Thursday, February 28, 2013

90 lbs Lost: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As I lose weight, there are a lot of great rewards. I have more energy, I feel less afraid of food because I have a solid knowledge base to navigate murky waters, I actually crave being active, and I feel more confident about the way I look. Today marks a huge milestone for me. When I weighed myself this morning, I finally saw that I've surpassed the 90 lbs lost mark.

It feels amazing. I did a celebratory dance and then I looked in the mirror. I was naked so I didn't have any way to hide the scars of this journey and the toll it's taken on my body. I'm sort of like a deflated balloon. There are rivers of stretch marks flowing down around the sides of my breasts, my underarms, and my belly. My breasts have been so heavy for so long that they are now a lot smaller and veritably hanging off of my pectoral muscles in a visible way. There are bumpy and oddly shaped places all over my body where fat has come off in weird ways. My inner thighs are sagging and hanging to create these little "bags" of flesh next to my knees that I can't seem to get rid of. Even my armpits sag when I hold out my arms like an airplane. I'm so damn proud of the work I've put in, but underneath my clothes and the numbers I can pin on the wall with a gold star, a very different story is told- one of years of abuse and physical lethargy.

I constantly struggle with making sense the highs of being elated by my physical progress and all the things I can do in the gym that I couldn't do before and the lows of what I see in the mirror at home. Despite all that hard work, I can still see the old Anne just hanging off of me. It's not like some dream where suddenly you get the body you always wanted. Parts of your past... well, they hang around, so to speak.

I have the best boyfriend in the world and I can tell him anything. This weekend, I sort of broke down in front of him. I might be finding success, but along with it, I'm constantly starring in the face of not "being done yet" and the fear that even once I've lost the weight I need to in order to be healthy, I'll only have this broken, scarred body to show for it is ever present. It keys right into the self image issues I've suffered with all my life which is so heartbreaking because one of the reasons I wanted to embark on this journey was to improve that. It makes me feel really alone because even though people are congratulating me and saying I look great, they don't know what I'm hiding underneath it all. It makes me want to punish myself, as awful as that is, because I did this to myself and I've put myself in this situation. When I punish myself, it usually means that I'll stop eating as much as I should. I revealed to him that for the past few weeks I've been consuming between 750 and 950 calories a day and not the 1200 I'm supposed to. It was really hard to admit, but I needed someone in my life to hold me accountable for doing this the RIGHT way.

That conversation was the first time I've ever let my baggage show so completely to another person and I'm so glad I did it because he talked me through all the things that I could actively do to make myself feel better and get back on track. Obviously it's important to focus on positive actions like continuing to work out and making sure I'm eating all the things I'm supposed to on my program, but we actually made a plan of things I was going to do the next day. The first one was to add at least one of the missing foods from my diet. I was convinced that if I could do that for the next few days, I could start adding back in the others without being so afraid of gaining weight. He also reminded me that my battle scars might not change and if they did, it would be in the long run so I should focus on eliminating anything else that was looming over me and making me feel bad about myself. For me, this meant getting my creative life in order and more specifically, finishing my web series (which has been delayed for reasons out of my control until very recently), finding more auditions to go to, and making sure that I am writing new entries for my blog. All of that at once is really intimidating so I started with a plan to go through all the footage the next morning and email a whole batch of potential editors so we can get the ball rolling. Lastly, my boyfriend found a great article for me to read about Julia Kozerski, a photographer who weighed 338 lbs and then lost half of her body weight in a year and chronicled it with photographs of her confronting her progress in a series called Half. It was a great read and it really made me feel less alone and also like I shouldn't punish myself for having these negative feelings because clearly other people do as well.

When it comes right down to it, I am attempting to lose half of my body weight. There are bound to be wonderful celebrations and disappointing repercussions, but the most important thing of all is my health. I want to know that I won't be physically limited by things I could have controlled and I want to be certain that when I go to the doctor, I won't face increased risks just because I couldn't get my act together. The rest of this will fall into place in time, but I won't stop until I'm healthy both physically and mentally.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Level Up Your Life

Early on in my quest for better health, someone told me about Nerd Fitness, a blog and forums started by Steve Kamb and dedicated to helping geeks focus on fitness, weight loss, and diet while bringing them together to support & educate each other on their way. Can anyone say, "Perfect match!" I'm rabid scifi/fantasy/gaming nerd and, as I've written on this blog many times, a HUGE reason I've finally found success with weight loss and health is because I discovered ways to use that stuff to motivate me rather than letting it be an escape so that I wouldn't have to face my issues.

Right around the time I discovered Nerd Fitness, Steve delivered this TEDxTalk and I was incredibly moved because his mentality is so similar to mine.

This whole journey is about improving your life and giving you the strength you need to take what you want from it. On Nerd Fitness I found tons of great articles about eating healthy on a budget, the amazing transformations of the forum members, using Frodo's trek to Mount Doom as inspiration for a new walking regimen (seriously awesome), and how to approach seemingly impossible goals in a way that actually helps you accomplish them- not to mention several articles with workouts you can do outside of the gym if you can't afford a membership. There are so many more awesome posts and new ones come out every week both from Steve and sometimes guest bloggers.

When I started looking through the forums and discovering the threads for the "real life role playing game" and six week challenges, I got really inspired and very intimidated. These people were accomplishing amazing feats just by applying the structure of a tabletop RPG to their actual lives.  It's genius. Everyone creates their character, decides a profession/class that correlates to their fitness goals, and assigns 15 points to their level 1 stats (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Constitution, Wisdom, Charisma). Each challenge offers the opportunity to gain one level and more stat points. Everyone sets four goals (3 fitness/health and one 1 life goal per challenge), assigns the amount of points they'll win for different statistics should they succeed, and at the end they grade their work and award the amount of points they feel best reflects their progress. You can learn more from the full rundown on Nerd Fitness Rebellion Forums.

As much as I loved the idea, I was already participating in challenges on the Nutrisystem forums and every time I checked back, they were in the middle of a challenge and I had to wait to sign up for the next one. I missed a few opportunities, but FINALLY I figured out the challenge dates and put it in my calendar so I wouldn't miss it. I amped myself up by preparing my character in the down time:

Hearthsinger the Wandering Bard
Level 1 Halfling Ranger
STR 2 | DEX 1 | STA 2 | CON 2 | WIS 4 | CHA 4
"You are what you do. You can re-create yourself every second of your life." -Xena

Clearly I couldn't resist quoting Xena- and it's a damn good quote too! I chose to join the Rangers guild (a mixture of cardio and strength training), and started getting my goals ready. You can read about them and see all my starting measurements and weight below.

