Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hood to Coast

This last week I decided to go back to my Weight Watchers program.  While I haven't been 100 percent faithful in tracking my food intake, I'm definitely seeing the results on the scale.  In fact, I think with some exercise in the next couple of days, I may see a fairly dramatic weight loss on the scale at my weigh-in on Wednesday!

This weekend I participated in one of the greatest athletic events of this part of the country, the Hood to Coast relay.  While I was not a participant in the form of a runner, I instead volunteered as part of a team that was formed by a friend from church.  Over the last several months, he and his 11 teammates have been training for the relay in which each of them, over a period of 36 hours, runs 3 legs of 5-7 miles in length.  Their journey begins at Mt. Hood, Oregon and ends in the small town of Seaside, along the Oregon coast.  It is a BIG deal.  Thousands try every year to sign up, and *only* 1700 teams are chosen.

I volunteered at one of the runner exchanges (in Mist, Oregon) and my assignment was to direct passing team vans into the parking lot.  This gave me full view of the runner exchanges.  The excitement and determination in the faces of the runners was enough to overshadow the sense of exhaustion they all must have felt.   I spoke with several runners, all of whom were so friendly (not to mention extremely thankful for my service as a volunteer) and they simply inspired me.  They've also helped me find a new, long term goal that has nothing to do with a number on the scale.  My goal will be to train for my own relay team.

As much as I would love to be able to participate in the Hood to Coast relay, I'm afraid that I'm a long way from that.  However, there is another relay which coincides with the the running relay: the Portland to Coast Walk.  It's a very similar relay to the HtC relay, along the same route and at the same time, except it is at a much slower pace.  In talking with several friends and family members, I've found several people who are interested in pursuing this as well.  Thus, the greater challenge lies ahead: I need to get the team registered in October.  The odds are against us as registration always fills up on opening day, and thousands are turned away.  But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.  Should we make it through registration, this is going to be a great way for me to get in shape.  Much like having a parade to prepare for, this will force me to stay on task in the exercise department.  More importantly, it will give me some major bragging rights once I've completed one of the world's most famous relays!

Friday, August 12, 2011


A friend of ours visited last night and noticed that I had lost some weight.  As good as it felt to hear her say that, I couldn't help but have a feeling of disappointment.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've really been "half-assing" my weight loss.  I've only walked a couple times a week, and while I haven't been frequenting the drive-thrus, I haven't really been tracking my food intake like I should.  I know that if I increased my walks and tracked my food, I'd be losing anywhere from 2-4 pounds a week.  Instead, I'm losing about 1 to 1 1/2.  That's still good, but it's hardly good enough.

During my friend's visit, we talked about changes we need to make to get our weight loss back on track.  She made an admission that I had not seriously considered to be true for myself: she needs the discipline and structure of a weight loss program.  We've both been very successful at losing weight when using programs like Weight Watchers and going to the gym.  My partner and I are extremely financially strapped, so a gym membership is out.  I'm okay with this as I live in a perfect neighborhood for walking, which is all the exercise one needs to lose weight.  However, there is something to be said about being part of a program which holds you accountable to your weigh loss goals.  With Weight Watchers, members report to meetings once a week where they are weighed in and then listen to and share weight loss tips in a group therapy session.  I think those weekly weigh-ins are the kick in the pants my weight loss needs.

Next week, my plan is to attend my first meeting since the beginning of the year.  Since I've been paying for a weight loss program that I haven't been using, it will thankfully not cost me anymore than it would otherwise!  While I'm still within 6 pounds of my goal of 10 percent weight loss, my big goal now is to get under 300 pounds by my birthday, October 26.  That means I need to lose 24 pounds in the next 11 weeks.  With the discipline of a weight loss plan and my motivation to make this happen, I think that's completely doable.  I've made a promise to myself to not be a 300 pound 36 year-old, and I plan on keeping that promise!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


For the last couple of years, my partner and I have been going through the process of losing our home.  Yesterday, that process came to an end.

About 3 years ago, my partner was laid off from his position as a department manager at the W*orld's largest retail store W*hich shall rename nameless.  After having W*orked there for nearly 9 years, he was given the pink slip and cut loose with an invitation to return to W*ork 30 days later, at minimum wage and W*ith no benefits (hopefully, you've gotten the clues by now as to which retailer I'm referring to!)  Needless to say, he declined the offer to return, and we have since denied this retailer our patronage.  If it wasn't bad enough, this lay off coincided with my need to leave my job so I could complete my student teaching and finish my graduate degree in teaching.  My partner was able to receive unemployment, and I had family members who helped us financially.  We also knew that once I finished my education, I'd receive a teaching certificate and and masters degree and be able to find work as a teacher and, thus, our financial problems would be solved.  I took a risk and left my job to finish my education.  In 2008.

