Commuting Confusion

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A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my daily commute into the city.  I was so excited that I was able to do the commute without pain or difficulty. It is so liberating to be able to walk and stand without a problem.

Since I wrote this post, my commute into the city has changed, quite drastically.

Let’s start with this cool new train line called the Silver Line. The Silver Line is eventually going to make it’s way out to Dulles airport, which is not far from Sterling, Ashburn, and other far away lands in the exurbs of DC. But for now, the Silver Line only goes out to Reston. The addition of this train completely screwed up my morning commute.

I live and work on the Blue Line, which shares tracks with this new line for part of the trip. Now, the Blue Line trains already have a pretty raw deal. It shares tracks with the Yellow Line and the Orange Line in different areas. Where it shares tracks with the Yellow trains, you could see 3-5 Yellows before an over crowded Blue train shows up. The same is true where it shares tracks with the Orange Line trains.

Now that the Silver Line trains have been added, they reduced the Blue Line service. One now shows up every 12 minutes during rush hour, because that’s what the over crowded Blue Line trains need, less trains.

Fortunately, there is a bus that travels directly from in front of my apartment building and now drops me off 4 blocks from the office. To make up for the loss of train service, the genies at WMATA re-routed this bus. During the summer, I was walking 1.3 miles from where this bus dropped me off. Now, I only have to walk 4 blocks. It’s cheaper than the metro and closer to my office. What could possibly go wrong.

Let me tell you…

The bus drivers do not know the new route.

Today’s driver, missed her turn onto 18th Avenue from Constitution. She then did a u-turn on Constitution, which I didn’t even know was possible during rush hour, let alone on a bus. I was a little bit terrified. Then, she turned right onto Virginia Avenue and not 18th. This is generally not a problem because in 25 feet you can then just turn right onto 18th from Virginia. She didn’t do that. She continued on Virginia Avenue for a few blocks.

I don’t know where she went after that because I got off the bus. Perhaps she just gave up and drove back to Virginia to start again. I walked from 20th and C to 20th and M. That’s about a mile. It’s not a bad walk, and I do not mind doing it, but for the love of all that’s holy, can we please get some bus drivers that know how to drive in DC?

I really do not want to have to move just to get a better commute into the city. And I really do not want to drive! I only live six miles from the office. Surely, it does not have to be this difficult to get to work every day! Maybe I should just walk.

Happy Sunday Morning

I made a promise on this blog Friday I think it was. I promised to go to the gym at least one day this weekend, possibly two. I kept that promise yesterday.

I went to the gym for the first time in nearly a year. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and I did the Body Flow class. Today my muscles are doing this:

kermmy

Nonetheless, I am currently sitting at the Starbucks next to Gold’s Gym in South Arlington. As soon as I am done with this blog, drinking ample quantities of their dark roast coffee, and drinking some water, I am going to head over to the gym for yet another punishing workout.

I have been afraid to get on the scale. I think I’m going to cut myself a break and give myself a good solid week of working out before I brave the big, scary scale. I need to be a bit stronger for that.

So, I have been asked to tell some more stories about my cat. I haven’t really talked about her or shared pictures of her in a while. I have been trying to get some pics of her sitting on me, but she’s quite uncooperative. She’s kind of like my six-year-old niece. When she knows we want a really good picture of her, she does everything she can to sabotage it…looks the other way, moves, makes a strange face, ignores you. I think they are in collusion with one another to ruin all fun pictures.

Anyway, here is my cat sitting on me looking very unhappy.

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And yet another pic of her sitting on “her” chair.

chair

When I moved into this apartment, a friend of mine gave me this extremely tacky yet fun purple shoe chair. I love it. One, it’s purple. And I love the color purple. Two, it’s so obnoxious. I mean, look at it. It goes with absolutely nothing, and yet it works for me.

Anyway, almost as soon as the chair was brought into the apartment, Naomi claimed it as hers. I think she sees it as a giant scratching post. She sits on it, sleeps on it, sits on the very tip-top. She even barfed on it once.

