Dreaming and doing.

Every December, I plan out what I would like to do for the next year. And every January, I shatter them all. I somehow felt that one failure meant that all of my progress amounted to nothing. Even worse? I felt like I had to wait until January to make my goals again. I don’t know why. It’s something I’ve always done as a kid, and it just stuck with me.

I think my problem was that I took on too much too quickly. And when I felt the stress of it all come to surface, I imploded. Ambition is great but without the organization or discipline I needed to complete it all, I understand why none of it came to fruition.

It wasn’t until I focused on my health that I realized the key to completing goals relies heavily on my ability to pace myself. I struggle with it constantly. In my previous attempts, weight loss was severe calorie restriction, exercising until I either hated it or injured myself, and then wondering why nothing ever changed. Why? I didn’t make it fun, I didn’t learn anything, and I didn’t want to know and do more. So when I started losing weight in June, I decided that I wouldn’t inundate myself. I would do one or two things that were possible. I would do them until they were second nature, and I would do them well. And it would continue on until I realized I wasn’t just dreaming about it. But that’s the great thing about goals sometimes. Sometimes, you just get there, and you don’t even realize it.

I can’t help but wonder why I felt this sense of urgency. I realized that I didn’t want to be in my own body or in my own mind. I did things I hated, because I figured that would get me out of my own purgatory. I don’t think I cared what the end result was as long as I didn’t consider the reason behind it. Considering things rationally would have just pissed me off.

Looking at the reasons behind things is kind of like holding a mirror up to yourself. Your reasons for being healthy, for going to work, for loving, for drunk texting… they’re all reasons you’ve decided to live. So when you find those reasons, you are looking at yourself in words. And the outlines to get to your goal are the blueprint of your life. I was too scared to plan out those things, because I had no reason. I just knew I had to do something.

I think now that I’ve realized this, I know I can dream, but I can also do and be and create and thrive. I don’t have to be stuck inside thought bubbles that burst at my terrible attempts to find those reason.

When I realized this, I knew I was going to break my yearly tradition. In no particular order, here are some things I plan on doing in 2012:

  • Lose 100 pounds
  • Pay off any debt I have
  • Save $3,000.00
  • Complete my anthology
  • Start an online shop
  • Finish content on my website
  • Train for a half marathon
  • Complete my 2012 List

And in no particular order, here are some things I am going to do to complete them:

  • I am not going to rush myself.
  • I am going to record my progress, regardless of how small. This can be with photographs, with a spreadsheet, or by merely looking at how red my face is in frustration.
  • If one thing goes wrong, I will not count it as a failure. I will understand why and then move on.
  • If I feel overwhelmed, I will dance in my underwear. It happens anyway, but I might as well note this to myself.
  • If I am feeling like a failure, I will look at my progress, and I will state my reasons for wanting to complete said goal.
  • I will take this one day at a time and at times, one second at a time.
  • I will finish. There is no time limit, but I know I will. That’s a lot of shit to do.

I’m not sorry.

In third grade, Mrs. Sanchez would make us sit in a circle and talk about our problems with one another.  We would raise our hand, stand in the middle of the circle, plea our case, and Mrs. Sanchez would ask both students why they acted or reacted a certain way.  This almost always ended well, and everyone would forget the problem.  However, one day Madelina went in the middle of the circle and yelled, “JONNALIZ SAID SHE WAS GOING TO SIT ON ME!”

While everyone erupted in laughter, I immediately started crying.  I mean, really, my reputation now depended on a chick telling the whole class that I was going to kiss her with my butt cheeks.  As I cried, Mrs. Sanchez took me outside.

“I never said that.”

“It doesn’t matter.  You have to apologize.”

“Why would I apologize for something I didn’t do?”

The question was never answered, and my wrist was yanked into the classroom where everyone proceeded to make farting noises.  And there, in the middle of the group, I went against everything my eight year old mind believed in and said sorry.

Through the years, I found that I was saying sorry for things in which I had no inclination to make an apology.  I was sorry for being in someone’s way, for talking too loud, for expressing my opinion, and yes, for attempting to sit on someone (and oh, heck no, I wouldn’t threaten to sit on someone.  I would have just done it).  And at some point, I couldn’t stop apologizing.  I was sorry for every bit of my existence I could muster up.  I was sorry for my lack of grace.  I was even sorry for being sorry.  Spend enough time tip toeing through your life, the only thing that changes is that your feet are in pain.  And when I stopped, I realized they hurt like hell.

I’m not sorry.  I have no regrets in my life, but I think for a long time I did.  But like the girl in the middle of class, I realized there was something wrong for apologizing to a lie.  It manifested in many ways.  I lied to myself, to those around me, and to my body.  And in turn, I lived a life thinking things would be okay as long as I was sorry.  That’s enough, right?  Regret was the foundation of my life.  And when I realized that it couldn’t be anymore, a simple crack drew itself down the middle and tore apart what I thought I knew.  And I finally built upon a simple idea of what was fact.  I’m not sorry, and I refuse to be sorry for who I am and what I continue to become.

