Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A DVD Giveaway Bonanza!

It’s always hard to know how the written word will be interpreted. In my last blog (see Monday’s “Unfinished Business”), I sounded way more down that I actually am. Thank you so much for your emails and concern. I really am OK! Life is good, but sometimes it’s good because of a good cry and some introspection, you know? Anyway, thanks for having my back. I really am doing well.

Now, on to some DVD giveaways. You can throw your name in the hat for any of them by leaving a comment or sending an email to I’ll draw the winners’ names on Saturday (April 2).

First up is my own copy of Leslie Sansone’s “Walk Away the Pounds Express: Walk Strong.” I love the concept of this video, but alas, my knees do not. I am an avid Walk Away the Pounds fan, but this one is difficult for me because it incorporates squats and lunges – something my poor arthritic knees can’t handle. But…for those of you who can do lunges and squats (or have the desire to find out if you can), this DVD is a comfortable way to integrate strength training into your cardio routine.

You’ll need a Thera-band or some other stretch band to do the workout (I broke the one that came with the DVD…long story). Otherwise, it’s just you and 30 minutes of your time. It’s a neat little workout.

Daughter Carlene is back with a review of “10 Minute Solutions: Rapid Results Fat Burner.”

Of all the workout DVDs I’ve reviewed so far, “10 Minute Solutions: Rapid Results Fat Burner” with Cat Chiarelli is my favorite.

Long, continuous workouts intimidate me. I like the idea of a light at the end of the tunnel, especially when that tunnel only takes 10 minutes! In this DVD, there are five different workouts that you can mix and match to your needs.

1. First up are the Power Sports Drills. These remind me of my former high school track days. The moves are simple, but be prepared for many squats and lunges. In fact, squats and lunges are pretty much the overall theme of the entire DVD.

2. Next are the Extreme Intervals. This was not my favorite section, but I suppose if you enjoy interval training, than this is the section for you. Chiarelli alternates between high and low intensity moves at 15 seconds a piece.

3. Next is the Low-Impact Fat Blaster. In this section, you’ll feel like you’re in a group aerobics class. The moves are classic, but a bit dancy in some places. We all know about my battle with coordination, so this, also, was not my favorite section.

4. In the Rapid Results Kickboxing section I found my perfect workout. What I like about kickboxing is that you don’t have to be a dancer or act sexy or have any coordination whatsoever. You simply have to kick and punch. And really, who doesn’t enjoy kicking and punching things, real or imaginary?

5. The last section is Cardio Max and it is pretty fun. However, make sure you have enough space in your living room to jump and flail your arms around. I had to modify some of the moves because of my lack of space.

This is one DVD I could easily do on a regular basis. Everyone has at least 10 minutes in their day to jump around or punch and kick, right? Have fun with it!

Cassie’s turn! As you know, she birthed her third baby 7 weeks ago (baby Maelie!). Cass is back at the gym, kicking butts and taking names. She’s reviewed “Prego-Fit and Fabulous: Yoga and Pilates Fusion Ball Workout (Any ball or pillow will do!).

I'll start by saying I would’ve loved to have this DVD while pregnant because it was very calming. It was developed by Jillian Moriarty, a physical therapist who is, herself, pregnant.

The DVD is a blend of yoga and Pilates with a lot of stretching. I would most definitely say that any fitness level would benefit from this workout, as it's not super challenging. If you're in your postpartum stage, I'd recommend it for someone who didn't previously work out regularly or is just looking for a nice, gentle way back into shape. It'd be nice for the first few weeks back into working out, while all the ligaments are lax and heavy impact is still frowned upon.

What I really liked was the flow of each move and how there was no rushing. However, there was absolutely no music, so it seemed a bit boring at times. That being said, though, it actually made for a more relaxing exercise, and for someone with three kids, I enjoyed that. A lot.

I also thought it was great that it's appropriate for all trimesters of pregnancy, which is hard to find in a DVD. It eliminates anything that'd be contraindicated, such as laying flat or ab work with twisting motions. If you're going to invest money into a workout DVD during pregnancy, this is the kind you'd want. It's annoying that you'd have to buy two or three – one for each trimester.