As everyone who is alive knows, the last 3 years have been very difficult for those looking for work.  This is true for those of us who are recent college grads as well.  I have been trying to get a job as a full time middle or high school language arts or social studies teacher, but to no avail.  Instead, I have had to rely on working as a substitute teacher, which brings home less than half the income I made working at my previous job.  My partner has only been able to find part time employment.  Thus, with our reduced income, our bills went unpaid, and our mortgage fell into default.  Loan modifications were tried, but after 11 months of payments, we were denied based on supposedly missing paperwork.  That's how a big bank functions: you give them a ton of money, and they refuse to work with you.  Before we knew it, the bank was sending us warnings that we were over a year late on our mortgage payment, since our modification trial payments were less than our real mortgage payment.  Foreclosure followed, at which time we started to look for a new place to live.  In May we found a house to fit our needs and moved it, with the help of our friends.  For months, our house has been listed as being auctioned off, only for the auction to be canceled.  On July 29, the auction finally took place...with no bids, and the property went back to the bank.

Yesterday, I went to the old house to finish removing our property, knowing that we have 20 days to be out of there.  When I pulled up to the drive way, I noticed that everything was gone.  Curtains, flower pots, was all missing.  I tried unlocking the doors, but it was to no avail: the locks had been changed.  I was locked out of my own house.  A sign posted on the front window said to contact a realtor if interested in the property.  After my partner got off work, he joined me at the old house.  We took what little was left on the outside of the house that was ours, and bid our home of 14 years a final farewell.

Life is full of gains and losses.  For my partner and I, the last several years have been full of losses.  In the process of losing our home, I have made some poor choices in how I've handled it.  In short, I've been extremely bitter about the whole mess.  Yesterday, in the midst of trying to process the reality which was setting in, I found myself at our church walking our labyrinth.  At the beginning of the path, there is a plaque welcoming people.  I read that plaque and found words that are very comforting: "Remember to forgive...forgiveness is the key".  As I walked that path, I had many thoughts about what I've lost.  I had lost my job.  My partner had lost his.  We lost our financial means.  We lost our insurance, and with it, our health care.  We lost our retirement in trying to save our home.  With my dad and his wife moving away, there is yet another loss.  We had lost our cat to cancer.  Our neighbor had just past away, so we lost her, too. 

Then I started thinking about that quote: "forgiveness is the key."  The key to what? I thought to myself.  Happiness?  Salvation?  Eternal life, if there is such a thing?  How could forgiveness possibly make this any better?  It was then that I realized that it was my lack of forgiveness which has allowed me to become so bitter over the last few years.  Did I have things to be bitter about?  Absolutely.  But what good comes from bitterness?  What do I have to gain from feeling sorry for myself, and my partner, for all of the losses we have endured?  Perhaps I've been focusing on the wrong stuff, here.  When we focus on what we've lost, life can be a very dark place to exist.  Instead, I started thinking about what we still have.  We have our family.  We have our friends.  We have our church.  We have our health.  I have a renewed sense of getting healthy.  We have our dog Lucy who loves us no matter where we live.  We have each other.

If forgiveness is truly a key, then I have a new goal.  It's certainly easy to be angry with a faceless bank for taking away our home, and it's very easy to be angry and resentful for people who are trying to destroy our family (a topic for another time).  But I know for me, it has been easiest to look closer to home for placing blame and anger, bitterness and resentment.  To begin achieving this new goal, I need to forgive that one person who I have been so angry at for allowing me to lose my home, lose my happiness, and become a 300+ pound overweight sloth.  I need to look at this person square in the eyes and tell him "you're forgiven."  And to find him, I need only look in the mirror.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The call from the bed...

No, this isn't a blog about some lurid encounter we had in our bed.  This isn't that kind of blog!  :)

This morning I woke up with my husband around 6:15.  After I pondered whether or not I'd get up, I decided to join the land of the living, or at least the land of those who are living at 6:15 in the morning.  I figured if I really wasn't ready to get up, I could always go back to bed.  I ate a little breakfast, watched some news, kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work, and then plopped down on the couch and waited for some burst of energy or inspiration to get me to start my day.  Before I knew it, I was yawning and I could hear the faint calling of my bed waiting for me to return.

When I started toward my bedroom, I instantly felt like I was giving in to something that wasn't right.  Then my body continued on its own, and before I knew it, I had my walking shorts and shoes on, my dog leash and iPod in hand, and Lucy and I were out the door and on our way to make our 3.5 mile walk.  It's a choice that I'm very glad I made.

If you find that you are having a sleepy morning, take a walk.  There is nothing more energizing and sleep-fighting than going out for a brisk walk on a beautiful summer morning, especially if you have a four-legged companion along for the journey.  Your companion will thank you now, and you'll thank yourself later once you see the difference on the scale and the waistline.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to the grind

Home from a vacation.  If there were a list of challenging times for us weight-loss trekkers, this would be near the top of that list!

We arrived home last night from beautiful Wenatchee, Washington after a 5 1/2 hour car drive.  It was a beautiful drive, even made more so that we chose to take a more scenic route through some of the prettier parts of our homeland.  Our two boys slept much of the way, but kept themselves occupied by coloring in their activity books (which my partner so lovingly and creatively put together for them!).  Knowing we just wanted to get the kids into bed when we got home, we hit a drive thru, picked up a couple of gay "meals", a burger and fries for the grown ups, and headed home.  It was the first drive thru burger and fries I've had in a while, and I loved them.  I loved them so much that I'm actually craving some of those golden-fried, crunchy and salty goodness even as I write this.

