Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weigh-in & Some Pictures

Image courtesy of Ampersand Seven

Down two pounds to 310.4. I'm so close to 309 (BMI out of the 50s) and 307 (50 pounds lost) I can practically taste it. If I keep losing at my current rate, I'll hit 307 in a couple of weeks. I was hoping to be 307 by Christmas so I could tell my family I lost 50 pounds, but hey - 47-ish or 48-ish or whatever it is by then is close enough. :) I'm really proud.

Last night, I realized I was wearing the same shirt (different color) that I am in my original progress picture. I also wore the exact same blue shirt in my progress pictures from 25 pounds lost. So, I took some new pictures, even though I haven't hit 50 pounds yet.

I put the overall progress pictures on the Photos page. Here are the blue shirt pictures showing a nearly-25-pound difference. I can really see it in my stomach (not hanging as much) and thighs/butt (not quite as wide).

You can also see that this shirt is getting pretty big on me. I wear it with pajama pants now. It's super comfy.

I think it's interesting that when I lost the first 25 pounds, it was sort of hard to tell the difference between 357 and 332. But then I looked at the 332 pictures versus these pictures at 310, and the nearly-25-pound loss is more obvious. This really makes me happy! I know that losing 25 pounds is way more obvious the less you weigh, but I didn't think I'd start seeing a difference while still over 300 pounds. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Last night, I was able to stay on the elliptical for six minutes! I blew right by my goal of five minutes, mostly because it went into cool-down mode (which was set at exactly the same resistance I'd been working at), and I figured, "Eh, what the heck. See what you can do."

I've noticed my elliptical workout goes like this:

0:00 - 1:00 - My feet are flying! I'm made of feathers! I will run, run, run! Wheeeee!

1:00 - 2:00 - Ohmygod... kill me now... I hate this. I'm too fat.

2:00 - 3:00 - Okay, halfway there. I can do this. Just breathe.

3:00 - 4:00 - Hey, this is getting easier!

4:00 - 4:30 - Wheeeeee! My feet are flying! I can crank this last minute out no problem!

4:30 - 5:00 - Stare at the timer, focusing on the numbers because I can hardly manage to keep my feet moving, push push push

5:00 - die

The machine won't let you set the timer for 30-second increments, so I set it to 5:00 Sunday and simply stopped at 4:30. Last night, when it hit 5:00, it went into cool-down mode, as I said. It added 2:00 and started counting backward. I was dead but not all the way dead, so I did kind of take it easy, enough to keep the machine from pausing, and did another minute of long, slow movements. Then I said, "Screw this," and stopped at a total of 6:00. I was pretty proud of myself.

Tonight is a rest night. I worked my triceps, pecs, and lats again last night, and I want to give my body time to process the water retention in my sore muscles before I weigh in tomorrow. Who knows what will happen when I get home, though. I may decide to do some cardio and skip weights. I really do love how I feel when I leave the gym, like all of the stress of the day is simply gone. I never felt like that after walking or doing a DVD. There's something about working my butt off on the elliptical and really pushing myself that cleanses me, like the endorphins take over and make everything okay. Plus, I'm too tired and worn out at that point to feel stressed. ;)


Now that I've added in weights, I've been having the dumbest thoughts ever. While I know it's a very good thing to build lean muscle, I also know that it might "stall" my weight loss in several weeks when I start to gain lean muscle mass.

I know it will be because muscle is more dense than fat, and my measurements will show that, but there's this little psychological component to it: I want to keep watching the weight go down and not do anything to stop that, however temporarily or briefly.

Again, I know this is stupid, especially since having lean muscle mass will help with weight loss, so I hope I get over it soon. I have no intention of stopping weight training, so I have no choice but to get over it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Owwww... My Arms...

My friend, Kae, just signed up at Planet Fitness, so we decided to go this afternoon. We started out with brunch and thrift store shopping as a warm-up.

Kae and I used to do The Firm workouts back when they were still on VHS tapes and everyone was 80s-tastic. Seriously. She and I started working out together in 1993, and the tapes were released in the late 80s.

That said, they remain one of my favorite workouts because they combine weights and aerobics. I was in the best shape of my life back then, and I used those tapes to lose 40 pounds in 1997. If you can get past the cheesy leotards and awful hair, I highly recommend looking for them on Amazon and eBay.

Anyway, because we have a history of working out together, we know what each other's limits are (my knees, her hands) and how to motivate each other. She's also really knowledgeable about weight machines, whereas I am most decidedly not, so I let her take the reins today.

She asked how I do my cardio so that we could do our own, separate things and then meet up by the weight machines. I always warm-up on the treadmill or recumbent bike and then move to the elliptical to flirt with certain death. She likes the bike, so I did that with her for ten minutes and then left to get on the elliptical. The bike is good for a warm-up, but it's kind of boring, and I don't feel like I'm getting a workout since I'm sitting down. I'm fairly sure it's psychological, since my heart rate gets up to 145, but still.

The last time I was there, I made a goal to stay on the elliptical for 4:00. I barely made it. I thought I was going to DIE. This time, I figured I'd go for 4:30, since my plan is to increase my time by thirty seconds every time I go to the gym. I want to work up to 45 minutes.

The first couple minutes were much easier this time. My knee didn't freak out, and when it did, I simply went backwards for a little while until my knee felt okay but my thighs were hollering. Then I went back forward. I hit a groove around 3:00 and thought, "Maybe I'll go for 5:00 today," but then the wheels fell off the bus around 4:00 and I had to focus to get through to 4:30. It's amazing how long thirty seconds can feel when you want to fall over and play dead.

That said, I LOVE the elliptical. I want one of these things in my house. It's definitely a torture machine, but I love it for that very reason. My heart rate gets up to 170, so I have to scale back a bit just to keep it in the correct zone. (It's almost always because I'm moving my arms too fast.) There's absolutely zero impact, it's a smooth motion, it isn't as awkward as it looks, and it makes my legs feel amazing. I also sweat a ton. So, yes, this is my favorite machine, and I can't wait for the day I can stay on it for a full 45 minutes like all the other cardio rock stars.