Like I said, it's not extremely challenging. As someone who was actually on the treadmill the day I went into labor, I wouldn't say I'd do it again unless I'm looking for a way to relax, yet still get a physical benefit.

And for you ladies who aren't even pre- or post-natal, or pregnant at all, if you have any joint ailment, this is also for you. Because this DVD caters to women who are having weakened joints and relaxed ligaments, this is also perfect for those with painful joints. Just because you hurt, doesn't mean you shouldn't have a good workout!

All in all, this was a good DVD and I'd highly recommend it.

Lynn’s turn again. Leave a comment or send an email to and indicate which DVD or DVDs you’d like to enter to win. I’ll draw the winners’ names on Saturday (April 2).

And before you go, if you’re interested in trying Weight Watchers Yogurt, go to my recent review and click on the link for a $1 off coupon!

Again, thanks so much for reading. I wish I had DVDs for everyone!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unfinished Business

I had a good cry in my papasan chair Friday afternoon. (Best chair ever. It’s a cradleing wonder.) I cried because I was feeling stuck and I kept hearing “Stuck in a Moment” by U2 in my head:

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

‘Oh you’re sooo wrong, Mr. Bono. Later WILL be better,’ I argued.

I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you. Ooh.
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
‘Cause tears are going nowhere baby

‘Shut up! Tears seem like a really good strategy right now because I don’t know what else to do!’

And if the night runs over
And if the day won’t last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

‘Wait…you mean this is just a moment? I don’t have to think about and solve every future moment right now?’

I sat with that question for a moment. I wondered how to push through the stuck without ignoring it. I remembered a book I bought months ago called “Unfinished Business.” The author, Lee Kravitz, at age 54, lost his job as editor of “Parade” magazine and spent the following year doing what Gail Sheehy said in a recent column about the book, some “emotional rehab.” Kravitz reconnected with people from his past, people he had largely forgotten or dismissed because he’d become so busy with his career. In doing so, he found compassion for himself and for others, and discovered the essential need we all have for human connectedness.

Sitting in the papasan, eyes dried, I started reading “Unfinished Business.”

“It isn’t the easy tasks that become our unfinished business; it’s the hard ones, the ones we are most afraid to face…

“The items on my list of unfinished business were linked to my deepest feelings of helplessness, disappointment and fear. It’s ironic: We consign our most essential business to the bottom of our to-do list because we lack the time and energy to do the things that matter most in our lives. It makes sense: The most important things take the most time and energy and we have only so much time and energy in a day. You let things slide. But…if one can attend to these things, great rewards will follow."

If one can attend to those things… I read that line several times and realized that one of my pieces of unfinished business is reconnecting with myself. I’ve struggled with journaling – both my food and emotional life – because I’ve been reluctant to find out what’s driving me to distraction and to examine some old habits I keep perpetuating. This “essential business,” that which would help me become a more compassionate person not only to myself but others, is what I’ve put at the bottom of my to-do list.

I remembered listening to an interview with Kravitz on Radio Times (click here to listen to it) and how he’d mentioned a toolkit he’d put together for others to address their unfinished business. I closed the book and went to the website, My Unfinished Business and found the toolkit:

“Addressing your unfinished business is a five-step process. It involves:

1. Identifying the unfinished business that gnaws at you
2. Confronting the fears at its root
3. Reaching out to the person(s) you wronged
4. Making amends
5. Reflecting on the experience

“Each of these five steps is important to the process. Unless you face your fears, it will be difficult for you to reach out to the person you’ve wronged. Unless you reach out to the person, you can’t make amends.

“It is through reflection that you learn the lessons that will help you refine your conscience and continue making a heart-felt commitment to acting in accordance with your most deeply held ideals."

