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Monday, December 13, 2004

WHO CARES? 

December 13, 2004. My birthday. 28 years old. Alive. 40 pounds less than I weighed this time last year. Just a couple of words but loaded with more meaning then I could ever explain. I know it’s been a LONG time since the last post, but life really collapsed around me pretty soon after the last post. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me too much given the nature of the post. Nobody ever tells you how much self reflection can hurt. Food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, dysfunctional relationships, video games - all anesthetize the feelings but they also give you something to do besides be with you. Seeing me, feeling me, knowing me and being terrified of not being able to change me was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Also, confronting a history of pain and hurt when every last crutch was removed from my life was the single most difficult challenge of my life. I got thru this period with the support and advice of some pretty incredible friends. I want to record the lessons I’ve learnt and the insights they’ve taken the time to share with me so I will never forget them. I know this blog has stuck pretty much to weight loss and the issues surrounding it, but I think it’s important to record these thoughts. Also, as you know – I don’t think losing weight is about the food or exercise. I think a lot of the issues below get to the heart of achieving self esteem – the only way permanent weight loss ever happens. Being brave enough to say it all and say it out loud has been what’s carried me thru the last year, so here it goes.

Let’s start with Tori Amos. Besides the fact that Tori (who will from now on be referred to as “My Savior”) is the Goddess of depressing music – she also has some great lyrics. First one - “I’ve got enough guilt to start my own religion.” How many of us carry around guilt about everything? Past mistakes. Failed relationships. Those we hurt. Times we couldn’t be the people we wanted to. And how often do we internalize someone else’s hurtful words or unjust accusations? One friend taught me a new mantra which I try to repeat several times a day. Warning – for the eternal people pleasers out there this is going to be a tough one to hear. 2 words. WHO CARES? Appropriate times for this mantra to be recited: when your mom comments on the appropriateness of your dress for a family function. When a friend comments, have you gained a few pounds recently? When you make a mistake, when you realize you didn’t handle a situation the best way you could have. (Not appropriate time – your best friend tells you she’s pregnant and she’s not sure who the father is) WHO CARES isn’t about disregarding other people’s feelings. It’s about not internalizing everyone else’s biases, problems, psychological crap, and limitations. This same friend defined the purpose of life as being happy while helping out others. We shouldn’t walk around hurting people’s feelings or being insensitive. It’s just about not carrying guilt for your flaws and imperfections. Do your best and F&*^ing move on. Don't let other people’s evaluations of you matter more than the ones you have of yourself. Another friend said that the only way we can ever improve ourselves is if we really accept that we’re not perfect. We need to admit failure to achieve success. Stop expecting perfection from ourselves. The natural next step is not expecting that perfection from others.

Sometimes people can get hopeless because they feel like they can never change. We think it’s our destiny to be fat, selfish, mean, lonely etc. Becoming overwhelmed by these emotions is dangerous. We can all change. (don’t worry, I’m still in reality - I have finally accepted I won’t have Misty May’s body.) I first began to learn this lesson exactly one year ago when I started to change my body. But I’m realizing that changing personality traits is a lot harder. But not impossible. We can change those things about ourselves we don’t like. If you’re the kind of person who even wants to try – you’re already better than a whole lot of this world’s population. Props to you. Try and try again and when you’re really at the end of your rope – give it one last shot. To all those friends who have helped me realize this during the last few weeks – thanx for being a role model and showing me what’s possible with a lot of hard work.

Next Tori lyric – “Sometimes, I said sometimes, I hear my voice and it’s been here silent all these years...years go by will I still be waiting for someone else to understand…years go by will I choke on my tears till finally there is nothing left?” Speak up. Stand up for yourself. You’re worth it. And noone else is going to do it for you. Eliminate toxic people from your life. Express your emotions. Keeping it inside is so harmful it’s scary. I’ve spent my life terrified of confrontation. Not knowing how to say “I’m upset with you” in a non-confrontational manner. I’ve also been terrified of others being upset with me. Or annoyed. Sometimes it’s ok for people to be frustrated with you. It will pass. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you anymore or that your friendship is over. Additionally – people aren’t mind readers. Sometimes you just need to ask for what you need. It can be scary and stressful, but it’s really the only way your friends and loved ones can help you. Learn how to ask for what you need.