Once we finished our cardio, we decided to work on our shoulders and back. Kae likes to split her workouts into shoulders/back one day, then legs/butt, then arms/chest/abs - or something like that. Anyway, we found the right machines and set to work. She had me do ten reps at a weight that was comfortable but still challenging, rest while she did it, and then get back on for ten more reps. We did this with all of the machines and then did some free weight work.

I have to say, having that mirrored wall in the free weight area really helps. I always thought it was kind of funny that people would stare at their muscles, but today I realized its true purpose - I could see when I got lazy with my form. No wonder people watch themselves. I felt like an idiot for thinking it was there for vanity's sake. ;)

Once we finished that up, she had to go to Best Buy, and I decided to come home and shower. We would have showered there (and they have nice showers), but we didn't realize they don't provide towels. Oops! I did think it was really nice that they not only have shower curtains, but they also have a curtained dressing room where you can put on some basic underwear instead of having to walk back into the locker room wearing just a towel. It's also nice for those who are more modest/religious.

I'm pleasantly sore now. It feels great to be able to do a full workout again. 46 pounds ago, there's no way I would have been able to do any of this. I felt powerful and really proud, even though my reflection in the weight area was still a chunky girl. I simply didn't care, though, because I'm smaller than I used to be, and the more I go to the gym, the smaller I'll get. I can't wait to see what my reflection looks like next December. :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Planet Fitness

logo from

I went to Planet Fitness for the first time last night, and I absolutely LOVED IT!

I worked with one of their fitness instructors to come up with an aerobic workout that wouldn't put too much stress on my knees and feet. It was just enough to get my heart rate up where it needed to be without feeling any pain. It was perfect. :)

I started out by warming up on the treadmill. I walked at 3.5 mph with the incline set to 1% (to mimic walking outside) and then 3.0 mph with the incline set to 4%. I did intervals for ten minutes, using the manual setting so I could scale back if my foot started to hurt. It didn't hurt until near the very end, but it wasn't bad, so I kept walking. (Yes, I plan to make an appointment with a podiatrist. This has been going on for six months.)

After the treadmill, I moved to the recumbent bike. I was supposed to do 10 minutes on level 2 and then 10 minutes at level 3, with my RPM between 80-100. The balls of my feet started to hurt after 10 minutes, though. She checked my form, and it was fine. We have no idea why my feet hurt so much. It was like a burning pain more than a muscle pain. She had me stop since slowing down didn't help.

Then, we moved to the elliptical. I was supposed to start at 4:00 on level 1 and hang onto the middle bars. She wants me to add 30 seconds per day, which seems like a good pace. I told her hanging onto the middle bars would feel like cheating and that it isn't very comfortable. She agreed, saying using your arms gives you a better cardio burn and cautioned me to move back to the middle if my heart rate got too crazy or I started to feel dizzy.

So, I used my arms, and I really liked it! My knee started to bother me after one minute, so she told me to go backwards for thirty seconds and then go forward again. Going backward was easier on my knee but BOY did it kill my thighs! She said she often does intervals, forward and back, because it works more muscles.

I continued to do that for four minutes and burned through the last minute, pushing myself because it felt awesome and horrible and exhilirating all at once. I probably could have done another 30-60 seconds, but I was also a little glad to get off the machine. ;) Now I see why she wants me to add 30 seconds per day. It's easy enough for me to handle without dying but not TOO easy. It's perfect. Eventually, she wants me to get up to 30 minutes on level 1, and then I can start over again with level 2, then 3, and so on until I reach a comfortable point where I can spend 30-45 minutes on whichever level is most comfortable for my knee. Once I get to that point, she'll show me how to change the levels for really good interval training.

Everyone on the staff was really nice and inviting. They all smiled at me, welcomed me, asked how I was doing, said goodbye, etc. I got a really good vibe while there. It truly is a "no judgment zone", just like they advertise. There were people of all shapes and sizes, and everyone was focused on their workout.

Additionally, the shower and locker room is really nice. The shower stalls have curtains (yay!), and there are many lockers of assorted sizes. You can bring a padlock to secure your stuff.

I highly recommend Planet Fitness if you're looking for a gym. I'm paying $10/month with no commitment. The special runs through December 31. I'm so happy I joined!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Man, I've been awful about updating lately. It's just been weigh-in, weigh-in, weigh-in. It's not like we haven't done anything; I guess I just haven't felt like writing, which is odd for me.

Anyway, I'm up 0.4 pounds from last week, which doesn't surprise me since I gained and am now losing the six pounds of water weight gain from TOM. That is such a pain. I try everything, including water with lemon. I might ask my doctor if I can take a water pill since the water weight brings quite a bit of pain and discomfort with it. It's not so much the weight gain that annoys me (since I know it's temporary) as the aches and pains.

So, this leaves me with just over four pounds to lose to meet my next mini-goal of 50 pounds lost. Technically, my next mini-goal is to get to 309, which will bring my BMI under 50, but "50 Pounds Lost" is a much cooler goal, so that's what's in the mini-ticker up top. :)

I joined Planet Fitness Monday night. They have a special through 12/31: $19 down and then $10/month, no commitment. They have a ton of different cardio machines, a circuit room, and free weights. As part of my basic membership, I can make an appointment with a trainer to design a program just for me, and they have all sorts of free training classes that focus on different areas of the body. I'm pretty excited. I'm going to go later, after Brent gets home, since I want to keep an eye on the kitties today.


Winter was spayed yesterday. She's doing well. Currently, I'm trying to keep the kitties from playing tag and wrestling. They're both young, so this is a losing battle. The vet warned me it would be hard to keep her quiet and not to worry if she runs around a bit. The vet told us what to watch out for, as far as the wound site, and we separated them when it got a little too crazy last night.

I'm wrapping Christmas presents, and they've both been a BIG help...

Sherlock says, "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Image courtesy of Ampersand Seven

Down a pound to 311.8.

I'd post more, but I'm DEAD TIRED. I'm at the hotel in Bloomington, and I've had lots of fun training people, but I'm ready to get home to my own bed and a normal alarm setting. We've been going in at 7:30 every day. ZzzzzZZZZZzzzzZZzzz. Plus, I miss Brent and the kitties.

