Category Archives: Cambios

The requisite body after baby post

Most new mom bloggers I read — at least those focused on fitness and running — seem to write the “body after baby” post almost as soon as they have the baby. I waited a while.

***

I wrote the following when I was 39/40 weeks pregnant.

40 Weeks & Counting

“Are you sure your due date is in a month?”

“You look like you’re ready to pop!”

“Wow, you’re getting big!”

“Are you sure you’re not having twins in there?”

I haven’t heard any of these comments, I’ve just read about them on blogs, message boards, and Facebook groups. Instead, I’ve heard comments from family, co-workers, nurses and others that I don’t look like I’m that far along or that I look small. One nurse asked if I was gaining enough weight. Family members commented on my lack of a large bump. My cousin Nancy even accused me of exaggerating it — she was half right. Although my doctor was never concerned about my weight gain or Meatball’s size, those comments made me wonder if he was growing okay.

Honestly, I felt a little left out since it took a while for me to even get the occasional “Are you pregnant?/When are you due?” question from a stranger. In this case, the person was not a stranger, but a student I worked with. While my co-workers all knew early in the second trimester, I never actually told the 4 work-study students in our office or the dozens of students I coordinate in research programs. That just would be weird. In mid-May (30 weeks along), I got my first “are you expecting?” question. I was happy because finally I was starting to look pregnant rather than as if I’d just gained weight. When I told Sean, he replied, “Ah, youth. They haven’t learned to avoid that question at all costs.” I replied that I didn’t mind, plus the student got a pass because he’s in nursing and has done a nursing round in labor and delivery at a local hospital. One of our work-study students didn’t even know I was pregnant until June probably because I’m usually sitting at a desk.

The only other time I’ve received much attention about my body and weight gain/loss was four years ago when I was in the process of losing 60 pounds. In both cases, the comments about the changes came from friends, family, and co-workers. During weight loss there were more comments that made me feel uncomfortable and self conscious. Sure, I liked that my efforts were noticed, but for me there was a “right” way and time to acknowledge the differences. The same goes for pregnancy. I’ve been lucky that I work and am surrounded by people who are (a) just very sweet or (b) know what not to say.

***

Written in early 2014

I know that was a bit smug and humble-braggy, probably why I never felt it was ready to publish. And then Xavi was born and writing wasn’t a priority.

Now 4.5 months postpartum this has come back. I remember reading another mom blogger’s update about her newborn son’s 2nd week. At the end of it she made a comment about already being in her pre-pregnancy jeans. I felt pretty shitty reading that. For the first few weeks, I felt like a slug. Nothing fit and and I felt frumpy in everything. This wasn’t such an issue since I really didn’t have anywhere to go and could get away with wearing yoga pants and tank tops all day. If I needed to wear actual pants, I wore my maternity jeans. When I returned to work, I bought a couple new pairs of jeans with a gift card my aunt gave me (thanks, tía Nelly).

***

Written recently
chapulin8mos

Losing the weight I gained during pregnancy and the year before that hasn’t been a priority.

Five years ago, I worked really hard to get to my current weight. 165 was my driver’s license weight, that way low-balled number you put on the DMV forms. Sure, it was higher than what I was used to in recent years, but I was still 30 pounds away from where I had been at one point. It took me 5 months of meticulously tracking everything I ate to make sure I stayed within my points and running 4-5 times a week before I got to the 160s. I feel okay giving myself some leeway in the mad dash to lose the baby weight.

easter

I had other priorities besides getting in to a certain pair of jeans — spending time with Xavi and Sean, keeping up my breastmilk supply and getting a little more sleep. I did miss running, but when I tried to start again I’d get discouraged by being so out of shape. I do want to get back to running and being more fit especially since Xavi started walking (4 days after his first birthday) and I need to keep up with him.

June, pre BHIP

In August I began a free 12-week fitness class, Bruin Health Improvement Program’s (BHIP) On Ramp. The intro class is described as a “comprehensive strength and conditioning program.”

