Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Limit Does Not Exist

Five points for Gryffindor if you got the Mean Girls reference in today’s title.  Another fact you should know about me, I’m a HP, MG, PP (Pitch Perfect!) freak and will work them, and other movie lines, into everyday life as much as possible.  My good friend, Tracey, once said that I quote movies and TV shows like a dude.  I took it as a compliment!  OMG another little fact you should know about me that completely blew Tracey away upon first witnessing is that I can word-for-word rap the entire Ludacris portion of the song Yeah by Usher.  I’m so proud of this little nugget that I made this factoid the headline on my profile.  You’re welcome, single boys of Gainesville! 

Okay, back to limits.  Today while at the gym I learned a very valuable lesson about limits.  Not the mathematical kind that Cady Heron needed help with but the kind in your mental and physical capacities.  Earlier this week after leg day, I had this burst of energy and wanted to run.  A few statements need to be made before this story begins.  1.  I loathe running.  2.  Running loathes me.  I’ve never been a runner.  In elementary school when they made you run a mile in P.E., my friends and I would never finish before class time ran out because we would walk and talk the entire time.  I’m awkward and don’t know how to breathe and I can’t make it very far without stopping.  Because of our mutual hatred, I haven’t been on a treadmill over 3.7 mph in months.  My workouts consist of spin class 2 times a week, core day, leg/butt day and arm/back/chest day.  I don’t even warm up on the treadmill anymore and usually stick to the elliptical or bike.  So after my leg workout, with Miley Cyrus blaring in my ‘buds, I decided to hop on the treadmill.  I kept waiting for my body to give out and collapse into a sweaty, crumpled mess on the floor but it didn’t.  I made it 6 minutes and about half a mile.  I was up to 5.5 mph and a 1% incline.  I was DAMN proud of myself.  I couldn’t believe it!  While this may not be a huge accomplishment to many please keep in mind that 7 months ago I thought running 1 minute without stopping was a HUGE deal.  This was 6 times that! 

Today, I was once again feeling the need for runner’s high and I stepped on the treadmill after arms.  Are you sitting down?  I RAN AN ENTIRE MILE IN 11 MINUTES AND DIDN’T STOP ONCE.  What?!  I basically high-fived myself as my Jell-O legs hopped off.  Here’s the thing about limits, you don’t know what yours are until you push them.  You have to see how far your body can go and (here’s the tricky part) you can’t let your mind convince you that you can’t do it.  When I only ran 6 minutes the other day it was because my brain was all like, “You can probably only make it half a mile.  You should totally stop at half a mile so you don’t overdo it.  There’s no way you can go further than that because you’re not a runner.”  Take that, brain!  The biggest obstacle holding you back from achievement is yourself.  Shut your brain off, turn up Turn Down For What and just run. 

I will say this to any of you who don’t like running, don’t press the issue.  Start by doing something you do like- spin, Zumba, water aerobics, etc.-and use those to build up your endurance.  Endurance is what will help you run for longer and give you time to focus on your form and breath.  The longer you run the more you will enjoy it.  Also, when you finish make sure you stretch, stretch, stretch.  I did and still felt my calves cramping on the walk to the car.  Next week I’m shooting for 1.5 miles.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

“From that day on if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lace Up!

This week has been a rough one.  I suffered a minor heart fracture (less than a break) this past weekend.  In my former life, I would call my girlfriends over for food, movies and two of my favorite lovers, Ben & Jerry.  Why does ice cream taste so much better when reeling over a boy?  Is it the tears that give it that extra something?  I’m not sure but breakups and butter pecan go together and I’m not one to normally push against tradition.  However, this time was different because I am different.  I stuck to my good eating habits and drove right past the cupcake shop on my way to the grocery store.  There, I purchased my normal list and politely avoided the ice cream aisle just in case Ben decided to catcall.  You know what I wouldn’t do for a Klondike bar?  Go back to a size 24.  Also, can we talk about how they put the frozen vegetables across from the frozen treats?  I basically walk down the aisle sideways to avoid eye contact.  The floor plan designers of the grocery store should really be more considerate.

