Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Put in My Place

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 2: 2013 
Beginning Weight: 264.6
Last week's weight: 256.6
This week's weight: 255.4
Week 2's weight loss: 1.2
Total weight loss: 9.2

I admit, I'm disappointed. When you weigh this much and then start eating massive amounts of fresh vegetables and only healthy, low-glycemic index foods, you just think, "Of course the weight will fall off." But it's not falling off. And this, my friends, is why I have a weight problem. I'm impatient and prone to giving up and giving in.


But it's funny that 2003 Diana (see below) came to the rescue this morning. After shouting "seriously? come on!" at the scale and prepping this blog post, I read 2003's Week 2. And was put in my place very quickly.

Because, yes, I've eaten very, very well this week, never once straying. But did I exercise enough? No. I fast-walked 5.3 miles on Sunday and did a 45-minute workout last night. But that's it. Compare that to 2003 me, who exercised five days that week.

And then there's this sentence I wrote 10 years ago in Week 2: "I fear those weeks when the scale doesn’t reflect my work – but I’m hoping to remain focused."

Did the scale reflect my work? Yeah, probably. Do I wish the weight-loss was more? Heck yeah. Do this week's results remind me to get moving more? Yep. Will I remain focused? Yes.

I admit there has been something holding me back from getting outside and walking/jogging/whatevering. I look horrible. I have few workout clothes that fit, and what does fit shows off bulges that disgust me. The time available for me to work out coincides with the beautiful D.C. crowd walking to the Metro. And when I picture myself outside huffing and puffing while looking like that, I just don't want to go.

Last night I somewhat overcame that fear by working out in my apartment building's gym. The people inside were all phenomenally fit (because, well, they work out). But I knew that if I continued to let fear stop me, I won't get where I need to be. So I went in. And worked out.

I felt great when I went to bed last night, having followed my diet, worked out (for the first time ever following a shift at work) and edited my goal number of pages. I felt so accomplished. I just knew I'd wake up at 8, ready to put my iPod on and head outside for a walk.

It's 8:49 and that hasn't happened yet. At this point, it probably won't.

I suppose I'm taking baby steps and have to forgive myself for not doing everything at once. But I also don't want to continue making excuses.

That will get me nowhere.

WEEK 2: 2003 
Beginning Weight: 317
Last week's weight: 310.2
This week's weight: 306
Week 2's weight loss: 4.2
Total weight loss: 11

I was pretty shocked at losing 4.2 pounds this week – though I never faltered on my eating plan and walked five days, I really thought it would be harder to lose in the second week. I fear those weeks when the scale doesn’t reflect my work – but I’m hoping to remain focused.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Now is the Time

I can't be sure, but I'd like to think this week and a half of very healthful eating has helped clear my head, helped improve my attitude, helped give me a little more energy.

Because I feel good right now. I've had some big bumps in the road over the past few days, but I'm handling them better than I typically do. And, at least at the moment, on this Saturday at 11 p.m., I feel calm and at peace.

If it's true that the diet is a factor, it's amazing how our minds and spirits react to bad foods versus good foods.

I think one reason I keep so busy is to avoid thinking about the bad stuff. Avoidance has been key in my life for as long as I can remember.

But this weekend, I've had small moments when I've thought -- "Why do you do [insert bad habit/behavior here]? What can you do about it? What kind of changes can you make to be a better person and someone people want to be around (not someone people avoid b/c of the negativity you exude)? 

Last week, I had a moment when I asked a friend "Did so-and-so talk about me (at a recent gathering)?" She said no, but I didn't quite believe her. And then I realized: Are you doing something that makes you think they would be talking about you? And if the answer is yes, then you need to make changes to your life. If the answer is no, who cares? As long as you are happy with who you are, does it matter what other people say?

But I knew the answer was yes. That I have complained and whined and been a frustrating person to be around. For a long time now. And do I really want to continue down this path? Hell no.

So I need to make changes.

