More than a Number: the Story of How I Lost ??? Amount of Pounds

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When people ask me how much I weigh (and some do ask), I prefer not to answer. When people ask me how much weight I’ve lost (and they ask this as well), I prefer not to answer. Why? Assigning a number to my progress on this path to healing and wellness on all levels (mental, physical and spiritual) places my efforts in a box. Suddenly, all my hard work (and it is hard work) becomes reduced to a number.

The intense work on my emotional healing becomes less significant. My inner growth, which can’t be measured by a number, ceases to matter to the masses. It’s true, mind you, that I’m doing this work for me, but I’d like people to see, through my journey, that when it comes to losing weight, the number on the scale, in so many ways, needs not to have the biggest impact.

When it boils down to it, when it boils down to weight loss, the problem is that all most people want to see is a number. The number overshadows the person, the effort, the time it takes. People see a number, they don’t see a person, and I’ve been invisible long enough. While it may seem an oxymoronic statement, I have indeed been invisible by virtue of my visibility. I’ve lived this for most of my life.

At my heaviest, all most people saw was the outer shell, the fat. They didn’t see me. They saw fat. They felt superior to me.

How do I know this? I’ve had so many verbally abusive encounters it would take volumes of books to detail all of them. As a teenager, I clearly remember walking around the mall and being taunted by children, teenagers, and adults. I can still hear their voices: “You need to do something. You need Richard Simmons.” On one occasion, they followed me around the mall, continuously taunting me. Children teased me all the time. Parents did nothing. Well, okay, sometimes the parents joined in.

Some people would try to help me with my weight, but their lack of sensitivity created more damage, such as when in high school, one of my gym teachers wanted me to walk/run laps during P.E. while the other kids had fun playing tennis and other sports.

Did that help me lose weight? NO! I felt completely ostracized. Being obese, morbidly obese, in high school felt bad enough, but to have an adult set me further apart from my peers made my life much more painful.

Becoming an adult, growing up, didn’t bring much relief from the chronic verbal abuse society felt it had every right to throw at me. People would tell me all the time “You need to do something.” Well, duh! Actually, they were the ones who needed to do something.

Every person who has ever said to an overweight/obese individual that they need help needs to ask themselves if they’re saying something because they legitimately love the person or if they’re saying it because they feel more virtuous because they’re not fat themselves. In the majority of the cases, people feel superior to or better than fat people.

Given the personal history I’ve just revealed, why then am I considering telling you how much weight I’ve lost?

People ask me all the time how much weight I’ve lost, and maybe it’s time I stop hiding behind the question, stop giving it power over me. “A life lived in fear is no life at all.” I have no room in my heart for fear anymore. And I have feared that when people hear the number, they will no longer see me, see my efforts, see that the number doesn’t represent the most important kind of progress.

I also believe that the story I tell you here might help you and others. I have that hope.
People may not realize how they can help, really help, someone struggling with weight loss/food addiction.

Let me tell you by sharing part of my journey. I had to want it first. No matter what others may have said, I had to want it. I had to want to eat healthier, to work out, to look at all the emotional triggers that made me want to overindulge to begin with—that’s where the real work begins. I needed to find that piece of me that desired real change and would work for it.

From the start of my journey three years ago, I knew it had to be an inside job—for this to last it had to come from the inside out. Sure, I wanted a quick fix. I dreamed of instant fixes like we see on television shows like The Biggest Loser.

But more than anything, more than that overnight pill, I wanted permanent, lasting change—I still do. I started walking outside and on the treadmill. I started keeping a regular hatha yoga practice. I started taking a closer look at my food. I worked at counting calories. That worked for me slowly. I introduced healthier foods into my days. I journaled about how I felt on days I ate unhealthy foods. I looked at people, places, situations that made me want to eat emotionally, and I slowly (well not so slowly) changed some of those situations.

It felt like hell sometimes; some days it still feels like hell. Some people supported me. Others didn’t. I’ve changed a lot.

I became my own person. Actually, I still am becoming that woman, maybe for the first time in my life.

I’m learning to sculpt the essence of who I am by incorporating more meditation into my life and learning to appreciate the sheer beauty of silence, my silence.

I lifted weights. I worked my buns at becoming more fit. Then, last April, during a rough spot in my life, I discovered Bikram Yoga and fell in love, really fell in love with sweat and discovered the real meaning of sweating away emotional toxins. I’m finding my inner strength, learning to rely on self, learning to see I’m beautiful just the way I am. And I’m learning to love my body in this moment. I’m making peace with my physical self.

