Thursday, December 29, 2011
It makes stretching harder. It takes longer.
I decided to try something new. I emptied my mind and just stretched. I stopped berating myself and started to rejoice in the fact that I'm here and it's now. 30 years ago is just that. It's 30 years gone. This minute, though, is pretty fucking awesome. Look at me. I rule!
I felt my muscles lengthen and relax into the bend. I breathed. I felt warmth flow through the tendons and sinews, causing them to lengthen. I stretched further. My forehead loomed close, not quite on my knee but closer than it's come in a very long time.
By letting go, I stared at my knee, now up close and personal. How long will it take for me to rest my head on it comfortably?
I couldn't say....but sooner if I can just remember to let go.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I wasn't laid off. I wasn't "let go." There wasn't anything delicate about it. I was fired. Fired. FIRED. If my heart weren't pounding and in my throat as I listened to the crimes the company had against me, I might've thought about Mr. Spacely. I surely felt like George Jetson. Only on The Jetsons, Mr. Spacely always hires George back. I wasn't going to be hired back. I knew that just as surely as I knew I would be fired. By reportedly the "nicest woman on the planet."
Hmm. I never saw that side of her. She barely spoke to me. Unless it was to rip on my copy. It all sucked...until she replaced a word, rearranged some sentences and then miraculously...it became genius.
*insert angels choir singing*
My boss actually did not fire me. She let the HR person on the phone do it. "We've decided that your performance just wasn't there, and so you're being fired for lack of performance. Your last day of work will be immediately. You're to gather your things, turn in your badge, make your way to the door and you'll receive your last check on the 16th."
I'd already carted my things home before Thanksgiving.
They wanted to watch me cry. They kept staring at me to see if maybe, just maybe I'd lose my cool. They wanted to witness a breakdown of epic proportions and then report back to the rest of the team how they cracked my veneer. I gave them nothing. Nothing at all.
I walked back to my desk, gathered my Batman lunchbox together and handed over my computer's passwords. They stood gaping at my calm demeanor. "I saw this in a cartoon once. I think I got it," I explained as I donned my coat with what I hoped to be total nonchalance.
They stood. Silent. Unwilling to meet my eyes. I spoke to my coworkers who never, ever wished me a good morning in the 240 days that I was there. "Goodbye. I'm being fired. I guess it's been nice. Good luck."
They also stared at me as I turned over the security key. If I needed a reference, one man offered...lamely. He meant well. "Thanks," I nodded at him curtly. Now he was going to be pleasant, friendly?
I hooked my purse over my shoulder, grabbed my Batman lunchbox and walked out. I didn't look back. Mercifully, the elevator came quickly to take me away from the many sets of eyes that now watched my departure. The doors closed and I relaxed. It was over.
I didn't have to drive into work telling myself to be brave and not to cry.
I didn't have to keep trying to forge relationships with people who cared nothing for me.
I didn't have to hear people invited to lunch without me.
I didn't have to beg my teammates for input on what to do, how to do it and how to improve upon it.
I didn't have to work with an art director who didn't care that columns weren't lining up and images weren't straight and charts were impossible to read because she didn't want to format them.
I didn't have to hear how badly I sucked unless, of course, I deserved it.
Despite the advantages of my termination, it still stung. I shook hands with the maintenance crew and then walked to my car. I let the tears fall. When the folks six floors up wouldn't be able to see me.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Notice the words: We LET it.
Fear has to have permission to manipulate us. In other words, we have to let it in and take control. We have to lower our guard, and we have to stand by quietly as it changes the natural order of our lives. We have to continue to sit by passively as fear runs the show. Fear tells us what to say, what to do, how to live, who to talk to.
Bravery, Tony Robbins said, is not continuing on with your life with the absence of fear. Fear is a pretty important part of life. It tells us when we need to keep our hands off the hot stove. Bravery, instead, is actually operating in spite of the presence of fear. It's allowing us to put our hands out over the hot stove to detect its heat and to figure out how we can handle it without getting burned. In other words, bravery is walking around fear and then giving it a big FUCK YOU.
Well...Tony never actually said "Fuck you" but you get my drift.
Having the ability to defy fear's iron grip of control is what bravery is about. And for the last several weeks, I've had to remind myself to be brave.
It's my mantra. Be brave. Don't let fear take over. I'm in a situation where there is no way to win. There are only degrees of loss. How I lose will be more important than the loss itself, and so I will have to go down swinging. I will have to do everything in my power to demonstrate my abilities to fight...and then there will be a time to concede the loss.
And so I tell myself: Lose with grace. Lose with your head held high and with the understanding that there are times when you cannot win, but the way you lose speaks volumes about who you are and what you're made of....and sister, you're better than this.
Be brave. Wrench the control from fear and those around who want to see me cowed, beaten down and enslaved. Call their bluff and let them know that they might have all of the strings, but what they don't know is that I've cut the ties.
They have nothing over me....and once again, my loss will be my gain if I can just be brave.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
But what if you lived in a world where eating 1500 calories a day and running 15 miles a week didn't do squat for your weight loss plan? What if you cut down to 1200 calories a day and STILL didn't lose any weight?
And so now you understand my problem.