We’re all guilty of it girls, we use social media for revenge.  Normally, after an ego blow, I would put on my cutest outfit and hit the town with my friends.  Requesting 100s of photos to post showing how cute I am and prove he’s missing out.  Instead, I stuck to routine and woke up at 4:30 a.m., laced up my Nikes and hit the gym.  I traded my cute outfit and selfies for sweat and a cycling class.  I didn’t take shots and dance with strangers to forget his name, I used his words to fuel me to that higher RPM.  Sexy and strong is the new revenge, ladies.  Don’t do it for him, do it for yourself!

I know it’s easier said than done to pretend it doesn’t hurt but I promise a gym high is exactly the cure you need.  I wrote this on my bathroom mirror and I allow you to steal it, “Wake up, lace up and work it out because your goals don’t care that you had a bad day.”  Bad days and heartbreaks will come and go but you can’t be derailed.  If you do find yourself on a Rocky Road (get it? J), make a plan to get back on track and call your motivational buddy. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Drinking & Dieting

I’ve kicked myself in the butt a few times this year by partaking a bit too much in the spirits.  Obviously, my doctor cautioned upon starting this journey to cut back on alcohol.  I’m not a big drinker so it’s not a concern, but this year has been filled with weddings, bachelorette parties, celebrations and vacations.  It’s not the choices that are the difficult part, it’s the recovery!  I’ve taken the time to educate myself on the best options for me to order when out at a bar, however, the next day can be brutal.  The worst part about drinking and dieting is not being able to swing by KFC or Dominos the next day to let carbs cure what ails.  In college, my roommate and I would go to Publix every NFL Sunday (after a night out of course) to get breaded, fried chicken wings, an entire bottle of ranch and King’s Hawaiian rolls.  Not to mention that terrible habit we started of going on McDonalds runs on the way home from parties for McChicken sandwiches and French fries.  Oh, and we can’t forget all the pizzas I’ve ordered at 2 a.m.  We’re not even talking good pizza here, people.  I’m talking the kind that is cheap and only tastes good with a buzz.  Drinking and eating usually go hand in hand, which is why I suspect they really tell you to limit alcohol!  I, knock on wood, have not yet succumb to the hangover voice in my head that wants mashed potatoes and will continue to suffer until I learn my lesson. 

Prepping for a night out used to be a hammered-down routine.  Aside from the makeup application, outfit choosing and pre-drinking, we would also carb-load in order to help one hold their liquor.  Now-a-days, my chicken Caesar salad isn’t going to help keep my captain and diets from being absorbed any quicker.  This is where hydration is key.  I try my best to practice the one-for-one rule but sometimes you get distracted dancing.  In college, I used to be able to drink with some heavy hitters but times have changed.  Not only am I older, and technically an adult, but I cut out beer and eat smaller dinners thus making me more susceptible to being a light weight.  On a recent night out, I couldn’t figure out at what point in the evening I was hit by a bus.  When you factor in my early/light dinner, liquor drinks, late-night and tons of dancing all combine to needing sunglasses to open the refrigerator on Sunday.

The moral of the story, dear readers, is that drinking heavily and dieting do not mix.  Sure, you can enjoy an adult beverage here and there (if your ID allows you to!) but remember to stay hydrated, make the best choices, don’t over consume and always, always, always have a designated driver, which applies to you non-dieters, too!  Trust me, it’s not worth the carb-temptation challenge or headache.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

FK4L (Fat Kid 4 Life)