I think this next point also needs a warning label. May come as a shock to some. Not everything is about you. Really it’s not. Some people don’t know how to be there in the way you need them to be. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. It means they have limitations. It means they’re human. One friend put it best – you need to focus on appreciating what people can give you, not being disappointed in what they can’t. I guess this is related to the point about not expecting perfection from people. I’m not referring to the cheesy sentimental crap about appreciating the good things in your life and be happy you’re not a starving child fighting in a Rwandan army. But really truly seeing the good in people and what they can give you. And accepting it for what it is. Understand that when others fail you or disappoint you it may just be about something they’re going through or about the kind of person they are. Not about something wrong with you.

Listen to others. I think sometimes we think we are, but we’re really not hearing them. We’re not willing to see how things look from someone else’s perspective. We put words in their mouths and we hear what they’re saying how we want to hear it, not how they’re saying it. This doesn’t help anyone and actually causes you a lot more pain than is necessary. If you take your own insecurity and defensiveness out of certain conversations, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Also, remember that not everyone emotes the same way that you do. They may not express their feelings as outwardly or say what you need when you need to hear it. Spending your life getting angry at this will just make you a bitter and unhappy person. Learn to trust people’s caring and affection and not expect it to come in one specific form.

Not everyone is going to like you. I’m one of those people who needs the cashier at Key Food to have deep affections for me. I think the WHO CARES mantra is related here (It really is the best mantra EVER) I think we need to accept that there are people who are not going to like us and who are not going to like certain qualities about us. People who are not going to be able to treasure the unique things that make us the special people we are. Now first of all you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get that these people are kinda toxic to be around. You don’t need to spend time with or want to spend time with people who can’t see you for the things that make you special. But I think it’s also important to realize this is in no way an evaluation of you or your worth.

Additionally, not every friendship can work – not necessarily having to do with either person. Some people’s needs and capabilities just aren’t compatible. You may like the person or think they have very valuable qualities, but if they don’t make you feel good about yourself or you don’t like who you are around them, it’s ok to say this is someone I can’t be friends with. It’s also ok not to like people. Ok to say I don’t think this person is deserving of my time and affection. Have enough self worth to allow yourself that right.

On the flip side of this – there are friends who you don’t see often or don’t keep in constant touch with, but who can be there for you in your darkest moments. Not everyone’s view of friendship is consistent contact. But sometimes a friend you haven’t spoken to in a really long time, is the exact thing you need. Reach out, ask for help, it doesn’t show weakness.

I’ve also learnt that if there’s even one person in this world who loves you for who you are and would do anything to help you out, you are the luckiest person in the world. When you have a whole bunch of those people you can get thru any challenge.

And then the last and perhaps most important lesson. Appropriately we end with a Tori quote. “You must learn to stand up for yourself cause I can’t always be around he says when you gonna make up your mind? When *YOU* gonna love you as much as *I *do?” All the friends in the world and all the people seeing your great qualities will never mean anything unless you love yourself. For some of us this is really really hard. Especially if that voice in our head has been constantly telling us how worthless we are. This task is so hard but so worth it. Don’t compare yourself to others. They may seem like the smartest, thinnest or funniest person, but they don’t have all the amazing qualities you do. And even if they did, WHO CARES?

See guyz - I was listening!

Impossible is not loving yourself enough to try – no matter how hard it gets.



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Monday, October 25, 2004

Pain 

People often ask me how I can publish a blog with so many personal things written on it. After all, weight loss is such a personal struggle and anyone can see what's written on your blog. Well most of what I write is pretty personal, but in alot of ways I see this blog as liberating. As if somehow it's true that the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. I love that I can say I'm overweight and that I'm doing everything I can to change that. But this post is actually going to be a little sad. and perhaps the most revealing so far. (everyone scrolls down in anticipation :)

I want to write about what it feels like to be fat. I've talked about it a little bit. I've alluded to certain hurt feelings or various frustrations. But now I want to just let you get inside my head (SCARY PLACE.) What sparked my latest insightful mood, was of course nothing less than a TV program. In the latest reality TV show created solely to screw with rachel's mind, we are introduced to a weight loss contest. "The Biggest Loser" stars 12 people of varying weights divided into 2 teams. They spend something like 5 hours each day in the gym, while eating not so much. At the end of the week they weigh in and whichever team has lost the least amount of cumulative weight, has to vote someone off their team in Survivor fashion.

