Wednesday, March 31, 2010

South Pacific at the Walton Arts Center

This week, the Walton Arts Center brought the touring company of South Pacific to Northwest Arkansas. If you don't have tickets, snatch some up today as they are close to sold out. (Even if you are told they are sold out, be sure to keep checking back with the box office as subscribers can return their tickets up until 24 hours before show time...the ones that get returned are usually REALLY GOOD seats! Be persistent!!)

As I mentioned, I won a contest to review the show as a part of an initiative to get local bloggers blogging about WAC events. As a winner, I not only recieved tickets to the show, but also a pass to meet and greet the some cast members in the show.

I had the opportunity to meet (L-R) CJ Palma (who played Jerome), Jodi Kimura (Bloody Mary's Asst.), Christina Carerra (Ngana), Alexis G.B. Holt (Bloody Mary's Asst.), Sumie Maeda (Liat), and Peter Rini (Cmdr. William Harbison). They were all very friendly, especially Peter with whom I had the most opportunity to talk.

Now...onto the show.

South Pacific was written by the team of Rogers and Hammerstein -- musical greats also responsible for such hits as Oklahoma and Sound of Music -- in 1950. The musical is based on a James Michener's series of short stories about men at war in the WWII South Pacific theatre. Although nay-sayers were initially skeptical about how this could possibly turned into a musical, Rogers and Hammerstein successfully integrate three stories from the book: the love story of Emile de Beque and ensign Nellie Forbush -- a French planter who moved to the South Pacific and a Navy nurse; the story of Bloody Mary, a native Tonkanese woman who sells grass skirts and other island goods to the GIs on an island in the South Pacific; and the story Luther Billis -- a Dennis the Menace type soldier -- and his antics. Rogers and Hammerstein were so successful, in fact, that they were nominated for and won 10 Tony Awards (like the Oscars of the theatre world) when it debuted. It remains the only musical where all four of the acting awards were won by cast members of the same musical. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for its progressive stand against racism.

The show is decidedly from the "old school" of musicals, having many qualities you don't see much in contemporary musicals. My favorite two "old school" qualities from the musical were the wonderful Overture and Entr'acte (the music at the beginning of the show, and immediately prior to Act II), and the huge ensemble. Whereas many contemporary musicals have a very small cast (less than 10), South Pacific has a ginormous cast of 34 talented performers. Because of the increased production costs, most producers simply won't get behind such big productions because of the financial risk involved. Thankfully, Lincoln Center did and we are most fortunate to have this production come to Northwest Arkansas.

This staging of South Pacific was born of the Lincoln Center revivial. This revival received rave reviews from the media and 8 Tony awards. It has become the longest-running Rogers and Hammerstein revival in history, and will close after 1000 performances this August. After seeing the show, I can see why it has run for so long to sold-out crowds.

Ironically, the stars of the shows aren't the stars. In fact, Carmen Cusack as Nellie and Rod Gillfry as Emile lack chemistry. They're both good, but neither are great. Similarly, I found Anderson Davis' performance as Lt. Joe Cable lacking -- his voice was not great, but he was certainly easy on the eyes!!

Despite three of the principal characters' performances being less than I would have expected, I found that the details of the production was where the show shined. The stars of the show are the technical aspects and the details. I loved the lighting. It really brought depth to the set and enhanced the story telling. The direction was stellar (and I'm not usually one to notice such things), and really brought heart to the production that -- if not treated carefully -- would seem dated and out of touch. The period costumes were great. The positives in the performance far outweighed the negatives. For a theatre enthusiast who has never acted or teched a show to notice such details, they had to be really really top notch. And they were.

My top shoutout, though, has to go to the male ensemble. They were great! It's not uncommon for a chorus to fade into the background, but this ensemble didn't. Each character seemed to have its own personality and they came together to give a tour de force performance. "There is Nothing Like a Dame" was my favorite part of the whole show. The male ensemble totally knocked it out of the park.

This whole performance was terrific. The Rogers and Hammerstein organization are fiercely protective of their shows, but they should really be proud of this one. Overall, I give South Pacific a 4/5 (I am a tough grader too -- remember, I try not to just give a way the standing O). The show is enjoyable, will make you think a little, and will definitely have you leave the theatre humming. It is a great night of theatre. You won't be disappointed! Run, don't walk, to get tickets either in Fayetteville or when it comes to a performing arts venue near you.

FTC requires me to let you know that I was given free tickets to this event in exchange for a review. However, my review is my honest opinion - I swear!

PS This is a part of a contest. The blog review with the most "Like" votes on the facebook page will win. To help me out, please "Like" the link to my post that can be found here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The good and the bad...

Good: I have ridden more than 30 miles since I got an odometer on my bike Friday afternoon (after 10 miles earlier in the day -- so really, I've ridden 40 miles since Friday. On a cruiser. In a hilly city.)
Bad: My eating today has been -- um, less than stellar. 2 bags of Doritos and a cinnamon bun in addition to normal, healthy-ish food.

Good: It's supposed to be 80 here tomorrow.
Bad: There are supposed to be wind gusts up to 44 MPH. Maybe not so good for commuting on a bike.

Good: I have ridden my bike to work three times since getting my bike.
Bad: There is no bad to accompany this one. I love commuting using it, and I appreciate my drive even more when I do it (it is so warm in my car and I marvel both at how short it is to drive and how it really doesn't take THAT much more time to ride my bike. The time difference is about 20 minutes).

