30 August 2012

the business of blogging

What? A blog post on a Thursday?!

I know, kids. Craziness abounds.

But, like I mentioned on Monday, today I'm doing a guest post over on the blog of my good friend and former classmate, Mama Marchand. It's a more detailed recap of my most recent 5K, a race I spent a lifetime preparing for, so you definitely want to go check it out!

Me, I'm gearing up for a nice loooooong weekend. I get four days off. Because I'm awesome like that. Or, really, because my schedule is, but potayto potahto. Tomorrow I'm hoping to try out a new running spot, similar to last week's location of the Cleveland Metroparks so we shall see how that goes! While that reservation was quite beautiful, the trail was short and I ran a bulk of it in a subdivision. It was kind of strange, running through the woods and then, oh, hi, houses. What is this, The Village?

(Apologies if I just ruined that for anyone. But it's not like I told you Bruce Willis had been dead the whole time. Uh, I mean...)

Clearly I'm feeling a wee bit giddy. Upcoming long weekends will do that for ya.

In other news, check out my new business cards. Aren't they awesome?

I got them through Klout. I've ordered Moo cards before for my Etsy shop, but they are kind of expensive so I was super excited about this perk (I only had to pay shipping). I love how easy they make it to upload your own design, so I was able to use my new logo. And I figured the photo would make it more personable. I'm not always good with remembering names but I do remember faces, so I figured I'd help out those like me in that respect. [Disclaimer: I was given a free product or sample because I'm a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.]

Recently I've decided I want to do something with this blog. What, exactly, I'm not sure. I do know I am not satisfied with this just being words on a screen and I want to start going to some of the conferences next year, like FitBloggin' and maybe Healthy Living Summit. I'm already a FitFluential Ambassador and last night applied to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador. Beyond that I'm making it up as I go along, but I figured business cards were a good place to start.

So! With that, I'm off to finish my work day (hopefully it won't drag on, though I think that's a given). Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and don't forget to read my guest post!

Have any fun plans for the holiday weekend?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

29 August 2012

my history with food & disordered eating, part four

This is my final post in my series on my history with food and disordered eating. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and offering your kind comments. For those that would like a refresher or are just joining, you can find the previous posts here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Despite most of the other Northeast Ohio librarians I know, I did not graduate from the MLIS program at Kent State University. Instead, I got my masters degree from the University of Kentucky down in Lexington (go Wildcats!). It was not the graduate program that called me to the Bluegrass State. In fact, I first moved to Louisville about nine months prior to my first semester without any intention of continuing my education.

There are only a handful of reasons why a young woman in her early twenties will pack up her an entire life and move by herself to a new state. It wasn't for school nor was it for a sense of adventure. That really only leaves one option.

At thirty years old, I have only ever had two boyfriends and I didn't meet the first one until I was 23 or so. We met online, on a dating site aimed at the, uh, rounder demographic. I was a heavy girl with low self-esteem and eating issues, he was a heavy guy with low self-esteem and eating issues. A match made in heaven.

Of course I didn't know about his eating issues until I moved to Kentucky. After a year of IMs, phone conversations, and five hour drives I packed up my little life and moved one state to the south. He was living with his parents -- big red flag I ignored -- so I moved in with them as well. Aaaaaawkward. His mother cooked dinner every single night. Fifty percent of the time, my boyfriend would find something to complain about. He was a very, very picky eater and took the whole mom-cooking thing for granted. He and I ate out a lot, which was great because for the first time I felt like I could order whatever I wanted free of judgment.

Or so I thought.

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes I liked ordering a salad and drinking water. Shocking, I know. Or at least it was to him. There he was across the table with his big ol' plate of fried chicken and fries and large drink and I was happily content with my plate of greens.

This bothered him. Enough that he would make little comments asking why I was eating that. Uh, because it's what I was hungry for?

And that's when he would mentally retreat and turn in on himself. Because my "good" choices pointed out the error in his "bad" choices and now he felt bad about himself and it was my fault. Like we were supposed to be in some secret fat person's club and only eat greasy food and I'd broken the rules. Suddenly I wasn't to be trusted.

Of course at the time I didn't realize how fucked up this was and that it was all on him, not me. Wanting to be the supportive girlfriend who didn't know how to stand up for herself, what did I do?

Ordered crappy food and regular soda to make him feel better about himself.

True story. So, really, it's no surprise I gained, like, thirty pounds during my first six months in Kentucky.

To this day it still angers me when people make off-the-cuff remarks like that Or, at least it angers me when I know it's coming from some weird place of guilt. I have a co-worker who does it every single time he sees me in the break room, how I'm eating so healthy and he's not. I never know how to respond because what I want to say is "Don't take your shit out on me." Instead, I just sit there, reading my book, silently waiting for the awkward moment to pass.

Eventually I realized how completely screwed up our relationship was (and I'm talking beyond just the food) and I broke up with him. In a roundabout way it was my getting into graduate school that was the catalyst. Eventually I got out, six months after moving to be with him, but not before I started hoarding food again. Little Debbies, boxes of them, tucked away in what small personal space I was afforded. Stress is a trigger and being in a shitty relationship and feeling alone and isolated is a good way to stress yourself out.

Then again, I didn't make the connection between the food and how I was feeling until much later. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

Soon after breaking up with him I started dating an old friend from college. He was the vegetarian that turned me onto a meatless diet. Like the Kentucky Ex, he and I were long-distance, a situation ripe for the emotional triggers that caused me to binge. Of course, I only did it -- only needed to do it -- when he wasn't around. To him, my struggle with my weight was confusing, for no other reason than I never seemed to eat that much. And around him I didn't.

I know I was out of control, driving through the drive thru several times a week, ordering 3000 calorie meals almost every day. The only thing I could think of to stop myself was to take out the variable: meat. So I quit. Cold turkey. Or, well, cold tofurkey.

(*rim shot*)

Truth is, it's still easy to binge eat as a vegetarian. Especially when you are new and out of your element and not used to tofu or any of the other soy products. Pasta and carbs were my best friends, but, I told myself, since I wasn't going to McDonalds everyday it was okay.

When we broke up, my whole world fell apart. Only I surprised myself, because instead of stuffing myself silly, I starved. For three whole days I lived on Diet Dr. Pepper, with half a french bread pizza thrown in for good measure. When I crawled out, I decided this was the perfect opportunity for transformation. It was the summer of 2009 and I joined Weight Watchers for the second time. By January 2010 I had lost 45 pounds.

But, like the first time in college, something snapped in my brain and I started to gain the weight back.

At my family reunion a few months ago, I remember explaining it to my aunt like this: I thought losing weight, fixing what was wrong on the outside, would fix what was wrong on the inside. Only it doesn't work that way. So at some point I figured, well, hell, if I'm going to be unhappy either way, I might as well just be fat and eat what I want. 

And so, I started to gain all of the weight back, plus some. By the end of 2010 I weighed my highest weight ever, 311 pounds.

And, as you know, about a month later I signed up for Weight Watchers for the third time. This time it was different. I don't know if it's the new program or my new attitude, but nineteen months later, I am down over 100 pounds and have no concerns that I won't make it to goal. I don't worry about fixing the outside or the inside, because I know the inside is perfect exactly as is. I don't worry about fixing it because there's nothing that needs fixing. I don't want to lose weight to be pretty, to be beautiful, to catch the boys. I don't want to lose weight to match some ideal that exists for someone else.