Fitness/Nutrition goals:

  • Take at least one Yoga class a week. (+2 STR)
  • Complete 5k training missions with "Zombies, Run" 3x/week. I'm starting my week 2 training missions on October 25. (+5 STA)
  • Complete at least two 45 minute training sessions on the elliptical per week. (+2 DEX)
  • Learn to cook three Paleo meals by the end of the challenge. NOTE: I'm on Nutrisystem right now, but it's just an open door into a much larger world. I'm learning a lot about portion size and breaking food into 5-6 smaller meals a day, but I want to learn a little about Paleo and cleaner eating so that when I get to my goal weight and drop my subscription, I'll be ready to hit the ground running. (+3 CON)

Life Goal:

  • Write at least 2 new blog posts a week and create a logo for the header. NOTE: I've been posting backlogged entries from the past seven months daily so there's constantly new content, but I need to keep CREATING content on a schedule so that I can stick to releasing two articles a week on a regular schedule for the readers once I catch up to current time. (+ 3 WIS)


  • Bust: 38"
  • Waist: 41"
  • Hips: 44"
  • Thigh: 22.25"
  • Calves: 16.5"
  • Bicep: 12.5"
Starting Weight:
  • 162.4 lbs
Yesterday, Feb 25th, was officially day one of my first challenge as a Nerd Fitness Rebel and I'm REALLY excited to get to work! In fact, this is post number one for my first week. One down, one to go! If you decide to join in, I'm Hearthsinger on the forums. So take the plunge, join the rebellion and let's do some serious power leveling! 

Before I send you off to do great things, here's some final inspiration from Steve as he exercises around the world. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Things I Don't Miss

 Changing my nutrition and exercise habits have had a profound effect on me both inside and out. Even though I've had some success, when times get tough (I hit a plateau, I'm constantly surrounded by temptation, I get distracted by emotional stuff in my life, etc), I sometimes find myself drifting back to my old way of thinking. Sure, when my friends are eating delicious New York pizza, I want some. I wish it was in the cards that I could eat a slice or two like I used to. When it's late at night and I get a craving for ice cream, I start remembering what it was like to load up on my favorite flavors whenever I felt like it. When I make my boyfriend a bacon cheeseburger I FRAKIN' WANT ONE TOO. Who wouldn't? My choice to not give into that overwhelming urge to throw in the towel and go hog wild with food is what makes me strong. Willpower is a muscle and the more you flex it, the easier it gets. However, when I'm teetering on the edge of disaster, I start to think of what I don't miss about my "old" life. It's like the Star Wars prequels. Sometimes you really wish you didn't sit through those years of pain, but it's there forever and no matter how hard you try, you can't imagine it away so you might as well do your best to glean what you can from it. 

That's why I made this list of "Things I Don't Miss." Thinking about the negative things in my past and how they've changed helps me to focus on a brighter future that as of now, isn't so far, far away anymore.
  • I don't miss getting winded just by walking from the subway to my destination.
  • I don't miss sweating like crazy all the time.
  • I don't miss getting hit on by guys who only want me because I'm a "BBW" fetish.
  • I don't miss only being able to sit on the subway if there are two adjacent seats available.
  • I don't miss my feet feeling like they were breaking after being on them for hours at a time.
  • I don't miss my feet and ankles swelling up like sausages a few times a month.
  • I don't miss slowly having to accept that I'm getting too big for my clothes.
  • I don't miss binging on a whole pizza from Pappa John's and feeling like crap afterwards for willingly destroying my body day after day.
  • I don't miss calling to order food from one of my favorite restaurants and having them recognize my voice and fill in my order before I can finish my sentence.
  • I don't miss that guy at Dunkin' Donuts who saw my State ID from when I was thinner while I was paying and said, "Wow. When did you get fat?"
  • I don't miss going to the doctor and having to get poked and prodded a billion times for them to even find a vein to take blood.
  • I don't miss people feeling they need to console me by telling me, "But you have a beautiful face."
  • I don't miss my family repeatedly telling me I'm going to get diabetes.
  • I don't miss approaching a roller coaster with apprehension because I might not fit in the seat. 
  • I don't miss putting myself down with a joke so that no one else has a chance to do it first.
  • I don't miss feeling like I'm holding my friends back because of my weight.
  • I don't miss letting myself get pushed around because I don't feel I deserve to take up any space.
  • I don't miss looking at my beautiful friends and feeling like I don't even deserve to be around them. 
  • I don't miss  being jealous of other people's beauty and success in healthy endeavors and subsequently hating myself for it.
  • I don't miss promising myself that "I'll start tomorrow" but already knowing I won't.
  • I don't miss making a million excuses for not trying something because I was afraid to fail due to my weight.
  • I don't miss looking in the mirror, being unhappy with what I see, and not being able to temper that with an affirmation that I'm working hard to become a better person.
Last night, a friend asked me how it "felt" to have lost all this weight. I was flooded with a mixture of emotions because I know at my core I'm the same person in a lot of ways, but in that moment I was struggling to capture the result of leaving all that negativity in my past. In the end I decided on, "I'm not afraid anymore."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Spike Theory: Vices to Virtues

Do you ever find that when you "trim the fat from life" that you're trimming the fun from it too?

If the answer is yes, then you're doing it wrong. If you aren't enjoying the life you live then what's the point of all the hard work you're putting into your nutrition and exercise? You have to take what you love in life and exorcise the bad until only the redeemable qualities are left behind. Sound familiar?

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer would think so. This is a guy who went from Big Bad to big damn hero all because he was able to change his point of view on how he wanted to "live" his unlife. You can do the same thing with the way you think about the "vices" in your life that prohibit you from reaching your health goals.

I used to spend my free time playing video games for 4-7 hours a day and eating whole pizzas, thai food, cheese fries, snacks, candy, and regular soda along the way. When I hung out with my friends, we'd always have some sort of over the top treat and I would go back for seconds or even thirds. When  I went to conventions, I would eat whatever was around and spend way too much money on crappy food that wasn't good for me followed by indulging in a big dinner when we got back to the hotel in the evening. I was in my Spike "slayer of slayers" phase. I didn't care what I was doing as long as I could do what I wanted, when I wanted to. That felt good to me.

