Ready

I’m going to blow past the fact that I haven’t posted here for over two months and just jump right into what’s been happening, okay? Okay.

I haven’t felt particularly inspired to post lately, and I haven’t really had the time. I’ve been too busy working, worrying, dating (!!), and more importantly, living. My weight has stayed steady. I’ve made healthful food choices, but I’ve also indulged. Probably more than I should. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga. Like, a lot. And getting back into running. I’ve been taking more time for myself and clocking more hours at work. Basically, what I’ve been doing, is working to find balance.
IMG_20140515_193007 IMG_20140518_190529 IMG_20140518_191626 IMG_20140520_175521 IMG_20140519_190456IMG_20140502_225241 IMG_20140523_085827IMG_20140530_205124 IMG_20140602_191342Earlier this week, I started services at The Emily Program. In my initial conversation with one of the therapists, we talked a lot about my preoccupation with losing weight, body image, exercise and food. She asked me, “How much of your day do you think you spend thinking about this stuff? Honestly?” I gave it some thought and, if I’m being completely honest, a good 90% of my thoughts revolve around:

  • How my hair/makeup/outfit/fat rolls look at any given moment.
  • What my next meal will be and when I will eat it.
  • When my next chance to workout is.
  • How to schedule unexpected social and work obligations around my meal/workout schedule.
  • If I’m having a particularly weak day, how soon I can leave work and binge and what foods that binge will consist of.

After re-reading my last post, I think this is borderline obsession is something I’ve sub-consciously been aware of, and frustrated by, for awhile. And it’s probably why I’ve been shying away from blogging. I don’t want a life all consumed by being A Person Trying To Lose Weight. It’s frustrating and it’s unsatisfying. I fully understand that it needs to be a major piece of my life, but there can, and absolutely needs to be, a measure of balance and flexibility as well.

Speaking of The Emily Program, at my appointment this week I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder. I mean, obviously it’s not a surprise, but still. I can’t help but feel that it’s yet another huge obstacle I have to overcome on this freaking never ending journey. But, on the flip side, I’m incredibly proud and grateful that I chose to formally address this issue and take steps to fix it.
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They  say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

That thought flooded my mind earlier this week at my intake assessment, as I filled out form after form, test after test, and shared very personal information during  an incredibly, horribly uncomfortable conversation with the intake therapist.

We were having a pleasant, happy conversation, going through my background (how’s your relationship with your family, what are your hobbies, what do you do for a living) and suddenly she comes at me with this gem:

What does a typical binge look like for you?

An eating disorder, like any other substance abuse problem, is something typically done in secret. I’ve become an expert at hiding my eating from friends and family. I’ve never shared my dirty little tricks, habits, or menus with anyone.

To sit down with someone and walk them through my eating rituals, step-by-step, bite-by-bite…well, it felt like I was confessing to heinous murder. I was waiting for the Law & Order detectives to walk through the door and arrest me.

My anxiety soared. But, like with most difficult things, the more I talked about the problem, the better I started to feel. The more in control I started to feel.

I have an appointment next week to discuss my treatment plan going forward. And I can’t wait to dig into all this new uncomfortable stuff 🙂
IMG_20140531_191120And finally, speaking of uncomfortable, I picked up my bridesmaid’s dress for the wedding I’m in this fall. Let’s just say, I’m not entirely comfortable in it. So, Operation Bridesmaid is now in full force. I’m going to do my damnedest to get back on a consistent workout schedule and mostly Whole 30-type eating plan. I have set some great balanced goals for the summer (which I’ll share in an upcoming post), so it’s time to get going.

I am ready.