And if you think I’m wrong, I will sit on you.

FAT!

On my walk today, my reverie was interrupted by “FAT!”

Wait. What?

Maybe they said cat.  Or black.  Or cataract.  But it was a simple, one syllable word.  As if someone knew what I was asking, I heard it again.

FAT!

I knew it would happen eventually.  Like death or nylons ripping or terrible endings to potentially good movies.  It’s just a matter of time before I roll my eyes at my own shock.

I imagined sitting with a group in class.  When asked to tell the group one thing about us that no one knew, I would say, “Hi, I’m Jo.  If none of you are aware, I’m fat.”  I would imagine everyone’s horror as they would scoot their seats further away from me.  Fat is contagious, you know.  I was reminded of all of my years of school enveloped into the saran wrap of my memory… fat.

But to be told this while doing something I find to be liberating hurt in many ways.  How dare these people, I thought.  Who do they think they are?  But then I realized it doesn’t matter who these people think they are.  And much like The Fountainhead, when Toohey asks Roark, “What do you think of me?”  Roark’s response was, “But I don’t think of you.”

The word fat held very little meaning after I thought of it.  It’s my shape, but it does not define or outline me.  This is just the body that I chose to have during the dark moments of my life.  It’s what protected me from people like that, but I realized that it never stopped the hurt I experienced.  And as I open up and expand, I realize what other people say don’t hurt me.  It’s how I define it that hurts me.  What’s that saying?  It ain’t what they call you.  It’s what you answer to. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t affected by what happened.  Small incidents like that sometimes have the biggest impact.  But it was different this time.  I didn’t measure my worth based upon someone else’s point of view.  I saw the moment for what it was and walked away.  The biggest surprise of all?  I wasn’t offended.  I smiled, because I think it was the first time that I realized I could care less what the world thinks.

Weigh-In Monday

Starting Weight: 350

Last Week’s Weight: 287.2

Today’s Weight: 286.2

It was a difficult week.  I exercised once, and it was a light walk during my break after doing my spinal exercises.  There was a lot of pain involved, both physically and mentally.  I made some terrible eating decisions.  I think what I’ve learned the most is to not regret my mistakes.  This is a lifetime of progression.  I’m not going to start tumbling down after a bad day.  And this pound shows that I didn’t and I won’t. 

I’m trying to keep up with my 2011 dailies, though I have been choosing which ones fit in with my schedule.  I’m glad I have a four day weekend.  I plan on being productive and making the following on Thanksgiving day:

  • Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese w/ Broccoli
  • Zucchini Lasagna w/Cottage Cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes w/  Russet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Cauliflower
  • Baked Chicken w/ Extra Basil and Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Meatloaf Meatballs w/ Extra Spinach
  • Kale Salad w/ Tomatoes and Avocado

It’s going to be a delicious Thanksgiving.

Pace.

Running was not something that I looked forward to at the age of twelve.  On the first day of seventh grade, we were asked to run a lap in under three minutes.  I came in just under four.  My problem was that when I would run, I would start off really strong and just barely halfway through, I would just completely give up.

Wow, it sounds just like my life up to now.

I dreaded physical education every single day.  Each sit up terrified me.  I farted once, on the twelfth one, and as we went to run our two laps around the track, everyone passed me and made faces like the fart eternally lingered around me.  But more than hating the sports we had to play, I hated running.  I hated feeling breathless and alone.  I was always the last one.

Two laps = 1/2 Mile.  We ran this everyday with the exception of Wednesdays, where they would have us run a mile.  We were told to make them in under six minutes.  I made them at 7:00 minutes everyday for a month.  It was embarrassing being the last person on the track, slumped over and breathless.  All the kids stared.  Can someone just put an Oreo in front of her eternally, so she can hurry up and we can get to playing?

One thing I wish I had paid more attention to was the changes happening to my body when we would run every time.  I never noticed my improvements.  I was too ashamed of what I wasn’t.  I was last every time.  But the more I ran, the more I improved.  I went from 7:00 to 6:30 in less than a month.  And from 6:30 to a straight six within the next.  And finally, I made it at 5:15 for the half mile and one of the substitute teachers took me aside.

“You made that in 5:15.  When I first taught you, you could barely do it at 7:00.”

I pretended to not understand.  I just responded, “Yeah, whatever.”

What I didn’t want people to know was that I liked it.  I liked the breathlessness.  I liked surrendering myself to what I didn’t understand because the more confused I was, the more I uncovered answers.  It was the only time where I didn’t feel completely lonely in the world.  I might have been alone, but I could feel everything pour into my lungs.  But because of my weight, I thought I was too fat to run.