Now taken alone, video games, socializing, and trips were not bad for me! It's the inactivity and overeating that accompanied these activities that made them toxic. Side note: This is why it drives me crazy when people like Bob Harper on The Biggest Loser equate the war on childhood obesity to a war on video games. That's a topic for another day. While temptation does tend to strike when I engage in these activities, the more you practice willpower, the more you strengthen that mental muscle and make it possible to view these these things as rewards for sticking one hundred percent to your diet and fitness regime.

When I first started my diet, I made a rule that I couldn't play video games and I would stick 100% to Nutrisystem food with no exceptions for the first month. I just wanted to break the patterns that I'd gotten used to. It was sort of like detoxing. I found myself CRAVING the games like crazy- more than I ever craved the food- especially MMOs. I took my diet food with me to group outings and it was great, but I did miss the ability to go out to dinner every once in a while. This was my "Spike with the chip" phase. My redeemable life of good health wasn't exactly natural yet. It was a little agonizing but when I figured out how to direct my energy so that I could still enjoy doing things I loved, it got a lot better.

In month two, I allowed myself to play video games, but only after I'd been to the gym for the day. I also allotted myself one meal "out" a week. That meal was never a splurge. It always met with the guidelines of my diet plan and I would research the menus ahead of time to make sure I was prepared to order healthy selections and set myself up for success. 

Then along came the holidays. I thought long and hard about how I'd handle all the tempting treats I knew would surround me. Did I need them to make me feel like I was a part of the festive holiday? I think that answer is different for everyone, but I determined that they were. Therefore, I decided that if the treats were about the holidays then they should only be allowed ON the day itself. Every other day of the season I stuck to my plan. I stuck to my guidelines for all the social outings in between and when those festive days came, I felt like I was completely deserving of a little reward. 

Conventions have turned into great rewards now that I cosplay because I work really hard on a costume and on my physique for months so that when I get to wear it, the whole event is a celebration of my hard work. I bring food with me so I'm not snacking on things I shouldn't be eating all day and in the evening I do the best I can to eat healthy while still enjoying a little vacation time with my friends. I like to think I'm in my "Spike gets his soul back" phase. I'm actively seeking out better health. Sometimes it's still a struggle, but it's one I chose and one I know I want to see the other side of. The only way I was able to push myself past the point where I normally would have given up was to accept the vices in my life and turn them in to virtues and rewards for pursuing my goals. If I keep at it, who knows? Maybe one day I'll have the power to run a marathon and destroy the hell mouth. I'm just taking it one baby vampire step at a time.

What can you do to "Spike-ify" your fitness and nutrition goals? If you have any tips or experiences to share, please leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Find Your Fellowship

Quests for better health can be a lonely process, but they don't have to be. 

Every time I have failed at getting healthy it's because I made the process a secret. I was so ashamed that I even had to put myself through such drastic change to my exercise and diet that I didn't want to let anyone see me at my most vulnerable. I also removed a lot of the things I liked from my life under the pretense that "old me" was broken. I stopped playing video games because I connected them to binge eating and constant snacking. I stopped going to movies because I didn't feel like I could go and not eat candy. I stopped going out to dinner with friends because I hated the idea of not being able to partake in what other people were eating. My social life dwindled into near non-existence with very few exceptions. I'm an only child and I'm used to being on my own- it's even comfortable for me, but when I stopped hanging out with my friends as much, I really lost my perspective on my place in the world and began letting some of the negativity that can be a part of a challenging physical process take over in a very damaging way.

"I'm too fat to even exercise like a normal person."

"I didn't lose as much weight as I wanted to this week."

"I've lost a ton of weight but I'm still gigantic. It'll never be enough."

"Food is bad. Food is the enemy."

"I love food. I miss food."

"Why even try? This is impossible. It's going to take over  a year to lose all this weight anyways."

"I hate myself."

I didn't have any friends around to snap me out of my downward spiral because in my version of "focusing" on my health, I had to shut them out until I was worthy to be a part of the world in all my unattainable skinny splendor.

This method of getting healthy wasn't healthy at all, let alone the fact that it was completely unsustainable. I would habitually push myself till I broke and then binge eat all the weight back on. I was afraid the doctor, of scales, of anything that would make me face what I was putting myself through. I went through long periods of trying to eat less than 600 calories a day with my hair falling out in droves every time I showered. I can remember hating myself for "binging" on five chicken fingers after I lost my willpower to stick to that malnourished diet and sticking my fingers down my throat for the first time to erase the mistake. 

If I had been brave enough to face the world and to let my friends see what was going on, I probably would have gotten the help I needed a lot sooner and I would have had people to set me straight and support me as I picked myself up and got back to being healthy.

My point is that you need at least one person aside from yourself that you can be accountable to. You're going on a long quest and you need your Fellowship so you can toss your fat into the fires of Mount Doom! Your Fellowship should be people you trust. They should be people you see in person often and I would venture that you might want to make sure that some of them know a little bit about health and fitness, though that's not essential. The biggest factor is that they should love you unconditionally and you should feel comfortable succeeding and failing in front of them. These are people who you should chat with regularly about your process. They should make you want to develop your fitness around what you love in your life instead of shutting all the joy out till the turkey's done and ready to come out of the oven. Your Fellowship is there to reflect all the positive stuff back at you, help you find new ways to enjoy the healthier you, and speak up if it seems like you're derailing your progress somehow. 

The next level isn't for everyone, but I've found it very rewarding to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and this blog (SURPRISE!) to share my trials, tribulations, progress, and goals. It makes me feel good when someone I haven't seen in a while makes a comment about how great I look or when someone whose fitness regime I've always admired shares some great advice. 

I'm not ashamed of what I'm doing anymore. I love it- and not just for the end goal, but because it's brought me closer to the people in my life, expanded my interests, and allowed me to participate in the things I love in ways I didn't think were possible before. I'm getting out and running three times a week (something I thought I'd never do!). I'm taking two or three yoga classes a week and today I caught myself in the mirror during the class and realized how graceful I'd become. Me? Graceful! INCONCEIVABLE! I get excited when I'm about to debut a costume instead of nervous about how I'm going to look next to everyone else. I treat myself to the special indulgences when I'm out with friends without going overboard because I've learned how! 

None of those breakthroughs would have been possible without my Fellowship. I'm sort of tearing up thinking about it because I'm super sappy and I don't even think they know how much it means that I've been able to bypass the pain and suffering I put myself through in the past in order to make real progress that will last my whole life all because they supported me through this quest. So if you're reading this, you know who you are. Thank you! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure

Our newly painted miniatures for a campaign of Mage: The Awakening. Mine is second from the left!