I need to be more disciplined in my life and make better use of my time, so I'm not as stressed. I need to give people the benefit of the doubt and remember that their lives are probably stressful too. But I also need to care about myself a whole lot more and remind myself that this moment will not come around again. Me living in D.C. with a slew of friends in the region. Me living in an area with running paths galore at my doorstep. Me relatively healthy and not tied to any one or any thing. 

Now is the time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2003/2013: Week 1

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 1: 2013 
(Beginning Weight: 264.6
Week 1 weight loss: 8 pounds)

The girl who used to be able to run 3 miles in 33 minutes has become the girl who can barely walk 1.5 miles in 33 minutes. Because of my stressful schedule and fear of running and hurting my joints at this high weight, I've been getting in my exercise by walking more between Metro stops. On a good day, I'll walk 1.5 miles on the way to work, then hop on Metro for the remainder, and walk 1 mile on my way home, then ride the rest. 

On Sunday, during my 1.5-mile walk to the Courthouse Metro Station, I was passed by two little twiggies -- women dressed in black tights, neon-colored running shoes and bubble vest jackets. One's hair was long and blond and shiny. The other had her's pulled back into a bouncing ponytail. As they passed me by, I thought back to my Week 1 column from 2003 and how I was passed by a woman wearing jeans. This time, I told myself, being passed by these fit young women was natural -- of course people who weigh half of what you weigh can walk faster than you. 

I kept up my "speed"-walking and kept my eye on the two, wondering how little time it would take until they were out of sight because they had gained so much distance on me. But then they turned around and walked back, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I'd never have to find out. Until.

Until I saw that one woman was texting while she walked. 

So I was being outpaced by a woman who was walking while texting.


I got in the walking only three times this week -- though one day was a double-whammy of 1.5 miles to work and the entire 5.3 miles home. Yes, on a cold, dark night in D.C. I decided to walk home. And those 5.3 miles took me TWO HOURS. 

But I did it and I'm glad I can say I did it. Perhaps the walking helped contribute to the weight-loss. Perhaps the excessive amounts of water I've had to drink helped. Perhaps the diet.

So what kind of diet am I following? It's not actually a diet, per se. Because of my lack of time to prepare food (which then leads me to eat crap)  and because a lot of that lack of time is because of my freelance work (which I do not necessarily do for the money but because I love doing it), I decided to take the money from my last freelance job and order food from a place called Healthy Bites in D.C. It delivers (twice a week) breakfast/lunch/dinner/2 snacks that are fresh, contain local produce and are low on the glycemic index. It doesn't consider itself a weight-loss service but its meals are very healthy. And easy, which right now I need.

I'll continue using this service (or one of the other ones -- I'm lucky in that the D.C. area has a lot of options) while I have freelance work. And hopefully it will give me the jumpstart I need. When/if it comes to the point I can't afford it anymore, I'll rethink my plan.

So this past week I've eaten more vegetables than ever and lots of fruit, but also some healthy muffins and interesting foods I had never tried before: kale, coconut lentils, lots of quinoa, goat cheese polenta, etc.

I avoided weighing myself the whole week, so I wasn't sure if the program was going to be successful. I think the real test will be next Tuesday, as I have always been able to drop a lot the first week (water weight) and then it just....sticks.

I still need to find a way to handle the stress -- but I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that as soon as I can start running again, that will be a good outlet. I just pray I can get there.

WEEK 1: 2003 
(Beginning Weight: 317
Week 1 weight loss: 6.8 pounds)

Sweat pouring down my face, my breath exhaling in short, hard puffs, I was hard at work – speed walking through my neighborhood with all the energy I could muster up. 

Then, out of the blue, someone came up from behind and passed me. She was walking her dog. No, scratch that. She was taking her dog for a casual stroll.

And she passed me.

It’s humbling – to be out-walked by someone in jeans who appeared to be bored and didn’t have a drop of sweat on her face. But that’s what I’m facing these days – the early stages of a daily exercise routine.

