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Run, Cicely! Run!

8 Nov

I am not an athlete. The marathons I love best involve my Netflix queue.

Somewhere in this weight-loss cycle, however, I began to enjoy running. I have no clue how that happened.

I know why it appealed to me: I’m ridiculously cheap. I come from a family of thrifty people. Savings accounts are things of beauty among my people. I’ve had three jobs in the past 10 years and my dad hates it because I’m ruining my chances for a pension. Daddy, much like his daughter, likes to think of the long-term savings.

This was my first 5K that I ran with friends in Long Island. I can't remember my time (think it was a little less than 40 minutes), but I do remember I was impressed with myself.

My first 5K in Long Island. I think my time was a little less than 40 minutes. This was also midway through my weight-loss cycle.

That’s where running comes in. It’s so damn cheap! If you’re mindful about it, all you need are shoes. Just about everyone has old sweats and T-shirts around. And if not, head to a thrift store. My only suggestion is don’t skimp on the shoes. You’re going to have to walk on these feet and with these legs for the rest of your life. Your choice of shoe will make a world of difference.

One of the other benefits about running is that it’s a great use of time. All you have to do is go outside your door. I live in New York where there are always people on the streets. But here, pedestrians have a little respect for runners and will step aside when you say, “Excuse me.” And despite the notion of New York being the concrete jungle, there are plenty of dirt paths and tracks to run here. You can run from your door to any number of parks like Central Park, Riverside Park (my personal fave) or Prospect Park (for my Brooklyn folks).

Then there’s the community of people you find when running. It’s the best way to people watch. Sure, sitting in the park and watching the world go by can be informative. But try being the world that goes by. You’ll see a variety of people on any kind of run. And watching people run can be entertaining. Later I’ll do a posting the different kinds of runners you’ll see. They’re outstanding.

These are the added benefits of burning hundreds of calories the cheap way, but it’s not easygoing the beginning. You’ll start off slow. I began only doing three miles an hour (walking). Then I started added a little jog between laps around the park. Before I knew it, I was running the entire time. I began without any training (unless you count elementary school gym classes). I was in my mid 20s and in generally good health besides being overweight.

The day I ran six miles in an hour, I almost cried. It had been a longtime goal to be able to hit the 10-minute mile. Now I’m running 5Ks and 10Ks with no problem. I always say, “I run a 10K on a Tuesday.”

I’m at the point where I want to run a half marathon. I’ve got the endurance for about eight miles, but 13 seems daunting. It’s all about setting goals for yourself and doing your damnedest to achieve them.

What goals have you set for yourself doing your favorite workout?

Also, check out these yoga poses, courtesy of Self magazine, to help you keep from putting too much strain on the body.

How I Got Into a Bikini

1 Nov


My weight has always been a struggle. To be accurate, I have been overweight for most of my adult life. My love of muffins made my muffin top obvious, which was bothersome. When I tipped the scales at 200 pounds on my 5-foot-2 frame, I looked pregnant. I even found myself accidentally trying on clothes in the maternity section. The thought of going to the beach or the pool in a bikini would never cross my mind. Yet, here I am, 50 pounds lighter and in basically a bra-and-panty set walking around in the sand.

Just posting the above photo is a test in courage. I have never—repeat: never!—worn a bikini. My mom put me in one pieces as a kid. In my teens, I was still thick, so i kept my stomach under wraps. Adulthood hit, and the pounds kept coming, and what’s the point of being that girl at the beach? You know her, the girl who looks either pregnant, European or both. I was neither, so why subject myself to such judgment.

I could have put on a two-piece a couple years ago. I was never comfortable, though. I’ve always been body conscious. I’m hyper-aware of the attention people pay to me…because I hate it. I’ve always been the blend-in-the-background kind of gal. That’s my speed. And it’s a non-bikini speed, even if you are on the beach.

So I began with low-cut suits, like the white one above. My boobs looked good. They always have. No harm in deflecting attention away from my over-sized stomach and hips.

Then I went on a cheat. I would wear tank-inis. No one could say I didn’t wear a two-piece to the beach, right?

Soon my friends began to catch on to my scheme. They could see my progress before I did. It’s the nature of the beast—people closest to you pay attention to you and your exploits. When you’re working out and constantly monitoring your diet, you don’t really notice the progress you’re making. One pound here and two pounds there don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Every week you notice the few pounds that you’ve lost, but you can’t really see it in the mirror.

You don’t really notice it when you’re wearing the same clothes over and over. Sure those jeans feel a little different, but maybe next week they’ll feel snug again.

It isn’t until time passes and you try on something like your bathing suit from last year that you notice the change your body has taken. And because I was going to the beach this summer and didn’t want to flash anyone underwater (again), now was as good a time as any to get some new swimwear.

