11 weeks, 5 days.

I am preparing to bathe my children as the verdict from the Dunn trial begins to slowly drizzle down my news feed.  I can’t describe the feeling in the pit of my stomach, but it isn’t a good one.  I’m not going to get emotionally invested in this. I can’t do it this time.

“Time for bath!” Groans (from my five-year-old daughter); gleeful squeal accompanied by the rustling of a diaper on toddler legs running for the bathroom (my 19-month-old son).  I can’t think about this right now.  I run the bathwater, pour in the Jake and the Neverland Pirates bubble bath (for the person who doesn’t even care what kind of bubble bath it is, just as long as there are bubbles), wash little bodies.  I run water over the beady-b’s on my son’s head. He squints from the water hitting his eyes.  One day he’ll be bigger. One day he’ll wash his own hair. One day he will be 17. I can’t think about this right now.

But I do think about it.

I think about the miscarriage I had before he was conceived.  That didn’t make me special. Millions of women have miscarriages.  But mine messed me up.  I cried for weeks after seeing that still fetus on the ultrasound screen. That image is still burned in my head to this day.

Then I got pregnant with my son.  I hoped. I prayed.

I worried.

He was my second chance.  He was my rainbow at the end of the storm.  I staked my hopes and dreams in that little mass of cells that grew in my womb.  I thanked God for every day he was still inside me.

I think about the night he was born.  How his heart rate dipped dangerously low while I was in labor.  How I begged God to let me have him.  Not “your will be done, God.”  No. Give him to me.  After what I had been through, I felt like I deserved him.  Was I wrong to think like that? Maybe. I didn’t care. I just wanted him.

I was six months pregnant with him when Trayvon Martin was killed.  And his killer claimed self-defense. It hurt then, as the prospective mother of a Black son, to know that one day he could walk down the street in a hoodie, and be deemed threatening enough to end up “justifiably” dead.  It hurt even more after I gazed upon my son’s face for the first time.

He was a year old when the trial for Trayvon Martin’s killer was held.  I couldn’t bring myself to watch.  I read about it on Facebook. But I couldn’t watch.  I’m a lawyer.  I have practiced law in a criminal courtroom.  I know about jury instructions and elements of murder versus elements of manslaughter.  I know about imminent danger of receiving a battery.  I get it.  But my head, though sizeable, did not have room for my lawyer hat on it.  My mother-of-a-Black-son hat took up all of that ample real estate.

I think about what it would feel like, after nearly losing my rainbow once, before I even got to meet him, to have him grow up by the grace of God to be a teenager, and have him taken away from me.  I think about being told the circumstances of his death, and knowing that his killer was told “that’s okay, you were justified in killing him.”  And then I can’t think beyond that.

So then when the trial for Jordan Davis’s killer is happening, I can’t watch it either.  Because I keep seeing my son, as a 17-year-old in a hoodie, as a 17-year-old in an SUV listening to loud rap music, and I can’t think anymore.

Because how can anyone tell me that the son I prayed for and cried over and pleaded with God for means nothing? How can anyone tell me that the son who means the world to me is worthless, that if he dies simply for being a teenage boy, it’s okay?

No lawyer hat in the world will be able to justify that to me.

Hi there.

 

So, what had happened was…

 

Okay, seriously: even though it appears I abandoned the whole chronicling-my-fitness-journey endeavor, I didn’t actually abandon the journey itself.  There have been a great deal of changes in my life recently which contributed to my virtual dropping off the face of the earth (at least as it relates to this blog).  I am happy to report, though, that I reached my goal weight!

It’s funny, but the last two blog entries I completed before this one pretty much sum up my take-away from this experience perfectly.  The only thing I will add is that when you get closer to your goal, it actually gets harder to maintain focus, rather than easier.  That came as a surprise to me.  The reason is because on a physical level, as your body becomes more efficient at using energy, it becomes harder to see significant changes on the scale.  On an emotional level, the perceived stall in progress becomes disheartening and it is tempting to give up or settle for your current stage.

“So, I was aiming to lose 39 pounds and so far I’m holding at 35. Thirty-five pounds is still pretty freaking good! I could stop right here and be pretty proud of myself!”

Yes, the above statements are true, but you have to examine what is inspiring the words.  Chances are frustration disguised as contentment is the force behind the sentiment.  The truth was I was not going to be satisfied with stopping at 35 pounds. I was proud of myself, sure, but I didn’t feel as if I was finished.  So even though it took me nearly two months to lose the last four pounds (compared to my first month in the journey in which lost ten pounds), I finally did it. I had setbacks and cheat days and days where I really didn’t want to work out, but when I looked at that scale and saw the number I had been dreaming about for months (okay, years) it was all worth it.