Working out at the track again

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but everyone I know who has taken the class highly recommends it. I would have signed up earlier, but was still pumping three times a day and wasn’t sure I’d have time to commit to an hour class three times a week. I still need to get work done.

So far, BHIP has been awesome. I’ve never stuck with a fitness class for more than 1 or 2 sessions. I preferred running on my own schedule. BHIP is different. Our class is tiny compared to the evening sessions. BHIP offers morning sessions too, but I’d rather sleep and have a little more Xavi time.

The workouts are crossfit style without the competitiveness or weird names. Since our class is usually 8 people, we get a lot of individual attention from the two instructors. They are also really motivating for those times when I just want to quit because it’s too damn hot out. It’s also nice to get out of my office and check out the campus I know and love. I’m the kind of person who eats lunch at my desk.

Drake Stadium stairs

I like being back at the track where I used to do speed workouts for marathon training. I didn’t know much about BHIP then because I wasn’t eligible for the program. Now I’m the one in a corner doing workouts and watching the very fit athletes — Olympians, pros and D1 athletes — who are on the track or stairs for their midday workouts. I even spotted Kevin Durant out there once.

KD at UCLA

For the first week or so I was very sore and felt in over my head. Maybe I should have taken the BHIP 0.5 class focused on weight loss for more sedentary folks. Nevertheless, I’m starting to see results. I still can’t do a proper pushup, but I am getting stronger. I’ve also lost a little bit of weight even though I’m not concentrating on the nutrition aspect. It could just be water weight since I sweat a lot with outdoor midday workouts. The main physical differences are probably my awkward tan lines.

I’m still far from getting to pre-pregnancy clothes, but that’s okay. At least my sister Lori will get some use out of them. I had a moment when I saw her in one of the dresses I wore at my goal weight. I expected my old clothes to fit her a little loose, but the dress fit perfectly. I couldn’t believe I was that small. I forgot that one of my weightloss goals was to fit in to Lori’s clothes.

The experience was a little unsettling to see how far away I am from my goal weight. But that’s okay, it’s also motivation to know what sticking to a plan and moving more can do for my body and mind.

New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1 progress

Fitness stuff for the home

I can’t do a push-up. No, I don’t mean the modified kind where you drop down on your knees, but the kind I’d need to do if I was in the military. Let’s pause for a moment so I can hang my head in shame.

Six weeks ago, I would’ve felt no shame admitting this. However, that was before a strength training plan designed to get me to “lift heavy” and build muscle.

I completed stage one of the The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW) last Saturday with the second of the bonus workouts. Stage one consists of two alternating workouts, A and B, done 8 times each. From workout 1 to workout 8, I grew much stronger and looked forward to each workout. I was excited to get back in the gym, put on my gloves and make more notations in my makeshift workout journal. Overall, I’m happy with my progress (see below for numbers), but there are a couple downsides.

After stage 1 of New Rules of Lifting for Women

The good stuff:
I’m definitely stronger and lifting heavy (for me).

I can see and feel the muscle growing in my arms, legs, back, etc. If I flex, I actually have something to show.

The workouts don’t take long. If I didn’t have to wait for any equipment, I could get a warm-up and workout done in 45 minutes or less.

I really like protein shakes and look forward to them after a workout. I use the CytoSport vanilla whey protein from Costco.

Downsides:
I’d feel stronger if I could actually do more than one or two push-ups. My 30 degree angled push-ups against a bench are pretty weak.

My gym is not that big. When crowded, it took me a few minutes to find the dumbbells I needed or I had to wait for someone else to finish with them. Sometimes I couldn’t find what I needed and lifted lighter than capable (in that case I added reps). The NROLW book offers at-home modifications, but I preferred the gym.

I’ve gained weight and some of my clothes fit tighter especially in the upper body. That purple dress was not that tight last time I wore it 9 months ago. My brother and Sean say the extra pounds are muscle. I’d like to believe them, but it’s still messes with my head to see the numbers on the scale go up when I’ve been working out almost every single day. To be fair, the book offers a meal plan with recipes, but I haven’t used them or tried cutting calories (not recommended in the book). Otherwise, the main difference in my diet is adding the protein shakes.

