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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Crime and Punishment

     I've never been a person who enjoys exercise.  I still don't.  At best I look at exercising as a chore. I'm coming to terms with the fact that exercise is necessary not only for weigh loss, but for overall health--and I'm getting my ass off the couch and making healthy lifestyle changes.  However, I'll be honest with you--I'm still not a fan.  What I am a fan of is food.  I've never been a picky eater.  I like to try new things, and at the same time find comfort in my old favorites.  I'm having to learn portion control.  I'm having to learn how to say no to instant gratification.  And you know what--- it's hard to do.  I'm a true believer that much of the battle for weight loss fought in our mind. Shedding pounds isn't just about changing your eating habits or your exercise routine.  It is about changing your mindset.   That my friends,  just might be the most difficult aspect of it all.  
     One thing I'm struggling with right now is changing my mind set regarding the balance between food and exercise.  I know that the secret to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume.  Simple math folks.  Calories in vs. calories out.  What I'm struggling with is a punitive mentality.  I have to stop the thought process that tells me that when I eat something "bad" I deserve to be "punished"--if I do the crime (eat something high in calories) I have to do the time (exercise).  I've got to realize that eating a enchilada is not a capital offense.  If I over indulge in tortilla chips on occasion, I don't have to sentence myself to two hours of hard labor on the treadmill.  (Can ya'll tell what I had for dinner last night?)  
     This kind of thinking is not healthy.  Quite honestly, it is the kind of thinking that fuels anorexia and bulimia--and that is scary.  Although I honestly don't think I'm in danger of succumbing to an eating disorder,  I do realize that  I'm never going to learn to enjoy exercise if I just look at it as doing penance.  If I berate myself every time I make a trip to the Mexican restaurant I won't enjoy what I'm eating, and I'll resent my next workout.  This is the opposite of productive.  I shouldn't be living my life like a character in some bleak Dostoyevsky novel.  Eating and exercise are not synonymous with crime and punishment.
     I think a more productive way to look at balancing calories in vs. calories out is to think about it in terms of debits and credits.  Here's an analogy.  If I charge X amount on my credit card, I'm eventually going to have to pay that same amount off.  It is the same with eating.  If I eat X amount of calories, I'm going to have to burn that amount or more off by exercising.  If you over spend, or overeat, there are consequences.  That's why it is important to budget.  Budgeting, whether with our money or with food, helps us make wise choices and avoid impulsive decisions.  
      Another part of losing the crime and punishment mentality is looking at all of the benefits I get from exercise.  This might not help me enjoy it any more, but it does build my incentive.  I can feel my stamina increasing. I know my heart and lungs are getting stronger.  Walking a mile used to seem unattainable. Now, I can routinely run/walk three or more.  Daily activities that once caused me to become winded such as climbing stairs or walking through the mall  are no longer physically taxing.  Another thing that build incentive is the fact that I can feel my muscles getting tighter and more toned.  While I'm still not totally satisfied with my refection, my changing physique makes me like the person in the mirror a hell of a lot more.  Also, I now understand what people are talking about when they say they feel good after they exercise.  I may not feel fantastic while I'm sweating it out, but I sure do feel better afterward.  I feel more alive while I'm awake, and I sleep so much better at night. These are all things to celebrate!  
     I won't tell you that changing my mindset is easy.  It is challenging to overcome years of negative thinking.  These old habits die hard.  But, I will tell you, just like losing the weight, changing my thinking is doable.  100 pounds ago, I never thought I'd be where I am today.  I've just got to keep believing and sending positive messages to myself all the while pushing the negativity back where it belongs.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Praise Jesus, I'm Overweight!

     I'm so excited I could almost burst!  I could shout it from the rooftops!  I'm overweight, I'm overweight, I'm overweight!  
     Now, some of you who are reading may be a bit confused.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that I've been working my ass off (literally and figuratively) to shed those damn extra pounds.  But, let me enlighten you…and tell you why I'm so ecstatic.  Today, I moved down a category on the BMI chart.   Today folks, I became official promoted from "obese" to merely "overweight."  And, let me tell you…it feels damn good!  
     For anyone who doesn't know, BMI stand for Body Mass Index. According to the CDC, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.  An adult with a BMI between 19 and 24 is considered within the normal range.  BMI's between 25 and 29 are considered "overweight."  A BMI between 30 and 40 puts one in the "obese" category, and anything above 40 is considered "extremely obese."   Here is an easy reference chart for determining BMI. 
 If you prefer, you can also use the BMI calculator linked here:
I encourage everyone to look up his or her BMI.  It is an important indicator of your health, and can be a real eye opener. 