That’s how I came to lose 168 pounds in three years. There I said it.

But that number in no way defines me, defines who I am, defines my soul. My journey will always be defined by more than a number. I’m more than a number. Whatever your number is, you have value just the way you are. What you weigh, how much you want to lose, how much you want to gain—those are numbers. They are not now, nor will they ever be, you.

I know that with continued intense internal and external work, that I’ll achieve my goals: a healthier spirit, mind, and, yes, body. I hope that by sharing this sensitive piece of my journey, you’ll see that you, too, can have the life you want, if you work for it.

Here’s one of my favorite transformational pics:

One of my favorite transformation pics.

One of my favorite transformation pics.

Here’s the link to a Bob Seger song that reflects my thoughts on numbers:

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

Random Musings on Food, Yoga, Weight Loss, Grief, and Other (Un)related Things

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about food, grief, my relationship with food, and all sorts of other life issues. Food has always been a comfort to me, even more so now. I’m not sure exactly what my intentions are with this entry other than to share random thoughts.

Weight loss is important to me.  It is. So is being healthy. But I’ve been on this road long enough to know that my journey just can’t be about weight loss. You see I want to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have struggled with clean eating since my dad died and if I’m honest since a couple of months before he died. I haven’t been eating horribly by any means, but not clean either. But I want to, and I’m working on it.

Sometime last week I really decided to renew my efforts at looking at my current eating habits, and the results were inevitable. I watched my emotional self rise up. I could feel myself becoming needy. I felt a huge weight on my chest. I didn’t feel like going to yoga on Friday. I didn’t feel like going to yoga today (Monday). I didn’t feel like going to spinning on Sunday.

I could feel the oppressive sadness of my mood. I’ve made so many strides with food, but I need to make more, and I know that requires looking at how I assuage my pain with my eating.

I KNOW I have to do this because this is the only way I’ll succeed on this path. Have you seen the statistics on how many people are NOT successful at losing weight? How many people regain their weight after weight loss surgery? The stats are not good. And I know why they’re not good. If people don’t face their demons, the reasons why they gained weight in the first place, they’ll always go back to the behavior. I know that. I’ve lived that.

Continuing to work at losing weight, continuing to work at being healthy in every way means I have to look at some painful truths. It’s hard for me without my dad. I miss him more today than I imagined. My only other family really is my mom. It’s not that I don’t have other relatives, but I don’t see them. Yes, I’m blessed to have some awesome friends and a wonderful online community, but I still feel a certain loneliness that it’s just my mom and me.

I’ve felt so needy this weekend. But I didn’t really share that with anyone because I knew I needed to feel it. And as bad as I felt, and as much as I wanted to wallow in that state I still got up and went to yoga, went to spinning because I KNEW and I KNOW that to succeed I have to work through it. I can’t go around it, or I’ll never see the other side.

Food, as I’ve expressed before, represents a certain love, a certain escape. Yes, those are certain falsehoods, BUT it’s helped me through some rough times. It’s helping me now. But I’m ready to find a better way.

What does that look like? When I’m really successful at having a healthier relationship with the food I put in my body, it’s so simple. I keep a notebook and write down what I eat every day. No judgment.  Just observations. If I eat this for breakfast, then maybe I won’t eat that for lunch. I’m looking more now at eating whole foods and not processed foods. My body feels so much better when I’m eating natural foods.  Bathroom habits go much more easily, if you know what I mean.

And if I have an emotional reaction I write that down too because I have those ALL THE TIME.  I am an emotional eater. I am a reactor.  Not like I used to be though.

That’s why yoga will always be a part of my life. Even on days when I’d rather wallow in self-pity, throw a temper tantrum, cry huge tears, I’ll always go to yoga because it helps me find a way through the cr*p. And you wanna know a secret? My body is soooo much more toned for doing yoga as much as I do.  You should see how much I can hold in my core now!! It’s kinda cool! Being physically active helps me feel better.  That’s why I went to the spin class on Sunday. That’s why I went for a walk in the rain on Saturday. Any weight loss is a side effect. I LOVE feeling the clarity that comes with being physically active.

I made it through this weekend. In the words of the philosopher Barry Manilow “I made it through the rain / and found myself respected / By the others / who got rained on too”. I’ll make it through this. I am making it through this. One yogic breath at a time. You’ll make it through the rain too. All you have to do is ask. All you have to do is make the effort. There’s an awesome world out there just waiting.  And it’s only one thought away!!!  Choose that thought! I am!!!  Actually, I don’t know any other way to be…….

