Sunday, March 18, 2012

My bikini model fantasy

When I started on my weight loss journey, 100 pounds and and 12 sizes ago, I had some pretty standard preconceived notions in my head on what it would be like to be thin. After several years of roller coaster dieting, now that I'm at about what my goal weight should be, I find myself sometimes wishing I had known then what I know now.

Weight loss myth and weight loss reality are 2 completely different things.

When I was a size 26, I thought size 10 was thin. When I was a size 10, I thought a 6 was thin. When I was a 6, I couldn't imagine being a size 4. When I hit size 4, I was disappointed.

Disappointed? Why? I had a vision in my head of what my body would look like. I thought that size 4 was skinny, bikini model territory. When I was a size 26, I had in my head that single digit jeans meant defined abs, cute belly button and softly sculpted legs and buns.

The weight loss reality turned out to be quite different. While I have protruding hip bones, my belly button frowns. Wherever there were stretch marks there is empty, slightly saggy skin. My chest turned from fabulously voluptuous and curvy to sadly, droopingly deflated. While I have the unique distinction of being thin enough that light shines through my legs when I close them, that space is now being encroached upon by my backside.

Let me tell you, when you see your backside showing from between your legs as you look straight on in the mirror, it's absolutely shocking!

My mental image of what my thin self would look like came crashing down on me when I hit size 4. For a year I obsessed over every calorie. I worked out 2 to 3 times a day, intense, extreme workouts. I weight trained. I ran. I trained in 3 martial arts. I biked. I was a faithful practitioner of calisthenics, plyometrics, Pilates and any other workout that I could dream up.

At my lightest I was about 140 pounds on a 5 foot 9 inch frame. Because of the extra skin, body fat analysis was near impossible to get nailed down, but my lowest measured BFI (not BMI) was 19 percent.

Oddly, I was so thin that my ribs showed through my back and every vertebrae in the back of my neck protruded in high-def 3D, and yet, my belly button was still frowning. I spun my wheels for a year obsessing over my belly button, determined that one day it would stop frowning and assume a normal shape. The closest I ever got was a deep sigh.

After a recent series of injuries that sidelined by training, I found myself reflecting on my weight loss journey – my progress, my achievements, the things that I'm proud of. After a year of chasing a belly button perfection fantasy I came to a stark realization.

Even though my size 4, half-bony-half-thick frame wasn't what I envisioned as my weight loss goal, my fitness level was so much more than I ever thought it could be. With that imperfect body, I achieved a lot.

I completed 2 half-marathons, a 10-miler, a 5-miler in 90 degree weather, a 7-mile trail run and Warrior Dash – all at a pace 150 percent faster than my fat-girl pace. I learned how to rock climb, dance on a stripper pole and kayak. I earned a blue belt in Taekwondo and started training in MMA and Kali. I hiked the Buckeye Trail. I went back to school to be a personal trainer. I did my first pull-up on a rock ledge. I even finished a 5k in first place.

Sitting on the sidelines over the last 8 weeks, I realized something important about weight loss fantasy and weight loss reality. If you get hung up on the I'm-going-to-be-a-bikini-model fantasy, you will never be able to appreciate how far you've come.

Set your goals on what you want to achieve, not on what you want to look like. Set tangible fitness goals for your weight loss journey.

Find something that you know that you cannot accomplish today and let the fact that you can't do it completely tick you off. Get stubborn and and do everything that you have to do to make it happen. Weight loss is just a side effect of building a better life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bucket List Progress Update: Smoking, Tough Mudder

"You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go."   - TS Elliot

Making Changes

I'm tired of trying to quit smoking. I am not going to die a smoker.

Quitting is on my Bucket List and I will am resolved to doing it. Effective tomorrow morning, I am a non-smoker.

My plan?

The Patch, obsessive eating of (vegan) mints and extreme fitness and random exercises to distract me from cravings.

Bucket List Progress: Quit Date Set.

Taking Chances

My bucket list is about doing all of the things that I never thought I could do. Much of it is related to physical activities, things that I missed out on while I was so out of shape that I spent more time waiting to eat than living my life.

One thing that absolutely terrifies me is Tough Mudder. I know that I am in great shape, but 12+ miles with 20+ military style obstacles. These aren't your typical fun little adventure race obstacles. These insane challenges include not only a dreaded vertical rope climb and jumping off very high structures into freezing water but also things like wires charged with 50,000 volts.

This event is known for its ability to break participants. And I want to beat it.

I don't expect to win or even place for the World's Toughest Mudder. I want to complete it knowing that I gave it my all and proud of my effort.

On that note, it still terrifies me. I signed up for the October event in Death Valley (Tough Mudder Las Vegas). Then I realized that I was using the delay as an excuse. During one of those midnight epiphanies that we all have on too much caffeine, I decided that I needed to eliminate the wait and just do it.