Whole30 Update 5: Home Stretch

Today, day 22, marks my full last week of my very first Whole30. And I can’t decide how to feel about that…

I’ve been doing, looking, and, most importantly, feeling great. Tired, but great (I blame daylight savings). I cheated and weighed myself this weekend (20 pounds in 20 days!), clothes that were tight are lose, and while my workouts have been somewhat lacking, my food has been spot on. I went back to some familiar meals this week simply because of my busy schedule. I’ll be eating fish with homemade tartar sauce, eggs and smoothies for breakfast, sweet potato fries, vegetable soup, and the world’s most delicious pot roast.
20140309_11511520140309_144429All positive aspects aside, though, the anxiety of “what happens after the 30 days?” has slowly but surely begun creeping in. What does happen after day 30? What am I going to reintroduce to my diet? What will I test first? Will I gain weight back? What if I start to plateau again? These are the questions that have been clouding the sense of accomplishment I should be feeling for making it most of the way through this battle.

Anxieties aside, I do need to be smart about day 31, 32, 33, and on and on. I obviously want to continue this amazing success, so I need to figure out what it is about the Whole 30 that has been so helpful and positive, and build on that.

So! Starting Day 31, I will:

1. Remain gluten-free. As I’ve mentioned here before, a lot of popular opinion points to a connection between PCOS, consumption of gluten, and stalled weight loss. So, gluten-free I will be. Though, for my sanity, I will be occasionally incorporating gluten-free bread (slathered in peanut butter, obviously) and gluten-free flours into my life. Expensive, sure, but if it helps my weight loss…

2. Test dairy. I miss my Greek yogurt. And goat cheese. And freaking ice cream. So, I’m going to slowly test/reintroduce dairy to my diet. I’m giving up flavored yogurt for good (too much sugar), and I’m going to test plain Greek yogurt—mostly because I need breakfast options. More eggs = death. Also, while not technically dairy (or anything else, really) I will be bringing back my fakey fake coffee creamer on a trial basis.

3. Eat legumes! Legumes are, apparently, inflammatory. You know the saying, beans, beans, the musical fruit…legumes can cause bloating, gas, etc. but I love ‘em. So, in moderation, I’ll begin eating beans (only black beans) and peanut butter (natural, no sugar). If I notice any sort of adverse reaction after eating them…well, then…I don’t know what I’ll do. I just love peanut butter, you guys.

4. Drink in moderation. Being sober and being social are, frankly, the worst. On special occasions (Tuesdays? Arbor Day?), I will imbibe with a delicious gluten-free vodka soda with lime. Maybe a glass of red wine here and there. It’s going to happen and I’m 100% okay with it. Especially since I’m going to try and start dating very, very soon.

5. Explore new ideas. I recently discovered I love roasted carrots—who knew?! I want to continue to play with new recipes and foods, while continuing to eat as few processed goods as possible. Especially now that I’m going gluten and (mostly) dairy free, things could get real interesting in my little kitchen…
IMG_20140309_173224As of right now, that’s my plan of attack for my post-Whole 30 life. I’ve also got a doctor’s appointment scheduled to check-in and update some test results. All in all, I think I’m making progress. Let’s just keep fingers crossed that it continues!

A Bunch of Big Losers

Lately I’ve become a big fan of silver linings. Trying to find the good to cling to in any bad situation is so, so important–you have to remain positive no matter what is thrown at you. You just have to. Look for lessons in the negative, appreciate the sun shining on your face when saying goodbye to a loved one, savor the motion of putting one foot literally in front of the other when running a 5K. Seek out what you can gain when you lose.
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As I mentioned earlier, some of my family members and I traveled over to Wisconsin this weekend to run the Biggest Loser Run Walk. My aunts, my mom, and a couple of my cousins and I met up for a little fun on Saturday before the race on Sunday. We popped over for packet pick-up…and we are nothing if not classy ladylike ladies while out in public…20131020_10501420131019_14510820131019_150209While there, we also got the chance to meet a few of the Biggest Loser alums. I don’t really know much about them, but one of them called me beautiful. And that’s always nice to hear 🙂
2013-10-19_14.59.31Naturally, the next stop on our whirlwind Wisconsin tour was the mall. There, we proceeded to continue our ladylike ladies streak by indulging in much needed massages. Well, kind of…
20131019_17551720131019_175246Chair massages for everyone!