I meant to end the entry there. Then I started thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on self-reliance. I’ve spent most of my life living for others, wanting and needing their approval. I’m learning to trust myself and that’s no easy feat, but it’s worth it. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” — the genius of Emerson speaks loud and clear.  Trust myself. Trust my heart. It’s the only way.

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

and my personal facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

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7 Days Without Processed Sugar; 7 Days With Me

Sitting in my office yesterday with one of my office mates, Terrie, our conversation about health care somehow turned into a discussion of processed sugars and how awful and yucky and tired they make us feel. Before either of us knew what we were doing, we made a pact to avoid ANY and ALL PROCESSED SUGARS for SEVEN DAYS!!!  We made plans to report back to each other during our office hours next Tuesday, October 29th.  I left the office fully of giddiness at the adventure that awaited me, not fully realizing the ramifications of my decision until a few hours later.

After school, I had a bit of time before meeting a friend for dinner, so I decided to go clothes shopping. I didn’t really think I’d find anything—I’m a summer girl and prefer to wear a summer/spring wardrobe all year round. As I browsed through the store a neon lime green pencil straight skirt caught my eye.  I HAD to try it on.  I LOVE lime green, as did my father.

As I stared at the image of myself wearing the neon creation, I didn’t see myself in the mirror; rather, I saw a misshapen green blob that belonged in a D-level horror movie. In those moments, all the hard work I’d done on myself disappeared, and I wanted to eat, to eat sugar: candy, chocolate, cookies, oreos, any food with sugar, but not just one serving, multiple servings. This self-improvement project I’m on suddenly felt as though it wasn’t going anywhere.

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But I’d made a commitment, I’d made a promise, and not just to Terrie, I’d made it to myself. In a year that has brought me a sea of changes, I desired even more, especially one that would take more in the direction of my dreams. My food addict brain and heart, though, had other crafty clever ideas, such is the nature of addiction.

I’d promised no processed sugars, but I didn’t promise no overeating, no over-indulging. If I couldn’t make myself feel better with processed sugars I could do it by simply overeating, overeating ANY FOOD! Consuming too much of any food would take the pain away, well not really. It would just mask it, and my addict brain wanted very much to mask the pain, the pain of so much, yet so little. Food has been my best friend, lover, constant companion for so long that letting go, really letting go—well I can’t quite describe that but it’s another layer of loss, of mourning but also of celebration.

My rational brain and heart knew that I’d come too far to go back, so I woke up with another plan, another idea: for the next seven days, I’d share my food with the world, so that’s what I’ll do. I don’t plan on being perfect. I don’t promise not to over-indulge, but I’ve jumped off too many proverbial cliffs and thrived beyond my wildest imagination.

So, for the next seven days, on my fb page I’ll post reports and or pics of my food. It’ll be another step in my journey to reach my goals, to be healthier, and in that NO ONE, not even ME can/will stop me!

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

Here’s a pic of  Wednesday morning’s brekkie:

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Opening a Can of Worms: My Day in Food!

A Can of Worms

A wise soul once told me I could find strength through vulnerability. I’m discovering he’s more than right, especially now. Having food issues, I can find no greater vulnerability than sharing my food habits. Today, I’m sharing my food with you. I didn’t plan a special day, a perfect day—it’s just a day, a part of my evolution. People have asked me how I’ve lost weight up to this point. What do I do? Count calories? Follow a specific program?

The truth is my relationship with food is an ever-evolving process. The most helpful tool I’ve ever utilized is simple: writing down my eating choices. It keeps me honest with myself and allows me to reflect upon how the food I eat makes me feel. So, here’s what I ate today, with some commentary and pictures.

Breakfast:  fresh dandelion, black kale, and pepper jack cheese omelet. When I sautéed the dandelion and black kale I didn’t use any oil. I just added a bit of water along with garlic and onion. I also used two eggs. Sometimes I remove one of the yolks but today I just used both whole eggs. I topped it off with two pieces of toast (I can’t believe it’s not butter—it’s what I had, but I’m aiming to eat natural foods) and a pear.

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Lunch: A vegetarian Caesar salad with avocado and grilled tofu.

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Random Beverage: Pink Lady Health Ade Kombucha (most of it exploded all over my car, so I actually only drank a bit of it.)

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Dinner: Twice-Baked potato with sautéed fresh dandelion, black kale, pepper jack cheese AND COCONUT BACON!!!!  COCONUT BACON RULES!!!  I topped it off with a fresh pear.

