Friday, July 29, 2011

The Incentive of a Waterbug

It's been a while since my last post, but the week has been full of some hefty news, crazy work days, and a sick kitty.

But now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Last Thursday I returned from a mini-vacay in Virginia. I had been on a week long hiatus from working out, as I had been visiting my BFF. And visiting my Jay is such a treat. She feeds me actual food (not the morning star chik patties and salad in a bag concoction I am always so proud of. She uses ingredients like sun dried tomatoes and basil. I don't think my kitchen has seen anything fancier than Kashi cereal, and that was a complete accident. The box semi-resembled CHEERIOS, and I didn't realize it until checkout, and was too embarrassed to tell the cashier I had made an error in picking cereal). Also, when I am in Virginia visiting her, I don't do anything. NOTHING. I sleep, scratch, and blend in with her couch. We make a ritualistic trip to Walmart where I pick up some items, always leaving the joint cursing that I didn't bring a bigger piece of luggage.  As you can see, though, my activity level goes from being constant and challenging here in the city, to virtually immobile and completely lazy in the great state of passive Virginia.

So the morning after I got back to New York, I knew I had to get right back into being active, or else I would have to shrink wrap a gurdle onto my ever growing torso. I was up early, ready to get back into the swing things. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't exactly throwing a party when I woke up at 4:45am Thursday morning. In fact, I was trying to convince myself (although not much convincing had to happen) that after being off for a week, exercising is bad for my knees (my knees are completely fine, by the way. In my haze of sleep, I had forgotten that in fact, it was my injured hip that had been the culprit of the 7 months of no activity). But, alas, I knew I had to get right back on that horse.

I had already fed the felines and gotten dressed in my workout get-up, when I noticed how completely zany Gracie was being. It was 5am. Usually those little twirps are well into the REM cycle, while they mold themselves into MY spot on the bed after indulging in their breakfast.

They always look so happy and peaceful when I leave for work, which makes me want to throw cold water at them for not having to worry about responsibility.

I should state that I am not a morning person.

Anywho, my little gray short haired fur ball was going ape-shit near the window, like she was playing paddy-cake and/or beating the absolute shit out of her shadow.

"Gracie, deja la vaina!" Translation: Gracie, cut it out (they are bilingual. I just know it!)

However, even after implementing discipline using the artful methods of my own dear mother and her ability to scare the crap out of me with the romantic language of Spanish, the cat still kept putting up her dukes against the window. I was semi-distracted, as I was also trying to pack an outfit for the day that was not sweat pants and an oversized college shirt, as that is ALL anybody wants to wear and can only imagine wearing at 5am in the morning, although not dress-code appropriate. I decided, though to put down the clothing and walk over and see what was crawling up my feline's butt.

Turns out, nothing was crawling up her kitty ass, BUT there was a 3" waterbug happy crawling around on the outer portion of my window. Yep, waterbug. A roach on steroids, hormones, and wonder bread. I would attempt to put a picture up for all you fine folks to see, but the thought of looking at a screen shot of a waterbug makes me shiver and would probably make me run from the laptop and leave this posting unfinished.

Pun totally intended.

While the insect version of satan was OUTSIDE my window, and while said window was sealed closed, and while I knew that Gracie would destroy the sucker in less than 2 seconds, I felt the blood in my face head south into my feet. I froze and just stared for a good 5 seconds. Then, all of a sudden, I had this adrenaline that would probably come in the form of 3 large cappuccinos. I threw some outfit in my gym bag, grabbed my toiletries, and hoped to God that I had packed my underpants, and ran out of that apartment. I proceeded to run out of the building faster than the speed of freakin light because, in my mind, those awful critters were now falling from the skies. How the hell else would one be chilling outside my 2nd story window?!?!?!

I will be completely honest. At around 4:58am, I was considering calling Jason and canceling on him. I was so tired from being lazy all week (really! It's tiring not to do anything) and I had the motivation of a slug. Luckily, at 5am, Willy the Waterbug made his appearance, and with his arrival, he decided for me that, not only would I NOT be canceling, but I would also be going commando that day, and that my cell phone would be participating in the 3-kitty slumber party on my bed  (as I left it in my haste).