I don’t feel like I’m working my “problem areas” enough. The workouts are designed to work major muscle groups and not focus on something like just triceps or butt. I’d like to add in some specific tricep moves to help tone up my jiggly arms.

Workout notes

Workout A
Squats: I did these at home with 10# dumbbells. I probably started too light since I worked up to 85# on the squat rack. For the bonus workout with as many reps as possible without rest, I did 31 squats with original start weight of 10# dumbbells.

Push-ups: I started with a modified 45 degree push-up against my kitchen table. The authors don’t want you on your knees so they suggest wall push-ups, 45 degree push-ups, 30 degree and then flat. As you get stronger, you should drop down lower. Around workout 5, I dropped to 30 degrees; those are tough. Bonus workout: 21 push-ups (45 degree).

Seated rows: I began with 8 or 10# dumbbells at home (bent over), but won’t count those. I tried 30# in the gym, that was too easy. My real start was 40 and I worked up to 75. I could barely complete 7 (of 8) reps with 75#. The weights on the row machine increase from 60 to 75, and no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find the small 5# weights. Bonus workout: 17 rows at 50# (forgot I started lighter).

Step-ups: I left these out of the initial workout, because I misread what was included. My start was 10# and I worked up to 25# (fewer reps, more sets). My only adjustment to the difficulty was the dumbbells. I might start with a higher step for stage 2. Bonus workout: 50 with 8# (again, forgot I started with 10#).

Prone jackknifes: I left these out too, since you do alternating sets with step-ups. I worked up from 8 to being able to complete a full set of 15. I probably should have done them on the same size stability ball every time for a better measure of my improvement. Bonus workout: 20 jackknifes.

Workout B
Deadlift: I started out just lifting the 45# bar. I worked up to 75#. Bonus workout: 31 deadlifts at 45#.

Shoulder press: 10 to 15# dumbbells. I could have lifted a couple pounds more than 15, but the dumbbells go from 15 to 20 and the 20 were too heavy for me to do a full set. Bonus workout: 20 with 10# dumbbells.

Wide-grip lat pull-pown: Started at 30, found that was too easy so 40 would be my initial baseline. I worked up to 60#. Bonus workout: 31 reps with 40#.

Lunges: Started with 10# dumbbells, went up to 20#. These left me really sore initially and I even had to cut out reps or a set in the first workouts because they were painful. I did one workout without weights to not aggravate my glutes. Bonus workout: 21 lunges with 10#.

Swiss-ball crunch: The first workout called for 8 reps, I did 15 for one set, 8 for the next. I later made them tougher by holding a 10# plate and did 25 reps. Bonus workout: 50 crunches (no weight).

Are you fit?

A couple years ago, Lori invited me to join her and her friend/pseudo trainer for a short trail run through the hills of Schabarum Regional Park. Even though I grew up in the area, I’d only run/walked the trails once before. R was running late and by the time he showed we has warmed up, stretched and were ready to get on the trails. Before we headed out, he sized me up.

“Are you fit?”

“Um… I guess.”

It was a strange question and I really didn’t know how to answer it. At that point, I was at/near my goal weight and had been regularly working out and running for a year. I was in a healthy BMI range for the first time in my adult life and could run 5-6 miles without stopping.

If “fit” meant keeping up with Lori and R on the trails, my answer was accurate. If it meant anything aside from running* — then and now — not so much.

Lately, I’ve been switching up my strength workouts. Rather than doing the routine I started in December (I’d added weight and reps since then to make it tougher), I attempted 30 minute strength workouts on the Nike Training Club app. I’ve done two workouts. Both have kicked my ass.

I tried both at home and after a few moves, I was sweating like crazy, breathing heavily and my heart was beating faster than when I do hill or speed workouts. Even though the moves are meant to be done non-stop without rest, I frequently paused the app to watch a short video demonstrating the moves and to take a breather. At one point during Perfect Score, last night’s workout, I got lightheaded and laid down on my mat. I’d only been doing the workout for 20 minutes. If I was running, I’d barely be sweating at that point.