Week 1 of this attempt at diet (er, healthy eating) and exercise produced great results – a loss of 6.8 pounds. It was thrilling to see those pounds vanish – though I’ve had to remind myself that the journey is a long one and each weekly weigh-in won’t continue to produce big drop-offs in weight.

But I do feel I’m on my way.

Week 1 wasn’t so bad. I walked nearly every day (minus a much needed Sunday rest) and ate what I should (though the intake of veggies wasn’t as high as it needs to be). I didn’t deprive myself of a night at a restaurant – a trip to Indochine – though I kept my portion of Pad Thai small and used chopsticks.

I won’t say it’s been easy. Trips to any store remind you of the approaching Valentine’s Day, which screams for me to buy an armful of chocolate. I won’t, though. I promise.

And there have been those mornings where hitting “snooze” seemed more desirable than hitting the pavement.

But something has kept me going. For one, I feel the support of strangers, friends and colleagues who have embraced this challenge of mine and who have offered their kind words and “you go, girl” encouragement. Who couldn’t succeed with the army of support behind you? And what a blessing that is.

Two – I’ve felt a little more at peace. My hope – in hindsight, actually – is that by having put the past on paper, by logging those failed attempts, those hurtful experiences, my fat history, I’m putting it to rest. I’m closing a book on the past. I’m moving forward with a new life and a new way of living.

Living, after all, is the key word.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 Years

It's a weird feeling to go back 10 years and read correspondence from that time.

Today, I pulled out one of the many scrapbooks from my 2003-2005 Weight Watch newspaper series. And I read the emails and other letters that were sent to me after my very first column ran -- the one where I opened up about being morbidly obese and tired of being trapped in my body, the one where I announced I'd be devoting myself to 15 weeks of Weight Watchers and writing about my experience. As I read the letters of support, I was reminded of how lucky I was to have had that network of people cheering me on. I was also reminded of the variety of people who wrote -- some who had never had a weight problem but sympathized because they knew what it was like to struggle, some who were just like me and wanted to come along on my journey, a Catholic woman who sent my name to Carmelite nuns for prayers, the Italian American Society in Wilmington, the list goes on.

Reading their words today, I felt like those same people were helping me again, one decade later.

I wanted to reach out to some of them and thank them, see how they're doing. Others became so special to me, I am still in touch with them.

I credit them all with my weight-loss success. Without them, I don't believe I would have continued or fought as hard as I fought.

I also am embarrassed and ashamed that I failed them.

So I'm trying to re-read their words and remember what it felt like 10 years ago to be faced with this daunting task. I'm trying to remember how I did it and why I did it and what made me succeed. I'm trying to take their words to heart and pretend they're speaking to me in 2013.

Like I did in 2003, I have a long road ahead of me. And I have goals, although they have changed a bit. While I want to wear those fabulous (and perhaps outdated now) clothes from 2005, I also want to resume my running passion. That was something I couldn't have even dreamed of a decade ago.

And I'd like this blog to return to its original purpose -- training for the Marine Corps Marathon and writing about running.

Destination: Finish Line.


Published: 02/04/2003

People laugh when I tell them this, but I was prettiest at age 3. Look at my family photos from 1974 on and you’ll agree. I was a cute thing – curly brown hair, big brown eyes, small frame. Pretty.

You start seeing the “baby fat” in the kindergarten photos. And the third grade class photo – that’s where it becomes clear. I was a fat kid.

And I suffered the repercussions of being a fat kid. I was teased relentlessly on the school bus. I was teased in the lunchroom. I was teased in my neighborhood and in my own house.

I don’t remember all the names. But I remember the pain. It’s still inside me.

Clearest “fat joke” – and one that has stayed with me all these years – was when I was around 12. My parents were putting a second addition on our home in Pittsburgh, and the neighborhood kids were dying to see the inside of it. There wasn’t much to see – it was still in the early stages and there were only wooden beams up.
 But I sneaked them all upstairs and gave them a tour. We were in the front room looking out to the driveway, when my mom’s car pulled up. Everyone knew we’d be in big trouble if she caught us.

