Monday, July 05, 2010
3 days. 3 blogs. 3 hours of exercise. This was the unofficial challenge I set for myself going into this long weekend. And here I am at the other end of it, successful! It hasn't been easy, and I've dealt with a lot of old emotions this weekend, but I'm happy and proud that I did what I set out to do which never would have happened before I started Spark.
I have actually been dreading this long weekend for a while. I knew that my boyfriend would be out of town at a conference, and I was upset that out of any weekend of the year, this dumb conference had to be held on one of the only ones that I got three consecutive days off. I'm not doing a show. Work is in its slow season right now. And the post-show craziness of getting caught up with life seemed to resolve itself at the end of June. I really was going to be boyfriend-less, plan-less, and tempted to revert to my old habits for 3 solid days of a pity-fest. But I was determined not to let that happen. So I vowed that I would use what opportunities I could to perform a mini-triathlon (swim 500m, bike 10K, run 5K) over 3 days. Swim, bike, run.
The first day was the bike ride. And I already blogged about how freeing it was to discover a new neighbourhood that I had never ventured to in my 6 years in the city and going on 4 in my current place. 6.24 miles = 10K check!
Yesterday was my "run" day. Considering I don't run yet and it was far too hot to start my C25K training, I decided to walk for a frozen treat and log some miles on the way. The day was hotter than hot, but I accomplished my mission and busted through some mental barriers that had been holding me back. 4.17 miles = 6.71K check. I blew right past that 5K mark and walked a personal best for myself.
Today was all about the swim. I was out of my element because I wasn't going to my regular pool. I was going to a very crowded, very public, outdoor pool that is across the street from my house but which I had never ventured to before. I donned my "cute suit" which is not my lap suit, left the goggles and cap behind and grabbed my beach towel and a magazine. To my surprise and JOY, I was literally "swimming" in my cute suit! It's a two piece tankini of which the bottom is now too big for my bottom and the girls looked like two little lumps of coal clunking around in the bottom of a stocking. No matter - I was elated. The water-bra would hold them where they needed to be just for today. So off I went to the park, past the kiddie pool and through the locker room to a sea of bobbing heads in the water before me. This is a BIG pool It's Olympic size - which means it's twice the size of my regular lap pool and it is PACKED. So much for being able to squeeze out a little corner to do my rounds. But I took in the sun and made it into an opportunity to people-watch and tread water for 45 minutes. I got a chance on the wall to do a few reps of some flutter kicks and pool push-ups (where you use the side of the pool in the deep end to hoist your body up out of the water without being able to kick off the ground) until I noticed a group of male teenagers ogling me every time I surfaced. Perhaps it was better in my too-big bathing suit to leave the push-ups until the girls were slightly more secure. Finally the whistle blew and the pool cleared for the next session. I toweled off, threw on my cover-up and meandered home to read my magazine in the sun. Ah - blissful. And to think - I still managed to squeeze 45 minutes of exercise into such a luxurious afternoon. So it wasn't my regular 500m lap swim, but I'll still get to that on Wednesday night and since last week I am now up to swimming 640m a night - well on my way to the standard sprint length of 750m! Triathlon complete!
So all in all, not a bad weekend for doing things I thought I couldn't. Emotionally though, it was a hard 3 days for me. I was without my partner in crime, the man I have spent every weekend with (almost) for the past two years of my life. I know our time is slowly drawing to an end (he moves to Germany in September) and I know that this weekend was only a foreshadowing of what is to come for me. My first reaction was to get mad. Why have all my friends forsaken me? A long weekend in July and not ONE invitation came my way by means of any of my "acquaintances" in the city - and I know A LOT of people. I was angry that I am always the one that throws the parties. I am always the one inviting other people to come over. I am always the one with all the plans. But why, when I needed it the most, was an invitation in my direction out of the question?
I realize now that I have spent the last 2 years in a comfortable place. I love being with my boyfriend, and he with me. We don't need a lot of other people, and he is not really a social butterfly by nature so we tend to hang out by ourselves. He has never prevented me from hanging out with my friends, but I have been more apt to choose him over them anyway - not exactly the behaviour that's going to ensure future invitations.
I wanted to curl into a ball and eat. I wanted to load up a full season of TV on DVD, hole myself up on my couch with the cats and eat a frozen pizza, or two. My old life was coming back to haunt me. The self that was so lonely, and so ashamed and so needy of the attention of others was hungry. But rather than sit around and wait for them to come to me, rather than be mad and use that pent-up frustration as an excuse to binge, I decided this weekend to take action. I posted my availability on Facebook and went out for my walk while I waited. When I had returned and showered and sat down again at my computer, there it was - an invitation to go to the lake and watch the fireworks.
