30 12 2010

That’s a big number.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of beginning my weight loss journey. On December 29th 2009 I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to be fat anymore. I didn’t want the label “morbidly obese”. I didn’t want my thighs to rub together or have to pick my clothes according to how many x’s were on the tag. I didn’t want to sit in a chair and have the arms dig into my hips or layer my clothes during the summer months because I would rather be hot (and grossly sweaty) and hide my fat. Most importantly I didn’t want to be absent in my surroundings any longer.

I began to move more. I watched the food I put in my mouth. I began to participate in my environment. One of the biggest decisions I made as I started this journey was to end my membership to World of Warcraft. Now if you’ve been on this journey with me from the beginning, you already know how much of  an impact this game had on my life. If not, just trust me when I tell you it helped me get to a lovely weight of 270, fueled my depression and for the most part was the only thing I did for the previous 5 years.

In order for me to play, I had what’s called an “Authenticator”. I would push that little black button and it would spit out a six digit number that I would then enter on my computer screen in order to get to the game. I would then proceed to play for hours and hours. Pretending to be something that I wasn’t. Building relationships with other people who I only knew by character names. Riding off into the proverbial sunset hoping that at the end of the game I would find happiness. When I decided to end my subscription, I kept that authenticator on my key chain to remind me that WoW was not where my life was. To remind me that here was where my life was: being present, being mindful and just being me.

I decided a few months back that on my one year anniversary I would hit that black button one final time. It wouldn’t be to log into WoW and get lost in a reality that no longer exists for me. It wouldn’t be to hide from who I am and to fantasize about what I want to become. I am who I want to become. The journey has been difficult. It has been full of doubt, fear and anxiety. Riddled with pain, confusion and sadness. It is that same journey that I felt pride, faith, and understanding and filled with love, clarity and pure happiness as I moved away from a past that had no hold on me and toward a life that has been waiting patiently for me to show up and be present.

When I pushed that number it was going to represent something that I would do for the entire year of 2011. It would involve physically moving, something I didn’t do for so long. It would be a daily reminder of the life I will NEVER return to.

Now six digits is a large number. In order for this to be a successful move in the right direction, the goal needs to be achievable yet challenging. Something that needs to be done on a regular basis or it will get a little out of control but something that doesn’t take too much time out of my daily life.

So on my one year anniversary I kept my word. I pushed that black button and it spit out that delicious number: 201421. The movement? It’s how many stairs I’m going to climb. That’s right people, I’m going to climb the equivalent of approximately 13,428 flights of stairs (average of 15 stairs per floor). That’s the equivalent of climbing the Empire State 108 times. I’ll be using the stair machine at my gym to keep accurate calculations. Other daily steps will not be counted. In order to accomplish this goal I will need to climb an average of 37 flights of stairs each day for 365 days. Not only possible but absolutely achievable. I won’t be able to get to the gym everyday so I’ll need to make sure to bank stairs when I can.

So there ya go! Happy weight loss anniversary to me! January 1, 2011 I’ll begin climbing stairs and getting even farther away from the life that no longer defines me!







An Unexpected Gift…

25 12 2010

It’s Christmas Morning.

My husband had to work today so I’m sitting here in the early morning hours a little lonely. Dogs sprawled on the floor and couch with a roaring fire keeping us warm. House a little messier this morning than it was yesterday as we got ready to leave to spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s parents and sister. Remnants of wrapping paper, gift boxes and stockings strewn about waiting to be cleaned up and put away so that we can say goodbye to another Christmas, and prepare for coming New Year…

I really should be cleaning.

I should be filling the dishwasher.

I should be making the bed.

I should at least be drinking some coffee.

Instead I’m looking at one of my Christmas gifts from my husband.

Knowing we were going to be spending Christmas Eve with his parents we took most of our gifts to each other with us to open with them. All except the “Big One”. You know, the one that you really think is going to be a home run in the gift department. The one that is just as exciting for you to watch as they rip it open and proclaim “BEST GIFT EVER”. The one where you silently pat yourself on the back and think “Yep, I’m a rockstar”…

Funny thing.