That sounds so much whinier than I intended. This really has been a great experience. I'm just kind of falling asleep with my eyes open right now. ;)

The hotel is great. I got to try an elliptical for the first time, and it wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. It was a great workout for my legs and butt. I was really out of breath after only a few minutes. I'd love to have one at home so I could work on my endurance.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whoa! Another Pound!

I lost a pound overnight! Holy cow. I was hopeful that the plateau was simply over; I never expected a whoosh. YAY. I was 311.8 this morning. Once again, I weighed myself four times just to be sure. ;)

I just found out I'm going to be in Bloomington, IL for work next week. I won't be anywhere near Chicago (boo), but I'll be helping with training for the new teams. I'm so excited! It's hard to believe I was in training school down there just a couple years ago, and now I'm helping as a trainer. I love teaching, and I'm so happy and grateful I was given this opportunity.

Two weeks later, I'll be in Indianapolis doing the same thing. I've never been to Indianapolis, other than driving through, so that's kind of cool.

I'm trying to make lists of low-carb foods I can bring with me since I don't want to eat out every day and can't really cook a lot in a microwave. I do get a mini-fridge, so I can bring lunch meats, cheese, and other perishables. Brent said he'll show me how to cook scrambled eggs in the microwave, even though that sounds kind of nasty. :-/ But I could put them in a little dish with some shredded cheese and sausage crumbles, and that would be pretty good. I wish I liked hard-boiled eggs. I can bring string cheese and Greek yogurt to class, though, since I'm mostly running the PowerPoint and answering occasional questions.

The hotel has a fitness center, so I might try out the elliptical if nobody is in there watching. I'm convinced I'm going to fall on my face. The movement looks so awkward, but maybe I'll love it. They also have treadmills and a weight machine, so I can always hop over to the treadmill if I fail at the elliptical.

I'm most excited about the pool. I LOVE SWIMMING. This is going to feel more like a vacation than work. ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Image courtesy of Ampersand Seven

Down to 312.8 from 314.2. That's 1.4 pounds lost in a week! Could this plateau be over? Could this new low-carb lifestyle be working? Oh, please please please let it be true. I won't get too excited until I can maintain that loss (and possibly lose more) for another week, but man was I happy to see that number on the scale this morning. When I felt my jeans getting looser, I hoped a whoosh was on its way. This is the lowest I've been since I started (it seemed like I'd never break that 314 barrier), so I have my fingers crossed it isn't a fluke. I weighed myself four times before I finally believed it. ;)

Eating low-carb and high-protein has kept me super full during the day. I know. Duh. But as an example, I've been around 1600 calories the past few days, and I feel stuffed. Normally, I eat around 1800 - 2000 and feel sort of satisfied but could probably eat more. Not today. I had to practically force dinner down. It's good to know I won't have any issues eating at maintenance, once I finally get there. Maintenance for a woman my height and frame is around 1800 - 1960 calories per day.

My favorite new breakfast item is Greek yogurt. I really like the Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt. It's in a blue container, just like their Oikos brand. I've been eating the blueberry flavor all week, and I have strawberry on-deck. They also have raspberry, I believe. I have a couple pieces of string cheese on my way out the door, and then I have the Greek yogurt as a snack as soon as I get to work. I guess you could call it "second breakfast" since it's only a half-hour later. :)

For lunch, I've been eating a lot of tuna salad with hard-boiled egg (on low-carb bread), but I've read I need to limit my tuna consumption due to mercury levels. I'm not sure how many cans of tuna I eat per week, since the tuna salad is prepared in our cafeteria, but I'm going to limit it to three days per week just in case.

Brent was very patient with me when I went grocery shopping with him the other night. I spent a lot of time looking at labels on everything I wanted. Now that I have some pretty good basics, I can just give him a list when he goes on his usual day (Saturday, when I'm at work). I don't want to eat the same things every day, but it's a good start, and I can always plan weekly menus from here. I have full control over breakfast and lunch, but I need to plan some good, healthy dinners that we can both eat. I canceled my subscription to the South Beach Diet, which was purchased in a fit of panic, but maybe I can buy their recipe book or another low-carb recipe book.

One challenge of reducing my carbs is that my fat intake is going up. I haven't been too high, but it's weird to see myself exceeding my limit, even if it's only a few grams. I don't want to lose weight and end up with heart disease anyway. ;) So, I need to find some low-glycemic foods to replace some of the cheese in my daily intake. I also need to make my own tuna salad instead of eating it in the cafe. Then I can be sure it has low-fat or non-fat mayo, fewer hard-boiled eggs, etc.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home (and lighter)!

We're back from Albuquerque. While I'm happy to be in my own bed with our adorable kitties, I miss everyone like crazy. It's hard to believe we were even there. It was such a short trip.

Additionally, I lost even more weight over the past couple days. I returned home two pounds lighter than when I left. I'm at 313.4 now, my all-time low since starting this journey. (My previous all-time low was 314.6.) I'm eager to see if the scale holds tomorrow. I hope it isn't a fluke. Since I've been exercising more, I hope it's the end of that horrid plateau.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Down a pound (on the nose!) - 314.2.

Since we've been on vacation, my jeans have been feeling looser, so I may be losing inches again. I think I had a major cortisol dump, too, since I'm off work and far away from Real Life back in Michigan. I want to stay out here forever. I cried really hard after we came back from dinner with friends last night. I imagine it will be even harder after the party tonight.

I'm not entirely convinced the scale is correct since it isn't MY scale, but it's a similar digital model, and the weight was close enough to my weight before we left that it may very well be dead-on. I'll know for sure when we get home and weigh myself Sunday morning. /crosses fingers

I refuse to feel down about the slow/stalled loss. I see my weigh-ins from a few months ago, when I was 330 - 340, and it cheers me. Also, I've had a TON of NSVs on this trip, which I'll write about when I get home. I have to hurry up, get dressed, and get going on the fruit salad for tonight. :) Yum, Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Trying to lose weight with insulin resistance is like Sisyphus pushing his rock up that hill. I've been reducing my calories and exercising my butt off for two months without a single pound lost. I hate that I do everything everyone else does and only maintain while they put up 1-2 pound losses every week. This sucks, and I'm mad, and I don't even care that I sound whiny. I can't wait to see my doctor for a new/better battle plan in a couple weeks.