If I every TRY to sit on it, she throws a complete fit. I was talking to my mother on the phone while sitting on this chair and Naomi attacked me and meowed ceaselessly until I moved. My sister came over once and tossed a jacket on the top of the chair. Naomi went bananas. Finally, I had to tell my sis that she put her coat on Naomi’s chair. So, my sister moved her coat. She can sit on MY couch, but I cannot sit on HER chair. Typical cat.

She has had a rough time recently. I had to take her to my sister’s place twice this summer so that my sister could watch her. One, I went to the beach for a week. And this past weekend when I went to Pittsburgh.

You would think I’m torturing the cat by the way she reacts. I have to fight her to get her into the cat carrier and she meows all the way there and all the way back home. I can understand. Being a rescue cat, I’m sure she’s used to people putting her in cat carriers and just dumping her on someone else. It is a gut wrenching experience.

She’s good once I get her to my sister’s place. She actually likes it there. And despite her growling, I think she actually likes my sister’s cat, Oscar:

oscar2

And Oscar loves Naomi. In fact, my sister told me that when Naomi leaves, Oscar meows and walks around looking for Naomi. Sandy bought Oscar a squeaky toy that is similar to one that Naomi has. Sandy tossed it onto the floor for Oscar and the cat ran downstairs meowing looking for my cat. I feel kind of bad for Oscar. I think she’s kind of lonely.

And Naomi punishes me for taking her away from Oscar. Once I get her home, she sits on the little shelf I have in my bedroom closet and glowers at me for at least a few hours.

On the upside, at least Sandy and I know that if anything happens to one of us, the other can take care of the cat without disrupting their lives too much, because you know, it is all about he cats.

Anyway, I think I have procrastinated enough. Coffee is almost gone. Time to hit the gym. Have a happy Sunday!

 

Some Really Good Things Happened This Week

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That blog title reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. And this blog post may ramble about as much as that story does, but I’ll bring it around to a somewhat sane ending, I promise.

I wanted to post about each of these this week, but I feel like I have been all over the place emotionally, time-wise, etc. and just haven’t been able to get it together to blog. So here goes…

Last weekend, I went to Pittsburgh. My high school is having a reunion in November, and I am on the planning committee. In a million years, I never would have thought that I would be one of the people organizing a reunion. I was definitely not one of the popular kids. I was very social. I was in the band, the orchestra for the school plays, FBLA, etc. I knew a lot of people, but one of the cool kids? No. I wouldn’t say that I was tormented by the cool kids the way nerds are in movies. I just wasn’t one of them. I may not have been tortured because my cousins were on the football team and quite popular. Or it could just be that I was so insignificant as to not even warrant being tormented…at least not by the A crowd. Still, if you had told me when I graduated that I would be one of the people planning the reunion, I would have laughed in your face.

That said, I am sooooo excited about the reunion.

Anyway, we had a little pre-reunion get-together to try to drum up interest in the actual reunion and encourage people to sign up. It was sparsely attended, but I still had a good time.

I got way dressed up for this little shin-dig. We had it at the casino in Pittsburgh. I wore my pink sparkly dress and my little silver sandals. I put on make-up. Did my hair. Wore jewelry. I was ready to party. Everyone else wore jeans and casual clothes. Ha!

A small group of the “cool kids” did show up. Most of them had no idea who I was. I introduced myself to one guy and he just shook his head and said, “Yeah, I don’t remember you.” I told him I was in the band. And he replied, “That did not help at all!” I was like, “Dude! We were in home room together for four years! WTF?”

The one guy did know who I was because I talked to him at the last get-together. I have also had a quick email exchange with his wife, who was the most popular girl in our class. (Yes, the beautiful people married each other and had beautiful children.) They are lovely, truly. So nice. And they always were. She owns a fitness place in Pittsburgh, which is very cool…of course.

