years I have needed the weight to literally give me a space in the world. But bit by bit, as the weight comes off, I'm learning that I'm not really shrinking. The ME inside is not shrinking. She's still loud, and boisterous, and big, and larger than life, without the over-sized exterior. But what's really great is that she can also be timid, and meek, and quiet, and personal if she wants to be, without the fat to get in the way of that.
I'm re-claiming my "Tiny". I can't wait to be REALLY tiny. Because "tiny" is not a reflection of the person I am inside, it's just the super cute and fabulous package that it comes in.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
This is less of a blog and more of a general inquiry because I am definitely experiencing different things every month. Please respond with personal experience, what you know to be true, and medical research if you've gone so far as to look into it.
How has losing weight (a lot of weight) affected your monthly schedule? Is it lighter? Heavier? More painful? Less? What about PMS?
I really believe that my weight loss at such a quick rate is affecting my body's reactions to my menstrual cycle - but I really never know what to expect. Last month I was a raging B*TCH for 5 days and it was about 4 days late. This month I had no PMS besides being tired yesterday (which I believe was more situational and less hormonal) and today it arrived a day early. I am one of those women who can feel ovulation - I get terrible mittelschmerz mid month - but since I've lost weight, that actually seems to be getting better. Again - it depends on the month. Cramping - sometimes is light, other times it is cripplingly painful. I've tried various remedies, adjusting my diet, removing milk, adding caffeine. Nothing seems to really make that much of a difference because the symptoms are different every month.
Anyone out there lost 100 pounds and can speak to what I have to look forward to? I know we're all different, but this really has me scratching my head! (And reaching for my heating pad).
Help! Time to dish about TOM for reals :) Mother Nature has a wry sense of humour if you ask me.
Monday, November 08, 2010
It's called "The Sweetest Race In Chicago" and for my first venture into the world of "competitive running" it honestly could not have been a better day.
The festivities began on Friday evening with race packet pick-up at Union Station in Chicago. I planned to meet Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER, and the instigator of this whole journey for me) downtown with her sisters after work. To my surprise, I also got a call from Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick who were flying in from D.C. for the race saying that they had arrived in town and would meet me at the pick-up area. The excitement started. Not only was I going to be running my very first 5K the next morning, but I was meeting a bunch of Sparkfriends for the first time as well. I couldn't tell which I was more nervous/excited about!
After a bunch of phone calling and messaging back and forth we all found one another in the Great Hall of Union Station. Hugs were had all round and we browsed the fun running goods (i.e Bondi Bands!). Jen and Pat and I were all hungry, so we parted ways with Kathy and her crew and agreed to meet them in the morning at our planned meet-up place. We headed to The Berghoff - a Chicago institution - for dinner (a first for me even though I have lived in the city for 7 years now!). Jen had been there before on a school trip and is also of German heritage so she wanted to revisit an old stomping ground. I enjoyed a wonderful chicken, zucchini and potato galette dish, and one potato perogi - just enough carbs to consider myself "loaded" for the next morning - hehe. We called it a night early and all left to go try to catch some zzzs. Unfortunately, I got all the way to the train before I realized I had left my brand new tech jacket in the restaurant and had to go back just before they locked the doors to grab it. Minor set-back. I was home within 45 minutes and on my way to bed.
Surprisingly enough for all the nervous excitement of the day before, I slept pretty well. I awoke to my alarm at 6am, quite literally smiled to myself, and jumped out of bed, raring to go. I dressed quickly in the tech clothes I had laid out the night before and put on the kettle for tea. By 6:30am I was out the door into the pitch dark and freezing cold. Good lord - runners are CRAZY PEOPLE! The bus was at the corner and I didn't want to miss it so I jogged to make it on - we'll consider that a warm-up run. A quick look around told me I was not alone - lots of tech gear, lots of brown "Will Run For Chocolate" jackets. And here we go! By the time we got to the train I had finished my tea and was actually quite warm despite the temperature outside. I only waited momentarily for the Red Line to the city with about 40 other people on the platform all headed in the same direction. When the train finally arrived I had to laugh. This is what 30,000 runners looks like on public transportation! It was not even 7am and the train was PACKED with athletes of all colours, shapes and sizes, all gearing up for the big race. And I was one of them. I was so proud.
