Thursday, October 31, 2013


I hope everyone has a fun day!  

My advice that if you are handing out Halloween candy - make sure that it is ALL GONE by the end of the night!!  Give every bit of it away!

If you are going out with your kids, have a plan to hide their candy!  Halloween candy is the worst - totally empty sugar filled calories.  And for some of us if we start - we can't stop.  So don't start!

Enjoy watching the cute costumes and don't blow your diet!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Non scale victory...

I know that I have mentioned non-scale victories (NSV) in the past.  But I find myself this week - in my never ending quest to stop defining myself by the scale - to remember some of the NSV's I've had along this journey.  Those are what are really important and they are easy to forget when we get caught up in the numbers game!

So what are some of the NSV's that I can think of?

  • Curing my sleep apnea!  For years I kept Marc awake with my snoring.  I would sleep 10 hours and wake up headachy and exhausted.  I was finally diagnosed with severe sleep apnea after having a sleep study done.  I was stopping breathing multiple times per night and my oxygen level was dropping during those times to a dangerously low 59%!  So I had to wear a mask and a machine every night in order to breathe.  In July, 2011, after losing about 140 pounds, I decided to try sleeping without the mask and machine.  Lo and behold, I started sleeping fantastically and restfully with NO SNORING!  The machine was packed in storage that day and hasn't seen the light since then!
  • Flying with no seat belt extender!  I don't fly a lot, but I used to ask for an aisle seat because then I could lift the arm rest and let some of my fat hang out into the aisle as to not sit on the person next to me.  I had to ask for a seat belt extender to fit around me.  I remember flying once sitting next to a very nice and very thin girl who offered to let me share her tray table when I couldn't put mine down because my stomach was so large!  I remember the first time that I flew without needing the extender.  And I had a window seat and didn't impose at all on the guy next to me!  In fact there was room to spare on the seat!  It felt awesome!
  • Buying a skirt in LARGE.  I have mentioned several times about how I had gotten so freaking fat that I couldn't buy clothes in stores - I had to shop at online "speciality stores".  Even in high school I was shopping in the "plus sized" section.  So I can CLEARLY remember the day I went into a store and automatically went to the plus sized section.  I tried on a few things and they were too big.  I bought a skirt that day - it was size large.  I ran out to the car and jumped in and yelled to Marc that I had just bought something that fit with NO FUCKING X in it at all!
  • The first time I ran for 8 minutes straight.  I've had a lot of fitness and running NSV moments.  But I can remember doing the run/walk program that I was doing and there was a large jump to having to run 8 minutes straight.  I KNEW I wouldn't be able to do it - and then I did!  It was so exciting - I was so proud of myself.
  • Being checked out.  I know this is HORRIBLY shallow.  But after my whole life being looked at by men with disgust or having them look straight through me, it felt great the first time a guy held open a door for me and I could totally tell he was checking me out.  DON'T JUDGE ME.
  • Being called an inspiration.  I didn't set out on this journey for any other purpose than to try to improve my life - in any small way.  The first time someone told me that they were trying to lose weight and I was their inspiration I was stunned, honestly.  But also humbled and proud.  
  • Marc picked me up!  And he didn't rupture anything!!  And he threw me on the bed - like something out of a movie.  I'd post more about this, but I have family that reads this blog!
  • The towel moment.  When I got out of the shower and HOLY FUCK!  I realized I could wrap the towel around my body with room to spare!!
  • I did a squat.  And suddenly realized that my knees didn't hurt!! I thought that I had permanently screwed them up.  Turns out as soon as I lost weight and built up extra muscle around them they were fine!
  • I have a lap!  The first time I had my nephew sit on my lap and realized - I HAVE A LAP.  Previously my belly covered it up and there wasn't room for even a small child!
So I've rambled on enough!  Even though there are a MILLION more wonderful things that have happened during and since the losing weight that had absolutely nothing to do with the specific number on the scale.

Please - share with me some of your NSV's!!!  And above else - celebrate those when you have them!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exercise calories....

You want to start a war on an online weight loss and/or fitness forum?  Ask a question about whether or not you should "eat back" the calories that you burn through exercise.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that if you burn, say 300 calories through exercise in a day, should you ADD those to whatever calories you are consuming for weight loss.

So let's talk about this.  There are the hardliners that INSIST that you must eat back your calories for optimal performance and that you risk you calories being "way too low" if you don't eat them back.

Well I'm here to tell you - THEY ARE WRONG.  You should not consider strictly "eating back" the calories you burn through exercise.

First off, let's talk about how you are measuring the calories that you burned.  Are you using the machine's numbers?  Like on the elliptical or the treadmill?  Because if you are, you are WAYYYYYYY overestimating the number of calories that were burned.  Machines like ellipticals and treadmills are NOTORIOUS for totally overestimating the number of calories you burned.  For example last night I came home from work and used the elliptical for 50 minutes.  The elliptical numbers told me that in that 50 minutes that I burned 1,058 calories!  Yeah, right!  I WISH that were true.  

So if you are relying on those numbers,  and say you are on a 1500 calories per day diet and the machine tells you you burned 500 calories and you eat 2000 that day, but you REALLY only burned 250, then you just ate 1750 calories.

Ok, so how about online calculators?  Some of these are pretty good.  You can get a fairly accurate count on some of these.  Look for the ones that ask your current weight and sex to be the most accurate.  

But even then, there are a lot of factors that can go into how many calories you burn.  Like how muscular you are.  People with a large muscle mass burn MORE while working out then people with a lower muscle mass and higher fat.  Also your form is important.  As is the effort you are putting in.  For example, when I stayed at a hotel earlier this year, I went to the exercise room bright and early and got on the elliptical.  While I was busting my ass on that thing, I watched a woman who was on a recumbent exercise bike.  She was laid back haphazardly pedaling while reading a paperback book.  Now if she put into a calculator that she rode an exercise bike for 30 minutes, how would the calculator know that she was lazily pedaling versus someone who was going balls to the wall on the thing?  