He warned me this would happen, that I could stall for six months or more, and that I might only lose one pound per month, but I'm still pissed.

I've lost 40-ish pounds successfully in the past, but that's the most I've ever lost. I've never lost 50, 60, 70 pounds. I hate to think my body likes to lose 40 pounds and then give up the ghost. I'm seriously freaking out right now, even though I know my doctor can probably clear this up with sage advice on December 5th. I can't wait to see him.

Since I have to reduce my carbs so much (and I've been having a hell of a time with that, despite my best intentions), my friend recommended the South Beach plan. I HATE gimmicks, but she said it's actually really easy to follow and not a "diet". The focus is simply on reducing carbs and getting your carbs from good sources instead of starchy/sugary sources. She's lost quite a bit of weight and has kept it off for two years. From her description of the meals and snacks, it sounds exactly like what I'm supposed to be doing. I figure it can't hurt to try it. I don't eat white flour and simple starches anymore, but I have to buckle down tighter than that.

I know I've "come so far" and that I feel better and my old clothes fit again and blah blah blah, but right now, it's really hard to focus on that while everyone on MFP is posting weight loss while I sit here at the same weight doing exactly what they're doing. I was supposed to be under 300 by Thanksgiving, and I haven't even budged a little bit since I made that goal. Now, I don't even know if I can hit my Christmas goal of 307.

I want to whine for hours about how incredibly unfair it is that I have a hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome, but I won't. I want to, but I won't. I simply have to wait and see what the doctor says. For all I know, we may just need to increase my Metformin or something simple like that.

In the meantime, I'll check out this South Beach thing, do it for a month, and see how it goes. It can't hurt to try; it's not like it'll make me gain weight.

I can't do the induction phase just yet, though. We leave for Albuquerque tomorrow morning, and while I don't plan to go hog wild during our vacation, it's also not the best time to try to eliminate all sugar and carbs from my diet. I will do my very best, but being on the train and going to restaurants and parties means I'm sort of at the whim of the universe. I'll just to have to find the lowest-carb options available, do my best, and then start induction when we get home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Whoa. This was taken in Albuquerque. Kismet!
Image courtesy of Ampersand Seven

315.2. I'm down from last week, and all of the PMS water weight is officially gone, but I'm still up from my lowest of 314.8 on October 24. /scowl

I changed my calorie limit on MFP this week, so we'll see how that goes. I also really, really need to watch my carbs. My doctor warned me that, even with the medicine, eating too many could stall my weight loss since my body still wants to hang onto them as fat. So I changed my macros on MFP to make sure I stay under 125/day. I'm also walking more, and I've added weights into my routine.

Hopefully, that will get me over this plateau. I've been dancing between 315 and 318 for several weeks. I took my measurements last night, and the only thing that changed is my waist (down a half-inch), so it truly is a plateau.

The same thing happened back in June, and then the weight started coming off like crazy, so I hope it's the same way this time. I can put up with a plateau every three months or so as long as I know it will GO AWAY.

The good thing is, I haven't given up. I still feel great and plan to keep eating better and exercising for the rest of my life, so even if the weight isn't moving, at least I'm still moving.


Speaking of moving, there's a good chance we won't be moving to Albuquerque next year, but we're still playing the "wait and see" game. Currently, we're thinking one more year here will do us both a lot of good, even though we hate this town. There's a long list of reasons I won't get into, but it's strange having everything up in the air like that. I'm sooooo not used to sharing my life with someone. I was single, by choice, for so many years, and I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Now I have to consider Brent (not saying that's a bad thing, just a fact), and we have to discuss it, weigh the pros and cons, etc. I'm definitely still adjusting. Even though we've been together for almost three years, we've only lived together since last June. When he was in Albuquerque, I was still on my own, in a sense.


And, speaking of Albuquerque, we leave on Sunday! I'm so excited. I'm ready for this vacation. Actually, I'm beyond ready. I'm already dreading going back to work. I wish we could stay out there for a couple weeks instead of just a few days, but I don't have enough vacation time, and Brent is swamped at work as usual.

I'll post some thoughts about the train trip later. Even though I'm stuck at 315 for now, I was 357 last year, so there are some NSVs I'm looking forward to. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


316.8 today. I'm down 5.2 from PMS water weight gain, but up 2.0 from my lowest (when I hit my 314 mini-goal two weeks ago). I really hate that TOM takes up two whole weeks of weight loss every five weeks. It's so incredibly unfair that I can only post a loss 3/5 of the time.


I still keep plugging away, though. The PMS cravings are super hard, but I've been keeping track of symptoms so that I know to account for those days next month. I had three days where I wanted to eat everything in sight and had to (literally) sit on my hands one evening. Then there are the seven days of water bloat. I haven't had a normal cycle since I was 19, so yes, I'm completely new to this even though I've had my period since I was 13. I'm tracking everything so I know what to expect every month, so I can adjust my calories and water intake and avoid freaking out when the scale starts to climb.

Anyway, enough about my cycle. I know most of my readers are women and get it, but it still feels very personal to me.


I increased my calories a little bit because I've increased my exercise. I found myself pretty hungry in the evening, especially after working out, so I added 200 calories per day. I'm still getting a net calorie reading of around 1800-1900 every day, sometimes 1600 if I work my butt off, so the increase in eating hasn't affected it that much (the exercise is balancing it out). Hopefully, I'll see an actual loss on the scale next Wednesday. I would really like to be down to 307 by Christmas, as that's my "50 Pounds Lost" mini-goal, and it would be nice to celebrate with my family. They've been really supportive through all of this.

I started doing The Firm's "Upper Body" workout. It's actually a two-disc compilation that includes "Standing Legs", but my knees aren't stable enough for the step work yet.

I've always enjoyed their workouts. They combine weights and aerobics, so you get a killer cardio burn along with sculpting. These DVDs kept me in great shape during high school and college. I had a pretty decent tricep line in my Prom pictures.

I'm hoping that if I keep working my upper body, the muscle tone will start to show more and more as I lose the fat. I'm not trying to spot reduce, since that's impossible, but I figure if I spot tone, it will help shape that area and keep the skin from hanging as the fat goes away.


