Saturday, October 25, 2008
Life has been hectic.
Knock wood, but I am absolutely SWAMPED with business since quitting my job and joining the ranks of the self-employed (aka Trophy Wives). My phone is ringing off the hook, and when I'm not stuck at my desk all day, I am on job sites all over the city, working my tail off. Every time I finish a client, two more book in his/her place, and most of my clients continue to call me for additional services, many months later.
Each waking moment is spent thinking about my GOALS and how to reach them. They come closer every day, whether it is growth of my business, the next level of education I will achieve, or dropping down another size. It's all good.
On Monday, I was on a project with my Practical Horticulture class. I was a few minutes late, and when I got out to the planting beds to meet up with the rest of the class, the instructor was explaining the job to the students:
"Now class, in this bed, these are annuals. Even though they still look pretty good, they're getting ready to die. So, everything from here to here (gestures) I want you to rip it up out of the ground, and throw it on the truck. Okay? And now, these over here (walking to another planting bed), these are perennials. On these, you just have to cut off the spent flower heads, which are all the brown shriveled things on top, and leave the foliage at the bottom. That's called dead-heading. And you do that all the way down the row, until you get to here (walking and gesturing). Now, are there any questions?"
Several students make him repeat everything. Finally, we are ready to start.
He turns to me, and says, "You wanna start on Agastache, or hit the Poncirus?"
I love him. He speaks my language.
When he talks to me, he treats me as a colleague. When a student asks a question, he will answer it, and then ask me if I have anything to add.
It is so very gratifying to finally be recognized by other people in my industry.
This same day, I was pruning trees and ripping up plants, my eyeglasses, which had been perched on top of my head, fell silently to the detritus blanketed ground, and disappeared forever.
I spent the rest of Monday seeking replacements.
I took my favorite pair of reading glasses to BJ’s Wholesale (same as I did last time). The usual guy wasn’t working, and there was another person ahead of me, so I had to wait for the optometrist. When he finally freed up, I presented him with my readers, and a copy of my prescription, and asked him to pop my prescription into the frames, duplicating everything I had gotten before, from my records on file.
He balked. He flatly advised me that they could not put my prescription into “reading glasses that I got from a drugstore”.
I smiled and said “Oh? These are exactly the same drugstore readers that I brought in last time, with the exact same frames, and the exact same prescription, and (as sweetly as I could muster) I LOVE the way they came out before.”
Well, he knew he was busted, and wasn’t going to sell me new frames. Unfortunately, my glasses will still cost $300. and take 7-10 working days to finish. Raise your hand if you want socialized medicine.
Next stop: Lenscrafters. I have a AAA discount, a coupon, and the store was running a “special”. I walked in and picked out two pair of frames, gave the sales associate my prescription, and asked for my total.
Now, having purchased eyeglasses recently, without any discounts or coupons, I was prepared to hear something in the six hundred dollar range. But I did require frames this time, so perhaps (I ventured) that figure could even approach eight hundred. I certainly didn’t expect it, but I steeled myself.
The figure she gave me was significantly over nine hundred dollars. Yes, she assured me, that was using “every possible” discount.
The second pair was quickly nixed.
My weight loss has slowed quite a bit, overall, from last year; but I still have spurts. Lately I seem to be losing inches faster than pounds, and that’s fine too… just as long as it can be called progress and not REgress.
The absolute best thing is when, after a long period of sameness, or apparent stall, you become very aware of moving into the next level of fitness, and the difference is obvious and acute. It is very gratifying indeed, to be able to make my abs sore, for three whole days, when I couldn’t do so before. And it is very gratifying indeed, to feel the same pain of exhaustion in my legs. These are the by products of pushing myself relentlessly into a daily routine of very hard work. Even my arms, of which I am rightly proud, were so heavy yesterday that I came close to screaming at the end of my routine. I’m trying new things, harder things, and more frequent things, and it’s paying dividends. There is a certain satisfaction in walking slowly, even as my dog tugs at her leash to pursue squirrels, because my legs are just too sore to run with her… and she turns to stare at me, bewildered that I’ve lost my love of chasing down arboreal rodents with her.
I’m pleased that the stubborn fat on my legs and my abdomen is slowly melting. And I’m most pleased that, after losing 140 pounds, I don’t seem to have a whole lot of loose skin (which was, of course, a big worry) to lament. Even the loss of my extra chins didn’t leave me with so much of a turkey-neck that I can’t live with it. Sure, I am flabby, but not too badly off for a woman my age.
