Monday, February 27, 2012

Fat Archaeology - It's not always a pretty sight.

Imagine we’re in Peru.  We’ve been working on a dig for almost 9 months.  We’ve gingerly cleared away debris for what seems like centuries, and we can finally see a shape forming.  Little brushes in hand, we keep sweeping away until we see a head forming.  Then, a few more brushes in, our face contorts with a surprised, and somewhat disgusted look as we uncover a mummified man, frozen in terror as if he'd just stared down Medusa.

Discovery isn’t always easy, and as it turns out, it’s not always pretty.  But does it make it any less worth it?  Absolutely not!

A few months ago, I remember confiding in my roommate about doubting whether losing weight was worth it.  Why on earth would someone second guess losing a hefty amount of weight and all the awesome changes both physically and mentally that they’d gone through? 

Yearbook photo where I just happen
to be hiding my arms with a towel
while riding the bench in my sleeveless
basketball jersey.
Vanity.  Seeing your body take on a new, yet still somewhat disfigured shape, despite all the hard work you’ve done to improve yourself.  It caused me to pause, get a bit discouraged, and wonder if a new form of oddness was worth it.  Why put in all this effort if, after I’m done, I’m still going to have these odd, off-putting, disfigured parts of my body?  What’s worse – having them be round and full of fat so they’re at least fluffy and smooth, or seeing saggy, weird skin draping in ways that it’s just not meant to?  Why wasn’t I one of those people who were blessed to have skin that bounces back?  

Yeah, okay – cut the crap, Sarah.  I’ve had “odd” bits since I was young.  Even at 14, I had underarms with odd, giggly skin-wings.  I don’t know why my body decided to handle itself that way.  If I could have a conversation with my molecular make-up and skin cells, I would – and I would suggest it behaves itself in a more appropriate manner.  That, unfortunately, is not an option. 

So, what are my options? 

I could accept it.  I could embrace it.  I could find some awesome, awkward infomercial sucker-inner-shape-enhancer stuff.  I could make it work.  I could get plastic surgery to fix it someday.  There are many things I could do.

What am I going to do? 

Deal with it.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that certain parts of this process aren’t all roses, and skipping, and magical rainbow beams popping out of animal-shaped, big, fluffy clouds.  There isn’t a cute little cartoon bird sitting on my shoulder whistling Hall & Oates every day.  Some days, yes, but not every day.  I thank God for the way my life is changing, and have decided to tell myself that, A – it’s okay to have those thoughts.  And, B – knock it off, learn from it, and get on with it.  No turning back now, woman.

I’ll admit…  It is a bit of a bummer seeing those things.  It does make me think, “Man… All this work and this is the byproduct?”  I don’t always think it, but hey – I’m human.  I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that I’m a much smaller person than I allowed my body to be, and my body dealt with it differently than some people.  I remember people telling me when I was young to take advantage of my youth and go for it while I’m young because your body won’t bounce back as easily when you’re older.  My skin didn’t seem to be overly forgiving even when I was younger, but overall, it did shrink back and take a better shape when I lost some weight way back then.  I’m 30 now, though, and finding out all too well that they were right.

So, if you’re an awesome lil’ whippersnapper and thinking about losing weight, listen to those of us who went before you!  HOP to it!  Your body will appreciate it, both for your overall health, and for the odd, giggly skin-wing reasons, too.  Haha.

Big picture?  Worth it.
And if you’re an awesome not-quite-so-young lil’ whippersnapper, you should do it too.  Who cares if I have to find a light weight ¾ sleeve cardigan that will flatter me just right and disguise something I’m not comfortable with?  Spanx?  Bring them on.  Seriously – I love them.  Who knows – maybe I’d even have my wings clipped (polite way of saying plastic surgery, a discussion for another day). 

I’m reminded of my realization about my body and my life being important enough to properly fuel it.  The same is true here.  Given the choice between where I was and where I am now, I’ll take some droopy elbows and giggly, underarm skin-wings over that any day.  They might not make me fly, but they’re certainly proof of how far I’ve come.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Little Victory: Cartwheel

Actual photo (from google image search) of me (animated
figure) doing a cartwheel (I SWEAR I did one!).
Tonight, for the first time in over 15 years, I did a flawless cartwheel.