So what is the closest you can get to accurately knowing how many calories you burned?  A watch with a heart rate monitor.  The ones with a chest strap are BY FAR the most accurate way to measure your heart rate and, in turn, calories burned.  That will give you a decent idea of what you are burning.  And I hate to tell you, but it's probably going to be lower than you would like to see.

Another thing that people don't consider when they are taking into account their exercise is their Basal Metabolic Rate.  Your BMR is the amount of calories you burn just by being alive.  So my BMR is about 1200 calories.  That's how much I would burn in a day if I laid in bed and did NOTHING.  That's 50 calories per hour.  So, for example, today I went out and ran at lunch.  My heart rate monitor tells me that I burned 595 calories on my run.  But automatically I have to deduct 50 from this because I would have burned that if I sat here at my desk and didn't move.  If I was even puttering around, that would probably burn an addictional 50 calories, right?  So really I only "burned" 495 calories.

See how this gets tricky?

So, the bottom line is that you should not be strictly eating back your calories.  With that being said, if you did a particularly hard and intense workout, you should not be afraid to eat a little more.  For example, I ran 17 miles on Sunday.  My heart rate monitor showed that I burned 1465 calories during that run which took me 2 hours and 23 minutes.  I ate about 400-500 calories more than normal that day to compensate.  But not 1400 more, FOR SURE.

The bottom line is that exercise is GREAT for you.  It will increase your fitness.  You will look better at the same weight as someone who doesn't work out.  You WILL burn calories.  But don't go for an hour walk and expect to come home and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's and call it even.  No way.  You won't lose weight that way!


Monday, October 28, 2013

The wrong "J" word...

Not too long ago I was sitting at a morning meeting next to a woman who works in another office but comes over every week for the meeting.  Someone had brought in a couple bags of Hershey's Kisses that day and most people at the table were indulging.

If you know me, you would know that chocolate and candy is relatively easy for me to say "no" to.  I crave breads and those type of things.  Candies and chocolate have never been my downfall.  So it wasn't that hard to refuse those candies.  

But this woman who was sitting next to me had several kisses while the meeting was going on.  And I was watching her because she is not heavy at all.  And she is a relatively new runner who was, at the time, training for a 1/2 marathon.  And I just wondered in my head how she could so easily just grab those candies and eat them like it was nothing.  She wanted them and so she had them!

I remember those days.  When and if I wanted a snack I just grabbed it without thinking.  Without question.  Without wondering what others would think.

So the meeting wraps up and people are starting to leave and she grabs a couple more kisses "for the road".  And I must have been STARING at her because she looks over at me and says "I feel like you are judging me!"  I was taken aback because I hadn't even really realized that I was watching her to the point that she noticed.  

After a second I said "You're confusing JEALOUSY with JUDGEMENT!"  And we both laughed it off.

But it was totally true.  I wasn't watching her eat those candies with judgemental distain.  I was wondering how someone who was not overweight could just decide to eat a whole bunch of chocolate without reservation.  Without self-doubt and recriminations.

It is hard for me living with Marc, sometimes.  As a guy he burns off many more calories then I do with the same workouts.  And he builds muscle a lot easier.  And he is, like me, a carb freak!  He eats SO MUCH bread.  On Saturday we were making lunch and he had a can of Chunky's Chicken Corn Chowder and a big-ass BAGEL.  That was, in my other life, a lunch that dreams are MADE of.  I had my grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich on a 90 calorie wrap - which is my Saturday treat meal.  And I was so jealous of him being able to eat that soup and bagel.

Kind of pathetic.  But so true.  I mentioned that I ran 17 miles yesterday?  I'm not kidding people - I like to challenge myself, but part of the reason I took the loop that takes me an extra 3 miles is so that I could have a wonderful, beautiful bagel for lunch without guilt.  Which I enjoyed IMMENSELY.    

The bottom line is that it is a choice.  I can either eat like I want to - and like some people do - OR I can be thin.  I can't be both, period.  Such was not my lot in life.  So I say to myself "Tough shit, princess!  It is what is is, so stop feeling sorry for yourself!"  Yup, I'll say that to myself.  But I will still stare at those eating with what appears to be freedom....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An interesting place to be....

I find myself in an interesting place mentally.  It wasn't long ago when the scale was causing me FITS.  And then I got up today and the scale read 121.1 and I was almost....indifferent.  Throughout my journey Sunday has always been my lowest weight day and this is way high - by like 4 pounds.  But - to make excuses - I've found that since my mileage is increasing on my runs I have to eat a lot on Saturdays to run Sunday morning or I totally crash.

Last night a woman on the weight loss site linked to this article:

It is an article about a woman who lost a lot of weight but is - to quote her - "living in a crazy making food prison".  My first thought was how sorry I felt for her.  And then I realized that she is singing MY SONG!  There was also a certain relief in the fact that I am not the only one living in this mental Crazytown.  But in someone else, I could see how NUTS this type of thinking is.

In the article they talk about a study done by the University of North Carolina.  They found that a mere 12% of middle age women are satisfied with their bodies.  And for those women who have lost a lot of weight?   
“You find these people are incredibly vigilant about maintaining their weight...Years later they are paying attention to every calorie, spending an hour a day on exercise. They never don’t think about their weight.”
UG!!!  Seriously?  I had high hopes that after some time in maintenance this unhealthy fixation would dramatically fade.  But this study indicates YEARS later the obsession continues.  

So the indifference to seeing 121.1 on the scale this morning?  I'm going to go ahead and call that a very good thing.

I had Marc take a picture of my abs the other night.

