April 16, 2011


If you haven't checked him out before, be sure to stop by Jack Sh*t's blog today - on Saturdays, he does a great series called W.I.D.T.H. - "Why I Do This Here." One of today's images is from me!

I'm starting this morning with quiet self-reflection, spinach and blueberry pancakes, a few dozen ounces of water, and a trip to the gym. Later my mother and brother will descend on Chicago, and I can't shake the feeling that this is going to be my last bit of emotional calm for a week or so. I'm excited to see them, but I'm a little stressed with figuring out how to keep a semi-normal routine of eating/exercise and remain available to my students while two members of my family are here.

There are definite good things to look forward to, like walking around the different parks and attractions we've talked about seeing. (I am an anal retentive organizer, and Mom is all about spontaneity. They have no solid itinerary, and I'm doing my best to not panic.) Dan loved the Wii Fit when I brought it to Connecticut at Christmas, so I'll have no problem logging my minimum of 60 minutes for my SFC challenge goal. And just being with folks that I love in a time when I've got a lot of work-related stress weighing on me will be lovely.

At the same time, though, being with my mother isn't always joyful. I love her incredibly, but she has very critical tendencies. I truly don't think her intentions are to hurt me; she simply tends to be a little tactless, especially when dealing with sensitive subjects.

Like when I was a preteen - I'd check myself out in the mirror, marveling at the physical transition to adulthood - and she told me to stop parading around "like some little sexpot" because I still had "a lot of growing up to do." Even now as an adult, I struggle with my habit of confusing self-confidence for vanity - I'm just now realizing that it's okay to think you're beautiful and to love the girl in the mirror.

A few years back, she made an unprovoked comment about my body shape: she referred to me as "an egg with legs." For some reason, this has stuck with me for a long time. Looking at old photos, I can see what she meant: my oddly round upper body.

But I'm a firm believer in the idea that just because something may be true doesn't mean it needs to be expressed, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like body image.

It's thirty-seven weeks after my journey started, and I have curves now. I'm nervous about what she'll have to say this time. Since the beginning of January when I saw her last, I have lost almost another 50 pounds - seeing transition pictures is one thing, but actually being here and feeling hugs is totally different. On the phone or when video chatting, her requests for updates on how many pounds I have lost are almost always followed by reminders that after she divorced my dad, she lost eighty pounds, then gained it all back plus some. It isn't that she doesn't want me to have long-term success, it's just that I'm not sure she really believes in it. I don't think that she thinks I can do this.

One of my favorite jokes to tell my students is:
Why do French people only eat one egg for breakfast?
Because one egg is un œuf.
The punchline, the French word for egg, is pronounced kind of like "enough." When it comes to my mother, I wish that this one finally happy little egg was enough.

April 15, 2011

Roses and thorns

I pulled myself together after Monday and threw myself back into life, full speed ahead. Back to loving life and kicking so much butt on my videotaped classroom observation. Back to the gym with incredible workouts. Back to eating well and choosing fewer processed foods and more fruits and veggies. Back to eating less and being strict about calorie counting. And wouldn't you know, I lost 3 pounds this week. I'm down to 214, which is good because after Saturday I was back up to 219 (and 221 after Monday). Two really lousy days, but I recovered, and I'm feeling good about that - in spite of struggles, I am strong enough to bounce back and get right back into the healthy routines that I love and prefer.

Something that I am loving about tracking my food is being able to notice patterns and trends. So, a few visuals from my last week.

Here are the results of my daily weigh-ins (with a blank for Sunday because I did not weigh that day).

Spike after overeating on Saturday? Yup. Giant spike after Monday's binge? Check. Steady drop after I got back on track? Of course.

Here are my daily calories, including today's projected intake.

I've taken to planning out all my food for the day right before going to bed - that way I can quickly put together my lunchbox in the morning. It also helps me stay on track because my meals are all planned - I need schedules and plans to work my best, I'm really not great with spontaneity, especially when it comes to cooking. If I come home from the gym and don't know exactly what to make for dinner, that's when mindless snacking starts.

A pattern I noticed is the correlation between water intake and calorie intake.

The day of my binge, I barely finished one water bottle. Cleaning out afterwards, it's three a day, about 96 ounces.