This week, I ran.
This isn’t the same thing for everybody.
For me, running is an extremely slow jog, wearing two bras, and sucking air desperately.
I have never run in my life. I was an asthmatic child, who was banned from physical activity, and given free run of the fridge. I’ve been fat and sedentary from the go.
That’s not to say that I have not made EFFORTS recently. Since I began my new life as a fit person, 22 months ago, I have tried unceasingly to supplement my walking with faster walking, longer distances, and… jogging. This week, finally, showed me some big, big changes.
For the first time, I can see a glimmer. A REAL possibility that I might, one day, join the ranks of joggers seen all over the streets of my town. I am jogging… REGULARLY now. Yes, REGULARLY. Which for me, means more than two and a half minutes at the end of the dog leash. It means… something approaching a mile. For real. This is HUGE.
I freely admit, I am very, very slow, and the distance won't impress a lot of people. I’m one of those folks you see shuffling along, barely over walking, looking laughable (I used to think so, anyway). But this week, for the first time, I sustained. I kept going. I was able to jog for so far, so long, block after block, hell yes even uphill, that it felt weird to finally stop. And it’s happened more than once, so I feel comfortable enough to announce that it was not a fluke.
I’m a jogger.
And it’s all good.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I love business trips.
I love going to conferences and symposia. I love a good lecture. Trade Shows, not so much; but educational opportunities excite me.
This year, I attended conferences all across the country. Excitement factors were all across the spectrum, just as I’d expected. But all good.
My first conference set the bar pretty high, with top-notch speakers, lavish parties, and exciting nightlife. Researchers from all over the world presented their findings to thousands of attendees. But as my friend Amanda so eloquently observed, when you’re in a male-dominated profession, conventions, and hotels in general, have a way of deteriorating into drunken meet markets, full of men suffering from temporary marital amnesia. I found out first hand.
I meet many people at convention, many of them male. This year, I met a particularly fetching fellow. I approached him after a lecture to ask his opinions on the lecture material… and I got flirted with. It was subtle, mind you; as many people were around, but I’m old enough to recognize it when it happens. I was not mentally prepared. It was unexpected. I’ve been a morbidly obese, middle-aged, married woman for over a decade. I was somewhat taken aback.
Later on that evening, I ran into this same fellow again in the hotel lobby. I’ll call him Paul Bunyan**. Paul Bunyan quickly asked me to join him for a beer. Because I really wanted one, and couldn’t find the scholar I was really TRYING to bump into, I accepted.
We had only one beer together, but it lingered long, as we were both already fortified. However, something scary did occur: I suddenly decided that he was quite attractive, and started mentally objectifying him. I became acutely aware of his rugged, tanned brow, his smooth nose, his soft, full lips, the graceful, tapered fingers clutching his beer. A wave of panic gripped me, and I announced that I’d better be going. After he settled the tab, Paul and I walked back toward the hotel, to the faint sounds of music and laughter spilling out from the pubs and onto the dim glow of the downtown sidewalks. When we got to the front of the convention center, I stopped, and turned to him, extending my hand. He took my hand and moved in close, smiling down at me, but saying nary a word. He seemed tall as a Sequoia, and solid as Mt. Hood. There was a moment, a flash, when I thought he was about to kiss me. I smiled broadly, shook his hand vigorously, and high-tailed it back to my room as quickly as I could. I was sure he sensed my weakness.
~I can’t bring my lips to you
You have to bring your lips to me
I’m scared of all the things I’d do
your lips do not belong to me~
When I caught my breath, I felt confused and bewildered. I lay in bed only a few minutes before he called.
Don’t ask me what was said. I only recall distinctly that it was sexually suggestive, steering toward the chemistry between us… so I rushed him off the phone by explaining that I was tired and nodding off. The next day, my cell phone revealed that we spoke much longer than I estimated. Thankfully, I didn’t see much of Paul Bunyan for the remainder of the conference.
I confessed the incident to my husband, saying “I had impure thoughts, so I excused myself”. He paused, staring wistfully into space, and said simply “You made the right choice.”