I was nervous. Old me tried to make excuses for just calling it a night, staying home and watching DVDs by myself. "You're too tired", "You've already walked 4 miles today", "You've just had a shower and are already in your pajamas".
I picked up the phone and started to dial. One ring, two rings, three rings...answering machine. "Uh, hey Jackie, it's Jenn. Thank you so much for the invitation. I would LOVE to go out with you guys tonight. Give me a call and let me know what's up and what I can bring. And hey - thanks! I really didn't want to stay home tonight."
I got myself up, got dressed, and headed out to the 24hr Dominicks to pick up some picnic food - a huge veggie tray, hummus & pretzels and a sandwich for myself. All wholesome, healthy treats so I could stay on track AND have fun. I arrived at the pre-determined location to find my friends, anxiously awaiting my arrival and genuinely happy to see me. See? That wasn't so bad!
I had a great night. Food, friends, and to our utter amazement, the fireworks barge pulled up RIGHT IN FRONT of where we were sitting. I have never seen a more spectacular or up-close Fourth of July show in all my years in America. Wow!
So on this Independence Day long weekend, I feel like I have at long last found, embraced and challenged my own independence. I was out on my own in the world and I made it. I passed my own tests with flying colours. I surpassed some fitness goals, I combated that dangerous feeling of loneliness by admitting that I needed some time with my friends, and I surprised myself by being able to act on my REAL needs instead of acting on my impulses for need by eating.
It has dawned on me just how much I would have missed of this long weekend were I not making these significant changes in my life. I am LIVING - as hard as it is sometimes, I am LIVING. At 310 pounds and climbing, I was not living my life. I was surviving. I was making it through. But I was not enjoying it.
I am sad for how much of my life I have wasted. But I am done with wasting what I have left. I have the power to make things happen for myself right here and right now and I AM DOING THIS. LIVING - and living to the best of my ability and beyond- feels so darn good.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Trust me - it's not what you're thinking.
I'm a "destination walker" - meaning I really hate walking unless I've got somewhere to go. So being that I wanted to get a good, brisk walk in today I decided to cash in on a Groupon that I've been meaning to use for some time now and hike to a tasty treat of frozen kefir on a VERY HOT long weekend day in Chicago.
There were a couple of locations for Starfruit that were within walking distance. One was on my way to work - a path I have tread a NUMBER of times, so I decided to take the road less traveled but about the same distance from my house. I filled up the water bottle, laced on the walking shoes and started out.
Not 10 minutes out of my door I regretted my decision. Even with a strong (HOT) wind, it was sweltering outside. I was convinced that the city pavement under my feet was omitting infrared gamma rays that were going to fry me on the spot. But I kept walking and drinking my water and looking for the shadiest streets along the way. One block passed, then two then four - I could do this - it wasn't THAT bad. My feet were on fire as I marched the final mile - looking for street numbers and wondering if my icy oasis was going to be closed for the holiday.
At last I found it - open AND air conditioned to the max. I stepped inside, drenched in sweat and ordered my treat - strawberry frozen kefir with a sprinkling of heath bar for crunch. Yum!
If you've never had frozen kefir before, I highly recommend it. It's like frozen yogurt, but tangier and SO refreshing. Not like ice cream where you feel like you have to drink a bucket of water once you're finished. This was actually thirst quenching. And at only 22 calories an ounce and hardly any fat, you can afford to have a good sized serving. WELL worth the sweat it took to get there. By the time I had finished my bowl and filled up my water bottle, I was ready to walk again.
As I started the trip back, my willpower wavered. I had a blister starting on my right foot from the heat and my legs were sore from yesterday's bike ride. Maybe I should just take the bus back. Or just take the bus half way and walk the rest.
But as I argued with myself I kept walking and soon found myself in a familiar neighbourhood. This wasn't THAT far from home. I could do it! I was sure I could. One foot in front of the other I trudged my way along the hot, hot streets dreaming of the cold shower that awaited me upon my return.
And then I saw it - those fabulous, wonderful, glorious golden arches. The McDonalds that is 2 blocks from my house. I had done it! I was never so happy to see that M in all my life. Sweaty, tired, sore - I rounded the corner and home was in sight. My pace quickened as I raced to the finish line wondering just how far I had actually gone.
One cold shower and a good, long stretch later I settled down to my computer and a nice, tall glass of water.
4.17 miles. 95 minutes. And 594 calories. I am a rockstar. I didn't think it was that far. I didn't think on a day like today I could walk it so fast. I certainly didn't think that I could walk almost the same distance that I biked yesterday. I didn't think I had it in me - but I did.
