Monday, December 28, 2015

End of Year Reflection, 2015 Edition

December 2013 / December 2014 / December 2015

How funny – as I look at the sequence of photos above, I also see myself getting into clearer focus. Also see how I'm not relying so much on bright red lipstick anymore? In the latest photo, it's just some plain lip balm. No make-up at all, no filters. 45 isn't so bad, right?  It's all about the lighting, I guess. *grin*

There's not as drastic a change from 2014 to 2015 as there was from 2013 to 2014, but I am still pleased with my progress. There have been pretty major changes in my life since last year's December photo, even if I don't look that much different. 2015 was the year when I got serious about running (even if I feel kind of sad and meh about it at this moment), and it made a huge difference in my life in several ways.

• Got me moving around consistently and meaningfully

• Got me outside in a full range of weather conditions – and guess what? I didn't freeze, or melt, or drown. Unless it's lightning out, or extremely icy, there are few excuses not to exercise outside.

• Snagged me a whole new slew of friends from all walks of life who are ridiculously supportive

• Helped me view food in a new way: Food as fuel (novel!)

• Made me feel stronger and capable of anything

• Made me realize that I can do things that once seemed impossible, if only I try

Another positive action I took in 2015 was to work with a nutritionist, which helped me get grounded again after a difficult period, and reminded me about some basic steps to take to make the most of my food every day. I am still far from perfect, but I have the tools and the knowledge to do the best I can.

The result of those actions was that I lost over 30 pounds this year, and about 100 pounds total. I admit, it's not as much as I'd have liked, but it's something! Not to mention that I am still here and in it after a year and a half – that makes this the most successful weight loss effort I've ever had in my life. (Even if at before Thanksgiving, my total was over 40 pounds lost for the year. Well, that just means that I am sure to get there again!)

I found a new, great gynecologist after my previous one retired. (Though oops, neglected to get my candygram, er, mammogram this year.)

I continued to see my fabulous GP to monitor progress, and I've been getting A+ on my checkups. My blood pressure is normal (yay!) and so is all the important blood work.

Now, for next year, how can I possibly improve on that?

Well, for one, I would love to lose at least 50 more pounds. Heck, I'd love to get below 200 by the end of 2016 (more than 70 pounds to lose in that case), but as I have said before, time-based goals don't work well for me and so I am just going to keep on keeping on and see where it lands me – as long as it is in the negative, of course. I fully intend to keep what I have lost already off, and just lose however much more I can.

 • I will keep running, even if I feel discouraged about it now. I'm signing up for the awesome No Boundaries program at Fleet Feet starting in February, likely doing version 3.0 with the option to do the 2.0 workouts if I need to (shorter distances).

• I will return to strength training exercise, and I also want to get back to yoga.

• I'm on the fence about joining my old gym again, but if I do I will finally go swimming.

• I've been thinking about getting some counseling for my eating issues. Also still on the fence.


I like this list, which reminds me that I am not a total screw-up.

I also like this list, which dovetails with a lot that I'd like to accomplish in the coming year.

Last year's end of year reflection was in two parts, here and here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Ugh. I have so much to say but have no idea where to start, so maybe a list-style post will suit me best today. In plusses and minuses:

– Hit 280 today. This is so... bad/sad/upsetting/discouraging/etc/etc. I knew it was going to happen after having a day of eating unlike any I have had in a long, long time. Bingeing behavior has really taken over lately and I'm not sure where it is coming from and I have been feeling relatively helpless over it. 280 means that I've gained 15 pounds since Thanksgiving – 15 pounds in a month! How does that even happen?

It is so scary to me how quickly I can gain weight, even after a year and a half of losing fairly consistently, even with the past few months slowed way down. So scary.

+ By the time my partner came to bed this morning (he often stays up all night), I'd been awake for a little while, unable to fall back asleep because I was so sad and scared after my bender yesterday. Ever so supportive, he talked me down from my proverbial ledge and offered so much comfort and encouragement. He's going to help me, at least when I am at home, to get a handle on my eating again. Just for today, he suggested a meal strategy to get me back into reasonable territory. Just having that in mind has helped me focus this morning and I think I can use it to carry me through the rest of the day. Keeping things very simple with a liquid breakfast (green tea and water), soup for lunch, and the chili I was planning to make for dinner. If it seems a little extreme, it's because I need it to be right now, today. I need to jolt my brain. Not having to think about what I could eat or want to eat throughout the day is really helpful. I may simply have to get disciplined about meal planning. Not having those question marks at lunchtime and dinner make things so much easier.

