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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The liberated woman.

I'm currently reading Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille. This is the true story of a woman who, following a divorce, decided to buy 22 acres of land in the Adirondack wilderness and live off the land, alone in a cabin she built herself. I knew it would be a great read simply because I really enjoy stuff like this, my favorite being Dick Proenneke's Alone in the Wilderness. But I'm feeling more enlightened than I even anticipated so far. I'm feeling like all the usual feelings woman have (myself included), even the feelings we independent women don't like to acknowledge, are being acknowledged and faced. And overcome. Like I've had this shift in my self-understanding, self-belief, in my resolve. That I believe I could totally do whatever I want completely on my own, even live off the land in the Adirondack wilderness if I feel like it.

Thoughts on my elementary school gym teacher.

If only physical education classes in elementary, middle & high school had been enjoyable the way my time at the YMCA now is. I love going to the gym because it is a friendly, healthy, positive environment where no one makes anyone else feel inferior or incompetent and everyone is happy to encourage everyone else along their journey. In elementary school, I learned from the get-go that phys ed was going to be a shitty situation for me. The teacher constantly singled me out for being overweight and made me feel embarrassed that I could not run as fast as the other kids. Not once did she ever try to actually get me excited or enthusiastic about exercise. Quite the opposite. By high school I was a pro at finding ways to get out of gym class. I remember the last day of my freshman year when I realized I would never be forced to go to another gym class again in my life, I felt like dropping to my knees and thanking baby jesus. The YMCA now is such a great experience for me. Who would have ever thought I would actually LOVE being in that gymnasium, sweating my ass off, grinning widely while running back and forth across the gym doing drills...yeah that's me. In your face, stupid elementary school gym teacher, you old hag.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reflections for My 31st Birthday.

I just finished a book called She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb.  It was written in the early 90s.  I remember seeing it on my mom's bookshelf when I was growing up, but I finally took the time to read it this year.  I think it's an excellent read for just about anyone, but especially females like me who have been overweight most of their lives.  The book is at times emotionally difficult to get through, but there is a lot of hope and learning to be gleaned from those pages.

The book transported me back to my own childhood, the 1980s, when hardly anyone was fat yet but brightly colored snacks wrapped in cellophane packages were becoming the norm in grocery stores across America.  By the end of that decade, Americans everywhere were hoping Walmart would build a new store in their neighborhood next.

I look back on the 80s as a time of ignorance for the American people.  We were so excited about how the world was changing that we never stopped to think about how it was going to affect us all.  Obesity rates have sky-rocketed, and diabetes, too.

I was a lot like the character in She's Come Undone back then.  Although I did not have a fucked up childhood like hers, I did use food to manage all of my emotions.  Anxiety, nervousness, happiness, sadness, anger, you name it.  My favorite were the coconut covered raspberry Zingers.

I know all about stuffing my face with 9 or 10 lemon donuts to erase the pain of being made fun of for being fat, the pain of rejection.  I know what it's like to worry that my four years in college were a total waste of time because no one was ever going to want to hire the fat girl anyway.  I know what it's like to be terrified of sex because it meant showing my naked fat rolls and stretch marks to another human being.

I know what it's like to try and try and try to lose weight and never seem to succeed.  And then stuffing my face until I'm literally sick to deal with the pain of failure.  I know what it's like to run through a drive-thru and eat in the privacy of my car so that others can't see what a nasty fat pig I am.  I know what it's like to take absolutely no pleasure in anything except greasy french fries and chocolate cake.

Fortunately, I've come a long way since those days, although they are never far from my heart and I know I could slip right back if I'm not mindful and precise every single day with my choices.  As a fellow Lose It member discussed recently, it isn't climbing Mount Everest, it's having the self-love and the determination to follow through with our simple routines day in, and day out.  Value myself enough to take the time to pack my lunch.  Take the time to go to the gym after work.  Take the time to drink enough water.  It is in between these moments that miracles bloom.  Not at the top of Mount Everest.  After all, as the old Zen masters know, "The only zen you'll find at the top of the mountain is the zen you bring up there."  I will always be a fat girl inside my childhood heart, but the grown me knows I'm in control these days.

The book reminded me of just how far I have come in my life and how proud I am to be where I am today.  I'm about to turn 31 years old in four days, and I've never been healthier or more confident as an adult as I am right now, this very moment.  It sure is good to be alive, fat rolls and all.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hooper girl!