Good: I am going to see South Pacific at the WAC tonight! I won the blogging contest!
Bad: I can't go to the gym tonight because I get to go to a meet and greet with the cast as part of the blogging contest. That's ok -- the good outweighs the bad totally!

Good: Now that it's not spring break, it is easier to get back into my routine of drinking more water.
Bad: Since spring break I have not gotten back into the routine of packing lunches.

Good: Tomorrow is Weight Watchers. Yet another chance for a fresh start (although, let's be real -- every. single. moment. is a chance for a fresh start).
Bad: Tomorrow is Weight Watchers. A moment of truth. Visit from flo. FML.

My life is good. The goods are great and the bads -- for the most part -- are things I can control. The wind, though, is out of my sphere of influence. Can anyone help a sister out?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making Progress Even when it Doesn't Feel Like it

Sometimes I lose sight of the forest from the ground among the trees. Sometimes I just forget the big picture in light of the day to day realities we all deal with.

Yesterday I went to go get my haircut. I see my stylist only every couple of months, but she told me "You have lost so much weight since last time I saw you!" It felt great. I need those stark reminders and shots in the arm every once in a while. It makes the slogging through seem more worthwhile.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Welcome Memorial Blog Rollers

I have been getting quite a bit of traffic from the Bethany McDonald Memorial Blogroll that Lyn at Escape from Obesity has put together. Sincere thanks, Lyn, not only for being such an insightful blogger who has helped me to realize stuff about my own WL journey but also for putting together this blogroll. It is a great service to the entire WL bloggin' community. (Note, if you are interested in being included on the blog roll, you can e-mail Lyn -- directions can be found on the blogroll page I linked to).

For those of you who are new, welcome!! I am so glad you are here.

I decided to put together a "25 things about me" post, circa 2009 Facebook to let you know a little about me.
  1. I'm 30 years old, and turn 31 in August.
  2. I am extremely competitive, unless I feel like I have no shot at something. If that is the case I either won't play or let the competitiveness go altogether (e.g., I enjoy swimming but am not good at it and therefore I hate relays in swim class).
  3. I have never been a serial dieter. I have only made one other serious attempt to lose weight. I was successful in that I lost 60 lbs, but unsuccessful in that I gained it all back.
  4. I fear failure, and am really trying hard to change this mindset of fearfulness.
  5. I do much better at the "move more" side of the equation than the "eat less" side.
  6. I am very mathematically inclined, but I do enjoy writing too. If I had to choose, though, I'd probably choose logic/math/science.
  7. My biggest fitness goal right now is to get a gun show (aka good arms) by the time I turn 31. I am going to wear a sleeveless dress on my birthday whether I meet this goal or not. Accountability, peeps!
  8. I am an emotional eater. Any emotion will do -- happiness, sadness, anger, etc.
  9. There was a time when a weight/health death really didn't scare me as much as it should have. I think it was because I was so miserable and sad. Being incapacitated (e.g., having a stroke and being cognizent of what was going on) was (and is) much scarier to me.
  10. I am from Ohio, but I live in Arkansas now. I just learned that Arkansas has the second highest rate of childhood obesity.
  11. I work at a university. Working out with the students at the gym used to intimidate me; now I am excited when I see them at the gym.
  12. When I was fat I was EXTREMELY sedentary. I now love to be outside, and I just bought a bike this year and love to go hiking and be outside. This surprises my whole family, but probably not as much as it does me.
  13. In high school, I weighed 195 (although probably more -- I think our family's scale was definitely on our side) and I looked really really fit. I think if I reach that weight again, I will feel great.
  14. I have lost my weight using Weight Watchers. I initially did the plan online, and now I go to meetings. Although I don't like everything about it (e.g., their processed food with high fructose corn syrup), I find that the positives far outweigh the negatives and it has been instrumental in my success.
  15. Since being on WW and becoming more picky with food, I have definitely learned that I enjoy salt and fat more than sweets. It's not that I don't like sweets (used to eat a ton), I just would prefer to splurge on cheese dip or pizza than almost anything else.
  16. Although I have enjoyed help from many things along the way (WW, personal trainers, gyms, etc), I ultimately take credit for my weight loss so far. WW, trainers, and gyms are just tools. I have ultimately done the work.
  17. I used to be scared that my students would find this blog. I think one has. Although I'm not excited about it, I'm kind of ok with it (but I'd be better if it were still my secret).
  18. My favorite forms of exercise are swimming, water aerobics, riding my new cute bike around town, walking outside, and BodyPump. I also like Zumba, but I loathe yoga. LOATHE IT!! So boring.
  19. I am single and have never been in a serious relationship. I think the weight is partially to blame, but I also think it is that I am sort of intimidating to many guys. That is ok, I am a confident, intelligent, beautiful lady and I will be quite a prize when someone does woo me. Fortunately, these traits make me picky and willing to wait, so I am 0% desperate in this regard (ok, maybe 2% desperate, but not willing to date just anyone -- sorry dudes).
  20. I love dairy of all sorts, but I would pick cheese over ice cream anyday. I love most anything with cheese.
  21. I would like to eventually complete a triathalon, but I am concerned that my hip injury will prevent me from ever being a runner. I will try running again when I get closer to 200 than I am now. Losing more weight will only up the chances that I will be able to run.
  22. I lost the first 40 pounds this time really quickly (about 4 months). Losing the next 15 has taken another 8 months. This is partially because it is harder to lose, but mostly because I am less disciplined and have taken a couple month break (trying to maintain but not focusing on losing).
  23. Despite only losing 15 lbs in the last 8 months, I am convinced I will eventually make it my goal weight even though I have not determined what that is. I have also seen significant progress in my body composition (clothes fitting better, body fat composition, etc)
  24. I don't think my goal weight will be in the Weight Watchers recommended range (high end for my height is around 160). I have talked to my doctor about this, and she says we should talk about it closer to the goal.
  25. My motivation for losing weight is to get healthy. I would like to be hot, yes, but most of all I want to be alive and feeling good. The aesthetics are really just a bonus. I really really really want to get off high blood pressure medicine.
Again, welcome to all the new folks. Please stop by again and let me know if you have a blog. I'd love to read it :)


