30 June 2012

putting it in perspective

I work at a small college and part of my duties as the librarian is to proctor IT/computer certification exams. Some of the testers are students at the school while we also get a few people from the community. So it was that on Tuesday I had a woman come in to take one of these exams.

It should be noted that this woman was a petite Asian and yes this is relevant. Because, see, part of the checking in process is to take identification like, say, a driver's license. Which, as you know, has your weight on it. (Although mine, obviously, is way off these days. Really should get a new one.) Anyway, I was examining her license, making sure she was who she said she was, blah blah, when I noticed her weight. I looked at it closer, looked up at her, then looked back at that number. I stifled a small smile, finished the check-in process, and got her started on her test.

Then I went to Twitter.

True story. 

How do you put your weight loss in perspective? Also, don't forget that if there is a question you want to ask me for my 100th post Q&A you still have time! You can leave it as a comment on this post or you can send it via my contact form.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

27 June 2012

on the warrior path

My friend Staci calls me a warrior.

It started about a year ago when I accidentally walked 6 miles one afternoon (long story). That evening a bunch of us were celebrating the one year anniversary of Anat. Massage Therapy (if you are in Cleveland, I recommend you go get a massage from my dear friend Lauren. Because she is awesome, her studio is awesome, and her massages are awesome) and Staci asked when I had done that day and I told her. I don't think she entirely believed me because she kept giving me this incredulous look, but, no, really, I accidentally walked 6 miles that day.

That's when she called me a warrior, a nickname that continues to this day. And along with being one of my biggest champions, she's also the friend that recommend I go to the Cleveland Running Company for my new running shoes. So, y'know, she has that going for her, too. 

But, see, while Staci sees me as a warrior, I often have trouble with it. Sort of like the inspiration thing: because it's not a label I would use with regard to myself, I think it's weird when other people apply it. Now, the inspiration thing I have totally embraced and love. But a warrior? Not so sure about that one. I mean, what is a warrior anyway?

Warrior: A person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. Um, yeah, no. A person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics. 


It's the courage bit that gets me. Deciding to start a journey to lose 150 lbs? Changing your entire eating and activity habits to do so? Committing to this heart and soul? Running your first 5K? Done and done. I never would have thought about it that way before, but yeah that shit takes courage. Believe me, it would have been so much easier to stay complacent and safe in my comfort zone. To not force myself mentally and physically to do things I've never done before. And while I think part of my trouble in accepting this label is the fact that I'm not done yet. I still have a long way to go. Yet this definition says shows. Present tense. Because along with starting this journey, I have to keep going and see it through and that takes just as much courage because it would be so easy to quit, too. Because, hi, this is hard work, yo. 

Part of this whole journey is, of course, this blog. Putting myself out there like this also takes its own level of courage. But having this space is part of what keeps me going because I love sharing my journey with all of you, both the successes and failures. 

This, believe it or not, is my 96th post here at The Year of the Phoenix. Crazy, right? My 100th is just around the corner and 100 is an important number. A milestone number, whatever the context. I mean, I'm getting my third tattoo when I lose 100 lbs, so naturally I want to do something fun for my 100th post if I can. 

So that's where you come in. 

For my 100th post, I thought it might be fun to do an audience participation type thing and see if any of you had any questions for ol' Lady Lazarus here. It could be exercise or weight-loss or even something not at all related to what I write about on this blog. If you have something you've been wanting to ask, now is the time to do so. You can leave a comment on this post, fill out my contact form, ask on Facebook or even Twitter. (This is also the perfect time for all of you lurkers to come out, since comments are moderated and nobody will know it's you!) 

Seriously, people, this librarian is an open book. So ask away! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

26 June 2012

loving last place

See that? That's me. Yup, waaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom. In last place.

These, ladies & gents, are the race results from this past weekend's 5K. I went looking for them because I really just wanted to know what my official time was seeing as how I totally wasn't paying attention the day of, I was just so excited to finish. In the end, I finished in 47 minutes and 40 seconds, which came out to an average mile time of 15:23. And, yes, last place.

But guess what? I don't care. In fact, I'm thrilled. Because seeing my name and those numbers in black and white is proof that with enough destination, determination, deliberation, you can do anything. I ran a 5K. This bears repeating because at the beginning of the year, this would have been impossible. Not only impossible, it's not something I would have even considered. Me? Run? 3.1 miles? Puh-leeze. But I did it and have the race results to prove it. As my cousin Matt said on Facebook: You can't get scored if you don't compete. Iron Men that finish last are still Iron Men. I've already signed up for my second 5K and I'm considering one in my hometown at the end of August that is part of the new football stadium celebrations (if any Stars Hollow alum want to join me!). As for the numbers above, well, they are just that: numbers.

While we're at it, though, let's throw out some other random numbers.

Like, oh, I don't know. 6. Because I only started running 6 months ago. And, okay, so, 6 x 3 is 18 and 18 months ago I weighed 311 lbs. 15 is the number of inches of hair I had cut off and 91 is how many pounds I've lost thus far. I'm 9 pounds away from 100 and my bra size is a 38.

See? Just numbers. They don't have any meaning when take out of context. Like, say, a race results list. They don't tell the story of how far I've come. If anything, they just tell the story of where I still have yet to go. I mean, think about it, start on the bottom and it's all uphill from here.

