Thursday, June 25

The Suckage Factor of Dieting

It’s official. Dieting sucks. There’s no way to get around this awful truth. Carrot sticks cannot replace carrot cake. Apple slices cannot replace French fries, no matter how cute the packaging. An hour of aerobics doesn’t feel nearly as good as an hour of watching TV, or taking a nap. Dieting hurts!

And yet- does it hurt as bad as having to shop in a specialty store where they overcharge you for clothing that resembles brightly colored moo-moos? Is it as painful as buying a bra that looks like a pup tent, only to see yourself in the 3 way mirror and discover your back has better cleavage than your front? Is dieting really harder than being fat in a world built for scrawny people?

One of the most important things we fat girls need to understand is the skinny ones have issues too. Trust me, that is one place the scale is equal. All the insecurities that you may feel are shared by the girl wearing a size 2. You are worried about cottage cheese on your rear, they are worried about the underground zit that they feel forming on their chin. You see the belly jelly or muffin top you are sporting under your clothes, they see a crooked tooth or a lazy eye that mascara can’t hide. Your issues have nothing to do with your weight. Not really. It isn’t helped by the extra pounds that you and I have, but if the weight wasn’t there, I guarantee we would find something else to freak out about.

So go with me here for a minute. What if….we are making a bigger deal out of losing weight than it really needs to be? I know, I know, this is the queen of big deals and drama suggesting such a radical notion. I make mountains out of molehills every single day. In fact, 3 days ago, I emailed a friend who I hadn’t talked to for 2 weeks and asked her if she was throwing away our friendship. Her emailed response was “Woman, are you on your period?” I actually was, so I figured I was being overemotional about the whole thing.

Which is exactly what has happened to me on this weight loss journey. 6 months ago, I nearly collapsed at the idea of not eating cookies, and drinking diet soda instead of regular. I never could have imagined bringing my own food to a family function or restaurant. And heaven forbid I could ever get through a mile on the elliptical machine! I was angry, bloated, and after every 10 minutes of exercise, a new undiscovered muscle in my body cramped.

I was on my dieting period.

Because here I am, 6 months later, telling you (and myself) that we can do this. I am losing, shrinking, and haven’t forgotten to laugh along the way, or share it with you. I am enduring a pre-workout before I walk with the official “Operation Shrink Charlie’s Big Butt Walking Group,” which pounds the pavement for over 2 miles. They make fun of me, and I love every jib and jab they throw! And sisters, I don’t care what kinds of dirty looks I get from waitresses when I pull out my bright red lunch bag, start opening all my food from home, and ask them for a glass of water and a plate! (But I ALWAYS tip them like I had eaten a meal there. Dieting is NO excuse to be cheap!) Sure, I had to endure some rough moments there in the beginning. And the middle. And even today, I am trying to smother a craving for ice cream in this blasted heat! But I know what I can accomplish- if I stand determined, eat determined, and exercise determined!

One of the best things about this blog is that it has allowed me to grow into my newfound courage and openness about my weight, and more importantly- out of my old clothes. It’s really awesome when I am able to squeek into a new size, now hitting ones I have never fit into as an adult, and see how well it fits me. But better still is the pair of size 26 shorts that I STILL wear once a week, falling off of me, and reminding me that all the frustration I packed around before is falling off of me to. Dieting sucks. It hurts. Sometimes it feels like pure agony. But so was wearing those shorts last year when they fit me. Now, I hold on to them, keeping them up, reminding me that other women are wearing my old shorts too.

Maybe it’s you. Maybe you can’t breathe in the shorts you are wearing right now. Maybe you are sick and tired of the dieting cycle and want to make a break for it. Maybe you are needing that push to give you hope again that it can work.

Well, consider this your push. It can work. It will work. But it won’t happen if you don’t push, or work, or pour yourself into the dieting adventure just one more time. I love playing the lottery. Yeah, maybe it’s gambling, but I always do stuff I probably shouldn’t be doing. Anyhoo, the tag for the Illinois lottery is “Somebody’s gonna lotto. It might as well be YOU!” I love that saying! You don’t know what you can do if you don’t try. You won’t win the golden ticket if you don’t buy the Willy Wonka chocolate bar! (WAIT! THAT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO MY MESSSAGE! DON’T BUY A CANDY BAR!)