 Yeah, the stretch marks are gross.  But I can ALMOST see a 2 pack there!  Do you think when I started this journey I was thinking about ABS showing?  Fuck no!  I was thinking about weighing less then 300 fucking pounds.   I was thinking I would be the happiest goddamn person on EARTH if I ever weighed less then Marc!!!

So why isn't it good enough now?

I ran 17 miles this morning - 17 MOTHERFUCKING MILES STRAIGHT!  In  LESS THAN 2 HOURS AND 30 MINUTES.  At 41 YEARS OLD.  At age 17 I couldn't run 1 mile straight.   

So today I will celebrate my accomplishments and not the scale number.  Just for today.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recipe: Pork, apple, sweet potato casserole

I LOVE this easy casserole this time of year!

1) Preheat over to 350.

2) Cut up a sweet potato into 1" chunks.

And then place the chunks into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam.

3) Cut up 2 large apples into 1" chunks.

Throw those on top of the sweet potatoes.

4) Sprinkle some Cinnamon and Brown sugar over the top.

5) Take some boneless pork and season with salt, pepper and sage.

 6) Wrap the pork in aluminum foil and place on top of the sweet potatoes and apples.

 7) Add 1/4 cup boiling water and place in dish in the oven.

8) Cook for 2 hours.


Friday, October 25, 2013

I am an addict!!!

Nope!  This is not what you think!  I have become addicted to.....CLOTHES!!

Yup.  I used to hate hate hate shopping for clothes.  Of course, at some point I had become so fat that most of my clothes were bought off of the internet because I couldn't find my size in stores.  And most things didn't fit right because despite my HUGE stomach and lower half, my boobs have always been small.  So, if I bought a suit or set, things HUNG on top and were tight on bottom.

So for the most part now I am wearing an extra small.  And that means that my size is on sale a lot.  It is such a stupid way to think, but if I can get a dress that was once $70 for $8 I feel like I HAVE to buy it!

I don't really need any more new clothes - I've gotten fantastic clothes from my aunt, my sister in law, and Marc's niece that they no longer need/want.  But I see these deals and I MUST buy them!!  

[Enter JUSTIFY mode] - I have 3 dresses coming from Kohl's.  Between the markdowns and the 30% off coupon, I paid $25.00 saving $190.00!!  I mean - who could turn that down??


Any other shopping addicts out there?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Born to be fat....

I see a lot of discussions on the weight loss forums that I am on about why people are fat.  Basically a "whose fault is it" type query.  It is always an interesting discussion.  There are a lot of differing opinions that are always interesting to read and most interesting to me is the take depending on whether someone was thin for most of their life and then gained versus those of us that have always been fat.

I was talking to Jessie about this the other day.  I told her that I firmly believe that I am destined to be fat.  I've always been fat.  I still think and act like a fat person.  But I am choosing to live outside of my "destiny".  The same way that we both agreed that she was destined to be an alcoholic.  She is just an alcoholic that isn't drinking.  

This debate is repeated a lot in the field of alcohol and drug addiction.  Whether these are truly "diseases" and whether it is destiny for someone to be the way they are.  Of course, as a counselor, I have always had an answer to this.  "If addiction IS a disease, the only way to live a healthy life is without using.  And if addiction is NOT a disease, but you are addicted, the only way to live a healthy life is not using."  Pretty simple.  

But when we are talking about food and weight, we can't just not use.  We essentially have to learn moderation.  Which I would NEVER advocate for the drug addicted client, yet I have to practice it daily. 

I could point to reasons that I ended up obese.  Some evidence shows that female children of male alcoholics have eating disorders.  And there are events in my childhood that could have led me down a certain path.  Combine this with the ever-growing mountain of evidence about high fructose corn syrup and fast food and sedentary lifestyles - no wonder I was fat right?  Oh, except my brother ISN'T.

So that helps my argument that I was BORN to be FAT.  I think someday scientists much smarter then me will locate "addiction" in the brain.  A little spot that they can then begin targeting for extinction.  But it ain't gonna happen for you and I.  Nope - we're going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

So regardless of why we traveled this path we either CHOOSE to do something about it or we don't.  How we got here may be a mystery.  But how to LEAVE?  Hard fucking work.  Tears and anger and frustration and desperation.  But mysterious?  Nope.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The goal of today's post is to gross you right the fuck out!  So, if you are squeamish or don't like gross things, I would highly suggest that you skip today's post.  

Are you still here?

Ok, don't say I didn't warn you!

So - I'm not a foot person.  But I wear sandals as soon as it gets warm until it's just too damn cold so I have always tried to keep my feet nice.  That becomes EXCEEDINGLY difficult as a runner.  Runners don't tend to have nice feet.

AND have you heard that runners often lose their toenails when they start upping distance?  Yup.  In fact, some people say you aren't a "real" runner until you've lost a toe nail.  

A couple months ago my one toe started really bothering me after runs.  It is a nail that has always kind of pointed up.  And then, while inspecting it, I noticed there was something that appeared to be a cut on top.  I thought it was a cut and that's why it hurt, but turns out that it was a hole my body created to release pus from my nail getting ripped up and subsequently dying.

For at least 2 weeks, this toe just KILLED me.  And you can see the little hole at the tip?  I would squeeze the toe and pus would actually BUBBLE out.  It was disgusting and incredibly painful!  

And then the toenail died and a new one started to grow up under it.  The top one turned black.  Fortunately, the pain completely goes away at this point.  

See the black?  The toenail is attached at the base, but otherwise pulls right up at this point.

And then this week it kept catching and so I detached the whole thing.  

There it is!  My pretty, painted, removed toenail.

The toenail underneath is NOT pretty.  At all.  It is thin and wrinkly.

But, where it is growing at the base it is thicker and more healthy looking.

