Monday, August 30, 2010

Honesty and weight gain.....the 3 is back to a 4......

I apologize that the blog posts have been limited lately. I'm struggling in a lot of directions and the blog is just one of them. Actually it isn't about the blog, it is a struggle with just being myself or more accurately expressing myself honestly. I feel like lately doing just that has cost me a lot more than it was worth, so I find myself censoring what I share and say more than I probably ever have. The price I paid for feeling it was safe to be honest has been too high in the last 6 weeks.

Also, quite frankly, I feel like the blog has kind of taken on a life I never expected. I started blogging to share my journey and to give myself an outlet for the emotions of all this. But somewhere along the line you all started reading what I was writing (something I never expected and has brought me great joy) and I have learned over time that for some readers if my posts aren't positive I am either judged harshly and told I post for drama or effect (neither of which is the case btw) or told I am being unfair because I am not being motivational. I'm sorry if I am not always positive, but I promised when I started this blog, that I would be honest, and I need to get back to that and be who I am and where I am and share my story the only way I know how, flat out honestly.

So I will warn anyone reading any further, this is not going to be a motivational post, but if you have ever struggled with your weight, it will hopefully be honest enough to let you know we all go through this.

For the last four weeks my weight has been climbing. As of today I am up about 6 lbs from where I was when Nick first weighed me on August 6th. And to be quite honest I am not handling it well at all. I have tried to be patient and pretend I am ok with it but I am not, and I am becoming less and less ok with it every day that goes by.
I feel fat, I feel frustrated, I feel scared and yes there is part of me ready to quit. I know that isn't the right answer. But it is where I am at. I feel like I am trying so hard and going backwards and I don't see an end to it in sight, because I am doing exactly what I am supposed to and I am still gaining.

Yes I went through a couple weeks where my calories were too low, but for two weeks now I have been eating the 1200 calories I am supposed to religiously. And for anyone that thinks that eating that few calories is easy, you have never dealt with anorexia or anorexic tendencies. I have on many days had to literally force that food into my body while crying because I don't want to eat or eating makes me feel sick. But I have done it faithfully. But to no avail.

I have been working out exactly to plan too, three days a week with the trainer, three days a week cardio. Limiting my cardio to only the alotted time (vs my urge to work out around the clock) and doing exactly as told. But again, no results.

It was kind of ironically funny tonight to hear my trainer say "but that is physically impossible if you are eating right and working out". Well Nick, welcome to the disaster that is my body. That is the hardest part for me, I can follow all the rules to a T, I can be the perfect client and still not go anywhere. We have had it before where I would not lose, but I have never gained like this and it's not ok. Especially since there is no way to know if/when it will end, will I go back to 250? or even higher. That thought scares me beyond any words I could type here.

Now comes the tougher part, admitting my emotional side of this. I feel VERY VERY alone in it right now. And that is in no way a put down on my trainer, he is trying. I realized tonight talking to him, its just how I have become lately. He asked how I deal with my emotions and I realized answering him just how much I have retreated to behavior I thought I had a better handle on in the last year. I don't yell, I don't pitch a fit, I just crawl inside myself and hide. It's safer there. You don't have to worry about who your honesty will upset or drive off. But it is also a very dark lonely place smiling for the world and sitting home crying every night over the fear and the frustration. I just sit envisioning myself being back to where I was last November. Of being back at 300 lbs and I know I can't go through that all again. I feel like I am on this downhill tumble and I have no idea how to stop it and neither does anyone else and that terrifies me. Because it is one thing to live at 300 lbs when you don't know any different, but going back there now I couldn't handle. I couldn't live like that, yet it is all I think about lately is going back to that place.

What if all I have accomplished in the last year is just a fluke? I can't even handle that thought, but it's definitely something that sneaks into my mind more and more each day that the scale continues to climb.

I wish I had some great philosophical ending about how I am going to overcome this, but it would be a lie at best right now. I don't have that great answer right now, if I am totally honest I don't even have the energy to find it. I feel like when the number on the scale came up today it just drained me (despite having a good idea before he weighed me dwhat it was going to be). I feel defeated!!!! I feel like all those people who naysayed on all this were right, that it was a great ride while it lasted but maybe now I am headed back to the reality of being fat and ugly and having the life back I did a year ago. I know that sounds harsh, but it's honestly where I am tonight!!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Photos from the Photographer are Back...

There is very little I could say, that would say more than these photos do. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these speak volumes.

Thank you Tiffany for the inspiration to do this, and thank you David for your amazing talent......

The photos above were all taken by Dave Puente Photography ( I can't recommend him enough if you are looking to have photos done.

Of course as I looked through the pics I had to put some comparisons together....

This last comparision really got me. I look at the two side by side, and I have to admit I don't see a huge difference in how I look weight wise (although there is about 50 lbs difference in them) but I see a ton of difference in the spirit in them. Definitely a different person looking into the camera.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The next chapter like you were dying.......

"Like tomorrow was the end
And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it
What should you do with it
What can I do with it
What would I do with it

I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flyin'
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'" Tim McGraw

I heard this song in the car today and realized that it said exactly what I need to do...It's time to move more looking back, no more living in fear of what might happen, just all out living. I know it, I want it, but I have to admit I am still struggling with it. I just need to make it happen. No more looking back!

Everything I have accomplished to here is amazing, but it's the past. I have lost 100 lbs that is great, but it is yesterday's news. I have changed my body and my world, also history! I will never forget where I came from but I can't dwell on it any longer.

Today I started the next part of my journey. The first part of my metamorphosis was about becoming functional, losing enough weight to be able to live a quality life and having my body be strong enough to enjoy that life. I did that along with "Torture Boy's" (Gui's) help. And while it would be easy to stop there, something I have strongly considered in the last few weeks, I can't. I know could live a good life at my current weight and ability, but there is more that I this next chapter is about refinement and getting to who and where I want to be physically and mentally and working with Nick (who still needs a good nickname btw) to get there.

As part of this new journey Nick weighed and measured me today. My weight today was 239. This is my new starting point, no 338, no 311. Everything from here forward is measured off 239. For those keeping track that is up a few pounds from where I was a month ago, I am not proud of that fact, I fought with my eating issues and am paying the price now. But again that is history. I am currently 239 on the trainer's scale and that is what we are working from.

My goal from here....I would like to be below 200 lbs by the end of the year. My ultimate goal is around 150, but truth it is less about the number. I want to be able to walk into any store in the world and comfortably, easily buy a medium (top and pants). I never want to have to worry about finding a store with bigger sizes ever again in my life.

Beyond the long term physical goals remain the same as they have been....

1 - Get certified in scuba diving and go scuba diving
2 - Be able to downhill ski again
3 - Walk in the 3 day (60 mile) breast cancer walk.

My shorter term goals....

1 - Do at least one 5k walk this year (possibly 2)
2 - Conquer rock wall climbing.
3 - Get my food issues under control, not for a week or a month or even a year, but for good.