Once I had filled the requirements for physical education, I forgot that feeling for many years.  I replaced it with everything else I could.  With debt and food and insecurities which covered that want to put my feet against pavement and sand and the earth.  I forgot the way my heart spoke to me when I ran.  And in turn, I experienced a full body shut down.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t imagined what would have happened had I decided to keep on going.  All I can truly think now is that it wasn’t my time.  Maybe that’s an excuse, but I can’t regret or deny my past, especially the last ten years of it.  And had I done it then, I would have never appreciated that want that grows inside of me now.  Because now I appreciate these improvements.  My resting heart rate has lowered by fifteen beats per minute.  My legs are strong.  I understand my body and what it says.  I think I can officially say I’m bilingual.  Understanding the language of my body has to cover something, right?

But just like that girl in seventh grade, the one who farted during a sit up, I’m realizing that I have to pace myself.  Because today might be a seven minute half mile but each day I improve, I take away seconds and give them back to myself.  And I know that runners are not born to go great distances.  They are trained one day at a time to bear how much passion they have to reach that distance.

Investments.

Being in my early twenties, older people seem to talk to me about my finances a lot.  You should always stash away some money every time you get paid for a rainy day fund.  Open a Roth IRA and put $5,000.00 in it every year, and you’ll be covered when you’re ready to retire.

I know very little about how money moves, but all of these things I do, or at least try to.  But it amazes me that no one ever tried to teach me about investing in my health.  And looking around me, I’m seeing more kids grow up like I did.  I was fat and unaware and raised by parents who were fat and unaware.  And I spent a long time blaming my poor habits on my parents.  Now, my habits are on me.  Am I going to continue the cycle I grew up with or make my own?

I have taken up staring into people’s carts while they go grocery shopping.  I can spend hours just looking into them, conjuring up the possibilities of menus, but only seeing cans of Spaghettio’s and Hamburger Helper.  I am not being judgmental.  This is me looking into my past.  I’m looking straight into my parents’ eyes as they ask my how I’ve gotten so fat yet continued to feed me the same garbage.

I’m refusing to accept the same thing I hear constantly: It’s too expensive to eat healthy.  

I don’t think what some people realize is that they’re not just paying for food.  Food is your health insurance.  Food is an investment we make everyday.

So when I eat something, I think of it in terms of an investment.  Is this something that’s going to sustain my energy?  Will it provide me with the nutrients I need?  Is it going to keep me full?  Does it fit in my macros?  There are a lot of questions to ask but when you think of it, shouldn’t you always have questions about your health?  Shouldn’t your health be the first thing you invest in?  And more importantly, what’s the importance of being “set” in my sixties if I can’t enjoy it (or am already dead)?

So when thinking about the food you eat, consider your investment opportunities.  Do you want to invest it in the right places, or do you want to come up with a list of excuses not to?

I was in debt in many ways six months ago.  It would have been easy to declare bankruptcy.  I could have taken out more credit cards to increase the debt.  Instead, I decided to work longer hours to pay myself back.  And little by little, I learned that without going through the pain of this, I would have been in debt forever.  I neglected to invest in myself for many years.  And now, it’s the first thing I do.

I am sure as I get older, I will speak to someone my age and the first thing I will tell them is: Invest in your health.  Everything you do to your body matters.

Weigh in Monday

  • Starting Weight: 350
  • Last Week’s Weight: 289.8
  • Today’s Weight: 287.2

I worked really hard this week.  After experiencing either gains or minimal losses the past few months, this was a very pleasant surprise for me this morning.  I’m really just thinking I should walk eleven miles every weekend.

Today is standard.  I’m going to get my walks in on my breaks, have a free lunch (deciding between pizza and a vegetarian burrito), and get home and kill it on the elliptical.  Last week, I got to 55 minutes on it, and that was pretty exciting.  I’m remembering the days when I couldn’t even last a few minutes.

My goals for this week are simple.  For the week, I would like to walk at least twenty miles, start Couch to 5k, and stay under my calorie goal everyday.

Fierce mode starts…. now.

In Five Months.

Yesterday as I walked with my friends, I realized something. This weekend marks five months since beginning my weight loss journey. When I began, I wasn’t sure what I was capable of. I could barely walk around the block, I was out of breath, and I was clueless of what was happening to my body. I was completely disconnected from it and that lack of communication let me remain in denial for many years.

When I finally made the decision to listen to it, I believed that I was at the point of no return. How could I fix something that felt so damaged? It seemed like fate in its own way. Why would I step in front of that and contort my own world to fit my wants and desires?