This week I went to a second WW meeting, since the first one I went to this week was such a bust. Normally I go to one on Wednesday at lunchtime, but I went earlier in the day so that I could have more of the day to spend with my brother. I was very sad to learn that there was a different leader than the meeting I usually go to. This leader was -- how to say this -- geriatric. And BORING. I left 0% inspired and 90% resentful about having wasted an hour and $$ going to the meeting.

Anyway, because I felt gypped and because I have been struggling so much this week on the food front, I decided to go to a second meeting this week (that is the great thing about WW -- once you pay your weekly meeting fee, you can go to as many as you want). At the second meeting, I had a pretty big realization.

The leader asked if any of us had inspired anyone on our WL journey. Let me tell you, the people at the meeting (probably about 15-20) were QUIET!! They were not quick to speak up on anything. Worse than that, they really didn't speak up at all! Being a professor, I know what it is like to be left hanging so I generally try to speak up if no one else will, but I do try to wait and give others a chance first. No one talked about being an inspiration, so I reluctantly raised my hand.

I don't talk much about it, but one of the ladies at work (probably my very favorite, although not for this reason) consistently tells me how great I am doing and how I am really inspiring her. The other day it somehow came up how I was nervous about gaining this weight back. I believe I have mentioned it before, but I have lost 60 lbs one time. I did it the right way -- the way that I think is healthy, by eating less and better food and by exercising. The stress of my grandma dying and the busy-ness of finishing my dissertation and traveling around the US trying to find a job led to poor decisions and shifting priorities on my part. In a year and a half, I gained much of the weight back. When I started my new job and sunk into a very deep and dark year of depression, I gained the rest of the weight back, along with a bonus 10 lbs.

Although I didn't share all of the details with this coworker, I told her that I had lost but regained 60 lbs. She said -- in a way that she genuinely meant to be supportive -- that she would not let it happen again. I had come too far to make those decisions. By the way, I agree with her, but if you would have asked me last time, I would have agreed then too.

So back to the WW meeting -- the leader asked me how it makes me feel to have inspired someone else. I think she was expecting an answer along the lines of, "IT FEELS GREAT AND I FEEL AMAZING!!" However, my response had to surprise her. It actually really surprised me too, and helped me to put something together that I had not realized before.

I told her "It stresses me out. I feel if I fail at this, I will not only fail myself but also the people at work. I don't like the pressure it puts on me.", and I started to cry. Although I was slightly embarrassed at my reaction, it was worth it to make that realization.

This journey to get healthy should be and always has been about me. I function better physically and emotionally when I am eating right and exercising. I am more fun to be around, and can think quicker on my feet. I have more energy. Others benefit indirectly from this, because by making time for myself and my health I am happier and better adjusted, and I have more to give. Mostly, though, it benefits me.

Although it is great to inspire others, I cannot let that become a weight on my shoulders. Although I want to help them to live healthier lives, my primary responsibility is to me. This reminds me of how flight attendants tell parents that they must put on their own safety masks before they can help their kids put on their masks. The logic for my situation is the same -- if I put the needs of others before my own, it is short sighted. By taking care of myself, I will make myself better and hopefully in the long run be able to free up some mental energy to help others. However, my journey is still at the point where it requires constant vigilance and effort on my part to help me to meet my goals. If I'm not working the program for me, how can I possibly help anyone else out on theirs? The answer is that I can't, but that I cannot carry this burden around for others. If I allow myself to carry this (or other) burdens around for other people and let that trump my efforts to get healthy, I will fail all of us.

I need to help myself first and foremost. That is initially why I started this blog. I needed a place where I felt safe sharing my feelings and my struggles because I felt alone and unsafe in many arenas of my real life. Ironically, I feel safe amongst the masses in cyberspace, particularly among the caring and supportive niche of WL bloggers I've found. I appreciate everyone's support. I VALUE your support. I love to have a place where I feel safe sharing this stuff which is incredibly personal and sometimes even painful for me -- but I have to remember that I am getting healthy and blogging for me. If I inspire others along the way, that's stellar.

...but, I have to remember that I am doing this for me. And while I certainly don't want to let anyone down or disappoint them, I have to worry most about not disappointing myself. I want to live my best life. I need to remember that when the chips are down. This is for me. There is no need carrying anyone else's burden but my own while this is still such hard work.

I guess this realization was worth the meeting fee after all :)

Weight Watchers - Week 11

This week I lost 5.2 lbs, which covers the 4.5 lb gain from last week and gives me anther 0.7. I'll take it.

Since then, though, I have to be honest and let you know that I have struggled. REALLY. HARD. CORE. My brother was here for sping break, and seeing him leave was hard. The last day he was here, we went out to a greasy college bar type joint, where I indulged in cheese fries. For dinner that night, I ordered a large pizza and ate. it. all. ROUGH!

Yesterday, I had a good breakfast, and ok lunch, and I really wanted a not good dinner. In fact, I walked around Walmart for about 25 minutes looking for this dinner. I would not put anything into my cart without looking at the nutritional informaiton so I was at least mindful of what I was going to consume and, fortunately, nothing made the cut. I finally walked out.

