Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Power of Setting Goals

One of the most important things I've done on this journey is to learn how to set good goals for weight loss.

Before, I would just say, "I wanna be thin....WAAAAAGH! That's my goal. I know when I get there." As someone who has suffered from eating disorders and body dysphoria in the past, that's a slippery slope for me. It's almost impossible for me to look in a mirror and say, "Yup! I'm there! I reached my goal and I look fabulous." Setting that kind of goal is dangerous because it's hard to reach and the more you don't, the more negativity and the potential for self abuse sets in.

This time, I did some research. I found out how much I should weigh to be healthy. I put a specific NUMBER on it by using the BMI scale. This is isn't a perfect science since it's a bell curve of averages, especially for someone like me who is really short and fall on an extreme end of the scale, but it's really the only general way I had to set my goal. You could always go the calipers/body fat percentage route but that might not get you a goal body weight to shoot for if you're looking for a goal number. For me, doctors use the BMI scale, so that's what I used since I want the doctor to give me a clean bill of health when I visit. That's a major priority for me.

I also set weight loss goals that matched up with specific dates and occasions where I'd be performing, knew photos would be taken, or I'd be wearing costumes to conventions. The goals were determined realistically (1-2 lbs a week weightloss goals) and though I've had some disappointments along the way, I've never missed a goal yet which has been pretty empowering. The whole idea is to integrate healthy living into events or occasions you really WANT to be a part of so that your weightloss doesn't become "this thing you're also doing." It's a life change that's integrated into everything.

Yesterday I finally hammered out some dates for some summer conventions and family trips. I decided to attach goals to them and realized after doing the math on the weeks, that I could be at my GOAL WEIGHT before the first one and DEFINITELY before the second one which allows a bit of leeway. I can't believe that my system of mini goals has finally led me right to "the big kahuna!" Just goes to show that by making smaller changes and meeting mini milestones along the way, you can achieve great things in no time at all!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

80 lbs Lost and Freezing My Ass Off!

Needless to say, it's winter, and it's cold, but I swear I'm enduring a long winter on "The Wall" in Westeros. In NYC, it's been 14 degrees every morning while I wait on the platform for the subway. I never used to get cold, but now I am always freezing. It's like when I go outside, the time it takes for me to get cold is 10 seconds flat. When I come in from the cold, getting myself warm is impossible. The only way is four layers of clothing and then I sit under my comforter on my couch next to the radiator with gloves on for about 40 minutes. The second I get out from under that blanket, I get cold almost immediately and then I have to get back under the blanket again. I thought I was imagining it, but when my boyfriend was here this weekend and I got up to get a glass of water, he would notice that I would be DRASTICALLY colder to the touch when I got back.

The only thing that's changed is my weightloss. My first thought was that it must be caused by the loss in "insulation," but it seems pretty extreme for that. So I did some research online. A lot of places suggest that restrictive diets can cause your metabolism to slow and then your body shuts down certain functions, making you prone to getting cold since your energy is being stored and redirected elsewhere. I don't think this is the issue because I'm following the Nutrisystem program to the letter, so while my food intake is controlled, its not below what it should be. Then I found this other point of view on the topic. If you are heavier, it stands to reason that you have more blood vessels over the surface of your fleshy-fattiness. Those vessels are your body's natural cooling system. So when you lose a significant amount of weight, those blood vessels don't just go away. You end up with less skin surface area, but the same amount of blood vessels you had before. Whether they eventually become absorbed or not is unclear. Hence your cooling system is far more efficient and sensitive than someone of a similar size who has not lost a huge amount of weight. From what I'm experiencing, this seems to make a lot of sense. It takes about 6 months for skin to adjust to a huge amount of weightloss, so maybe it will take a similar amount of time for my blood vessels to adapt? Time will tell. All I know is if I have to endure another winter "On the Wall" I think I'll become a deserter of the Night's Watch.

In other news, I've officially lost 80 lbs! It's pretty nuts. I'm proud of the work I've put in and I'm excited to continue all the hard work ahead. It's crazy. This goal actually seems attainable. I'm just about 2/3 of the way there and as I make dates for vacations and events this summer and count the weeks between then and now, I'm realizing that I could very well be AT my goal weight and into maintenance by then if I stay focused. How AMAZING is that? Here's to a great week for all of us!

Monday, January 21, 2013

20% Cooler and a Few Pounds Thinner!
Guys. I've been stuck fluctuating between the same five pounds for three weeks. It's been my most frustrating and inexplicable plateau to date and this morning at my weigh-in, the scale finally moved. The odds were ever in my favor! I've been working really hard this week, sticking 100% to my diet and hitting the gym every day for 45-55 minutes on the elliptical and then an hour of Zumba/Yoga/walking to cap it off. My body finally got the message and started losing again!