In early 2003, I saw an MTV True Life documentary about kids at a weight loss camp in upstate New York.  This episode, unlike all the RW/RR Challenges, changed my life.  Witnessing their transformations and the fun they had that summer made me want to go.  I marched downstairs, went to my parents and said, “Ma’, I want to go to fat camp.”  A few months, and thousands of dollars, later I was on my first solo plane ride bound for NY.  I didn’t appreciate it then but I wholeheartedly do now and want to thank my parents for any sacrifices they made in order to ship me to Camp Shane for those 6 weeks.  It’s hard to put it into words but I went away one person and came back another, 30 lbs. lighter, too!  They confiscated my gum and did a contraband sweep the second I stepped off the gangway.  The cute Australian camp counselor who greeted me was talking a mile a minute.  I couldn’t tell if I was more distracted by his accent or my nerves.  Then, at 16 years old, it was probably the accent.

I met some amazing girls at Camp Shane, some of who I am still Facebook friends with today.  I don’t think I would have made it through without their support and laughter.  A normal camp day was breakfast, bunk clean up, stretching, activity, lunch, rest, activity, swimming, shower hour, dinner and free play.  On the first day, they take your picture in your bathing suit, your weight and head-to-toe measurements.  I can’t remember exactly now but I think we repeated this process every two weeks, minus the picture part.  In addition to sports, arts and crafts, and water activities there were weekly nutritional and rap sessions we had to attend.  In nutrition class, we would sometimes have cooking demonstrations, go over the food guide pyramid and talk about portion control.  The real breakthrough for me was the rap sessions.  This is where we’d sit around with a therapist type and talk about our feelings.  Doesn’t sound so great, does it?  But it was there in that room with the hideous couches that I learned I was not alone.  These girls had the same feelings as I did.  We were bullied, we were ridiculed and we were shamed for the way we were.  I had always felt alone at home surrounded by skinny friends who didn’t understand.  At fat camp, these were my people!  I could finally share clothes with friends, we bonded over our love for fried food and sweets, and we supported each other through the bad days.  These were some of the funniest and most carefree girls I had ever met.  They didn’t let their outward selves hold back who they were on the inside.

I 100% came out of my shell at camp.  I wasn’t afraid to be myself anymore because I learned that I was pretty great and there were other pretty great people out there just like me.  Camp is where I fell in love with lacrosse and learned that I could actually be good at a sport.  I joined the lacrosse team for the final two years of high school, which is another great experience of my life, and it gave me something to bond with my dad over as he played in high school and college. 

At the end of the 6 weeks, I packed my bags and headed back home.  I had lost 30 lbs. and 2 dress sizes.  Sure, I eventually gained the weight back (over the course of the last 11 years) but the person I became during camp never went away.  I was more confident, outgoing and not afraid to try new things.  It was also a whole lot of fun!  Just thinking about it makes me want to have a color war.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Lifetime Movie

Have you ever wondered, “If my life were a movie, who would play me?”  Well if you’re me, you think about this all the time.  My friends and I always believed when we were in college that we would have made an amazing teen drama or reality show.  Right now, I would wholeheartedly cast Melissa McCarthy to play myself.  I think she is the epitome of humor.  I honestly think we would be best friends IRL (in real life, duh).  She’s fearless and doesn’t apologize for being herself.  It would be easy for me to forget my life and cast some skinny bitch but that wouldn’t be real.  Someone who would need to play the struggle that is being fat all your life would need to know the struggle that is being fat.  Sorry, Melissa, overweight. 