I can now walk over 5K. Heck, I can almost walk a 10K. I know I've done it before but I've never kept track of it or calculated it. But now it's official. Now it doesn't feel so scary or look so daunting. It's just one more day of proving to myself that I am so much more than I think I am. I am so much better than I have allowed myself to be. I am stronger and more capable and less afraid than Fat Me would ever give me credit for. I am breaking down her walls for good and I am so proud of what I have done.
It's amazing what a girl will do for a little frozen kefir! :)
Saturday, July 03, 2010
So you know when you play a video game and there are only certain areas that you are allowed to go until you've played the game for a while, collected enough points, found the hidden diadem, the secret key, etc. etc. and then you get to unlock that next level? That rush of excitement that you feel when you've finally done it - battled the giant, killed the goomba, and the door opens up to a world that you haven't ever seen or experienced yet?
I think I did that with Spark today.
Don't go running to look for hidden Easter Eggs on the site - there's nothing new in the Spark programming that you didn't know before. The new level that I unlocked today was actually one in ME.
I've been getting close for a while. I've been collecting my points, and sharing my stories, and giving my goodies to the friends I've met along the way. I have my badges of honour - my perfect attendance awards, weight loss trophies and consistency badges - even one popular blog post that I didn't think was possible so early in the game. I visit my awards page from time to time to polish my trinkets and marvel in the work that I have done to accomplish them. But the game in front of me is vast and there are more treasures in store, so I can't spend too long reflecting on what I've done before I have to go off to fight the next battle.
And today that battle was with my bike. On Thursday - July 1st - in one of my visits to my treasure room, I noticed that there was one badge missing - the 1000 Fitness Minutes monthly badge. I wanted it. Badly. So I vowed to start a thread in the Done Girls Team to challenge myself and others who wanted to go with me to get that badge for the month of July. Three days in to the challenge and my team members are kicking my butt in minutes. So I figured I had to get moving to catch up. I hopped on my trusty steed and took off into the wilderness of urban Chicago in the blazing summer heat and just rode. And rode, and rode for 6 miles. It was hot - but the breeze on my face kept me cool. I saw places that I have never seen in my 6 years in this city. I found a beautiful park and a lake and a welcome refuge of a water-park where children were laughing and screaming and playing away the long weekend. And it was then that I realized I had done it. I had unlocked the next level of the game.
Never before would I have imagined being able to conquer 6 miles alone on my bike in the city. I always used my fear of cars and other bike traffic to keep my pink beauty locked in the basement. I had dreams of riding her, but alas, I feared it would never be. But today - I met with the challenge and swallowed my fear, put caution to the wind (but safely with my helmet in check) and made Nike proud by JUST DOING IT!
I surprised myself today. And perhaps that is the best reward of all. I didn't think I had it in me. But I come to find that I most certainly do. I can do this. I really can. And if I can do THIS - what other glorious, wonderful, hidden journeys await me in the future? If I have unlocked THIS level, I can only imagine what the next few worlds might look like - only bigger, and brighter, and more colourful than the last. I can't wait!
As I climbed down from the saddle today and put away my bike, sweaty and a little sore - I literally smiled to myself. This is what accomplishment REALLY feels like. For all of the things that I have done in my life, I have never really, truly felt this. This is the feeling of doing something that doesn't come easy. From pushing yourself beyond what you thought yourself capable of doing. For hanging in there and talking positively to yourself whenever doubt creeps in. For saying, just 5 more minutes, just one more mile. You can do it, you can do it. Look at how far you've come.
Something tells me that just like a video game, the creators of Spark intended this too. This was the level I was meant to find. And there are certainly more out there to come across on my journey. That is the way this game works. This beautiful, real, life-altering game.
I'm living in the next level now - and man, does it feel good!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
These things are AMAZING!!!
I bought a couple boxes at Target to try them out after having loved the Del Monte Chillers fruit sorbet cups that I bought earlier. At $2.45 for a whole box of these (8 in a box), I 'bout died and gone to heaven. These are PURE fruit, only 55 calories a piece and pack a bunch of potassium and vitamin C in such a little pop! They're way more filling than a regular sugar-water popsicle, and I like knowing that my frozen treats are benefiting me rather than filling me with fake substitutes (even though I do love 40-calorie fudge bars, no matter how fake they are!)
Also - since they're a shelf product that you can take home and freeze later, you don't have to worry about them melting in the car on the way home :)
Right now they come in 2 flavours - Grape Berry Blizzard and Strawberry Snow Storm.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I hate laundry.