Just, y'know, not actual hills, please. I already did that once and would appreciate a slightly flatter terrain next time around, thankyouverymuch.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

25 June 2012

sometimes you feel like a nut

I'm a peanut gal. Peanuts. Peanut butter. Peanut butter cookies. Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate covered peanuts. Whatever its form, George Washington Carver would love me. (Although he would probably also scold me, since a peanut is actually a legume and not a nut, but just go with me on this one, okay?)

Recently, however, I have discovered the joy that is almonds. Specifically almond butter, though I am digging eating raw almonds, too. My Google Reader is full of food blogs and many of them talk about almond butter so a week or so ago I finally broke down and bought a jar.

No joke, I could very easily just sit and eat the whole jar. The fact that it's significantly more expensive than a jar of ol' peanut butter is the only thing stopping me. Which no doubt works in my favor because, hi, don't really need to go through an entire jar of nut butter in one sitting. But man oh man is it tasty. One of my favorite new breakfasts is oatmeal pancakes topped with almond butter and strawberries with honey drizzled on top.


Actually, oats are pretty new to me, too. I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, but I loooove the oatmeal pancakes and am really digging oats in a jar (which really is just oatmeal, but shhh). Both are super easy and super filling. And quick, too, which means that even on days when I wake up early and go for a run I can give myself a few extra minutes of sleep because my breakfast won't take forever. I mean, the oats in a jar just need to be taken out of the fridge. Hello, no brainer.

oats in whatever random container with a lid I could find

See, my usual breakfast has been half a bagel with cheese, some eggs, fruit, and yogurt. In the beginning that worked for me because of the way WW points work: the heavier you are, the more daily points you're given. As you lose weight, that points lower. So a big breakfast helped me reach those high daily points without feeling like I was forcing myself to eat. Now, however, it works against me because with a breakfast that large I had to have a small lunch. Which sometimes was okay, but more often than not really just felt like a big snack with string cheese, an apple, and hard-boiled egg, and didn't always tide me over until dinner.

But now, see, I have found a smaller breakfast that keeps me full so I can plan for a mid-day meal that includes my old lunch plus crackers, cheese wedge, and my new best friends raw almonds. Now that is a lunch that will keep me happy until dinner.

Granny Smith, yo. Best apple ever.

(Although, no joke, sometimes I look at my meals and am astounded by their size only because I used to eat an obscene amount of food in a single meal. And while the above might not look like a lot of food, it's filling and healthy, which is key. Quality over quantity.)

That being said, I will admit that between PMS and pre-5K anxiety, I maybe did a bit of over eating this past week. And I might have gone straight for the almonds and almond butter. I really don't have a sweet tooth when this sort of thing happens. At least not traditional sweet tooth like chocolate. No, this is the time of month when I have been known to make an entire batch of peanut butter cookie dough and just skip the baking part and eat the dough. So I will forgive myself for a spoonful or two (or three) of almond butter. That being said, I did lose half a pound this week bringing my total to 91! Third tattoo is getting ever so much closer!

Okay, so here's the really awesome part about all of this: once the almond butter jar is just about empty, I can get the best of both worlds and actually make oats in an almond butter jar! Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Or, y'know, almond and oatmeal breakfast.

Have you discovered any new foods recently? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 June 2012

hills like white elephants

Previously I had set a goal of completing my first 5K in 40 minutes. In theory that sounded reasonable, except I forgot to take into account the infamous hills at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. And the fact that I'd have to run up them. Twice. On the second loop I actually had to walk up part of one and my overall pace was close to what it was when I was freaking out, but y'know what? That's okay because I completed a 5K. Like, a legitimate one with finish line and race bib and everything. I finished in about 47 minutes (I was so excited just to finish that I neglected to pay attention to the seconds, just that it was 47 minutes, so it could have been 47:04 or 47:54) and for a woman who five months ago wasn't running at all, I will happily take it!

Race Bib and Tech Shirt

As I crossed the finish line, the first person I saw was my college roommate Megan. Being the speed demon that she is (well, compared to me), she finished way ahead of me but hung out at the finish line waiting for me to cross. How fabulous is that? Of course, one of the things she said to me was "Wow, you picked a brutal one for your first." 

Yes, yes I did. This was an accidental "go big or go home" deal.

Hills aside, this still wasn't easy. Even though I run this distance about once a week, the race environment changes thing. Especially when y'all start and everyone ahead of you bursts forward and you're lagging behind. And I admit that for the first, oh, half mile I let that get to me. Looking over my shoulder, concerned I'd be the very last person. But then I remembered that the only person I was really in competition with was myself and it didn't matter what everyone else was running. So I turned up the volume on my playlist and just ran.

At about the halfway mark, where we looped around near the front of the zoo, there was a crowd of volunteers and spectators clapping. With the energy and adrenaline and endorphins, I turned into a grinning fool as I ran past their cheers and felt myself well up just a wee bit because, hi, I was competing in a 5K. Like, what?

The running community was incredible and I loved that as I was coming down the final leg to the finish line, runners who had already finished and were walking through the zoo kept encouraging me on, like "You're almost finished!" and "It's just ahead!" Gave me that final push to pick up my pace through that last little bit.

Admittedly I'm still trying to process all of the emotions wrapped up in this. I only started running in February and ran my first 3 miles only two months ago. And now I have completed my first 5K. Make no mistake, this is only my first. There will be many, many more and (hopefully) eventually 10Ks and half-marathons and maybe even a marathon one day. I also changed the photos in my header: if those two pictures side by side don't show the true journey I've taken over the past year and a half, I don't know what else would.