     I'll get real with you.  I've been in the "red zone"--and it isn't fun.  Being able to move from the orange zone to the yellow--well, that feeling is priceless.  Not only do I feel better physically and emotionally, but dropping the "obese" label gives me courage.  It gives me the push I need to be able to stay the course.  I'm less than 30 pounds from normal.  I can do this!  
     For a while now, I've been able to see some pretty significant changes in the way my body feels and moves--and that is motivating as well.  I see my legs and waist shrinking.  I can contort my body in ways that I haven't been able to in years.  Okay, get your minds out the gutter.  I'm talking about being able to cross my legs or being able to clasp my knees with my arms--its the little things.  Nothing in the plus size department remotely fits anymore--no tears over that one I can assure you.  I can actually see my collar bone!  I feel good after I exercise--not like I'm going to keel over.  As wonderful as those changes have been, I can't imagine what I'm going to feel like when I make it all the way to a normal weight for my height.
     I think the best part about reaching this milestone is the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.  I feel like a million bucks because I've worked hard to achieve it.  I haven't given up.  I haven't thrown in the towel.  I've rolled with the punches when I pack on those extra few pounds one week out the month--although I will admit I still get a little panicked each time--even though I know in my head I'm just bloated.  
     Today, a friend posted this on my Facebook page, and told me she thought I needed one:

I want everyone I know to earn this shirt.  I want everyone to feel the kind of joy and sense of accomplishment I'm experiencing right now--because regardless of how much blood, sweat and tears it takes, this feeling is SO DAMN WORTH IT! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Learning to Love My Legs

        Everyone has a body part they dislike. Plastic surgeons make a mint off the fact that women crave bigger perkier breasts, and smaller shapelier noses.  For me, though, the most loathsome part of my body has always been my legs.    If had a magic wand, and could change just one thing about myself, I'd wave it over my thighs and command the cellulite and saddle bags to disappear.
   I've hated my legs as long as I can remember. Along about middle school, perhaps even as early as fifth grade, I came to the realization that my legs were out of proportion with the rest of my body.  I can remember very distinctly, looking in the mirror and being acutely aware that my thighs didn't look like some of the other girls.  As soon as I was old enough to know the word cellulite, I began seeing it take up residence on my upper legs--and this realization killed me!  In high school, I remember fantasizing about saving my money so I could afford to have liposuction.  I'd look at other girls, with their sleek, taunt upper legs and wonder why my legs couldn't look like that.  I coveted a "thigh gap" before it was popular.  The thing is, my hatred of my legs started well before I was even seriously overweight.
     As I got older and packed on more and more pounds, I continued to focus most of my body hatred on my lower region. To this day, even after torching damn near 100 pound,  when I looked in the mirror all  I see is a fat ass and thunder thighs.   I see dimpled blobs of flab exacerbated by the fact that not only are my thighs chunky, they are also glaringly white--seriously, sometimes I think I can't catch a break.  I won't wear white or khaki pants because I'm deathly afraid that these light colors draw attention to this problem area (Plus, with my skin tone, I'm convinced that khaki makes me look naked).    
     Here's the thing though.  Even though my legs will probably never be my favorite part of my body, I've got to start seeing them in a different light.  Just like breasts don't exists solely to be ogled at, neither do legs.  They serve an important and functional purpose.  And when I think about it that way, my legs are pretty damn amazing.  My legs carried me on an hour long hike this morning.  My legs ran three miles through town, four different nights this week.  My legs are helping me get fit and reach my weight loss goals.  I've come to realize that I've got to make peace with the gams God gave me.  Maybe one day soon, I will learn to love my legs.  I'm not there yet, but its getting better every day.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Feeling Grumbly