Ten minutes later, I was done with Perfect Score. The woman hosting the NTC app congratulated me, but it was totally undeserved. I barely finished.

Despite feeling defeated, un-fit, and sore for a couple of days following each NTC workout, I plan to continue challenging myself. I love running and I’m pretty happy with my recent improvements. However, I know that if I spent all my exercise time just running it won’t be enough to improve my overall fitness and help me get back to my goal weight.

*I’d exclude flexibility. I think I’m okay on that one, but haven’t done any sort of test.

Running off the pounds

I began running three years ago. I’d been actively following the Weight Watchers plan and steadily losing weight. The program encourages “moving more,” but it’s up to you to decide what that movement looks like and what “more” means. Technically, you could do no exercise and just focus on staying within the allotted points and you’d likely lose the prescribed 0.5-2 pounds a week.

At the time, adding in some cardio 3-4 times a week made sense since everything I’d ever read and heard about weight loss included changes to diet and exercise habits. I didn’t realize then that it would develop into something more than just a habit.

In late February, I joined the gym thanks to a sweet promotional deal. I signed on to my sister’s gym plan for $15 a month. Lori and Adrian gave me some tips on working out and soon I was a late night regular at the local 24 Hour Fitness. I mainly stuck to the treadmill and elliptical, but also added in some light strength training moves Adrian taught me.

I saw results immediately. I improved in my endurance and speed within a few weeks. On the weeks I exceeded my allotted points but still got in 3-4 workouts, I still lost or remained even at my weigh-in. Working out made me feel good, but it was primarily a weight loss tool just like tracking, journaling and watching portion sizes by measuring out my food.

Sisterpants

Although running and weight loss were inextricably linked, I didn’t see it as a chore or a necessary evil. I stuck with running rather than other cardio activities because it was what I enjoyed most. I was also inspired by my sister’s marathon training and seeing her cross the finish line at the San Diego Rock’n’Roll Marathon.

My time sucked, I wasn't prepared for all the hills

Soon, I got fitted for running shoes at Run With Us in Pasadena and signed up for a 5K in the summer. That trail 5K kicked my ass, I wasn’t prepared for the hills and had to walk a little, but still enjoyed the experience and atmosphere.

Eventually, I’d lose 60 pounds by following the WW plan and running regularly. (More on that here.)

***

Last week I read a post by RoseRunner, a talented and fast runner who bristles at the assumption that she runs to lose weight or stay thin. Unlike a lot of her readers, I couldn’t relate. One, I don’t get those comments. Two, if people made that assumption about me, it’d be true. I wouldn’t be a runner now if I hadn’t decided I wanted to lose all the extra weight I’d been carrying around since I was a kid.

Dad went to cheer us on, everyone else slept in (don't blame 'em)

In my experience running to lose/maintain weight was not mutually exclusive with actually enjoying the sport. Soon after my first outdoor run (May ’09), I grew to love running and came to see myself as a runner. It took another year before I was ready to push myself to run longer distances and sign up for the Long Beach half marathon. That first experience was great and made me want to challenge myself more.

I no longer run to lose weight, but running is part of my lazy maintenance efforts. I don’t track calories/points for food or exercise. I’ve tried both and ditched it after a week or two. If I feel like my jeans are too tight, I concentrate on eating — more vegetables, watching portion sizes, eating out less — rather than exercise. I occasionally attend WW meetings to weigh-in, but don’t weigh myself weekly. I haven’t been at my goal weight since summer 2010, the same summer I increased my running and started training for my first half marathon. Yup, I’ve gained some pounds back as I’ve run more and become faster… go figure.

Three years and many changes later

Yesterday my brother posted this on Facebook:

Three. Funny that he picked that number. Today marks three years that I made a big change and stuck with it.