But the best part of the evening was when the one girl, who I really thought was super-cool in high school, told me that she reads my blog all of the time. I have friended a bunch of my high school friends, so they have access to my blog posts. And everyone sitting there all nodded their heads and said they read it too! They told me it is great, so honest, and they love the story of my transformation. I was on cloud 9.

So yeah, that happened. I think the reunion will be fun.

Speaking of schools…my writer’s group is back at the high school this week. We have been meeting at a local high school for the past few years. The PTA generally sponsors us so that we do not have to pay, because, let’s face it, we are aspiring writers and therefore have no money. But that’s not the cool part.

They moved our room on us. We are now meeting in a class room instead of the room we were meeting in last year. So now, we have to sit in desks. I haven’t been able to fit into a desk since…well since high school.  OK, maybe the first couple of years of college too. The last time this group met in a class room, I had to find a chair and sit at the table. So, I walked in and saw desks and my stomach just dropped. I immediately thought, “Oh crap!”

But, the good news is…I fit! I sat down in the desk and I had lots of room! Of course I did. I no longer weigh 300 pounds! Still, the fear was there that I might have to squeeze in.

The last good thing I will write about hasn’t actually happened yet. I have decided that I need to get my butt back to the gym. I really am just tired of this last 46 pounds hanging on. I want to lose them! Even if I don’t get all the way down to 125, I’ll be happy in the 130s range. I just want to get the losing weight part of my journey done with and I’m so close. I would like to lose it before the reunion. I do not know if that will happen, but if I get down to the 150s by then, that will be good.

I am going to hit the gym this weekend, both days if I can. I am also going to finally break down and buy a new scale. There is also a gym 3 blocks from where I work. I am going to start bringing gym clothes to work and hit that gym after work. I have to walk by it 2x a day. No excuse not to just stop in.

So there are 11 weeks until the reunion. That’s 4 pounds a week. That might be a bit excessive as far as weight loss goes, but like I said, I do not expect to get all the way there. If I start the new year at or close to goal, that will be good enough.

I have another blog post about weight loss and my own experience body dysmorphia brewing, but that will have to be for another day.

Have a great weekend!

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes, I forget what it was like to be 300 pounds. More correctly, sometimes I forget that I am no longer 300 pounds.

I have been kind of down because my weight loss has stalled. I have been struggling with feeling down, feeling angry, and feeling fat all of the time. I have tried different techniques to try to kick-start the weight loss again to no avail. I have been feeling fat and bloated and I have been pretty hard on myself as a result.

Then I have moments like I did last night.

I was going out to my weekly writer’s group. I got into my car prepared to be squeezed in between the seat and the steering wheel. Admittedly, I do not drive often. I take a bus and/or metro to work every day. I usually only drive on weekends to visit family and friends or go grocery shopping, still you would think I know how well or not that I fit into my car.

Last night when I got in, there seemed to be a million miles between me and the steering wheel. I wish I had taken a picture. I was like, “OMG look at all of this S-P-A-C-E!”

Before the 127 pound weight loss, I had a hard time with space in the car. I have very short legs and have to have the seat moved up pretty close so that I can reach the peddles. My short legs are also why I cannot really drive a stick because my legs cannot reach the clutch. I was always squeezed in pretty tight with the steering wheel pressing up against my stomach.

Now when I sit in the car, I feel like I am sitting far back. The seat is in the same place. I can reach the peddles with no problem. And the steering wheel is nowhere near my stomach! It’s a small thing, but it felt kind of awesome.

Another thing happened last night that kind of made me a little happy too. When I walked into the restaurant where my writer’s group was meeting, I caught a guy checking me out. I walked in and wasn’t too sure where the group was meeting. I stopped and looked around. I caught the eye of a guy at a nearby table. He looked me up and down and smiled. I almost cracked up. I had to turn away to keep from laughing right at him. I know that’s maybe not the reaction he was looking for, but it just struck me as funny in the moment. I always want to stop and say, “Man, if you had seen me two years ago, you would not be looking at me like that right now!”