I took a look at the worksheets and I think most of them can be adapted for reconnecting with myself. I’ve printed them out and starting today, I am going to focus on what’s driving me to distraction. It’s time to address those moments I feel stuck in, the ones that in time will pass, but they’ll pass with greater clarity if I take care of my unfinished business.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Mental Miracle

I stopped riding roller coasters 20 years ago. Pretty sure I’m not getting on a Ferris wheel again, either. I ride my bike safely, I hike safely. I don’t take many chances.

But when a friend asked me to go motorcycle shopping with him last week, I felt the same feeling I had when I was a teenager riding in my friend Pam’s mustang on a hot summer day listening to AC/DC and smoking Virginia Slim Light Menthol 100s. A feeling that can only be described as badass.

According to Urban Dictionary, badass is: “The epitome of the American male. He radiates confidence in everything he does, whether it’s ordering a drink, buying a set of wheels, or dealing with women. He’s slow to anger, brutally efficient when fighting back.

“The badass carves his own path. He wears, drives, drinks, watches, and listens to what he chooses, when he chooses, where he chooses, uninfluenced by fads or advertising campaigns. Badass style is understated but instantly recognizable. Like a chopped Harley or a good pair of sunglasses: simple, direct, and functional.”

Of course I’m not male, but that James Dean feeling of cool is definitely what I felt at Gatto’s, an awesome multi-building motorcycle and bike shop that I feel like such a nerd driving past because I’m so not cool that way.

Mark sat on some bikes and asked me to hop on the back to offer my opinion of the seat, not thinking I’d ever have the guts to actually ride on the dang thing. But sitting there, with my feet on the pedals and my arms around his waist, I felt badass, and still did when he bought a bike (the one on the right) and I carried the extra helmet to my car to bring to his house.

Driving away from Gatto's, the badass feeling quickly faded and I was just me again, taking Claire to Taekwondo and getting ready for my trip to Minnesota.

I went to see Mark on my way home from the airport Sunday. I helped him put up a yard tent and we talked about my trip, all the mundane things friends do. Then he said, “Let’s go get some tea.” He’s been urging me to try the chai tea latte at Panera for weeks, so I said, “Sure. Let me get my keys.” His daughter had his car.

But Mark was headed to the garage. Oh no! I thought. He smiled and handed me the extra helmet, the one I felt so badass carrying out of the dealership. Like a line out of one of my favorite Blue Rodeo songs, I thought, “I want to know where my confidence went. One day it all disappeared.”

I was most worried about my body, that I wasn’t strong enough to hold on. I didn’t trust that these last six years of weight loss and strength training and getting to know my body like I’d never done before were enough to give me the self-confidence I needed to get on that bike.

But something inside me said go. Get over your fear and trust Mark and trust yourself.

Deeeep breath.

I put on the helmet and Mark tightened the strap. Another deep breath and I got on.

“When I turn to the left, look over my left shoulder,” he said. “When I turn to the right, look over my right shoulder. Don’t lean, but don’t fight to stay straight.”

What the heck does that mean? I thought. But I didn’t want to sound stupid.

“We’ll take it easy, I promise” he said.

“And,” he added with a laugh, “we’ll take the long way.”

At first, I kept trying to sit up straight, exactly what Mark told me NOT to do. But I knew I had to trust him (and myself), and eventually I moved with the curves, relaxed my vice grip on his waist, and let myself feel the wind and see everything unfettered by windows. It was one of the most freeing experiences in my life.

Now if I can just take that experience into my everyday non-badass life.

The mental and physical aspects of weight loss aren’t always in balance for me. Sometimes what I tell myself I can do in my head, I really can’t do physically. While it’s a blow sometimes, I learn to accept it. It’s when my body tells me I can do something or that I look a certain way and my mind says I can’t or I don’t, that my badass self either flees or burgeons. In the case of the motorcycle, it burgeoned. However, as my friend Shelley at My Journey To Fit said today in her blog, the way we let our minds view our bodies is often the crux of our problem.

