How to Take Your Own Advice

Initially my weight loss goals were basic. I wanted to be a size medium. Check. Then, my goal shifted to creating an overall workout plan as part of a healthy lifestyle. And that’s it, right? Wrong. As much as I thought I wouldn’t feel inclined to lose weight for our upcoming wedding, I’m totally starting to. I don’t necessarily need to complete my Life List goal of having a four-pack, but I definitely wanna rock some mighty Michelle Obamas.

michelleobamas

photo from thedailybeast.com

I know I have the ability. I know I can muster the discipline. But…um…what did I do last time?! Let’s investigate. Here’s how to take your own advice:

Step one, write a quirky little series in hopes of inspiring others. Pour your wee heart into it!

Step two, read part one, part two, part three and part four.

Step three, get your sexy ass out there in the dreary Seattle drizzle. Jog.

Step four, come home sweaty. Peel off your clothes and booty dance like some sort of rap guy’s girlfriend.

Repeat as necessary.

Happy Hump Day!

xo,

Sunshine

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I Work Out [Part Four]: Shit Gets Real

And now, the dramatic conclusion…

I Saw the Sign and It Opened Up My Eyes I Saw the Sign

If you’re following our story closely you might’ve noticed a pattern in my thinking. Or at least I noticed one as I attempted to piece it all together to explain. A large part of my stimulus for weight loss seemed to begin with me getting down on myself. And it’s true. Sometimes I would say mean things in my head like, yeah, good idea, eat another cookie, fatty. Or, I would present harsh realities such as, lazybutts develop chronic illnesses and die slowly and alone, so, uh, chew on that. Seriously. I’m not proud of it, but this is what would happen in the shadowy, back corners of my mind even as I went down dress size after dress size. I’d gone from a tight 18 to a loose 10–I was a certified medium–but I saw the same 215 pounds in the mirror.

I thought back to my mentor’s advice, just because your waist goes down does not mean your confidence goes up. I began to understand. See, because my mentor, despite amazing efforts and success, still used the finger-down-the-throat-method when she ate too much or too decadently. She is truly one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, but she had a secret life of shame. Speaking as a once-bulimic, I know how hard a habit like that is to break. After all, it was my love of another person–not so much myself–that finally broke the habit for me. I saw how much my actions had hurt my family and could no longer justify the behavior.

The best solution is to go on ahead and start loving yourself now. Love yourself for whatever reason you can find and hold on to. Do it because you’re awesome. [Because you are!] Do it because I said so. [Because I do!] Do it because you know you want to. [You know it’s true!] Because it feels good.

Identify Your Reasons

Up until I met my Honeybee I’d wanted to lose weight strictly for the purpose of looking good. I wanted to go shopping and easily find things in my size for a change. But after the glow of his St. Patrick’s Day proposal wore off I thought, I love where I am so much that I want to be able to live this life as long and as hard as possible. I want to be there for my husband until death do us part and the partin’ better be like a hundred years from now maybe two hundred if I switch to whole grain pasta. And that’s when [I switched to whole grain pasta and] my weight-loss-to-look-good changed into a weight-loss-for-fitness-and-overall-health plan. And I’m so glad! Like I always say, whatever it takes. But what if I hadn’t’ve found him so soon? How long would it have taken for me to finally ascertain the importance of fitness? Would I have developed diabetes or some other illness?

Questions like that vex me. I could spend way too long thinking and thinking or I could be thankful for what I have [a Honeybee who’s loved me from the biggest size right on down to the smallest] and share the experience with anyone kind enough to read about it so maybe it doesn’t take the next person as long as it took me. I figured sharing would be better.

[If you like to share, too, comment or message me! I’d love to hear it. :D]

Puff Puff Pass

Oh and another thing! Both the surgeon general and common sense say smoking is bad for you. Duh. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t enjoyed it. I have. I know! It’s stupid. Right now I’m proud that I’ve cut down so much [because just like fitness, I’m finding my own path of cessation]. According to this health risk calculator, nicotine and I have loose connection so that’s at least a little victory. Some smokers I know seem to think that jogging is impossible for them. Not true, friend. Actually, running [and other cardiovascular exercises, especially those that involve jumping] are known to rebuild lung tissue. Rebuild. That initial hardship on your lungs is growth, is health. Don’t fight it!