Still, it was a nice little ego boost on a day when I was not feeling so good about myself.

So I guess my point is that although you might sometimes be feeling down about where you are in your weight loss journey, it’s good to stop and take stock of all of the progress that has been made. I might not be where I want to be yet, but I no longer weigh 300 pounds and my life has changed pretty drastically for the better.

Sept 2012 Before Surgery

Sept 2012 Before Surgery

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Unexpected Changes – HAIR

There are many changes I experienced as a result of the surgery and weight loss. Today I am going to talk about hair. My hair has been through so much since the surgery. I was pretty vain about my hair pre-surgery. I did not win the bikini-body lottery, but I did get the beautiful mane of thick hair.

I lost a lot of hair about 4 months post-op. I was freaking out. I mean really f-r-e-a-k-i-n-g out! Losing my hair was one of my biggest concerns.

Here is my hair January 2013, 3 months post-op:

Jan 2013

Jan 2013

 

 

 

 

Here is my hair April 2013, 6 months post-op:

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And again in May-June 2013:

 

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As you can see, my hair was not so thick anymore. I did a lot to try to cover up the fact that I was losing a lot of hair, but it was still quite obvious that something was going on. I tried increasing my biotin, upping my protein intake, I even bought a whole collection of biotin shampoos.

The good news is, my hair did grow back. The crazy news is, it grew back in curly. My sister calls it Shirley Temple Curly. I fought it for a long time and straightened it every day. I have since given up and let the curls take over.

It has taken me a while to try to get a good hair routine together for the curls. I have had several hair cuts to try to find one that works for curly hair. My sister’s hairdresser did a really good job cutting my hair recently.

Here is a current picture of my hair. This is just the back. I need to get some of my front. My sister took this one last weekend after we walked all over the convention center for the National Book Festival, so I wasn’t really thinking too clearly, or I would have gotten one of the front as well.

hair

So, if you are worried about hair loss, don’t. You may lose some hair, but it will grow back. It may come back in crazy-curly. Who knows! But do not despair. I would do it all over again to lose 127 pounds!!

 

Having Been Called Out From Afar

So, I have been called out for not blogging all summer, from Europe no less. A friend and writer colleague of mine has been working in Europe for over a year now. She has been a huge, huge supporter of my weight loss, blogging, writing, pretty much anything I do. Well, she reached out to a mutual friend of ours and was like, WTF why hasn’t Colleen been blogging? I was promised a blog post every day in June, and she hasn’t blogged at all! Where is she?

I know. I suck.

I have had a pretty rough time of it recently. It’s all been self-induced emotional craziness, but it has still be hard to deal with. Some of it I cannot write about here. I will probably be able to eventually, but for now, I cannot. It’s nothing health related, just a situation that I need to correct, and until I do, I have to keep radio silence on it. Once I have reached a point where it has been dealt with, I will share more. But the situation has really been a blow to my psyche.

So, onto things I can and will talk about on this site…

I wasn’t going to talk about much of this at all, but I shared some of what has been going on with a friend of mine and he told me I have to write about it. It’s the real stuff and that’s what people need to hear. He’s right, I know, but I have been dreading facing it.

Self-induced Emotional Craziness

I have had some pretty bad ups and downs. I still haven’t lost any new weight. In fact, earlier this summer, I had gained eight pounds. Now one of my fears is regaining all of the weight I have lost and undoing all of the positive changes I have made. I tried and tried to re-lose that weight, but nothing was working. I cracked. I took a hair dryer to my scale and pulverized it. Now the scale is broken. Yes, dear readers, I took the “If the scale isn’t telling you what you want to hear, blame the scale and destroy it” tactic to weight loss. 

Breaking the scale was kind of freeing. After a solid year and a half of weighing myself constantly and tracking my weight on this website, I have spent two blissful months not knowing what I weigh. I felt better temporarily, but it really hasn’t been much of a diet plan.