Whenever I start a new tabletop role playing game, be it D&D, Scion, or Mage: The Awakening, I have the hardest time getting started. There are rule books jammed with so many choices that I feel completely lost until after I've narrowed down that first kernel of inspiration for the character. Does she fight with daggers? Is she from the wrong side of the tracks? Lawful good or chaotic neutral? I need to have one answer before the rest can fall into place.

Similarly, there's a boatload of advice on the internet about diet and exercise. Knowing where to start is a challenge in itself! What are credible sources? There are plans galore to tempt you; Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, My Fitness Pal, Couch to 5k, FitBit, Paleo, Primal. It's easy to get overwhelmed and even easier to discover conflicting advice. The ultimate key is finding something you think you can sustain. Whatever changes you make to your eating and physical activity should be things that you can stick with for life or you'll just end up back where you started. 

Personally, Nutrisystem has been a great gateway for me, but it's hardly the end goal. I don't intend to be on it forever and ultimately I would like to eat more whole foods than processed foods which will be easier when I'm cooking most everything from scratch. In the end, it doesn't make sense to be ordering food from across the country and carrying meals with me every time I go to parties. However, this "gateway" has taught me a lot about portions, ways to improve my metabolism by eating smaller meals/snacks a day, and how to fit more fruits/veggies/water into my diet. Some people would absolutely disagree with me, but I don't think there are "magic" foods that cause you to lose weight. A balanced diet with correct portions combined with increased physical activity will cause you lose weight and get healthy. I've worked hard to learn about nutrition while following this program because I know it's the only way I'll be able to keep the weight off once I stop placing orders with Nutrisystem.

A lot of people react to the success of those around them by wanting to get a piece of it themselves. That's certainly what got me started. Sometimes, I find that when I explain what I'm doing, people get overwhelmed. "No offense. That's great and all, but I could never do what you do," said a friend of mine. My reaction is, "That's the beauty of it! There are tons of ways to improve your current habits and you can start small and see what works for you." 

My answer doesn't have to be yours. I have a friend who murders herself in multiple boxing classes a day and lives for it. If you think I'm trying that any time soon, then you're completely insane! I have another friend who will plan her entire day of eating and exercise around what she wants for desert because treats are that important to her! I totally do that when I have something really special planned, like eating Magnolia cupcakes with my sweetie on Valentine's Day. Other people say, "You can't live for treats like a dog. You have to cut all the processed chemicals, grains, and dairy completely out of your diet." If that's what works for them, by all means live long and prosper! I'd miss carbs and dairy way too much for that to be sustainable for me. My point is that ALL of these plans work for the individuals who implement them well and execute them long enough to see result.

What absolutely doesn't work is constantly changing your plan or taking some from column A and some from column B. You need to choose your new class and stick with it for a few levels before you decide whether or not it will work for you. If you keep switching, you'll never get the full good of the game and more importantly, you won't give your body the chance take in the changes and react to them.

There's something out there for everyone so if you're interested in getting your health in order, don't let someone else's "insane" program be an excuse for you not to try. Choose your own adventure, find a "class" you love, and start playing the game. Take it level by level and if you need to play "casual," then do that. Rome wasn't built in a day and the new you won't be either.

I'm trying to keep that in mind as my weight loss slows. I had a weigh in today and I only lost .4 lbs this week. It was a let down considering how hard I've been working and all the good choices I made during the week, but at least the scale didn't go up. I just need to stay focused and try to enjoy the physical things I'm doing, like Zombies, Run! 5k training (which is so fun that I think I might cry!), Yoga, and watching my favorite season of Xena on the elliptical. The weight will come off when it's ready. Patience, young padawan.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Loose Skin

Lately, there's been a lot of this going on in my life.

"Do you have loose skin? What are you going to do about it?"
"Are you calling me a whore?"
And then it's either funny or awkward and I imagine this interchange from Firefly.

In any case, I've had loose skin on the brain and to some extent, sadly on my body. Loose skin can sometimes occur after rapid/extreme weight loss as the fat is burned and the elasticity of the skin doesn't have time to readjust. My journey hasn't been so extreme but in 7 months, I've lost about 85 lbs, which is just over 3 lbs a week. I've mostly noticed it in my chest area and my inner thighs, but I'm sure I'll see more evidence as I progress towards my goal. 

A lot of people get surgery to correct this issue. Loose skin is not only unflattering, but it can also be argued that it gets in the way of exercise and can keep you from reaching your full potential as an athlete. For me, it's currently vanity that's the issue. My skin doesn't get in the way of my workouts, though I can feel some extra bounce in my bum and thighs. However, it's not so extreme that it discourages me from going to the gym. I've noticed certain things just seem a little deflated or that from specific angles, there's drooping that wasn't there before. Weirdly, I can see it a lot in my arms and armpits. Guys. I have saggy armpits. What does that even MEAN? Ugh. I try not to focus on it too much because over all, I'm feeling pretty fantastic about my progress. 

Having just been under the knife for my gallbladder removal, I'm not too keen on having another surgery any time soon. I also have 40 more pounds to lose before I'm at a healthy weight and I would really like to attain that goal and maintain my weight loss for about six months before I make any final decisions. 

Why six months? I'm young and although I've been overweight for most of my life, my body will be more forgiving than if I were older. I've heard that it takes about six months for your body to adjust to major physical change, so that's why I chose that amount of time.

It's also a matter of health insurance. If the procedure were purely seen as vanity, my insurance might not cover it. If I wait six months and then decide that surgery is something I really want to pursue, I can say that I've lived with the issue for 6 months, managed to keep the weight off, and I need to get the surgery to help me improve/intensify my fitness level. 

So that's my plan- reach my goal, maintain a healthy weight for six months. and then reassess the skin situation and go from there. I'd love to hear from anyone else who is dealing with this issue or has any concerns or advice so feel free to comment!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Exit Strategy

If you measure my weight loss on the Princess Leia scale, I'm Leia in Boushh's armor rescuing Han Solo from Jabba's palace at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. In layman's terms, I'm just entering the last third of my journey and a lot of people have been asking me about what I'm going to do when I'm "done." 

