June 18, 2011

Breakup

Dear Lane Bryant, Torrid, et al. -

This has been a long time coming.


Little by little, I've been growing distant. I'm sure you've noticed, though the sales announcements have still been coming. I held on to them just in case, but actual use became far less frequent.


You've been pretty much all I've known for over half my life. The separation hasn't been easy. Goodness knows, I don't do well with change. But I've had to adapt, to grow as I've shrank.


I was just waiting on one last tie to sever. The bras. And now ... it's official.


Don't need you anymore. For anything. We're done - for good.

I'm sorry - it's not you, it's me.

June 17, 2011

Roses and thorns

The scale didn't move much this week - well, it went up and back down a couple of times, but never more than a pound or so at a time. I'm weighing in today at 199, no change overall - which is good, and all things considered, I am very happy with it. This was not one of my toughest weeks, but it was certainly full of unique challenges.

Something I've believed since I decided to get healthier last year is that being alone is both a help and a hindrance. Sure, I'd love someone to share this happy and healthy life with, but there are a lot of things I've been dealing with that were easier to go solo on. I haven't had to worry about tempting foods in the house because the only one who grocery shops here is me. I don't have to scour restaurant menus looking for something remotely on-plan because I simply don't eat out. And there has always been time to go to the gym for two hours a day because to tell the truth, there wasn't really anything else to do.

It's good, but all along, I've feared that my changes aren't truly sustainable because of this. Eventually, I'll share my life with someone, and there will need to be space in the fridge for the things he enjoys. There will be meals out. And there will be days when the gym is the last place I'd like to be.

This past week, these have been the case.

Looking singularly at this past week, I worked out a good amount and made good eating choices; compared to the past ten and a half months, though, this week has been fairly inactive. I decided early on in the week that my goal was not loss, but simply maintenance - just enjoy this a little and don't feel devastated and anxious because you're choosing to watch a movie with a cute boy instead of take the bus uptown for an hour, run for an hour, then take the bus for 30 minutes home. Despite my worst secret fears, the scale is not going to automatically jump back to 345 pounds because I chose to cuddle a couple of days instead of spending hours and hours on the elliptical machine.

I've made terrific progress on my own since July 2010, and now, in this final phase of my weight loss, I'm trying to accept that it's okay to have a week like this, because I'm still learning something. I'm learning how to make the best choices when the choosing isn't all about me, how to make the best decisions I can when I'm not the only one involved in the decision making process.

Something I'm very pleased with in terms of my progress this week is noticing that on days when I did not go to the gym, I was at or below my calorie goal. My restaurant choices have not excessive, partly because I knew I won't be making it to the gym, but also, because I just didn't want to eat poorly/overeat. I never want to feel gross when I eat anymore, but especially when I'm hanging out with a cute boy. Nothing says unsexy like a belly that's weighed down with sodium and feels like it's full of lead because of a huge portion.

I like hanging out with Matt an awful lot, and if this becomes something, I'll have to find a way to make it work while still being active. I need to make sure that lazy weeks like this aren't all too frequent - something I doubt will be a problem, though, because I honestly love being active and felt a little antsy at certain points in the week. I jotted down all the active date ideas you guys shared (thank you!!!) and we already talked about not eating out so much - today, for example, I've made a lasagna (only about 400 calories for a good sized portion) and a mixed greens salad. Lasagna is total man bait - it's what my mom made for my dad on their first date - and I've done a good job of taking my mom's recipe and making it kosher/lower calorie/8"x8". (My mom's lasagna is incredible, but also has at least twice the calories and never weighs less than 20 pounds. We have it once a year and eat it for days.) I'll share my lightened-up version here on Sunday.

Pretty much unrelated to anything but I love it: this picture.


Hello, legs! Given the weather and time constraints, I've been back on the treadmills lately, but I ran by the lake once this week and it was glorious. I love my awkward runner's tan - my arms below the sleeve are tan (with the exception of a one-inch bar where my iPod strap is), as are my legs (but only below the knee and above my socks). It's a purposeful tan, and I love it - like I was telling Caroline recently, it's like the awesome uniform to an exclusive club for people who get out there and put in their time on the pavement. It's silly, but I'm so proud of this.

What about you? What NSVs did you have this week? What challenges do you find with balancing weight loss and relationships?