So two good things - we are now headed out of sandal season so it has time to grow in.  AND it appears to be adhered to the bottom skin which it hasn't been for as long as I can remember.  So hopefully that means that it will stay that way and this won't happen again!

Ok, were you grossed out?  Because Marc is really disgusted by this whole thing.  And, sickly, that kind of makes me happy!  LOL


Monday, October 21, 2013

Be careful what you wish for!

Because you just might get it!!

My life is so much better now that I've lost weight.  Better in more ways then I can possibly describe.  There isn't a part of my world - from physical to emotional to social - that hasn't been totally transformed for the positive.  So there is no way that I would ever go back to that life.

But it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge some of the more difficult aspects that this journey has taken me on.  In some ways me life was so much easier when I was Fat Jen.  

I thought about this today as I debated what my lunch hour would bring.  I had brought a DVD in this morning for my lunch workout.  But it was relatively nice out today - and the rest of the week is supposed to be crappy, so I thought that I might get a walk in - and then I wouldn't have to change my clothes, just throw on some sneaks.  And I had a movie that we rented last night that needed to be returned to Redbox and I would walk past a kiosk and could drop it off.  But it was a little chilly, and very windy and I hadn't worn a coat.

So as the debate in my tiny little brain raged on, I thought about what the debates in my head used to be about.  They weren't about maximizing my lunch hour for fitness, that's for sure.  I would have no more then arrived at work and where I would eat for lunch became the focus.  Who I would go with and at which  crappy ass, unhealthy chain restaurant I would be stuffing my face took center stage.  With the plans made, morning was a countdown to going.  And if there was food lying around at work - pre-packaged brownies or cakes - I'd eat them with delight.  Certainly there was nothing healthy about this but it was...simpler.

Then I would get home to plop myself in front of the computer until Marc finally decided he would make dinner.  Every night involved him sighing and saying that he didn't know what to make.  And I would tell him that anything was fine.  And so we would have a bland piece of meat (neither of us seasoned things back then for the most part), usually potatoes, and then we'd boil whatever frozen vegetable he pulled out.  Often there would be white bread/a roll slathered in butter eaten with the meal.  And, of course, some highly processed cookies for dessert.  

I didn't plan my meals the night before and try to make them varied and healthy.  I didn't think a thing about calories or protein and carb counts.  I just ate - a lot.  Evening was more sitting around, usually at the computer, until prime time hit.  And then it was time to watch TV with a soda.  And often microwave popcorn.

Weekends I would sleep until at least 10:30 and would haul myself out of bed and use the computer until I would shower and eat lunch.  Afternoons brought us going to the mall and wandering aimlessly around.  If we were feeling really, really ambitious, some weekends we would take the dogs some place and walk with them.  No more then a couple of miles.  

Looking back it's hard to believe that this really was my life.  It is so foreign to how I live now.  There are days when I have been HIGHLY stressed at work.  So I come home and begin unpacking the workout clothes from today, packing up the duffle bag for tomorrow and picking out tomorrow's outfit.  That is followed by working out.  As soon as that is done it's time to prepare dinner.  After eating it's time to pick out tomorrow's breakfast and dinner and to prepare and pack tomorrow's lunch.  Then there are the inevitable chores that need to be done.  Some days I feel like I can't possibly accomplish what I need to.

And weekends?  Well they are pretty full.  In fact yesterday was the most restful day I've had in a long time. I started the day with a 15 mile run and then pretty much vegged watching football the rest of the day.  It will not surprise anyone who has followed my blog for a while to know that I felt really guilty about not doing something more productive in the afternoon!  So I was mad at myself by bedtime.

All the things that I do now are designed to make sure that I am as healthy and fit as I can be.  That's a good thing!  And how Marc and I used to live?  Well, that's what made me incredibly obese.  But you can see that life was simpler.  Sometimes I think that I should incorporate a little of the old life into my new one.  Like chilling out once and a while without guilt.  Or eating something "naughty" without overanalyzing it.  Not daily like in my old life, but once and a while. 

What's the point of making huge, revolutionary changes if you can't enjoy them?  Sometimes I fear I can't see the forest for the trees, you know?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

No fear!

Marc and I watched the movie "After Earth" last night.  To be honest, the movie was not all that great.  But Will Smith - who is, in my opinion, a masterful actor - had a speech about 3/4 into the movie that really resonated with me.  He said - to his son that was facing danger:

"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice." 

Wow!  How true is that?  There are many things that hold us back in life, but one of them is our fear.  Fear steals dreams.  Fear makes us stagnant.

This week I was talking to a co-worker who is running her first half marathon this weekend.  The longest she has ever run is 10 miles and she said that she was scared.  I asked her what is the absolute WORST thing that could happen.  She said that she would have to walk some of it.  And I said "Yup!"  And she said that she did not WANT to walk any of it.  And I said "But if that's the worst thing that can happen - that's not so bad!!"

Some people say they are afraid to lose weight because of a variety of reasons - fear of attention from men, fear of extra skin, fear of jealousy by a spouse or relatives.  People are afraid to start at the gym because they will "look silly" or they are afraid to go to Zumba class because they are afraid they will be the "fattest" person in the room.

And how about bigger dreams?  How about starting a family or climbing a mountain or traveling to a foreign country?  

Is fear holding you back?  Are you not achieving your dreams because of something - as this speech said - of something that does not exist at present and may not ever exist.

Don't let fear hold you back.  Change is scary.  Pushing outside your comfort limits can open a whole world of good and bad.  But just think of what COULD BE.  So hit the gym, join that dating website, try squid, wear the skirt to work that you are afraid is too short.  NO FEAR. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lather, rinse, repeat...

That's a bit how I've been feeling.  I wouldn't exactly say that I am stuck in a rut, but I'm kind of feeling like - so....what's next?