After a scrumptious steak dinner, we said goodbye to my mom (who, sadly, couldn’t join us for the race) and headed back to the hotel for a few more laughs before turning in early. Seriously, I so enjoy spending time with these girls. It’s been pretty amazing to see how close we’ve all become since my grandpa passed away earlier this fall.

Race day dawned with gray skies, freezing cold temps (literally), and an on and off drizzle. Brrr…We had a half-mile uphill hike to the starting line and then, solely to stay warm (haha) we proceeded to have a dance party (amidst the crowd of almost 4,000!) while waiting for our chance to run. Like you do.

20131020_083621And then run we did! As always, I was neurotic and anxious. I’ve thrown up after my two previous races, I haven’t been running consistently, I was running the race in mostly new shoes, I haven’t done a cold weather run in awhile…on and on. You know, my typical neuroses. Oh, and side note: I really have to work on stopping that negative self- talk, too. I’m not sure why that’s started up again, but enough is enough.
IMG_1625I felt okay during my run. I was all stuffed-up-runny-nose-coughing-up-a-lung throughout, and my hips were sore, but overall I felt okay. Then the hills started. Nothing too outrageous, though, at least not until we reached the last half-mile or so. We had to run up the hill we’d walked up on our way to the starting line. It was rough, I tell you!
IMG_1626But as I rounded the last little bit and saw my aunt cheering me on–I smiled. And when I saw my cousins yelling at me to get going–I smiled. And then I finally crossed the damn finish line and saw my other aunt–and I smiled even bigger and teared up a bit. I finished, I didn’t throw up and I PR’ed. So proud.

By the way–this is amazing–I initially thought I had cut 30 seconds from my time, but I just checked Sunday’s official results against the results from the WRTC run last month, and I actually cut one minute twenty seconds. YOU GUYS! I’m blown away by that! My cousins and aunts also did amazing, all of them placing in the top 10 of their age groups. So, basically Team Manda Kay rocked it big time 🙂
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This weekend felt like exactly what I needed to get my lazy, mopey butt back on track. I feel rejuvenated and re-motivated. Focused.

In life, when you lose–weight, your loved ones, emotional baggage–look for the upside and realize how much you gain.

Another Day, Another 5K

I’ve been putting off the writing of this post for way too long. Why? Well, I haven’t felt like writing. At all. And I never want this blog to feel forced–this precious little piece of the Interwebs is only meant for me. And you. But mostly for me. I want this space to be nothing but pure honesty for both you and me. Ok?

That’s why it’s been so difficult to write this post about another 5K that I’m going into half-assedly. I’ll spare you all the whiny over-analyzing (I’ve been doing plenty of that over on the Twitter and the Insta, and I’m sorry) and just tell you this:

  1. I don’t want to run this race. Not one bit.
  2. I’m so tired of wasting money and energy on these races that I still can’t complete properly.
  3. Along with this (warranted) awful funk I’ve been in lately, numbers 1 and 2 above have me all jumbled up in the head, completely de-motivating me and turning me into a ball of mush that wants to do nothing but cozy up in bed.

But come Sunday morning, despite the potential wintery mix and freezing temperatures we’re expected to receive, I’ll be in Wisconsin participating in the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Like with any other race, I’m nervous. We all know I’ve not been progressing my attempt to force this 300+ lb. body to run. But given that it’s a Biggest Loser race, I know I won’t be the slowest, most out of shape person there (something I’m selfishly always terrified of), and I’m betting that the atmosphere will be pretty darn inspiring and motivating. I’m kinda looking forward to the race just for that.

Plus, two of my aunts and cousins are actually going to make the trek over there with me and do the race, too, and Mama Ruthie’s going to make an appearance at some point. Pretty awesome, right?
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And that’s what I’m clinging to right now: I have the support of so many amazing people. I can’t let them down. I can’t let me down. And I have no intention of doing other. But it’s time to get my ish back together, suck it up, and start making everyone (myself included) proud once again. And that starts with this race, with every step I take.

