Weighty Matters

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Sizes Then, Sizes Now

The wind came up enough for me to not take out the boat for a ride today.  I opted to unpack the box of clothes that I bought last weekend in New Jersey and, while I was at it, purge some more clothes from my closets.  Just for fun, I put on a pair of jeans that were the largest size I ever had to wear.  They fit me like clown pants, which means they don’t fit at all.  If I pull out the waist band, there’s a good eight inch gap between the material and my body.  I could hold out inches of material on either side of the legs.  Into the donation pile they went.  I hope they find a new home with someone that size who badly needs jeans in good condition.  They are also welcome to the two fleece tops, the corduroy pull over, the three pairs of black pants and various other garments I added to the pile.

As you know, I’ve been stressing all week about clothes for the charity fundraiser I have coming up in three weeks.  It’s a Masquerade party and we’re encouraging guests to dress up.  The night before, I have a dressy but less formal dinner to attend.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my friend bailed me out on the attire for that by loaning me a black sheath dress with a blingy light gauzy jacket/wrap.

For the Masquerade, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new dress that I most likely will not have a reason to wear again before it becomes too big.  However, I don’t want to look like someone who should be on an episode of What Not to Wear either.  So, I resigned myself to parting with some bucks and started looking online.  I found lots of options –in my old sizes!  Apparently I’m now at a popular size so the dress pickings were slim, to say the least.  This was particularly the case because I will not, under any condition, wear a sleeveless dress or one that has those darling little cap sleeves.  There is nothing darling or little about my upper arms.  Although I can see the defined bicep when I flex the muscle, there’s lots of flab still swinging below.  (Add it to the list of body areas that will eventually need surgical “tightening”.)

I said earlier this week that I finally found a dressy top that I liked.  Yesterday a friend gave me the name and number of a seamstress who can take in the evening pants I relocated in my closet.  I figured that I was set.  Today while I was clothes purging, I remembered that I had several dressy dresses from several years ago that could also be sorted through and purged.

These include a lilac evening gown that I’ve never worn.  I bought it on order maybe six or seven, possibly eight years ago for a wedding.  Unfortunately, even though I measured my body parts and ordered the largest size I’ve ever worn, it didn’t fit right.  Since it was an order, the company wouldn’t let me return it.  I didn’t even need to unzip it to put it on today and it is hanging on me like a big old bag.  Seriously, the bodice was down around my waist.  It’s a lovely gown and was not inexpensive.   I think I should borrow a dress mannequin, photograph it and offer it for sale on ebay.

That got me started trying on these clothes from my past.  This turned out to be an interesting, somewhat puzzling exercise.   Remember that I have not been this weight in longer than I can remember.  I certainly was heavier than I am now when I bought all of these dresses.  After trying them all on I have come to believe that, like the national debt things are bigger now than they were years ago.

The first dress that I pulled out I wore to a black tie optional evening in 1997.  According to the size tag, it is only one size larger than I’m wearing now, so I figured it might actually work for the upcoming event.  I slipped it on and it fit great.  I figure that’s because it’s a fairly straight cut sheath so the extra size up compensates for my curviness even in a smaller body.

Next, I looked at a chiffon cocktail dress with heavily beaded bodice that I wore to my nephew’s bar mitzvah in 2000.  According to the tag, this should have been huge.  While I wasn’t my heaviest at the time, I was definitely larger than I am now.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t go by size tag alone or I’d never have tried this one on today.  It’s a little loose, but the cut and style flatter my smaller figure.  Twelve years ago, the bodice and waist were definitely more snug and, as I recall, I needed to wear a body shaper underneath.  Not so today.  I can definitely wear this to the Masquerade if I so choose.

The third dress is a wine-colored swing dress that I bought for a cousin’s wedding in 1996 or 1997.  I’d been on a diet right before then and had lost around 60 pounds.  I still was bigger than my current weight, but something about the style of this dress made it fit me right even though it was a size 22.  I fully expected this dress to look the best on me today.  It didn’t!  The neckline gapped open and the entire dress hung on me like a shapeless sack.  What the hell?

To recap:  One dress that is a size up from my current size fits great.  One dress that by tag should have been way too big fits me well enough that it’s only a little loose but still wearable and flattering.  One dress that should have fit me perfectly looks like an oversized wine-colored bag.

