29 March 2013

Healthy Living Lessons From The Doctor

Tomorrow is a big day in science fiction popular culture land. The kind of day that makes you want to shout GERONIMO! Because tomorrow, ladies & gents, dear old Eleven returns in the season premiere of Doctor Who. Not only that, but this season will mark the 50th Anniversary of the show. I know, it sounds crazy. Mad man in a box crazy, but the original incarnation of The Doctor first aired in 1963 (although it didn't really gain much attention here in the States until it was brought back a few years ago with Nine).

In anticipation of tomorrow's season premiere, I was thinking recently about life lessons you can learn from The Doctor. Specifically healthy living life lessons. And while I realize on the surface this might sound like an odd comparison or challenging task, if I can do it with Harry Potter you can bet your TARDIS I can do it with The Doctor.

So! With that in mind, Allons-y!

Keep Your Companions By Your Side

By his nature, The Doctor is a rather singular character. All of his family and his entire species of Time Lords are gone. He's the last one. He's also 900 years old so he's going to outlive every person he meets (and, being 900 years old he's going to meet a lot of people). Personal connections are difficult and while different regenerations of The Doctor handle this personality quirk differently, the one thing he always knows is that he can't do it alone. He needs assistance on his adventures and they come in the form of his companions: the men and women (mostly women) who travel with him in the TARDIS and help him save the world over and over and over again.

Likewise, it's impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle without support from friends and family. You need people you can go to when you're struggling. People who will help you and motivate you to keep going. Just last week a friend texted me to tell me she was having a really hard time and it meant so much that she came to me. It was also brave of her to acknowledge that she was in trouble and needed help to stay accountable.

You also need to know that your own personal companions aren't going to sabotage your efforts, whether it's intentional or unintentional. This means understanding that you may not be going out to eat as often or not drinking as much or that your workouts sometimes have to come before your social life. They not only need to know about these changes they have to support them. This means no guilt tripping you or encouraging you to eat something you know you shouldn't under the guise of "just one won't kill you" or any of that bullshit. If someone isn't supportive of your healthy lifestyle then they aren't supportive of you.

Takes a Lot Of Heart

Or, in The Doctor's case, two hearts. (No. Really. He has two of them.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is not easy. As this saying goes, if it was easy than everyone would do it. And I'm not just talking about losing weight, be it 10 pounds or 135. I'm talking about balancing a healthy lifestyle. I'm talking about giving your diet an overhaul or building up a fitness routine. It takes passion and determination and motivation. You aren't going to wake up one day and say I'm going to lose 100 pounds or I'm going to run a marathon and then expect it to magically happen. You have to work towards that goal. You have to put in the time and energy over and over and over again. You have to continually be putting in the effort. Because, truthfully, the race that is healthy living, there is no finish line.


Don't Blink

Those stupid fucking Weeping Angels, man. I don't know about other Whovians, but as soon as I even just think about the Angels I start blinking uncontrollably.

Whatever healthy living change you are trying to make, don't blink. Don't take your eye off the ball. Be it losing weight or adding in new exercise routines or just eating better, don't ever forget why you want the change to happen. I carry Before pictures around on my phone as a constant reminder of what I don't want to be anymore. It's not even just about not wanting to look like that but not wanting to weigh 311 pounds and having no energy, no life, no happiness. That is what keeps me motivated to keep going.

Bow Ties Are Cool

As are Converse sneakers. Or a striped scarf. It always sort of kills me whenever I read people (usually on stupid internet message boards) complaining about stores like Torrid because they see them as encouraging obesity, as if fat girls should be stuck wearing mumus for the rest of their life. As if forcing them to wear ugly clothes will someone force them to lose weight. I always want to yell You don't really understand how this works, do you? Emotional eaters eat because they feel bad about themselves. They gain weight and need bigger clothes. If those bigger clothes make them look and feel like crap then they are going to continue to eat crap. So, in a way, you are encouraging obesity.

Look. Wear what you want to wear and stop worrying about the number on the tag. The clothing industry is ridiculous in that there is no sizing consistency across labels and brands. I can wear a 12 in one brand and in another it's a 14. I could let it bother me but inside I buy whatever size makes me feel confident and happy. Trust me, people, wearing a particular size out of vanity isn't going to do you any favors when the pants are so tight you are uncomfortable and everyone can see the muffin top.



My absolute favorite Doctor Who character is River Song. The woman is a fucking bad ass and tends to wear femme fatale noir clothing. I mean, really: what isn't there to love about River?

One of the coolest things about River is how we are introduced to her: in her very first episode, The Doctor has no idea who the hell she is but River knows all sorts of personal information about him. Including events in his life that haven't even happened yet (side note: the relationship between River and The Doctor was partially inspired by The Time-Traveler's Wife, one of my favorite books). River carries around this blue journal that looks a lot like the TARDIS and in it she has a whole history/future  of Doctor adventures only she refuses to tell him about any of it. Whenever someone mentions the journal she'll just give that smile of her's and say "Spoilers!"

We don't know how our own stories are going to end. We don't know what's up ahead. We may lose more weight, we may gain it all back, or we may stay exactly where we are. There's just no telling what life has in store for us, but that's part of the beauty of the journey. Yes, it's scary not knowing and it would be so much easier if I could see in the future and know that twenty or thirty years down the road I'll still be maintaining this weight and running races and all of that. But I don't know that and I won't know until I get there. All I can really do is just take it one day at a time here in the present.

Bigger On the Inside
The Doctor travels in a time and space machine known as The TARDIS. It's disguised as a big blue old-fashioned public telephone box. The running joke with the TARDIS is that it's bigger on the inside. Like, way bigger. Swimming pool and multiple bedrooms and all sorts of timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly bigger.