I have devoted the last 3.5 years of my life to thinking about my weight constantly and what I need to do to lose and then maintain it.  That is combined with my fitness goals of running and weight lifting.  And I feel a little like I don't know where to go from here.

It's not a sad thing - there is a certain peace and safety having a routine.  But as we were working out this morning I was thinking that I was starting Saturday like I do most Saturdays - being in our workout room and working my lats, delts and biceps.  I'm pretty happy with my muscles - I have no desire to get much bigger and it would take a devotion that I'm not willing to commit to - like upping calories, counting macros and decreasing cardio.

And speaking of running?  It's going well.  I feel good running more days then not.  I am able to cover long distances on Sunday.  I have no desire to put in the training time to run a marathon.  I could probably do it if I wanted to devote the time and hours but I don't.  I could get faster probably if I started doing hill runs and speedwork, but I HATTTTEEE speedwork and feel no pressing desire to get much faster.  I'm not and will never be a competitive runner.

And my weight?  Holding pretty steady at 119-120.  Reallllllly steady.  And that's a couple of pounds higher then I would like.  But right this minute I don't have the desire to buckle down just to lose a couple of pounds.

So it's just kind of - here we are....  I'm not sure whether I should enjoy the complacency I feel at the moment or if I should be scared of it.  Complacency can by incredibly dangerous.  And is complacency really the right word to use here? 
But after 3 years of driving and questioning and intense emotional upheaval, maybe I should just chill out and let it take its course.

OR, maybe I need some new life goals....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spot Reduction....

I get asked all the time - "How do I get rid of my belly?" or "I need you to give me exercises to get rid of these 'bat wings'!" or "How do I keep my boobs while losing weight elsewhere?"

Here it is people - YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE.  I repeat YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE, PERIOD.  So all these fad diets or fad pills that tell you that you can burn all the fat off your stomach or ass or that you can do 12 sit-up per night and have a 6 pack abs are completely 100% false.

Where you gain and lose weight on your body is not your choice.  It is determined largely by genetics.  If you were once thin, think about where it first started showing up when you started gaining weight.  That's the last place you will lose it from.  Where it most recently started being noticeable will be the first place that it goes as you lose weight.

And weight loss primarily comes from eating less.  Have you ever heard the phrase "Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym!"?  Totally true.

Now I've spoken millions of times about the benfits of exercise.  And here's what exercise can do - it can tone up the muscle so that things look better under the fat.  But if you have excess fat, you are still going to have a tummy and bat wings no matter how many exercises you do.  You can do every ab exercise in the book and it will not give you a toned tummy if you have excess body fat.

Yup, it sucks.  And you can't hold on to your wonderful boobies if that's where your body wants to lose it.  Boobs are mostly fat tissue so for most women when they start losing weight those babies are the first to go.  In contrast, we have genetically evolved as women to hold fat in our abdomen.  So usually that is the last place you will lose weight.  

Some people are thin but with chubby cheeks, some people are fat but have almost no "bat wings" (that was me), some people are hourglass shaped proportionally at every size and some people are pears even when they are thin.  Then add in extra skin and you never know what you are going to look like until you get there.

So rather then worry about certain body parts, you should get your weight to a level where you are happy and work on exercising for overall fitness.  Be happy with the body you end up with - it's not going to be perfect from your point of view - but it's going to be pretty great!

NOT from spot reduction


Thursday, October 17, 2013

My friend Jessie....

Jessie came to work with me a few years ago.  I hated her right off the bat.  First off, she had been transferred here from another department and wasn't happy about it.  So her attitude wasn't outstanding.  But most importantly she was young and thin and incredibly beautiful.  So I was really jealous of her.

Jessie made some bad choices - some work related and some personal life related in the first few months that I knew her.  Some mistakes were those often made by young people in the workplace.  Other mistakes were made from her battling demons that I didn't know about at the time.  And those choices made it very easy for me to judge her, in the snotty ass way that I was so good at.  And judge her, I did.  We were polite and respectful to one another, but I tried my best to have my voice dripping with contempt every time we spoke.  Real mature, right?

Jessie's bad choices continued for a while and she formed a close bond with another person at work that enabled and reinforced some of her inappropriate and dangerous behavior.  I thought that she might start spiraling completely out of control, but she wasn't my problem, right?  And so, we all went on with our lives.

I started my weight loss attempts and Jessie made sure to compliment me.  But I didn't believe that she was being "real".  My whole life I have always gotten along better with men and have had a tougher time bonding with women. So I didn't trust her motives or that she was being sincere.  

And then Jessie hit a crisis point.  She was dumped by the work friend in a nasty way over some of her choices, and I could tell that she was floundering.  I still judged her some, and distrusted her as well, but my heart couldn't help but go out to her and my gut told me that there was more to the story.  I had suspected that she had a drinking problem, and we had even talked about her drinking a few times, but she always downplayed it.

Before long another crisis hit and Jessie almost lost everything.  One of the people she came to for help, understanding and support, was me.  She confessed that she did have a drinking problem and that it had driven her to behaviors that could have destroyed everything that she had worked for personally and professionally.  

I was surprised that she came to me and was acknowledging her problem.  But I was also "on guard".  She made promises of changes which I was skeptical of.  I wanted to help her, but I didn't want to get caught up in what I perceived as her self-induced drama, either.  But I made a conscious decision to open my heart and mind to her.  

Much to my delight and surprise, I got to bear witness to a total transformation.  Over the next few months, Jessie "grew up".  She became a more focused and calm person.  She buckled down and through hard work and lots of tears became a new person.  She got married and, while she had always been a good mom, she became a better one.  Sobriety and her family took priority in her life.  

As all this happened, I was in the midst of my own journey and I began to see how much we had in common, emotionally and mentally.  Not the least of which was us both being crazy!  I've talked before about the commonality that recovery from alcohol and drug addiction has with recovery from obesity and it came into play in our daily discussions.     