All before 6am. Sheesh.

And the cell phone. The one morning I could have actually used it, as oppose to just using it as a medium to read Facebook statuses of people hating mornings, their jobs, and the MTA. Instead, it would enjoy a day off. And also take all my messages for me until I would get home at 9pm. One said messages would be from AJ.

I got to the gym at 6:01am to find out that AJ had taken a sick day. I knew it wasn't like him to do so, so I was somewhat concerned. But the manager at 24 hour fitness assured me he was ok. After said assurance, I had a 10 second innocent and "happy place"like fantasy of returning home and getting right back to bed.

And then . . . Willy. I remember Willy. And instantly, said fantasy was crushed and stomped on, kind of what I wished I could have done to the stupid roach.

I sighed heavily, scratched my arm and made my way into the work out area of the gym. I dragged my feet, cursed under my breath, and decided that I was moving to Antarctica, where waterbugs simply can not live . . . right?

And I got on the elliptical, for 40 minutes. And I worked off my fear, my bff's basil and sundried tomato cream cheese, and my morning fuzzies of hating the world. And, according to the dashboard, I also burned off 300 calories.

As I headed to the locker room to shower up and get ready for work, I let out a giggle. That morning, it wasn't about my love handles, my lack of energy, my size 4s, or the 6-pack of abs that I know are somewhere beneath this torso of mine. It wasn't about the slutty top I secretly want to wear one day, or the look on some people's faces who are in awe of my impressive weight loss, or the great satisfaction that I've changed my body. It was certainly not about making my insides just as healthy as my outsides, or living the "mind over matter" way of life, or proving to myself that I am stronger than I think.

That morning, it was about a waterbug.

My hats off to the evil little bastard.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fleeing from a Vending Machine . . . and a Functioning Plane

What a week! I've been bouncing around for the last 7 days, and it seems I've lived a life time fulfilling some great goals and embracing just how big my cojones really are!!

It all begin last Thursday. I was working late and had to run an errand during lunch, so all I had to eat that day was a large cappuccino with skim milk, hot! Even in the craziest of heat waves, I need me my warm cappuccino from Veronica, the lovely barista who makes the sizzling hotness of warm greatness every morning for me at the French cafe across the street from work. She always has it ready for me as she sees me approaching the glass doors from the south side of Broadway and 55th street. I adore her to pieces and I hope the overpriced joint realizes how lucky they are to have her.

Anywho, it had become very clear that I had to eat something as I was on my 7th stick of gum and I started to get a headache and the shakes. Essentially the starvation hangover. All symptoms of a hangover, but there is no fun drunken buzz or random dancing on a bar top. Just me neglecting my body's need for energy so I could finish paging a freaking book!!

As the shakes started getting worse, I realized it was time to make a decision. Either pass out, which would only delay my work and would get my pretty dress dirty with rug dust mites, or eat. The only option readily available at 3:47pm that doesn't requite a "far" walk (as my inbox just kept getting bigger and bigger) was the vending machine. I knew that the apparatus did not have any fruit, nuts, or anything that wasn't suffocated in preservatives and sulfuric chem-di-oxide, or whatever. But I was starting to get a vomit inducing headache. And I knew what had to be done. So, just as a printer pumps out paper, ever so mechanically, I, too, got up from my chair, picked up my wallet, and mechanically started walking to the elevator bank. I was not happy about this. I had a very melancholy sensation soar through my insides, knowing full well I deserve better than the snickers bar I was about to inhale.

As I took the elevator down to the 2nd floor, home of the vending machines, I thought about the incredibly tough work-out I had the day before, how AJ made me step up my game, how I sweated, how I hurt, how I shook. Only this time, the shake wasn't hunger induced. It was due to change. Change in my muscles. Change in my fat. My thighs were getting slimmer, my abdomen was feeling tighter. And here I was, about to undo it all for this:

which really means this:

which will become this:

Oh dear.

