30 July 2012

strike a (yoga) pose

If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen some rather exciting news on Saturday. But I'm gonna hold off on talking about it for now, although, if you don't follow me on Twitter, now's a good incentive to start.

Just sayin'

On Saturday, my lovely yoga instructor Jessica announced before the start of class that today she would be throwing in some poses from Ashtanga's second series. Just, y'know, because she could.

I love her. I do. But, sometimes I just really wanna kind of  kill her. But not really. It's, just, y'know, when she's standing behind me, lifting my hips in Down Dog and my leg muscles are screaming, I briefly forget that the pain is a good thing. Then again, with something like Butterfly, I'll bend into it and sigh with a silent ahhhhhhhhh at the stretch through my inner thighs.

(At class, we pretty much all decided that you have to enjoy a little pain to be an Ashtangi. Considering I've always been a bit of a masochist, my love for this practice suddenly made sense.)

Now, hello, we're in the Primary series, so she's not going to be adding in any really advanced poses. But, for whatever reason, our class was super small on Saturday and all of us are very comfortable with the Primary series, so she just wanted to challenge us a bit.

When it comes to yoga, I'm generally always up for a challenge. That's what I like best about Ashtanga: we do the same series of poses with every class and it's the perfect way to mark your progress. The poses I can't do make for excellent non-scale goals and keep me motivated and always trying when I'm on my mat. Like, I can't do Firefly. I can't even come close to doing Firefly, but I refuse to wimp out and give up. I'll get my arms under my legs and lean back and put my weight on my arms and, uh, well, that's about as much as I can do right now. But, hey, it's better than nothing and it's what I do each time I'm on the mat and that's good enough for me.

That being said, I thought I already knew what my body was capable of. And then I met Bow Pose.


I don't know what it was about this pose, but as soon as I reached back and realized I was able to grab my ankles and lift my chest up -- even just a little bit -- I fell in love. Maybe it was just the fact that I could reach back and grab my ankles, because, uh, that would so not have been possible six months ago before I started practicing Ashtanga. Whatever the reason, there was just something about this pose that spoke to me. Reached down deep inside and felt, well, like home. Like I seriously could have stayed in that pose all day long. 

Kind of like Wheel. Once I'm up in that pose, I don't want to come down. And, sure, my Bow isn't super high or flexible, but that's not really the point, is it? The point is that each and every day, my body continues to surprise me. I have the luxury and rare opportunity of bearing witness to the beauty of the body and all that it is capable of.

Like, on Thursday there was a blood drive at the college where I work and while I didn't donate (I'm one of those tattooed weirdos who hates needles), I asked if he would be willing to take my blood pressure. 120/80, to which he responded "Almost perfect!" Not too shabby for 215.4 213.2 seeing as how I lost another 2.2 lbs, bringing my total to 97.8

I never would have imagined that one day I would be able to say that I am 2 pounds away from 100. Never would have ever crossed my mind, having failed at WW and countless other diet plans in the past. But here I am and believe me when I say I have no plans to turn back. Not when I've been launched into something great. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

27 July 2012

getting out of a slump

Yesterday, within the span of about two hours, I had two different people contact me looking for advice on getting out of a slump and staying motivated. No joke. First came at 3:25 pm, second at 5:14. Stars aligned or something, I don't know, but after giving each of them some tips, I thought why should they have all the fun? So here are some of my suggestions on getting motivated when you're struggling.

Weigh In, No Excuses
I have been on Weight Watchers for 18 months and I have weighed in every.single.week. Didn't matter if I was on vacation or knew I had gained, I have always gotten on that scale. I understand that things happen, schedules change, your vacation doesn't allow the luxury of weighing in, but the problem is that skipping one week sometimes turns into two, which turns into three.... The longer you go without weighing in, the harder it becomes to go back. 

I'm not an idiot. I know when I've had an off week and am going to see a gain. And, yes, it can sometimes be scary, especially if you've skipped multiple weeks or fell so far off the wagon you're running behind it trying to catch up, all out of breath. But by stepping on that scale and facing the music number, you know where you are and can formulate a plan of attack for the new week. Emphasis on new, because each week, each day, even each meal is a chance to start over, so take advantage of those opportunities when you can.

Experiment With Exercise
There is a reason I am happy to wake up at 6:30am two or three times a week and go for a run. Because I love doing it. I love the way my body feels during and the endorphin rush after. There is also a reason why my normal route goes past the CrossFit box near my apartment and not into the CrossFit box near my apartment. Because as much as I know that it would be a super intense workout, that is so not something I want to put myself through. Just glancing in as I run past is enough to give me flashbacks of high-school gym class and noooothankyou. 

Exercise isn't exactly fun. You get hot and sweaty and feel all gross and nasty. Sometimes you have to forgo sleep or other activities in order to fit it in. It's a necessary evil, so if you're going to torture yourself you might as well do it with an activity you actually enjoy. 


Remember how I fully embraced last place in my first 5K? That's what ol' George there is talking about. Thing is, never in a million, gazillion, googleplex years would I have ever imagined that I, of all people, would be a runner. And I wouldn't be if I hadn't decided one day in February to at least give it a try. Finding the right exercise(s) for you might take some trial and error, but just because you don't like one doesn't mean you won't love another. Plus, if nothing else, at least you're getting a work out while you're trialing and erroring.

