Sunday, August 12, 2012

Time to Turn a Critical Failure Into a Nat 20

I'm ready for this journey. I know it will be hard and long (that's what she said... Hehe...), but it NEEDS to happen! How to make it happen? That's another story. Clearly nothing I've tried so far has worked, so I'm taking a different approach. 

First of all, I started Nutrisystem at the beginning of June. It's supposed to be very good for teaching portion control and balanced diets as well as encouraging many smaller meals/snacks throughout the day. Apparently that's great for your metabolism. So far it's gone really well and the weightloss from just following the new meal plan has been very motivating. 

Rather than focus on a final goal, I'm going to create mini milestone goals as I go so that the overachiever in me does not completely lose her shit.

My first goal is to lose 20 lbs by the August 26th because that's when I'm going to  the Renaissance Fair here in NY. It's a huge occasion for me and my friends every year and it's especially fun because we go in costume. Last year I bought my very own Ren Fair garb and although I felt amazing and full of fantasy and fun in it last year, I would really like to see a positive change in my physical appearance this year. I've already lost nearly 15 lbs so reaching my goal is certainly not out of the question, but I just have to stay on target. Here's a picture of me from last year! Hopefully this year I'll look EVEN MORE super fabulous!

My next goal is to lose 30 lbs by October 11th, which will mark my first cosplay experience at New York Comic Con (yet another geeky staple of my social calendar). I've always wanted to go in costume, but I have this crazy fear of being labeled the "fat version" of a beloved character or having people post hateful meme pictures of me on the internet and mocking me for all time. I know I shouldn't worry about that stuff. The internet is the internet and that will never change, but that's why I chose Appa, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. I'm doing an anthropomorphic version of this character (a giant flying sky bison). Yes, I'd like to do a human character, but until I have enough confidence in my appearance, I'm happy portraying this large fluffy character. Hopefully I'll be looking a little more svelte by then so I can really do majestic Appa justice. :)

I've been going to the gym every day for the past week and steadily improving my endurance. I even started doing weight training which is fairly new to me. As much as I hate being a sweaty ugly beast on the elliptical, I power through it by watching episodes of Firefly. I'll probably move on to Avatar when I finish that show so that I can get in the mood for my cosplay. I am also paying a lot more attention to stretching after every work out and returning to some of the yoga training I did in college. I actually LOVE that feeling I get when I finish and roll up my spine and just breath. I remember in movement class when we'd do this at the end of our warm-up, the teacher would say, "Don't adjust yourself. Don't look at yourself in the mirror. Just stand tall and accept everything in this moment. Just breath." I always hear that in my head when I finish and as corny as it is, it really helps me accept my progress every day.

As an actor, I can really feel the changes in my work. I'm just more connected with my body than I've been in a long time and right now I'm getting a chance to see that in my performance in A Midsummer Night's Dream which opens on Tuesday. I'm hoping to break many legs and give a fully embodied performance of Bottom, which is my first lead role in a while.

Sometimes I hate what I see in the mirror or I wish the whole process would just be over with. I'm a bit of an over achiever and I've struggled with anorexia and bulimia before so it's hard to accept the healthy rate of 1-2 lbs per week. No matter what I do, I seem to see a whale in the mirror.
I need to preface this next part by saying that my parents would do ANYTHING to support me and see me succeed and find joy in life. I love them and I wouldn't be able to afford my subscription to Nutrisystem or gym membership without them. That said, this next part of my story involves coming clean about what was said to me when I was younger about my weight and how the comments that were made affected me. The only reason I'm sharing this is because I now have a WONDERFULLY close relationship with them now and I know so many people who have struggled with weight from a young age will relate and learn from the scars that made me the way I am today. My mom and dad have always been worried about my health (and with good reason), but sometimes when I was younger it felt like an attack. These "concerns" and "attacks" made me hate myself- not that it was the only thing but every time my weight was mentioned I felt abnormal. I felt ugly and inadequate and like I'd never be good enough to be fully loved. I realize that a lot of this had more to do with me than it did to do with them. They were just looking out for me and they were understandably desperate to save me from following the path I ended up taking. Sometimes hurtful or insulting things were said to me were said in desperation and frustration and even though they weren't always kind, they were said because they loved me. One that stayed with me was "you're so overweight I don't know what to do with myself." Even now, on a bad day I can hear that sentence in my head and it fills me with shame.