Losing weight isn't even an issue. I want to be healthy and fit and happy and I can't be any of those things at three hundred pounds.

This was the "after" pic I used for the WW contest

If you can and are content and happy at a higher weight, good for you. No, really. I tried for years to accept my larger body and never could, not really. If I had loved myself back then the way I love myself now I might never have gotten myself into the situation that I did.

Here's the thing: despite a strong belief I suffer from a binge eating disorder, I've never been diagnosed. Which means I've never been treated. Which means I still have moments, though it's been well over a year since my last binge episode. It was April 2011, I had taken the week off from work and quite distinctly remember the plain cheese stuffed crust pizza and chocolate dipper things I ordered and polished off in oh an evening, maybe two.

April 2011 means I was already on Weight Watchers and my scale showed the damage. After three months, I was back up over three hundred pounds. And that was my moment, dear readers. The moment I began to fight back. Fight for life, fight for me, fight for the future. And I've been fighting ever since.

The longer I go without falling back on old habits, the less power those habits have over me. I have embraced the work I have to put into it, the feeling of accomplishment keeps me motivated. Yoga has shown me the beauty and power in the body while running has taught me to believe in the impossible. My relationship with food has completely changed and I go through life feeling bright and beautiful.

Feeling free.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

27 August 2012

running & scrapbooking & shopping, oh my!

Saturday I was up bright and early to run my third 5K, which was located in my hometown. The high-school has a brand new football stadium and the 5K was part of the opening weekend celebrations. We started on the track, then followed a trail/path that I believe the cross country team uses, running up and through the woods that divides the high-school property from the nearby neighborhood, then ending back on the track in front of the spectators on the grandstand. Since it was mostly through woods, it was nice and shady and aside from a few small inclines fairly flat. It reminded me a lot of my recent run through the Cleveland Metroparks.

After, my parents and I had brunch at a restaurant downtown then walked around the farmer's market for a bit. Once we got home, I took a shower while my mom headed over to CVS to have some photos printed so I could put my scrapbook page together!

Proof I am a nerd: using the school's colors of blue and white

I snapped that pic before the final results were posted (hence the lack of info on the little blue card), but I finished in 42:52! Which was crazy, because I had to fucking book it to make that time. But as soon as I saw that clock looming ahead I knew I could get in under 43 minutes and holy moly did I run. Sprinted, really. It was one of the most amazing feelings of accomplishment, to have already run 3 miles at a decent pace and then out of nowhere pull out some ridiculous speed. With the crowd clapping and cheering and my parents there on the football field it was phenomenal.

I heart running.

Thursday I am doing a guest post for Mama Marchand and it's a more detailed write-up of the 5K, so come back in a few days to see that! (Today is also Mama's 30th birthday so you should go show her some love!)

I fully intended for the rest of the weekend to be fairly laid back, but it didn't turn out that way. Saturday evening was a girl's night, starting with dinner at Barrio (mmmm. Tacos and sangria and my besties) and ending with drinks at Edison's Pub. Around 10pm my post-run high started to wear off and I headed home, intending to sleep but I ended up doing a massive closet purge.

Sunday I headed to Clothes Mentor, my new favorite store, to see if I could sell some of my too-big-for-clothes. I did and picked up a super cute new outfit. With the trade ins, the whole thing cost me $7. Including the shoes!

Find me on Instagram, JillGrun

And, yes: the keyhole back sold me on the shirt. I love that I can show off my new tattoo and still look professional.

I also used the Macy's gift card my mom sent me as congrats for losing 100 pounds. I intended to buy shoes, but couldn't find any I really really loved and after trying on a few dresses I wandered up to the "intimate apparel" section. As soon as I was up there it dawned on me that I really need new (tmi) panties. Like, in the right size. Somehow, of all the shopping I've done since losing weight I never got around to doing that. Plus they had a sale going on, so bonus! I even found an adorable silky black & white knee-length robe for ten dollah. It makes me feel all sex kitten boudoir-y.

On the weight loss front, I lost 1/2 a pound, bringing my total to 104.6! I also submitted my essay and pictures for the Weight Watchers Celebrate Success contest! For the "after" picture I opted to use one from Saturday's race. I talked about running in my essay and the questionnaire, so seeing me in 5K mode with my race number pinned just seemed to be the perfect way to show how far I've come. I'm not sure about the time frame, though I suspect by the end of September, so fingers crossed!

How was your weekend? Now that I've found a sense of style, I'm thinking of every once in awhile jumping on the "What I Wore Wednesday" wagon. What do you think?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

24 August 2012

friday favorites

Tomorrow morning is my third 5K and it's in my hometown of Stars Hollow, so I'm heading to my parents' house tonight to stay over. Way easier than waking up at, like, 5am to head straight there from Cleveland. Mentally there's a lot wrapped up in this particular 5K, mostly due to location, but I'm excited to run it and will be talking about all of that in a guest post I'm doing for Mama Marchand next week.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the things I've been loving over the past week or two. Knowing me this is going to be a bit random, but that's why it's fun!

These Shoes

My feet have gone from a size 9 to a 7 1/2, so last week I headed over to DSW just to look and managed to come across the above shoes in the clearance section. Considering I'm mostly a Payless kinda girl, even the clearance section of DSW was a bit above my normal threshold, but I figured for a pair of gorgeous black pumps it was worth the splurge.

This Recipe 

Over the weekend I made a Weight Watchers Mac & Cheese recipe but as I was planning my dinner for Saturday night I realized it needed something else on the side. Then I remembered this recipe for Cauliflower Buffalo Bites I had pinned ages ago and I just so happened to have some cauliflower in my fridge. Based on the comments I reduced the amount of hot sauce and added a touch of honey (thus negating them as vegan), and they were soooo yummy. Definitely will be made again.

This TV Show

Ummmmmmmmm. Can someone please explain to me why no one has ever before sat me down and forced me to watch Doctor Who? It is sci-fi/fantasy genius at its finest and I am officially addicted, as anyone who is friends with me on FB knows as I won't shut up about it. I'm only on the second season but I am already in love with David Tennant and can see why so many people claim he's their favorite Doctor.

This Picture

I swear Chloe is an absolute sweetheart in person, but it always kills me that she looks so pissed off in so many of her pictures.

This Tweet

Ohmygoddess, you guys. Like, there are no words for this. It's not my first virtual brush with celebrity, but it means oh so much more. Ms. Atwood is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite author. She is the type of writer that makes me want to write. As my friend Micah said, This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Word, dear fellow. Word.

This Outfit

On Wednesday, Career Services held a Career Fair for the students and it included a fashion show for interview outfits borrowed from Clothes Mentor, which is a local consignment store. The fashion show left me inspired, for no other reason than I really needed new pants. Plus I want to work on updating my wardrobe, which is a little more on the side of business casual than I like. Everyone else around me dresses super professional and I feel like I'm lacking, but mostly because tailored clothes never felt comfortable at 311 pounds. Now they do. And Clothes Mentor is fucking awesome. Not only can you sell clothes (which I have with some of my too big items) but you can buy really great clothes there, too. I'm talking name brand, quality stuff. The tag near my neck? The original tag on the shirt. It still has the original tags on it. Me? I paid $9 for it. Uh, hello. Let me put it this way: for about the same cost as those clearance DSW shoes, I was able to buy two pairs of pants, two work blouses, and a dress. Luckily, my new shoes can be worn with everything.