I also whined, between sniffles (I was very teary), that I haven't been exercising at all. He said, "Just worry about getting your eating back on track for now."

One thing at a time, just like when I started. I do think that I'd like to get a short run or two in by the end of the week, but for now I'm not going to fret about it. First things first.

– I feel like I haven't been the best friend in the world lately and have been isolating myself a lot, avoiding parties and whatever else that involves socializing. I'm been finding it hard to be very joyful, even though I have plenty to be grateful for. How many times can you apologize to someone for being a Debbie Downer? It's easier to just withdraw sometimes.

+ Tomorrow I'm going on a fun run in the late morning at Fleet Feet – it's called the Egg Nog Jog – and doing 2 miles. I have to do something. I think getting out into the fresh air and moving my limbs and being around other runners will do me a world of good.

– I don't even know what else. I'm feeling a little sorry for myself even though I'm inflicting my own pain.

So that's where I am at right now. I think back to the end of year goals I had and yearn for the "consolation prize" that 268 was supposed to be. If only! If only I knew then what was ahead. I would never have believed you a month ago that this is where I would be.

That all said, I'm trying to put things in perspective and will be working out a plan to dig myself out of the hole, as well as setting new goals for myself in the coming year. It's actually one of my favorite things to do at year's end! I don't think that I will ever set a time-based weight goal ever again, even just to say I want to lose x pounds in a year. The truth is, any loss is good, any maintain is good. Any progress on developing good habits is good. Any activity that I do is good.

Regarding running, even if I only ever run 1 or 2 miles at a time forever more, that's a win. I keep thinking about all the BIG things I want to do, like run a marathon or maybe even beyond, but sometimes I wonder if that makes me feel discouraged. From now on, instead I will focus on all the things I can do now rather than worry about how I'm going to get to those bigger goals later. My head has been sticking itself too far in the future, I think. Though – I will be doing NoBo 3.0 starting in February, that's a no-brainer.

After the disaster that yesterday was, eating-wise, I am ready to take steps back to the positive space I was in once more. It's been a rough few weeks. Time to stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing the work again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Feeling More Normal (Kind Of)

Me among the other amazing mentors and coaches in the No Boundaries program at Fleet Feet Sports in Buffalo.
(I am in the center with arms crossed – not sure what that was about!) Folks I have mentioned in this blog include Angela, who is seated in purple; Liz, who's got the red headband; Jewel, next to Liz with the sliver of turquoise shirt; and Pat, who is next to Liz and Jewel! I love those ladies – with the exception of Jewel, they were MY mentors when I first started running and have been so supportive and encouraging along the way.)

It's a relief to get back to feeling more like myself again this week. It's been pretty busy and I've been more social than usual, so maybe that's been helping. On Monday, I took a friend out for lunch to celebrate her birthday (and because I was a no-show at her party, being all depressed and stuff that weekend); Tuesday not only did I go to the No Boundaries "graduation" walk/run and party after work, but went with my partner to a good friend's house for an impromptu get-together complete with yummy Christmas cookies, Utz pretzels, and bourbon; yesterday I had an amazing lunch with my running friend and mentor, Angela at an amazing new taco place downtown called Deep South (and boy, do I love their branding as well!!!) AND a fun run after work AND my company party after that...

Even though I've been having a lot of fun, there is no question that this (mostly) introverted gal will enjoy a couple quiet evenings at home tonight and tomorrow. 

Most importantly, I am starting to be active again this week. I'm not going to go whole hog just yet after my week+ hiatus, but I've already gotten in two days' worth with another planned for Saturday morning, at the very least. I may squeeze something in tomorrow morning, but maybe not. I'm OK with that. When I first started on this journey, I simply wanted to go to the gym once a week and make that a habit. Gradually (very gradually, in fact) I built that up to five or six times a week, and some weeks something every single day! In the summer when we were playing tennis, that happened a few times. I have been doing things I enjoy. 