So, learning lessons all around. I'm very hopeful about keeping up this good work as I face the next week and my mother/brother visiting. They are driving out here and left Connecticut a few hours ago - they'll get to Ohio today and spend the night visiting my uncle and his family, then be in Chicago Saturday night or Sunday morning, depending on if they want to stay a little longer in Ohio.

I'm both excited and anxious about their being here: can't wait to see them and have some people around, but at the same time, concerned about my eating. My mom called me the other day and asked if there was anything I wanted from Connecticut, and when I reminded her of my Wii nunchuck for the trillionth time, she said no, is there anything I want food-wise from Connecticut. The question bugged me until I remembered that last year when they visited for my MA graduation, I asked for a case of local hot dogs. They brought me two cases, and even though I put them in the freezer, I'd dethaw them and eat them at least five at a time. Next time I am back east, I will have one ... maybe. The thought of demolishing a case of them myself makes me feel a little queasy, to be honest; I'm in the phase right now where thinking about my trigger foods makes me feel gross because the physical feeling of disgust post-binge is still fresh in my mind.

I have a plan for next week to keep myself on track and focused. Definitely keeping up with logging my food, exercise, and water. I've been waking up earlier this week to get ready for temporarily moving my workouts to 6am when the gym opens - I don't have this week off of work so I will need to be on campus until 2pm every day, so I want to make the most of the afternoons with them. The blessing in disguise of not having time off, though, is that most of my mom's food-related things she wants to do will be scheduled for when I am working. I love her very much, but I just can't eat like that every day for a week. There will be a few treats, I am sure - I've decided to try a Weight Watchers-type schedule where I have a certain number of calories per day and then a certain number of "flex calories" for the week to be spent at my discretion. If I only have a few extra calories to work with, I think I will be more likely to choose my treats wisely. So ... keeping up the water at 96 ounces a day, working out as much as I can, and keeping most of my meals on par with my usual daily work week routine? I can do this!

Something else to help me in the next week: some good reading material! I won Jess' book giveaway and just got the book in the mail earlier this week, and I'm a few pages in but already loving it incredibly. I've been doing a lot of reading lately, actually, and I will have posts next week about all that.

What about you? How was your week? What are you looking forward to this weekend?

April 14, 2011

Shamrock Shuffle

In spite of the ridiculous raincloud I kept over my head for far too long, my race on Sunday morning was really incredible.

I woke up early and ate a banana and Greek yogurt (Chobani Champions honey banana - targeted for kids, but I love them anyway - and they're only 100 calories each!), drank some water, and suited up for the race. I headed downtown, and the El was full of other Shufflers. It was amazingly exciting - plus, it wasn't too hot yet and there was a nice breeze up on the train platform, so it felt wonderful.

The starting corrals were in Grant Park downtown, and there was an unbelievable number of people down there. It's the second biggest race in the city after the marathon, and the announcers said it's the biggest 8k in the world! I met up with my friend Lorelei and we checked our bags, hit the port-a-potties, and went to our corral to wait for the start.

looking totally adorable
The race started a little before 9am, with the fastest runners and elite teams going first. Then the rest of us started in two minute waves; because of the sheer volume of participants, it took us nearly an hour just to get across the starting line! From the Chicago Tribune:

holy cow
But soon enough, we were off, and it was fantastic. The sun was shining, it was warm but not horribly hot yet, and downtown Chicago was looking as gorgeous as ever.

Some of my favorite parts: running on the bridges over the river, running under the El tracks, running down State Street, and running down Michigan Avenue. It started to get warmer towards the middle of the race, but being downtown and surrounded by skyscrapers, there were tons of shadows and even occasional cool breezes. All of my walking 5ks were on the lakeshore paths, which was nice, but being in the Loop and the downtown areas was really fantastic. I'm so endlessly in love with this city.

course map - loveee
I was really happy that Lorelei kept up with me for most of the race - she had been concerned for a while about not being able to finish, about not being able to run the whole thing, and about not being able to finish together. But up until the last half mile or so, she was right next to me. We were weaving around walkers (forming a row in the middle of the street?! Pretty frustrating.) and when I looked over, she was gone. I powered through the last stretch and then walked around the finishing area looking for her. She was about a minute and a half behind me, and after an excited sweaty high-five, we grabbed water, a banana, and a granola bar.

