Reflections Of A Lackluster Life

The Random Thoughts Of A Captive Midwesterner

Costs March 24, 2011

Filed under: Running — The Shelly Belly @ 8:44 pm
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Upon reading an exceptional post by Annabelle Winters about fitness planning and goals, I went out for my morning run with thoughts of the post still in my mind.  Normally my runs are filled with daydreams.  I imagine that I’m actually running in the marathon I’ve been training so hard for.  I picture how my family will be there at the finish line.  I try to imagine the cheering crowds and energetic atmosphere.  Basically, I let my mind do anything it can to take me away from the reality of the brutally cold, wet and windy weather that has been plaguing my runs all winter.

Today, however, my head was not full of happy thoughts.  It was one of those runs… everyone has them.  Only 5 miles long, it felt like 15.  My feet hurt, my legs were tree trunks, my lungs weren’t working, I was tired.  Battling the wind took every ounce of my tiny supply of energy.  So instead of thinking about the happier aspects of my running, I started thinking about costs.

I know what I’m gaining from this, and it is a lot.  I’m losing weight, feeling better about me, achieving goals, gaining respect, etc etc etc.  I am becoming a new person, it’s hard to describe what that feels like.  But you can’t become a new person without leaving the old one behind, or at least large parts of the person you once were.  As much as I disliked who I used to be as a whole, there were parts that I really liked that I am giving up for my new goals.  To ignore this is ignorant and to cling to these things is holding me back from becoming who I want to be.

So in an effort to further my fitness and life goals, I am going to acknowledge the things that I am giving up for this new life and attempt to let them go.  I might grieve these losses briefly, but if I didn’t believe it was worth it to leave them behind, I would never have started this in the first place.

__________________The Costs_____________________


Drinking. Let’s be frank, I like to drink… a lot.  When I think about relaxing and having fun, I rarely picture it without a drink in my hand.  I still consider one of the best times in my life to be the year that Kiel and I spent every Wednesday night at The Spot, a local Karaoke Bar with our good friends (the lovely Annabelle included)!  We closed the bar down every week, stumbling down the stairs and making our way to someone’s abode or the nearby train station.

For the majority of my adult life I could be counted on to always be up for a beer.  And now I just can’t do it.  Don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally on Sundays indulge in some white wine after a really long run, or enjoy an ice cold Corona with a slice of lime after a mid-summer 90 degree run, but my days (or nights rather) of sitting around watching TV (we’ll get to that in a minute) and drinking are essentially over.

Now that every aspect of my life revolves around my running, I am going to bed early and waking up earlier.  I can’t get up at 4:30 and run 10 miles if I have been up past 9 or have had even a glass of wine.  I need to be at my best pretty much all the time.  I am sure that when I am not training, I will indulge a little more often, but considering I’ve signed up for two marathons this year, I’m not going to have a huge break from training.

And then there is the issue of my tolerance… I have none.  I used to be able to drink most people under the table, now I’m feeling pretty drunk after a glass or two of wine.  And don’t even get me started on anything stronger (just ask Peter about the Vodka in Barcelona).

So, to my party/binge drinking days, I must say goodbye.  It was fun while it lasted, but I need to let it go.  As one of my good friends Allison told me recently, “there comes a point in your life when being happy is more important than having fun”.  Wiser words were never spoken.  From now on, nights of drinking and debauchery will be reserved for the off season and special occasions.  I’m sure that my liver thanks me.

Buffy.  Ok, not Buffy specifically, but that’s the one I feel the most.  I miss TV.  I used to get home from work every night and chill out on the sofa in my PJ’s with a beer (or a case of beer) and marathon episodes of Buffy, Alias, Greys Anatomy, Angel, Bones, Sex In The City, Dollhouse and The OC.  The only breaks I would take were to get up for mass amounts of food and smokes.  Now, I’m lucky if I can find time to catch up on the Grey’s recordings on my DVR.  I won’t even start new shows because I don’t have time to watch them.

I lived for TV.  I spend hours wishing that I was like the girls on my shows.  Instead of living my life, I was watching fictional people living out theirs.  Part of it is my over active imagination, I am captivated by stories.  I love to get caught up in other worlds, it truly is an escape.  But when it becomes a regular thing, it’s not an escape anymore, it’s a trap.

Now I’m not saying that I want to go back to living for TV, but I do occasionally find myself longing for a stretch of two days when all I have to do is eat and drink and watch Buffy.  I need to get over it.  I might have those days occasionally in the future (likely every time I see Peter), but that kind of lifestyle doesn’t mesh with who I am today.  I probably wouldn’t even enjoy it as much as I remember, but the feeling of nostalgia sometimes nags at me, specifically at 4:30 in the morning before a 10 mile run!