I knew I would see Paul Bunyan again, and I knew when. We are in the same field, and both of us travel for conferences. Months later, it so happened we were in close working contact. However, this time I had mentally prepared for Paul Bunyan. So much so that I was surprised that my memory of him did not quite match what saw that day. He looked older. Tired. Not nearly as tall. And once again, he interrupted my quest to meet the brilliant Dr. Frisk** (whom I have been trying for several months to get within two meters of, so I could initiate a conversation).
Mr. Bunyan dominated the day, and what was surely my only opportunity to speak with my idol, Dr. Frisk, slipped away forever. Paul was never far from me, casting many soft smiles in my direction that morning. It was hopeless.
~You’d have to fall, you’d have to bend
I’d have to climb you like a tree
Caress each limb that I ascend
to linger in your canopy~
When the days seminar was over, I was offered a ride back to the hotel by the only two people there I knew- one of whom was Paul Bunyan. As fate would have it, the other person disappeared at the critical moment of departure... a mistake Paul Bunyan did not make. I got into his car, feeling safe sitting in the passenger seat beside Mr. Bunyan because of the other passenger sitting in the car with us.
When Paul chose to drop the other passenger off first, and I felt a small panic wash over me.
~Could I resist if they were close
or bide that my desire passed
Would it be worth just one small dose
if your lips met with mine at last~
Nothing bad happened. Paul dropped me off at the lobby doors and said he’d see me in a couple of hours, at the reception party.
I haven’t been attending professional conferences for a long time, so I’m still getting the hang of them. There’s a lot of protocol to figure out.
One is the dress code.
I have no clue what people wear to some of the events, so I called my friend Mags**. She’s been moving in these circles for many years, and her advice would be sage. Unfortunately, she’s one of these people who turns off her cell phone, or simply leaves it home while she’s doing other things. She doesn’t run a business, like I do; she’s an academic who relishes time without communication. She didn't respond to my call. So, I decided to phone Mr. Bunyan.
The sky didn’t fall, he told me what I needed to know and gave me great advice. He also advised me that he would be swinging back by my hotel to pick me up and carry me over to the reception. Fine, I thought. If I couldn’t wear a dress, I wanted to at least wear heels, and would definitely appreciate a ride. I changed quickly so I could be waiting by the lobby doors when he got there.
The knock on my door happened fast… probably within 15 minutes. I opened it, and there stood Paul Bunyan, in all his splendor. Once again, he was tall, dark, and handsome. How did he know my room number? Had he bribed someone? Or, had he just leaned over the registration desk, and smiled at the poor young girl? He looked crisp, clean, and confident. The soft curls framing the rugged face, those sensual, pillow lips beneath his smooth nose, and those soulful, dark pools smiling down at me. He looked good. He walked right in past me.
~The bounty-laden tree so tall
where harvest hangs just out of hand
Wait longingly for treats to fall
that I might eat where they should land~
I closed the door behind him, turned around, and immediately found myself in his powerful embrace. The mountain swallowed me, pressed himself to me, and held me so firmly I was completely owned, my mouth silenced by a swift, soft kiss.
No! I reminded him to be a gentleman. We were expected elsewhere very soon. He complied nicely by releasing me, and sat smiling on the corner of my bed. I sat down at the desk and we chatted a few minutes to dissipate the steam. I was sure I'd have to iron my hair again.
Thank God, the reception was distracting to us both, and I ran into another colleague whom I didn’t know would be at the conference, and who ended up rescuing me and keeping me company several times. I sat with him and drank beer. I was safe, for now.
Paul didn’t give up. He behaved in public, but stalked me twice in the elevator. HOW a man of his size and presence accomplished this feat, I don’t know; but for two trips, covering eight floors, I was pinned and caressed. He whispered that he'd wanted me from the first moment he met me, and that he KNEW I was an incredible lover (apparently this information is written all over my face). Indeed, he brought his treats down to me, offering his lips just in case I wanted to sample them.
The next day, I was quizzed by the two other people I knew: “Boy, you sure left out of there like a bat from hell last night. Where’d you run off to?”
Uh, I seem to have misplaced my virtue. I had to run home and get it.
Once I was sure I had the elevator to myself, that is.
As in our previous meeting, Mr. Bunyan was more scarce in the following days. There were no more social events or receptions, so attendee interactions were mostly businesslike. The next day, it rained; and I wore running shoes so I could jog back to my hotel after meeting Mags for dinner at the convention center.