But not knowing what I weigh has also been torture. I’ve been trying to track my progress by my clothes. I’m still wearing the same size, so I know I haven’t gained any or much weight. But I also know I’m not losing anymore. And that’s just killing me. I really do want to complete my weight loss journey and get down to at least the 130s.

I also have not been exercising, which is not good. I have been walking. A lot. I’ve been trying to keep it up to about 4 miles a day, and most days, I’ve been pretty successful for the most part. But what I really need to do is get my butt back to the gym. 

Another thing I have been dealing with, and this is probably the most important, is compulsive eating. That was one of my biggest problems before the surgery and why I had gained so much weight. I can eat more than I could immediately after the surgery. Still not a lot of food, but definitely more. My emotional stress levels have been spiking up and down and with that, I have been fighting against the compulsive eating urge. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not. And I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up emotionally about it.

It also hasn’t helped that there are people in my life who are ultra-judgmental about weight loss and diet. They view any setback as a personal character flaw and not just part of the journey. I haven’t wanted even talk about this because I haven’t wanted to deal with their reactions to some of the struggles I have been going through. Instead of support and encouragement I get anger, criticism, judgment, and insults. I just hate that. 

So, what have I been doing about all of this?

At first, I did nothing. Because, you know, that’s the best option, right? But this last few weeks, I have really been trying to take some positive steps. No, I haven’t bought a scale yet. Before I buy a scale again, I wanted to get myself back on track with my diet and dealing with some of the stress in my life.

I talked to a friend of mine at work about dealing with stress in general. She told me about a stress dealing technique that she uses, which includes identifying what you’re going through, whether it’s anger, or stress, the urge to compulsively eat, and talking yourself through the emotion until it passes. I cannot remember what she called it. If I do, I will post it here. I do have to say, it has helped a lot. 

I also did the 5 day pouch reset to take control of my eating and diet again. And it worked. I also took another step. I have been thinking about becoming a vegetarian. I don’t think I’m ready to go there just yet, but I have really cut back the amount of meat I eat. One, red meat is a huge problem for me still. I feel nauseated after eating it and have a lot of problems with it after it is in my system. And I love chicken, but recently, I haven’t really felt like eating it much. I’m trying to get my protein more from beans, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and nuts. I may never be a full vegetarian, but I would like to have a mostly vegetarian diet and maybe eat meat only sometimes. I like chicken wings too much to ever walk away entirely, I think.

I have also been trying to make sure I get as much fresh veggies and fruit in me as possible. I have been buying them at farmers markets around the area this summer and eating a lot of cucumbers, blueberries, zucchini, cauliflower, etc. And I’m really looking forward to apple season. I love apples and will eat them every day. I’ve already told my sister-in-law I want to go apple picking with them.

Another thing I have done to deal with eating issues and get myself back on track is I joined an online bariatric support group on Facebook. They talk about everything! I have been reading posts from other people who are just starting their journey, answering questions on what they are going through. Many of the people who comment are so excited because they are just getting ready for the surgery or just had it. Their excitement is so infectious. That has really helped me get back in touch with how excited I was when I started my weight loss journey. I haven’t really shared much about myself on that site yet, but I have really enjoyed talking to other people about what they are going through. 

Anyway, that’s what has been going on with me. I promise I will blog more often. I’m not sure I’ll promise every day just yet, but I will talk more about what I’m going through, if/when I buy a scale, and how the weight loss is going.

Happy Labor Day!

Skinny Girl Update – Vacation Post!

Ok, so the “writing every day for a month” project kind of fell flat. I may try to do that again as I have lots to say. Just wanted to post a quick update, though.

So, what have I been doing? Mostly, working. I did go on vacation last week. I took a quick trip to Pittsburgh to see my mom. My baby sis came to town as well. Last week was the one year anniversary of my step-dad’s death. I wanted to be there with my mom to support her. And it was great to see my sister as well. She lives in Minnesota. She and her husband are moving out west to California in the fall, so it might be a while before I see her again. I WILL be going to to visit her and all that sunshine once she moves and gets settled. Get the guest room ready sis!