My 2011 plan to lose weight began with a vow: this was the year I was going to try EVERYTHING.
I began the year with tests. Perfectly healthy. In fact, sickeningly so. Resting heart rate: 68. Cholesterol: 167. Blood pressure: 110/77.
I consulted a dietician and sent her my stats and a sample menu of what I ate on a daily basis, including the ridiculous caloric binge at Red Robin when I was actually trying to make better choices. The chicken roll up, by the way, has more sodium, fat and calories than a simple burger. Who knew?
She looked at my 3-day intake and declared that I wasn't eating enough. 1500 calories a day and running 15 miles a week? Not enough food. Eat more. Also, I wasn't getting enough vitamin E which meant I needed to eat more seeds and seed oils.
I adjusted and promptly gained weight and shin splints. I reduced my running to 6 miles a week. Still gained weight, shins still hurt.
Someone told me about interval running: Run balls out for 30 seconds and then walk. I quote: It MELTS the fat from you.
I like the idea of fat melting...but balls out with shin splints? Nuh-uh. How about I do an easier version of interval running? A total of 2 miles, including warm up and cool down, with short distances of easy running with shorter distances of walking?
Much, much better. Still not losing...but not gaining. My legs take on a more defined look. I can see a noticeable difference in how my clothes fit. Around June, I decide to take my measurements. They frighten me and I now realize precisely why I have to shop in the fat-lady section.
July: I went back to the doctor's and stepped on the scale. I gained. My doctor looked at my legs. "At least you're muscular." Words every woman wants to hear. "I think you eat too many carbs," he said. "Maybe you cut back on your carbs. Come back in 3 months."
And so I cut back on my carbs. Hard-boiled eggs and yogurt for breakkie. Chicken breast and fruit for lunch. Cheese stick, veggies and a piece of meat for dinner. Peanut butter as a snack. Weekends are tough. I like beer. I switched to light beer. No soda. I drink a lot of PowerAde Zero, iced tea with sugar (yes, sugar) and low-calorie juices.
20 pounds gone as of this morning.
I'm a long way away from the 100 pounds I needed to lose, but I'm 20% there.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
When I was unemployed, all I dreamed about was having a job. I thought, "Oh, man...if I could only have a job. I'd hug it and squeeze it and call it George..."
Well. Maybe not George, but you get the point. And when I finally got hired, I thought it was going to be great. After 30 months of scraping by, and it was the scraping that made an immediately identifiable fingernails down a chalkboard kind of sound, I thought I had scored a golden fucking ticket when I was offered a job. Oh, boy. It was going to be great. I'd have somewhere to go every day, meaningful things to do every day, people to talk to...every day... Oh, yessiree. It was going to be one giant possibility, and I was going to LOVE it.
Weirdly enough, I loved my old job. And so I automatically assumed that the new job was going to be just like the old one. It was a hard pill to swallow, learning that the new job wasn't anything like the old one.
No file access means I'm an editor and not a writer.
I can't update my own files. I have to hand-write them on a hard copy and then walk them over to a crabby woman who does the minimum. She won't ask for clarification. She won't spell check. She won't think. She'll just do.
Hand-written changes? I'm gonna need a LOT of correction fluid.
I haven't hand-written anything more than "Happy Birthday" or "Please return to sender" for 20 years, and I no longer think in terms of using a pen and paper to express my thoughts. I begin writing and then realize that what I've started isn't at all what I want to say, or I think of a better way to write it out mid-sentence...and then I want to re-write it all. On a computer, you just hit the backspace key. It's like it never existed and I hand over a finished product that looks neat and clean. On a piece of paper, however, I have to reach for the Liquid Paper for re-writes. My hard-copy edits sport scars, scratches and smears from improper or multiple applications.
Failing the Vulcan Mind Trick.
Guess what I'm thinking. No. Go ahead. Guess. The Jelly of the Month Club? Nope. I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 17,363. Guess which number. 7. No, that's not right. Guess again. 33. Nope. 732. Try it again. It's an even number. 9,214. How many times have you guessed? I don't have time for this.
My boss and I play this game a couple of times a week. I try to guess what she's thinking and she tells me I'm wrong. It's fun. When I try to anticipate, I'm smacked down for rushing into things. When I wait, I'm not proactive. When I ask questions, I'm being deliberately stubborn. I'm just not getting the work. I'm failing and it's my fault. Having so many years of experience, I should just KNOW. I'm not working up to my potential. Nobody has time for multiple rewrites...but let's just send out V1 to a client and see what happens. Oh. You've potentially jeopardized our client/corporate relationship by your mistakes...but nobody will show you the comments. They're just. so. long. Pages of comments. Oh. You've embarrassed the company. You've embarrassed me.
I interrupted this tirade: You sent it out without looking at it first?
She blinked: Yes.
I sat back: Oh. That's on you, then. I'm not taking responsibility for that.
She signed my employee performance evaluation. F. I received an F. And she gave me a stern warning: If I didn't improve in 30 days, I'd be out on my keister.
Meanwhile, we've been meeting every week in her office. She wants to know how everything's going. I tell her it's fine. She tells me that my latest piece of writing needs changes. I make the changes. And then she "adjusts" them further, writing down how many times she has to look at my assignments before they're "client-worthy."
