31 October 2012

thirty-one days, thirty-one asanas

First off, I hope everyone has survived the storms and all readers in the Northeast are safe and dry! Here in the Cleveland area we've had rain (lots and lots of rain) and power outages. Monday the power went out at work so I got to go home a smidge early and the weather was horrific the next day, so Tuesday I didn't have to go in until after lunch. But I know our experiences are mild compared to those further east so I count myself very, very lucky.

Right. So. In case you haven't checked a calendar today, it's Halloween! Best. Day. Ever. (And I say that as someone with a birthday less than two weeks away). But not only is it the best day ever, it's the last day of the Grow Soul Beautiful October Yoga Challenge! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (and if you don't you should), you've been able to keep up with my daily pictures but I thought it would be fun to put them all together.

Some were old favorites, some new and challenging. But each shows the power of the body and the beauty in form and movement. I mean, hello, remember my sweet back muscles? More than anything, though, I think this challenge was an opportunity to show that there is no ideal yoga body type. Going through the #yogaaday hashtag on Twitter, I loved seeing all the different sizes and shapes represented and rocking the mat.

Of course, if you can do math you'll note that there are only thirty poses there. Which, of course, brings us to the final pose and because I'm a super big geek and love this holiday so much, I did it in my TARDIS costume.

Because that's how I roll, yo.

Speaking of yoga for all shapes and sizes, Anna over at Curvy Yoga is hosting a Virtual CurveFest on November 10th! From noon to 4 (EST), there are three one hour sessions with practices and meditations and subjects like body acceptance and it's going to be totally awesome and totally online and, best of all, totally FREE! (And no, despite the name, you don't have to be curvy to participate. That's the beauty of Curvy Yoga -- it's all about making yoga accessible to everybody and every body.) I have to miss the first half hour or so 'cause of my normal Saturday Ashtanga practice, but I'm so going to be there for the rest of it and I hope you decide to join me!

The Next Step Run For Shelter 5K is this Saturday, and so far I've managed to raise over $1000! But I would love to be able to present them with more, so I'm asking once more for y'all to consider donating to this fantastic Cleveland organization!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

29 October 2012

slow & steady wins the race

One thing you have to mentally prepare for on a journey like this is the fact that as you get smaller, the slower the weight will come off. Which makes sense. I mean, if you're smaller that means there's less weight to lose and it's unrealistic to think that it's going to come off as quickly or easily at 200 pounds as it did at 300 or 400, let alone if you're closer to, say, 150.

From 311 to goal is going to take me over two years. How long it's actually going to take, I have no idea. I would love to be in maintenance mode by Sissy's wedding next June, but I'll be happy if I'm running the Cleveland Rock 'n Roll Half at goal weight a few months later. Fact is, I've been at this for twenty-one months already and I still have close to 40 pounds to go. It's ridiculous to think I'm going to lose that in the next three months and it would be stupid to even try. My weekly average is 1.2 pounds and my monthly average is around 5 pounds. There's no way I'm going to manage to double that. If anything, those averages might also get smaller right along with me.

To someone not on this journey, those numbers might not seem super impressive. If anything they might be a bit discouraging. Five pounds a month? That's it? And then there's the fact that this was a good week. I got myself up on the treadmill despite really, really not wanting to and I followed my own Halloween advice and had my treats without going overboard, yet I only lost half a pound. Not even half, but point four (0.4). Just the other day, someone I follow on Twitter was lamenting the fact that she busted ass at the gym all week long but the scale didn't budge at all. Me? When I started to really work out I actually gained weight.

Truth is, weight loss is a bit like a Monet painting: really fucking ugly up close but goddamn phenomenal from far away. I can micromanage the numbers and say that over the past twenty-one months I have managed to average one single measly pound a week or I can tell you that I've lost an astounding 113.4 pounds. The numbers really are exactly the same regardless of how they are broken down, but sometimes you just need to change your perspective a bit to fully comprehend the message.

I have to wonder if this is why some people opt for quick fix crash diets: they are too focused on the daily, weekly numbers and not the big picture. Attempting to lose weight in a realistic manner (aka, a manner that will allow you to keep it off, because isn't that really the ultimate goal?) takes time. Lots of time and lots of patience. And anyone who knows me knows that patience is not one of my virtues.

I know how much it sucks to be on this type of journey. I know how frustrating it can be to see a slow moving scale or see it go up. I know that we all want to be the Hare, but this is one instance where we should happily be trudging along as the Tortoise.

You didn't gain the weight overnight, you're not going to lose the weight overnight either. Or, to put it another way: if you do manage to lose the weight overnight, how quickly and easily do you imagine it will be to gain it all back?