The home run gift my husband got me, wasn’t the one he thought it was. Oh now don’t get me wrong, his initial “home run” gift is just about the coolest thing I could ask for. I had no idea he was even paying attention (husbands actually pay attention?!!?) when I happened to mention a while back that I wish I had a Garmin for running. It’s the latest and greatest gadget and to know me is to know I love my gadgets. I definitely proclaimed “BEST.GIFT.EVER” as I looked inside the gift box.


The home run gift, the one that brought tears to my eyes, the one that makes me grateful to be the wife of a man that loves me immensely is the box in which he lovingly placed that Garmin.

“For every time you choose to pass”

“For every ounce of food not eaten”

“Just keep swimming”

“For every green veggie on your plate”

“For Caring”

“For jumping in head first”

“For being creative”

“For helping so many others”

“For every time you smile”

“For trying until you’re successful”

“For every time you say Thank You”

“Because I am proud of you”

“Because you are proud of yourself”

“Because you are my hero”

“Because you work hard and deserve it”

“Go Tara Go”

“Because you are amazing”

“Because you love and the world loves back and I will love you forever”

Best. Gift. Ever.

I’m at a loss for words to describe what it feels like to read words like his and to know that they are for me. To know that I’ve made enough of a difference in my life that it has affected the lives of those around me and especially the life of my husband is almost too much for me to think about. It brings up so many different emotions that all I can do is sit quietly and allow the tears to fall on this quiet Christmas morning.

I won’t lie: They are not all tears of love and joy. They are also tears of frustration for having let myself go for so long before I decided to get up and move. Tears of sadness as I remember the person that used to inhabit my mind, body and spirit. Tears of anger as I think about a childhood that took my innocence, my love for life and how hard I had to fight as an adult to get back to a starting point worth fighting for. Tears for all the emotions I denied myself for so long…

Above all tears of JOY and LOVE.

Today I will spend the time alone, cleaning up my tiny little house. Throwing away wrapping paper and vacuuming up the tinsel. In a few days, life will return to its hectic schedule. Bills to be paid. Work to be done. The Christmas decorations will go back into the storage for another 345ish days and we will once again be on the hunt for the “home run” gift for 2011.

Sometimes its not the gift you put in the box that is important.

But rather the love that surrounds it.

Merry Christmas.











Ready to talk about food…

22 12 2010

Or at least I think I’m ready to talk about my issues with food. Every time I sit down to hash out this post, my mind tries to intervene. I start to think maybe I don’t really need to write about it. Maybe nothing I say is going to be important enough to put here. Maybe how I feel about my food is just too damn crazy and if I let the rest of the world (or at least the few that read this) then it’s just going to confirm that I’m making too much out of this whole intuitive eating thing. But it’s in those thoughts that pass through my mind that I know  that how I feel about food / how I deal with food / how I consume food has been a struggle since I was a very small child and it is just as much a part of this LCJ as everything else.

A while back I wrote THIS post about starting my IEJ since making goal weight and what I’ve learned about my relationship with food. When I stopped counting calories I didn’t know the first thing about Intuitive Eating. In fact, I didn’t even know what it meant until I saw a few people on twitter throwing the word around.

Intuitive eating as defined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch:

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as “bad” or “fattening”.

So after almost a year of religiously counting calories and tracking my food I have decided that Intuitive Eating is going to be the way that I want to go. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want a healthy relationship with food? Who doesn’t want to be able to eat without guilt or shame or a sense of panic? Who doesn’t want to be able to feel an emotion without looking in the refrigerator or cupboard for some “hand to mouth” therapy? Who wouldn’t like to eat without checking the calorie count or writing it down on a piece of paper?  Don’t get me wrong, counting calories and tracking my food was tremendously beneficial. It helped me lose over 100 pounds and it’s a tool I can depend on if I need to take a step back for any reason. However, this journey is about learning to trust myself with food, understanding why I feel the way I do about food, and in time taking both of those ideas / concepts and applying them to life.

