Thursday, July 31, 2014

When You Get Super Disappointed at the Gym

URGH.  Last night, I realized that the Spinning studio I used to really dig is on my shit list.  Once my August monthly expires, I don't think I will renew.

Remember, how stoked I was about the Spinning studio here in Charleston before I moved?  And for good reason.  By chance I dropped in on a few of the best classes they offer and those three hours on the bike motivated me, grounded me and inspired me.  Exactly what every great Spinning class should.

When I actually started to attend classes often, I tried not to see the flaws.  Yes, some classes are FAR better than others.  One of the owners is a Master Instructor (which is a HUGE deal in the Spinning community) and her rides are beyond comparison.  Her classes are the ones I first tried.  She is an incredible leader and her profiles do something for my soul that even therapy can't always achieve.  They help me reflect and look inside myself.  I drip sweat whenever I attend.

The other instructors are okay.  A few are above average, but most are dreadful.  And I like some of them a lot off the bike and I know that changes how I view them in class.  I let shit slide.  I try to support them and give them encouragement, but the truth is that other than Miss Master, the rest of the classes are sub par to classes I have taken elsewhere.  I have been spinning for six years on a regular basis and have experienced far more than 1,000 classes.  There were some years that I went to class everyday and I sometimes even took two classes back to back.  When you have spun as much as I have, you can see the level of preparation from the minute you step into the studio.  It is so much more than a banging playlist.

Before I started working, I made my workout schedule around Miss Master.  She travels ALL of the time (teaching and speaking about the Spinning brand, she is international monthly), so she isn't even there all that much.  I would be at her classes whenever I had the chance.  And she teaches mid-morning on weekdays (because she is a mom and owns the studio and clearly she doesn't want to do early morning or evening classes).  It really wasn't until after I started my jobs that I realized how lacking the other classes are.

I have asked if I could teach as I am certified and an "enthusiast."  I love and respect the program and when you get into a class that has been thoughtfully outlined, I think that Spinning offers a mind-body connection that few other exercise classes can.  I KNOW I will be an incredible instructor because when I am passionate about something, I give it my ALL.  The answer I received was that I could begin working towards this goal, but in order to be an instructor you have to have achieved many HUGE teaching and bike related accomplishments including teaching Spinning for over two years at a certified studio, riding outdoors, attending the World Spinning Conference, being a certain level certified instructor (which requires a lot of time and money to attend all of the courses necessary) and undergoing metabolic testing.  I kinda gave this the side eye, but brushed it off because it is clear to me that some of the instructors do not have this level of training and education.  Because if they did, they would simply be better instructors and "get" how to ride a bike.  But, who am I to point fingers?  And I didn't have the solid proof necessary to prove that some instructors weren't really trained.  And I have better things to do than be a Spinning detective.

Well, last night after work, I ran over to the studio without checking the schedule.  The typical Monday and Wednesday evening instructor is the second best instructor and she just happens to be the other owner.  Go figure!  Don't even ask me why the two best instructors teach the same day……On Monday, her class was AWESOME and I sweat like it was going out of style.  I went back looking for more.  And more was NOT what I got.

What I got was a BRAND new instructor.  A gal about my age who had NO CLUE what she was doing.  Her play list was off, her form was dangerous.  She was on stage leading a class, but had no technique.  She wasn't using proper cues, she seemed lost and nervous.  She had no energy.  It was the least inspiring 50 minutes of my life…..but, but, why did she look familiar?? As I half ass petaled and did my own workout (what she was trying to have the class do was incorrect in terms of speed and heart rate), I kept staring at her.  I knew I knew her and the intrigue of trying to place her kept my buns on the bike.  With minutes to go, I figured it out.

This new instructor is the former manager of Lululemon.  Miss Master Instructor is a brand ambassador for them and they are good friends.  FUCK.  IT IS ALL WHO YOU KNOW.

I recall only a few months ago sitting in class when the now instructor was being celebrated for attending.  This was in April.  She sat next to me and didn't know what she was doing.  She was new to the program, Miss Master made this clear.  We were there applauding her for it.  3-4 months riding is NOT 2 years TEACHING.  My mind started to race and my blood boiled.

I did something I am not proud of.  I hopped off my bike at the beginning of the cool down and I stomped up to the desk and I asked how long Lulu had been teaching.  It was her fourth class.  I asked how with all of the "rules" how did she get to teach?  She is not just new to teaching, she is new to riding, how does ANY of this make sense I demanded.  The answer I was given was exactly what I knew.  There is a "special" mentor program for certain people who show great potential.  You have to be selected by Miss Master.  Lulu and Miss Master have a relationship and had one prior to her teaching.  I stood there fuming.  I really wanted to knock the towels off the shelves.  The girl at the front desk then told me all I needed to know, "Well, you know, Lulu and Miss Master are really good friends.  They have known each other for a long time."  I grabbed my bag and stomped out of the door.

