Well on My Way!

Date: March 22, 2017

Time: 4:40 pm

Weight: 300 pounds

Attitude: Strong, Cautiously Optimistic

Just doing a little informal check-in.

Since September 2016 (so that’s like 7 months or so) I haven’t missed a single work out.  Even if I’ve been sick I’ve committed to doing something to keep my head in the game and my muscles stimulated.  Even though I’ve only experienced a 20 pound weight loss since my last blog a year and a half ago, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

Muscle does indeed weigh more than fat and it’s the most evident in my face.  In the “before” face on the left I actually weighed like 10 pounds LESS than the “after” face on the right.  My cheeks are less full now, my chin is less “waddly”, my eyes and smile both seem bigger without all the fat pads.

scales lie

Before 295 pounds, After about 305 pounds

Over the last couple of years I’ve had to learn the hard way how to lose weight the RIGHT way, the way that yields lasting results.  Follow this timeline with me for a moment:

  • June 2013 –            400 pounds
  • November 2013 – 330 pounds
  • March 2014 –        295 pounds
  • May 2014 –            285 pounds
  • December 2014 – 330 pounds
  • April 2015 –           345 pounds
  • June 2015 –            320 pounds
  • May 2016 –            370 pounds
  • September 2016 – 355 pounds
  • Now –                      300 pounds

The first time I decided I needed to lose weight was just after my brother’s wedding.  I hated myself that day, but I love my brother more so I just celebrated him and his bride without letting my self-loathing interfere with their occasion.  I strategically held those flowers in front of me for every picture and resigned myself to my status as the “fat sister”.

me Matthew's wedding

Me at my brother’s wedding

After I lost 70 pounds in 5 months, I fooled myself into believing that if I could lose a lot of weight by eating 1500 calories a day and exercising for an hour that I could lose even more weight even faster if I only ate 700 calories a day and exercised for 2 hours!  This led me down a slippery slope and by April of 2014 I fasted for most of the month and I spent upwards of 4 hours a day in the gym.  (This was also the month that I experienced my deepest, darkest depression in years – I see the correlation now!)  Yes, I lost weight and I was smaller, but I was miserable.  And I still hated myself.

So, by the summer of 2014 I halted any weight loss efforts, and I realized that my first priority had to be to fix the mechanism between my ears – that is, my mindset.  I spent most of 2015 dedicated to self-growth and healing old emotional wounds, devouring self-help books left and right.  I learned valuable lessons about loving myself and maintaining a positive attitude.

DSCN0590

Me loving myself in the courtyard of MOMA in NYC summer 2015

Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to maintain self-love.  Combined with a health scare, I managed to gain back most of the weight I’d lost.  The thing is, I lacked the discipline to adhere to consistent healthy habits because I didn’t think that I was worth the effort.

In the summer of 2016 I began talking to a counselor about some of the things that I’d struggled with and that helped me lose about 20 pounds, but my life changing moment came in August of 2016.  I found Amy Jo Berman’s coaching for actors.  It took a little “robbing Peter to pay Paul” kind of financial wizadry to pay for the course, but I knew instantly that the training she was offering at the time was EXACTLY what I needed.

Here is a link to her blog 3 Steps to Transform Your Acting Career with a Simple Mindset Tweak that gives a little sample of what I’m talking about.  Step 1 in particular has led to a dramatic paradigm shift in my thinking that I have applied probably every moment of every day.  I don’t think anymore, “God, I’m so fat!” as if that’s the big “problem” – I focus instead on the solution – eating well and exercising.

And I haven’t missed a single work out since September!  I’ve been steadily folding in healthy eating habits so that now I eat healthy every single day.  It’s the first time in my life that I’ve actually kept a New Year’s resolution!  Since January 2, 2017 I’ve only eaten junk food on 7 days – a rousing success!  I keep meticulous track of my progress and I don’t beat myself up when maybe my progress isn’t what I expect.

