Friday, December 31, 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 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.