October 30, 2010

The devil in disguise

The other night, after spending a couple of hours at the gym, I headed to Target. I needed to pick up a few things for around the house, plus I had decided to get some Halloween candy for my students since they all had exams yesterday. I knew it would be a personal challenge for me - in the past, I've bought bags of Halloween candy and devoured them all myself over a period of a day or so, kurt halsey dot comand even though now I am trying to do right by my body, the temptation can still be strong. I can usually control it, but every now and then, the little devil on my shoulder seems to make sense...

It's only one piece, right? One piece, eighty calories. That's less than seven minutes on the elliptical! COME ON!!! It's fun size! You deserve a little fun!

I start bargaining in my head, and it feels like even the little angel on the other side can put a positive spin on it.

He'skurt halsey dot com right, you know! Eighty calories, that's not that many, right? You'll work extra at the gym tonight! And if you eat one, you'll be fine, you'll be satisfied.

Except that it never works that way. I have made a lot of progress, but I can honestly say that I don't think I can handle "just one" yet. Even though I know how good my body feels these days, how good I feel because of eating well ... I can still feel very tempted in these situations. In the moment, I remember how good the high of a binge felt - I never recall the bad feelings afterwards or all the related physical aches.

There's a great quote by Mark Twain about how a man who chooses not to do something has no advantage over a man who is unable to do it. He was talking about reading, but I think we can apply the concepts here, too. Knowing what I ought to do and not doing it is just as bad as not knowing what to do in the first place. I've been taking so much time and investing it in my physical and mental health, and I'm finally gaining the self-confidence I've dreamed of my whole life. kurt halsey dot comWill one little Snickers bar put me back to 345 pounds? No. But I don't want to try until I am absolutely certain that I will be able to control myself.

I'm finally gaining some strength over the little devil - in the past, I would surrender, but now, I can recognize that a craving for sweets is usually me misreading general hunger. I don't crave the candy right after breakfast or lunch, I want it right before I leave work - about an hour after my afternoon snack but an hour or so before dinner. So I plan ahead to combat these things: I have been bringing a piece of fruit (apple or banana usually) to have towards the end of my work day, and I've been drinking even more water than usual. Both a big apple and a medium banana have more calories than one fun size Snickers bar, but they're whole foods that provide real nutritional benefits, so I end up feeling satisfied. I very rarely eat a banana and then think about going back for four or five more. (In fact, I'm sure that has never happened.)

So, after getting one bag of candy and the few things I needed for my place, I went to the fitness apparel area, and I got myself a new pair of grey/blue workout pants. Seemingly trivial, but actually a pretty big deal: they may be the biggest ladies' size that Target sells, but they fit me. My old workout pants are too big: they're about seven years old and from the men's department since I was too big for ladies' pants. It was such a big moment for me, and it was profoundly more enjoyable than chocolate any day!

October 29, 2010

Roses and thorns

I wanted to write "Roses and roses and more roses" for the title, but I tried to contain myself. This week has been amazing. Everything has been, for lack of a better term, coming up roses.

Week 2 of the Couch-to-5k went really well, though I think I might repeat it next week. The first day, Sunday, was great, and Tuesday and Thursday weren't extremely difficult, but I just don't feel entirely ready for Week 3 yet. I think working a full day before running on Tuesdays and Thursdays makes it a little harder. The mp3's with the intervals have totally made a difference - I'm not obsessing over the stopwatch, I just focus on the running. And - I love running. Propelling my body forward feels just as amazing as I hoped it would. I am challenging my body to do great things, and it is exceeding my expectations. Every step feels like a victory for the sad little kid I was in gym class, always walking, always finishing last.

I got an e-mail from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with official race times from last Saturday's 5k - apparently the clock started before I crossed the line (which makes sense, because the runners went first) - I thought my time was 54m26s - and I was thrilled, since my first 5k walk was 1h10m.

53m15s
WOW! I was so excited to see that! I'm really excited to try and beat it, even by a few seconds, at my next 5k walk (which is this Sunday - the Trick or Treat Trot!).