I am so proud of myself for all that I’ve done and I’m so thankful for Amy Jo Berman who thoughtfully prepared content in exactly the way that I needed it.  As far as weight loss, I still have quite a way to go until I’m at goal, but every day is gift and I am no longer burdened with even a hint of self deprecation.  I love my body and I am thankful for everything it does for me.  As long as I stay focused on the possibility, on the question (Step 2 in AJB’s blog!), I feel limitless.  And I have no doubts that the future only gets brighter!  How does it get even better than this?!

before after

Before and After – June 2013 to February 2017

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Workout Checklist

Helps me make sure that in my resistance training I target every major muscle group at least 3-4 times every week.  I’ve never been good at tracking either workouts or food logs, but this little beauty has worked like a charm, especially if I remember that I don’t have to do it all at once.

I can do dumbbell arm curls while I watch television and limit gym time to just doing legs and upper body.  Or, if I’m feeling good and have the time I can knock it out all at once in one super fast circuit.  So many possibilities, so many ways to get this in!  So easy!

cropped DSCN0729

Sidewalk Tutor – Lessons in NYC

Date: August 26, 2015

Time: 9:40 pm

Weight: I’m not sure!

Attitude: Confident

Back in August I went on a little solitary vacay slash pilgrimage to the fabled land of Manhattan.   I was hoping that maybe by going it would jump start some kind of internal motivation to dig deep and lose weight.  When I first planned the trip, exactly this happened.  I lost about 20 pounds without thinking about it too much, and other measures of health started to improve: my blood pressure went down, and even my skin became healthier.  But the weight loss did not continue as hoped.  Again I became slave to a scale.  When I focus so much on numbers, I begin to see myself as nothing more than a size, worthless except when I’m losing weight.  Now I know both consciously and subconsciously that this is not true.  My spirit can thrive regardless of my size.  Going to my city, my NYC, reminded of this very simple lesson.  To understand how I came to this revelation, take a little journey with me…

The Obsession

Back in 2007 I went through a painful divorce.  It came as a surprise and I blamed myself, particularly my weight gain.  I spent the better part of two years in a free fall during which I gained even more weight, engaged in dangerous and self-destructive behavior.  After this wild oat sowing, I moved back in with my folks, went back to school, and started going to a personal trainer.  I weighed 340 pounds at the time.  Hindsight, I know that I believed, erroneously of course, that if I lost weight that it would fix everything and that spending time in the gym would result in rapid, mythical, and magical weight loss.  I lost maybe 25 pounds, but I still hated myself, and couldn’t figure out how to pull myself out of my rut.  I stopped going to the training sessions, and eventually stopped going to the gym altogether.

The Slow Rot

After I completed my associate degree, I landed a fairly good job with a reputable company.  I was very good at my job mind you, but it was a job that I ultimately hated.  The company is a good one and I had the best coworkers, but everyday I worked this job I felt like my soul was dying.  I began to realize that my dream was to work in performance arts.  I continued to work hard, hanging up posters of Broadway beside my desk to motivate me.  I finally got my own little apartment in a vibrant part of West End of Richmond.  I had a little savings and I was able to save up to do some studio recordings of songs for my brother and sister-in-laws wedding, and I took improv classes.  Despite my best efforts, it still felt like I was dying on the inside – like an abscess growing inside of my body.  Even if no one else could see it, it was putrid and toxic.

Here is one of the songs that I recorded for my brother and sister in law: 

The Awakening

In 2014 I quit the hated job under the auspices of pursuing performance arts.  I had no real vision or plan at this time, but I had to try.  The moment I gave my notice to my unsuspecting boss, I felt a flicker of light within – my spirit immediately responded with growth and warmth.  I started going back to the gym and I ran into my old personal trainer.  I think I pretended not to see her and ran the other way in shame because I still hadn’t lost any weight – in 5 long years!  It was a tough year, granted, and towards the end of 2014, I considered returning to the soul killing job with security and benefits.  This was back when I thought I had to choose between a fulfilling career and financial security.  I’m finally learning that I can have a job that I like that comes with some measure of security – and some measure of flexibility so that I can take acting classes!