As for the trainer change. I am starting to really enjoy working with Nick. I feel like we turned a corner last week, and that is a big part of what has me ready to start this new chapter. My workouts are back to feeling effective (I am sore again and feel like I am pushing my body again), I feel like I am losing some of my fear of messing up with everything I say to him and can be more myself (I got accused of being demanding today, that must mean I am on my way back *grin*) and I am starting to look forward to the sessions again. I know I still have a ways to go in totally being back to where I was on this front, and that total comfort may not happen until one more variable changes, but I am looking forward to getting there.

The bottom line is this is about me and my future. Not about my past, not about decisions others have made for my life, not about anything but moving ahead. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and it is time to seize the day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's time for...FORWARD!

The ring I wear has three words on it...."Forward....Regardless....Relentless". It is my reminder to let nothing stand in my way of my goals.

For the last 3 weeks I have been wearing it with Regardless facing up. I thought that was the word I needed to focus on to get me through the recent trainer change. I realized after my workout yestrday with Nick that Regardless wasn't working for me; It had me stuck in focusing on the past and the changes. I need to be looking ahead now, not looking at the past and just trying to stay one step ahead of it. Last night I turned my ring to Forward and that is where I am heading!

Over the last couple weeks I have been told over and over "change is hard" which is true, change can be hard. But I am not against change, I think change is a good thing, I seek it out. We can only grow through change and I get bored if things don't change.

But as someone who deals with change management on a daily basis in my job, I can now see that my issue hasn't been change. It is that this change broke every rule I teach my clients about how to exact positive change and how to make it easier for their company.

For change to be successful there need to be some basic rules followed.....

1) The change has to be for the better, not just because you can.
2) The parties who are going through the change need to have a voice in how the change is executed (even if they don't have a voice in if it will happen).
3) People need to understand why the change is happening.
4) The transition through the change needs to be done in a manageable way, that doesnt leave those involved feeling they have gone backwards and that they are completely out on their own.
5) There have to be safety nets in place for those who struggle through the change.
6) The change transition can't undermine or sacrafice the current day to day needs already being met.

I can see looking back at the last three weeks where every one of those bit me in the butt going through this change. And it sent me into a tailspin that if I had been observing this like I would at work and not been emotionally invovled I would have predicted and better dealt with. I do wish I had come at this much more analytically than the emotions I came out it with. I know this still would have been hard, because I didn't have a voice in a lot of it and it didn't make sense to me (and never will on why it happened), but I could have been moving foward a lot sooner.

Luckily my new trainer helped snap me out of this yesterday. There is nothing better than spending an hour beating out your anger and agression and I did come to see that I am not alone. That there is someone standing there ready to help me move forward, and I need to not be looking backwards and miss that.

I also came back to being who I am...stubborn, relentless and determined. This change happened, it sucked but I will not let it rob me of my goal, I will not let it change who I am and I wont pretend, like I have for the last three weeks, I am someone I am not just to prevent it happening again. I can't live in fear of who I am driving away my new trainer, because unless I bring who I truly am to the game then we aren't going to succeed anyway.

So Monday I start again.....a new trainer, a new starting weight, new workouts and a new mindset. I will never forget where I came from, I will never forget how hard I worked in the last 8 months, I will never forget Gui's help in getting me there, he will always hold a special place in my heart for changing my life, and truth I will never probably fully understand what happened to force this change, but it can't be about looking at that anymore. It's time to move forward.............and God help anyone who gets in my way!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food...why does everyone assume it is just as simple as "just eat"

This is going to be one of those ranting, emotional blog posts because I am frustrated and angry and just at my witts end. Just got back from the gym and got the ever familiar lecture from the trainer about having to just eat, that there are no excuses, it doesn't matter how I feel...just do it. And to be honest, despite me knowing that is probably the correct, logical and rational answer, I'm sick of hearing it. I am sick of feeling like people think I am not eating just to be difficult or because I am being defiant or whatever. Don't people think if it was as easy as "just eat" I would frigging do it. Do they think I enjoy this mess? That I am doing it for attention or whatever???

NO ONE hates how things are with me and food more than I do. I expend way too much energy dealing with this every day. I just want to be normal. I want to be like all the other fat people in the world who all they have to do is eat less and the weight comes off...I would be good at that! I want to be exactly what most people imagine I am when they see me, an overeater who has no self control and would be thin if they would just give up the bad foods and eat better and exercise. I wish that was me. It would be so much easier.  I would trade my situation for that in a heart beat.

But instead I am an obese anorexic who gets fatter and fatter the more I don't eat and the more I work out. I am currently up almost 10 lbs and NO ONE but me seems to give a damn it is happening. I am the only one freaking out about it and that too is starting to drive me nuts. How much weight do I have to put back on before someone other than me starts to worry? 20 lbs? 50lbs? All the way back to where I was??? I get looked at like I am messed up for being upset I am up 10 lbs and I have had enough of that too.

I am tired of sitting down and looking at food and being repulsed, I am tired of taking a bite of something and feeling sick, I am tired of going out to eat with people and acting like I am enjoying it when in reality it is misery. I am tired of this whole stinking mess. But I have no clue how to solve it. I have tried two nutritionists and they could do nothing to help, I have tried working with a trainer and that hasn't made the eating any better, it did for short times but obviously if I am still at this point it isnt solving it, I have tried support groups, I have tried therapy and still I fight this battle every day.

I am truly at the point that I am ready to just accept going back to what I used to be weight wise and stopping the fight with food. Because I am fighting and fighting and just going backwards now. So why bother? 

I stood at the gym today and heard the lecture yet again about eating more and not over working out. I heard the "I don't care what is going on just eat" speech again (different voice same lecture) as if this is all a choice I make. I didn't choose this mess. I didn't choose this body. I didn't choose whatever the hell went on in my life that led me to this situation with food and I am sick of having to fight every day and being made to feel like I am not trying. I am doing the best damn job with this I can, and obviously my best is not good enough, so why even fight anymore?

I don't expect a magic solution, I don't expect any one else to be able to solve this for me, but I am so sick and tired of being made to feel that this is something I choose, that I am just not trying hard enough, that this is how I want it. Anyone thinks this is just a choice I made is welcome to walk in my shoes for a day or two, because then these "it doesn't matter what is going on just eat" speeches might mellow a little and I would stop having to feel like a bad child who is just being difficult!!!!

THIS IS NOT A CHOICE FOLKS! No one in their right mind would ever choose this battle to live with!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My "trust fall" at the falls......a professional photo shoot.....

In the last year I have done many things that have amazed me, merely by doing them, but today took the cake. For someone who a few months ago would delete every picture of myself I could find, hiring a professional photographer to take 100's of pictures of me was even more foreign than standing on home plate. But just like my Twins adventure, I did it.