On January 13, 2009, I walked in to Weight Watchers in Culver City and signed up. When I stepped on the scale for the initial weigh-in, I was surprised by the number. I knew my driver’s license weight was wrong — whose isn’t? — but didn’t realize I was so off. Since I hadn’t weighed myself in a long time, I didn’t know that I was almost 30 pounds over my driver’s license weight.

I sat through the basic meeting and afterward stayed for the newbie orientation. I went home, flipped through the week 1 booklet and looked up the points values of some of the foods I commonly ate.

I followed the program, even though I didn’t always stay within my daily points allotted. As I wrote last year, I diligently tracked and counted points for everything I ate or drank. I measured my food and tried to meet the good health guidelines set by WW (e.g., five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, whole grains, drink plenty of water). About six weeks into the program, I signed up for the gym and started exercising regularly. I got some help and tips from my siblings.

Good old diet and exercise worked. The pounds came off and a year later, I reached my goal weight. I lost 60 pounds, or 31% of my starting weight.

Pre and present

Recently some friends who know I was successful on Weight Watchers have asked me what I liked and disliked about the program. Would you recommend it? My response:

Overall: Yes, I’d recommend Weight Watchers.

What I Disliked:

  • Cost. It’s not cheap. I think it’s about $40 for a monthly pass, which includes the weekly meetings and e-Tools (for tracking, recipes, recipe builder). I think the cost of WW balanced out when I started cooking more and eating out less.
  • Tracking everything can become tedious. Initially I was okay with it, but after 6 months I slacked off and my weight loss slowed down.
  • I became obsessed with food and sometimes became a bit anxious if I could not control the eating situation.

What I Liked:

  • Emphasis on eating healthy rather than just low calorie or low fat. I know lots of people picked up “bad habits” of eating low-point, highly process foods like
  • There’s no list of restricted foods (e.g., bread, pasta)
  • Easy for someone not too familiar with healthy, balanced eating
  • The Points Plus system is pretty easy to follow
  • Most fruits and veggies do not count towards your daily points total. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and peas will cost you, as will the high-in-good-fat avocado.
  • You get credit for working out. They don’t emphasize anything hardcore, especially if you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle.
  • I liked the meetings, but they got less helpful as time went on. The topics can become repetitive. They’re good for the support and the ideas you get from others. If you meet a milestone, they’ll acknowledge your success, but only if you’re okay with being mentioned in front of the meeting.
  • The leaders are not too pushy with their products.
  • All the leaders and receptionists have lost weight and maintained the weight loss using Weight Watchers.
  • It works, but it’s not fast. You should lose 0.5-2 lbs a week.
  • They have apps for the e-tools to help you track. I liked writing things down.
  • Initially I felt deprived, but that feeling decreased. I didn’t feel like I was really on a diet until I started losing more weight and had to restrict a little more.
  • The plan includes a set number of points you can use throughout the week that allow some flexibility. Even if you use these points, you should still lose.
  • There’s a no-tracking or counting option focused on Power Foods (clean eating focused on lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables)
  • They reward the people who are successful with Lifetime Membership (free meetings, access to e-Tools)

As with most diets or weight loss plans, maintaining might be more difficult than actually losing. I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I attribute that to no longer tracking points, eating out more often and being more relaxed with my eating. (See: burger week 2011… actually, I didn’t gain weight after that.) I probably would have gained back more if I wasn’t training for marathons and half marathons.

Tired, but happy

One of my goals this year is to get back to goal weight and fit in to some clothes that no longer fits, like the pants above. And yeah, I’m not immune to the pressure to lose some pounds for my wedding day. Part of my plan is to go back to Weight Watchers, weigh-in monthly, and begin counting points again.

Jennifer Hudson doing a book signing in Culver City

Today I went back to the Culver City Weight Watchers for my monthly meeting and weigh-in. When I arrived, there was a crowd outside, and security guards handing out wrist bands. I had no idea what was going on, but it quickly became clear when I saw even more Jennifer Hudson posters and women holding her book. I decided to stick around and get a book. The woman ahead of me seemed to ask for help losing the last few pounds. Jennifer responded, “really watch the carbs.” Because of the book signing, I wasn’t able to weigh-in and the meeting size was limited.