We've all heard it before, that it's what's on the inside that counts, but in the case of the TARDIS it really is true. And it's true for all of us, too. Because the TARDIS isn't just a blue box and you are not just the number on the scale or your dress size. So never let any of those things define you or your sense of self. Eleven rocks his bow ties and Fez hats and doesn't care what anyone thinks because he knows he has so much more to offer the world. Like, y'know, saving it.

There Will Always Be Daleks to Exterminate

No matter how many times The Doctor saves the world from the Daleks or Cybermen or whatever, they are always coming back for  another fight. Healthy living -- and weight maintenance in particular -- is very much the same thing, because it's a constant battle. A battle with yourself to find the motivation to wake up early and workout. A battle at the grocery store or restaurant.

Maybe battle is the wrong word as it sounds too negative. My point is just that you have to be aggressive and get after it. You can't get lazy and allow yourself to fall back on old habits or a false sense of security, because as soon as you do that's when the threat returns.


Can Always Regenerate

So The Doctor that will be gracing television screens across the world tomorrow night is the same character as the one who was in the original 1963 premiere. Because there is only one Doctor. There just happens to be different versions and incarnations of him. That's why they are each given numbers. Like, say, Eleven. It's a unique feature of the Time Lord species that allows the dying or wounded Doctor to stay alive by transforming into a new body (which often also comes with a new personality). It's how new actors are introduced into the role (and probably how it's managed to stay on the air for 50 years without the lead jumping the shark).

For us this means that there is always an opportunity for reinvention. A chance to try again. So you  overeat at Easter dinner this weekend. Monday morning you get to wake up to a fresh day with new choices. So your most recent race time wasn't the best. Sign up for another race and go for that PR. You fell while trying to do a headstand in yoga class. Shake it off and try again next week.

We are always a work in progress and have all the advantages and opportunities to constantly better ourselves. Don't ever take that for granted.

Any other Whovians out there looking forward to tomorrow night's premiere?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

27 March 2013

I would walk 500 miles

In going back to basics, I'm making an effort to move more. This includes getting up out of my desk chair and walking around my work building several times a day. And I don't just mean walking up front to say hi to the receptionist, I mean really making a point to walk.

My one coworker told me that eleven laps around the main interior hallway (we're a big square) is roughly one mile. I downloaded a free pedometer app for my phone and while it's nothing fancy and is way off in terms of mileage (I think it uses GPS and our building has dead spots with poor reception) it seems to be fairly accurate for steps. As in 2000 steps roughly equals one mile and that's just about how many steps it takes me to go eleven laps around the building. I also walk enough outside to know how long an average mile takes me to walk and everything is adding up enough that I'm good with using the eleven laps as a measure of distance. (That being said, I'm also considering buying a FitBit, too.)

Somewhere along the way, 10,000 steps became this big magical mystical number that everybody should aspire to walk each day. Originating in Japan, it has in the past decade or so gained popularity among the media, fitness groups, doctors and, of course, pedometer manufacturers. Me? Yeah, nowhere near that. Certainly not on a workday when I spend 90% of my day in an office chair. So over the past few days I've been getting up every few hours and walking eleven laps.

Alright, so if 2000 steps equals one mile that means 10,000 steps equals five miles. Easy-peasy. I mean, hello, I just ran five miles a few weeks ago. How hard can walking it be? Especially when spread out over the course of a work day?

Honestly? It's really fucking hard work.

Running five miles with the attitude of a race and there being a finish line is completely different than making a deliberate effort to walk five miles for no other reason than to walk five miles. There's no prize at the end here. No reward except the notion of a job well done. And five miles? Five miles is a long way to walk, especially when you're doing it in circles.

I knew I work kept me sedentary but I never fully appreciated just how much I sit until I started to walk and, honestly, I haven't yet reached walking five miles a day around the building because it does take so much effort and my body isn't used to it. I mean, sure, I run a few miles once or twice a week but working up to walking multiple miles several days in a row requires building up my mileage. It's essentially just another form of training not unlike working up to running a 10K or half-marathon or really running any new, longer distance. You aren't going to go go from not running at all to running a marathon overnight so it's silly to think you can just go from not walking to walking five miles everyday.

Thursday was my first day with this and I did 4000 steps, so 2 miles. Monday was 6000 steps/3 miles and yesterday I did 7000 steps which translated to roughly 3 1/2 miles. Slowly but surely I'll get up to those 10,000 steps and be rocking five miles although I'm not sure I'll be able to do it everyday. Not because I physically can't but because, hi, I'm at work and have, y'know, worky things to do.

But I'll get there eventually. And on the days when I can't walk as much as I'd like, even walking just one mile is better than not walking at all, right?

What are some of your favorite ways to keep active at the office?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

25 March 2013

springing forward

When I went vegetarian five years ago, it was because it was the only way I could think to get myself to stop going through the drive through of McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, etc., and eat 3000 calorie meals several times a week. These days I keep telling myself that as long as I'm not binging on double cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets it's somehow okay. Which, of course, is absolute bullshit.

(It was also an absolute lightbulb moment earlier in the week when I realized that's what I had been telling myself and believing.)

You know what else is bullshit? Waxing poetic about how all I can do is take it one meal and one day at a time but not actually following through on that plan. On the surface I seem to be stoically plugging along, but behind the scenes it's another story entirely. It's clear to anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile that I've been struggling the past few weeks. Enough that I'm looking to get help. I call it stress eating because it sounds better than binge eating. And while I was doing okay in the beginning, over the past two weeks I've gained a few pounds back. Not enough to panic, but enough that I can now appreciate why some people use a particular pair of jeans as their barometer.