But almost two weeks ago, I just crashed. I found myself feeling exhausted both physically and mentally, and finally one Friday when I just couldn't drag myself out of bed to make a very early PT appointment or even go to work, I decided to take a break from everything. I just needed to. I was totally burned out. 

At the same time, I haven't been eating as carefully as I had been, so the combo of the two has equaled some weight gain, but I am back to hanging out in my plateau territory which isn't the worst place to be. It's just not the best, when I was finally making good progress in November. 

Still, taking that exercise break was important. I know that now. I refuse to feel bad about any of this. 

This week I am feeling more like itchy to get back to running and really enjoyed my first run in a couple weeks last night. I did two miles and it didn't feel hard – not that it is ever easy, but it just felt good. I was so happy to be back out there and know that I haven't lost all my fitness or endurance or progress in general. I can still run two miles without thinking too much about it! 

On Saturday morning I'll be meeting up with a bunch of running pals and my goal is to crank out a 5K distance. If I fall short, it's fine, but I will definitely do two miles. Either way, it'll be good to see my friends and it'll be good to move my body. Plus, with the weather having been so unseasonable in the best possible way, it's silly not to take advantage of that! It's almost Christmas and we in the Buffalo region still have yet to see any meaningful snow at all. I don't mind a lick. 

In the past two weeks I have had two running dreams! The last one I had the other night was incredible. I seemed to be in some mountainous area that reminded me of where I spent some time in southern California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. I was quite simply gliding along, almost flying, being propelled by my arms as I ran. In the dream I remember saying to myself how easy and comfortable it felt, even though I was going at a good clip. 

I don't know what else to say about it except that I feel lucky that I was able to experience that, even if in a dream. I guess it gives me something to aim for and I see it as a signal to keep doing the work that is going to get me to that point. I think it is my subconscious telling me to absolutely not give up, because the rewards will be so worth it. 

So, I will be sticking around for a long while.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Kicking and Screaming

It amazes me how different this holiday season has been for me compared to last year. Last year, I was coasting and had no problem keeping up my weight loss. This year, well, you know... I've been more or less maintaining since late August with a few blips downward, and now I am struggling to hang on to even that! I'm weighing daily, and here's the running tally:

12/6: 275
12/8: 274
12/9: 273
12/10: 275
12/11: 273
12/13: 277
12/14: 276
12/15: 277

And this is what the past month has looked like, more or less. Not very pretty at all. Of course, there were many days where I didn't log – I was logging mainly losses, so not every spike shows up here. Assuredly, they happened. But you see what is going on the last few weeks. Fairly steadily increasing. It's got to stop. Keeping track really helps with that – I don't want to see this upward trend continue much longer, if at all. *sigh*

But today feels like the first day in a while where I'm not having a hard time keeping my eating in a good place, so that's a win! I will take every little one. I had some oatmeal for breakfast, Subway for lunch. Let me tell you something about lunch! When I was ordering, I was also chatting with the owner of the store, who was asking me about graphic design. (I've told him what I do for a living and it sounds like he might hire me for a little job.) I got all distracted and totally forgot that I was going to fit in those terrible cookies, and walked out the door without them! When I realized my "mistake", I was really happy. Surely the food gods were helping me out in that moment.

I didn't miss the cookies and saved myself a bunch of calories, which I can now use when we go over to my friend Al's house later on for a very casual holiday hangout. It was a very impromptu invitation that came later in the day, so I was very happy that things turned out the way they did. Al's a great cook and I will be sure to enjoy his snacks much more than those dumb old Subway cookies I have a taste for.

Today also marks my return to exercise after a week+ break – I've got the graduation session with the running group, which will mean either a walk or a run, and tomorrow I'll be going for a group run and try to get maybe two, even three miles under my belt. My knee still bothers me (and I've been achey all around), but it's been bothering me whether I am exercising or running or not, so I may as well err on the side of activity. I'm hoping it will jumpstart things for me, re-energize me...

Leaving it at that for now, and will be sure to check in again soon!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Not Sure How to Get Back – But I Will

I can't count how many little "crises" I've been through the past few months. The amount of weight I've been "playing" with has increased from about five pounds to ten, meaning the range I've been bouncing in is between 265 and 275. I'm sitting at 275 today after a couple days below that.