There were a few pictures from the Go Go Green race in the e-mail as well:

go go green!
Yours truly, making moves.

And speaking of pictures, the other night, I was feeling particularly lovely, so I took a few quick pictures with my webcam to capture this incredible moment.

ow owww!
I am a lady who, after 23 years, 11 months, 1 week, and 2 days, is finally learning to love the girl in the mirror. I am someone who enjoys what she looks like and is proud of her successes. It's a nice feeling - a new one, and a strange one, but one that I am truly enjoying.

I feel like after all this wonderful news, my numbers for this week are really secondary. A big loss this week (because of the 5k, I think): I'm down to 286. Down another six pounds this week, for a total of 59 pounds gone. It's unreal to me. My body feels so different - I haven't weighed this little in five years, and the last time was achieved by completely unhealthy means - I'm much fitter this time, and it feels amazing.

Somewhat less awkward than it sounds: I can't stop touching myself. I keep touching my collarbones, since I can feel them for the first time. My hands are always on my stomach or my chin, amazed at how they're shrinking. And I love feeling the muscles in my legs work when I'm walking down the street or working on the machines at the gym - they feel strong, and they're working hard!

Some of it is taking some getting used to, though, and I hope I'm not alone in this:
  • My pants not fitting seems great, but they've always been too small, never too big - having a lot of extra room in there feels funny!

  • Since I take public transit and teach college students, I tend to fold my hands a lot. When I fold my hands, since my fingers are a little thinner, it kinda feels like I'm holding someone else's hands.

  • A little strange, I know: I expected my shirts would get baggy and my pants would loosen up, but I hadn't really considered underwear not fitting. 59 pounds ago, these were stretched to their limit. Now they don't fit right and they slide down sometimes - so awkward! So, for the first time ever, I need to buy smaller underwear.
They aren't complaints, per se - just things I'm (gladly!) going to have to adapt to. It's just fascinating to me how, with every pound I lose, even the day-to-day feels different.

How was your week?

October 28, 2010

Day of rest

This past spring, I was finishing up my Masters degree, teaching, and working as the program director's assistant (making exams and syllabi, all that fun creative stuff I secretly love!). It was great, but exhausting. So at the beginning of this semester, I decided that, as an adult in my first full-time teaching job, I wanted to commit to being in the office 9-5 Monday through Friday, and to not take any of my work home.

And for the first nine and a half weeks of the semester, it worked!

The past few weeks have been really busy, and the work has been piling up. I brought a big pile home on Tuesday and stayed up until 1am working on it, then passed out on the couch until the alarm went off at 5am to keep working. It's nothing compared to my awful sleep habits from grad school (like when I stayed up for three straight days when I had to finish my annotated bibliographies for my research - my diet was essentially takeout and Red Bull, the thought of which makes me feel pretty gross right now), but still, one of my favorite calorie burning activities has become making sure I sleep eight hours a night. It does wonders for my daily attitude and energy.

So last night, I decided to take the night off of the gym (I've been going lately even on days when I'm not schedule to run for C-to-5k because I just like it!) and relax a little. Plus, I desperately needed to tidy up my apartment, which wasn't disastrously messy, per se, but felt a little chaotic - unsorted mail piling up, a basket of clean laundry from Monday that I was too tired to fold and put away. a real escargot - les halles, paris, FRI took care of everything, did a mud masque, ate sugar free cherry lime Jello that I made (put it in individual cups to control portions - so yummy!), and was in bed by 10.

And this morning, I feel incredible! Refreshed! Renewed! Simply amazing. I like that, while part of taking care of myself is eating well and exercising (which I can handle pretty well these days), another part is recognizing when I need to rest and enjoy some "me time" that doesn't involve me sweating away on an elliptical machine, holding a Wii remote and nunchuck while standing on the Balance board, or racing my way around a track.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do for yourself!

Unrelated: a great NSV yesterday! A girl I work with told me that she saw someone that morning walking out of our office building that looked familiar, and when she looked closer, she realized it was me - she said it was crazy how different I'm looking now than I did at the beginning of the semester! I couldn't stop grinning.

