Friday, December 31, 2010

2010....


Most years I can't wait to see the year go, off to the next year for bigger and better things, but for the first time in my life I wish I could stretch the year. 2010 was the most transitional year in my life, and there was more I wanted to do before the year ended. Can't we have another month or so before we say good bye to it??? It was a crazy roller coaster year, but the best of my life. This year I conquered mountains that in 2009 only seemed dreams.

I entered 2010 weighing 292 lbs, barely able to walk, unable to use stairs at all.  I was about a month into working with Gui and and the only workouts I was doing was in the pool because I wasn't strong enough to workout in the gym yet.

Clothing wise it was flat shoes, anything that fit and as one of the trainers accurately put it "Pam was a boy". At that point everything in my closet came from the plus size stores. My shirts were a 3x or 4x, my pants were in sizes not even in a normal range (10 or 11 in plus size), my shoes were a 10 wide, my ring size was 9 1/2 or 10, my necklaces were all 24" long.

Food wise I was eating a few hundred calories a day and and those calories usually weren't healthy.

Fast forward 12 months, I weigh around 212 lbs. I can now leg press 400 lbs, I work out 6-7 days a week. I have done an indoor tri, a walk-a-thon and can out lift many of the guys in the gym.

And I do it all looking like a girl *smile*. My shirts are a Large, my pants are a size 14, my closet is full of colors like pink and purple and amazing heels. My shoe size is down to a 7 1/2 or 8 narrow, my ring size is a 7 1/2 and I just had my 24" necklace repaired down to 18".

It's been a good year, the best year!

But I step into 2011 with a sense there was more than should have happened in 2010. It will surprise no one who knows me that I am frustrated over the goals that weren't completed. That is who I am, it's "how I roll". And yes they become the top of the list for 2011's goals, but I hate that sense of not having met the time frames I set out for myself.

So what's to come?

Weight - I need to break the boundary and get to 199, that is my top priority for the next few weeks. After that my goals are 185 (what I weighed when I graduated high school) and then on to around 150, my ultimate goal.

Training/Physical - I need to conquer a 5K this year, I bailed on one at Thanksgiving and need to heal that wound by successfully finishing at least one in a decent time. In the same vein I want to be able to get back to jogging, something I haven't done since college. I plan to continue my training (hopefully with Nick who has turned out to be a wonderful trainer and has really helped me take this to the next level).

Others- I had three big goals coming into this, this winter I want to attack the one that meant the most to me, getting back on the ski slopes. I miss downhill skiing, it was a great stress reliever for me in college, I want that back.

Also in the other list is getting over my terror of using escalators. This is a major hindrance when traveling and I need to face it. I have managed in the last couple months to deal with up escalators. I don't like them still, and I still feel like I am going to fall backwards down them, but I do them. Down escalators are still a mountain I haven't faced, this year I need to overcome that.

Food - Ah food, this is the tough one, my goal for 2011 is learn to more consistently manage eating better. I would love to use the word conquer with this one, but the reality that I am slowly coming to face, in the last couple weeks, is that much like an alcoholic a person with an eating disorder never is rid of their demons, we just learn to manage them vs them managing us. I need to find better ways to not retreat back to not eating when I am stressed or facing a social situation where I am worried how others will think I look. I need to not want to rush to fast track weight loss tricks like diuretics or purging to be thinner for a certain day. I came a long way with food in the second 1/2 of 2010 but not far enough, 2011 needs to be better.

My Big Goal - A few of you know that one of the projects I pondered and dabbled with in 2010 was a book project, taking the blog to the next level and writing a book. In 2011 I want to make that happen. I need to figure out how one gets a literary agent so that I can't find a publisher and get this project going. My hope is that the book will have a group authorship, as this journey has truly been a team sport, and that it will all come together this year.

Here's to a 2011 full of health, happiness and accomplishments....


brought in of course wearing killer 4" pink heels!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Price of Normalcy...

Normalcy, fitting in and not feeling like an oddity, was all I was going for with this weight loss journey. All my goals come back to that, being thinner so that people don't look at me with disdain, being able to do more so that I am not the person who holds everyone else back, wearing smaller sizes so shopping is not limited to only special stores. I just wanted to be normal in my eyes and those of the world. I want to blend in.

That is still what I want, it's why I continue the battle. And I am happy to say I have reached that goal in many ways. I walk down a hall and people don't feel they have to move out of my way because I take up so much space, I can easily fit in airplane and movie seats, I can shop pretty much anywhere I want, I can plan activities with others and no longer have to wonder if my body will keep up or not.

For those who didn't know me a year ago they would never even know where I have come from, in more and more ways every week I become closer to the norm. And most days I celebrate that, but at the same time the price of normalcy is weighing heavy on me right now.

Because as much as this journey has brought me to normalcy in looks and behavior, it has moved me farther from the norm related to food. Food has always been a struggle, anyone who has been reading my blog knows that, but this week was the first time I have questioned if I have made a mistake trying to lose weight. I know logically that is stupid, and I wouldn't go back but I wonder if I have gotten in over my head, can I really manage this long term?

I knew coming into this a year ago it wasn't a diet, that this was about a life style change, that I had to make lasting changes, that was a committment I was ok with, but this week the truth of that hit me, and it was overwhelming me right now. I actually started thinking about this a couple weeks ago while visiting friends in NC, when I was asked how much longer I wouldn't be able to eat normal things, but it has really sunk in this week how forever this is, and it scares me.

I was hungry while walking around the mall, and found myself exceedingly jealous and angry at the people able to just stop and eat whatever they wanted, when I knew I couldn't and never would be able to. That the food that others are able to enjoy without a thought would put 10 lbs on me and take a week to work off and always will. I went to a girls night out last night and watched others enjoy the wine and appetizers and I had to pass and stick to water and some turkey breast. I wanted a cookie and a glass of wine so badly and knew both would be a problem.

I am tired of living on such a restrictive diet, I am tired of having to think through every single bite of food that I consider and what it will do to the scale or worrying whether being busy and missing a meal is going to cause a problem. And the reality that those things are never going to go away, no matter how much progress I make is a lot to carry at times.

And in the short term, or medium term which I guess it is now after a year, they are small sacrafices, but my feelings over it this week make me wonder if I have the strength to live like this forever. Have I just gone from one kind of oddity to another?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There is only forwards and backwards....

I have never believed in fate, that things are pre-set and we are along for the ride. I believe we are each given free will and what choices we make and what direction we go is ours to decide. Those that choose to fight through the hard times make it, those who want to be a victim are just that. We all play a great role in our destiny, there is not someone or some power who has pre-determined how our life will play out like a movie script, we are the directors of our lives not merely actors in life.

But with all that said, I also have a hard time believing that the people who come into our lives are merely a coincidence. Anytime in my life there was a lesson to be learned, or a situation truly beyond me to manage the right person has come into my life. When I was a child and my family was out of control Mr Mossman, one of my teachers, came into my life and provided me a safe person to help me through. When I lost my sight to a rare illness, it just so happened that the best doctor in the country on the disorder was on call at the medical center my local hospital transferred me to. When I was forced to change trainers and there was every reason in the world for me to give up and go back to where I started the right trainer had just been hired at LTF to help me keep moving foward. It's hard to write that off to luck or happenstance. At the end of the day, I do believe in a higher power who helps put us in the right place with the right people at the right time to reach where we need to be. Today was one of those times.