Lorelei's legs were hurting so we sat on the sidewalk for a few minutes to rest and take in everything that had just happened. It was so completely unreal - on my last birthday, I ran a mile without stopping for the first time in my life; that morning, I ran just under five. The first day of C25k, I was 296 pounds; now I'm inching my way closer to onederland. (Also, afterwards, I realized that some time during the race, I logged my 100th mile for my 345-in-2011 personal running challenge!)

When I registered for the race, I estimated my finish at 65:00 - that was because my time at my first 5k had me at a 12:19 pace, so I figured with more distance, I'd need a little more time. I didn't count on getting faster with training (and losing another 40 pounds between the two races), so as I got closer to the date, I set a personal goal to finish in under an hour.

Mission accomplished! I think I could have gone a little faster even, but it was over 70º when I started the race (and over 80º by the time I finished!), so considering I have never ran outside in that kind of heat before, I'm pleased. Lorelei and I are both registered for a 10k in June, which is one of my 101-in-1001 goals. We're going to start training outdoors more to get used to the summer weather ... and to just enjoy the scenic lakeshore a little!

Running has changed my life - I'm completely in love with it. It's beyond a hobby, it's part of me. I'm a runner. And that's such an amazing thing to be able to say.

April 13, 2011


When I was younger, one of my favorite movies was "Angus." It's not available on DVD, unfortunately, likely due to music licensing issues ... the soundtrack was unbelievable, total 90s punk necessities like early Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and Weezer. But really, that's not bad, because years later, I still have most of the movie memorized. We used to rent it on VHS from the library and watch it over and over, my sisters and I.

The movie is about an intelligent but overweight young kid named Angus who gets set up as the winter ball king and has to dance with the prettiest girl in school, his secret crush. While I never had a crush on the cutest boy in my class, I could definitely relate to feeling like an outcast, feeling extra awkward going through the tough teenage years in a bigger body.

In one of the most amazing scenes of any movie ever (in my opinion), Angus is talking with his grandfather, who has just announced that "Superman isn't brave." Angus asks him if he remembered to take his pills, and Grandpa laughs.
"You don't understand. He's smart, handsome, even decent. But he's not brave. No, listen to me. Superman is indestructible, and you can't be brave if you're indestructible. It's people like you and your mother. People who are different, and can be crushed and know it. Yet they keep on going out there every time."
I've talked before about wishing I had superpowers - I wanted to be invisible. I wanted to be left alone. I was okay being huge, as long as no one saw me. I would have given anything in order to be able to slip through life, miserable but unseen.

Invisibility isn't a real power. It isn't something I can have, no matter how much I ache for it. No magic or science exists, no amount of food is capable of making me really, truly invisible to other people. Which means I'm vulnerable, but I have to keep in mind that I'm not the only one excluded by this power. No one can be invisible. We're all exposed, we're all vulnerable, and we just have to learn to take the hard knocks along with the moments of happiness, joy, and success, while hoping that the latter outnumber the former.

And you know, just because I can't have that one superpower doesn't mean I can't be powerful. Maybe some superpowers aren't as super as that. Maybe some superpowers are as simple as facing what promises to be a tough day, day after day. Or getting up every time you fall and pushing forward because you honestly believe you're worth it. Or saying no to a binge because you know it isn't what makes your body look, feel, and perform at its best.

I'm still keeping my hopes up for flying, though.

i look so good here

April 12, 2011


If the problem isn't hunger, then the solution isn't food.

I really want to post a glowing, post-race recap. But to be honest, I'm pretty depressed right now. I thought about organizing substitute teachers for today, but that would be counterproductive - I need to get out of the house, I need to move, I can't sit around here and be mopey.

Every day I wake up with the best of intentions, but lately, I've been slipping, and finally yesterday, I fell. Even now, I'm sitting here asking myself, What happened? For seemingly no reason at all, I woke up in a stinking blue funk that I couldn't shake all day. The accomplishments of the day before were forgotten, and I spent all day either sleeping or binge eating (calories totaling to the tune of nearly three and a half times what I aim to eat in a day). This was not overeating - this was self-harming. I wasn't hungry, I wanted to hurt. Why?

I don't teach on Mondays, but I usually head to the office anyway and put in a full day of work so I have time to myself at night and on the weekends. I decided to head in a little late and run to Target first since I needed a few things for around the house, plus I made a personal goal to get back in the pool this week, so I needed a bathing suit. I totally loved my suit from last summer - plain black, with a little skirt to cover the tops of my thighs, which I have always been self-conscious about. But that was a size 26/28, and it was barely covering me anymore. When I bought it, I needed my sister to help me get it on because it was really too small, but it was the biggest size Target had.