This makes no sense.  I can only surmise that manufacturers have gradually increased their sizes over the years.  What was a size 22 in the 90s is probably a 26, maybe a 28, today.   A size 4X from 12 or 15 years ago might be today’s 6X.  This doesn’t explain the size 26 of yesteryear that fits like today’s 24, but I think that’s a freak occurence and not the norm.

A friend suggests that we also need to take into account that a “regular” size 24 is smaller than a “woman’s” or “plus” size 24.  So it really could depend on what company made or sold the garment.

At the end of the day, I’m still confused, but at least I can stop stressing over that upcoming event.   I have something to wear and whichever of the two outfits I choose on that day, I’m going to look terrific!

 

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A Little Stalled

The scale number is not moving down as quickly as I like.  How spoiled we so quickly become!  I still lost weight this month, but “only” six pounds.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t make myself crazy about the rate of weight loss at this point.  I’m sticking to that promise.

Really.  I’m not making myself crazy.  I’m annoyed.  It’s a subtle difference. 🙂

If I’d been letter perfect with my food, the slow results might make me a bit nutty. However, I know that I’ve been a little shady here and there and not sticking 100% to the plan.  Ergo, I’m pissed off at myself.  If I don’t do what I’m supposed to do, I can’t expect the results that I want.  Simple logic.

I have a choice.  Keep going the way that I am and be satisfied with slower progress, or embrace myself with tough love, be more structured with my food plan and achieve faster results.

There are always choices.  Eat this, not that.  Exercise or don’t.  Be honest with myself or live in denial.  Look at a situation with non-judgmental openness or beat myself up emotionally.

Today I’m striving to look at the options and choose those that are healthier.

Above all, I choose not to bullshit myself.  I can live with the fact that I will not always be perfect.  Sometimes I will willingly choose the less healthy option and I’m okay with doing so — occasionally.  I want to be aware of what I’m doing at the time and not indulge in self-delusion.  So, no bullshit.  No denial.  Honesty, clear vision, and clear thinking serve me better.

We don’t have Tai Chi practice on Saturday mornings for the next few months so instead I got up and went to the 9 a.m. Zumba class.  I’m excited that for most of the next several weeks I’ll be able to do two Zumba classes a week.  I really do see and feel a difference in my body from this program.

After a salon appointment for color-cut-wax, I hit the supermarket and stocked up on appropriate, healthy food.  I need to break my cycle so for at least a week I’m going back to mostly full liquids.  Protein shakes, Greek yogurt, smoothies, soups.  I’m not doing this to crash diet, but to get my mind set in a more organized way and re-establish the healthier routine.  I remember from years of dieting that, sometimes, too many foods to choose from can mess me up.   It’s like I have too much to think about and my brain gets overwhelmed.

This week, I’m into K.I.S.S. — Keep it simple, Sweetheart.

This works for me.

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What to Wear

I toyed with titling this post the Agony of De Feet.  I have big feet.  Ten to ten and a half, double E.   I know that we’re supposed to embrace our physical selves, love our bodies, etc.  As far as I’ve come with my level of self-acceptance, I cannot bring myself to love my feet.  I’m happy that I can bend over and touch them, but that’s about it.

You know that whole passionate love affair women are supposed to have with shoes?  How some women will fill their closets with pair after pair?  Not me.  I honestly would rather walk barefoot whenever possible than put on a pair of shoes.  I’d rather wear sandals than something with closed toes.  Ice pick heels and FMPs?  Not for me.  I never liked them even when I wasn’t obese.  I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever really owned a truly cute pair of shoes.  Oh wait.  Back in 1980 I had a single pair of Candies.  They were kind of cute.

Honestly, cute shoes in 10 1/2 EE are rare as 20 karat, VSI diamonds.  Twenty-five, Thirty-five years ago, they were rarer than hen’s teeth.

People keep telling me that I’m going to lose weight in my feet too.  God, I hope so.  I don’t expect a miracle, but if I could even become a single E, that would be the coolest thing ever.

You might wonder why this is coming up today.  It could have appeared as a topic a month or so ago when I was desperately searching for the right sneakers to wear to do Zumba.  I usually buy men’s sneakers because they run wide.  I could have purchased Zumba brand shoes, but the only ones they make for men are black with eye-stabbing fluorescent yellow-green accents.  Hey, Zumba company, yes, I’m talking to you.  Would it kill you to offer black with that pretty purple pink?