As I said in the last post, I have been going through a rough time with my workouts lately. Wednesday was the hardest training session I have done yet. The physical demands weren't the problem, but my own need to over analyze and over think and beat myself up were the worst I have dealt with on the journey, the panic attacks on the treadmill reached a new level of stupidity and I wasn't coping well with how basic some of what we were doing was, merely to compensate for my body's limits.

I left the session more exhausted than even those first sessions a year ago, not from all I did, but from all the fighting I did to not allow my emotions to be seen and not to cry in the gym (a lost endeavour that I still fought the whole time). I also was questioning where to go from here, for the first time I questioned whether it was time to end my training because of my inability to mentally do what I need to. I wasn't sure when I left yesterday I would be back. Luckily my time to think on the plane yesterday helped me realize quitting wasn't an option, but I still really didn't have my heart in going back on Saturday.

But like so many other times in my life, I met someone today who helped me remember why I started this journey. The right person at the right time for the right lesson. I am in Houston, Texas currently. I am working with a new client I hadn't met before. They are wonderful people who I have really enjoyed being around, but there was one person who really got my attention. She reminded me so much of the old me, her build, her size and her comments about weight. It was clearly obvious that she was bothered by her size and worried how those around her thought of her about it. I felt for her and shared my experience and my blog with her. It was a good interaction and reminded me how far I have come.

But the real "ah ha" moment came after one of our breaks. The office is two stories and the bathrooms were downstairs. While the stairs presented me no real challenge, I saw her struggle to walk up them and the toll it took on her, how out of breath and totally exhausted she was from a flight of stairs and how concerned she was that others not see her that way. It clearly bothered her. My heart broke for her because I know that pain, I lived it for many many years. But beyond my empathy for her pain, it was also the reminder I needed why I couldn't let the current hurdles derail me. I can't let that be me again.

I had convinced myself yesterday that I could live where I am forever, and that maybe that was the right answer. That I have come further than I ever imagined and maybe I should just be happy with that. But today I saw why I have to keep going. I could easily slip back to how my life was before and I don't want that. I didn't come this far to go back to every step being a struggle, to feeling ashamed of my physical limitations and feeling I am less than I know I can be. Today was a good reminder that although I have come this far stopping does not mean I won't go back to where I came from. That I can't stop here and stay where I am, that there is only forwards or backwards and backwards is not an option I can chance!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fear, Fighting and Frustration...

This is a blog post I have been trying to write for about a month now. The words just haven't come easy. The very honest emotional entries are always the hardest for me. I write fearing how people will react, how I will be judged. Will people understand or criticize me. I also struggle with wondering if my honesty is going to harm all those who tell me that the blog and my journey inspires and motivates them. It makes it hard to know how ok it is to be honest. I struggle with that in life though not just in the blog.

Worrying that if people know what is really going on with me it will drive them away has always been a challenge for me. That if I show my weak spots will it be used against me or be a reason for losing those that matter to me. The ironic part is that I find it a lot easier to be open and straight forward with those I don't care about. Once I have let someone in enough that they matter to me, deep discussions get harder and more frightening for me. The risk becomes greater. Driving away a stranger is a lot less painful than chancing losing someone you would genuinely miss from your life. There is probably also a level of testing people in that world view also. If a stranger knows how messed up my thinking can be at times (a lot of the times) and still sticks around they are possibly ok to have closer in my circle.

The problem with all this is that once I get to a point where I need help from those around me I don't know how to ask for it, because it may change their view of me. I have fallen victim to that in a big way in the last month or so. I have been struggling and until it blew up in the last week or two I was doing all I could to bury it, especially from those who should know it the most. In this case the trainers I work with.

I am really not sure how to explain this and keep it brief and it still make sense, but simply put, in the last month or so I have become afraid of the treadmill, or more accurately afraid of my body on the treadmill, to the point of panic and freezing.

I have never loved the treadmill, it has always been a challenge for me, both physically and mentally, but I thought I was overcoming it. I had gotten my pace up significantly (to where I could do a 5K, 3.1 miles, in an hour), I was easily able to get through an hour, and to a point I was enjoying it, or at least was enjoying the challenges I had put out for myself with it, both speed and distance. I was doing 5K's, 10K's and was at a pace I was proud of.

But then something changed. I still don't know what started it and only sort of know when, it happened so slowly at first. But I started getting really panicky on the treadmill, my pace dropped, my distances dropped and I started dodging my cardio. And I started to cover it.

I should say falling is one of my biggest fears and that is nothing new. It is something I really struggle with. It is what has kept me from conquering some of things I would like to get past...not being willing to use an escalator, many exercises in the gym, rock wall climbing, skiing. I have struggled with this fear since the nerve damage, because for many years fear of falling was a reality. In the last 15 years I have broke every rib in body (more than once), broken my foot, been bruised from head to toe all from falls. But at this point, my body has moved past it, but my mind hasn't. And recently it has taken over with a vengeance.

It is not just fear of the physical pain of falling, it is also fear of the emotional toll. Of looking like a fool in public. That I will fall, stumble, tumble and that others will see it and think less of me. I spend an exorbinant amount of time worrying about how other people see me physically. If I had my way I would work out in a closet so no one could see me and my inability to do so many simple things.

And even though I was watching all this happen and take me over again, I kept it quiet as long as I could. I hid why I wasn't doing much cardio as often as I should, I told no one about the panic, I started doing cardio where no one would be watching. Luckily, I have a trainer who is a lot smarter than I want him to be sometime. And my story started to fall apart as my 5K we had set as a goal (on Thanksgiving) got closer and past.

I am ashamed to admit this but I need to, I chickened out of both the prep for it (the run club events at LTF) and the 5K itself. I hid not doing the 5K behind it being cold and snowy, about wanting to go out of town and anything else I could, but the reality is, I chickened out. I was worried about not being good enough to do it and how others would view me if I came in last or near last and I let it stop me. And I have beat myself up for that since. And that has only made the panic with the treadmill worse, along with impacting my food struggles.

The final veil came off my secret when I tried to attend a group session as prep for another upcoming 5k. I panicked with a trainer standing a foot away, my times were crap and I was barely able to handle the class. It became pretty hard to deny to myself and any one else there was a problem. My excuses weren't going to cut it any more. And as hard as things have been since then, I am glad the cat is out of the bag. Because I am no longer stuck trying to solve it myself.

I don't understand why I have gone so far backwards, I don't understand how something I had gotten comfortable at is now so overwhelming to me, and truth I am not seeing the path out of it yet. Or maybe it is better put to say I don't like the path out of it.

As I said in my last post, I want to lean on the past and hide from reality. Does it matter I can't go 3.1 mph, I am still so much better than a year ago when I could barely go 1.1 mph. I also want to baby step out of this. I want to take it slow and easy. But as was pointed out to my multiple times this week as Nick and I tried to deal with this, the only way out is walking through the fire. And I can't say I handled that reality well at all.

I think that is why I decided tonight I needed to blog this. I needed to face it head on and not be able to hide. This is definitely one of those posts that I feel should have some great words of wisdom at the end, that I should know what to say about how it is all going to work out and be great, but I am not there yet. I have to walk back into the gym in 2 days and I don't feel a lot more ready to face this than I did when I left Friday, but I know I need to be. That I can't let this win.

I also no I need to learn to get past my inability to reach out for help when things are small problems. I let this get way out of control for fear of my trainers thinking less of me, and in the end I probably let it get so far that that happened anyway around how I have handled working towards the solution.