Favoritism at it's finest.

I get that life isn't fair.  I understand that I am not what they are looking for.  But, what I want to tell Miss Master is that when you so clearly break the rules for friendship, you compromise your business.

I made the same mistakes in business and I failed.  I gave friends deals and passes and I never should have.  People do not treat you professionally when you do.  I lost some of my vision and integrity.  I discounted my gifts and purpose and started doing things on other peoples' terms.  I broke the rules with my own brand and I suffered the integrity of my product.  Miss Master is now doing this.  I see it and I feel it and it was probably there all along.  And what kills me the most is that I know that in the long run, she won't succeed and I do want her to succeed.  Even though I lost respect for her as a person and business owner, I will always consider her an incredible instructor.  The BEST instructor I know.

I will not be supporting this studio any longer when my next month expires.  I know it may seem drastic, but working out shouldn't feel like high school.  Last night, in a moment of anger, I studied all of the instructors on their website and I realized that it was indeed just the owners classes that I really enjoyed.  Everyone else didn't really do a good job, I was just looking for something that wasn't there.  I needed to love it, to get back in shape.  I will never recreate my favorite Spinning studio in Chicago and that's okay.  My Chicago gym was a special place where I first discovered my love of the program.  It is something to remember, but not try to imitate.  That year was a good year in general.  It was the time in my life when I was finally getting things together.  It was before I met Awful and forgot all of the lessons I had just learned.

The one thing I will be doing?  Training seriously to become an instructor at another gym!    Sometimes rejection is the best motivation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ditching the Diet Soda and a History of My Other Vices

I get addicted to things easily.  It is a hard fact that I have recently come to terms with.  It sucks.  I am a creature of habit and I love routine.  So when I really like something, even if it is bad for me, I want it in my day (and in my mouth) all the time, anytime.  Not good.

As a very little girl, I can tell you that my first vice was apple juice.  I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming for it.   My want was so strong that sometimes I would have drunk the last bit at dinner time, so my Dad would actually go out at midnight to buy more for me.  At a place really far away because this was 1985 and things weren't open around the clock like they are now.

As I grew older, I liked many things: ice cream, chocolate, bagels and cream cheese, pizza, my still same indulgences, but the next thing that really hooked me was nicotine.  I tried my first cigarette when I was thirteen and became a pretty regular smoker by age fifteen (there was one local gas station by my high school that didn't card for cigarettes).  At this time, I also became a very regular diet soda drinker.

I see now that I was using cigarettes and diet soda as an appetite suppressant.  I was always searching for thin, so smoking and drinking zero calorie chemicals filled me with something to do with my hands and mouth instead of eating actual food.  And because I was young and therefore an idiot, it also made me feel very glamorous.  Celebrities smoked and drank diet soda, models did, too.  Even grungy rockers indulged in smokes and Diet Cokes, it felt so rebellious and grownup.

As the years passed, diet soda and Parliament Lights became a staple.  Sometimes it was all I sustained on until dinner time.  Smoking became less enticing as the years passed because I could no longer stand the smell and because a smoking ban in bars and restaurants was put into action in Chicago.  Besides being a diet aid, smoking was also a way for me to deal with my social anxiety in public.  I chained smoked whenever I went out for a night on the town.  Hard fact, but going out was actually a bit less fun for me when I couldn't smoke.  I finally kicked the smoking habit for good about seven years ago and it actually wasn't that hard, which surprised me.  I am pretty good at doing things when I put my mind to it, I just have to be ready to make a major change.  I was way ready to no longer smoke.

As my vices peeled away: alcohol, ADHD medicine, pot; food became my new drug.  It makes sense because I had never dealt with the beginnings of my eating issues.  The ones that started popping up in puberty and were quelled with diet soda and cigarettes before I ever realized that my feelings and actions around food were disordered and extremely unhealthy.

Just recently, after all of these years, I decided to give up my oldest remaining vice, diet soda.

I love diet soda.  My top picks are Diet Dr Pepper and Diet Coke.  When it gets bad, I can easily drink 5-6 cans a day.  Diet soda has always been with me.  Through  hangovers, all-nighters, finals, 18 hour work days, long drives in the car.  I was always drinking one, thinking about drinking one, or on my way to get one.