I digress.

Living here in the Florida Keys, I wear Crocs sandals almost every day.  I have six pairs of Crocs flip flops in a lovely variety of colors.  These are perfect for daily wear, on the boat, on the beach, to work — perfect, I tell you!

They are not, however, perfect for formal or semi-formal occasions.  This, my friends, is the source of my trauma.   I have not one but two events coming up in two and a half weeks that require me to dress up.  Normally, I would be stressing out over the outfits, but I think I have those covered.  A friend lent me a black sheath dress with a dressy, sheer jacket.  I just ordered a lace and satin top that should go great over a pair of black evening pants, providing I can find a seamstress to take in the pants.  The woman who altered clothes for me a few months ago left town.   If I can’t find a seamstress, I’ll invoke Plan B.  This will require me to devise a Plan B, but I’m on it.

I went to my fall back store – Zappos dot com – to search for evening shoes.  I found some there a few years ago that were at least borderline pretty, plus they were comfortable.  Most important quality of all?  They didn’t look like they should only be worn by 90 year olds with support hose and bunions.  Tonight, out of the megathousands of pairs of shoes, how many possible candidates do you think I found?  20? 10?  1!  As in, 1 is the loneliest number.   Yes, I ordered them.  Now I simply have to hope that when they arrive and I try them on, they’ll fit so that I can go off to the ball events and not feel like a total loser in the shoe category.

If they don’t fit, I don’t really have a Plan B, unless I find a pair of shiny black leather flip flops and glue some blingy charm to them or something.

Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that.

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Visualizing My Future

Months ago even after I’d lost a chunk of weight, I kept seeing my fat self in the mirror.  That was the syndrome (not identified by any medical professionals) that I referred to as “fat eyes”.  It means a lot that these days I can look at myself and experience my body as it really is — the size, the shape, the muscles that begin to emerge from behind the flab.  I still see the fat and, trust me, there remains a lot of flab, but I’m not inflating myself to untrue proportions.

I went to Zumba class tonight.  It thrills me to be able to move and keep up with the music without panting and gasping.  I’m a little frustrated that I don’t perfectly execute all of the steps.  Sometimes I screw up.  Some moves I can’t do — like jumping jacks — but I keep moving.   I look in the mirror and concentrate on the improvements in my shape, not how far I still have to go.

Two of the Zumba instructors are in their 50s.  It is amazing to see their leanness, tone and definition.   I want those things for my body too and am determined that I’ll have them, even if I don’t reach quite the level the instructors have achieved.  I’m realistic enough to remember that these women do a minimum of four Zumba classes each week.  That’s four hours of high energy exercise that not only provides a great cardio/aerobic workout but also strengthens the muscles.  I’m pretty sure that my friend, who is one of the instructors, has to drink protein shakes to supplement her healthy diet because Zumba burns so much off of her.

Creative visualization is supposed to be helpful when someone is trying to reach a goal — any goal.  Whether it’s picturing a messy, cluttered room transformed into a pretty, organized useful space or seeing an out of shape, overweight body changed to a healthy, fit physique, visualizing the results  motivates you to attain them.

I’m having some trouble with the visualization.  I don’t have a frame of reference.  I can’t call up a memory of myself slender and fit.  Even when I played sports, rode horses, rode my bike everywhere and was so much more active as a kid I still carried around weight.  I was “chubby”.

So, I’m trying to formulate a strategy to help me envision myself toned and more trim.  I know that I’ll always be curvy and I’m totally okay with that shape.  Boobs, hips and a butt are fine as long as my stomach and waist are smaller than those other parts.  I’m even prepared for the fact that eventually my skin’s going to sag in places to the point where I’ll need to have it surgically removed.  When that happens, sign me up!  I plan to donate the removed skin to be used for grafts for burn victims.   To large extent, I’m in a good place mentally, but I wish for just one minute, I could picture myself with the body I’m eventually determined to achieve.

I wonder if it would help for me to PhotoShop a picture of my head on a body that looks like the one I’m aiming toward.  Maybe I’ll try that and see if it works as an effective visual aid.