I took a Zumba class near the beginning of this journey and I could barely do it. I felt wretched and awful about it afterwards. Now 75 lbs down, I retook the class just to get an idea of how different it would be. I almost fell over when we started jumping because I was surprised by how much air I got! Haha! I kept up the whole time and had a lot of fun. So it just goes to show, as you change, your abilities change and you should always give everything (including yourself!) another chance to be awesome. You never know what you'll enjoy six months from now.

I've also really been enjoying getting back into yoga. I enjoyed it when we did it at the drama conservatory I attended even though I'm not super flexible. It helps me focus and keep my breath/body connected (which is very important as an actor). Aside from a crazy Russian substitute slave driver that we had for class yesterday, who spent more time showing us what the two advanced students could do as opposed to giving us each beginner/intermediate/advanced poses, it's been an incredibly positive experience. I'm not going to let that one negative experience stop me from challenging myself. :)

And with that! I'm going to the gym to watch Xena on the elliptical (Xena-lliptical training, as I like to call it!), followed by Zumba!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Becoming a Superhero

I've found weight harder and harder to drop as I lose more and more. It's become increasingly important to me to measure my progress not just by pounds dropped, but by changes accomplished. Sometimes that's weight loss, but other times that's progress with fitness, personal outlook, or life accomplishments. I usually only post on weigh-in days, but because I'm trying to see this as more than numbers on a scale, I'm going to try posting on days that aren't weigh-ins as well. 

I get asked for weight loss advice both by people in my life and on forums who are looking for faster results or are getting frustrated with their progress, which I admit I have a problem with myself. It seems like we're all looking for this magical "I WIN" button. Sorry, guys. That doesn't exist, not even with Nutrisystem. There's no magic involved. I view my Nutrisystem program is more like a 1-up or power boost. It helps you, but finishing the level and wining the game is ultimately up to you and the skills you acquire along the way. So even though I'm frustrated with my plateau right now and I sometimes gain weight for seemingly NO reason despite plenty of exercise and great focus on my diet, I have to be happy and proud of sticking to my guns and choosing health. The rest will follow. 

So, my current project is to build two cosplays for PAX East, a gaming convention I'm going to in March. It's really fun and it's something I never did before I started to lose weight because I was afraid to be labeled the "fat" version of a character I loved. My first cosplay as Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender was so empowering and well received that I decided to do another one for this convention in March. My boyfriend decided he wanted in on the action, so we chose characters from one of our favorite shows, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Yes, my BOYFRIEND chose that. <3 We both love Rainbow Dash so I'm becoming her (cause she's 20% cooler!) while he'll be taking on Soarin, one of the Wonderbolts (think: the Blue Angels if they were pegasi). 

Obviously, we're not ponies. I know. SHOCKING! The artistry and fun of these costumes is figuring out how to anthropomorphize these characters and turn them into humans. We're doing that through mimicing the color palettes, personality references through clothing choice, and in the case of these two fine ponies, ears and wings! Since they're both stunt fliers, we'll be wearing aviator goggles. My boyfriend is wearing a blue hoodie, upon which I'll be sewing yellow details to reflect Soarin's flight suite and "cutie mark" (the mark all ponies have on their rumps!). He's wearing jeans and of course white wings with white pony ears.

When it comes to "becoming" Rainbow Dash, I realized I was going to be faced with physically embodying some of her really intimidating character traits. She's loyal to a fault when it comes to her friends (something I admire and identify with. That would be easy for me), very self confident (hilariously pompous at times), and very athletic and sporty (competing in stunt flying competitions and saving the day through physical bravery). Out of those three things, I see myself exhibiting only one of those traits. Every time I designed the costume for her, I would shy away from wearing athletic shorts or a tight T-shirt with nothing covering my arms, but every time I designed the costume with jeans and a sporty sweatshirt, I just knew it wasn't the character. It didn't feel like Dash. It felt like Anne wearing a Dash wig and some rainbow stuff. In my heart, I feel like she's not afraid to show herself off. She's a runner with flashy apparel and a devil may care attitude and THAT is what I'm going to take on. This pony has spunk! She's not gonna want to hide herself under a hoodie and jeans. She's PROUD of who she is, so why can't I be? Rather than fit the character to me, I need to fit myself to the character so that I can do her justice and wear what she would wear. I don't want to look bad, but she's a sporty adorable pony who likes to show off and if I want to be her for three days, I need to accept that part of her.

So rather than allow myself to get more and more frustrated, this week I finally decided to face the problem head on, just like Dashie would do! I am going to religiously adopt those two character traits (sportiness and self confidence) that I struggle with from now until March 22, when we go to the convention. Who knows, something might just stick!