I bought a new workout outfit from Lane Bryant. It's made from a wicking material and is super comfortable. I wore it the other night while doing Turbo Jam, and it was infinitely better than a loose t-shirt and cotton yoga pants. I didn't feel suffocated or warm, and my clothes weren't getting in the way. It was awesome. I took some pictures so I could compare them to my workout pictures from 344 pounds.

You can really see where my shoulders and waist have come in! The loss around my thighs isn't so obvious here, but I'm pleased that it highlights the loss in my upper body. (That's a heart rate monitor on my left wrist. I highly recommend purchasing one.)


My back and hips are killing me today since I sat on the edge of the bed for several hours last night while watching CNN. Sitting like that must have put a constant pull on the muscles, and I didn't feel it until I got up to brush my teeth before bed. Oops. I kept waking up last night because I was uncomfortable, and then I had to hobble around this morning while the muscles loosened up. I have a hair appointment in an hour, so I need to take some ibuprofen and stretch again.

How do I keep doing these things to myself? Getting old sucks. ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Okay, so it's been forever, but finally - the Chicago trip log!

It started with a super-early shift at The Farm:


I took the 7:00 shift because I screwed up and forgot to request a half-day when I traded for the regular 8:30 shift. Since I couldn't take a half-day, I figured I'd trade for the early shift and get out at 3:30 instead of 5:00. Every minute counted because we had to make it to the South Shore train in Dune Park in time.

I normally work at 10:30, so getting up 3.5 hours ahead of schedule was not fun. I stopped at McDonald's for an egg and bacon biscuit because BITE ME and grabbed some coffee while there too. Our cafe doesn't open until 8:00, and I was not about to wait an hour. McDonald's coffee tastes like licking a cast iron pan, but I wasn't about to complain. I poured approximately nine teaspoons of Splenda into it and pretended it was medicine and, therefore, good for me.

Once the cafe opened, I got more coffee. The Farm coffee tastes like acid rain, so I hopped that stuff up with more Splenda and some hazelnut creamer.

For lunch, I had pizza and Diet Mountain Dew.

All was fine until after lunch. Then I crashed in the most epic way possible. I looked like a meth addict. I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I was twitchy and itchy. It was fabulous, and I still had three hours to go.

Once I was finally free, I raced over to Brent's office to pick him up, and then we were on our way.

Luckily, we didn't get pulled over, and we beat Google Maps' estimate by at least thirty minutes. So that meant we had lots of time to hang around and take pictures.

Check out the old Diet Pepsi logo! I also like the label that simply says "ORANGE".

Our train ended up delayed due to some "freight or passenger issue", so we sat around with a bunch of other people and listened to some guy plan his next RPG session. Folks, if you are on your cell phone, use your indoor voice; otherwise, everyone will laugh as you chastise your friend for letting some chick crash on his couch three weekends in a row without getting anything in return. F'real.

Once the train showed up, we took our seats and assessed. The South Shore is a commuter train that runs on electricity (this will come into play later) and is more like a mass transit train than a fancy-pants train like Amtrak. The seats are plastic with a vinyl cushion, it doesn't have tray tables, and it doesn't serve food or drinks. It does have a bathroom, though, and the windows are big and wide. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures inside the train because I was too busy watching the movement on my GPS. This train was much slower than driving or taking Amtrak, but we didn't have to worry about parking, and it was fairly relaxing.

We got off at the Millennium Park/Randolph St station (the end of the line), and this is where the real test began. We had to schlep our stuff over a half-mile to the hotel. Now, this is no great distance by any means... NOW... but it nearly killed me last year. Brent had the suitcase, so I took the backpack, and off we went.

I kept up with everyone going up the stairs to the street level.

I kept up and passed people as we walked through the theatre district.

As we crossed the river and stood on the bridge to check out the view, I noticed I hadn't even broken a sweat or taken a deep breath, and my feet were fine. I wasn't tired at all. In fact, I could have walked more, and I was pretty energized. First test passed.

The hotel was ri-DIC-ulous. I fell in love the second we walked into the lobby. It was dark outside at that point, so picture this even darker and more vampy.

I was like, "YES. I will LIVE HERE," and Brent said, "Maybe we should check in first."

The desk clerk was very French and very friendly. I couldn't stop staring at the candles. Those mirrors have candelabras etched into them, and then the votive holders are mounted to them and have real candles in them. The check-in desk is a cabinet full of antique glassware. I'm glad Brent handled the check-in because I was standing there like some kind of French Revolution/Lestat fangirl. It was the perfect mix of burgundy velvet, antiques, and stark white. I want to hire their decorator if we ever buy a house.

Then there are the elevators, hallways, and rooms. Good god, let me stay here forever.

As you can see, we were right across the parking lot from the House of Blues, so we decided to go there for dinner. Neither of us had been there before, and we both really like live music and comfort food.

We decided to start with Pulled Pork Sliders:

They were waaaaaaayyyyy too hot for me, so I felt compelled to order a drink. I got to keep the glass!

We decided to sample the Macaroni & Cheese. It was delicious. It tasted like homemade, but it was a million times better. I could have eaten an entire plate full of this stuff.

For dinner, I had Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with Cheese & Bacon, and Citrus Slaw. The chicken was okay but kind of a waste on me since I never eat the skin anyway. I tried a little piece to see what it tasted like, and it was pretty good. Brent liked it too (he had to finish it for me since I can't eat that much food in one sitting - it was HALF a CHICKEN). The potatoes were awesome. The slaw would have been fabulous, and I really liked the touch of citrus, but they put cilantro in it. :( I HATE cilantro. I tried to eat around it, but I gave up halfway through.

Brent ordered a French Dip w/ Fries. I didn't try the sandwich, but he loved it. The fries were the best french fries I've ever had in my life, hands down. I couldn't stop stealing them!

It turns out my phone can do Panoramic shots. I thought it was just the iPhone 5, but I guess the 4 can do them too!

After we finished dinner, we decided to walk to the Subway just a couple buildings down. We wanted to pick up some bottled water for me and Pepsi for Brent. We were right on the river at this point, so we enjoyed the view for a while. I was setting up to take another panoramic shot when I saw two homeless guys heading our way. I shoved my phone in my bag and started to walk, but Brent didn't catch my cue. Sure enough, one of the guys started chatting him up and pulled out a bottle of liquid. He was going on and on about Brent's boots and then started squirting this soapy liquid on them to shine them.

