Thursday, June 21, 2012

The mosaic of me

I was thinking the other day about why I like - or think I like - certain things and not others. Why did I avoid asparagus for so long? What was it that made me think I liked mint-chip ice cream? Then it hit me: I'm still not my own person yet.

By which I mean, I haven't figured out what *I* like. I've just sort of adopted bits and pieces of other people and fit them together into this picture of myself.

For example: Coffee. My mom drinks coffee almost obsessively. I like coffee, sort of. I'm more of a venti mocha frappuccino, extra extra mocha, light ice, extra whipped cream kind of person whereas my mom will drink her coffee black if there's no sugar or milk in the house because it's still coffee.

I cannot stand my coffee black. Just can't do it. The smell alone of black coffee often makes me want to hurl (Certain blends more than others).

My mom has a preferred blend and roast I'm sure, and I'm pretty sure it's something on the dark side of medium. Me, I want blonde. I walk into Starbucks and if I'm not getting a frappuccino, you can bet I'm ordering a blonde.

Plus, it's really funny to walk up and say "I'll have a tall blonde extra sweet." It always makes whatever male is behind me in line laugh, which also makes it a good conversation starter.

My mom isn't big on flavored coffee. I love it. French vanilla, blueberry crumble, apple tart (notice the dessert trend here) I will gladly try it at least once and as long as it's not caramel or toffee you can probably bet I'll enjoy it. My mom can barely handle the smell.

Noting all of this, it's not very fair to say that I love coffee. Because while I do enjoy the various forms coffee can come in it's not real coffee that way - as my mom and husband have both pointed out to me various times. I actually tend to prefer my blended chocolate milk with a hint of coffee, as opposed to a blended coffee with a little bit of chocolate milk.

This doesn't mean that I won't drink it from the pot. Starbucks gets expensive and sometimes I don't feel like walking or driving even as far as the 5 blocks it would take to get to the closest Starbucks. Even when I lived in Seattle and there was a Starbucks on the end of my block, I didn't always want to walk down to it and wait in line and fork over however much cash it was going to take for me to get my fix. So I drink coffee from the pot, with about half the cup full of milk and about two tablespoons (I kid you not) of sugar.

All of this considered, why do I drink coffee?

The simple answer is because my mom does. I can't remember a time where my mom wasn't drinking coffee. Even with strict orders from the doctor to cut back on her caffeine, she still drank decaf. I was allowed to drink coffee starting at 13 years old. One cup, one day out of the week. At 16 I was allowed to decide how much coffee I wanted to drink and admittedly went overboard, getting up to 5 pots a day at one point (it's really amazing I'm still alive, folks). But in all of that I've never enjoyed coffee without somewhat massive amounts of sugar and milk. So there's a piece of the mosaic. Mom's coffee obsession.

Another example: Mint chip ice cream.

For the longest time, I was pretty sure I loved mint chip ice cream. How could you not? it's mint and chocolate. Mint and chocolate go fantastically together, right?

Usually, yes.

The other day I realized that I hadn't actually had mint chip ice  cream in somewhere over five years. Considering that I'm 20 that's a really long time! So, I took the next possible opportunity and had some mint chip ice cream.

I pretty much hated it.

In fact, I disliked it so much that I wondered why I ever thought I liked it in the first place! Which got me to thinking, why *did* I think I liked mint chip ice cream? I laughed at myself when I finally discovered that I was under this - albeit mistaken - impression because of my dad, whose favorite type of ice cream is mint chip.

Me, I'm not a mint ice cream kind of person. I'm more of a chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks and brownie bits and fudge swirls kind of person.

This is not to say that I love what my mom loves and hate what my dad loves. If that were the case, I wouldn't like fruity pebbles.

That's right, fruity pebbles. As far as I know they are my dad's favorite breakfast cereal. On my own, I probably wouldn't like them. They are tiny and they get soggy super fast and there's no real substance to them and they don't stick with you for very long. But I love them. Not as much as I love Chex or Life cereal, but almost. In fact, the one time Dearest agreed to let me buy breakfast cereal, I lost the opportunity because his usual patience was worn thin by how long it took me to decide between fruity pebbles and Chex.

Realizing these things about myself, I've begun to wonder just how much of "me" is made up of bits and pieces of other people.

Some almost funny examples:

I write my "D"s the way my dad does and my "2" the way my best friend in school did. I often find myself forming my words when I talk a little bit like Amy Pond from Doctor Who, and many of my facial expressions and body language cues change depending on who I'm around. I crochet and find it somewhat enjoyable even though I do frequently hit the "ahmagashthisissofreakingboring" wall and put it down for a few months. I enjoy anime - the blame for which may be placed almost totally on my husband's shoulders. I love many of the cosplay outfits - thanks to my husband's weird friends - and can sometimes be caught thinking about my zombie apocalypse plan rather seriously - entirely my sister in law's fault.

So many pieces of the things I would use to describe myself are actually pieces of other people's habits and interests.