Feel the Hydration

Nutrition 101 required this giant text-book. [So glad it was an online class!] For the most part it read like a giant text-book, too, but I admired how it was structured. It followed the digestive path from initial thoughts of hunger, through the physical act of eating, through digestion of lipids, proteins and vitamins all the way to satiation and, finally, excretion. For the most part, its tone regarded the human body as a wonder but on the matter of thirst, it implied a flaw in our system. Once water splashes over our tongues, after just a sip, our mouth starts sending signals to our brain that we’re drinking and we don’t need to feel thirsty anymore. We’ve got semi-faulty-quench-sensors! So it’s especially important to drink plenty of water. Not necessarily eight cups, though, every body is different. Use a hydration calculator to determine the proper ouncage for you. To make it easy, I have a designated bottle that I travel with [bpa free plastic bottle], and another at home [glass bottle]. If you decide to go for the bottle method make it extra easy on yourself by attaining a Dawn bottle brush. When I got mine I thought, geez $5 for a scrubby brush?! This is bull! Once I used it, it dawned on me [get it? dawned, ha!]  that it has a spring inside so the more you push it into the bottle the more it spins to clean those hard to reach corners. By the time I’m done cleaning my bottle it looks so crystal clear I get thirsty!

U-N-I-T-Y [that’s unity]

Don’t underestimate the power of talking about  your goals. I’m a naturally positive [read: talkative] person but the more I worked at fitness and the more I talked about it to friends, the more solid the plans became. This principle works for most aspirations. Try it. You’ll find that the universe wants to help you, all you have to do is ask.

The Most Important Thing

I’ve thrown around the word important a lot in this series. It’s important to drink water. It’s important to work out. It’s important to make an effort at health and fitness. But, if I may, just once more, use it in conjunction with an italicized most: The most important thing is to begin. To simply start. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent watching Celebrity Fit Club eating Cheetos! Just watching! All that time I thought, I’m taking notice for when I start working out. This is the research phase. I’ll get started on Monday. Monday comes around and I’m like, I’m too stressed to eat right, I’ll start Wednesday. Wednesday I’m like, ugh but McDonald’s is right here! See what I’m saying?

So start. Now! Go! Get outta here! Shoo! Decide what step one looks like for you and get to steppin’!

 

I wish you all the luck in the world!

xo

Sunshine

I Work Out: Part Three (I Really Do!)

Shake Ya Ass! But Watch Yaself!

It took some time to figure out fitting physical activity into my life [I’m often swamped looking at pictures of cats on the internet!]. It’s still the challenging part. The first step is assessing what ways you workout already. One of the office buildings I work in has the slowest elevators I’ve ever seen. It’s like there’s a hamster on a wheel turning the gears. Drove me crazy! Taking the stairs saved my sanity, but I didn’t log it as gym time. When the structure of my workday changed, and I ended up spending more time at another location [where the elevators work just fine], I stopped taking the stairs and started wondering where my sexy ass was disappearing to. Take accurate stock in what you do. Seems like a no-brainer, but its obviousness eluded me for a while. I would either do some traditional type of calisthenics or I would berate myself for being a lazybutt. I’d finish working out and sit the backyard thinking I wish I could work in the garden, but it’s either work out or garden. It didn’t occur to me that gardening is working out. I throw one-woman-living-room-dance-parties all the time [because no matter what the adage says, dancing like no one’s watching is easier when no one’s watching] but I didn’t consider it exercise. But it is. And the more fun things you can attribute to working out the more you’ll want to work out.

I also had to account for my daily commute. [In my mind] Riding the bus for twenty minutes or so was less stressful than driving forty-five minutes on I4, sure. I didn’t connect that walking around town, to and from bus stops was a workout until Orlando friends came to visit me and begged me to slow down. My most recent visitor said, “I really like it here, but isn’t there a flat part of Seattle?”

