Getting rid of the “est”(s) and embracing the “er”(s)

31 08 2010

Some Most days I am afraid to try.

I am afraid to try because I want to be the best at everything. I am an overachiever. Anyone that has lived as a fat person knows what I’m talking about. Fat is our one failure that we can never seem to shed. So we over compensate by either being the smartest student, the hardest worker, the funniest person or the one that will drop everything at any given time and be there to lend a helping hand. We think by being the best at something (or everything) it will hide what we’re really feeling: I am a failure at everything because I am fat.

I tried in the past to let go of the fat but I forgot about letting go of the most important part – the “est”(s). If I couldn’t be the thinnEST, the fastEST, the strongEST, the fittEST then there was no point. I used to walk around aimlessly looking at other people and thinking “oh look at him, he looks so strong. I’ll never be that strong <insert food into pie hole>” or “look at her, I’ll never be that thin<insert food into pie hole AND turn on World of Warcraft> or “look at that runner, I’ll never be that fast” <insert food into pie hole AND turn on World of Warcraft AND sink farther into my depression>.

As a morbidly obese person I was so focused on what I wasn’t doing.

Being the bEST.

That I didn’t see what I was doing.

Being bettER.

Stop looking around you and seeing what everyone else is doing. You don’t know their history. You don’t know their demons. You don’t know what brought them to where they are today. There is only one person you need to be better than and that’s the you that you’re leaving behind.

I may never be as fast as her...


I am getting faster!

I may never be as strong as her...


I am getting strongER (185 pounds deadlift!)


strongER (500 pound leg press!)

I may never be as thin as her...


instead of looking like this (263 pounds)

I look like this (183 pounds).

It’s hard to come to the realization that I can’t be the bEST at something. I don’t know how to not look at that as complete failure. I won’t lie to you, I struggle every day thinking about how I let myself go for so long. How for so many years I was complacent in my life. Weighing close to 270 pounds was okay for me because why think any different if I can’t be thinnEST. Not being able to walk up a flight of stairs was okay for me because why think any different if I can’t run the fastEST. Not getting my heart pumping and my muscles moving was okay for me because why think any different if I can’t be the strongEST.

Talk about a fucked up way of thinking.

I was afraid to stand up and take control of my life because I was looking at what other people were doing and comparing myself to them before I even started. It’s true, I’ll never be the fastEST, or the fittEST, or the strongEST or even the thinnEST. Today and for the rest of my life I will struggle to let go of the “est”(s) and begin to embrace the “er”(s) because there is only one person I need to be better than…

And it's me. September 2009

August 31st 2010 (and getting happiER every day)


A letter…

30 08 2010

It high time I wrote a letter to the Head Trainer at All Star  Fitness so I sat down with some tea at Starbucks and hand wrote the following:


This letter is long in coming. I spent hours wondering how to put down in words the life changing experience I’ve had since walking through the doors of Allstar Fitness back in april of this year. The beginning is probably the best place to start. December 29th 2009 I decided I had had enough of living the life laid out before me. I weighed 263.5 pounds. I was depressed and my life had come to a screeching halt. I had just celebrated my 40th birthday and I realized if I didn’t start to move and move with purpose, I wasn’t going to have too many more chances to get my life back.

December 30th I began to move. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I was used to. I took stairs instead of elevators. I parked as far away as possible from buildings and began walking on my lunch breaks. I began to eat consciously and slowly the weight came off. This was a fight to save my life. I promised myself that I would take the first 30 pounds off myself, then join a gym. The day the scale said 233.5 I walked into Allstar. I’ve never been a  card-carrying member of a gym before and to say I was intimidated would be an underestimation of how I really felt.

With the membership came the free assessment with the trainers and after acclimating myself for a few weeks I took the plunge and set my first appointment with Kent (Superman). I hear stories about people having bad experiences with trainers and having to try a few out before finding the right match. I never had that problem. Kent and I hit it off right away. He saw something in my that I never saw in myself: Potential. Kent is very much a “get down to business” kind of trainer. I am very much a “get down to business” kind of person. We made a great team and over the course of two months he helped me lose an additional 20+ pounds. He set a fire inside of me to become what I was born to be: an athlete.

Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond both of our control I had to transfer my remaining sessions to another trainer in June. Kent had set the standards pretty high so I had to be firm with my choice. I’d been watching trainers for a few weeks knowing a choice had to be made. One particular trainer caught my eye: Chuck Carone (Godfather). Every morning I would watch him with his clients and I knew I needed to be a part of his team. By the end of our first session together I knew I wouldn’t need to keep looking for a new trainer. Kent set the fire to become an athlete. Chuck has made me an athlete.

Chuck sees in me things I never knew possible. He sees strength and determination. He sees me as a stronger, fitter, faster person. I’ve been with Chuck for close to 2 months. When we first started training together I weighed 213 pounds. As of this letter I weigh 183 pounds. I am stronger today than I have ever been. When I didn’t believe in myself, Chuck believed in me. When my thoughts are full of “I can’t”, Chuck shows me that I can. When I am tired and cranky and dragging my feet into the gym at 6am for our session, he is full of energy and has a smile and enthusiasm that is contagious. I don’t know how other people feel about Chuck, but he has become an extremely important person in my life. A coach. A trainer. A mentor and a friend.

In all honesty he not only makes me want to become a better athlete; he makes me want to become a better person.

There are very few people who I look to as role models and even fewer people I aspire to be. Chuck is easily on the top of both of those lists.

~ Tara Martin

Drop Dead Gorgeous by December

29 08 2010

Drop Dead Gorgeous is hosted by my favorite gorilla footed Panda, Jess. This is my entry for the week.

This week’s weigh in = 183.3

Goals to accomplish by December: Finish trek tri in under 2 hours, dead lift 150 pounds, consistently run 10 minute mile, Get into size 12 pants oh and make my bed everyday 🙂

Proud moment: I completed my first Super Circuit at the gym. 7 trainers + 7 stations + 60 minutes = Total kick ass hour of sweaty, fantastic goodness! Oh and just because I couldn’t choose between the two proud moments I’m adding this one as well: Godfather asked me to come and train a class with him this last Saturday. It was rockin and has given me a taste of what’s to come.

Need to work on the following: The bed making goal was a little lackadaisical so need to get that in order. Emotional state of being a little wonky too so working on staying in the moment. Trying to give myself more compliments because I’m having a hard time being nice to myself!

You can get in on this one any time. Just know that once you’re in, you’re in for life (okay okay, not life but December for sure!)

No Scale Challenge…

29 08 2010

No Scale One Week!

Funny thing happens when you start talking in 140 characters or less over on Twitter. You tend to get yourself hooked into doing something you think is going to be easy only to realize once you’ve committed yourself you’re not quite sure what you’ve gotten into. Michael, Jess, Brandon and I have all agreed to go one week without stepping on the scale (#noscaleforaweek on twitter if you’re so inclined).

Logical Tara says this will be a walk in the park.

It’s just a number right? Today I am faster, stronger, more fit and healthier than I have ever been in my entire life. I ran 7 3/4 miles yesterday in 80 minutes of which 3 miles were completely barefoot. I can do things at the gym that leave grown men practically puking and I am often ready to go another round before I can catch my breath. I see muscles that I’ve never seen before and now they are coming out to play so that other people can see them too.

I was able to cut out starch completely for 3 weeks (still eating very minimal starch) and I stopped counting calories over 2 months ago. Logical Tara says “Oh hell yes! BRING IT!”

Emotional Tara…

Loves her scale. So much so she often steps onto it multiple times per day. Going a week without looking down at that beautiful piece of machinery is like asking…well to be honest I’m not sure what to compare it too because it’s just so much a part of me. I wake up, I weigh. If I’m spending more than 5 minutes in the kitchen I weigh. Go to the gym, I weigh there too. Come home and shower, I weigh. Getting a drink of water…yep I weigh. I take pictures and show them to Godfather (like I need more validation from this guy right?). It’s the first thing I do in the morning. It’s the last thing I do before going to bed.

I am obsessed.