That’s right, kids, I’ve been overweight my whole life.  I honestly don’t remember what it’s like to weigh under 200 lbs.  I can remember being weighed in the 5th grade…side note, why do they do this every year?  They call you in and take your stats down and the worst is they weigh you in front of everyone!  Well, in the 5th grade, I remember tipping that scale over the 150 lb. mark.  Reminder, in the 5th grade you’re eleven.  I wasn’t a heavy baby at birth.  I was a very normal 8 lbs. 4 ounces, which was a miracle as my older brother, Chris, was a butterball at 11 lbs. 7 ounces.  We come from big genes.  My mom and I have had many conversations about me being an overweight child.  She once started to blame herself and her serial dieting.  She was on one where she didn’t eat solid foods for nearly a year when I was 3.  She said if she wanted to eat the cookie she would give it to me instead.  This is where baby Melissa, I mean Sarah, would be fed an Oreo cookie out of the Winnie the Pooh cookie jar while my mother, as played by Ina Garten, looks on with jealousy.  I know what you’re thinking, Ina would never feed her kid Oreo cookies.  They would be homemade chocolate chunk cookies with browned butter and sea salt.  Yum.  Seriously though, Ina Garten, Sarah?  But trust me, she and my mom could be doppelgangers.  There were no limits on food in my house growing up.  We ate family dinners with a meat, vegetable, starchy side and bread and of course dessert every night.  Whoever was the last to finish the Kool-Aid was in charge of making the next batch (brother always threw in extra sugar!).  I used to eat frozen TV dinners if I had a babysitter and I was always allowed to pick out whatever I wanted at the grocery store.  I can remember eating buttered white bread as a snack.  Mom says I used to lick off all the butter and come back for more.  My favorite meal was homemade chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.  I remember getting so excited when I saw mom break out the deep frying skillet for the nuggs.  There was never a shortage of food or treats in our house and there certainly weren’t any limitations.

Another contribution to my expanding waistline is that my dad is in the restaurant business so we dined out for a living.  I remember ordering off the adult side of the menu from the time I could read.  Chicken Parmigana when dad worked at Olive Garden was my favorite!  It’s a tool of his trade to know what’s going on in the biz so when we vacation we travel around food.  Oh, we’re going to NYC we gotta go to Shake Shack.  Oh, we’re going out tonight as we haven’t been to check out Emeril’s Tchoup Chop and I’ve heard good things.  I know this sounds like I’m blaming but I promise I’m not.  I loved growing up without aversions to food and I’ve been an adult for quite some time now with the ability to change my habits on my own.

While I am relatively tall for my age now, I was very tall as a child.  I’ve been 5’10” since the 7th grade after which I stopped growing, length wise.  I’ve been able to ride roller coasters since I was 4 years old because I met the height requirements.  Being tall is never an excuse for being a heavier weight but that’s how I rationalized it as a kid.  I remember in the 3rd grade being the secret weapon on my class’ field day team.  I was going to be first on the tug-of-war line.  Normally, someone of my stature would serve as the anchor but my teacher believed that the strength was needed up front to pull the other team directly into the mud.  She was right!  We creamed every team that day and were the champs.  I finally felt like I was useful at something.  I can honestly remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want to lose weight because I didn’t want to lose my strength.  Oh, silly, little Sarah.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Secret

I realize that revealing my secret to recent weight loss might have some of you view me differently or stop reading but it’s a risk I have to take.  I promised you, dear reader, that I would be real and honest.  Here it goes.  I eat a low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diet.  I exercise 3-4 days per week alternating cardio and weight training.  I also take drugs.  Skerrrrrt.  I’m prescribed, by my doctor, an appetite suppressant and a serotonin-effecting drug that aid in my weight loss.  I know what some of you might be thinking, “She’s a cheater!”  I have just three words for any of you naysayers out there, go fuck yourselves.  Sorry, Mom.  Until you’ve tipped the scales at nearly 300 lbs., have tried and failed every diet under the sun, or have struggled with your weight and food addiction for your entire life, you don’t get an opinion.  Yes, I take prescription drugs but I wouldn’t be successful if that’s all I did.  My ability to lose 65 lbs. over the last 6 months is because of my hard work, dedication and sweat.  I’ve changed a lot of bad habits over this time period and I fight every day to be better.  I fight the 4:30 a.m. alarm clock, I fight the urge to drink my morning diet coke and I fight the voice inside my head that whispers, “Donuts. Chips. Ice cream. Cupcakes,” on constant rotation.