30 days comes up tomorrow. I'm not feeling good about it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I've worked hard, tried harder....hey, Universe...can you meet me half-way? I'm busting my ass down here. Throw me a bone, wouldja?
And then I remember another lesson: when it's hard, it's because I've got a lesson to learn. When it's easy, I'm more likely to become complacent, cocky, lazy, redolent and dependent. I don't learn when it's easy. I coast. I don't develop myself. I follow the same path and, as a result, wear a groove into the rug. That's not life. That's existence. Know the difference. Embrace the difference. Live the difference.
What does it mean to live in the moment? It's learning to stop wasting precious energy by worrying over what might be versus what is. Ruining now with poisoning thoughts of what may happen isn't productive. It's a waste of time. More importantly, it's a waste of now.
Living in the moment is moving forward knowing that there is fear, but I can't let fear stop me because then it will be my master. I can acknowledge it, and then I have to move past it. Being brave isn't existing without fear. It's about moving forward despite the presence of fear. Have courage no matter what.
Living in the moment is understanding that there are pitfalls and pinnacles both, and I must learn how to ride them equally well. One cannot exist without the other. They are mutually existent polarities, and therefore drawn together by forces beyond my control. Every negative has a positive. Every positive has a negative. Use both and learn.
Living in the moment is taking small pleasures where they are offered, but the hardest part is recognizing them for what they are. Small pleasures are a distinct part of the present and the present is now. Live in it.
How much time have I wasted in counterproductive activities? How often have I ruined today with thoughts of tomorrow? How many times have I railed at the Universe to pick me up and carry me because I'm tired?
More times than I care to admit.
When I'm free of worry, dwelling on the negatives, and able to move beyond fear, it's then that I know the Universe carries me. It feels like flying.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Bad idea. My legs weren't ready for it. They gave out around Turn 4. I fell sprawling, arms and legs out, flat on my chest. It knocked the wind out of me. As I laid there, other joggers hurdled over me.
Yes. You read that right. They jumped over my prone body and let me lay there. Nobody offered me a hand up or checked to make sure I was okay. They didn't even look back. My body had become merely an obstacle to get around.
I remember feeling horribly diminished and alone.
The story came back to me again yesterday during the 6-month review that I had to beg my boss to schedule. I knew something felt wrong when almost every project I handled fell into a black hole and I never saw it again. When I followed up with the project managers and account managers, they wouldn't meet my eye. They mumbled, "It was fine."
In the writing world, nothing is ever fine. You can be a Pulitzer prize-winning author and still have a big, red stain of ink across your smartly written paragraphs. As a lowly copywriter, I had to grow elephant skin in order to avoid feeling like a miserable hack on a daily basis...but never hearing anything back about anything?
Not good. And so I had to beg for a review.
Also, not good.
The meeting was, as predicted, a confirmation of my assumptions: Something was rotten in Denmark.
The synopsis: I wasn't getting it. After 6 months, I should know what to do every day. I rush through things and often overlook details. I missed a disclaimer. I don't have the style down. Nobody has time to go through multiple revisions, and as a senior copywriter, I'm not living up to my job title. I shouldn't need multiple revisions. I'm too blunt. I rub people the wrong way.
I listened carefully to how I failed time and time again with concrete examples of my mistakes, oversights, carelessness and inattention to detail. The team felt uncomfortable coming to me about my lack of performance. They didn't feel it was their place to show me where the problems were. They shouldn't have to mentor me. With my level of experience as a writer, I should "know" what to do and have the skill set that my job title implies.
And yet my heart's in the right place. My boss believes that I want to do a good job. And for the next month, we'll be meeting once a week so we can go over my trouble spots and see where I still need improvement.
I realized that I was back out there on that track and people were jumping over me again.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Jim Morrison. Yes.
I spent $50 on The Best of The Doors. 2-disc CD package. It rankles that I still don't have my favorite Doors song. Instead of genius, the powers that be put in "People Are Strange" instead...but it's an old irritant. iTunes, I remind myself as I nudge the CD into the slot. I could have "Backdoor Man" if I really wanted it. "Soul Kitchen," too, for that matter. Both of them are there, if only I thought to buy them more often than when I pull this CD out from the dregs.
When the Music's Over. It's the perfect anthem for a day that clearly signals the end of the summer, and fall's imminent arrival. The minimal, instantly recognizable intro that lasts a full minute before Jim croons into the microphone is fitting. Comforting.
I drive out into the night. It looks and feels exactly like it did 9 hours earlier when I came home.
"Yes. Do you have Jameson's?"
"No! We don't have that kind here."
"What kind do you have?"
"Oh. Okay. I'll take that."
"You want Crown Royal?"
"In a glass?"
"Do you want anything in the glass besides the whiskey?"
"No. You'll ruin it...but I would like to have a glass of lemonade on the side, please."
"Uhh...okaaaay....so you want a glass of whiskey, neat, and a glass of lemonade?"
Jeez. You would've thought I wanted poodles playing the merengue.
