Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vacation, with No Cousin Eddie

Last month, my sisters and I went down to Florida for a “holy shit, seven effing feet of snow in one year is way too much, Chicago, and I hate life” vacation. 

It was a nice reminder of what colors exist in nature aside from Snow White, Dirty Snow Brown and Dead Sky Grey.  

I'm totally dead for posting the above picture because my sister thinks she looks like Kim Jong Un, and I'm not sure she wants that plastered all over "that internet," as my dear mom calls it, but I decided to risk it because I look windblown and carefree.  This was taken before I developed my new fear of pelicans.  I was so young then.

We went to Disney World for the day and most notably ate Dole Whips.  ALWAYS worth the price of admission.

Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion and all that were great, but a visit highlight was definitely when we saw a family of five getting attacked by swooping seagulls while the dad yelled, "It's the churros they're after, kids!  Keep a hold on your churros!"  

It was pretty crazy to compare my trip to Disney World in 2013 to this year's visit.  We walked all over the park for a good twelve hours and I never felt like I needed to sit down.  My stupid hip behaved itself and I no longer had panicky moments in line due to worries of not fitting onto It's a Small World After All.  (It's in your head now.  You're welcome.)

I'm still on the fence about buying the sparkly mouse ears.  Maybe I'll take the plunge on my next Disney visit.

One of my biggest "holy shit, things have changed" moments happened when we left Disney and headed to Cocoa Beach for a few days.  One afternoon, Kerry took a nap and Annie and I decided to take a walk on the beach.  We were talking and watching people argue on the beach and time got away from us.  I turned around and realized we were a long, long, long way away from our hotel.  We ended up walking almost six miles there and back.

Keep in mind, last time Annie and I were on the beach together, I went into the water on crutches.

We were in Jacksonville for a Bears vs. Jaguars game and we took full advantage of the stadium's handicapped services.

So being able to just walk for a couple of hours and not have it be a big deal at all... well, that ended up seeming like a pretty big deal.  I am so frickin grateful that stupid injury got better.  I'm also excited for the day when it all fades into memory and I can just take walking for granted again instead of feeling like I'm going to burst into tears when I see a scooter cart at Target, but that's another story.

ANYYYYYWAY, back to the trip.  We saw a space shuttle at Cape Canaveral, visited the bar where serial killer Aileen Wournos was arrested and we hung out with the cool spring breakers in Daytona Beach.

We took turns doing a ropes course because my two dumb sisters were wearing flip flops so I had to share my tennis shoes.

That's me, clutching onto my harness for dear life.  Keep in mind, this course was approximately fifteen feet above the ground over an arcade. I kept having to pump myself up to take a step across any of the rope obstacles.  I'd say, out loud, "Come on, Taryn, you jackass-- you've done much harder things than this!  Just do it!" All the while, five year old children were passing me and the employees were attempting to nudge me along.  

ME:  Just a quick question- if I call, do I just end up hanging there?  Do I have to pull myself back up or do you do it?

EMPLOYEE:  (extremely forced smile)  Don't worry, we can pull you back up with a pole and get you back on your way.

ME:  So I would just have to hang here like Tinkerbell while you got the pole?  With everyone below staring up at me?

EMPLOYEE:  That's about right, ma'am.

ME:  This is the bravest thing I've ever done!

EMPLOYEE:  (smile fading) Well, that's, uh, good, ma'am...

I ended up surviving, extremely proud of myself, until Annie and Kerry took their turns and whizzed through the thing in about a fifth of the time.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Then, we left and drove around taking pictures, pretending we were in a 1990's tampon commercial.  

All in all, we had a great time and had no ER visits or car accidents, so that counts as a very successful trip.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sh*t People Say to People Who Have Lost a Ton of Weight