Looking back, I see this as inevitable. Take a big transition bomb at work, couple it with the end of a relationship I was emotionally invested in, and add in my decision to switch to maintenance mode and a girl with a history of disordered eating is naturally going to act out. It was a perfect storm of complications that will eventually break with a torrential downpour.

Luckily, the cloud has lifted enough that I'm able to focus on the positive side of life. But even so, the behavior continues and while my instinct is to blame work stress, love life stress, transitional stress, I don't think that's really what's going on. I don't think I'm stressed, I think I'm mad. In fact I know I'm mad. Not just mad, either, but fucking furious. For weeks I've been misdirecting that anger to people and events outside my control, but if I pause and am really honest with myself, I know that all of my rage is, in fact, directed at this person right here:

December 2010

And this person:

October 2009

This one, too:

December 2009

Can't forget her, either:

Summer 2008

Do you know what it's like to look at photos of yourself and not recognize the person in the picture? Like, at all? The last two here at the bottom were ones I found on my digital camera about six months ago and when I saw them I was flabbergasted. I've spent the past two years with certain "before" images in my head and I'm so used to thinking of those that they eventually lost all power. I became desensitized in a way. So when I was faced with a different image of myself from back then it was, well, earth shattering.

This was my before before picture. That is, these are pictures I took of myself back when I did WW the second time around in the summer of 2008 after my ex Bo broke up with me. Had I stayed the course back then  and not given up after six months, I wouldn't have ever ballooned up to the 311 pound woman in the grey sweater at the very top. These issues of mine would have been dealt with years ago and I wouldn't be in the thick of them right now.

Of course, I say that with hopeful confidence. I was a very different person back than and there's no way of knowing which course my 2008 journey would have taken had I held steady. Would I be the runner and yogini that I am now? Would I have stopped at 175 or kept going? Who would I have eventually turned into if I had taken a different path?

I am not quick to anger. Oh, I might have moments of superficial rage that fizzles as fast as it comes. But true deeply rooted, passionate frustration and fury burns slow. Like an old school fuse in the movies: a match is struck, the end lit, and everyone steps back and patiently waits for the explosion. This is perhaps why it's taken me this long to acknowledge that the person I need to confront is myself.

The teenager who spent her high-school and college years living under a dark haze of depression, always too proud and embarrassed to ask for help and instead chalked it up to being a tortured artist. The woman who yo-yo dieted her way through her twenties, never knowing when or how to stop, essentially destroying her ability to recognize real hunger and satisfaction cues and forcing me to spend the rest of my life analyzing my food choices. The early thirtysomething who has spent so long confusing her weight with her self-confidence that she continually craves and seeks out what she knows is bad for her because it's easier than believing she truly deserves more.

What I need to remember, what I need to learn to believe, is that I'm not that girl anymore. I also have to embrace the idea that this anger I feel towards myself is natural, genuine, and allowed. I think that's the hardest part: acknowledging that it's okay to be angry at myself. It's okay to be hurt, pissed, and upset at the woman inside that allowed all of this to happen. Both the shit from way back when and the shit going on now. Because, really, there's no one else to blame. She and I? We're in this together.

When I show family and friends -- people who know me and have known me for a long time -- any of the above pictures, they are always shocked and surprised. They don't ever remember me looking like that. Which is interesting, considering I spent more years of my life as a sedentary obese woman than the active overweight woman I am now. Likewise, a co-worker told me to take out the part of my online dating profile that mentions my weight loss. Nobody needs to know that right at the beginning.

And maybe that's the core of my dilemma: I'm still thinking of myself as a former fat girl. I'm still letting my former weight and subsequent weight loss define me rather than defining myself as the woman I am right now and the woman I will continue to be for the rest of my life. With running, I'm still the girl who didn't run in high-school rather than the woman who will be racing in a half-marathon this fall. I'm the sad, lonely girl who's had her heart broken over and over again rather than the independent, fierce woman who is willing to wait for whatever love has in store for her.

In acknowledging and accepting all of this, there was a mental shift. Yesterday was a good day. A very good day. Because yesterday marked the first time in about a month that I felt completely in control of my food choices. Yesterday I was able to eat just one mini Reese's peanut butter egg and not feel the need to go back for five more. Yesterday I was able to make it through the afternoon and evening without the all consuming desire to just eat and eat and eat. Yesterday I was able to enjoy my dinner and stop when I was full.

Oh, yes. Yesterday was a very good day.

It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be mad and want to scream and break things when I think about the situation I've gotten myself into by spending decades not loving myself the way I deserve. It's okay to be sad when I reflect on how much of life I let pass me by while I spent it cowering and hiding away. It's okay to still acknowledge the former fat girl in my head. But she represents a past version of myself and doesn't need to be given a place in my future. We may be in this together and she'll always be a part of me, but she is not me and I am not her. Not anymore. Not ever again.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 March 2013

going back to #fitfluential basics

If you pay any attention to my sidebar, you'll notice that I'm a member of several different blogging communities including being a FitFluential Ambassador. This was the first fitness social network I was accepted into and I was so beyond thrilled that they wanted me to be a part of their community.

FitFluential Is Fitness Found

FitFluential is about so much more than just fitness. That might be the more obvious aspect, but they actually encourage a well-balanced healthy lifestyle that encompasses all areas of life and I've been open and honest about the fact that life as of late has been, well, a bit of a bitch. It's getting better and there are doctors and appointments being made and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but with the change in seasons I decided it was time to really focus. Spring is a time of growth and renewal as blooms shake off winter's grey.