See y’all on the other side! Looking forward to sharing the race experience with you…and really looking forward to things getting back to normal around these parts very, very soon!

Full disclosure: The fine folks of the Biggest Loser Run/Walk provided me with a free entry into the Eau Claire race this weekend, in exchange for posting about my experience.

Loathsome

The first thing I did when I started this blog was attempt to run. I wanted to be a runner. I’ve always envied those teeny girls just gracefully loping down the street in their cute outfits and colorful Nikes.

But running at 300+ pounds? Ah, yeah. No. More like shuffling my feet while wheezing, huffing and puffing, and generally jiggling about. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least.
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And as I’ve lost weight, it hasn’t become any easier. Sometimes it just plain hurts my body, or I can’t get my mind to stop focusing on how hard it is to breath. But mostly, running for me is difficult (probably) because I don’t do it consistently. For a few weeks, I’ll be determined to tackle it and breakthrough that barrier…but then I don’t make progress. I can’t jog more than eight minutes at a time. And so I move on. I go to Boot Camp, I take up cycling. I don’t run.  This summer, I’ve been focusing on just moving my body more consistently and trying new things, like my Yoga Challenge.

But then I go and I sign up for not one but three 5K races. THREE! I had a goal to run five races this year, and apparently, I’m actually going to accomplish that goal. Imagine that.
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The first race is in three weeks (holy geeze) and the second is the day after my birthday (wahoo!) in September. Thankfully the third is in January, so I have time, but…you guys! This sucks! I want to know: a) why can’t I just freakin’ run already? Plenty of heavier people do! Why can’t I? I used to be an athlete, I used to run all the time, and b) What was I thinking?!

I’ve done 5K’s before, this is true (see above). But I’m sick of being slow. I’m sick of watching my friends and family finish in, like, 26 minutes and then they have to wait around for my dragging butt to cross at least a good ten minutes later. It’s so obnoxious.

And I hate the pressure a race puts on you—or, really, the pressure you put on yourself because of a race. For me, the pressure cycle progresses as such:

  • I am determined to be a runner! I can do this!
  • I sign up for a race.
  • Said race starts to approach, so I start running.
  • I nearly pass out after a pathetic 3 minutes of “running” (I swear I walk faster than I run…is that possible?).
  • I get mad at myself for sucking so bad. Worst case scenario: I go on a classic two-week food binge and don’t move from in front of the TV.
  • Unconditioned, I hobble through the finish line: proud, but determined to do better next time.
  • I try to “do better,” fail, get frustrated…and the cycle repeats.

Seriously, I’m getting agitated and angry with myself just writing this…

I have nothing else to say on the topic other than I truly loathe running, I want to love it, and I’m going to keep trying to do just that. I’ll probably again get stuck in the above cycle at some point, but if it hasn’t defeated me over the past 18 months, it’s not gonna now. Eff that noise. I’ll beat it.

Crazy Person

This summer has been one of the best of my life. I’ve been conquering fears left and right and, for the first time since I can remember, I’ve actually been able to enjoy all this fleetingly short time of year brings: sleeveless tops and dresses, swimsuits and beach time, running, biking, swimming, moving (and being comfortable doing so) outdoors.
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IMG_2824Now that all this amazingness is slowly coming to a close, I want to go out with a bit of a bang, and bite off something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. There’s a high-end chain boutique-type yoga studio around here called CorePower Yoga that offers a free week of classes to new students. I’ve wanted to try this place for years, especially once they built a studio literally two blocks from my house.
IMG_20130804_160359So since I’ve fallen in love with yoga this summer (see above), and I feel more comfortable exposing my body in that way, I’m finally going to give it a go.

Enter The Yoga Challenge.