This time around, I found basically the same suit again - except this is a 16.

i hate math
But even that couldn't make me smile. I came home, sobbed, ate until I felt numb, took a nap, and then ate some more. I thought about going to the gym about forty times, but I couldn't stop crying long enough to seriously consider it. Sobbing in the pool just wouldn't be a productive workout. So I sat on the couch, then laid on the couch, then laid in my bed, and before you know it, it's dark out.

I know it's silly and ridiculous, and I know that right now I just need to leave my pity party - put on my big girl pants, get out there, and do the right thing. But I can't shake what happened on Saturday. Even with the dozens of incredible messages of support and love I have received, I feel defeated. I don't feel good about my pictures from the race on Sunday - I was just starting to get ahead and recognize/love my current, smaller self, and now I feel almost completely set back.

For example, this is a picture that was taken post-race:

feel this moment forever
This girl ought to be thrilled. She's glowing. She just ran the heck out of nearly five miles of the Chicago Loop and downtown. Said she would do it in 65:00, wanted to do it in under 60:00, did it in 57:18 - and that was in 70-80º weather. Less than a year ago, walking up the flight of stairs to her apartment had her winded.

Right now, I can't see happiness in this picture. I'm smiling, but I'm not truly happy. What's to celebrate? Getting one good thing done is nice and all, great job, whatever - there's still so much work to be done.

After finishing the race, my first thought was that I wish I could sit down with the girl from my before picture and tell her that the future holds nothing but good things for her. One year and three days after passing her MA exams, she will be running nearly five miles in a huge race. This is something she is strong enough to accomplish, something she is capable enough of committing to. Sitting on the couch yesterday, stuffing myself with snack after snack, I could see myself gaining back every ounce that I've lost. And that's something I never wanted to understand.

back to being unable to tell the difference
I love running. I love eating well. I love feeling healthy. And I love the fact that my self-esteem was at an all-time high - up until about noon on Saturday. I can't stop now - I love my new life and the new me too much to throw in the towel. I know I am doing fantastic things - 128 lost pounds equals 448,000 calories exercised off or not eaten. I can't let a fraction of a second by some thoughtless jerk devalue months and months of sweat and willpower. I've worked too hard for that.

Losing weight is a physical change. The only problem it solves is carrying around excess body weight. It's not a cure-all. It's not a magic potion that makes all of your problems go away. And sometimes, even I forget that. Everything starts going so well - I count my calories, I exercise like a fiend, I drink tons of water, and the numbers on the scale keep dropping - and it's easy to forget that physical weight isn't the only issue I need to be working on here.

So, the bad news is, I binged, and I'm feeling pretty lousy today in the aftermath - both physically and emotionally. But the good news is, I woke up today. And once again, I have great intentions, and a plan - I'm going to make today the best that it can be. Every single bite from yesterday was logged, so like it or not, there's a whole page in my journal full of the damage. And like my last binge, I didn't order takeout or eat anything that wasn't already in my house, so there are small bright spots even in this dark time. I'm going to work my way through this and get back on track, starting right now. There is no other choice.

you are beautiful

April 11, 2011

SFC: Week Two

My positive picture for the week:
Saturday afternoon, I was going through my box of weight loss relics with my friend Lorelei - my "before" outfit, all my race bibs, etc., and this is one of my favorite new collections:


What have you done this past week to help you achieve your goals?
(1) My weigh-in Friday had me down 3 pounds. 18 more pounds to onederland!
(2) I didn't weigh Sunday before my race (didn't want to have it put me in a bad mood, especially after how lousy Saturday had me feeling). I thought about trying to hold off as long as I could, but I was back on the scale this morning. One "no weigh" day is more than zero, so I'll call it progress. I might make a schedule of days when I cannot weigh myself, incrementally decreasing my weigh-ins to end up with the once a week I'd like.
(3) I logged 15 biked miles.
(4) I logged over an hour on the Wii Fit! Lots of skateboarding and Island Cycling - without the nunchuck, those are my big calorie burners.
(5) I made progress on #16 (Read 25 English books), #64 (Send 25 postcards via Postcrossing), and #72 (Try 10 new fruits). I read a book by Geneen Roth (full blog post on it later this week!), sent postcards (Scotland, Canada, Missouri [USA], and Italy), and tried papaya (good but not my favorite).