My point is this. If you are stuck on your dieting period, and are scared to give it another chance, then you are in the right place. Consider this your new home. I’m not going to sell you anything. In fact, I do all of this without making a dime (but am open to suggestions)! My goal is not to receive riches and new cars by extorting you. Nope, I just want to help get you out of those tight shorts you are miserable in and find you something even better to wear. Something that brings out who you really are.

Like with me, for instance. I was always the fat friend. I was the plump bridesmaid. The girl that just needed to lose some weight because she had a really pretty face. Yep. That was me before. Now, I am leading the weight loss band. I am using the inspiration I have found along the way and passing it on to you. I am unafraid to say that dieting is tough, but totally worth it. I am over half way to goal, 48 pounds to go, and am going to take you on my journey as I venture into new territory.

Consider me the Pied Piper of fat chicks everywhere.
I couldn’t be happier about it! So, who's in?

Wednesday, June 24

Celebrating the big 5-0!

As usual, I am running late with a big announcement. Seems whenever I am running late, however, Mother Nature is right on time. Sigh. Somedays I can't stand being a girl!

So I hit my halfway mark! 50 pounds! It was an exciting weekend, and Matt and I celebrated in high style. Our anniversary happens to be today, so we used the weekend to celebrate both events, even though we used the weekend before to celebrate our nuptials early. We went to O’Learys (a restaurant with a sneeze guarded salad bar for $7.95), both in our stinky work out clothes, me with no makeup on and hair in an erratic ponytail. It was exciting. We then came home and watched a string of 5 movies over the next 24 hours. Pretty classy stuff that we do here in the armpit of the Midwest!

Now I am on the final countdown of my weight loss journey. I am currently at 187, and have another 49 pounds left. I have gleaned from other successful weight losers that this is when it gets tough, because your body has less to lose. Well, crap. As if the first 50 wasn’t hard enough!!!

I figured that since you all have been with me so far, and rallied around me for my process, I should share some of the goals I have set for the next 50 pounds and some milestones along the way. So here they are, and I hope that you enjoy reading some of them!

Goal for July- Reach the land of 170, I don’t really care if it’s only 179.9, I want to see that number!

Goal at 175- OK, this is a huge one for me. At 175, I have to put down my Camel Menthol lites. Yep, I’m a smoker. Have been for several years. Some of you probably smelled that coming a mile away. Haha. When I started to really diet on Jan 1st, I tried to diet and quit. Jan 2nd I decided it was one or the other. And the diet won, because I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes. For those of you who are wondering and want to help, these are the rules when I get to 175 and give up my bad habit. 1) I will let you know when it is happening so that you can duck for cover. 2) Please don’t tell me that someone you know died of a smoking induced illness- I watched my grandfather die of COPD 4 years ago. I know what it does. It doesn’t make the process any easier to be depressed too. It makes me want to smoke more. 3) I will be patching it for the first month. If you see me, feel free to do smell checks and a visual confirmation that I am wearing it. 4) If you have never smoked before, please don’t “encourage” me with words like “It smells awful and tastes bad. Why would you want to do that anyway?” If you haven’t lit up before and stuck with it, you have no idea what a beast of a habit it is to get rid of. 5) PRAY PRAY PRAY! Losing the weight was something I found success in because I gave it to God and had others praying for me as well. Quitting smoking will take even more prayer and kind support. 6) Ask me if I cheated and smoked. After I answer, ask me if I was lying to you. I can’t lie twice in a row without crying or looking EXTREMELY GUILTY. I have a bad poker face about it.

Goal for August- Fit into my goal jeans, which are a size 11/12. This is pretty big of me to want, because I can’t comfortably squeeze into a 14 yet. But those jeans will fit me by the end of August. Even if I can’t breathe when I wear them! They will button and zip!

Goal for September- Reach the land of the 160s. I have not been in the 160s for more than a week in my adult life. It’s going to be a huge deal for me. I’ve bounced around in the 170s to the 190’s for years, including college. So for me to consistently stay within that range and keep losing will be beyond my wildest dreams!

Goal for October- To learn to run a mile without having to stop and take a breather.

The rest of the goals we will discuss as it gets closer to time, but here they are without commentary.

Goal for November- To hit the land of 150s.

Goal for December- Stay in the 150’s, and possibly hit the 140’s.

Goal for January 2010- Be in the 140’s and getting close to the end.

Goal for Valentine’s Day 2010- Hit the 100 pound mark and be 138 at which point I will buy a bikini and take a cruise with my husband. Va-va-voom! Unless we take the kids too. Then there won’t be much vooming going on!