So I polled the masses (my friends). I went to Macy’s and tried on a couple suits. I sent a pic to one of my friends who is not only hard-core when it comes to fitness, but is one of my biggest cheerleaders. Her words when I asked if I was beach ready, and I quote, “YEP!!! U ready!!!! When we beachin?”

With that, I felt I could do it. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. I still keep a one-piece at the ready for when I feel huge. My stomach isn’t flat or toned. I’ve got cellulite on my thighs. I need a halter bra to keep my girls up. But I’m not the worst-looking person at the beach (vain, I know, but I feel judgment everywhere). No one’s staring at me. So I can deal.

What’s your Mount Everest when it comes to clothing choices? What’s the one thing you want to wear when you’ve reached your goal?

Booby Traps

28 Oct

photo credit: Fuschia Foot via photopin cc

Last year, I went on vacation with friends to Cancun. I hadn’t been to the beach in a couple years and it was past time I put my toes in the sand. Funds were a little tight and I wanted to spend my vacation fund on more important things…like drinks at Senor Frogs. So I decided to forgo a new swimsuit.

I took my favorite suit: a white, low-cut one-piece that was totally flattering—30 pounds ago. When I went snorkeling, one of the guides wanted to take my picture under water. I blame the water pressure, but as I sunk myself, one of my girls decided to make an appearance for the camera. Yep, I flashed my Cancun snorkeling guide.

During the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I’d lost and gained several pounds, but nothing happened to my bra size. So I figured I’d always be an hourglass. Worse things could happen.

But then something changed. I started losing even more weight and my tops began to feel a little loose. “No worries,” I thought. “This is what you wanted: medium-sized shirts.” And then came Cancun.

I learned that breasts lose weight, too. Who knew? Breasts are mostly fat, so when you’re in hard-core cardio mode, as I’ve been for a while, you’re going to lose that fat.

Let’s be honest: I had really nice boobs. When they were big, they were full. Out of the many things I could gripe about on my body, breasts were not cause for complaint. But who am I without my girls?

No one tells you that this could happen. No one warns you that along with smaller jeans and even smaller bracelets come smaller cup sizes.

Every woman has a horror story about bra shopping. It’s a complete nightmare. No two bra makers are the same and every “expert” says they know what will fit you. Lies, I tell you! All lies!!

If you’ve watched any show aimed at women, at least 80 percent of us are wearing the wrong-sized bra. Eighty freaking percent! How can so many people be so wrong about something so necessary. It’s because unlike your shoe size, your bra size fluctuates with age, body composition and lifestyle. The size bra you wear to cocktail hour may not be the same size you’re wearing to work out.

You can’t trust the 15-year-old with measuring tape at Victoria’s Secret. Don’t even look the way of the older lady working checkout at Macy’s. Go to an actual lingerie store that specializes in undergarments. Victoria’s Secret is the Nine West of bras: cute selection, but the material just wasn’t made for multiple uses.

Another thing to look into, which I’ll be trying soon, is this list of exercises from Shape magazine to perk up your boobs. Nobody wants saggin’ dragons.

What do you do give yourself that extra lift?

I’m Skinny, Now What?

25 Oct

skinny_now_journeyI’ve lost all this weight, now what?

No one ever really tells you how this is supposed to go. You set a plan in motion to get somewhere, but you don’t plan on what to do when you get there.

It’s like going on vacation, but you’ve only planned the flight and hadn’t considered the hotel or transportation.

That’s how I feel most of the time. Over the past five years, I’ve been working out (then vegging out) in order to reach some semblance of an ideal weight. It all began, when during a routine check-up, I found out that I weighed 200 pounds.

I’m 5-foot-2. I come from a long line of curvy women and was raised in the Midwest. We love BBQ, fried anything and lounging with drinks in our hands. While this isn’t exclusive to my home region, it is one of our marked characteristics. However, I never thought I would let myself get that big.

After the shock and tears of my new predicament, I decided to take action. By take action, I mean I read up on what people do when they take action while I ate a brownie sundae. As long as I didn’t have one everyday, I was OK, right?

So I got a book, “Extreme Fat Smash Diet.” Then I started talking to my friends who were working out a lot. They were doing Fat Smash and going to the gym. I hate to sweat, so I needed another plan. Turns out Dr. Ian Smith wanted me to actually burn some calories, too.

Then I started really reading the book. While it seemed like a good idea, “extreme” is far from a misnomer. Your meals can consist of one egg and a half cup of juice for breakfast; a cup of sliced fruit for lunch; a small veggie-only salad for a late lunch; and veggies and beans for dinner. Not too appetizing. Oh, and lets not forget the hour of cardio that you’re doing four to six days a week.

These are not the things a couch potato likes to do. But then I hopped on the scale again and decided it was time to hop on the treadmill.