October 27, 2010

It Gets Better

Dear Maura Kelly,

I don't remember much about my uncle John's life. I remember him always teasing my sisters and me, asking us for hugs and kisses, which we always jokingly turned down.codfish I remember thinking he reminded me of Disney's animated Captain Hook, so whenever he got mad after we wouldn't give him kisses, I would call him a codfish and I'd run off. I remember him making peanut butter cookies with perfect fork-pressed crosses, and zucchini bread that I can still close my eyes and taste - it was practically the only form of a vegetable I could be convinced to eat.

I don't remember much about Johnny's funeral. It was in June 1996, so I was about 9 and a half years old, and the things I remember seem so basic. I remember going with my mom to Caldor and getting a black sundress with sunflowers on it. I remember sitting with my maternal grandmother during the Catholic service, and her pointing out to me that we were seated right near the stained glass windows depicting Mary and Elizabeth (my first and middle names). I remember it being the first time I saw my dad crying.

I very vividly remember my parents sitting me down three months earlier and telling me that Johnny had gone missing. My sisters were too young, so it was just Mom, Dad, and me. We were at the kitchen table, it was a morning before school. from the newspaperMy dad told me that someone had seen Johnny on a bridge up in Vermont where he lived, and that the man in the car said that Johnny was walking barefoot in the snow. And then, suddenly, he jumped off the bridge. The police were investigating and they would let us know when they found the body.

My parents had always been pretty honest with me, and so I knew that Johnny was gay, even if I wasn't entirely sure what that meant. I knew we were Catholic, and that my dad's parents weren't speaking to Johnny, nor were most of his brothers or his sister. After the funeral, I remember hearing people talking about how Johnny was cremated due to the nature of his death, and about the exorbitant cost of getting a gay suicide buried in the Catholic cemetery.

A few weeks ago, the Director of the Office for Access and Equity at the university where I work sent out an e-mail to students, faculty, staff, and other community members. The subject: "A Message Concerning Harassment, Bullying or Discrimination." It was pretty brief, but the gist was, and I quote, this is a safe zone"I want to send a strong message to the campus community that UIC supports the security, well-being and dignity of all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students, faculty and staff." I know their intentions were good, but I was really kind of bothered by this e-mail.

I know that, in light of recent gay suicides in the news, they wanted to set forth the message that LGBT people should feel safe on our campus. And maybe it's just me, but shouldn't everyone feel safe here? Yes, every year there are gay suicides - but there are also straight suicides. And black suicides, and white suicides, and Asian suicides, and Muslim suicides, and Christian suicides, and tall suicides, and short suicides, and thin suicides, and fat suicides. It's the 11th leading cause of death in the United States - and no one, regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or any other characteristic, is immune to the feeling that this might not be a life worth living.

Bullying, especially with children and adolescents, adds pressure to situations already ready to burst - those being bullied are so focused on the pains of the present that they cannot rationally look forward and understand that it ought to get better someday. The "It Gets Better" campaign is a positive and strong message, and I really hope that for any LGBT teens on the edge of making a permanent decision, they realize that this is be a temporary problem, and there's hope for a better future. And I honestly wish that when they grow up, it's true.

But what about the rest of us? In spite of a widespread (and rapidly growing) obesity epidemic in the United States, there's still an awful lot of hate out there. I'm not asking for a fat acceptance movement - in fact, I very firmly disagree with many of NAAFA's opinions - but I don't think asking to be treated with common decency is asking too much. van gogh - the good samaritanI know it's simple, but "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a pretty good philosophy for judging what you're about to say or do if you're not sure it's hurtful.

So, Ms. Kelly, I'm not sure of you checked your facts, but two-third of Americans are overweight or obese, and that number is expected to be closer to 75% within the next ten years. You're the minority, Ms. Kelly. Would you like someone telling you that they're disgusted by your mere presence? Would you like someone to become physically ill at the idea of you being loved by someone? I certainly hope not.