Late last week I was slapped hard in the face with what I am calling a bout of acute depression. In the past decade or so, I've had a couple days here and there where I don't feel so hot, or just have PMS or whatever, but it's been a long time since I have experienced this level of depression. When I was in my 20s especially, I was treated for depression via talk therapy and medicine and it always felt like I was trying to ward it off. Finally, in my early-mid 30s things seemed to level out. So it came to me as a big surprise to feel the way I've been feeling again.

I've been trying to hold to some things so that I don't totally backslide, because I cannot lose what I have achieved. I just can't.

Today I saw a friend for the first time in while. She couldn't believe how I looked – "You're straight up and down now!" she exclaimed, and also asked how it felt to be in this body now.

It was a question I realized that I didn't quite know how to answer, because even though I have experienced many changes, somehow I still feel not so much different than I was, probably because, I figured, I still have so much more weight to lose.

I guess what I am realizing is that this is all just such a huge mindfuck. It really is. I feel like, no wonder why I am depressed and feeling like I can't do it anymore. This stuff is hard and it is a big adjustment in many ways.

That's not to say it's not worth it. I love the clothes I have been wearing, and I love the things that I can do more easily since I've lost the weight I have so far. I love that I get a clean bill of health from my doctor. And if I keep going, it will only get better!

I don't think being careless/carefree about what I eat is worth giving that stuff up. I know it isn't.

I've chucked all those time-based goals I had set for myself, and decided that I will likely not do one of those again. I think they stress me out and make me want to eat more, generally. For now, I am aiming to solidly get back into the 260s and just be nice to myself. I am still logging into MyFitnessPal every day and log my food as accurately as I can. It's not always pretty, but it's a good habit to maintain and does keep me accountable on some level. I will also continue to weigh myself every day for at least a while – otherwise I worry that it would be too easy to slip away if I'm not watching those numbers like a hawk right now.

I'm still intending to eat as best I can within my calorie limits and macros but I am not stressing about it too much. I stopped exercising this past week but will start up again with a walk tomorrow.

The exercise happened along with the arrival of my depression. Last Friday I ended up canceling my PT appointment and I called in sick to work because I just could not force myself to get up and face the day. There was just no way. The next day (and the following Tuesday), I skipped out on running group because I didn't have the physical energy to walk or run, nor the mental/emotional energy to mentor and be a good cheerleader. I felt exhausted both physically and mentally, and so I broke. But now after a week or so of no exerted activity, I don't feel much better or worse. I still have the usual aches and pains, so why not get back to my routine and feel like there is a reason for those aches and pains, other than just getting old?

So that's what I have been dealing with the past week. Desperately holding on by a thread.

Tonight I am hoping for a meaningful respite from all this and going to see one of my favorite bands (Sleater-Kinney) with one of my favorite friends (Lizz). Let me share one of my favorite S-K songs with you here. I'm going to dance!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Posting for Clarity

I'm posting a lot lately. It's because I'm doing a LOT of self-talk and working really hard to stay on track. Writing things out helps me a lot in that regard – emptying my head of my fears and insecurities, admitting imperfection, talking about mistakes and how I can learn from them...

And then there is also the benefit of sharing triumphs, or even just little victories.

Last night I realized that I have a hard time shifting gears if I had one thing planned but then something else happens. We were originally going to go to the movies and so I had theatre popcorn in my plan to eat for dinner. When plans shifted and we decided to go this weekend instead, I thought, no problem and just logged that I would have some dressed up black beans (basically just canned beans with garlic, a fresh hot pepper, some onion, spices, and some cheese) and that would be that.

So that is what I did... only once I started eating them I decided that I wanted some crunch, so I grabbed some tortilla chips to munch on as well. Fine, except... I didn't have room in the day's calories for them.

I ate them anyway. And then I really wanted something sweet, so I grabbed a couple of these small, sweet and salty cookies that came in my Treatsie box (super delicious!) on a whim and semi-secretly... also no room.

It didn't stop there. I also popped in a serving or so of some Rold Gold Tiny Twists pretzels. Not a big deal, but again... no room.