He brought my glass of whiskey. In a stemless wineglass. A pint glass full of iced lemonade. I wasn't going to quibble, but for fuck's sake. A stemless wineglass? Really? For whiskey?
I sighed, thanked the waiter and took a long swallow from my fruity stemless wineglass. Canadian whiskey. Blended. Eh, well. The familiar burn down my throat cleared away the last of the hoarseness. When the fiery liquid hit my stomach, I felt warmer already. I set my glass down and glanced up. The folks around me, including the waiter, had been watching me in disbelief.
Apparently, they didn't believe that a woman could drink whiskey. I gave my best Jim Belushi shrug and waited for the conversation around me to begin again before I took another sip.
I finished it and ordered another, but with a side of freshly chopped basil. The restaurant owners, friends of ours, came over and wanted to see what I was making...blending Crown Royal, lemonade and basil...and they were intrigued, so I gave them the real recipe:
Crown Royal, simple syrup made from raw sugar (turbinado), the freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly chopped basil make for an incredible whiskey sour.
"That'll be next week's drink special," the wife crowed. "What do you call it?"
"A Friday Night Special," I answered with a wink as I took a big sip from my pint glass.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
When I was in grade school, Susie P. was fatter than me...but she always tried to tell me that she weighed less. "I only weigh 80," she'd boast and then cheat the scale in some crafty way when she'd try to prove it to me. I used to catch her dangling her foot off the edge. She'd deny it...but we both knew that she weighed 80 only when she'd lost a leg.
In fifth grade, I remember getting measured and weighed in front of the whole class. It was mortifying. I waited until almost the last kid to take my turn, and the nurse even whispered it to me, but she had to mark it on my chart. Everyone around could read it. She had impeccable handwriting. There it was in black and white: 5 foot tall and 112 pounds.
I could feel the shame of it roll over me as if I were dipped in oil and then set to dry somewhere.
It's been a few years since fifth grade, but I still felt the familiar roil of shame as I climbed on the scale. I watched the digital numbers fight as they tumbled over each other.
When they settled for a steady weight, I had a bitter realization: I regained in two days what it took me two weeks to lose.
I fought hard to lose it. I fought hard to keep it off. But the taste of travel food and the allure of a new brewery? I thought for sure I'd walked it off. I walked for HOURS all over that town, up and down stairs and I didn't even sit down until late in the afternoon. I ate sparingly all day Sunday, except for this one small slice of carrot cake that I didn't even finish.
It's very hard to walk away from carrot cake. But I did. I swear I did. The husband happily finished what I'd left behind.
"It's made with lard," the woman confided to me as she whisked the empty plate away. "None of that fake shortening stuff; this is the real deal."
Ah, I answered with a knowing glance. The power of lard.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I write automotive training materials. First of all, I'm a total car nerd. I like knowing how stuff works, and I like being able to tell people how it works and why it's important. This also makes me a control freak...but that's another story.
In any case, whenever I think that I'm not saving lives or finding cures for cancer, I remind myself that I failed math three times and all of the science programs required math. That's why I settled on English. That and the fact that I wanted to have a reason to read so much. The downside of English was Shakespeare, but luckily, I caught on to how the class was taught. Any passage the prof read aloud was going to be on the test. I underlined it in my book, paperclipped the page and then wrote notes in the gutters.
We could use our books on the tests.
But I always liked science, and always wanted to do something scientific. Technical writing is English and Science mixed together.
I get my science fix by studying products, and then explaining how they work. My job is perfect because it lets me teach people stuff, but it eliminates those pesky and irritating face-to-face relations. And so I teach sales people about cars. And they want to know how to sell more cars. They want to know more about the competition so they can shoot it down and make it look like the hero car is a thinking person's best choice. And when they need to look stuff up, they want to know where to find it. FAST.
I write a lot of statistics, and try to present them in an organized fashion. I also write blurbs about how stuff works in layperson's terms, but merely informing people isn't enough. I have to motivate them. Fear is a huge motivator. A lot of automotive safety stuff exploits this knowledge, so I get to write content with this flavor: YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.
It's in all caps because it's that important.
Scaring people into buying stuff works, by the way. Some manufacturers are still talking about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. They were mandated back in 2008, so they're on EVERY vehicle. It's the law. But it bears mentioning on spec sheets because people are afraid that if some cars list it as a feature and others don't, then that means THAT ONE ISN'T AS SAFE.
It's the same with airbags. How many airbags? As many as a manufacturer can fit into a vehicle. More airbags = safer vehicle...but that's not necessarily true. More airbags help compensate for a lighter vehicle construction. For example, your car will still crumple like a pinata if a semi hits you at more than 30 mph...but boy-oh-boy, those 37 airbags will inflate and then explode on impact. And that'll be something to see. If you're still conscious. But you've got 37 airbags. And that's 27 more than the leading competitor, earning the hero car a five-star safety rating from NHTSA. Lah-ti-friggin-dah....and nyah, nyah, nyah.
I don't save lives and I'm not finding cures for cancer...but I look forward to going to work every day and learning new ways to think about what people do, how they do it, why they do it, and how I can help them do it better while they pay me.
It's science without math....and it's English without Shakespeare.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
"I think there's more to you than just fat," said Putzie to Jan in Grease.
