Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uncle Mike

That week or so after my birthday was wonderful: I was feeling great, I was on track, I was looking at life in a more positive way.

And then my uncle died.

I didn't crumble right away. In fact, the day I learned of his death, the day I set out for the drive to Pittsburgh for his funeral and the day after I returned, I still went on my scheduled walks. While in Pittsburgh -- by myself and in a very fragile state -- I managed to stick to my food plan for the most part ("for the most part" because I ate some of my aunt's homemade biscotti).

It wasn't until after I returned that I fell apart.

My dad, who passed away in 2007, was one of seven children. He was the oldest, and his death, while sudden and unexpected, wasn't unexpected, if that makes sense. He lived a hard life and did a lot of damage to his body. He suffered many demons -- most I believe brought on by his time in Vietnam -- and, as a result, his family suffered, too. He was 63 when he died, but I think we lost the real Carmen D'Abruzzo decades before.

My Uncle Mike was the youngest boy. He was quiet and hardworking. He wrote poetry and loved the Three Stooges. He would drop everything to help you if you needed him. And he doted on his wife and daughter. He was 57.

His death hit me hard. My heart ached, not only for the loss of a wonderful man, but for the family he left behind. I also was faced with going to the same funeral home, the same church, the same cemetery and the same hall where my father's services were held. And my grandmother's. And my grandfather's. I spent so much energy just trying to hold myself together.

When I got back from Pittsburgh, I noticed that my attitude, my spirit had shifted. I tried to summon those good feelings I had for that short time between Oct. 29 and Nov. 3. But I was spent. I didn't walk at all that week. And by the following weekend, my eating was out of control once again.

Three steps forward, five steps back.

I still haven't gotten out of this dark place, and it's not just affecting my health. At work, every task is taking me three, four times longer than it used to take me. I can't concentrate. And I'm all over the place with my train of thought. It doesn't help, I'm sure, that I'm taking on more duties at the moment. But whereas I used to be able to work at home even after my shift, now I just crash.

It's the vicious cycle -- when I walk and eat well and get a lot of rest, I feel great. When I don't, I feel awful -- but so awful I can't even think about walking or eating right or getting proper sleep. That's why those days at the end of last month were so precious to me. I was feeling like I had the momentum to go all the way. Now I'm back in that place where I can't see a beginning.

I still have my neatly marked calendar leading up to October 2014 detailing the walks I need to get in and the weight I need to lose. While it didn't take me long to get off track, I still have 11 calendar pages left and that's not nothing. I'm praying for the ability to get out of this hole -- once again -- and embrace the good and shoot for the moon.

I'd like to think I have one more angel cheering me on.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Journey Begins With a Single Step

Happy November, everyone!

The start of my 40th year has been really nice. I spent my birthday around some of my favorite people and was gifted with messages of love from precious friends. Typically, I dread getting older, but this year, I embraced the 39 years because it meant I had 39 years' worth of memories and experiences, and I know I would not have met the people I've met if not for all 39 years. Instead of grieving over the friends I no longer hear from, I made it a point to remember the really great birthdays shared with them in the past. I've come to accept that some people are only in our lives for a short time, but that doesn't take away from our time together. And along those lines, I know that this time I'm spending in D.C. is fleeting, so I try to embrace every moment with these friends while I can.

Depression sometimes takes me into such a deep hole that I can't see how blessed I am. So I truly appreciate those times when I'm outside the hole -- when I can look around and see the people who have accompanied me on different parts of my journey and feel the gratitude I have for them.

The start of my 40th year has also been nice because I'm focusing on making it good. Taking it not just one day at a time, but one moment at a time. Trying to make better choices and view situations differently.

I know it was probably a little jolting to see me return to this blog after such a long time -- and after watching my scale go up and up each time I checked in -- and see that I've chosen such a daunting goal. It's hard to explain why I want to do a marathon. But this 2009 blog post sums it up pretty well. I just love running long distances. And I miss being able to run for hours and feel good. It is truly not about the race but about the journey.

The journey would begin with simply getting out the door and enjoying small walks. A month later, maybe adding a minute of running to those walks. Watching myself be able to run a tiny bit more with each 3-miler. Giving myself very modest weight-loss goals (either 1 or 2 pounds a week) and meeting them by eating the proper fuel my body needs. Increasing those distances on weekends, but not by much. And being realistic about my history, asking myself "Are you on track?" as each month passes, and accepting what it means if I am not.

It's a journey I look forward to. I honestly could not care less about the Marine Corps Marathon medal. But, boy, how I can't wait to run throughout this grand city and beyond.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

40th Year

Four years ago, I had the ambitious goal of running the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. I trained pretty darn hard, going as far as 20 miles in my training (for more on that incredible September-morning run, you can read my giddy blog post). But it wasn't meant to be. I took on a part-time job teaching that same month, my training suffered, my weight went up, and I wasn't as confident as I wanted to be going into my first marathon.

