Category Archives: walking

Looking Back

Two years ago today, I weighed 298 pounds and was in the hospital. I had my gastric by-pass surgery October 24, 2012. It’s amazing how my life has changed! I’m not quite at my goal weight yet, but I know I will never weigh 300 pounds again!

BEFORE AFTER

I feel so much better and my life, which was once so lonely, is very full. I am happy with the new direction my life has taken. I know a lot of people look down on bariatric surgeries. I know I did for a long time. Many people think this is the easy way out. For me, where I was in my life, it felt like the only choice. I have no regrets. I am not looking back!

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Here is a brief list of the many positive changes

  • I can walk without pain.
  • Breathing is easier.
  • I can walk and breathe at the same time!
  • I feel very self-aware.
  • I am no longer invisible.
  • I am no longer invisible to men. (!!)
  • I feel more confident.
  • My blood pressure is normal without medication.
  • My blood sugar is normal.
  • My triglycerides are normal.
  • My heart rate is normal.
  • I don’t have to shop at plus-sized stores any more!
  • My grocery bills have gone way down.
  • My overall health is right on target!
  • I have a whole new wardrobe!
  • I got rid of all of my fat girl clothes.
  • I can use a small suitcase as my clothes do not take up so much room.
  • I am very active.
  • Because of my improved health, I can go to all kinds of fairs and festivals!
  • For the first time in a long time, I really see a future for myself.
  • I look cute in clothes!
  • There is room between me and the steering wheel of my car.
  • I can fit comfortably in most airline seats (as comfortable as one can get in those).
  • I can run a little bit.
  • I re-discovered just how awesome my friends and family are!

Sometimes this journey is still hard. I will always have challenges, and I will always fight this fight. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I am winning!

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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.

Exercise – Walking Challenge

I have to admit, I’m not much of an exercise buff. I do walk and sometimes I go to the gym. That said, I have joined the walking challenge at my office. I think the goal is 10,000 steps a day, 70,000 steps a week. Whoever does the most steps at the end of the month wins a $50 gift card. They gave us free pedometers which basically fell apart after two days. I have been using a free app on my iPhone.

I have been doing really well, too. Right now, I’m in second place. I’m not sure I will be able to catch up with the person in first place. She’s just too far ahead. They also let us calculate other forms of exercise. She does a lot of biking and plays baseball.

I have been swimming. My apartment complex has a pool. I try to get an hour of swimming in every couple of days. I would do it every day, but some days I just do not get home in time. Pool closes at 8pm and sometimes it’s just to chilly in the evenings to swim.

To date, I have a total of 72,052 steps and my daily average is over 12,000. Here are some things I do to increase my daily steps.

  • Take bus all the way into DC and forgo the Metro. Walk from where bus drops me off on 23rd Street NW and Constitution Ave to my office. This adds a little more than 1/2 a mile each way to my daily walk to/from the office. That’s an additional 2473 steps per day.
  • Expand my  lunchtime walk. It is currently now 1.7 miles. I bumped it up to a solid 2+ miles.
  • Add swimming as an exercise: moderate swimming is 174 steps per minute. 30 minutes of swimming is 5220 steps.
  • This week, I walked all over DC with my friends. I’m going to have to get more creative next week to keep that level of activity going.
  • Add an additional walk after I get home from work and have dinner.

Most of these are small additions just to bump up my current level of walking activity.

The swimming is a pretty big step for me. This requires putting on a bathing suit in public, something that I have not done in more than 10 years. Once I’m in the water and swimming, I do not even think about what I look like. I can only think about breathing and finishing my lap. I take it slowly. I do one lap and stop for about 15 seconds. Then do another lap. I keep thinking, “after this lap, I’ll stop.” Then I finish the lap and feel OK and think, “OK, one more lap.” I try to do this for 1/2 hour at least. I try to vary my laps between the breast stroke and the backstroke. The backstroke is easier for me. But in either case, I’m not thinking about how I look in a bathing suit, I’m just concentrating on swimming.