I often joke about how big our living room is, and how "It's just too small - I need to be able to do at least two cartwheels, and end in a round-off into the splits..."  I am fortunate to have a very big living room.  Before my roommate and I just-danced for a while tonight, I had a moment of reckless abandon.  And without thinking too much about it, I said "I'm gonna do a cartwheel!"

And, I did it.

It was perfect!  I really don't know how I did it.  I just knew I could, so I did.  We thought it'd be fun to get a photo of me mid-wheel for this blog, so I tried to do it again.  But, I was thinking too much about how I wanted to do it.  I second-guessed myself, and ended up falling down again, and again, until the last time when I'm afraid I managed to hurt myself.  Oh well - I did it that once, and I will do it again.

How did I do it that first time, though?  It felt so effortless and matter of fact when it happened.  I felt myself flying over, feet down, stand up - WOO!  How did I do it?  And is it crazy that, while not at all enjoying the pain, I am strangely satisfied that I'm a bit banged up from trying something I haven't thought I was capable of doing in so very long?

My lesson from this little victory...  Sometimes I need to stop planning, analyzing, and thinking so much about what I'm about to do, and just land a darn cartwheel.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toasted Sesame Spaghetti Squash

I was quite pleased with myself that, after being thrilled to hear that I'd hit a momentous benchmark, I made a very healthy dinner for my roommate and I!  We often take turns experimenting with healthy new recipes, and she recently bought Trader Joe's toasted sesame oil.  So, I felt it necessary to try it!  I looked up some Asian recipes online that included toasted sesame oil, and below is my pleasantly delicious concoction.  Hope you enjoy!

1tbs Trader Joes Toasted Sesame Oil
1tbs sunflower seeds
1/2tsp ginger
1/2tsp garlic powder
1tbs white wine vinegar
1tsp franks hot sauce
2tbs chopped green onions
3tbs low sodium soy sauce
1/2cup edamame
10 spears asparagus
4oz mushrooms (chopped, sliced, however you like)
2 medium 6-7" carrots
1/3cup peanuts
1 3lb spaghetti squash
1/4 cup bean sprouts

Combine toasted sesame oil, sunflower seeds, 1/4tsp ginger, 1/4tsp garlic powder, white wine vinegar, hot sauce, green onions, 2tbs soy sauce, and edamame in bowl.  Stir, and let sit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176C). Chop spaghetti squash in half.  Remove seeds and place open side down on baking sheet.  Cook for one 1hr 15mins or until fully cooked through.  In my experience, it's better a little overdone so that it's not too moist and runny.

Saute asparagus, mushrooms, peanuts and carrots with 1tbs soy sauce, 1/4tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp garlic powder until asparagus is tender.  I left the carrots a bit crunchy because I wanted the texture.

In large bowl or pan, mix together the sesame oil mixture, spaghetti squash, and vegetables.  Divide into 3 servings, add about 1/4cup bean sprouts on top.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 292
Carbs:  19
Fat:  17
Protein:  13
Sodium:  515
Fiber:  10
Weight Watchers Points Plus (minus free vegetables):  5

My Funny Valentines

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Will you be my valentine?  Yes, every single one of you.  I'm greedy.

It's a good thing Frank sings so pretty, because if someone sang this to me, I doubt the results would bode well for them.  It seems like the prettiest backhanded compliment ever, but I really think he's just poking fun at us for being silly girls who are too hard on ourselves.  So, maybe if someone sang this to me the results wouldn't be so bad, afterall.  Ohhhhh, Mr. Sinatra, you do make me swoon...  It did make me giggle, though, and relish in how far I've come, but how wonderfully different I know I will always be!

Today, I'm going to celebrate being a little less of a "funny" in some ways, and being thrilled to remain "funny" in other ways forever.  Happy Valentines Day, lovelies!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lost 101 Pounds and Found Myself.

I began this journey at, well, I'm not sure what my weight was.   I first recorded my weight in March of 2011, and I was 316.5lbs.  I am thrilled to say that as of Monday, 11 months later, I am at 215.5.  I should be excited, but I just find myself a bit dumbfounded.

What does losing 100lbs feel like? 