I haven't trained for a marathon since then. I've barely trained for the half marathons I've done.

To be honest, I haven't given the MCM much thought over the past few years, though every October, I do get wistful. Last year on my way into work (my first year working in D.C.), I may have shed a tear or two as I passed the limping men and women wrapped in mylar blankets and decorated in their 26.2 medals get off at my Metro stop.

But with my weight going up and up, the marathon wasn't even worth thinking about.

On Thursday, while waiting for the Metro with a friend, there was an announcement about the transit system opening early Sunday for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. And my face lit up (so noticeably that my friend laughed at my reaction). Just hearing about the race makes my heart skip a beat.

Tomorrow is the day, and I plan on heading down to watch part of the race before my work shift begins. It will be early in the marathon (mile 2) when legs are fresh and optimism is high. Then, ideally, I'll head out to the Mall a few hours later and try to catch the truly inspirational parts -- miles 19-20 -- when legs are tired and runners are digging deep within them to find the strength and determination to continue.

My reason for going out there is purely selfish. I want to be inspired.

On Tuesday, I will turn 39 years old. It will begin my 40th year. And while I am not one to have such goals as "Run Marathon By Age 40," I've decided I'd like this to be the year I give it another shot.

Not to be a pessimist, but I realize it's a long shot. I am 60 pounds heavier than I was when I was last training for a marathon. So Part 1 would mean losing at least 40 pounds by the time training begins in April. Doable. But with my history, I know the odds. How many times have I been here before?

The only way I'll gain the confidence I need to train is by making the progress that has eluded me for so many years. And to make that progress I need to keep my eyes on the prize.

Tomorrow, I hope to not just observe those runners, but feel their pain and euphoria, their fear and excitement, their determination and, ultimately, their accomplishment.

I know I will be at that starting line one day -- and that finish line. Whether this is the year remains to be seen. But -- if I may very loosely quote "When Harry Met Sally..." -- when you realize exactly what you want to accomplish in life, you want to start that journey as soon as possible.

So let's just see where it takes me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Here's to No. 5

Post weekly weigh-ins to hold yourself accountable.

Don't post your weekly weight because it puts too much pressure on you.

Go cold turkey -- it's the only way you can stop overeating junk.

Allow yourself a cheat day -- that way you won't feel deprived.

Run, run, run that weight off.

Be careful about running because you will be hungrier and you'll then eat more and won't lose anything.

Eat six small meals a day so you won't be hungry.

Don't snack in between meals.

Don't weigh yourself every day because it will frustrate you, and your body goes through natural ups and downs. Just weigh in weekly.

Weigh yourself every day so you can see when you've gotten off track.

Don't weigh in ever again because it's not about the number on the scale.

Don't eat carbs.

Don't deprive yourself of anything or be extreme about your diet.

Reward yourself when you hit small goals.

But don't reward yourself with food!

Don't eat after 5 p.m.

Drink a lot of water.

Fill up on fruits and vegetables.

Get a lot of sleep.

Don't forget strength-training.

And people wonder why it's so hard to lose weight. Everyone has an answer -- the key to making the weight fall off. And this girl has tried just about all of them. I mix and match. (One month, it's weigh in daily, have a cheat day, increase the running. Another month, it's blog your weekly weight, go cold turkey, record everything you eat. Then, it's go no-carb, stop weighing in, stop blogging. You get the point.)

I'm 38 years old, I've had a weight problem my entire life, and I've only successfully lost weight four times: seventh grade, 11th grade, 2003-2005 and 2008. The rest of the time, I've been this. But no matter how I look, I'm always, always thinking about my weight.

What a waste of a life.

My latest attempt (a strict schedule of when I sleep, work, eat and exercise) looks great on paper and even kind of worked one day this week. But it didn't take into account the day I had to stay in the office until 10 p.m., then work more at home, then wake up early to work more. There went the running and the early sleep. And then there was the day the workload was large and the deadline small and I couldn't get my last meal in before 5 p.m.

I wish I could say "just be healthy, don't worry about anything, and the weight will take care of itself." But that doesn't really work for someone like me. This 250-pound woman who cares so little about herself and her life that one little upset can take her so far into a depression that she can't dig out from the candy wrappers and pizza boxes she's sought escape in.

So I come up with a strict mix-and-match of the above and hope this time will be the magical fifth success story.

For starters, I'm trying to get more hours out of my day, like I did when I worked the night shift in my former jobs. As it is now, I get up, go to work, come home, eat and go to sleep. So I tweaked my schedule a bit. I get up at 6, run/walk/do something healthy, have breakfast at 9:30, do my freelance work until 11:30, go to work, lunch at 1:30, dinner at 5:30, get home by 8:30 and to bed at 9.

I was successful on Monday with most of this (I ended up falling asleep during the freelance work). But on the other days, even though they didn't work out schedule-wise, I did eat well. And that is the key. Not letting myself get derailed if one part -- or more -- of the schedule goes awry.