I shouldn't have read your essay. I know I shouldn't. I knew it could only make me hurt. But still, I wasn't sure it was true unless I saw it with my own eyes. It was hard getting through middle and high school with the teasing, the cliques, the locker room before and after gym class. And now, as an adult, it's hard getting through the day-to-day with people staring, with the snickering and the finger pointing. But, like you, these people are strangers who do not know my struggles at all. You don't know my story, or anyone else's, really. You're judging based on an exterior. You're hateful because of stereotypes. And to think that you got paid to publish what is, essentially, an essay exposing your prejudices and bullying millions of people whose stories you don't know ... it's heartbreaking.

So I must affirm that I believe the claim that it gets better. Because I'm losing weight, Ms. Kelly, so you can count on having one more person in your thin minority - and sooner than you think. And with my knowledge, compassion, and empathy, I'm determined to help more people like me - if not with losing weight, then with knowing that not every person out there is a jerk. That some people are sincere, and see souls before bodies. That not everyone out there is going to make others feel bad for the things that they cannot control (be it ever, or just yet).

As a writer, I'm sure you're aware, but just a final note, Ms. Kelly: the word essay comes from French: essayer, a verb meaning "to try." The origins of the French word come from the Latin noun exagium, meaning "a weighing." Attempting to put your skills to the test, to measure intellectual progress, and to weigh your knowledge. And unfortunately for you, I'm afraid it appears you're coming up slim.

fact.

October 26, 2010

Guilty pleasures

Let me just start out by saying that I am the queen of awkward moments.

Sometimes, when I am really focused on something, I tend to think very literally. Like the time when my sister Katie and I were watching an awful lot of "Law and Order: SVU," and we had been making up a dance to the theme song (never said we were cool), but we only had the first part done. Katie, who is not as infinitely amused by silliness as I am, said "Mary, I'm putting an end to the SVU dance." And I told her, great, but we should probably work on the middle parts too.

Or when my sister Lisa was asking me survey questions for a project she was working on, and she said "What's your favorite scent?" Immediately, and quite excitedly, I yelled "the quarter!"

Really ridiculous stuff like this happens more than I'd like to admit.

There are also really awkward moments when I'm unable to think straight, so I'm more honest than I ought to be. Not necessarily inappropriate, but ... okay, example. A few summers ago, I had been painting a lot, and I was rinsing my paintbrushes in the bathroom sink. Later that night, I drank a small cup of water. I had to get up in the middle of the night with a stomach sickness - odds are that I ate like garbage that day, but in my mind, the water was contaminated. So, I stopped drinking water. Problem: I didn't have anything else to drink in the house. About a day and a half later, I was dying of thirst (and being stomach sick hadn't helped the dehydration problem), so I went to the grocery store. I was in the beverage aisle with two cases of bottled water and a Gatorade in hand when a cute grocery store clerk asked "I guess you're thirsty, huh?"

My current, well-hydrated logic says the answer should be something like "Haha, yeah..." - or even the simple but efficient "Yes."

Nope.

"Oh ... well, I developed an irrational fear of the water in my apartment, so, I need to drink something or I'll likely die."

I'm not sure if he was flirting, but any chances I had ended right there. Sweet but neurotic is only cute and endearing in Woody Allen movies. Diane Keaton can pull that off. Me, crazy-eyed and dry-mouthed in the Gatorade section at Jewel? Understandably less chic than Annie Hall.



I had another moment like this at the gym the other day. When I work out, I don't wear my glasses since I get all sweaty - so, I can see enough to get around, but I can't see most details. I was on the recumbent bike, pedaling away, enjoying my view of the quad and a workout playlist I had made. I was so focused on the workout that I was pretty oblivious to the guy next to me trying to say something. I'm actually not sure if the guy was cute, but I know he was looking close enough to see what was playing on my iPod. Eventually he caught my eye...

Him: "Hey - I love Jay-Z!"

Me, awkwardly yanking off my earphones: "What?!"

Him: "You're listening to Jay-Z. I like him, too!"

