Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Size 18.

Today, while rooting through my storage unit, I grabbed something out of my dad's old military-issue foot locker that I use as a memory trunk of sorts. It's got a bunch of old crap, like my high school letter jacket, papers, etc. My childhood blanket, "Fa-fa." And it is also home to one pair of jeans...the one remaining item of clothing left over from the days I weighed over 200 pounds.

In those days, I wore a pants size of 18. Tonight, I tried on my size 8 jeans and they fit.

Of course, I had to get pictures, and I will be taking the old 18s to the gym to show them to M. the Reasonable. (I recently told him about showing them off to G. the Meanie at one point in my training in Stockton, and how it was the only time I ever saw G. speechless.)

Jeans: Size 18. Body: Size 8 (Can you see the ever-present cat on the bed?)

Just a comparison.

The whole time I played with my camera and my too-large jeans,
Harley showed zero interest. Gah, I love those wittle feetsies!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stressed Spelled Backwards Is...

I stood in front of a vending machine last night at Sac State, half an hour before choir rehearsal, eying the peanut butter cups and the chips and the pretzels and every other piece of sugary, salty goodness offered therein and muttered five words to myself under my breath:

"Do NOT eat your stress."

Five years ago, in Antioch, when the high school kids got me down or the parents were on my back to give little Lola a better grade even though she was absolutely refusing to be a human being in my advanced choir class, I would stop at Safeway on the way home and buy a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Maybe one of those little double-serving cakes in the bakery. Hey, I deserved a little comfort food after such a bad day! I drank more Bailey's in those two years in Antioch than I care to admit.

I knew, of course, that this was supremely unhealthy and only contributing to my high blood pressure and weight problems. But life was so stressful sometimes, and it just felt easier to comfort myself with food instead of with a workout.

Obviously, things have changed since then, specifically in the last three years. I have learned better coping skills and I manage my stress far more healthily than I used to...but that urge to feed my inner demons has never really gone away. I don't think it ever will. I allow some treats in my life, especially when they're simply a treat--not a balm for a bad day. I love my dark chocolate, and when I eat it, I savor it (it's especially lovely with a hot cup of tea).

I'm proud to say that last night, I made the healthy decision. I walked away from the vending machine, clutching my protein smoothie in one hand and promising myself I'd feel better in the long run for skipping the junk food.

Big changes are happening in my life--if last night's "Vent Ahead" post didn't clue you in, I'm coming to terms with a career change. I'm leaving something I love--teaching--due to a horrible economy, and moving into something I never really had any interest in doing--selling insurance. I'm not happy about it, but I'm doing it, because unemployment doesn't last forever and I have bills to pay and a life to live. Right now, the coursework for passing the state insurance licensing exam is causing a lot of angst, and I can't wait for that part of things to be over in two weeks.

I figure I'll give it six months, and if I'm miserable, I'll do some substitute teaching and retail work. Maybe I'll actually be good at it. Who knows? Just get me through this stupid exam.

Today, I came home from a training group feeling overwhelmed and very near a panic attack. I knew, the minute I got home, that I had to do something good for my body before proceeding with anything else. I put my running gear on and told Mom, "I just need to run." And so I did.

What do you know? I ran a sub-10-minute mile for the second time in my life. The first time was in July 2010. That time, it was hard, but today felt easy. I was breathing hard and sweating, but I also felt a little like I was flying. When I reached my stopping point, I looked at the stopwatch on my iPod--I'd made it 1.04 miles in 10:03! The nearby houses may have been surprised by my surprised yelp, and the odd sight of a short brunette in a red shirt walking along the pathway with her arms in a V-for-victory. I just couldn't help myself...despite my stress, despite being tired, I went out there and owned that run. And when I got home, I had a smoothie, not junk food.

So many small victories--saying "no" to the vending machine, running that mile today. They all add up...and they all feel huge.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vent Ahead

I am tired tonight. I am so very tired, and emotional. And I'm sitting here thinking I made a huge mistake signing on to this Aflac stuff, because here are some key truths:
  1. Insurance is boring.
  2. I made it through half of the first chapter in my course today, my first day (I'm supposed to be finished with two whole chapters by now), and I do not understand any of what I read. I can't even regurgitate answers like a trained monkey.
  3. The thought of trying to make a living by talking to people on the phone trying to sell them on providing Aflac for their employees makes me want to cry.
  4. I hate the phone.
  5. I'd honest-to-God rather work as a retail drone at Target.
  6. If I'm completely honest with myself, I only signed up for this because I don't want my parents worrying about me. 
  7. So now I'm miserable and making them miserable with my misery.
Regrets? You have no idea.