This Comparison

Every year, Weight Watchers has their Celebrate Success contest and I'm entering! The fact that the contest was announced just a few hours after I hit the 100 pounds mark seems like serendipity to me. The entry requires a 400 word essay, which I've already written, along with before & after photos. This weekend when I'm at my parents I'm going to see if I can find a photo from the same "before" event above that shows more of my full body (I care most of my weight in my hips and waist), but if not I think I have my photos. Over the past week I've had co-workers take other "after" pictures of me, but I'm not as happy with them as this one I took myself in the mirror of a dressing room. 

This Tattoo

Yes, ladies & gents, I've been inked up. Last Saturday I headed over to VooDoo Monkey in Ohio City to get my 100 pound reward tattoo. Only took about 30 minutes and didn't hurt too much, save the h and t as they went up a bit higher on my back. To say I'm in love with it is a bit of an understatement. I simply adore everything about this tattoo: the size and location are perfect and I'm so happy with the font I chose. For those that missed the explanation, shanti means "peace" in sanskrit and it is repeated three times at the end of the closing Ashtanga yoga chat. This single word has come to represent so much about this journey and the past few years and it was the perfect choice for this tattoo.

What are some of the things you've been loving recently? If you don't follow me on Instagram (JillGrun), you should start!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 August 2012

my history with food & disordered eating: part three

If you're just joining this series, I'd suggest starting with Part One and Part Two to get a bit of background. Once again, I'd like to warn readers that these posts deal with sensitive, potentially triggering, topics related to binge eating. 

Today is when things get a bit ... sticky. Up until this point, nothing I've talked about has been new to my family. Perhaps they did not know the reasons behind my behaviors, but they knew they existed. They were, after all, the ones that discovered my secrets.

Today, though, we delve into that part they don't know about. The secrets I've kept hidden for six, seven years. Mentally and emotionally, but also literally, for as I got older I got smarter about destroying the evidence.

Today I tell the stories I've held onto for close to a decade. Today I pull myself from the inside out, reach down to scrape my interior clean and release the dusk that has been waiting and collecting.

Today is my coming out party.

While I have a whole host of vignettes I could share with you, minute pieces of history and moments that tell my tale, I'm instead going to focus on two very specific episodes that, I feel, will give you a much better scope of the situation I was dealing with post-college.

To begin, you have to understand that during college my disordered eating behaviors seemed to diminish. Yes, I gained weight, but mostly from simple over eating and not binge eating, although to this day I still mourn the loss of Ben & Jerry's Southern Pecan Pie. Over the years I've tried to find a new favorite, but none of the current flavors come even close to the sublime simplicity Southern Pecan Pie had. Which is good, because I really don't need a reason to go out and buy pints of Ben & Jerry's on a regular basis.

College was the first time I was given freedom and liberation. Nobody knew who I was so I was allowed to simply be me. I began dying my hair red and got my first tattoo. I wrote more in those four years than I ever wrote before or since (my degree is in creative writing, hence my lovely, eloquent posts. And, apparently, my modesty). The summer between junior and senior year I joined Weight Watchers for the first time and did very well, losing about 45 pounds in 6 months.

Something, however, snapped and I gained it all back, plus some, so by the time I graduated I was pretty much back where I started.

Upon moving home, I started working part time at two different jobs. The first was the Stars Hollow Public Library, which I worked at in high-school. The other was at a transportation call center a few towns over. I was at this job five days a week, the library only one. The call center was located right near a Sheetz gas station which, as anyone who has ever visited one knows, is the best gas station in the entire world. I realize that's an odd qualifier, but I stand by my statement. Mostly due to the Made-to-Order station.

And the fact that they sell Krispy Kremes.

I would stop into that gas station at least four times a week. Mostly to just pick up candy and snacks to munch on while I was sitting at my desk and pop, always diet, naively telling myself that somehow negated the bag of Starburst I was about to consume in an eight hour period. True story: I ate so much Starburst at that job I learned how to unwrap a piece with my tongue, always keeping the wrapper in one piece. (No guarantee I could do it now, though.) Tuesday mornings I'd also get one of their breakfast sandwiches, loaded with cheese and mayo and hash browns and, yeah, heart attack on a plate.

Often, more often than I care to admit, I'd also usually buy Krispy Kremes. Most of the time I'd go small, only half a dozen. I'd fill up the little white wax paper bag with my six doughnuts and roll it up and put it in my purse. The doughnuts were never eaten at work. Instead, I would take them home with me and eat one after another after another. Usually after dinner, after I'd already eaten for the day and nowhere near hungry, but those doughnuts just had to be consumed. Once the bag was empty, I'd crinkle it up into a ball and stick in the drawer of my nightstand.

Every once in awhile, though, I'd go for the full dozen, tucked neatly into that green and white cardboard box. To this day I can't even begin to tell you how I managed to smuggle those into the house, but I did and more than once. The dozen I would usually spread over two days, the box hidden in the small gap between my desk and floor. Once the box was empty, I would flatten and fold it and stick back under my desk.

I was quite antisocial as a teenager and young adult, often preferring to stay home alone whenever an opportunity arose. Part of it was just enjoying the silence available to me, but I also needed the time to clean out my room. Along with the Krispy Kremes, candy still being hoarded and eaten and I had wrappers to dispose of. So whenever I had the house to myself my first task was collecting the evidence. That meant going through all the drawers and under the desk and under the bed and filling a trash bag. I'd usually do this every few weeks and the bag would be fairly full.

The key then was to get it out of the house and I had quickly figured out that if I take it straight to the trash can, nobody had to know about it. But I also didn't want to risk having my parents remember they accidentally threw something out and go digging, so I'd plan these clean ups around trash day when the cans would be full. I'd go out to the garage, take out the bags already in there, and put mine on the bottom of the can. Then I'd put the other bags on top. Day or two later, the garbage truck came and my secret went with it.

A few years ago I was visiting my parents and my mom was planning on redoing my bedroom, so she asked me to go through my stuff to see if there was anything I wanted to keep. Looking underneath my desk I found my old bathroom scale and one of those empty Krispy Kreme boxes, long forgotten. I put the flattened box in my suitcase and took it back home with me to be thrown out at my apartment, another means of avoiding the conversation.

So that's the first story. I worked at that call center for maybe three years and I guess I bought doughnuts two or three times a month, not counting the weekly MTO breakfast sandwiches and bags and bags of candy. Even now, doughnuts are a bit of a trigger food. Seeing one, I imagine my eyes dilate as my mouth waters. The majority of the time I'm capable of Just Saying No. But every once in awhile I'll take one half as a treat. Oddly, though, after one bite I lose the taste for it. Something doesn't sit right in my stomach or head and I'll end up throwing the half out.

The second story is shorter, but much more intense. At least for me. See, after I graduated and moved back home, my parents wanted to help me out with my weight and signed me up for a local gym. In the beginning, I did go, attending a weekly step class. Eventually, though, I got bored. And tired. And lazy. I was out of shape and self-conscious in the class. But my parents had paid and I knew they did it out of love and concern for my health and I didn't know how to explain to them that I felt I didn't deserve it, because I was their fat, ugly, unpopular daughter.