Let me back the story up to how this really started. As with so many other things, this too is Gui's fault *grin*. Many months ago during one of our workouts we were talking about my photos on facebook. One that I use quite often is my professional head shot. I had this done in 2003 for a conference I was presenting at. It was only the second time in my life I had had a professional photo taken (the first being my yearbook picture). I had just the one I needed done, nothing more. At the time I was 285 pounds. Despite how heavy I was in that picture, it is just one I just really like of myself and use a lot. Gui felt it should be retired and I wasn't ready for that. So I told him when I weighed 50 lbs less than I did in the picture I would have another one done.

That put an end to the conversation which was all I really wanted at that moment. But when I made the promise to him, I really made it to myself. I stored it away as one of my milestone moments to deal with later. Truth, I never thought I would see 235 so why would it matter, but if it did I would deal with it then.

Just like the Twins thing, I have got to stop saying yes and hoping fate plays along *grin* it never does! Two weeks ago I hit 235 and decided to fulfill the promise (even though I am sure he doesn't even remember the conversation). I keep my promises and I needed to keep this one for myself as well as for what I had promised him. I decided I wanted not only head shots but a really great set of photos. Something to celebrate the amazing, strong body I have developed. That even though I am no where near my goal weight, I still look really good and wanted to document that (and do plan to do another shoot when I get to my goal weight).

With the help of the LTF Eagan personal training department head, Tiffany, who recently had a photo shoot of her own done, I hired Dave Puente ( to do my photos. I couldn't have made a better choice (thanks Tiff!!!!)

We were supposed to shoot a week ago, but the weather was horrible (hot and humid) and this was my first clue what a pro Dave was. He suggested we postpone because even though we would have the photos, he knew I wouldn't have a good time in the heat and really cared about this being a positive experience for me.

We rescheduled for this morning and the day turned out  PERFECT. The weather, the sun, everything cooperated.

We met for the shoot at Minnihaha Falls Park in Minneapolis. I have lived here almost 3 years and had no clue this gorgeous place existed. We spent about an hour taking 100's of photos in different parts of the park...near the waterfall, on the stairs, under the gazebo, on the bridge.

For as nervous as I had come into the day, I have to say Dave immediately set me at ease. I ended up feeling so gorgeous and special, even before seeing the pictures. It was everything I had hoped the day would end up and more.

It truly was the celebration of what I have accomplished so far that I wanted taking the pictures to be.

It will be about a week before I have all the photos (should end up with between 50 and 100) but Dave was kind enough to rush one photo to me so I could share it.....

I have thought alot about these pictures since we finished the shoot this morning. I mentioned yesterday the views I was raised with, that thinking highly of yourself is a negative. My mother would in no way approve of me thinking I looked good enough to hire a professional to photograph me, not to mention what she would say about spending the money. But I have to say, doing this today made me as proud of myself as losing the weight has, if not more. For once I did something for myself and because I believe in myself and didn't let all those old filters stop me.

This is one of the first times in my life I have stood up, said I am a beautiful person and worthy of being seen. I may still be considered morbidly obese at 235 lbs, but I am incredibly proud of my body, of how strong it is, how far I have brought it in such a short time and how many odds I have overcome physically. These photos are a celebration of ever day in the last 8 months, of every sore muscle, of every drop of sweat and ever tear I have cried to get here!

I have lived the life of the ugly ducking for 40 years. I let kids growing up, my parents, others I have met along the wrong convince me to be ashamed of myself and my looks. But as of today that is no more! There is no more hiding myself from the world and today was the documentation of that!

The butterfly has left the out world!!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Important Lessons You Can Learn in Nine Innings.....

I know everyone is anxiously waiting for a post about last night at the Twins game, but I have to admit I am not sure how to write this all out. Even though it happened to me, it doesn't quite feel real, so talking about it (beyond saying "it was amazing") is hard. I'll do my best.

As I said in my post yesterday, my companion for the evening was Todd Lynnes, the trainer I had worked with at the Lakeville Club. I can't thank him enough for appointing himself to be there with me. It made the night so much better. Not only having someone there who so wanted to be there with me and was so full of pride for what I have done, but also just someone so fun. Todd, I will never forget you for being there last night with me and I'll hang out with you anytime!

Todd and I met up with the Twins coordinator around 6:25 and headed down to the field. It was really cool to see some of the back of the house. Once we got out to the field we got to watch some other pre-game activities  from the third base line and take a couple pictures before we headed out to the field.

Then it was off to stand on home plate. We had our backs to the jumbotron, which while a little frustrating (I kept wanting to turn and see what we looked like) it also made it a lot safer. It didn't quite feel like it was going on. I think that was also amplified by the fact that only about 1/2 of the fans were in their seats at that point, and those that were seemed more interested in getting settled than paying attention to us.

I stood there and heard the announcer say my name and read my story, and was just taking it all in. Hearing him talk about me getting sick in 91 and then my nerve damage and strokes. I was hearing it, but it felt very distant. It wasn't until they got to the line about having lost 100 lbs that it clicked in that this was really about me and where I was. At that moment I saw the fans in the stands ahead of me starting clapping. I saw it before I heard it, and then the sound hit me and it seemed to just keep spreading. I have to admit if I hadn't had Todd next to me making jokes (thank god he was) there would have been tears at that point, because it was truly overwhelming. It made a lot of things real.

While we only stood for there maybe about 2 minutes, and the announcer reading my story was only about a minute, it seemed MUCH MUCH longer. It seemed to go in slow motion. I had expected it to feel very fast. When I was told last week they had cut my story at about a minute, I have to admit I felt cheated, but that turned out to be MORE than enough time.

For as great as being on the field was, I have to admit my pride really hit when we got up to our seats and I started to see all the people from Life Time Fitness who had come, both from my club and other clubs and corporate. I felt like a dork all night because I kept looking over at all of them and trying to take in they were really there. I was extremely grateful when the club manager, Tony, moved down to sit with us and started explaining to me who ever was that was there and what clubs they were from.

While I was thrilled to meet new people from other clubs, including some corporate level team members like Steve I had emailed with but never met, the greatest was seeing all the people who had come from Eagan. From the front desk, to the member advisers, to Tony, having the people who have watched me from day one and knew where I started meant more to me than the entire stadium ever could. I was especially touched that Lance was there. Lance was the first person I met at the Eagan club, he gave me my first tour and just made me feel so welcome. Since that November day he has been one of my loudest cheerleaders and who I have turned to more than once for help. He was the person who started this whole nomination and celebrating without him there would have been weird.

I rounded out the night in a perfect way. After the game I met up with a couple good friends at a local restaurant. We toasted, had a couple drinks (yes the trainer knew) and some chocolate fondue (ok that he didn't approve but oh well *smile*). It really was the exact way I would have chosen to end the night. With people who have been there with me step by step through this journey! Who know all the ups and downs I have faced, who have cheered with me and who have wiped my tears.