I am going to wait a couple of weeks of this increased level of activity to weigh myself. I am hoping that the increased exercise will help the scale to start moving down again. We shall see!

Breaking The Rules – Emotional Highs

Today’s post is a little bit late. Sorry about that.

I know I have a set program that I am supposed to follow, per my own rules, but I want to talk about what I have been doing the past couple of days, so am breaking them. Sort of. Let me explain.

In 2000, I moved to Phoenix. This was probably one of the biggest mistakes in my life. Phoenix was not kind to me. I was sick almost the entire time I was there. I gained over 100 pounds. It was way too hot for me. And it just was not right for me.

There are only two things that keep me from thinking it was absolutely the worst thing that ever happened to me. One, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am not the rugged outdoorsy type. I learned that I do not like excessive heat. And I learned that I really am an east-coast city girl.

The second thing, that happened was I met my friend Cherilyn. I met her about a month after I moved there. I was working at  call center with American Express, and I was seated next to her.

We hit it off immediately. We talked nonstop. We would talk from the minute that we arrived at work until we left. We often hung out after work as well. We became very good friends. She is one of the reason I feel my move to Phoenix wasn’t a complete and utter disaster.

I have missed her a lot over these last ten  years. I have a lot of great friends here in DC, but Cherilyn is a good friend too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have all of our good friends in one place?

I think I have linked a picture of me from her wedding previously, but I will link it here again.

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Obviously, she’s the bride. (And this one’s for you, baby sis), I’m the one on the left in pink.

That’s how Cherilyn knew me. That’s what I looked like for most of my stay in Phoenix. That’s what I looked like when I left Phoenix in 2004. And that’s what I looked like when I went back for a visit in 2007.

Now, she has been following my progress with the surgery and weight loss. She reads this blog sometimes. And she follows my updates on Facebook.  But still, I don’t think she was taken aback by what I look like now.

This is us outside the White House with her kids. She’s the one on the left in black and white next to her son. And I’m on the right with the obnoxious pink shorts. The hamlette next to me is her little girl. Her son is so cute. They took a tour of the Capitol and I met up with them after. I asked him how the tour was, he shrugged and said. “OK, but we haven’t seen the White House.” So, we had to do that first.10403230_10152875391775299_2429342450171835273_n

Cherilyn and I have lived full and complete lives in our separate respective cities. She obviously got married. She has two children.  I’ve had surgery. I lost weight. I am trying to be a writer. I blog. We are very different in many ways. Still, when we met up again, it was just like we had never parted ways.

She was so excited to see how much weight I have lost. She was even more excited that I was able to walk all over the city with them. And walk all over the city we did. Miles and miles. We walked to the White House, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Wall. Then we walked to the Foggy Bottom (near GWU) area for dinner. We walked so much, we wore the kids out. The kids and her hubby, couldn’t get out of bed yesterday. I have to admit, I did a little happy dance at the thought that I wore out kids.

While they were sleeping, Cherilyn wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial, so I took her on my Blossom Walk. Then we walked back over to the Smithsonian Metro station to meet her family and took them to the American History Museum. Her little girl wanted to see the ruby-red slippers worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. (They are in trouble with this one, let me tell you!) I made her see the original American Flag first. Then the shoes. Then Miss Piggy.

Then we had an impromptu visit to the Urgent Care. Her son’s eye started hurting and got a little red and puffy. She wanted to make sure he didn’t have pink-eye, especially since were getting on a plane today. We had thought to do paddle boats in the Tidal Basin or to do a Moonlight Bus Tour. We no longer  had time to do either. So, I suggested we just take the Metro out to Rosslyn and walk over to the Iwo Jima Memorial. That was one of two things left on Cherilyn’s “must do” list. Once we were in Virginia, Cherilyn suggested we go to my apartment.