Bowling a year ago, over 316.5lbs.
It’s a bit like doing Tae Bo moves without your arm literally smacking you in the face. 
It’s sitting on the floor and not seeing your tummy down to your knees. 
It’s not being worried if bathroom stalls will be wide enough.
It’s not being angry if you have to sit next to someone in a movie theatre.
It’s stretching out my thighs before working out without having to rest against the wall, struggling to bend my knee high enough to grab my foot.
It’s walking up flights of stairs, thinking about my breathing and heart rate, hoping that I could make it and that no one would notice how badly I was struggling.
It feels like going to an amusement park and not being turned away from a roller coaster because I don’t fit.
It feels like not having to work out the logistics for every crowded room, for every seat that might not fit, and all the things you haven’t even thought of yet.
It’s being confused when you see a photo with you in it and you don’t stick out anymore.
It feels like walking down the street to get coffee, seeing a reflection and thinking, “Huh… She’s cute…” and then realizing it’s you. 
It’s realizing how badly you wished you could just be a size 18/20 someday, then realizing that you’re past it. 
It feels like remembering how absolutely hopeless the idea of ever being in the realm of normal health and size seemed. 
It feels like meeting your friends’ children without their first words to you being, “You’re biiiig,” and having to think of some clever, lighthearted response to show what a good sense of humor you have. 
It’s making good choices whether or not you’re inspired to.
Old "skinny" jeans!
It feels like going to Macys on Sunday and daring yourself to put on a size 16 pair of Levis in the regular womens’ department and seeing your ridiculous, giddy reaction in the mirror when they fit.
It’s the realization that you can now go shopping anywhere you want and do the same thing.
It feels like finding out your feet are really a size 8.5 to 9 wide, not a 10 or 11.
It’s finally being able to go shoe shopping and understanding the predicament of trying on 100 you love that FIT, and having to make up your mind.
It’s realizing that someone who caught your eye just looked back.
It’s dancing like a mad woman so long that you should have collapsed by now, but you just keep going.
It’s discovering you have a collarbone. 
It’s seeing the curve of your shoulders into triceps.  And you aren’t even flexing.
It feels like chasing your little cousin around the yard.
It’s jogging for…  Well, it’s jogging.  Period.  Even if it’s only for a minute. 
It’s realizing how many people care about you immensely and have genuinely hoped the best for you before you were able to want the best for yourself.
It feels like the huge sigh of relief from your parents when they realize that they don’t have to worry that they’ll outlive you anymore.
It feels like the hope you didn’t realize you were lacking.
It feels like exuding more joy and energy than you were able to before.
It’s realizing how much really is possible.
It’s realizing that I can do it.  Whatever “it” is. 
It feels like I’m free.
It’s living, people.  It is living. 

I remember very, very well how absolutely impossible this seemed.  My Mom and I went to see the first travelling-sister-yaya-panthood movie (or Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, if you will…).  Every single time there was a scene in Greece, we’d swoon and whisper how much we’d love to go there.  My Mom leaned over to me and said, “When you lose 100lbs, we’ll go there!”  I smiled and said “Okay!” and figured it’d definitely, probably, maybe happen someday.  I’ve known for many years that I needed to do something.  As hopeless as I have been, some part of me knew that it was certain to happen someday.  I just didn’t know when.  Who knows why we’re wired the way we are, but once a switch inside of me is flipped, it is done.  D, O, N, E…  Done.  I don’t know why it took so long for this internal switch to get flipped, but fashionably late is better than never.  The Big Guy Upstairs must’ve known what he was up to, after all.

So, how does one celebrate losing 100lbs?  We’ll get to Greece, eventually.  But for now…

By getting a new pair of workout shoes with a gift certificate to Gazelle Sports from your parents!  Once again, the folks at Gazelle pointed me in the right direction, new shoe size and all. 

By making a new dinner concoction, and being quietly satisfied that 100lbs in, you’re satisfied celebrating with a delicious, healthy meal that I will tell you about tomorrow.

By sitting on my couch trying desperately to write a blog post, puzzled as to why I’m not more excited about it, then being blessed with the realizations above.   

