Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Everybody needs a Yoda (and a Colombian cleaning lady)

I had always hated exercise. I remember doing a very gleeful (and exasperated) "running man" in my doctor's office when she told me I had asthma at the ripe 'ol age of 10. A one way ticket, in the form of a doctor's note, to never EVER having to do any kind of physical ed class in school. Said ticket got me all the way through college. I was home free.

However, I was also a very pudgy girl for most of my childhood/all of my teen years/ and definitely into my twenties. So it didn't take a genius to figure out what had to be done. It took heartbreak (more on that later) and the realities of my health.

So in the beginning of 2009 I began exercising. I had already lost 10 pounds, and was concerned I would have "happy flappy" body parts if I just depended on portion control. It was something that had to be done, yet I had no idea how to embrace the force behind endorphins, and defeat the evilness of my own insecurities.

I needed a Yoda!

And Yoda I got! In the form of a 5'2 feisty spit fire gal with a heart of gold and the determination of a scorned honey bee. A colleague of mine who became a dear friend (more on her later).  Yoda was (still is) a God-sent, and she was a major force behind me learning how to cope with life's shenanigans by using torture (I mean, exercise).

She introduced me to the best torture ever!

This core building, ballet barre using, mental manipulation that proclaims it doesn't really hurt (rather, if it hurts it means you are changing you body, so quit your whining) was just what I needed to get into shape.

And in shape is what I got! I started seeing results right away and was impressed that my waist line was found before the Holy Grail!!!  And I continued to discover biceps, deltoids, and muscles galore. Christopher Columbus had nothing on me (neither did cheese fries)!!!

I continued on this exploration for about a good year, maintaining my physique and embracing this new lifestyle. And then. Shit. Hits. The. Fan.

I got hurt. And out of commission I was. For a long time. Longer then I could have ever planned for. And it broke me down. Both inside and out. All my discoveries went out the window, along with portion control, and I turned to the chocolate lava cakes at Dominos Pizza (yep, that's exactly what I said) for solace.

However, a light at the end of the tunnel arrived in the form of another doctor's note. Only this time, it wasn't the great note of '91 that said I would be unable to participate in physical ed. This was a much happier piece of paper.  I got approval from my doctor that I could workout after almost 6 months of not doing so. Instead of the "running man" I had to contain myself and NOT jump on my doctor with complete joy, potentially hippocratic-ing his oath. I maintained composure, grabbed the note, and ran to the studio to begin classes again! I was elated.

Oddly enough, though, I did not actually work out for about another month. Here's why:

  1. I'm going away in a few weeks to an all inclusive resort, so why attempt at beach bodying when I'm gonna have to undo the redo that is currently hiding all the undo that has to happen!
  2. It's bad luck to start working out on a Thursday
  3. I've got Aunt Flo in town and she's a needy bitch who craves my "right now" time
  4. My boobs have gotten bigger with the weight gain, so it can't be that bad? (I should note that they actually did not seem bigger since all of me went along for this ride of growth)
  5. I suspect my hip isn't ready, and that I am still injured. I am scared.
Ah. The last reason is what is called the breakthrough in therapy. And I didn't need a copay to have this revelation. Instead, I had Yoda. Yoda knew I was scared to death of making the injury worse and also that while the plateau is frustrating and complacent, it's still safer than the ginormous mountain that I was about to climb. I hadn't so much as walked over  any pebbles in the last 6 months, so the mountain did a fantastic job of paralyzing any hope I had of ever wearing my size 4s again. She, however, kept me grounded and sane, never ever giving up on me and encouraging me to just try. 

"Believe in yourself, you must." Ok, she didn't ACTUALLY say it like this, but that was the theme of our convos during the 4 weeks of limbo.

After said four weeks of singing and dancing to the tune of, "Soon, but I really mean never," a major breakthrough occurred. Did I hear the Good Lord from heaven tell me that my hip would be fine and that I can go with Him into the Ambiguous Abyss of Exercise-dom? Did I wake up one morning to my new them song of "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston and seize the opportunity to do some cardio?  Did I stumble across an old picture of myself, 45 pounds ago, and declare a great big Al Bundy "NO MA'AM" to the squatter looking back at me??!?!

No, no, and no.

Instead, the lovely Colombian cleaning lady at my job decided to ask me the question that will forever make therapists, Nestle, and Wise Potato Chips that much richer:

"Do you know that you have gotten fatter?"

I should note that she said it in spanish, which may sound lovelier, but I can assure you, I wanted to elegantly cluster punch her in the face. Her sweet and caring face that bared a smile of concern as she enlightened me with a fact I must not have known. I suppose she thought I didn't own mirrors, a scale, or the number of a good stomach stapler.

It was this conversation (and the possible beginning of a felony rap) that inspired me to quit the excuses and get back to the gym. And I did just that. 

First day back to physical education, um, I mean, to a healthier way of life: June 27, 2011. I was nervous, anxious, but ready.

Yoda, on the other hand, was super thrilled. When I told her I had gone back, she gave me a big hug and celebrated this success. In my mind, I felt it was a premature reaction. It was just day one. Surprisingly so,  Yoda read my mind and eased my nerves: 

"We all gotta start somewhere. Welcome back!!"