If you have an exercise that you love but are still in a slump, then maybe trying something completely new and different is just what you need to get out of it. Remember, there's your comfort zone, and then there's where all the magic happens.

Create Non-Scale Goals
Sometimes the scale is not on our side. It's a fact of life, my friends, and one we all must deal with. This means that if your only focus is losing weight and The Number, then you leave yourself vulnerable to becoming, well, the scale's bitch. This is why non-scale goals are so important, because it's too easy to let that not-nice number become an excuse to quit.

For me, it's making sure I run at least three times a week and I have a whole arsenal of yoga poses I am still working on. These are goals that mentally and physically challenge me and keep me motivated to be healthy and eat right without having anything, whatsoever, to do with my weight. This is important for those Monday mornings when I hop on feeling all confident and I look down and see a number that makes absolutely no sense and I want to just pick my scale up and throw it against the wall. Instead of acting on my instinct, I think over the past week and am able to say that despite what the scale says, I ran 8 miles or finally conquered headstand and that's enough to keep me going. You are not the number, so don't treat yourself as if you are. 

Stop Using the Word "Diet"
Strike it. Erase it. Blow it up. I don't care, just don't call whatever it is that you are doing a "diet." A diet signifies work and deprivation. It signifies hunger pains and sacrifice. Oh, sure, you're going to have to sacrifice food or sleep (or both) and this takes work, but a diet is short term. It is a means to an end. But what happens when you reach goal weight? 

Exactly. 

To succeed at the physical part of weight loss you first have to tackle the mental part, and that means embracing the fact that this is a lifestyle change. Which means it is for the rest of your life. Yes, that can be overwhelming and scary and a bit depressing. Or it can be exciting and hopeful and optimistic. Because, really, how many of us are given the opportunity to rise from the ashes of our former selves and completely change our lives? 

Do you have your own suggestions for how to get out of a slump?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

25 July 2012

understanding "healthy"

I've mentioned before that one of the websites I use to get new recipes is Pinterest. I even have an entire board set up just for recipes I want to try. Some can be made as is. Some need to be adapted, either to make them more Weight Watchers or vegetarian friendly. Some are for those special occasions when I have no problem splurging. If something looks tasty, it gets pinned.

The more I pin, though, and peruse the Food section of Pinterest, the more I've noticed that some Pinners have a rather .... unique understanding of what makes something "healthy." Maybe it's wishful thinking or just naivety, but it can be a bit alarming at times.

Take, for instance, the wildly popular Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that I keep seeing. Unfortunately, the original recipe has disappeared from the original source, but luckily most of the pins have the recipe attached: Healthy Peanut Butter cookies! Only 36 calories per cookie! Ingredients: 1 Cup Peanut butter 1 Cup Sugar 1 TSP baking soda 1 egg Mix the peanut butter and sugar first then add in the egg and baking soda. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees. They’re delicious!

Ummmmmmm. Okay, I am aware that I have really shitty math skills, but even I know there is no way in hell these cookies come out to 36 calories each. In fact, I first saw a similar recipe on Kraft Canada a few years ago. At the time they weren't called healthy peanut butter cookies but super-easy peanut butter cookies. Interesting part? That recipe uses half the amount of sugar as this so-called healthy one.


One tablespoon of peanut butter is 95 calories. This Pinterest recipe calls for one cup, which is 16 tablespoons. That is 1520 calories. Just of peanut butter. Now, because the original link is missing we have to guess on servings The picture shows 18, with room for 2 more on the cookie sheet. So we take those 1520 calories and divide by 18 and get  84 calories each. If we assume two cookies are missing, it's 76. And again, that's just the peanut butter in the dough. I haven't even included the sugar or egg and already we are more than double the alleged calories in this recipe that people not only keep pinning, but probably keep baking and eating. 

Look. I love using the internet for recipes, but, y'know, I'm also an academic librarian and as an academic librarian it is my job to assist students in navigating the world wide web and the vast amount of information on it. I go into classrooms and teach information literacy and research skills, showing them not only how to search but how to properly analyze the information they receive from their searches. Which is easier said than done because many of my students assume the first hit on Google is exactly what they need.

The internet lies
Sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident or ignorance. I always liken Pinterest and Facebook to those annoying tin hat conspiracy chain emails that used to get passed around back when AOL was still popular. Like the kind that claimed some charity would donate 5 cents for every email that got forwarded. Or remember how just a few months ago everyone woke up to a multitude of FB posts claiming by the end of the week FB would be a pay service? This shit goes viral without people really stopping and thinking "Hey, I wonder if this is really true." Don't believe everything you read and don't believe everything Pinned.

Use common sense
35 calories for a cookie that uses 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of sugar? Come the fuck on, people. Just because you want it to be true doesn't mean that it is. I want to consistently run a 12 minute mile. Doesn't mean I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be able to do it, I have to actually work for it. If you want to bake a 35 calorie peanut butter cookie you're going to have to figure out how to do it on your own or use different ingredients, 'cause this recipe as written ain't it. Not unless you want to make about 70 really small cookies from this dough.