Let me interrupt to show you what the screen looked like on my dinosaur of an iPod:

mud in your eye!
Logical reactions: "Me too!" or, more honestly, "I don't really like him all that much."

Me: "Oh ... yeah, um, I'm listening to the 'Annie' soundtrack."

Cue silence.

First, that's not nearly as awkward as the fear of water, I know.

Second, I decided that I might start wearing my glasses on the workout floor so I can check out the scenery, if you know what I mean.

And third, it got me thinking about workout music. When I work out, I just put my iPod on shuffle, and skip around if something's too slow. I tend to listen to faster songs with good rhythms that I can work into my workout. A lot of times, this translates to bad 80s music, well mixed soundtracks, and showtunes. I guess they're not really "guilty" pleasures, since I feel no guilt about loving them - they get me moving! But still, I guess it might seem strange to someone else whose motivating music is totally different.

What's your guilty (or non-guilty) pleasure for workout music?

October 25, 2010

Exposed Lite

Most of my goals don't have deadlines, but they *do* have numbers attached - weights, BMI levels, etc. But recently, I have set a non-weight related goal with a deadline.

I'm sure you're all aware of the Exposed blog posts, but just in case, it's a self-esteem and positive body image movement where a person will take pictures of his or herself with fewer clothes on (underwear, usually) and make positive comments about his or her body. I'm so moved by them - all of them. It's such a wonderful, brave thing, and I love everything that it stands for.

Losing weight has turned out to be the easier part of this journey - mentally adapting to changes, though, is really a challenge. I desperately want to love my body. For so long, I've only seen it as the burdensome shell that has held me back from being a happy, normal kid (and then a happy, normal adult). I'm becoming more and more positive these days, but that worries me, too. I love my body, but only because it weighs less than it did three months ago. And I still don't feel completely happy when I look in the mirror - I still immediately look at faults, at problem areas, and work still left to be done. One of the saddest realizations about this is that I hold everyone else to a different standard than I do myself - I would like someone to love me for who I am and not for my body, yet I am incapable of personally believing in this thought, at least when directed towards myself.

bring your own sunshine
So, I am going to Expose myself. My goal is to do this by the end of this year: December 31, 2010. I want to keep working on my self-image problems and work out some of the emotional weight I have burdening my mind, but I definitely want to do this, and I think another two months should be fine. I'm making a lot of physical progress, and so it makes sense that I should be taking just as much care of my mind. Loving the girl in the mirror means more than just loving her body.

Of all the posts I read, I think Josie's Exposed post struck the strongest chord with me, because she included excerpts from her old diaries. When I was a little kid, I would always try to keep diaries, but my sisters would always read them and tease me, so I would keep one for about a week before tearing the pages out and leaving the notebook under my bed. In fairness, I read their diaries too, and did my own share of teasing, but looking back now, as an adult, I really wish we had respected each other's privacy. I wish I had these records of my childhood thoughts, in my little kid handwriting, to look back on now.

I started keeping paper journals back in 2005 to help deal with the pressures of college, so at least I have those to look back on. There's a lot of complaining about school, a few parties, a few fights with friends, and a couple of vacations. But mostly, there's a lot of anger. There's unhappiness, and there's hate. And it's almost entirely self-directed. I know that a diary is not necessarily reflective of the day-to-day - most days I walk around pretty positive and upbeat - but your diary is what you're thinking when you're completely alone. In spite of the smiles and the laughs, these were my deepest thoughts, my fears, my anxieties.

So here are some excerpts - call it my "Exposed Lite." It's not a picture just yet, but I already feel very relieved to air all of this out. Warning, there's a lot of college-aged, immature rambling.