Right now my big question mark is if I should allow myself a cheat day. I had planned on allowing myself to eat a dinner out on Wednesdays (trivia night). Today, trivia has been canceled and I'm going to a movie instead. So do I allow myself popcorn? Or do I only allow myself that cheat meal if I go out to dinner? And where does it stop? Can I let myself do anything on Wednesdays? Dessert? Or will that only derail me?

I also am going to try my best to not step on the scale until my next trip out of town. Which means I won't be blogging about my specific progress. But I do want to write. Because I know there's a lot I need to get out, and I hope that will help.

So here's to trying, trying, trying. And involving serious prayer to keep me on my path.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week 22

Beginning Weight: 264.6
Week 19's weight: 246.2
This week's weight: 248.2
Week 22's weight loss: +2
Total weight loss: -16.4

Apologies for being away. I was on "vacation" last week (a weekend in Pittsburgh followed by a week of sleeping and working on reunion stuff) and the week before was "pre-vacation stress" week. Excuses, excuses. I ate horribly -- really horribly -- while away. Just couldn't resist that Sarris chocolate and those Eat-n-Park smiley cookies. And the pizzelles I made with my aunt that reminded me of earlier times. Cue the disappointment. 

I do wonder if I will ever be in the right mindset to tackle this thing again. My job stress is overwhelming. I have two days left this week before my weekend, and right now, instead of thinking about my weekend, I am already thinking about having to go back to work on Sunday. I dread it. Which makes me depressed. Which makes me want to just sleep and eat. 

So I've gained an additional 2 pounds, pretty much putting me back to where I was in early April. But I'm still here. Trying. 

Now, off to that job....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Week 19

Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 246
This week's weight: 246.2
Week 19's weight loss: +0.2
Total weight loss: -18.4

I didn't do well over the weekend -- a bad habit I need to nip in the bud. Along with my laziness. The only -- only! -- thing I have managed to do right is NOT order that pizza I so desperately want to order. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Week 18

Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 249
This week's weight: 246
Week 18's weight loss: -3
Total weight loss: -18.6

It took me longer than I hoped, but I finally got back on track this week with the eating. It remains, and will likely always remain, my biggest hurdle in life. Already I am thinking of Memorial Day weekend and wondering how I will make it through without caving. What is wrong with me? I hate this addiction so very much.

One day at a time.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 17

Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 244.2
This week's weight: 249
Week 17's weight loss: +4.8
Total weight loss: -15.6

Wow, I sure did some damage last week. And this week. I hope and pray I can get it off quick -- because it certainly went on quick. 

No excuses. But explanation:

I did my 10th half marathon last Sunday. It actually was a great day -- beautiful weather, wonderful friends. I didn't have my worst race. It was simply wonderful being out there and wonderful accomplishing those 13.1 miles. Three days later, I did a 3-mile race for work. That one was a little harder, but I still did well (for me). There's a whole side story about how I got a blister underneath my big toe and it hurt so bad I feared I couldn't run on Wednesday, but I've since moved on from that drama.

I didn't stuff my mouth with food like a binge eater before or after the race. But I did have a nice Italian meal of gnocchi (only ate half but had a lot of bread) the night before and had a few big cookies throughout the weekend. And a nice breakfast afterward (eggs, bacon, potatoes). I had a cupcake Sunday night. And all of that just added up and couldn't be offset by those 13 miles. 

Unfortunately, Wednesday's race -- for a number of reasons -- brought me down. And over the past few days, I have eaten very poorly. You can probably see the unraveling as you read this.

But I am here. It's taken me half a week to update the post but I'm here and ready to be held accountable. Sadly, that was Wednesday's weigh-in and I know my weight is even more than that right now. All those months of effort and they disappear in the blink of an eye.

I'm a mess. And I'm disappointed in myself. But as it hasn't even been a week yet since the race, I do want to still feel pride that I did it and that I'm not completely down and out.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Week 16

Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 244.4
This week's weight: 244.2
Week 16's weight loss: -0.2
Total weight loss: -20.4

Been a rough day and I don't have much time to write. But I did want to log on and update the ole journey. The ole, slow, stuck-in-molasses journey.

I actually do have a lot to say, but it will have to wait. But thanks for still following me and believing in me and always being the push I need.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013/2003: Week 15

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 15: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 245.2
This week's weight: 244.4
Week 15's weight loss: -0.8
Total weight loss: -20.2

So, 15 weeks. That's a key number for me: It's the amount of time the first Weight Watch lasted. Fifteen weeks allowed me to gain momentum, and it was the starting point for me not looking back -- I was able to see enough success in 15 weeks that I kept on going and bounded toward my goal. 

I am proud I have made it this far again. Not 2003 proud (that girl was a saint on her diet and never strayed; I can't say the same this time around), but proud. And while I have many, many moments of frustration that I don't look different and my pants are still tight, the progress I made in my running alone is proof I'm doing something. I have to hope and have faith that it will eventually start showing.