I will not get into my thoughts on the TV show. It certainly doesn't promote the healthiest weight loss system and I'm not reassured that anyone on the program will actually keep off any of the weight they lose. But that's not what I want to focus on here. What moved me were all the individual stories that every person told about their experiences as an overweight person and why they wanted to lose weight. These kinds of stories still get to me and of course I spent like the whole hour crying. At one point during the show, one of the women broke down. She had eaten very little that day and had worked out for some 5 hours and she just broke. Crying hysterically for every reason and for no reason at all. And I've never sympathized with anyone as much as I sympathized with that woman.

I understood what it felt like to be done. I understood how every taunt you've ever gotten, every person who's judged you based on your looks, every moment your clothes no longer fit you, every time you ate to erase all the crappy feelings - can come together in one moment and feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulder. Here is someone who has the guts to wear a bathing suit on national television and get weighed (HELLO! did they DRUG these people before the show?!?!?!?) This is someone willing to confront her obesity. Yet she had no idea what that meant. No understanding of the kind of work it would require. I get that. I get that eating right and exercising are such a small part of the battle. I get that crushing emotional burden where all of the sudden it's just too much. And it isn't fair. It's not fair that skinny girls in size 2 jeans don't work anywhere near as hard as I do. It's not fair that they'll never know how it feels.

So let's talk about how it feels. Let's talk about all of your friends going shopping for clothes and feeling silly that you can't join in the quintessential "girl" activity cuz you know nothing in a regular size clothing store will fit you.

Let's talk about watching the movie Shallow Hal ("deep" Gwenyth Paltrow film about some shallow guy who learns the importance of looking at people's insides when falling in love) with friends and feeling like your entire personal emotional trauma is out there for people to see. Feeling totally humiliated as each minute moves on, but feeling powerless to walk out and leave lest people think you're crazy. I felt like that movie was my life story and felt totally exposed. People were laughing at the jokes - and I was like there is NOTHING funny about this movie. And for the record, overweight people DO NOT eat huge wedges of cake and gulp milkshakes while noone is watching.

Let's talk about people who think they can comment on your weight. Friends, relatives, whoever. People who would never confront an alcoholic or a drug addict in the same way. Talk about people who tell you to your face to just get your stomach stapled (that ACTUALLY happened - and he wasn't my doctor) Obesity is the one disease that it's still PC to mock. It's ok to make fat jokes. I heard there was a study done amongst undergraduates where students actually said they'd rather date a recovered drug addict or an ex convict, than an overweight person.

Let's talk about the self esteem that induces.

Let's talk about, as M put it the other day, not even being in the game. What do I mean by that? Always sitting on the sidelines while everyone else talks about being in relationships. Being overlooked and not counted simply because you're overweight. By men, by your friends, by society. I listen to some of my friends talk about their dating experiences and I think, do you know how lucky you are? Just once I would love someone to care about me that much, to cherish me that much to do something so nice for me.

Let's talk about internalizing society's message that you're not good enough, valuable enough or worthy enough simply because of how much you weigh. How no matter what else you do or how many accomplishments you achieve, they will never ever matter. Because they all pale in comparison to the number one thing that defines you.

Let's talk about close male friends who make comments about dating thin women. Who talk about women's bodies and how that's the measuring stick they use for finding people attractive. Couldn't believe it when T and M told me their own stories. Thought it was only me. Yes we're all good friends. Yes we care about you and want to hear about your lives. And no we don't want to date you. But HELLO - can you not see how it's offensive to mention that something which we feel so insecure about is a quality that takes people out of your dating possibilities? When any of my friends (male or female) says to me, I feel like I'm never going to find a boy/girl friend and I reassure them - of course you will - you're like the best person ever! There's no reason why anyone wouldn't date you - I actually sincerely mean that about each and every one of them. I wouldn't be friends with them if I didn't think that highly of them. Yet I wonder when some of these friends say that to me, do they really mean it? I feel like not so much.

People say to me, why do you work out so hard? Why do you push yourself to the point of exhaustion? What's your impatience with the weight loss - it will happen when it happens. What they don't understand is that when you've lived your life feeling left out, feeling second class, feeling somehow LESS THAN everyone else - you can't wait for all that to change. You feel empowered to feel good about yourself and you know that feeling is right around the corner - how can you not do everything in your power to reach that goal? Honestly, desperation is the only word I can think of to properly convey that emotion.