So, I kept up the ruse. Once a week I'd come home from work and change into my workout clothes and get in my car. Only I wouldn't go to the gym. Not right away. Instead I'd run through the drive-thru at one of the multitude of fast food joints surrounding the gym. I'd buy cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets or french fries or whatever I was in the mood for. I would then go to the gym and sit in my car at the back of the lot and eat. Of course, my parents would assume I had been working out. Luckily this was fall, winter, so it was cold outside and I'd drive home with the windows down to get myself rosy, flushed cheeks to mimic the ones you get from exercise.

But, really, let me make sure you fully understand what I just told you: Instead of working out at the gym, I would gorge on fast food while sitting in the gym parking lot.

On this particular evening I opted for Arby's. Specifically their ooey, gooey, greasy, but ohmygod so good mozzarella sticks. I devoured all the cheesy fried goodness, moaning with the release of an addict getting her fix. Then I drove home and ate dinner with my family.

A few hours later I was asleep when I woke up suddenly, knowing something wasn't right. I barely made it to the bathroom in time before I threw up.

For the next day or two I stayed home with what my mom believed was the flu. Maybe it was. Or maybe, as I suspect, it was something related to those stupid mozzarella sticks. How could I explain, though, that I thought maybe I had food poisoning when I was the only one in my family who was sick? We had all eaten the same dinner, yet I was the only one camped out in the bathroom. There's no way to have that conversation without opening up a whole lotta questions I didn't want to answer. So I kept quiet, kept silent, kept secret, until now.

Safe to say, after that night I never ate an Arby mozzarella stick ever again.

This series started around the time I was 15 or 16. I worked at that call center until I moved to Kentucky, back when I was about 25. That's ten years worth of stories and secrets and, sadly, it's not quite over yet. There's still one chapter left. One leg of the journey to still travel before we hit the path to healing.

Story concluded in Part IV

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 August 2012

failing to plan is planning to fail

Used to be, I'd go to bed Sunday night without any sort of exercise plan for the week.

Oh, I knew that I had yoga the following Saturday and Friday was usually reserved for my long run (well, long for me), but other than that it was just kind of up in the air. I had this goal of running three days a week, but aside from that Friday run I would have no idea what the other two days were. There were factors involved, I'd tell myself, like weather and how I was feeling. Factors that were really just excuses in disguise.

Inevitably I would always wake up early Monday morning and my first thought upon opening my eyes was "I should go for a run." That would last for maybe half a second before I'd tell myself, nope, I'd rather sleep in. But I should really go for a run. But there are still six days left in the week to fit a run in. But if I go now it'll be out of the way. Yeah, but at this point you can only fit in maybe twenty minutes so you might as well just wait a day.

I would seriously lay there in bed and mentally argue with myself for fifteen or twenty minutes, fading in and out of sleep, until I'd realize that I completely missed the window and now I have to get up and get ready for work. I would then spend the next twelve hours telling myself that I should have just done the stupid run because then I would have gotten it over with for at least a day, but now I have to wake up early tomorrow instead.

Let me tell you, if you're gonna spend half an hour in the morning doing something, you should either be sleeping or running. You should not be spending thirty minutes debating between the two.

Finally, I wised up and for the past few months I've been planning my exercise for the week in advance. Sunday night I figure out which days I'm going to run and I stick to that plan. I can't even begin to tell you what a difference this has made. Now I look forward to exercise days and appreciate rest days. But more importantly, it's become habit. I don't even think about it anymore. These are the days that I exercise, these are the days that I don't. It's like second-nature.

Find Your Fitness Goal
It sounds rather obvious, but you can't plan for something unless you know what that something is. So if you're going to plan your workouts, you first have to decide what your goal for the week is, be it certain amount of days you work out or miles you log, etc. Once you have that single goal in place you can start building a workout routine.

Decide On Deal Breakers
NO MONDAY RUNS. Once I decided Monday was automatically a rest day, planning the remainder of the week became easy. Now I don't have to have that annoying half hour conversation with myself Monday mornings, I can use that time to sleep in a bit and go about my day. By the time Tuesday morning rolls around and my alarm goes off at 6:30, I'm just itching to lace up my Scott shoes and hit the ground running. Literally. Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable, so figure out what won't work for you before you figure out what will.

Check The Calendar
We don't always have the luxury of planning our life around our workouts. Professional and Personal commitments often take priority, but just as we write down important meetings and special events, we should also write down our workouts. You're more likely to stay on task if it's written down somewhere. Plus, just like you do with meetings and such, if things come up later in the week you can fit them in around your workout schedule. Like, Monday nights I sometimes do karaoke. I also run Tuesday mornings. This isn't an either/or situation, it just means that as much as I'd love to stay out until 2am tonight singing my heart out, that's not realistic. So I'll go, sing, and get home in time to get plenty of sleep to be well rested for tomorrow's run.

They Call Them Rest Days For A Reason
If you build rest days into your schedule -- as you should, your body needs time to recuperate -- then make sure you actually rest on those days. They are there for a reason, so take advantage! Not only do they give your body time to process, they give you a chance to look forward to your next workout. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Do your plan your workouts in advance? If so, what are some of your tips for someone who might not be a fitness planner?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

17 August 2012

over the river & through the woods

Today I decided to mix things up a bit with my run and head to the Cleveland Metroparks for this morning's run. Comprised of sixteen different reservations, the Metroparks is 21,000 acres of lush nature, picnic areas,  and walking trails, among other attractions, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (notorious location of my first 5K). The Metroparks are one of Northeast Ohio's best attributes, but one I, sadly, don't take advantage of enough. So when I woke up this morning and my usual route left me feeling uninspired, I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to head over to the Brookside Reservation.

(And, being a smart runner, I let all of Twitter know where I was headed and where I was parked. Just in case.)

Naturally, one of the draws to the Metroparks are the gorgeous views. Of course, being that I was, y'know, running, I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked. But, really, any photographs taken on my iPhone wouldn't do the area justice, so it's probably better as it was. I did have to stop and snap a photo of this:

I have always wondered where the Northern Trek entrance was! I mean, in the Zoo I know where it's located. Y'know, up in the Northern Trek where the polar bear hangs out. But I've always wondered how you actually get up there from the outside. And now, in a weird nerdy way, my life feels complete.

Setting out, I really wanted to do 4 miles. And when I started and it was breezy and overcast, it seemed plausible. But as the sun came out and it started to get hot, my body wasn't quite as crazy with that idea. But I did do 3.6 miles, which I'm happy with. That's the farthest I've run in months.


Upping my distance is a new goal: I'm comfortable at 5K/3.1, but want to start challenging myself. I mean, it's not like I'm gonna start running 26 miles tomorrow, baby steps and all. The immediate area around my apartment isn't the best for long distances and as I want to start training for a half-marathon next year, I need to start scouting out locations for the long run days. Plus, I don't do well with circular routes, I get bored after a couple of laps, so I need places where I can run and run and run, hit the halfway mark, and turn around. After today's experience I might have to start visiting the other Metroparks to see what they have to offer. One reservation down, fifteen more to go!