That means going to the gym more than I was and sticking 100% to my Nutrisystem guidelines unless I have a REALLY good reason not to. I have been trying to go to the gym 4 times a week, but if I want to feel like I've done everything I can to look great and feel great for the con... or as I also like to put it, feel like I DESERVE to represent Rainbow Dash, I'm going to increase the intensity and frequency of my work-outs. It's slow season for work for me, so I have plenty of time to get to the gym and NO EXCUSE not to make the most of it. Rainbow Dash is also VERY competitive and she feels like she's the best person in the room when it comes to almost everything. She never questions herself. Because of that, I'm attending group fitness classes, like yoga and Zumba, at least 2 times a week on top of my regular workouts. I'm not doing it because I want to be better than everyone else, but because I need to put myself in situations where I don't constantly compare myself NEGATIVELY to other people at the gym. I've had a lot of athletic friends throughout the years and I've always been the slowest, the fattest, and the worst at everything. So I'm going to tackle those icky feelings of inadequacy when faced with physical trials head on. Whenever I find myself saying, "I can't do this like that person is doing it," I try to say, "but I am doing something."

Similarly, I find that I do a lot of negative self-talk. I look in the mirror and I punish myself mentally and verbally for being fat/having saggy arms/taking so long to get my life in order/etc. I'm sure that's something we can all identify with and it's a really hard habit to break. So, when I say those things, I have my friends call me on it and I try to call myself on it and then I (very important that it's me and not someone else) will force myself to say something positive about myself. It seems really stupid and it's really hard, BUT it works and hopefully I'll start to say/believe more positive things about myself than negative things. 

So, long story short, I'm owning my progress, both as a person and as a pony. HA! In the spirit of accepting my progress and not constantly looking for product, here's a picture of my costume in progress. The wig still needs to be styled and I have a lot of detail work to finish on the shirt and the rest of the costume, but it IS starting to come together and I know I'll be able to stand proudly in my costume at PAX East as the fastest filly in Equestria! Heehee! :) 

So if you want, leave a comment with a hero/heroine that you've always admired and think about spending the next few months trying to adopt the things about them that you love, but would like to see more of in yourself. I'll cheer you on the whole way! If you're looking for more inspiration, there was a great X-men themed post on Nerdfitness today to help get you started!

Monday, January 14, 2013

From Disappointment to Celebration

Well, my weigh-in this week was a little disappointing at first glance. I was hoping for a two pound loss considering how on top of my eating I was (guys i resisted soooo many tasty treats with my friends. Cupcakes and hot chocolate to name a few.). I feel like I might be plateauing a little bit after my crazy losses following my surgery last month. Then again I also started taking birth control again, so perhaps that's part of it. Meh.

At any rate, I did notice some positives this week! 

Firstly, I finally went shopping for new clothes! Low and behold, I was a medium and I even bought one small item (WHAT THE WHAT?), so that was very exciting. It's also pretty amazing to see people react to my new wardrobe. Now that my clothes fit, my weight loss is even more noticeable. I bought jeans for the first time in years too. Oh! AND! I dug through my closet and found my high school winter coat, which now FITS ME! I can finally stop looking like a deflated clown in a million layers and wear clothes that fit. My friend Emily said it best when she giggled, "Oh Anne, you look like a real person now!" I don't think she was implying that being fat meant that I wasn't a real person. It's just that I've been looking super schlubby in my oversized clothes for a while now and now I don't stick out for all the wrong reasons. :) 

Second, my boyfriend is back in town. His reaction to my loss over the last month was pretty intense. He hadn't seen me since after my surgery so the last time we were together I was at least ten pounds heavier and could barely move. He's proud of my accomplishments and very supportive. He won't stop picking me up and carrying me places which is weird for me because I always feel like surely I much be crushing him, but apparently not! It's been a bit of a love fest ever since his return. <3

I've also started putting together our costumes for PAX East. We did a lot of shopping for base items this week and I'm sure we'll be picking up other little things along the way. Now I need to go get some fabric so I can start sewing on the details!

So that was my week. Hopefully I'll be able to hit the gym hard and stick with the eating program and find myself BELOW 177, which apparently is the hardest thing ever. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

My First Gain: My Fat Is Trolling Me

Well today was my first weigh-in day where I gained since starting this program 7 months ago. I only gained 1.2 lbs, but if I had lost that much, it would seem significant, so it certainly doesn't seem like a victory week. 

