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...