"Thanks," she replied with a combination of appreciation and indignation.
I stepped on the scale this morning at the gym, and realized that those four pounds I gained last weekend from one slice of pie, two light beers and eight onion rings are going to keep me from my 10-pound weight-loss goal for August. Aside from feeling miserable while I ran my 2-mile intervals in under 30 minutes, I decided that I was not going to check to see how much water weight I lost after I ran, even though I normally do.
There's more to me than just fat, I reminded myself. I can still kick out the jams, motherfucker. I'm teaching myself and mentoring other writers. I'm writing more and reaping more from it. I shook my debt anchor. I am me. Hear me roar my victory song.
But I seem to be missing one very important component – my mojo. Where exactly did I leave it? And why do I not have it now?
I'm the same weight I was 11 years ago, back when I was unafraid of it. I felt like a fucking goddess. I took a room by storm because goddammit, I was a woman to be reckoned with. Long, red hair. Long, red nails. I wielded my mojo with mad skillz, and had a boyfriend who loved that confidence:
"You're a sexy bitch," he whispered in my ear.
"I know," I laughed, throatily.
That was my mojo talking. And I'm going to find it again. No matter what I weigh.
Monday, August 29, 2011
The hardest part of being on a diet is knowing that I'm not supposed to drink. For those of you who know me, you know I love alcohol. I'd be drunk all the time if it didn't kill my liver...or cost so damned much...or turn my brain into mush...or become addictive....or turn up my propensity to be an asshole...
Anyway, if I want to have a couple of light beers ever, I have to plan for it. I scrimped. I saved my calories. I fucking starved all weekend just to have these two light beers...but then I was faced with a giant decision: do I want that slice of chocolate brownie/banana/peanut butter pie? The answer was an unequivocal yes. I wanted a slice of that pie...and I didn't want to share it...although let the record state that I offered.
The husband didn't take me up on my offer to share, so I ate that delicious slice of pie for lunch. And as any fat girl who dares to eat anything other than skinless chicken breast and raw vegetables in public might do, I'm going to rationalize it. That was all I had for lunch, and I'm sure that blew through my entire carb allotment into this week, but I ate it...and I enjoyed every mouthful.
In fact, it was special pie, handmade by Rock City Pies. The chef is named Nikita Sanches: http://www.nikitasantches.com/index.html and you can find Rock City Pies at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. Get out there and support your local artists by visiting this 9 Mile/Woodward's physical location (find out where here: http://www.rustbeltmarket.com/) on Saturdays and Sundays....it's like Etsy.com offline.
I hope you take time to visit him. Tell him Bee sent ya.
As special as that slice o'pie was, it didn't have any beer in it. And it had been two very long weeks where I hadn't had any beer.
I hadn't had any pie for MONTHS, but I shot that record all to hell...
When dinner rolled around, I had my bunless burger. I had a small serving of onion rings. And I washed them down with two light beers.
Now, bear in mind that so far that day, I had a three-egg omelette with veggies and cheese for breakfast (about 400 calories), a slice of pie for lunch (about 400 calories)...and then my supper.
1/4 lb. Cheeseburger, no bun: 270
8 onion rings: 280
2 light beers: 200
Total calories: 760
Total calories for the day: 1560
Weight gain on the scale today from Friday: 4 pounds.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
"Can he still run?" I asked, concern wrinkling my brow.
"No," my mom answered. "He won't be able to run."
"Not ever again?" I asked.
"No, he won't be able to run," she repeated as if I totally missed the point.
Not being able to run seemed like the worst life sentence to me. There were times when I ran just because I could. I'd run until I was out of breath and had to gasp to regain it. I'd run just to feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I'd stretch out my arms and pretend I was flying. It was glorious to feel that sense of weightlessness, that oneness with air and earth. To lose that forever? Oh, it seemed like such a loss to me. I mourned for him.
I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I stopped running. Maybe I got tired of adults yelling at me not to run, that I could fall if I weren't more careful. Maybe I didn't want to arrive somewhere all windblown and glowing with a thin sheen of sweat. Maybe it was for some other reasons altogether...but either way, I didn't run anymore. Not for fun, anyway....and not for any longer than I absolutely had to. I caught the bus, hurried to meet friends, rushed across busy streets...usually no further than a few feet did I ever run. And it began to hurt...which made me want to run even less. I began to hate running.
I didn't run for 25 years.
I stepped on the scale. 215. I'd been on a diet for almost my entire adult life. I went on an extreme diet and lost 70 pounds only to put it all back on plus more in less than 3 years. Diets alone don't work, and I never had a steady schedule where I could take an exercise class. I looked around at chronic exercisers. Most of them ran and I didn't know any runners who were fat.
God, I hated running. And then I remembered the story about the guy who couldn't run after his operation. I remembered how shocked I was that such a great activity was taken away from him. What happened to that joy I used to feel from running? It moved out to make room for my fat.
All running needs is a place and a good pair of shoes. Surely I could find the time to start running.