Do your research
With any recipe, I have to figure out the appropriate Weight Watchers points for a serving. Luckily, WW provides a handy little tool for that. It can be annoying, 'cause you have to input each item in the recipe, but whatever. Price we pay. Thing is, there are a ton of websites out there that boast to have the right WW Points+ attached. Here's the thing: unless it's a recipe I get from the official Weight Watchers website, I always double check the recipe and input it myself to get the Points value. It's like with anything else online and what I stress the most to my students: in this day and age, anyone can put anything up online and tout it as fact.

Case in point: I found, on Pinterest, someone who had blogged about the above pb cookies after realizing the inaccurate calorie info. She, appropriately and cheekily, called them "Healthy" Peanut Butter Cookies. Exact same recipe, only she made it 24 cookies and says that when she checked the nutrition info, she got 80 calories a cookie. Great, right? Except when I check the nutrition info for two dozen using SparkRecipes, I get 100 calories a cookie.

I have no idea which one of us is correct, but I'm going to go with my number seeing as how, well, I'm the one that input the info to get that number. It's like with anything else, if I'm going to forward or share a piece of information with friends or family, it's only going to be after I do some research and make sure the info is correct. Not just because it keeps popping up in my damn Facebook feed.

Of course, as I was reminded after I originally posted this, just because something is high in calories doesn't make it unhealthy. Peanut butter, for instance, is high protein. Likewise, avocados are high in fat but it's the good fat we are supposed to eat, so fat doesn't mean unhealthy either. Point is, think about what you are eating, don't just blindly follow what some random person with a blog tells you. Then again, I, too, am a random person with a blog, and as LeVar Burton always used to say on Reading Rainbow, You don't have to take my word for it.

What's your take on using the internet for recipes and accurate nutritional info?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 July 2012

swift as a deer, quick as a snake

Saturday morning I was up bright and early because I had to head out to Strongsville to participate in my second 5K, the Cleveland Clinic's Race for Wellness! With my first, I spent the days leading up to it feeling nervous and anxious, constantly stressing out over my pace. This time, though, I was feeling calm, cool, and collected. Almost, dare I say it, relaxed. Having already completed one, I knew this was something I could do so I went in with the attitude of just enjoying it and celebrating the fact that, hi, I was running my second 5K.

The night before I'd met up with my friend Missy at a local bar just to catch up, but because of the race I was home by 11 and went straight to bed. Woke up around 6:45, took a super quick shower, changed into my running gear, had some overnight oats in a jar for breakfast (blueberry and pumpkin, a new favorite combo), and out the door I went.

My parents were able to come to this one so it was kind of fun having my own personal cheerleading section. I needed it, too, because the course ended up being much tougher than it looked like on the map. After, my mom said that several other racers had commented on the unexpected hills at the turnaround point. Actually, it wasn't hills so much as one hill that seemed to come out of nowhere and just kept on going and going and going up and up and up. With my experience at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, I knew better than to attempt to run up that baby and power walked it instead.

Thinking of using One Ordinary Mom's idea to make a scrapbook with these

The rest of the course was fairly flat and the weather decent, low 70s or so. Unfortunately I got caught up in the excitement of the race and started off faster than I should have, so my pacing was a bit off and after that hill I really had to dig down keep and keep pushing.

Some of the runners who had finished quickly were apparently running it again. (Weirdos.) Around the 2 1/2 mile marker I walked for about two steps and heard a voice behind me say "Keep going! You're almost there!" and from my left passed a guy drenched in sweat and clearly on his second lap of the 3.1 miles. And I was almost there, so I picked up my pace. Looking up, I could see the 3 mile marker ahead and standing next to it was my dad, waiting for me.  Another 1/10th of a mile after that was the finish line and my mom, who had already grabbed a bottle of water for me.

Personal cheerleader section equals awesomeness.

This time I knew to pay attention to the clock and in the end I finished at about 45:12, which is two and a half minutes faster than what I pulled at the zoo! It's an average of 14 1/2 minute miles and I am very happy with that. Plus, I know I wasn't in last place this time, although I'm not sure it would have mattered even if I was since I did so much better this time. Looking at my Runkeeper app, my first mile was a 13 minute and I slowed down with each passing mile. My next 5K is at the end of August so I'm going to spend the next month working on my pacing: starting off slower and gaining speed with each mile instead of losing it.

With the race over, my parents took me out to breakfast at Panera where I had a fruit cup and an egg and cheese on Ciabatta. Who knew a breakfast sandwich could taste so good? Seriously, that eggy cheese carby goodness was just what I needed after running 3 miles.

Of course, with any race, one of the perks of early registration is swag. This time we got tech shirt and water bottle, plus a reusable canvas bag which always comes in handy with groceries.

Cat not included

So my second 5K is complete, my third is a month away, and I'm already wanting to sign up for my fourth. Plus, with a growing collection of race shirts and bibs, I feel like a real runner now!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 July 2012

skeletor

The college where I work as librarian has a Physical Therapy Assistant program. In the office of the director of said program is a skeleton. It's not a real one, like, y'know, from an actual body, but one of those artificial ones made for anatomy classes and such (though I realize in some cases actual skeletons are used).