I made pudding for dinner and fell asleep on the couch at 8:30. It's better than mindlessly gorging myself, but how much better? Clearly I need to figure out what's missing and fill the void immediately. As my WW leader Jai says, "If hunger isn't the problem, then food isn't the answer." Hear hear, sister friend.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Thoughts on the Biggest Loser

Oh, the Biggest Loser. It's reached the level of a cultural phenomenon, I think, and I don't think I've ever really discussed it on my blog. I have lots and lots of posts I want to write but, for some reason, this is the one that is weighing the most on my mind. I think it's because there are so many episodes on my DVR and I've watched a couple of them today. There was a quote on one of the episodes today that just resonated so strongly with me I just felt compelled to write about it.

Many of the contestants who are actually chosen to be on the Biggest Loser talk about how they would watch the show (whilst eating a gallon of ice cream, natch) and wish that they were on it. For me, nothing could have been further from the truth. I really could not watch that show when I was bigger. When I was lost weight the first time, I did watch most of a season (season 2 with Matt and Suzy) -- but that's really all I had ever seen of the BL. I could not stand the guilt associated with watching it.

Perhaps it's because of my history that I was unable to watch. I think I have discussed it a little, but I have only ever seriously lost weight one other time. It was when I was in grad school and it was what I consider the healthy way. I ate less, and tried to eat tons of fruits and vegetables. I also exercised, preferring to swim. I was successful and lost 60 lbs, eventually stalling out around 229.5. I maintained that weight for about 2 months, gained 5 lbs during the holidays that I never lost, and then started on a WL-death spiral when my grandma was hospitalized and died. I gained tons of weight in the process of finishing grad school and getting a job. Eventually I not only reached my starting point of 289.5, but I eclipsed it and ended up at 299.4.

I think the reason I just could not watch the BL is because I identified with the BL contestants so much, at least for 2/3 of the show. I felt their pain when they weighed in and realized they were super fat. I remembered what it was like to try to go to the gym when everything wears you out, even walking from the car up one flight of stairs to the pool. I also remembered what it felt like to get results. Yes, you're 250 lbs but you feel hella confident when you started at 289.5 (my starting point during WL 1.0) and you're not winded walking up 4 flights of stairs, but your 160 lb coworkers can't do it. I remember those feelings because I have been there. (I've never made it to the last third of the show, though, where they're size 2 or 6 or 8 -- perhaps this will be the time, though I would feel awesome at a 10 or 12).

To reach a point where you're fit and really doing well...and then you let yourself go and reach 240, then 250, then 260, then...299.4? It's rough. Watching the BL was a reminder of what it felt like to be good. During my fatter days, I just could not let myself have that memory while knowing I was not yet ready to take the difficult but worthwhile steps of eating better and less, and moving more that it would take to reach that place again. Instead of facing those reminders, I took the easy way out and just avoided the show altogether.

Now that I'm on the right track again? I watch the BL and I kind of love it. There are parts that I dislike -- but it is nice to feel like someone gets it, and that I'm not alone on this journey to get healthy. I also appreciate that the BL is helping to put names and faces to the morbidly obese. Yes, we've let ourselves go, but there are often reasons why. Yes, we're fat but we have stories and feelings and careers and are not losers. I appreciate the BL giving us a bit of a voice and an identity. I also appreciate the fundamentals of the Biggest Loser, and that they show that those fundamentals -- working out more and eating healthy -- will work. You don't need to have your stomach stapled to lose weight. You can eat real food and not 3 shakes and a sensible meal and lose weight. You don't need to eat acai berries or take xenadrine. It is refreshing to hear and see in a world of quick fixes.

That having been said, I do have some objections to the BL which include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:
  • Most of us have jobs and lives. Dedicating 6 hrs a day to fitness is not realistic for most of us. I do appreciate the producers' attempts to make us feel like this is doable (aka the "at home week" and "we'll send you home for a month and then bring one of you back" ploys), but if you read behind the scene blogs and stuff, most of those contestants still devote 6 hrs to their fitness once they're home.
  • I think that feeding a 400 lb. person who is working out 6 hrs a day 1400 calories is ridiculous. You can't argue with the results on the show, but something about that seems just crazy.
  • Losing 5-15 lbs. a week is just insane. Definitely not doable for the normal at home weight-loser unless you're working out 6 hrs a day and eating 1200-1400 calories (see bullets 1 and 2).
  • I'm all for protein. I eat 1-2 eggs every morning, and I know the BL contestants work out way more than I do and therefore should eat more protein. That having been said, I think that they eat way too much protein and not enough carbs on that show for what I've seen. Carbs aren't bad -- they fuel your body!
  • (This is a big one) THE PRODUCT PLACEMENT ON THAT SHOW IS RIDICULOUS. Ziplocs, Jennie-O turkey, Tempur-pedic beds, Subway, BodyBugg, 24 Hour Fitness, Extra sugar free gum -- I GET IT ALREADY! Ugh.
  • I wish they followed up more with their former contestants. I feel terrible for Eric Chopin, one of the winners who gained all his weight back. I have been there, and it is a really craptastic feeling. I can only imagine how craptastic it would be if I had a nation watching and ridiculing me. I was good enough at beating myself up over this myself, thank you very much. I didn't need the ridicule of a nation piled on me. I'm not sure what type of obligation the show had to him, but I wish they would have helped him when he had gained 5 lbs rather than showcasing him when he got back up to his starting weight around 350 and offering to help him then. Even then, there are other contestants who have gained their weight back, and the show has not offered to help them. I think that is sad.
That having been said, I do like the show. Do I think it's perfect? Obviously not. Am I rushing out to buy Jennie-O turkey? No (but -- full disclosure -- I did buy a BodyBugg).