I ran into the lobby, panting and moist, and stood in front of the elevator, beside a small Asian gentleman and a strapping young buck of about 30, who looked about like any other healthy, white Midwesterner. Only more forward.
He looked at my chest and said “So what do they call you?”
“I’m sorry?” I replied.
“Your name. What’s your name?”
I told him my name.
“Are you going to be in the gym later?” he demanded.
Well, that’s odd. Why would he ask that? Do I look like a gym rat? Did he think that’s what I would wear to go running? I guess so, since I HAD been running. The Asian man, stealing glances peripherally, started chuckling to himself.
I smiled and said “Why, yes, I will be in the gym tonight.” I really hadn't planned on going to the gym that night, but the power of suggestion worked. I suddenly realized I felt like working out, and I now had a workout buddy.
I should tell you at this point that the hotel gym is like a palace. It was by far the largest and most opulent hotel gym I have ever been in. The whole basement floor was fitness equipment, complete with a swimming pool and steam room. They had everything: machines, weights, mats, balls.
When I arrived, Flex** was waiting for me. We started on weights, since we had both done cardio earlier. I was excited to have a “trainer” to spot me.
Flex, however, kept spotting my chest. He finally made his move at the cable crossover machine. Standing close behind me, he urged me to grab the grips. I reached, but the cables were too far away; so he stood behind me and pulled them down so I could grip them. He held on for a moment, making sure I could handle the load on the pulley. He removed his hands very slowly, letting his fingers trail over mine, then continued their journey down my wrists, my forearms, and my elbows. Both my arms were fully extended under the heavy weights, and he continued, caressing languidly along the inside of my biceps and under my triceps, before running both hands down the sides of my body. I was able to pull only a few reps of the heavy weight before telling Flex I was married.
He sat down on a bench, and stared at me. I could just about hear gears turning as he tried to figure out a solution to this hurdle. Since Flex assumed that my husband was waiting upstairs for me, or worse, that he might walk in on us, looking like Brutus, his ardor cooled, and our workout concluded with little more than chest spotting on his part.
The next day, back at conference, Paul sought me out and told me he had a plane to catch. We hugged briefly. As if on cue, the elusive Dr. Frisk came and sat down two chairs away from me, in the empty first row.
I finally had him. I had him all to myself. We chatted at length about a range of topics having nothing at all to do with the conference, and I found him to be both easygoing and witty. We made plans to have a beer later. YIPPEE!
As luck would have it, fate transpired again to prevent that libation, but I did have a lovely dinner with Mags and another very famous PhD. That’s one more noteworthy person I can pal around with in the future.
When I bumped into Dr. Frisk again, after dinner, he had that happy, relaxed look of someone who’d had a few beers. I felt sad not to be right there with him, because he struck me as such a fun guy. Brilliant, too. I really wanted to have that drink with him.
I took his hand, put my other hand on his shoulder, and leaned in for a “business-hug”, which felt completely appropriate since our friendly, prolonged conversation earlier.
Let me just say, there was an intensity about him that was unmatched by any of my previous “conference suitors”. When I pulled back, his eyes were locked on mine, and sparkling alluringly. His gaze was frank and full of fire, and his smile full of mischief. He did not release my hand, but drew it urgently closer to him.
Please. Let go before people notice and it gets awkward!
His penetrating, insistent gaze seared me through to my core. I couldn't look away, and he knew it. I was transfixed; his eyes, and his hand, discreetly drawing me in. Like a moth to the flame, I started to see Dr. Frisk in a totally different light. He had become Rasputin.
Mercifully, the spell passed and I never saw him again. The conference was over.
Obviously, I have a lot to learn about business conventions.
Luckily, I’m done for this year.
** Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
And some details are missing. Same reason.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This was a question that appeared on a message board (not SparkPeople).
Most people swore up and down that they did NOT judge fat people. A few of them seemed willing to admit that they did in a few rare cases.
Having LIVED in an obese body for most of my life, I *KNOW* this is hogwash, and that people judge you, instantaneously and unconsciously, in almost every single case.
Here's what I said:
"You only accomplish GOALS. You won't achieve anything, or hit any target, without DECIDING that you will do so, no matter what, and that nothing will stop you.