The first time I happened to notice said skeleton in her office, it totally freaked me out. I know it's fake, but it's still weird, y'know? She laughed and pointed out the rather obvious fact that everyone has a skeleton.

Look, I know that every one has a skeleton. I broke my wrist as a child and my elbow as an adult, I get how the human body operates. Still, it's easy to forget when you are obese and have a rather doughy body. It's easy to forget that underneath all that plushy flesh is a hard solid frame.

Which is why I also freaked out in the shower this evening: Standing under the nozzle to rinse off, I put my hands on my waist and felt bone.

For many people, this is not a big deal. They are use to feeling the bones of their body. Not for fat people. I mean, okay, I could feel them in some of the more leaner parts of the body, like my fingers and wrists, but beyond that, there were no bones to be felt. Everything was hidden under layers of fat and extra weight. Now, though, I can at certain times not only feel but see my collar bones slowly popping out. My face is becoming defined with the reappearance of cheekbones. At night, if I'm lying in the right position, I can rest my hands on my hips and feel my pelvic bone.

And now my waist has gotten so small, my hands come up against the resistant of solid mass.

One reason last week's shopping trip to Old Navy was so exciting is because it was a store I was sized out of years ago. I'm talking a decade or so. That is until they offered their Plus Size line in 2004. The majority of the clothes are only available online, and that's how it was back then, too. A few flagship stores offered some of the pieces in person, which is how I managed to purchase a corduroy skirt on a family trip to either Chicago or New York in late 2004.

I only know the date because I still own that corduroy skirt and it's on the tag. Of course, I'm much smaller now than I was when I purchased it and haven't worn it in months.

A few months ago I was in need of jeans and bought two pairs at Old Navy, both marked a size 18. One pair I had tried on at the store, the other I found on the sale rack and just grabbed because it was, like, $7 or something ridiculous. (Let me tell ya, fat girl jeans are fucking expensive as hell.) When I got home, though, this second pair didn't fit. While they said they were an 18, they were closer to a 16 and so I just threw them in my closet, knowing eventually I'd be able to fit into them.

Tonight I am.


Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

18 July 2012

What I Eat On Weight Watchers

A few weeks ago, a reader requested to see more of the meals I eat, so I thought it would pretend to be a food blogger and go through my eating routine for a normal workday. I mean, it's a good question to ask: what does someone eat on Weight Watchers? Especially when that person is a vegetarian? Weekends are a little less structured, since I'm going out or eating out or whatever and that is when I am more likely to use my extra points, but during the week I'm very much on point day-to-day, so this will give you a general idea of what my meals are like the majority of the time.

As a 5'5" woman weighing 215.8 lbs, I currently get 33 Weight Watchers Points+ for my day. I also get 49 Weekly Points, which I can choose to use or not use as I see fit, and I am also able to earn Activity Points through exercise. On days that I exercise, like, say, during the week when I wake up early for a run, I like to eat half of the activity points I earn and save the rest for the weekend. Usually I earn an average of 30 APs a week and tend to eat all of them, rarely ever dipping into those 49 Weekly Points. But I like knowing they are there just in case! On this particular day I didn't exercise, so I stayed steady at 33 Points.

Breakfast

Breakfast consisted of my new favorite: an Oatmeal Banana Pancake (3 PP). Topped with 1 T. of almond butter (3 PP) it is paired with 1/2 cup of 0% plain Greek yogurt (2 PP) and blueberries (0 PP). Total: 8 Points+

Lunch

Three pieces of Weight Watchers string cheese (4 PP), a hard boiled egg (2 PP), grapes (0 PP), and 15 g of unsalted raw almonds (3 PP). And yes, I measure the almonds on my food scale. Total: 9 Points+

Afternoon Snack

Wheat crackers (3 PP) and 1 cheese wedge (1 PP). Total: 4 Points+

Dinner

The entree is something I'm calling Pinterest Penne Rosa, because, uh, I found it on Pinterest although I used rigatoni. And skipped the shrimp. And got it to 7 servings. Right, so, one serving of that is 6 PP and with it I have natural unsweetened applesauce (0 PP) and another hard boiled egg (2 PP). Dessert are these mini rice cake things from Aldi (2 PP). Total: 10 Points+ 

Evening Snack


Chocolate chip granola bar (2 PP). Total: 2 Points+

So, there you have it, what I'm eating this week. While the food may change slightly week to week, the breakdown of points is fairly accurate at this point. That is, 8 for breakfast, 10 for dinner, etc. Sometimes I may not be hungry for my afternoon snack and eat it with dinner. Or sometimes my schedule has to change and I have to eat dinner much earlier than normal so I save the afternoon snack for evening. If I'm planning a larger dinner, I have a smaller lunch or snacks. On the weekends I don't really snack, so my lunch and dinner tends to be a bit larger since I have extra points to play with.