Just think about it.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

27 October 2012

a necessary evil

After work on Monday I met up with my old nemesis, the treadmill. We indulged in a quickie -- only twenty minutes -- which is about as much as I can muster without wanting to much somebody in the face. Why is it that I can easily run close to an hour outside but fifteen minutes on the treadmill feels like pulling teeth? Torture, people. Torture.

It seriously kills me. Five minutes on a treadmill and I'm ready to give up and I then have to spend the next 10-15 minutes talking to myself into continuing. And then I'm lucky if I manage to get a mile and a half out of the thing, because for whatever reason I am unable to run the same pace on the treadmill as I am outside. It's ridiculous and annoying and frustrating.

Which is why I so look forward to my Friday morning runs.

3.6 miles. 52 minutes. 14:27 average pace. Boom. (I wanted to go for longer and had I eaten my banana beforehand like I was supposed to I probably could have done 4 miles. Ooops.)

Not only that, check out these splits:

I don't care what your normal pace is. You could be a 16 minute miler or a 6 minute miler. Doesn't matter, because all runners understand the significance of getting faster with each mile.

Next week's run will actually be on Saturday, since that's the day of the LMM Next Step Run For Shelter 5K over at Edgewater Park.

With one week to go until the race, I've done a tremendous job raising money for the Next Step Program: $830 so far! When I first signed up for the fundraising challenge I wanted to raise $300 for this amazing organization and now I find myself continually upping my goal! But even with all that I've raised and the generous contributions of friends and family, I'm not about to start slacking so I'd like to once again ask y'all to consider donating to this worthwhile cause.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

24 October 2012

how to survive halloween

And, of course, by saying "survive" Halloween I don't mean outrunning ax murderers in painted William Shatner masks or hiding from chainsaws and zombies. No, I'm talking about that part of Halloween that we all loved as children, gorging ourselves on our annual stash of chocolate. Pulling from the plastic pumpkin our loot, rationing out the favorites from the ones we are willing to trade.

Sure, as kids we could get away with such obnoxious and gluttonous behavior, but as adults it's no longer cute. Nor is it exactly smart or waist line friendly. With Halloween exactly one week away and parties this weekend (I'm dressing up as the TARDIS), I figured now was the perfect time to offer some suggestions on how to make this holiday go from scary to sweet.

(I know, so cliched, right?)

Be A Smartie At The Store
When it comes to actually purchasing Halloween candy to pass out, you have two options. The first is to buy some crappy candy that you hate, thereby removing the temptation element. But that's kind of boring and it's not like you have to completely give up all candy for a month.

Which brings us to option two: if you're going to buy, buy smart. While Halloween overloads us with bags and bags of candy every time we go to the store, at least the candy comes in individual sized portions. "Snack size." "Bite size." A "Fun Size" bag of Milk Chocolate M&Ms is only 70 calories & 2 Weight Watchers points! Okay, sure, might not be as cool and exciting as the king sized candy bars you handed out last year, but does a six-year-old really need a king sized candy bar anyway?

Take Control Now (and Later)
Nobody says you have to start stocking up on Halloween candy as soon as the calendar switches to October. Light bulb moment here, but you can't eat what you don't buy. So if you're really worried about breaking into the stash before the first child-sized ghost appears on your front door, then hold off until the last possible minute to buy the candy. May actually end up being cheaper that way, too.

My mom always knew we'd have leftovers so she'd buy stuff she knew my sister and I would happily take and add to our candy collections. That's one option. Another is to take the leftovers to work and give them to your co-workers or friends. Or you can always throw it away. Again, if it's not in your house then you can't indulge. Of course, the ultimate goal is to end up with an empty bowl, so as the night goes on start handing out bigger portion sizes. Might make up for the missing king sized candy bar.

Break Me Off A Piece Of That Kit Kat Bar
As soon as you tell yourself you're not allowed to eat X, then all you want to eat is X. And the longer you go without eating X, the more you're going to crave it. And when you finally do give in to eating X, you'll be so guilt-ridden about eating this thing you're not supposed to eat that you go a little crazy and it's, well, not pretty. 

So give yourself permission to once a day eat a mini candy bar or some other treat that tricks your fancy. Sure, rationing out candy isn't exactly sexy, but how is it any different than using a food scale for your pasta or protein? You might also find that giving yourself permission takes away the temptation. Time and time again I have found that as soon as I tell myself I'm allowed to eat something that normally would have been off-limits, suddenly the food loses all power over me.

That being said, nix the big bowl of candy corn. If you're just mindlessly munching on handfuls of candy, you have no way of knowing how much you actually consumed. Part of not making food a big deal is by treating all food the same. That means keep track of the points or calories just as you would the banana you had with breakfast.