At nearly 33 years old, I know a few things – not many, but a few – and I’m learning to trust myself.  I find that as I do the things that ignite my spirit, the rest of me gets healthier almost automatically.  It feels great!  This little self discovery led me to book a room in Manhattan for a week.  All summer I’d been looking forward to this get-away, this medicine for the soul, planning and imagining how it might change me…

The Change

I’ve lost a little bit of weight since my trip like I hoped, yes, but no magic “insta-weight-loss”.  While this lack of significant weight loss would have filled me with shame before my little NYC retreat, it doesn’t any longer.  I’m still hitting the gym, and hard.  I know that the benefits of the gym are not so much about looking good, but about feeling good.  I’ve written about this before – the gym builds strength and stamina to tackle the every day maybe just a little bit better.

Today I saw my old personal trainer again, and today I smiled at her.  It was not a cursory smile of politeness, but an authentic smile born of a satisfied spirit.  So, on the outside, I’m no different than I was before I went on my trip, but today I’m happy with myself just the way I am.  I may never lose the weight that I want to.  I have a strange and unusual relationship with food that has been with me for most of my life.  But I am dedicated to maintaining fitness – I love going to the gym and working hard, getting my sweat on for the sheer love of it!  And besides this I have a “tribe” of good friends and people that inspire me and allow me to contribute creatively.  I have a personal trainer certification that I have every intention on using even if I don’t lose weight!  Because I am one of many – many who struggle with self-esteem and self-image in a veil of obesity, whose spirits may be similarly obscured by self-doubt.  And I have something to give – the encouragement that took me so long to find for myself.

The Lesson

I am not a size!  I am not a number on a scale!  This is the lesson my spirit learned from that great teacher, New York City.  Walk a city block, especially a crowded one, and you’ll see a hundred different kinds of people.  Large, small, fat, thin, old, young, and everything in between.  While I was surrounded by all of these people, all of them totally focused on their mission, their commute, their walk, their vacation, I was infused with confidence to focus on my own journey.  And maybe sometimes I was limping because my knee hurt, and maybe I had to squeeze awkwardly because of my size, but my small limitations were but one kind.

I saw a man pushing his wife in a wheelchair while their small children danced excitedly around them.  He looked tired, but New York was an important place for him to share with his sons that day.  Elderly women with walkers rode the subway with the all of the vim and vigor of teenagers.  As for me, I am Kim.  I am the unique plethora of interests, thoughts, actions, and for the first time in a very long time I can honestly say that I like myself just the way that I am.

Me in Battery Park in Manhattan

Battery Park in Manhattan, watching the Staten Island Ferry

tower of presents in black and white

Health is the Gift You Give Yourself

Date: June 21, 2015

Time: 9:26 pm

Weight: 320

Attitude: Encouraged

one

Last October I finally admitted to myself that I had been gaining weight again. At that time I knew that I needed to re-frame my mindset towards eating right. It’s easy to feel like eating healthy means that I am depriving myself of other things, which can be discouraging. But I know that eating right and taking care of my body is a gift that I give to myself. To reinforce this concept, I took some clothes that I had collected in smaller sizes, and wrapped them in fun, feminine, bold wrapping paper. I arranged tpresent pilehem as though they were gifts under a Christmas tree in my living room. I took them with me when I moved back into my parents’ house, and set them up at the foot of my bed.   I didn’t even tell anyone what they were for. In fact, this is the first time that I’m sharing with anyone what these “gifts” are.

Unwrapping is so much more exciting than wrapping!!!

unwrapped present
I share today because for the first time I got to open one of these pants in boxpresents, and I felt like a kid at Christmas! Inside was a pair of navy blue dress pants that I wore several times last year before they didn’t fit anymore. Excitingly, they happen to perfectly match a flirty, flaring top I just bought! In the back of my mind I knew that this day would come and now that it has, I am even more motivated to keep giving myself the gift of health.

new pants           painted new pants

One Day At a Time

Here I am, half way through the first day of what I am now calling “recovery”.