I will lose 100 pounds. I will achieve my goals. But I will never EVER forget how that woman on TV felt. Impossible is spending the rest of your life not loving who you are.

thanx for listening
-Rachel

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Monday, October 11, 2004

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I run three miles. Hi my name is Rachel and I can run three miles. Ok, maybe it's more like jog. But I can most definitely do something which is quicker than walking. And I can do it for 45 minutes. and I've moved 3 miles when I'm done. WOW. I can't help but reflect on how I used to be afraid of the elliptical machine. How the gym and everyone inside it intimidated me. It continually amazes me how much we have inside us. It's like the Nike ad says, "you're faster than you think." You are so much more than you think and you can do so much more than you imagine. I never understood why people who aren't fat exercise. What's the point? (one could argue that's WHY they're not fat :) Why run a marathon? Why push yourself so hard? I finally get it. There's something about beating your time. Something about going an extra mile. Doing something you didn't think you could do last week. Something you know you couldn't do last year. When you're done with a workout you know you pushed yourself. You didn't let yourself down. You gave it all you could. It's intoxicating. (Really I promise! This stuff is BETTER than Ben and Jerry's)

So can I have a HELL YEAH for surviving the Jewish holidays? Everyone out there who turned down just one matzo ball or a second helping of potato kugel at even one meal - PROPS TO YOU. This year was tough. 3 sets of 3 day holidays. That's just WRONG. That's G-d laughing at New Year's resolutions. I think about the contrast between this holiday and Passover last year. I was so in the zone this month. I didn't freak out. I overate on occasion, but so much less than usual. I came to realize that when you view yourself as dieting or you don't believe in yourself enough to be convinced that you've actually made permanent changes in your life - everything is scary. Is this the holiday that I revert back to my old eating habits? Will this party be the time I pig out and feel sick afterward? When you come to trust yourself and truly enjoy a healthier lifestyle, you know you're in this for the long haul. You may overeat. You may have a sugar binge. But you know it won't last. You know that gaining a pound or two isn't a crisis. Life is just simpler. Eating healthy is more straightforward. You believe you matter enough to keep doing this because being healthy is that important to you. You deserve to feel good about yourself.

Don't be alarmed - it's still Rachel here. Had my share of MINOR nervous breakdowns since last post. Life is stressful - teaching started and preparing for 7 classes hasn't been a party. My schedule is all over the place and I feel very unanchored. Went home for the holidays - UNWISE move. Stressed me out and forced me to face some tough issues. But I realized that for the very first time in the whole wide world I didn't use food to deal with my issues. It was really tough and it made me realize how well food was working as an anesthetic. Feelings - real feelings - can be pretty hard core. It seems all I do these days is feel :) So it's hard. Sometimes it feels like it's impossible (not really a word we're allowed to use anymore) But I hold on to the knowledge that I achieve new fitness goals daily. My post Australia skinny jeans just about zip on me. I can freaking RUN. I am in control.

Maybe I took on a little too much of everything at once. I feel overwhelmed sometimes. But I know that I'm coming out of this stronger. I know that the Rachel at the end of this journey is the one that has been hiding out for too long. I owe a tremendous thank you to everyone who posts comments on this site and to all of my friends who support me on a daily basis. To everyone who understands how hard this journey is and lets me know it's ok to be self absorbed and take care of me. I've learnt so much along the way. I've learnt that people in alot better shape than me have challenges and have to push themselves. I love hearing stories about how it's hard for them - it makes me realize that being in shape is a commitment and a challenge for everyone. I've learnt about not being a perfectionist. I've learnt alot about being human. But most importantly I think I'm finally realizing just how much transforming yourself involves alot more than lowering a number on a scale.

Impossible is not losing 100 pounds.

Rachel

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

HELL YEAH 

As per my fitness guru’s command, it appears my next post is overdue.
SO…

First of all I have to say a big shout out to the lurkers who have posted comments. It helps me to hear your words of support and today I actually said, “I can’t cut my WW meeting if I’m supposed to be an inspiration!”

It seems kinda silly to post anymore because it basically feels like everything is just cycles and that any feelings I have are something I’ve felt recently and already posted about. Like the blog is just getting repetitive. But I think it’s important to write how I’ve been feeling and recently I’ve had a rough time, so let’s do it.

Here are some excerpts from a random IM convo I had recently. It speaks to how it feels sometimes.