Funny, true story.  Years ago, a friend and I made a bet about the outcome of the Stanley Cup hockey championships.  Our respective teams were competing against each other.  I don’t even follow hockey, but I’m geographically loyal to the local team for sure.  My friend decided that the loser would have to send the winner a picture of themselves naked.  Trust me, not for a nano-second did I expect to lose the bet.

His team beat mine in four straight games.  What the hell was I supposed to do?  No way on God’s green Earth was I photographing myself without clothes on and sending the image to anyone anywhere anytime.

Another friend came to my rescue.  Remember Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess fame?  Not too long before this bet, Lucy was wearing a skimpy, patriotic themed outfit when she sang the National Anthem at a hocky playoff game.  When she flung her arm straight up in the air to hit the final notes, the strapless bodice of her outfit flipped down and exposed her breast to the crowd in the stadium as well as the people viewing it on television.

My friend had some experience with desktop publishing and photo image software.  She painstakingly removed my face from a photo I sent her and fit it over Lucy’s face in a picture we found online of the wardrobe malfunction shot.  Brilliant image manipulation.  I had a blast sending the doctored image to the friend who’d won the bet.

You know, Lucy is a curvy, statuesque woman.  Maybe I should superimpose my face on hers in another photo — this time fully clothed, of course.  Think it would help me with my creative visualization?

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In Case You Were Wondering . . .

The concert was amazing, despite the two hour delay due to a thunderstorm blowing through the area.  Once the threat of lightning spearing performers or people in the audience passed, the PWTB let us back into our seats and the concert started despite the intermittent rain.  Luckily, just hours before I’d purchased a brand new rain coat at the L.L. Bean store.  I was prepared!

Bruce and the band entertained us for three hours and forty-five minutes, doing 33 songs – not counting the entire stadium singing Happy Birthday to the Boss at the end.  Bruce turned 63 today.  I don’t know about his diet, but the man seriously works out.  He is very fit, and has to be to keep performing and touring this way.  (Allow me a shallow moment.  Whatever exercises he does to work his glutes is highly effective.  IMNSHO, the man has an excellent ass.)

Anytime I go to a Springsteen comment, it’s going to be a major hit of happy, but I had some particularly fine moments yesterday.  Again, I celebrated ease of walking.  It didn’t matter where we parked, I didn’t worry about wearing myself out or straining my knee before the show even started.  Our seats were only about a dozen rows from the top of the big football stadium which meant we had to climb up about a dozen rows.  While it was still a bit challenging on my weaker knee, this was not nearly as traumatic as a couple of years ago when I had to stop several times to catch my breath while ascending to my seat.  Good thing because, since they evacuated the “seating bowl” before the storm, we ended up having to do the climb twice.  Like my airplane seat the day before, once I reached my seat I could comfortably sit.  I wasn’t squeezing the people to either side and, when I stood up to dance (frequently), I didn’t feel like I was blocking the view of everyone behind me.  Booyah!

Prior to the concert, I had a great deal of fun with friends.  We went shopping.  The stores up here in the Northeast have their summer merchandise on sale at great clearance prices.   I ventured into yet another department store.  This time it was Macy’s, where I haven’t shopped for clothes for myself in more than 20 years.  This is much easier to cope with when I have friends around to offer support.  I was able to actually zip myself into a pair of quality shorts that are two sizes smaller than I’m wearing now.  The fact that I could get them on and close the zipper was somewhat miraculous.  I won’t wear them this tight, but they’ll be just right in a month or two.  At 65% off, they were also a bargain, as were the khaki cropped pants one size smaller than I’m wearing that I discovered I can actually fit into.  My body is changing faster than I thought!  Taking advantage of the great prices, I found a top on clearance at Macy’s and another pair of smaller pants at Lane Bryant.  This allows me to plan ahead for where I’m heading without spending a boat load of money.

The L.L. Bean trip was necessary and, on the surface, a bit daunting.  The raincoat I have at home is huge on me now, so much so that when I wore it to prepare for T.S. Isaac, rain got in through the gapping collar and I was soaked on all layers.

I’m not used to being able to walk into a “regular” store and find stuff.  I knew that I could order what I wanted from the catalog, and I was fairly confident that I now would fit into a woman’s 1X or 2X size raincoat.  My friend suggested we try the store first because there’s no sales tax on clothes in Jersey and I could feel and assess the garment when on.  Imagine my delight when I found exactly what I wanted and could actually wear it!  Bonus, it’s a two-in-1 which means it has a fleece layer that I can leave in or zip out.  I’m going to be up in the North again at Christmas and my winter coats are also way too big.  I’ll be able to use this coat to stay warm on that trip.  Not only do I now feel that I’ve gained a functional coat, but each time I shop a store that is not specially designed for “plus size” women, it builds my confidence.