I’ll weigh-in next week.

31, Los Angeles & GPOY pre-post

31 - LA sports fan version

Maybe sometime soon I’ll have a photo of me wearing/holding up the jersey of whoever gets #31 on the NFL team we might get in LA.

I also chose this photo because it’s a gratuitous before/after photo. The first photo is from January ’09 on my first trip to the Staples Center. After the Red Wings beat the Kings, my date and I wandered around the store; of course I had to take a photo of the Kurt Rambis’ jersey. I know the jersey covers up most of me. Oh well, you can see it in the face right? This photo was taken just a few days after I started WW. [This is usually the "before" picture I use.]

The Dodgers jersey was a gift from Sean. The first jersey he bought was lost somewhere in a postal office in NY. Someone out there has a Dodgers jersey and is confused; there are no Mosquedas on the Dodgers. I took the second photo in June ’10, after getting to my goal weight and achieving WW Lifetime status.

There are a lot of differences between January ’09 me and August ’11 me. Things that I didn’t foresee happening in January ’09:

  1. Successfully losing 31% of my starting weight (60 lbs).
  2. Running a mile without stopping. Hell, running much longer distances without stopping and really enjoying it.
  3. Cooking decent home-cooked meals.
  4. Still loving the Dodgers even as they go through one of the worst seasons ever, both on and off the field. Troubles include life-threatening violence in the parking lot, threats of MLB taking over, severe decrease in attendance, possible bankruptcy and not being able to make payroll on the first of the month.
  5. Going back to work as a research assistant for my advisor to study the educational pipeline of underrepresented minority research scientists.
  6. Getting an article I co-wrote with colleagues published in a top tier education journal. I was last author, but that’s okay.
  7. Losing two long time roommates and seeing my living situation turn upside down initially. In the end it all worked out and I have some pretty cool roommates.
  8. Beginning to date Sean, the guy who inspired the concert buddy search and a post on mini crushes. After 9 months of doing the LA/NY thing, he moved to LA. A few months later, he asked me to marry him. Now we’re planning a wedding. Fun times (sorta).
  9. Having my words featured in some pretty cool places. I wrote about college affordability on the NY Times debate blog and was featured along with my father on NPR’s Morning Edition and Latino USA talking about our father/grandfather. I’m such a nerd that a year later I’m still geeking out over that.
  10. Getting in to the reading running and healthy living blogs. (More the former as the latter typically bore me.) These would inspire some quality snark and contributions to a meme. Today I found out I won Angry Runner’s contest. Neat.

There are some things that haven’t changed since then. Some of the changes were tough. The change in roommates wasn’t easy. Neither was breaking up with Alan in November ’09. I only alluded to it here, but it felt a little too personal for the blog.

31, Rancho Park & maintaining

this is why alfred is one of my best friends

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been tracking everything I eat. I did this, along with tallying up the points value of those foods, while I was trying to lose weight with Weight Watchers. As I got the hang of eating the right foods, I stopped actively tracking as I continued to lose weight and eventually reached my goal weight and WW Lifetime status

I’ve been in maintenance mode for a year and a half. I’ve been semi-successful. I gained 10 pounds back. The first 5 came back pretty easily. I alluded to that in February. The next 5 came back in the late spring/summer.

I’d be dishonest if I said the weight gain didn’t bother me. I explained this to Stacia in the comments of her post on pre/post pregnancy self-image.

I don’t have a pre- and post-pregnancy view of my body image. I think I have a three (maybe four) broad views. There’s the me I knew for so long as always overweight, which I still thought was beautiful. There’s me as I lost weight over the course of a year. There’s me at my low weight. And me now about 10 lbs above that. If there’s a time when I’m most stressed about my looks, it’s probably lately…

[Stacia replied and asked if it the stress was wedding related.]