I completed a 5K, people. A 5-freaking-K. That's just crazy, but it's not because, um, I did it. And I already want to run another one, though next time I'll check the hill situation before signing up.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 June 2012

5 reasons why I love running

Happy Friday everyone! I'm taking the day off from running today which is a little weird because Fridays are usually reserved for my "long run" but with my 5K tomorrow, it seemed like a good idea to use today as a rest day. It actually worked out well, because I have to take the cats to the vet: Linus tore a claw and he and Chloe both need their shots updated, so two birds, one stone, yadda yadda.

Speaking of the 5K, thank you soooo much to everyone who gave me advice earlier in the week when I was freaking out a bit. It meant so much and helped a ton. I ended up sleeping in Wednesday morning and yesterday just did one mile, which I ran in 13 minutes, making me very happy. The support you guys showed was awesome and reminded me that this whole thing is supposed to be fun! I was getting so wrapped up and overwhelmed by the numbers I forgot that part, so thank you.

Today's post is actually being featured over at my friend Julie's blog, Wearing Mascara. She's on vacay this week (lucky girl) and asked some of us to write guests posts for her in her absence. Being that my first 5K is tomorrow, I decided to write about 5 reasons why I love running, so go check it out!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

21 June 2012

today's motivational post is brought to you by the number 90

I don't really pay attention to my driver's license. I mean, y'know, it's my driver's license. I keep it with me, it's in my wallet, but it's not like I take it out all that often. I had to for the Horseshoe Casino but I couldn't tell you the last time I was carded or asked for it before that.

So the other day, after seeing the license of someone else who has lost a significant amount of weight, I decided to look at mine. And because it's really only telling if you can get a comparison, I took a photo.

And then I spent the next twenty minutes walking around work asking, Wanna see something crazy?

I have cheekbones, people. Cheek.Bones. And the dimple on my right cheek is back! It went away for a very, very, very long time. And my eyes! My eyes look all lush and fab and huge. Also, all the sun I've been getting from running actually makes me look healthy.

So if you are waiting for that click or are looking for that push, this is it. This is your moment.  Right here, right now. I can wax on all I want to about how part of this journey is to get fit and healthy and while that is very true, let's be honest: this is also very much about losing weight. I used to weigh over three hundred pounds and now I have the potential to weigh under two hundred before the end of the year.

Yes, it takes work. Hard work. It takes time and effort. I mean, I've been at this for a year and a half and I probably still have at least another year to go. But it can be done. Some days you feel like a rock star, other days you have to be dragged kicking and screaming. You will make mistakes. Bad decisions. Skip workouts. It happens to the best of us and it will happen to you, too. But as long as you commit and do the work and keep going no matter what, you, too, can one day be the proud owner of a driver's license that looks absolutely nothing like you.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

19 June 2012

just keep running, just keep running

Remember what I said yesterday about not psyching myself out before my 5K?

Yeah, so not working.

This was from yesterday:

Usual MapMyRun app

And this was from today:

Wanted to try out the Runkeeper app

Are you kidding me? 16 minute miles? That...I....what?! 

It's not a physical obstacle. I know that. I'm not only capable of ten minute miles, I'm capable of multiple ten minute miles. I could go into a long list of reasons for what could be going on, except, honestly, it's all mental.  It's not the weather slowing be down, because it's been pretty cool out. It's not the time of day, because a week ago before work I was running 13 minute miles. This is just me stressing myself out because I'm about to do something I have never done before.

This isn't about the run. It isn't about the distance or even really the time. This is about me forcing myself out of my comfort zone and that is a scary, scary thing. When I run during the week, it's by myself. Nobody else has to know how fast or slow I go (except, well, you here. And the people who follow me on Twitter. But, uh, other than that ...). But come Saturday I'm going to be running with other people. And there is going to be a finish line. And I, the girl who 15 years ago walked the mile in high-school and five months ago wasn't running at all, I am going to be gunning for that finish line.

When I started writing this post about an hour ago, I was honestly at that point where I was going to skip the remaining planned morning-before-work runs and not lace up my running shoes until Saturday's race. But all that does is enable the mental block I've created. You can't break through a brick wall by just idly standing by and watching it. You have to ...

Well, you have to run towards it.

Any suggestions for this 5K newbie who is maybe starting to freak out a wee bit? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

18 June 2012

this woman I've become

Sooooooo it's Monday. That means that my first 5k, Running With a Mission, is only, like, five days away.

Say wha?

I'm having a hard time processing this. Not the actual race, I'm fine with that. Truthfully I'm super excited, though I suspect that will turn into super nervous as the week marches on. The weather looks like it will be okay and I'm comfortable with the distance, often running further than on my Friday runs. Only difference is that there will be more people and I'm a wee bit concerned about time. I don't want to psych myself out and have a terrible mile time and am hoping the adrenaline will help. My goal is to finish in under 40 minutes.

No, instead, I'm having a hard time processing the fact that it's me who is going to be running in this 5K. Me.  The girl who five months not only didn't run but couldn't run. And now, hi. I'm going to be in a 5K.

I'm actually having difficulty internalizing a lot of things. My total weight loss thus far for one. I lost another 1.6 lbs this week, bringing my total to 90.4.

Say wha?

