June 11, 2011


After struggling and fighting my way through the hardest ten pounds of my journey so far, I'm finally in onederland.

When I explain to my friends and family that it means 199 or lower, they're proud and congratulatory, but none of them understood the terminology at first - and the meaning behind it was ultimately lost on them.

Before I started blogging, I was not in-the-know in terms of some of the lingo we tend to use in our writing. I probably could have figured out things like "NSV" and "onederland" eventually, but to hear and comprehend them on a surface/definition-based level is so different from being on a journey and striving for your own personal understanding of them. I could hear all about examples of non-scale victories, but there really wouldn't have been any meaning attached until I myself didn't need an airline seatbelt extender or until I personally bought a pair of jeans somewhere other than Lane Bryant.

I've been doing some reading to get prepared for this milestone: weight loss blogs, self-help books, and -

Very relevant, believe me.

Alice finds herself in a new and confusing place where very little seems to make sense to her. She's constantly confused by the people/animals she meets and their actions, the things to see, and the different feelings she experiences. The residents of Wonderland, however, don't share her sentiment. Nothing is strange or different - this is all normal, everyday living for them.

Right now, I'm Alice. It's my turn to wander around Onederland, and the things I am not used to might seem bizarre - but only to me. The people who've spent their entire lives in Onederland don't realize how strange it all seems to me, an outsider trying to make sense of it all. Just as celebrating unbirthdays and ordering a sentence before the verdict confounded Alice, I find myself on the brink of discovering even more oddities about life as a smaller person. With each pound I lose, little seemingly insignificant things keep changing, and my world becomes curiouser and curiouser. Clothing options keep growing exponentially, toning and surfacing muscles and bones continue to surprise and amaze me, and I'm meeting people who have no idea at first glance that I used to be 146 pounds heavier.

These experiences aren't shocking to someone who's never walked into a store only to walk right back out because she was too big to fit in the clothes sold there. Someone who's always been able to see the bones move in the back of her hands as she wiggles her fingers probably doesn't stare at them for minutes at a time while smiling in amazement. And someone might think nothing of meeting new friends and colleagues if there wasn't an alternate persona in the back of her mind: herself in another time and place, with a physical appearance that has changed so drastically that she is occasionally not recognized by those she knew before.

The difference between 200 and 199 is a large leap unfathomable by those who've never had to jump. It feels a lot bigger than 300 and 299 did, and understandably so. 300 to 299 was a huge transition from "the way things once were" to "the way things will be for a while" - but reaching 199 means moving into the next phase: "the way things will be for good."

The end is near, so to speak - though, admittedly, reaching goal is hardly an end, and living in maintenance will provide its own set of challenges. The last number will fluctuate. The middle number might change, too, for better or for worse. But my lifetime goal is to make sure that the first number never increases again. Because unlike Alice, I'm not going to simply wake up. I'm not dreaming - Onederland is my home now. Even though I haven't spent my whole life here, I'll eventually settle down and grow accustomed to the curiosities.

June 10, 2011

Roses and thorns

This has been a week of discoveries.

Like Sunday, when I discovered that I can run a 10k - and at my personal best pace per mile.

And Monday, when I discovered a cute and interesting boy who thinks I am lovely (and thanks to whom I have crossed item #46 off of my 101-in-1001 list).

And Tuesday, when I discovered the feeling of success after having lived 28 days as a vegan.

And Wednesday, when I (re)discovered how amazingly supportive the blog community is with all the fantastic comments and responses I got to my post about the events of Sunday - I love you all incredibly and can't tell you how strong I feel knowing I have such wonderful friends to help me stay focused on the most important aspects of this journey.

And Friday - today - when I discovered that my inexplicable weight gain was most likely an effect from overdoing it a little, because after eating on-plan all week and taking it easy with workouts, I'm weighing in at 199.

What about you? What did you discover this week?

P.S.! The winner of my Plant Strong giveaway is... Caroline! Please e-mail me your address and the package will be on its way!

June 9, 2011


Back in the end of December, I decided that my overall themes for 2011 were balance and consistency. 2010 was a year of transition, and as I embarked on a new page in the calendar, I wanted to make sure I kept these two goals at the front of my mind.

Something I noticed about my 10k run time was that there was a column called "split." I had no idea what that meant, so I looked it up. A split is a certain distance in a race - you might check your time at every mile, for example. At the Race for the Zoo, they had a split tracker at mile 3, and it recorded my time as 31:55. My overall per mile pace for the race was 10:39 - and my per mile at the split?

Sweet, sweet consistency. It's a seemingly little thing, but I like the message. Don't start strong and then have to struggle to finish, but don't start too slow and then have to book it to the end. Make a consistent effort throughout.

What about you? Do you prefer making a consistent effort, or do you work better with your own unique sense of balance?