Any suggestions on how to start working on my distance? If you're a CLE runner, do you have any favorite spots I should check out? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

15 August 2012

my history with food & disordered eating: part two

Once again, the responsible blogger in me is putting out a disclaimer that this particular series of posts deals with food behaviors that may be triggering for some readers, specifically related to binge eating. If you are just joining and missed part one you can find it here

Our quirks are what give us personality and uniqueness. They are what make us, well, quirky. They define who we are and how we live our lives. Some are inherited, things we are born with, others we adopt as we age and come into our own, as we start to define ourselves instead of letting others do it for us. Some quirks and behaviors are inherently seen as good, others bad. It can lead to a sense of loneliness and isolation if we feel we function in these "bad" behaviors alone. We don't confess these secrets to anyone else, believing they couldn't possibly understand, which is why admission of guilt is an important step because we often find we aren't the only freak out there: over the weekend I received an email from a high-school friend who confided that we were going through disordered eating habits at the exact same time. But because of the shame involved, we never admitted it to anyone else and had to suffer alone.

"...was I the only child in America who regarded Baker's Chocolate as the cruelest food product ever invented? Was I the only one who -- despite repeated warnings from the Mother Unit, despite the dark knowledge that the Mother Unit would not knowingly place a pound of chocolate within my reach, that this was simply too easy, despite even my own clear memory of having tried this stunt before and wound up with a mouthful of bitter goo -- reached into the back of the cupboard and removed the box and greedily slipped a square from its curiously stiff, white wrapper? Was I the only one who gazed upon the thick, angled square, so much like a Chunky, really, in abject lust? And who held the piece to my nose and breathed in the deep brown scent and then, despite all the evidence to the contrary, simply unable to will my disbelief, bit down?" --Steve Almond, Candy Freak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

I suspect that all children attempt to sneak candy. How can they not with that big bowl that sits in the pantry post-Halloween, just waiting there. And even though you already had your allotted one piece for the day, what's another piece gonna hurt? It's not like anyone is gonna know. It's just one silly little piece. What's the big deal?

That type of sneaking food is not unique nor is it really a big deal. The big deal part happens when it's not a single candy bar but an entire bag of them. When you stop sneaking and start hoarding.

Hollow books. Far corner of the closet. Back of the desk drawer. My teenage bedroom was a treasure trove of treats. After dinner each night, I'd go to my room under the guise of homework or reading a book and, instead, would watch television and eat. I learned how to slowly peel open a wrapper to muffle the sound and to choose candies and cookies that could be eaten quickly and quietly, in case mom or dad knocked on the bedroom door to check in. Anything with a caramel inside was out, lest you run the risk of it getting caught as you tried to work it soft enough to swallow. Oreos, too, had to be avoided, the black crumbs on the back molars always a tell-tale sign.

At that point in time I was limited to the vending machines at school and work, the latter of which operated on an honor system of paying and I confess that my teenage self would often take advantage of the goodwill of the Stars Hollow Public Library. An addict in need of her fix, I'd steal my drug when short on cash (which luckily wasn't that often, thanks to my good friend Lynn, former bus monitor turned cafeteria lady, who gave me carte blanche to the lunch line).

Always having had a sweet tooth, it didn't get out of control until high-school and the sandwich episode, and I believe the two are connected. That I felt such shame at hiding the sandwiches, I had to find some means of dealing with it, so, like so many before me, I turned to food. The embarrassment of one bad behavior weighed heavy, dug in deep and created a huge inner wound. Food, specifically sweets, were my band aid. Inhaled at an alarming rate, I naively believed they would fill the hole that seemed to want to consume me. Of course it didn't, but instead of seeking some other means of coping, I just continued to eat and eat and eat. The hole kept getting bigger, so I kept filling it with more food. Candy bar after candy bar, cookie after cookie. A cycle, and a vicious one at that.

It became habit, a routine: My right hand stuffed the candy bar into my mouth while the left hand tucked the empty wrapper between the mattress and box spring. One after the other for hours.

I was never hungry, already having eaten my three meals for the day, but that wouldn't stop me. Most of the time I was totally unaware of how much I was eating. I was completely disassociated from my body. My stomach never seemed to register satisfaction or, if it did, I'd ignore it. This particular symptom of binge eating disorder is known as "eating until uncomfortably full" and it's a physical feeling I remember well. Stomach bloated with sugar, it was impossible to move without grimacing and often difficult to sleep, as the body struggled to digest the obscene amount of junk food it had taken in.

One reason binge eaters are often obese is because, unlike those that suffer from bulimia, we don't purge. Bulimics rid themselves of the excessive calories by vomiting or taking laxatives. Binge eaters simply hold on to them. One pound consists of 3500 calories. Considering in the past I've managed to eat close to that during a single meal (I'm looking at you, Taco Bell), it's easy to see how my weight ballooned between freshman and senior year of high-school.

Naturally, this also begs the question of why I felt the need to binge. I grew up in upper-middle-class suburbia. My parents are still married. I wasn't super popular in school, but I had a strong core group of friends. Involved in multiple extra-curriculars, I also had other groups I floated through and was friendly and on good terms with pretty much everyone in my class (as several of my readers can attest to).

And yet, something always felt missing. Broken. I was always seen as the friend and didn't date until college (didn't have an official boyfriend until my early twenties). That's difficult when you're 16 years old and already feel shitty about yourself. To constantly be passed over for the vapid blonde only notched the self-esteem a bit lower and it took me years to figure out it wasn't me, but that teenage boys are some of the most superficial creatures on the planet.

I would like to be able to tell you that all of these behaviors stopped when I was in college. That all I needed was to get away and be given an opportunity to find myself and be free. While it's true that going to college did help, it wasn't enough and upon graduation I returned home and fell back on old habits. Only now I had a car and a better job. Mo Money, Mo Problems.

Story is continued in Part III

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 August 2012

the peace which passeth understanding

The Sanskrit word for peace, it is repeated three times in the closing chant at the end of my Ashtanga yoga practice. Peace. Peace. Peace. I'm not religious, but if I had to describe my weekly moment of spiritual awakening that would be it. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. 

Peace with the past: Letting go of any and all anger towards other people, most of all myself for allowing me to get up to 311 lbs. Peace with the present: Embracing where I am in life right now and loving what I have, not stressing over what I don't. Peace for the future: Knowing this is a lifelong journey and the best is still yet to come.

Most friends and co-workers are aware of my plan to get a third tattoo to celebrate losing 100 plans. Several months ago I talked about using a quote from the Buddha, but as time went on that changed and whenever I was asked what I was planning on getting I always told them I was keeping it secret for now. 

Now I can tell you that I have decided to take the word "shanti" on as my third tattoo and it is going on my back. I'm telling you this because I officially earned it this morning. Oh yes, kids this is the one we've all been waiting for:

I have lost 100 pounds! 

102, actually. A year and a half ago I weighed 311 pounds and today I weigh 209 and it took a moment for it to register. I hopped on the scale hoping to see 211, so when 209 came up I was momentarily disappointed. No coffee means my brain wasn't functioning yet and about half a beat later I realized that puts me over 100 pounds. I lost 3 1/2 lbs this week, which naturally means I'll have a very small weight loss next week, if I lose anything at all. But that's okay! Because as of today I have lost ONE HUNDRED (AND TWO) POUNDS!! 

It is overwhelming to say the least. It's only 10 am and already I've had moments of grinning like an idiot and wanting to cry and wanting to use every expletive in the book out of sheer energy. One hundred pounds, people. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS. 