I can’t write about everything I’ve learned in the short amount of time I’ve been reading about Intuitive Eating but I can say it has been nothing short of eye opening. On my last post about Intuitive eating I made a short (but very important) bullet list of some of the things I knew to be true about my relationship with food and the very first bullet was this:

I eat almost consistently in survival mode

Coming from a home where the consumption of alcohol was more important then the raising of the children that lived under the roof of that home, it’s not surprising that I learned at a very early age to eat out of survival. My older brothers didn’t really step in to take care of me (they had their own manifestations of having an alcoholic mother) so as far back as I can remember I had to cook / prepare food on my own. I wasn’t a teenager…I remember making meals as young as being in kindergarten. Because we were low-income I got free breakfast and lunch at school, but at night I was on my own.

You might be surprised to know this but kindergartners don’t come with an innate ability to cook. I did the best I could. Sandwiches made from peanut butter, cereal and syrup or with half packages of bologna and several slices of government issued cheese. Whole boxes of Macaroni. Bags of marshmallows (and for kicks roasting them over a candle in my bedroom) and some days just resorting to eating sugar out of a bowl while sitting at the dining room table.

It was during those early years I began to worry that the food would run out. I didn’t have money (unless I stole it from my mother – that’s a different story). I didn’t shop. I just ate what was there in the cupboards and magically it would reappear. I began to have serious fears that the food would run out and I would never eat again. It was in that fear that I started to over eat. I didn’t have the necessary adult supervision to help me with portion control. I just ate. Sometimes it was because I was bored. Sometimes it was because  I found friendship in my food but when I began to eat because I was afraid the food was going to run out, that’s when it got out of control.

Now logically as an adult, I know that the food will not run out. I live in a society that allows me to have access to food at any given time. Unfortunately my brain is not wired just yet to understand this. Every time I eat, I’m still eating in survival mode. I put too much food on my plate because I think it’s going to run out and then I HAVE to eat everything on my plate because a) I was forced to clean my plate when my mom did participate in meals and b) I’m afraid at some point I won’t have access to food therefore I need to overeat in order to stay calm and not worry that the food is going to run out. If my stomach is beyond full (to the point of painful fullness) and the food runs out, I have stomach full of food to last until I can find more food.

Is this making sense?

Even when I started this journey and began to make “healthier” choices, I ate out of quantity rather than quality. I would’ve rather of eaten an entire 2 pound bag of baby carrots than something smaller, more satisfying and the same amount of calories.

Not eating out of survival has been a tough change in my thought process. I’m learning to allow myself to continue to have those thoughts but also combat them with logical thinking:

“The food is going to run out”

“Tara, you know that’s not possible. The store is right down the street and you can go buy more food”

“I need to keep eating because what if something happens and I can’t get to food”

“Tara, think back over your adult life and think about a time when that happened? You can’t because it’s never happened”

“I need to fill my plate up with as much food as I can because if I go back for seconds, the food will be gone”

“Tara, it’s highly unlikely the food will be gone and if it is you can always cook something else or stop at the store”

“Even though my plate is full of food, I need to eat out of the pan on the stove just in case I come back and the food is gone”

“Even if for some reason, the pan is empty and you’re still hungry there are plenty of other food options left and you can have more food”

So my first step in eating intuitively is understanding that while I want to fill my plate like this picture over here, it’s not necessary for me to live like this any longer. I don’t have to be fearful that I won’t have access to food. My fear is irrational because of what happened as a child. I am an adult and I provide for my well being now. Not my absent / alcoholic mother. I’m pretty confident that if I called any of my friends and said I needed a meal, they wouldn’t let me go hungry. I can’t rationalize the concept that food will run out any longer. While it is possible it’s not probable.

Eating out of survival.

Necessary as a child.

Not needed any longer.




