Who Am I and What Have I Done with Myself?

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I’ve talked before about struggles with my weight. I was pudgy as a child — “pleasantly plump,” if you will — and the mild teasing and occasional ostracism as a young person led to issues that I believe kept me from losing the weight for good because I felt like if I lost the weight I was giving in to their negativity.

For the record, let me just say again that accusing overweight people as lazy lumps who need to “put down the chicken leg and get off their ass” is not the way to motivate someone to lose weight. One of the worst statements I’ve heard is, “There’s no excuse for someone to be overweight.”

I’ve stood up on the soap box about that issue before (see link in first line), and I can say that for me, the negative experiences I had as a kid regarding my weight created a rebellion in my mind and made me want to eat what I wanted. These incidents didn’t happen daily for years and years, but it didn’t take long for the damage to settle in my subconscious.

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Pleasantly Plump

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"I'm not fat! I'm big boned!"

“I’m not fat! I’m big boned!”

“I think Carla is a good friend,” Surrena said, patting my leg. I gave a timid smile at her thoughtfulness… and then she continued, “And she’s not fat; she’s pleasantly plump.”

My fourth-grade classmates giggled and guffawed at her unintentionally backhanded compliment. Mrs. Nesmith had meant well — sitting us all in a circle and giving us the exercise to say something nice about the person on our left — but Surrena, bless her heart, had no way of knowing the class would still consider her statement as confirmation that I was overweight.

The pediatrician also confirmed it at every yearly physical: “She’s ten pounds overweight.” I got teased and ostracized for it — not a malicious, daily torment, but I would hear the occasional snide comment, see the up-and-down-then-disgusted look from the popular girls, or get chosen last for a team at recess or in PE. Carrying around ten extra pounds in childhood turned into carrying twenty extra pounds as a teenager — all at a time when kids weren’t nearly as big (weight-wise) as they are now. So my chubby self was in the minority.

Middle school was better than those fourth and fifth grade years, and high school was better than middle school. But I never really lost all the weight. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed that if I lost the weight, I was admitting that I agreed with all those who teased and shunned me.

I tell you about this experience because of this girl — who had the audacity to post a photo of her “grotesque” self online. The comments on the HLN article range from “good for you” to “you are hideous.”

With every article that goes up talking about weight issues, the comments section becomes inundated with people who say that fat people are just lazy. (As an aside, I truly believe that the establishment of a comment section on news sites is one of the worst things to happen to journalism in the internet age — a bunch of alpha gorillas beating their chests, hurling insults with horrible spelling and grammar, incapable of being civil or convincing other readers to change their minds. I wish every news site would dump them.)

In fact, compared to the articles I’ve read on addiction, those who are considered obese have been the only ones who are called lazy. No one tells a heroin addict to get his lazy ass off the couch and go to rehab. I’ve never seen someone tell an alcoholic that all she needs to do is just quit drinking.

I’m not saying that obesity is always a food addiction, but I do believe it’s possible to be addicted to food. Look at eating disorders. No one calls anorexics or bullemics names because they can’t magically stop starving themselves or binging and purging, yet many people just can’t believe that someone who is overweight just might have some mental issues that keep him or her from achieving a healthy weight.

And there’s another issue: “healthy weight.” So many people consider the BMI the authoritative measurement, but I know muscular people who are considered obese according to the BMI. Even in my case, I’m considered very obese by the BMI, but when I had a body fat composition test last year, I was just barely obese.

I’m not advocating the “fat acceptance” movement because I realize that being obese isn’t healthy; however, if  you hate your body, you’re not inclined to take care of it. So hearing people tell overweight and obese people to “put down the fried chicken and get their ass off the couch” is not acceptable motivation. Losing weight for revenge is as mentally unhealthy as keeping the extra weight is physically unhealthy.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a plate of powdered donut pancake surprise calling my name…

(Yes, I’m kidding…)

2012 in Review

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A cold, rainy day here in Upstate SC provided the perfect opportunity for me to look back on my 2012. All in all, it wasn’t as eventful as 2011 but not nearly as sucky as 2010 — or 2008 for that matter — but I find myself comparing years to 2002. For some reason I look back on that year as a great one — perhaps because I was finally writing on a full-time basis and we had just bought our first house. Things just seemed more promising — although things aren’t bleak right now. I don’t know. I suppose I spend too much time comparing years instead of trying to make the current one the best it can be.