Thought I would take the time to write a quick update.  This weekend was Memorial Day weekend, meaning an extra day off from work!  I am very proud of how well I did in terms of my diet and exercise for those three days, especially considering the gym was closed on Monday AND people brought lots of junk food to my house.  I spent several hours on Saturday hula hooping with my friend Katie who is apparently an amazing hooper.  She can just stand there and not even think about the hoop and it will stay up and twirling steadily around her waist.  Me, I still have to give it my full focus to keep it up, but at least now I can keep it going for probably longer than 60 seconds.  I think I need to start timing myself, to see how long I can actually keep the hoop going.  Losing weight is going to help a lot, because my not-flat belly sometimes throws the hoop out of whack.  A flat middle would make the hoop go around much easier and smoother.  Good thing I'm well on my way already! ;)

So after I hooped for many hours on Saturday, I honestly felt like I had improved quite a bit with my hooping  by the end of it.  Then yesterday, my cousins who are in an amazing bluegrass band came over and played their awesome music, and I had to bust out my hoop again and hoop while they were playing.  I was really pleased with my progress and I want to keep trying to improve my hooping every day.

I just had a random thought.  I should start practicing my hooping while I am watching TV or movies sometimes.  That's extra time in my day I could be using to not only catch up on True Blood or Game of Thrones but also practice my hoop!

Also I took a short bike ride yesterday on my new bicycle.  I got a new seat for it because the other one was severely hurting my ass bones lol.  So the new seat is much more comfortable, and I rode over to my Papaw's house and back.  I was seriously sweating by the time I got home!

I did eat fried chicken, macaroni salad, brownies, and 3 beers yesterday.  All in all I went over my budget by 1,000 calories for the day.  But I'm very proud of myself for logging everything instead of saying 'meh, I'll start again tomorrow' like I usually would.   Also proud of myself for trying to burn some of it off through hooping and bike riding.

Tonight I'm back at the gym for another five days in a row.  Power yoga tonight.  Can't wait.  I seriously need some planks and downward dogs in my life :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Progress pics so far.

So here are my progress pics so far.  I'm bummed that the progress from April to May is not nearly as obvious as the progress from March to April, but I guess that might be because I had just started the gym in February, and the initial progress happened faster.  I have started taking my measurements, too.  From March to April, I lost overall about 15", but from April to May I only lost about 6".  However, I'll take it.  Progress is progress.  And I'm still working hard, going to the gym 5 days a week, and carefully calculating my calorie intake.  So I just have to stay consistent.  

Anyway, here's the pic:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hula Hooping & Enlightenment.

As I age, I'm getting this feeling that everything is connected.  Not just the whole hippie dippie "we are one" philosophy (although I, being a long-haired flower-wearing San-Francisco-loving kind of chick, do subscribe to that), but also that every action I take affects all aspects of my life.  And that I might learn valuable lessons while learning to hula hoop that could help me in my love life, or my career, or my relationship with my mom.

So I decided a few weeks ago that I would take up hula hooping.  There are several reasons why, the main one being that it's one hell of a workout.  It requires you to hold your core in tight and move your torso forward and backwards at a pretty quick pace.  I get out of breath pretty quickly, but I try to practice at least for a few minutes every day (usually when I get home from the gym while I'm still all revved up).  Other reasons why I'm drawn to the hoop: it's a very inexpensive new hobby, it can be very creative since I make my own hoops (learned how to do that from a DIY video on Youtube), and it's something I can do practically anywhere!  I plan to take my hoop with me to parties, festivals, concerts, etc.  You can get hula hoop tape online in a wide array of colors and designs.  My favorites are the glittery ones, the tye-dyed ones (of course lol) and the glow-in-the-dark stuff.

The first hula hoop I got was from Wal-mart.  I was there for another reason and happened to walk by a display of hula hoops in the toy section.  They were blue and sparkly and only 5 bucks; what's a girl to do?  I couldn't resist.  So I took it back to work with me (I'd been on my lunch hour) and a couple of my co-workers gave it a few spins around their hips.  They were each able to hold it up for three or four go-arounds before it descended to the floor.  When I got home and showed the hoop to my boyfriend Cecil, he exclaimed, "Give me that!" and proceeded to start hooping like a boss! LOL.  It was awesome.  He practiced martial arts for many years in addition to lifting weights and various other work outs, so he has a lot of control over his core muscles and was able to keep that hoop up pretty much indefinitely.  I was impressed, and inspired!

So on my first try it was the same as ever other time I'd ever tried in my 31 years, even as a child: I couldn't do it.  Not even one little spin around.  I'd throw that hoop as hard as I could around my waist and momentum would send it about halfway around and then it was drop lifelessly to the floor.  But I refused to be discouraged.  So I got on the internet and read some advice for beginners and tried again.  The trick is not to move your hips in circles but forward and backward to the rhythm of the hoop.

The rhythm of the hoop--that's where the word 'enlightenment' comes in.  At the very moment when I first felt that hoop spin around my waist, the moment when I knew I'd finally done it, I felt a huge door open up in the universe, inviting me in, as if a whole new world was now mine for the taking.  It may be a similar feeling to when a surfer catches their first wave.  Or when you finally understand what Robert Frost meant in a line of poetry that's kept you stumped for years.  It was a moment of pure zen, and I won't forget it.

It is those moments that drive me, and it is why I am so passionate about always trying new things and learning as much as I can.  Because with every new insight, I climb higher, and the view is more spectacular.