Obviously it's disappointing but I'm not really surprised after the week I had. I'm coming off a few weeks of pretty major loss following my surgery and I gave myself a free day on Monday night to enjoy treats at our New Years party- one of my three indulgence days for the holiday season. I didn't realize it would go on for two whole days, so I didn't pack extra Nutrisystem food like I normally would when I go to stay at a friend's house. I had to wing it on a day where I wasn't able to be particularly active and though I did my best, I certainly got off track and I don't think I every quite recovered during the course of the week. Sadly, my gym was also closed for a few days following that AND I had my last ERCP procedure for my gallbladder situation so the doctor recommended that I didn't do anything strenuous. Then I had four days of work, giving walking tours all day long (which was actually great because I needed to get more active). Anyways, those are all EXCUSES- I could have gotten off my ass and gone for a walk even if I couldn't go to the gym. I didn't. It was my choices that got me here. I could spend more time beating myself up, but I won't. Today is a new day and it's time to hit the ground running. It's time to stick 100% to the plan and get the the gym at least 4 days this week.

Conversely, there were a few positives to the week. 

I tackled my boredom with frozen veggies by putting together a huge salad kit for the next five days. I've been going the frozen route because the small grocery store near me really doesn't have great produce and walking to the far away one (and of course walking back with heavy shopping bags) is pretty awful. So I decided it would be worth it if I bought enough salad "fixins" for about five days. I tossed the baby romaine salad with peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. Then I put them into super fresh-keeping tupperware containers and dish out my portions of veggies and measure out the low fat dressing at meal time. We'll see how it goes this week, but so far, it's amazing. I look forward to the fresh salads more than I do the ACTUAL Nutrisystem dinners! It's my favorite part of the day. SALAD IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY?! Who am I? :)

I got to go back to work this week, which is taking some monetary stress off my shoulders. Even though it's our slow season for tours, I'm just happy that even a LITTLE money is going into my account. I've been living pretty frugally and will continue to do so because I have a small vacation to fund in March. I'm going to PAX East, a gaming convention, and I'm going with my boyfriend and a bunch of friends. 

The convention marks one of my mini weightloss goals (-88 lbs by March 22) and my second cosplay attempt. This time, my boyfriend is joining me in costume to support my efforts (what a trooper!), and we're going as Rainbow Dash, and Soarin the Wonderbolt from "My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic." Weirdest part: That was his choice! Heeehehehehehe. That's right, folks. I'm in dating a Brony. This week, we kicked it into high gear with building our costumes. I have a lot of sewing to do and because this costume is more tailored than my last one, I have to wait until closer to the event to start on the clothing aspects of mine or I'll be swimming in it. So, I'm starting by sewing his, ordering my prescription pink contacts, and building all the details like aviator goggles, our pegasus wings, and my custom painted rainbow sneakers with LED rainbow laces. 

Lastly, I'm currently watching The Biggest Loser and I'm celebrating because for the first time, I'm watching it without an iota of fear. I used to feel inspired by the show, but in the back of my head, when the contestants struggled, I always panicked a little because I knew I had yet to face my own demons on the scale, in the gym, and at the table. Now I am transforming myself and I am focusing more on the commonalities between myself and the folks who are hard at work on the show. So for fun, I'm tracking my weightloss along with the show in a personal mini challenge to see how much I can lose during the course of the season. It's nice because the episodes come out on Hulu on my weigh in day so I can write my blog whilst watching the show. So my first Biggest Loser weigh-in is: 178.8 lbs. We'll see how it goes next week!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Measurements & The Biggest Loser

I was surprised by how great my measurements are coming along this morning. I was definitely expecting them to be a little "blegh" because of recovering from surgery and not being able to hit the gym for a week and a half this past month, but it looks like I was able to stay right on track so I was proud of myself for devising a plan for recovery and sticking with it.

New Years was fun, though I did indulge a little TOO much in goodies. I was giving myself permission to splurge on that day, but now it's time to get back to 100% on plan. The holidays are over folks! It's time for us all to start kicking ass again. No excuses!

I took a new Facebook profile picture and compared it to other pictures of my face throughout the years. It's almost gross how pudgy my face was before in comparison. I should do a "before/after" of my face at some point just to show the difference. I don't know how I convinced myself that I hadn't put on much weight after seeing how bloated I used to be in comparison to what I see now.

For whatever reason I thought The Biggest Loser was cancelled, but I just saw a promo for a new season and I'm SOOOO excited cause I love that show. I know their results are unrealistic in a way, but I love watching the contestants transform, inside and out, plus there's a lot of nutritional education on that show as well. This is the first time I won't be watching it and thinking, "I should really get my ass off the couch and do something about my problems." That's really exciting for me because their were times when I was certainly watching that show and eating a whole pizza at the same time. SHAAAAAAAME! Haha! Anyways! I'm super excited to watch! Anyone else planning on tuning in?