Instead of giving myself 7 more months of training, I'm giving myself 1 month. I changed my registration from Las Vegas in October to Michigan/Ohio in April.

Bucket List Progress: Tough Mudder Registration Confirmed.

Every child has the right to live without fear

Whether you love Invisible Children or denounce the organization, we can all agree that every child on this planet has the right to live.

Every child, no matter where she is born, has the right to live without fear or guilt or shame. No one has the right to hurt a child. No criminal responsible for crimes against humanity has a right to live freely. These are basic things on which we can all agree.

I don't know Invisible Children the organization. And, frankly, whether the organization is legit or a scam, I don't care. What I do care about is what they have been able to do. In the space of a few days, they have awoken a sense of outrage in an appeal to our humanity. They have forces us to see a part of reality that we in the West ignore.

Right, wrong or indifferent, if you've seen the Kony 2012 video, Invisible Children achieved its goal just by getting your attention.

In all of the media craze, we're forgetting one thing: the message. People around the world are suffering. Women and children are suffering. People are suffering.

We all have a responsibility to do what we can. Whether you support Invisible Children or find another cause to get behind, do something. Do something more than promoting a negative reaction to a specific organization.

Children in Africa are enslaved every day to mine metals that go into our consumer products. That's not liberal hype. That's stark truth coming from someone who works in the consumer products industry.

There are children in Africa who have been enslaved as child soldiers. This isn't IC hype. It's reality.

To the naysayers: Let's put aside bickering. Let's stop wasting our energy arguing over whether one organization is either righteous or irresponsible. Let's put that energy and outrage to use and affect a positive change.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The evolution of man or lack thereof

Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal.” - Winston Churchill
This week I was in Orlando, Florida for a fairly high-profile product safety conference. The attendee list of this 4-day event included several major retailers, consumer brands and government officials. When I say high-profile, I mean HIGH-profile. We're talking executive level folks and very high level government officials.

The whole point of the meeting is to help improve consumer product safety and promote a dialog between different key players in industry to make sure that we're all thinking and acting towards a goal of complying with the law and putting safe products on the market. It's a great organization, driven by some really awesome people.

So, you could imagine my surprise when I ran into a man that we'll call Mr. Chau van Ist, a lawyer that represents companies when they have product safety issues. Mr. van Ist is boisterous and like any stereotypical lawyer, oozes an air of slimy.

He lurks in and out of conversations looking for connections to drum up more business. He laughs at jokes that aren't funny. He pretends to be intensely interested in what you have to say. He is a human bobble head and as phoney as a $3 bill.

Mr. van Ist is also very loud, vulgar and obnoxious. In his infinite wisdom he shouted to the rooftops in public, not once but twice, F [gov. agency name]! I'm telling my clients to F [agency] and not comply.

I'm not one to talk poorly about anyone. And this post would be boring if the point was that a lawyer was a moron. This is what happened...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On faith...

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
    - Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Do you ever think about regret? Regret is borne of guilt for the unaccomplished, helpless or hopeless. We regret because we're ashamed of weakness. We feel weak because we don't believe in ourselves. In the end, we wind up regretting everything that we never accomplished because we carry guilt for never having the faith to jump head first into the impossible.

Others wallow in regret from the shame of failure. Please don't let my weaknesses shine through to the pack! I'll look stupid if I dance like that! I'll never finish a marathon - so why try?

Yesterday I heard of a shocking death of a young man. He wasn't a celebrity or anyone "important." And yet, I heard of this tragedy from not one, but from three people who don't know each other but who each knew and were touched personally by this young man while they were alive.

This young man, at the age of 24, was struck by a train. Did he do something stupid? Yes. He was drinking and hanging out with a buddy on the top of the train car. The train started to move. He fell off. Absolutely tragic.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Transformations through fitness

This week I had the opportunity to speak to an innovative and inspiring woman, Liz Ferro, Founder and Executive Director of local non-profit Girls With Sole.

GWS provides free running shoes, fitness journals and fitness and wellness programs for local abused and at-risk girls ages 9 to 18. Ferro’s vision is to provide these girls a supportive place where they can grow and connect, where their achievements in fitness can empower them to believe in themselves.

This struck a chord with me on a number of levels. I know first hand what the transformative power of fitness can do.

I left an abusive relationship 4 years ago. I was obese, emotionally broken, and at a crossroads in my life where I couldn’t see anything outside of my pain. When I was about to turn 30, I had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I got myself to the gym. I started taking Tae Kwon Do. I set goals that I never thought I could accomplish.