Now for the serious note of this post. In speaking to Dearest about these things, he pointed out that I never really took the time to define myself. I never sat down and said "Who do I want to be?" and then worked to get there. According to him, the process of defining oneself is just like any other goal. You sit down, decide where you want to get to, write out where you want to get to, and then identify and write down where and how you'll have to change to get there. Then, you do it.

So as funny as it is to talk about my obsession with coffee and aversion to mint chip ice cream, I'm recently finding myself asking the rather daunting question that I'm sure has plagued many before me:

Who am I, really?

Who do I want to be?

And what's the difference between the two?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's been a while

The funny thing about life getting busier is that while you know you probably have more to talk about, you find yourself sitting in front of computer with the cursor blinking on a blank screen for the better part of several days. Then, you give up and wait for inspiration to hit.

At least, that's what you do if you're me.

Inspiration, sadly, has not hit. I've been busy busy busy with various things and just haven't had an "Aha!" that made me want to sit down and least not long enough for me to actually follow through.

Follow through seems to be one of my weak points.

So today, after weeks of reading about everyone else's lives and excitement, I figured I'd sit down and finally hammer something out in the way of sharing.


Imagi-Knit is the project I'm most exited about in my life right now. A little while back, my sister-in-law's sister got a huge donation of yarn in various colors and an idea struck her: Let's make hats and scarves for the homeless. So she gathered a small group of people and got us all together one Thursday to sit around a few tables and make some things, and then take those things and some extra yarn home to work on more later.

The next month we returned, arms full of our creations, to trade fully made hats and scarves for more yarn to work with, and thus the group was officially born.

I've been working on Imagi-Knit related stuff a lot recently. I believe in what we're doing, in providing hand-made scarves and hats to the homeless and needy in our communities for the winter months. It's my hope that later on we'll get a few people willing to be a blanket brigade and make some hand-made blankets - those suckers are warm and durable!

I have big aspirations for our little group. That's one of the things being a part of WorldWide hast done for me, it's taught me how to have a vision. I look at Imagi-Knit today, just a handful of people sitting around a table once a month and working individually throughout the month, and I see what it could be a few years down the road. And because I see what it could be, I have a drive to get us there.

For this reason, when we started running out of yarn, I headed up the project to reach out for donations. It's turning out to be way more of a time and effort commitment than I originally thought it would be, and it's turning out to be way more difficult than I thought it would be. There's a lot of research involved and I'm not sure exactly how to pull off the various things I know need to happen just for us to get donations. It's daunting, really. But fortunately, I have my awesome husband who is way more capable of vision casting and knowing the next step from point A to point B than I am. He keeps me on track, feeds me ideas, helps me work this out. I've already gathered one yarn donation from someone who is in a volunteer group we're a part of, and though it's just one small donation it feels like a huge victory.

Weight Loss

As you can probably see from this picture, I'm not where I want to be with my weight and fitness. In fact, it's at the point where I'm pretty reluctant to have pictures of me taken because I just don't want anyone to remember once I get skinny again that I was ever this big.

Being so heavy has affected me in a lot of negative ways. It's been a blow to my self confidence, my health, and my ability to be around and relate to other people. I'm tired of feeling this way, and so I've been taking steps to do something about it.

Step 1: I finally buckled and started shopping at the "big girl" stores first (Places like The Avenue and Catherines). I decided, after a recent sweatpants debacle, that there really isn't any point even trying to go to Target or other regular-sized person stores for a while because the regular-sized person stores just don't have clothes in my size.

The debacle I'm referring to is, of course, the day that we went sweatpants shopping so I would have clothes for the gym and I discovered that not even the largest size in the maternity department at Target fits me. Talk about humiliating! My confidence and positive mental attitude were completely shot for the rest of the day and a generous portion of that week.

I've been resisting shopping for my clothes at stores where the clothes are designed for bigger people. Plus size stores, if you will. I've hated the idea that I would need to go to a special store where they carry special clothes designed to make fat people more comfortable with themselves. But, my ever-patient husband has worked with me and helped me realize that my aversion to plus size stores is a bit ridiculous. He's helped me realize that if I'm not comfortable with the weight I'm at, I need to do something about it. But in the meantime, it doesn't do anyone any good for me to go around feeling horrible about myself because my clothes don't fit or don't look pretty enough.

He's right. Target doesn't carry a single bra in a size 42D that is actually anything close to pretty or comfortable. Target doesn't carry sweat pants I can get my butt into. Target doesn't carry sweaters that are long enough to give my short torso and somewhat round form a perspective that's something other than short and round and bulgy. The Avenue, on the other hand, has comfortable, pretty bras. They have comfortable clothing that is still stylish enough for me to feel good in. Do I like being fat? no. Am I doing something about it? Yes. Do I deserve to at least feel comfortable and look good in my clothes while I'm working on it? Absolutely.

Step 2: Calorie Counting with the help of MyFitnessPal

This app is absolutely amazing. I've been adverse to counting calories for quite some time, feeling that it's an unfair way to monitor yourself because the calories in a cheeseburger couldn't possibly be an accurate representation of what that burger does for you!! Right?