Dealing With the Sour Patch Kids
If you have children, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to teach them healthy eating habits. Like, just because you are randomly given several pounds worth of free candy doesn't mean you have to actually keep it all, let alone eat it. At work I'm constantly faced with bags of bagels and boxes of doughnuts that coworkers bring in but it's not like I see it as a free pass to gorge. Let them keep some, but give (or throw) away the rest.

Use this holiday as a chance to talk about how dessert can easily follow dinner every night if handled properly. This means moderation, not deprivation. Hiding the candy with the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality might seem like a good idea, but all that really does is reinforce the idea that candy is taboo and needs to be avoided. Teaching kids about portion control and a balanced diet with occasional treats is the best way to make sure they grow up with a healthy relationship with food, so that means teaching them how to walk past the bowl of candy without always reaching in to grab some. Speaking of dinner, before they get all costumed up, make sure they have a good hearty dinner that leaves them satisfied. They'll be less likely to start eating their stash before they even make it home.

Don't Be Afraid To Be A Nerd
Guess what? You don't actually have to pass out candy on Halloween. Those mini bags of mini pretzels are a perfectly legitimate choice to pass out. Of course you then run the risk of having your house egged, but, hey at least you won't have to worry about overindulging on leftover candy. But seriously, there's always stickers or gum or popcorn balls. Or, if you really wanna be a rebel, don't pass out anything at all. Turn off your house lights and join your spouse in taking your kid around and consider all that walking bonus exercise.

(Tootsie) Roll With The Punches
Sometimes we overindulge. Especially during the holiday season. And y'know what? That's okay. It happens. You can't expect to be perfect all the time, it's unrealistic. For a lifestyle change to really work long-term, you have to be realistic and that means accepting that sometimes ya fuck up and eat too much candy. Just remember that one bad choice doesn't undo all of the other good choices you've made. Every meal, every day, is another chance to get it right. Remember, we don't need a perfect record, just a winning record

You Are Your Own Lifesaver 
Only you can gauge your candy comfort level and decide if it's better for you to buy the crappy candy and swear off all sugar until November 1st. We are all on our own journeys and that means we all have our own paths to take. This is your journey. That also means you can't just skate through the holiday season(s) and expect everything to turn out okay.

For example: Friday night, my friends and I are gathering for our annual horror movie marathon. Food, naturally, will be present to munch on during the films. I can either leave myself vulnerable to whatever everyone else brings or I can bring a snack to share and guarantee at least one thing I can eat guilt free. It's with that same reasoning that I offered to make dessert for Thanksgiving this year.

One of the (almond) joys of being an adult (sorry, had to throw just one more in there) is getting to set our own terms. Take advantage of that glorious opportunity whenever you can.

Of course, all of this being said, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are being chased by a madman with a chainsaw, I suggest just eating all the damn chocolate that you can 'cause chances are you aren't going to survive until morning so you might as well enjoy your last few remaining hours.

Anyone else have any other advice to share on surviving Halloween?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 October 2012

changing our perception of ourselves

I have found that the universe is often one step ahead. Sometimes the messages come from likely sources, such as the phone call I received from a dear friend last night, a friend I haven't spoken to in years but talking to her was just what I didn't know I needed. Other times the messages are more subtle, hidden. You have to really be looking to find them, such as the article "Mistaken Identity" by Kate Holcombe, published in the November 2012 issue of Yoga Journal:

Asmita [or false-identification] happens when you identify with the parts of yourself that change -- everything from your mind to your body, appearance, or job title -- instead of with the quiet place within you that does not change. It's when you mistakenly believe, on some level, that how you look or feel or what you do for a living (or even how nice or beat-up of a car you drive) has something to do with who you are and that these things define you, instead of recognizing that your true Self -- who you are at your core -- is unchanging. 

In other words, if we allow ourselves to be defined by those elements of ourselves that are subject to potential change then we are setting ourselves up for eventual dissatisfaction or disappointment. There are no true fixed points in life and we certainly cannot battle the transformations that come from external forces. Our age, height, gender, hair color, job, friendships, relationship status ... these are identifications, yes, but they are not definitions.

Not all change is negative, but positive changes should be treated the same. A promotion at work, say, or losing 100 pounds are circumstances that should be celebrated, but we should not fall victim to believing they somehow define us or make us better or more successful than our previous self.

Self-acceptance, therefore, comes not in loving and accepting what is on the outside but connecting and bonding with what is on the inside. Yoga philosophy, according to Kate Holcombe, calls it the seer, "...that which experiences or 'sees' the world through the lens of the mind... the seer is what you might think of as your inner voice or guide... it's your true essence, and yoga teaches that this essence remains stable no matter what happens around you or to you." 

If we focus our energy on identifying with this unchanging part of ourselves, we are far less likely to be affected by change when it inevitably comes.