“She’s gonna have a cow,” one friend said.

“She already did!” another replied.

And they all laughed.

A cow. I know there are worse names to be called – because I’ve been called them – but for some reason, that moment sticks with me. Maybe it’s because it was funny. A good quip. And I would have laughed had I not been the butt of their joke.

Being a fat kid was hard. My parents and grandparents would bribe me to lose weight. In my fifth-grade autograph book are reminders of those bribes, friends wishing me luck dropping 20 pounds and reminding me I could be $50 richer if I did.

There was the boy who told me I’d be “dateable” if only I were thin. The friend who said she’d put a pillow under her bathing suit if it made me feel more comfortable during a summer swim.

The fat kid became the fat teenager, who, despite all the bribes in the world, all the teasing, all the diets, all the work, all the loneliness, became the fat college student and soon the fat 20-something.

And now I sit here, at my desk job at the Star-News, and I’m the fat newspaperwoman. Only, “fat” seems almost too kind. I’m obese. I’m a step beyond obese. And there’s no way to hide it (insert joke here).

While it was hard being a fat kid, it’s been harder being a fat adult.

While the daily teasing ended in adulthood, what’s considered “acceptable humor” continues. On one occasion, a colleague, sitting a foot away from me, made joke after joke to a laughing crowd about the pre-thin Carnie Wilson and how, before her gastric bypass surgery, she probably spent every waking minute at the grocery store. Another recently wrote about the overweight opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and how he’s shaped like a Volkswagen Beetle. The comments stung. They weren’t about me, but they were about me.

Last year, in Raleigh to pick up a newspaper writing award, I felt the sting again. I was feeling good – not only because it was a special occasion for me, but I had just started a diet, and I had made it a solid two weeks eating right and walking two miles a day. Sitting down in the auditorium, a colleague, who also has a weight problem, recommended us sitting apart from each other because, as he told me, “we both spill over into the next seat.”

The special occasion didn’t feel so special anymore.

I know what I am and what I’m not. And I know it’s ultimately up to me to decide what I want to be and how I want to react to the world.

I know I’m much more than the image that reflects in the mirror.

I also know I can’t fault people for how they feel about me – and my weight – because, in many cases, I only am what they see.

So I’ve tried to find ways to make it easier on the people around me. When I’m forced to fly on a plane, I make sure I drive to Raleigh’s airport (it tends to offer planes with just window seats, which guarantees no one will have to sit next to me). I don’t go on amusement park rides. I try to leave a seat empty between me and others, so as not to “spill over” on them.

But I’m tired.

I’m tired of being only 28 years old and avoiding society. And I’m tired of carrying this past with me wherever I go.I have tried and tried to start and get through diets or even healthier eating and daily exercise. I know what stops me is me. There always comes a point in the attempt where it just doesn’t seem worth it, where it seems it will never happen, so why bother?

I don’t want to be that person – not the person who gives up, not the person who gives up on herself.

So I’m going to try again. I’m going to devote myself to a 15-week program of diet and exercise – a la Weight Watchers – and see where it goes from there.

And each week, good or bad, I’ll share with you how it’s going.

Many will tell me it’s foolish to put myself “out there” for thousands of readers to see.

But hiding just isn’t an option.

Sunday, January 13, 2013



The freelance job I was working on in December just about killed me. I worked every waking hour on the book or my full-time job. Christmas was a 14-hour day. The month was just a bad one, and as you have probably guessed, I caved into the depression of being alone and the stress of too much work to do.

Last weekend was my first with no responsibilities, and I tried to get stuff squared away -- bills paid, apartment cleaned, etc. But a new book will arrive Monday and the stress will begin again.

I am not complaining about the work -- I am grateful to have a job and am grateful to have the freelance jobs. I love proofreading the books. I just haven't been able to figure out a way to get all the work done and still have time to live.

I'll write again soon -- just wanted to touch base so you knew I wasn't completely AWOL.