My parents are cheering me on, saying things like, "You can learn this!" and "You'll be great! You have great people skills!" and I am just sitting here struggling not to cry. Day one of trying to learn about insurance and I am miserable.

But I'm also desperate. Because my parents are also constantly reminding me that I won't get a teaching job this year (thanks for the vote of confidence!). I am still applying like crazy because right now, if I can land a teaching job--any teaching job--I will gladly take it over selling insurance.

Even substitute teaching.

Anyway, I think I've made a huge mistake. But I'm going to finish the training the best I can (including the Aflac one I have to be at in Folsom in...yikes, 9 hours) and hope I don't embarrass myself on the state test. But honestly? I'm writing down the chapter word for word and still not understanding or retaining any of it.

Case in point:

The Law of Large Numbers: The larger the number of exposures considered, the more closely the losses reported will equal the probability of loss.

What the hell are exposures? I hadn't even encountered that word yet in my reading. And read that sentence. Even Dad had to pick it apart for a few minutes before he could explain it to me. And this is just one teensy law in half of a chapter about the "basics" of insurance. I feel like I've just been handed a paper grocery bag with a blanket, a couple bottles of water and some tins of Spam and told to climb Everest.


70 Pounds

It's official. I weigh 152 pounds today, making my total weight loss 70. I got M. the Reasonable to take a picture of me holding a 70-pound weight, and you can see that I'm having a hard time holding it up. I'm also laughing because M. had asked me what angle he should take the picture at, and before I could respond he said, "Oh, just take the picture already!!" because apparently, he can read my mind or something.

I was having a hard time holding that weight up (you can see I'm bracing it against my leg), even though today I dead lifted 95 stinkin' pounds (I rule!!) and I used to actually carry that much weight around on my body every single day.

Monday Music: Keane

So this morning, Keane formally announced the upcoming release of their new album, Strangeland, via this awesome video:

Excited? You have no idea. I may wet myself.

I'll just point out that the album comes out May 7--May 8 is my three-year Keane-o-versary, when I went to that Oakland gig with Summer and fell hard for this amazing band from Sussex.  I already love the sound of what I'm hearing on this teaser video, and I know I'm going to LOVE this album. Bring it on!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Second 5K

Last month, I ran my first 5K, and I was quite pleased with myself for 1) finishing and 2) finishing in a respectable time of about 37 minutes. Today, I ran the Getty Owl Foundation's local run to support families with children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). I had two lofty goals:

  1. Finish the race, and
  2. Beat my time from January's race.
No, I don't really set the bar that high.

In all honesty, I was hoping to finish in under 35 minutes, but a sluggish week of running and a general tiredness this morning made me wonder if that would be possible. Still, I donned my leggings and baseball cap (the irony of showing up at a race that is advertised as "family friendly" in a hat that says "It's 5 o'clock somewhere" is not lost on me, but it's the only baseball cap I have and it was bloody cold out there. For my part of California).  I told myself that anything under 37 was good, and under 36 would be great.

I drove the thirty minutes to Sacramento and checked in...then promptly returned to my car and tried to stay warm. Finally, with about 20 minutes to the start, I wandered over to the starting line and did a little side-step dance back and forth to keep my legs from freezing.

Finally, it was time. I had positioned myself at mid-pack to be ahead of the stroller crowd but behind the faster runners. I had to dodge a few people but then things started evening out. I set an easy pace and got going, determined to run as much as possible.

The first half was pretty uneventful. The cold air made breathing a little painful, and running on cold mornings makes my nose run, so I'm that disgusting person constantly wiping her nose on her sleeve. (I really must remember to buy a cheap bandana to tie around my arm for this purpose.) I periodically glanced down at a makeshift paper bracelet I'd made for myself that said, "I believe in me." After the halfway point, I allowed myself a little bit of walking...a slight queasy feeling had descended on my stomach and I figured I'd rather walk for a minute or two than have to stop entirely down the road to be sick. The walking (and breathing) helped, and I got running again, and felt pretty good for most of the rest of the course. I walked a few times more, but never for very long.

Towards the end of the course, as I left the Sacramento River trails and came closer to downtown, I played my favorite song--Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" on my iPod. It's not a particularly fast-tempo song, but it inspires me and makes me push myself. As I rounded a bend in the path, I saw the finish line ahead--and to my delight, the clock read 34:40! My mid-paced stride became a faster, more confident run as I came in for the finish--I wanted so badly to come in under 35 minutes! I uttered a little, "Hell yeah!" and felt a smile come over my face as I pounded my way home.