When it comes to calculating points, whenever possible I go by the nutrition label of the actual item I'm eating. I say that because while Weight Watchers does have an extensive database of general foods, it's, well, general. Take my Greek yogurt. In the database, a 1/2 cup of "Yogurt, Greek, plain, fat-free" is 1 PP. Going by the nutrition label on the Greek yogurt I'm actually eating, a 1/2 cup is 2 PP. Oh, sure, it's only 1 point, but those points add up quickly and accurate tracking is the key to success on WW. That's why I have a food scale and measure my almonds. You can't just guess or estimate serving sizes.

Also, yes, I eat a lot of fruit. Probably more than I should, considering WW suggests a combined 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. A serving size of fruit is 1/2 cup, so I eat something like 5 servings of just fruit a day. Possibly more. As I'm getting smaller, I'm trying to cut back on the fruit and incorporate more veggies. Only problem is I prefer fruit, but c'est la vie. I've lost 95 lbs eating lots of fruit so it's not some evil food you have to stay away from.

Along with the WW suggested servings, I'm bad about getting in my recommend 2 t. of healthy oil. Some weeks I'm better about it than others and while not the same thing and doesn't "count," I get lots of healthy fat from the almonds and almond butter so I don't stress out about it too much.

The flexibility with the program is one of the things I love best about WW. I can pretty much eat whatever, it's just about moderation. Because I don't feel like I'm deprived of anything, I now have a healthy relationship with food, which is something I struggled with for a long, long, long time. But now I can have pasta and dessert because I know how to be smart about it.

For example, over the weekend I was really in the mood for ice cream. I also happened to end the day with 5 Daily Points still left over. Turns out, a snack size Oreo McFlurry is only 9 Points. It was also the perfect size, anything larger would have been way too much. I mean, c'mon: what other program lets you have a freaking McFlurry and still be on point? Not that I'm eating McFlurry's every weekend. Like I said, this is all about moderation and as this was probably the first one I've had in the entire time I've been on WW, I'm not going to feel guilty about it or start that whole "Oh no, now I need to go run, like, twenty miles to work it off." Again, healthy relationship with food.

It really is a beautiful thing.

Do you follow any sort of program like Weight Watchers? Are you like me and tend to eat the same thing for several days in a row or do you need to mix it up?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 July 2012

girl disappearing

I went shopping over the weekend at Old Navy and while in the dressing room trying on clothes I happened to notice how, well, slim my profile seemed. So, naturally, I took a photo and posted it on Facebook:


 And, naturally, a few friends commented on it:


These dear women, who I have known since childhood, are correct: I currently weigh less than I did in high-school. 

Maybe not when I was a freshman, but definitely when I graduated. While yes, I am also more toned, if you do side by side photos of my face the weight difference is incredible. Also, that top I'm trying on in the photo (and eventually purchased)? A Large. I don't think I have ever worn a Large. I realize that sounds kind of silly, but so it goes. As long as I can remember, I have always needed at least an XL. And now my top half can fit into a Large. And I still have almost 60 lbs to go. Which means I will probably get into a Medium at some point. That's just...wait, what

People talk about me "disappearing" all the time. I can't visualize it, though. I see me all the time. I live with me, with this body. I look in the mirror multiple times every day. That makes it somewhat difficult to see the overall big picture when you live with the effects day in and day out. It's people who haven't seen me in awhile who are best able to really notice the difference. Standing in that dressing room in a Large top and XL skirt, it was like seeing myself for the first time in a long time. 

You can call me the Wicked Witch of the West Side: I'm just melting away. My "defy gravity" tattoo suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Speaking of melting away, I lost another 1.8 lbs this week. I was not expecting that, especially since last night I had a bit of a spoon-and-run with a jar of peanut butter. (It wasn't pretty.) I know I always tell people that you need to eat to lose weight, but when it's my own journey I tend to forget that. I always think of it as "overeating" when, really, it's not. Not when I track everything I eat -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- and am still within my Weight Watchers points.

Anyway, that brings my overall total to 95.2! Holy cow, I'm less than 5 lbs away from 100. In the beginning, I sincerely never would have believed I'd get this far. But here I am! I'm also just a few days away from my second 5K, so if any of you Clevelanders are looking for something to do this Saturday morning, feel free to swing by Strongsville and cheer me on! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

12 July 2012

hello lover

As soon as I opened my eyes Wednesday morning I knew the cloud had lifted. Maybe it was forcing myself to run the day before. Maybe it was realizing the absurdity of what was making me upset and being able to shrug it off. Whatever it was, waking up Wednesday I was a ball of bright energy who couldn't wait to lace up her Scott shoes and hit the ground running.

Literally.

The mojo is back.

Seriously, as soon as I started I was able to remember why I love running so much. It calmed and centered me, proving it really is cheaper than therapy. I totally rocked it, too: 2.18 miles in 30 minutes for an average pace of 13:46 (I was running, like, 16 minute miles the past week or two because of the heat). Plus, my second mile was almost a full minute faster than my first. No. Seriously.

Looooooove that the Runkeeper app shows the split times

By the time I was finished I was buzzing with endorphins and felt like I could take on the world. 