This weekend, I’ve been really social which means eating out for most meals.  Everyone I was with knows that I had weight loss surgery.  They’re all great, loving, supportive friends.  I don’t wig out over what they’ll think about my food choices.  The ones on Friday specifically asked if there was anything special that I needed.  At this stage of my recovery, I can eat almost any kind of food if I want as long as I remain careful about how I eat and the quantity I consume.  This creates less stress.  I still travel with my standbys — cheese wedges and peanut butter — but most of the time I’m confident that I can fit my needs pretty much everywhere.

Take Cheesecake Factory for example.  We ordered mostly appetizers which provided a selection of yummy food without overloading our plates or tempting me to overeat.  I was able to create a tasty, adequate lunch for myself out of steamed edamame, white bean hummus, and beet & goat cheese salad.  My friends shared and then also had appetizers of their own which they were willing to share if I was interested.  Even with three of us, we had plenty of edamame and hummus left.  The friend who was going to the concert with me took the hummus home since I didn’t have access to a fridge for storage and snacking where I’m staying.  She also took home the edamame to transfer to a resealable plastic bag.  We brought that with us to the concert so I had some protein to much on for the evening.

Today at lunch with friends, we went to a restaurant that offered a wide range of dishes, including several small plate selections.  I had lamb sliders with feta.  There were three on the plate but I was satisfied with two, leaving behind the buns.    A friend and I shared a dessert — yummy chocolate truffle cake of which two bites more than satisfied my craving.  Tonight’s dinner included beef teriyaki.  I’m happy that Janet’s mother is going to enjoy the large portion of leftovers from my dish. 🙂

With all of the activity of visiting with friends, shopping, eating out and a terrific concert, I’m happy to say I haven’t neglected my exercise.  We hoofed around a lot yesterday, to say the least.  While it might not exactly have been a workout, from walking around a mall to climbing all of those stadium steps, I feel like I wasn’t lazy.  This morning I took advantage of the hotel’s health club and logged good cardio time on the recumbent bike and treadmill.  I can squeeze in another session tomorrow before I head to the airport for the flight home.

Hearing that I’m doing so well could be getting boring for everyone.  I hope not, but if so, please stick with me.  I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll run into a stumble, obstacle, or new realization.  In the meantime, I continue to practice recognizing the positive progress and acknowledging it to myself.  Success begets more success.  I want to keep building onto and strengthening my foundations and perpetuate more success in the future.

 

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Fab Day with Friends

I traveled today.  The last time I flew anywhere was about a month ago and the improvements continue.  I had some observations about space or, more to the point, me in relation to space around me.   Have you ever had someone park their car so close to yours that you couldn’t open your own door wide enough to get in or out of the car?  This particularly sucks if you can’t manage to go into your passenger seat, climb over the center console and gain control of your vehicle.

I am always conscious of this space issue when parking my car.  I’ll give up more convenient parking spaces if the car on my left is too close to the dividing line.  I’m less nervous about it now because I require less room.  If a neighboring car isn’t perfectly centered within the lines of their space, I don’t sweat it.  Even if I can’t open the door the entire way, I can usually squeeze inside.

This got me thinking about space in general.  I’ve spoken before about retraining myself to realize that I take up less space.  I don’t need as much room.  The last couple of days, however, I’m more conscious of how other people react to me now that I’m 115 pounds lighter than I used to be.    Specifically, I’m seeing less reaction.  Even though I’m still heavy, I’m no longer super obese.  When I was at my heaviest, I would stand out even in a crowd of overweight people.  Now I don’t and that means there are less people shooting looks at me with expressions I can easily read — the glances that reveal them thinking, “Wow.  That woman’s FAT.  Hope she’s not taking the seat next to me. ”  That’s the mildest example I can think of right now but trust me, I’ve been the target of a lot of looks that ranged from disparaging to disgusted to concerned.