The same can be said for people, making it the perfect time to embrace this change in weather as an opportunity to see a change in ourselves. As such, I'm going to make an effort to go back to the four basic elements that make up the FitFluential balanced healthy life. Think of it as personal spring cleaning.


On the weekends this is pretty much taken care of. There's Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga Saturday mornings, I run a couple miles Fridays and often Sundays, too. I also do my kettle bells 2-3 times a week. The problem comes during the rest of the week.

I work a desk job. I also have wonky hours. Monday through Thursdays I am sitting at a desk for ten hours a day. Ten. Hours. And while I try to get up every hour or so and visit co-workers or walk around the building a bit, I guarantee there is no fucking way I get the recommended 10,000 steps. Hell, I probably barely clear 10% of that.

The thing is, there's one part of my job I'm not taking advantage of: the downtime. And because we're currently in state of transition, if there's one thing I have a lot of it's downtime. Only instead of seeing that as the true opportunity it is, I spend it watching Grey's Anatomy or catching up on blogs. But, see, there's enough downtime that I really can do that and still take advantage.

According to our maintenance guy, who once marked it out, eleven laps around the interior part of the building equals one mile. All it would take is about fifteen minutes every other hour and I could easily get in a few miles a day. Like yesterday, when I walked just over three over the course of a couple of hours.


I'm actually really good about getting plenty of sleep. I get home from work about 9:30, watch an episode or two of whatever current show I'm into on Amazon Prime or Netflix and am usually asleep by 11 or 11:30. Then I usually wake up between 6:30 or 7 am, depending on the exercise plan for the morning. I'm also good about sleeping through the night without waking up or tossing and turning. So this one I'm pretty confident in and don't have to worry too much about.


This is the one I'm really still struggling with. I've just let life and stress get in the way. Which is happens to everyone, but it's not like the stress is just magically going to disappear. There's always going to be stress, whether it's personal or professional, and my goal right now is to find a better way of coping. Because what I'm doing just isn't working.

And the thing is, I'll be fine through breakfast and lunch, but around dinner time something happens, which suggests there is some underlying trigger I am missing and need to sit down and figure out. All I can do is keep going and focus on making better choices with each meal and each day.

I am continuing to make healthier snack choices. There are my Graze boxes and I bought some SmartPop popcorn. I lurve me some popcorn and at only 3 Points Plus, the single serving bags are perfect for work and at home. I also put one of my Pinterest finds to use: the genius of putting celery into an almost empty jar of peanut butter and using that as the container to carry it to work is mind-blowing. How had it never occurred to me before?


A healthy lifestyle is about so much more than just eating right and exercise. It's about being happy and surrounding yourself with people who support and encourage you. It's about finding activities that you love and throwing yourself into them.

Like, say, putting together my racing scrapbook page for the St. Malachi 5 Mile Run. Or working on my Etsy shop. Or visiting a friend and her new baby. These are the parts of a healthy life that aren't just about the numbers on the scale or worrying about food.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 March 2013

What I Love Wednesday: Moving Comfort Fiona Bra

So, back in the fall when I was on the hunt for a new sports bra, I went to all my social network outlets like Facebook and Twitter and the one company that was recommended more than any other was Moving Comfort. Admittedly, I had never heard of them before but over the next few months kept an eye on their products, comparing and trying to decide. I also even had a reader email me when the website was having a big sale.

Then, a few weeks ago I discovered that Athleta sells Moving Comfort. This was fabulous news for no other reason than I have an Old Navy credit card and as Athleta and Old Navy are both under the Gap brand, my Rewards could be used at either store. As I had enough Rewards to get a Moving Comfort bra for less than 10 dolla it was a no brainer.

So, after going over each style and asking for suggestions I ended up with the Fiona bra.

Being me, I naturally went for the purple and green. Because I like bright colors and I cannot lie. All you other runners can't deny, when a girl walks in with a....

Moving on.

My Fiona bra arrived about a week ago and while that evening I did a quick 20 minute run with it, Saturday's race was my first true test and all I can say is that I am in love. There is enough coverage where I don't have to worry about accidentally flashing anyone in yoga class and the gals are so snug that over the course of Saturday's five miles I often forgot I was running front-loaded with a pair of DDs.

That never happens. Believe me, if there is one thing I am constantly aware of while working out it's my chest. I mean, hello, about a year ago they nearly suffocated me. So to be able to run -- and run five miles, at that -- and know the darlins were supported and taken care of was bliss.

Have you ever tried Moving Comfort? Do you have a favorite sports brand company?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

18 March 2013

recap: 33rd annual St. Malachi 5 Mile Run

How does the US Postal Service thing go? Neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night...

That pretty much sums up how this particular race felt. Snow, sleet, slush, wind, rain...we had it all. Waking up a few hours before the race, I looked out the window and there was so much snow it was practically a white out. I was prepared, though: Earlier in the week I picked up some fabulous green and white striped knee-high socks with shamrocks at the top. The St. Malachi run is held around St. Patrick's Day so they were appropriate footwear.

Proof I need new capri running/yoga pants: this pair was tight around my
calves when first purchased about a year ago.

My mom told me later that while looking for me at the start of the race she saw a woman in navy running gear she almost thought was me, until she realized that I would probably be in brighter colors. Like, say, neon pink and green.

One of the bonuses to this race was that I live super close to St. Malachi, the start and end point to the race. Close enough to walk, which means not having to worry about my car. And, let me tell ya, with 5000 runners it was a bitch of a parking and driving situation. Because of the race, certain bridges and roads were closed and so my parents had to take a rather convoluted route and I wasn't able to see them before the start.