Snow Angels and Brain Fat

I had a great day in North Carolina today with my friend Kaye and her family. I came down here to escape the nasty weather at home in Minnesota, but it appears (according to everyone else) I brought it with me. A really freak December snow storm hit NC today and about 2" is anticipated here around Raleigh. So much for being here to enjoy the sun, but it was still a good day with some laughs and even snow angels.

Many times throughout the day today it crossed my mind how different my life is than it was a year ago. While it is something I try not to talk about too often, as it is hard for people to get, I have those thoughts every day. Small simple things amaze me, things other people take for granted, like being able to walk down a flight of steps with a cat carrier in my hand, are a huge deal for me. Walking in the snow without fearing with each step falling is for me as great as winning a nobel prize. There is very little I do day to day that I don't remember how different things are.

Yet for as much as I know I have changed and my body has changed. I still struggle to be ok with where I am now. I had a hard week with that, but really want to focus on today and come back to the other parts later.

I know I have lost an amazing amount of weight in a small time. A friend reminded me tonight that the 124 pounds I have lost since I last saw her is what she weighs. And I am proud of what I have done. And logically I know I have come so far. Yet I realized today, I still am not ok with where I am at even now.

Despite the fact that I am what some would call and acceptable weight (214 on the scale Friday) - I don't btw. I realized it when I was posting some pictures tonight that I still have major issues with how I look and how heavy I am. But I am no longer sure if it is really that I am not ok with what is truly in the picture or just what I see, is this really more about not seeing me as I am now than it is not liking where I am at.

The thoughts all started as I was posting pictures on FB from today. I realized that lately I only post comparison pictures, because when I look at the actual pictures I am so unhappy with what I see. I look at myself and I see fat, I see obese, I see ugly. But I can make myself ok with sharing that if I can say to the world "but I'm not as bad as I used to be". That without realizing it I was rationalizing myself to the world and more so to myself.

I actually thought I had become happier with myself and my body and now I wonder if I have just been tricking myself to a place of comfort, despite being miserably uncomfortable. Every picture I looked at today I found fault with...my chin looks fat, my pants don't fit right, you can see how fat my stomach is in that shirt, I look like a whale laying in the snow. I wasn't willing to share any of them at first. But as soon as I found appropriate "befores" to put them with I was willing to share them, because it made how I look acceptable, better than before.

If I am honest about things that have been going on lately, I have probably been doing this in other areas of my physical life also. I am not ok with how my cardio is going, but I don't need to push harder because it is so much better than a year ago and that should be enough. I am backing off on some of my goals or bailing on them all together, but that is ok because I am doing more than I was before, so that should be acceptable.

But it's not! I need to find that next step. I need to move past where I have come from and get to where I am going. No more comparison photos everytime, only at major milestones. As for the goal and my cardio, more on that in the next post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Failure or Success.....It's a fine line some days..........

For as much as I love to shop at times, I do not do crowds. Today is probably my least favorite day of the year to be in stores (followed up closely by the day after Christmas). Which worked out just fine for me this year, as my plan for the day was to stay home and mope. To lick my wounds from what I saw as failure and hide from the world.

As tough as other peoeple think I am on them, the reality is that I am never harder on anyone else than I am on myself. I am horrible at "good enough is good enough" and unless I make my mark or exceed it, I have a hard time seeing any good in what I have done. This is not a mindset I recommend, I logically know it prevents me from seeing a lot of the great in things I accomplish. But it is how I was raised, a B+ was failure for not being an A, coming in second was always followed by the question of why didn't I come in first, second was as bad as last and nything aless than the best was chastized as not applying myself. I have never moved past my mother's admonishments and still do the same to myself. Anything less than ultimate success is complete failure.

And that is how I came into today, seeing complete failure. This is a day I have had on the calendar for a year.....I had to weigh 211 by today to succeed, 100 lbs less than where I was a year ago when I started training. I didn't make it. At my last weigh in, earlier this week, I was 220 lbs. Nine pounds from success, in my book....failure. Yes I know that is stupid, I have lost 91 lbs in a year (for a total of 120 overall...I was at the dr this week and her scale said 218, which is also where the original 338 number in 5/09 was measured). But in my world that is all irrelevant. I missed the goal. I have beat myself up for a week now since it became obvious it wasn't going to happen. And if I am honest I gave up a week ago when I realized it wasnt going to happen. I let myself eat things in the last week I never would have, I blew off my cardio, I just gave up. If I wasn't going to succeed at the goal than so what, why try. Anything less than the goal is irrelevant.

But this morning I was reminded there is a very thin line between success and failure and a bigger picture that has to be remembered. And for me sometimes that remembering requires a slap in the face *smile*.

Despite my total adversion to Black Friday shopping I saw one sale I wanted to hit, Old Navy had PJ bottoms on sale for $5. These are my newest addiction. Considering I am always cold and can no longer wear shorts at home all winter like I did in the past, flannel PJ bottoms are my new thing. And not only are they warm....they are CUTE (oh yeah and the right ones make your butt look good too *grin*). And since the Old Navy here in Eagan is somewhat by itself I figured the crowds would be manageable. So I went.

For the record, Old Navy is not a store I have shopped in before. It is a store I have watched others shop in, but it has never been a great place for someone obese. The clothes are cut slim and they do very limited in bigger sizes. So I have to admit when I walked in my "fat brain" was in control. I expected to find nothing that would fit. In a way I was right, most of the styles I wanted I couldn't buy, but that wasn't because I was too big, the pants were!!!!!

They had more XL's than anything and they were too big on me *grin*. I got to do something I have never had to do, ask a sales person to check another store for smaller sizes! I am sure he wondered why I was happy dancing about having to ask that, but it was one my coolest shopping moments yet...things in Old Navy were too big *giggle*.

In the end I was able to track down and purchase a bunch of PJ bottoms and also some long sleeve tees, all at amazing prices (I spent $65 and saved over $120). I bought things that were Medium's and Large's....a year ago if they had had my sizes they were have been 3x and 4x.

But I found a lot more than just warm clothes, I found that reminder I needed. That while I didn't make the number that was arbitrarily set (had I started a week earlier last year I would have probably been the 320 and would be 100 lbs lighter now) but I have come so much further than I ever dared to dream I would, or that anyone around me ever dreamed I would. I don't think a year ago anyone who knew me would have even bet even a $1 I would be 91 lbs lighter today than I was then, I know I wouldn't have.

Does this mean I am over my goal issues, heck no. I am already refocused. My next goal is New Year's Eve and to be 199. If anything missing today's goal has me even more laser focused on meeting that one.  I am who I am, I can't change that, this is what drives me. But I am glad the world steps in periodically to remind me to stop and look at what I have done, even if it doesn't meet my standards.

Thank you again to EVERYONE who has supported me this year...friends, family, trainers, staff at the LTF Eagan, Tony, my facebook friends, those of you who read the blog. This has truly been possible because of all the support, love and understanding you shown me, for all the times you guys put me back together when I came unhinged and all the times you got me restarted when I got stuck. No one succeeds or fails alone. Thank you for helping me be so successful this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Best Black Friday Deal Ever....25% Off that Changed My Life....Part 2....


In the last year for what I have spent on training I could have bought a new car or a time share in Tel Aviv, but if I had it to do over again I would do things exactly as I have. Working with a trainer has been the best time and money investment I ever could have made. Since my first training session I have lost approximately 92 lbs, I went from not being able to walk up a flight of stairs to being able to leg press 400 lbs and I have a body I trust and am proud of. You can't make a better investment than that!