Like.....where did it all go? Seriously. It's just gone. Poof. Well, y'know, not poof. This took a lot of destination, determination, deliberation, but, see, I used to find the phrase "I lost weight" humorous. I mean, you don't really "lose" the weight, y'know? Except, uh, I kinda did. It's lost. Missing. Gone. A year and a half ago I had an extra 90 lbs and now I don't. But it didn't really go anywhere. It's not like a set of keys I left in the next room.

It's a strange concept to try and process. Especially when it's your own body.

My attitude is another thing. Before I was all cynical and pessimistic and sarcastic. Now I exercise and practice yoga and I'm all peace and love and happiness. Stupid endorphins. I'm supposed to be snarky, damnit! But noooooooooope. I'm all Mary Freaking Sunshine and it's freaking me out. Somewhere in time, my fifteen year old self is sadly shaking her head wondering just what in the hell happened to me.

You know what happened to me? I learned to love myself.

Last week, Skinny Emmie wrote an amazing post about being a weight loss blogger who supports the Fat Acceptance movement. In the comments, Fit and Free Emily said You can't take care of something you hate.

I used to be of the Fake It Till Ya Make It variety. The kind of girl who gave an appearance of confidence while inside she wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. I would spend hours styling my hair and putting on makeup because I thought I needed that outward mask to look pretty. I chased boys. A lot. I would pretend that I was perfectly okay with weighing over 300 lbs because I hadn't yet found the self-worth to believe I had any other option.

Now, though, I'm the girl who doesn't need to fake confidence. I know what I have to offer on the inside and the outside. This means that while, yes, I still wear make-up and do my hair and all that jazz, it's because, uh, hi. I'm kinda girly. But I'm also just as likely to forgo all of that and go out au natural and be completely comfortable in my own naked, unadorned skin. And, y'know what, if a guy isn't able to see how totally fabulous and awesome I am and come up to me on his own, well, then, it's his own damn fault. I gots way more important things to do than go chase some stupid boy.

I think this is one reason why The Number has lost some of its significance and why it's difficult to process it. Because it's no longer just about losing weight. It's about conquering those yoga poses that still prove challenging and working on running farther and faster. It's about being okay with losing my sweet tooth and discovering that, huh, I actually enjoy drinking water. It's about crossing that threshold from "diet" to "lifestyle change" and embracing it all the way.

That being said, the whole losing 90 lbs thing? Pretty damn fucking awesome.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 June 2012

the one with all the vitamin d

Today's vlog post is sponsored by the letter D. As in vitamin D, because I've been getting a lot of it as evidenced in the video below. I mean, seriously, check out those totally hot raccoon eyes I'm rocking. And if you missed the fabulous blueberry waffles post, you can see it here!

15 June 2012

waffles and blueberries and appliances, oh my!

Last weekend at the neighborhood wide Tremont yard sale, I picked up a waffle iron. It's a kitchen gadget I had been contemplating buying for awhile now because I love me some waffles, but was, uh, waffling (apologies) about it because I wasn't sure I'd use it enough to justify the cost. So when I saw one at the yard sale I was sold.

I'm a nerd and used the "toaster" filter on Instagram

Best part? Only cost me $1. So if I ended up not using it that much, I'm only out a dolla. And if it ends up not working that well, I'm also only out a dolla. Win win.

Then, of course, came the tricky part of finding a recipe. While there are a ton available online, the whole point of buying a waffle maker is to have more control over what I eat, versus just using the frozen ones from who knows where. I wanted to find a recipe that was both yummy and healthy. I checked out a few of my favorite food blogs and the Weight Watchers website but they were all either pancake recipes (which could have been used) or higher in points than I wanted.

That's when I stumbled on this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

I mixed it up a bit by using light vanilla soy milk and I added cinnamon to the batter. Of course, the size of every waffle iron is different, so using my handy-dandy kitchen scale I weighed the batter and just divided to figure out how much batter should be used for each waffle. Also, seeing as how I bought this for $1 at a garage sale, if all else failed I'd just have blueberry pancakes instead. But, luckily, my dolla paid off.

The batch made six and they came out pretty big, so I just froze the rest. Each waffle the way I made it is only 4 Weight Watchers points, and I just added some Smart Balance Light and fresh blueberries the drizzled agave nectar on top. Also, don't let the fact that it's fat free and vegan fool ya: this is a super, super yummy waffle. The batter is also highly adaptable so I might try and experiment with different kinds of fruit or maybe chocolate chips if I'm feeling all fancy. The one Weight Watchers recipe I found was for pumpkin waffles and I bet I could use this recipe as a base to make those.

On the original recipe, she mentions that because it's lacking oil and fat it comes out "floppier" than, say, frozen waffles. But I found that if you leave it on the waffle iron just a tad bit longer it crisps it up. The floppy ones I froze I'll just pop in the toaster.

Truth be told I have amazing luck with used kitchen appliances: Last year through my family reunion and a garage sale (long story) I scored an ice cream maker that I still use to this day. Right now I even have homemade pina colada sorbet chilling in my freezer, made with fresh pineapple and everything.

Homemade blueberry waffles and pina colada sorbet. And to think some people believe you have to give up food to lose weight. Diet say what?