Anyway, I like this show. I record it and have enjoyed catching up on past seasons when they air in syndication. I cry at almost every episode because I relate to both their struggles and their victories on such an intensely personal level.

Today, I was watching the first episode of last season, and something absolutely reached down to near the core of my soul and touched me. There was a contestant -- Abby Rike, who is one of my absolute favorites -- who lost her husband and 5.5 year old daughter and 2.5 week old son in a fatal car accident. Her strength is phenomenal, but she was understandably upset when she was the number on the scale indicating how big she had gotten. Although I can't be sure, I would have to guess that it felt like the cherry on top of a craptastic, tragic sundae that was her life over the past couple years. (Incidentally, her weight was 247, which is right around where my scale is hanging out now, and I'm feeling pretty great -- proving once again that the journey is as important as the milestones.)

She started crying, as many of the contestants do upon learning their initial weights. The host asked her, "Are you surprised to see that number?" Her response floored me and gave me chills, and I paused the show and had to write it down. She graciously responded.
It surprises me, but it does not define me. Every day I choose to get out of bed, and today I choose to be here. And I'm going to do better.
Wow. This girl gets it. This girl inspires me. This girl makes me want to do better too, and that is why I love the Biggest Loser.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I can't wait

I was just looking at cute clothes at Express online. Their biggest size is a 12, but wow do I love their fashions. I hope I can fit into them someday. I have no idea what size I will be when I reach my goal weight, but I do hope I can shop at Express.

What is success? - part 1

Defining success on a weight loss journey is tough. So what is it?

I've been thinking about this, but decided to look up the official definition to see if that shed any light on what exactly success is.
success (n): the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted
Do you think that accurately captures what success is, or what it means to be successful? The truth is, I'm not sure. I think it is all in the way you state the goal. If my goal is stated as wanting to lose weight, I am not sure if this definition is complete enough. This is because, according to the definition, the moment I reach my goal weight I would have succeeded since I achieved what it is that I desired (and yes it took a lot of planning to do, and yes, there were several unsuccessful attempts but finally one that worked). However, if I lose the weight only to gain it back, I think that -- according to the definition above -- I have been successful since the goal was at one point reached. However, personally, I would not consider that a success.

I think that for the definition above to fit my personal situation, I would need to modify the statement of my goal. My goal is to reach a healthy weight, be very physically fit, and to maintain both my fitness and my weight at healthy levels.

However, I struggle with this. Can the modified statement above actually be achieved? That is, this statement implies that my goal has no endpoint, or point at which you can actually stamp a "done" on it, and file it away in your list of life accomplishments. I do not know exactly which post he mentioned it on, but Tony -- one of my favorite weight loss bloggers -- talked about the journey that is being healthy and shredded different weight loss analogies and metaphors (if anyone knows the post I am talking about, please let me know and I will put up a link to it).

I think we could all agree that losing weight is not a sprint. Despite the ads you see telling you that you can lose 50 lbs in a month, the reality is that most of us cannot. Even among those who can, they probably are unlikely to sustain that type of loss for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, I highly doubt that most of the approaches that are even capable of producing such dramatic and quick weight loss are healthy. Many of those rapid weight-loss supplements are dangerous, and some can even be fatal (xenadrine comes to mind, for example). Therefore, I do not see any way that long-term, healthy weight loss could be considered a sprint.

Many people consider weight-loss a marathon. But is it? I don't think so. A marathon is long and grueling, just like weight loss is for those of us who start out morbidly obese. However, a marathon has a finish line. Once you hobble across that 26.2 mile mark, you've done it. You've joined the ranks of the elite. Although there are many places to celebrate along the weight loss journey, there is no ultimate finish line. I doubt if I will ever be cured of my addiction to food. I hope to be sober and to no longer have it define me just like alcoholics can break free of their addictions. However, I doubt if I will ever have a truly normal relationship with food. I hope I am selling myself short and that it is possible, but at this step of the game I don't really foresee that. I see no finish line to this weigh loss journey. Even if I reach the numerical goal I set for myself (not entirely sure, but I'm envisioning something around the 160-180 mark), I really don't think I will consider that a success. I think it will be a significant milestone on my path to success, for sure, but for me I think staying at this goal will be real success -- and this has no finish line. Therefore, I absolutely do not think that weight loss is like a marathon. No finish line, at least for me.

So what *is* losing weight like? I think it is like paddling upstream. There are times when it is easy, and progress is fast. There are times where you feel lazy or tired or life is just too much, and you lose some ground for awhile paddling against the current -- but ultimately, there is no ending. It requires constant effort and vigilance on your part. It gets easier with time, and you learn tricks along the way that make it less of a burden. But you definitely can't stop working on it and expect to stay where you are forever without effort.

With this metaphor of losing weight being like paddling upstream in mind, how would you define success in such an endeavor? To be honest, I am not sure...but I am going to continue to think about it, and will probably post a followup or followups at some point soon.

With Sadness

A member of the weight loss blogosphere --Bethany from the Great Reduction -- passed away last night. Victim of a heart attack. She was 33 and had two young kids. Rest in peace, Bethany. Please pray for her family and kids if you believe in the power of prayer.