Nah, it’s not about wedding stress so much, at least not yet. I think it’s more about some pants not fitting and feeling like this extra weight is keeping me from improving and being a stronger runner. I also think this anxiety about any weight gain probably is going to be with me for a while. I’ve never lost a significant amount of weight and everything you hear is “it’s gonna come back… plus some!” I don’t want to undo the work. And frankly, I did feel more confident and better about my body 10 lbs lighter… but I’m a stronger runner now. Strange.

I’m not actively trying to lose weight while training for the Long Beach Marathon, but I don’t want to gain more. Enter tracking sans points and limiting eating out to weekends. I didn’t realize I was snacking so much, especially when bored at work and late at night after dinner. I don’t think snacking is bad, but I need to eat more nutritious snacks and reign in my sweet tooth. After all, I do want to get back to goal weight, the wedding pressure is no joke.

Super 12 encounter

Cindy, Eligio & Irvin

During yesterday’s bus ride home, I was engrossed in a game of Ms. Pac-Man (because I’m a feminist and stuff) and a podcast when a young man took a seat in front of me. I looked up. He was looking at me like he knew me.

He smiled waiting for me to recognize him.

“Cindy? It’s Irvin.”

“Oh, I know… I recognize you.” He hadn’t changed much, he looked almost exactly as he did 9 years ago (he’s the one without the hat above).

I didn’t sound as enthusiastic as I should have. I was a bit confused and out of it. I really need a nap. I stopped my game and podcast and greeted him.

I met Irvin ten years ago at school and quickly became friends. Unfortunately, we lost touch over the years. I don’t remember the last time I saw him, but he asked if I was still dating a guy who lived in San Francisco. Um, no. That ended in 2002. I knew I’d seen him more recently maybe 4-5 years ago, but we just probably hadn’t talked about dating so he just remembered the SF guy.

“I saw you when you got on, but I didn’t know it was you at first. You look… uh, different.”

I knew what Irvin was trying to say. He was trying to say “wow, you lost a lot of weight” without seeming crass or rude. Totally understandable, it’s a sensitive subject for a lot of people and when people have noted it in the past it’s made me uncomfortable and even offended. Usually, people are complimentary and sincere.

Irvin was one of those, which is no surprise since he’s always been kind and friendly.

“You lost weight, right?”

“Yeah.”

We caught up about work, school, how I met my fiance and Irvin’s recent move back to the westside. I suggested we grab lunch while on campus.

“We should. I already added you on Facebook,” he replied, somewhat bashful.

“Really? On your phone?”

“Yeah. When I saw you I didn’t want to say hi without being sure. So I looked you up to see if I could find a more recent picture. I didn’t want to look crazy.”

I’m thankful for smart phones — despite refusing to get one — and that we could reconnect, albeit briefly.

I’ve had people doubt I’m the person I know or the one in the photo ID, but at least something good came out of this experience.

Finding balance

This doesn’t sit well with me.

I’ve felt what it’s like to care, and felt what it’s like to not. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and about how we’re supposed to have “balance” in our lives, how we’re supposed to play on both sides of the fence, in order to lead “a well rounded life.” How this is what all these girls out there are being told, “it’s all about balance,” well…

I’m calling bullshit. Right now. This moment. Bullshit.

To lose weight, to see results, you have to be perfect, 110% of the time. Playing on both sides of the fence may maintain you, but if you really want to lose weight, once and for all, you can’t cheat, not even a little bit, not even at all.

[Via One Twenty Five]

I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be. I’m also not a fan of fences. That probably has something to do with being a Chicana in the Borderlands.

Nevertheless, I strive for balance. It reminds of my Grandpa Bartolo’s advice to my aunts; roughly, eat whatever you like, but don’t fear the broom (read: work).

I didn’t start off this way when I decided I wanted to lose weight and joined Weight Watchers two years ago. Initially, I followed the plan closely. I tracked everything I ate in a food diary. I planned my meals and snacks ahead of time and carried contingency snacks for unplanned events. I counted everything, looked at every single nutrition label, measured my food, watched my serving sizes and made sure I stayed within my allotted points. I attended a meeting once a week. My efforts paid off. Jeans fit looser. The pounds came off and the receptionist gave me star stickers after each successful weigh-in.