The nearest runners were yards ahead and yards behind me. I was in a little pocket by myself finishing, to the cheers of the bystanders who were there to cheer and make the runners feel good. I crossed the finish a little past the 35-minute mark, feeling triumphant and...


For a couple of minutes, I was convinced I was going to be sick--that last push to the finish was, perhaps, a wee bit too hard. I normally run about two-and-a-half miles, so an extra seven-tenths, pushing my pace, is a lot of work for me. Fortunately, I managed to calm my heaving stomach with deep breathing and some bottled water. I wandered around to cool down and checked out my official time on the computers the race management people had thoughtfully provided.

Imagine my huge delight when I found that with the difference between when I crossed the start line (remember, I was mid-pack), I actually finished today in 34:50!

I beat my time from January by a whopping 2:10...this, my friends, is amazing for someone who still feels like she's coming to terms with being a runner. Coming right after the three-year anniversary of my starting this whole weight loss and fitness adventure, I can't tell you how proud I feel, how huge a victory this is.

Of course, I texted M. the Reasonable right away. He's very proud of me, and his response to my almost getting sick was, "It's ok, it happens sometimes when you're kicking butt!"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Save Me, San Francisco

I've been craving a day in the city, and with my big-crazy-wild-and-absolutely-true new adventure staring at me and my feelings of being almost overwhelmed by it all yesterday, I decided a day in San Francisco was in order.

I left this morning and drove to Oakland, where I left Rosie Pro parked at the Rockridge Bart station. I love driving Rosie...but I loathe driving in San Francisco, especially in the part I was specifically visiting today: Market Street.

You have this wonderful grid system in San Francisco, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, at some point in history, someone with a very mean sense of humor stuck a few diagonal streets in for some nefarious reason. It should make sense, but every single time I drive in that part of San Francisco, I get hopelessly turned around and find myself all the way to Ocean Beach or the Presidio before I can make sense of anything.

See? It's just cruel.
 Anyway, I stopped on the frontage road along the inside of the bay on the Oakland side for some pics and a quick video.

That's San Francisco, behind Yerba Buena Island, and to the right
of the pic, the Golden Gate Bridge (with Alcatraz).

Close-up of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate.

Close-up of the city, with Yerba Buena (the natural island) and Treasure
(the flat, man-made one) Islands.

No swimming for Cali Swimmy today. Too windy!

See? Windy.

I took a little video (the part of the narration that got drowned out by the wind is simply pointing out Angel Island and, behind it, the Marin Headlands), before getting back in the car and heading to the Bart station.

I love this view from the Rockridge Bart station.

This pigeon couple got very close to me--they weren't afraid at all!
I got off of Bart at Powell Street with a specific mission in mind. Through some Google fun last night, I found that there is a Mac repair business called Keane on Market Street, near Powell. Finding it proved to be a bit of an adventure, as it's located in a high-rise building and one must sign in at the front, and everything! I signed into a building and rode up to the 10th floor just to take a picture of a door...that's dedication to sign-pic-taking, am I right?

I love, love, love the various architectural styles represented in San

Not very exciting, considering everything I had
to do to get it...

I wandered down towards the Trans-America building. It occurred to me that for all the pics I have of it, I've never really been all that near it. So I walked by it today.

From there, I wandered down to the Ferry building, battled some crowds, got annoyed by the crowds, and looked around.

The Ferry building, with the Bay Bridge peeking from behind.

I've never investigated this awesome fountain before.

I found Pier 14, which I honestly didn't know existed, and walked out to the very end of it, getting some great pictures and another panorama video.

The western span of the Bay Bridge.

Random rocket sculpture.

Helicopter (Coast Guard)

The Ferry Building clock tower and Coit Tower.

In this shot, you can see the Trans-America building, the ferry clock tower,
and Coit Tower.

Still very windy...

I took another video, this time sans narration:

For the rest of the day I meandered along Market Street, stopping at a big mall to have a salad for lunch in the food court (well done, Meg!) and then spending some time in Macy's oohing and aahing over shoes, lingerie, clothes and handbags. I was ready to let myself buy one little splurge, but I didn't fall in love with anything, so I came home empty-handed, only having spent money on Bart fare and lunch. Still, it was a marvelous day.

Some people need EVERYTHING spelled out for them.

The diagonal streets may make me crazy driving,
but they make for some great corner buildings!

Random sculpture

Another corner building.

Only in  San Francisco can you get creme brulee from a street vendor.

These last two sign pics are indicative of how hungry I was by
this time.

Angry Birds!!

These were at Crate and Barrel. Awesome!

Great sign in Berkeley as I drove home (don't worry,
I was stopped at a red light when I took this!).

At the same red light.