“It amazes me to see how exercise makes me feel so positive about my body. The other day, in the span of a few hours, I went from hyper-focusing on my heavy jiggly thighs (in jeans), to looking down at them (in shorts) as I was doing my 4 mile walk and admiring the muscles in my quads.

"How they went from thighs to quads - same body part - is nothing short of a mental miracle for me. And why those same heavy thighs became muscular quads when I was doing something active really shows me how I approach my body.

"I wish I would, all the time, view it with the healthy vibe that I get from exercise.”

The emotional and physical rush I got from riding that motorcycle is similar to the rush I get when I hike a difficult trail. Like my grandson Luca says when he catches a ball, “I did it! I did it!” That’s badass. Knowing without knowing beforehand that you can do something simply by trying and trusting you can is, as Shelley said, nothing short of a mental miracle.

I’m not sure I’ll ride a roller coaster again, and I won’t throw caution to the wind in every situation, but I’ll definitely give my body a bigger say in what it can and can’t do. After all, my mind doesn’t know everything.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hello From The Road!

Good morning from Minnesota! Just a quick update from the birthday weekend. All my sibs and I were at Mom and Dad’s yesterday. (Dad looks like Santa, doesn’t he?) The big party is tonight. Well, big as in the five sibs, Mom, Dad, sister-in-law (who’s just like a sister), and nephew. My niece has to work, but I saw her yesterday.

I’m writing from the hotel breakfast room where the only healthy offering are green bananas and runny oatmeal. The waffle machine runneth over and there are white-flour muffins/danish/bread as far as the eye can see. What an opportunity this could be for hotels to make a difference in how Americans eat! I’m not saying throw out the sausage, but if people get used to seeing more fresh fruit, yogurt and whole grain bread, maybe…just maybe…food like that will become the “norm.” Hey, a girl can dream, right?

I’ve stayed in this hotel before. Four years ago when I was in the early stages of maintenance, I remember hitting the workout room with a vengeance. “I have to work out! I’ll gain weight if I don’t!” I was always in such a panic every time I was out of my routine. These days, I take a much calmer approach to travel. While I try to stay true to my food plan, it doesn’t always happen, but I know I will be right back on plan the next meal. Almost gone are the guilts (almost…) for not working out for three or four days. Three or four sedentary days and a few meals off plan are not excuses to mess up maintenance. When I get home, I’ll hope back on the bike, eat clean, and move on.

Tonight is Dad’s birthday (happy 80th, Daddy!). On the menu? The others will have pot roast, Dad’s favorite. For me, it’s a big salad and leftover wild rice soup from last night, which my sister modified just for me. How sweet is that? Typically it’s made with chicken broth and half and half. Tracy used veggie broth and fat-free half and half. My family has always been on board with my “diet.” I wish everyone had this kind of family support.

Hope this finds you enjoying your weekend. Next time I write, I will be back home and back in the food-and-exercise saddle again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All The Weights Of My Life

I’m getting ready to go to Minnesota tomorrow where my family is gathering to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. I was going through old photos for my part of the PowerPoint presentation we’re making for my Dad and while looking at photos of me in puberty, I thought about how weight began to shape me.

When I was 11, I became aware of the social implications of being considered “big.” Formerly kind, carefree kids in my school turned into tyrants, berating the boy who’s stomach spilled over his belt or the girl who couldn’t climb the rope in gym class, like a larger kid’s weight was an impediment to a thin kid’s happiness.

I questioned how my own body fit into these societal rules during the first weigh-in of sixth grade. Remember those public weigh-ins where you’d stand in line in front of the nurse and her scale, getting weighed in turn? When I stepped on the scale, the nurse moved the big metal weight from 50 to 100. It made a loud “cachunk” sound when it settled in the groove, announcing to everyone in the hallway, “Lynn’s gone over 100!”

I was confused since the girl who weighed ahead of me didn’t need the 100 pound weight, and to me we looked like the same size. Realistically, there were probably only a few pounds separating us, but 100 was worlds apart from 99. Adding a third number to my weight wasn’t like adding a second digit to my age. Getting older was still OK. Getting bigger, not so much anymore. And while I was the same person I was five minutes before I got on the scale, I felt more conspicuous, like people would look at me differently now that I’d passed that monumental weight marker.