As my brain went a million miles a minute, I somehow found myself in front of the vending machine. And I proceeded to open the coin purse attached to my blue wallet and I started to put in coin after coin after coin. And when I was at .95 cents, I stopped. And I said out loud, "No. Come on. No. You deserve better than this." And I gave myself this AMAZING pep talk, out loud, to my image reflecting off the vending machine. I told myself that I deserve better, that I know what it means to binge, it's filling a void that will not actually be filled, that my body needs gasoline, so feed her diesel, not Ostrich pee (all metaphors, of course). If this had been a reality show, Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" would have been the PERFECT enhancing ingredient for a tear jerking scene.

I was so caught up in this "Dr. Phil" moment that I didn't realize that there were two colleagues waiting for me to move my ass, so they can honor their turn of the vending machine. I also didn't realize that now, at least two people at the office will refer to me as "that girl."

I excused myself with a playful "hey, we've all been there" giggle and scadaddled to the elevator, not before pressing the COIN button to retrieve my change. I was uber proud, so I didn't really care that I was caught talking to myself or that I had dried up saliva on the sides of my lips from the temptation of snickers the slut.

I took the elevator down to the lobby and made my way to Hale and Hearty, where I got myself a salad. And I was skipping back to my office feeling like a million bucks, as I had chipped a huge chunk off the plateau that had surrounded me for so long. It was with great accomplished I welcomed willpower back into my life.

A few days later, I jumped out of a plane.

I can't figure out what I am more proud of.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Boys Are Fattening

Something interesting happened today. And it's something that is perpetually taught at Weight Watchers. It's this idea of food cravings being linked to emotion. Eating when happy, sad, mellow, depressed, anxious, breathing, etc. And even though cognitively, I know this is a trap of taking in useless calories, I can never seem to identify that it is actually happening to me when, in fact, I am inhaling 3 oreo cookies in one breath to sooth the sudden change or over stimulation of emotion, until I've swallowed the very last of my penance.

And just as reliable as the celibate method of birth control, this afternoon, I fell for said trap. And it happened like this: during a back and forth email conversation I was having with a colleague of mine, a gentleman that I find rather delightful, I instantly went for a Weight Watchers Lemon Mousse bar. Why? I was giddy and anxious. Giddy because he's adorable and straight (two very rare characteristics of Publishing testeroners). Anxious because the emails were very straightforward and business like, and I couldn't tell if in between the lines of scheduling this very important meeting about Layout Design,  he was in fact, trying to tell me he fancied my adorableness.

And before I knew it, I had inhaled four bars. FOUR!! I think even at one point, I had masticated two at a time; an orgy of processed sugar, faux lemon flavor, and frosting probably made up of splendor and nitrogen. I was a 2-point bar whore!! And all because of a guy.

Guys. Don't get me wrong, I think they are swell as friends, colleagues, family members, and as the bouncer at any night life establishment. But they play a very important role in my weight gain, beginning with my hot-foot father (who couldn't stand still in my life for more than 2 seconds), continuing with the predator family friend that forever changed my life at 12 years old, all the way through the two loves of my life. The very last one being a catalyst into the world of obesity (according to the BMI index).

I made a decision after the demise of said relationship that I wanted to be healthy. And healthy I became! I made lifestyle changes, ate completely differently, and started exercising 5 times a week. I had even mastered eating ONLY when I was hungry and would go for a run if I needed to blow some steam. I also avoided dating like the biblical plagues of Moses' time and considered guys the metaphoric spoon (that would eventually lead to an actual spoon) used to indulge in a Ben and Jerry's gallon of Chunky Monkey that had, at one point, imperialized my freezer.

As time went by, though, I decided to bring down my walls just a little, and embrace the art of teasing, flirting, and maybe dating. I've enjoyed this time of being on my own, and of being entertained by the opposite sex. I also hadn't really had a crush on someone until early this year.