What did you do this past week to make you feel good about yourself?
I painted my toenails! I sometimes do clear polish on my fingers, but I haven't painted my toenails in ages. That, with the bright pink color of them, made me feel lovely.

Is your mindset future-oriented or living in the now? How does this impact you when you are working towards a goal?
I try to keep a good mix of both. I think that many of my weight loss struggles come from a lack of balance - the usuals (too much exercise/not enough food, too many carbs/not enough protein, etc.), but also, not balancing present and future focus.

Is there someone in your {real} life that inspires you to strive for the best?
My kid brother. Hands down, favorite person in the world. One week from today, we'll be going to Legoland for his birthday. He doesn't know yet. I'm so excited - for Legoland, but also, to just see the kid and give him a big hug.

Do you read blogs on the individual websites or via Google Reader?
I read a ton of blogs - I'd say at least a hundred - so I put them all into Reader to know when they've updated, but I open them up on their individual sites to read the actual posts. I like seeing the layouts and everything - it's much more personal that way.

April 10, 2011

Eggplant ravioli

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their support yesterday. Some people I don't know might say ignorant and hurtful things for no apparent reason, but some people I've never met might offer an outpouring of incredible love and support. I can't tell you how much that means to me.

I know I still have plenty of work to do with my emotional eating - my biggest problem yesterday, I think, was being caught off-guard. I guess I just thought that I was past the point where people would yell mean things out car windows. People haven't changed - I've changed. Some folks in this world are jerks, no matter what size I am. I can't change the world, I can only change myself. And I am trying to do doing just that - brilliantly.

A couple hours later, Lorelei came over, and we made homemade eggplant ravioli. Definitely a "sometimes" food - it takes quite a long time, and I try to avoid pasta as much as possible - but since we're running this morning, we figured we'd start a pre-race tradition and make dinner together. (She also registered for the 10k in June.)

To make the pasta dough:
Mix 3 cups of flour with 5 egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add water as needed - the original recipe said it was just a splash, but we used maybe a quarter cup. You want a firm but sticky dough. Knead for 10 minutes, then let it sit for a few minutes to make the rolling process easier.

To make the filling:
[Adapted from this recipe - I replaced butter with more olive oil and fresh basil with dried. Also, I didn't blanch my tomatoes.]

Peel and slice 1 pound of eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and place in a colander. Leave for 1 hour to draw out the bitter juices. Rinse and dry. Finely chop and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and 1 finely chopped small onion and sauté gently for a few minutes. Chop 2 roma tomatoes into a small dice. Add diced tomatoes to the garlic and onion along with a tablespoon of dried basil. Cook for about 15 minutes at low-to-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant and cook until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick paste. Mix in 1/4 cup of goat cheese. Set aside to cool.

so yummy
To prepare the ravioli:
With a rolling pin, roll the pasta to paper-thin (we were not nearly patient enough, ours were good but could have been better). Cut out your pasta shapes and set aside. I have a ravioli cutter but you could definitely use just a glass.

so much fun
Per the suggestion of the recipe for the filling, we put the eggplant mixture in a piping bag in order to control how much went into each piece. My only complaint about the recipe is that I used two different recipes for the filling and the pasta, so we ended up with a lot of extra filling. We also didn't put a ton of stuff in them because I don't have a ravioli filler pan, so we didn't want to overfill them and then have them burst in the water. Oh, well ... it's going to be delicious in an omelette for my dinner tonight.

Put a small amount in the center of each pasta square, being careful not to overfill. Wet the edges of the pasta with water (or the egg whites reserved from making the pasta dough) and lay another piece of pasta on top. Gently but securely seal the pieces together.

so yummy
For a first attempt, I think they turned out lovely!

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then add the ravioli a few at a time. (You don't want them to all stick together!) They will be done cooking when they float to the surface, about 4-5 minutes.

seriously, so yummy
So delicious. I only ate a couple because I wasn't terribly hungry, and I sent Lorelei home with two big containers (6-8 ravioli each), and I kept 4 for myself for lunch or dinner tomorrow. It was a lot of work but definitely fun, and it was certainly something I'll make again!