Although this is *not* the point of the post, I must say that this is particularly sobering for me as someone who is only 3 years younger and still more than 80 lbs overweight. Another stark reminder why we are all fighting the good fight to get healthy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

In case you're not my facebook friend...

...I wanted to let you know I rode Daisy to work today. It took me 35 minutes to ride 5.5 miles, which I would not consider bad for a first time, especially since hills still kind of terrify me and I brake almost the whole way down them. In time I will get faster. It takes me probably 15 minutes to drive to work, so the delta (20 minutes) is really not that bad. Totally worth it and something I will embrace when I don't have errands to run during the day or after work, and when the weather is nice.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pants on the Ground

Although my pants aren't quite on the ground, they are WAYYYY too loose. This morning they didn't feel that loose, but omg there were a couple times today that I thought I might have an issue.

These are pants that I bought when I first moved to Arkansas. I was really sad that I had to buy a size 22 (had I only known I would reach a size 26...), and eventually I outgrew them (they were too small)...and this was after I kind of wore them for a long time and relied on their stretch properties beyond when I should have.

Anyway, just thought I would report. It's always nice to get into a pair of old pants that feel like old friends that you thought you would never see again. Also, I wore a pair of pants earlier this week that I hadn't worn since grad school during the skinniest phase of my adult life. They were the pair of pants I wore when my grandma died, after which I really began piling on the weight again. What a moral victory to get into those.

Not a real update

I haven't written any updates here in awhile. My real life is getting in the way of my blogging one, and as I mentioned, I am so ready for spring break. Only two more days!! YES!!

Here are a couple updates.
  • Up 4.5 lbs this week. Disappointing, but not unexpected.
  • My brother and I will be going hiking for break. Should be fun.
  • Went to the gym for the first time in over a week yesterday, which I simultaneously dreaded like crazy and loved. It ended up not being that bad.
  • Haven't been getting enough sleep lately. Fell asleep on the couch around 7:30 last night and didn't wake up until 5:30 this morning. Must have needed it.
  • Finally feeling like the time change is not kicking my butt anymore. THANKFULLY!
  • Each of these bullets could be its own post if there were time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Walton Arts Center - PICK ME!!!

*We now interrupt the regularly scheduled blog postings for a very shameless post wherein I beg to win a contest...if you stick with me, I will bring weight loss into this post, although only tangentially, making good on my promise to plug the JALCO that I made a couple days ago*

The Walton Arts Center - one of my four favorite things about living in Fayetteville, AR - is having a contest. (In case you are curious, the other three things are the farmers' market, the trails, and the close proximity to awesome nature things like the Buffalo River and Devil's Den). They are giving away tickets to the opening night of South Pacific at the WAC, as well as tickets to a meet and greet with the artists. I WOULD LOVE TO WIN.

There are so many reasons I want to win, but here are the two main ones.
  • When I went to NYC in the spring of 2008, it was the season South Pacific had opened. These were definitely the hot ticket in town, with all of the shows running at capacity. I saw 13 shows in 10 days, but was unable to procure a ticket. I was sad to miss it.
  • I graduated from the University of Michigan which has a fabulous musical theatre program. I always love it when the UM students I saw in their student productions get cast in things that come through town. South Pacific is another show with a UM cast member, Josh Rouah. Although he played several featured roles when I was in grad school (all quite well), the most memorable by far was when he played Officer Lockstock in Urinetown. It was my first introduction to the show, and it is now one of my favorites. (trivia: this production of Urinetown also featured Nick Blaemire, and Janine Divita as Bobby Strong and Ms. Pennywise who have now have very successful careers too--if you overlook the sadness that was Glory Days)
I am a regular patron of the WAC. I probably go to one or two events there a month on average. I love what they do for our community. They truly bring amazing talent to Northwest Arkansas (plus the occasional miss -- Rat Pack?! the faux Cirque du Soliel last year?!).

One of the thing that strikes me when they have a truly class act is the amount of talent that is being displayed, and what long odds the performers have overcome to get where they are. Being a performer who is actually paid to do what you love is incredibly rare. The odds are really long, and the amount of luck and networking that you must have is just so high -- not to mention the obvious, that you must be incredibly talented as a performer.

This really struck me the other day when I went to see Wynton Marsalis and the Live at the Lincoln Center Orchestra. As I mentioned, I have been sick and I really contemplated skipping out on the performance. However, I decided to go because these guys are so famous and as a former trumpet player, I definitely went through a phase where I idolized Wynton. It turned out to be a great great decision to go to the show. They. were. AMAZING.

This was the type of performance where -- whether you like jazz or not, whether or not you're a musician -- you really just think "Wow, they are all really good." It was the type of performance where they make it look easy, but you realize that what they're doing is amazingly hard the moment you ever try to imitate them.

More than just being amazing at what they did, though, I was struck by the passion of each of the performers. With only a couple exceptions, almost every performer was just SO into what they were doing. You could tell that they loved creating music, and that they were so happy to be doing what they loved, and making a living at it. It was the type of thing that made you want to be really good at something, at anything. It really inspired me to, rather than just going through the motions, to want to give my work and my exercise my all. It made me not want to be mediocre. I can't really explain it completely, but it made me want to be better. It made me think "You know, halfassing it really just won't be enough to get you to where you want to be on this whole fitness thing. If you want to be great, you are going to have to be devoted and passionate. You can't just clock in and clock out, you have to put a little bit of your soul and your sweat and yourself into each and every workout."