 

So this is my last post in this particular blog.  Not that I have been completely overhauled, mind you.  I will always consider myself a work in progress.  Right now, however, I’m trying to figure out the next chapter in my life and I feel like that journey will be best chronicled in a different way.

I appreciate the handful of eyes that graced my sometimes (read: all the time) rambling words and cheesy thoughts.  May your endeavors be fruitful and your satisfaction sweet.

My clothes don’t fit.

My suit jackets look funny on me, like I’m playing dress-up in someone else’s outfit.  My skirts hit my legs in unflattering places.  I put on an article of clothing that once fit perfectly and then immediately have to whip it off to stare in disbelief at the tag.

My freaking glasses don’t even sit on my face right.

And yet, as I look in the mirror at the hot mess that is me, as I return to my closet for the second, third, fourth time for something that will look remotely presentable, there is a smile on my face.

Almost all of my clothes are too big.

And yet, as I pack up everything in my closet to get ready for our big move, I am having a hard time letting of the sizes I once wore. I’ve been back and forth so many times over the past few years, a part of me wonders if I will need to wear them again. (Another part of me wouldn’t shed a tear if these clothes burned to ash in a fire.) I know I should leave the past behind and walk boldly into the future, but I’m a little wary.

I am roughly 8 pounds away from my goal weight. I started this journey 39 pounds away. I have run two races (a 5k and a 5-miler) and will be doing a third in two weeks.  I can eye-ball a half cup of quinoa like a professional. I crave fresh strawberries.  The thought of anything smothered in gravy makes me slightly nauseous.

There is still a part of me, though, that can wolf down a handful of miniature Reese’s cups without even blinking.  I still dread running days. (And strength training days. And core workout days.) I take swigs of high fructose corn syrup disguised as “juice” instead of water when I’m really, really thirsty.

I thought the point of this journey was changing my lifestyle to be more physically fit, to stop feeling so frumpy, to become as attractive to myself as my husband continually insists I am to him. I was wrong though.  Because I am more physically fit, and I feel pretty, and sometimes even (gasp!) sexy. But I am finding that, even having reached those goals, I haven’t reached my final destination.

This journey is about not looking at the past as something to kill, suppress, bury.  The “old” me wasn’t irresponsible or without discipline. Just like my old clothes aren’t ugly. They used to fit once; they just don’t anymore. The way I used to look at food (and still do at times) and exercise (ditto) worked for me once, but doesn’t anymore. There will be times when I will look at the comforts of my old ways with nostalgia, and maybe even indulge here and there, but it will be like putting on my too-big jeans. Good for a laugh, but most certainly not permanent.

In 3 days it will be 6 months since I started my healthy living journey.  Along the way I have learned a great deal: about my limitations and abilities, about clean eating, about running, about strength training, about coffee and almond milk and quinoa…

All of it has shown me that I have a lot more to learn.  But…I am off to a good start.  Even if I have to remind myself periodically that I’m not on a “diet” and that all these changes I’m making are meant to be permanent.

It’s something I don’t think I’ve ever thought about before in my previous weight loss attempts. Sure, I’ve kept food journals and counted calories and opted for the low-fat option on the restaurant menu. But always with an eye toward doing what was necessary to get to the intended goal. It was as if I was subconsciously saying to myself “Yeah, that bacon cheeseburger looks and smells good now, but it will taste really good 25 pounds from now! Order the grilled salmon.”  It was as if I was working hard and depriving myself to get to a point, and then once I got there all bets would be off. No wonder I felt like I was constantly trying to lose weight!

Now with everything I have learned and am still learning, my choices involve a more complex range of analysis: How many calories will I have to burn to balance out this cookie?  Will I be able to say no to this bottle of sweet tea once I reach my goal weight?  Does my goal weight even reflect my fitness goals? If I skip this core exercise today, how much harder will running 3 miles be tomorrow?

And always, the overarching question: Will I be able to sustain this long-term?

That is the nagging question after every success, every good decision, every plan made.  Because if it’s not something I can see myself doing a year from now, what is the point of doing it now? Seriously, what? So I can get to my goal weight that much faster, only to ascend right back up the scale when I stop whatever good thing got me there in the first place?

Now, that sounds a lot like “It’s not worth it to work hard, so why bother?”–but it’s not. You see, I’m trying to think long-term. That means if I can see myself O’Ding on milk chocolate the first time I get my hands on some after several months off, I decide I will just limit myself to a few ounces a week instead of swearing it off completely.  If I can’t see myself working out for an hour 6 days a week just to maintain a physique I achieved in two months, I don’t even start that. Sure with working out 5 days a week for 30 minutes a pop, it might take me five months to get there (wherever “there” is), but at least I have a better chance of staying there.