June 16, 2011

Bucket list

I've seen summer "bucket lists" on quite a few blogs lately, and I totally love reading them and seeing what folks want to accomplish in the next few months. I've been thinking about making my own, since goodness knows I'm a lady who loves a to-do list! Plus, the Spring Fever Challenge is ending soon and there are a couple weeks before the Beat the Heat Summer Challenge starts (and I am thinking about taking a unique spin on my goals for that), so I want to have an active to-do list to keep me focused and motivated.

So here are my picks for summer goals; I'll be posting on these on Mondays until BTH starts (I'll include my bucket list updates with my weekly BTH ones).

1. Complete three of my 101-in-1001 goals.
I've been knocking these out left and right during Amy's challenges, and I want to make sure I stay on track with them. When my mom was out here, she left me some money, which I put in my 101-in-1001 money jar and have been deducting from as things get accomplished - one of my goals is to save $10 for everything I complete. There are $30 still left unclaimed, which is why I chose completing three as my summer goal.

2. Run a 5k in under 30 minutes.
My per mile time at the 10k was 10:39 - I'll need to do an average of about 9:40 per mile to finish a 5k in 29:59. Tough, but I'm up for the challenge. Since I don't have a longer race scheduled just yet, I can focus for a while on faster speed over longer distance.

3. Make peace with my mother.
Right now, this sounds harder than the sub-30 5k. I haven't talked to her in months; the dead air between us will not survive the summer. Mark my words.

4. Finish one painting.
I have paint, canvases, brushes, and ideas. I even have four or five paintings I've started but lost my motivation on. I want to finish at least one, especially the updated version of the painting I did last summer (the one for which this blog is named).

5. Walk to Devon Avenue with Lorelei for lunch.
It's about a 3.5 mile walk from my place to hers, then about 7.5 miles up north to Chicago's Little India neighborhood. We really love Indian food, and I think after walking 11 miles, I will be able to enjoy a samosa or two without any guilt!

6. Write ten letters.
I love sending mail even more than I love receiving it. I used to write letters all the time, and right now I have nothing but time on my hands. No excuses!

7. Meet the Ironman distances for running, biking, and swimming in one month.
I can knock out the running and swimming, no sweat. But the closest I've come with the biking is still short by about seven and a quarter miles.

What about you? Have you made a summer bucket list? What are your goals for this upcoming season?

June 15, 2011

Matt (Or, My First Second Date)

Truth: I started and restarted this post at least fifteen times. Between uncertainty about what angle to take, what to say/not to say ... it's been one of the more challenging entries, for sure. (About boys, at least - and this I attribute to exactly what I said yesterday, the fact that the majority of my experiences are so far removed from the present that I can speak about them clearly and without the present possibility of change to cloud my judgment.)

I don't want to get too list-y, summarizing days one after another as if I were simply trying to document events at face-value. But I don't want to get too analytical, either - with my tendency to overthink things, I sort of want to step out of my comfort zone with this new situation and just let things unfold without rehashing every moment in my head a dozen times.

And I don't want to introduce Matt too much, because I'm not sure if he'll become a regular to the cast of characters here. I think I'd like him to, but I'm also trying to be cautious. No matter what ends up happening, though, I'll always know Matt as my first second date.

Since I started dating in college, I've been on so many truly lousy first dates. Most of the outcomes I could have predicted, though, because I tend to go out with the same kinds of guys every time: they're nice guys, but they're not right for me. But at 300+ pounds, I was simply grateful that they were interested at all. The dates were usually bad because even though I was a bigger girl, I still did pretty well in social situations, and the guys I went out with were all unfortunately socially awkward. Eventually, I would get frustrated and give up; even the most hopeful optimist can only take so much and needs a break from time to time.

So despite my good intentions and even my best efforts, I've never been on a second date - until this week.

The long and short of it: Matt is my age, a little taller than me. He works a night shift near one of the airports but lives in the city proper. And he has also lost some weight recently while trying to live a healthier lifestyle. He sent me a message on Monday that I just barely missed, and we ended up playing message tag for a little while until we finally synced up and then chatted for hours. It was really interesting, because I wasn't sure if I wanted to reply to him - he's not really my usual type. But you know, my usual type hasn't worked out so far, and this kid seems kind of neat, so I went for it.