     I really try to stay positive about my weight loss.  I try to use this blog as a vehicle for self motivation, and as a way to empower others who share my struggle.  But here's what I'm going to tell you folks…sometimes, despite the rewards I know I am reaping, and the promise of future success… sometimes the whole process of losing weight just plain sucks.
     I'm going to get real here.  I feel a lot of guilt sometimes about the things I eat, and sometimes I really fear failure.  I'm so afraid that even after all the ground I've gained fighting this demon called obesity, in the end, the food and the fat are still going to win.  It is a daily struggle.  It is as much of a mind game as it is mouth game.  At times it is all consuming.
   This week, I'm struggling because there are so many opportunities to screw up--and I'm really afraid I'm going to.   It's a week where I'm going to have to make some difficult decisions and set some priorities in order to keep my eating in check.
     Already, I've been tempted with a delicious muffin this morning courtesy of one of my sweet students.  If you are a teacher, you know that sometimes we get homemade treats from our students that are a little less than desirable--cat hair bourbon balls at Christmas, that sort of thing.  You know, the kind of treats where you smile and say thanks but secretly stash it under a stack of papers in your of your colleague's trash can.  Not so with this one.  Not only was it full of cinnamony goodness, but it was from a fastidiously clean household.
     Later, during our faculty meeting, one of my coworkers was lauded as Special Education Professional of the Year.  Part of the celebration involved cake.  Not just any old cake, but an exquisite buttercream  from one of my favorite bakers.  Had the cake been a Walmart special, I wouldn't have felt cheated by foregoing it---but when it come's from Thelma it is oh-so-hard to resist!  (I did, and I felt cheated).  P.S. If you don't know Thelma--trust me, you are missing out!
     Tomorrow,  we have teacher appreciation lunch courtesy of our PTO.  I really look forward to this every year.  I think I've got my calories figured out, and I have already planned my limits for what I will eat tomorrow, but having to spend the time to work all that out is taxing.   Why must I love Mexican food as much as I do if it has to be so high in calories?
     Later in the week, my mom and I are going to a mother/daughter banquet.  I'm pretty sure that the menu is fried chicken or pot roast.  Not sure how I'm going to ensure healthy choices there.  Knowing that I have to worry about it makes me stress.  Since this is a church function, perhaps I should just give those calories over to Jesus.  But something tells me that, unfortunately,  it doesn't work that way.
     Last but not least, Sunday is Mother's Day.  That means lunch with my family and dinner with the boyfriend's family.  Normally, I'd just take this as my cheat day, but with the other challenges I'm facing this week, I'm not sure I can do that.  I think I'm going to evaluate my weight loss progress for the week and make a decision on what I'm going to eat Sunday based on that.  I hate thinking of whether or not I can eat meals with my family as "time off for good behavior,"  but that really what's going through my head right now--and I don't' think that's healthy.
     So, here's the deal folks.  I'm feeling grumbly.  I'm feeling stressed.  I'm feeling like sometimes it just isn't worth the hassle.  BUT---Then I look at some of my pre weight loss pictures, and it puts things in perspective.  I just have to keep telling myself that I'll get through this week.  Even if my weight stays static or God forbid I gain a pound, I'm not going to gain back everything I've lost up until this point due to one lousy week.  I need to enjoy myself, keep within my limits, and stop worrying about it incessantly.  The hard thing is putting that all into practice.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Shhh…I'm Going to Tell You a Secret!

     I recently have had many people ask me about the secret to my weigh loss success.  Today folks, I'm going to tell you.  I'm going to let that proverbial cat jump right out of the bag.  This is what I want anyone who struggles with weight to know.  The secret to shedding pounds is…


     Trust me when I say this.    Everything you need to know, you already know.  Every tool you need in your weight loss toolbox, you already possess.   Unless you are living under a rock, you know that the way that anyone loses weight is by cutting calories and increasing exercise.  Seriously folks, that's it.  That is all I have done--No fad diets, no gimmicks.   The problem is, although we know what to do, we don't alway have the mindset needed to put it into practice.  
     This is exactly where I found myself in January 2012.  I was miserable--and I don't say that lightly.  I absolutely hated looking at my body in the mirror or having my picture taken--anything that allowed me to see the body that I had literally eaten myself into.  Physically, I felt terrible.  My body ached, my feet killed me, and I couldn't walk even reasonable distances without getting out of breath.  I avoided shopping for clothes.  I couldn't stand going into the dressing room and trying on clothes that weren't flattering, fit poorly, and couldn't mask my problem.   I'd even stopped wearing makeup, because I figured, with a body like mine, what the hell was the point.  Mentally and emotionally, I felt like I was sinking into a bottomless pit of hopelessness and despair.  But here's the thing.  As emotionally and physically taxing as that time was, it finally caused me come to a crossroads.  I could either go on living the way I was living, or I could fix it.  And--I'm so glad that I dug deep inside and found the inner strength to choose the latter.  
      Although there isn't a "secret" to my success, I do believe there are helpful guidelines--guiding principles I want to share with others who might be in the same boat I found myself in three years ago.  Today, I'm going to share them with you. 