Off the train and headed to the meeting place to meet-up with the rest of my Sparkies! Kathy is already there, as is Shelley (FARLEY_GIRL) and Mel (MELMEI) who was running with her work team but waiting to give me a quick hug before she dashed off to be with them. We were joined shortly by Andrea (ANDREA963) and Jen & Pat. A couple of girls that we were expecting didn't show, but I didn't have real contact info for everyone so we had to move on. (I found out later that JESSSPARK's hotel alarm clock had failed her and she almost didn't make the race and JMEPAYNE woke up with a bad fever and chills - poor girl). A quick stop in a hotel bathroom to pull off my warm-up jacket and put on my Spark shirt and my bib and we were off. A little later than I wanted to be, we walked over the bridge to the massive crowd of people. I ran off to gear check to get rid of my bag and coats just as I heard them playing the national anthem and getting ready to race. My pulse quickened. I had lost Kathy already and Jen, Pat & Shelley were walking the race so I promised to meet up with them post-race in front of the fondue tents. I nearly threw my stuff at the poor guy in the gear check tent and hustled my butt to the large crowd of people who had now just started to move. I reminded myself to breathe as I squeezed through the fence at the 13 minute mile marker. I looked around - people as far as the eye could see, but no sign of any of my friends. This is where I have to go it alone. I put my iPod headphones in my ears, cranked my warm-up tunes, and started walking forward with the group towards the start line willing the tears to just hold off a little while longer. I was overcome with emotion. "Just run your own race, and take it all in".
I made sure to get in front of a couple of the official photographers - just in case, I needed to make sure that this moment was documented.
All of a sudden I heard a huge group of people around me cheering and I looked over to see Dr. Oz waving at all of us. Once again I had to fight back tears. How awesome is it that he would come to the race and wish us all well. We walked for about another 4 minutes getting just to the 9 minute per mile marker when I heard the crowd cheer again. I looked to my left at the finish line to see the elite male runners FINISHING the 5K!!! At a 5 minute per mile pace these guys just ran the whole thing in about 15 minutes. Holy crap! It definitely gave me a burst of energy to see them come across the finish line as I looked ahead of me at the start line. I selected my running mix on my iPod, took a deep breath, and started running!
I felt really good for the first mile except that my nervous energy had sapped every single ounce of spit from my body so my mouth was insanely dry. Since the water station wasn't until mile 2, there was nothing I could really do about it but keep running. It was tough dodging through the slower runners and walkers at the beginning, but it definitely kept things interesting so I wasn't actually thinking much about pain, or breathing, or worrying that I wasn't going to make it. In fact, I didn't even see the first mile marker, so I have no idea what my time was going into mile 2. At that point, we were all herded under and underpass and the going got a little dicey for a bit, so I was more concerned about keeping my footing and running on the pavement instead of grass or the road median for about half a mile anyway. Unfortunately, the race coordinators decided to put the water station for the 5K at the narrowest part of the path, so the bottleneck it caused forced everyone to slow to almost a complete walk. I was getting a little frustrated at this point because I desperately wanted to keep my pace which was impossible, but I did my best to dodge around as many people as I could and kept running. The second half of mile 2 has consistently been my weakest point, so to slow down right there when I was already fighting to keep running was so difficult. But I pushed through as best I could, ran past the water station and rounded the bend past the Shedd Aquarium.
The third mile of the run was changed at the last minute to be a short run up the Lakeshore trail with a hairpin turn and a run back along the upper section of the same path. In my books, this was the worst part of the race. Everyone was already coming out of a bottleneck (I actually almost tripped over a woman that was walking the race with a cane) and picking up speed to attempt a good time for the last mile. The hairpin turn was literally a straight climb up a grass hill to the upper part of the trail which completely killed my momentum. I was beat by the time I got to the top and turned around to run back the distance I had just come. I let my defeatist attitude win only momentarily at the top of the hill as I slowed to a walk for about 5 seconds to catch my breath before I pushed myself harder than I have ever done before and willed my legs to just keep running. Thankfully at that point the way ahead of me cleared. Too many people still stuck back at the water station I guess. Also could have been because the path finally widened to a double lane road and I smiled for the cameras as I ran towards the home stretch. Everything in me wanted to stop running. The finish line was further away than the starting line, so we had to cross over the starting line again at the 3 mile mark and keep running for that last point one of a mile. Just keep running, just keep running. I could hear my regular running music come to an end. My cool down song came on as the finish line got closer and closer. 39 minutes, 30 seconds. That's how long my running mix is. If I can just finish this race in the next 30 seconds I might be able to still pull this in under 40 minutes. Push. Do it! It was all I had left in me to throw my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line.