Fog. We also had fog. Going over the Detroit-Superior bridge at the very beginning of the race, it was so bad part of the Cleveland skyline was obscured.

For the most part the race was fairly flat. The course took us through downtown, past Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Rock Hall, and Burke Lakefront Airport. The water station was near the airport and to just give you an idea of what the weather was like, this wasn't just water it was ice water. That is, after sitting outside on the tables there were not only ice crystals in the water but around the rim of the paper cups as well.

There were a few slopes and hills, but if there's one thing I've learned after all of my races it's that I get better time power walking the hills than I do attempting to run them. So that's what I did. And, let me tell ya: running over the Detroit-Superior Bridge at the start of a race is one thing. Having to come back and do it again after running 4 1/2 miles is another beast entirely.

The weather required as much mental strength as physical. You had sleet stinging your face and ice patches on the road to watch out for and puddles to dodge (some I did, some I didn't). And even though just a few weeks ago I had run 6.2 miles, 5 miles in crappy weather can take it's toll. But coming down the final hill of the bridge and knowing the church -- and, thus, the finish line -- was just around the corner, I picked up my pace and finished strong.

Find me on Instagram: @Jill_Grun

Official chip time was 1:08:58! With an average pace of 13:48, I ran faster in this race than I did the Rodeo Run 10K a few weeks ago. Apparently winter running really does agree with me.

After, the parentals and I headed up to my apartment so I could take a quick hot shower and change into dry clothes (yay for this race shirt being long-sleeved!) before heading to Happy Dog for post-race grub. I guess other runners had the same idea because I saw quite a few people in their shirts as well.

Despite the miserable weather and cold precipitation and the fact that I was freezing at the end (after lunch I came home and took another hot shower, this time a loooooong one), I really enjoyed this race. Decent course, lots of energy from the runners even with the snow and slush, fun and fabulous green costumes. St. Malachi is a long-standing annual race and I think it's considered the start of the racing season here in Cleveland, which may be why it brings out so many participants. Me, I'll definitely be signing up next year and running again, regardless of weather. As for this year, well, as my college roommate Megan put on FB later, Running in sleet kind of hurts, but now I know I can run in anything.

I also have to give major props and thanks to the Hermes Cleveland employees and volunteers. We runners were at least moving through this weather and able to keep warm that way while the Hermes folks were just standing at the water station or mile markers or designated corners, etc., but they were still rock stars.

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Oh, yeah, this was also my first weekend with my new Moving Comfort Fiona sports bra! So be sure to come back later this week when I'll talk about it more in my What I Love Wednesday post.

Were any of my Cleveland runners/readers also at St. Malachi? If you raced this weekend, how did it go?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

15 March 2013

just what the doctor ordered

This morning I have a doctor's appointment at a local office. This isn't with a therapist. That comes later. See, the facility I've chosen operates as cooperative health. That is, all of your doctors communicate with each other: the primary care physician talks with the behavioral health specialists so all of your health care needs are being met by the same team. It is, as Sissy put it, very Private Practice, but first you have to get established as a general patient and then they refer you to one of the on-staff therapists. But, seeing as how I'm 31 and don't actually have a primary care physician it seemed like a good kill-two-birds kind of deal. Plus, I really do like the idea of having doctors that acknowledge and support the idea that physical and mental health are connected and one can have an affect, both positive and negative, on the other.

Speaking of Private Practice, about once a year I go on this Grey's Anatomy binge where it's all I watch and so right now I'm about halfway through season four, which is where I was reminded of this quote:

Sing it, Christina.

I was actually thinking about this last week when I was in the middle of everything. It's easy enough to acknowledge the monster in the mirror. Anyone can do that. Anyone can make a list of their issues. But it takes a certain level of courage, bravery and, dare I say it, tenacity, to actually confront and fight the monster.

It's not enough for me to just say "I know what I need to work on." Sometimes I think we get it in our heads that these things should and can be dealt with on their own. That we have the inner strength to battle and survive by ourselves. And maybe some people do. But I also think some of these issues work like memories, where the more you think about something the deeper the groove in your brain. The longer you live with these issues without dealing with them, the more they become ingrained. I can't speak for everyone, but for me I believe that any issues that are so rooted they caused me to balloon up to 311 pounds cannot be conquered without assistance.

I don't want to just be aware of my issues anymore. Now I actually want to overcome them and for that I know I need outside help.

Today I also get to pick up my race packet for the St. Malachi 5 Mile Run! Right now the weather is showing snow for tomorrow, but I found some fabulous shamrock knee-high socks so I should be good to go. Anyone else racing this weekend?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 March 2013

what I love wednesday: graze

I'm not much of a snacker. Or at least I try not to be, but only because I'm terrible at making healthy snack choices. Don't get me wrong, I keep plenty of healthy snacks around I just inevitably choose a less-healthy option. Plus, by not snacking I can have bigger meals, which sounds good in theory but isn't quite so fabulous when put to practice. Not when you're at that 3pm zone that is several hours after lunch and several hours before dinner and you're turning into an ugly irritable hangry Hulk-like creature. It also doesn't help when you  work a weird schedule and are eating dinner pretty early and get home late and just want a little something to nosh on.

So, over the past two weeks or so I've been trying to be better prepared by planning for snacks. Specifically a mid-afternoon and after-dinner snack. At least during the work week since on the weekends I can eat dinner at a more reasonable time. One way I've been able to do this is with the help of Graze.

Find me on Instagram: Jill_Grun

Right now the service is invite only but about a month ago I was fortunate enough to get a code. A healthy snack service, they offer two kinds of boxes: The lightbox includes snacks that are all under 150 calories while the nibblebox options are higher calories but more variety. At first I went for the lightbox but ultimately switched to the nibblebox because that's where a lot of the nuts and seeds were. Like, say, black pepper pistachios.