I joined a Ballys. My gym-rat ex-boyfriend and I went to one once, so I wasn’t unfamiliar territory. Plus this one was closer to my house.

The first step is always the hardest, but I started to get my energy up, despite the damage all the sweat was doing to my hair.

Then I picked the book back up and tried doing the plan. It took a few stop-and-go weeks, but I finally got on track. The book says that if you stick with it, you could lose up to five pounds a week. “Yeah, right,” I thought. I avoided the scale that first week, not wanting to be disappointed if nothing was happening. At the end of week one, I’d lost five pounds!

I started really feeling myself then. It was on and popping at the gym. By that time I had already planned on a trip to Puerto Rico, which required beach attire. I refused to be mistaken for a beached whale, so I got addicted. All told, I had lost 20 pounds in six weeks by the time I got to the beach.

Since then, I’ve been doing the diet off and on. Not long after another breakup, I lost another 25 pounds the healthy way.

Yo-yo dieting over the years has helped me drop a grand total of 60 pounds. However, I’m human; I’ve gained about five to 10 of those back.

For the most part, I’m comfortable with my current weight and the shape of my body. There are a few things that need tightening up, but no body is perfect.

And that is what this blog is about. I’m close enough to my goal weight that I feel I can talk about this with others: keeping it off ain’t easy, and once you’ve gotten comfortable, how do you adjust to the new you?

It was very weird looking at myself in the mirror after having lived in this body for more than 30 years. I was used to a certain jiggle in certain places. I’d gotten comfortable with shirts, pants and even bras fitting me a certain way. There were curves that were once my calling card. Who am I now without the body that I used to live in?

I want to address that and take you on my journey of self discovery as I try to move forward in the world while trying not to lose some of the things I liked about the old me.

I’ll be posting workout updates, recipes and stories about my experience. Let me know what you think. It’s an open forum into my life (Lord, help me!). I think it’s a journey that many of us are going on, but there’s not a lot of conversation about it. Let’s discuss.

The High Price of Low Weight

21 Oct

When you sign up for renter’s or home owner’s insurance, you have to list the value of everything in the home. I’m talking about jewelry, electronics, appliances, gadgets, etc. All of it. It’s a nuisance. The thing I’m guessing most people underestimate is clothing. At least I do.

I’m what you might call a frugal shopper. My closet is full of sale, coupon and thrift items. Shoes, jackets, belts, dresses, pants, all of it was bought with a sale in mind.

Imagine you lose, say, 50 pounds or so. And you do it so quickly that you don’t notice the change in your body until seasons change. The clothes that used to hug your body in the sunlight now make you look like you’re wearing over-sized hand-me-downs.

So I’ve got to go buy clothes. Guess what? Clothes ain’t cheap. I need a full wardrobe. And hear me when I tell you: NOTHING FIT!

The cost of weight loss isn’t that cheap. From buying healthy foods to gym memberships to workout clothes: It costs  money to live. But no one ever tells you about the most expensive part: New clothes. The cost of outfitting your new body is a pain in your new ass. You have to buy  everything, including underwear (Victoria’s Secret has gone up since the days of 5 for $25).

How do you navigate this new shopping world? Nobody wants to look sloppy. Here are a few tips I’ve learned during my between phase with the new body:

1. Belts.  You can go to TJ Maxx or Century 21 and rack up on belts to cinch those pants and dresses to your newly slimmed waist line. Big ones and little ones, it doesn’t matter. Get a colorful variety to leave yourself some options.

2. Leggings. Black ones will go with anything. Most places have one size fits all and those ones are pretty cheap. I don’t suggest investing too much money in these, seeing as how they shred after a few washes. But under one of your now-too-big dresses, this could make a pretty good day-to-night look.

3. Tunics. Let them blouse over those leggings or pants that are too big. No one will notice. Bust out the belt and some pumps and you’re ready for the club.

4. Old Navy. After TJ Maxx, this is my favorite store for simple, cute clothing with a low cost. The quality can be ho-hum sometimes. But you don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get some quick wardrobe staples to outfit your body while you’re in the midst of transition. A couple pair of slacks, a few blouses, a couple skirts and maybe a dress, and you’ve got outfits for a week that may cost you less than $150. Just don’t let the $1 flip flops lure you.

5. Shoes. Few things distract from a drab outfit better than bomb shoes. If you’re lucky, your shoe size has not changed. If you care about your appearance now, you definitely cared before which means your shoe game is kickin’. Spruce up that over-sized dress with some spectacular pumps and heads will turn.

These are all quick fail-safes, but eventually you’re going to have to bust out the credit card. And why shouldn’t you. You’ve done well. So reward yourself with a smaller  pair of jeans or a shorter skirt.

You have to live in this body, dress it up a little.