Over the last year, I have given up most of my empty calories.  I eat whole foods and avoid my binging triggers when I can.  But, with my clean salads, I was still slugging back the diet soda.  It hit me a few weeks ago as I admired my grocery cart in the checkout line.  As I unloaded my beautiful produce and lean cuts of meat onto the conveyer belt,  the Diet Coke 12-pack wasn't really making sense to me anymore.  Yes, that first sip out of a newly opened ice cold can from the fridge is intoxicating, but I actually started to not even really like it all that much.  Diet soda had started to leave me feeling polluted and my only real major sugar cravings appeared after I drank a few of them.  Sometimes after a few cans or a large fountain cup (ahhh, the best, especially from McDonalds) I would start fixating on a doughnut or cupcake, treats I am not even really a fan of (ice cream YES, baked goods, not so much).  And it is worth mentioning, that diet soda has changed the quality of my teeth.  All that acid has broken down my enamel and vanity usually wins for me in the end.

I have now been ten days without a diet soda.  The first few days were actually brutal.  I had horrible migraines, outbursts and cravings for every diet soda I ever tried, including Fresca.  I REALLY wanted a Fresca.  But within about five days, I was fine.  Just like when I gave up smoking.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be once I got past the initial discomfort and break of a long-term routine.  I still drink coffee (never giving that up) and I bought lots of fancy bubbly waters and seltzers.  I am quenching my thirst just fine.  And popping open a little can of Perrier gives me the same satisfaction of having a diet soda in my hand (or cup holder) 24/7.

I am excited.  Another vice smashed and hopefully gone forever.  It feels incredible to take control over all the things I allowed to get so out of control as major or minor as they may be.  Once in a while, I plan to enjoy a cold regular Coca Cola as a special treat and I promise that I will savor every sip of it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Time is Flying and the REAL TRUTH About My Weight…...

HI!!!!!!!  Helllllllooooooooooo??????!!!!

I have been thinking about blogging for days which turned into weeks which turned into months.

June was the busiest month EVER.  We had guests every weekend and an engagement party and we took a trip to Florida to visit best friends and I am currently working two part-time jobs which actually equals one full-time job.  The jobs are in different cities and both operate under southern terms (LAST MINUTE EVERYTHING), so I will have my day all planned out and then I will get a text saying to come in (unplanned) or don't come in (as planned) and the whole thing can suck it.  It isn't forever and I already have a full-time job lined up when I move, so I can make this work for a few more months.  A paycheck is a paycheck and it is really nice to have one (or two!) again!

The wedding planning is coming along.  All of a sudden it is getting SO CLOSE.  I will be a married lady in less than four months.  Gulp.  So much to do, but I have my lists and hope to get most of it squared away this month which is actually making me very excited.  It is hard to tell clients this, but so much of the wedding planning and decision making (after vendors are selected and contracts are signed) happens just a few months out, so I decided to make July the real decision making month, so I don't have to make final decisions more than once.  My invitations have already been printed out and they are FABULOUS!  I seriously cannot stop staring at and fondling (not the right word….) them!!!!

So, my weight…..anyone who reads here even just a little knows that it is a huge issue for me.

Over the weekend, Crush and I visited his grandmother for a quick dinner and she was in rare form.  I sadly cannot share a lot of what she said about other people because it is not PC and truly awful and she is actually (I am hoping to still think) a very interesting and wonderful person.  She comes from a different time and she is currently isolated and alone a lot and I have seen it happen with my own grandmother, that kind of loneliness can create an opinion that isn't nice and often isn't true.  She is becoming bitter.  Bitter is never much fun.

On Saturday, before we went to eat at a restaurant, Grandmother offered us some cheese and crackers and wine which is very traditional around here.  A little cocktail hour.  I declined the cheese and crackers as I have been doing for months (I just don't find it worth the calories personally and crackers are a very binge inducing food for me) and then this little conversation happened:

Grandmother: Are you trying to lose weight for the wedding?

R&F: Yes, I have been for a while, not just for the wedding, also for my health.

(She eyes me up and down slowly)

Grandmother: Really???  I haven't noticed a change.

R&F: Yes, I am losing very slowly.  I am down a few sizes and it is coming along.

Grandmother: I can't tell.  But it is hard to tell with you big girls.  You really need to get on it, time is ticking away.  You really don't want to be a plus sized bride.  Your photo will be in the paper.

R&F: I will keep this all in mind, thank you for the suggestion (what Smartie Best Friend told me to say when you don't want advice, but want to be polite, it shuts down all unwanted commentary.  For real! Try it.).

As I sat on her antique couch in the parlor (seriously), I felt my eyes well up with tears, but I got myself together.  This is an opinion of a woman almost ninety who comments on every one's weight including her own granddaughter who is WAY too skinny now, but used to be a lot closer to my size.  It is funny when you start seeing the flaws in other people's families.  It takes time, but no family is perfect.