I don't know about all of you, but I needed to be reminded of this. Needed to be reminded that these elements in and of my life do not make me who I am. My tattoos do not define me. My red hair does not define me. My profession, hobby, and birthplace do not define me. Nor does my previous weight, my current weight, or the fact that I have now lost 113 pounds.

After such a large weight loss and change in lifestyle, one would perhaps think things came easier but the old insecurities still have a habit of bubbling up every once in awhile. That, of course, is because I have allowed my perception of myself to be set by external forces instead of identifying with my inner self. With three weeks until my 31st birthday (*wink wink*) this sounds like a good time to realign my focus.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

19 October 2012

friday favorites

This weekend I'm in Stars Hollow because Sissy and my aunt are in town 'cause today we're going dress shopping for Sissy's wedding! Good time will be had by all and tomorrow we're headed to the Horseshoe Casino which you know I love, so it should be a good weekend.

So while I'm off in my hometown, I leave you with another round-up of things I'm loving this week.

This Recipe

Easy peasy pumpkin muffins. And when I say "easy peasy" I mean easy peasy: one 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin plus one box of yellow cake mix (just the mix, no oil or eggs, etc.). I'm still working on perfecting my version of the recipe, so once I do I'll post instructions! Just know that it will be well worth the wait.

This Photo

This, ladies and gents, was my view waking up Thursday morning. As if I needed an excuse to love this city even more. (And please note there is no Instagram filter on this picture.)

This Book

I wouldn't even know how to begin describing Jasper Fforde's books. There's fantasy and science fiction and mystery and crime and ... yeah. Anyway, to save time and potentially confusing you, the current book I'm reading is called The Woman Who Died A Lot and the main character, Thursday Next, becomes Chief Librarian of the local library. The book is dedicated to librarians and there are all sorts of fun jokes and bits of dialogue related to the profession, like the above. I always love finding which authors appreciate us guardians of knowledge.

This Illustration


This is the first illustration in the above mentioned The Woman Who Died A Lot and the first time I saw it I didn't pay any real attention to the details. It was only when I got to this specific scene in the book that I went back and really paid attention. And nearly did a double-take. Because I spotted something I wasn't sure I was really seeing and that had Wait, is that .... no, it couldn't be .... but it looks like .... conversation in my head.

Do you see what I see?

That, ladies & gents, is The Doctor's sonic screwdriver tucked into Tuesday's pocket. Doctor Who, you ask?


I still wasn't entirely sure that's what it was really supposed to be until I wandered over to Jasper Fforde's website and was in the Special Features section and saw it mentioned.

Ah. Now I feel better.

What are you loving this week? (And yes, I know I have issues, thankyouvery much. I won't mention the fact that part of last weekend was spent watching BBC's Sherlock while working on my TARDIS Halloween costume, officially making me a Wholockian. I know, right? Who knew a geek could look as hot as me, huh?)

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

17 October 2012

what I love wednesday: cleveland food scene

Y'all know I heart Cleveland. And while there are many, many things to love about this fair city of mine, one of my favorites is the amazing selection of restaurants available. No boring predictable chain restaurants here. I mean, hello, we're home to an Iron Chef.

We have it all: like your grilled cheese with a bit of pizzazz? Or think a fried egg sounds like an excellent hot dog topping? What about made-to-order tacos? Just last weekend I tried Brgr9 and had the most fabulous vegan burger and two weekends ago, Wearing Mascara and I hit up El Maya in Berea for what was some of the best Mexican I've had in awhile (why are the best Mexican joints always in strip plazas?)

I once read that when visiting a new city, if you want to try the local cuisine don't ask for the "best" restaurant as they'll just recommend the fanciest, most expensive, etc. Instead, frame it like this: Say life/job/whatever circumstances took you out of the country for an entire year. Upon your return, what's the first restaurant you'd go to? My answer, without a doubt, would be Bac. Every time I go I say I should try something new, but I inevitably always order the avocado green curry with tofu because it's that damn good.

Even our grocery shopping is off the hook with good ol' West Side Market, currently partying it up for its centennial. Right across the street from the market is Great Lakes Brewery. Walk around Ohio City in the weeks leading up to the holidays and you'll see people carrying cases of Christmas Ale out of the shopfront.

I also don't think enough people realize how veg-friendly the city can be. There's Tommy's on the East Side, Flaming Ice Cube downtown, and Root Cafe on the West Side. There's even a vendor at WSM that sells vegan options.

Like I said, we got it all.

(For a more comprehensive list of veg options, check out my friend Lindy Loo's blog Vegan in Cleveland.)

Source: GV Art + Design

Speaking of blogging, one of the other things I love about Cleveland is the blogging community, with Cleveland's A Plum being a favorite. Alexa is celebrating her 1000th post and in honor of this huge achievement she's giving away a smorgasbord (pun intended) of Cleveland foodie goodies. I'm talking $1250 worth of local nomness, including Fahrenheit, Noodlecat, XYZ, and Greenhouse Tavern.


