Weigh-In Update + Vlog #44: Going Back To Work!

Hi folks! It’s about that time for another weigh-in report. Last week I weighed in at 187.6 lbs, and this morning the scale read 186.0 lbs, so I’m down 1.6 lbs this week, for a total weight loss of 86 lbs since starting last summer. Go, me!

Watch my full video update with exciting news below!

I guess the title spoils the big surprise this week, but I’m stoked to announce that after spending a little over a month interviewing for a position, last week I was offered the job and I start TOMORROW! Squee! Going back to work is both totally exciting and totally scary at the same time. Excited because this is the place I’ve wanted to work at since moving up to Seattle, so obviously that’s worthy of excitement. Scary because I haven’t worked in over a year, and there’s a small part of me that thinks maybe I can’t hack living this new healthy lifestyle while working full time.

But that’s a very teeny, tiny part of me now! I’m confident that with the proper attention, I can continue my path of healthy eating and pushing myself in my exercise activities. So wish me luck!

Second thing corresponds to the above-mentioned exercise activities. A while back, I tried running a little bit during my training sessions on the 20/20 Lifestyles program. My body didn’t like it: shin splints and hip pain plagued me whenever I tried to switch up my walking cadence to a jog, so my trainer and I concluded that maybe I should wait until I dropped a bit more weight before my body could really handle the mechanics of running.

Well, this weekend on a stroll around the block I got the urge to run a bit, and managed to run a whole 0.8 kilometers WITHOUT STOPPING. My previous record for running was maybe two minutes at a time, tops – and this length blew that time outta the park! I was so excited I went out again the next day to see if I could break the kilometer barrier – AND I DID! So, so exciting. The first few moments while I’m running (okay, jogging), it feels really hard. But at some point it feels like things get better. I focus on my breathing: deep breath in, fast breath out; deep breath in, exhale again… and then I’m around the block.

While I’m still huffing and puffing and sweating like crazy after a mere kilometer, it still feels SO MUCH BETTER than it used to. I’ve decided I’d like to train to run longer distances (I’ve even added a “Running” category here on the blog – GAME IS ON!), and my next goal is to go a mile without stopping. And after that I’d love to run a 5k. If I can run a 5k by the end of the year (or ever, for that matter), I will be SO INSANELY PROUD of myself I just don’t know what I’ll do.

The final exciting thing this week (as if I needed any more) is that I’ve had my first fitness-related article published! Readers may remember that I bought a bike earlier this year and took a private course at the Cascade Bicycle Club to help me get back on the horse, so-to-speak. About a month back, someone from the club contacted me asking if I would be willing to translate my blog post about it into an article for their monthly periodical. And it just went live this past week! Head on over here to read the article!

Hope all you lovelies are having a great week yourselves. Thanks for reading!

Weigh-In Update + Vlog #42: Weight Gain and the Importance of Water!

So, I’m 39 years old now. Happy birthday to me! It feels a bit like I should feel embarrassed about saying my age, but I’m totally not. I’m actually pretty proud, and I feel like a “young” 39. Maybe it’s all the videogames and lack of general responsibility. That plays some part, but this newer healthier lifestyle certainly has a part to play!

To celebrate my birthday, my boyfriend and I ventured up to Victoria British Columbia for a 4-day tourist trip, and we had SO MUCH FUN. We walked, and walked, and walked some more. One day I even hit the 25,000-step mark on my Fitbit! My relatively fit boyfriend was the one having to sit down and rest, while I was the one with the better stamina this time around. Pretty dramatic difference from our old normal, I tell ya!

I had decided in advance that I wasn’t going to track my food on the trip, and that I was going to allow myself to eat whatever looked good to me. Sure, I would try to maintain some balance, and make sure I never got to the point where I was feeling ravenous – and I brought some turkey jerky snacks and whatnot – but still, I kinda ate whatever I wanted without much regard to what it was going to do to my waistline.