A social life.  This one has to be the worst.  I miss people.  I haven’t seen most of my friends in months, between my job and my training schedule I barely have time to cook dinner or grocery shop (and don’t even ask about the cleanliness of my house) let alone go anywhere or see anyone.

The last time I saw Jessica was on my birthday, back in January!  I have been trying to schedule a dinner date with my friends Jennifer and Nikki for months.  I haven’t actually SEEN Annabelle in about a year.  I don’t even have time for “date night” with Kiel.

Being a runner is often times a solitary and lonely thing.  I wake up by myself and I run by myself.  I see Kiel for a short time after my run while we are both getting ready for work and then I go to bed at night before he gets home so I can get up at an obscene hour of the day.   I just miss being with people.

—————————————————————————————————

So that pretty much sums up the big costs for me.  And I am happy to pay them!  Because what I am trading them for is something much much much more valuable.  This year has been a test for me and will continue to be that until winter.  I wanted this and though I seem to have to remind myself of that more and more often lately, I still remember why I started all of this in the first place.  I know I can make it.  I will run my races and be more proud of myself than I have every been.

Once I am done with these races, I will take some time to re-evaluate where I’m at, what I’ve achieved and what my new goals should be.  And for now, I will concentrate on bidding farewell to the old me and embracing the new me.

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Short January 21, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 6:03 pm
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Who wears short shorts?  Apparently I do.  While modeling my newly purchased pink running shorts for my husband, he eyed them speculatively while asking if they were indeed shorts or underpants.  This morning I took my new “underpants” to the gym to run in, but of course I had his criticism on my mind.  Where they too short?  Had I really worked hard enough on my legs/ass to justify wearing them?  Were people looking at me with a “who does she think she is” glare?  Was my butt hanging out? I hadn’t worn shorts in public more than 3 or 4 times since high school for exactly this reason!

I took a few deep breaths and told myself very firmly that no one was looking at me before I got on the treadmill.  After a few minutes of running, I assessed the situation.  My butt appeared to be staying put inside the shorts and my legs, toned and muscular from months of training did not jiggle about, perhaps I had earned this after all?

All in all, it was a great workout!  I ran 6 miles, and the last time I did that (Wednesday) I was wearing long yoga/spandex pants (another big step for me a few months ago) and I was sweating up a storm.  Long running pants are simply too hot for indoor long runs.  Shorts on the other hand are great!  I never once felt overheated.

So here is to the upcoming spring/summer running season!  Shorts galore!  Next big hurdle?  Ditching the shirt!  Sports bra running here I come!

 

Weight September 1, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:50 pm
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I have never really been comfortable talking about numbers with people as far as weight is concerned.  Even when I was at my smallest back in high school I didn’t talk about what I weighed.  A large part of that was due to my unhealthy view of body weight and my judgmental view of myself.  I have never given myself much in the way of compliments for any part of my body, even when I look back now and know they were deserved.

Maybe I haven’t come too far in the past 10 years, but I do feel like I have gained some perspective on health, especially in the last year.  I’ve learned so much about my body and my nutrition and about actually being healthy.  I am working on shedding unhealthy body images and building up positive goals.  Part of that mental process is getting over the fear of numbers.

So here it is, all laid out on the table, my weight loss story so far, numbers included.

I started this weight loss journey at 240lbs. I might have been a little higher at some points, but I honestly was just too depressed to get on the scale.  I have scoliosis and because of the extra weight on my body, I suffered through chronic pain for over 2 years when I was at my very heaviest.

It was a horrible time for me, I would spend my nights drinking beer and watching TV and eating a lot of food.  I would  wish to myself that I could look like the girls on television, but I didn’t see a way to lose as much weight as I wanted.  I felt stuck in a cycle.  The more weight I gained, the more impossible it seemed that I could ever take it all off.  The only thing that kept me even remotely attached to a happy reality were my friends and family.  I really don’t think I could have ever gotten through that without the support of my husband Kiel, my sister Ginny, my friend Jessica or my cousin Peter.    These were people in my life that never made me feel fat and I will always be thankful that they were there for me.