Each box is $5 and you can choose if you want to get one weekly, bi-weekly, or once a month. You also get to rate all of the snacks you try, letting Graze know if you want that one more often or would prefer they don't send it again. Considering I'm not much of a dried fruit fan (raisins are the exception to this rule), I've already gone into the system and told them not to send me any of the dried fruit options.

The first thing I do when I get a box is figure out the WW points. Each box includes a little booklet with the nutrition information for each item and I write it down right on the booklet. That way, when I'm trying to decide what snack to pick there is no guesswork and all the info is right there. I've also started keeping the snacks at work so it's like my own private vending machine!

As you can see, the nibblebox snacks come in a wide range of point values and, admittedly, 6 points for a snack is pretty high, but like everything else with Weight Watchers, it's just a matter of deciding if the points are worth it and if you are able to fit them into your day. Like, I'm more likely to reach for one of the higher point Graze snacks if it's a day that included exercising.

And, of course, they do offer the lightbox variety of snacks which has a max calorie count of 150.

Because Graze is all about providing healthy snacks, each lil snack pack includes a symbol to help you understand the nutritional and health benefits you're getting.


Look at it this way: a Hershey candy bar also comes in at 6 points, but at least this way I'm getting some nutritional benefits and, in some cases, also get the chocolate, too.

Like I said earlier, Graze is currently an invite-only service and, alas, I am out of invite codes at the moment. However, if you go to the website you can sign up to be emailed when the service is open to the public and as soon as I have some more invite codes I will definitely let y'all know!

Are you a snacker? Do you plan for snacks or just go for whatever happens to be available at the time?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 March 2013

maintenance: one month in

As of today, I have been in maintenance mode for four weeks! I'm also happy to report that despite some missteps and highs and lows, my weight is steady. My weight is where it needs to be. Weight Watchers gives you a range of plus or minus 2 pounds. That is, as long as your weight is within 2 pounds in either direction you are considered to be maintaining your goal weight.

I didn't fully appreciate that reasoning until now, because if there is one thing I've learned over the past month it's that it's naive and unrealistic to expect that number on the scale to be the same week to week or even day to day. I knew that when I was losing weight: rarely did I step on the scale during the week because it would fuck with my head too much if I saw a small gain, even if I knew it could be traced to water weight or sodium or whatever. The mental shift that comes from losing weight to maintaining weight is enormous. Back then, even half a pound up was a reason for disappointment. Now, though, one pound up is almost negligible. It's a reason to be satisfied and know you're doing things right.

This really is a numbers game. It always was, of course, it's just that the numbers I used to be focused on were Weight Watchers points or calorie counting. I still am paying attention to those numbers, but I'm also paying attention to them in relationship to the number on the scale. Now I am weighing in every morning and even writing it down. I'm also noticing that despite the number on the scale, my clothes are feeling loose. Despite the number on the scale, inches are continuing to come off. Those workout pants are a size Medium. Yes, they are stretchy and elastic, but still. Pants. Size Medium. Never saw that one coming.

While I know that I will always have to be conscious and careful and aware of what I'm eating, I would like to believe that I can get to a point where I don't have to constantly be tracking it all the time. Where, instead, I can use the scale to dictate my choices for the day. If the scale shows the high-end of my range then I know I need to buckle down for the next day or two. If it's on the low range I can ease up just a bit. Maybe put the 80/20 rule in to place: majority of the time I track track track, then say, once a week pick a day where I don't worry or count or do any of that. It's a constant balancing act and there is no formula or mathematical equation for this. Sure, they can tell you how many calories or WW points you should eat, but everybody will react differently and you have to play the trial and error game in order to find your own sweet spot.

One month in, but a lifetime left to go. And I not only know, but I firmly believe I have the tools, motivation, and dedication to see this through all the way to the very end.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

08 March 2013

taking it one day at a time

Since Tuesday's meltdown, things have gotten better. Not by leaps and bounds, but incrementally. Inches, really. But as someone who has managed to maintain the same weight for almost a month now but is finding her clothes fitting looser I can tell you that inches count in their own way.

I had this whole long thing written about what's going on in my head for the past few weeks (and years), but then I decided that it isn't necessary. Not now, at least. Not yet. I spent most of Wednesday taking steps and making plans to start seeing a therapist (and to finally find myself a primary care physician). Just like with maintenance, finally dealing with these issues is the start of a life-long journey and there will be plenty of time to talk about all of that down the road.

So, instead, I'm going to talk about some of the positive things going on in my life right now!

1) The 2013 Cleveland International Film Festival starts up in about a month! I'm not volunteering this year (with 800, I think their supply may outmatch the demand), but I'll have a pass and, thanks to my work schedule, six glorious days of nothing but films, films, films. Of course, not volunteering means no volunteer t-shirt so I'll just have to buy a regular festival shirt from the merchandise counter. Hellooooo Medium.

2) Speaking of independent films, remember back in the summer when I hung out with actor Tony Hale for a day as an extra on an independent film? That movie, The Kings of Summer, is the opening night film for the festival and Papa G. and I are planning on going! In all the years I've been to CIFF this will be the first time I've ever attended the Opening Night Gala and I am sooooooooooooooo (gasp) oooooooooooo excited. Even if you can't see me on screen, just watching a independent film that I was a part of will be satisfaction enough.

3) Papa G. and I are also going to be seeing Fleetwood Mac in concert in June. Holla!