At the end of the performance, they got a standing ovation. If you know me in real life, you know that I think the standing ovation has become incredibly devalued. It's like the phrases "How are you?" and "I'll pray for you" -- 95% of the time when people ask how you are or say they'll pray for you, they really don't care how you are and probably won't pray for you; it's just become the social norm and you're a jerk if you don't give those responses. I feel the same way about the standing O. It's become what you get when the performance is done; it's expected now, not earned.

Well, these guys -- at least in my book -- definitely EARNED their standing O. They are great, and if you ever get the chance to go see them, you should. More than just being a great evening of music, they will make you want to be better and more passionate about living life and pursuing your dreams. At least that is what they did for me. Thanks WAC for bringing them to Fayetteville.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The original title of this post was "Sick sick sick", but after I started writing it, I decided to retitle it "Guilt".

I am really sick. I have very nearly lost my voice, so teaching today is out of the question. I am really believe it or not bummed about canceling class as I really enjoy my students this semester, and am loving the classes I teach too. Also I feel guilty because my undergrads have an exam a week from Friday and I feel bad about that too. However, there is truly no way I could really teach class today so there is no need feeling guilty.

But yet I do. Guilt is something that I struggle a lot with, not only in the weight loss aspects of my life, but also in virtually every arena. I've gotten better at managing it, but not great.

For example, my eating this week has been pretty bad. Let me explain, first of all, that it is all relative. My eating has been atrocious relative to my recent life of living on plan, tracking religiously, and making sure to eat enough fruits and veggies. I've definitely sucked at basically all of that this week. However, relative to my pre-WW/get healthy days, my eating has probably been a B+. It is all relative. For example, last night I went out between work and seeing a show at the Walton Arts Center (The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who were AMAZING and deserve a post of their own. I can even make it WL/healthy living related -- trust me, I thought about how I could plug them on my blog!). I went to Grubs -- a place right next door to the arts center who, at least among my colleagues at work, are known for their excellent cheese fries. Man they are good. I used to order those and make it my lunch. Huh, I wonder how I made it to 299 again?!?

Last night I ordered half an order and had them leave off the queso (they still melt cheese on top). I ordered a burger too, because I wanted protein. I decided on the Philly Burger because I wanted one with veggies on top -- it came with green peppers, onions and mushrooms. When they brought me the burger I thought "OMG there is enough meat here for 3 burgers!!". I used to not even think twice about that. I think I am really starting to readjust my view of what a healthy portion size is. Now, I did eat the whole thing. But the fact that I can even recognize it is certainly a step in the right direction. And attempting to balance my meal (adding veggies and making sure to get protein, and downsizing what it was that I really wanted) was something I would not have done in the old days.

Another thing I feel guilty about is not exercising this week, but this is a guilt I am relatively quick to dismiss. I really don't think that my body needs to spend time exercising right now while it probably needs rest and TLC to recuperate, and I think it was an especially good idea to skip swim class yesterday with all of the congestion I have going on right now.

I think guilt is often an extension of our conscience. We feel guilty because our conscience is telling us not to do something, or that we have made a mistake. In that regard, I think it is healthy. However, there are some times when I think guilt is counterproductive. For example, feeling guilty this week for not exercising I believe is silly since I am so clearly struggling on the health front now. I am just not sure how to manage all of this, but I think managing guilt and finding the healthy level of guilt that keeps us mostly on track but allows us some freedoms is going to be key to living this lifestyle longterm. I will eventually figure it out. And for today, I will try to just get a ton of sleep so I don't think about the guilt and start to feel better.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quick Updates

I bought a bike!!!! Not the greatest picture, but here you go.

I am getting sick. No wonder I have been so tired, grouchy, and generally so blah lately. Trying to sleep it off, we'll see if it works.

Haven't been tracking or eating right.

Feeling behind on everything. I have so. much. grading. Not to mention the research stuff that could actually get me tenure.

Spring break -- please?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The last few days I've been slammed, mostly at work which somehow manages to ripple its mayhem through the rest of my life. I have not been packing healthy lunches, but eating out which is tough. Yesterday I forgot my gym clothes at home at decided to forgo the whole working out thing in favor of...working. And eating out (no, those two things are not as similar to working out as the name implies, sadly).

Today was full of...working. Went to work from 8-4:45, worked out (water aerobics and swim class), went to McAlister's Deli, made some poor food choices, and spent the evening there grading exams. Came home, drooled over some bikes with a friend who actually knows about bikes, and then prepped for my class. Now it's 10:09 PM and time to go to bed.

I haven't packed my lunch or my clothes for tomorrow, but I am going to go to bed in an attempt to get up for spin class. I can't even remember the last time I went. I bet it was literally two weeks ago. Not. Good.

You hear it often, but I have never paid attention. Being busy is so not the friend of being on plan. You have to plan to be on plan. I haven't planned the last two days, and I haven't tracked, and I definitely haven't been on plan. I will get back to it. Need to finalize that freaking three year review packet. The ultimate due date is Thursday, and after that is one step further up the chain (which is great, but scary -- and it seems to require more work/revisions each step it takes up the food chain).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shift in Thinking

I have to say I just realized this morning that I have had a shift in my thinking. One that is great and one that I, honestly, can barely believe.

If you've been with me since the beginning, you know that one of the reasons I started this blog is because I thought about food ALL. THE. TIME. I thought about my weight loss. I thought about getting healthy. It consumed me, and not necessarily in a healthy way. I needed a place where I could get it all out -- and not burden everyone in my everyday life with those weird and obsessive thoughts.