Do you have a favorite kitchen appliance? Ever purchased one from a garage/yard sale? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 June 2012

What I Love Wednesday: Horseshoe Casino

You know that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie meets Santa? That was filmed here in Cleveland (along with the exterior of their house) at the famous Higbee's building downtown. When I was growing up, we used to go and I still remember it as one of the swankiest department stores I've ever been to (anyone else remember the wooden escalators? They were always my favorite feature). The store closed years ago, but recently with a little TLC it's been turned into one of the swankiest casinos I've ever seen and last night my friends and I dolled up and headed on over to our city's newest attraction, the Horseshoe Casino!

(Of course, because I was so busy gambling and drinking I forgot to take a single picture inside. Fail.)

Having been in the department store way back when, I was excited to see what it looked like now. Walking through those gorgeous golden doors and seeing the tall ceilings and columns that I remembered so well, I got all nostalgic.

Then I got distracted.

Have I mentioned yet how much I love Clue? Back in, oh, fourth or fifth grade, my neighbor Cheri and I spent an entire summer playing Clue. I'm not exaggerating: everyday I'd ride my bike to her house or she'd ride her bike to mine and we would play for hours. Being that there were only two of us, the games went fairly quickly, so we'd just play game after game after game. And don't even get me started on how much I love Tim Curry in the film.

No. Seriously. Don't. I could go on for hours.

Here's the thing, though, about the Clue slot machine. It's not just any ol' slot machine. Oh no. Not only do you get to pick a character (I went with Miss Scarlet, natch), but it's one of those slot machines that has little games inside of it that lets you earn bonus points (ie: cash) and you're sorta kinda trying to solve the mystery, like Professor Plum in the Library with the Wrench.

And it's a penny slot. Like, OMFG.

Because of its sheer awesomeness it was a pretty popular game. Which meant there was a bit of a wait. So I went off and found another game to play.

Some of us also played video poker (I tried, but cashed out after, like, four hands. So not my thing) while Snog (obviously not her real name) went off and played real poker in the poker room. We drank a little, gambled a little, and just had a grand ol' time. (I did eventually get to play Clue and it was well worth the wait.)

And, of course, if you're going to go to a casino you need to sign up for one of their reward cards.

This is how you get credits and free parking and all that jazz (though street parking is available if you don't mind walking). It also seems that because  the Horseshoe is part of a bigger operation, the same card can be used at other casinos, including Paris and Caesar's out in Vegas, which are two of my favorites.

Because I was out of town for my 30th birthday (in Vegas, as it happens), I didn't get a proper celebration with friends. So: dear friends of mine in the Land of Cleves. Let it be known that we will be at the Horseshoe the second weekend in November. Start saving your moola now. (I also told Sissy it would make a perfect place for a bachelorette party.)

Of course, it should be mentioned that the Horseshoe Casino is, oh, a fifteen minute walk from my apartment. If that. And they have a breakfast buffet which is always a huge weakness of mine. In Vegas, my favorite time to gamble was in the morning after I first woke up. I'd get my latte and find a machine and settle in. That early in the day, there aren't that many people so you have your pick. I'm telling ya, some Friday I'll set out on my morning run and just, y'know, coincidentally head in that general direction and, oh, well, hey, since I'm here, might as well stop and get some breakfast and maybe play a couple of bucks before heading back home. All that pushing of the slot machine buttons totally counts as work out. I mean, I'm gonna have some super buff fingers. Just you wait and see.

Are you yay or nay on casinos? Any favorite games? Anyone taking on bets on how long until I'm back at the casino? 

Love from the ashes,
(Luck be a) Lady Lazarus

12 June 2012

whip it. whip it good.

Saturday night was Roller Derby with my friend Lisa. To say I was excited was an understatement, evident in the vlog I made before the game. The Cleveland league is the Burning River Roller Girls and Lisa and I were able to see all four teams play. I went in having absolutely no idea what to expect, but the skaters were fabulous with even more fabulous names (Katniss Evermean was my favorite). And while it was a very physical sport that created a lot of hardwork -- the jammers especially, as their positions require speed and agility -- it looked like the kind of fun hardwork I get out of running.

I had a blast, hanging out with my friend, watching the games, munching on my soft pretzel, and the whole evening reignited my desire to learn how to skate.

You see, a few years ago Lisa had her birthday party at a skating rink. I do not skate. Never have been able to, not even as a kid. But, y'know what, I wasn't going to let that stop me because I had rather strange ambitions of being a derby player despite not knowing how to skate and I had to start somewhere, right? So, I get out on the rink and I'm super slow -- it takes me the entire length of a song to get once around the rink, but hey, better than not skating at all.

At one point I fall. Okay, no big deal, right? Well, no big deal unless you're close to 300 lbs and uncoordinated and can't get up on your own. Lisa and our other friend skated over to try and help me up, only in all my 300 lb uncoordinatedness, I make them fall, too. So then one of the employees skated over to try and help.

So there's me, on the floor of the skating rink trying my hardest to find my balance while on freaking wheels and there is an employee trying to help me up. And what do I, the 300 lb uncoordinated girl, do?

I pull the employee down onto the rink with me.

Mortified, people. Morti-fucking-fied.

My friends kept telling me it wasn't a big deal, but I wanted to crawl away and cry. It was right up there with the time I couldn't ride a roller coaster because of my weight and I spent the rest of the evening watching from the sidelines (which, at a roller skating rink, is actually rather entertaining).

You would think that would have been enough to dash any derby dreams, but, instead, it only motivated me and I lucked into finding a pair of roller blades at the thrift store.