Hell, from where I sit, I still have to don a metal bikini, befriend the Ewoks, learn Luke is actually my brother, and restore peace to the galaxy. I guess other people see me as "approaching the finish line" even though I still see a whole lot of work still to be done. I'm not ready to leave Nutrisystem yet, but I do plan to when I reach my goal. It's been well worth the expense but it's not at all realistic for me to continue to pay for the program for any longer than I need to. Many of the Nutrisystem naysayers think the program is unsustainable for this very reason; Sure, it's easy to execute, but do you learn enough about nutrition and portion sizes to maintain your weightloss after you're off the program?

No matter what your system is (Weight Watchers, Paleo, South Beach, Seattle Sutton, etc), it's your responsibility to learn about the program and why it's working for you. If you don't, you WILL gain the weight back. This is not a process that just ends when you "Ding" your goal weight on the scale and reach max level. It's a lifelong education and you owe it to yourself to put in the time and effort to ensure continued success. If you leave it till the last second, sooner or later temptation and lack of knowledge will find a way to lead you right down the old path you were on before you started.

That's why I've started educating myself now, rather then at the end of the program. Here's some advice I've picked up along the way.
  • You need to read the labels on your food and look at the ingredients. It's not just about calories, it's about content.
  • If there's something that's easy to make on your program, like oatmeal, or a healthier desert that you really like, start looking for an equivalent. For example, I found low-sugar-low-fat Quaker Oatmeal in Maple Brown Sugar and Apple Cinnamon for a breakfast that's similar to Nutrisystem's versions of the same product. I also found UNREAL: Candy Unjunked at my local CVS. They basically make candy with lower sugar, no corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oil, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, and low glycemic index. Their Milky Way equivalent has the same amount of sugar as an apple and is only 170 calories, as opposed to 270 in an actual Milky Way. In addition, I'll be replacing my lunch bars at work with Luna bars. 
  • You need to look at what proper portions are and find a way to help you measure them once it's not being done for you. Invest money in measuring cups/spoons and invest time in using them for anything from measuring rice to salad dressing. 
  • If you're on Weight Watchers, you need to look at WHY certain foods are worth more than others. Even within that system, there are things that are way better for you than others and it's nice to know why because it can help you make informed decisions when under pressure. Don't just follow your chosen program blindly.
  • No matter what you're doing, you'll have to learn how to cook sooner or later if you want to live in a healthier more cost effective way. My nutritionist gave me a copy of Integrative Nutrition which is full of advice on how to fuel your body and includes a lot of yummy recipes. If there's something you like on your "prepackaged food" diet, learn how to make it so when you're done with the program you won't feel like you've been left high and dry.
Personally, I'm going to take it in strides. I've learned a lot, but I'm hardly an expert and I have a long way to go. My plan is to get on Weight Watchers when I get to maintenance so that I still have a general measurement system for planning my daily food that doesn't rely solely on calories (since I hate that). Their program definitely allows for increased flexibility as far as eating out goes it converts your workouts into more "points" to use for your day- something you'll definitely want to take advantage of in maintenance. I'm finding some great equivalents for the foods I enjoy on Nutrisystem, either in the store or by learning to cook them, and I'm starting to give myself fitness goals as well as scale goals so I can stay motivated after I reach my weightloss goal. The key here is to be specific, i.e. I'd like to be able to run a 5k or I'd like to be able to stay in a shoulder stand during yoga for 10 minutes and not "I want to run. Spinning might be fun."

So that's where I am! What are you doing to ensure your continued success after you reach your goal? I'd love to hear any advice in the comments!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quest Accepted: Couch to 5K

Ever since I started my fitness journey, I've avoided running. I've tackled new things like HIIT workouts, Zumba, and Yoga, but I've always hated running and so I never elected to add it to my cardio routine. 

I had a million canned responses ready for when people asked why I didn't try running. 

"My well endowed bosom would be painful! The bouncing! Ouchies!"

"The high impact would be murder on my joints."

"The elliptical burns more calories anyways."

"I tried distance running in high school. I gave up 3 weeks in and joined the soccer team instead. Never again."

"Do I look like a graceful gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti?"

When it comes right down to it, those are all just excuses. I've lost 85 lbs. I have NO EXCUSE not to challenge myself. Zumba and Yoga have been such positive experiences for me because I have another way to measure my progress besides the scale.  Plus, adding even more variety to my fitness can only be a good thing as I plow through these last 40 lbs. Of course, the tipping point in my decision was when I realized that when the Doctor comes to call, I'll have to be able to keep up with him on our time traveling adventures!

Just like any intimidating challenge, it's best to take it in steps. I've heard wonderful things about "Couch to 5K," so I decided to download the app for my phone and build up my endurance that way. If you haven't heard of it, the program slowly builds you up to running a 5K incrementally by having you do a combination of running and walking. You start out walking for 90 seconds and running for a minute in phases over 30 minutes. It gives you a new program each day and slowly it shifts so that you are doing more running than walking as you build up your endurance. In a few months, it claims you should be able to run a 5K. 

Before my yoga class tonight, I hopped on the treadmill and got started. It was crazy how nervous I was to do it considering I've been working out regularly for over 7 months now and it's not like I'm starting from nothing, but I just told myself to chase the fear! And chase it, I did! I felt pretty good about it afterwards and I'm looking forward to Day 2 tomorrow! The app is free so give it a try and let me know about your experience with it in the comments!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kicking Ass and Letting Go

I've been extremely disciplined over the last two months as a part of reaching my weightloss goal for the next convention I'm going to and also as a personal double dog dare to not only to recommit to my goal, but to challenge myself more physically. I've stuck to the Nutrisystem plan completely 6-7 days a week without flexing or eating restaurant food at all. Since January 1st, I've lost about 12 lbs and I'm just 5 lbs from the goal I have in mind for March 22. Because this is a two month exercise, I've been pushing myself a LOT harder than I intend to going forward, but I have seen some pretty remarkable results! My body is visibly changing. I can feel my muscles engaging in new ways in my yoga classes and I can work on new poses that I couldn't reach before. I've been really improving all my coordination in Zumba and my foot work is getting faster and more precise. It's really cool to see the results of your journey in your capabilities rather than just what's on the scale at your weekly weigh-in.

After losing 4 lbs./week for the last two weigh ins, I felt like my body was REALLY holding onto every ounce of fat! I only lost .8 lbs this week. For the last few days, even though I was eating perfectly and exercising a lot, the scale crept up about .2 lbs a day. It might be frustrating to look at, but I know enough about health and fitness at this point that I realize it's just my body adjusting, building muscle, and adapting so that I can continue to lose. A lot of people get really frustrated by that. On the surface, yes, it looks like you didn't measure up to one of those killer weeks where everything goes right and the scale shows a huge number. However if you stop and think about whether you made all the good choices you could have that week and your response is, "Hell yes, I'm awesome," then why waste ANY TIME thinking you're not just because that number wasn't so impressive? Don't let the scale succeed at that bluff check when you know you've done well. The work is in your control. The number is not. 