And with said crush came an undo of lifestyle happiness. Just like that. Suddenly, I started slipping with my eating habits. So couple that with my inability to work out, it's a freakin miracle I did not put all of the 60 pounds back on.

Conundrum of the hour: can I have flat abs (which AJ SWEARS is possible without surgery or a really good girdle) AND fancy a boy? Or should I aim for being physical healthy and just embrace that I will be the hot crazy single cat lady who talks to herself on the R train?

Honestly, I haven't decided. To have flat abs means I can get dressed in the morning with the greatest of ease. It also means I can wear a two piece and embrace the sun light (and potentially cancerous UV rays) on my abdomen. It also means that I will be full of endorphins, and, according to the great Elle Woods, "Endorphins make you happy!"

But, then there is love. Deeply embedded, passion overflowing, anger inducing, butterfly multiplication, zanax-worthy, giddiness sturdy, soothingly satisfying w/ a side of 'scared shitless' esctasy" love.

Sigh. And uh-oh. There it is again. The trap. I just started salivating and craving a snickers bar. No worries, though! I don't have that stuff at home. However, Pavlov's dog has nothing on me.

Stay tuned. . .

Monday, July 11, 2011

Can't Understand What You're Saying With this Brownie in MY Mouth

Oh no. Do not let the angelic smile fool you. I have a rebellious streak that has potential to portray Cain as a misunderstood juvenile, rather than a homicidal sheep herder. I suspect it has a lot to do with being the youngest sibling and being bullied by my older sisters, who loved to tell me no all the time. Sure, my mom usually gave me what I wanted anyway (anything to get the 16 year old to stop throwing a tantrum in the dairy isle at Keyfood, right?). Yet something about those early years of being told, in more ways than one, that I can't do something, was enough to make me HAVE to do it. Whether I wanted it or not was completely irrelevant.

Therefore, you can imagine what my reaction is when loved ones question my diet, even now, even after losing 60 pounds, gaining 15 back, losing 5 (woo hoo), and implementing a 5x's a week work out regimen. In fact, a sure fire way to get me NOT to workout or eat properly is to question my eating habits, especially if half of said habit is experiencing the mastication process, while the other half is still in my hand, and even MORE especially if the Questioner's idea of cardio involves the double dipping method of George Costanza.

I can understand the concern from my peers, as they are trying to be actively involved in my happiness, by bringing to my attention the fact that there's more of me to love. And it would be appreciated, as somehow one doesn't notice such a gain without a scale. I mean, nobody plans to gain 60 pounds. It just happens. One day your jeans fit nicely, and then suddenly you are doing down-ward facing dog positions to get those suckers to just zip up (however, even at this point, you still blame the "new" detergent you bought or the extra heating in the dryer that needs to be addressed with your landlord/management company STAT! Somehow though, on your way to the landlord's office, you pick up a donut and iced latte, with skim milk, of course, and mumble to yourself just how inconsiderate your landlord is for shrinking your clothes that way).

Anyway, while the concern can seem warranted, somehow it always backfires. Case in point: I experienced this particular situation a few times within the last few months. Just as one flinches when someone's fist soars into their eyes, my instinct of rebelliousness kicks in when, while enjoying a mouthful of luscious chocolate delights, someone says, "Hey Claudia, isn't this your second brownie?" referring to the free desserts brought in by a co-worker or left over sweets from a big corporate meeting left so graciously in the department pantry. 

Instinctively, my eyes narrow and I start to salivate. It's as if I am preparing to pounce a wildebeest, all the while imagining just how great the naive animal's neck will feel between my teeth, and how my young cubs will enjoy the carcass as well. Only, instead of a wildebeest, it's s double fudge brownie. And instead of cubs, it's me, myself, and, yep, me again. And instead of being a lioness, the hunter is a 30 year old professional designer whose mother raised her with proper dining etiquette, yet somehow, is now standing in the corporate pantry, drooling quietly with a mouthful of brownie, as said friend is expecting a response from the query of concern (or judgement) at hand.