Jessie has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.  No matter what has been going on in her life, she has always found time to be there for me.  She was one of the few people that stopped to see me after my skin removal surgery.  She is always there for a hug when I get into my "funks" and doesn't judge me for feeling what I feel - even when it's nuts.  And, happily, I am able to return the favor.

So, over the last few couple years of life changes, which includes having two babies, Jessie has seen her weight increase where she is not happy about how she looks or the way she feels.  And so she has embarked on a quest to lose the weight.  All while being a mother, a wife, battling some health issues and working full time.  Not to mention whole-heartedly taking the concept of giving back that they talk about in Alcoholics Anonymous to heart.  As if there was not enough on her plate, Jessie is now someone's sponsor!  

Jess is not obese - hell, she's just barely into the "overweight" category.  She's already down several pounds since September.  But when she gets her weight back down to where she's happy, no one is going to refer to her change as "amazing" or "inspiring".  But from where I stand, her journey is, in some ways, way more impressive then mine.  She is a perfect example of why NO ONE has an excuse not to make the changes if they really want something.

So Jessie, keep up the good work and be proud of all that you have accomplished - you deserve more recognition then you will ever get!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Throw out the scale...

I can't tell you how many times someone has said this to me.  This tends to come from really fit women advising that scale numbers don't tell the whole story.  And of course, they don't.  But as someone who was once morbidly obese I don't think I'll ever quite get away from weighing myself and evaluating how I am doing by that number.  

A psychiatrist that I used to work with told me that he never weighed himself he just went by how his pants fit.  If he found them getting tight he would cut back on food and up his exercise.  Of course, he was morbidly obese so his words didn't have a lot of "cred" behind them if you know what I mean.

That being said, numbers, or even size, can't tell you how healthy a person is, can it?  My sophomore year of college I had a sociology professor who weighed close to 400 pounds.  He was in his 40's - a flaming liberal hippie sort and was a vegetarian.  I remember halfway though the semester he told us that he had gone to the doctor's and gotten his blood drawn.  A few days later the doctor called and said that there was a problem and he needed to come in.  This professor went in and found out that the doctor wanted him to have his blood drawn and re-tested because everything was normal.  

Yup - cholesterol, insulin, kidney fuction - all within normal limits.  But the doctor couldn't accept that the numbers were right because of his weight.

Yesterday I was running and passed this couple.  The female was probably in her early 30's and was smoking a cigarette.  And she was positively scrawny.  She was a couple of inches taller then me and I would guesstimate her weight at around 100 pounds.  And I thought to myself - would you want to look like that?  Of course the answer was no way.  And even with the issues that I have, I can't believe that she is healthier then I am.

This weekend I had to stop at Kohl's and make a payment and I decided to look around on their clearance racks.  I grabbed a bunch of stuff to try on and when I went into the dressing room I pulled on these adorable capris - originally $44, marked down to $6.50 and I had a 20% off coupon.  Hell yes I thought.  

I stepped on the scale today and it was above 120.  You know how I feel about that!  I had laid out these new capris and went to rip off the tags to get dressed and realized they were a size 0 petite.  And I laughed at myself for being mad about the scale this morning.  It made me feel a little ridiculous.

People are RIGHT.  The scale is NOT the be all and end all determiner of someone's health or fitness.  And neither is pants size.  So PLEASE try not to be like me, I'm begging you.  Look at your overall health and wellness.  You can be incredibly fit and healthy at many, many sizes.  Getting caught up completely in a scale number is STUPID.  I know that intellectually and am working on getting there emotionally.  

Even if you "need" to lose some more weight, look at where you came from.  Respect yourself.  Honor your achievements.  Give yourself a break!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bitches and bullies....

We have all encountered them, right?  It's usually women who are the bitches and men that are the bullies.  They tend to show up in force in middle school into high school.

The stereotype for women in high school is the pretty, thin, cheerleader type.  I don't know about your high school, but that wasn't exclusively the case at mine.  I was not thin, not pretty, and definitely not a cheerleader.  But I could be a royal bitch back then.  And I LOVED it.   Or at least I thought I did.

With all the attention in the media lately about bullying, and its sometimes catastrophic aftermath, there have been tons of psychologists and other experts talking about WHY kids bully others and how it can be stopped.  The consensus seems to be that kids bully when they feel out of control, or they are being bullied themselves at home.

Let me say that I think the answer is far, far more complex then that.  And at the risk of being attacked for saying this - some forms of what we now call bullying are normal and even healthy adolescent behavior.  Not where it gets to the point of torturing someone so badly they can't even function, but some of the more mild forms of bullying is completely appropriate for that age group.

But what we see now, and I have recently experienced, is GROWN ASS ADULTS acting like bullies and being passive agressive bitches.  This seems to happen more and more as people get caught up in "virtual lives".  I can't tell you how it shocks me some of the comments made on Facebook.  Do people forget that there are real people behind the names that you see?  

It really becomes pathetic and sad.  

I believe that this weight loss journey has made me a better person.  I used to take actual PRIDE in being a bitch.  I wore it as a emblem, almost.  If I was to analyze the old me, I would have to say that because I was so unhappy with who I was as a person I would relish in the power I had to hurt people or control the world with my words.

I am delighted to say that I am not that person today.  I find myself more compassionate, more understanding.  That doesn't mean I'm a doormat - I stand up for myself when needed.  But I don't need to cut someone down in order to bring myself up.  And when your life is full and complete you just don't have time to get caught up in the DRAMA that some people - yes, even those people that are supposed to be adults - seem to revel in.

Don't get me wrong - the bitchy and snarky Jen is alive and well in me.  But like Fat Jen, I strive every day to keep her under control.  I don't want to be that person today.  I want to make other people feel GOOD about their lives, not miserable.  Who wins when other people feel badly about themselves?  NO ONE.