It's my friend's birthday party tonight and I've already packed my dinner, a mandarin orange snack, and a breakfast bar for tomorrow in case I stay over at my boyfriend's place. I worked extra hard at the gym today, skipped my snack this morning, and will skip out on my dessert entree tonight so that I can enjoy one of my friend's cupcakes with buttercream icing tonight! It's like I always say, set yourself up for success by planning ahead, and you can feel free to enjoy yourself later! Next on the nutrition agenda, planning for my Valentine's Day date because I know I'm going to want to enjoy that in all it's splendor! For me, planning my indulgence days makes it all the easier to stick to my diet and fitness regime 100% the rest of the time because I have goodies to look forward to!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Night's Watch Sweet Potato Stew Recipe

I've been exploring cooking a little bit with my boyfriend. It's really important to learn a bit about cooking if you're going to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Let me preface this with the fact that I would kill myself if I had to cook every night of the week. That's why I pre-make my salads for the week. If you put in a little time on your day off, you can easily prepare yourself for a delicious and nutrition-concious week full of home made food that only requires a quick zap in the microwave to prepare. I'm definitely a beginner in the kitchen, but it's been really fun to level a new crafting skill by picking appealing dishes out of the blue and then trying to make them using recipes we find online. I really crave warm comforting vittles during these cold winter months so we have experimented with a few stew recipes and I've made plenty of little changes (like using less salt, low-sodium beef broth, and sweet potatoes instead of regular) to make this final recipe perfect for someone looking for something both delicious AND nutritious! Stew normally needs to cook for hours on end, but if you are careful to cut the meat, veggies, and potatoes into small enough pieces, you won't need as long to achieve that tender yummy goodness!

So without further ado, here's Anne and Brandon's recipe for:

Night's Watch Sweet Potato Stew
(best if eaten whilst watching Game of Thrones)
Sworn Brothers by tyusiu on Deviant Art
This recipe serves 6.
Cook Time: 2 hours (You'll need about 30 minutes of prep time on top of that).

  • 3 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
This is extremely important. Before you begin, recite this oath:

Ok! Now you're a member of the Night's Watch. You are filled with the honor of your order and are soon to be filled with stew! Now roll for initiative. 

  1. On medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil to a large pot that has a lid. 
  2. Wait for it to smoke a bit and then add the beef and brown very well. It may take a few batches to brown all the meat. Add salt whilst the beef is browning. 
  3. After the beef is browned, remove the it with a slotted spoon set aside. 
  4. Add the onions and sauté for until they soften. 
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the flour, and cook for 2 minutes. You will want to stir often. 
  6. Add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute. 
  7. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Scraping any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. The flour should thicken with the wine and it should come to a simmer. 
  8. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, and then add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and the beef. 
  9. Return to a gentle simmer. Now cover and cook on low heat for about 1 hour. 
  10. Add carrots and celery. Simmer covered for another 30 minutes.
  11. Add sweet potatoes, stir, then cover and simmer for another 30-45 minutes. They cook faster than normal potatoes, so make sure you check back around the 30 minute mark to make sure they're getting soft, but not so soft that they're completely falling apart when you stir.
  12. Once you're happy with the tenderness of the meat, veggies, and sweet potatoes, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for about 15 minutes. Now it's ready to serve!
I generally eat about a cup and a half of this stew with a salad on the side, but of course you can serve it as you like! Let me know how you like the recipe and if you do make any changes, feel free to post them in the comments to share your variations and advice!

Too Fat for Fashion, Too Corpulent for Cosplay

I've never been fashion forward. I watch Project Runway for the artistic process but I know nothing of designers or trends. I also don't have a ton of disposable income so shopping at trendy stores is just not something I do. I'm not ashamed to say that Target usually suits my needs just fine. When it comes to clothing, I just know what I like and what looks fun and or comfortable to wear.

Black Milk Clothing
At my heaviest, that included black pants and some sort of geeky fitted T-shirt more days than not. If it was a special occasion or a performance, I had a few go-to staples, almost always black. I went to conventions and watched cute girls wear all manner of awesome things like colorful leg warmers or fitted "Black Milk" dresses and leggings, not to mention the cosplayers who were in magnificent costumes that drew huge crowds of people. I was green with envy, but I just figured that would NEVER be me. "I'm too fat for fashion or for cosplay" was on my lips and in my mind constantly. I spent a lot of time resenting the girls who could pull that stuff off. I didn't think it was fair that geeky dudes complained there were only vapid booth babes at conventions and no REAL geek girls, when we were RIGHT THERE! We were just rendered invisible on their radar because of weight, acne, or general lack of sexiness. I spent WAY too much time thinking about all that and not enough trying to figure out what I could do to feel better about myself. 
Yaya Han

What matters is how you feel about yourself! I was missing out on so many fun aspects of fandom all because I was so caught up in my envy that I didn't stop to think about taking steps to open new doors. My rock bottom came because I got tired of "being excluded" from a culture that I loved. The hardest part was realizing that I wasn't "being excluded" so much as "excluding myself." Fixing the issue wasn't just about dropping the weight. I had to pick up new crafting skills too- sewing, construction, design! There was a lot that I didn't know and I'm still learning, but there are also a lot of ways out there to get yourself on track. I made a plan for my exercise and nutrition after doing research online, finding go-to inspirational blogs, and talking to doctors about the best options for me. I also started watching "how-to"videos on youtube so that I could learn how to make the costumes I so badly wanted to wear. It IS possible to make these changes, but you have to want it badly enough that all the effort seems worth it. There are days when I haven't felt like going to the gym and days when I've ruined aspects of my costumes and had to start over. That stuff happens. You have to want the finished product so bad that you keep going and keep sewing! That's why I set lots of goals to keep me moving in the right direction.

So many people get stuck at that stage. There are just so many excuses that pile up when you aren't happy with yourself. The more you say, "I can't," the easier it becomes to believe it. Honestly, I believe anything is possible with dedication and hard work so it SLAYS me when I hear people tell me they could never do what I've done or that they can't believe what I've done because they can't lose ten pounds and they'd really like to. Sometimes I want to take these people by the shoulders and shake them because I've been there and I know it's just not true. Break the cycle by taking smaller steps along the way and getting on the path to your goals. What CAN you do today to get on track? Can you order a salad instead of a burger? Can you go for a walk? Can you watch a youtube video on how to style wigs or mold worbla into armor patterns? Just because you're not ready to go run a marathon or build a full set of Storm Trooper armor doesn't mean it's not worth making the little changes. If you keep saying you can't, you never will.