I need to do this. I need to cut the umbilical cord to Ten Toed Charlie and other apparatuses that define me by a number. I won’t put the scale away and pretend like I don’t have one. Every morning I will wake up and look down at TTC, point my finger and proclaim:

I need to trust that not weighing myself does not mean I’m going to wake up tomorrow and weigh 263 pounds again. I need to trust that there are other ways to define who I am and a number (while it is a good indication of weight loss) is no longer needed to tell me I’m on the right path.

This tells me I’m on the right path.

And this.

I can do this!

Meet Candace and her brother Bob.

28 08 2010

This week’s Team in Training run is dedicated to my friend Candace and her brother Bob. I am humbled by those who have shared their story with me and am honored to run for them. If you have been affected by Leukemia/Lymphoma and would like to share your story or know someone that would, please let me know. I would love to run for you as well!

Bob’s Story

In 2004 I went home to visit my family in Connecticut for Thanksgiving.  I hadn’t seen my brother Bob for about a year so I was shocked at the change in him.  At 5’11” he weighed about 140 pounds – quite a change from the strapping man he used to be at 190.

Turns out he was unable to eat anything and keep it down.  Like a typical man he thought it was nothing serious and hadn’t been to the doctor yet.  However his dramatic weight loss was of great concern to me and the rest of my family.  His appointment was for the week after Thanksgiving.   On the way back to Florida my husband and I talked and I voiced my concerns that my brother was suffering from cancer.

Turns out, after an initial diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, that he had adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the body’s lymph system.  Because lymph tissue is found everywhere in the body, the cancer can start anywhere in the body and spread to organs and other tissue.   He had many of the typical risk factors:  older (49), white and male suffering from auto-immune system disorders.

He is a husband and father to three lovely daughters (teenagers at the time of diagnosis), the only son to my parents, and brother to his three sisters.  His diagnosis came just two years after my oldest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.

His disease is currently in remission.  It was not an easy road for him though.  I guess it never is.  He has never been what we call a “healer.”  All his life he has been stricken with diseases and disorders from which he did not readily recover.

The initial tumor was removed surgically and he was then put on chemotherapy.  I don’t remember the exact timeline and circumstances but the treatment for the cancer was long and difficult.  It involved multiple surgeries – one of which was an emergency procedure to save his life conducted at 3 a.m. – and years of intensive, exhaustive chemotherapy.  It involved installation of a port in his shoulder so he could feed himself as his intestines were not working properly.  It involved being exposed to hospital-borne infections including MRSA which further weakened an already decimated immune system.  It involved weekly blood transfusions to increase his white blood cell count so he could function.  Finally it involved a bone marrow transplant from my middle sister;  she and I were both tested (my oldest sister was not eligible due to her own cancer treatments) and fortunately she was a match; I was not.   Bone marrow transplant requires the patient to be quarantined in the home for many months; visiting requires putting on masks and gowns so as not to infect.  He was so weak that he fell and broke his pelvis requiring him to go to a rehabilitation hospital for 6 weeks as his family could not take care of him.   Although formally in remission he still suffers the effects of the disease:  he still has the port and must take food from it as he cannot ingest enough nutrients to fuel his daily activities.  As anyone who has had one knows, ports get infected.  Last month he was hospitalized to treat the infection with high-dose antibiotics.   The MRSA he was infected with remains in his body and since it is drug resistant he will always be at risk for infections and diseases as his immune system is permanently compromised.

It is amazing what the human body can endure.  Through it all Bob was supported by Jeanne, his wife of 32 years, who should be officially appointed to sainthood for her never wavering support and care.  Today he has gained back enough weight to look like a normal man, he is able to function independently and participate in normal activities.   We can only hope that the cancer does not reoccur.  He turned 55 last month and is now the happy grandfather to a beautiful baby girl born three years ago; I want for him to watch her grow up and play an important part of her life. Some days I think it is a miracle that he is still with us on the planet.  And it is a better place for it.

OWiS #35…Welcome to the gun show!