The next night, we started texting each other around midnight and didn't stop until eight or so hours later, when we had decided a short while earlier to meet at a diner halfway between us for breakfast. There were chocolate chip pancakes, good conversation, and great chemistry. (My own version of one of the greatest scenes from "Elizabethtown," only we didn't peak on the phone. Perfection.)


Like most people I know, he teased me at how few recent movies I've seen, and we decided to go back to his apartment and watch one. He didn't make a single move for most of the movie, save the last fifteen minutes or so when he held my hand; given my past experiences with guys, this was unbelievable to me. Having stayed up all night, we were both a little sleepy by the end, and we snuggled up a little. It was very sweet, and besides a little kissing, nothing physical happened. It was unreal.

We hung out for a few hours, and then he had to drive to Milwaukee with a friend since they had tickets to a baseball game. After the game, he drove back to the city and dropped off his friend ... then came to my place to hang out again. We put in a movie but it was late and we were dozing off, so we went to lay down for a while - which, of course, led to more kissing ... and whatnot.

I'll interrupt the story here to give away a bit of the ending: I've seen him four times, and I still haven't had sex with him. This is a lot of dates for one week, true, but he's fun to hang out with and he likes being with me, so I'm going with it for now. Personally, the more surprising thing is that we haven't slept together yet because my experience thus far has been with guys who are real jerks, who try to grab you within the first ten minutes of the date, and I've always let them because I just wanted to feel powerful, lovely, and desired. So, multiple dates with no sex just yet? This is unexplored territory for me in so many ways.

That said, the rest of our dates have generally been more of the same: we go out for breakfast or lunch, we talk a lot, we snuggle up and then fool around a bit, and end up talking some more. I've made good decisions in the restaurants as well as back at his place or mine, I think - everything is as healthy as possible for the situation, and I'm not feeling guilty or obsessive about any of it.

I don't know what's going to happen or if anything will happen with this guy - we have a lot in common, with a few quirky differences for both parties - but no matter what happens next, I've appreciated all that's happened so far. It's been so nice to not feel so alone, to go out with someone and have a conversation, to have him hug me and feel small for the first time in my life because his arms go all the way around me and then some. The stressors in my life are definitely still here and are making me as anxious as ever, but it's nice to put them on the back burner for a few hours and just focus on that which is currently pretty darn good.

What about you? What are some healthy date ideas - active (non-movie) dates, healthy things to cook, etc?

June 14, 2011

Distraction

When writing about boys, my experience so far has generally been discussed in retrospect, with the wisdom that comes from months or years of mulling over moments and glances and conversations. I'm afraid I'm not very good at speaking presently, at least not in terms of relationship stuff. But I'll try.

I reactivated my dating website profile a few weeks ago, and it took a lot of hesitation. First, because I'm still holding out hope for meeting someone "the old fashioned way" like my parents and grandparents did. Second, because filling out profiles and describing a self that has been constantly in transition for ten and a half months makes me terribly anxious.


And third, because the little pessimistic voice in the back of my head keeps lecturing me that it's the wrong time to get someone else involved in my messy life. I still don't have a job and my mother still isn't talking to me; I fear that I'm not looking for someone with the intention of honest love or caring so much as distraction.

That little voice has taken center stage an awful lot lately. I'm someone who believes very strongly in fate and happenstance, and I can't help but note that I met Steve five years ago this month. We were both looking for distraction then, too, and it was little more than transitional. It devastated me for years, and I don't know if I can handle another negative stressor right now. It might be easier to stay single and feel lonely right now than cry myself to sleep like I did for Steve for years, wondering what went wrong and how I could have been different or better, what I could've done to make him happier, to make him stay.

I'd like to think that in the past five years, I've matured enough to recognize that a relationship ending isn't the exclusive fault of one party, that I wouldn't waste any more time than necessary mourning lost loves that I never really had to begin with. But in the same breath, I know myself too well. In spite of the little voice, of occasional struggles, and of feeling sometimes like a situation can't possibly improve, I'm still terminally romantic, a hopeless optimist. I have a habit of only seeing the good in people and situations, then getting devastated when the realities catch up to me.