Starting a running program is brutal. It hurts. It's thankless. It takes a lot of extra time. It's humbling. Parts of me shook like jelly as I attempted a minimal turkey trot. My tiny stride belied the rest of me. My legs took hopping baby steps while my body flopped around in complete opposition of my slow motion. I felt ridiculous. Huge. Under a microscope with the whole gym staring at the fat girl on the treadmill.
There weren't any fat runners, I reminded myself, except me. If I could keep it up, soon I'd be thin, too. Meanwhile, my immediate reward for doing my workout was being able to take a long hot shower at the gym, a privilege I sorely missed.
Three years later, I weigh 221. I'm still the fattest runner on the treadmill. I've shucked my baggy sweats in favor of more form-fitting leggings. I run intervals: several quarter-mile jogs at 5 mph interspersed with short walks. I do this for 2.25 miles in about 30 minutes. My body is tighter. My legs are stronger, leaner, more flexible. I can start to see muscle definition all over. When I finish my workout, I hold my head up high. I did it. Again today. God willing, I'll do it again in a couple more days.
I run for that guy my mom told me about years ago, but most of all, I run for me. I run because I can. And I'm so absolutely grateful that I can.
And I'm 100% thankful for a long, hot shower afterward. Indoor plumbing, I heart you.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Thomas Edison failed a bunch of times when he tried to make a light bulb, but he kept at it. What did he have to say about his failures?
He found a thousand ways how NOT to make a lightbulb...which led him to the ONE success.
When it came close to the time for me to quit smoking, I re-examined all of my failures and from what didn't work, I discovered the strategies that would help me succeed.
Smoke-free after nearly four years, I won that battle due to my willingness to try a bunch of things that everyone said would fail...purely based on looking at ME.
Why would I think dieting would be any different?
I dunno. I just did. I thought it was all about math: calculate how many calories go in and how many go out, and then voila. Weight loss. When that didn't work, I thought it was also about adding in some behavior modification: go to the gym three times a week, work your motherfucking ass off and track how many calories go in. Voila. Weight loss.
Eat more. Eat less. Eat more veggies. Eat mini meals. Eat one big meal and then go smaller throughout the rest of the day. Eat vegetarian. Don't eat processed foods. Skip dessert and sweets. Don't deprive yourself. Sleep more. Get up earlier to work out. Sleep less. Don't eat late. Eat when you're hungry. Maybe you're eating for the wrong reasons. Eliminate fat. Eat mono-saturated fats. Limit your fat intake. Eat more fiber. Go gluten-free.
It all whirled around my head. I followed the advice. Most of it. Some of it conflicted, so I tried one way first and then the other way. I kept gaining...aka failing.
The proverbial lightbulb went on over my head: I've found a thousand ways how not to lose weight...so I don't need to try those again....but there's one way that I succeeded before. I was on this protein shake diet. Aside from the fact that it very nearly ruined my digestion, I lost 70 pounds in about 5 months. How could I take the basic premise from it and not sabotage my innards?
What did the diet do besides limit calories? It limited carbs. An extremely low-carb diet can tax the kidneys, but what about a modified low-carb diet? What if I kept my carbs under 100 grams? That was do-able...but I was going to have to figure out what I could eat. No sammies for lunch? No potato chips? No oatmeal? No hummus? Limited booze?
What the hell was I supposed to eat?
I had to rethink EVERYTHING I ate, and then cook stuff ahead of time....and then I had to figure out how to package food to carry it to work with me.
And so I figured it out. For the first few days, I felt a bit off -- dizzy and out of it. I had a nagging headache. I was tired, crabby. I wanted to crawl into a dark room and sit there quietly until this feeling went away.
It wasn't unlike the first few days of not smoking.
After one month, I've lost a little bit of weight. My clothes fit a little better. I've learned to buy chicken breasts in the frozen 4-lb. bags and dump them into the crock pot twice a week so I can make chicken salad, pulled chicken, barbequed chicken and chicken with vegetables in minutes. Venison, pork tenderloin and lean cuts of beef also work well. I boil eggs first thing in the morning so I can have them hard-boiled. Plain yogurt mixes well with homemade jam or freshly harvested honey. Berries are in season, and I can eat a full cup a few times a day. Cereal with milk is key first thing in the morning for energy. Freshly sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese is yummy. Dark chocolate is a great way to handle my chocolate cravings.
At least it's not failure....and it's too soon to rejoice for success....but at least it's looking up.
Monday, August 15, 2011
The review for the movie "Julie and Julia" said something about how the blogging part of the story was completely self indulgent.
Well...sh'yah...blogging by its very nature is self indulgent. I mean, doesn't the reviewer understand that? Blogging is a bunch of words put together and then published onto the Web in hopes that millions of people will read it and relate, and then respond in the form of a communal commentary, which will immediately result in odes of praise and/or controversy, but either way, it's a ploy for attention.
It's also a way for us fledgling hacks to get published on the Interwebz. When anybody finds our scrawls, we react a little like Steve Martin in "The Jerk": The new phone book's here....the new phone book's here....I'm somebody!!!!
It's vanity. All of it.
Traditionally, however, we think of vanity as someone being especially devoted to his or her appearance, similar to the myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his own image.