  • My dress size has gone from a size 28 to a size 16
  • My shoe size has gone from  9 to 7 1/2 (this one totally threw me)
  • Bra size has dropped from 44 to 38
  • I have lost 32% of my starting weight
  • I am 2/3 of the way to goal
  • Goal is a mere 48 lbs away
  • I have taken up running and completed two 5Ks
  • I practice yoga
  • I like shopping now. Shopping suuuuuucks when you're in a 28. That black skirt above was purchased on Saturday and believe me, I never before in my life owned a pencil skirt before and now I am totally in love with it.
  • I don't hate the heat as much as I used to
  • I can feel bones in my body
  • I am in desperate need of a new driver's license 
  • I weigh less than I did when I graduated high-school

But more than anything else, I have found myself again. I was lost for a long time and I'm finally embracing and owning who I am. I've stopped apologizing for myself and am happy. I have a life that I love, filled with an amazingly supportive family, friends I adore, and a job I enjoy going to. I live in the most perfect city in the whole entire world and feel as though I have finally found my place in the universe and am surrounded by my tribe (said in true Grey's Anatomy fashion). 

Over the weekend I came across the following quote, often (possibly mistakenly) attributed to the Buddha: When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.

Today I am laughing at the sky. 

Lady Lazarus

11 August 2012

the one with my ulna

As you know, I'm rather fascinated by the fact that I can now feel bones in my body. Only thing is that up until now it's always been bones I was already aware of. Not so in this case, when some of my co-workers introduced me to the ulna which, as I later learned, is not a small bone but a very long one. I just happened to stumble upon only part of it.

The One With My Ulna from Jill Grun on Vimeo.

10 August 2012

i've created a monster

Specifically a running monster.

Okay, so, my third 5K is at the end of this month, right? Now, I like having a race on the books. It's a nice motivator, keeps me focused, and, well, keeps me running. 'Cause sometimes you need that extra push and if I know I have a 5K coming up, that'll get me up and out the door at 6:30 am when I'd really rather sleep. As such, I am constantly on the look out for future races and I like having a few weeks between each one.

Because Sissy and her fiance were in town over the weekend, my parents hosted a big family cookout at their place and while catching up with everyone, one of my cousins told me the company he works for is having a 5K and I should make it my fourth one. Great idea, except his 5K isn't until early November and that would be over two months between my third and fourth and I didn't like that idea, so I figured I'd throw one in there in late September/early October.

And then on Tuesday I found one. So I registered for that one and the November one. Oh yeah. I registered for two more races. And I registered for them on the same day. Like, within five minutes of each other.

See: monster.

And, c'mon. I registered for a 5K in November? I am a Northeast Ohio native. I know what our weather is like. Oh, sure, you'll say, it's early November. Yeah, well, we once had to go trick-or-treating in snow. I mean, what's next? A Jingle Bell Run?

Hmmmmm. That's actually not a bad idea. Let's see, Cleveland's is early December, huh? I could maybe manage that. Plus, running in cold weather would be the perfect excuse to buy some awesome race legs from Team Sparkle. I think the purple & turquoise striped ones are calling my name.....

Look! There! See? That's what I'm talking about. I can't stop. I'm in need of an intervention or something. It's out of control.

Then again, I suppose there are worst things a gal could get herself addicted to. Stupid runners high.

It would seem, though, that being a monster has its benefits as I found out Wednesday that my application to be a FitFluential Ambassador was approved!

FitFluential Is Fitness Found

I am so super excited, I can't even tell you. Since I started getting more active in healthy living blogging, I've found great support in the FitFluential Community and I'm so happy to be a part of it. The fact that the acceptance email came the same day as my first post on disordered eating just made it all the more poignant.  It just seemed to reaffirm why I write this blog and, in particular, why it was so important to talk about that specific part of my journey.

Speaking of, thank you all so much for your comments regarding that post. Both here on the blog and off. Writing that post was far more therapeutic than I anticipated and I find myself looking forward to writing the future posts in the series. Hopefully you're looking forward to reading them.

Do you have any upcoming races you're preparing for? Do you like signing up well in advance like me or do you wait until it gets closer? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

08 August 2012

my history with food & disordered eating: part one

First, a disclaimer: this series, which I will post once a week for the next few weeks, deals with sensitive issues and may be triggering for some readers. Second: Please know that this is all past behavior. While I now believe I spent years suffering from an undiagnosed binge-eating disorder, it's not something I engage in as an adult. That being said, because it is past behavior I'm writing from memory and may take unintended creative licenses. Third: Most of what I am going to talk about in these posts are topics and incidents in my life I've never discussed openly with anyone and even my family doesn't know the full extent or how long it lasted. In other words: this is very, very, very scary and leaves me feeling incredibly vulnerable. But, I also believe my patterns were not unique and if I can give hope to even one person than I find it worth the anxiety. Still, please be kind, yes?

I have always had a strange affinity for the fringe population, perhaps based in part on my feeling that I've always been a little off-kilter myself. When I first read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar I felt as though I had met a kindred spirit, a feeling that was only heightened when I realized Plath's heroine Esther has an Angelicized version of my last name. Valley of the Dolls and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are two other favorite books of mine that also feature scenes in mental institutions, scenes that I remember far more clearly than the rest of the story.

While The Virgin Suicides doesn't offer scenes in a mental hospital per se, it does tackle the topic of teenage depression and offers one of the most poignant passages I have ever come across in literature: Within 5 minutes of the transfusion he declared her out of danger. Chucking her under the chin, he said, "What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets." And it was then Cecelia gave orally what was to be her only form of suicide note, and a useless one at that, because she was going to live: "Obviously, Doctor," she said, "you've never been a 13 year old girl.”

When I was in high-school, the film Girl, Interrupted came out.  And while I've not only read the book it was based on but own both versions, it is the film I remember best, no doubt due to Angeline Jolie's Oscar winning performance. But, in fact, it was the character of Daisy (played by Brittany Murphy) I identified with the most. Secretive and aloof, Daisy had the only single room in their ward and she guarded her space and privacy with the fierceness of a lion. Albeit a rather bitchy lion, but for good reason: as an angsty and introverted teenager myself, I understood the need for secrecy and closed doors.

In one rather memorable scene, the characters played by Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie get into her room by offering her forbidden laxative pills (an alternative form of purging). Winona's Suzanne does it because she's nice and feels sorry for Daisy while Angelina's Lisa does it because she's always wanted to know just what in the hell Daisy is hiding. Anyway, once in Daisy's room, Lisa notices a rank smell and looking under the bed discovers several weeks worth of half-eaten roasted chickens gathering dust.

I use this as an example because, well, that used to be me.

My sister and I grew up packing our lunches, something I still do to this day. Usually tuna fish for her and egg salad for me, with a turkey sandwich occasionally thrown in. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were a rare treat and buying lunch in the cafeteria an even rarer treat, but a treat I would prefer. As a senior I worked part-time at the Stars Hollow Public Library, so I had some spending money and would use that to buy my lunch. Or at least I would intend to: see, junior year I befriended one of the bus monitors. I always sat up front while the other annoying punks sat in the back and she and I would sometimes chit chat. Being nice pays off, because my senior year she was off the bus and working in the cafeteria and on days when she was running the cash register she'd just wave me through. I'd try to give her my money but she refused to take it so after awhile I stopped bothering.