So I challenge you to be the better person.  What can you say to someone today to lift them up and make them feel good about their lives.  And, like your mother always said, "If you can't say [or type] something nice, shut the fuck up!"  Ok, maybe that's not the phrase... ;))

Monday, October 14, 2013

I thought I had found it!!

As you guys know I started running - BADLY - on a treadmill in November 2010.  I hated it then.  Of course I hated any and all forms of exercise.  In fact, the only exercise that I can ever remember enjoying is actually racquetball.  I am naturally good at that for some reason and I like the competition part of it.

Anyway, I finally tried running outside in May of 2011.  I found a place near where I work that was relatively quiet and ran a section that was 1/4 mile long.  When I was able to run a mile straight it obviously involved me running up and down and up and down.

I did that for a while, because I was so certain I looked so terrible and didn't want many people to see me.  Eventually I got brave and began running around the City.  I worked my way up and began to do a three mile loop in an hour.  Eventually I could do that loop without walking any of it.

Since that time I have obviously increased mileage and have become a "runner".  My longest distance was a week ago when I ran 17 miles straight.  I have run multiple races and have even come in first in a couple.  The feeling after finishing a race is glorious.  The mixture of pride and accomplishment!

I've had runs where I couldn't wait to get out the door.  But more often then not I have to push myself to get started.  I've had spectacular runs where I felt light and free.  I've had terrible runs where everything hurt.  I've had runs where several miles have flashed by and several runs where I thought I had run 5 miles and I was actually only on mile 2.

What I have NEVER experienced is....... THE RUNNER'S HIGH.  Nope.  I have a friend who used to run in high school and she has experienced the runner's high.  I asked her what it feels like.  She said that it felt like she was airborne and that she could just run forever.   There are lots of websites out there describing the runner's high and attempting to explain what happens neurologically when someone gets that high.  And then you can read runner's descriptions of what it feels like.

But me?  I've never had anything close to what is described by people as a high.

Yesterday I was NOT feeling like doing a run.  Sunday is usually the day that I do a long run.  And I DID NOT want to run.  I wanted to stay in bed.  Finally I convinced myself to get out there.  It was a gorgeous fall day and pretty soon I'll be driven inside and will totally regret it if I don't take advantage of the weather while it is nice.

So out I went and I could tell right away that this was not going to be one of my best runs.  I made a bargain with myself to run only 13 miles.  Around the end of mile 5 something happened.  The air felt beautiful and crisp.  I was running along and everything felt really good.  I started feeling...something really different...and wondered if maybe I was actually going to get a runner's high!  I made it through mile 6.5 before that feeling just went away.  I can't say that it was what other people described, but there was a "second wind" type feeling that I wished I could hold on to.

I ended up running 15 miles - hoping the feeling would come back, but it didn't.  I wonder if I will ever feel it.

Anyone out there ever get the runner's high?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's soooooo easy!

I'm not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted!  Yesterday I had to go to another department in the building that I work in.  And while I was hanging out in a room waiting for what I needed, I overheard 2 people talking about my weight loss.

They should have known that I could hear them - I mean they saw me go in the room that was right there.  But you know - some people are clueless.

At any rate it started out very complimentary.  They were talking about how great I look and what a transformation I had made - etc. But then one of them made a comment about me being "lucky" because it was really easy for me.  

Easy?  In what universe?

The one continued on about how I go out and run at lunch and that I'm not even that sweaty when I get back, and it must be nice.  

Um...hello?  Do you think every day I wake up like Snow White and have Bluebirds fly around and place a sash on my body and sprinkle motivation dust??  I mean, come on!  There is NOTHING easy about this journey.  

There is an AWESOME pizza place about 1 block from where I work.  Genuine greasy NY pizza.  It's TO DIE for.  Every single time I run I pass it.  TWICE.  You know the last time I had a piece of that mouth watering good pizza?  2010.  That's right!  Over 3 years ago.

I WISH that I could tell you that this journey is easy.  I wish I could say that every single day I throw on my workout clothes and dash out the door in joy.  And that when I get back and start eating my healthy lunch that I'm THRILLED and don't even think about that pizza place.

But that would be a lie.  Most times I would love to spend my lunch hour with some friends and some greasy ass pizza.  But I CHOOSE to live a different life today.  Because overall I'm happier now.  And I'm certainly healthier.  That outweighs (no pun intended) the taste of really great pizza.

But easy for me?  No way!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Living the dream...

Yesterday I ran into a former client from my program.  She graduated successfully from the program a few years ago, but unfortunately fell back into active alcoholism.  However, a couple of years ago she managed to get herself back together and got back into recovery.  She now has a very successful life - married a good guy, graduated from college - and was just hired at the substance abuse agency where she used to be a client.

She looks fantastic and sounded SO happy and proud of herself as we were talking.  She said to me that she finally feels like she is living her dream.  I had just finished running when I ran into her.  She pointed at me and said "You must feel like you're living your dream, too!!"

As a matter of fact, yes, I am living my dream!  But it is so easy to forget that!  When I was fat I used to play the head games with myself like so many of us do.  I would ask myself what would I sacrifice to have someone wave a magic wand and make me thin?  

Would I sacrifice my job?  My home?  If someone could make me instantly thin, would I give up my left arm for that to happen?  Sometimes I thought that losing a limb would be TOTALLY worth it.

Turns out I didn't need a magic wand.  And while I've made tremedous sacrifices on this journey, they weren't nearly as dramatic as giving up a body part!  All I needed to do was get my ass in gear and make it happen.  