Now that I’m not as big, my overall size is not as much of a big deal.  One thing I noticed this morning is that I can walk straight down the center aisle of an airplane without having to sort of ease side to side.  Today’s plane was definitely smaller in design than the others I’ve been on this summer.  Even so, as I walked down the aisle I didn’t catch any panic on my fellow passengers’ faces as they worried whether the huge woman was going to squeeze her overflowing butt into the seat next to them.

After the flight, I rounded up my rental car and drove off to see friends.  These folks knew that I’d had weight loss surgery and even how many pounds I’ve lost.  I saw them last Christmas but we haven’t been together since I had my operation and dropped so much weight.  Even though they’ve seen pictures, all of them said that the photographs don’t really show the change like seeing me in person.  Everybody said they think I look fantastic.  Even more important to me than the compliments is knowing that deep in their hearts, they’re truly happy for me.  The emotional support means the world.

It’s important to remember the role played by good friends and family whenever you undertake a major change.  Whenever possibly, surround yourself with people who honestly love you, believe in you, want to support you in whatever way that you need, and are truly, irrefutably, happy when you’re successful.  It makes more of a difference than you know!

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The Inspiration of Springsteen

I’ve mentioned Springsteen in the past.   Not long after I began eating solid foods again last February, a friend and I did a road trip to Tampa to see him and the E Street Band in concert.  I’m going again this weekend, flying up home to New Jersey.  That’s the reason for the timing, but honestly, I’m even more excited about getting to see several friends who I normally only visit with about once a year.   Some of them have been my friends since college years, just about the time my fandom of Bruce and the band started.  Some of them have been friends since the mid-90s.  One I’ve known since 2006.

With the exception of the ones I’ve known since college, none of the friends I’m seeing this weekend have every seen me at this weight.  They’ve seen my recent pictures, but I believe the changes are more noticeable in person.  We’re all excited to spend time together.  Since the time I shared that I was having the surgery, even across miles and states, every single one of them has provided love, encouragement and support and they’ve celebrated my progress and success.  It’s going to be so much fun!

Now onto Bruce.  From the time I became a fan in 1975 with the release of the Born to Run album, I’ve been drawn to his music because of the lyrics and his remarkable ability to create characters and tell stories in his songs.  Even though we did not share a common background, except that we’re both Jersey born, he tapped into universal struggles, goals, aspirations and obstacles.  Whether someone is the son of a bus driver or the daughter of a doctor, everybody dreams of who they want to be and what they want to achieve.   Wealthy doesn’t shield you from a broken heart and a working class background doesn’t make your dreams less worthy.

So even though I’m not the character in his song (Although, please note that he has frequently named female characters Mary.  Just sayin’.), I can still crank up the volume, belt out, “I’m pulling out of here to win!” and feel the determination deep in my soul.

I have never physically lived in the South Dakota Badlands, or even visited, so I don’t visualize the setting in Bruce’s song “Badlands” when I sing along.  Instead I remember when I was in a tough situation, feeling heartsick, lonely, frustrated and all the more determined to break free of the turmoil and find joy in my life.  That’s why I identify and sing along with the lines,

For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.
I wanna find one face that aint looking through me
I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these Badlands

I could pull out lines from dozens of songs that have inspired me over the decades.   I hope to hear many of them Saturday night.  You can bet that I will be on my feet, singing and dancing to every song.  Bruce shows aren’t just concerts to me.  They’re celebrations and I enjoy every minute.  (I’ve lost count but this is either the 19th or 20th full length Bruce concert I’ve attended.  Maybe the 21st.  The first was in August 1978 at the old Spectrum in Philly.)

That dancing’s going to come a lot easier this year.  Hell, just climbing the steps to our seats will be easier to accomplish.  That’s another thing to celebrate, along with the simple fact of being glad that I’m alive.

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Even Keel

Today’s been stressful for several different reasons.  The first two hours at work were crazy, busy, and also funny at the same time.   I can’t begin to describe the series of events, it would take too long and you really had to be there, but at least instead of beating my head against the wall or ripping out chunks of my hair, I laughed about everything and motored through.

Tonight there was a fair amount of work-related annoyance and stress.  I bit my tongue, demonstrated admirable restraint and, again, motored on through.

When I got into my car to drive home, I checked my phone.  While I was at the function, a close friend called to say that her dog died.  We’d expected it, but it’s still sad and upsetting.  I feel doubly bad that I was so busy when she called so my support and condolences were delayed until I arrived home.