Also, because I am on the planning committee for my high school reunion, I had to meet with the other committee members to discuss the reunion, tour the restaurant where we are having the reunion, and then we had a quick high school get-together at a different restaurant where we met for drinks. It was funny meeting up with everyone again. Some people have changed a lot, others not so much. Thank goodness we had old yearbooks on hand for reference! Tons of fun, but very busy.

I then went to Rehoboth beach in Delaware to visit with my college friends. OMG, it was so much fun! I bought a bathing suit a few weeks ago and I have been swimming. This is the first bathing suit I have owned in about 15 years. Granted, I don’t think I looked good in a bathing suit, but honestly, I did not care. My biggest concerns were not drowning in the ocean and not getting horribly sunburned. Other than that, I did not give one rat’s butt what I looked like. I had fun.

I have to say, my friends totally rock. We had a blast at the beach. Two of my college friends have kids. There were three children at the beach. For some reason, these kids totally love me. Could be I bribe them with ice cream and let them commandeer my electronics for the week, but the jury is still out on that.

rehoboth

My friend Marianne and her hubby have a son. We’ll call him T. He’s the one who, when I bought a Smart Car, called it a clown car. The conversation went something like this:

Mommy: (Pointing at picture I uploaded to Facebook) “Look at Colleen’s new car, T!”

T: “Colleen bought a clown car? hahahahaha!”

Colleen: “Your son is a little Smartie-Pants!”

Liz & Steve have two little girls we’ll call E & S.

When I arrived at Rehoboth at 1am on Monday after a 7+ hour drive from Pittsburgh, T & E were still up. They cheered my arrival loudly. Everyone in Rehoboth knew when my little Smartie pulled into the driveway. I came into the house to them screaming “MISS COL-LEEN! MISS COL-LEEN!” at the top of their lungs. Apparently, they asked when I was arriving every hour on the hour, which explains the flurry of email and text messages I received during the drive. (No I did not read or text while driving. When I stopped for gas or coffee, I checked my messages and replied.)

rehoboth1

They collapsed in hysterical laughter when I unpacked my car. I brought everything. Extra towels, beach blankets, clothes, food, my personal laptop, my work laptop, all kinds of stuff. My mom even donated a bag of towels to the beach effort. They could not believe I fit all of that in my car. On my third trip into the house, Liz was singing circus music and T was saying, “Your car really IS a clown car!”

Of course, I told him I was a master at Tetris, which his ten-year old mind did not understand at all.

rehoboth2

Going to the beach and into the ocean was interesting. I hadn’t been in years. I was a little hesitant about going into the water. One, it was so cold. I hate being in cold water. It took me two tries to get in far enough to jump the waves with the kids. Their chorus of “MISS COL-LEEN!” As I slowly made my way into the water, helped.

I was out there for quite a while with the kids and various other adults. Then it happened. I got swept back towards the shallows by a big wave. The boogie board didn’t help. The wave knocked me on my butt pretty hard and I couldn’t get up.

It was like a scene from a sit-com or something. “I’m OK.” I announced as I tried to stand up. Then the boogie board was pulled back out and dragged me back down as another wave crashed in knocking me over again as the boogie board slammed back into my head. The cycle then repeated itself:

“I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk!

Finally, I just sat down holding onto the boogie board and let the waves wash over me. The kids were cracking up. It was pretty hilarious. I let go of the boogie board and one of the kids grabbed it. My friend Marianne, who is over 6 feet tall, came over and helped me stand up.

Other than that, the week was great. Lots and lots of walking. I tried to get in about 4 miles a day. I’m pretty sure I succeeded. Lots of shopping. Lots of beach-time. Lots of good food and fun with my friends. Many trips to the ice cream stands with the kids. Then fireworks on the beach.

fireworksonthebeach

sunsetonthebeach

Now I’m back to work and back to real life. Not nearly has fun, but necessary if I’m going to fund another trip to the beach!