I have to remember that even 2003 Diana wasn't all sunshine and daisies at the end of 15 weeks; the day the article published, I was in tears as I stared at my "before" and "after" photos and could't see an inch of difference. I didn't give up, though, and eventually the differences would become crystal clear. I have to remember that as I plug away.

One final note on the running: I ended the four-week Friday 5K series on a good note: Taking week 3 out of the equation (since it was interrupted by lightning), here was my progression: 48:11 minutes, 46:10 minutes, 44:46 minutes. I was really happy to see that much progress. I'm going to miss the series. 

Week 15: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 279.2
This week's weight: 278.4
Week 15's weight loss: -0.8
Total weight loss: -38.6

Published: 05/20/2003
The mug was a gift from my grandmother – though I’m not sure what holiday it was for or how old I was when I received it.

But I was a child in elementary school, and the mug – bearing my name, a picture of three ice cream cones and the word “irresistible” – should have made me smile or laugh.

It didn’t. Instead, I burst into tears.

“It means I can’t resist ice cream cones,” I cried. “I eat too many.

I was a fat child and I was sure the coffee mug was a hint that I needed to lose weight.

I still have that mug today – faded from its years of use and a constant reminder of that day and how I felt.

I tell you this story – as I’ve told you so many others – because it is my history. Pudgy, overweight, fat, obese – it’s all I’ve ever been known as. It’s who I am and who I’ve always been.

I’ve never resolved myself to those words. I’ve tried many times to fight them, to lose the pounds, to battle against the bulge. But somehow I’ve always ended up back in the same place, back facing those adjectives that follow “Diana” much more often than the word “irresistible.”

So I must tell you, my expectations were not all that high when I started this Weight Watch 15 weeks ago. I had no idea what I’d face, what I’d overcome, what I’d resist – or not resist. I just dove right in.

My theory, and what I told myself over and over, was “It’s only 15 weeks. Give yourself 15 weeks, push yourself hard for 15 weeks, and then what happens, happens.”

It was only 15 weeks out of my life. If I couldn’t eat healthy and exercise for a short 15 weeks, then I was one weak person. So I focused on that 15 weeks.

In the beginning, it was hard. Folks at work would say, “Have a slice of pizza – one slice won’t hurt you.” Friends at dinner would encourage a little dessert – just a little isn’t bad, they’d say.

And in the beginning, it was hard to say no. But I did.

It used to be that people would give me the leftovers, knowing I’d tidy things up by eating the last doughnut or inhaling the remaining crumbs of cake. And I’m sure that, in the beginning, they thought, “Oh, it will only be a matter of time before Diana stops this diet and resumes her old habits.”

But that time never came.

After weeks of saying “no,” people stopped asking. They began to realize that no matter what they placed in front of me, I wasn’t going to eat it.

So they stopped asking, stopped offering, stopped assuming.

You’d be surprised what kind of habits you can form in a few weeks. After about a month, eating a balanced breakfast, packing a healthful lunch, eating a prescribed dinner – it all became a part of my life. I stopped looking at those fast-food restaurant landmarks on the way home from work. My eyes naturally avoided the old temptations at the supermarket. I started flipping through healthful cookbooks and finding new ways to spice up my meals. I embraced my vegetable steamer at home that served up zucchini and squash in a tasty way. I made friends with one-cup serving size containers. I packed bananas and bran muffins and pretzels for snacks at work. I experimented with new foods so I wouldn’t get bored. I found myself saving money because I no longer stopped for lunches or dinners or snacks.

And I began to feel like I could do it – I only had 14, 13, 12, 11 weeks to go.

The exercise part of the equation was a little harder for me. I worked hard at getting up at 6:30 a.m. and walking the first few weeks – but there was a period of about two weeks in the middle of the Weight Watch where I didn’t walk at all.

So once I felt I had the “dieting” part of the equation down – a good three months into my program - I focused on the exercise part by joining a gym. And that soon became a habit, too.

I truly believe that had I joined a gym in the beginning, something would have suffered. It’s like what motivational people tell you – don’t try to give up everything at once. It’s unrealistic to say, “I’m going to quit smoking, quit drinking coffee and run every morning” all at the same time. You have to start small, with baby steps. Taking away too much too quickly from your life usually means none of your goals will last.

But baby steps – they work quite well.

And after a few weeks of a solid exercise routine, I felt I was headed in the right direction in reshaping my body.

Remember – I only had to do it for 4, 3, 2, 1 more week(s).

Today, I’m 38.6 pounds lighter than the first of February when the Weight Watch began. I’ve dropped at least a size in my clothes, and people are noticing. I’m very happy with my weight loss – though you might not always be able to tell, as I’m still a little too afraid to be too proud. I’m not there yet.

But I need to believe I can be.

This weight loss, this feeling, this ability to walk at a better pace and enjoy more of life’s offerings – it’s, well, “irresistible.”

Let’s try another 15 weeks. I think I can do that.