"I uu-ohh"-Mouth full of brownie Claudia 

Translation: "I don't know."

Passive Aggressive translation: "Piss off."

I will then walk back to my work station with a sneaky and calculated plan to go back to the kitchen in 7 minutes to retrieve another treat. Usually, though, I've ran into Yoda who just knows when I've inhaled an empty calorie concoction. Or, even better. I will forget that 7 minutes have passed, being distracted by work, and then hours will go by and I, all of a sudden, will remember the original task at hand. Usually, my memory is triggered when I go to the restroom and notice the chocolate brownie frosting that has so elegantly decorated my lower lip. And nobody has told me. And it's been at least 2 hours since said mastication.

It's a wonder I even leave the house some times.

I usually contemplate why people are so quick to mention these things, what must be going through their mind, and how can they not see the look of pain in my eyes (once the huntress look passes, of course). That's probably what saddens me the most. If I didn't have the support of my Weight Watcher family, if I didn't have the opportunity to burn off the negative thoughts with a kettle ball or a ballet barre, if I didn't have friends/family that are incredibly supportive, I can easily see how those 60 lbs. could come right back, completely uninvited. If I were only accepted, as is, flawed, but fearless, than maybe the challenge might be easier. Certainly not easy, by any means. Just easier.

Ahh, yes. Acceptance. A major part of the armor we must wear to live a healthier and happier life. However, if I want it, than I must offer it. It is not fair for me to expect my loved ones to accept who I am, when I keep wanting to change them (or hurt them, depending on what my mood is) into less critical people. And if I am to be accepted for my life style changes (including falling off the wagon here and there, and including trusting in me that I will dust myself up and try again), then I will have to accept those that so openly love to mention where I need to improve. And I will do so, with a smile. A non-brownie adorning smile.

Maybe the reflection from said smile will reveal that we all have the opportunity to embrace improvement. Here's hoping . . .

Friday, July 8, 2011

Facing, Embracing, and Amazing Jason

After getting over the hurdle and facing my fears of exercising, I made an appointment with a trainer at 24 hour fitness, a new gym I was introduced to when my good friend told me he had been a member. I was about to join the establishment near my home, but discovered, thanks to, that it was, in fact, a place for, and I quote, "a hangout for beefcake bulgarians and skeevy old dudes."

24 hour fitness is amazing. It's absolutely clean, has a lot of equipment, offers many many classes, and has a pool, which is what I wanted to dive into (yep, pun totally intended) to make sure my injury was nurtured correctly. Also the hours are great (24 hours) and it's about 20 minutes from home. Sure Derek Jeter owns it and his name is every where,but I tend to ignore that when trying to focus on the goal at hand.

I had spoken with the manager of 24 hour fitness, letting him know I had this hip injury, so I needed a trainer who knew what they were doing. I also wanted someone who would not take my whining crap too seriously, and someone who would, quite frankly, yell at me (more on that later).

Enter stage left: Amazing Jason (aka - AJ)

I made my way to my first "Amazing Jason" appointment one Tuesday after work. Palms were sweaty and so was my confidence. I hadn't so much as endorphined a fingertip in the last 7 months, and I was about to come face to face with a MMA specialist whose sole purpose in my life was to make me work off the fat I had so gracefully absorbed during my sweet and salty sabbatical. As I approached the entry to the gym, I found myself starting to breath heavier. What the hey? If this was occurring now, just because of anxiety, imagine what was to come when he would ask me to do 1000 situps or something.

Nonetheless, I made myself go in. I signed in and made my way to the trainer area. It was about 7pm and I was in SHOCK and how incredibly crowded the gym was. It was a vision of Lululemon workout gear and ipods, attached to a butt load of twenty/thirty something corporate fanatics who seemed to enjoy the boring entities of treadmills, stair masters, and ellipticals.