Before I step forward to year 2 I needed to stop and thank the trainers who crossed my path this year. Considering I am usually growling at them I thought they deserved to hear something nice for once...did I mention I am not the easiest client in the world, I am stubborn and want it my way once in a while*grin*.

In the last 12 months I have primarily had two main trainers and two backup/support trainers. Additionally I have worked with trainers who provided nutritional coaching and metabolic testing. I also have had those from the PT department whose impact was nothing more than cheerleader and support. But whatever role they were filling I have been helped by some great people!

Primary Trainers

Gui...
As most of you know, I started out this journey with Gui and worked with him from November 2009-July 2010. Gui's best quality, at least where I was concerned, is his ability to make people believe they can do what they don't believe they can. From my first meeting with Gui he never used the word "maybe". It was also the sense that everything was accomplish able. He made me believe I could lose the weight long before I believed it, he made me believe the stairs could be conquered long before I was even willing to try. He was willing to figure out the baby steps needed, such as starting our training in the pool before coming up to the gym, that both my body and more importantly my mind needed to reach for greater goals I couldn't even see yet.

Gui challenged me many many times that he felt I could have been as successful with any trainer as I was with him, but I still to this day doubt that. Not because other trainers didn't have the skill set he has, many do, but because he was able to get me to believe in a miracle I couldn't do more than dream about at that moment, and that is a unique ability.  Other trainers might have been successful helping me once I was moving, but he was able to get me moving at a time in my life when I am not sure others could have.

It's no secret that Gui and I have had our rough moments (just read back in the blog). In some ways we were too much alike, in other ways majorly different. But no matter where things went and how they ended, I will never be able to thank you enough Gui. You were the person who helped me start to change my life, after 40 years of others not even wanting to try. You will ALWAYS hold a place in my heart for that.

Nick...
Nick is my current trainer, and for this point in the journey a perfect fit. Nick is stubborn and pushy and demanding and that is EXACTLY what I love about him. He keeps me from falling fate to my own worst enemy...myself. He takes no crap, no excuses and keeps me on track, but at the same time does it in a really supportive and understanding and positive way and always with a smile on his face.

Nick has also filled a gap that I didn't quite value until I started looking for a new trainer. While the first stage of my journey was about getting moving, and Gui did that well, this stage has been about finding new challenges and keeping moving. Nick works well with the goal driven side of me. Helping me set new limits just outside my reach and helping me get to them and most importantly celebrating with me when I get there. He gets as excited about my accomplishments as I do, and that is really energizing for me.

Nick, you took me on at a stage in my training that you could have easily run in the other direction (most would have and I am sure some have told you you should have). Despite my best efforts to show you all my flaws and to convince you I was a waste of time and energy you took on the challenge and I will always be grateful for that. You have helped me continue to be successful at at time when I could have found every excuse possible to fail and to retreat back to where I was a year ago. Your patience through the transition, when I know I was less than thrilling to work with, was appreciated more than I ever said.  I am genuinely looking forward to working with you going forward and reaching the goals we have talked about and others I am sure we will dream up. You're not so bad for a "12 year old" *grin*.

Support Trainers

Todd...
Todd has been a god send to me in a couple ways. Todd not only filled in when I was trainerless, but also has become my metabolic specialist and also my go-to trainer when Nick is away or my schedule makes it impossible to get a session in during the week. But beyond just being a trainer. Todd has become a dear friend, always there to listen and support me and let me vent. Todd has a heart as tall as he is. Todd's greatest claim to fame in my journey, standing beside me at Twins Stadium the night I was featured by Lifetime. Him standing up and volunteering to make sure I wasn't there alone may still be the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I was a complete stranger to him at that point, yet he could see how bad I was hurting and he jumped in to rescue me.

Todd, you will always be dear to me and I will never be able to thank you enough for your support when I was ready to give it all up.

Tiffany...
I have only done two sessions with Tiffany (when Gui was on vacation), and two of her group events (aka Sin Bin, which is now Sunday Funday's) but as the Department head at Eagan Tiffany has still been very involved and always been a great source of ideas and information for me. However, Tiff is much more than that to me, and I am not sure knows this part. I see Tiffany as the girl I want to be, my role model if you will. Tiffany is this amazing balance of the strength to outlift and out muscle any guy in the gym, yet being able to do it in killer 5" heels. She is smart, talented, sharp witted and just has this amazing ability to manage it all, whether that is kicking a 400 lb man into shape in the gym or strutting her stuff in a figure competition, she is the complete package. BTW if Tiffany looks familiar to anyone it is because she was also made famous last year for her work with O'Neil Hampton on the Biggest Loser

Tiffany, thank you for showing  me that it is possible to be a girl and yet be strong and able to keep up with the boys. Thanks for being excited about my transformation and always there to celebrate new shoes and nails.  You are a great role model for those of us trying to figure out how to show the world both sides of us.

I had originally planned to stop there, but as I was writing one other trainer kept coming to mind. I would be remiss if I didn't include Rachael.

Rachael...
I have never actually gotten to work with Rachael, but she has to be thanked as one of my biggest cheerleaders in the PT department, as she pointed out yesterday, even before I wanted her to be. I first remember Rachael in the ladies locker room stopping me and telling me what a great job I was doing. I had no clue who she was at that point and had to ask Gui who she was and how she knew about me.  Her first memory of me is me snapping at her when she tried to cheer me on while I was training (don't worry Rach I did the same to my friends who tried that too *smile*). Since then Rachael has always been there it seems to provide compliments and support and just remind me how far I have come. Thanks for being that little voice that reminds me to look at how far I have come, not just how far I have to go.

I am sure there are others I should be thanking, so to the entire PT department at LTF Eagan, THANK YOU.  Sorry for all the times I made you lives difficult without meaning to. You guys change lives every day and hope you know what an amazing service you are providing. Thanks for keeping me moving forward through all my unique needs and challenges.

Thanks for helping me be 1/3 the person I was a year ago!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Best Black Friday Deal Ever....25% Off that Changed My Life....Part 1....

When I joined LTF a year ago working with a trainer was the last thing I was even considering. In my mind, weight training (more accurately known as resistance training) was something for muscle bound jocks looking to get all pumped up, not for obese women looking to shed a few pounds. And trainers were for those looking to compete and the celebrities in California. It was not even something on my radar. But when the chance to try it at 25% off was made (my free trainer into session was on Black Friday 2009) I took the leap, I am a sucker for a good sale....

Fast forward one year, I have done probably close to 150 training sessions with a personal trainer in the last 12 months and consider it the best time and money I have spent in my lifetime. When my schedule prevents these sessions I get cranky and difficult to be around (although my trainer might question how that is any different than my mood during the sessions *smile*).

These 2-3 hours a week are the hardest, most challenging things I do, but it is the time I look forward to the most. While I love pushing my brain to do more, it is no where near as fulfilling as pushing my body to its brink. I am particularly fond of the heavy weight portion of our training. There is NO greater feeling than realizing you are lifting, pressing or squatting more than your own body weight! Endurance trainer (lighter weight for more reps) is still a struggle for me to stay focused during, it doesn't provide me the same goal feedback that the heavy weights does and that same type of physical sensation. But it is a neccesary evil so I get through it.

There is a lot to the practical side of  working with a trainer and doing weight resistance training, lifting weights, nutrition, cardio, but as one of my trainers said to me once, "if the relationship isnt there the rest is not going to work". This is the part that is really hard to make others understand, sometimes even for the trainers themselves.