My own grandmother also has an issue with my body.  I discussed it briefly with my sis over text yesterday and she offered me some great insight.  My body is tall and broad.  I am 5'10".  It isn't a body that was around so much a century ago.  Women are getting taller and broader and now it isn't so uncommon to see a taller lady.  A bigger lady.  A beautiful lady who is a presence because of the space she commands when she walks into a room.

I kept to myself about Grandmother's comments.  It didn't even really register to Crush.  She insults him on the regular about his hair, clothes and posture.  Grandmothers are like that a lot and he is immune to commentary which is a quality I find very endearing in him.  I cried a bit to myself in the shower yesterday as I wanted life in South Carolina to be free of everything I hated about Chicago, including comments about my weight, but enough idealizing reality!  Life is life and a thousand miles doesn't preserve me from idiots.  They roam the ENTIRE world.

I haven't binged in months.  Months.

I feel so much better.

I am taking it day by day and I can't believe it sometimes.  Binging was my best friend for nearly four years.  Binging was my constant companion.  Binging was my reward for work completed.  Binging was a focus to fill my time when many of my friends were busy with their husbands and children and I felt like I couldn't bother them.  Binging was my dirty secret that I wanted to keep hidden even as I had to continue to buy larger pants.

Now for THE REAL (I have given bits and pieces in context, but here is the total situation) weight recap:

- My lowest adult weight ever that I remember was 165 pounds.  I got there right around my sister's wedding almost five years ago.

- When I started to date Awful, I didn't even realize it at the time, but I began using food as a coping mechanism because I was in an unbalanced and emotionally abusive relationship.  One year after my sister's wedding, I was up nearly 50 pounds.  The morning of my tummy tuck, I weighed 211 pounds.

- When I moved home with my folks, my weight fluctuated.  I began taking the ADHD medicine, Concerta, to help me cope and function.  Secretly, I wanted it because I was desperate to lose weight.  These kind of medicines make me lose my appetite for weeks and I wanted the easy way out and I needed a push to literally get out of bed because I was so depressed (why my doctor even suggested it, I literally couldn't move some mornings).  On the medicine, I lost about 15 pounds.  The bounce back effect for me was brutal.  I had severe withdrawals and craved carbs, candy and junk food in abundant amounts.  I put on all the weight I lost and more.

- During the almost two years I lived with my folks, I was stressed out and depressed.  I was in a cycle of using food as a emotional release and I was hurting myself.  Gorging so badly, it was like I was in an alcohol stupor many days.  My weight ballooned from time to time.  For a few weeks, I wouldn't eat much and then I would quickly lose 10 pounds.  Then I would eat again and gain weight rapidly.  The cycle repeated over and over again.   During this time, I began seeking therapy for my food addiction.  It took a little bit of practice and patience to take what I was learning and apply it to my life, but I started changing my habits and daily routine.  Little my little.  At first, I could only go a few days between binges, but it was progress.

- When I moved to Charleston, I got on the scale after allowing myself to eat everything I wanted before I left Chicago.  A huge struggle for me in my parents' house involved the little treats (ice cream, bread, potato chips, crackers) they have that I couldn't have around me in the beginning of seeking therapy.  I am now okay around all food because I use my strategies and I never allow myself to get too hungry.   When I got on the scale my first day in Charleston, finally ready to face this weight battle head on, my weight was…..GULP….my weight was 227 pounds.  THE HIGHEST WEIGHT I HAVE EVER BEEN.  From my thinnest, I was up 62 pounds.

- I decided to go slow and steady.  One day at a time.  A few pounds at a time.  I eat tons of fruits and veggies and lean protein.  I love cottage cheese and popcorn. I get excited over new salad recipes.  Fresh peaches and watermelon get me going.  I allow myself my absolute favorites once in a while: a few slices of Papa Johns pizza, a scrumptious gourmet burger and fries at local place famous for them or a delectable ice cream cone from a candy shop I love.  Treats are a part of life.  I don't hate myself anymore after I eat them or allow a little slip-up to define my mood and turn me into a total bitch like I used to.  Food is food.  It isn't the boss of me.  There is always room for some yummy when I eat pretty nutritiously most of the time.

- I got on the scale yesterday afternoon feeling VERY defeated by Grandmother.  The scale read 190.  I  have lost 37 pounds since October.  My goal weight has been 175 pounds (I think 165 actually looks a little too thin on me) for the wedding and I know that I will get there.  Just a little more to go.  175 is my life goal weight.  Whereas, it isn't my skinniest, it is a weight I feel healthy and strong at and one I think I can maintain for the long haul.  It is a good choice for me.

Whew….this was not easy for me to share.  But, I am proud of myself.  I have come a long way and for the first time ever, I haven't starved my way down in weight.  I want to jump up and down!

Yes, Grandmother may never approve of my big.  But, the important thing is that her grandson loves every inch of me and always has, even at ALL of my sizes.