Instead I decided to take on another 5K. Oh yes: my second 5K isn't until next Saturday, but I've already signed up for a third. Because that's how I roll, yo. Counting my first, that will be three 5Ks in as many months. How crazy is that? Totally loco, right?

I fully support rest and recovery days, especially with the weekend looming which is when I do my long runs. Had I had more time yesterday I would have gone much longer than 30 minutes. Instead I rested today and am gearing up for a nice loooooong run tomorrow. I am surprisingly looking forward to it.

Again: totally loco.

Are you a fan of rest days or do you like to workout every day?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

10 July 2012

eye of the tiger

The last two mornings I've woken up under what I can only describe as a haze of melancholy. This downturn of sadness only lasts for an hour or so: once I have had coffee and breakfast and get to work I'm back to my peachy keen self and all is good. The reasons don't matter. At least not right now for the purposes of this blog post. Truthfully, what upsets me the most about this small stress fracture on my otherwise pristine sense of self isn't the cloud of blah I feel upon waking but the fact that it's made me lose my running mojo.

Last week with the heat and sun I overdid it a bit in the running department. Friday was spent with a headache and sudden bursts of dizziness. Dehydration I know now, and after realizing I had run four days in a row in, like, 90 degree heat I took Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.

I should have been itching to go yesterday morning. Instead I woke up with virtually no motivation to even get out of bed, let alone run. So I didn't. I just stayed in bed, had a small pity party for my sad self, and eventually got up and went about my day. And, as I said, once I actually got moving and talked with a friend, I was reminded that it's not a sad self I possess but an awesome self and the pity party is entirely unnecessary.

But then that same feeling hit me as soon as I woke up this morning.

Word.

It was as if I was fifteen again and this was gym class and it was Mile day. Suddenly this activity that I have come to love was once again the enemy. I had forgotten my reasons for why I run along with why I love running. As a child I would have tried to fake sick to get out of having to go to school and run walk that stupid mile. As an adult I have the luxury of deciding whether or not I want to run. Monday I didn't. Today, though, I knew I was on the edge of a slippery slope. 

My second 5K is next Saturday and I know without a doubt that that race is the only thing that got me on the treadmill this morning. (Oh yeah, this is so bad that even going for a run outside seems like too much effort.) If I didn't have to run 3.1 miles in a week and a half I would have stayed in bed. As it was, part of me was trying to convince the other part of me that I could just skip running this week and do an extra long "long run" on the weekend. And as tempting as that sounds, I also know that leaves me vulnerable to the weekend coming along and another excuse popping up. 

So I put my workout clothes on. I grabbed my iPhone and water bottle. And I ran for twenty minutes.

It was hell. It was torture. It was like pulling teeth. Those twenty minutes felt like an hour. I wanted to quit after ten. Hell, I wanted to quit after five. But I didn't. I finished those twenty minutes knowing that everybody has bad runs. I also know that losing the running mojo isn't nearly as important as fighting to find it again.

And that's exactly what this morning was. A fight. A fight against myself and what was holding me back. A fight to remember why I started on this journey. It wasn't just about losing weight or getting fit or even getting healthy. This journey was about finding myself again. I was lost for a long time and I don't even know if it was a matter of not knowing who I was or if it was that I did know who I was and I just decided to ignore it.

Losing weight, becoming a runner, that's all secondary to the true journey I've been on: to love and embrace who I am and, more importantly, to stop apologizing for myself.


Just the fact that I forced myself onto that treadmill this morning and forced myself to complete those twenty minutes is a sign of how far I've come. Because, believe me, it would have been so much easier to just stay in bed and tell myself that I can skip the next few days and get back on track on Friday, knowing full well the more days you skip the harder it is to get back on track. And the old me would have done exactly that. Which, of course, is what got me up to 311 lbs and why I had to start this journey anyway.

What kept me on that treadmill wasn't the endorphins or my motivating running playlist. No, what kept me going was the fact that I spent those twenty minutes reminding myself why I was even there to begin with.

In other words, to quote a song off said playlist: Don't lost your grip on the dreams of the past. You must fight just to keep them alive. 

It's all connected. The feeling lost in the past. The current mornings of melancholy. The desire to fight. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow. I'd like to think that this morning's run will be the spark I need, but I may wake tomorrow under that same haunting haze and have to once again climb back up. But at least now I was reminded of why I'm willing to go through the struggle and work.

So thanks for making me a fighter.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 July 2012

there's always money in the banana stand


For those of you not familiar with actor Tony Hale or Arrested Development, I suggest you go get yourself familiar. Right now. No, really. It's cool. I'll wait. Just pick your poison, as it's available to stream on Hulu+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. And because Fox cancelled it well before it's time it won't take you very long. 

See. Aren't you glad you listened to me?

Now, technically speaking I didn't actually play Buster's wife, seeing as this wasn't the Arrested Development set. But I was supposed to be Tony's character's wife. And because I am a huge Arrested Development fan and have been for many, many, many years and own all the seasons on DVD (they were the only thing I fought to keep when my ex down in Kentucky and I broke up), I'm just gonna keep saying I was Buster's wife. Not too shabby for my first venture as a movie extra if I do say so myself.