Trainers have two very different kinds of clients, those just looking to get fit, and those undertaking major life altering changes. What I am going to say is about that second group, including myself. I have never been in the first group, and neither of have any of my multiple friends who are working with trainers, so I can only write about what I know.

As I said in the beginning, I had NO intention of working with a trainer, and even after I started the last thing I was looking for was to build any kind of friendship or relationship with my trainer. I was there for a purpose, to lose weight, not to bond or share anything about my life. Particularly with my current trainer, I fought NOT to let that happen. But I am slowly coming to see that is a battle that can't be won. That trust is integral to the journey and not a choice.

The reality is working with a trainer is not just purchasing a service an hour at a time, like having someone mow your lawn or paint your house.  There is too much of your personal life that impacts your weight and your physical journey for the person who is guiding you on that journey to not become part of your trusted inner circle. From the start a trainer sees you at your most vulnerable moments...when you are fighting ever fear, every weakness, every emotion about your inadequacies that you hide from the world on a daily basis, they all come spilling out on the gym floor, sometimes in an uncontrollable flood. If the journey is going to be successful it is as much about facing your insides as it is changing your outside, sometimes more so, and that part has to be exposed and shared as much as your weight, height and BMI.  The flaws in our bodies start in our minds and our hearts and unfortunately that is where you often have to conquer them too, and that means letting your trainer in to see them and to help with them as much as allowing them to help with lifting a weight.

This is part of it all I have come to accept, but have to admit I don't like, somedays I truly hate it. Because as I have learned this year, letting a trainer in can be a huge risk for a possible short term relationship. And for me at least, once I have let someone in that far into my greatest secrets and thoughts I don't know how to not become attached. Much like soldiers who have faced the enemy together are bonded forever, this is how the relationship with the trainer becomes, at least from the client's side. Which is a unique challenge because the down side to the training community is that there is a HUGE percentage of turn over. Trainers move job to job at a very high rate, which means clients are also changing trainers often.

Over the last year I have gone through a trainer change, I currently have three friends going through transitioning to a new trainer (two of whom are on their second transition) and have three who have made the transition and are settled in.

Losing a trainer you like and trust, especially the first time, is a blow I am not sure I can put into words. I have cried over it, I have watched friends cry over it, I am currently watching friends cry over it, we have talked about it at length, and I am still not sure it can be described to someone who hasn't experienced it without it sounding weird, obsessed, possessive and even stalkerish, but it is none of those.

Here is the reality, for most of us making a life changing journey from being obese we have 1) trusted very few people in our lives, 2) we are used to being judged and put down for who and how we are and 3) we have created a limited inner circle in our lives as a protective measure. So when you start working with someone who appears to accept you, flaws and all, who has been instrumental in helping you improve a situation you thought would never change and who you haven entrusted to see your darkest secrets the thought of having them gone again is scary, lonely and unsettling. It has NOTHING to do with being weak, emotional or dependent, it is true human nature. Each of my friends who has gone through it has been very different personality types, yet we have all had the same general reaction. This is a major loss and it requires grieving! And that grieving is also made worse by an immense fear that even though we have done all the work to be successful, that without that specific guide the success will end or even be erased. Rational or not (as I have come to know it's probably not, as I have been very successful with my new trainer) it is a fear we have all faced.

The good news, after this post that got a lot more serious than I ever expected when I started writing it, is that there are lots of great trainers out there. And that is where part 2 is going to go, I promise a much happier post...about the trainers who have touched my life this year and my thank you to them!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday to me.....pardon the fact that there is no cake being served....

From: Lance Vugteveen
To: pamingram@aol.com
Sent: Thu, Nov 19, 2009 12:32 pm
Subject: Life Time Fitness

Hi Pamela-
My name is Lance Vugteveen and I am a member advisor over here at the Eagan Life Time. Just wanted to email you and remind you of our appointment tonight at 6pm. I will be helping you set-up your 7-day trial pass and showing you around the club as well. Feel free and email me back or call me if you are unable to make it. Look forward to showing you our club here.

Thanks,
Lance Vugteveen
Member Advisor
Life Time Fitness Eagan

Very few people in the world get to celebrate their birthday more than once a year. I however now get to have two birthdays....the day I was born (in April) and the day I walked into Lifetime Fitness and got to start my life over, 11/19/09. And truth be told, I only acknowledge the first one under duress, but the second one I would willing to sky write about if I could.

The funny part, is that when I got the email above a year ago I was dead set against joining LTF. Yes I had registered for the free one week trial pass, but had made it very clear in my registration I had no interested in hearing a sales pitch for membership and was NOT going to spend a penny at that point.


While I was ready to make a change in my life, I was very jaded by previous experiences with health clubs such as Bally's and their high pressure, used car salesman tactics. I walked into my meeting with Lance as cold to the idea of joining a health club as one could be. But there was something about Eagan that told me from the minute I walked in and was greeted by the folks at the front desk that this was a place where a miracle could happen for me.

Long story short, at the end of the tour I was ready to sign up, even though Lance's boss had told him not to even try to talk prices with me. We had a good laugh about that this week.

In the last year I have been to many LTF clubs. With all my travels I am able to experience clubs in many states and at many of the different levels within the LTF family (including recently an Onyx club, the highest level in the company). And no where have I been have I found that warmth and support that immediately drew me in at Eagan and has kept me there for a year.

It would be really easy just to thank the Personal Training department because that is where so much of my success in the last year was centered. But the reality is that I feel a debt of gratitude to everyone at Eagan (those currently there and those that were part of my journey and have since moved on). They have ALL been a part of my success, of keeping me going when I was ready to quit and just making me feel so cared about. From the folks at the front desk who are never without a smile and who refuse to let you walk out with telling you to have a good day, to the ladies in the cafe who always have such a great attitude and are so positive, to the staff at the towel desk who I don't think I have ever walked by without them saying hello and asking how I was (despite some days me being super grumpy and trying to talk to no one), to the member advisers who are always there when needed, to the woman who cleans the ladies locker room who is just the most pleasant person every single time you see her, to Tony, the General Manager who some how keeps the place running, immaculate and head and shoulders above other clubs in the LTF chain.

Tony is an interesting person and someone I wish I could be more like, both personally and as a leader. For being the GM and having every reason to be heads down in his office every day, Tony is incredibly hands on. More times than I can count I have seen him folding towels, emptying garbages, scanning cards at the front desk, to the point it took me  a long long time to realize he was the GM and not part of the maintenance staff *smile*. No one loves the Eagan club more than Tony and that shows in everything at the club. He is the first manager, of any business I have met, who gets annoyed if his members and employees don't come complain to him when something is wrong. He is a great source of advice and one of the most down to earth people I have ever met.

Beyond the staff at Eagan, Eagan has given me another gift. The many friends I have made with members at the club, some of my dearest friendships started in my EAT class or through others I met working out. My greatest accomplishment this year, completed the Indoor Tri was with classmates I will never forget.


My relationships at the Eagan club have also helped me to meet others within the LTF family at other clubs, such as Todd, my metabolic specialist (and my once in a while trainer *smile*) who have also helped me more than I can express.



I have learned a lot more in the last year than I ever expected, when I started this journey I thought it was about numbers on a scale. Not about life, growth and finding out you are a totally different person than you knew yourself as. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that life is a team sport and you can't succeed alone. Yes I have had to do all the work in the last year, no one ate for me, no one did any of those damn lunges for me (although I am still looking for volunteers on this one!), no one cried all the tears for me. But for as hard as the work I had to do on my part was, I was able to do it because of the many many people there to catch me when I fell, to cheer me on when I succeeded, to hold me up when I faltered and to kick me in the butt when I tried to quit (over and over again). Some I knew were watching, but some only recently did I realize had been cheering me on all along.