A new type of Self Sabotage…

18 12 2010

I knew when I wrote my last post I should have waited just a little longer…

As I began to write it, I could feel all the negativity pouring out of me. One of the most important parts of this LCJ that I’ve learned is negativity has very little room in my life. I’ve worked hard to stay in the moment and remind myself that bad feelings are usually temporary. In the past I would have let negativity fester like an infected wound. I would have picked at it until it bled and then pulled the scab off of it until all that remained was a scar to continue to remind myself how much I hated myself.

I didn’t like the words coming off of my fingers:




Those are no longer words that I allow myself to define who I am. They don’t belong. I was in a lot of pain and in that pain I allowed negativity to creep into my emotional state of well-being. I stopped writing because I didn’t want to continue to validate how I was feeling about myself. I watched a movie, iced my foot and spent some much needed time inside my head.

“I am a runner”

“Pain does not define me”

“I will recover”

“I deserve to heal”


I deserve to heal? It never occurred to me that taking the much needed time to heal my foot was not because I was weak and didn’t know how to be successful in my journey but was because I deserved to heal. Then it hit me: I was self sabotaging myself just as much as if I was eating a gallon of ice cream because I was mad. I was mad because at 40 I decided to do something about my weight (physical and emotional) instead of when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. I was mad because I’m still trying to figure out this whole running thing and I got hurt in the process. I was mad because for the first time in my life I’m really moving physically and here I am too hurt to even put my foot on the floor.

Forcing myself to run when it’s not comfortable was (and is) just another way of letting the negativity fester. Thinking that I deserved to feel pain because it proved that I don’t know how to be successful was (and is) another way of pulling off the proverbial scab over and over again until an emotional scar appears.

Well that’s not who I am.

Not Today.

Not Ever.


By the end of Thursday night I was feeling 100% better (both emotionally and with my achilles). I got to talk with Michael and learn first hand that I shouldn’t be scared to tell someone that I might not be able to run a race. I had decided to step up to the starting line for the upcoming 10k with the mutual understanding that this was not a race for time but rather a race to finish: even if that meant I walked for most of it. It was more important for my emotional well being to at least try to do the race then not try at all.

I stepped up to the starting line this morning knowing I might feel some pain, knowing I might walk more than normal and knowing I might be slower than I would like to be. I also stepped up knowing that my awesome running partner was not going to be mad, disgusted or disappointed if I needed to adjust what I was doing. That negative thinking was all EFT and she hadn’t been invited to this party.

I ran.

I felt very little pain.

So many awesome things came out of this race. I ran my fastest 10k (56:55). I ran a consistent 9:11 mile (my goal for 2010 was to run a consistent 10 min mile). I placed 5th out of my age division (I’ve NEVER placed in anything). More importantly I crossed that finish line knowing I deserve to heal not because I am weak…

But because I AM STRONG!




16 12 2010

I have it.

I have no idea how this particular blog post is going to pan out. I have a lot on my mind. Most of it fear based and probably a little on the negative Nancy side but I need to get this out. I tried to let my mind process what I’m feeling but so far it’s done nothing but left me in tears, panicky and wanting to stuff my face with enough chocolate to feed a small village.

This post isn’t about the specifics of the pain: My Achilles hurts bad, I didn’t take care of it the way I should have. I thought I could grit my teeth, continue to run and it would go away. It didn’t. I’m now considering paying out-of-pocket (Neither my husband or myself have insurance) to see a sports medicine doctor /physical therapist to figure out how to really get this healed up.

This post is about the mind games EFT started playing on me immediately after my Achilles started to hurt more than I’ve ever remember it hurting yesterday. Even right now as I’m trying to get my words onto this blog, EFT is screaming that I’m a failure and there is no point in even blogging because nothing I say or do will make the situation better and I should just close up shop and call it a day. My fingers are stuck on the keyboard. I’m staring at the screen trying to tell myself to keep going, keep typing, get those thoughts and feelings out so that they don’t fester inside of me.

I’m experiencing a lot of fear right now.