Friday, April 26, 2013


And then there are those days when you are hit with even more reality than you want:

As I mentioned before, when I was running the 10-miler on Sunday, I felt like I was gliding, felt like I was finally running.

I felt so good. But in actuality, this is what I looked like:

It's not the image I wanted in my head as I get ready to leave for my last Friday night 5K. I think that when I'm running, I picture someone entirely else out there. I look at this picture and I can't imagine how I picked my feet up for 10 miles.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013/2003: Week 14

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 14: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 246.4
This week's weight: 245.2
Week 14's weight loss: -1.2
Total weight loss: -19.4

This week. It sure has had its ups and downs. Friday's third 5K was touch-and-go because of the weather. Heavy storms, lightning and tornadoes were in the forecast. But I still hopped on Metro and hoped for the best. It was super humid. But I found myself running more than walking and feeling really good. I was on track to beat even last week's time, which had been so much better than the previous week. But with the lightning hitting a little too close to home, the course was shut down and I was only able to complete 2.64. Still, my pace was the best in more than a year (13:56) and I felt really great.

I spent Saturday worried about Sunday. Seriously. 

I awoke Sunday at 4 a.m. and drove to Alexandria, so nervous about every little thing. I was the first one in the parking garage (perhaps I was a little too anxious?) and the first on the bus that would take us to the starting in at Mount Vernon. It was still dark when I exited the bus and tried to get my bearings. I ended up sitting on a porch, looking at my watch every few minutes. 45 minutes till I can eat my banana. An hour and a half till we have to line up. An hour and 45 minutes till the race begins. 

Then a very kind woman who was sitting on the other side of the porch came over to my bench and asked if I was cold. (I sure was .... short-sleeves and a windy 45 degrees don't mix well when you're just sitting around.) She gave me a mylar race blanket she had stashed in her gear bag and we sat and talked and talked about races and running. She put my mind at ease simply by telling me this was one of her favorite races because it's so peaceful out on the parkway. At that point, I told myself that that was all I needed -- a chance to be out there and at peace and to enjoy my surroundings.

They started the slow runners 30 minutes early on the Mount Vernon path (we were to join the others when we converged). I took off very slow and steady but feeling good. The slow runners passed me by, but I told myself that pace was what mattered most today. I had to keep it up for 10 miles. 

Mile 1. Mile 2. Mile 3. I couldn't believe how good I felt. I was maintaining my 2/3 run/walk, and there were moments during the running where I felt light and free and so good. Though I noticed the runners next to me on the parkway, I stayed on the path until I felt more comfortable about the pace they were keeping (no use joining a group of runners who would plow me down as soon as I stepped foot on the course). But by Mile 4, I had to join or else miss another water stop. I was indeed plowed down but I didn't let it get to me. I kept up my pace. Slow and steady.

It was shocking, as the miles ticked off, how good I felt. My training had not been going well. I hadn't been running at all during my long distances and it had been a month since I had done a very painful 9 miles. But on this day, I felt amazing.

I crossed the finish line running -- and beaming, having kept up the run/walk the entire time. I felt wonderful. I didn't ache, I didn't feel sick. 

I smiled all the way home, smiled as I stretched, smiled as I got ready for work, smiled at work despite the complete exhaustion, smiled as I laid my weary head to rest.

The smile didn't last all that long after that. The next day, feeling so good in general, I tried on a pair of pants that haven't fit since October or so. Yeah, they still didn't fit. I was still the same fat girl, the same one who, despite losing some weight, still can't fit into the clothes she wore just six months ago.

I thought about the race results I had peeked at the day before. I had been so excited about my pace (with the extra mileage from the path, I had actually done 10.3 miles, maintaining a 16 minute/mile pace), but of course, the race only had me at 10 miles, and a 16:30 pace. And I was sixth from last. 

On Monday, I stepped on the scale -- proud of the fact that I ate well over the weekend and didn't gorge after the race. The weight was, of course, up.

Then I made the mistake of looking at the race pictures that were finally posted from the first Friday 5K. I'll own up to my horrible appearance by posting them:

So in a matter of hours, I went from feeling wonderful about myself, to feeling rotten. 

It is true that I have not been an angel with my eating. Once a week, I eat out during Trivia Night: a veggie and cheese sandwich with a side of fries. And I've been having frozen yogurt (fat-free but not a small portion) and plain popcorn once or twice a week. But that's about it. And to run, and run faster, and still see so little progress (especially in my appearance) is so frustrating.

But I feel like I should reiterate: I do not run to lose weight. I run because I love it. I try to lose weight SO I can run. There have been so many times recently when I've wanted to unzip from this horrible body, step out of it and just run like the wind. 