Give a fat girl with a food problem a free pass to a lunch line that included breadsticks, Campbell's soup, fresh baked cookies and the most amazing Mexican pizza ever (or so I remember) and, well, it's not going to  be pretty. 

So. My mom would pack me a lunch. I wouldn't eat said lunch. But for whatever reason I wouldn't throw my lunch away at school. Nope, I'd carry it in my backpack all day long. Then I'd get home and think Crap, I have this lunch I was supposed to eat but didn't and if I tell her she's going to wonder what I ate and I'm going to have to explain I filled up on crappy junk food that I got for free and I can't put it in the trash because she'll see it and again with the questions, so I'm just going to have to hide it. 

And under the bed it went. 

Even now, twelve years later, I am unable to tell you why I didn't just throw the lunch away at school. Because this wasn't just a one time thing or even a once a month thing: this was an almost everyday thing. In Daisy's case, it seems to be a form of OCD. Me? No idea, although I think part of it was the idea that I didn't want to waste food by just throwing it away. Of course, I also can't explain how hiding it under the bed was any better.

Stash food often enough and you start to build up quite the collection. And, like food does if not kept refrigerated properly (as egg salad or a turkey sandwich with mayo and cheese should be), eventually it starts to break down and decay. Mold starts to grow and a pungent odor is released, kind of like Daisy's roasted chickens.

I knew the smell was there. I mean, it's pretty hard to ignore. It's also why I kept the door closed most of the time (although, ultimately that would only make it worse) and why I didn't like having people in my room. Sometimes I suspect I kept it there on purpose, as though I felt I deserved to be constantly reminded of my bad behavior. And since nobody else knew what was going on, I had to do it myself.

As my private collection grew, the worse I felt because I didn't know how to stop it. It was the snowball effect: the bigger it got, the more in denial I became, hoping if I ignored it long enough it would eventually go away. And, eventually, it did, but only after my mom went into my room one day when I wasn't there and realized something didn't smell right. When she asked me why I didn't just throw the food away at school, I couldn't tell her and I still couldn't tell her this past Friday when she and Sissy told me I should write about this (of course, I suspect they really had no idea of the Pandora's Box they were opening with that suggestion).

Until my mom reminded me of this incident a few days ago, I'd honestly forgotten all about it. Tucked it away, like we do with things we don't want to think about. I can't tell you how I felt after being discovered or how the conversation with my parents went. What I do know is that by then it was a bit too late: my shame over that behavior had already manifested itself into another behavior, and while the sandwich episode only lasted just a few months, its replacement lasted for years.

Story is continued in Part II

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 August 2012

a jog down memory lane

Back in the day I used to be a huge scrapbooker. I scrapbooked my way through high-school and college, including all of those important events like my 21st birthday and that year where instead of a birthday I had a Halloween party and dressed up as Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show. There were trips to Europe and New York City. And, of course, prom:

My dress had to be ordered from a catalog. In Spring 2000, stores carried
very limited options for girls my size.

I had a huge box full of stickers and fancy paper and punches and paper cutters. Oh yeah, I was hardcore. I fell out of the hobby shortly after graduating from college, so when One Ordinary Mom mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she made a scrapbook out of her racing bibs I jumped at the idea.

Me and Papa G. in the upper left

Each page has the name of the race, the location, date, and my time. Of course, so far it only has two pages. And the first page is pretty boring because there aren't any pictures. But that's okay, if only because it will help remind me to get pictures with each future race.

I really love the idea of saving and representing each race this way. And One Ordinary Mom is right: it's the easiest scrapbook page to put together. You don't really need anything fancy, although because I'm me, I did buy some running stickers and cheap fancy scissors (it's how I got the wave on the paper with the race info on it). Standing in the aisles at Pat Catan's I had to seriously restrain myself from going all accessory sticker crazy. Whew.

Over the weekend, Sissy and her fiance were in town and on Friday afternoon, Sissy, Mom and I went shopping (I fit into a size 16!) and then went out to lunch at PF Chang's. I knew in advance where we were going, so I did my usual thing and checked the website for nutritional info and wrote up a list of good options and that way once I actually got to the restaurant I had some choices depending on what I was in the mood for, how hungry I was, etc. (I ended up going with the Dim Sum lunch, which was a small salad and six steamed dumplings. I chose three veggie, three edamame.)

After we were all done eating and waiting for the check, I went to the restroom. When I got back, I sat down and my mom and sister looked at each other, then my mom said "We have a blog post idea for you."

When they told me what they had been talking about while I was gone, I thought there was no way in hell I was going to blog about it. None. You couldn't pay me to blog about it. It's the ugly side of what got me to where I was and nobody wants to read about the ugly side, least of all me. I had honestly forgotten all about it and was mortified at being reminded, for no other reason than Sissy hadn't known about it until that lunch.

The more I thought about it, though, I realized that's exactly why I should blog about it. I know I make it look all peaches and cream these days, but let me tell you it wasn't always like that. I weighed over 200 lbs in high-school. Hello, that sort of thing doesn't just happen accidentally. Back in college, a visiting writer encouraged all of us to write the story we're afraid to tell. That's what this is and if my sharing the ugly truth can help someone else, then that's what I need to do.

Not gonna lie: I'm feeling very nervous and vulnerable and uncomfortable at the prospect of talking about this. Even just writing part one made me a little sick to my stomach because I haven't thought about this shit in years. Because nobody knew how bad it really was, for no other reason than as I got older I got better at hiding it. Literally.

Because to fully appreciate where I am right now (-98.4!), you have to fully appreciate where I was back then. So come back Wednesday for part one of my history with food and disordered eating.

If you're a runner, how do you save or display your racing bibs or marathon medals? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 August 2012

I am runner, hear me roar

I only started running in February. I only started running outside in April. As such, this is my first summer as a runner and oh holy hell has it required a bit of a learning curve. Like understanding heat and humidity will slow you down. This has been the hardest lesson and one I wish I had learned sooner as it would have helped me not freak out before my first 5K.

As it happens, competing in that first 5K has completely changed my perception and focus when it comes to running. In the beginning I was super focused on time. A good pace left me feeling elated while a bad pace made me feel like a failure.

In the past few months, though, I've stopped worry about it.


Because it doesn't matter.

Seriously. Unless you're trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, time doesn't really matter. Not in the big ol' grand scheme of things. At least not from where I'm standing. Of course, as a fairly new runner maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Then again, as someone who fully embraced last place in her first ever race, I'd also like to think I'm perhaps wise beyond my years. Y'know, all thirty of them. 

Now, of course I understand that people have goals. For my second 5K I wanted to do better than my first, and I did. For my third, I'd like to do at least as well as my second, if not better. It's good to have goals as they help keep you motivated and inspired. 

But if you're a brand new runner, kinda like me six months ago, then don't worry about time. Really. Don't even think about it. Don't even really think about distance either. If you're a brand new runner, there's only one thing you need to focus on: 


That sounds a bit obvious, I know. Maybe a bit too obvious. But I'm here to tell you, even if you start out with the best of intentions, getting into a regular running routine is fucking hard work.

Oh sure, it's great in the beginning because you're excited at doing something new. High on endorphins, you go buy new running shoes and build a playlist. Just yesterday you were camped out on the couch and now you're running. Who woulda seen this one coming? 

Yeah. About that.