In my former life, I drank a diet coke or coke zero, recently, for breakfast every morning without fail.  I would get wicked headaches by 10 a.m. if I skipped it.  I rationalized this bad behavior by comparing it to my coworker’s morning coffee.  At lunch, I would have another 1-2 DCs and would usually cram another in around my 3:30 p.m. crash.  My water to diet coke ratio per day was about a 4 to 2.  It’s actually disgusting to think about.  Now, I can’t drink ANYTHING caffeinated without the risk of losing sleep that night.  I do average about 1 DC per week and I do drink it when I mix with alcohol to avoid anything sugary.  Other than that, it’s water all day long.  I average about twelve 8 oz. glasses per day, which equates to peeing like every five minutes.  Girl on a diet problems.

In my former life, it wasn’t unusual to order in a sandwich (with chips!) for lunch or to run to a nearby fast food place.  It’s not the food that I miss, it’s the convenience.  Now my meals have to be pre-planned and taking a quick lunch is eating a homemade salad at my desk.  I really do miss sandwiches though.  Jimmy Johns: Hunter’s Club w/ BBQ chips, a diet coke and a cookie.  Ughhhhhh.  Some of you might not know what Jimmy John's is but it’s a sub shop and the sandwiches are served on this amazingly fluffy white French bread.  For some reason the Hellman’s mayo that they use just tastes better, too.  Tangent, sorry.  It also wouldn’t be rare for me to make a cupcake, cookie or ice cream run when having a bad day at work.  At my last office, we would make daily treat runs to perk the staff back up.  I got so used to those snack times that it was a hard habit to break.

So, yes, I do have help to keep me on track, however, these prescriptions do not define me or my journey.  I don’t think I’ve had an easier time because of them and I certainly wouldn’t be as successful if I solely relied on them.  I’ve upped my activity and changed my eating.  At the root of it, that’s what will keep me going after the drugs are gone.

Step One

It’s been 29 weeks since I first stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office.  I knew how much I weighed thanks to my bathroom scale but something about them writing it down and recording it felt so much more momentous.  291.  There it was in big, bold numbers.  It was here at this clinic that I was going to finally get help from a medical professional to get control over my life.  My weight has yo-yoed a span of 30 lbs. in the past 6 years and I grew disgusted with the person who stared back at me in the mirror.  My clothes were too tight, I was out of breath walking a flight of stairs and my eating habits were out of control.  As I waited in the tiny consultation room reading the posters on the wall about obesity and heart disease, I told myself that this time it had to work.  Failed diet after failed diet, this is the one I needed to stick.  Something in my brain recently triggered and I decided to call the clinic I had heard about through a friend.  Even now, people ask me what changed and made me decide to start this journey and it’s still one of the toughest questions to answer.  This girl who weighs 291 pounds isn’t me.  I just wanted to be happy with myself.

It may sound stupid to some of you but not being alone forever was really the driving force.  I’ve never been in a relationship.  I’m so sick of always being a party of 1.  Until you’ve been this girl, you won’t understand and that’s okay.  We all have different struggles and not all are relatable to others.   I think I finally realized that I’m not getting any younger and no one is going to love me until I can love myself.  I’ve always felt like a skinny person trapped in this body.  I’m funny, outgoing, pretty, smart and kind.  I had a lot going for me but physical appearance is a non-negotiable for some guys.  I just wanted to be happy with someone else.

There I was, on that brown leather couch, with my choices laid out in front of me.  Make changes or remain the same.  After the visit, I got in my car and drove to McDonalds for a break-up lunch.  I cried on my way back to work, not because of the French fries, because I had a huge mix of emotions.  I was so proud of myself for taking this first step but I was so embarrassed at who I was.  It’s so hard to admit that you have a problem but it’s so noble to seek help for that problem.  While I was embarrassed that I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t achieve weight loss on my own, I was so excited to start this next book.  No, it wasn’t a turning of the page or changing of the chapters.  This was a sequel: Sarah part II.  I just wanted to be happy.

So, I chose happy.