Frankly, it’s better this way. I don’t have days where I fall to pieces because I couldn’t resist a cupcake.  I realize that a cupcake here and there is not going to derail my goals as long as they are reasonable, sustainable goals. Ultimately, though, I hope to have learned enough and practiced enough, and succeeded enough, along the way that I prefer a nice fresh fruit smoothie over that old cupcake anyway. 

locmommy:

If you happen to be in the Chicago area and are looking for a fun, engaging, vibrant, and thought-provoking way to spend your St. Patrick’s Day, join me at The Riverbank this Sunday, March 17 for The Riverbank Exchange. I will be there, of course, but if that’s not reason enough (hehe), there will be great discussion and great people! (And I’m not making any promises, but there might even be food! If there’s not food, I will be more than happy to bake you some cookies to make up for it.) So come on! What’s your excuse?

Originally posted on The Riverbank :

Hello All,

Grace and Peace be with you. I am so excited about this month and personally want to extend a warm invitation to The Exchange this Sunday, March 17th 2013 happening at The Riverbank, Chicago.

What is The Exchange ?
The Riverbank Exchange is a wonderful platform where Guest Ministers can infuse, teach, encourage and uplift The Riverbank family with a special word of faith and power based on God’s word.

Do This –
I want you to come to "The Exchange" with our special guest – Rev Niyi Eboda; bring someone and do spread the ‘word’ to your respective networks. Use the attached flyer, post and share it. Do it right away!

We’ve saved you a seat actually a few seats and I am personally looking forward to seeing you all. God’s Grace be with you always,

Pst Flo

Sr. Pastor – The Riverbank
www.theriverbank.org
312-602-2792
@theriverbank

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So, I’m reading this book, Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon (a new author for me, my favorite author is Tess Gerritsen but I’m always checking out different books and authors because I’m an avid reader let me get off this tangent and get to my point) and I’ve just read this line that hit me so hard I literally had to close the book and get up for a minute.

It seems like we’ve gotten to the point where our experiences, our memories–our entire lives, actually–aren’t real unless we post about them online.

Yes, it is ironic (or is it? I’m one of those Philistines who consistently misuses the word “ironic”) that I’m doing the very thing that line is talking about, but where else am I going to share this profound revelation I just experienced? (Don’t answer that.) I started thinking about how I’ve given up Facebook for Lent and how, ever since Ash Wednesday at least once a day I have a thought I want to post on Facebook. Then I have to remind myself that I can’t and why. And then I start thinking about why I wanted to post it in the first place instead of just keeping it in my head or saying it to my husband like people used to do back in the long-ago days before social media.

I suppose I seek validation. Isn’t that what most people who are on Facebook want, though? What makes me worse than anyone else? What is the purpose of publishing your every mundane thought, if not to have it validated by someone?

How did people validate themselves before Facebook, I wonder. I was alive then, but I can’t really remember. Just like I can’t remember how people checked movie times at dinner before smart phones.  Or how people did anything before the Internet.

Maybe no one needed validation. At least not to the degree we all seem to need it now. Maybe just having the thought or the experience was enough. Maybe we thought accolades and applause were for those who truly achieved something noteworthy, instead of someone who managed to get through a day without losing their job or their kid. Such is our culture now.

Babies have an online presence before they can crawl. Even pets do. An online persona will soon replace a social security number or a birth certificate as proof you actually exist.

I’m not sure where I was going with this, except that it struck me and I wonder if it’s a bad thing that we need validation so much. And even as I write that I wonder how many people will actually see this post. Ha ha! It’s so deeply ingrained now that I can’t turn it off.

I’ve got to get past the point where I don’t think something I’ve thought or done matters unless it is “liked”. Maybe that’s the reason I gave up Facebook for Lent.

Sometime in the not-so-distant past, I figured out what I would need to do to reach my ideal size. At the time, I decided if something required that much work and sacrifice, it wasn’t meant to be. “Life is short,” I told myself. “Why waste your precious little time on earth depriving yourself of food you love and torturing your body?”

I’ve spent the past few months answering that very question. I started by actually doing, rather than fearing, what I needed to do. I pushed myself at every workout. I said “no” to one more piece of chocolate, one more helping of pasta, one measly tall caramel mocha. What “depriving myself” and “torturing my body” taught me was that taking care of myself made me feel good.  It was the kind of good that lasted way longer than the satisfaction a couple (or 20) of Hershey’s Kisses gave me.  I went to bed more pleased with myself after a tough workout than after a night spent in front of the TV.

The story doesn’t end there. Over the Christmas/New Year holiday, I reverted. I ate whatever, whenever. I didn’t track my foods. The few times I did work out I barely raised my heart rate. And I was miserable.