So there you have it! This is my weight loss to do list, and it’s pretty exciting! I may have to adjust the time line, if necessary. However, the plan, regardless of how long it takes, is set in stone. Tonight, I will have my husband take current pics of me and get them posted so you can see my progress thus far. But as it stands, I weigh 5 pounds less than I did 3 years ago, when Matt and I got married. I also weigh less than I did in 2005, which is pretty amazing to me. All of this has been a long road, lots of sacrifices, and hard work. But I know you are all watching me, and I promise to do everything I can not to let you down! No magic pills, no anorexic or bulimic tricks. Simply diet, exercise, and determination that just doesn’t quit. I hope that you’ll keep sticking with me as I continue on my journey, and say “I knew her when she was fat!” I know some of my postings are more serious, but it’s all an important part of the process. You get to read the heavy stuff because I am not the only one who has gone through it. Or is going through it. I want you to know that no matter what your own journey looks like, you are never alone!

OK, I’m off to the YMCA to tackle the elliptical machine! Maybe today I can make it 20 minutes on the dumb thing. Who knows, maybe something will happen today that will make for yet another great story!

Friday, June 12

Charlie's Sweaty Balls and the YMCA

On Monday, May 18th, I wrote you all about the issues I have had with losing weight, how I was losing motivation, and needed to step things up a bit. I posted it at 3:15. By 3:25, my sister in law Nikki’s ring tone (What’s New Pussycat by Tom Jones) was crooning away on my cell.

“Hey, are you really serious about losing your weight and going hardcore?”

I swallowed hard. It was a moment of truth- do I really want this enough to work for it, or do I just SAY I want this?

I replied, “Yes. I want this more than anything.”

Nikki answered back, “Good, because I have an idea.”

Now, let me side step for a moment and tell you a bit about Nikki. She is an Army wife of my middle brother, Jason, and I set them up. My other brother Todd is married to my best friend, Julia, so when Jason became available, I set him up with my other "bestie" since I enjoyed the arrangement so much the first time around. Their first date was the day after Thanksgiving, and by Christmas they were engaged. And they both are happy as larks, besides the occasional deployment. They have 4 kids, Nikki runs a daycare, and she is one of the most resourceful women I have ever met. Seriously. Wanna pull America out of a recession? Let Nikki figure stuff out. Hence, she has earned her nickname “Tricky Nikki” because she is always scheming. Back to her idea.

“So here’s the plan. There is this exercise class I want to take at the YMCA. It sounds really good, and I can do it while Jason is still home and can watch the kids.”

OK, a live exercise class. That could be good!

“Sure, sounds like fun! When is it?”

“Well, that’s the only problem. It’s a bit early.”

“HOW EARLY?” (I am not a morning person at all.)

“Um, uh, don’t freak out, OK? It’s at 5:45. AM.”

I did in fact freak out, but I got over it. It worked out the best because I could go to class, and still get the kids to school on time. Plus, Matt was home getting ready for work, so I didn’t have to worry about where to put the kids. It really was a good fit. Added bonus- Nikki promised that she would call me at 5:30 to make sure I was awake. I need a wake up call. I really am not a morning person.

So we started attending the class. We have yet to make it 3 times a week, but even twice a week is still serious commitment to the two of us. Now, this class is called “Wake Up With Fitness.” It is a cross between step aerobics, calisthenics, and torture. But the funny thing is, I am addicted to this class. And although I have been sore many days, it’s pretty much gone off without a hitch.

Until today.

Our teacher Karen is really skinny, really nice, and I like her a lot, except I am a little concerned about her knowledge. She seems to think that Nikki and I are capable of far more than we really are. OK, maybe Nikki can do it. She’s much smaller than me and exercises all the time, even when she isn’t on a diet. But me? I am uncoordinated, ungraceful, lack any upper body strength, and I can’t see the stupid step for the step aerobics because of my boobs. I have to step in blind faith.

In spite of my physical shortcomings, Karen seems determined to help me lose the inches. After all, that’s what she gets paid to do. And she is earning her money with a student like me. Nikki and I call her “Danville’s Jillian Michaels” (the trainer from Biggest Loser) which is a complement in the highest form, because we NEED her torture, and we are grateful to her for pushing us. We really are.