There are bright spots.  I managed to squeeze in a half mile walk with the pups, which makes me happy.  I’m counting down the days to a fun weekend away with friends and Springsteen.  All that, but here’s the coolest thing.

I didn’t eat over the stressful crap.  I didn’t veer off the road to the convenience store, looking for a pint of high fat, but delicious, ice cream.   I didn’t open the refrigerator and start pulling out a bunch of different things to gobble down and numb the upset.   Instead of letting the stress and shit get to me, blow me over, and send me off course, I stayed on an even keel.  Right after I finish this blog post, I’m going to treat myself to a relaxing bath before I go to bed.

Every time that I find another, healthier way to deal with stuff that used to drive me to overeat or eat compulsively, it makes me feel great.   It strengthens my recovery and helps me make even more progress.

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All in the Family Fitness Goals

Childhood obesity is a growing (no pun intended) problem in this country.

As it is with human kids, so is it a concern with four-legged furkids.  I took a good look at Pyxi today and realized that she’s chubbed out some.  She’s a petite English Cocker Spaniel so extra weight shows up, even accounting for the fact that both she and her brother, Nat, are shaggy right now and need their extra fur clipped.

I haven’t changed their portions for breakfast and dinner.  I don’t overload them with treats.  I’ve even asked the kennel tech where I board them to be mindful of how many treats they get during the day.  She’s a wonderful woman who adores all of the dogs in her care and my two love her — but she spoils them rotten.   In the last month or so, I’ve noticed that if Nat walks away from his food bowl without finishing, Pyxi sneakily goes over and helps herself, as long as he isn’t in the kitchen.  Still, the few times that she got away with it before I discovered her pilfering and took away the bowl weren’t enough to make her chunk up.

So, I took a good hard look at the only other thing in the equation and the reason smacked me upside the head.   They aren’t getting enough exercise.  That, my friends, is squarely my fault.

When we first became a family back in 2007, I was obese, but hadn’t reached the “ohmyGodI’mtoofattowalk” stage that I hit when I amassed an additional 35-40 pounds on top of my already high weight.  Those extra pounds were the final straw when my knee and my breathing said, “No can do” to any form of extended exercise.  Prior to that point, I could still manage a mile or two.  A couple of evenings a week I would take Nat and Pyxi out when I got home from work and we’d go up to the Seven Mile Bridge for a nice walk.   They are always excited to go out and go for a car ride.  They were still excited when we got to the bridge.  After about half of a mile, however, they’d start to slow a little, turn around and look at me as if to ask, “Are we done?”  Bless their lazy little doggy hearts.

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped this routine.  It might have been a couple of years ago when we were doing dog classes.  It was a time thing.  When I got home from work, we trained and practiced, which was still, I guess, enough exercise.  I guess it was really about a year and a half ago after classes stopped (the trainer relocated) and we hit summer season when it was honestly freaking hot — too hot for them even in their shorter hair styles, and dangerous hot on their paws.  (Rule of thumb, or soles — if pavement is too hot for you to walk on it in bare feet, it is too hot for the pads of your dogs’ paws.)  Plus, I had increasingly more difficulty walking even short distances.

So, here we are.  I’ve lost weight and am much more fit with more energy than in a number of years.  I’ve focused a lot on my exercise routines, getting moving, trying new things and so on.  My muscles are more toned and my cardio ability has improved a great deal.  Yay for me!

Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting my dogs’ exercise needs.  That’s horrible!  I love my dogs and am ashamed that I’ve let their fitness slide.  Rather than weep, moan, tear out my hair, and castigate myself, I’m focusing on improving the situation as soon as possible.  They’re five years old and prime health and fitness is definitely attainable.

Today I worked most of the day at home on my next paper for class.  Around 5 p.m., I finished the first draft and shut down the computer.  It’s been overcast most of the day but at the time didn’t appear to be threatening rain anytime soon.  I figured that the bridge would not be too hot, so I put on my walking sneakers, grabbed a couple of doggy bags, leashed the pooches and headed out.