And yet, by looking at me, you'd wonder if I'd gazed into a mirror today. How could I possibly be labeled as vain with runaway hair like that? Can't I see that my pants aren't neatly pressed, my tee shirt has a tiny bleach stain on the right shoulder? My accessories are wrong, my shoes are too comfortable and my makeup is smeared again.
Curiously enough, I don't often look into mirrors. I can't step outside of myself to view my appearance objectively. Never could. That's why pictures of myself shock me. Really? That's how I look? Gah....
My oldest, kindest friends tell me what I want to hear. Other people search my appearance for somewhere pleasant to rest their eyes. Still others look for faults and focus on them. If I could feel a physical sensation equivalent to what they were doing, it would be as if I were picking a scab that wasn't quite ready to come off. It's not bleeding. Not yet. But it's tender and itch-provoking just before the pain hits.
I hold their gaze but a part of me suddenly sees what they're seeing, as if I'm able to read the thought patterns behind their eyes. Frizzy hair. Bushy eyebrows. Runny mascara. Shiny face. Bare lips. Front tooth harbors an errant raspberry seed husk. Big pores. Ill-fitting top. Tangled necklace. Baggy, wrinkled trousers. Overweight.
And then I realize that I'm projecting my own thoughts onto them. A score of negative images amplified and broadcasted drift unwelcome into my head. Are certain people really thinking all of this?
Of course not. It's not them. It's me. And it's vain of me to believe they spend any time at all thinking of me in such details.
Monday, July 25, 2011
This week, I was bad.
The hardest part of dieting is understanding that for me, it's not a straight formula for weight loss. If it was, I'd have this damned thing licked. No, it's a carbohydrates issue...and I proved it to myself once and for all this week.
On Monday, I stepped on the scale. I'd lost 4 pounds. Go, me! And I drank all weekend. Not excessively, mind you. A couple of drinks on Friday....a couple on Saturday. I saved my carbs both days, in fact, to allow me to have them without guilt.
I ran in the morning, walked in the evening, drank two light beers to wash down my bunless burger and salad. Daytime cheat included a giant frozen mochaccino from Einstein's that was the equivalent to a full-course meal, I'm sure.
Tuesday, I walked. I didn't drink anything stronger than iced tea to wash down my burger wrap.
Wednesday, I ran in the morning, walked in the evening, had one light beer to wash down the THREE PIECES OF PIZZA I had for supper.
Thursday, I had two drinks. Ate four chicken wings, half a chicken quesadilla, one chicken popper and three cheese sticks. Did not exercise.
Today: I ran. I weighed myself. Packed those 4 pounds back on. I feel as if I failed utterly and completely. Really? 4 pounds can do that?
It triggered a tumble of blame games. Why did I let the girl at Einstein's talk me into a large frozen mochaccino? Oh, right. They don't use simple syrup and I hate the puddle of sugar at the bottom of their iced coffees. I just wanted it a little sweet. Instead, I had liquid chocolate pie complete with whipped cream.
Why didn't I eat salads all week? Oh, right. Because salads cost more and they're like Chinese food: I'm hungry again two hours later. Much better to order meat with veggies. Which I did.
Why did I drink anything with alcohol in it? Oh, right. Because it's hot out and I'd rather drink a beer than have too much sugar or caffeine at night. 8 carbs, 90 calories...better choice than Coke, iced tea or lemonade.
Three pieces of pizza. About 800 calories. 800 calories worth of pizza made me gain 4 pounds?
I burned about 1500 calories by running and walking. Every pound is approximately 3500 calories. That's 14,000 calories.
Clearly, I didn't exceed anything by 14,000 calories. It's carbohydrates. I exceeded my carb allotment.
How long will it take me to lose these 4 pounds again? I don't know. I might lose and regain these same 4 pounds over and over again before they finally leave for good. Pounds for me are like cockroaches...and I need a better exterminator.
I hate this.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
No. Your fat makes you look fat.
Bogue? Oh, yes...but true. My fat makes me look fat. And old. Are those jowls on either side of my mouth? Is the reason I lack too many visible wrinkles is because my fat's pressing them out?
I'd really like to step on the scale and see the number go down for a change. And then I got my wish. I went to my doctor's on Saturday. I boldly stepped on the scale. A 5-pound loss since December?
I've worked out hard, gone to bed hungry, put back that second cookie, tracked my calories like some OCD math nerd. 5 pounds? Are you fucking kidding me? I stepped off the scale feeling my heart get fat with disappointment. I told myself that it's better than the alternative, but truly, I could put on 5 pounds in hours. I wouldn't even have to try to gain 5 pounds. Why the hell is it so damned hard for me to lose more than a few pounds?
My doctor eyeballed me. The other numbers told the rest of the story: Blood pressure was 110/70. My resting heart rate was 68 after several cups of coffee. My temperature habitually ran low. Today, I logged in at 97.5.
He paged through my file, silently and then tapped the hormone test results page. "You'll need another hormone test," he muttered. "These are more than six months old...and your thyroid was borderline. We may have to put you on thyroid medication."
Magic words, thyroid medication.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The fat lady store stocks old lady clothes and twenty-something club wear. That nice Alfred Dunner slack suit doesn't exactly scream old age, but it's not denying it, either. The very fact that I know what Alfred Dunner clothing looks like marks me for more than a twenty something.
