Archive for December, 2009

Realizations and resolutions.

December 28, 2009

Yesterday we stained the hardwood floors in my house. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, but I knew it needed to be done and I wasn’t about to make my poor father do it by himself.

Here’s the thing. I am overweight. Very overweight. And I realized yesterday just how much my weight is limiting my movement. I had noticed it before, of course. I knew that is was becoming increasingly difficult for me to tie my shoes and put on socks. Things that are embarrassing to admit, especially for a 27-year old. But yesterday, as I was staining those floors, I realized that I couldn’t kneel comfortably and instead had to lay on the floor and wiggle around like some kind of beached whale. My 52-year old father had less of an issue moving around than I did. I realized that I am too young to be held back by my body.

I know that my body can do amazing things. In high school, I ran cross country. I was never very good, but I could run a sub-30 minute 5k without much trouble. I could go on long runs of 8 miles or more. It was not easy for me, because even then, I was overweight. I was the biggest person on the team…and not just of the girls. I was bigger than all of the boys, too (in my defense, they were all either short and skinny or else tall, super lanky types). I weighed about 180 pounds at the time, and even though I am 5’7″, I thought I was humongous. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever let myself get fatter than that.

Cut to now. I weigh twice what I did in high school when I was running cross country. I think back longingly to those days, when I could cross my legs or sit on the floor Indian-style, or shop at the Gap. I can’t do those things now.

I think about how, someday, I would like to have children. Mothers have to be able to move. Mothers sit on the floor, playing with their kids. If I became a mother right now, I don’t know how much of that I would be able to do. And that is sad.

As I’ve gotten bigger, my world has gotten smaller. I don’t go out much. I don’t like going to bars because they always seem too crowded and I feel like I am taking up too much space. At restaurants, I try to avoid sitting in booths because they aren’t comfortable for me. I feel like people stare at me wherever I go. I sometimes get nervous when I see a child look at me, because on more than one occasion I’ve had a child look at me and say, “She’s fat.” I watch my friends date, get married, have babies. I don’t date. I don’t even try. I just assume that no one would ever be interested in me. I have to wear the largest size at the plus size clothing store.

Losing weight has always been one of my New Year’s resolutions. And I have been successful at times, losing about 30 pounds two or three times through Weight Watchers or a crazy supplement-based diet. But I always lost momentum and gained the weight back, usually with an additional 10-15 pounds for good measure. In 2006, I seriously considered having gastric bypass surgery. In fact, has my insurance company approved the surgery, I know I would have had it. I look back now and am glad I didn’t resort to that. Even through all of my failures, I felt like this was something I could do on my own.

But I have been feeling increasingly desperate. I am worried about my health. I  had a major health scare in 2008 that was due, in part, to my weight. I am currently seeking out therapy for my food issues in hopes that I can understand why I feel the need to binge and overeat.

I want to live a healthy life. I want to be active. I want to run again, to go hiking and kayaking, to try a Zumba class, to do yoga. I want to be comfortable enough to wear shorts or a skirt and  sleeveless tops and maybe even a bathing suit. I want to date, to get married, to have babies. And in my current state, I just don’t see any of those things happening.

In 2009, my resolutions were to lose weight, buy a house, and stop biting my nails…among other things that I can’t recall. In June, I bought a house. In October, I stopped biting my nails. In 2010, losing weight will still be on my list of resolutions. But instead of being resolution #1, it will be resolution #3.

Resolution #1 is going to be exercising regularly. I have a gym membership that I put on hold about 2 months ago. I knew that, realistically, I wasn’t going to have time to go between a big event I was planning at work and working on my house in the evenings. But the work event is over now and once the bulk of work on my house is complete (hopefully by the beginning of February) I am going to take the membership off hold and make it my goal to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, if not more often. For a while earlier this year I was going to a water aerobics class almost every day. I want to start off with doing that again. I want to walk/jog around my new neighborhood on the days I don’t go to the gym.

Resolution #2 is going to be eating more mindfully and more healthily. I want to eat less processed and fast food. I want to plan my meals and snacks so that I don’t need to rely on processed or fast food when I am hungry. I want to eat when I am hungry, not because I am tired, or sad, or depressed.

I believe that if I can do #1 and #2, resolution #3 will happen on its own. I know it might not happen fast. But this is more about changing my life than a quick fix. My family has a history of longevity. If I want that to apply to me as well, I need to change my habits.

I know it’s possible. People do it all the time. I find great inspiration from some of the blogs I read – especially Questions for Dessert and Pasta Queen, among others – stories from people who have made the decision to live healthier and take their life back.

If they can do it, so can I. 2010 is going to be my year.

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2009: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

December 23, 2009

Let me begin by saying that I’ve had a rough year.