The morning we embarked on our trip, I weighed in to get a baseline measurement for the “damage”, at 191.0 lbs. Of course I was hopeful that with all the walking I could come out even, but I knew it was likely for me to put on a little weight. The morning after we got back home, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I stepped back on the scale. It read “196.4 lbs”.

Lolololololol!

Watch the video below for a recap!

I was surprised to see I had gained 5.4 lbs, but not aghast or anything like that. And I wasn’t terribly bothered. I just knew I would eventually work it back off. Little did I realize how easy it would be.

The plan for when I returned was to just start eating the way I had before the trip. That meant bulk cooking chicken and ensuring I had food on hand to make good decisions. The other thing I decided to do was to inundate my system with water. See, while in Victoria I didn’t drink enough water. I felt super bloated and dehydrated, so water was my #1 priority.

And when I weighed in the next day at 192.2 lbs, I knew my water prioritization was the right thing. Heck, by the following day I was down into the 189’s! So yeah, water weight is a real thing. And walked up to 10 miles a day in Victoria didn’t hurt!

I’m happy to report that this past Tuesday, my official weigh-in was at 188.4 lbs. So it wasn’t a fluke! I’m definitely out of the 190’s now and ready to take on the 170’s. Onward!

My Childhood and My Body Image – On Family, Quiet Struggles, and Mousercise

When referring to my weight, it’s easiest to say I’ve been overweight all my life. But that’s not necessarily true. I “turned fat” one day. It’s one of those memories that defines me to myself. For so long it brought me pain and shame. Now I’m deciding to wear it like a war badge.

Me at 7 years, with me younger brothers

Me at 7 years old. My love of v-necks started early, obviously!

I was what I’d call a “normal-sized” child until sometime between 2nd and 3rd grade (whatever “normal sized” means). In 2nd grade, the boys in class used to leave love letters in my desk. I played hide and seek at dusk with all the neighbor kids and had a best friend named Christina who lived across the street. I was invited to birthday parties and sleepovers. I felt smart, pretty, and liked.

In 3rd grade, I started feeling marginalized. Like I was somehow different, not well-liked. I agonized when my best friend started hanging out with a different girl. I started worrying that I wasn’t wearing the right kind of clothes, or had the right hair cut. What changed? Why did I go from being relatively carefree to being wrapped up in my own self-esteem issues?

It’s tricky, because a lot went on around that time. My parents fought all the time and briefly separated. And I shouldn’t sweep the fact that I had been molested by older children under the rug. That happened. It left an indelible mark to be sure and likely tainted my life in ways I still don’t have a healthy respect for, but when I reflect back on everything one event stands out in stark contrast to the rest.

A family member had come to visit. This wasn’t a relative who visited often, but that didn’t change the impact of what he said to me. It’s a hazy memory, and I don’t remember the context, but I remember the location, the lighting, and the embarrassment and shame it immediately held:

He called me “chubs”.

It felt like he had punched me, it hurt that much. I don’t remember if I was already feeling self-conscious about the pre-pubescent weight I was putting on and this just legitimized my concerns, or if I was completely oblivious and this was the painful realization. At this point it doesn’t matter. This is the memory from where all my weight and body image issues started, as I remember it.

Who would call this smiley kid "Chubs"?!?

Who would call this smiley kid “Chubs”?!?

I hate to admit it, but my family kinda sucked. I know this now, but as a child I didn’t understand. I was never hugged or shown affection by any of them (they fed me love through meals, it’s all clear now why I’m an overeater). My parents had their own issues: depression, alcoholism, their own weight and identity issues, dissatisfaction with their relationships, anger they couldn’t hide from their children. And I was regularly verbally and physically abused by other family members. So to be sure there wasn’t a lot of safety or trust, but after this particular family member’s comment, ALL trust of any of the few positive remarks or reinforcement failed. When my grandpa called me “beautiful”, I thought he was lying – trying to make me feel better about being the fat monstrosity I now knew myself to be.