Bshtark: I am SO trying my hardest to focus on the positive
Bshtark: i went to the gym yesterday even though i didn't want to
Bshtark: I'm trying to just do the best that i can even though I feel kinda sad
Bshtark: and i know that I've accomplished a lot but sometimes it's actually easier to feel satisfied with where you are when you haven't even gotten out there at all
Bshtark: once you make changes and start improving you realize how much there is to be and do
Bshtark: for the first time in your life
Bshtark: and it's sad for a lot of reasons
Bshtark: because you can get discouraged
Bshtark: because you realized how unhappy you were for so long
Bshtark: and didn't do anything about it
Bshtark: and because you're losing a part of who you were for so long
Bshtark: all tough battles


Another insight – there will always be moments that suck. What I mean by that is I’ve realized that having a bad workout or overeating happens to everyone. Everyone. There will be times when you feel like crap about yourself, when you don’t want to go to the gym, when you know with absolute certainty that you are the most obese person on the planet. When other stresses take over and you JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE LOSING WEIGHT ANYMORE. It’s ok to feel that way. It’s ok to take some time off. It’s ok to falter. The key is remembering it won’t always feel this way. Kind of like breaking up with someone. It sucks and it sometimes feels like you’ll never meet anyone else and you’ll never be happy again. But the truth is you will. And you need to let yourself feel sad and get over it but know in the back of your mind that it will get better. Really believe that even if you can’t see it now, it does get better than this. When you’re discouraged or don’t have the motivation, just do the best you can and wait it out. It will get better. That’s what the last week has been for me.

Life was kinda sucking. A lot of stuff was going on in my life. I couldn’t get myself to go to the gym and care about my diet. I was so upset. Nothing was helping. I tried to turn to food to feel better. It didn’t work. I guess that’s good news. I realized pretty quickly that I had learned that food wasn’t the answer. What an achievement. But I gotta say being upset sucks. Didn’t want to go to the gym this week. Didn’t want to drink water or eat vegetables. Half the week was holidays where it felt like all I did was eat. I thought my weigh in this week would be a disaster. I DID NOT want to go to WW. I made myself go (thanx RS) and I only gained .4. Helped me see that even when it feels like I’m overeating all the time - that term means something very different than it used to.

Before my meeting I said to someone I really didn’t want to come this week. I had to force myself. And she said to me, you have to come! I’m so glad you did. You’re one of the main reasons I come to this meeting. HOW AWESOME? Meeting was great. Pumped me up again. There was a woman there who I’d never seen before and was so overweight. She got her 75 pound magnet today. I’m like YOU GO GIRL. Then there was one of my WW inspirations who reached her goal today and became a lifetime member. She brought her old pants in with her and said she was going to throw them out today. I of course started tearing up in the middle of the meeting. Went to the gym and had such a great workout. Couldn’t stop smiling. I was all HELL YEAH. My body moves. And it feels so good.

I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this setback is that it’s ok to ask for support. It’s ok to need people. I’ve spent most of my life being there for everyone else’s issues. Listening to their problems. Giving advice. I guess another one of those random benefits of my work on my self these last few months, has been realizing that it’s ok to make myself a priority sometimes. I’ve a little bit been making up for the last 27 years in the last few months - sorry to all those friends who have been getting the brunt of this :)

I’m back on track and I’m FEELING it…

“Play the game, you know you can't quit until it's won
Soldier on, only you can do what must be done…
Just once in his life a man has his time, and my time is Now, I'm coming alive!”

St. Elmo’s Fire

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Monday, September 13, 2004

I do in fact totally rock 

okay - so as RE says, it's important to check in even when you're having a bad time. So let's talk about bad times. Let's talk about how it isn't always easy. and how losing weight is really a drag on occasion. How it seems like everyone thinner than you never goes to the gym and eats so much more than you. How it's entirely possible to gain 2.8 pounds in one week yet almost impossible to lose that in a week. How you can lose 30 pounds and still feel tremendous in your own skin. How losing 100 pounds seems more daunting than just about any other challenge on the planet. How jealous you are of every skinny person on the subway and every person who doesn't obsess about what they're eating. How you can change all you want, but if your body isn't changing as fast as your mind, you feel extremely frustrated.