I looked at the girl next in line. She was clearly smaller and the nurse would have to move the big weight back to 50. I wondered if she’d say anything, whisper my weight to my friends during recess. I looked around at a few girls I thought were bigger than me and wondered, What if I weigh more than they do?

The rest of the year I paid close attention to how our playground culture defined people of all body sizes. No one was immune from the recess body gossip. Not the lunch ladies, teachers, or even other kids’ parents. I left sixth grade afraid of becoming a “big girl,” but there was little I could do to stop it before seventh grade.

It was a rough summer between sixth and seventh grade. Changes popped out of nowhere. I felt lopsided with a 33-inch inseam and squat, pudgy belly. I had no breasts to speak of, but I wore a bra anyway.

I assumed I’d grow up to look like my sister Debbie – a tall, thin pom-pom girl with right-sized hips and proportionate thighs. Instead, I inherited the long limbs, short torso, flat butt genes from my dad’s side of the family. I loved my relatives, but I didn’t want to look like Aunt Ragna.

The day of my seventh-grade physical, I stood shivering on the scale dressed in a t-shirt and waist-high white underwear. My mom sat in a chair while our family doctor stared at my chart over his wire-rim glasses. He tapped it slowly with his pen and looked grave. I expected him to say I had two weeks to live.

“Watch her weight,” he said instead.

I was 120 pounds.

This started me on a life-long yo-yo spiral of weight. Here’s a chart of my weight in adulthood. Looks like the Rocky Mountains.

This was me in 6th grade when I started worrying I was fat.

This was taken on my 16th birthday. I was waist deep in self-consciousness by then.

1987 on my 23rd birthday, a year before I lost 100 pounds the first time.

At 145 in 1994.
And, of course, me at my heaviest in 2004.

We walk a thin line talking about weight with children, particularly girls. Clearly I was not obese in 7th grade, but my weight was rightly a concern to my doctor. I just wish he and subsequently other adults in my life had had more adequate communication tools to relay their concern without shaming me. It was that uncertainty, that feeling of inadequacy that made me feel fat, ugly and not good enough when I weighed 150 pounds when I graduated from high school.

It’s taken me a long time to deal with some of the pain weight has caused me all my life, pain that for the most part was self-inflicted. It’s a journey I’m still on; this journey to full acceptance of myself at any weight. But it’s worth every step. Worth looking at every photo.

I’ll ask you the same question I asked on Facebook: When did you start thinking of your body as large/fat/unacceptable and how has that perception changed (or not) over the years?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's My 4-Year GOALiversary!

A monarch caterpillar weighs 8 grams by the time it spins its cocoon. It emerges a butterfly weighing a mere half-gram.

I weighed 296 pounds when I started spinning my final cocoon and 138 when I emerged.

“So, do you suppose I’m done?” I asked my doctor.

“I think you can stop now,” she said.

I weighed 138 on March 12, 2007. (My body lost another 10 pounds after goal). I’d lost 160 pounds in two years, two months, and 12 days. I was now a butterfly, but one in danger of being caught and pinned on velvet since I didn’t know the first thing about flying.

Maintenance was never something I’d taken seriously.

The last time I kissed 138 was in 1990 after losing 40 pounds. A doctor told me I needed to lose at least another 10. I lost the doctor and found some food.

“Finally, I can eat again!” I said and drove through McDonalds.

Every time I lost weight it was like I was a senior in high school. I couldn’t wait to graduate and leave home, so sure was I that life would be easier without homework and parents. Then I paid my first rent check. And electric bill. And car repair. Real life was not sexy.

Neither is maintenance. This time I knew it wasn’t smart to celebrate with a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard and a corn dog. A sleeve of Thin Mints wasn’t a reward. But what rewards were left? I looked the same every day and people forgot I’d lost weight. Compliments came fewer and further in between. I felt like last year’s prom queen.