I just kind of lost it. I mean, it could have been worse, but it felt stupid to do. It felt stupid while I was doing it. I mean, what did I just write here yesterday about never wanting to see the 270s again? Here I was, totally tempting fate.

This morning when I woke up, I was feeling pretty down. Just a general gloomy feeling for no good reason. I had gone to bed pretty early and so I woke up naturally and early enough that I could, at the very least, fit in a walk or run at home before leaving for work. I laid there thinking how achey and tired I still am, and how I just want to take another break. I thought about how sick I am of making the effort every single day. (OK, maybe not every single day, but just about most weeks.)

I finally dragged myself out of bed with just enough time to put in a running mile, and that is what I did.  To be honest, it felt shitty almost the whole time. My mind and my body were totally on the same page – I don't wanna!!! You can't make me!!!, and I pulled out that mile like I was running through molasses.

But I pulled it out, didn't I?

I'm also happy to note that the scale was kind, and showed a .5 loss. Note, though, that I always log whole pound losses or gains, not increments; this morning's bad mood needed some sort of boost so I am at least mentally noting that little variant. I'm thisclose to 268. I'm happy with that for now.


I have really been enjoying getting dressed lately.

I can't remember a time when I ever felt that. Well, maybe in high school when I liked getting dressed up for a normal day in dresses, skirts, and pumps, fully accessorized and made-up. That was a long time ago! Recently I indulged in some new tops from Target and some great sale stuff from the Gap – I can wear XXL at both stores now – and I can see my style revealing itself once again. True to the title of this blog, several with stripes, and a fairly classic palette of navy, black, shades of grey, ochre... I like knits because I've got big arms and button-down shirts don't usually work well for me, no matter what size, so pullover tops with boat, v, and scoop necks, and as always, cardigans.

I've got several pairs of pants now that fit well and are enough for my current needs. Next on my list is more cardigans (this one at the Gap is my current favorite, and is a steal when it's on sale!) and shoes. I like ballet flats a lot, and I am on a quest to find comfortable ones that are also stylish and affordable. I also love sneakers of all kinds and need to replace my old Chuck Taylors. And loafers? Or oxfords? or Chelsea boots?

It's nice to feel like I can participate in fashion on some level again. What joy! And it's only going to get better.

When I was getting ready this morning, it felt good to look in the mirror. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


That is a smile of relief, plus wearing yet another new striped shirt!

Ah... that's more like it!

I just squeaked back into the 260s today, weighing in at 269. Phew!

May I never see the 270s ever again. Ever.

To be honest, I wouldn't say that I had the best eating day ever yesterday to warrant a three-pound loss, but it wasn't bad. Plus, I got a lot of good exercise in after work. Tuesday means No Boundaries and mentoring for the WalkFit program, but lately I've been taking advantage of the little bit of free time I have after work and before NoBo to go on short runs on my own. I am working on building my endurance again and sticking with 1-2 miles generally. I was very pleased with my effort last night, where I ended up going 1.7 miles at a 15:22 average pace (felt faster, though!).

Then, we ended up going another 2.85 miles walking at a 18-ish clip – so that gave me almost five miles' and 75 minutes' worth of activity! It felt great... until this morning. My knee is pretty tender and the rest of me is really feeling it; a stark reminder that I really need to dial it back a little bit. It seems to me that keeping a total workout to under 3 miles is a good idea for now. Well, NoBo only has a few more meetings left for the session so I won't have to worry about that much longer, but...

Note to self: BE CAREFUL already!

It would be stupid to exacerbate my condition when I've worked so hard to help it.


Today I've been trying to be careful with my eating and logged the day, more or less, in advance. I brought in lunch, a homemade turkey chili using the last of the turkey leftovers – freshly made last night, even! I've also got some of the Thanksgiving green bean casserole left that I didn't realize until today! I guess I am pushing the freshness factor at this point, but those beans are too good to let go to waste! Nom nom.

Some movie-going plans we had for tonight have been postponed to the weekend, so I don't have to worry about fitting in some theatre popcorn tonight... which means I have to rethink dinner. I'll probably keep it very simple and make something out of what we have at home, maybe some black bean dish. I need to up the protein for the day!

Ah, it's so good to be back into the normal routine again... I am really looking forward to making some new progress!