Good Lord, but it’s worse than I thought.  I have more energy in my stride than I realized.  Nat and Pyxi?  Not so much.  By a quarter mile they’d gotten over their, “Oh, wow!  A walk!  What’s that smell?  Ohh, I wanna go over here.  No over there.  Wait, what’s that?” excitement and were plodding along.  Before we hit the half mile mark, they’d slowed and looked around at me a few times.  I was definitely catching up and had to keep urging them along.  I knew that it wasn’t hot enough that they were actually suffering, they just weren’t used to a steady walk of any distance.  (Mind you, when they’re out in the yard, they rip around, chase each other and come barreling back to the house at full speed when I call.)

I started thinking about it like I would if they were people who were just restarting a regular exercise routine.  I decided we’d start with a brisk mile and build our way up.  I was definitely the most brisk of the three of us on the last quarter mile, but they made it without flopping on the ground and asking me to carry them.   We arrived home, they slowly ate dinner and then enjoyed their evening chew treat.  Now they’re sacked out taking naps.

From this point, I need to decide on a strategy and that includes figuring out how to work regular walks into a schedule already crowded with work, school, Zumba, Tai Chi, manicures, and other commitments.   Here’s the reality for this week, I am not going to make it back to the bridge with them because of after work commitments and a trip out of town for a few days.  However, there is no reason that I cannot at least get them out for walks in the neighborhood.  I can get up earlier some mornings and be more efficient.  Instead of just letting them out to play in the yard, we can take a walk before I hit the shower and get ready for work.  It’s a safe neighborhood, so there’s no reason that I can’t walk them around even if it’s dark when I do so because I have a commitment earlier in the evening.

Trip schedules aside, I usually do not have other things already scheduled on Mondays, alternate Thursdays, and Fridays after work.  Those are going to be our regular “bridge walk” evenings.  If  something comes up on one of those days, or on the weeks where I’m commited on a Thursday, we’ll make it up on the weekend.   We’ll start with a strong mile for a couple of weeks and then increase the distance, even if we reduce the pace toward the end.  Once we’re able to maintain the brisk pace for the whole distance, we’ll go a little further.  And so on, and so on.

As the days get shorter I’ll find a way to go into work earlier so that I can leave earlier and still get in those walks.  This will be a good replacement routine for me, too.  My pool isn’t heated so there are a few months of the year when the water is simply too cold for me in the late afternoon/early evening.

Nat and Pyxi, trust me.  Eventually, you’re going to feel better about this walks.  You’ll enjoy more than the car ride on our outings.  The Stella Family is going to get fit together.

Brother and sister cuties – Nat & Pyxi

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Getting Re-acquainted

I’m never sure what topics and posts will really interest other people, but Dating Game drew a higher than average number of views.  Thanks to all for stopping by and for the sharing in comments.  I write this for me first, and as you’ve noticed, the subjects run the gamut.  There isn’t much that I won’t talk about which doesn’t mean I have no filter, rather that I feel comfortable in this space.  Thanks to all of you for increasing and maintaining the comfort zone.

If I were going to do a subtitle for this post, it would be, “Hello, feet.  Nice to see you again.”  As I lose more weight, I’m getting re-acquainted with parts of my body that have been concealed for many, many years; buried, actually, beneath all of the fat and swelling.

After decades of not looking at myself in the mirror any longer than absolutely necessary, it’s kind of fun looking at the changes in my body and watching parts of me reemerge.   Look, there’s my jaw line.   Hello, collar bones.  It’s been awhile.  I don’t know what the bones in my wrist are called, but look!  Without the pudge I can see that they give definition and some grace.

It used to be that by the middle of the day, it looked and felt like there were water balloons wrapped around my ankles beneath the skin.  They still get a little puffy, but no where nearly as much as before.  Last night I enjoyed a nice soak in the bathtub, and I could actually lean forward and massage my own feet and explore my ankle bones.   Yes, when standing I can touch my toes.   It’s also a lot easier to scrub or scratch my own back.

Ahh, the simple pleasures that thinner people might take for granted.

Please don’t think that I spend a lot of time freakishly obsessed with touching myself.   These discoveries come about mostly through observation, but I think they’re important to note.  I’m learning to see what’s real about my body at every stage of the game.  Remember back earlier in my progress when I couldn’t truly see the weight loss because of my “fat eyes” syndrome?  I need to recognize and celebrate the positive changes.  It’s healthy to have a clear picture of my body.

My body and I have been estranged for so long, it’s about time we got re-acquainted.

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