Monday I start a new journey, with a new trainer, with 80 or so more pounds to lose. What I have accomplished with Gui and to here are now great memories, but I now need to refocus and dig harder for what comes next. I actually think in some ways this will be the harder part of the road. The easy weight is gone, the easy demons have been conquered and what is left will take a lot more work and discipline, but that is Monday.

Tomorrow I have one more commemoration of how far I came on this first journey. It is a surprise I have been working on for a few weeks.....more to come on this.

So for one more day I will celebrate.....

Celebrating my weight loss....

Celebrating how my life has changed...

And celebrating realizing for the first time in my life how important it is to have cheerleaders and others to be just as proud as you are of yourself.

While slaying the weight was the focus of the last 8 months, I don't think that truly was the lesson in all this. I was raised being told by my mother that being proud of yourself was wrong. That it was egotistical and pompous. That if you were proud of your accomplishments you were some how thinking you were better than those around you. While all the professional accomplishments I have had in my career could not erase those lessons, I think they are finally falling away. Last night helped me remember that we should all be proud of what we have done and how hard it has been to do it and that it is ok to let the world in on that pride. That whether you are alone in a room or in a stadium full of 40,000 people what matters is knowing you have worked as hard as you can and to taking the time to recognize that!

Now stay tuned for tomorrow's adventure... (oh and try to ignore that it will involve the same outfit you saw in these pictures *smile*)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tonight at Twins and 40K of my closest friends...

"I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

Hey my next thirty years I’m gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done
Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears
And I’ll do it better in my next thirty years" Tim McGraw

I really wanted to blog about how I am feeling today leading up to this, but to be honest, I am overwhelmed and not sure how much sense any of this is going to make that point. So I'll capture what I can.

Today is the end of a chapter, a celebration of the last 8 months, and the start of the next chapter in this journey. When I was selected two weeks ago I wasn't ready to turn that chapter. I am now. I am excited and ready. I lost 100 lbs in the last chapter. I have about 90 more to lose this chapter and I will get there. But before I turn that page today/tonight is about celebrating. So how am I feeling right now....

Nervous! I want to puke (I will not puke on target field, I will not puke on target field). I am not sure why I am so nervous. I present in front of thousands of people all the time. But this is a lot more intimate than talking about business analysis or databases. I am showing 40,000 people *gulp* before pictures I wouldn't show myself a few months ago, wow.

Sad! There is part of me that is really sad. I haven't said much about this in the blog, but for reasons I don't understand or even know Gui has decided not to attend tonight. While I respect that is his choice, it does leave a hole in the evening that someone who was so significant to tonight chose not to come. But I am chosing to make this the most minor of my feelings, because this is such an amazing night otherwise! You will be missed Gui.

Grateful! When I found out Gui wasn't going to be able to attend, I will admit I was devastated. But as life usually does, people are put in the right place to make things all right. Todd, the trainer at Lakeville I had worked with, heard about the situation and didn't ask to go, but informed me he was coming with me. That I wouldn't be there without one of my trainers. This touched my heart so deeply. That someone who had worked with me once at that point cared enough to use his night off to make sure this night got the honor it needed. Now Todd will not only be attending, but will be standing on the field with me. I am so lucky to have people like him around me.

Loved! Not only will Todd be there with me tonight, but so will 24 other members of the Life Time Eagan family. I had known the club manager (Tony) and a couple of the Member Advisors (my dear Lance and the mgr Sam) were attending. But yesterday I was BLOWN away when I learned that they had gotten 20 more tickets and were bringing other team members who had asked to be there. Again and again I learn how many people at the club have been watching and rooting for me that I didn't know were even aware I existed. In reading that email all the pain of one person's absense went away. It didn't matter anymore.

In addition to the LTF friends I will have there, I will have other dear dear friends who are giving up their Fri night to be there. Thank you guys for always loving and supporting me. And a special thanks to my boss who is bringing his entire family. You have never judged me or limited me no matter what I weighed and that means so much to me.

Proud! Ok so all the other emotions have been about other people. Now to the one about me. I am still not sure I totally get that I have lost 100 pounds. It seems surreal. But logically I know I have, and to stand there tonight and to say it to the whole world is more amazing than I can admit. I am so proud of what I have done, what I have become and how my body is now. I keep thinking back to that trip to Israel in February 2009 and having to be helped down 3 steps at a kibbutz, today I can easily walk a 5K without thought. I can't believe how far I have come! I am so proud of myself for having taken this on and having done what so few will ever do.

Tonight is going to be an amazing night and I am so honored I get this chance.

Thank you to those who will be there, and those who can't for having walked with me the last 8 months, who have supported me, cheered me on and just loved me. I can't put into words how much you mean to me.


PS. Could you pray it doesn't rain and this all get cancelled tonight!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celebration Week Moment: Food

Food *sigh* ok I seriously thought about leaving this topic out all together, because it is the one I still struggle with the most, but it is such an important part of my story I needed to include it. It is not a great accomplishment yet, but it is a work in progress and we are going to celebrate that!

Where I came from: I have said my entire life I never ate enough to weigh what I did. I would watch those around me eating constantly and I was still the obese one eating next to nothing. Obviously what I did eat was never healthy, I am not kidding myself on that. But I was never the fat person who gorged themselves and ate tons and tons of calories. I have fought with anorexic tendencies (and at times full blown anorexia) for as long as I can remember. I have never eaten breakfast, I would often skip lunch and dinner was usually late at night. I liked desserts, I loved ice cream and I lived for my chocolate. I lived on liquids, I have always drank a ton of water, but I was also hooked on soda and fruit juice. I love the feeling of the bubbles in soda more than the taste and that was a real addiction for me. Before I started this journey I would easily go through 6-8 liter size bottles of gingerale a day. It wasn’t about caffeine, although I like coca cola, it was about sensation, the bubbles. None of my dietary habits were made any better by the fact that I really don’t like to cook. I like fast, convenient and ready to go. A lot of times if nothing was readily available I would just skip eating versus dealing with making something.

Where I am now: Eating enough is still a huge struggle for me. Last week I averaged about 700 calories a day. I need to be above 1400 at least to keep from gaining weight. It is so hard to explain to the people around me who tell me to “just f’ing eat” but even when the food is in front of me it just don’t appeal to me. The best way I can explain how I feel with food is this…think about how you feel when you have the flu. You know you need to eat, but nothing looks good, tastes good and even when you take a few bites you are forcing yourself. That is how I am every day with food. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t look forward to it and when I do eat it is forced.

But this is about my accomplishments, and for me just realizing that I have to eat or I will start gaining weight again is progress and something I try to remember daily. While my brain still wants to revert back to the “eat less lose more weight” I know logically that is not how my body works. That the 100 lbs I have lost I have lost because I am eating enough that my body doesn’t feel it needs to be in starvation mode and retain every calorie I do eat as fat. Every time I have hit a plateau we have upped my calories and I have seen it work. Knowing all this is very frustrating for me, because I know what I need to do and yet it is so hard for me to carry through with it. I wish it was just as simple as “just f’ing eat” because this is a battle I want behind me.