I’ve decided to approach my relationship with food in a similar vein as Alcoholics Anonymous, or as it turns out it’s an actual thing – Overeaters Anonymous.  It’s not a new thing and was actually first formed in the 1960s.  I also have looked into the newly DSM recognized Binge Eating Disorder.  I found this great website http://bedaonline.com/.  So many things in both sites have resonated with me.  One of the things that stood out the most to me is this, from the BEDA site:

In fact, weight loss as a goal of treatment – as opposed to goals of improved self care – can be damaging to the process of recovery.

I had not realized that by focusing on weight loss and other standard measures of fitness, that I might have been doing myself a disservice.  I’m cautious to write too much on the subject, because these revelations are so new and I’m not sure I understand them yet.

What I do know is this:

  • I want to focus on goodness – particularly the feeling I had when I was on stage for the first time this year.  Size didn’t matter.  The only thing that mattered was a love of performance and a feeling of belonging.  I put this fabulous picture of one of my group bows that captured that feeling for me right by mirror in the bedroom.  It’s just in my peripheral vision reminding me of everything wonderful.
  • I want to be very protective of my internal journey.  Although I share a great deal and I want to reach out as much as I can, this is ultimately MY OWN EXPERIENCE and no one else’s.  Any outward expressions should blossom from within.  Similarly, I need to resist outside influence if it does not feel right.  Case in point – there are many things on both of the above listed sites that do not resonate.  I heard long ago the term “shopping market approach”.  You don’t buy everything at the store – you only buy what you need.  Same goes for external influences.
  • I need to take it one day at a time – one hour, one minute, one second, whatever it takes to make NOW a success.  It’s hard to put my finger on what defines success exactly at this point in my early recovery.  I think it may have something to do with separating my feelings from eating (or not eating), and discovering fullness and satiety from myriad other things in life that are not foodstuffs.
  • Always, always, always I want to see myself as beautiful as I see everyone else.  I think that generally most of us tend to see other people in their best light and we are very forgiving of the flaws of others – at least I am.  And yet, I am devastatingly hard on myself.  There’s no reason for that.  I am simply and wonderfully human too.

I wrote a little something to tell myself, in the mirror, at the end of each successful day, just before I go to bed.  It’s no Dylan Thomas, but it’ll do:

Here’s a little toast to me:

To who I am and who I hope to be

To all the goodness that ever was

And all that’s yet to be.

This is that bow moment I was talking about… man, that felt good!  And such amazing people to be a part of it with!  And… brag moment, my sister made that skirt just for the play – she is amazing!

my bow after my first play

bowing after play

Back in the Saddle – by which I mean… this is going to be a bumpy ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: April 15, 2015

Time: 12:45

Weight: 345

Attitude: Defeated…

headshot 2

 

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted.  A few updates.  Last April I was diagnosed with bipolar depression (Please check out NIMH website – the National Institute for Mental Health).  While it explained so many things, it also forced me to take a look at myself through a fresh lens.  I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to face myself in the mirror and that I had support of family and friends to reach out for professional help.

Let’s talk about though how this diagnosis affects my weight loss efforts.

  1. Danger of developing an unhealthy addiction to working out.  This danger was even mentioned in my ACE Personal Trainer Journal as a warning of using exercise to combat depression.  So, don’t just take my word for it.
  2. As I’m teetering (even with medication and counseling) between mania and depression, exercise and diet can either be therapeutic or be a trigger that sends my spiraling one way or the other.  It takes a constant vigilance on my part to know when to charge ahead and when to maybe take it easy – and it’s not always clear…
  3. “Be positive” and “cheer up” and other such encouragements, while given with good intentions are largely meaningless.  Frankly, I don’t have to be positive to have a good work out.  I can be mad as hell and still have a successful day.

The main thing that I’ve learned so far is this: the more that I embrace my ups and downs, me, fully, just as I am, the more calm I tend to be, which seems to lend itself to more consistency in the gym and in dieting.