When January 2012 began, I really thought we were in for a lousy year. Our 11-year-old shepherd/collie mix, Domino, had just been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, elevated liver enzymes, and diabetes. In the first two weeks of the year, we dropped at least $700 at the vet. Yeah, happy New Year to us. Combine that with my dark-thirty toilet demolition on New Year’s Eve, and I pretty much decided to just go stick my head in the sand until December 31st.

But we bought a new toilet tank, and Domino’s liver enzymes stabilized in February so that we wouldn’t have to fork over $200 for those meds every two weeks. Plus we all got the hang of the twice-daily shot routine, so things started leveling out nicely.

At the end of March, despite the lack of training, I did my second Cooper River Bridge Run — which I vowed never to do without training again, especially since I might have to toss a bitch into the Cooper River.

It took me until April to actually post on here again — and even then, it was a blip of a conversation between Cinlach and me. I’m trying to change that frequency, but more on that later.

I hit the big 4-0 in May and celebrated with a party at a local pub. Some friends came, we had drinks, we played Rock Band, and we almost burned down the bar with my cake (kidding!). I think a good time was had by all. And then the next week I came down with my first verifiable case of food poisoning. One of my friends (this chick) and another coworker took me out to eat for my birthday and let me pick the place, so I chose one of those hibachi places. Here’s a fun fact you might not know: Rice has a naturally-occurring toxin that is released if not cooked/stored/reheated properly. Who knew? I sure didn’t, and apparently the hibachi restaurant didn’t either.

I’m still wary about rice, and I haven’t been able to go to another hibachi place since. It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of getting food poisoning again, but you know, once that comes back up on you, you just don’t have the appetite for it.

We went to the Heroes Convention in June — its 30th anniversary — and Stan “The Man” Lee was there. We didn’t pay the buttload of money to stand in line to get a pic and autograph, but he did show up to the artists’ auction on that Saturday night.

In July, I finally sat down and gave a real post: a tribute to my friend Carmen, who had passed away in December 2011.

Also that month, I delved deeper into geekdom and started doing some D & D type role playing stuff. Right now, the coolest things about it are painting the figurines and collecting the neat-looking dice.

The hard drive to my iMac died in August, but luckily, I have a back-up external drive and an Apple Care plan. So I didn’t lose too much stuff, and there was no charge to replace the hard drive. Ironically, two months later, I received an email from Apple about the hard drive issue that encouraged owners of iMacs to go ahead and back up their stuff and go get a new hard drive. Thanks, Apple.

August also brought a few tense weeks for us in that the company Cinlach worked for was not renewing their contract with a huge client, so we didn’t know who would pick up the contract and if he would have a job with them and if he did, would said job be here in town? Lots of hand-wringing and back-up plans being made.

But in September, the new company was announced and decided to hire him — as well as keep operations in town — so we dodged a bullet. That same month, I signed up for several fall 5k events to start training for the Cooper River Bridge Run. My first event was the Race for the Cure; I finished in 1:04:49. I felt pretty good about that since I’d been walking diligently for a couple of weeks.

I kept improving in October with the Upstate Step Out to Stop Diabetes, finishing in 52 minutes, and the Spinx Run Fest, finishing in 57:50. Also in October was the International Day of the Girl, which I observed with a letter to my 15-year-old self.

In November, we went to see Kevin Smith at the Peace Center, and we had awesome seats on the second row. He says he’s coming back this year, and the husband and I plan to be there again — thoroughly enjoyed his stories. During this month, I also ended my freelance gig with LivingSocial. Well, I actually didn’t, they ended it and hundreds of other freelance gigs (no doubt in an effort to conserve costs). On the one hand, I’m gonna miss the money. (Boy, am I gonna miss that money.) But on the other, it did take up a lot of time from my own writing — whether for this blog or for my own fiction.