June 8, 2011

The best race of my life

I weighed in at an even 200 pounds on Friday, and saw the same number on Saturday. I ate really well on Saturday - I didn't go to the gym, but I walked a lot, and went to bed feeling really happy and confident. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up in onederland, and then I will run the best race of my life.

I woke up and immediately got to my morning ritual: go to the bathroom, go back to my bedroom, take every thread of clothing off my body, tap on the scale to wake it up, step on, and hope for the best. I could feel the tears welling up, I was so excited. The 1 is coming, I can feel it - I've been working hard, and my body feels a new level of small right now.
The tears came, alright. There may or may not have been some serious expletives. I ate my breakfast somewhat begrudgingly - a bowl of overnight oats made with steel-cut oats, unsweetened plain almond milk, and fresh blueberries - and could feel myself losing steam. I showered, put my running outfit on, and double-checked the bathroom mirror. I look so fat in this. I feel so fat today.

Funny, I didn't feel fat until I stepped on the scale. But the thoughts manifested themselves and grew from there, and I found myself growing more and more disheartened as the bus got closer to the zoo. A gain. A FREAKING SEVEN POUND GAIN! I won't be able to do this race. I'm failing. I knew this was all too good to be true. I knew it couldn't last forever. Mom was right.

I lined up in the starting corral and started my iPod right before crossing the starting line. I had some great songs on my playlist, but my mind was everywhere but the music. I'm going so slowly. I should have registered for the 5k. I should have stayed home in bed. What was I thinking? I don't belong here. These people are thin and active. I can't even get over one stupid threshold.

As I came up to the first mile marker, I looked at the clock.
And mile 2?
... oh.

I wasn't sure what the clock said when I crossed the starting line, but regardless - I was doing an amazing job. My per mile time at the Shamrock Shuffle was 11:32 - and now, two months later, here I was - clearly kicking butt.

I shut my brain off the best I could, and just focused on the moment. It was warm but not too hot yet, the music was all perfect, and the scenery was incredible: we ran around the zoo, then up through it, then a little further north to one of the harbors, and finally back down to the entrance of the zoo.

When the finish line was in sight, I started sprinting. And then, it was over. Nearly six and a quarter miles, and I survived. More than survived, actually.

To put this in perspective, at the first 5k that I walked, I finished in 65:00 - and it was exhausting. This was twice the distance in less than a minute more, and I felt great.

I grabbed a bagel (not sure if it was on-plan - but it was either that or cheesy nachos from Qdoba. Yikes.) and a bottle of water and started walking through the zoo. I got overwhelmed after about two minutes and headed towards the underwater viewing area for the seals and sea lions, which I knew would be dark, so I could sob.

I'm kind of glad the crying picture turned out so dark, because really, that moment was all mine. I can feel it when I see the image. It's cold down there, and a little dark, and I'm scared - not of the conditions around me, but of so many intangible things. I kept walking out towards the gardens, still crying a little, and munching on my bagel. I was a little glad that Lorelei bailed on me and the race, because this was a really heavy moment for me.

Physically, I'm what feels like an entire world away from the girl I used to be. But with all the stress and anxiety on my emotional plate, I've been exceptionally vulnerable to old thought processes creeping their way back - and I don't like that, not one bit. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: the physical weight loss means nothing to me if I'm still in the same place mentally/emotionally that I was in July 2010. My wish came true - I ran the best race of my life - but all morning, all I saw was the gain. I couldn't stop thinking about it. That split second of weighing myself, those stupid numbers on the scale - they were calling the shots. Never mind that I'm still nearly 140 pounds lighter than I was ten months ago - the events of this one day's weigh in made me think I was failing.

Maybe I had too much salt on Saturday. Maybe it's my upcoming lady business (though, admittedly, I hate that excuse and have yet to not lose during a TOM week). Maybe it's the suddenly high heat and humidity. Maybe it's my totally screwed up sleeping patterns and intensified stress and anxiety. It's likely all of these things, and maybe even others I'm not even considering. But whatever the case, it's not terminal. I'm not failing if I gain weight - I'm failing if I let it ruin my day. Or if I continue to gain because I get the mindset of oh, well, I gave it my best shot, and as long as I'm going to gain after eating vegetables and rice, I might as well eat half a jar of peanut butter. Or if I throw in the towel because of one bad day, or even two, or seven, or fifteen.

Today, I am back to basics - my little cup of light yogurt for breakfast, and slowly but surely reintroducing the eating habits I've been the most successful with. I really liked the plant-strong eating challenge, and I think in maintenance, I'd love to be vegan - but it just wasn't as conducive to weight loss as I hoped it would be. I had two huge losses (4-5 lbs.) followed by inexplicable gains - the last time, I managed to pull off a one pound loss for the week, but only after completely exhausting myself with workouts. This week, it will be considerably tougher, and as much as I want to be in onederland, I'm not going to overdo it again in order to avoid having to record a gain. I'll try my hardest, don't get me wrong - but my goal from the beginning has been balance, and it breaks my heart a little that one of my first thoughts after seeing that huge gain was that I should skip breakfast. That's not healthy in general, but especially for someone about to go run a race. I don't want to get hurt - I want to live the healthiest life possible. In the event that that means inexplicable weight fluctuation, I need to make sure that I'm still happy and motivated and intent on seeking balance.