My dad is a caterer and an amazing chef but he definitely tried to feed the family healthy food. We didn't visit fast food joints and we didn't keep a ton of sweets in the house. When I felt depressed, I would find ways to binge eat- either out with my friends or on my own. I would go and buy tons of candy bars or a carton of ice cream and drown my sorrows in CRAZY amounts of junk food. I'm totally ashamed of it, but I know I'm not alone. There are so many people who do this in order to cope with depression or stress. Looking back at pictures that were taken back in middle school, I really couldn't have been more than 10-15 lbs overweight at the time, but I let all of the more abusive feedback I was getting from my family and the pressure of going through puberty put all sorts of demons in my head. Really, I was a beautiful child who lived an active lifestyle. I played soccer and did figure skating and enjoyed the outdoors as well. Sometimes it makes me furious to realize that succumbing to those small insipid comments began my journey of self loathing and abuse that led me to anorexia, bullemia, and binge eating that lasted 12 years and packed on over 100 pounds.

 That being said, our country CLEARLY has to work on how we deal with childhood obesity. It's an undeniable epidemic. When I look back on my relationship with food and with my weight, I wonder how I would have handled it if I were the parent. It seems like an impossible task- you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't! How do you let a child know they need to be healthier without making them feel like a failure. How do you motivate them when places like the gym are intimidating and make them feel like a "special case" since no one else their age has to go there?

Anyways, the short and long is that it's still nearly impossible for me to recognize progress purely from looking in the mirror because of my rampant negative self image. I'm hardwired to see my inadequacies. So when I get down on myself, I have started to ask one question. "Have I done everything I can to live healthily today." If the answer is yes, then I try to move on and stop harping on myself about it. If it's no, then try my best to think of something healthy I can ACTIVELY do before the day is out, and most importantly, I commit to doing it.

There's only one problem at the gym. This trainer named Heather keeps approaching me about personal training whenever she sees me working out. I can't help but feel that she wouldn't have approached me if I weren't so overweight. I don't see her walking up to anyone else. I suppose I'm just one of those people who really hates anyone TALKING to me when I work out, but more than that I hate being solicited. I know that Heather's heart is in the right place. She probably really WANTS to help me, but I just can't stand that she continues to approach me and ask me to do certain exercises for her. I took her card to be polite. I don't know. Am I over reacting? I've gotten to the point where I dread going to the gym sometimes because I don't want her to hunt me Hunger Games style.


  1. I totally get you on the childhood comments part. My mother once told me she thought I was starting to look like my Aunt, a particularly overweight and unhealthy individual. That comment stung. Now as a mother myself, I'm paranoid that K will follow the same path that I took. I'm hoping to try and learn from Eric's childhood, and how he grew up with a healthy relationship with food and exercise and apply that to my own life and through me, K.

    I think a big thing is encouraging activity, all the time. Instead of driving the 10 miles to the ice cream shop in the summer, take the bike, that sort of thing.

    And in regards to the gym, I actually see a bunch of kids and teens at my local YMCA. It's pretty fantastic to see them establishing such a good routine for their health.

    1. I totally get your worries as a mom. I think as terrified as I am of ruining my life by avoiding dealing with my health, I'd be even moreso if I knew I was making an impression on my own child through my own behavior. The fact that you're even thinking about it means that you're on the right path. Be the example. The part about biking to icecream is great!

  2. It's funny, because I had (and have) a completely different issue with my parents in that they don't see anything wrong. Realistically, I need to lose about 50 pounds to just be within a healthy weight range, probably closer to 60-70 to be really confident and healthy. But whenever I've tried to breach this topic with my mother it's always a "You don't need to lose any weight! You're perfect!" I don't mean to say that I wish she was cruel or insensitive, but I think it's an example of how there needs to be a happy medium - when there IS a problem, it should be acknowledged (albeit it in a healthy, positive way) because otherwise it just helps to enable my denial.


    1. It's a delicate balance. It's like I said in the post. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. How do you encourage these good habits in kids without smothering them and making them feel picked on or targeted. It's something I think I'll have to seriously consider before ever starting a family of my own- not that I'm ready for that right now! Haha! It seems both ways of handling it can really have the same ultimate affect.