This journey has not gotten easier as the year went on, like I expected it would. In many ways the last 4 months have been the most challenging. But no matter how hard the road has gotten, I have had one of the most amazing support systems anyone could ask for. And so much of that is centered around LTF Eagan.

Thank you will never be enough to tell all of you what you mean to me or how much you have helped me change my life in the last year. I only hope I have made you proud and earned all you have given me.

All my love to EVERYONE who has supported me this year! Inside of LTF and out.

Ok enough gush and celebration, there is still more work to be done, are we all ready to take on year 2?

Failure is not an option....it's a reality......

This is one of those times when I am feeling stuck between posting, being honest, sticking to the pledge I made when I started this blog - to tell it as it is, good bad and ugly, or to just shut up and hide. I am going to make an attempt at the first, because those of you reading this deserve truth and hopefully it will prevent someone else from making my same mistakes.

I screwed up big time and in the end it is costing me more than I ever imagined. The worst part is not only was I warned over and over and was too stubborn to listen but probably deep in my heart I knew what I was doing was wrong and dangerous, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was my goal.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that once I set out on a mission there is little if anything that is going to stop me. As a friend put it when she selected my hebrew name in the 90's, Pam does not know how to do anything less than full out. BTW the name she chose was Lehava Rut (which translates in slang to "Stubborn Friend"). I have been on a mission for the past 6 weeks, logic be damned.

A year ago tomorrow I joined LTF, 51 weeks ago Saturday I started training with Gui. The first thing we did in that meeting was set out goals. I wanted to lose 150 lbs in a year, he scaled it back and told me 100 lbs in a year and we would talk about the rest after that. When we wrote it down I never believed it would even be something that I could dream of being possible, but as the year has gone on, it seemed become more and more doable.  Especially since the reality is if we count the weight I lost before starting at LTF I am already over 100 lbs.

If I am honest when I was forced to change trainers in August I believed the goal was lost. I gave up. I believed that I had to have Gui to accomplish what I had set out to, it was part of why accepting him moving on was such a blow at first. It wasn't just the thought of losing my trainer, but also of losing my chance at my goal.

Luckily Nick, my current trainer, and Todd, my metabolic specialist, were as determined as I was that the goal become about me and not about Gui or anyone else and if anything I got to a place in the last 6-8 weeks where I believed more than ever that I could do it. Or maybe the wording should be less about believing I could it  and more about I became fixated on doing it. I was determined that I was going to prove to myself and to the world that I could be successful...regardless. This is where the problem began.

The goal became more important to me than being smart or being healthy. And for someone with an eating disorder this is a dangerous slope. Thin, or thinner at all cost is pretty much the definition of an ED. But I think I hid that reality from myself. I was able to kid myself into believing that I was doing healthy things that were working, and was able to tune out the voices of concern around me, particularly my trainer's. I was eating, I was getting the right number of calories, so how could it be wrong.

I wont dive into the gory details of what I have been doing, but in short 1) I have been eating essentially the same 4 or 5 foods a day, every day for weeks and 2) I have been getting the lion share of my calories from protein shakes. The second is really the problem.

While doing this has been incredibly successful from a weight loss point of view (about 22 lbs in a month), what I wasnt hearing or thinking about was that I was teaching my body not to deal with solid foods. And that once I reintroduced them there were going to be issues. When I finally agreed to go back to solid food this week, I gained 4 lbs in a day and my digestive system totally freaked. Both of which sent me into a total panic (the weight more than the stomach issues of course). And led to a conversation with my trainer where the realities of what I have done and that I am definitely going to re-gain some weight fixing it, were hammered into my head.

I dont like it, I am not ok with it. And while logically I know it is right, and know this is incredibly dumb to say, feel and think, there is a huge part of me that doesn't want to care about the doing it right side and still wants to meet my goal and deal with reality later. But I know that isnt the right answer.

The reality is in the end, I lost track of one of the other goals Gui and I set down on day one, this is about a HEALTHY lifestyle change, not about fast weight loss, gimmicks and quick fixes. Now I just have to wrap my brain about which goal is more important, long term. I know the answer logically, I just have to get my heart to the same place.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Walking Away...

To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform. - Theodore H. White

I feel like I have spent most of my life torn in two or three, somewhere between who I am, who I want to be and who the world thinks I am. And I am not sure I have ever once gotten to comfortable with the mix or getting it right.

It goes back as far as I can remember, growing up in a home where my father vehemently believed in being who you are and what you are and let the world deal with it, yet for the most part he was alone and unhappy and had many many people walk out of his life over the years, including his own children from a previous marriage. My mother on the other hand wanted nothing more than to be loved, so she was always who she thought people wanted to her to be and she bounced from role to role, whether it was being married to someone she didn't love, being a parent even though she often resented us and told us growing up we kept us stuck in her marriage,  or in jobs and social obligations she found burdensome. She to this day tries to be what the world thinks she should be and never herself, hoping to find love and satisfaction she has never reached.

I look at myself and know I got the worst of both!

I tend to believe much like my father. I am who I am, love me or leave me, on the outside at least. It is definitely how people perceive me. If you were to ask many people who know me they genuinely believe I think I am always right, that I am arrogant, that I am pushy and it has to be my way or not at all. And some of that perception I am ok with. I don't believe you should be fake or someone else just to be loved or accepted or wanted. I also know I use that perception people have about me as a protective mechanism, if people are willing to fight through who they think I am to find out who I really am then they are worth having around me, but if not then I have prevented a lot of hurt in the end, usually.

Yet the truth, inside I am probably more like my mother than I would like to admit to. While I don't bend like she does to be who people want me to be, I do wrestle with all her pain about fear of being abandoned, about wanting to be someone lovable and worth being around and not really feeling like I am worthy of that as I am.

I can look back at different times in my life and can see each part as owning one of these two personality sets. In high school and college, more my mother, wanting to fit in. My adult life up until the last year, mostly my father. Being who I am and accepting whatever that means, even if that meant going the world alone and being ok with that.

In this last year, particularly the last four months, it all just seems like a mish-mash and I don't know who or what I am anymore. In twelve months I have so radically changed on the inside and out and am still trying to figure it all out and just feel some days like retreating back to that safe fat girl who I understood and knew how to live with. It felt so much safer, so much less painful, so much less risk, so fewer tears. It was also less fun, less happy and a lot more existing than living. But I am not sure that happiness is worth the pain it chances, particularly abandonment.

I used to know what to believe from the people around me, because they knew who I was (as did I) and accepted me for who I was or they weren't part of my life. If they said something I knew clear as black and white whether to trust it or not. I didn't spend my life living in fear like I do now, having to question every one's sincerity, waiting for the lies and pretty words to unravel and to be left alone again. I don't expect everyone to love me, or even like me, but I also can't spend my life guessing who in my inner circle is being real with me and who isn't, its too hard and it is making it impossible to figure out who I am.

Twice now in under six months I have faced situations where people (professionals) who I really thought were in my corner have decided I wasn't worth the effort I require, that I am too difficult to deal with, too opinionated, too emotional and have walked away. Part of me would like to believe like my father, if they weren't willing to see who I really am then screw them, but that isn't how I feel. I feel much more like my mother. Hurt, sad, upset, angry at myself for the things I did that made them not want to be part of my life. And total truth I am not sure I can do this a third time.