The pain in my foot is almost unbearable. Along with that pain comes the inability to stay in the moment. I am all over the board in the way I am thinking about myself. I’m convinced the pain will never go away. I’m convinced I’ll never run again. I’m convinced that I’m going to gain all the weight back. I’m convinced all those recorded tapes in my mind are coming true and that I am a failure. I’m afraid to call my friend Michael and tell him that maybe the 10k race on Saturday is a no-go. I’m afraid to admit that this pain is more than I’m prepared to handle. I’m afraid that the way I feel about myself right now will never go away.

My husband told me to talk to myself like a would a friend that had come to me with these thoughts but I can’t. I feel like I don’t deserve to hear what my friends would tell me or what I would tell my friends. Listening would entail taking care of myself and to be totally honest these feelings of anger / disgust / disappointment are pushing any logical thought process out the door.

I’m mad.

I wouldn’t be mad at a friend if they were hurt.

I’m disgusted.

I wouldn’t be disgusted if a friend told me the pain is causing them eat uncontrollably.

I’m disappointed.

I wouldn’t be disappointed if a friend had to back out of a race due to pain.

I can’t go on with this post because my mind is filled with negative thoughts and I think I need a nap before I bust open another xmas bag of homemade chocolate. I tried to work it out here but I’m at a stand still. No use in forcing myself to write something…





A Birthday Wish…

8 12 2010

Today is my birthday.

This is a picture of me last December.

I had just turned 40.

I weighed at least 265 pounds.

Funny how when I look at this picture now all I can think is “This girl has no idea what’s coming…” I mean seriously, she has no idea how much her life is going to change in the next 12 months. She has no idea that in just a few short days from when this picture is taken she’s going to have one fleeting thought that will change her life forever:

“I wonder what the calorie count in Pho is?”

She has no idea that from Googling the calorie count of her favorite Friday afternoon lunch she’s going to make a small decision that is going to plant a seed that will grow and root inside of her heart, her body and her spirit:

“I’m going to take the stairs from now on”

She has no idea, she’s going to lose a little weight and then do something amazing: She’s going to start running. She has no idea how hard those first weeks of c25k are going to be and how embarrassed she’s going to feel running up and down the water front wondering if the entire world is laughing at her. She also has no idea how awesome she’s going to feel the first time she straps on a race number and walks her first half marathon in May and then follows that up with running her first 5k at the end of that month.

She has no idea how many tears she’s going to cry or how she’s going to be afraid of believing in herself. She has no idea the countless hours she’ll spend looking in the mirror wondering who is the person emerging before her very eyes. She has no idea the blog posts that she’ll write that will move her from her past to finally looking forward into the future that is nothing but shining with possibilities. She has no idea of the people…oh the people that are going to come into her life and shape her, change her, motivate her and love her beyond anything she’s ever imagined.

She has no idea.

She has no idea that she will come to love moving so much, she’s going to complete 10 races before the end of the 2010. Some of them will be double digit. Some of them will be really fast. Some of them will include swimming, biking and running. Some will be in costume. Some of them will come with medals. All of them will come with a sense of accomplishment as she crosses over each finish line and wonders “what can I do next”. She has no idea that the body she’s carrying in that picture will begin to change shape, grow muscles and get down 166 pounds on her 41st birthday.

She has no idea how hard this journey is going to be and how much she’s going to learn about herself. She has no idea that she’s going to learn to stay in the moment and understand that the past is the past and there is nothing she can do to change what happened but that she is going to change what will happen and she is going to change it in a big way.

She has no idea that the birthday wish she had on the day that picture was taken was about to be laid out before her and by the time her 41st birthday comes around…



I’ll be waiting for her.


Post run blues / food

4 12 2010

I had no idea there was such a thing as “Post Run Blues”

Now what?

However, after finishing my first half marathon: I have them. I feel sad and lost and not sure what to do with myself. I haven’t run since Sunday (though that will change in a few hours) and when I do get out there in a few hours with my friend Michael, I’m not sure how long I want to run for or where I even want to go. For the last four months of my life, I’ve been preparing to earn my 13.1 wings. Every time I ran (whether it was a mile on the treadmill or for 2 hours outside) the thought of crossing that finish line was always in the forefront of my mind. Last weekend I put all my hard work, thought processes and just plain old sweat into action and came away feeling elated and more in power than I ever had in my entire life.