We took the Metro then a bus to my neighborhood. We went to dinner at Busboys & Poets down the street. When we left the restaurant, it was pouring down rain and none of us had an  umbrella. We were SOAKED by the time we got to my apartment. We walked into the building looking like a pack of drowned rats and the guy at the front desk just cracked up. We cracked up. “I think it might rain,” I said to him and pushed the button for the elevator and we all just laughed even harder. I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time.

Obviously, I gave them towels and wrapped the kids up in thick plushy robes once we got inside. And I made sure they were good and dry before I sent them back out into the rain for the metro ride back to DC.  Because I rock like that. If I didn’t have a Smart Car, I would have driven them back to the hotel. I guess I still could have, I just would have had to do it one at a time.

OK, all of that to get to my point. The last few days I have been riding an emotional high. Having one of my dear friends be so obviously happy for my weight loss. The surprised gasps and hugs telling how good I look. How happy she was that I could walk all over town and they couldn’t keep up with me. Nothing feels better than having the people you care about sincerely tell you how wonderful you’re doing and how happy they are for you.

It is hard as time goes on and I get less and less of that. The people who see me every day are used to seeing me the way I am and don’t sing my praises every time they see me. I hit a prolonged plateau and haven’t lost anything for a long time.  I have to depend on myself to feel good with what I have done. It is nice that my friends celebrate my success. They should not be required to celebrate every day or every time they see me, however much I may want them to.

It has been a struggle for me during this prolonged plateau to remain positive. Still, I have to find a way to stay focused and positive on my own. This visit from Cherilyn was awesome. I enjoyed spending time with my friend and showing her everything I love about living in DC. I also enjoyed her telling me how great I look and how nice it is that I am so much healthier than I was before. It’s been a nice reminder of how far I have come. But now that she’s gone back home, I have to be my own cheerleader.

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. I know that I write some pretty positive posts on this site, but sometimes it is very difficult not to be very hard on myself. I am hoping that with the walking challenge going on at work, that will kickstart me into really increasing my activity level and start the weight loss again. We shall see.

If you want to follow my progress in the walking challenge, check my daily updates on my Skinnygirl Facebook Page.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I am a huge vegetable fan. Two of my favorites are kale and spinach. I have a great kale and spinach recipe that I want to share since today is Wednesday, and therefore food day

Now I’m horrible at measuring things. I’m one of those awful cooks who just throws things together until they “look right”. It’s hard for me to write down a recipe accurately. This is not one of those recipes that require precision, thankfully.

I hope you enjoy it!

Spinach & Kale

1 bag raw spinach

1 bag raw kale

1/2 red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

sesame oil

wok

red pepper flakes

parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

Wash and dry spinach and kale. Cut red bell pepper into strips. Heat wok with sesame oil. Saute garlic, kale, spinach, and bell pepper together until soft. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. You can add a splash of soy sauce at this point too. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

It’s simple and fast. I often eat it with a little bit of grilled chicken.

Sorry if this post seems rushed today. I have friends visiting DC and I have been dragging them all over the city. Or they have been dragging me. Anyway, for today, we are going to the top of the Washington Monument and hitting a couple of museums. Since I do the museum circuit regularly with my brother, I know just where take the kids. My friend’s little girl is very interested in seeing Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers and Kermit the Frog. She seemed somewhat wary of the bug suggestion, but the thought of seeing the Hope Diamond was exciting.

I’ll post an update on Thursday.

Let The Games Begin!

My month of blogging has begun.

I had a lot of great suggestions from people on topics, so I think I will have a lot to write about. Everything from talking about the emotional journey, the physical procedure and the aftermath, and recipes.