What goes up must come down and eventually the high wears off. Suddenly 6:30 am no longer sounds like an appealing time to wake up. Not if it means going for a run (ugh). Personal shit gets in the way and you lose your running mojo. The Couch to 5K app actually warns you about this around Week 7, with the little cartoon coach cheering you on to break through the wall. 

Her virtual wall is easy. The one in the real world is another matter entirely. I mean, hello, she's a cartoon. Are you really going to take advice from an animated Jillian Michaels knockoff? 

If you're anything at all like me, there will come a time when you are desperate for an exit strategy. And if you're brand new to running, chances are you're not going to be very fast, and that slow pace is the perfect opportunity for nixing this whole "running" plan. (Whose idea was that, anyway?)

Which is why I'm telling you that if you're going to focus your energy on one thing, focus on making sure you run. Doesn't matter how long or how far, not as long as you're moving. It's easiest if you set a goal. For me it's making sure I run three times a week. Maybe you want to run for an hour. That gives you flexibility, like run for an entire hour one day and be off the hook, or you can do two half hour runs or three twenty minutes, etc. Maybe you need to mix it up and run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds and do that for a mile. Find something that works for you and stick with it.

Look at it this way: last week I ran three days. If I average out my averages, my overall mile time over the course of the week was, rounding up, a 15 minute mile. That's not exactly fabulous, right? Not when you consider back in the spring I was running, like, 12 minute miles. (Repeat: it's not me, it's the heat. It's not me, it's the heat. It's not me...)

Anyway, a 15 minute mile is like an "Eh" on the scale. However, if I shift my perspective just a bit, I'll see that over those three days I ran a total of 6.58 miles and for 95 minutes. Now those are numbers I like. I mean, 6 1/2 miles. That's, like, half a half-marathon. Sure, that was over the course of three runs, but still. 

15 minute mile: Blah. 6 1/2 miles: Woot! 

It's such a simple thing, changing perspective, but it completely changes your attitude. Lion or Gazelle is completely irrelevant. Just keep running

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 August 2012

fat girl does down dog

Bit of blogkeeping: On Monday I joined the big leagues and purchased a custom domain! So if you would all be so kind as to update your links/bookmarks to www.theyearofthephoenix.com. Merci!

Before I begin, let me stress that I love being a librarian. I've been working in libraries since I was seventeen years old, when I started as a page at the Stars Hollow Public Library. I love research and the challenge of finding information. I love assisting the students at my college. I love my college. I love being able to say I used to be a prison librarian; makes me quite popular at parties, let me tell ya. Oh, and did I mention that I have been working in libraries since I was seventeen? It's a bit of a calling, you see.

And, yet, I often wonder if a person can have two callings. Because lately I have flirted with the idea of running away and becoming a yoga instructor.

Wheel or Upward Bow

According to the BMI Chart (and I'll spare you all my rant on this antiquated system of health measurement), I am "obese." Yup, lose 98 pounds and still be obese which tells you how bad it was before (fairly certain that at 311 lbs I was in the "morbidly obese" category). In fact, even when I hit my goal weight of 160 I'll still only be in the "overweight" category. My recommended high-weight is 150 and I honestly picked 160 out of thin air. It seems like a weight I can maintain plus I should still have my curves. Those are my two biggest factors in deciding the right weight for me: Maintainability and curvyliciousness.

True story.

Because, see, I like my curves. I own my curves. And I'm not going to sacrifice them 'cause some stupid chart tells me to.

Learning to own my curves, however, hasn't been easy. Not when you have more than you should and curve in places you don't want to. But one thing that has helped more than anything else has been Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and The Studio. I'm also fairly certain that weekly yoga classes have defined said curves. Even in high-school when I weighed less or in college when I did Weight Watchers for the first time and got down to 220, I don't ever remember having such a tiny waist that I could feel bone when I put my hands on my hips. 


You know that feeling when you have friends you've only known for a couple of years, yet you honestly can't remember what your life was like before them? That's how it feels at The Studio. They are like a second family and have always been incredibly supportive of my size, whether it was me at 250 when I took my first Ashtanga class or the me that is slowly shrinking. My weight has never been an issue and all modifications I require are because of flexibility, not size. (Well, except for that whole suffocation thing.)

This was not always the case. About a year ago I visited my first studio and the experience left me feeling disheartened and disappointed. It was nothing overt, but the entire time I got this very, very subtle vibe from the instructor like she was less than thrilled at having a fat girl in her class. As though she didn't know what to do with me. Some of my inherent flexibility seemed to surprise her, even going so far as to say "Wow, you really are flexible!" like she thought I had been lying before when I first mentioned it.

It turned me off from yoga for a few months, until last November when my family was in Las Vegas for my birthday. I started my 30th year at a yoga class at Caesar's Palace that I had dragged Sissy to. I'm so glad I did, though, because it left me feeling energized and elated. The instructor, Swami Ramananda, was welcoming and accepting, which probably comes with the territory in a city like Vegas. I knew that was what yoga was supposed to feel like and I was determined to recapture it, even if it meant visiting every single studio in all the Land of Cleves. Luckily, I only had to visit one.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Discovering yoga has helped me rediscover myself. I really don't know how else to put it. Through yoga I have reconnected with my body, hearing it and listening to what it tells me. I have found self-acceptance and self-confidence and have learned that magic can happen on the mat. I love watching and experiencing the positive changes my body produces and proving that you don't have to be thin to be a yogi. I want to take my own personal experiences off the mat and share it with others. If anyone knows what it's like to walk into a yoga studio as a self-conscious fat person, it's me. If anyone knows how necessary it is to have a safe space, it's me. And if anyone knows the transformative power of the poses, it's also me.

I want to be able to share my story and say I know where you are, I know where you've been. I want to let them know that yoga isn't just about exercise or fitness or losing weight. It's about the meeting of mind and body. It's about honoring the body. It's about setting intentions and finding peace. It's about challenging yourself and knowing that having limitations is okay. If nothing else, it's always about at least trying. Who the hell cares if you fall on your ass? Because, seriously, we've all been there. Happened to me this past Saturday, in fact. And you know what I did? I laughed. As my dear friend and fellow practioner John said, "Come, let us not be pretty at it together."

What yoga is not, and has never been, about is the number on the scale. Truthfully I often feel like a curvy yoga ambassador -- proving that size doesn't have to be a barrier to a successful practice. I am fully aware that I don't look like your "typical" yoga follower, yet any ol' time I want to lean over and put my head on the floor I can. So, to get all librarian cliched on you, don't judge a book by its cover. And if there is one sure way to get that message out, it would be by becoming a teacher.

Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose

All of that being said, as much as I really want to embark on this adventure, right now it's not exactly financially feasible. Teacher training costs money, yo. And, as I mentioned in the beginning, I really do love my job and being a librarian (or, as a friend put on Twitter the other day, a "library scientist"). I don't know if doing both would be feasible and I'm not willing to give up my current career just yet.

If nothing else, the fact that I can't currently afford it might be a good thing. Gives me time to figure out a plan and weigh my options. Back in December when I walked into my first Ashtanga class I never would have guessed it would have such a powerful hold on me, enough that I'm considering yoga teacher certification. But now that I have the idea in my head, I just can't let it  go.

Plus, the idea of being required to wear yoga pants to work is rather appealing.

Any yoga instructors (or future instructors) out there have any advice? Am I crazy for considering giving up a profession I love for something completely different?  

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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