I don't think I'll ever be a fashionista, but at this point, I find myself picking out outfits I NEVER would have put on before. I think part of me wore so much black because I just wanted to be invisible. I still love black, but I feel like I'm spicing up my wardrobe with a bit more color as well. My style choices have gotten a little bolder. I'm wearing skirts and leggings or cute fitted hoodies with my T's, and layering colorful long-sleeved shirts underneath my geeky t-shirts to make them wearable during the winter. I'm not saying any of this makes me fashion forward, but I'm changing the way I think about clothing and about shopping. It's an opportunity for me to express myself rather than a chore that has to be completed in order to disguise myself.

I've already started my cosplay journey, but as I lose weight, the way I think about choosing characters has changed. I used to think, "what can I get away with as a fat fat fatty?" My first character was Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender because I figured that surely no one would blame a fat chick for cosplaying as a giant six-legged sky-bison. Also, Appa is awesome. Moving forward, I'm trying to think more about who I want to be in my wildest dreams rather than what I can "pull off" without getting called fat on the internet. I'm still concerned with finding costumes that I think will be flattering- I'm not about to cosplay a midriff bearing character any time soon, but I'm really excited for my Rainbow Dash outfit because that will give me a chance to be something cute and wear something a bit more form fitting and athletic. I've been using that costume as motivation to get myself to the gym so I can look as svelte as possible. The results have been really great so far and I always feel more proactive when I have a goal like that on the horizon. I guess my advice would be to never let yourself rest on your laurels for too long. It's just too easy for me to get comfortable or to get frustrated and give up if I don't have something to look forward to. 

Not only am I leveling up my physical stats, but I've also been leveling my crafting! I've learned how to sew, embroider, and all manner of things just because I decided to lose weight. Next on my list is learning how to work with leather so I can make a Xena costume to wear when I hit my goal weight. I may even get crafty with my regular wardrobe. My Rainbow Dash sneakers turned out so well that I've been thinking of making more versions for different characters from cult TV shows. If that goes well, maybe I'll start an Etsy store so I can make a little money on the side. Firefly shoes, anyone? See, I'm EVEN taking advantage of "game economy" in new ways! Haha, oh life really is more exciting when you see it like an MMO with endless opportunities for adventure. It just goes to show that as you start to making the little changes to yourself,  it bleeds into other areas. The sky is the limit, and even then I'm sure Rainbow Dash negotiates.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Salad: It's a Trap

So you're out for lunch, you're on a diet, and look at the salads on the menu. You order one. You win the game right? 


Granted, your heart was in the right place, but you fell into a trap all the same. A lot of salads include things like dried fruit, croutons, cheese, avocado, and even bacon. Those can be full of sugar, fat, carbs, and calories. If you eat them in the wrong portions, you can be severely crippling the effectiveness of your diet. You'd be shocked to find out how many calories and how much fat can be loaded into just two tablespoons of salad dressing! To make matters worse, in most restaurants, they use WAY more salad dressing than a standard serving.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let's take the Signature Salad from Cosi. On their menu, this is described as: 

Mixed greens tossed with red grapes, pears, pistachios, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola. Tossed with sherry shallot vinaigrette. 

I used to order this ALL the time as a healthy meal. Usually I'd do the half soup/half salad deal at Cosi and pair it with their tomato basil soup. It was absolutely delicious and I thought I was making a great choice as far as nutrition. 

So what's the calorie tally? The soup is 216 calories and the salad packs a WHOPPING 647 calories. Together, that meal is 863 calories. When I added it all up, that figure shocked the hell out of me! To give you an idea, my breakfasts and lunches tend to be around 200 calories each and my dinners are about 350. Do the math. I regularly eat my THREE MEALS of the day for less calories than are in that Cosi meal. For those of you keeping score at home, I also have a morning and afternoon snack and a desert worth approximately ~160 calories. All together I eat between 1200-1300 calories a day on my diet, just to give you some perspective.

Other "salads" that are far from healthy include Taco salad, Cobb salad, and yes, even Caesar salad. 

How can you avoid this? Stop assuming that salads are inherently healthy. Start looking into your favorite salad ingredients and find out how much fat they have, how many calories- find out how they fuel your body! Some calories are better for you than others, after all. Then start using the ingredients that give you the most benefits, the best taste, and the least detrimental calorie counts. 

For example, before I knew better, when I went to the deli for a tossed salad, I would choose feta cheese as one of my ingredients. Then I looked at what a serving of feta cheese is and at its nutritional value. Suffice to say, one of those deli salads uses WAY more than a serving and "that shit ain't cheap" calorie wise. Now instead of ordering cheese, I order another veggie or a double serving of a veggie I've already included. Another trap CAN be corn as it's actually a carbohydrate, however, if I choose veggies likes carrots, cucumber, or peppers for the other ingredients, a serving of corn is totally fine with me. 

When it comes to the meat, I always go with chicken. It's lean and it tastes great with almost any dressing. 

Even if you make all of those choices well, the devil is in the dressing. I've seen balsamic vinaigrette for anything from 20-120 calories per 2 tablespoons. Salad dressing is an INSANE place to spend that many calories. Everyone has different tastes and some diet dressings are way better than others. Experiment at the grocery store and find what works for you. Personally, I go with a low fat, low sugar raspberry vinaigrette thats 30 calories/serving. I measure it out every time. If you order at a restaurant, make sure you get the dressing on the side. If you're used to measuring, you'll be able to visually gauge what a serving is. Otherwise you could easily consume over 200 calories of dressing without even realizing you're doing any damage. When eating out, I go with a low fat vinaigrette or just simple oil and vinegar. 