Y'know, my 31st birthday is coming up very soon (*cough* November 12 *cough*) and having a selection of gift cards to choose from would mean a very good time would be had by all....

Even if you don't live here, you should still totally enter 'cause then you have a reason to come and visit and find out for yourself why Cleveland rocks! And if you still aren't buying the whole cool factor, read some of the comments at the bottom of the post to find out why other people think Cleveland's a plum.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

15 October 2012

i'm basically famous

Not really. Well, sort of. Y'know. If you count this as being famous:

Because I'm an online subscriber, I don't go to meetings. Instead, I use a non-Weight Watchers affiliated message board for my meetings and a few months ago a reporter from Woman's World magazine was researching an article on WW and women who have had success on it and she stumbled across our forum. After reading some of my posts, she contacted me about doing an interview! So, one afternoon way back in July or something she and I talked for about half an hour about some of my tips and strategies for being successful on the program. The story was published in the October 22nd issue of Woman's World, which is on sale now.

After posting this picture on Twitter, a friend asked what I do actually eat for breakfast. Of course y'all know about my overnight oats in jar and I'm a huge fan of this oatmeal banana pancake recipe. Other favorites include Multi Grain Cheerios, regular oatmeal and, when I'm pressed for time, the Smart Ones English Muffin Sandwich or the new Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches (which aren't showing up on their website, oddly enough). All of these are then paired with a banana and some plain Greek yogurt topped with honey (I really like Fage Total 0%).

Recently I've been mixing things up thanks to a new discovery at Aldi: Pumpkin Spice Bagels. Oh yeah, baby. That's right. Pumpkin. Spice. Bagels. I'll toast up half a bagel and top it with about 1 T. of Peanut Butter & Co.'s Mighty Maple peanut butter and nomnomnomnom. Still with the Greek yogurt and banana on the side, too.

The bagels are so good that I may have gone a bit crazy and stocked up. Since they're a Special Buy for the week, there was no guarantee they would still be available once my first bag ran out, so I bought two three more and stuck them in the freezer. At least this way I have plenty of breakfast options and I'm good on the bagel front for a few months.

 One of the benefits to WW is, of course, the flexibility. Some people go for a smaller breakfast (if they eat one at all), but that never appealed to me. Truth is, breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. Right now I get 31 daily Weight Watchers points and I'm not afraid to use close to 1/3 of my daily points on breakfast (usually about 8-9). It might sound like a lot, but it keeps me full until lunch which is the important part.

It seems to be working: this week I lost 1.4 lbs, which not only brings my total to 111.2 but puts me back under 200!

Saturday night, Papa. G. and I headed to Pennsylvania for a gala that benefited the continued care living facility my dad's youngster sister works at. I didn't bid on anything, but my cousins got a package to Kalahari. They got the same package last time and invited me along and we had a blast so I'm looking forward to getting a chance to go back. (And this time I won't have to worry about the weight limits on the slides!)

My aunt and I. No surprise we're related, huh?

When we first got there, my aunt was commenting on how great I looked in my dress and I showed her the magazine and she asked how much I've lost total. When I told her, she took my arm and led me to a friend she wanted to introduce me to, saying "This is my niece Jill who has lost 110 pounds." Her friend looked at me, smiled, and said "Oh, so you're the one!"

See? Famous.

How was everyone's weekend? Anyone else ever been to Kalahari?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 October 2012

my prasarita padottanasana brings all the boys to the yard

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, I'm participating in the Grow Soul Beautiful October Yoga A Day Challenge on Instagram. Unlike the other month-long Instagram challenges I've attempted to do, this one I'm actually following through on. It's been so much fun. Challenging in some cases, but fun. Most of the photos are taken in my apartment (with a few at work when I forgot to do it that morning), but yesterday was Downward Facing Dog and I decided it would be cool to take it outside.

I was up pretty early, 8ish, and immediately headed over to Edgewater Park for a three mile run. Edgewater is the site of my upcoming 5K in November and while I'm used to running over there, the course route goes up the big ol' hill, which I've always avoided up until this point. But with a few weeks to go until the 5K I figured I might as well use the park's close proximity to my advantage and get used to running up and down the hill.

Even with having to walk up half the hill and without pushing my pace, I still ran three miles in 44 minutes, so by the time the actual 5K rolls around I should be in pretty good shape! I mean, other than that singular hill it's pretty flat and I always run faster in races. It's gonna be chilly, but the long-sleeved tech t-shirt I got at the Nature's Bin 5K is perfect and I did end up ordering the TARDIS knee high-socks so no worries here.