I kind of laughed because 1) I can't believe he got caught and 2) I was buzzed from that super-strong drink. The guy was going on about how smiley and happy I was and how Brent has a "good woman". After the guy did Brent's boots, he asked if I wanted my shoes cleaned (umm, they're Converse, so no?) I started to walk away, and he squirted me. So I was just, "Fine, whatev," and figured I'd give the guy five bucks. No biggie. After he finished washing my shoes (both of our boots/shoes looked exactly as dirty as before), I started to hand him a $5 bill, and he was like, "Okay, that's $10 per boot and $5 per shoe."

I started laughing again because it was so freaking unreal. I handed the guy the $5, intent on walking away at that point, but Brent pulled out his cash. Ugh. Hustled. THEN the guy started playing the, "Well you give me $X and I'll give you back $Y," game where they trade money back and forth and the scammer ends up with more money. Fortunately, Brent is really quick with math and realized the guy was about to scam him. He handed him a $20 and said, "Here, bro. Have a good night."

As soon as the guy walked away, I said, "Unbelievable. Next time, FOLLOW ME," but I was still laughing. Poor Brent. ;) It's not that he isn't street smart; he just wasn't paying much attention and wasn't on his game that night. And honestly, I can see how he'd be worried about the guy hurting me or pushing me into the river. Brent kept moving us away from the river as the guy was yammering on and on.

So that was Friday. ;)


On Saturday, we woke up to pouring rain. It was like sheets of water just falling onto the ground. We were supposed to meet Stacy at Grant Park, where she was getting her bib for the Color Run. It was a 1.5-mile walk, so I figured we'd just hoof it. Unfortunately, like an idiot, I'd forgotten my umbrella. Fortunately, there was a bus stop right next to the hotel. We managed to catch a bus down to Jackson St, where we got off and ran into Barnes & Noble to get some coffee and a breakfast pastry. As we were walking (and getting poured on), I looked behind me and saw Stacy just down the block a ways. What are the odds?!?

We let her catch up, and then we all walked over to Grant Park. I was drenched. Stacy had an umbrella with her, though, and let me use it since she and Brent were both wearing hats. After she registered, we looked up the nearest bus that would take us to the Museum of Science and Industry. We walked toward it, and as we were walking, I noticed I still wasn't tired or sore. Last year, I would have been dead beyond dead beyond dead at this point. Stacy also commented that I was walking faster than the last time she'd seen me, which was true. She and Brent used to get a block ahead of me before they realized I was waddling behind them. ;)

The Museum of Science and Industry was awesome. We went all over the place, to a ton of different exhibits, and we still didn't have enough time to see everything. It was crazy. I was really looking forward to the tour of the Burlington Zephyr, but they'd made it all dark for Halloween, and it was more about scaring people. I didn't get to see much of the inside, since it was dark, but Brent took a picture of me while we waited in line. My hair was starting to dry and become afro-licious at this point. Not only was it pouring, but it was 65 and HUMID all weekend. Blecch.

We did get to sit in the coach seats on the train, so that was kind of cool. I'm excited to go back and get the real tour so I can take pictures and really see what it looks like inside.

We also saw this awesome "Jollyball" machine from Switzerland. It's like a gigantic game of Mousetrap or something. The ball starts way up at the top and goes through all of these crazy stunts as it travels up, sideways, down, and around the machine. There are trains, little elevators, boats, buses, clockwork, spirals, buckets, you name it. I wish I had a video. We caught it just as it started, and we probably spent a good ten minutes watching it until the end.

The following are some random shots around the museum. Brent loves to play with stuff, as you can see, and there are other things that caught my eye. I loved the train exhibit, as it had several freight and passenger train lines from Chicago to to the west coast, with farmland in between. The model of Chicago was really neat, and it even had a little L train going around the Loop. Brent loved the weather science experiment area, and I was really big on the anatomy stuff. There's also the giant Fairy Castle, with tiny replicas made with genuine diamonds, crystal, and gold, along with the world's smallest Bible, actual woven tapestries, and miniature copper cookware. We'll have to go back someday and devote more time to actually looking at things.

My veins!

I noticed that I didn't sit down until we'd been walking around for three hours, and that was because we were in a crowded room full of exhibits I'd pretty much seen, so I figured I'd upload pics to Facebook while Brent ran around playing with stuff. I thought it would be a good opportunity to rest my feet, just in case we were going to walk around for another hour or so. Last year, I had to sit down every 5-10 minutes because my feet were in so much pain, and I could barely hobble around. It was nice to be able to walk around with everyone else this time. I felt kind of bad for wussing out before the other two (who are a healthy weight, I might add, but still), and then Stacy came over and said she'd been thinking of sitting too. I'm not sure if she was trying to make me feel better or not, but I appreciated the thought. :)

After the museum, we headed up to the Gold Coast to sample the cupcakes at Sprinkles. Once we got off the L, I had no issues walking to the cupcake shop. Again, by this time last year, I'd have been dead on my feet and crying from the pain. I kept waiting for my feet to give out, but they were just the normal level of tired from walking around all day.

Anyway, Sprinkles has a cupcake ATM!

Vegan Red Velvet

Top left = Coconut. Top right = Dark Chocolate. Bottom left = Caramel Apple (seasonal). Bottom right = Regular Red Velvet

The cupcakes were delicious. We bought four to sample. The cream cheese frosting was too heavy/sweet for me, but the regular frosting was very good. The cake was fresh. You could tell they'd come out of the oven that day. The Coconut was my favorite, for sure. It had rum or bourbon or something in the cake mix, and the frosting was really light. The Caramel Apple had chunks of Granny Smith apples in it, but not too many. The Red Velvet nearly killed me. The cake was amazing, but the frosting was way too heavy and sweet, as I mentioned. If we go back to try more flavors, I'll make sure to get one that has regular frosting. They're also HUGE. I was too stuffed to eat dinner afterwards, even though I only had one cupcake total.