I apologize to the world for not being able to be who the heck you want me to be right now, because to be quite honest, at this point I don't even know who that is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pretty Woman Moment....

Every girl who grew up in the 80's can tell you the scene they remember most from Pretty Woman. Whether it was the bubble bath, the balcony or Richard Gere climbing the fire escape...we all have at least one moment in the movie that stuck with us. It's part of our culture.

For me it was the shopping scene, where Vivian (Julia Robert's character) is sent out to buy a dress for dinner. Because she was not dressed to the nines and didnt fit the Beverly Hills mold she was rudely told there was nothing for her in the store and to go away.

I have spent most of my life living that scene...being stared at by sales people who know just as well as I that I couldn't possibly fit in anything in their store, or that I was the fat friend just tagging along and holding the bags. It didn't matter if it was jeans or dresses my shopping was limited to plus size stores and limited selections. The worst was definitely formal wear.

In my entire life I have owned exactly two formal dresses...the first was my prom gown (which I reused for a cruise a couple years later), the second was for a conference (the illustrious purple "foo foo" dress). I hated them both. Not because they were all that bad, but because they were what I had to get. I had very few choices because of my size. And the choices were frumpy, boring and just unappealing.

Twendy four years later I still remember the pain of shopping for my junior prom. While my friends were able to shop at great stores, buy stylish dresses and enjoy the experience I got to pick from about 3 dresses shoved in the back of a bridal shop because that was all they had that would fit. The night of my prom I felt ugly and out of place, like a big blue parade float.

Even though I know I am at a very different place in my life and with my body these days, I can't say I have actually put all those old feelings very behind me. When I learned my brother was having a formal New Year's Eve party and agreed to go, those same old fears came rushing back. Could I find something acceptable to wear? How long would it take? Would ever store I walked into just be a dream land for me, looking but not being able to try on and scowled at by salespeople? For as much as I logically knew I would have many more options this time, it was still a hard decision to tell him yes I would come before I had a dress. But I forced myself to do it anyway.

I accepted the invitation on Friday, but immediately started my shopping today, afraid how long it would take to find anything I could actually consider. I already had back up plans in the works such as trips to NYC to shop or altering the "foo foo dress". I wasn't ready to believe this could be any different than it had been before.

And my confidence wasn't bouyed any when our first stop was a vintage clothing store where the only thing I liked was a size 8. Truth, I was ready to pack it in at the point. But luckily I had two friends on the hunt with me today and quitting was no where near as easy as it would have been alone, so off to the Mall of America we headed.

The first store was a bit of a bust, btw when did Jessica McClintock clothing become soooo...ummmm....bold. I remember Gunny Sack dresses and holly hobby patterns, not any more....Jessica is all grown up! Wow!

But even in this teeny bopper land of bright colors and way too short skirts the salesperson was great. She didn't give me the "get out" scowl and tried to help. She even sent us off with ideas for other stores in the mall. It was a really good boost to my ego and made me believe I stood a chance this time.

Then the fun started. We found the newest formal dresswear store in the mall and I was ESTATIC when I realized they had real people sizes. Finally the scene changed and I got to have the other Julia Roberts moment, trying on goreous dress after gorgeous dress. Not one of them couldn't be found in my size, and they all looked amazing. They were trendy, sexy, fun and NORMAL. No old lady dresses, no smocks, just really stylish beautiful dresses. And the trend continued store after store. There was nothing I picked up and wanted to try on that I couldn't, there was nothing I had to rule out because of my size.
 

This experience could not have been more of a lifetime apart from my previous gown shopping experiences. I truly came away from today feeling so proud of myself, my body and everything I have accomplished. It was amazing to be normal, to have choices and to know that I finally fit in. That me being in those stores didn't turn heads, except for how great I looked in the dresses I was showing off.

While I am sure the question you are waiting for is if I found my happy ending like Vivian.... did I find my dress? That is an answer I am not ready to reveal yet. A girl has to keep some secrets to herself (and her shopping companions). Hang around til New Year's Eve and I'll finish the story *smile*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Technicolor Meltdown

There are lots of qualities about myself I am proud of. I am very smart, I am funny, I am sharp witted (or sarcastic depending on your point of view) and I am great a my job. I can see solutions that others miss, I can think outside the box and I am incredibly inventive. I am also loyal, dedicated and an incredibly hard worker. I would give my life for those I care about and never give up without a fight. I have a lot of strengths, many of which I am only slowly growing to truly appreciate.

But I have to admit one of my least redeeming qualities is how black and white, hot and cold, I seem to run about things. I am 100% or I am 0%, I am all in or not at all, I have incredible self control and discipline, until I don’t and then it goes terribly bad.

This last one is probably the hardest with food and my eating issues. I have great control. I can stop myself from eating EVERYTHING. It is how I ended up, I believe, being anorexic. I can easily control my food intake to the point of over control, where I eat nothing. For the last 6 or so weeks I have lived on the same foods every single day without a problem (protein shakes, pecans, almond butter and one small serving of fish, chicken or turkey a day). Not a problem. I can be that controlled. It is not hard for me. But once I cracked that, I am in free fall, which is where I am right now.

The last two weeks have been really hard for me schedule wise. I have done two straight weeks of travel (home for about 17 hours in between one week and the other). While from a work perspective that is nothing for me, from a food and workout point of view this is a major undertaking. Part of being regimented is being on a schedule, able to control my life and my surroundings, but doing this level of travel that all fell apart.

I thought I had put safe guards in place. The GM at my local LTF went out of his way to get me a pass to a higher level club in NJ (thanks Tony), my trainer worked up workout guidelines for me to follow (thanks Nick) and I even put a workout with another trainer in that 17 hours I was home (thanks Todd) so that I wasn’t going as long without working out. Nick and I had talked about food, I packed my protein powder and almond milk. But despite that all I knew it was going to be hard, and it was.

I did ok the first week, but the second week has not ended well. I am currently on my flight home and today already I have had a “bourbon breeze” (bourbon, cranapple juice and orange juice), sun chips, 4 reeses peanut butter cups and a gingerale. This is on top of the bagel and cream cheese at my client this morning. And honestly, I am pondering a Big Mac on the way home. The wheels have completely fallen off. And I knew it was coming is the sad part, yet I still couldn’t stop it. How did I know it was coming? Because yesterday I had no where near the calories I was supposed to. When I did eat I had to force myself. I knew I had swung back over to the anorexic side yesterday, and the rebound of that is usually the binge side. Again 0 to 100! And sadly the hard part of the overeating side is that it is not usually a fast repair. It usually sets off a long run of days of eating like crap, which then swings back to not wanting to eat anything because of how many calories I have put on while eating all the garbage.

It frustrates me completely that I can sit here and logically say I know this is all wrong, that I shouldn’t be doing it but I say that with a gingerale in my hand and thinking about what I can eat next. I hate this. I hate all my eating issues. There is not a lot in my life I would change or say I regret, I believe our struggles make us who we are. But I have to admit if given one wish it would be to have a normal, sane, relationship with food, to be able to erase all the things from my childhood, all the being teased, all the slams by my father over my weight, all the pain of growing up fat, so that I hadn’t developed this messed up mindset around eating. It is the one challenge in my life that my stubbornness and tenacity don’t seem able to just overcome.