After the run I found a spot along the path and, using a camera app with a timer, snapped a pic in Down Dog. I love it so much I made a whole new blog banner using it, so if you're reading this in an RSS feed or you're subscribed to my email, I suggest ya pop on over and see it. Look at me, going all #sweatpink with my shoelaces and gloves (those were last year's birthday present to myself.) I absolutely love how the new banner completely brightens up my blog. 

And forget my flat feet, just look at those legs of mine. I can't stop staring. 

I also can't stop staring at my picture from Day 11, Wide Legged Forward Bend. 

This pose is, without a doubt, one of my favorites. It might even be my actual favorite, though I hate saying that when there are so many undiscovered and unconquered poses out there. Now, aside from the fact that I'm doing this pose in jeans (and size 14 jeans at that. Holla!) can we all just pause for a moment to look at my back. Because, seriously, who knew an upper back could look so fucking hot. 

To be fair, it should be noted that the mid-section of my arms have lots of loose skin and the indentation gives the illusion of muscle, but the upper back and shoulders are legit. And it's the upper back I can't get over. Like, what? This picture I love so much I made it the cover picture to the blog's Facebook page. I mean, hello. How could I not?

The reason I'm wearing jeans in the picture is because Thursday was Dress Down Day at work. A monthly event, staff and students pay to wear jeans and the money always goes to a charity. This time around it was to benefit my November 5K fundraising efforts which supports LMM's Next Step program. When I first set up my fundraiser page I set a goal of $300, but thanks to the generosity of my co-workers and students along with friends and family, I've already raised $455

I would love, love, love to make it an even $500, so I would really appreciate it if y'all would consider donating. No amount is too small and you will be helping out a great Cleveland organization.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekends! I'm headed to yoga then off to Stars Hollow for the weekend. Papa G. and I are headed to a benefit tonight and tomorrow we're going to see Anything Goes at Playhouse Square! I'm so excited!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 October 2012


Despite the evidence to the contrary, like, say nearly suffocating myself in yoga class and losing a shit ton of weight and getting fitted for an H cup size, I have no real appreciation for the size of my chest. Not that I ever did: looking back at the low-cut tops I used to wear in college, I cringe with mortification. I don't know what the hell I was thinking, only that looking down my chest never really seemed that big.

Actually, it wasn't until looking at the "I've Lost A Missy" photo from my friend's wedding the other week that I fully grasped the extent of my endowment. Because looking at that picture, all I could think was I've lost 100+ pounds and my chest is still fucking huge. But it's not until I compare that photo to a much older one that I see that my chest has, in fact, shrunk. Which means that for all those years I was in a DD or DDD I should have been in, like, an L or something (I don't know if that's a real thing, but wouldn't surprise me).

Which brings me to the topic of sports bras.

Never fully appreciating the size of my chest means I never fully appreciated the bounce factor. And let me tell you, there is most definitely a bounce factor.

Here's me, running since February, a mix of indoor and outdoor, and it wasn't until last night when I was on the treadmill that I actually made an effort to look into the mirror and see my profile.

And oh holy hell.

To steal a line from Dolly Parton in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: Me? Jumpin' up and down? I'd black both my eyes! 


Therefore, dear readers, I am in need of sports bra recommendations. Really, really supportive sports bra recommendations. Because, let's face it: If I've lost this much weight and still have a rather substantial bosom, chances are I'm always going to have a rather substantial bosom. And while I'm okay bouncing on the treadmill where no one can see me and I'm not running more than two miles, once next year rolls around and I'm running more and training for a half, I'm going to need good support. So I might as well nip this is in the bud bust now.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 October 2012

cleveland, I'm yours

To say I love the city of Cleveland is not enough. It catches me breathless each time I drive towards the skyline and the best part of leaving is getting to come back. Naturally, then, I decided it was the perfect setting for a new novel I'm working on. And while I'm not one to share my writing this early, this is, without a doubt, the most beautiful paragraph I have ever written and if I never write another word ever again I can die a satisfied writer. 

So of course I had to share it.

Ask anyone who has never been what they know about the city of Cleveland and they will tell you that our river once burned. A shared love of failing sports franchises, our hearts broken by owners and players alike, and the perpetual attitude of waiting for next year makes it easy to believe Clevelanders are a hopeless bunch. But we are neither disheartened nor desperate nor naïve. If anything, we hold dear to our hearts the constant reminder of the crooked river burning, embracing the jokes and chuckles of non-residents. For we are not the miserable city in the snow that outsiders label us, but the optimistic, hopeful metropolis that refuses to give into the hype. For we know, like the river that surrounds us, the beauty that can be bloomed from ash.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

08 October 2012

recap: Nature's Bin 5K

Saturday's lucky number was #72. That, of course, being my race number for the Nature's Bin 5K, held in Lakewood, Ohio. I spent the whole week watching the weather, which kept fluctuating between rain and sun. Luckily it ended up being a very sunny day, albeit a very cold one. 