I started a job last fall that brought me back to my hometown. I was (and still am, but not for much longer) living with my parents. Almost immediately, I regretted taking the job. I couldn’t believe I was even hired in the first place. I felt like there must have been a mistake. I didn’t feel confident or qualified. But they hired me, and I took the job for a number of reasons (ones which I’m sure I’ll eventually get to on here). The first few months of this job were hideous. I cried on my way home from work almost every day. In any other situation I probably would have quit, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I contemplated driving my car off a bridge. Terrible, I know. I don’t even like to remember how desperate and depressed those months were.

But things started to improve. I was stashing away every spare cent so that I could buy a house. And in May, I found one I liked. It needed a lot of TLC, but I was up to the challenge, and I had the support of my family, so I went for it.

I had settlement on my house on Tuesday, June 23rd – six months ago today. Immediately after I’d signed my signature 458 times, I went to my new house to show it to family that was visiting from out of town. I was so excited. After a while we headed back to my parents house to get ready to go out for a celebratory dinner. We were barely home when we got a phone call that would change our lives.

The day before, there had been an accident on the Red Line Metro in Washington, DC. I lived right outside of DC for nearly four years and rode the Red Line regularly, so I  read all about the crash and even contacted some friends who lived down there to make sure they weren’t on the train. It didn’t even dawn on me that my aunt and uncle, who live in DC, could have been on that train.

They were. And they were both dead.

I couldn’t, and still can’t, formulate words for what that moment, and the days that followed, was like. The total disbelief. The denial. The horrible sound that came from my father as he heard his older sister and her husband, the recently retired Major General, the former commander of the DC National Guard, were among the nine victims. We had seen them at a family reunion two weeks before. They were new grandparents to a sweet baby girl. They were parents to my two cousins. They were on their way home from training at Walter Reed Army Hospital, where they were going to be volunteers. They were both 62.

The days that followed were a blur, literally and figuratively. I was an emotional wreck. I sat and watched their picture come up on the national news, flashed before me on CNN.com. I work in public relations and marketing, and I was put in charge of e-mailing the more distant relatives with details as they arrived. Reception for the family before the Memorial Service at the DC Armory. Interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

When we went down to DC for services, we were transported everywhere in police escorted limousines . The DC Guard took care of everything. When we arrived in DC and walked into my aunt and uncle’s condo, we were greeted by green uniforms and open arms. I had to remind myself that they had lost someone important to them, too.

They shut down the beltway on our way to Arlington National Cemetery. A line of 5 limousines followed by 3 buses and a trail of cars made our way past nearly all of the national monuments, which my aunt and uncle would have loved. They loved living in DC, and the trip to their final resting place was a fitting one.

I had never been to Arlington before. It was overwhelming and impressive. There was a flyover by 4 fighter jets, there was a horse-drawn caisson that carried their ashes, mixed together in one wooden box. There was an area cordoned off for the press. There was this photo, that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post the next morning.

That’s my grandfather in the middle. My cousins are to his right. My mom is the woman in the red top.

After they died, life slowly returned to normal. I threw myself into my job and working on my house. I wanted to be living there by Christmas.

Then, at the beginning of August, we had to put our sweet 12-year-old Dalmatian, Lucy, to sleep. She was sick, losing weight, and was not going to get better. I couldn’t bring myself to go with my parents to the vet’s office for the appointment. We buried her at our family’s cabin, next to our other dog, Shelby, who had died a few years before. Lucy had always been my favorite, and I always felt like she and I had a special connection.  I sometimes still think I hear the click of her toenails on our floors.

They say bad things come in threes, so I was fully expecting another hammer to drop. And it did. On August 25, my dear great-grandmother, Gigi, passed away. She was 97, and had been slowly declining since May. Her mind was sharp, but her body was giving out. As the oldest of her five great-grandchildren, we shared a special connection. I think I had prepared myself for years for her death, so that when it inevitably happened, I wouldn’t be so distraught. And to a point, it worked. I knew she was ready to go. She needed to know we were OK with it. The Sunday before she died, I told her that I loved her and would miss her terribly, but that I knew she was worn out and ready to go. Two days later, she died. I went over to her apartment before the funeral home came to pick her up. I didn’t think I wanted to see her, but I felt like I might regret it if I didn’t. She looked just like she was sleeping. That was comforting.

I took this picture of her on Mother’s Day, just a few days before she took a fall that would begin her slow demise. It captures her like no other photo did.

I am looking forward to 2010, and am cautiously optimistic that it will turn out better than 2009. I know that this year has made me grow up and realize that my life is not going to always be as idyllic as my childhood was. People are going to get sick and die. People are going to die suddenly. I will probably have moments of darkness that rival what I experienced this year. But I know it’s all a part of life; of growing up. And I think that maybe, at 27, this was the year that I did.

Here I go again.

December 23, 2009

I’ll be honest. I’ve tried blogging a couple of times before. It never stuck.

But I’ve been on Twitter now since earlier this year, and I’ve managed to update almost every day. I often feel like I want to write more than I can fit in 140 characters. So that’s where this here blog comes in.

I’m not looking to solve the world’s problems. Some of what I write will be funny, some will be serious. It’s really just a way for me to have a sounding board, and hopefully, eventually, there might be people who choose to read it.