I somehow convinced my good friend to attempt this feat with me, so at the very least I’ll have someone to giggle with as we attempt to turn out bodies into pretzels.  Starting next week, we’ll be trying a new class every day. There’s a spin-yoga combo class, sculpting weight-based classes…and for our final class, we’ll be attempting the infamous hot yoga, where studio temps are 105°. Side note: I may very well be crazy. And in case you need further proof of that, I’m also planning to continue my 5K training for my upcoming race on September 7.

Nutso.

As always, I urge you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for what will inevitably be a good chuckle at my expense (you’re welcome, dear readers). I’m MandaKayMakesIt on both. I will be posting (hopefully daily) on here, but there will undoubtedly be some extra goodies popping up on social media.

I’m really excited to see how I handle this. I’ve really been digging yoga lately, but I feel like this is a whole other ballgame. Should be an interesting week, to say the least…

Hooray for new challenges! 

Magic In Ordinary Times

This past weekend was one of those rare collections of days where everything seems to be happening for a very specific reason, like the Universe is telling you to pay attention.

The message this weekend? Well, there were plenty of them, just read on. But number one with a bullet? You are stronger than you think.
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We’re all aware of what happened on Saturday…conquering fears, pushing past limits, breaking down boundaries. Well, my Sunday played out in a similar, though less dramatic, way.

The morning started with yoga in the park with one of my dearest friends. And this was no sluff of a class, either. With the Minneapolis skyline in front of me, and a soft, summer breeze blowing across my face…man, I was blissed in. It felt so amazing to just be, stretch, breathe, and connect with everything around me—especially after the frenetic pace of Saturday! After class, my friend and I were chatting when she suddenly stopped and said, “Look how big we’re both smiling right now! I love it!” That comment stuck with me throughout the day. Do more of what makes you happy.

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20130804_09475620130804_09474720130804_110742After yoga, we grabbed a coffee and headed to the Animal Humane Society to play with the little cuties. Old Manda Kay would have had to go home, shower, do my hair and makeup, change, etc. New Manda Kay just changed shirts and went. Makeup-free, sweaty matted down yoga hair. Out the door. You are good enough as is. Don’t waste life worrying on the opinions of others.

We spent a few hours over lunch enjoying a healthy meal, discussing the future, and doing a little house hunting (we’re both looking to move to a new place in the city). Decide what and who to be, then go be it.

After lunch, we headed back to our garden. We weeded, watered, and thinned out. We also got to harvest lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, and zucchini.
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20130804_15480120130804_15182220130804_151325 20130804_204159Later that evening, I did a little experimenting with the carrots and turnips (neither of which I’ve ever enjoyed eating) and created a simple new recipe: pan roasted honey glazed carrots and turnips (recipe coming tomorrow!). Nothing feels better than living a clean, healthy lifestyle.

It was a truly transformative weekend, one that has inspired and motivated me to push harder and keep moving forward. Your journey may be long, but it is always worth it.
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Proud

There are certain experiences in life where the phrase ‘once is enough’ is more than apt. You know, like having your wisdom teeth pulled. Or high school. The marathon-length bike race I participated in on Saturday? That’s another.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved the experience. I’m so proud of myself for doing it (alone), and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But after I finished, the first thing I said to my friend was, “I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather run than bike.” So, there’s that 🙂

The day started at 4:15am. Woof. I fumbled sleepily into my gear—including the size XL spandex, tapered-waist legit cycling jersey. Which, I mean, fitting into that was accomplishment enough for me!
IMG_20130802_163914After struggling in the pitch black dark for a good 20 minutes trying to secure my bike to the rack on my car, I stopped at Starbucks (naturally), then proceeded to a nearby gas station to top off the air in my front tire, which had seemed a little low the night before.

The second I tried to fill the tire, the entire thing went flat. There I was, mere hours away from a more-than-daunting bike ride, alone, in the dark, with a flat bike tire. The option to forget the race and go back to bed was extremely appealing.