The route was flat and through a lovely Lakewood neighborhood. About halfway through one of the runners just ahead of me turned around and waved: a childhood friend was not only also racing, but it was her very first 5K! I'm so proud of her as she did a fantastic job. After we were done she mentioned she picked this one specifically as her first because of the flat route. I'm glad at least one person has learned from my zoo experience!

My parents were unable to make it to the race but my friend's mom was there, waiting at the finish line with a camera. I know it sounds silly, but it is nice having a mini cheerleading section at the end of a race. Especially when you're me and have a racing scrapbook.

When I saw the clock at the finish line I was convinced I had made the same time as my last 5K, but after double-checking the numbers it turned out I was wrong. This race was run in 43:28, so about thirty seconds slower. But I ran both with 14 minute miles so I am very happy with my time! I also placed 196 out of  212. Far cry from last place, eh?

We ended up with a sweet swag bag, including a long-sleeved tech shirt, lunch bag, water bottle, and coupon to Nature's Bin. They also had some raffles after the race. My ticket ended up being the first ticket pulled and I won a $25 gift card to Deagan's. (I may have been so excited I gave a fist pump and yelled "Yes!")

The route started and ended at Lakewood Park, which was a gorgeous area of the city. It's not that far from me, either, so I may have to head over there sometimes for a run. I always love finding new spots.

Over the past few weeks I've mentioned that I've been in a bit of a funk. Fatigue and just an overall blah feeling and a sore throat that lasted for two weeks. Last Monday I went to the clinic and was given some antibiotics and have felt way better. For about a month running was becoming tedious and I was loathing the inevitable return to the treadmill. I knew I had to get some runs in before the race, so twice after work last week I got on that treadmill and ran. Not for very far and not for very long, but I forced myself to run at a pace that pushed me.

I may hate the treadmill, but it's proof that the only one holding back my speed is me. Outside I can get a bit lazy about really challenging my pace. Not so on the treadmill, and that's probably one reason why I did so well in the 5K. Because I knew I could. Plus, it's not like I have to run five miles on the treadmill. 15, 20 minutes a couple times a week still counts.

Not only that, but I ran 3.1 miles on Saturday and then woke up early Sunday morning and ran another 3.25. Pace was pretty slow, but 3.25 miles is 3.25 miles.

I've also continued doing my Sun Salutations/Plank routine each weekday morning and while I'm still not yet back under 200 after last week's gain, I am still making progress. This week I lost 0.8 lbs for a total of 109.8!

It could be easy to get discouraged by that number. To be under 200 one week and then to find yourself in a position where it's taking you awhile to get back under. But the scale, that number, is only one small part of this overall journey. For instance, this past week I ran a total of 8.3 miles. I realize that for many runners that might not seem like a whole lot, but that's the most miles I've logged in a single week in a very, very long time. I ran 8.3 miles. I ran 4 days. I had a fantastic 5K. I also ate out twice over the weekend and still lost weight.

I'll get back under 200 eventually and I'll get to goal eventually and until that happens, I'm okay with where I am. This is one area of my journey that shouldn't be treated like a race.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

05 October 2012

5K Fundraiser (aka the time I ask for money)

Tomorrow morning I'll be up bright and early to run in the Nature's Bin 5K in Lakewood, Ohio. It'll be my fourth 5K, which is crazy, and hopefully the weather will hold out. My parents can't make it to this one as they are visiting Sissy and her fiance, so if any of y'all wanna come hang out and be my cheerleaders it would be appreciated!

Next month I'm also running in the Next Step Run for Shelter 5K at Edgewater Park. It's unique in that it comes with a fundraising aspect that benefits the LMM Next Step program. Fundraising is new to me but the LMM Next Step program is a very important Cleveland resource. Assisting both men and women, "Next Step provides older youth who are without a home or a stable living environment with shelter care and independent living. Next Step ensures that youth who are hurting and forgotten do not fall through the cracks and miss out on services they so desperately need. In addition to meeting the basic needs of housing, food and clothing, these gender-specific services also include counseling, independent-living skills and job placement."

I have a pretty swanky position as an academic librarian, but my first professional job out of grad school was at an all-male minimum security prison. I was the sole librarian, which meant it was just me in a room with, like, thirty or forty inmates. With it being minimum security, I wasn't dealing with hardened criminals but those in for substance abuse related problems, like drunk driving and drugs. The drug offenders were so young it was heartbreaking. I'm talking guys barely out of high-school, if they graduated at all, and the fact is that most of them were there because they had just made really stupid decisions because they felt they had no other options. Drug dealing is a difficult cycle to break, for no other reason than they know it's the easiest way to make some mad cash. We did what we could at the prison to work on successful reentry, but many drug dealers end up repeat offenders. It becomes a lifestyle and the only one they know. They just don't have the resources to function any other way and trying to change that behavior after they've been incarcerated won't be enough. The key is to get them help before they end up in a desperate situation.