  1. They'll ask you for your secret formula, like you created your weight loss in a lab.  This makes sense to me, because if there were a magical way to drop a ton of weight with no effort, I'd be first in line to sign up.  The truth is that it did involve some work.  I counted calories, watched portions, moved more- you know, all the stuff everybody tells you to do to lose weight.  I did do some things a little differently than most in that I didn't eat any diet food and I that I do yoga instead of a ton of cardio, but other than that, I basically stuck to the advice that everybody has been doing since the dawn of time when the first caveman realized he had love handles.  (Note: that might not be scientifically accurate- I have more of a liberal arts brain than a science brain).
  2. They'll immediately assume you secretly had gastric bypass.  Um, I blogged about my tummy tuck and posted before and after pictures of my hanging belly.  If I had gastric bypass, I'd tell everybody I know.  There's no shame in that, and I wouldn't judge anyone for doing that at all.  I just happened to not have surgery to lose weight.
  3. They'll suddenly tell fat jokes around you or say catty things about fat people.  It's weird.  I have some friends who will suddenly start talking about how someone has gained weight and how terrible they look, or they'll talk about how gross fat people are, etc etc.  I may have lost weight, but I didn't join some Mean Girl society (but if Tina Fey was a member, I'd consider it).  As someone who has had weight issues since childhood, I'm not going to judge other people for struggling with it.  Also, someone's size is none of my frickin business, and I am not one to tell someone that happiness only exists when you're a size 6.  
  4. They'll assume you now are obsessed with dieting, and if you eat "normal" food around them, they'll think you feel off the wagon.  Yes, I'm counting calories, but that doesn't mean I have to eat the old 1980s Skinny Platter of a hamburger patty, cottage cheese and canned peaches.  I eat whatever I want, just less of it.  If you see me eating dessert, it's because I like dessert, not that I need you to stage an intervention.
  5. They'll tell you how worried they were about your weight.  This was a lot of fun my first time around losing a ton of weight.  So many people told me how concerned they were for my health when I was heavy.  When I gained it back, I'd think about that and feel paranoid that everyone was clucking at me behind my back for shopping at Lane Bryant.  Here's the thing- I was healthy when I was fat.  Maybe I was just lucky to be healthy when I was fat, but my blood sugar, my blood pressure, and basically every single blood test I ever had was normal when I was 300 pounds.  Yes, I definitely feel better now, but I wasn't on the verge of dropping dead when I was fat.  I'm happy people love me and want me to live a long and happy life, but as I said above, my size is not really anyone's business.
  6. They'll tell you that you should become a personal trainer/nutritionist/yoga instructor.  I think this is pretty funny.  I get that some people who have lost weight start careers in the fitness industry, but it's weird how people think that your weight loss will now be the center of your life.  I have no plans to become the next Richard Simmons any time soon.  For one thing, I couldn't pull off a perm.
  7. They'll act like your life is perfect now that you've lost weight.  I can't even begin to tell you how many people have said things like, "Are you so much happier now?"  Well, I'm proud of myself.  I am so estatic that my hip is not jacked up, but I sure do have the same problems I had before the number on the scale got smaller.  Weight loss isn't a magic wand that transforms you into a perfect person.  If it were, I'd be Sofia Vergara right now.
  8. They'll tell you stories about their friends and family members or celebrities who have lost large amounts of weight and gained it all back again.  Yes, I have been down this path before.  I can't live my life acting like I'm always going to fall off a cliff and suddenly find myself morbidly obese at any time.  And if I did?  It wouldn't be the end of the world.  The mistake I made the first go around was getting completely obsessed with dieting.  My weight is only a small part of my life, and the sun doesn't rise and set around what number is on the scale.
  9. They'll ask you if more men find you attractive now.  There isn't one body type that all men find attractive.  I could meet people who were into me when I was fat and I can meet people who are into me now.  This hasn't been a "She's All That" type of transformation where I was a shy wallflower who never kissed a boy before this magic makeover that changed my life forever.  Isn't it funny that all of those magic makeover movies basically involve eyebrow shaping and removing the girl's glasses?  Not that I'm ragging on them because I will watch that movie any time it's on The Family Channel at 2 PM on a Saturday with the swears bleeped out.
  10. They'll ask you if you love to shop now that you're thinner.  Answer:  no.  If I could wear paint coveralls (red sparkly paint coveralls, but still) every single day, I would.  I have always hated shopping for clothes, and even though it's kind of exciting to see the size on the label go down, I will never get pumped up for an afternoon of clothes shopping.  

NOTE:  None of these are meant to be an indictment against anyone.  I don't want people to mentally rehash our conversations in their heads to see if they might have possibly offended me- all of it makes me laugh and I'm pretty hard to insult.  All of these might only apply to my personal climb up and down the scale over the years, as I'm a little bit of a wacko and my experiences are rarely universal.

NOTE #2: I hope my mom noticed how I put a star in the word shit in the title.  All of those years of Catholic school finally paid off, huh Mom?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dusting Off the Cobwebs

Well, hi there, Internet people!  I have been gone from this blog for a long time, and one or two of you may have even noticed this.  Last year, I had some major privacy concerns and decided blogging about my shortcomings was not the smartest thing I'd ever done.  Well, I had a change of heart, along with a bunch of other changes, so let me catch you up.