Denial took me everywhere but where I needed to be.  Is that really the life I wanted to live?  Truthfully, I could have easily lived with it.  Denial isn’t difficult.  It’s much easier than facing the pain of coming to terms with my life.  But I didn’t realize that going into this that facing everything I had covered up would unravel.  And it wouldn’t have to be complicated, and I didn’t have to exhaust myself with the possibilities.

I’ve had months where all I wanted to do was cry.  August was an especially challenging month for me.  Everyday was difficult and brutal, and I gave up once.  But I didn’t realize that giving up would make me come back even stronger.  We pick and choose the positivity we want to see in our lives.  I choose to see the positive in everything.  Everything that comes my way isn’t going to break me down.  It’s just another thing that I can try to find in a positive light.  I don’t care if that sounds cliche.  This is the life I’ve chosen to live, one where I benefit from the bad just as much from the good.

In five months, I am a different person.  I was not this person five months ago.  Not physically and certainly not mentally.

In five months, I have the strongest legs I have ever had.  I have never walked 11.5 miles before.  Ever.  And after getting a new pair of shoes, I plan to do it again and again.

In five months, I have completely changed everything in my life.

In five months, I have grown into the person I am proud of becoming.

And in five months more?  I’m just going to kick even more ass.  It’s not a question, a wonder, or a hypothesis.  I don’t get to this point just to stop.  I get to this point to prove that I can work even harder.  And I will.

A Week in Pictures.

I usually wait until Sunday to post pictures, but I am absolutely sure that I will be doing nothing tomorrow.  I am limping so much from walking today.

From top left:

  1. This… is my parents’ freezer.  Not exactly easy to look at, especially when I have major cravings.
  2. When I sign in to see my chiropractor, I am met with all of my ailments.
  3. Jalapeno bombs from my favorite sushi restaurant, Satori’s.
  4. My favorite roll, the Satori Special Roll.  Just salmon with crab and tempura in the middle.  Simple yet utterly delicious.
  5. I’m starting to really love how it looks when it gets dark.  It makes it impossible to not take a picture while driving.
  6. My sister decided to make me this delicious smoothie.  It was very good.
  7. One of my weaknesses, the breakfast burger.  Hash browns in a burger and then on the side?  WHAT?  I haven’t had one since I started in June.  I think I’ll find a way to make my own healthy version.
  8. My boyfriend and I have this ongoing joke about Method’s laundry detergent.  Not only do four pumps equal one load, but the tiny package seems to pack a lot of punch.  Ah, alliteration.
  9. This is my pantry.  Not too long ago, I cleared out all of the junk food, and it was incredibly barren.  Is it weird that I’m proud of it?  The bowl of fruits, the bulk foods in their own containers.  The copious amounts of almond milk (I swear, I go through one a day).
  10. While doing my little four mile walk yesterday, I kept on passing by this house.  I love how the front looks like it’s incredibly sad.
  11. I am planning on walking every night if I can.  The sky is always incredibly gorgeous.
  12. Today, Dillon, Ben, and I went on an 11.5 mile walk.  It was pretty epic.  In the beginning, we found this awesome… pen graffiti?  I think it’s lovely.
  13. Our results of the walk (my HRM says that I actually burned 2000 calories today).  CRAZY.
  14. And this is the beautiful present that I get from our walk.  It hurts.  I have about nine other of them all over my feet.  I have made the decision to get Vibrams at some point.

The Stubborn Ten.

I have come to terms with the number on the scale, but I can’t help but get pissed off at it when it doesn’t go the way I expected.  The beginning of my weight loss was a landslide.  I lost weight relatively quickly due to my size, and it was exhilarating seeing that the changes I made resulted in something positive. After losing my first fifty, my weight loss took a major halt, and it took almost two months to lose ten.  I spent weeks zig-zagging my calories, eating less, eating more, exercising less, exercising more.  The number went up and down regardless of consistency and discipline.  Finally, I thought that this was it.  I’d be in the 290s forever, and I considered ways to be content with it, to think that it was okay.  But that’s old me, the one who rationalized self-doubt.  The person I am right now doesn’t take no for an answer.

I feel relieved, because I think losing these ten pounds means that there’s nothing that can stop me.  The only thing that will get in my way is me.  I’ve done that for years.  I’ve done it well and found a certain grace to it.  And as I clumsily build up my life again, I am overwhelmed with happiness.  I have conquered what I believed I could not do.

Maybe these stubborn ten pounds were in my way for a reason.  It reminded me to never get complacent with where I am.  I have to fight for the life I deserve, and there’s no easy way to it.  There’s never an easy way to anything that we want.

In total, I have 200 pounds to lose.  It’s a lot of weight.  I think about it often and wonder where it all came from.  And as I exercise, I wonder where it goes as I lose weight.  I imagine it shrinking and much like a voice that gets lost in the distance, so does the voice of old me thinking that this was impossible.  It shrinks until I wonder how it ever existed in the first place.