While writing this and looking back on my journey so far, I find myself overcome by this thought:

I think about you, Readers.  I do.  And today in particular, I’m thinking very much about those of you who might be in the same boat as I was, feeling hopeless and facing an impossible battle.  More than anything, I sincerely and earnestly hope that something in this little blog of mine will show you just how deserving and capable you are of making it happen.  I have silly amounts of love for you, and want desperately for you to have your own interesting, difficult, amazing journey to share.  Thank you for being a part of mine!
From top left to bottom right: my skinny jeans size 24, workout pants size XL pants and L tshirt from Old Navy,
size 24 skinny jeans from side, size 28 skirt, current size 18 jeans that are too big, black dress size 22/24 from Lane Bryant.  

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bangers & Mash

When I lived in England, one of my favorite comfort foods was bangers & mash, proper old-school-pub-style.  A giant mound of mashed potatoes and a big ol' sausage with gravy on top...  Yeah.  That pretty much screams winter, cozy, comfort food. It also screams 3.9 bajillion calories.

I decided to see if I could satisfy the craving without the guilt for under 350 calories.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a TOTAL SUCCESS.  It's still a little heavy on carbs and sodium, but it's a pretty great alternative!

The trick?  Smoked turkey sausage, parsnips, and cauliflower.

Serves 4.

1 Hillshire Farms Turkey Smoked Sausage
1lb parsnips
1/2 a large head of cauliflower
1 packet brown gravy mix (I used Spartan)
4oz of mushroom
1 medium whole yellow onion
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 tbs light salted butter
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp powdered garlic
1tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Prepare your gravy mix as directed on package.  Peel & chop parsnips, and chop cauliflower with a fair bit of the stalk cut off.  Chop sausage into 4 even sections. Slice mushrooms and onion.

Pour your prepared gravy mix into a sauce pan, then add garlic powder, rosemary, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, and onions.  Let cook on medium low heat while everything else is cooking.

Put your parsnips in a large pan to boil for about 10-15 minutes, until tender but not fully cooked, then add the cauliflower and boil for about 10 more minutes or until tender, but not mushy.

Put sausage in the oven after you add the cauliflower, and broil on each side for about 5-7 minutes, or until each side is a bit crispy and it is cooked through.

Drain your parsnips & cauliflower.  Combine butter, salt, cauliflower and parsnips in a mixing bowl and mash to desired consistency.

Now, for the fun part...  Place approximately 1 cup of parsnip/cauliflower "potatoes" on each plate, dole out a portion of sausage, pour your mushroom onion gravy on top, and voila.  Enjoy.

Nutritional info (per serving):
Calories - 330
Carbs - 41
Fat - 12
Protein - 18
Sodium - 1650
Fiber - 10

Weight Watchers Points Plus:  7pts (calculated without "free" vegetables)

Please forgive me if my timing isn't 100% accurate.  I have to admit, I pretty much wing it, but I will start keeping track of how long I cook things!  If you're watching your sodium intake, this may not be for you.  If you try it, let me know how it worked for you or if you have any ideas or alternatives the rest of us might enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's easy.

Dear, lovely Fashionably Late Readers,

I am painfully aware of my negligence to this here blog over the last couple of weeks.  I have missed it, and I have missed you! Whomever you may be...

Diligence has not been my forte, lately.  It is far too easy to become lackadaisical about...  Well, everything.  I haven't tracked my food as well as usual, I haven't made as much progress in the weight department as I'd like, and I haven't blogged as often as I should.  But, not this week.  I got back on track, lost 3 pounds, and bought myself some new, helpful goodies.

With fresh resolve, my favorite pen, a new planner, and a neat looking Mead college-ruled composition notebook for recipes with "LET THERE BE FOOD!!!" scribbled on the front, progress shall be made.  Here are a few things you all can expect to be heading your way.

...Regular posts about Fat Archaeology discoveries
...Regular posts about Little Victories
...The return of Sweaty Beats!
...Fashion!  Struggles and successes with shopping, what I've found, where I've found it, and why it worked for me.
...FOOD.  I'll be sharing my go-to products, reviewing things I've tried, posting recipes from cooking and baking, and providing nutritional info and Weight Watchers Point Plus values for each and every one.

First on the agenda?  A tasty little ditty I made for dinner Tuesday evening...  Gotta love light versions of comfort foods. Can't wait to share it!

Here we go!