So here's what happened:

There were maybe 30 or so of us extras on this bus. We were originally told that the scene would take place on the bus, but when we drove to the set they decided to film it outside of the bus. The Casting Director came on and picked maybe 20 of the people to go outside. I was not one of them.

For the next ten or fifteen minutes, those of us still on the bus are watching in envy as the extras outside are given directions for the scene and we see Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman  and other cast members getting ready. And I see this guy that looks like Tony Hale, but I hadn't seen his name pop up on the cast list for the movie so I was very confused but the more I watched the more I became convinced that it was definitely him.

So then one of the assistant directors comes on and says he needs a woman to stand next to Tony Hale.

My hand has never shot up faster. Lightning fast reflexes, people. Lightning. Fast. 

I go up to the front of the bus and one of the other extras, an older woman maybe in her 60s, asks him what kind of woman he needs. He looks at her, looks at me, then points to me and says "Actually, she's perfect."

Winner, winner. Chicken dinner.

I was also the last extra to get off the bus: the remaining 10 or so people were taken back to the meeting place and told to come back several hours later for a different scene.

I didn't have any lines, just some acting and he did gesture to me as his wife at one point. He also flew into Cleveland just to do this one scene, which is why he hadn't shown up on the cast list as it's just a cameo. I am also happy to report that he is super friendly: that whole thing in my FB status about talking with him wasn't an exaggeration. As we were waiting for them to start filming he and I were just chatting about the forthcoming Arrested Development webisodes on Netflix, yoga, what I do for a living, Cleveland, etc.

It will actually be kinda fun to see how the scene is edited, since they took it from so many angles (and, of course, to see if I actually make it in). Also, as it's a comedy and they were working with these high-caliber comedic actors, they were given a lot of liberty with the script. Each take was completely different with certain lines always changing.

Because we were initially told the scene would be inside (or at least on a bus), I didn't put as much sunscreen on as I should have. So after standing outside for four hours in 90 degree heat I ended up with a wicked sunburn. I'm talking tomato toasty, people. Also, I was not aware a person could get a flip-flop tan, but I am currently sporting one.

Also, hi, is that a collarbone I see?

The other downside to the heat was I completely lost my appetite. I had breakfast around 7:30 am and then a granola bar at about 11 while waiting on the bus, but that was it until close to 7pm. By the time we were done and I got back home it had been nearly 12 hours since I had a proper meal and I still had something like 25 Weight Watchers points left. I went to Chipotle and got my Burrito Bol and was able to splurge and get cheese, sour cream and guac and still had a ton of points left. Even after 12 hours I still wasn't that hungry but I knew I couldn't end the day eating a total of, like, 10 points, especially after standing out in the heat for four or five hours. So I ate my Bol and as I did my appetite slowly returned. Even with a small dessert I ended the day about 5 points under my dailies, but so it goes sometimes. Better than being, like, 20 points under. 

So that being said, my weight stayed the same this week. Neither lost nor gained, which is a-okay. After last week's huge unexpected loss, I was almost anticipating a small gain this week, so maintaining is perfectly reasonable. Just how it goes sometimes! 

We were asked not to take photos during the filming and while some of the other extras were being sneaky and taking them anyway, that felt unprofessional. So I don't have any pictures. Which means you're just gonna have to trust me on all of this until next year when the film is supposed to be released. But c'mon, would I lie to you?
 
Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 July 2012

the one with the questions and answers

As promised, in honor of my 100th post I decided to answer some reader questions! And considering I've been slacking on the video posts, I thought a vlog would be more fun. Plus it helped with the visual representation for one of the questions.



Some notes I forgot to add in the editing process: When I wore that shirt, I had only lost about 8 lbs, so that is definitely an accurate idea of what I weighed a year and a half ago. Also, for those interested parties, here is the text of my blogging namesake

And with that I'm off for a run, then possibly going to go see "Brave" later today. Enjoy your Friday! 

04 July 2012

miss independent

Happy Fourth o' July everyone! Today is not only Independence Day here in the States, it's the start of my five day weekend and it is going to be awesome.

Tonight is fireworks and I'm fortunate enough to live in a building that offers a fabulous view, so I've invited friends over for a little party before we head up to the building's deck to watch. I went the lazy route with the food I'm providing, but luckily my friends are bringing other stuff and I'm providing the apartment soooooo I think it's even. (Though I am going to try and go all Pinterest on my veggie dip. Hopefully it will work out!)

Bet you didn't know Oreos are vegan, huh?

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with One Ordinary Mom. So excited! Haven't seen her in ... uh ... a year. Yup, pretty sure it was last year's fireworks in Stars Hollow so it will be fun catching up. Tomorrow night I'm also considering checking out the Rock Star Yoga class at The Studio because I, yet again, have to miss my normal Ashtanga class. 

First it was my 5K then it was my family reunion. My excuse this time? 

I'm going to be an extra in an independent film. 

True story. 

(No. Seriously. I wouldn't lie to you.)

Hope all my fellow Yankees have a fun (and safe!) holiday! 

Do you have any big plans for the Fourth of July? Also, you still have a two more days to get in a question for my 100th Q&A post! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

02 July 2012

fun in the sun

Happy July everyone! I apologize in advance for all of the pictures on this post. I went a little photo crazy this weekend!