This is going to be for the rest of my life; what I aim to do now is figure out how to enjoy the good days, cope with the tough ones, and keep up hope that the hard times cannot last forever - and that even my worst day is a success. Because I have seen myself at 345 pounds, and I never want to see myself that way again. Because I want to continue to succeed - I want it too badly to fail. Because I'm the only one that can make that happen, and I intend to.

Because really, every day ought to feel like I'm kicking butt in the best race of my life - and because I am, without a doubt.

June 7, 2011

Plant-strong pantry / Giveaway!

Today is the last day of my 28 day plant-strong eating challenge - I can't believe it's been practically a month already! Last week we had our last class, on how to stock a plant-strong pantry.

The thing about eating mostly plants is that you cannot be afraid of using your kitchen. Eating out all the time is do-able, but can be tough - as Sarah found out this past week while away on a business trip. A lot of restaurants have veggie options, but they might not be oil-free (which is one of the rules of our challenge). A common vegetarian/vegan complaint is being limited to ordering off side dish menus and making their own meal - which can be delicious, I'm sure, but at that point, I'd rather cook something fantastic for myself at home.

With plant-based eating, you'll need to shop at least once a week for fresh produce and things like whole-grain breads. But you can also do a big shop once a month for pantry staples, and it won't necessarily cost you a fortune. Some plant-strong items to keep on hand:
  • dried beans (pinto, white, black, and lentils)
  • whole grains (quinoa, pearled barley, long-grain brown rice)
  • whole-wheat pasta
  • rolled and/or steel-cut oats
  • no-salt-added canned beans and/or diced tomatoes
  • unsweetened soy and/or almond milk
  • tahini
  • peanut butter
  • dried fruit (apricots, dates, and raisins)
  • Dijon mustard
A little goes a long way with many of these, and they can all be used in so many different ways. Quinoa could be a dinner with roasted vegetables - or a breakfast with fresh fruit. Peanut butter could be mixed in with oatmeal for breakfast - or with spices and veggies for a sweet/savory Thai-style pasta sauce. The beans could be mixed in with rice, corn, and avocado for a Mexican-style dinner bowl, or mashed up with chopped peppers and formed into patties and baked for homemade veggie burgers.

I'm feeling really great after having done this challenge. Besides an odd craving here and there (eggs, more than anything), I really don't miss eating meat, and I plan on continuing to eat this way as much as possible. Because I didn't want to get stuck in the habit of eating the same thing every day, I tried as many new recipes as I could. And after a while, you start to recognize what things go well together and you can improvise - which I think happens no matter what ingredients you're cooking with, meat or plants or whatever have you, but still, it's been fun and delicious.

Some great veggie recipe resources I've come across on this challenge:

Blogs:Books:And, of course, the amazing Amber who sent me several of her own favorite recipes (a few of which I made, and all of the ones I made, I loved!).

So, to celebrate my plant-strong month, I have a pretty sweet giveaway for you guys!

A reusable shopping bag from Whole Foods, two samples of Bob's Red Mill oats (one 5 Grain and one Steel Cut), some recipes and plant-strong nutritional guides from Whole Foods, and (unpictured) three Larabars of your choice from this list of varieties!
Note: These items were either provided to me free of charge from Whole Foods or purchased with a gift card (also provided to me from the company); however, the giveaway idea/shipping/etc. are entirely mine.
Here's how to enter!

1 - Post a comment here completing this sentence: "My favorite meat-free/plant-based meal is ..."

2 - Follow me on Twitter! @oh_mg (and post a comment here letting me know!)

3 - Post the following on Twitter: "I'm entered to win @oh_mg's Plant Strong giveaway on asmallloss.com - you should be too!" (and post a comment here letting me know!)

Be sure to include your Larabar flavor(s) in at least one of your comments! You can get all three the same, or mix it up - go wild, live a little!

You have until midnight on this Thursday, June 9, to enter; I will announce the winner in this Friday's Roses and thorns. Good luck!