It's hard to put into words what I've learned from this week. I know I need to be happy with the progress I'm making, to live in the moment and appreciate the good (those races really did rock!). I was looking at old pictures last night and remembered how I complained in the first blog post (circa 2009) about how I looked bigger than an elephant in one of them. I was 50 pounds lighter than I am now. And looking at those pictures now, I think I looked pretty darn good. Then I think, will I look back at this time in my life one day and wish I looked this way? I hope not -- I hope I don't get bigger and remember this time fondly. But the point is, it's not all bad. And if I don't appreciate what I have right now, it, too, could be taken away.

Week 14: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 282
This week's weight: 279.2
Week 14's weight loss: -2.8
Total weight loss: -37.8

Published: 05/13/2003
I’ve had a lot of “wake-up” moments this week.

I bought two skirts on Sunday right off the rack without trying them on, thinking they would definitely fit, perhaps even be too big.

Wake up, Diana.

Planning to wear the one outfit Monday, I stepped into the skirt and nearly suffocated from how tight it was. No where near ready to fit. What was I thinking?

And that new outfit I bought for Easter? I swear, when I looked in the mirror, I saw a slimmer Diana. But when Mom shared the newly developed photographs with me this weekend, I was devastated at how I looked. The same. The same as I’ve always looked.

Wake up, Diana.

I am proud at what I’ve accomplished these past few months. And I haven’t been fooling myself regarding how long this process was going to take. I suppose I just thought I had come further than I really had. A bit depressing. But don’t worry – I won’t let it stop me.

The gym is going well. They’re working me hard, thankfully, and really helping me get this part of my life under control. I actually look forward to each visit, something I never imagined would happen.

I’ve just got to be more realistic about my journey.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013/2003: Week 13

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 13: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 248.2
This week's weight: 246.4
Week 13's weight loss: 1.8
Total weight loss: 18.2

I'm glad I was able to take off the weight I put on last week -- this truly is one slow weight-loss attempt and I look no different from how I looked 18 pounds ago (I swear). But I'm just trying to plug away, have many more good days than bad and not let the depression overwhelm me. Boston overwhelmed me, as I know it did many people. 

I haven't run since Sunday (which was really a 7-mile hill walk). Every morning, I get up and just want to go back under the covers. Even on this bright sunny day. 

This week brings 5K No. 3 (the second one was better -- I knocked 2 minutes off my time and had my best three-mile time in months) and Sunday's 10-miler. I am extremely nervous about how that one will turn out, though I was happy to see that the race has a 30-minute early start for slow runners. Hopefully, that will ease my anxiety. Because I haven't been able to run much of my "long runs." And the farthest I've gone in this training (9 miles) was a month ago.

Sorry to end on a random note -- but I've got to get to work. That's another thing about not running in the morning -- I oversleep and run late and am all out of sorts. You'd think that would be reason enough to get me out there! Ahh, me.

Week 13: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 283.2
This week's weight: 282
Week 13's weight loss: 1.2
Total weight loss: 33.8

Published: 05/06/2003
The scale finally got to me.

No, not the one I step on at my Weight Watchers meetings. That scale registered a 1.2-pound loss this week. But the scale in my bathroom at home – that one kept taunting me. I’d see it in the mornings and want desperately to step on it to see if my weight went down.

Then, when I’d see the same blasted number – or a higher one - I’d fall into a depression.

So I finally did something about it. Not wanting to be ruled by the daily taunting of the scale (and everyone knows you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day), I put the scale in my closet.

No more daily weigh-ins.

On another positive note, I finally joined a gym.

It was a big step for me. I kept telling myself I didn’t need a gym to exercise – I had the outdoors to walk, I had an exercise room at my apartment complex.

But I knew I was kidding myself. I knew I needed consistency. I knew I needed a trainer to guide me, to keep me on track, to move me in the right direction.

So I did it.

It wasn’t easy – especially the moment when I had my body fat measured. I knew it would be bad, but I still was surprised – and embarrassed – to see the number (49 percent – and believe me, it pains me to share that with you).

“A person your age should be at 18 percent,” the gym employee smirked.

OK, thanks. I’ll remember that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013/2003: Week 12

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 12: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 246.4
This week's weight: 248.2
Week 12's weight loss: +1.8
Total weight loss: 16.4

I love spring. I love feeling the sun. I love the warmer weather.

But with spring comes something that terrifies me: fewer ways to hide.

As the weather warms, it's harder for me to the leave the house to go running. I can't throw on that big fleece jacket. So I leave the house in my awkwardly fitting running clothes that make my big body look even bigger, and I keep my eyes on the ground so I can't see how others react to my grossness.

On Friday, I hurried home to change my clothes and head out the door for the 5K.  I had little time to pause, but, still, as I got ready to leave, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My arm fat crept out from the short-sleeved running shirt. My calves looked swollen. The shape of my belly was visible through the tech tee. And for half a second, I considered staying home so no one would have to see "this."

But I went. And as I gathered with all the runners, my eyes on the ground, I felt out of place. "One of these things is not like the other."