On Friday, she mixes things up a little. Today, she had us pull out a huge exercise ball, a “band” (you have all seen Billy bands, right? They have handles on both ends, and the middle is what nurses tie on your arm when getting blood drawn), a step, hand weights, and a mat. By the time class started, I was already tired! But with Tricky Nikki faithfully by my side, the class began and we were on our way. I heard someone say “I HATE the bands!” but I was too focused on waking up and trying to give 100% of the 80% energy I had. I make up the other 20% later on with coffee.

So we are stretching, getting our heart rate up, and working our thighs and butts. Which is good, because as you may recall, I am trying to shrink that butt. I’d like it to look pretty when it disappears eventually, and that means toning all the muscle underneath the fries and ice cream I was holding on to. After getting us nice and sweaty, Karen/Jillian had us get the big exercise ball and get our legs/thighs/tummies on them and do pushups on the floor while elevated. This is the first time I have been able to do a decent pushup in years. Normally I boob-bounce right back up after barely heading down. But on the ball, it put serious space between the girls and the floor, and those pushups hurt. And made me even more sweaty. Which made the ball sweaty. Yuck.

Then, she told us to get the bands out. We laced the band under our aerobic step, hooked them on our feet, and a new level of agony began. As we lay on top of the step in a pseudo crunch position, our legs were up in the air (with the bands trying to pull them back down) and we had to kick, cycle, and extend our legs. After the first 10 seconds my legs, especially the tops of my thighs were on fire. Not like, “oh, this is a bit uncomfortable to do” type of heat. It was more like “Sweet Jesus, I am coming home to you momentarily, and I’m gonna need you to carry me through the gate because I can’t walk” kind of fire. Either that or the rubber band in the middle was going to melt when it touched the side of my leg, and I’d have to walk around smelling like burnt rubber. At least the sweat pouring off of me extinguished any sparks.

After hours of this band (probably only 3 minutes, really, but it FELT like hours) my legs were beyond the jello stage. And Karen/Jillian was just getting us warmed up. I was WAY ahead of her.

She had us lay on our mats, and hold the exercise ball between our legs as we did crunches. Normally, I sail through the crunches as well as can be expected, although I am still not able to touch my elbows to my knees, because my tummy is so large. But I’m getting closer as the weeks go by. Today, however, with the ball between our legs, crunches turned into explosions as I tried to keep my already jello-ey legs in the air and work the abs. It hurt worse than labor, and you can’t even scream for drugs. You can either give up, or put on your big girl panites with the control top and push.

So I pushed as hard as I could. Laying in a pool of my own sweat, hanging on to a sweaty ball with my perspiring legs in a half spread eagle (we won’t even discuss the problem of crotch sweat. That is another story entirely), clinging to the ball with all my might and trying to enjoy the view of stars I had before me. I started to lose my grip on the ball, so I squeezed even harder. As hard as I could, in fact. That was when physics stepped in.

Now, have you ever tried to hold onto a beach ball under water? It keeps wanting to rise to the top, so you hold on harder? Eventually, your handle on the circumference will be a little off, and the ball shoots up to the surface.

My legs lost the circumference on the ball above my head. The fact that I had been squeezing the ball with all my might made the situation worse. It shot off like a rocket. I would have been more successful holding a greased pig.

Everything happened in slow motion for the next 10 seconds. I saw the ball rising high above me, and veering to the east ever so slightly, heading straight for Nikki’s head. Perhaps the gallons of sweat covering the ball 30 feet in the air changed its course, or perhaps the hasty prayer of “Dear God NO!” reached my Master’s ears, but the ball fell short of Nikki by mere inches. It then began to roll on the floor, blowing every whichaway because of the industrial floor fans blowing, making a sideways rain of the remains of sweat that hadn’t showered on me while the ball was in flight. Nikki realized what had happened and started to break into fits of giggles.

Now, at this point my legs are still up in the air, too cramped to pull them back down, and I am watching the ball roll toward the front of the room, not too far from Karen/Jillian, who was still working the room like the fitness machine she is. After my ball rolled into her view, she did a quick but discrete look around the gym, saw who had lost her ball, and if I could have read her mind, I bet she was thinking that it’s about time she asked a raise. A big fat raise.

Karen/Jillian then hopped off her own ball, got a drink, and began to set up for the next phase. I think that was perhaps for my benefit. I shamefully rolled over on my side to a sideways L, because the legs refused to come down, and was able to finally pull myself to a sitting position, then almost standing. I limped to retrieve my lost ball, now in the VERY front of the gym where everyone could see me. I wondered if anyone else would notice, till I heard my Tricky Nikki sidekick say in a giggly voice, “I am so glad that happened to you, because I was afraid it was going to happen to me too!” So much for anonymity!