Which leads me to my point for today's blog post: getting back on track.  As I mentioned in my last journal entry I decided to let my guard down when it came to my weight loss regimen this last weekend, knowing full well that I would have to pick up the torch and continue the journey Monday morning.  Well, it's Monday morning and my taste buds are craving all that same food I satisfied myself with this last weekend, including (and most especially) those damned french fries from the drive thru.  Alas, I'm having unhealthy cravings.

I suppose everyone has a craving for unhealthy foods.  I used to think we weight-loss trekkers have them more than those damned skinny people, but I think that's a myth we like to tell ourselves to make our giving in to those cravings all that much easier.  Rather, instead of having stronger cravings, we simply come up with any excuse to give in, leaving our poor brains so warped up in mind games that we bury our guilt when we finally dive into that food which is ever so tasty, and ever so unhealthy.  My challenge this week is going to be to not even listen to those cravings.  Giving them an ear is what got me into trouble, and if I'm serious about losing weight, I must take control over those cravings.  After all, I refuse to let my health and my life be dictated to by a burger wrapped in a yellow paper.

My goal this week is to track all of my food and walk 3.5 miles on 5 out of 7 days.  I missed my weight loss goal of hitting 10 percent by the reunion, so I want to hit that within the next two weeks.  Once I do that, I'll have 19 pounds to lose in order to cross back over that 300 pound threshold, a goal worth giving up all the fries in the world for.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Today's blog is coming to you from beautiful Wenatchee, Washington where we are attending a family reunion.  It's an annual event that I look forward to, to see old faces and meet new ones.  Of course, it's also a great chance to eat some home cooking and just relax for a few days.  In other words, it's a very weightloss-unfriendly vacation!

Vacationing while going through a weightloss can be a very stressful experience for some.  I've often seen people who follow diet programs stick with them throught their vacations.  I applaud their efforts and the accomplishments, but I often wonder if the stress that I see them endure makes the effort worth it.

I've decided a different approach to weight loss and vacationing.  In my mind, a vacation does not only mean relaxing the body but alos relaxing the mind.  In other words, I have no problem with taking a break from my weightloss journey while on a vacation.  I'm not tracking my food, nor am I exercising.  While this will obviously lead to a little weight gain, I've already excepted the consequences of my actions and, come Monday, I will get right back on track.  I'm already looking forward to reaching my next goal (losing 10 percent) and my goal this coming week is to really push myself and cross that threshold.  But that's something I'm going to worry about on Monday!  :)

Does this mean that I've totally abandoned my new lifestyle?  Nope.  At a family reunion there seems to be an abundance of cookies and sweets, which I've successfully avoided.  While driving, we had the foresight to pack a picnic lunch and stick to eating what we broght with us, and not snacks from the gas station.  But, there are some unhealthy meals in my immediate future.  My brother in law works at a burger hop called Dusty's In and Out, which serves some of the sloppiest burgers I've ever seen.  I'll be eating one of those for certain, although I may consider skipping the fries as one does not really feel like loading upon grease when it's 95 degrees outside!

So that's how I'm handling vacation.  Now if you'll excuse me, my vacation awaits!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Of recovery and little helpers

Today's been one of those days where my body just refused to get going. I headed out for my 3.5 mile walk this morning (having skipped yesterday) and something just didn't feel right. The entire first mile, my body just felt...tired. My calves, quads, and lower back were still achy from Aldridge Butte, and I just felt like I had no energy. The entire first mile felt like a struggle, as if I've never walked so long in my life.

This is where I've noticed a change in my approach to this weight loss. In previous attempts at weight loss, I'd use any excuse to shorten or outright quit an exercise routine. Now, I've been really trying to stay focused on my goals rather than how tired or achy I feel. It's a mindset that he definitely helped me through this weight loss journey. Today, after that first mile I realized that my body actually was waking up. I had energy, I was breaking a sweat, and my achy muscles felt much better. I finished all 3.5 miles and headed home.

I decided to stretch my legs afterwards, so I sat on the floor, put one leg back and one leg forward and tried to reach my toes. I could feel all of those previously achy muscles stretching, and it felt great. When The Boys walked in and saw me, Oldest Boy asked me "whatcha doing, daddy?" I told him I was stretching, and trying to touch my toes. At this point, he grabbed my hand and tried pulling me so I could reach my toes. For the first time in years, I was actually able to touch them while sitting in this position, with the help of The Boys of course! I guess losing weight really is a group effort. :)

As I write this, I can feel energy flowing through my body and it feels great. Before I would have thrown in the towel and beaten myself up over it. Today, I feel like I've accomplished something. Not only did I finish my walk, but I got The Boys involved in my weight loss. While they are only 3 and 4 and don't really understand the reasoning behind what I'm doing, they can obviously tell that it's important to me, and they love to be little helpers. With so much enthusiasm, how can I possibly fail in this weight loss journey?