This was my view Sunday morning. My family had a mini-reunion with some of the local Northeast Ohio folks at a house rented on a lake in western Pennsylvania. So I got to spend my mornings this past weekend on a deck. I don't really have a porch or anything at my apartment so I take advantage of one when I can. And, yes, that is a hunting mug I'm drinking my coffee from. The owner of the house is apparently a hunter and no I don't want to talk about the bear skin on the wall or stuffed antelope head in the closet.

True story.

I headed up early Friday morning to help my aunt get everything ready and the rest of the family showed up a few hours later. We spent the afternoon pretty much just hanging out (although I did squeeze in a twenty minute run) and catching up. And, of course, admiring the view.

My cousin's boyfriend

Later that night we settled in the TV room downstairs. Cards were played and books were read, although there might have also been some showing off. 

Muppet PJ pants courtesy of Old Navy

Not too shabby for 220 lbs, eh?

We were talking about yoga and various poses and I was doing some, like headstand and I just wanted to try with Wheel. I know I can do it, but it's one that is hit or miss in my weekly Ashtanga class. Part of it, I think, is because it's at the end of Ashtanga. It requires immense upper arm strength and after an hour, my arms are just too tired, so sometimes I can get it, other times not. Friday night though I popped right on up. And then a few minutes later I was able to pop up again when I wanted a picture snapped. 

This, ladies and gents, is what six months of weekly yoga classes will do. Make you so flexible that any ol' time you feel like it you can pop up into Wheel or bend over with your head on the ground in Wide-Legged Forward Bend.

True story.

Speaking of yoga, I'm pretty sure  my family thought I was kidding when I talked about waking up early for an hour of sunrise yoga. But I wasn't.


I woke up around 5:45 am and originally planned on doing yoga on the deck attached to the house, but when I woke up the dock on the water was calling my name so out I went. It wasn't my usual Ashtanga practice, but being outside with the sun rising directly above the treeline was so calming and added so much to my practice. 

View from Savasana

And then, because I'm a weirdo, yoga wasn't enough and so I went for a 40 minute run. Oh yeah, I'd done almost two hours of exercise before some of my family was even awake. Which was a good thing, because I needed as many Activity Points as I could get (I ended up earning 43 for the week). In terms of what I ate I was fine, I wasn't grazing on Doritos or really grazing at all. It was more that I don't keep a lot of desserts around my apartment, so there was the cookie after lunch, brownie after dinner, etc. But in terms of the actual food, it was pretty much the same sort of thing I would have eaten at home, I just ate more of it, I guess, since I ended up eating almost all of those APs. My family had pulled pork and chicken, etc., and I had my veggie burgers, always going for a hamburger instead of cheeseburger. Actually, dinner Saturday was awesome: grilled zucchini, corn on the cob, watermelon, and a salad bar. This vegetarian was very happy: while the rest of my family ate chicken I didn't even bother with a burger, the veggies were enough. But, y'know, then there was the graham cracker and small bit of chocolate over at the bonfire. Silly sweets. Anyway, I tracked everything I ate and all my APs came in handy because I ended up losing 2 1/2 lbs this week! No joke, I stepped on that scale about 4 times to be sure. That brings my total to 93.4!

But back to the lake house.

So Saturday we just kind of lazed around. Hung out by the water for a bit and played some cornhole. My cousins and I piled into the car and drove around the  lake to check out the neighborhood, which is quite gorgeous. After we got back I settled in for a relaxing afternoon and evening.

"A Clash of Kings," George RR Martin

After a late dinner we all headed down to the dock where there was a firepit and after an hour or so of hanging out down there we headed back to the house to watch a movie. 

Most of the family woke up early Sunday morning to go golfing while my one aunt, cousin, and I stayed back at the house. Hence the coffee and netbook on the deck. I planned on a lazy morning, but after breakfast I was itching for some endorphins and went out for a 30 minute run. That's three runs in 36 hours. I...just...what? That doesn't even sound like me, yet those runs were the perfect balance to the rest of the weekend.

Of course, the whole weekend left me exhausted and by 6pm Sunday night I was back home and already in bed.

Is it just me or is there something very 1960s about this?

(That photo was for Day 1 - "Self Portrait" - for #Photoadayjuly on Twitter. If you wanna see the rest, you can follow me there or on Instagram (JillGrun))

This is probably about the only type of vacation I'll get this summer as I have no real plans for the rest of it and here it is already July! This was without a doubt one of the most comfortable weekends I've ever had. I spent the entire time in tank tops and yoga pants, reading and lounging about (well, y'know, except for the runs and yoga). Got some sun and some sleep. My aunt who rented the house wants to do it again next year, so hopefully it will become a regular thing. Best part, though, is that I'm only working today and tomorrow this week! Hello Wednesday holiday, a 4 10s schedule and one vacay day for a five day weekend.

Have any summer trips or family reunions planned? Do you make time to exercise on vacation or do you stay super lazy when you have time off? Also, this is post #98! Still have time to get in a question for my Q&A 100th post!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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