And then an emotion came over me that I didn't expect. I was actually a little bit angry. I was angry for having to slow down during the race. I was angry that the crowd in front of me wasn't moving fast enough. I was angry that the first station was Gatorade when all I really wanted was a bottle of water. I finally made it to the water, grabbed a bottle and squeezed through the fence. Freedom. I walked a lap around Buckingham Fountain - the skyline and the sunshine and the lake in the distance. I walked to a park bench, all alone for the throngs of people behind me. I listened to my favorite cool down song as I stretched on the park bench. And THEN it hit me. I did it. I finished. I ran the whole thing (except for those 5 seconds which we'll never mention again, which had everything to do with the trail and nothing to do with me being incapable of running). I had just completed my first 5K!
I turned back to look at the crowd and the world clicked back into motion. I needed to get to the gear tent so that I could get to my cell phone and find out how Kathy did and where she was. On the way back I stopped to have my finisher's photo taken.
That felt good. Really good. I made it to the gear tent and apologized to the guy I threw my stuff at earlier. And thankfully - he returned all of it to me unscathed (which was a concern earlier). I grabbed my phone and immediately called Kathy. She was already in the fondue line, so I walked over to find her and ran into another friend of mine who had just run. We hung out and chatted for a bit and posed for the cameras that were milling around. Kathy finally found us and we headed through the tents to pick up our fondue.
Kathy, Me and my friend Ashley
Me and Kathy's family
Kathy & Me :)
Let me tell you - chocolate never tasted SO good. Here's a pic of what we got in the fondue tray - apples, banana, a pretzel rod, marshmallows and pound cake. Yum! I wanted to stick my face in that vat of warm, melty goodness.
By the time we were finished with our snack we were all pretty cold. Though the sun did manage to come out, the temperature was still frigid. Kathy's family left and we went to find Jen & Pat so that we could go out for breakfast. We walked back over to Buckingham Fountain for a few photos and to have our official finisher's photos taken with the group.
Pat, Kathy, Jen & myself
Spark Girls together in Grant Park
Charlie's Angel Style!
Jen & Pat by the fountain
Then we headed to Yolk for a very SEXY breakfast. Seems that everyone at the race had the same brilliant idea that we did, so the wait was a little long because the restaurant was PACKED.
Waiting outside Yolk for a table
But they were working that room like pros and had us in and out amazingly efficiently and never made us feel rushed. We deserved every ounce of that food by the time it got to the table. I had Zamboni Crepes (eggs, ham & spinach rolled into a crepe) with a side of potatoes and Hollandaise sauce. So delicious I took half of it home to enjoy again the next day!
My Sexy Breakfast
Jen & Pat with their Sexy Breakfasts
Kathy and I with our Sexy Breakfasts
The tiredness was really kicking in by the time we were done with breakfast and Kathy had to catch a train back to the suburbs. I walked Jen & Pat back to their hotel and we parted ways. Such a great group of people. I am so happy that my first race was with SparkPeople and with those particular SparkPeople! They are all so wonderful. I can't wait to do it again!
Any frustration or anger I felt after the race has completely washed away. Though MANY people had the same experience, I do believe that the race next year will have a separate corral for the walkers, which seemed to cause the biggest hiccups this year. Also - the race was completely sold out at 30,000 people! Last year was only half of that. So while the whole event was VERY well organized from start to finish, the sheer number of participants were bound to cause slow zones on that tiny of a path. I'm looking forward to running again next year. Maybe by then I will show up to do the 15K! I'd say this was a really great first race for me. My official time was 40:16. I was aiming for under 40, but given the slow zones it still means that I was running at just under a 13 minute mile. I'll take it. Here are my official stats:
If anyone wants to see my official race photos, they are at www.marathonfoto.com - you just have to type in my bib number (10948) and my last name (Kincaid).
All in all - I'm happy. I'm a runner and I ran my first 5K with SparkPeople. And 6 months ago - I couldn't say any of that!
Get An Email Alert Each Time KITHKINCAID Posts