I am currently working with a new nutritionist and after months of fighting the idea, when Gui was putting it out there, I have also accepted that I need to address the psychological side of my eating issues (again). That my fight with food goes a lot deeper than what I even know is driving it and I need to look at that. I am planning to address this from a “conventional” side with a therapist as well as some non-traditional methods (such as “energy work”) that the nutritionist is teaching me about. While neither of these is approaches I want to take, I am running out of excuses for fighting the idea. I am not winning this battle on my own and am now at a point with it that if I don’t address it I am not going to reach my other goals and I am not willing to be stuck here forever.

Probably my biggest accomplishment with food has been with the soda issue. The first 30 lbs I lost (the weight I lost prior to the trainer) came solely from giving up soda and fruit juices. I now live on water. I do cheat on the soda still, I still want the bubbles, but it is only once in a while and I am getting better about having a mouthful and throwing the rest out.

My Goals: My goal is simple, stop fighting with food. I want to easily reach my calorie goal without having to think about it, force myself or needing others to eat with me just because then I have to eat. I just want this struggle over and to be normal when it comes to food and eating. I want to enjoy eating healthy food, having a rare splurge and just feel like food isn’t the enemy every day of my life. I want to stop worrying if I eat I will gain weight. I just want a normal relationship with food, nothing more nothing less.

Celebration Week Moment: Clothes

Of all the things I anticipated on this journey, I never really thought the reality of this one through. I guess in my brain I would start out at one size, and when I reached my goal wake up at that size. I never thought about what would go on in between or the ramifications of a rapid ongoing weight loss.

Where I came from: Eight months ago my clothes were at the top of the limits of even the plus size stores. That was part of what pushed me to do something. I feared reaching the point where I could not find clothes in any store, especially clothes for work. In shirts I was wearing a 4x (snuggly) and my pants were what my favorite plus store called a 12x (this is somewhere around a women’s 32 I believe). My shoes were a size ten wide and my rings were a 10 also.

Finding clothes was about what fit and not much else. If it fit and wasn’t grossly ugly it was purchased. My style was conservative at best. All dark colors, no embellishments, nothing that would make me stand out any more than I had to. My clothing was also pretty casual. Even for work it was the least dressy I could get away with but still be client presentable. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t care what I looked like, I cared a lot, but just knew I couldn’t look like I wanted to, so had accepted what I could find as ok. While I cared I never really put in much effort.

Overall my closet was made up of things I had had a decade and things that fit and I went with that. I hated shopping because I could find nothing I liked and I just went with what I had.

Shoes were also real issue for me. While in my younger days they were something I loved, after the nerve damage my shoes became about functionality and safety. Sneakers anywhere I could get away with (and some places I shouldn’t), dress shoes were flat and sensible. The other problem with dress shoes was that I easily could gain 20 lbs of fluid in a day, so anything that fit well in the morning was unbearable by 5pm, so again shoes had to be chosen for functionality and comfort throughout the day.

Where I am now: Shopping is something I love, because a world I have never been able to explore is opening up to me. I am shopping in real stores for the first time in my adult life and each time I go it gets easier and easier to find new places where I can find my sizes. I am still at the top of the range of many normal stores, but I am ok with that and know that it will only get better. Currently my pants are a size 14/16 and my shirts vary from a large to an extra large depending on the store and style. I can now walk into Victoria’s secret and buy undergarments off the shelf. It is amazing.

And because my world has opened up with the size change, so has my style. I now have one. I love wearing skirts and dresses, I love looking good and I love showing off my shape. Even with 80 more pounds to go, I have a body I have worked damn hard to get and will not hide anymore. If I take something out of the closet now and it is baggy or hides me too much it immediately goes in the charity pile. I love colors…this week I bought PURPLE JEANS and I am getting better about the embellishment stuff (still struggle with ruffles and foo fooey ness on clothes). While my greatest dream outfit used to be jeans and sneakers, I now rarely wear jeans even if I can get away with it. I find myself putting on a skirt to go to a casual dinner with a friend and packing them by choice when I travel. I no long change into jeans and sneaker as soon as I leave a client’s office and before the plane (something we used to dub “consultant superman”). Now I travel in dress shoes and I fly dressed up most times. I have even allowed myself to get on a plane in dress shorts which I would never have done before.

Shoes are even better. My shoes are now and 8 ½ or a 9 and no more wide shoes. Oh and as my friends have seen, I have discovered my toes and pedicures. I love buying shoes that show off my feet, because I no longer fight what I used to call “fred flintstone feet” from swelling. If I do swell during the day it is a pound and my shoes easily handle that. The best part of the shoe change has come from the work I have done in my training. I no longer have to select shoes to be functional, because my core and my body take care of that. I can buy heels, and actually prefer them. I think about how much shoes look not about if I can walk in them. This does have its downsides, packing is a lot harder now as I often have to break my “wear one, pack one” self imposed limit, but if that is my biggest problem I am good with that.

Jewelry has always been a passion of mine. Even when clothes wouldn’t fit, jewelry would. Today my ring size is a 7 ½. I have bought two rings of incredible significance to me, one being my amethyst which marked losing 50 lbs with my trainer and will be updated with a diamond each time I lose 50 more lbs and the second being my “mantra ring”. I had engraved into a plain gold band Gui’s words which so resonated with me “Forward….Regardless....Relentless”. Anytime I start to lose my focus, with exercise, food or any of the journey I only have to look down and it is there to remind me I need to keep going. I have also ordered a fun ring for myself also recently.

Earrings are a new passion. I tended to wear very small earrings before. It really didn’t matter, you couldn’t see them the way I wore my hair and to be honest I also worried about looking trashy if they got larger. After I changed my hair a few weeks ago my ears became visible and I started to become more adventurous. I now love long, large earrings and keep my eyes open for unique new ones every time I am out.

As I said in the opening of this post, I never thought about how many wardrobes this journey would take. It has shocked me how quickly I go through clothes (before they are too big) and how much I end up spending on replacements. To date I have sent 13 large garbage bags of clothes to charities and I have a pile in my closet that is probably another 6-8 bags that will go soon. Sending the first load was a lot of fun, it was getting rid of the old and just felt cathartic. The second and soon to be third loads I am having a lot harder time with. These are clothes I just bought, that I like and I hate to see them go. I am especially going to cry when the polka dot dress goes in the near future.

There has been one reaction in all this I totally didn’t expect. I find myself at times being sad as I have to let go of a store I can no longer shop in because they do not make sizes small enough. I have been a creature of habit for so many years, always buying the same bras, the same dress pants, the same underwear, the same coats, all in the same stores. And for as much as I am loving all the new options, sometimes losing the comfort of the known items is sad and unsettling. The ease of buying the same is being lost in all the choices I now have and at times that overwhelms me.