First and most importantly, my stupid hip is 100% better!!!  The happiness of that last sentence can never be overstated.  After two years on crutches and almost three years of rehab, I am finally mobile, have no pain and don't even have a limp.  In fact, for the most part, those years of being stuck in bed or stuck hobbling around on crutches in a painkiller cloud seem like a bad dream, or scenes from someone else's life.  Then I see lovely pictures like this one:

And it all comes flooding back to me in technicolor.  I am so happy it's over and so grateful that I can walk.  I will never take that ability for granted again.

Okay, here's another big piece of news: in 2013, I lost a hundred pounds.  Surprise!  

You're probably wondering how suddenly, after three years of blogging about trying to lose weight and gaining pounds monthly, I lost a ton of weight and didn't tell you.  Well, a big hurdle jumped was when I was cleared to exercise.  I had been doing slight resistance training in rehab and was doing laps at our park district pool- and please remember that by laps I mean I was walking back and forth in shallow water with bunch of senior citizens- but last Spring I was finally allowed to go to the gym and get to work.  Just going from having to be bed-bound to moving slightly helped me lose the first ten pounds, without a doubt.  It's very easy to pack on pounds when you're sedentary, and there was nothing more sedentary than my long ass recovery at my mom and dad's house.

A friend shared a book with me that was pretty eye-opening.  It's called "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" by Michael Moss.  It's an interesting book in a lot of ways, but one of the sections that really pissed me off was reading how food companies use psychology and chemistry to get us addicted to processed foods.  I am not a good science summarizer, but you should read this book.  It's good, and it'll make you want to cook your own food.  (Note to Michael Moss if you're reading this: I will never stop eating cheese.  EVER).

So, yeah, I started cooking and not eating processed foods.  I didn't give up any food groups- I ate sugar, carbs, meat, the whole shebang- but I didn't eat any diet foods.  No fake sugar, no crazy salad dressings, no Snackwell cookies.  AND, for the last 100 days, no Diet Coke!  Crazy crazy.  I used MyFitnessPal to keep track of what I was eating.  It works great.

I also started working out.  I had a partner for the first half of this, and the two of us would go to the gym.  We would do a very small amount of cardio- like a half an hour- and then do weight training.  We did this about four days a week on average.  Every once in a while, we'd take a Spin class, and I loved that.  I could feel myself getting stronger and my endurance increasing, and I started getting more confident about putting weight on my bum hip.  That was a big mental hurdle to climb too.  

Here's the thing about the gym and the treadmill: it is boring.  A friend told me to try yoga.  I laughed out loud, as I am the least graceful human on the planet.  Well, I ended up really loving yoga.  In October, I started doing Bikram Yoga, which is the craziest yoga of all.  It's done in a room that's heated to 105 degrees and it's intense.  Finishing a class makes me feel like a jock.  Speaking of jocks, I did thirty classes in thirty days and got this t-shirt with the smug look thrown in free.

That was the athletic accomplishment of my life.  By far.

Anyway, the weight came off pretty quickly and effortlessly with yoga.  I am really kind of crazily toned.  My stomach (you might remember I had a tummy tuck in 2008 and then gained all the weight back except for 17 lbs) looks really flat.  I can see some flab on my thighs and, as always, I have a droopy ass, but I am okay with both of these.  Overall, I am kind of shocked by how great my body looks after gaining 100 lbs and losing it in five years.

So those were my secrets- no  processed food, no fast food, yoga four times a week, lots of water and the motivation that only comes from knowing what it's like to suddenly find yourself immobile.  That's the winning combo for weight loss success, although I'd recommend skipping the last one, or at least just spraining an ankle or something.

Now, I'm 101 lbs down and I'd like to lose 25 more.  Right now I'm a size 14 for the most part, but in some jeans I'm a size 12.  I'd like to finish a size 12 in everything, maaaaaybe a size 10.  I want to keep my amazing rack, so getting much smaller than that probably isn't in my future.

Right now, I weigh less than I did at my lowest weight of my last "I lost 100 lbs" diet, and that one was a lot more work, with diet food and running and feeling completely obsessed with dieting.  This time around has been low stress, and effective.  Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles.  

And look what I can do!  Yay yoga!

Those shots are for my extensive list of male readers.  You're welcome, fellas.

So, yeah, All of that happened.  I have a big entry coming about the ways losing this much weight changes you, and changes the people around you.  It is a little whiny, so maybe read it when you're in a good mood.

Thanks for bearing with me (especially those RSS subscribers who were flooded by my old posts yesterday.  Whoops!)  I'm going to slooooowly start restoring four years worth of posts on here, so you never know what might show up.