At a Starbucks in college

In Michigan on vacation

Going to a wedding

Playing video games

I don’t remember exactly what the trigger was for the change, it just happened.  Maybe I just got fed up with being sad and depressed all the time.  I started off with very small changes.  I introduced veggies into my diet and started cooking lean meats like fish and chicken instead of burgers and steak.  I tried not to get pre-made food, instead opting to cook meals from scratch.  I also bought a treadmill.  In the beginning, I couldn’t really run, I just walked.  Eventually I worked my way up to a minute or so of jogging every now and then.  After a few months, I was running, I would run about 2 miles a few times a week.  During this time I also really fell in love with cooking.  I learned a lot about making food that was healthy and tasty.  I saw a little bit of improvement, but for all of the changes I made, I still only lost about 20lbs and it kept going up and down, still the little bit of improvement felt good.

Then one day, I got food poisoning.  It was the worst experience of my life.  It took me days to recover and during that recovery time my body rejected all things meat.  When I finally felt better, I realized I had gone about a week without meat and I felt really good.  My cousin Peter is a vegetarian as is my boss at work, so I had always been intrigued with the diet, but I always loved meat to much to give it much thought.  I figured it was worth a shot at least, if I didn’t like it… meh… no big deal, I could go back to meat anytime I wanted.   At this point I have been a vegetarian for 6 months and I haven’t looked back.  Cutting out meat really helped me lose more weight.  I dropped another 20lbs in a hurry.  At this point I had gone from 240lbs to 200lbs and I was feeling a bit better about myself.

Peter & I in Chicago

At Arlington National Cemetary

At Arlington National Cemetary

Goal dress #1

Soon after a trip to Washing DC for a wedding, I decided to put my new body to a real test, I decided to start training for a half marathon.  So 11 weeks ago, I strapped on a new pair of running shoes and started a 12 week training program.  At the beginning I could run about 2 miles, this past Monday I ran 9.  I am proud to say I am a runner now, through and through.  I absolutely love it and I love the way it makes me feel.  The half is on September 12rh, I will be running side by side with about 20,000 other people on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive for 13.1 miles… I can’t wait!  The training really kicked my weight loss into high gear.  I am currently at 176lbs and loving it.  I’m not done yet, I would still like to lose another 20-50lbs, but I am ok with it happening slowly as I run and eat properly.

About 2 weeks ago

New shirt

A shirt Peter got me

A new dress

A new me

After I am done with the half marathon, I plan on training for a full, after that it’s on to triathlon training so I can compete next August.  I really do feel like a completely different person and I am still getting to know a lot about me.  One of the things I felt I had to do was share my story, somehow committing it to text makes it real and on some level it keeps me accountable.

I know that this post has been a really long one and I”m sorry about that.  Thanks for taking the time to listen to my story.

 

Healthy July 2, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 4:06 pm
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Let’s talk about healthy body image.  Raise your hand if you have one… anybody?

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about body image.  With my recent weight loss I have begun to re-evaluate a lot of my goals.  I have met and surpassed the ones I set for myself a long time ago and now it is necessary to create new ones.  Now, I am in dangerous territory.

I have had the same goals for years.  A certain number in my head that seemed completely unattainable.  Though it took a solid year wobbling on and off the health wagon, I am now down below that number.  In fact I beat it, right now I’m 12 lbs below it.  I have been walking around in a state of happiness with my new weight, proud of my accomplishment. A few weeks of that though, and it’s worn off a little bit.

Sure, I’ve reached my goal, but there is certainly more work to be done.  The question now becomes how much more work?  Of course there are the smaller weight loss goals, every 10 lbs down seems like a new beginning, but I am to the point now where that “final” weight loss goal is in sight.  But I’m at a loss for where to set it.

I know what my “ideal” weight is for a person of my height.  I know what I should be for a “healthy” BMI.  I know what I weighed when I was actually happy with my body so many years ago.  But I also know that even then, I wanted to be thinner.

So where does the “healthy body image” discussion come in?  Pretty much right now.  I can only speak on this subject from a girl’s point of view.  I have never been a boy (and I sure as hell have never understood them).  I am sure that you men have your own body image pit falls just like we do, but I don’t know about them.

From as early as I can remember, I have been bombarded with images of what “healthy” and “happy” should be.  On the TV, in magazines, on the side of subway trains, on billboards… pretty much everywhere I looked.  It’s no wonder I don’t have a healthy weight goal in mind.

If I go with what is “healthy” for my height, I will be at 140.  To me, that looks like a HUGE number.  I know that logically, I shouldn’t care about the number, but I do.  I want it to be lower.  I truly think that we all have a “number” in mind that we would love to be.  It can be a weight or a waist size or jeans size or a bra size, but everyone has a number.  Is your number healthy?  Is it attainable?  What significance does that number have to you?  And the most important question, will you be happy when you get there?