And I achieved something I dreamed my whole life about!  If someone was to tell me back then that someday I'd be having a meltdown because the scale was up to 125, like last week, I would have told them they were frigging crazy!!  I would have LOVED to have seen the number 125 on the scale at that time.  Hell, I would have LOVED to have seen 199!  

So I sit here today with the reality that I am living a life that I always desired!  Things aren't perfect.  But overall this is a life I used to dream about, and it's pretty fucking great that I get to experience it.  

It took a LOT to get here.  But it has been totally worth it.  I have other dreams, other desires, and since I was able to make this dream happen, I can make just about anything happen, right?  So what are you doing to make you dreams come true today?  How much work are you putting into living the life you have only fantisized about?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Since fall is here in force I decided it was time to update my avatar on places like Facebook.  So I had Marc take a pic of me before I left for work this morning:

And I think I'm making progress because I didn't completely hate how I looked.  Now don't get me wrong - my first reaction was that I NOT attractive.  And then I lamented the gross extra skin on my thighs.  And I wished I had bigger boobs and wasn't so SQUARE.

But after a quick review of what I hated, I decided the picture wasn't TERRIBLEWhen I see pictures like this I wish that I could step outside myself and see what I look like from other people's eyes - do they see the imperfections that I do?  Probably not.  I mean I don't go around analyzing other people to the minute detail.  And I personally tend to look for attractive things about them - like great hair or eyes.

In all my drama about the cholesterol, I didn't mention that the doc and I also talked about my weight.  He asked if I was still trying to lose weight.  I told him I was trying to maintain between 115-119 but that my body really seems to like a range of 118-122.  He asked me why I felt that I needed to be in "the teens" and being in the 120's "perfectly fine".  He also told me what I already knew - that you can't use BMI to determine a healthy weight on someone who is "as muscular as you", because a BMI calculator "can't account for muscle mass".

So today Marc and I went for a walk and I decided that I don't want to let the scale define ME any more.  That's the decision I made today - you and I both know it won't last, though, right?  Because I've made those promises to myself before. 

And then today I read posts on the weight loss site I'm on from women - smart, attractive, skilled, women who HATE themselves for weighing 5 pounds above their "red line".  I don't want to be that person any more.  It wasn't fair that many others defined me as a "lazy slob" when I was fat - because I was SO MUCH MORE then that.  And it's not fair for me to define myself as a "fat pig" because I weigh 125 instead of 117, right?  

 P.S.  For the fellow cheapskates out there - I got the skirt I am wearing in the pic from a garage sale.  It looks like it was never worn.  It was 50 cents!!!!  SCORE!!!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Serenity now!

So I had pretty much steeled myself to fall back into one of depressed/black moods after yesterday's doctor's appointment.  I didn't sleep that well last night and was restless and found it hard to focus this morning.  I kept having debates in my head - from the histroinic "THIS IS SO HORRIBLE" voice to the "Stop it!  It's not that bad!" more reasonable voice.

Late this morning I thought of something I tell clients ALL THE TIME when they are on their recovery journey.  I say to them "All you can do is what you can do..."  And that is true for this situation, right?

I have the power to give up or keep at it.  I have the power to exercise.  I have the power to eat right.  I have the power to keep my weight at a reasonable level.  I do not have the power to change my genetics.  I do not have the power to go back in time and be fit and healthy my whole life.  It's pretty basic when you think of it that way.

Whining, crying, feeling sorry for myself, getting angry.  Those are all valid feelings for me to have, I think.  But they won't change anything.  Saying that I don't deserve any adversity in my life doesn't remove it.

So at lunch I threw on my running clothes and headed out the door.  And while I was running I felt almost....serene.  An acceptance and peace just came over me.  

Now in 6 months if my levels are still high and the doctor insists I take meds?  Well, I can't promise that I will accept it.  And I certainly can't promise I'll be serene!

BUT, just for today, I'm going to choose optimism.  I'm going to choose not to give up.  All I can do is what I can do.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A kick straight in the face...

I didn't share this with you guys because it was just so upsetting and with everything else going on with my meltdown....

So right before Marc and I went to PA, I got my blood drawn again to have my cholesterol levels re-checked.  I was CERTAIN that they had to have come down.  I was oh so wrong.  I received the call while Marc and I were out hiking and the news almost ruined the vacation for me.  

While my high cholesterol went UP - a good thing - my overall cholesterol and my LDL or bad cholesterol were still too high.  The doctor said that I needed to come in and we would talk medication.

I was instantly resistant.  I did a bunch of reading and researched cholesterol.  Because my ratios are really good I thought that there is no way most docs would recommend medication.  But I made an appointment for a second opinion.  I was POSITIVE another doctor would agree with my decision. 

I went to the other doctor today.  First off, I really liked him and trusted him IMMEDIATELY.  He is of middle eastern descent, and was really caring and kind and spent a LOT of time talking to me and processing several issues.

Basically he said that since I am over 40 - with my family history the LDL is really concerning to him.  He said that yes, medication is indeed in order.  I almost started crying.  Do you know how many mother fucking side effect those statin drugs have?   

Because of my resistance to taking those drugs AND because my ratio levels are so good, he said that we can give it 6 months.  I am going to take Red Yeast Rice  a natural supplement.  He said that he has seen this really work for some people and hopefully it will for me.  

I asked him if there was anything else I could and should do.  He smiled and said that I am doing absolutely everything that I can do, and that, basically, my genes just suck ass.  He didn't use those words of course, but that was the gist of it.

Driving home I went through a lot of emotions.  From the total and complete FUCKIT FUCKIT FUCKIT - I've done all this for NOTHING!!! Then I was actually ANGRY at my dead father and grandfather.  Stupid, right?

I feel so horrible right now - just as I was starting to get back on my feet.  I want to scream that it's not fair.  I realize that in terms of bad health news - this is not the end of the world - not by a long shot.  But to do everything right and still get kicked in the teeth........?