To make a long story short, I only had the rollerblades for about a week before I fell and broke my elbow. That was a little over two years ago and while those skates are still in my hall closet, I haven't put them on in all that time. Hence the inclusion of #93 on my 101/1001 List.

At the game, Lisa actually asked me if I had skated since my accident and I said no. She then pointed out something I hadn't considered, which is that six months of yoga may help with my balance. Plus, I reason, an almost 90 lb weight loss can only help with the whole staying-up-while-on-wheels thing. Of course, if I really do want to maybe, kinda, sorta, possibly, make my derby dreams a reality I should probably forgo the roller blades and purchase roller skates.

And, of course, elbow pads.

I will say this: if I ever learn how to skate and if I ever become a Roller Derby player (hey, a girl can dream), my name would totally be Hatelyn Snark.

Winter is coming. And so is your ass kicking.

Hopefully George R.R. Martin would approve.

Have you ever attended a roller derby game? Are you a weirdo like me and have a derby name picked out? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 June 2012


As I mentioned the other day in my latest video post, I had to change things up a bit with regards to yoga on Saturday. My normal Ashtanga Vinyasa class at The Studio is Saturday mornings 10am to noon. Which is fabulous, unless you need to be in Westlake looking pretty and professional by about 12:30.

Having skipped last week because of the ordination, I really didn't want to miss a second week of yoga. But I also didn't know what to do. That's where the always awesome Papa G. comes in, because earlier in the week he sent me an email asking if I knew that a particular Cleveland attraction holds yoga classes. As a matter of fact, I did know, I just hadn't been yet because of my regular class. But now their Saturday morning class fit my schedule perfectly for this one day.

So where was this mysterious yoga class?

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium!

Yes, ladies & gents, you can downward facing dog facing a shark. Or, y'know, several of them since the twice weekly yoga classes are held right in front of the shark tank. Led by instructors from Nishkama Yoga, it's an hour long session and because I'm not an aquarium member, the class cost me $20 (members pay $10). It's a bit more than I would normally pay -- the drop-in fee at The Studio is $15, although I buy a pass so mine comes out closer to $10. So, with the aquarium you were clearly paying for location more than anything else. Which, to be fair, is a pretty sweet place for yoga, but considering the annual pass for a single adult is $50, might as well just get the membership and then you get discount on yoga and free admission into the aquarium for a year.

It was actually quite refreshing to take a different class. Don't get me wrong, I love Ashtanga. Love. It. and consider it my primary practice. But it's ninety minutes, sometimes more, and it's a fast paced practice. Not that this one was all relaxing, I mean I was still sweating by the end. It was just nice to get out of my yoga comfort zone, y'know? To challenge myself and my body to try something new and different. The instructor, Whitney, had a fantastic vibe and personality and she led a great series of poses. I left the class feeling refreshed and energetic, which is always the sign of a successful practice.

Although, if I was teaching a yoga class at the aquarium we totes would have done fish pose. I mean, hello, that's just so obvious. Something to keep in mind. Um, if I ever become a yoga instructor. And, uh, teach a class at an aquarium. Yeah.

But, seriously, I'm glad to know there is an option -- and a close option, it was a less than five minute walk for me -- if I find myself with another Saturday schedule conflict or with a random Tuesday off. I also have no doubt that the yoga class helped me lose another 2.8 lbs this week. That brings my total to 88.8 and with a little destination, determination, deliberation I may hit 90 next Monday!

Where's the most unusual place you've ever practiced yoga? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 June 2012

the one with my new mile time

Yay! Back with another video post! I just know y'all were so bummed I didn't have one last week. Right, so, well, as the title suggests, I went running and have a new time. Normally I wouldn't boast quite so much, but, this is like a craycray time, so boasting is deserved. 

08 June 2012

how harry potter helped me lose weight

Oh sure, go ahead and laugh. But while you're laughing, please note that in the middle picture below, the one where I'm dressed for a midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, I'm wearing Slytherin colors. So you might want to rethink the whole mocking me thing. Just sayin'.

But siriusly. 

Recently I have seen an influx of posts on my WW forum and tweets from friends about how they are continually stopping and starting. One woman was lamenting that this is her fourth attempt at Weight Watchers just this year alone. She would lose weight then slip up a bit and instead of refocusing, she'd just give up and gain all the weight back. Rinse and repeat. As someone who is on her third try -- not even counting the countless other diets I've done over the years -- I get it. Believe me, I get it. Yet, obviously something is different this time around. Something finally clicked. And while I may not have all of the answers as to why, Mr. Potter does.

Destination. Determination. Deliberation.

Those familiar with Harry Potter will recognize that this is actually the Three Ds of Apparition. But when trying to come up with a clever, memorable way to get my point across, I realized that this was it. Because I'm not going to sit here and advocate Weight Watchers specifically or running or even yoga. Everybody -- and every body -- is different and what works for me may not work or appeal to you. The food and the fitness is only part of the equation and while it's a very important part, I think the mental part is perhaps even more important and certainly more challenging. That's all Apparition is: getting from Point A to Point B using your mind. And more than the food or fitness, conquering the mental part of weight loss is what has made me successful this time around.