I realized maintenance had to be its own reward. Instead of celebrating with food, I got in the trenches and found three other women who were maintaining 100+ weight losses. We formed a small online support group (the Maintaining Divas) and became best friends. Dr. Barbara Berkeley (Refuse to Regain) discovered my blog and asked if I’d start a maintenance blog with her, and I did.

Transforming into a butterfly was always the easy part. Learning how to use the wings…that was the real challenge.

But learn I did. I’m still learning, in fact. My weight has fluctuated due to surgery, stress and medications, but I’m still going strong in maintenance, largely because of the support I get from family, friends and – big time! – the blogging community. You (yes, you!) help me every day through your readership, even if you’re a silent stalker…LOL Support, advice, tough love…thank you for all of it and keep it coming!

To my Divas, thank you just isn’t enough. MA, AJ, and Sondra, we’ve been together for years now and you are my rocks, my BFFs and the best ass-kickers I know. I love you ladies.

March 12, 2007, is my rebirthday. Help me celebrate by continuing to dedicate or rededicate yourself to being the healthiest you can be. That’s the best gift ever.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Song Remains The Same

On Saturday, the world will formally say goodbye to Hank – husband to Shannon, father of Ella. Hank was 38. He had cancer.

Twenty-eight years ago this month, my husband Bruce died when his tractor was hit by a train near our farm. Hank and Bruce lived and died differently, but each left behind a daughter and his daughter’s mother.

The days before and the day of Bruce’s funeral felt much like the days this week – cold and windy. The air…damp and heavy. This is one of life’s hardest weeks, the one we feel the sting of the death of a loved one and the ensuing pain of goodbye.

Except for the moments I escaped to nurse Carlene in our bedroom, the bathroom had been my only refuge, the only place people left me alone and I could think for 10 minutes without making decisions about flowers and cemetery plots and caskets. On the day of the funeral, I lingered in the shower longer than usual. I wrapped myself in Bruce’s bathrobe and sat cross-legged on the counter like I always did when Bruce and I got ready for a date or church. He’d shave, I’d put on my makeup, and we’d listen to the radio and talk.

I rubbed foundation on my face and imagined him next to me knotting his tie, something he tried to teach me many times. I turned on the radio and heard the song “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto. I sang along until I got to the line, “Now that I’m alone it gives me time, to think about the years that you were mine.”

I stared in the mirror. Even though for three days people were everywhere and would be for more days to come, I was alone. I’d been watched and worried about like I was a fragile girl with a scarlet “W” stitched on her chest, but no one could share this pain with me. I was a new mother who should have been perfecting nursing and bathing her baby daughter and sleeping when she slept, but instead I was eyed and pawed and clung to by grieving masses, people with real grief, but who would go back to their homes where they could ponder this tragedy while I lived it.

It didn’t matter that I felt every bit the obese, nursing, bleeding mother I was. Death came with obligations. No one would understand if I stayed home. I turned off the radio and put on my suit. I walked out of the bathroom with my chin up and eyes dry. I left Carlene with a neighbor and got into my father’s car to ride to the church.

Bruce and me, April 3, 1982. Bruce died March 22, 1983.
 Dressed in a suit with a thousand sad eyes watching me, I walked down the aisle of the church with my parents behind the pall bearers and my husband’s casket. Almost a year ago to the day, many of those same eyes watched me walk down that same aisle, 40 pounds lighter and holding on to my father’s arm as Bruce waited for me at the altar, tall and handsome, young and vibrant.

Now he lay dead in a casket covered in sprays of lilies, carnations and roses with a small red ribbon attached, scrolled with the word “Daddy.”

Except for a few muffled cries, the mourning congregation was controlled and dignified, and I was, too. I kept myself together through “Children of the Heavenly Father” by staring at Bruce’s casket. I chose the song because I’d introduced Bruce to it a few months earlier when he was looking for something to sing for a solo in church. Bruce could sing a TV commercial and I’d melt. Over the summer I learned to play two of my favorite songs on the piano – “Your Song” by Elton John and “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce – just so he’d sing them to me.