Right so in theory maybe I feel that way sometimes. Entirely theoretical of course. But I'm feeling good right now so it's time to focus on the positive. Today's project is to focus on my accomplishments in the last 8 months - a little "props to Rachel" if you will. I've grown alot and had quite a few NSV (non-scale victories) as we say in WW. I think it's important to focus on ways I've changed and the amazing results that I've gotten from eating well and exercising - beyond the number of pounds I weigh.

so...let's begin

I am in the best shape I have ever been, in my ENTIRE life. I've started running and slowly but surely I am increasing my time. I actually love running. It's so hard and it's so intense and there are moments when I think wow I just CAN'T. and then I remember that that word has been exorcised from my vocabulary. Was commiserating with RS about how annoying it is that the cardio machines can only be programmed up to an hour - how sad is that? As far as I'm concerned, you have achieved fitness geek status at that point. Though my favorite moment this week was the point where I found out the gym was now open until 10 on weekends. This of course meant I could work out on Saturday nights - after Shabbat - even before the clocks are turned back. Does it get any more exciting?? and as I was at the gym sat night at 9:30 and it was EMPTY I had that feeling I usually get at the gym early Sunday morning. It's just you and your heart pumping. and you realize that you're hard core. That the difference between you and the people who complain they're fat but don't lose weight is that you're putting in 110%. I looked outside at all the people getting ready for their nights out and I was like I'm running right now. I'm in here working out and you're not. Such a high.

I've made real changes in how I eat. I don't enjoy being stuffed to the point where it feels uncomfortable. RE said to me last week that one week of weight gain is irrelevant - what matters is the trend over months. So I took out my WW card and realized that I've lost most weeks that I've been on the program. But more importantly, with one exception, I've never gained 2 weeks in a row. When I see a gain I realize what I've done wrong, I know how to correct it, and I jump into action. I know what I need to do to lose weight effectively and I know how to not slip into a bad pattern of continuously destuctive behavior.

I went shopping last week and for the first time ever I purchased clothes that made me feel great. I didn't buy them just because they fit, but because I thought, wow these make me look great! Probably the first time in like EVER that I felt that way. I a little bit was crying in the changing room (emotional basket case - table for 1 please)

It really is the little things - I got dressed fri night and looked in the mirror, said I feel like I look fat in this and then I changed. While that may not seem like a big deal, it's actually kinda huge. The fact that I had enough self esteem to imagine that I COULD look better in something else was a real change. I actually spend quite a few moments these days looking in the mirror and kinda liking what I see. Weird.

What else?

I've learned to say thank you. When someone compliments my appearance I don't deflect they're compliment or say things like well I have 70 more pounds to go. I say thank you for noticing and giving me a compliment. I appreciate your support. That's it. REALLY hard lesson.

I've learned to really appreciate my friends - for their kind words, for being supportive, for being behind me 100% and for understanding that this process is about alot more than physical transformation - thanx for letting me be a bit "emotionally versatile" at times.

I'm happier, I comfort other people at WW meetings who say things like, "I've lost weight but I don't see it on myself and I feel like why bother even losing weight," I talk about my feelings instead of holding them inside and eating instead, I spend alot of time working on feeling good about myself. I've realized that I want to take care of myself because I'm SO worth it.

I guess it's like the rest of life - it's a process. I'm quite possibly the most impatient person around but impatience and weight loss are not good partners. It took me 27 years to gain the weight, gonna have to be a little more patient...the changes I've made are permanent so this is real life. Life isn't going anywhere. I love the new me.

-Rachel

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

I'm inspired 

Just had the most inspiring day since project lose 100 pounds began. I know I have a proclivity for hyperbole but I actually really mean that. I have totally found the secrets to happiness, success and achievement and have raced home to write them down. As a source of inspiration of course but more importantly, so I can read it tomorrow when I’m convinced that 70 more pounds is too large of an obstacle to overcome.

Ok – let’s start with 6 am which is when I woke up. Haven’t been sleeping much lately (overtraining again? INTENSE anxiety about the upcoming year job wise? who knows?) Remembered that RS was running in a half marathon in Central Park and decided that since I was up I might as well go get inspired. Little did I know how amazing it would be. First of all, it’s hard to explain the vibe of a road race unless you’re there. Tons of people going all out pushing themselves their hardest. People passing by cheering them on and putting a smile on their weary faces. People of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. A whole other culture of people who love fitness and take pride in pushing their bodies as hard as they can – even at 7 in the morning. It’s difficult to put in words the pride and look of accomplishment of each person as they ran past the finish line (except of course for the people who were being helped by medical personnel, but I digress) Needless to say, I was ready to run the marathon right then. Chatted with RS afterward and spent a lot of time thinking today about where I am and where I want to be. And I’m ready to share my wisdom with you. Here goes.