4) If there's one thing I learned over the past few days it's that I have the most amazingly supportive network of family and friends. I love you all and thanks to everyone who has left me kind comments and emails. It means so much to know that I'm not alone in this part of the journey.

5) My two pairs of yoga/running pants are getting to be big (the one pair has been too big for about six months now), so yesterday I did some retail therapy shopping off the Target clearance racks. Not only found some fabulous new pants but picked up this bright pink athletic jacket as well! I love that it perfectly matches my Polar FT4 and my Minimus shoes. The entire outfit makes me feel like a fierce fitness bad ass.

6) The St. Malachi Five Mile Run is next weekend! Looking at the results from last year, I think this is going to end up being my biggest Cleveland race thus far. Not 15,000 big, but couple thousand at least. Because it's St. Patrick's Day weekend, I think I may need to trade in my usual TARDIS knee-high socks for shamrock ones.

7) I've still been on the search for the perfect sports bra, but earlier this week I was able to use my Old Navy credit card rewards to buy a Moving Comfort Fiona bra from Athleta for a steal (seriously. Like, $6). Who knew I could get so excited over a sports bra?

8) Thanks to a friend's upcoming late summer wedding, a trip to Savannah is in the works. I visited the city once many many moons ago, but only for a few hours so I didn't see much. This will be over a holiday weekend so I'll have plenty of time to explore the city and relax (and hopefully seeing my friend Alexis!)

What are some of the positive events going on in your life right now?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 March 2013

lady lazarus and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

For many years now I have suspected that I suffer from some form of depression and/or anxiety disorder.

Yes. Everyone has shitty days. Everyone feels down in the dumps every once in awhile. My shitty days, however, aren't just days but weeks. Months, in some cases: After a particularly soul-crushing July break-up a few years ago, I spent the entire second-half of 2009 moving through life like a hollow whisper. Carved from the inside out, every breath ached, my heart shredded and blistered and torn.

(Ah. There's that BFA in creative writing. Was wondering where it went.)

It feels like drowning. Like Alice and her pool of tears. You swim for shore, only to realize that you can't even see the shore let alone know which direction it's in. As you paddle and strive to stay afloat, your arms get tired and your head bobs, filling your mouth with saltwater. Choking and sputtering, it often seems easiest to just stop fighting. To just stay in bed. Sometimes you overeat in an attempt to fill the gaping hole that threatens to consume you. Other times you, oh, I don't know, starve yourself for three days out of sheer heartache (just, y'know, as an example). Hovering between two fixed points, the somber dreamland pulls you deeper and deeper until the call of sleep, for days on end, becomes the preference.

Forget actually fighting the current. Even just thinking about potentially fighting the current is exhausting. Enough that it doesn't seem worth the effort, even though you know that in giving up the fight you'll just slip beneath into the open cavern below.

With the anxiety, it's the opposite: all I can think about is the current. The dangers and perils it holds. I imagine waves and storms when there are none, but I become so consumed with the belief that these things exist, are just biding their time, that I start to perceive they actually are real.

Imagine being both lethargic and restless at all times and you have a better understanding of what I feel like most days. My body and mind are in a constant state of flux, bouncing between these two dueling mentalities.

Twelve years of journals. Oh the stories they can tell.

I ride the waves as best as I can and for the past year or so I seemed to have found a nice quiet lull. Instead of being lost at sea, it was like a lovely day trip out on a yacht. Things were going well. Too well. I should have seen this coming but, ah, hindsight and all.

Over the course of my life, I can pinpoint moments that caused me to have a binge episode. Because I've come so far in my relationship with food, I'm in a place where I recognize the behavior as it's happening. Because this isn't just me struggling with being on maintenance, this is emotional eating. When I stop long enough to come up gasping for air I realize that I'm currently in the middle of one of these low cycles and have been since before Valentine's Day.

The catalyst is unimportant. Unnecessary. If anything it's predictable and cliched, but I seemed to think I was handling it pretty well. Telling everyone I was fine, I was okay. All the usual rhetoric one volunteers when she is barely holding on. For awhile I even had myself believing my own bullshit.

And then yesterday rolled around.

The day started off with a nice solid workout. Got showered, dressed, and I went into work and all seemed well and good. Then, at about 10 am, I was in full on melt down mode. Nothing had happened. Everything had happened. With each breath it felt as if my heart was both beating too fast or had completely stopped. All I could do was sit in the tiny room off to the side of the library and cry.

One hour turned into two turned into text messages to friends. Turned into crying in a co-worker's office. I could not stop. I felt like a sweater unraveling: tug at the wrong string and suddenly a growing trail of yarn is following you as you move about your day and it takes all your focus not to trip over it.

So at 5 pm I requested to go home early. Immediately I got into the shower and turned it on the highest setting and had myself a really long, really ugly cry. The kind where snot is dripping from your nose and you're practically howling from the pain of the entire situation.

All day I had been believing this was merely me missing, uh, well, missing the catalyst, so to speak. In some respects I think that was partially going on, but sitting there in my tub, scalding water dripping down my back, I realized this went so far beyond a particular person no longer in my life. This went back years and decades. This was old wounds ripped wide open. Scars long since healed picked and bleeding again.

This was old demons coming to call.

I have been in counseling twice. Once as a teenager, once as an adult. Neither time did we ever discuss these issues. Not really. In both instances I stopped after a couple of months, nowhere near long enough to get to a point where there was enough trust to truly dig deep. But I'm now wondering if it's something I need to look into again.

Nobody talks about the mental journey one takes when you set a goal to lose over 100 pounds. Nobody mentions the old monsters hiding under the bed. You didn't know they'd been lurking all this time, waiting to pick you up and toss you back into the deep end of the ocean. Sink or swim. Truth is, nobody really wants to hear that part. That's the scary part. The part you can't see. The part you can't easily fix. But, let's face it, one does not get up to 311 pounds on food alone. That takes work. It takes dedication. It takes determination and a helluva lot of self-destruction.