27 08 2010

August is coming to a close and it has by far been one of the best months since starting this LCJ back in January. I’m discovering that there is so much more to this journey than the numbers on the scale (even though I am still obsessed with them – confession: I still weigh multiple times a day). This month has been about self discovery and watching my body become stronger with each passing day.  It’s been about meeting people and listening to their stories as I figure out what my next chapter is going to look like. It’s been about opening up my mind (and heart) to possibilities I never even fathomed when I first stepped on that scale and saw the number 263 staring back at me.

If I can sum up my month will a short story it would go something like this: Last night I was at the gym getting ready to start the Super Circuit they offer once a month. I see Godfather with a client and I get asked to come over. The client is fit, athletic and looks like she could run me over with her legs if I ever was running in front of her. We’re introduced and damn near the first thing out of her mouth?

“Nice Guns!”

If I had had water in my mouth, it would have been spit right out as I practically began to choke hearing those words coming from her. She was talking about me. I’m always commenting on people’s guns. I want them. I need them. I will have them one day. Apparently that day has begun to arrive. A new chapter is beginning…

Oh and I lost some weight this week!


  • Week 0 = 263.5 (-0.0)
  • Week 1 = 257.4 (-6.1)
  • Week 2 = 255.0 (-2.4)
  • Week 3 = 254.6 (-.4)
  • Week 4 = 253.8 (-.8) *I started c25k
  • Week 5 = 248.2 (-5.6)
  • Week 6 = 247.2 (-1.0)
  • Week 7 = 246.2 (-1.0)
  • Week 8 = 244.4 (-1.8)
  • Week 9 = 241.0 (-3.4)
  • Week 10 = 240.6  (-.4)
  • Week 11 = 238.0 (-2.6)
  • Week 12 = 234.8 (-3.2)
  • Week 13 = 232.8 (-2.0) *joined a gym
  • Week 14 = 230.0 (-2.8) *graduated c25k
  • Week 15 = 227.8 (-2.2)
  • Week 16 = 225.6 (-2.2)
  • Week 17 = 222.4 (-3.2)
  • Week 18 = 219.2 (-3.2)
  • Week 19 = 221.4 (+2.2) *the brother situation
  • Week 20 = 213.8 (-7.6)
  • Week 21 = 212.0 (-1.8)
  • Week 22 = skipped
  • Week 23 = 208.0 (-4.0) *over the course of two weeks
  • Week 24 = 207.6 (-.4) *switched over to new scale
  • Week 25 = 204.8 (-2.8)
  • Week 26 = 202.8 (-2.0)
  • Week 27 = 200.8 (-2.0)
  • Week 28 = 203.6 (+2.8) *lost my job
  • Week 29 = 197.0 (-6.6) ONEDERLAND!
  • Week 30 = 196.3 (-.7) *I cut out starch
  • Week 31 = 193.2 (-3.1)
  • Week 32 = 188.0 (-5.2)
  • Week 33 = 185.6 (-2.4)
  • Week 34 = 185.1 (-0.5)
  • Week 35 = 183.3 (-1.8)

Godfather + jump rope = one pissed off Tara

24 08 2010

I remember as a kid jumping rope being one of my favorite activities as a child. It was something I could do with other kids as a parallel player. It was something I was pretty darn good at. You know that Cinderella/made a mistake/kissed a snake rhyme where you had to count how many doctors it would take to fix her? I could easily have employed every doctor in the state of Washington, Oregon and probably part of California with my need for 500+ doctors to come and save Cinderella. I could jump rope to my heart’s content and never miss a beat.

Today it brought me to tears.

Here’s a little background info: I’m having my normal Tuesday session with Godfather. I’m quite the eager beaver lately because I am seeing some serious muscle definition and endurance improvement so my 6a session turned into a “holy crap, I can’t sleep past 330a anymore so I’m going to get to the gym by 5a and swim and run before Godfather” session. Those things out of the way and I’m ready to hit it hard. So is he. He’s not messing around anymore. I mean, he wasn’t messing around before it’s just that the ante has been upped and he expects me to step up to the plate as well. Weights are getting heavier, sets are getting longer, movements are getting more complicated. So off we go and part of the workout includes something I used to love as a child: Jump rope.