December brought one final 5k, the Furman Flatlander, which I finished in 57:24 — thanks to help from Kaylin and her urging that we beat the whiny girl who kept lagging behind her mother. My husband and I also celebrated our 13th anniversary. We went to a lot of hockey games. The world didn’t end. And the holidays flew by in a blur.

So here I sit on January 1st, the last of my eleven days off — the longest streak I’ve had since being laid off in 2008 — plotting and planning for my 2013. I do plan on posting here a lot more often now that I don’t have daily deal copy for LivingSocial, and I ‘d like to build this thing up more. A few years ago I had quite a few regular readers and commenters, and then I got slack and things just sort of dropped off.

I leave you with a video slideshow of some of my favorite 2012 photos. Happy New Year, y’all!

One Foot in Front of the Other

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This past Saturday I finished my last 5K for the year — my fourth one in as many months.  Even though I’m nowhere close to actually running in one of these events, it still feels satisfying to go pick up a packet, get a T-shirt (even if I don’t fit in some of them just yet), pin a bib number to my shirt and hoof it 3.1 miles.  I still smile crossing the finish line not just out of gratefulness that it’s over — although that is definitely a strong emotion at that time — but out of my own accomplishment. I like pushing myself to that end.

In early 2011 I participated in a Biggest Loser contest at my gym, and one of the ways we scored more points was to participate in a local 5K to benefit a SIDS non-profit. From January to March, I hit the treadmill at least five days a week for about forty to forty-five minutes at a time, and I finished that 5K in just under 56 minutes. I still maintain that that was the hardest 5K I’ve ever done — one hill after another, something laid out by a seriously sadistic sonofabitch. My motto for the day was, “What goes up, must come down.”

Then I got even more ambitious and decided to walk in the Cooper River Bridge Run — a 10K (or 6.2 miles). My cousin who lives in Charleston had already signed up, so I crashed with her and we got up at dark-thirty on the last Saturday in March and headed over to Mt. Pleasant with more than 40,000 other crazy people. The hardest part of the event is going from mile two to mile three — a one-mile ascent up the Cooper River Bridge.

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Look at that gorgeous weather!

The weather was cool and crisp with a brilliant blue sky set off by the angular beams reaching up from the bridge, but I didn’t want to pause for pictures until we reached the top of thebridge — for fear that I wouldn’t get going again. After mile five, we started down King Street, passing those lucky runners who had already finished and started hitting up all the restaurants with their fabulous smells.

It was at that point — perhaps some sort of fatigue stupor — where I realized how simple it all was. Just one foot in front of the other. Like a robot following commands, I was telling myself to keep going.

This year’s attempt proved far more difficult. I had significantly slacked off of my walking routine — as in, like, not at all. But I’d still registered and my cousin was still walking, so I thought, “I’m still going to go. Besides, the hardest part will be going up the bridge, so once I’m halfway, I’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t. I had to stop several times on the way up the bridge. Then… THEN! When we were almost over the bridge, some participants who had finished and were coming back across the bridge (pfffft… show-offs) passed us, and one of them scoffed and said, “There are still people on the bridge?”

The only thing that kept me from turning around and cutting a bitch was the fact that I felt too exhausted to retrace my steps. Otherwise? Bitch would have gone down.

Not this year's photo...

Not this year’s photo…

As we made our way down King Street, photographers eager to snap pics and charge ridiculous amounts of money (seriously, $15 for a 4×6) lined a scaffold over the road and took random shots as we passed by. The first year at the finish line I threw the goat and grinned. This year? I glared at the camera. I looked like a member of The Walking Dead.

I finished, but it was ugly — in that panting, limping, sweating, snarling at the cheering spectators kind of way.

So these 5Ks that I’ve done (with more planned after the first of the year) are part of the plan to keep me training and improving my speed and endurance so that I can finish the CRBR in under two hours — and remain spry enough to toss any bitch daring to snark on my progress into the Cooper River.