I'm trying to fight these feelings of inadequacy, but they tend to take over and suffocate me. Like on Sunday. My goal was 10 miles. I could barely pick up my feet and, defeated, only walked 6. On the way home, train after train was filled with runners in their Cherry Blossom 10-miler bibs. All I could see when I looked at them was what I wasn't.

But instead of using all of this as incentive, I caved into self-sabotage -- again. I ate two big cookies on Friday and two on Monday. I ate bread. A half a soft pretzel. And more candy. Thankfully, I didn't completely throw my hands up in the air and order a pizza like I was tempted to do. But the damage was still great.

It probably explains why Sunday's "run" was so bad. Because I felt so guilty about eating crap, I didn't eat much else. So no protein. No healthy carbs. Of course I didn't have the proper fuel to run.

This new weight-loss journey is not going as well as I'd hoped, but I still take a little pride in the fact that I'm still here. Still writing. Still trying. Still hoping that, one day, I can get it right.

Week 12: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 283.6
This week's weight: 283.2
Week 12's weight loss: 0.4
Total weight loss: 33.8

Published: 04/29/2003
I woke up before my alarm went off Monday morning – so I was ready, and waiting, when the beep-beep-beep marked 6:30 a.m.

I was slow, though, getting my walking shoes on. I sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the room, searching for something to delay my morning walk.

My eyes fell on a stack of photos on my desk – set aside for their eventual filing into a photo album. I grabbed the stack and started flipping through it.

A few of the photos were from a trip I took last March to see my sister in New York. There we were, posing with my favorite Broadway actor, Brian Stokes Mitchell. My eyes settled on his handsome face and wide smile – and then they sharply landed on my wide face, double chin and matted-down hair (from having been profusely sweating in the theater).

The next few photos were from a family vacation last summer in Pittsburgh where, on one day, we visited Kennywood amusement park. The camera had captured pictures of my sister and mom riding the Ferris wheel, roller coasters, anything that moved fast.

There were no pictures of me during that day in the park. I knew – from having learned the hard way – that I wouldn’t fit on those rides. My body had reached a point where it was too big for the belts or bars or straps. And forget about even riding on the merry-go-round – I wasn’t about to be seen climbing up (and climbing off) those horses.

Mixed in the stack of recent photographs was one from my sister’s wedding in 1995. It was a family portrait, and I was on the end, dressed in a blue bridesmaid’s gown. I was only a junior in college, but I was twice the size of the others.

I’m not one to shy away from cameras. I hate when people say “Don’t take my picture – I’m too fat” or “I’m not getting in that photo – I look awful,” because I know photos are important for history, for family, for memories.

So I bear with the camera – and hold my breath when the photos come back from the developer.

It was frustrating to see, as I sat on the edge of my bed Monday looking through those photos, what years of unhealthful living had done – what I had done to myself.

It was enough of a kick in the pants to get me outside, walking, walking toward a new (and more photogenic) life.

Have I got a recipe for you – a most wonderful, light summer dessert, compliments of my last Weight Watchers meeting. A big disclaimer, though: Make sure you portion the dish into little one-cup containers. You don’t want to sit down with a big bowl of fluff and find the whole thing gone by the first commercial break.

1 can crushed pineapple (with juice)
1 cup mandarin oranges (with juice)
1 (8-ounce) fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 (8-ounce) fat-free Cool Whip
1 box instant fat-free sugar-free white chocolate OR vanilla pudding
Dump all of it in a bowl. Mix. Refrigerate.
One cup equals one point.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013/2003: Week 11

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 11: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 247.4
This week's weight: 246.4
Week 11's weight loss: 1
Total weight loss: 18.2

I can't tell you how good it felt yesterday to go outside and do 3 miles. I'm still doing my 3 minute walk/2 minute run combo, but I was able to go faster than I have since I began this new journey. I'm about to go out and attempt 4 miles this morning -- here's hoping my little legs will move.

But because I do believe I need to own up to my stumbles, I will admit here that I did cave this past week and ate Easter candy. I was wrapping up a book  and was feeling rather depressed that I was spending yet another holiday working. It's not an excuse -- I do not condone my behavior!

I am pleased about one thing, though. I signed up for a 5K series -- every Friday night in April. I hope it will do two things for me: keep me running the smaller distances, which I need to do more consistently, and get me out of the house on a Friday night. I tend to become a hermit on my first day off of the weekend and sleep all day (or, as was the case last weekend, work all day and night). Having somewhere to go will be good for me, I think.

Well, I better go hit the pavement. Praying I can stay healthy and focused.

Week 11: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 286
This week's weight: 283.6
Week 11's weight loss: 2.4
Total weight loss: 33.4

Published: 04/22/2003
As my co-workers passed around the chocolate, hollow Easter bunny last week, I so wanted to grab an ear – or even just a nose or toe. I was craving pure milk chocolate, so much that I even dreamed that I ate a bag of Hershey’s Kisses.

Of course, the end of that dream was me in tears, cursing myself for blowing my diet.

So I steered clear of the bunny.