August 8, 2005
[Mom] said that all through high school she only liked one boy, and that shut out all the other options. She said that if I am patient and, most importantly, love myself, then love will come to me. It just seems like that's never, ever going to happen, though, because until I think/feel I am physically perfect, I don't think I will love (or even vaguely like) myself. I am so ugly, even moreso because of all this hideous, nasty fat.

misquamicut
August 30, 2005
[After a boy told me I was "too fat to cuddle," then hooked up with my roommate Amanda]
I hate girl friends - they lie to you. They're all like, oh, you're pretty, you're not that fat, whatever. It doesn't matter ... Sure, I'm the only one who has to be with me forever, but it'd be nice to share the time with someone else. And until more than half of me disappears, that just isn't going to happen ... I feel so empty inside, and I don't know how to fill the huge, gaping hole. You could fly a plane through me right now, I'll bet.
September 3, 2005
[After partying with Amanda and some of her friends at UConn, including Kyle, a boy she had been trying to hook me up with (and who came out of the closet a few months later)]
We just wanted to find people to make out with a little. *sigh* No such luck. At least she got a few looks, talked to a few guys. I was completely ignored all night. Even Kyle wasn't interested ... HOW REPULSIVE AM I? Ugh, I am doomed, condemned to a life of solitude and loneliness.
December 4, 2005
How am I going to meet people? My friends don't have guy friends desperate enough to want to touch me, and I don't go out to parties or clubs or bars. So my options are pretty limited.

thought i was repulsive here. i was so beautiful...
December 20, 2005
[One of my first attempts at online dating - a profoundly awkward grad student at Yale]
I was showing Mom his picture and telling her about him, about Harvard/Yale and all, and she was like, "He's way out of your league." And I retorted with "Well, he likes me." And without a second of hesitation, she said "That's because he hasn't seen you yet." I don't think I have ever felt uglier in my life ... I just feel so pathetic ... I have stooped so low as to answer a personal ad. My words are all that save me - I can't go out and physically meet people cuz I am too fat and ugly. But maybe, just maybe, if he falls in love with my mind, my words, maybe he can try to overlook (or at least cope with) the fact that I'm ugly as sin and fatter than a beached whale. *sigh* WHEN WILL I BE HAPPY? I don't want it to seem as if my happiness depends on my relationship status, but it would make me feel a lot better if I knew there was someone out there who appreciates me.
July 14, 2006
I made Kelly go to Stop & Shop and get me cake - horrible for a diet, yes. But - I don't know why - I thought I needed it ... I'll never lose weight - I have no willpower or self-control.
July 18, 2006
[Reflecting on an old e-mail from the boy who would break my heart shortly thereafter]
"To be honest, your body type isn't one that would make me turn my head if I passed you on the street (and I expect mine wouldn't make you turn yours). But that doesn't matter. I'll be bold and admit - there is physical attraction for me. I like that you're a little on the short side. I like your glasses, and your curly hair. I like that you don't wear much make-up regularly, and that you wear comfortable clothes. Your neck and shoulders look soft, and I want to touch them, put my face in them. I'm fairly certain I could lose myself to your eyes."

Are these lies?

i can't believe i thought i was so ugly then
August 14, 2006
[Reflecting on my goals I had set for the summer]
The worst part is my weight loss right now. I'm feeling absolutely terrible about not being as strict with myself as I need to be ... This is when I should be going out, meeting people, dating. And no one wants to date the awkward disgusting fat girl ... I'm a decently pretty girl, it's just that it's buried under 150 superfluous pounds.
April 1, 2007
[On vacation visiting family in Florida]
Eric is making biscuits and gravy. I am so fat. I'm realizing this since Gram's house is full of mirrors. I need to do something about this. I am disgusting myself, even just sitting here.

don't mess with me - i have sisters.
May 21, 2007
I've been trying to diet. I'm off to a rocky start, but I'm trying at least. Hopefully in a couple days I will fall into patterns and then the weight will melt off! Hooray! I can't wait. I seriously hope I lose weight and feel better about myself by fall, or else it will be a very rough semester (again).
May 23, 2007
[After watching "The Biggest Loser" for the first (and only) time]
I am doomed to be a prisoner in this atrocious body forever.
August 17, 2007
[In Chicago, I wonder] if I'll succeed at finally losing weight. If I'll be happy. As long as I am pursuing my goals and my dreams, though, I can't see myself being anything but happy.
There is so, so, so much more, but I'd be copying quotes for hours, and I think you get the point.