Because of this feeling of being overwhelmed, I now will not shop alone. I have three friends I trust to shop with me. They keep me honest (I still tend to buy things that are too big and wont fit in a week) and also help me push myself to try on things the old me never would have and often end up looking really great. They also help me deal with the insane paranoia I still have that even though I can see it fits I am not willing to believe something that small can fit and worry I am looking like a fool wearing it. I couldn’t write this post without thanking the three of you for your honesty, your patience and your help these last few months. You have made shopping a lot less stressful and a whole lot more fun for me and I love you for that.

My Goals: This is the best part, because I know it is only going to get better and better from here. My ultimate goal (and it has been since day one of this journey) is to be able to walk into any store, any where in the world and be able to pick up a medium anything and it fit. I want to know that I never have to feel out of place in a store or worry about do they have the marginal sizes for us big people.

My dream outfit…I want to walk into Ann Taylor and buy an amazing suit and look hot as hell in it! Ok yes I am still a geek, what can I say and an Ann Taylor suit is something I used to watch a previous boss and friend wear every day and look great in and knew I never would. Now I am willing to dream that I can!

I also want to be able to buy one or more great pieces of formal wear and make men’s jaws drop when I walk in wearing it. I still live with the scars of prom and wearing a dress I hated because it was what fit, I want to wear that hot red cocktail dress I really wanted to buy and turn heads in it. And at this rate I may be able to show up at my 25th high school reunion in just that!!!!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Celebration Week Moment: Exercise and Working Out

Going into all this, I expected exercise to be the hardest part of the journey, in the end it has been the easiest and was the fastest to change.

Where I came from: I have always loved to swim. From the time I was a little child I was happy to spend hours in the pool and I didn't mind swimming laps either. But other than that I have never enjoyed exercise. I got bored and tired easy and never really stuck with it growing up. After I got sick in 1991 and then the nerve damage and strokes in 1996 what little I did went to none. By this past November (2009) I could barely do the walking I had to for my life, let alone think about exercising. I would park as close to things as I could, avoid activities with friends that involved much effort and use any mode of transportation I could to avoid moving.

My strength was nil. The first few times I worked out with Gui I could barely hold up my arms to walk the length of the pool and the notion of lifting a weight was beyond my imagination.

Where I am now: There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not at the gym, and if I can't make the gym I am exercising at home. If I don't exercise I feel like my day isn't complete. Whether it is a day with the trainer or cardio I need that now. My typical week involves 3 days of strength/weight with a trainer and 3 days on my own doing cardio (usually treadmill or swimming). When I travel the first thing I check out about a hotel is what is the fitness facility available and there have been times when I have gone as far as to purchase a short membership to a gym in the area I am traveling in just to have the ability to work out. When I have friends visiting, or I am visting friends, the first thing I do is drag them off to the gym.

Heavy weights and strength training are by far my favorite exercise. I love the feeling of having pushed my body to where it doesn't want to go. I have greatly come to value the burn of exhausted muscles and the soreness the next day of a good workout. I can now leg press more than my own body weight and can lift more than most females!

Beyond my formal workouts, the best part is being able to exercise in my daily life. I can easily walk the airport or the mall, I can go for a hike on a mountain or walk across a beach. I no longer have to make decisions in life based on if my body can keep up or not. I am physically able to go where I want, when I want and not worry if I am going to hold everyone else back. Now people have to keep up with me!

What has surprised me the most: That I am a gym rat now still shocks me. If anyone had ever told me that one of my greatest comforts would become turning the corner and seeing a Life Time Fitness (especially when travelling) I would have laughed them off their seat, but that has come to be. At the end of a hard day or in a foreign city nothing feels better than that security of being "home". And even if I can't find an LTF just having that time to workout really returns me to a much more centered place.

I have to admit last week I even realized I have become a gym snob (I have been called LOTS of things in my life but realizing this about myself stopped me in my tracks). I am truly spoiled at LTF. We have amazing clubs, outstanding equipment and it is just the full package. When I have to use another facility (last week in Alaska a Planet Fitness) I have to stop myself from doing the automatic comparison and it not being anywhere good enough. Who would have thought I would ever care about the quality of a gym, let alone felt one was below my standards.

My biggest surprise in it is all, the fact that I started working with a trainer, and still do. This was not part of my original plan. I tried it because I had a free session available to me, I kept going because I happened to start on Black Friday when the club was offering a significant discount and now I can't imagine not having a trainer in my life at some level ever. I was able to see the stats yesterday and since November I have worked out with a trainer around 82 times....75 with Gui and 7 with other trainers.

I have said before and will admit again, I was totally wrong about the role and benefit of a trainer and who should work with one. They are not, as I believed, muscle bound brainless jocks meant only for those who are looking to bulk up. These are some of the smartest, most highly trained professionals you will encounter and their reach goes far beyond building muscle. Anyone looking to be healthier, stronger and have a body that works better should consider this option. A good trainer is a combination coach, nutritionist, warden *smile*, physiologist and therapist. They truly address all the components impacting your body and align them all to get you to the next level.

My goals: I need to get my cardio to be as strong as I am with the strength/resistance work. I do the cardio, but most days consider it a necessary evil. I don't enjoy the treadmill (yawn) and so do just my minimum. In order to make some other goals, I need to get that up. I also am trying to expand to other options, like the ellipitical, so that I am not working the same muscles over and over.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stopping at the cross road to celebrate....

I had always envisioned this journey from the hell of being 338 pounds to my goal as being one trip, with one beginning and one end. I have learned in the last couple weeks that instead it is going to be like many of the flights I take for business, multiple connecting segments. Just like I prefer direct flights, this wasn't how I would have chosen the journey to go, and in the end it wasn't really my choice, but I am optimistic that it is happening for a reason, that in the end I will be better for it,  and am doing all I can to embrace it. I would be lying if I said I was at ease yet with the change, I don't totally understand how I got here, but it is where I am at and I am moving forward...REGARDLESS AND RELENTLESS.

The one nice thing about having this stop in the middle of the journey is that it has given me time to reflect on the first 8 months. Which is something I probably wouldn't have done had things stayed status quo. It is helping me really appreciate what has happened to now and also to reset some goals and my views going forward.

The reality is that the last 8 months has FLOWN by for me. It feels like a blur, and in some ways like a dream that I wasn't really part of. Sadly I think the bluntness of the change the last two weeks has made that even more the case. In some ways it feels like none of what went on since November really happened to me. In walling off the pain I am feeling over the last two weeks, I fear I have walled off the last 8 months. As the nutritionist said this week, I have shoved it in a drawer and am working as I hard as I can to keep that drawer shut and that is probably not my best approach.

Don't get me wrong, I know I am different now, physically and emotionally, than I was when I started this, but it still feels disconnected. I can't remember what it felt like to be 338 pounds any more (which saddens me) so I have a hard time really valuing all I did to lose 100 lbs.