1.  Be Ready Mentally:  Losing weight starts with your mentality.  You can't and won't lose weight until you are mentally ready to do so.  No one else can make you.  Your mama can't twist your arm.  Your partner can't nag you until you change.  Your doctor can't scare you into submission with her statistics about heart disease and diabetes.  YOU HAVE TO DECIDE.  It might sound selfish, but this is about you.  It isn't about anyone else.  You will be the one that is responsible for making the changes and sacrifices necessary to drop the pounds, so you have to be in the frame of mind to do it.  I'm here to tell you--until you reach that place in your own head, you can't and won't do it.  The key here is believing in yourself and loving yourself enough to change.  And you know what--that is a difficult but necessary mental shift that you are just going to have to make.  

2.  Take Responsibility.  Own up to it sister.  You put the weight on.  You have to be the one to take it off.  One caveat though:  you have to be careful with the blame and shame that comes with this one.  You have to stop blaming your own weight issues on whatever it is that you find to blame them on.  Stop telling yourself its all genetic.  Stop telling yourself its because you have an insatiable sweet tooth.  Stop telling yourself that you don't have time to exercise or prepare healthy meals. These are lies that we tell ourselves to justify the behaviors that put ourselves in this predicament to begin with.  Lies I repeatedly told myself until they became so ingrained in my psyche that they still creep into my head today.  
     However, on the other hand, you can't beat yourself up.  Stop shaming yourself--you know you do it.  I still do.  You cannot change your past.  You can't take back the bad choices that made you pack on the pounds.  What you can do is make positive choices that will impact your future and help you succeed. Once you accept responsibility you can begin making the changes necessary to meet your goals.  

3.  Find Accountability.  One thing that really helps me is keeping a food journal.  I currently use my Fitbit to do this.  There are also online programs such as and Myfitnesspal that can help with this.  Without tracking, it is so easy to overeat.  Seeing a visual of my caloric intake helps me stay on track.  Think of it as you would a household budget.  If you plan your financial limits and then track your expenses, you are much less likely to overspend.  The same is true when you plan a calorie limit and then track the number of calories you consume.  
     Exercise accountability is also key.  Again, find something to track it!  It is so much more motivating for me to know how many calories I'm burning as I exercise.  I've found success with my Fitbit.  I love it!  Being able to actually see the numbers makes me want to burn even more.  I also like how Fitbit allows you to compete with others.  This is really a motivator for me.  
     Finding social accountability is also important.  If you can find someone else who shares your weigh loss and fitness goals--be that a romantic partner, friend, or even an online support group,  you will be more successful.  Work together to keep yourselves on track.  

4.  Stop Beating Yourself Up.  You have to realize that no one is perfect.  You will stumble.  You will eat things you shouldn't.  You will cheat.  The thing you have to remember is this.  In the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "Tomorrow is another day!"  If you screw up today, pick yourself back up tomorrow and try again.  One piece of chocolate cake won't sabotage all of your hard work.  What will sabotage your efforts is letting small failures defeat you.  

     So, folks--that's it.  The secret/no secret of shedding the pounds.  This is what I know, and this is what I want to share.  

This is how you can go from here...

To here…


If you really want a secret, here it is…believe in yourself.  You can do it.  You can change.  You can be who you want to be.  Stop lying to yourself, pick yourself up off the couch and just do it!  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Silencing the Negativity

     When I go shopping, I'm generally the kind of person who wants to be left alone.  I like to browse without having some salesperson breathe down my neck--sniffing me out to see if I'm going to help up their commission.  Case in point:  When I go to Macy's it seems like I can't even step a toe over the line of the shoe department before some sales person pounces on me.  Helpful service is one thing, but feeling like you are being stalked by some jungle cat when you are just looking for a cute pair of sandals is quite another.  I hate it!  So why is it, that today, when I got exactly what I always say that I want--when the people working the floor let me be--why was it that my brain turned it around into something quite unsettling?
     Today, I shopped at a store where I haven't been able to fit into anything in YEARS.  I've been in there a few times in the past month and a half or so, because I was feeling fairly certain I was on the cusp of being able to fit into what they sell.  A week or so ago, I went in there briefly and tried one thing on.  It didn't' fit.  I got discouraged and walked out.  Today, I put on my big girl panties (aptly so, considering where I was)  and decided to give it another go.  I walked in---a little self conscious (Okay, a lot self conscious) and proceeded to browse.  Many of the things I could still just eyeball and say, "yep…still not going to work…" But there were some things that I decided were worth taking back to the fitting room.  As I was shopping though, NOT ONE SINGLE sales associate approached me.  Like I said, normally, I would have been delighted to have been left alone to shop at my leisure, but today, I had a running commentary of negativity flowing though my brain.  It went something like this:

"You are too big to wear anything in this store…no one wants to waste their time helping you because they know that you won't be buying anything."