Instead, I sucked it up and headed out to Minnetonka, where the race was happening. Thankfully, the Universe was on my side, and the rather handsome gentleman who parked next to me offered me his bike pump. Tire filled with air, I solved crisis
#1.20130803_074155IMG_20130803_064250I met up with some of my co-workers before the race (which was a fundraiser for our organization), and then headed to my corral. The nerves were working overtime.
IMG_054820130803_072253 20130803_070825And then, just like that, me and 3,000 other riders were off! The first five miles wove around Lake Minnetonka—a gorgeous spot. At the mile 5 rest stop, I stopped to grab a drink of water and kept right on pedaling. This wasn’t so bad!

IMG_20130803_071836And then the hills started. Followed by my mental and out loud swearing.

Those hills didn’t stop, either, my friends. They were literally non-stop for the next 11 freaking miles. Up and up we climbed, with very little downhill relief. Plain and simple, it sucked. I made it up most of them, though, only partially walking up four total. Yes, I counted. Thank you, spin class!

Right at the base of one of those giant mothers, right around mile 8, my handlebars decided it was a good time to go ahead and give up. Normally, when holding your handlebars, you fingernails are parallel to the ground, right? Well, because of the way the handlebars shifted, mine were literally pointed towards the sky. The pressure on my palms was ridiculous—in fact, my palms are the only part of me that really aches now, two days later.

After much frustration, and a few futile attempts by me to fix the problem with my limited tool kit and even more limited bike knowledge, I finally made it to the mile 16 rest stop. I had the option to quit here. But no. Forget that. I grabbed an apple and filled my water bottle, listened to the polka band playing the Beer Barrel Polka, then pulled up to the service station they had set-up. I tell you, this was the most organized race, filled with the most helpful, kind people. Not two minutes later, my handlebars were fixed, I felt the sugar from my snack kick-in, and I set out to conquer the last ten miles.
20130803_095132Thankfully, the majority of those last few miles were on a beautiful dirt trail. I was singing to myself (yes, aloud), doing a little dance, and then I suddenly felt myself just completely overcome. And I was crying. Typical. But I was suddenly just so proud of myself. I was completely alone, attempting this crazy ride with no prior experience, no idea where I was going, still weighing over 300 lbs, still struggling with all the baggage of all that. But there I was. Still pedaling.

The tears were replaced by pure exhaustion and anger, though, as I reached the final two miles and saw the crazy bastard of an ascent that was in front of me: three giant hills up to the finish line. I now understand what athletes mean when they say they hit a wall. I stopped to catch my breath and collect myself, wondering how in the world I was going to finish this. My legs felt like they couldn’t go another foot, let alone two miles uphill.
IMG_20130803_094543When moments like that happen, you have to shut off your mind and just go. Just do it.

Those last miles were the worst. But I literally and consciously turned off all my negative internal chatter and just focused on getting my body through it. Up the hills, across the finish line.

Three hours, 2,600 calories, and 26 miles later…I was done. I finished!
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In situations like this, I’m always looking for the lessons. What did this experience teach me about myself and the world around me? Here are my takeaways from this race:

1. First and foremost, I don’t push myself hard enough. 26 miles on a bike with little conditioning? I can accomplish so much if I just go out and do it.

2. People are, in their heart of hearts, truly kind and good. Everyone involved with this race—before, during, and after—was so helpful, so encouraging, so supportive. I was continually blown away by this. I returned the sentiment, as well, cheering on individuals I saw struggling on the route, saying ‘thank you’ to every volunteer I passed.

3. No matter where you are in life, what struggles you face, what you’ve yet to accomplish…take time to appreciate and be proud of you: where you are, who you are, right now. Driving home post-race, with the sun pouring in my windows, sweaty hair blowing in the wind, my favorite song on the radio…I’ve never smiled so big. I was so proud, so in the moment, so insanely, big-time in love with me and what I had just achieved.

4. Keep going. Always keep going. You are stronger than you think.

Thank you all for your love, support, and encouragement throughout this whole ordeal. It was quite the adventure and, frankly, quite fun!