When the hymn ended, the church was quiet except for the sound of one person weeping. It was my father, fully engaged in shoulder shaking, head-in-hands, inconsolable sobbing.

Dad was 6 years old when his father died in 1937, and his mother was 8 months pregnant. It was the middle of the Depression, and like chocolate, grief was a luxury. There were fields to plow and children to raise. The only way my grandmother could deal with her grief was to bury it. She did not allow Grandpa’s name spoken in the house, so my dad, who was named after his father, was called by his middle name.

He’d lost his father and his name, and now his only grandchild was fatherless, too. The man had earned the right to cry.

I imagined liberating my own pain that way or by throwing myself on Bruce’s casket and wailing. But I didn’t want to be known as the woman who lost it at her husband’s funeral. My only emotional emancipation was when I kissed my hand and touched his casket when I thought no one was looking, like I was saying goodbye to a clandestine lover.

Now it is Shannon’s turn to cry, and in the days, months and years to follow, she will raise Ella and remember Hank. Her life will go on and she’ll work and she’ll one day smile, but this week? This week will crawl inside and forever be a part of her.

I love you, Shannon. Peace, my friend.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It’s A Guy Thing

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve heard virtually the same weight-loss story. The first time I was in a local restaurant eating dinner and watching a Pens game, when someone yelled across the bar to a guy sitting a few stools down from me, “Hey, you look great! Have you lost weight?”

The guy yells back, “Yeah! 40 pounds!”

“Awesome, dude!”


You know me. I couldn’t NOT ask the guy how he did it. After all, if he was willing to yell his weight loss across a crowded bar, I figured I could ask him his story.

“I got my driver’s license picture taken and I didn’t like my face,” he said. “So I decided to lose weight.”

“Just like that?” I asked.


“How’d you do it?”

“Diet and exercise,” he said.

Two weeks later, I was with some friends in a different bar. Two guys walked in. One ordered a Guinness and the other a Coors Light. I heard Mr. Guinness (rail-thin) ask Mr. Coors Light (slightly overweight) when he had to leave to go work out. Mr. Coors Light said he could have two beers and then he would go home. Work out? On a Friday night?

“Wow, that’s discipline,” I said. “Working out on a Friday night?”

Mr. Guinness jumped in. “This guy here’s lost 40 pounds! Come on, man, tell her.”

“I lost 40 pounds,” Mr. Coors Light laughed. “I’m gonna lose 20 more.”

“Wow, that’s great!” I said. “How did you do it?”

He shrugged and looked at me like, Duh, lady.

“Diet and exercise,” he said.

After his second beer, Mr. Coors Light ordered a hoagie to go for his wife (so sweet!) and said he’d only nibble on a bit of it on the way home, then he was going to hit the treadmill while watching ESPN.

Both men got me thinking, ‘Is this a guy thing?’ Both lost weight just because they decided to, and they did it without Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss, NutriSystem, or Optifast. No zone/beach/acai/colon/miracle-pill diets, they just cut back on the hoagies and started working out.

And what about those conversations in public? I know I’ve told my story on Oprah and sundry other places including my blogs, but not without a certain degree of shame, fear and, yes, embarrassment. Even now I cringe when I watch the videos of the shows I’ve been on. If someone yelled from across a crowded room that I looked great and asked if I’d lost weight, I’d be mortified. And I certainly wouldn’t yell back, “Yeah! 170 pounds!” If one of my friends flat out announced to a stranger in a bar that I’d lost weight…again, instant mortification. Yet, the two guys who lost weight seemed completely unfazed by the questions or my inquiries. In fact, they were down right giddy about it. Didn’t bother them one bit.

Go them!

I want to be like them one day – fearless, accepting, and genuinely proud of my accomplishments among strangers who aren’t interested in weight issues. It’s easy to be comfortable talking about weight with people who “get it,” but it’s another to discuss it with, oh say, a potential date. Sure, if I meet someone, I wouldn’t have to tell him about my weight loss, but in this Google-able world, it doesn’t take much to learn my story.