On a logical level I know that what I have done is miraculous at its least. How many people can say they have lost 100 lbs in under a year, how many people can say they have changed their lives this radically, how many people can say they set such a lofty goal and worked their way towards it at this pace? But I know emotionally I am still struggling to internalize that. That if I was looking at this as someone else's story, I would be standing in awe of them, but I can't find that about myself. And I need to!

So, to that end, my goal for the next five days (until the sharing of my story at the Twins game) is to really reflect and celebrate all that I have accomplished and to find that true realization of how amazing what I have done is and to chart the next chapter in the story!

This week's blog posts will all be about that goal....looking back, celebrating and looking forward!

Two new potential contributors.....

When I started this blog back in February, my goal had been that my story, this great adventure of making a major life change, would be told from different sides and angles. Particularly that of my trainer and those helping me. While that has not been the outcome up to now, it is still a goal of mine. I feel like too often the only side of the story shared is of the person losing the weight or making the change and not also of those going through it with them or helping them through it.

As I have two new trainers in my life lately, Nick and Todd, I have decided they too should have the option to have a voice here. I am not sure if they will contribute any more than TB did in the past. But hopefully over time their voices will be added to the story.

Welcome Nick and Todd.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another threshold crossed....Victoria's Secret

Victoria's Secret has always been one of those stores that as a fat girl you looked at longingly as you walked by, but knew you didn't belong in, and probably never would. It is the land of the "pretty people". Those waif-thin models with the perfect bodies who can wear anything and look amazing. The bright colored lingerie in sizes that look like they are made for barbie dolls.

I have never bought a bra anywhere that wasn't specific to plus size people, even as a teen. And have never bought anything more daring colorwise than white or beige.

Tonight I crossed another threshold. Tonight I officially joined the "pretty people" and walked into Victoria's Secret and bought two bras, in my size, that fit perfectly. No special order plus size, no strange looks from sales people like I was in the wrong store. Just a normal person doing normal shopping in a normal store.

And as you can see from above, I skipped the white and went right for purple and polka dots!!!!

Another good step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And the next chapter begins….I have my new trainer….

I am a pretty methodical, linear thinking. I make flow charts and analyze processes for a living. I like to feel one item is complete before I start the next dependent task on a project. When I read a book I want to finish and understand one chapter before I start the next. That makes sense to me. It’s how I think and where I feel safe. Unfortunately life is not so clean cut most of the time, and it certainly isn’t right now.

Today I opened the next chapter in my journey, I selected my next trainer to work with. But I did it having to admit I don’t totally have a grasp on the ending of the last chapter yet!

As for the new chapter, as I mentioned in an earlier post I was stuck choosing between two fabulous trainers. One (Nick) at my home club in Eagan and Todd at the LTF club in Lakeville. Both had lots and lots of great qualities and with each session I had with them I seemed to flip flop. My intent had been to do one more round of sessions (for a total of three with each) and then decide, but I realized this morning, I needed to do this and get it over. It was too much thought and emotion going into a decision I already knew the answer on. If I am honest with myself the key factors that truly mattered to me even before this change came up (location and job role) were already pre-determined anyway and in some ways made it a non-choice. I tried to convince myself for a week that the answer I thought it should be was right, even though I knew in my heart it wasn’t. I also knew the style of trainer I was looking for, and that was not a question between the two either, Nick was the better fit and that is who I ultimately selected. I as usual made this a lot harder on myself than I needed to! I knew what the pro’s and con’s list looked like, I just didn’t want to follow it to the right answer.

In the end, no matter how much I questioned my choice or tried to poke holes in it, I know I made the right choice. I am staying “home” at Eagan, I have the trainer who I think can best help me reach the next level and I feel like I have made the right choice for ME! I am looking forward to the changes in my training and how that will help me progress forward.

With all that said, I do hope on some level Todd and I can still work together periodically. One of the things I always felt like I lacked before was that solid sense of who my “back up” trainer was when scheduling issues or vacations came into play. Having trained with Todd now I feel like I have a lot better option for that going forward and knowing that is comforting.

Related to understanding and closing the last chapter, that is a lot harder. Where am I at? I have accepted Gui and I are done training together. Truth that acceptance came pretty fast. One of the great ironies in how this all played out, is I had considered when he told me he was going to Colorado saying we should be done now, but didn’t for fear I was running. I know I wouldn’t have done well with the three month “goodbye” workouts. It is not my strong suit and I would have slowly turned anything good in it bad. So while I wish the decision and transition had happened differently, I am ready to move on and embrace working with a new trainer. I can say with conviction that even if the offer came to go back (which it never would) I think this change is good for me right now and I need to pursue it. I have changed to a point that we were no longer as effective working together as we once were and I need to find that next step. I probably knew that a couple months ago, but didn’t want it to be the truth so kept going with the status quo.

Despite that level of acceptance on the change, I am still not at ease with how it happened and the emotional side of it. I am very confused on the ending. I still feel broadsided and don’t get it. And because I don’t get it, I am doing a lot of beating myself up, without knowing if it is founded or not. I fear being lost on this forever and that scares me, of never having enough understanding to find closure. The effects of that fear is part of what pushed me to finalize the change in trainers today. I was doing well with the whole situation in between training sessions, but every morning when I knew I was headed to training the tears would start again, even before I was out of bed I would wake up with this terrible feeling of sadness and loss. I would drive to training in tears and once there barely hold it together. With Todd Sunday I didn’t hold it together at all and today was not a whole lot better but at least I didn’t cry on Nick.

I realized that I was letting the one place in my life that has always been positive and successful, my training, become something I feared and dreaded and I needed to fix that fast. I needed to find stability in my training again. It is the only thing in my life that I haven’t failed at at some point and I can’t let my personal feelings of failure right now in all this become the root of my training failing. The price for that happening would be way too high. I have to keep my physical accomplishments moving…regardless!

My other challenge in all this is also trying to figure out how to have a healthy relationship going forward with Gui – whatever that means in this situation. I am not good at situations like this. Once something goes on like this, I tend to discard the situation all together. I tend to throw it all away, and even devalue what went on in the past. I am determined this time not to do that. Gui has been an important part of my life and who I have become. I can’t let today mar the past and all the good that was accomplished, and I need to figure out what it means to my future. If I can do that successfully then I think someday I will feel that this pain was worth it, I hope. He has told me over and over again that things happen for a reason and that is something I do believe. I just wish I could get to the point of understanding the reason on this one so it would stop hurting so much. I need to make sense of the last chapter even while moving on to the next one!

Oh well, that answer isn’t going to come today, so I am just going to focus on the new chapter for the moment. It is time to get back to my goals of all this….

Weight….easily be able to fit in a size medium from any store anywhere in the world. I don’t really care what the number on the scale ends up at, I just want to be able to walk into any store anywhere and never have to doubt if I can shop there.