This is an interesting topic for me to ponder, but there is a far more dangerous side of all this.  As much as my generation was exposed to unrealistic body images, the generation coming up has it so much worse.  Airbrushing has come a long way since my time and Hanna Montana didn’t even exist.  I am truly worried about the next generation and what their body image will be like.

We live in an age when almost no one is satisfied with the way they look.  Magic weight loss pills and plastic surgeries are now common place.  Simple things like diet and exercise are considered “hard work” and “unnecessary” when you have access to slimming shakes and metabolism boosting powders.  So not only do our future generations face unrealistic images every day, they aren’t even equipped with the knowledge of how to be healthy.  This truly scares me.

Do I have a solution to this problem?  Not really.  At this point, I am more or less expressing my concern and frustration  at the state of body image in our country.  What little bit I can do however, I will do.  I will focus on achieving a healthy body image for myself.  Maybe once I learn how to do this, I’ll be able to help someone else.  At the very least, I don’t want my future (potential) daughter to be plagued with the same problems I have been dealing with for years.

My question for you?  What is your definition of a healthy body image?  Do you have one?  How did you achieve it?  What would you say to the future generation?

 

Gain May 26, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 3:34 pm
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Up two pounds?  Let me repeat that… UP TWO POUNDS?!?  Part of my mind can rationalize it, it’s been hot I’m retaining water, I’ve been eating a little more because I quit smoking, I’ve been having more to drink because I’ve been hanging out with friends more often.  There are a million reasons why and I really shouldn’t feel bad about it.  In the grand scheme of things, two pounds is not the end of the world.  It’s normal to fluctuate a little.  But it’s still disappointing.

I’ve been working wicked hard and trying with everything I’ve got to make this work.  I have never been more serious about weight loss ever.  I’ve given up meat and become a hard core vegetarian.  I don’t eat out.  What am I doing wrong?  Am I even doing anything wrong?  It’s just frustrating.

But I won’t beat myself up too badly because in reality I am doing well.  I have lost 40 lbs so far.  I have given up meat in favor of a more healthy lifestyle.  I have quit smoking.  I am better off than I was last year.  I have to keep my mind on the big picture, not the minor pit falls along the road.

 

Doing It May 24, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 6:37 pm
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I am happy to report that I have been sticking to my goals this week.  I have been working out on the treadmill (hello jock jams) and have kicked the smoking habit.  The efforts are showing some results too!  I went shopping yesterday and rewarded myself with a super cute dress and a few shirts.  I definitely need to get on top of the summer wardrobe ASAP, it’s getting hot and I don’t have any clothes that fit (in a good way) that are warm weather appropriate.

In other news, I’m really excited about June.  The return of TrueBlood, Eclipse, SATC, a wedding, and my best friends birthday are all things I have been looking forward to for a really long time.  This June should be one I remember for a long time 🙂

I don’t really have much else to report, but I thought I should write because it’s been a few days and I am doing my best to keep this up!

 

GOAL!!!!! May 19, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 3:23 pm
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Today is a big day for me, or should I say a small day?  I have FINALLY reached goal number 1 of my weight loss.  I wish I could say it has been really hard so I could talk about the trials and tribulations of weight loss, but alas, it has been simple.  Turns out, eating healthy is key to a healthy weight, who knew?

So far I have lost about 40lbs, and I am really happy with the way my body looks.  I haven’t been this light in almost 10 years.  And as I take a moment to reflect on my progress and congratulate myself for a job well done, I am also in preparations for the next step of the game.  I might be 40lbs down, but I still have 50 more to go.

This morning I smacked a patch on my arm to replace my glorious cigarettes.  It’s been a long time coming, and this change is a good thing.  Sure, sometimes I fantasize about lounging on my balcony with a big glass of wine and full pack of Marlboro Lights sitting next to me while I read Twilight (yes, I read Twilight and I love it, I am “one of those Twilight people”) but on the other hand I fantasize about sitting on the beach soaking up the sun in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.  I can’t have both.  So I choose the ability to breath and run on my treadmill over the joy of smoking.

I am getting quite good at vegetarian cooking, delving into new recipes and different foods.  I decided at the beginning of this process to make it easy on myself and find simple and delicious foods that I could basically eat as much as I wanted of.  Really, you can not eat too many fruits and veggies.

I have a wedding to go to at the start of June and another at the end of July, both really great motivational events to see family and see their faces when they see me.  It’s been a long time coming, but today marks the start of something completely new.  A smaller me, a happier me, a healthier me.  Today I kick it into high gear and truly WORK towards my goal.