Brent wanted to go to The Alley to look at t-shirts, so we hopped back on the L and headed up to Belmont, where we had dinner at Clarke's. I'd been there before and love it. I think Stacy said she'd always wanted to try it but hadn't been there yet; or, she'd been there once. Anyway, I knew Brent would love it since diners are his favorite type of food and atmosphere. Also, it was pouring again, and I was hot, humidified, and ready to get somewhere dry and cool.

On the way there, Brent spotted a comic/CD store with all of these horror movie action figures in the window, so we ended up in there for 20 minutes. He bought a Tarman replica. I don't think I've ever seen him so excited. As he educated me, Tarman is the first zombie to ever say the phrase, "Braaaaaaaains..." Here he is all put together after we got home.

By the time we got to Clarke's, my feet had officially had it. Even my knees were starting to feel it. Between the walking and all the stairs to/from the L, I was approaching dead. Brent was hurting too, though, so I didn't feel too bad, and he kept reiterating that we had been on our feet, walking around, and climbing stairs ALL DAY, something I couldn't do last year and something that would tire a lot of people out, even at a "normal" weight. That made me feel better. :) I didn't like that he was hurting too, but I liked that we were both in pain and that made me more like a normal person. ;)

Here's the food from Clarke's, along with their awesome menu:

I had a Patty Melt and Mac & Cheese, Stacy had a Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Fries, and Brent had a Mushroom-Swiss Burger with fries. I could hardly eat my food. I was still stuffed from the cupcake. Also, I noticed that Friday night and Saturday night, I was ordering food the old way, completely forgetting I don't have the appetite I used to. Now that the Glucophage is keeping my insulin resistance under control, I'm hungry at the usual times instead of every waking moment of every day.

Brent teased me and told me, "Young lady, you finish your dinner, or you can't have dessert," and I reminded him the dessert was the entire reason I couldn't eat any dinner. I did take the bread off the patty melt and eat half of the patty along with some of the mac & cheese. I'm not going to pass up mac & cheese. It was just regular Kraft dinner, but mmmmmmmmm Kraft dinner. ;)

At this point, Stacy left us since she had to get up at some crazy hour to run the 5K, and Brent and I went to The Alley. I was starting to get dead on my feet at this point, and I was so tired of being wet/humid. I just wanted a shower so I could fix my hair and cool off, and I wanted it to STOP RAINING, even though it got super humid every time it did. I'd been thinking of getting another ear piercing while there, but I was getting crabby and figured I'd just look around at dresses and things. They only go up to size XL, but instead of getting sad, I got excited that I'll be able to wear that stuff in a couple years. I could wear XL dresses when I was a 14/16 (165 - 175 pounds). It's really nice to feel optimistic and happy while looking at clothes instead of defeated and depressed.

After we left The Alley, we took the L back to the hotel. I was going to take the Red Line to State/Lake, but I figured we could catch the Brown Line to the Merchandise Mart since it was about the same distance and took us right by a CVS (to pick up more drinks/snacks). It's a good thing we did, because we caught the announcement about the construction in the Loop shutting down one half of the L tracks. Oh, hell. This would completely change the way we were getting to the concert. I almost wanted to skip it at this point, since it was almost 10:00 and I was pretty much done, but I hopped on my phone, checked out the service alert, and saw they'd re-routed the Green Line. We could still get there just fine; it would simply require a slight change in where we got on/off plus a transfer.

We got back to the hotel, and Brent laid on the bed for a while. He was a tired boy. I feel so bad that he was dead, but I just kept thinking about last year when he had to drag me all over and I couldn't move, and he was just fine. To know that we were sort of equal, finally, that made me feel really good, even though we both felt like crap. ;)

Anyway, we dragged ourselves into our "going to an industrial show" clothes, slogged our way back to the Brown Line, transferred to the Green (oh yay more stairs kill me now), and then walked the half-mile to the bar. As soon as we walked into the back area where the concerts are, I felt awesome. I haven't been to a goth show in nearly a year. I used to go clubbing and saw industrial shows all the time when I lived near Detroit, and I really miss that lifestyle. I felt like I was "home", surrounded by all those weird people in leather, lace, spikes, and satin.

Thrill Kill Kult wasn't on for a couple of hours, so we sat in the bar area where it was quiet and had a snack and a couple drinks while watching the Tigers/Yankees game. Talk about a surreal difference from the concert area. There were doors separating the two, and it was practically soundproof. It was so bizarre.

Once Thrill Kill Kult came on, we went back inside. It was pretty awesome. Brent does. not. dance. but he was behind me and put his arms around me at one point so we could both sort of sway/dance all booty-like to a song. He's rarely outgoing and flirtatious like that, so I was all :)))))

There was some HUGE guy in front of me, though, and he had NO concept of space. I almost got slugged and stepped on more than once. I spent more time keeping an eye on Slagador than the stage. Additionally, his girlfriend was doing this hyped-up, even more awkward version of what I can only describe as "The Elaine Dance from Seinfeld", and I thought one or both of them were going to plow me over or poke an eye out.

You can see Slagador to the right of the frame. The guy was a freaking sasquatch. For reference, I had my phone raised over my head Simba-style when I took these shots, and I'm 5'6". The guy was easily 6'6".

I managed to make it halfway through the show, but I was seriously beyond dead at this point. It was 2:00 AM, and I was sleepy, achy, and ready to lay down with some ibuprofen. I went and sat in the bar until the show finished, and then we walked (ow) the half-mile back to the L. Unfortunately, we'd just missed the last L for the night (dammit!), so we waited for a cab to show up. We were just outside of the West Loop, so I wasn't hopeful, but I think they realized the bars were closing because we saw a few cruise past the Bottom Lounge and the booty club nearby. It was only a five-ish-minute ride back to our hotel, a grand total of $8 plus tip, and part of me wondered why we didn't just get a cab in the first place. I'm so used to being a poor college student that my first thought is always, "Can we get a bus or L?" Sometimes, it's so worth it to just suck it up and pay for a cab.

By the way, Hotel Sax has the comfiest beds ever. We were both so sore and miserable Sunday morning, I would have given my left arm for a late checkout, but we figured we'd catch the 12:30 train back to Dune Park and get home nice and early to snuggle with kitties, do laundry, and relax so we'd be fresh for work on Monday.

Oh. Ho. HO. No, that would not be happening.