As such, I really want to be able to raise money for an organization like Next Step and set up a fundraising page so y'all can donate, if you so choose. There is, of course, absolutely no pressure and if you can't at this time, there is a link in my sidebar if you want to donate later. But if you do decide to donate, I promise you'll be helping out a great local Cleveland organization and you'll get a lovely handwritten Thank You card from me. Oh yeah, my mom raised me up right.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 October 2012

grow soul beautiful october yoga challenge

Despite the fact that I saw quite a few fellow healthy living bloggers tweeting about the Grow So Beautiful October Yoga Challenge, it still took me until about 10:30 pm Monday night to jump on board. Which is rather surprising. Because, hi. Yoga. Plus, for someone trying to get back to basics, thirty one yoga poses spread out over thirty one days is just perfect. Especially considering the majority of them show up in my Ashtanga practice.

As it happens, Numbers 11, 21, 26, and 30 have all already appeared on my blog.  In fact, I love Number 11, Prasarita Padottanasana, so much I put it up in my blog header. But don't worry, I'll take new photos. Would sorta be cheating otherwise.

That being said, there are definitely poses on the list I'm unfamiliar with or that will prove to be difficult. 8, 9, and 10 specifically, as balancing poses are so not my thing. A flamingo I am not.

What I love best about this challenge, though, is the variety of people participating. Just look up #YogaADay on Twitter or Instagram and you'll see what I mean. It's really quite breathtaking to see the various sizes and levels putting themselves out there with these daily poses. Because it does make one vulnerable, regardless of your level or history with yoga. But, if anything, seeing so many people taking the leap shows that yoga really is accessible to everyone. It's exciting and motivating and makes me glad that I decided to join the challenge.

Anyone else participating?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 October 2012

back to basics

This week, the scale went up three pounds.

I say "the scale" not out of denial, but because I know there is no way in hell I legitimately gained three pounds. At 3500 calories a pound, that would I mean I would have had to consume 10,500 calories above and beyond my BMR and what I exercised out.

While, yes, I was perhaps a bit lazy in the exercise department this week and, yes, went to a wedding on Saturday and, yes, hang overs make me a bit carb crazy, I also danced my ass off at the reception and tracked everything and was within my points.

If there's anything I've learned over the past twenty months, it's that the body is a strange strange thing and you can't predict what it's going to do. It also often fights back against dramatic changes. The final two weeks of September I lost a total of 7 pounds. That's more than I average in a month, so this could just be my body settling back the balance. And I'm fine with that, I've had it happen before. Of course, the only downside is it currently puts me back above 200 pounds and I have no idea how long it'll take me to get under again but c'est la vie.

At Saturday's wedding, my friend Missy confided that at the then-112 pounds lost, I've lost an entire her. This is the second friend who has told me this and I spent the rest of the evening saying I've lost a Missy!

Instagram: JillGrun

At this level of weight loss, it's difficult to mentally comprehend the sheer vastness of the accomplishment. Especially when you feel a complete disconnect from your Before picture. But being able to see Missy standing in front of me and knowing she, in her way, represents my journey thus far made me feel like a fucking bad ass.

That being said, I'm still struggling with getting myself out of this funk. After several weeks of this, I honestly have no idea what's causing it. I just know I keep making plans of change but fail on the follow through. For a few days I'll be okay, but inevitably fall off the proverbial wagon. And, let me make it clear, I'm strictly speaking about exercise. The food isn't an issue, this is just about me being lazy and inactive and full of excuses.

For the time being, I'm going to try and go back to basics. Instead of attempting to add activities to my list or change my routine, I'm going to take a step back and start over again. Start small and work my way back up. Instead of focusing on the big week long picture, I'm going to take it one day, one morning, at a time.

During the Sun Salutations, I focused on my ujjayi breath and form (I have a tendency to collapse my hips as I transition into Chaturanga). Once the sun salutations were complete, I did my daily plank, clocking in at one minute and seven seconds. Entire routine, start to finish, took about fifteen minutes.

I have a 5K on Saturday, but considering I've only been running about once a week, I have no idea what my time will be. I need to start swimming again, considering I haven't been since the spring. Those, however, though only a few days off, are concerns for the future. While I would like to do the fifteen minute Sun Salutation/Plank routine every morning, that, too, is a concern for tomorrow.

Instead, I want to start to refocus my energy and attention to the present. To this very moment in time, and not worry about what's up ahead. As Lao Tzu is quoted as saying: If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

So here's to peace in the present.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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