Also, I have a gym partner that I meet up with at least 3 times a week, and we can talk about anything.  I can let her know when I’m on the verge of freak out, and while she rocks it out Zumba I might take some time wailing on a speed bag.  But I know that if she’s working hard doing what she digs, I need to be working just as hard doing my thing.  I’ve never had a person in my life before that let me ride those ups and downs without judgment.  Unlike some people with bipolar, my spikes tend to be generally private.  My family, the people that I live with see the mood swings and are often victims of them, but in public I keep to myself.  Mania is super fun in a gym – I get to go and look like I’m a rock star – albeit a fat one – inspiration to all.  But when I go depressive and feel like crying the entire time I’m on a treadmill (which I’ve done), it’s embarrassing.  So I quit.

But last night was different.  I met my friend/accountability partner for Zumba.  She warmed up in the elliptical, while I cried for just a moment about that feeling of complete defeat.  We started the Zumba class, but due to a combination of a sore knee and the need for some alone time, I opted for the rowing machine about half way through.  But I could see her and the rest of the Zumba class working hard and dancing out.  I could hear thumps of the bass beat.  And when they did a hard song, I rowed my guts out.  And when they had a moment between songs, I rested my weary legs and took a sip of water, then hit it again when the music started up.

The undercurrent of depression threatening to pull me down was still there.  But by

  • telling myself that I didn’t need to “be positive” to work,
  • having friends to be accountable to,
  • and remaining at least somewhat connected

I managed to get to the end of the night feeling, very unusually, like myself – just present in the moment.  No crazy “gotta lose a million pounds” thoughts, no “I’m a terrible person” thoughts.  Just me.  In the gym.  Sweaty and sore.  The way God intended.

One way or another… we’re gonna get through this!

 

 

I Am Alive

I’ve had this idea in my noggin since I began this weight loss journey that if I lost weight, I would feel better.

Even my site name suggests this notion.

Clothes would fit better.  I could move better.  I could breathe better.  My blood pressure would be better.  My life… would be better.  These are all true statements, yes, to an extent.

Let’s explore the ramifications of these thoughts, follow them to their logical conclusion.

If these things could be better, then eventually, these things could be best.  Then my mind played a dirty little trick: it told me, “When you are at your best level of fitness, then your life can begin.”

Last week I saw on Netflix a cute little movie entitled “Finding Normal”.  A busy doctor from LA, played by Candice Cameron Bure, gets stuck in Normal, NC, a town not unlike Mayberry, with a wise doctor/judge not unlike Andy himself.  At one point Candice’s character says to the doctor/judge, “I just can’t wait to get back to my life.”  Doctor/judge responds, “Whose life have you been living while you’ve been here?”

I thought to myself, “Whose life have you been living so far?”

Yesterday I started reading a book for school entitled, “The Deep Change Field Guide: A Personal Course to Discovering the Leader Within” by Robert E. Quinn.  In the third chapter, there is a fabulous quote from Andrea Jung, the CEO of Avon.  She says,

“Fire yourself on a Friday night and come in on Monday morning as if a search firm put you there to be a turn-around leader.  Can you be objective and make the bold change?  If you can’t, then you haven’t reinvented yourself.”

I applied this concept to my struggle with weight.  (As a point of reference – after losing that 100 pounds, I faced my arch nemesis of depression and have since gained back 40.)  “Okay,” I told myself.  “Here’s where we are.  How can I see this from a fresh perspective?”

Suddenly, as if by magic, I said out loud, “I AM LIVING.”  No, I didn’t yell it.  I just stated the fact, assertively.  And do you know what happened?  I began to cry!  I felt my chest heave as I repeated over and over again, “I am alive, I am living, I am alive, I am living.”  It occurred to me that, pretty much since my divorce (8 years ago!), my conscious mind had no idea that I am living!

I cry cleansing tears of joy even as I write this entry.  For the first time I see clearly that I do not have to wait until I lose wait to be better or for my life to begin.  This body that I have, the struggles and the gifts, all the fearful and wonderful things that I am capable of right now, is all the better I will ever need.

And I can’t tell you now exactly how this breakthrough will contribute to a lifetime of health and wellness, but I know that somehow it will.

For now it is simply comforting and empowering to say, yell even, if I’m so inclined, “I AM LIVING!”

I encourage you to say it with me if you haven’t in a while.  🙂

deep change