"See that sales person and customer over there…she's helping her because she's thin.  She's belongs in here.  You don't.

 "Everyone in this store is thinking, 'who is that fat ass kidding.  Even if she can shimmy into some of these things, she's still going to look like a beached whale in them'"."

 "None of the sales people want to help you because if you take something into the dressing room and try to shove yourself into it, you might bust the seams and destroy it."

Somehow, despite the horribly negative self talk I subjected myself to, I did make it to the dressing room with a few items.  You know, I'm really glad I did.  When I got back there, two other customers were waiting.  Two other normal sized women.  Two women that probably haven't struggled with weight like I have.  And you know what they said to me?

"What is going on in here today?  There is no attendant in the dressing room, and hardly anybody on the floor.  Must be shift change or something.  Do you think we should just go back and put ourselves in a dressing room?"

     Talk about a reality check.  The sales people weren't ignoring me because I was fat.  They weren't ignoring me because I was not worth their time.  They weren't ignoring me because God forbid I might pop an underwire.   The bottom line is they weren't waiting on me because they weren't there, or they were busy with someone else!
     At that point I decided I just needed to get over myself and turn off the ugly self talk.  It's unhealthy.  It's lethal to my self esteem.  It isn't worth my time or the way it makes me feel.   The kicker is, when you have talked down to yourself for so long, it is hard to stop.  But, I'm going to make it a point to try.  Negative self talk is a habit--just like over eating.  It is going to take time to break it.
     I left that store today with a new perspective.  I also left the store with a little pink bag…and I was pretty damn proud of myself for both.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thoughts On Iron Mike Tyson and Divine Intervention.

     Hummmm…..something tells me you didn't expect to see this face of my blog.  But bear with me.  I've got some news---News I've been waiting a while to share, and news and pretty damned excited about.  You see,  I'm fairly certain  Mike Tyson and I no longer have ANYTHING in common. Now, I could be wrong.  Like me, the heavy weight champ could have a penchant for cocker spaniels, old houses,  long relaxing baths in antique claw foot tubs, and ice cold Coca-Cola--but you know, something makes me kind of doubt it. I know what you're thinking--come on Erin, what could you and Mike Tyson have EVER had in common?  He's certainly not the first person that would come to anyone's mind when drawing comparisons to me.  But for a long time, Mike and I have shared something .  And it isn't something I'm proud to admit (no dirty minds there). So here it is folks.  

The Top 10 Reasons Mike Tyson and I Have Nothing in Common

1.  He's a man.  I'm a woman  We just don't have the same equipment down there. 
2. Besides the obvious the fact that he is African American, and I'm pretty much the whitest white girl on the planet, we look nothing alike.
3. He can knock you out.  I can't throw a punch to save my life.
4.  I've never had a drug problem--hell, I've never even smoked a joint. 
5.  Two pups and a little black cat are enough for me---I've never had any desire to own a tiger. (Seriously, is that for real, or was that just for The Hangover?)
6.  I've never been in the slammer.  
7. I don't have a facial tattoo.  The only thing on my face is a little Mary Kay. 
8.  Ben had better be glad I treat him better than Tyson treated Robin Givens.  
9.  For some reason, I've never had the uncontrollable urge to bite anyone's ear off. 

And…..Drum Roll Please….

10.  I can now no longer meet the weight requirements to compete in a heavy weight boxing match.  

     Can you see me doing my happy dance?  When that number went from a 2 to a 1 this morning, I was beyond excited.  I haven't been under 200 pounds in a really long time.  It was thrilling, it was exhilarating!  It was beyond motivating.  
      I'll share something with you.  Right before I started my weight loss quest a few years back I distinctly remember watching a documentary about Mike Tyson while sitting my fat ass in a recliner and shoveling a bowl full of buttered popcorn in my face.  Why I as watching it, I don't know.  It's not like I'm a huge boxing fan.  Seriously, It would be pushing it for me to come up with the names of five professional boxers--and that includes the likes of Tyson and Ali.  But for some reason--perhaps it was divine intervention, I was watching that day.  During the documentary, they mentioned how much Mike Tyson weighed.  I was shocked.  I was considerably heavier that this heavy weight champ.  I googled the weight requirements for heavy weight boxers.  I didn't even come close to the lower end of the weight requirement.  I will tell you---that was humbling and also pretty damn terrifying.  But you know what, it opened my eyes. It made me see exactly how big (no pun intended) of a problem I had.  And---I resolved to fix it.  
    Am I where I want to be?  Nope.  But thank God and Mike Tyson, I'm sure a hell of a lot closer than I was.