And just like that, optimistic I was.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind, and one thing only: Egg McMuffin. I wanted an Egg McMuffin. Not the fact that I have a work project that has been looming, or the fact that I am in the outs with my mom, or that the National Debt has created new numbers to really depict just how deep in the economical shitter this country really is.

Oh no.

All I could think of was that I wanted a manufactured egg married to government cheese living within the heavens of an under-toasted English muffin. The worst part? Not sure which is bigger-the National Debt or the calorie count of my seducing early morning treat.

This, of course, is a desire from the invader that just won't leave; the psychological squatter that has imperialized the part of my brain that wants to be healthy, that knows processed egg is probably really Elmur's Glue mixed with seasoning and food coloring, the part of me that knows how great she feels when having a healthy salad, going for a run, and drinking lots of water. Yeah, the squatter seemingly loves to make Doritos, couch potato-ing, and saving water for the shower look like the way to go.

Said squatter is the fat girl within. For most of us that have endured drastic weight loss, we all have this intruder who just never goes away. I thought for sure I would have gotten rid of her after I lost my first ten pounds back in 2008. All of a sudden life became different. Goals became possible. Food did not have to be the solution. However, said intruder looked back at me in the mirror, the reflection of someone that had always called the shots. Reminding me of just how "little" I had accomplished.

However, thanks to my weight watcher meetings and my growing love of endorphins (who new?!?!), I schlepped forward. Another ten pounds lost. Then another. And Another. And then, all of a sudden, I had lost 7 newborn babies. I was down 60 pounds, and the reflection finally matched the scale and the single digit clothes size. I was cured! YIPPY!!

Yeah . . . no.

I had lost my weight beginning November 2008 through September 2009. I'll never forget when I purchased my first size 4 jeans. I had ordered them through and they were on sale for 8 bucks. I figured it was a worthy investment to see if I can in fact fit into a size 4. I had never even seen a size 4 anything ever in my life. Not a shoe size, bra size, or ring size. 12s/14s/16s were numbers that were as familiar as my stable brown sassy hair and porcelain skin that I inherited from my mother. A 4 just seemed so far from my grasp. So you can imagine my surprise when those bastards fit!!

And how did I celebrate?

I had a box of weight watcher brownies.

Yep. The squatter made an appearance and wanted me to know that she was not going anywhere.

Point taken.

Part of me feels for her, because she was treated so horribly, so poorly, so unfairly. Whereas present day Claudia get's asked to sit on the train, will have someone hold a door open for her, and, the most painful observation, will be more accepted by her peers (including some friends and family).

Still though, she's really making it clear she's not going without a fight. She's no victim. Therefore I won't treat her as such.

Anywho, fast forward to December 2010. I had maintained my weight for well over a year, and was doing great! I worked out 5 times a week, ate quite sensibly, and was beginning to make some major life changes that involved my personal/professional life. Life was as dandy as can be!

Then, all of a sudden, the words that would forever change how I saw my athletic capability were uttered by my orthopedist: LEFT. HIP. LABRAL. TEAR.

I had to stop working out immediately and it took 7 months to get the clearance. Actually, to be honest, it took 5 months, but it took me an additional 2 months to sike myself BACK into it. I was scared. I was used to eating poorly and being sluggish. I was also 15 pounds heavier.

Now listen, I realize very well that 15 pounds does not 60 make. But, good ole squatter is very good at making it seem like it is. The whole "wow! You have gained 15. Just give up. You've already screwed up. And the Crumbs cupcake is calling your name. So who cares?" speech can really drown any hope you have of wearing the size 4s again.

Yes. It's a sad reality, but currently, the size 4s are sitting in my closet hiding under the COSTCO bulk size paper towels I just purchased. Which brings me to why I am starting this blog. Why I am exposing the most vulnerable, rawest and challenging component of the inner me. Because I need to have accountability. Because I need to tell you all that the squatter does not have control over me. Because I need to own my success, as we are always SOO quick to only own our setback (failure, fuckup, etc.-however you wanna say it. The destructive word that makes the crumbs cupcake a complete NECESSITY).

I have to drop these 15 pounds by the end of the year. Would I like to do it sooner, like within the next 5 minutes? Of course! Can it happen? Probably not without severing an organ and eating iceberg lettuce and air. However, I'd like to be realistic, healthy, and fair to myself. It will be a familiar journey, but still foreign, kinda like how I see Astoria. I love Astoria, Queens. It's my home town, and there are minor familiar places that remind me of being a pig-tailed 7 year old and completely care free. However, the foreign essence is very very present, thanks to hipsters, Starbucks, and the departure of certain staples (RIP Genovese, Susan Terry, and Top Tomato).

I digress.

I look forward to the journey ahead, for the day when I can wake up to pleasantry of the sun in my bedroom, or one of my kitties snuggled up under my knee, or the fact that I have another day of life.

For now, I say it's gonna be an egg McMuffin kind of day.

Lord help me.