Now sitting at home in the comfort of my computer chair that reclines, and feeling the cooling sensation of advil, I feel a bit better. I’m still going to go back on Monday morning, and will give it all I’ve got. But for right now, I’m quite happy to sit here and massage the legs and the ego. I did learn something important today about friendship and exercise. First of all, misery demands company. I wouldn’t be doing nearly as well without Nikki and her encouragement. Thanks Nik.

And Karen/Jillian? I will say thank you by faithfully attending your class. When I am wearing a bikini for the first time in my adult life, I will sing your praises of how you helped mold my skinny body into shape. But for now, please know that we need you and don't give up on us. On me. I can't do that around the world step you do, but my gratitude for what you are putting me through is being broadcast around the world. And next time, warn me about the bands ahead of time. I might be sick that day.

Over all, I realized that friends who sweat together and band together truly have a ball!

Saturday, June 6

And the Winner is....

Feel free to click on the pic to see it without all the grainyness. I am still pale as heck, and the sunlight is doing me no favors. Still, all in all, I felt like the dress was an absolute winner!

Decidedly Unfabulous

Nothing ever happens in real life like it happens in my mind.

I pictured this Saturday going much differently than it has, in light of the huge day of glamour and hoo-hah I was envisioning. I’ve always said it’s a good thing my mother didn’t name me Grace, because I don’t possess a single ounce of it. And that’s the gospel truth.

I’m the kind of girl that trips as she walks down (or up, for that matter) the stairs when everyone is looking. I am the girl who dribbles coffee on her shirt just moments before an important meeting. I’m the classy type who experiences wardrobe malfunctions in the middle of an important event. I’m the bride who had to have her something borrowed be a tampon an hour before her wedding.

More recently, I am the girl who gets the flu right before her big party she has been dreaming about attending since January. Yep. I have the flu.

Those of you who have been tracking me on facebook know about my dilemma. Tim, our son, started getting sick on Tuesday night. I started feeling really icky Thursday afternoon, which led to quality time between me and a bucket. Then, Friday morning, about 2am, our daughter Natalie decided to join in on bucket time, and I was too sick to care. Then about 5am, Matt started in as well, leaving Amy, our oldest and strongest, running around in our mayhem with a thermometer, being a 9 year old Florence Nightengale. She has yet to fall. But I am pretty sure she'll get it eventually.

And although I am not an advocator if eating disorders in any way shape or form, I will admit that after I tossed my cookies (ok, no cookies, just frozen fruit bars) I ran to the scale to see what would happen. I have to say that I did lose another 2 pounds over the last couple of days (bringing me to a total of 193.2) -painful and not a good way to lose weight. It was, however, my silver lining to the flu. At least it made Matt chuckle as we laid on the bed in agony.

So that brings us to today. Natalie, Matt and I have not eaten today, but we feel better- and I think I can justify going to the big party tonight. After all, the first thing I did when I started the diet was calculate if I lost x amount of pounds per week, by June 6th, I will weigh this much for the party. Yes, Ma’am, I surely did. I have also watched those plans of 3 pounds per week go by the wayside, and have had to come to grips with a painstakingly slow process that my body will adhere to.

But it’s not all bad. I am officially 45 pounds from where I started back in September, which is a little more than a pound a week. So what if it’s going to take me another 6 or 8 months to get to my goal? That means that I’m normal. Not fabulous, like I dream about being. But normal.

The crux of being somewhat unfabulous means I get to attend a party tonight feeling less than great, but better. It means I get to cake on makeup so I don’t look like death warmed over. It also means that I get to pretend like my eye doesn’t look like Matt gave me a right hook. Yep, in the throws of the flu (pun intended), I broke a blood vessel in my eye and am holding an ice pack on the peeper to get the swelling down. I seriously considered going pirate and wearing a patch, but I think it is best if I just go as a normal person, who had a rough week, and let the fabulous parts of me shine through on their own.

Which is exactly what Operation Shrink Charlie’s Big Butt is all about, isn’t it? Learning that we are all able to do something extraordinary even though it feels hum-drum and hard. It’s about learning that even one pound now and then is an achievement to be proud of. It is about being comfortable to say that this is who I am, but being brave enough to say it’s time for a change.

It’s about deciding that unfabulous is way more fun than fabulous could ever be.

I’m going to get ready now, and pictures will follow soon!
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