Now I just feel like blah.

I’ve been doing some reading on PRB (post run blues) and am not so shocked to see it’s a common occurrence. I didn’t experience it after any of my shorter races so I wasn’t really prepared for the initial let down of finishing the race on Sunday. When I crossed the finish line I felt like a strong runner and now I’m worried that I won’t even go a mile once I step out my front door in a few hours. I wish someone had told me to expect this feeling of “okay now what”. I guess I experienced it a little when I finished my first triathlon back in September but even then I was thinking about the half marathon. At this point of the adventure, the biggest challenge I had was earning my first 13.1 and now that’s over.

I’ve picked a few “short” races to get to through the rest of the year. Funny how six months ago those “short” races seemed so long in distance. 5k’s and 10k’s seem short to me now. Fun runs. Something to do for 30 – 60 minutes. I’ve got some great challenges picked out for 2011 (including RAGNAR for July) and hopefully finding an Olympic distance triathlon to shoot for (why everything wants to happen the same time as Ragnar, I can’t figure out), but for now I’m just going to sit with my PRB, get through the holidays and keep reminding myself that now that I know I can run 13.1 miles, the race world is my oyster.


I’ve been wanting to blog about my relationship with food and what I’ve learned about myself over the last 11 months (more so in the last month since hitting goal weight). I get nervous writing about food. You’ll notice I don’t blog too much about what I eat, or  what my daily caloric intake is was or take pictures of my food. While food intake was is a big part of my LCJ it’s a more private affair. This isn’t about turning down an extra piece of cake at a birthday party, or sneaking in some fast food before heading home to cook dinner for the family. It goes much deeper as I’m sure many others out there experience.

I think about food even more so now that I’ve reached goal weight and have gone into what the world of weight loss calls “maintenance”. I’ve decided I can’t rely on counting calories for the rest of my life. It’s not conducive for me. It works for some but it’s too emotionally binding for me to do it at this point of the journey. Counting calories was a safe haven for me while losing the weight. Now it’s become bothersome and counter productive. I’ve been reading about Intuitive Eating and for the last month have been giving it my best shot.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last month.

Well let me rephrase that. I’ve lived with my behaviors for 35+ years so I’m not really “learning” about myself. It’s more of a “ohhhhhhh so that’s what they call it” type of epiphany. Funny thing about life: you really think you’re the only one. That is until you read something and go “oh wow, so other people do this too?”.

That’s sort of where I am at this point of the IEJ (Intuitive Eating Journey) – discovering that my relationship with food (while private) is not so uncommon in its behavior. I want to delve into it more but for now I’m just figuring out how to go through the day without counting a single calorie and giving myself permission to eat (what a concept!). The last 30 days post goal weight have been successful. I’m weighing in at 169 consistently and have not had one panic attack over food (been stressed out almost to the maximum yes – but no panic attacks).

While the each behavior alone could easily have a blog post dedicated to it, there are some things I’d like to point out about my relationship with food just so I can start to make sense of all the information I’m taking in.

  • I eat almost consistently in survival mode
  • I am afraid food will not be available to me
  • When I eat, I often think about what it was like for me to eat as a child
  • Bulimia while it gave me a sense of control it also allowed me to eat more food and feel safe
  • I eat competitively when other people are involved
  • The eating behaviors forced on me as a child, have evolved to eating behaviors I force on myself as an adult
  • I don’t trust myself around food or my ability to have a healthy relationship with food
  • I live my life meal to meal and think about food more than anything else (except money)

So there you have it, my relationship with food in a very very small nutshell. As the weeks go by I’ll blog more about each of these behaviors as they make themselves known to me. For now, I’d like to know what your relationship with food looks like. Under control? Out of control? WTF? Counting calories? Eating Intuitively? Reading any good books about this shit?

Time for oatmeal.