1) One of my favorite songs is Sunscreen by Baz Luhrman (lyrics can be found at: http://www.lyricsnet.net/lyrics.php?id=17) My favorite line is “You are not as fat as you imagine.” How true is that? How many times do we look back at HS pictures – a time when we felt like the fattest person on the PLANET and say, “wow I wished I weighed that much now.” What does this have to do with the half marathon? I realized today that we absolutely have to stop saying any sentence that starts with the words “when I lose weight…” We shouldn’t start working out only when we lose weight. We shouldn’t shop for nice clothes only when we lose weight. We shouldn’t date only when we lose weight. We shouldn’t treat ourselves with self respect only WHEN WE LOSE WEIGHT. I can’t explain to you how impressed I was with the people I saw at mile 8 who really were not so much in the size 2 category. (or frankly even in the size 16) They were tired. They were hurting. But they were running. Or walking. Or doing whatever they could do. Everyone can do something. You can’t run for 5 minutes? Fine, but you can certainly walk for that long! I love the Nike ad that’s out right now. “You are faster than you think.” It’s so true. We don’t know our abilities until we try. Just get out there and try. In my mind success is NOT being able to go faster than you think. Because you know you can do it all and challenge yourself over and over.

2) Which brings me to my second point which is really kind of a 1b. No more excuses about how other people are more talented. The athletes who are successful or who you see strutting their stuff down 5th Avenue come marathon Sunday, are not there because they’re skinnier than you. They aren’t successful because they have better genes, smaller body frames or a fairy godmother who simply likes them better. They're there because they work hard. Really hard. Never say you can’t. You have the exact same determination, focus and will to succeed as any of them. You just use it for different things. Ever pulled an all-nighter to ace an orgo exam? Spent years learning to play an instrument? Somehow managed to convince your parents that you weren’t sleeping with your boyfriend when you went home to visit on Thanksgiving? Everything is possible. Each and every one of us has the ability to push our bodies harder. The only thing about me that’s changed in 7 months is that I applied my competitive, hard working personality in a different way. The results? Priceless. The other big lesson in this category is that even the most in shape people struggle and have to push themselves. The two people I knew in the race were pretty wiped when it finished. One said, “after the first few miles I wanted to quit.” Even though it may look easy and effortless to some, it really never is. The difference is just about being willing to give it your all. It sounds like an easy lesson but to be honest I never got it. I always thought that once you were in shape it was kinda just like going for a stroll. You run 20 miles, no big deal. Seeing RS after the race I understood, it’s really never easy. Degree of difficulty may vary, but everyone is summoning up their inner strength on race day. I’ll end with the magnet on my fridge, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt.


3) This lesson is all RS. We’re chatting after the race and he says, “I feel great. I’m really psyched I beat my time from last year.” Talking with us is someone else who is older and started running more recently than RS. His time was a few minutes quicker. RS never thought to compare their times or to say wow it’s not fair I should be faster than him. It was all about his personal best. Where is your personal best? And I don’t just mean at the gym. Where were you mentally last year? Emotionally? For me, at this time last year I was in a bad place. Terrified to admit that I had let myself gain so much weight and feeling helpless to do anything about it. Today I looked in the mirror before I got in the shower and said all that stuff on my stomach isn’t gross fat. It’s potential energy. It’s what I’m gonna burn when I get on the treadmill tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. (can we talk about how that is perhaps the single most healthy thing I have ever said in my life?!?!?!) That may be a bit extreme, but you get the idea. Do something today so that on August 29, 2005, you can say I’m faster, higher, stronger (It’s all about the Citius, Altius, Fortius – ok no more Olympics for Rachel) The only yardstick you should ever use is you.