Lately I have realized that I think about food less. Sure I still think about it a lot. Yes, getting healthy is one of the top couple initiatives I've got going on in my life right now. But I obsess about it much less. I don't immediately go to track something when I eat it. These days I know roughly what the points values of different foods are, what qualifies as a good choice, and whether or not I'm willing to splurge if something isn't exactly a stellar choice. I feel like I've reached some sort of an equilibrium. I still track things very closely, but it is not a kneejerk reaction or something I obsess about that much anymore.

I don't think I've arrived by any means. I still struggle with making good choices everyday. But, I think overall I am starting to get a better handle on this whole living healthy thing. I am now willing to accept that my modest successes at the scale -- even on weeks when I do boneheaded things and make poor decisions -- are the result of living and eating right 80-90% of the time and falling off the wagon 10-20% of the time. That is something I feel I can sustain.

Now it is fair to say that the storms of life haven't given me a good pummeling lately. I take some credit for that, working hard to put myself in a position to succeed. However, fate is a cruel master and at some point I will face a big hurdle. That will be a big test wherein I will get to prove to myself I can do this in the longhaul. Eating healthy and exercising for my heart is something I MUST do. I don't need to be obsessive to an unhealthy degree, but it is equally (more?) unhealthy to neglect such things altogether as I did my last year in graduate school and first 2 years living in Arkansas.

Just wanted to let you know that I am actually reaching a place of some moderation, something I am not sure I've ever done and certainly not a place where I've been in awhile. I actually feel kind of normal. Feels nice.

Even though I don't think about food all the time anymore, I am going to continue to blog. I know that my mom especially has told me that she likes to read what it is that I'm thinking about. Additionally, I like to have a place to document what it is that I'm thinking -- a place I can go back to over time and see how my thoughts have evolved...or haven't. Finally, blogging as I have mentioned before helps me. It helps me to stay accountable and, equally or even more important, it helps me to understand things that I haven't necessarily realized until I write about them. It is nice to be able to post good news about how things are going, and I will continue to post, even when the going gets tough.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Times, for the record

One of my favorite outdoor things in my town is to walk around Lake Fayetteville. There are trails -- both paved and off road -- and they form a 5.5ish mile loop around the Lake. Last year, I used to clock in right around two hours and would usually take a break that I did not count towards my time (more to check Facebook than because I was tired -- addict much?). I think my lowest time was something like 1:59. I went last Saturday and my time was 1:37:11 -- dropped my time by almost 20 minutes and didn't stop for a break! WOW!

Yesterday, they timed us doing a 500 (almost 1/3 mile) in swim class -- I did it in 10:52. I want to document my times so that I will be able to see the progress. Sadly, my shoulder started hurting during the 500, so I need to make sure to ice it today and stretch it out. I don't want to get a shoulder injury so I can't swim :(

Lowest yet! - again

This morning I weighed in at 243. something. Wow. Lowest I've been. Feels great to be back on plan.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fake it 'til you make it, and Weight Watchers Week 8

I have really been struggling as of late. No idea why really, which is bizzare. However, my food and exercise have not really been on plan. It is so bizarre for me to not want to exercise, but that definitely has been the case lately and I have not exercised since Saturday.

Fortunately today is a new day (and the start of a new week for WW) so I am making a fresh go at things. I have tracked everything and today I WILL make to to the gym. Gotta keep things moving if I want to see that August gun show.

This morning I was feeling so low. I also felt totally crappy yesterday, but I figured it was the headache and lack of sleep so I just passed out and ended up sleeping a total of about 10 hours yesterday (5:15-9PM, midnight-6:30ish). I felt physically better when I woke up but emotionally I was still a wreck. Part of it is my job, part of it is just feeling like I am sucking at the weight loss thing. Basically, I was having one of those mornings where you feel like a huge steaming pile of failure. Anyone ever have one of those? They suck.

I drug myself to work and ended up crawling into Karen Standley's office where I proceeded to melt into a pile of tears. Almost did the ugly cry. It wasn't pretty. She talked some sense into me and reminded me about the importance of the words we speak. There is a truism about this in almost every religion/belief system -- basically about positive affirmations and speaking things into being. In general I believe in putting an asterisk by such things (i.e., you have to put things into proper context), but today I was willing to take it! I needed to hear it.

I went to my office and did some work, but I ended up making a list of things that I believe are positive and that I want to will be. I am and will be

staying the course

I really struggle with the last one especially, but I am laying hold of it today. I am CONFIDENT.

WW meeting was today. Once again, the scale did not make sense. Despite eating an entire pizza Saturday, not exercising Sunday through Tuesday, and eating an entire package of Cadbury eggs and Reese's bunnies, I was down a pound. No idea.

Regardless of whether I'm losing or gaining, you cannot say that stuff is healthy. And, as per my affirmations, I am healthy so those are not the types of decisions I will make this week. It's not the falling that matters. It's the doing things over and over so that you get better at them, developing the ability to pick yourself up and keep going, and getting stronger so you don't fall nearly so much. Time to get up and go again. Week 9: game on.

Monday, March 1, 2010

About to Crack

I am still struggling today. I packed my lunch -- it was healthy and it tasted good. BUT OMG I AM CRAVING A CADBURY EGG LIKE A MOFO NOW!!!

Please understand -- I made it through Valentines day this year without eating candy. I haven't had a single Girl Scout cookie this year. I didn't have any Christmas candy either. I don't even think I had any Halloween candy.

But I want a Cadbury egg now. I feel like if I do it, the flood gates -- and by flood gates I mean my mouth -- will open wide and there will be no stopping. Not sure if I will do this or not.
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