One minute, non stop. I stop = I start over.

Sounds easy enough if I could transport myself to 1979 when I was 10. Otherwise you can bet it pretty much sucked ass. The first time wasn’t so bad. I managed to get an entire 60 seconds of whipping that rope around after only a few unsuccessful attempts. By the time I had to do it a second time my legs hurt from leg presses, my arms hurt from tricep curls, my core hurt from some crazy ass oblique, mountain climber, crunch combo on the TRX straps and I was out of breath from jumping lunges. The one minute I stop = I start over turned into a twenty minute “I’m never going to fucking get this over with” jump rope extravaganza.

I felt every emotion known to mankind.

And I took them out on Godfather.

He was relentless and it pissed me off. Every time I stumbled with that damn rope I’d hear the click of his stopwatch and pretty much just wanted to rip it out of his hands and smash that thing to pieces. Twenty freaking minutes I jumped that damn rope. At one point I threw it down and stomped off like a child. Except this was a 40 year old child so I said “FUCK” really loud, stomped off and then proceeded to cry in the corner for exactly 10 seconds before I came back and tried again; only to hear the click of that stopwatch after I tripped up a few seconds later (GAH for the love of all that is pure!!!). I laughed hysterically at some point because my shirt was soaked, snot was running out of my nose and all I could think about was how much I’d rather be doing the oblique/mountain climber/crunch series on the TRX (trust me you don’t want to do them).

I asked nicely to move on.

He said no.

I begged.

He said no.

I swore like a sailor.

He said no.

It was the first time I actually thought about just walking out mid session and going home. That’s how pissed off I was. All I had to do was jump that crappy piece of plastic between two handles for 60 seconds. Sixty Lousy  Stinking Seconds.

S I X T Y S E C O N D S.

I’m not used to having someone tell me no I can’t move on. I’m not used to having someone stay cool calm and collected as I rant and rave and stomp my feet like a four year old. I’m not used to someone making me look them in the eyes as they say “I never let my athletes quit” followed by a “Start over. Clear your mind. All you need to do is breath and move”

I finally did that second round of sixty seconds. It took 1200 seconds for me to get through it without tripping up but in the end I did it. Just when I thought that was the end of our session, he said “come on we’ve got arm pulls, curl ups and another round of oblique swings/mountain climbers/crunches to do in seven minutes…oh and another round of jump rope”

The third round I finally gave in after a few attempts of the jump rope. I just couldn’t physically do it. I knew it and didn’t want to walk away feeling like the previous 80 minutes was worth nothing because I couldn’t go another sixty seconds. I felt bad for swearing at him. I felt bad for causing such a ruckus over something so simple. I felt bad for thinking about leaving mid session. I felt bad because even though I did survive another session, I essentially quit without finishing and it weighs heavily on my mind today. I know he would say I didn’t quit. He would say that I worked hard and kept at it until the end. I know that he’s proud of all the work I did today and doesn’t think any less of me for not doing the third round but I feel like I let him down.

I let myself down.

When you come from a lifetime of forcing perfection on yourself in order to feel worthy of being cared for, it’s hard to accept that there are going to be times when we need to just let something go unfinished. It stopped being about not being able to jump the rope for sixty seconds. It became about trusting that no matter what I do in my training sessions and how I feel like I failed, Godfather never sees me as a failure and is always going to let me come back**. It became about knowing I’m the only one obsessing over not finishing the sixty seconds and trusting that he’s probably thinking about adding more weights to my leg presses because I’m getting stronger. It became about leaving the gym and thanking him for our time together instead of feeling like I can’t face him because he thinks less of me for not finishing because it’s not him that’s disappointed in me. It’s me that disappointed in me. I need to learn that not everything needs to be done to perfection. I’m the only one that thinks having someone care about me needs to be earned by not making any mistakes. I need to remember that Cinderella doesn’t need 500 doctors to fix her…

She just needs one Godfather to show her how to fix herself.

**As I was writing this very line, Godfather called to tell me how proud he was of me. I can’t even make that up people. I put the period on the end of that line and my phone rang. Amazing!