Rereading it now, I can't believe I said some of this stuff. Thank God being a teenager doesn't last forever. I'm starting to see an evolution - there's a lot of bitterness that seems to dissolve once I move to Chicago. I think finally being on my own forced me to mature quite a bit. I still have more than my fair share of days when I'm not thrilled with my exterior self, but at least now there's no name calling. I'm not perfect, but I'm not a "fat ugly pig" or any of the other horrible names I have called myself.

The other big thing worth noting is that all of my "diets" failed, but this time, what I am doing is working. I'm not starving myself. I'm not overdoing it with exercise. And, perhaps most importantly, I'm not trying to lose weight so some jerk will finally love me. I still desire love and companionship, but the difference is that it's not my motivator - I'm losing the weight and living a healthier lifestyle for me. I'm doing this because I want to get healthy, and because I want to live, in every sense of the word.

October 24, 2010

Drop dead gorgeous

Another successful week for the books! I am feeling super recharged - it's been a rough couple of weeks, but I am back on track, keeping active and genuinely feeling amazing.

My positive sign for the week:

go go green!
Taken after the 5k yesterday. I am a girl on the move! I'm going places! It's an incredible feeling.

Challenge start weight: 332
Current weight: 292

Down another four! My post-Katie visit attitude is gone, and I'm back on track in a huge way.

Progress on my DDGbG goals: This week's recipe was a semi-fail: I tried my hand at sushi. I had the greatest of intentions, and it tasted delicious, but it was really lacking aesthetically. I hesitated before taking a picture, and then again before uploading.

oops
Yikes.

Sushi is totally delicious and can be made healthier by skipping things like tempura or soy sauce - a lot of places also add mayonnaise to their rolls, and one of the recipes I consulted even suggested it! I decided it was unneccesary calories and so I skipped it, but I don't think that contributed to the awkwardness of my sushi rolls.

Problem #1 - Sushi is deceptively hard to roll. The chefs make it look so simple! It isn't.
My solution: Just kept trying.
Problem #2 - Because I am not a professional, I had a hard time judging how much stuff to put in the roll. It seemed like enough but when I went to roll it, it turned out funny.
My solution: Combine the rice, avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab meat into an indistinguishable mixture. That'll stay put when I put it on the nori!
Problem #3 - Apparently none of my knives are sharp enough to cut through the softened nori to make proper rolls. Not that it would have turned out beautifully anyway thanks to my mashed up filling disaster.
My solution: I ended up sad and shamefully eating it like a sushi burrito - still delicious, but somewhere, a Japanese sushi chef was rolling in his grave.

One roll (about eight pieces cut up) is a little over 250 calories - not to mention the perfect mixture of creamy and crunchy textures, a little salty from the rice and a little sweet from the crab. So I want to get this one right! I didn't win this time, but I am not ready to surrender. I will try it again some time soon-ish, and when I finally master it, I will share again!

ONE thing that you are proud of for the week: Shaving over fifteen minutes off my total 5k time! The Race for the Cure walk was with a friend, so we dawdled along and talked a lot and finished my new favorite viewat around one hour, ten minutes. This one I did by myself, just me and my iPod, and I finished in fifty-four minutes, twenty-six seconds! I'm pretty happy.

I also finished Week 1 of the Couch-to-5k, which I am totally loving. I absolutely love the challenge of training for something - it's the rush of the stairathon all over again! I am going to try Week 2, Day 1 today, but if I need to repeat Week 1, I'm completely okay with that. The program takes nine weeks, and I have just over four months until the 5k at Disney - I don't want to push myself too hard, but I also need to keep in mind that Disney requires a sixteen minute mile or better to get a finisher's medal.

ONE thing that you can improve upon for the following week: Staying positive! Every day I try my hardest - I give my all, and that's all I can give. There's a clear correlation between thinking positive and feeling good. I'm making huge strides, and I need to just stay positive and keep all my achievements in mind - not just the numbers.