I hate laundry so much that I have not made a concerted effort to really do all of it since January. Want to know how I know that? I JUST finished a load that contained the black top I wore on New Year's Eve. You know - this one:
So after 2 days and 9 FULL loads worth - I'm finally done! Hallelujah! Who on this earth owns that many clothes??? I own over 12 bras, 30 pairs of underwear (yes, I can go a full month without having to wash a darn thing), and about half of the local Lane Bryant's spring, summer, fall & winter lines for the past 4 years in a variety of colours. It's ridiculous.
You see, weight hasn't been my only issue in life. I also used to be addicted to shopping.
It's another unhealthy habit that was a symptom of my obesity. I used spending money as a way to make myself feel better about life. I like pretty things and have expensive taste, so I used shopping the same way I used food to feed the pain of loneliness or boredom or frustration. If I had a bad week, then a nice new shirt or necklace or pair of shoes would be just the thing I needed to make me feel better. I got a high from wearing my new threads. The smell of new clothes, breaking the tags off, the crisp way they feel on the body. I would buy things just to buy. As long as they fit (sort of) then that was good enough for me. I'd have good shopping days and bad shopping days. On the bad, I'd leave with nothing, fueling my depression because "nothing ever seemed to fit" and "I'm so fat and ugly". But on the good days I would walk out of the store, laden with bags, bursting at the seams to get home and re-try on my purchases. The problem was, the bigger I got, the bigger the clothes got, and the more expensive. A shopping trip to a plus store would easily rack up bills of $200 or more per trip, and I kept needing more and more to make me happy. My credit card bills were out of control and I was sinking fast - which was only making the depression worse.
A couple of years ago I had sunk to a new low. I swallowed every last ounce of pride I had and called my parents to help me co-sign on a bank loan to consolidate my credit card debt. At first, they denied my request. Since I live so far away and they would like nothing better than to see me move closer to home, they used the fact that I needed their assistance as an ultimatum - move home and they would help me. I was devastated. I couldn't move home - my life was now in Chicago. My job, my friends and my therapy were all in this city. There was no way that I knew how to start all over again after everything that I had been through to build a life here. So I stood my ground and told them that wasn't an option and feared the worst when they told me I'd just have to figure it out some other way.
I waited a week and then asked again. This time they agreed. They didn't like the terms, but they had talked it over and understood the importance and gravity of the situation. And with that, I was relieved of all my credit cards and handed a $10,000 bank loan with a 3 year repayment term. All I could think was "Oh God - what have I done?"
That was exactly 2 years ago in August - and I am incredibly proud to say that as of this August, I will have repaid that entire loan - one year ahead of schedule! I currently do not own ANY credit cards. I pay for everything up front - and if I don't have the money for it, it stays in the store.
Getting real with myself and my budget and spending habits was one of the hardest things I have had to do so far in my adult life. But I have to say now that it was doing that that lead me to believe that I could do this too. I am taking control of my out-of-control habits and lifestyle and turning them into something manageable and maintainable one day at a time. Counting calories is like spending money. Sometimes you have to borrow a little from tomorrow to pay today, but at the end of the week everything needs to line up to be that much closer to your goal. I am paying off big amounts in money and in pounds. And I couldn't be more proud of myself and how far I've come. Financial freedom is within my reach and so is a new and fit body!
Doing those 9 loads of laundry all weekend was an exercise in reflection for me. As I folded every top, every sweater, every pair of jeans, I thought about when I bought them, what I felt like then, how much money I spent to buy them. Most of the things I'm wearing now are from at least 2 years ago and from my one big shopping trip last year before I took my vacation to Paris. As I folded some of the sweaters I got just 6 months ago for Christmas and my birthday it was a little bitter-sweet knowing that they received so little wear this year and that I won't ever get to wear them again because already they're too big for me. I am officially DONE being that size forever. I've paid off that part of my "loan" and I will never have to do it again. For what I have lost I have gained 10-fold in knowledge and security and happiness.
I don't buy clothes anymore to make me happy. I buy clothes now because I need to (I'm shrinking!) and that's a whole different kind of happy than the one I was achieving before. I am actually looking forward to shedding my closet almost as much as I'm looking forward to shedding the weight. Since the clothing I own now ranges in sizes from 12-26, I am awaiting the day when it will all be one uniform size and I can reach in and pull out anything I want and have it fit and look beautiful on me. No more waiting to wear something until I'm that size. No more hanging on to certain pieces because I'm not sure if I'll need them again. No way. I'm not going back this time. And unless I can find someone here who is one step behind me and wants my hand-me-downs, I know I'm about to make a local homeless shelter very, very happy this year. I'll pay it forward any way I can.
And just for the record - here's that New Year's Eve number now...25 (almost) pounds lighter!
My first side-by-side!
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