I’ve been feeling good, as that scale continues to go down. But my conscience (and, really, my co-worker) has been nagging me for my biggest shortfall – I haven’t exercised for, like, um, two weeks. I’ve blamed it on the rain, the pollen, my workload. And my eyes have avoided the wall in my home where I’ve posted letters from supportive readers urging me to get outside and exercise.

Are you ashamed? Yeah, me too.

So I got out on Monday and took my two-mile walk. I’m going to get back into this regime. No more excuses.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013/2003: Week 10

In my quest to re-lose the weight I took off in 2003-2005, I've decided to document each week, comparing life now (first post) with life 10 years ago (second post). My hope is that I can find the momentum that carried me through those two years by looking at what worked for me then.

WEEK 10: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 248.8
This week's weight: 247.4
Week 10's weight loss: 1.4
Total weight loss: 17.2

Apologies for the tardiness in writing, but I refused to post the blog yesterday. For some unexplainable reason, the scale was up a full 2 pounds, and I could not bear to write that down. So I thought I'd see what today's number was, if it went down to Sunday's early weigh-in weight. If it didn't go down, I would face the music here. But if it did, I'd report as of today. I hope you don't mind the fudging. My heart just didn't have it in me to say I gained weight.

I don't have a lot of good to report again. So sorry. Life has been overwhelming me and the negative thoughts have crept back in. Perhaps I could blame it on my restaurant outing this past weekend when I had a margarita and chips. Or the small (but still) pack of peanut M&Ms I bought on Sunday. Of course my mood was already poor when I ate those things (which is why I ate those things).

NOTE: I just deleted two large paragraphs of negative thoughts. I don't want to be that person! So you will not see those complaints. I kept the above paragraph because I needed to come clean about the food.

On a positive note to end this post: I've made it 10 weeks! And that's nothing to sneeze about, especially if you know my history. The weight-loss is frustratingly slow, but at least it's a loss.

Week 10: 2003
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 288.8
This week's weight: 286
Week 10's weight loss: 2.8
Total weight loss: 31

Published: 04/15/2003
My bathroom scale hasn’t been able to accommodate me for years.

It’s embarrassing to admit. But for the past few years, when my bare feet have climbed aboard the tiny square, the scale pointer would zoom through the numbers, climb past the 280 mark and then start over again at 0.

I’d have to do math to figure out how much I weighed.

I can’t believe I’m admitting to this. But it’s time. Who was I kidding anyhow? When I couldn’t fit into the auditorium seat or had to struggle with the car seatbelt, it’s not like I could hide my 300-plus pound body.

OK, so 317-pound body to be exact.

Flash back to the late 1980s. I remember sitting on a school bus – I must have been in middle school – and staring up at the boy in the seat in front of me, who had turned around and started in on his daily teasing.

“What do you weigh, like 300 pounds?” he said, laughing.

“No!” I remember shouting, thinking that I could never be so large, and hoping at the same time that he wouldn’t take his teasing down a notch and ask if I weighed 200 pounds, which I believe I was nearing at the time.

But more than a decade later, I’d reach that 300-pound mark, not even fully aware of it when it happened. For about two or three years, when I was a reporter in Jacksonville and then Southport, I stopped weighing myself. I stopped attempts at exercise. And I ate and ate.

Then, during a yearly physical exam in 2002, I glanced down at the front of my medical records, where, in black ink, last year’s nurse had written the words “morbidly obese” next to my name. My heart ached, those words ripping through me.

It didn’t stop me, though, from going home and eating.

Last year, I made two attempts to lose weight. The first lasted twentysomething days, ending when I took a trip to New York. The second lasted about two weeks, ending when I took a trip to Maryland. Both times, I’d eat one bad thing (a piece of Easter candy in New York and a cookie in Maryland) and those bad things would jolt my brain into believing I was done. No more dieting. I can’t do it.

This time around, I haven’t allowed myself those pieces of candy or cookies, mainly because I’m afraid of how I’ll react to even tiny acts of “cheating.” Some think I’m silly, others think I’m strong, but I know in my heart, it’s something I must do to keep losing weight, to get that scale pointer down below the second 0 mark.

So imagine, if you will, the pure euphoria I experienced last week when my bathroom scale finally accommodated me.

I’ve lost 31 pounds – my first Weight Watchers 10 percent goal – and I can finally weigh myself without doing math.

Note: I know the numbers don’t add up, but my scale, God love it, is about six pounds off.

Here’s another recipe, good for a family dinner (and no one will gripe about the low-fat status). It’s a Weight Watcher recipe (eight servings; 6 points each):

Chicken ’n’ Cheese Casserole
2 cups cooked macaroni
2 cups coarsely chopped cooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can 98-percent fat-free condensed cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)
1.5 cups fat-free milk
8 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large casserole dish, combine all ingredients, mixing well.
Bake, covered, 35-45 minutes. Remove cover; bake 10-15 minutes longer, and serve.