Before this time period, I reflect on my youthful playtime spent running around the cul-de-sac with the neighbor kids, dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” or The Go-Go’s “Vacation” with my best friend in her room, or running through Slip-n-Slides during the summer. After, I remember not wanting to swim with the neighbors because I felt fat in my bathing suit. And constantly wondering what negative things others might be thinking about me. I felt loneliness, isolation, and feeling I needed to keep my drama a secret, because I felt shame.

I remember being alone in my bedroom, at night, at about 8 years old, setting up my portable record player to spin my new favorite album. It wasn’t the Go-Go’s or Michael Jackson albums that my neighbor had. No, it was Disney’s Mousercise album.

 

Throughout the day I watch my appetite.
When I go to lunch, I eat so right.
Aerobic dancing keeps me fit and trim.
I feel so good about the shape I’m in.
But every night after I exercise,
My mouth starts yawning and I rub my eyes.
I think of food as I crawl into bed.
As I lay here sleeping, visions dance in my head.

– from “Pig Out”, Mousercise, Disneyland Records

This is NOT the album you wanted to leave your emotionally-fragile child to spend a lot of alone-time with!

I kept this album on repeat for too long. When I looked it up to research for this post, the liner notes and the orange-purple album label brought back visceral memories. I remember pedaling my feet in the air like on a bicycle while lying down, and dancing a ridiculous jig during “Step In Time” (my favorite track), all in the privacy of my bedroom, at night, usually with the lights out. I think most kids of the time interacted with this album in some sort of group setting – in class, or with friends. But for me, no way! I could never exercise in front of others. That meant I’d be admitting, in some way, that I was fat… broken… less than normal. I remember the feeling like this album could unlock the keys to happiness for me: being fit, no longer being “fat” – if only I could exercise forever. Which obviously, I couldn’t.

The track “Pig Out”, mentioned above, isn’t the pinnacle of a positive message for kids who primarily derive their sense of comfort and feelings of love through food, but, what did they know? This was over 30 years ago! This is when the 80’s fitness craze was really firing up so obviously extending that to the youth of tomorrow was a smart business move (though an emotional minefield, to be sure).

To this day I have issues sharing my struggles with friends and family. This feeling like being overweight is a personal failure on my part that I need to work alone to overcome is still deep-seated. Few of my family members know about this website, and I don’t share my successes with anyone outside of an occasional Facebook post (and I have a strict “no older relatives” Facebook rule – I don’t friend my aunts, uncles, or mother on it). There’s still part of me that craves their love and affection, and part of me that thinks maybe they’ll treat me better – or love me more – if only I can be thin. Owning this reality is important for moving beyond.

I now know that nothing I do will make my family give me the love that I crave. And I now know that food isn’t the answer, either. It really was, for so long. Coming home from school alone, with no one home, I always had cookies, pudding pops, and microwavable snack foods available to me. As an adult, after a particularly taxing day at work with no friends or family around, my friends at my favorite burrito joint could always hook me up with some comfort. I could gorge on burritos and Ben & Jerry’s and Mountain Dew until I literally fell asleep feeling drugged. That was my life. Food was love.

But now I know that the love has to start with me. I have to be my own biggest fan, and the success (whatever that means for me) will come. I don’t exercise in hopes that it will make someone give me attention. I exercise because I feel like a frickin’ superhero afterwards. I feel strong, powerful, and I feel love FROM MYSELF. I don’t worry about what I’m eating because I think someone will judge me for the choices I’m making. I primarily make my food decisions with the question: “How will this food fuel me?”, not “Will this food make me feel better?”

And I have to say, even though I’m still pretty heavy as of this writing, my body image is stronger than it ever has been. Heck, my boyfriend is kinda sick of me talking about these new muscles all the time, and how often I “can’t believe how cute I look”.


Understanding how I obtained my food and body image issues has been one of the key elements to my ability to lose the weight. Mostly because it allows me to move PAST all of the wallowing in it I’ve done for so long. I’ve accepted that I didn’t have the ideal childhood, and that my experiences contributed to my weight gain and low self-esteem. But now I’m an adult – responsible for my own actions – and I can move beyond and create the life that I want for myself. And each day is a step in that direction!