I was starting to panic. In a matter of 5 seconds I came up with one thousand reasons to about-face and run for dear life:
  1. I am meant to be curvy. I'm latina
  2. I'm injured
  3. It's my destiny to be overweight and fabulous
  4. I'm the biggest person in here, which is never fun
  5. I'm gonna have a snickers bar for dinner anyway
  6. Sweat is bad for the skin
and so on, and on, and on. However, the one reason why I was there hit me:
  1. You gotta start somewhere
(Damn Yoda)

Anyway, I made my way to AJ and introduced myself. He's about my height with the warmest smile. I felt immediately at ease. Somewhere, in my subconscious, I knew this person was going to change my life. However, I also thought that someone this warm isn't really that tough.

I started to panic again. See, here's the thing about me--I thrive at being yelled at and challenged. It's a complete paradox to my personality, as I can come across as sweet and docile (although my true friends know the bossy, aggressive, and obnoxious Claudia. She is quite the pill). Because I need to be pushed, I was concerned that AJ was going to be too nice. And this thought further confirmed how ready and serious I was about losing this weight. It also confirmed that I am a control freak and this is probably why I will drive myself crazy. This whole thought process was zooming through my brain as AJ was telling me about what the plan was and what his expectations are. Suddenly, it occurred to me he had asked me a question, as he stopped talking and just looked at me expecting something. I didn't know whether to nod my head, shake his hand, start to cry, or pull something out of my butt. I wasn't paying attention, and he knew it.


"Well, AJ, I am on board with what you are saying and I am ready to make this commitment."-Eager Cheesy Smiling Claudia :)

"Um, ok. So does that mean you do want to work out in the morning or would rather an evening time slot?"-Perplexed AJ

"Oh. Um, yeah, well, morning, I guess."----Deflated and Embarrassed Claudia :/

He laughed and told me to relax, that thinking would not be necessary during the 50 minute sessions with him. I felt one of the trillions of knots in my belly loosen. He then took me to get weighed and measure.

The knot reappeared and joined its flock.

The weighing part wasn't so scary, as I get weighed once a week. I knew what to expect. The measurements, though, was just enough to make me pass out. But I knew it had to happen. And with no judgement, Good ole AJ filled in the banks, painted a time line, and talked me off the metaphoric ledge that would lead to failure. So we had a game plan!

I felt prepared, ready, accomplished and elated that it was all starting to come to fruition :) I extended my hand to shake his, and to thank him for everything, ready to depart from our first meeting with the anticipation of changes to come. But he threw a bombshell at me.

"Where are you going? We are not done." -Confused AJ

"Huh??!" -Even more confused Claudia

"Girl, we actually have to work out now." -Excited AJ

"-_-" --Frightened Claudia

Somehow, that thought completely escaped me. Why on Earth would I work out during a personal trainer exercise session? Sure, as I type it now, logic is all over this like Hefner to Viagra, but at that very moment, logic had decided to take a water fountain break, as she was nowhere to be found.

Freakin bitch. I was now feeling dread. However, I made my legs move and we went through about 40 minutes of work out.

While his smile was warm, his tolerance was not! AJ made sure I worked, all the while monitoring my injury. He brought out all these toys, including this one thing called a kettle ball (which, I have to say, when he was telling me about it, I spaced out again, but this time to thoughts of kettle chips. Man those bad boys are good). He also introduced me to pull-ups (the work out bar, not the diaper), and I loved it! I could see he was going to be true to his word and work me hard and ignore my whining.

And whining I did!! At one point I remember saying to myself, "Ay Dios Mio, Claudia. You sound like a batty old yenta. What the hell happened to you?" I was terribly confused, being yelled at not only by my inner athlete, but also by all these muscles that had been enjoying a hibernation of a lifetime. They were not happy.

At. All.

It was a great first session. I left the gym waddling like a penguin but nonetheless, quite excited. My life was about to change. And I was ready to embrace said change. And even on the days that I would convince myself that I was far from ready, AJ would be there to help me face the truth, that we are always ready!

PS-I did not have a snickers bar for dinner that night. Not only was I ready to control my calorie intake, but somehow the workout made everything hurt, even my teeth.