So I need to put on my big girl panties and get comfortable. It can’t be just a guy thing. It has to be a Lynn thing, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Visualizing and Patience: A Divorced Girl's Guide to Living Alone...Kind Of

Like you haven’t noticed, I’ve avoided writing for weeks. It’s not that I don’t love my blog or love talking with all of you about weight and food and all that good stuff. It’s just that I feel like I have nothing to write about, when the truth is I have a LOT to write about. I’m just afraid to put it out there. I’m afraid if I start writing, I won’t stop.

The minute I open Microsoft Word, I find a distraction, something to keep me from the keyboard. Facebook, a computer game, making a complicated recipe, texting, something…anything…to avoid writing.

Why? Well, part of it is that whole Minnesota Norwegian Lutheran anal retentiveness. Growing up, I heard, “That’s not something we talk about,” a LOT. So why write about the stuff no one wants to talk about? Oh, but wait. People DO want to talk about it. They ARE talking about it. They’re not afraid to put it out there – their pain, their heartaches, their joy. Shelley’s blogging through her mother’s surgery . Ellen’s blogging about her post-weight-loss body and acceptance and all that huge emotional stuff.  Lyn’s blogging through sickness Samuel’s blogging though his grief.
Bloggers do this all the time. They put themselves out there. Maybe not all of it, but at least the stuff they think most people can take, the stuff we have in common. I used to do that, too. All the time. You guys know that. But then I got quiet.

It’s not like I didn’t have things to write about. I mean, I made a killer hummus the other day. I lost a pound that took me three weeks to lose. I went on an awesome hike in the 50-degree muck. But it was the background noise that kept me from writing. Those paper-thin moments when things seemed so clear, and then disolved like a communion wafer on the tongue.

Then I read this: “If you don’t visualize what you want out of life, then you are at risk of other people and external circumstances influencing your life because you are not influencing it yourself.” That’s from the book “7 Habits of Highly Frugal People.” A friend sent me this link the other day.

Except for a project in a class in high school (“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”), I’ve never visualized my life. I mean, really sat back and imagined the big picture. I’ve lived most of my life by the seat of my pants, often letting other people tell me what’s right for me, what’s wrong with me, and what I “should” do. A victim mentality, perhaps (ouch). But I really never had much of a backbone (ouch x2).

I lost weight this last time, and am keeping it off, by sheer determination. It’s probably the first thing I’ve ever done just for me. But living alone for the first time in 30 years? It’s harder than weight loss ever was.

This whole “visualizing” my life…well…that’s been the interesting part the last few months. I needed a compass and so I went to what I knew. And what I know is that, like losing weight, living alone is a lifestyle change. And when you want to incorporate change in your life, it has to become part of your life. It has to move within the fabric, the ups and downs, the scheduled and the unexpected.

I love this quote from a WW success story I read recently: “Patience is key. It took me a really long time to lose the weight. I think I became successful when I accepted that some weeks I would gain and that was OK. I didn’t let weight gain give me an excuse to throw in the towel. When I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, I was able to commit.”

Finances, weight loss, getting used to living alone…it all takes a certain degree of commitment, acceptance, and forgiveness. There is a learning curve, and with that learning curve there must be patience.

Just as I learned how to lose weight and I continue to learn how to maintain, I will learn to live alone. I will try to not let the people I don’t invite into my life to influence my thoughts or decisions.

What I visualize, at least right now, is a life not spent alone, but spent in the company of people I love and who intrigue me. I don’t mind cooking for one, it’s challenging. I like setting my own schedule. I can sit in the pain and the tears without running away…most of the time (HUGE step for me…FYI). I will read/listen to the criticism that is bound to come (that happens online…), but I will still blog about it. I’m doing my best to not be afraid.

Thanks for sticking with me. I really do love writing this blog and communicating with all of you.