Step One: Destination

In other words, why do you want to lose weight? What is your ultimate goal, and recognize that I don't just mean goal weight. I mean, sure, that's obviously part of it but there has to be other reasons because sometimes that scale is not going to be in your favor. Sometimes that number will stay the same or -- horrors -- go up, no matter how well you did the week before, so you need to have some other focus to keep you motivated. Maybe you want to have more endurance or more strength. Maybe you want to just be healthier and adopt a better diet. Maybe you want to have better body image and self-esteem. Regardless, let them be goals that will help you see the bigger picture that goes beyond your actual weight. 

These goals change with time, too. Like, with my running, just running for any period of time was a goal in of itself. Then it became running three times a week. Now I have a goal to complete my first 5K at the end of the month, after which I'll come up with a new 5K or maybe even train for a 10K. Yoga is fabulous for these types of goals, because after you conquer one pose, like, say, the  headstand, you still have a whole bunch waiting for you (right now, for me, it's the balancing poses).

Step Two: Determination

Look, this takes work, okay? There are no magic spells here. You can't just will away the pounds and, well, not to sound snarky or anything, but those exercise routines you keep pinning? You have to actually do them. You also have to embrace the changes that will come your way, be it exercising when you really don't want to or having to learn how to say no to certain foods.

But, more than that, you have to stay focused and motivated and that motivation has to come from inside. I don't care how big your cheerleader section is, nobody else is going to get you to wake up early to go running or take the jar of peanut butter and spoon out of your hand at 3am. True, that cheerleader section may try and guilt you with the ol' "Should you really be eating that?" line, but even if you asked them to do that, you have to learn how to stop for yourself, not to please someone else. That also means not letting them become enablers as a means of making them happy. Yes, it's very sweet that your boyfriend or whatever bought you a carton of your favorite kind of ice cream after you've had a bad day, but if you know eating it would be a bad idea, then don't eat it. It's your journey, put your damn foot down. 

Not only that, you have to harness the ability to accept the mistakes and mishaps that will happen and not let them derail you. Like, okay, so you ate the ice cream and now regret it. Instead of beating yourself up, use that feeling as motivation. While I know I seem like Mary Freaking Sunshine all the time, I still have bad days. But I don't bitch: I find a song that matches my mood and put it on my playlist and sweat it out. 

See, weight loss is kind of like being in a relationship. You don't break-up or get a divorce just because you had a fight, right? That would be riddikulus. You made a commitment to your significant other and you have to stick with it and just keep going  no matter what. Same thing with this: you don't quit just because you had too much pumpkin juice and chocolate frogs at the party last week. You made a commitment to yourself and you have to stick with it and just keep going no matter what.

Step Three: Deliberation

So about three months into this journey, I almost quit. Yes, me. The woman who is 14 lbs away from 100. See, when I started I didn't have the destination or the determination. All I had was a goal weight, which sounded good in theory until I started falling off the proverbial wagon and the scale became my enemy. I gained back half of what I had lost and suddenly it all seemed too hard. I was lazy and full of excuses and still over 300 lbs so quitting just seemed the easiest option. 

Because that determination? Those changes? They can't exist merely for the time it takes to lose the weight. I have to keep up with them for the rest of my life. That's overwhelming and it took me a long time to embrace that fact. It's also why I gained back some of the weight in the beginning: since this was my third time on WW, I knew exactly what I was signing on for and just thinking about the work ahead exhausted me. But once I not only accepted but embraced that this was required, the it all became so much easier. So that's why I'm not going to tell you to go vegetarian or suggest Weight Watchers, because if you aren't willing to give up meat and/or count points, it doesn't matter that either has changed my life. Be it calorie counting or Atkins or Paleo or whatever, they only work if you work them

In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, this requires constant vigilance. And if you aren't ready to commit to this body and soul for the rest of your life then you will not be successful. It's a harsh reality, I know, and I think it's something a lot of people struggle with. Losing the weight? Only half the battle. But once you accept that this really is a lifestyle change, your entire attitude changes, too. Food is no longer evil or something to be avoided because you've learned how to eat your cauldron cakes and have them too. Literally. Fitness becomes your friend and you start looking forward to workouts. Case in point: I feel better and more alive on days when I wake up at 6:20am and go running before work than I do on mornings when I sleep in until 7am. 

Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.

So. There you have it. Straight from the hippogriff's mouth. Destination. Determination. Deliberation. That, witches and wizards, is how Harry Potter has helped me lose weight. 

Think I'm on to something here or is my head just full of nargles? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 June 2012

What I Love Wednesday: Someecards

Snark at its finest, Someecards is not your Mother's Hallmark. Which, of course, is exactly why I like it.

No topic is off-limits or taboo. From holidays to politics to just general life, Someecards covers it all with just the right touch of the cynical. This one literally made me laugh out loud:

And, of course, what is weight-loss snark without some kind of commentary on diet food:

Plus there is always the occasional appropriate pop culture reference as well:

If nothing else, Someecards helps me to not take myself too seriously. All of this, the food and fitness and counting points, is such a huge part of my life now it would be easy to get completely wrapped up in it. To get so focused on the lifestyle change, that I forget to actually, y'know, live my life. Plus, honestly, this whole journey of mine has made me more optimistic and it freaks me out a bit, so I like having somewhere to go to keep my snark in check. 

Now, it's a quiet day at work which means I get to spend it reading and I'm so very close to the end of A Game of Thrones. Of course, having read it before, I know what's coming (as does anyone else who has also read it or seen the first season of the HBO show). So, with that, I bid y'all adieu.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

04 June 2012

home again

Obviously there was no vlog post posted. What can I say? Family weekends can get super busy with all of that catching up going on! To say I come from a big family is a bit of an understatement: My dad is one of eight siblings (six living), and I have fifteen first cousins. Those are just the ones I'm actually related to, but most of them are married and have children and the next generation is already outnumbering mine.