I have battled obesity my whole life, so I have spent a lot of time thinking over this issue; and I do speak from experience. In the past 20 months I've lost 142 lbs.
Was it difficult? Well... no and yes. Basically, it was merely a decision (mental) followed by action (physical). In that order. Most fat people NEVER make it to the first step. They complain endlessly about outside factors such as spouses, children, and coworkers who sabotage their efforts, instead of taking responsibilty for their own health.
IMHO, every day of morbid obesity is SO much more painful and difficult than 30 minutes on the elliptical. Physical conditioning takes physical effort. Controlling compulsive overeating, and self-destructive bingeing, takes mental effort. When you focus on exerting this effort, well, then weight loss is pretty easy.
The fact is, for most obese people, there is no underlying medical condition causing their obesity. It is their behavior. And for whatever reason(s), they haven't taken charge yet. Their minds simply will not let them see themselves as a fit, healthy person, engaging in recreational activities such as tennis, jogging, or whitewater rafting. Many obese people can't imagine that the positive changes they fantasize about could actually be controlled by their actions and choices. They refuse to believe that they may have not only caused their own imprisonment, but that they are the ONLY person on earth who is capable of changing it.
Most people confuse motivation with action. They claim they lack motivation, and ask OTHER people to give them some. Preposterous! Motivation only means that you have an interest or a reason. Nobody can give it to you, or rob it from you. If you can ask for it, obviously you already HAVE it.
Once I decided that I was done with self-destructive behaviors like sloth and gluttony, the only thing left was the action part. From that point on, it became very clear."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The sound of it hitting the fan: giving my notice at work
Today marks my official last week at work, and the beginning of my full-time focus on building my own business, becoming better educated, kicking my fitness up to the next level, wearing my flip-flops more often, and completeing a few household remodeling projects. It's all so very exciting.
The stress I've felt in the past couple of months has left my body, and soon my body will leave the stressful place... but not before a huge going away party.
I posted this invitation (including the above illustration) all over my workplace.
Heading: "Mmmmmmm.... are you coming?"
"Thursday, Sept 25th is my last day at (name of company).
In the past few years, a lot has changed.
One thing you can still count on at the end of the day, is a noisy, smoke-filled room,
a few stiff drinks, and the company of demoralized, disengaged masses.
You’re invited to slip into open-toed footwear, put aside your grievances and
obligations to be home at a decent hour, and join me as we find even more
to complain about, in the unforgivably bad food and abysmally slow service at O'Rileys.
You may never know where you stand here, but at least you’ll know where to sit on Thursday.
What: Farewell Social
When: Thursday 9/25 at 9:01pm
Where: O'Riley’s Restaurant
How to Consume 1200 Calories a Day Through a Cocktail Straw
(hands-on workshop, materials available at O'Riley’s)"
The response so far has been overwhelming!
I posted the flyers Friday, the same day we all found out that not only will there be no bonus checks this year, but no Christmas party either; and apparently I have plenty of disgruntled coworkers who are ready to imbibe.
Forgive me if I don't remember enough to blog about it.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
In a quest to answer this question, I scoured the internet.
I have had myself measured and remeasured, and have come to the realization that I am not five foot seven, as I had been told previously; I'm only five foot six.
According to multiple sources, a 5'6" woman should weigh 130 lbs, give or take 10%.
According to the same sources, a 5'6" man should weigh 146 lbs, give or take 10%.
Which means, even if I were as muscular and thick boned as a man, my weight should not exceed 160.6 lbs.
And of course, in giving myself the benefit of the doubt, and combining that with plenty of wishful thinking, I have reset my goal weight.
I know what my body looks like naked.
And I KNOW I'm still fat.
As I sit here at my desk typing this, my gut sprawled out in front of me, it is very obvious that I'm not battling the last ten stubborn pounds.
The FACT is, I'm a long, LONG way from "maintenance".
I'm not struggling with my body image, but I'm not satisfied. I'm not scared of reaching my goal. There is still work to be done.
When I originally set my goal weight, I didn't do any research. I guessed.
I pulled a figure out of the air based on past personal experience, INCLUDING fad diets and failures, and the fact that I was morbidly obese and simply didn't believe in myself.
A lot has changed since then.
I know what I'm capable of, I know what I'm worth, and I KNOW I CAN DO BETTER.
So, that is how I came to match my goal weight to that of a very short, albeit muscular, man.
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