June 6, 2011

SFC: Week Ten

My positive picture for the week:

I went to a lecture on Friday night and instead of taking two buses home, I walked the 1.75 miles to the second bus stop. While I was walking, I noticed a couple of these messages painted on the ground.

forgive chicago spray paint
What have you done this past week to help achieve your goals?
(1) I weighed in on Friday at 200 pounds even, but the scale has jumped up somewhat incredibly since then, and I'm not entirely sure why. We'll see where this Friday has me. I'm going to keep working hard - I definitely want to complete this goal by the end of the challenge!
(2) With regards to this weekend's bizarre scale jump: I'm trying not to let it rule my emotions. I eat well and I work out and I drink lots of water - I'm stressed, but life is generally good, and I'm not going to let the number on the scale devalue all the hard work I have done so far and plan on continuing to do. Full post on that Wednesday with my 10k race recap.
(3) Slow week for biking - logged 12.5 miles, for a challenge total of 195 miles (or 88.6% of my goal).
(5) Completed another thing of my 101-in-1001 list - #4, Run a 10k. My original goal was to complete 3 things off my list during this challenge - so far, I've done 7!

What did you do this past week to make you feel good about yourself?
I started reading another Geneen Roth book, "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating." I had picked it up with "Women Food and God" when one of the local Borders stores was closing. I made it a full six pages before I started to cry! I absolutely love her work. Self-reflection and emotional weight loss are so important, and reading these texts and sobbing with understanding and recognition makes me feel so good - totally light and unburdened.

With two full weeks left in the challenge, what goals are you making your priority?
Definitely onederland! I also have three more New Things to try - gotta get on that! I'm okay with letting the Wii goal fall by the wayside a bit in favor of these other two.

Summer is just around the corner, in which season do you find it the easiest to accomplish goals?
This is still my first year being a go-getter, so I've never had an active summer to compare this one too. Autumn was great for me, nice weather and tons of motivation. Spring was the toughest - it was a little cold and there were a few struggles. But looking back over all of it, I can't say that any season let me down, so I'm pleased.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Right now, I'd say not having to worry about working and adult responsibilities like paying the bills. But that's current-situation-specific. In general, I miss reading so much. I was an insatiable reader as a kid - anything with words that I could get my hands on, I'd read, from novels to textbooks to magazines. I have been reading more lately because the library is free entertainment, and it makes me miss being a little kid, sitting in my wicker chair in the backyard for hours, soaking up every word on every page.

June 5, 2011

Mac 'n' peas

Last night I was hanging out with my friend Lorelei, the one I ran the Shamrock Shuffle with and with whom I have registered for a couple races this summer (including one today, the United Run for the Zoo 10k). I had sent her a text message earlier reminding her to pick up her race packet at the zoo before 4pm. Long story short: she didn't pick up her packet. She forgot the race was tomorrow, thought it was the 11th. And she hasn't even ran in a few weeks.


So this morning, I am running alone. Our next race together is an 8k on Bastille Day; she also has a Masters in French literature, so I hope that one will be a bit easier for her to remember.

Last night wasn't a total wash, though - we walked to a park near her apartment to sit for a while and talk and love life in such a glorious city.

And, huge NSV, I wore a tank top in public.

So all in all, it was a good night. I left her place around 7 and came home for dinner and a few chores - including making a race playlist since I hadn't been planning on bringing my iPod. I could've ran silent this morning, and I might still - we'll see how I feel when I get to the starting line - but I'd rather have something prepared and not use it, you know?

Somewhat surprisingly, I'm not all that nervous about today's race. I've been training hard but I don't have any real expectations - I've never done a 10k, so as long as I finish, it'll be a personal best. I'd like to beat my per-mile pace of 11:32 from the Shamrock Shuffle, but I won't feel bad if I can't do it - this race is almost one and a quarter miles longer! I'm just excited to be out there racing - on the lakefront and through the zoo, too, so all in all, it should be a totally lovely day, no matter what the race outcome. Plus, it's another thing to cross off my 101-in-1001 list! Man, I am tearing through that thing...

For today's recipe, I would like to share one that I kind of made myself - I took a couple of different recipes and used the parts that I wanted to make my own version of vegan mac 'n' cheese: mac 'n' peas!

I saw the original recipe here but did not want to use flour and vegan fake butter. I found this recipe and used the tofu base instead, and it worked just fine.
6 oz. brown rice pasta, cooked al dente
4 oz. firm tofu (not silken)
1/4 c. non-dairy milk (soy, almond, hemp, etc.)
4 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. yellow mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients except pasta in a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth. Add pasta to a baking dish; pour sauce mix over pasta. Bake at 350ยบ for 10 minutes or until heated through.

It made a little too much sauce, which is understandable because I was just sort of eyeing the ingredients. The next day I grilled two portobello mushroom caps on my George Foreman grill and put the leftover sauce in between for a vegan Double Down sandwich. Messy, yes, but cheesy and peasy and good.

I had half of this for dinner one night and the rest for lunch the next day; the second day, I tossed in some zucchini and bell peppers. It may have been even better the second time. I really liked this recipe because it didn't leave me feeling super gross like a big bowl of mac 'n' cheese usually does - I'll definitely be making this again!