My posts are going to be a little bit more organized. Sundays will be my week wrap-up and planning for the week ahead. Monday and Wednesday will be about food, meals, and recipes. Tuesdays I will write about the physical aspect of things, from the surgery itself to changes in my body. Thursdays will be about my emotional journey, the ups and downs, and how things have changed. Fridays will be about the different kinds of exercises I am doing. Saturdays I think I’m going to keep kind of random. I want to do book reviews and talk about health, food, and weight in general. That will also be the day I will keep open to answer questions people may have.

I am doing two other things in June apart from this daily blogging. I am participating in a wellness activity at work. I am doing the walking challenge. They gave us all free pedometers. Here is mine:

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I am also doing a postaday challenge with WordPress.  They are supposed to send us prompts to use, but I may or may not follow their prescribed format. Depends on what I feel like writing that day. I’m a rebel like that.

So, here are updates for today and what I am doing this coming week. Today I walked all over DC with my brother and his little girl. Instead of doing our usual museum circuit, we went to some monuments.

We walked to the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the WWII Memorial. My walking through DC was 5192 steps which is about 2.5 miles. I also bought the first bathing suit I have had in 14 years and went swimming for about an hour. Now I’m completely exhausted.

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I used to love swimming when I was younger, but I haven’t been swimming in more than 10 years. I am actually a very good swimmer. I feel very natural in the water and once I’m swimming, I completely forget to be worried about what I look like in a bathing suit. When I lived in Phoenix, I would swim in my cousin’s pool, or in the pool in my apartment complex, but it’s been a very long time. I’m glad to be swimming again.

I’m going to the beach the week of the 4th of July with my friends. I want to be practiced in swimming again before I get there. I probably will not do a lot of swimming in the ocean. I’ll probably mostly bounce around in the waves or do the boogie board. But still, I want to strengthen my swimming muscles and get used to wearing my bathing suit in public.

This week, I am taking a couple of vacation days. I have friends visiting from Phoenix and I am going to do some sightseeing with them. That will be a lot more walking. I am also going to change my commute a little. I normally take a bus and then the metro. Then walk 1/2 mile to the office. This week, I am going to take the bus all the way into the city and then walk 1.5 miles to the office. I am also going to continue doing my lunchtime walks. I can usually get 1.5 miles in at lunch as well. That will help me boost my pedometer steps for the work challenge.

So, to recap, this is what you can expect from my blog for June. If this format works, I may try to keep it going as long as I can.

  • Monday and Wednesday – Food & Recipes
  • Tuesday – Physical aspect of surgery, body changes, body image
  • Thursday – Emotional journey
  • Friday – Exercise
  • Saturday  – Random & Questions
  • Sunday – Weekly recap and prep for week ahead

As always, I will always answer any of your questions, even if it is a repeat of a previous blog post. Let the fun begin!

Spring Fest – The Cure For Boredom

So today I am going to try posting from my iPad. I am supposed to be hanging out with my sister today. She’s running a bit late. There are only so many naps, tv shows, or rounds of Words With Friends I can do before my head explodes. I knew that Spring Fest in my neighborhood was happening, so I grabbed my poncho and iPad and walked down the hill.

The festival is pretty darn festive. Lots of music and beer drinking. I haven’t had any alcohol since the surgery and honestly I do not really miss it. So I’m just here enjoying the music and watching people make fools of themselves. I cannot really justify paying $30 to not drink beer, so I’m just enjoying a cappuccino instead.

Now Coffee Fest – that’s something I can get behind!

Ok I forgot my point.

Oh yeah, so I walk down here to Caribou Coffee only to find out that tomorrow they are closing and never opening again. They were bought out by Peets’ over a year ago. Nobody is happy about this. I will miss Caribou. They have been good to me.

But all things change and we knew this was going to happen. They have been putting off the conversion for a while now. So, farewell Caribou! I have enjoyed you coffees and teas and the yummy blueberry oatmeal.

Apart from that, I am really enjoying this festival. I love that I can go to these things and walk around. I might not be able to drink or eat much, but I can walk to and from. I can walk around and socialize. And most of all, I can dance!

Enjoy the pics!

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