Ready for the plan? Gonna take the age old advice about setting a goal when you’re feeling pumped and motivated. 10K race in Central Park on Sunday Dec 12th. The day before my birthday, pretty much the one year anniversary of my weight loss project and enough time to become even more of the buffest person ever…anyone else in? :)

Thank goodness the Olympic closing ceremony is tonight – I really couldn’t devote any more of my life to watching! One final inspirational story –Walter Hermann - from the Argentinean gold medal winning basketball team. A year ago his mother, sister and girlfriend all died in a car accident. This year, Argentina wins the South American Basketball championships and that night Hermann comes home to find out his dad has died of a heart attack. Yesterday he and his team come out and win only the second gold medal Argentina had ever gotten and he’s one of the leading forces behind that victory. Wow.

Oh and I almost forgot – a little addition to the last post – props to RS and GBD for getting me the Lance bracelet – without you I would be the saddest person ever…


Impossible is so never me again

Rachel

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ronen - this one is for you... 

As many of you know, Lance Armstrong has been my hero for quite some time. Recently he won his 6th Tour de France and has started a fundraising campaign for his Cancer Foundation. He has started selling yellow rubber bracelets with the words LiveStrong written on them. He writes,

"Yellow wakes me up in the morning.
Yellow gets me on the bike every day.
Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice.
Yellow makes me suffer.
Yellow is the reason I’m here.
Before cancer I just lived. Now I live strong."

These bracelets are becoming ubiquitous – everyone from George Bush to the gold medal Olympic beach volleyball players are wearing them. They’re back ordered on every website and they seem to have struck a chord with people from all walks of life. Had dinner with RE the other night and he said that they’ve become too popular and kinda trite. True fans like him and me shouldn’t wear them because we’ve loved Lance for years and the bracelet is really just a fad. I told him what wearing the bracelet means to me:

It is a constant physical reminder of my dedication and commitment to pushing my limits every day. Yellow represents waking up at 6 am to go to the gym even on those mornings when all you want to do is sleep and it’s still dark outside. It symbolizes pushing myself to my absolute physical limits each time I enter the gym. It lets me know that intense introspection and learning about myself, no matter how hard it may seem, are the only paths to true success. Yellow reminds me that pushing the envelope goes way beyond life in the gym. Living a challenging lifestyle is about getting out of your comfort zone. Taking a trip that you know will be difficult and force you to call upon resources you honestly had no idea you had. Yellow represents walking on the Great Wall of China. Persevering even when it was 100 degrees and I was pretty certain there was no way I was going to finish the hike. These Olympics, athletes from all countries are wearing the bracelet. Are they all such huge cancer supporters? Perhaps. I think the bigger message for them is a physical connection to a man who has shown the true meaning of hard work and commitment to a goal. Winning the Tour De France so convincingly year after year isn’t just the result of hours on a bike. It’s about practicing ascending up a mountain 10 times more after everyone else has gone home. They get it. I get it too. When I look at my bracelet, I identify with Lance, with Kerry Walsh and Maurice Greene. The 30 seconds of Olympic glory that you witness on TV represent hours, days, months and years of pushing ones self mentally and physically. Missing out on time with your friends, parties and special occasions because you are relentlessly pursuing your goals. Of envisioning yourself crossing the finishing line first when really no one else is convinced you can do it. When I lose 100 pounds it will be no less of an accomplishment than winning an Olympic medal. It will be the culmination of 20 years of struggle and pain and it will be the direct result of my work and dedication. Until then, I have my bracelet to remind me of just how far I’ve come. So maybe it is a little hackneyed and maybe all those people walking down the street with bracelets don’t quite get it. But I do and for now that’s all that matters.

That’s pretty much it for the update on my life. Had a WW meeting last night and I didn’t gain or lose any weight. Disappointing for a bit but I realized that I basically had gone from exercising 6 hours a day to sitting at home and not even able to go to the gym until Sunday. Body’s just adjusting and at least I didn’t gain any weight. I think I’ve actually started to internalize the fact that the number on the scale really is just a number and not a value judgment on who I am as a person. It sounds so obvious but I think it’s a lesson I’m just now learning. Going to the gym for the first time in 2 months made me realize how much my body has improved. How much stronger and fit I’ve become. I realized my body wasn’t letting me down and that I had finally learned to appreciate it for what it could do, not hate it for what it looked like.

Ran into another trainer from my gym on the subway yesterday. Hot buff guy who really seems more concerned with his biceps then say world peace. But had a really good conversation with him and realized that there was actually a lot more to him than I realized. R is right – I really am as superficial as I accuse other people of being. Really working on that. Not easy.

Back to watching the Olympics – seriously considering taking up table tennis to get myself at the next ones…

-Rachel

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