No.We’re fresh out of flat. Hills, though. We got hills for days. And it’s no coincidence that a high percentage of Seattle sexy asses are speedwalking up Capitol Hill. The glutes are proof!

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Are

Another important aspect of my weight loss journey is that [for the most part] I was either unemployed or underemployed, meaning I couldn’t really afford a fancy gym membership. [I used free trial promotions to test the ones I mentioned] Or to buy resistance bands or other accessories. Gymlessness challenged me to find ways to workout in the small space of my apartment during Seattle’s rainy season and to take advantage of the hills and views in summer. I found plenty of exercises that use my body weight as the resistance for building strong muscle. My inner lazybutt liked it because I didn’t have to waste time traveling to and from the gym, I was already there. I’m already there right now.

[Extra Credit: Hold your arms out, hands in tight fists, and flex your abs. In the space of 5 seconds–nice and slow–move your arms up, maintaining that ab-flex but stretching upward with your chest. Spend 5 seconds returning to outstretched position. Boom. We just exercised together. Do that 5 times. Takes less than a minute. I do this whenever I’m working on my computer and my eyes need a minirest.]

Every Little Bit Counts

Good news, exercise is cumulative! That means every little bit counts! If finding a big chunk of time to work out is too much at first, break-it-break-it down! To fit it in I used my awareness as a miniworkout cue. You know, just whenever I thought about it. For example, I’m sitting at my desk at work during some downtime, you know, flipping through a magazine. I see a hottie with a lotta body. Instead of thinking aimlessly about what size I wish I wore, I do ten push ups. Bam. By the end of the ten push ups my arms are a little tired so I push back into child’s pose.

Child’s pose is the restful stage of sun salutations. More often than not, I’ll end up continuing into a downward facing dog or a plank or something. But even if I don’t, those ten push ups are locked down. The trick is finding the cue that works for you.

Another cue example? Honeybee’s workout cue is when he’s getting ready for the day. It may seem counterproductive, but he doesn’t sweat much so it works for him. He’ll be all clean and ready to get dressed and then he grabs a 15 lb weight and does some arm circuits. [And I’m at the front row of the gun show!] He uses a twisty ab machine and then uses the height of the machine to do inverted push ups, too.

Remember: Whatever it takes.

As a whimsical [read: distractible] writer, I really have to focus on getting everything out. Sometimes I get my notebook out. And my favorite pen. And a yummy beverage. And a nail file. And tweezers. And some water in case my yummy beverage is too sweet. And a snack. And a toothpick. Well, you see what I’m saying. I’d gather all this stuff around me so that I wouldn’t have to get up and I could magically focus. Negative. I spent hours and hours just sitting in front of a computer or hovering over notebooks without ever getting up and without getting any more work done. These days I find reasons to get up. While I’m upstairs getting water or lingering in the backyard, I think about the task that is downstairs and more often than not an idea will come out of the blue. It’s exciting to have an idea you don’t want to forget, to race back downstairs to reach my pen or keyboard and lay it all out just in time. It makes writing way more Indiana Jones.

Excuse Me, Why Are You All Running If No One’s Chasing You?