The club wear is covered in glitter, weird artsy drawings in weird artsy colors, topographically raised flowers, strappy tees that require me to wear another shirt underneath (two shirts? why?), empire waists that make me look and feel like an expectant mother, and stretchy pants that bag in the butt but won't fit around my waist.
None of this stuff looks good at the office. Even the funky tie-dyed stuff you think is relatively hip. It's not. It's a pale imitation of the real thing...and no true hippie would be caught dead in rayon. It's sort of like trying to buy goth at Hot Topic.
Torrid, by the way, is the goth store for fat ladies. You haven't lived until you've seen a really big pair of red lace panties. Hot.
Shopping in the men's section has been an option but only if I want fatigues, cargo pants and jeans that look like I've worn them in the shop for too many days in a row. Cargo pants and fatigues? Check. The pants that look filthy are completely out of the question. I'd waste a lot of time trying to wash the coolness out.
But even trying to find a ladies pair of pants at the fat lady stores has been challenging. Where the hell can I find long pants? They're with the shorts because I can't find a decent pair of them, either. Some designer somewhere decided back in 2007 that no fat woman should be caught wearing long pants or shorts. We should all move to wearing capris 24/7.
I. Hate. Capris. There. I said it. At best, they're summer slacks, but women in this part of the world have been wearing them in the winter. They mistakenly believe that they can pair these cropped pants with socks and shoes or boots and be fashionable. Nope. Fail. And just because they sport wide legs doesn't give you a pass. It means you're wearing gauchos and gauchos suck worse than capris.
Capris, trim and similar to straight-leg slacks cropped around the awkward part of the calf, are best worn with strappy sandals, sans socks. The biggest exception to this recommendation? Gladiator sandals. They're proof that designers have a sense of humor. The gladiator sandal is a boot, shoe and sandal all rolled into one. Designers think they're expressive and fun. I think they suck...and so did gladiators.
Their sandals became a standard military issue because because a) it's too fucking hot in Greece to go barefoot when you're marching 27 miles a day over rocky terrain and b) athlete's foot goes away if the feet are kept dry and aired out. The gladiator sandal met both of those requirements. They weren't meant to be a fashion statement. Until now.
If you ever see me wearing gladiator sandals, you'll know that I'm going to sing.
Because common sense is neither common nor sensical, long pants are out, but long dresses are IN! Listen to the logic: It's too hot to wear capris, so I'll wear MORE clothing below. To compensate, I'll keep the upper part of me nearly bare. Except I'm really uncomfortable knowing that my back fat's out in the open, prone to flappin' when I laugh too hard. That very fear of back flappage makes me put on a sweater.
How is this cooler again?
Fat lady clothing designers, please give me something to wear that doesn't involve a lot of glitter, faux rock star glam, a bunch of artsy hippie crap in dingy 70s colors, elasticized and/or empire waists, stuff that looks like I'd wear it to my seniors group on Wednesdays, or pants that don't show my knees. I'd like to go back to my simple tee shirt and khakis uniform. Thanks.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Those of us who snigger over "Remove Pop-Tart® from wrapper" level of detail, need to understand that there's been a precedent set. Someone, somewhere sued Kelloggs® over that information being deliberately left out, and a house burned down because of it.
Most of us will continue to snigger, regardless of how much insight we have into the mind of an idiot. In fact, it frequently transmutes the snigger into guffaws. Really? That stupid?
The answer, I'm sorry to report, is an everlasting yeah.
Idiot proofing is often expected...and yet we all know, somewhere deep inside of us, that when we attempt to idiot proof anything, the world just creates new idiots. It's a slower race than we're experiencing with germ warfare, but not always...and in the process, we writers are caught in the crossfire.
Parameters? This is what we're working with:
- Make sure people understand how it works, but not so much that it will get the company an unpopular reputation. The Slap Chop comes to mind -- it slices and dices, sure...but it doesn't cut well through a tomato's skin. If people knew they had to skin the tomato first...well, then nobody would buy a friggin' Slap Chop.
- Keep everything a wee bit nebulous by using words that nobody can define without a glossary....which is located at the very end of the book, after the French, German, Spanish and Dutch translations. That almost guarantees we'll be safe because nobody will look anything up. Take the sleeve and insert it onto the neck and twist in a deosil manner. What?
- Put in a bunch of warnings, but not so many that it implies that we know it's hazardous. Caution: contents may be hot. Do not use in bathtub. Do not use during thunderstorms. Do not set on the edge of a door jamb before operating. Keep sharp objects from infants.
- Write short sentences.
- Provide pictures.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
My blood has been tested. I am not hypoglycemic. I don't have anything physically wrong with me. Aside from being fat, I'm in remarkably good health. My biggest fear is getting so large that the jaws of life have to cut a hole in the side of my house to get me out....or getting diabetes or anything else that being overweight is attributed to.
Right now, I'm healthy, 45 years old and I want to stay that way.
Here are my stats as of today:
Weight: 225 *wince*
BMI: 36.4 = obese (a BMI score of 40 is considered "morbidly obese)
Dress size: 20
I have to lose weight. Have to.