I have done so well for the last 6 weeks or so, I have easily eaten the calories I needed to, I stayed away from foods I shouldn’t, I managed to lose 22 lbs in a month. I have been perfect. And I know before I even get near the scale tonight that I have thrown all that away this week. That I am probably 10 lbs up and more importantly I am back to struggling with not wanting to eat, or eating completely out of control. It’s horrible because I know what I need more than anything is to go workout tonight, to tell my trainer how far off track I am (he pretty much knows from conversations earlier in the week, but not about the binges today yet) and that I need to be in the gym tonight, have a workout and get my head on straight. But at the same time, it is the last thing in the world I want to do or face. I want to go home at this moment, curl up on the couch and just hide from the world and myself.

People who have never faced an eating disorder are probably reading this thinking “well just get back on track” and I wish it worked like that. Food is so much harder than that when your brain is warped about this stuff, logic and behavior become a world apart. I know I have days or weeks ahead of me to get back to where I was before this week, and sadly I know that even when I get back it will be the point of over control again, because I can’t seem to be anywhere in between no matter how hard I try.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweating for the Small Stuff....

"Only dead fish go with the flow..." (stolen from a friend's FB status today)

Eleven months and 17 days ago I walked into Lifetime Fitness Eagan a very broken person. I didn't believe there was hope for me physically or emotionally at that point, and as I have said before in the blog. I had resolved to let obesity kill me. I saw this all as a last ditch option.

Since that day I have lost 87 lbs (for a total of 116 lbs, as I had dropped some before going to LTF by giving up soda), I have gone from existing to living, my world has changed completely, and, as one of the trainers said today, I have gone from being a boy to a girl *grin* (albeit a girl with a gun *smile*).

And most importantly I have a grasp on the future too. Which when you are as obese is one of the biggest things you sacrifice. You stop dreaming because it is too hard to see the path. You accept where you are and live with the anticipation of it getting worse not better. Hope becomes the enemy!

There is no way a year ago I could have imagined telling my trainer I wanted to start jogging again, or that I would be genuinely excited that I am about to walk a 5k (and have hope that by next year at this time I will be jogging or running in that same 5k) and would be told that those things are very doable.

But for as much as has changed and as positive as it all looks right now, sometimes life comes back and reminds me how close to me that previous life is. As great as the conversation was today with my trainer, with figuring out how to conquer escalators (my last remaining travel foe) and how to get me jogging and how to reach my next weight goals, it all closed in around me in one moment, in one scene.



I had gone to get a towel and spotted one of the clubs newer members, who is just starting their journey, and watched him stand and wait for the elevator to leave the workout area. In that flash I was back those 12 months and it was me standing there waiting. I knew what he was feeling and my heart broke for him. I remember that major let down moment every time I left working with the trainer and being so excited about whatever I had accomplished and how fast reality would slap me in the face when I couldn't manage to leave via the stairs. How many times in that moment I questioned if I was kidding myself that I could really accomplish anything through training and a lifestyle change. If it was all just a cruel joke I wasn't in on.

It wasn't but it still amazes me when I see people I haven't seen in a while and they are shocked at how I have changed. Because what very few people realize is that no one is more shocked than me, each and ever day.

For all the hard work and tears and torment I have gone through to get here, I still am not sure it has sunk in that I have really accomplished what I have. I still don't think I truly "get it" how far I have come and even more so how much of the world is open to me now that wasn't before.

It just doesn't logically seem possible to me that in 11 months life could turn around so fast, and my brain hasn't caught up to it yet. I still have to stop myself from saying "No" when people ask me to do something because I still think about things in terms of the limitations I had before, I still have to get on that scale way too often to reassure myself that I don't weigh 300 lbs, I still sit and marvel at my body like a baby would when I notice the muscles on my legs or a change in my stomach.

I was putting up pictures today on the previous post and was so frustrated because I couldn't find one of me in the raft. And then I realized, I had looked at the picture with me in it at least a dozen times flipping through them. I just didn't recognize me. I saw staring back at me a normal sized person and just couldn't get my brain to wrap around not looking for that fat out of place person.


I love who I have become, and who I am headed for, but would someone please put a name tag on her, because I am still not always sure who she is!

Bringing the Spirit Home...Part 2

There is a lot that gets talked about surrounded fat people and flying, some by those who are fat and some about those that are fat. Either way it is never a pleasant conversation.

For an obese person travel and flying is one of the most negative experiences you can have. At a time when the airline industry is working to cram smaller and smaller seats on tinyer planes packed with more and more people even being "normal" sized is hard. I have watched many fit healthy sized people have to wedge themselves into rows where there is no shoulder room or arm room. But it is multiplied a million times when you are overweight or obese. I personally had only survived it through upgrades that I get as a high tier frequent flier.

If I am completely honest, my weight and flying probably had a lot more to do with my decision to move to a city with a hub airport three years ago than I realized. It meant flying on larger planes, for shorter amounts on time. It meant less awkward moments having to ask for a seatbelt extender or having to apologize to the person sitting next to me for encroaching on their space.

And YES to the rest of the flying public, overweight people do know they don't fit well on the plane and whether you realize it or not, we feel guilty about it. There is nothing worse than sitting waiting to see if the person who will be sitting next to you is going to see you, sigh and make a face because they got stuck next to the "fattie". I have even had seat mates go to the flight attendant and pitch a fit for having to sit next to me. We hate it as much as you do!!! But we get the added benefit of the embarrassment of knowing how we are making you feel and how we are being judged. One of the greatest changes in my weight loss has been no longer having to face that look when someone sits down next to me. The first time my seat mate actually flirted with me instead of scowling at me I nearly kissed him (yeah that wouldn't have been good *grin*).

But there is another part of flying as an overweight (and in my case also somewhat disabled) person that we don't admit to, and that is the fear. While I never said this to anymore, every time I got on a plane at 338 lbs I worried for my life. Because while I can recite the "Deltalina Safety Speech" with the best of them, I wasn't sure if there was an emergency I would live through it. I honestly feared if I could fit out the emergency door or not, particularly on a small regional jet. And even if I was on a larger plane I wasn't sure I would physically be able to handle going down the slide. I truly believed if I was ever in a flight emergency it would probably cost me my life even if others survived. I knew this was one of the ways that being obese was life threatening for me.

A year ago I was given the chance to find out how I would do, in a controlled environment. Delta Airlines offers a class called "Road Warrior Training". Think of it as flight attendant school light. Flight attendants go through 7 weeks of training at the Delta training center, Road Warriors go through two. The training is about medical emergencies, in flight self defense, fire on a plane (including exiting a smoke filled cabin), slide escapes and the pinnacle...a water ditching and use of the life vests and emergency rafts.

A year ago I passed on the class. I knew I couldn't do it, I knew I would look like a fool and I knew I would hold up the rest of the group if I even tried. Despite fearing for my life, I couldn't face it all. But this year, as part of "airline camp" I had the chance again and this time I went for it whole heartedly.

I have to admit going into it I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I still feared how my body and leg would cooperate, but I needed to know. I needed to know what would become of me if I was in a flight emergency.

In just those few hours at Delta I conquered 10 years of flying fear. If I hadn't admitted to those with me and those training me that I had had the challenges I did a year ago they never would have known. I slid down the slide, I went out the emergency doors, I jumped in the pool and best of all I was able to get in the raft (oh yeah and did that with cute toes showing *smile*).

At the end of the class they gave us a certificate and told us it was now our responsiblity to let the flight crews we fly with know we are an ABP if we are needed.

No greater words could have ever been said to me than ABP...ABLE BODY PERSON!!!!!!