My go-to cardio is jogging…buuut I hate it. But I love it. Let’s just say jogging and I have a turbulent relationship. Honeybee will have no part of it, either. [Although one time he jog-stalked me from the car and clocked me at 5 miles per hour!]  I thought the same way before. Actually, I thought, ahem, pardon me, it’s just that there aren’t any cops or natural disasters anywhere around here…why are all you people fleeing?! Because, seriously, there are a lot of joggers in this town. They’re jogging in the Seattle misty rain, they’re jogging in the sunshine. There were even joggers I saw out during our last snow storm! And how do you run around without looking like you’re going to die? Because, really, that’s what it looked like any time I tried to run. As with yogurt, I tried it two or three times and decided I couldn’t get behind it. [Lazybutts Unite: whenever there’s something good for you that you don’t wanna do, find a way to make it easy, then try again.] Instead of getting down about only being able to run for one minute or so, I planned for it. I told myself I’m gonna go for a 29 minute walk and then I’ll have a 1 minute jog at the end. Next time I said, I’m gonna go for a 28 minute walk and a 2 minute run. And so on. Now that I’ve torn down the initial mental barriers and my lungs are getting used to the workload, I can say that I love jogging! I love it most of all when I’m in the middle of it, but when I’m not jogging it still reads in my mind as a chore. So I make it easier. In a perfect world, I would find extra motivation and get up an hour or so early every morning to get my jog in first thing. [Sometimes I do, but most times I don’t.] To make it easy on myself I don’t expect myself to get up early. Instead, I plan to do it after work when time isn’t so constrained. To up my lazybuttability I put on my running clothes as soon as I get home. As soon as. This is important because once I’m dressed, it’s easy to get going. Next thing you know I’m gone and I’m loving it again.

I run in racing stripes and plaid shoes because they make me go faster.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Most especially when that person is you.

But that’s not all! There’s one more part to this saga. Keep an eye out for I Work Out: Part Four (Shit Gets Real)

xo

Sunshine

I Work Out: Part Two (Okay, But First)

At first I wasn’t confident enough to work out. Especially not in a gym. It took me a while to work up to that. I tried Bally, L.A. Fitness and P.F. Gyms as well as the semi-private one in my apartment complex. They were all great [give or take the sweaty ball smell in the sauna], but I was overwhelmed by all the hotties to my left and to my right. I would get distracted and disappointed that my gym clothes were not hot. I would end up back at home chowing down on salsa con queso dip and tortilla chips wondering what to do.

Start with your strengths

I did research [reading weight loss and health magazines and websites] back in Orlando and there seemed to be a lot of articles entreating people to stop drinking soda. Soda can be a source of “empty” calories, but loads of people drink, for example, Coke for its caffeine and still maintain overall health. Caffeine may have a bad rep, but it’s actually on point for regulating blood flow and, you know, alertness. These articles made soda out to be the devil in a blue dress and I thought humph. Good thing I don’t like soda. It’s not that I don’t like it, I mean it doesn’t [usually] offend my palette, but it’s not the beverage I go for on the regular. Actually, I’d have a Pepsi once or twice a year accompanied by either a hamburger [which was a rarity] or a hot dog [ever rarer, like precious metals]. I dodged a bullet there and it made my fitness goals that much more attainable. I have a friend who drank almost two-two-liters of Mountain Dew every day since his teenage years. That’s crazy! [He just quit six days ago! Congrats!] In the same vein I suggest you find something amazing that you already do and celebrate it. Happen to love steamed veggies? There you go! Serve yourself one more scoop of steamed veggies and one less of dessert. Just one less dollop. I call it the great exchange.

Prepare for change

So you’ve mastered the great exchange, next you’ll want to bring those portion sizes down while still maintaining the ratio of one more veggie than dessert. This is when I started really reading food labels. I told myself I would use one of the online food diaries but I quickly found that I don’t have the patience for those. [Nutrition 101 forced me to stick with it to get an average on my intake versus what is recommended for my body. Turns out, even with a multivitamin I’m close to malnourished! Rude awakening for a grade, I say.] That’s okay, what’s most important is not just taking a food label at face value. What’s imperative is visualizing what the packaging calls a serving versus what you put on your plate. At first I mistakenly carried minishame if I had more than the 17 allotted chips in a serving. Knowing that the company’s motives behind their serving sizes is mostly marketing tactics means I should have no shame. If I typically eat 34 chips, then I just have to get used to seeing the information facts thusly. In the beginning I would actually write the new totals over the old ones on the box. That may not be necessary for everybody. What I’m saying is do whatever it takes for you. Find ways to make it easy. I like easy because I’m a lazybutt.

If you typically rush out the door in the morning and end up skipping breakfast and eating out everyday for lunch, switch it up. Get a banana and put it next to the door. Fastest food there is. When you start the day with a banana you’re better prepared to make good lunch decisions. Setting yourself up for success makes weight loss lazybuttable.