I might be looking for distraction right now, but that might be just what I need at the moment. Maybe dating is like weight loss - don't wait for tomorrow or next week or the perfect moment, start right now and do what you can, because all forward motion counts. Yes, conditions aren't ideal. I'm unemployed and three paychecks away from being homeless, with family issues and a binge eating disorder in recovery and more than my share of loose skin. At the same time, though ... I'm 24 and it's almost summertime in one of the greatest cities in the world. I've spent enough of my life sitting on the couch feeling anxious and alone. I might get my heart broken, but when almost everything else in my life already feels like it's in pieces, what's the risk in one more break? And, cue optimism: I also might meet someone really interesting who helps me realize there's an awful lot more to life than neurotically refreshing job postings and stepping on and off the scale.

Tomorrow: Matt (Or, My First Second Date). Stay tuned...

June 13, 2011

SFC: Week Eleven

My positive picture for the week:

I recently found this old picture of me.


I must be 3 or 4 here. Did ballet and tap - this was from my first recital. Too cute!

What have you done this past week to help you achieve your goals?
(1) I did it! Weighed in Friday at 199 pounds.
(3) I biked 10 miles, for a challenge total of 205 miles (or 93.2% of my goal).
(5) I completed goal #46 (Go on my first second date).
(7) Got a few more rejection letters, applied for a few more jobs. *sigh* It feels a lot like treading water these days.

What did you do this past week to make you feel good about yourself?
I am trying to be really good with money these days, but my dad sent me some money as a surprise. I put most of it in my savings and spent $13 of it on the cutest little sundress that was on clearance at Target! I hope it gets warmer out again soon so I can actually wear it!

With one week left, what is your plan?
Just keep on keepin' on, I guess. I have 15 miles to bike, a few plans for my New Things, and every day I actively work on my plan for what steps I'm taking next professionally.

What time of day are you most productive?
I think that all depends on what's being done. I try and keep busy all day, but for me, some times work better for certain activities than others. Workouts, I'm best at night. Blogging, after that. Reading and applying for jobs, first thing in the morning. Errands, midday. Chores around the house, it varies - dishes in the morning, laundry at night.

Are you reading a book right now? If so, share! If not, what was the last good book you read?
I'm working on "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth. So, so, so, so good. And it's just what I need right now, because the job stress is making me increasingly anxious, and I'm fighting my urges to binge eat tooth and nail.

June 12, 2011

Oil-free pesto

Compared with the craziness of the past few weeks, I'm feeling more in control of my eating these days. I've been staying within my calorie goal range every day, which is awesome - especially considering I had pancakes for breakfast twice during this past week. Matt works an overnight shift until 7am, so we met up twice this week for breakfast. I have been really nervous about dating and restaurants, but I'm very pleased with how things have gone so far ... in terms of both the dating and the restaurant food. (More on him later this week.)

Even though my Whole Foods challenge is over, I've still been using a lot of the skills I learned over the course of the four weeks. While I have reintroduced meat to my diet, I'm still eating lots of leafy greens, I'm still cooking without oil, and I'm still having fruit for snacks instead of pre-packaged snacks. With one exception:


I saw these on a few different blogs and needed to try them. Totally delicious! And under 100 calories! And - they're even better frozen! If I had a microwave and could warm one up for a few seconds, I'd be in trouble. (Which is most of why I won't own a microwave - even at my biggest, I wanted to cook for myself as much as possible. Even if my best intentions included Lean Cuisines, I knew I'd still almost always end up with Hot Pockets. I know myself too well, and when I get busy/stressed, I take shortcuts on taking care of myself.)

For this week's recipe, I made an oil-free pesto using basil I grew myself!


I planted some tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and basil, and I need to transplant it all outside one of these days. The basil smells sweet and incredible and I've been dying to do something with it, so I figured a nice pesto sauce would be perfect. I found the recipe here and modified it for a single serving.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1/3 cup vegetable stock, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup fresh basil, 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon pine nuts. Pulse until well-combined.
It was delicious, but I think using the tofu noodles was the wrong application. The consistency wasn't like an oil-based pesto, so I think it would work better with chicken or mixed in with some rice/quinoa/couscous. Or real pasta - these tofu noodles are delicious but sort of slippery, a description that might only make sense if you've tasted/felt the noodles before. Also, in my version, I omitted the cheese. I'll definitely add it the next time I make this - it needed a little depth. But it was yummy and really low calorie since there was no oil, so I'll try it again and tweak it a little next time.

What about you? What's your favorite pasta topping? What's your favorite pasta substitute?