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Not pictured: my ego (medium) non-fat caramel latte. I did not plan this. I messed up something (not a huge deal) at school and had an emotional reaction. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I reacted. But it’s better than what I really wanted to eat: pumpkin mellow creams—so yummy, so sweet, and sooooooo UNHEALTHY.  Don’t believe me? Read this list of ingredients:  sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze, salt, gelatin, dextrose, honey, artificial flavor, sesame oil, yellow 6, red 3, yellow 5, blue 1. But, in their defense, they are fat free!!!

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Overall, not the best day, not a perfect day, but it’s okay. And that’s okay for now. That’s all I’m asking of myself at the moment.

Nancy’s Nifty Homemade Trail Mix

I have a goal in mind for this week, and reaching that goal requires planning!  When I go about my days, I don’t always take the time to pre-plan meals and snacks, but I’ve decided to change that!  After yoga this morning I went to Sprouts and bought ingredients to make my own trail mix.  I’ve been inspired lately by friends who make their own, and I thought to myself “why not?” If I make my own trail mix I can control the contents and, more importantly, pick ingredients I want to eat!

I perused the aisles and picked the following: hot wasabi peas, golden berries, pumpkorn dusted with dark cocoa, raw almonds, unsweetened coconut slivers, date pieces, and edamame with goji berries. When I got home I pulled out a variety of measuring cups and a big red bowl.  After all, I wanted to know how much I was eating as well as what I was eating!

Here’s how my homemade trail mix measured up (per serving of each ingredient):

Hot wasabi peas: 120 calories, 3 grams of fiber

Pumpkorn: 140 calories, 2 grams of fiber

Raw almonds: 170 calories, 4 grams of fiber

Unsweetened coconut: 80 calories, 2 grams of fiber

Date pieces: 120 calories, 3 grams of fiber

Edamame with goji berries: 120 calories, 7 grams of fiber

Golden Berries: 80 calories, 3 grams of fiber

Total: 830 calories, 24 grams of fiber

I decided to separate it into 4 servings, so I’d have ready— made snacks for my power week! That means each serving of Nancy’s Nifty Trail Mix will have 207.5 calories and 6 grams of fiber, and I’ll enjoy EVERY BITE—that’s the best and healthiest thing I could do for myself!  (and as a side note, I have a healthy array of snacks in my pantry!)

THE INGREDIENTS:

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THE WHOLE SHEBANG:

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TWO SERVINGS OF NANCY’S NIFTY TRAIL MIX IN A PORTABLE GLASS CONTAINER!

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Perfecting a Pleasing and Healthy Pantry

As part of my quest for better/improved health I decided the time had come for me to clean out and ascertain the contents of my pantry, so that I would know exactly what I had to eat.  I wanted to see if there were expired items that I needed to throw out (there were); I wanted to see if there were unhealthy items I wanted to throw out (the verdict hasn’t come in on that one yet), but most of all I just wanted to know exactly what I had, so that I could see how it fit into an eating plan that would give me even more energy and even better health, more stamina in the yoga room, more vibrancy in the classroom, more stillness in meditation, more speed on the treadmill—you get the picture).

During the past two days I took every food item out of my pantry for an evaluation.  (as an aside I have a LARGE pantry, and I want to make better use of it, and not just have it be a junk collection station).  Here are some of my observations, item by item:

1)      Best Foods Light mayonnaise: ever since I moved to this apartment I keep buying mayonnaise thinking I’ll make some egg salad ( I do love a good quality homemade egg salad), but I have yet to make egg salad, so I end up throwing out the mayo when it expires and buying a new one.

2)      Target’s Market Pantry light syrup: who is kidding who here?  I have an addiction to sugar.  When I make pancakes, which isn’t very often, they are more of an excuse to drown them in sugar. After eating the pancakes (aka syrup) I usually go into a sugar coma and sleep for days…..I haven’t made pancakes since I moved to this apartment, and I’m not sure I made them in my last apartment, but I keep buying the syrup, just like I keep buying the mayo……

3)      Trader Joe’s Portobello mushroom soup and Campbell’s mushroom soup (yes, they are both vegetarian): well I bought these thinking I’d cook them with some potatoes and veggies, but have yet to do that, and I think, in actuality, that it might make a rather heavy meal.

4)      Pumpkin Oatmeal: well I pared it down from 6 boxes to 2, so that’s something!

5)      Pickled beets and garbanzo beans and black beans: items hanging around for salads.

6)      Trader Joe’s salsa verde: awesome when mixed with corn tortillas, cheese and eggs.