This is another area my awesome husband has been helping me with. For a while, when he was single, he had a personal trainer. He also has a best friend he talks to on a regular basis who is a body builder. Between these two influences, he's learned a lot about food and the messages it sends to your body and the way your body responds to those messages. He's been passing those lessons on to me, teaching me what types of foods to eat, what types of foods to avoid, and how to train my body to get back into a state of using food for energy instead of just energy storage.

So I've started calorie counting. I use MyFitnessPal (an app that's available for both iPhone and Android) to log my calorie intake and my exercise. It tells me whether I've consumed enough calories to avoid sending my body into a starvation mode (ever notice how those starving kids in Africa have hard, round little bellies?) and whether I've stayed within my recommended calorie consumption for the day, given my weight loss goals. It really helps me stay on track. I may not be as able to fight the urge to eat a candy bar just yet, but I can fight the temptation to not log the calories from that candy bar and once I see how those calories are affecting my progress toward my goal  (can you believe that two Reeses' Cups are the equivalent of HALF A MEAL in calories?!?) I then become better able to say "I really want that doughnut, but that doughnut is about 400 calories and if I eat that doughnut, I'll be setting my progress back by a quarter of a day."

Believe it or not, that's actually super helpful.

Step 3: EXERCISE!!

Okay, so maybe I haven't started exercising yet. I do have a gym membership, I bought it at the beginning of this month. But I hate doing new things alone at all, so I've been waiting for Dearest to go with me and scheduling hasn't worked out.

Codependency is another one of my flaws.

However, I do have the membership, and I am aware of how much exercising would help, and so I'm working really hard to get myself to a place where I can go to the gym alone.

Step 4: Goals.

I didn't realize just how important goals are to me. Numbers goals are meaningless. "I want to weight 180 pounds by next Christmas" Yeah, sure, lovely, pass the doughnuts.

But other goals are extremely positive for me. For example, This dress.
This dress is amazing. I absolutely love it. By Halloween of next year, I will fit into it.

Okay, so it's a custom made dress that can be any size. But I don't want to see my bulges bulging out of this dress. I want to wear this dress because it fits, and looks almost exactly like this. I'll probably never be a size 2. But size 2 and size 12 look surprisingly similar and I know I can make it to a 12.

Okay, so maybe it's juvenile. I mean, really, a Nightmare Before Christmas dress? What am I, ten?

The answer is yes. In some parts of my brain and the way I relate to the world, I'm ten. And I adore this dress, and when I get skinny we will have a huge party to celebrate and I will wear this dress.

My other motivator goals aren't as material. I know that being my weight when you get pregnant jeopardizes the baby. I know that being unhealthy when you get pregnant jeopardizes the baby. I also know that being healthy and having a good exercise routine already in place are both very, very good for you and your baby once you get pregnant. One day I do want to have kids, and I can't stand the thought that my poor choices will hurt their chances of long, happy, healthy lives before they're even born.

One huge other motivator for me is my own personal happiness and health. I've been noticing lately that I can't handle walking or standing as much, that my knees and hips and feet hurt a lot more lately, that walking at a brisk pace winds me and I have to catch my breath before I can speak at the top of a small flight of stairs. I hope to travel the world some day, to run along the beach, to climb mountains and explore ancient castles. I can't do that in my condition, and I know that the longer I stay as heavy and unhealthy as I am, the worse these pains and limitations will get. 

Just last night I popped my knee out of joint because I moved in a way that caused my knee to just be unable to stay in place. I've moved that way tons throughout my life (I was trying to escape tickle torture) and never had my knee pop out of joint before. I've also never been 280 pounds before. 

My knee did quickly move back into place but it was enough pain to make me unable to do anything but scream for a few minutes and today, thought the pain has subsided a little, it still hurts and I can't stand or walk for very long at all without crying. I'll be fine, of course. None of the classic signs of something going terribly wrong are there; I can still move my toes just fine, still rotate my ankle and bend my knee - albeit with pain, but I can do it - and my knee hasn't turned black or swollen up too badly. But it hurts, and it wouldn't hurt if I was lighter and healthier, and if I didn't have motivation enough before yesterday, I definitely do now.

Also, I'm 20. I shouldn't be having these problems at 20!

My Birthday!!

In a month and 2 days, I'll be 21. I'm super excited.

Not because I drink, mind you. I don't and I don't have any real desire to. I can't even really identify why I'm excited to be turning 21. I just am.

As the plan stands today, we'll be getting a bunch of people together at the pub down the street. Not because it's a pub, but because it's an Irish pub and they have amazing food and a fun atmosphere that I'm sure even the stodgiest of Dearest's relatives can't ruin. We'll have good food and good laughs and it will be fun all around. Not much of a plan, but it's good enough for me.

And More!

There's a lot more than just all this going on with me and Dearest. But if I write it all out, I'll probably bore you in this post. So on another day, I'll make myself sit down long enough to write about that stuff too. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your summer!