20/20 Lifestyles Wrap-Up (with Video)

I made it! I completed the two complete phases of the 20/20 Lifestyles Program, and I’m pretty proud to say that I KICKED. ITS. ASS!!!! Watch the video below for my recap, and/or continue reading further down for the details!

Today was my final program appointment with my physician, Dr. Doyle Perkins – though I will be meeting with him every 10 weeks hereafter to check-in and continue to measure my progress and assess any needs I have as pertains to my weight or fitness. Last week I went through my final round of tests on the program – including having my bloodwork run, strength and flexibility tests, and my DEXA body composition scan.

First up were my program before & after photos:
beforeafter_jun2014
Whoooooaaaaa… look at that side view! We are always are own harshest critics, and I sometimes feel like I’m just as big as ever, but there’s no denying that I’m considerably smaller than I was back in September. I’ve lost a large number of inches around my body – more around than I am tall, in fact. Look, I made a table!

Initial End P1 End P2 Total loss
Neck 16″ 13.75″ 13.25″ -2.75″
Chest 54.75″ 46.5″ 43.75″ -11″
Waist 51″ 39.5″ 36″ -15″
Hips 57.25″ 49″ 46″ -11.25″
Right Arm (Bicep) 19″ 15″ 14″ -5″
Right Leg (Thigh) 36″ 28″ 24″ -12″

If I’ve done the math correctly (chances are that I haven’t), that adds up to 57 inches total! And if you double my arm and thigh values for actuals, it’s like 74 inches. Over six feet of space gone from my body overall. NUTS!

Next up is a table of some of my other metrics:

Initial P1 End P2 End Change
Weight (lbs) 266 210 191 -75 lbs!
Body Fat % 61.3 50.0 43.2 -18.1%
Lean Body Mass (lbs) 103 105 109 +6 lbs!
Cholesterol 185 182 154 -31
Triglycerides 103 77 69 -34
LDL 119 124 100 -19
HDL 45 43 40 -5
Glucose 104 84 82 -22
BP 126/82 114/68 106/66 -20/-16

Everything’s going in the right direction there, except for my HDL (healthy cholesterol), which I need to try to get to 50 according to Dr. Perkins.

My favorite part is the lean muscle mass. According to the DEXA scan, I’ve gained something on the order of 6 lbs of muscle. I don’t have anything to compare this to, but when I started on the program they told me the strength training component of my workouts were designed to prevent me from LOSING muscle mass, which I’m told is common among women losing large amounts of weight. So the fact that I did more than maintain my muscle and that I, in fact, increased my muscle, is something to celebrate. Doc said my fat loss was something like 81 lbs instead of just 75, factoring in my lean gains. And both the assessor and my doctor mused that it was the largest body fat percentage loss/muscle gain they remembered seeing in a female on the program, so I’m pretty proud of that!

The muscle mass increase explains my strength test results. My bicep curl back in September showed me able to curl 35 lbs. Last week, I curled 54 lbs. My flexibility result was perhaps the most of a letdown. My “sit and reach” back in September was 9.6 inches, and last week it was a mere 7.7 inches. The assessor said it wasn’t uncommon, buuuut, I don’t believe her. I haven’t been doing as much stretching as I should in recent months. And MAYBE I was wearing Spanx to my final appointment. That might have had something to do with the negative result 😉 In any case, increased flexibility is always something to shoot for.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty damned good about my overall program results. What’s more, I feel confident that I will be able to maintain my efforts and keep losing more as time goes on. I recommend the 20/20 Lifestyles program to those with the financial means to do so. It’s not an inexpensive program. And while my insurance covers half of it, it’s still a lot of money out of pocket (or out of our health savings account, which is a nice perk as well). I’ve gone through all sorts of different weight loss programs, but this was really the most comprehensive, and I think that approach is what’s really required for long-term lifestyle change. I feel deeply changed in ways that I never thought possible, and I’m excited about the next stage of my personal journey. Hope you’ll continue to follow along!