When I crossed my first half-marathon finish line at the Cleveland Marathon last year, I was crying. The last mile of the race my body was breaking down. I spent the last half of the race thinking of all of the reasons why I was there. The pain seared into my ribs. My right arm was alternating between spasms of numbness and pain.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is Xomba in a death spiral?

Just a couple years ago, I came across a website called Xomba. It was something like social bookmarking meets random web content with a revenue share pay structure. The site had a very crass spammy profile and look but it provided an easy place to bookmark and backlink web content that you had on other sites.

In the "old days," Xomba also had a hopping community with tons of commenting, voting and interaction. It was a really interesting site to network with other writers.

And best of all, Google ate it up. My old content on Xomba used to place consistently in the top few search results and I was momentarily blessed with organic searches to my content on that site.

Today, Xomba has a much cleaner look. It's not spammy, it's snazzy. The site has a really nice flow for generating content and is fairly easy to navigate.

Unfortunately, that's where the positive changes to Xomba end.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

BYOWB at the Grand Canyon

The National Park Service announced a ban on the sale of water bottles in Grand Canyon National Park. Yes, that's right - a ban on water sold in a place where people typically engage in physical activity in hot, dusty, desert conditions.

Why? Why would the government decide that this might be a good idea?

Well, according to the Park Service, about 30 percent of the litter polluting the waste stream at the Grand Canyon comes from plastic bottles. By banning the sale of plastic water bottles the Regional Director that runs the Grand Canyon National Park is hoping to reduce the amount of plastic waste.

Sounds logical, except one little thing...The sale of plastic soda bottles is not subject to the ban. Yes, you read that correctly. We're banning water but still selling soda.

This seemed utterly ridiculous to me. I hope it seems as ludicrous to you. If you're looking for more information on this story and what the Director of the National Park service has to say about this, check out my article on Infobarrel, Grand Canyon Bans Plastic Water Bottles, Soda OK.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The everchanging world of online writing...

Wow. A lot has changed in freelance writing online over the last couple of years.

When I was out of work a couple years ago I dove into writing web content through various websites and I made half-decent money, writing primarily for upfront pay. I put together a few blogs and wrote a few articles on passive revenue share sites, but never really played the revenue share game.

At that time, there were a lot of upfront pay opportunities for web content that paid pretty close to a living wage. Unfortunately, nearly 2 years later, most of those sites (like Demand Studios) dried up as sources of income.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Broken Barbie advises against cardio mistakes

3 weeks ago I jammed my wrist in a sparring match. A week later I twisted my ankle in a cardio class. Stuck on the sidelines with nasty sprains ever since, I've going out of my mind anticipating my liberation room the stationary bike and virtual cardio-atrophy.

This sedentary experience has, however, given me the unique opportunity to observe the life in the gym. Everywhere I look, I see who I used to be - that unfit, awkward, overweight, self-conscious woman muddling through exercises not knowing how to perform them correctly.

Inspired, I scoured YouTube checking out exercise videos to research an article on this topic. Amazingly, it was actually difficult to find trainers on YouTube demonstrating proper technique on even on the most basic cardio exercises.

Why is proper technique on a seemingly self-explanatory piece of cardio equipment important?

Four words: Injury Prevention, Pain Avoidance. Improper exercise technique leads to injuries, weakened joints and back problems.

To see some tips on how to perform common exercises correctly, check out my article on Infobarrel: 10 Common Exercise Mistakes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

And a midlife crisis is born...about this blog

So I turned 30 and the sky didn't open, thunder didn't roll, the world was not engulfed by the hellish flames of Armageddon and my breasts did not fall to my ankles. I was convinced in the months following my 29th birthday that on the day that I turned 30 my life as I knew it would end as I would be compelled to join the legions of bitter old maids who lived and died alone in apartments smelling of PVC sofa covers.

But a funny thing happened in March (of 2010). As I was sitting in my cubicle, festering in the monotony of endless paperwork and thinking about how uncomfortable it is to sit with a roll of fat over my pants, it dawned on me. (It, what it?)

It dawned on me that I have a choice to make, either approach this birthday resigning myself to fade into the twilight of mid-age or wake up and change my life and outlook. Seems like quite a dramatic epiphany to have at the office, but, all the same, there it was.

I watched my father eat himself into diabetes and strokes. I'm watching my brother head down the same path. I looked in the mirror (figuratively) and saw a woman with a 206 pound frame drowning in pre-diabetes and enslaved by an obsession with eating yummy sugary things. (And if you think 206 pounds is big but not too bad, consider that seven years ago I was looking in the mirror to a 250 pound tub.)

Right then, I made a decision. I refused to turn 30 and be fat. I promised myself that by my 30th birthday, that I'd be in the normal weight range for the first time in my life. Now I'm 31 and in the best shape of my life.