I got in line for tickets, after we'd schlepped our stuff to the train station (admittedly, I wasn't so sore after walking for a bit, which made me feel pretty awesome since it was just muscle kinks and not fat-ness), and the girl told me there were power lines down in Indiana due to the storms coming through, so the train wouldn't be running at 12:30 or 1:30, and the next train, at 4:30, was a huge "maybe".

Not. Cool.

I told Brent, and he just rolled his eyes and walked over to Starbucks to get coffee. I put my thinking cap on and started making phone calls. First, I started with Enterprise, since I get a discount, but it was still $350 for a one-way rental. Hahaha no.

Then, I got on the Amtrak app to check trains. My car was in Dune Park, but I figured we could get off in Michigan City since the 4:00 Blue Water stops there and then take a cab to Dune Park. The Blue Water was sold out, but the 6:00 Wolverine still had seats. I nabbed it, figuring we could just get off in Kalamazoo, walk home (half-mile), and then go get my car the next day after work.

We waited around at Millennium Station, figuring we'd check on the 4:30 train and then go to Union Station if it wasn't running. I was impatient, though, so I called the South Shore toll-free number, and the alert message said, "No trains until tomorrow." Oh, geez. I was really, really glad I bought that train ticket because someone came around just a couple minutes later, telling people to head over to Amtrak. Haha! We already had tickets!

We took a bus to Union Station (I will never be grateful enough for the transit app I downloaded) and then sat around there for-freaking-ever waiting for our train. We were both sore, tired, and upset, but at least we were getting home that night.

As we waited, I read the timetable for the 6:00 Wolverine. Whoa! It stops in Michigan City! I've taken that train a million times, so I have no idea how I forgot. I thought it was express to Kalamazoo, just like the one that goes from Kalamazoo to Chicago in the morning. Oops. :) I ran to the ticket counter and asked if we could modify the ticket to let us off in Michigan City. She was able to process it and give us a refund right away. Woot.

I took some pictures while we waited for our train. I was kind of bummed because they kept announcing the Southwest Chief, the train we take to Albuquerque. Every time they called the train and listed the station stops, my heart would pound a little. I wanted to get on that train so badly. I knew it was bothering Brent too.

The waiting area at Union Station is the sixth concentric circle of hell. It's hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Those chairs are nowhere near as comfy as they look, and it's always crowded beyond capacity. Add in a bunch of screaming children and teens on cell phones, and... yeah. If you're riding Coach, wait in the Great Hall or Food Court. If you have a sleeper ticket, you get to wait in the Metropolitan Lounge, which has leather couches, Wi-Fi, and free drinks. :)

It was pretty bizarre being at Union Station with Brent, and even more bizarre being on the train with him. We always used to meet there when he came to visit, and I took the train to visit him once, so it was really neat that we got to travel together for Christmas last year. It was fun being with him instead of one of us meeting the other. So, being with him this time, I kept thinking we were going on a long vacation or that we were on our way home from a long vacation, not just a trip to/from Chicago. I was really grateful neither of us were leaving the other. I still have nightmares about those days, by the way. Sometimes I wake up feeling empty and cold, and then I realize he's right there.

Anyway, it was so awesome being on a real train again. Even though the circumstances weren't optimal, I was geeked. I love trains! The South Shore, as I said, was more like the L than a train, so it didn't really satisfy my train lust.

Once we got to Michigan City, we got off in a freaking windstorm. It was freezing cold and SO WINDY. The gusts were over 40 mph. I called for a cab right away, and the guy was super rude and said we'd just have to watch for one. Um, okay. Michigan City isn't exactly a thriving metropolis, especially the area around the train station. So I found another cab company, and we ended up with a really nice guy with a warm, dry, comfy minivan. He talked to us the entire way out to my car, which took about 20 minutes. Brent said he reminded him of my cousin, Tom, who is really outgoing and makes you feel like family. We tipped him really well, considering it was such a long ride back and that he'd been so nice at the end of a really tiring crazy day.

When we got in the car, I joked, "Watch. Now the car will break down." Brent said, "OH MY GOD DON'T EVEN SAY THAT." Hehe. :)

We got home in one piece, despite my car getting blown all over the road (I really need to get a heavier vehicle if we're moving to New Mexico), and the kitties were so happy to see us. They greeted us with this mess.

Can that wine bottle be any closer to the edge of the table?!? I was so happy to see them, though, that I didn't even care. I thought it was pretty funny, actually.

The next day, my knees were still pretty shot, but my legs felt fine. I was amazed. I figured I'd be recovering for a week after that trip (last year, it took me over a month to kick the plantar fasciitis and tendonitis), but I was fine. To be honest, though, I did something to my left knee while waiting for our Amtrak train, and then I re-tweaked it a couple weeks ago. It still isn't 100%, and that makes me sad because I haven't had sore knees since I lost 40 pounds. I'm trying to figure out what I should do. I may have to break down and see my doctor. It only hurts when I'm getting out of a chair where I have to get up from a deep squat, so I might start sitting on the couch, where my legs are at a 90-degree angle and it doesn't hurt as much. I don't want permanent knee damage, especially after I've come so far!

Also, I read a newspaper article about the South Shore the next day, and it turns out they restored service at 1:30 that afternoon! Seriously?!? We could have gone back to the station and been home and comfy by 5:00 instead of midnight. Oh well. :-P

Phew. What a long trip journal. Thanks for hanging in there. ;) This is mostly for me, and I wanted to capture everything (and I actually left 50% of it out - ha!), so I don't blame anyone if they skipped most of it.

Bottom line: I had a lot of fun, and I'm really proud of how much easier it is to spend a weekend in the city. We talked about things to do differently next time, like spend one day at a museum and then rest that night, or if we're going to a concert, rest all day so we have lots of energy to stay out all night. We simply tried to do too much at once, and it reminded us we aren't 21 and/or athletes anymore. ;)

Oh, and when we got back, I'd gained all of a half-pound. I tallied up the calories, and even though it felt like I'd ordered a lot of food, I didn't eat most of it. I ended up only a few hundred calories over on all three days, and since we did all of that walking, it pretty much negated any overage. For all I know, that half-pound was swelling on my knee, because it was gone later that week. :) Not bad for a weekend of junk food in Chicago!
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