I've spent two years working my ass off to lose 135 pounds. I've sacrificed food and sleep and social life to make this happen. But in all that sacrifice, I forgot to fight the demons. I had managed to ignore them, maybe temporarily make peace. But they never really went away. My one mistake was believing that in silencing them I had actually defeated them.

Fuck 135 pounds. Now is when the real work begins.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

04 March 2013

snow angel

While we here in Northeast Ohio are fortunate to be granted all four seasons, it is always winter that seems to last the longest. As autumn sunsets into snow, the days get shorter and darker as we burrow beneath our layers of sweatshirts and blankets, anxiously awaiting the eventual return of sun and spring.

As far as Cleveland winters go, this has been pretty mild: a few years ago the overnight snow was so bad I managed to make it halfway to work in twice the time before calling off and turning around. One year in high-school we had so many snow days in a row that they ended up cancelling mid-terms (the man who made the decision for our school district went to our church, so naturally every Sunday in winter he was bombarded with requests for a Monday snow day from students who wanted a three day weekend).

Despite the fact that it is rather mild, it's still snowy and icy and cold out there and, for a time, I had made peace with the dreadmill. I was in the middle of my 10K training and needed to stay on top of my runs, so it was necessary to get on that stupid machine so as to be prepared for the race.

But then, see, a few weeks ago I woke up and had a run ahead of me and knew that if I had to get on that treadmill one more freaking time there was no way in hell this run was going to happen. So I was left with two options: skip the run or brave the cold. I only started running last February and didn't start running outside until March or April: this is my first real winter running so I had no idea what to expect outside. But I didn't want to skip a training run, so I layered up, grabbed gloves and a hat, and headed outside.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating runs I have ever had. It also completely kicked my ass: Dodging snow drifts, hopping over patches of ice, clothes wet from falling snow, wondering why the direction of said falling snow manages to change at the exact same time you do so that you're managing to run against the snow the entire way....and yet I loved every minute of it and was reminded of why I love running so much.

So, for the past few weeks I've taken my Friday runs outside and have even added in a Sunday run as well. It's my time to decompress from the previous week and mentally prepare for the next. That whole running is cheaper than therapy bit? So, so true. I have conversations with myself during runs. Long, pointed, necessary conversations. The kind of conversations that allow me to expend whatever negative emotions I'm feelings. The flip side of that is, of course, while releasing negative energy you are obtaining positive energy in the form of endorphins and the sought-after runner's high.

Plus, outdoor winter running is like a special exclusive secret society. During the warmer months I'm exchanging hello's with many a runner over the course of a couple short miles. But these days those passing waves of comradery are few and far between.

Doesn't matter what's going on in your life or how you're feeling or any of that: running outside in the snow will always make you feel like a fucking bad ass.

As a runner, what do you during the snow winter months? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 March 2013

hell's bells

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that I have a slight obsession love for all things Ms. Jillian Michaels. When I did Couch-to-5K I picked the virtual trainer that reminded me of her and if she's not on a season of The Biggest Loser, I'm probably not going to be watching it. In fact, let's just call it what it is: I have a complete and utter girl crush on the woman. Enough that I really, really, really want to attend her Maximize Your Life tour stop here in Cleveland in May. So, y'know, if anyone from Playhouse Square happens to see this and wants to send me as a healthy living blogger representative I am more than willing to take on the task. Just sayin'.


In preparation for my recent 10K, I added kettle bells into the mix for cross-training. The set I purchased included three kettlebells (5, 10, and a 15 although I've only used the higher two) along with a DVD, although instead of having a routine it just walked you through a handful of exercises and movements you can do with the kettlebell. So when I used them, it wasn't very focused. I just did random sets and repetitions of the various moves I felt comfortable doing and while I'm sure it had some effect I know I wasn't taking full advantage of the equipment and certainly not pushing myself.

Which is why I decided to buy a video.


I actually purchased Shred It With Weights on Amazon Instant which means I can stream it through my Wii onto my TV thanks to the new Amazon Wii Channel. And because I downloaded the Amazon Channel I had a credit, so I saved a couple of bucks, too. (Not that it was that expensive to begin with, but still.)

(Speaking of the Wii, one of the first games I ever purchased was the Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 game. Oh yes, this is a long-standing girl crush. And while as far as Wii Fit games this is so not the most fabulous, at 311 pounds I was able to workout in the comfort of my home and not feel mortified or embarrassed when I got winded at the most basic moves. (Hmmm. Maybe I should pop it back in my Wii this weekend and see how I do.))

The Shred-It With Weights Video is actually two-in-one as there are two different levels. Having used my Kettlebells a little bit I was still totally unprepared for how hard Level 1 would be for me. First day I used it with my 15 lb Kettlebell and quickly discovered it was a little too heavy for some of the moves. So the second day I tried it with my 10 lb and that was a little too light for some of the moves.

Apparently I'm the Goldilocks of Kettlebells. For now I think I'll just alternate between the 10 and 15 as I'm doing Level 1 until I can do it entirely with the 15 and then eventually upgrade to Level 2.

Only 25 minutes long, I am dripping with sweat by the time the cool down rolls around and a couple hours later I could still feel the burn in my upper arms. Which is good, because it's my upper arms that need the most work. They look almost slim from profile, just don't ask me to raise them unless you actually want to see my impressive wingspan.

Have you ever used kettlebells before? Do you have a favorite DVD you use with them?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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