Boldly Go Where No Diet Has Gone Before

Instead of adhering to restrictive diets that limit this thing or that thing [then tries to reward you with some cheap facsimile of a treat], try more creative benchmarks like adding one healthy meal into your regular repertoire. Adding, not subtracting. A personal example would be me and yogurt. See, I heard about yogurt’s healthful properties. Rumor had it, the protein was high, the fat was low and the live cultures? Fuggitaboutit! I didn’t know what I was in for. There’s like a million yogurts! And they’re not all created equal. I tried maybe three and settled on yogurt just not working for me. Wasn’t my thing. Until I found Tillamook’s French Vanilla Bean. This yogurt, plus fresh organic raspberries is better than cheesecake. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A friend of mine doesn’t believe me. Homeboy insists that if I think this way there must be a massive deficit in the amount of credible cheesecake in my life. I say nay, friend. I weighed 215 pounds, dude! I know all about cheesecake. [haha! But for real.]

My Raspberry Vanilla Bean concoction is better than cheesecake because of how it makes you feel.

Cheesecake tastes great, but it [often] is overloaded with sugar without providing the protein, the fiber, et cetera–nutrients that would make it a legitimate meal. It leaves me hyped and tired at the same time. Raspberry Vanilla Bean offers me a tangible fullness but it tastes like cheesecake. The yogurt wins. But I never told myself no cheesecake. I still eat cheesecake! Whenever I want! I just don’t want it as much because I ate better foods earlier in the day.

Then you can add that to your strengths from before and keep repeating the cycle of strength-transition-addition. Totally works. I lost twenty pounds doing this alone. It didn’t pull me out of obesity range, but it did create visible changes–changes that made the people around me ooh and ahh which made me feel like a badass and motivated me to find the next step.

Part Three Up Next! But right now I’m gonna soak up of some of this…

xo

Sunshine

I Work Out: Part One

Even before I moved to Seattle [from sunny Orlando], I was up in the gym working on my fitness [I lived in a luxury apartment with my mom that had a pretty state-of-the-art gym at its beige, cookie cutter core], but I’ll admit I was seeing zip-zero results. Looking back, I see how I was sort-of doing everything wrong and for all the wrong reasons and I want to share it because maintaining good health and fitness is so important. It’s paramount. And a few people have been asking how I managed to lose 80 pounds. I love that! I really do! I wanna tell you all about it!

But first I should say [and it goes without saying, but I’m saying] I’m not a doctor. Nor do I plan to become one. Seek their advice for the matter-of-factual information.

That said, I did just take Nutrition and got a perfect score on my final exam. You could say that I enrolled in Nutrition 101 because it was an easy way to fulfill some non-laboratory science credit requirements and that I got what I deserved when the assignments slapped me in the face and beat me down late into the evening with the three-to-four-hour tests, plus assignments, plus reading. You could say that. If you wanted to. I, however, would say that I was challenged to search deep, deep within myself to find the study habits that worked best for me and to focus all of my attention on the matter at hand where it would normally, admittedly, drift off to space. I would say that I learned a great deal and that I picked Nutrition 101 because, as with all the classes I’ve taken so far, it applied directly to my real life situation, leaving drastic positive results in its wake. That’s what I would say. So there.

Back in Jam-lando, I actually started off on the right foot. I did what most people do who seek something new: asked advice from someone who was where I wanted to be. Ladyfriend of mine had lost major weight by eating well and working out. She showed me a picture of her at her biggest and I couldn’t believe it. She’d practically lost an Olsen Twin! I even tried to work out with her once and was stunned by her badassery. Stunned. Standing there. Baffled. But I remember her saying just because your waist goes down does not mean your confidence goes up. I still feel like a fat girl. I didn’t understand. I just looked at her hips salaciously and asked question after question about what she did to achieve such results. I would ask the same things over and again as if there was some magical part in there that I’d missed. There was no magic. My friend’s name was not Sabrina. She paid real money to a gym every month, she used her time there wisely and she watched what she ate. And when I say she watched what she ate, I mean she wasn’t just counting calories, Ladyfriend wasn’t settling for meals with high sodium or cholesterol–she made all-around wise, healthful choices. Her secret weapon was soup.