I couldn’t enjoy the “food I loved” anymore.  Every time I snuck a piece of chocolate, a part of me (which refused to go away, no matter what I did) shook her head, disgusted.  “You know you don’t want that,” she said, reproachful. “You don’t even like it anymore. You’re just eating it because it’s there and you’re bored. Which would be fine if it wasn’t 200 extra pointless calories you’re putting into your body.”  What had happened to Little Miss YOLO?  It was like the Paula Deen in my head had morphed in Jillian Michaels. 

What had happened was, I had figured out that it was worth the effort.  I was worth the effort.  I had been looking at things the completley wrong way.  Eating healthy isn’t about depriving myself.  Exercising to the fullest of my ability isn’t torture.  I am taking care of myself. I am enriching the quality of my short time on Earth. 

I may not ever get to my “ideal size”, whatever that may be, but I will continue to push myself physically until I can’t anymore. I will continue to strive to fill my stomach with what the best of God’s earth has to offer.

Why do I do it?

Because I’m worth it.

This is a really quick post. I’m a little pressed for time at the moment so I can’t write out everything as fully as I’d like, but by way of an update:

I have lost 19 pounds since the beginning of my journey. I’m currently on a plateau for reasons I hope to jot down in a more lengthy post soon.

I’ve been growing spiritually. I still have some issues with my patience, but God is working on me. I don’t get as stressed about work, which I count as a small victory.

I’ve been tracking on MyFitnessPal for 85 days in a row! Some days I reeealllly don’t want to (because I want to eat like a 7-year-old left alone in a convenience store with a $100 bill and I figure if I don’t track it, it doesn’t count) but I do it anyway.

I still work out, but my frequency is suffering due to being busy and fatigue.

I think the craziness of this year is starting to get to me. I have a vacation coming up, during which I hope to get back on track fitness-wise (Ha!) or at least get some meaningful soul-searching time in (much more likely).

So that’s it for today. Not my best work but the length of time I had gone between posts was starting to weigh on me. Hopefully I’ll get some time soon to really expand upon some things.

I am happy to report that I have made it through a major pigout holiday (two of them, if you count Halloween) while continuing to decrease the number on the scale!  Thanksgiving was the big test; it involved travel to Oklahoma and food I spend half the year practically dreaming about.

Let’s talk about Oklahoma and what happens to me when I go there for a second.  There’s my mother-in-law’s rich Nigerian food.  Let’s just say “low-calorie” is pretty low on the priority list when it comes to the preparation of rice and stew. Then there’s the candy dish she keeps in the kitchen.  We’ve talked about me and candy dishes before.  There’s also Sonic and Mazzio’s and La Baguette; three eateries I only get to patronize when I’m in Oklahoma.  Let’s not even get into my own parents’ house and my hometown, where we usually go out to eat because my parents are usually too tired to cook, and I don’t know what to make out of what they have in their refrigerator and pantry so I don’t make anything.

Put that all together, and you can see why, after spending half my maternity leave in Oklahoma, I basically returned home to Chicago (and to my job) the same weight I was when I left the hospital after giving birth to my son. Even with breastfeeding.

Now let’s address Thanksgiving in and of itself.  My grandmother’s pecan pies (which I do a decent job of replicating myself), potato salad, corn bread dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes drenched in brown sugar syrup…and some pretty good green stuff thrown in for good measure (but coupled with the obligatory bacon for flavor, of course). Then there are the specialty desserts, dreamed up by my sister and my cousin to debut on each year’s Thanksgiving menu. My mom’s chocolate chip pecan cookies. Um…I should probably stop here…I’m getting hungry again…

The point is, Thanksgiving is a belt-busting powder keg.  So for me to come out of that week not only without putting on weight, but actually still losing is a major achievement for me. Go, me! Excuse me while I cabbage patch.

*cabbage patch break*

Okay now that that’s done.  I’m over the moon happy I was able to truly observe moderation in my eating and actually made time to work out even though I was technically on vacation.  Now it’s time to gear up for Christmas and all of its ensuing parties.  Come on Christmas season, whatcha got for me? I’m ready for ya!

This post has been a long time coming. I promise I had not intended to wait this long to post again, but with holiday travel preparations, work, family obligations, et cetera, I simply did not have adequate time to put the words floating around in my head to print.

I have been participating in 30 Days of Thanks on my Facebook page. A few of my friends on there have been, too, and I get a kick out of seeing what everyone’s “thing” is going to be for the day.  The point of it is to be a happier person overall by adopting an attitude of gratefulness. Even though I dutifully followed it every day, I found myself treating it as a daily task to be completed, rather than a cumulative attitude adjustment. Read the rest of this entry »

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