However, even as I saw the results, I disliked the process and what it was doing to my attitude. I thought about food all the time. How many points is a tortilla? How much will it set me back? How long will I have to work out to make up for that slice of cheese?

I became a bit anxious when I ate a great home cooked meal at my mom’s or another relative’s and worried about going out of town for a meeting because I wouldn’t be in complete control.

On the flip side, some of the habits I picked up are good for my health, wallet and general well-being. I learned to cook and ate out much less. I stopped skipping breakfast. I began eating more of the fruits and vegetables I grew up loving. I gave up alcohol for Lent, which took away the feeling that I was restricting myself for a diet. I’ve enjoy giving up something for Lent and have given up alcohol before. I started working out and returned to running (well, jogging).

By the summer, I stopped trying to be perfect. I let up on tracking everything I ate or even tasted. My anxiety subsided, but I still worried about straying too far from the plan. For example, when Lori said she wanted to bake my a birthday cake, I told her not to since it was too hot to bake that day. Secretly, I didn’t want the calories from the cake. I occasionally gained weight at my weekly weigh-in. Although I wasn’t happy, I never beat myself up. As the days shortened and students returned to campus, I was barely tracking. At the end of the year my weight loss slowed down and plateaued temporarily. I was a few pounds from goal weight.

I got to my goal after a year and some weeks of working hard to find that balance. I maintained my weight loss, at least for a few months.

Recently, I’ve gained some of it back. Not much, but enough that a couple of dresses are rather snug at the bust and one pair of pants barely closes. When I weighed myself after two months of avoiding the scale (I told myself I’d go by how my jeans felt), I was surprised at the number. I was disappointed; those extra pounds are holding me back from running faster and I’d like those dresses and pants to fit like they used to.

I know I could go back to writing everything down, measuring and restricting, but that will be tough as I train for the marathon. Running, especially the long runs, gives me a voracious appetite (you try burning 1500+ calories in a workout session). Instead, I’ll concentrate on eating foods that I enjoy and that will provide good fuel as I train.

In my first draft of this piece, I arrogantly claimed that I’d found my balance. I’m still working on it.

Sized down

There’s a post somewhere in my drafts folder titled “xs.” That’s about buying a size small red sundress only to find that it was too big. Somewhere in the same file, I started writing another post about meeting my goal weight, maintaining that for 6 weeks (actually 7), and at the end of that achieving Lifetime membership through Weight Watchers. There’s a third about playing “pretty, pretty princess” with Lori.

Needless to say, I’ve been having some issues writing about this and working out my thoughts. Here’s my attempt.

***

On Saturday, Lori and I attended a friend’s birthday party. I left my apartment in a simple brown dress and sandals, but once at home realized I had to change. I forgot about the black and white theme. Fortunately, my sister didn’t mind opening up her closet to me. She offered up a few black and white outfits.

I tried them on, but not without first looking at the tags and thinking, this won’t fit. Last year, there was a 1 before the 4 and the letter after the X was not S. But everything I tried on fit just fine, just as it had when I tried on her pants right after Christmas. I settled on the outfit above out of convenience, laziness and because the other outfits made me feel a bit naked.

Lori then offered up some shoes choices. After settling on leopard print stilettos, I went with these peep-toe sandals. She did my makeup, or what we call playing “pretty, pretty princess.” Sometimes she does my hair too, but we were already running late.

We snapped a few photos, standard practice for when I actually get all dolled up with makeup. Plus, I wanted an “after” picture, even if I think they’re deceptive.

And then we left to the party.

***

I keep looking at the photo. Some of it is vanity. I love the way I look. I’ve never claimed to be modest. (See: a photo I made Sean take while in NY last week.)

Some of it is disbelief that the woman in the photo is me and not Lori, my little sister. In the past 15 years, I’d become accustomed to seeing myself as the brainy, overweight sister. Lori was the smart, slender, athletic sister. She still is.

I’m the one who changed, and I’m still getting used to it.