Of course, part of this whole weekend event was to test my ability to eat while on the road. I live a pretty structured, scheduled existence food-wise so these sorts of things are always a challenge. And, honestly, I did pretty well up until Sunday, which is when I snacked and munched and grazed a bit more than I would have liked. But, when I stepped on the scale this morning, I was down 1/2 a pound, so I couldn't have done too bad. That brings my total to 86 and it was so wonderful hearing all the compliments and comments from family who hadn't seen me in awhile. My one aunt even said that I "glow."

Saturday night there was a seated dinner reception for my cousin, the newly ordained Father Joe and tables were assigned based on Beanie Babies. Yes, I mean those cute little stuffed animals that took the world by storm like, fifteen years ago. There was apparently significance behind the pairings, like my family was at the table represented by the Cardinal -- the state bird of Ohio. At the end of the evening, the kids were told they were allowed to take one of the Beanie Babies if they wanted, although my cousin Megan and I might have each taken one of the Meerkats.

His name on the tag is Burrows but I'm calling him Rabbi Goldstein. Yes, there is a story behind it and no, I'm not telling you what it is.

The vegetarian option at the reception ended up being a risotto and while I ate all of it, I did pass on dessert.  I wasn't so good on Sunday, when there was a light reception after Father Joe's first mass. It started with one small cookie bar thing which turned into two which turned into three. Ooops. Plus I snacked a bunch in the car on the way back home. For lunch we stopped at Bob Evans and this was one of those times when my Weight Watchers app came in handy, because I was able to look up the restaurant and food items. Turns out the Veggie Omelet meal, including the fruit, toast, and jam was only 7 WW points. Dinner was a Burger King at a rest stop and I got their Veggie Burger (minus mayo) and apple slices, although I only ate half of the burger because of all the snacks.

I did get some exercise in: Saturday morning, Sissy and I woke up early and went to the fitness center at the hotel, located right across the hall from our room. Of course, running for 25 minutes on that treadmill just reconfirmed why I prefer running outside, but running on a treadmill is better than not running at all.

The original plan was to stop partway last night and not get back to Ohio until today. However, my parents decided to just drive straight through and once we got to their house I just hopped in my car and was back in Cleveland before midnight. I had already taken today off and so it's kind of a free day for me! I met a friend for brunch at the West Side Market Cafe and after cleaning my apartment, I'm now in my comfy Muppet pj pants and plan on spending the rest of the afternoon on the couch reading.

After a day of rest and relaxation, tomorrow's 6:15am alarm and morning run hopefully won't seem so bad.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 June 2012

on the road

When this gets posted, I'll be camped out in the back of my parents' car headed towards Virginia. One of my cousins is being ordained this weekend (oh yes, I'm going to be related to a priest) and the whole family is heading to the Commonwealth to celebrate. I come from a very large extended family and we are spread out all over the country, so these trips are always fun. It's also hard to believe that next year's big family event will be Sissy's wedding!

Of course, road trips and long weekends and vacations always means that my routine is a bit off kilter. So this is one of those times when my hardcore planning comes into play, because I refuse to allow a vacation as an excuse to fall off track.

The nice thing about road trips is I can pack my own food and snacks. When going to Virginia (where Sissy lives) we usually stop at a Sheetz in PA, home of the Made-to-Order, for lunch and I've already checked out the nutrition information to figure out a veggie wrap that won't be too many Weight Watcher points. I'm also packing PopChips (my new obsession) and fruit to eat along with it in the car. Since it's such a long car ride, there are some peanut butter filled pretzels and cheese crackers, plus some stuff from Aldi's Fit & Active line. And, of course, a road trip requires magazines like BUST and Yoga Journal.


Having this past Monday off meant I got to sneak in an extra weekday workout, but I'm still packing my workout clothes and running shoes because I'm hoping to find some time the morning before the ordination to get a run in. Running (and walking) is one of those activities that doesn't require a fancy gym or special equipment, only sidewalks. Or, if those aren't available, just a really big parking lot. (Our hotel might have a fitness center, but I prefer running outside).

I think the neon pink sports bra adds a nice pop of color

And, of course, since I'm going to be stuck in the car for the next 8 hours, I'm bringing along some reading material. I was first introduced to George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series many years ago and rereading it is on my 101/1001 list. It seems unlikely that I'll finish Game of Thrones this weekend, but figured there was no harm in bringing along A Clash of Kings just in case. Besides, maybe hanging out in Winterfell will psychologically help me beat the heat.

Winter is Coming. Until then, I have all summer to re-read the series.

All of that being said, this is a special trip and probably the only type of vacation I'm going to get this summer so I don't want to have to be "on" all weekend long. That's where those fabulous Weight Watchers weekly and activity points come in! So I can still indulge a little bit, which will surely come in handy at the reception dinner Saturday night. I have no idea what will be served, so that buffer of extra points is always helpful. (The invitation did have an option to select a vegetarian entree, so big thanks go out to my aunt and uncle for offering that!)

Even though I'll be out of town, I'm going to still try and post a vlog this weekend. Possibly with a guest star! Ooooh. Ahhhh. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!

Do you plan for food and fitness while on vacation? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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