I joined SparkPeople on January 17, 2012 with the goal of dropping almost 50 lbs for my wedding in October. While I didn't make it that far, I did make it to 30 lbs, weighing in at 200 lbs even. Massive life changes over the summer and an injury that kept me off my feet for six weeks got in my way quite a bit, but I'm still very proud of the progress I was able to accomplish. Now I want to make that magic happen again.
If you didn't get to read my post from September, I'll sum it up - my husband and I moved to Tennessee over the summer. He moved from east-central Indiana in May, and I followed, going from Columbus Ohio in July. In May, I fell at my job as a ride operator at the Columbus Zoo and tore up my foot fairly well. Stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal, sprained in two places, and a sprained ankle, which kept me on crutches for six weeks and a cane for another week. It was eight weeks after my fall that I was cleared to return to full duty. By then, I'd left my job and moved, as well as gained a bit of weight from the inactivity. I started my new job July 10th, as a ride operator at Dollywood working on the roller coaster Mystery Mine.
Since September, a lot more has happened! My husband and I were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Connersville, Indiana. I worked hard in the last few weeks before the wedding to shed the weight I'd regained and dropped to a new record-low of 198 lbs. We honeymooned in California, sharing our love of amusement parks together by visiting 6 different parks in Los Angeles and San Diego. I felt confident and beautiful on my wedding day and the week following, but I quickly fell back into my old eating habits.
Working at a park with amazing food (we won the highly-acclaimed Golden Ticket award for Best Park Food this year), two unexpected promotions and a return to school, even though just half-time, were a sort of deadly combination for my habits. I gained quite a bit of weight in the last two and a half months of our season. The last few weeks of the season, my work uniforms were rather tight. Training at a coaster includes climbing the lift hill for evacuation training, and when I was trained at Wild Eagle in December, I barely made it up the huge amount of stairs to the top of the 205-foot lift hill.
I finished out the 2012 season as the team lead of Mystery Mine, a promotion I did not expect to earn so quickly. I'd been promoted to trainer just a month prior to the lead promotion. I was also offered the position of team lead at Wild Eagle for the following season, a very prestigious honor considering the Eagle is the park's "star" attraction, the newest roller coaster, and the largest crew of any of the coasters in the park. I was honored to accept it, and am looking forward to starting the 2013 season on February 26th as Wild Eagle's team lead.
By the end of January, I was back up to 219 lbs. I've dropped to 216 in the past two weeks without really trying much. It was hard to get back on the "diet" considering that I'm in the off-season layoff period and really don't do much but sit around at home. The weather's been crappy, and I haven't wanted to go outside. Now the weather is warming up and has actually been quite beautiful lately, leading to evening walks with my husband.
My goals are a bit different than they were last year. We live just a 20-minute drive from the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park (I can see it out my dining room window - our apartment's view is amazing). I want to be able to hike the Chimney Tops trail, climb to the overlook at Clingman's Dome and see Ramsey Cascades, all while carrying my 35-lbs camera bag. We hiked the 5-mile, partially paved Laurel Falls trail in November, and I was absolutely worn out. My knees were screaming, my back was aching and I was out of breath continuously. One of my very fit coworkers said that the Laurel Falls trail is "a warm-up jog" for he and his wife before they hit the trails. I don't necessarily expect to get that far, but I'd certainly like to go hiking without being completely worn out after a short, relatively easy trail.
As I said earlier, part of training on a coaster is to climb the lift hill. New hires actually have to climb it twice - once before they even begin training, to make sure they aren't going to freak out at that height, and once during evacuation training. Guess who gets to take them up there? That's right, the team lead! Well, either me or the trainer. Considering I barely made it up there on my training day, having to stop multiple times to catch my breath, I don't want to be embarrassed each time I train someone by how hard it is for me to make it to the top.
This time around, I'm not concerned about weight, or about my pants size. Those will come naturally and I don't have a wedding dress to fit into now. I'm concerned about my physical fitness and stamina. I lead too active of a lifestyle to be this out of shape. I want to be able to enjoy the beautiful area around us. I've made great progress so far, but I'm not finished yet.
In my very first blog post, I talked about how my knee pain was so bad that I was often having to get disability passes at amusement parks because I had a hard time with the stairs, especially in hilly parks. I'm proud to report that after I was back on my feet from the foot injury (I went to 5 different parks in a wheelchair, needing a disability pass due to my inability to walk unassisted!), I have only gotten a disability pass once out of the many parks we've visited, and that was on our second day at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. It's called "Magic Mountain" for a reason - the entire park is built on a mountain!! Climbing up and down it all day wore my knee out completely, so for day two, I got a stairs pass so at least I didn't have to hike a thousand stairs on top of the steep inclines. This was also the last day of our week-long honeymoon which consisted of 5 other parks in that span of time! So, for one day, I'd say I was doing pretty good! Other parks I've done without a pass include two days at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, SeaWorld San Diego, Knott's Berry Farm, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios Florida and Island of Adventure, Busch Gardens Tampa, Cedar Point, Kings Island and, of course, Dollywood.
I have a doctor's appointment next month to check out what's going on with my knee and hopefully get some advice on how I can continue to improve it. Gentle cardio (like the elliptical), increased walking and use, and the weight loss has done wonders for it. I'm wanting to start running now, using the couch-to-5k program, and I know it will be stressful on my knee, so I'm doing a lot of research on ways to reduce problems and keep my knee healthy while running.
In typical "me" fashion, this post has gotten absurdly long. I don't know how to keep things short and sweet! So, thanks for sticking with me of you've read the whole thing, and now, here's some photos!
Before and After photos:
Before: The day I found "the" dress, in May 2011. Weight: 233 lbs, Dress: Size 20
After: My wedding day, October 7, 2012. Weight: 198 lbs, Dress: Size 16
My husband and I, four days before the wedding, about halfway up Wild Eagle's lift.
Dancing with my husband. I ROCKED that dress!!
On our honeymoon at Disneyland in California.
After a slight regain. Taken in mid-January 2013 at Busch Gardens Tampa. Weight: 218 lbs.