Food…conquer or at least better manage my anorexic tendencies. This one is not going well right now and I need to get it under control again. I am back in my “eat less, lose more weight” mindset and I need to get out of that.

Fitness….my three goals remain…get certified in scuba diving and go diving; return to downhill skiing and walk the three day Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer walk. I am especially hopeful on the last one as a dear friend from South Africa said she would like to do it with me, and considering she was there when I was at my worst two years ago in Hawaii, it would be an amazing accomplishment to conquer that challenge together.

Last thoughts tonight…(since again I feel I am lacking a wonderful, poignant ending)….

1. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive in the last week. I have cried on a lot of shoulders and I really appreciate how understanding you have been through this change. I can’t promise I am done crying, but am hopeful today is turning a corner and the beginning of a new reason to smile!!!!!

2. Congratulations to Todd. After I told him about my decision he let me know he had accepted a promotion today, he is now an Assistant Department Head in his department. Way to go and best of luck!!!!! BTW Todd, do I still get that one bullet just in case you need a reminder *grin*.

Off to Alaska again (writing this on the plane actually). Anyone want me to bring them back some Polar Bear Smooches???? Google it if you don’t know what they are, they are AWESOME! And NO to those reading this who watch my food journal, I will not be having any or bringing any back for me!

Ok now I am going to cry……….Delta flight attendants to the rescue again....

You know you never know when you share your story with someone else how they are going to react. And this is one of those times when someone else’s reaction has to be shared.

Tonight I am flying from MSP to ANC (Minneapolis to Anchorage for those who don’t speak airport code). And the flight attendant up front, Renee is one of the sweetest I have flown with in a while. Food on these flights is always a challenge for me. Meals are typically very high carb and not the healthiest quality. The snack basket is a combination of candy, carbs and fruit. I usually can pick at a meal, get the stuff out I am safe with and not much else. This trip that wasn’t even possible. I am currently working with a new nutritionist and have a much more stringent set of rules (for 2 weeks). I had turned away everything they served, every snack and was drinking nothing but water, so the Flight Attendant kept coming and checking if I needed anything else.

Finally she commented and said “I feel so bad that you aren’t eating anything”. I decided to share my story with her. It turns out she is a Life Time Fitness member at the Minnetonka club (north of my club). I showed her my pictures, we talked about my training, we talked about how different flying is now (no belt extender nightmares), she complimented me on all I have accomplished and I figured that was that. I was wrong….

A few minutes later she came back, this time accompanied by the other two flight attendants on the flight. In her hands were a bottle of wine and some food. She then proceeded to share with me that she had told the others about what I had accomplished and that they wanted me to have the wine to celebrate sometime (they said to share it with my trainer on a big milestone) and that they had found me some protein from the coach snack boxes! Oh and that the others wanted to see my pictures too.

I didn’t tell her my trainer will be happier she fed me than gave me wine *grin*. I was touched beyond words (and probably came across as a babbling fool because I was caught so off guard). It meant so much to me, I will be checking my luggage on the way home (something I NEVER do) just so I can keep the bottle of wine as a memento.

I never came into this journey to be an inspiration to anyone else, I did this for me. I never thought I had anything to share that mattered to the world. While I know I have worked hard in the last 8 months, most of the time I really don’t think it is anything anyone else couldn’t do if they set their mind to it. I don’t see myself as anything special – just someone who set a goal and has given it their all to achieve it.

But there are moments that like this that remind me how unique what I have done is, and how even for people who aren’t trying to lose weight (the flight crew was all average weight), there is something in my journey that does matter to share. It’s that inherent need we all have to believe that no matter how big the mountain in front of us seems, no matter how impossible a situation is, no matter how much effort it takes, we all have in us that ability to move mountains and to overcome. And that others find that in my story when maybe they have lost track of that in themselves.

Thank you to Delta for having some of the sweetest professionals in the industry who remind me over and over again that even in a business where we are all easily made to feel like cattle being shuffled from place to place on a flying bus there is an airline who does value people and at its heart truly cares. I “Keep Delta My Delta” because of crews like this one!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the wall....needing to see through others eyes......

I was asked a really interesting question last week by a former HS classmate, who had read my post about the recognition at Twins stadium. He asked me quite directly, why do I need others to tell me how I am doing. It was a much more relevant question than he knew, as that issue has recently caused some major turmoil in a relationship I had greatly valued and pretty much decimated by needing that feedback. Particularly since I couldn't articulate to that person why I needed it.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about John's question and about my answers to him. The most honest answer I can give right now is I don't trust my own perceptions. It's ironic for as much as I now see all I have accomplished and am prouder of myself physically than I have ever been, I am probably at my lowest point in trusting what I see as real as I have ever been. And the result is feeling like I do require a lot more validation than ever before.

Unfortunately I think that need for validation is often mistaken as me not being proud of myself or seeing my own accomplishments. That is not the truth in any way. I know I have done this work. I know I have accomplished things 99% of the public will never do. And I know I did that work. I don't need others to tell me that to feel good about myself. Instead for me right now when others are supportive, when they do compliment me, when they do recognize what I have accomplished it just helps me to say "yes what I am seeing is real, my view is not distorted".

This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but its brutally honest. I feel more and more like a fraud the thinner I get. I feel like I am playing a game with the world and am waiting to be caught. I look in my closet and see what seem like doll sized clothes compared to what I used to wear, and I have a hard time believing they are genuinely mine. I feel at times like the emperor running around thinking he looks great while he is really being laughed at by the world. I look in the mirror and think to myself "wow you look great today" but then immediately question if I am just in denial.

It was kind of ironic that a friend said to me today "I don't recall seeing you as big as you were in the 'former' picture" because I feel the same way. A big part of why I have such a hard time with my own judgement right now, is because I never realized how bad I had gotten. I look at my pictures from a year ago, and while I knew I was physically miserable I never realized how gross I looked to the world (both in size and how I dressed). If it was possible for me to misread that, how do I know what I see now is even accurate? Do I think I look better than I do? Do I think I am doing better than I am with this?

As I said to John, this is all a journey for me. For some people the belief in themselves comes first and then they can accept the compliments of others as valid. For me the path has gone the other way. For me even to believe that others are being sincere in what they are saying to me is a huge accomplishment. I never used to trust any compliments from anyone. I took them as insincere and with a goal. Today I am finally reaching a place where I can accept them, and in most cases believe them. I still question motive from time to time, but at least with the people close to me, I have learned to graciously say thank you and take them in.

I do know I have done all this work. I do know I have a lot to be proud of. I apologize to those around me who don't think I know that. I do. I know how hard this last year has been for me and all it has taken.

But despite that, I am still a work in progress. You can't go from 35 years being the ugly ducking to a swan overnight (which is how the last 8 months feels) without questioning who you have become and your own judgement. I feel many days I am stuck in a dream, and when I ask for support or compliments, I am not asking you tell me I am that swan, I am just asking to verify that the swan I see in the mirror is real. For now I need that!