No matter what the food, it's always best to make it at home if you can. Salads are no exception. You have way more control and you can properly measure out the right serving sizes. Plus, you can be sure to have all the ingredients you love and not be shocked to find the deli is out of carrots or low fat dressing. Spend a little extra time to be prepared and you'll set yourself up for success by minimizing curve balls!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jedi Mind Tricks & Fitness

I wish I could say I'm a total health nut who loves the gym and that I think brownies are icky sugar toxins, but I'm not. It still takes willpower to stick to my mission. I'll never stop loving days where I can completely immerse myself in a video game for hours on end or enjoying a Hobbit themed feast with my friends. For my first month, I completely avoided those things so I could create new habits and in a way, detox/wake up my body. Seven months into this lifestyle change, I've definitely indulged in some treats and devoted hours on end to adventuring in Skyrim without derailing my progress one bit. The question became, how do I use delicious treats and non-active geeky indulgences as motivation to put in the effort at the gym and the table a majority of the time? My answer: A reward system. I unlock an achievement, I get a trophy. I bribe myself to do healthy things I'm not crazy about with things I love but should only do in moderation. 

Even though I don't love going to the gym, I like the elliptical machine. After the "shiny newness" of a new health regime wears off, working out on a machine can feel a bit like subjecting yourself to being on a "hamster wheel" 5 times a week. What makes the day in/day out tedium of watching statistics flash across the screen bearable is being able to watch my favorite TV shows. I don't have time to sit down and rewatch all the shows I love, but if I do it at the gym, then it's accomplishing something instead of just marathoning them nonstop while I sit on the couch and surf the web. The bonus to this system is that it provides another fun way to measure my progress. After all, you can't always expect the scale to go down, so why not measure you're level of awesomeness by how many cult TV shows you've watched while at the gym. For the record, I've watched every episode of Firefly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and 2.5 Seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess whilst busting my ass at the gym. Next in the queue: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are people who say it's detrimental to watch TV whilst exercising because you'll relax and not push yourself hard enough. To counteract this, I did research to find my optimal heart rate and I make sure that I stay in it while I'm working out. I also choose shows with a lot of kicking ass in them- usually with a female heroine I dig- so whilst Xena is bashing heads or sprinting through the wilds of Ancient Greece, I pick up my intensity. 

There are other smaller "Jedi Mind Tricks" I use to make sure I stay motivated and continue to push myself. For instance, if I try something new and truly despise it, I don't force myself to keep doing it as long as I still go to the gym and do something else. A personal example would be weight training. I tried it out when I started my gym membership, but I never felt engaged by it and I didn't really see any results despite my research and sticking with it for over a month. I just decided there were too many other active things I could be doing/trying with my time. I will note that I initially decided I hated Zumba and now I take two classes a week, so who knows? One day I might totally get back into it. In any case, I still wanted to do some conditioning and eventually I started going to yoga classes two or three times a week. I've built up my strength and balance exponentially. Plus I can measure the progress of my fitness by being able to reach new poses or stay in unmodified plank or chaturanga longer. The other evening I was able to do "upward facing dog" instead of "cobra" AND "unmodified side plank" for the FIRST TIME. I felt awesome afterwards. On days when I'm not feeling particularly "zen," I just tell myself I'm training to be the Avatar. I defy you to do "yoga warrior dance" and NOT imagine you're doing the dance of the dragons with Zuko and Aang. No kidding. That shit works every time. 

My willpower weakens significantly when it comes to video games. If I get sucked into a story or fixated on a goal in game, I will not stop until that best in slot item is mine. Seriously. I have problems.  I used to be like this:

You know, except with lady parts. Not pretty, right? A lot of people think video games are "the enemy" right now, and not just when it comes to fitness. People who know almost nothing about these games are asserting that they cause violent tendencies, rob you of real life experiences, or are senseless garbage that will rot your brain- I could talk about how I don't agree with those accusations all day. I won't because that could be its own post. One thing I can say is that they ARE addictive and that I have personally experienced gaming addiction to the extent that some of my friends had to stop the madness and screw my head on straight again. Did I to stop playing video games altogether? No. I just had to learn to enjoy them in a way that would not prevent me from persistently pursuing a marked improvement in my health. For my first month on Operation: Stop Treating Your Body Like Poop, I didn't play many video games- and certainly no MMOs (my personal crack). Once I had my fitness and nutrition routine under control, I started allowing myself to play games again, but ONLY after I'd been to the gym or done my chores. In my opinion if you're a productive member of society and you're looking after your health, who CARES if you spend 4-6 hours that evening raiding Icecrown Citadel with a bunch of pixelated buddies? I'm sure there are people who still think video games are the devil, but that's my take on the issue in relation to my own health at any rate. 

Are there things you do to bribe yourself into healthy eating and fitness habits? Leave your tips in the comments!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Once Upon a Time Is Now

I have this wall of heroines in my room. They're heroes and villains from my favorite video games, books, movies, and tv shows. I decided to collect them because I'm a big fan of strong female figures in geek culture and when I find them, I latch on for dear life. There's just so much, well, crap when it comes to female characters in genre fiction. Even those we hold dear for nostalgia's sake; Buttercup, Princess Peach, Princess Zelda, Sailor Moon circa season one- All these ladies are just sort of waiting for some guy to come along and rescue them.

I never meant for this wall of action figures to become "thinspiration," but the closer I get to my goal, the more I look at them each morning and think, "Hello ladies, how we doing today?" rather than "Damn. I'll never be as badass as Starbuck. Womp Womp." It's corny, but I'm becoming a bonafide heroine in my own adventure now. I haven't quite cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom yet, but SOON.

As of this morning I'm 84 lbs down and it's just 40 lbs until my goal weight. My next mini goal was for March 20th when I go to PAX East, and I'm just 4 lbs away from it. I hate counting tribbles before they hatch, but it looks like once again I'll be crushing my cosplay weightloss goal. 

I've spent the last week learning to embroider and working like crazy my Rainbow Dash and Soarin cosplays. Brandon's Wonderbolt costume is done! I just need to buy him a white t-shirt and then my costume just needs a few last details on the shoes. I couldn't have done any of it without my friend Annie. She was invaluable and did a TON of problem solving on how to get the cutie marks onto the costumes in the best way. She's ALSO and amazing artist, so check out her work at Squid Salad!

I found a great groupon deal for the Harry Potter Exhibition so Brandon and I went last weekend. It was SO AWESOME to see all those costumes and props up close. The incredible amount of detail that went into them was really impressive. I was also shocked to see how SMALL those costumes were. Obviously, they started out as young kids, but even the Deathly Hallows pieces for Hermione were shockingly tiny! In any case, I brought my wand from the "Wizarding World" in Florida and they took a picture of us in our house scarves. I was surprised to find MYSELF shockingly tiny in the photo! 

The picture is hilarious because it looks like the cover of a Harry Potter romance novel or fan fiction. For bonus points, leave the title in the comments!