I tried to see her reasoning, but it didn’t work out. I mean I love soup, too, but she was ordering veggie chicken noodle, I was ordering broccoli cheddar–southern style with butter like butter was going out of business. I made little progress.

From this experience, something worked itself out in my brain, though. Does it necessarily make sense? No. But here’s what happened: I looked at Ladyfriend’s veggie soup thing and I thought, okay, what I gotta do is find something crazy healthy that I love to eat. And I gotta choose that option every so often. Not all the time. Every so often. It was a slow start, yes, I love veggies, always have, but I’m from a family that makes bacon by the pound. I grew up on cabbage soup (with a bacon garnish), green beans (with a bacon garnish) and bacon (as a legitimate meat). It was a delicious childhood. It was also a busy adolescence, though. I was cheerleading, baton twirling, scouting, fundraising, stepping, and my favorite thing to do when I wasn’t doing that other stuff was climbing in the woods, building forts in the trees. That was my hometown,Clarksville, Tennessee. I was burning off that bacon until I got call center job in Florida, commuting 45 minutes to and from work and just generally being a lazybutt. Thing is, I’m still a lazybutt! And I lost 80 pounds! That’s why I’m writing this post, because, logically, if I’m a lazybutt and I managed to drop 80 pounds, then you [or your mom, or your cousin or your coworker or whoever else might need your encouragement] can do it, too.

Stay Tuned!

For now here’s a before and after of yours truly.

xo,

Sunshine

Clearly, weighing in at 215 pounds did not stop me from fabulousness.

Some extra credit I did for my yoga class, here’s my perfected backbend at 134 pounds.

[I’ll try and dig out better ones for Part Two!]

Under Construction

I suppose it’s been a bit since ol’ Sunshine’s brightened this doorstep. You might expect the same old excuses some been-work-sick-work-busy-work-work-rabble-rabble-wah. And sure, I got some. Working two equally inane, yet entirely different jobs is something unreal. For example, at one of my jobs there’s a biohazard scavenger hunt like used tampons and soiled panties stuffed in a corner while the other job could be performed by an untrained monkey yet instead they have little you, bored, watching a movie that just happens to flash a cartoon penis on the screen the same time some sweaty palm in IT is remotely accessing your computer. Now sweaty palm has to report you and you could lose your little monkeyjob. Stressed?

No. I’m quite well.

Went jogging with my buddy, Smalls, which is big deal for me. I’m not into working out in groups. For me, the fight for fitness is in one’s own mind. It’s personal. Or so I thought. After the jog we sat on faded chairs in the yard and just talked for a while. I was telling Smalls the reasoning behind some of my [jogging] habits since he’s new to the practice. At some point my own point eluded me and I was just babbling and out spills my truth. I don’t like working out with people because of two specific incidents growing up. Each of them was humiliating in their own way, but entirely based on what the adults around me were going through. Not my fault. Somehow putting that together just then made all the excuses I might use as to why I wouldn’t work out with a buddy evaporate. And who knows what I’ll do now. Kayaking in Lake Union en masse? Level 10 hiking trails up Ranier en masse? Sky’s the limit.

And that’s not all. I’ve also recently found a yogurt that I like. It’s a big deal because yogurt, like tea, is one of those things that I wanted to like but just couldn’t at first. And I’m certainly not into foods that say Low Fat on them. Feels too chemical. I’d rather just eat a carrot. I was so hyped on having changed my mentality on working out with friends that I bought Tillamook French Vanilla Bean yogurt completely randomly. It was on sale for 66 cents. Seemed like the right thing to do. Turns out it was. Eat it and see. (Note: not the same as their regular Vanilla Bean which I haven’t tried, definitely French.)

Tillamook Yogurt

nomnomnomnomnomnomnom