7)      Ortega green chiles and Las Palmas enchilada verde sauce: yummy for enchilada pie…..

8)      Raw organic coconut butter and raw organic almond butter: arguably the healthiest items in my pantry. The coconut butter tastes awesome plain and the almond butter works well for some extra protein in smoothies.

9)      Artichoke and garlic whipped mustard: bought this in Monterey in June. Haven’t opened it yet, but I remember it was rather tasty.

There are other items in the pictures, but you get the picture! I’m trying to work toward a healthier style of eating, and I’m not always sure where it needs to go. I feel like it’s a constant experiment. I want to eat fresher and healthier foods, but that requires going to the grocery store more frequently, and I have to be careful. When I’m feeling emotional, which is most of the time I tend to stray toward more processed foods, like candy bars. If could eat just one it wouldn’t be a problem, but I tend to eat and want to eat more than just one.

I feel better and healthier when I eat fresh raw foods. My body responds to them more positively. My mood is elevated. My spirit is happier. So that’s more of my aim at the moment, one meal at a time. Sometimes I do okay, and sometimes I just do, but I’m getting there, and, in the end, that’s all that counts.

Oh, and, at the very least my pantry is better organized and clean, so now I do know exactly what I have………

Pantry Before:

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Contents of Pantry:

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Pantry After:

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Life Lessons Learned from Zip Lining

I’m in trouble, and I know it. I don’t know the solution though. Everyone says it’s supposed to be inside. I suppose that’s true, but I don’t know quite where to look.

I decided to take today (Sunday) just for myself. To do whatever I felt like doing. I didn’t really sleep in but I did lounge around in bed reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.  I’m enjoying his bit of fluff.  It’s been far too long since I’ve just read for the sake of reading, which is sad in and of itself because I LOVE reading!  I also read a yoga magazine just because.

Somewhere around noon I got up and started doing a little cleaning. In my camera bag I found a camera card containing five videos of me ziplining in Maui. A light bulb went off—somewhere on that sdhc card I might find the answers I’ve been looking for.

I worked sooo hard for months, physically and mentally, to be able to go ziplining in Maui. (There’s far more to Maui story, but that will wait. I want this blog to be about zipping……) Of all the activities I dreamed of participating in while I was in Maui, ziplining was the ONLY one that came with a weight requirement. I struggled for months with my food choices and my workouts. I exhibited a determination I’d never seen before. My eating and workouts weren’t perfect but I woke up every day fixated upon my goal.

Someone told me if you worked out before you ate that you’d lose weight more quickly, so almost every morning I’d get up, put on my New Balance shoes and just go straight out the door and walk for 2 miles. I didn’t think about it; I just did it. I ate almost the same thing every day for breakfast: 1) Yoplait light yogurt with ½ c. fiber one cereal and a diced up apple or 2) oatmeal with a diced up apple and a ¼ c. of raw almonds. The rest of my day would vary, but I’d always start off the same.

A few weeks before I left I wasn’t sure I’d make the weight requirement so I bought some Nike shoes that weigh less that one pound.  They’re actually quite comfy.  When I got to Maui, ziplining was the first activity I did. I wanted to do it first so I wouldn’t have to worry about the scale for the rest of my visit. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about.  I was nicely below their weight limit, and I had an amazing time!  With this particular company two people zipped at the same time, so I had the pleasure of always going last and zipping with the cutest safety guy!

That was about eleven months ago (October 18th, 2011). So much of my life has changed since then, in ways I never imagined, in ways I never planned. Joseph Campbell was right, “we must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” For much of this past year, I’ve been okay. Just okay. I’m referring to my relationship with food here.

Then my father died. I went on auto-pilot. I started eating too much comfort food. It’s not that I ever really binged, but it’s adding up. I’ve gained a few pounds.  Just a few. But that’s a warning sign. I can’t go back. I won’t go back to where I was. But I’m no longer sure how to move forward. I’m just not.  And it’s not really about a number on the scale, it’s about how I feel, about how my body feels, and my body wants to feel better and stronger.

Looking at the videos of my zipling experience remind me of my inner strength and also remind me of the beauty and value of taking one day at time, and I know that if I do that I’ll keep moving forward into the amazing adventure my life is becoming……………….

Scenes from Line 4 of my 5 line zipping experience:

http://youtu.be/fjR9vZpkgPk

Scenes from Line 5 of my 5 line zipping experience (line 5 is over 1/2 mile long and takes you more than 600 feet above the ground!):

http://youtu.be/1dOMuNsutQk

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