Striking the Healthy Balance with Kids

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One of my goals when I started losing weight, changing my life and getting into shape was to be a positive role model for my daughter and my son. Along the way there’s been some hand wringing about how this is going, if we’re having a negative or positive effect on our kids… You know, we don’t want kids who are hyper-aware of their health and appearance to the point of narcissism or unhealthy choices like steroids or starving, but we also don’t want to guilt or shame them into submission! I would hate for them to hear me calling them ugly or fat when I’m really offering them opportunities! Or to be under the impression that we don’t think they are already just amazing people.
That said, though, both Bradley and I see the benefit of encouraging healthy habits now and truthful living from the get-go. We talk about reasonable servings and how much exercise is a good idea. Our kids know this stuff because we talk about it a lot in reference to me. It’s my reality and therefore it’s theirs too, just like when my whole family went on Weight Watchers when I was a kid because my mom did! It just happens to your family culture! :)

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{my family and ten-year-old me}
Anyhow, I have talked before about strongisthenewskinny94- the Instagram girl I follow who is a health food chica, moderate exerciser and inspirational meme provider (love them or hate them? I happen to love them) and several days ago she posted her makeup-free face. I never realized how much makeup she usually wore and I started talking about how proud I was of her to my husband about her courage to post her makeup free face. I remarked that all of these young women look up to her and idolize her; if you read her comments they are so often a young girl referring to how ‘perfect’ or ‘incredibly beautiful’ the girls think Becky is (that’s Strongisthenewskinny94’s street name), but she has pimples, too! She’s insecure, too! Gigi, who is every bit the 11 year old I remember being, complete with a few pimples to complete the transformation into tweenager, honed in on our conversation and needed to inspect Becky’s pimples. Then she had many questions about Becky, what she does, how she makes a living and why it follow her so I showed her Becky’s profile. Gi was riveted, looking at this woman, only nine years her senior, so wise, so beautiful and, also, relatable. Gigi wants to emulate Becky, now. She asked to go running out in the sunshine and wants to grow up to be a personal trainer and professional runner more than ever now. :)
I hope we are on the right track. I hope we are guiding her in a good direction. And I thank Becky, now, for doing a way better job of being a role model for her than so many others she could look to.

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Mission Impossible

Yesterday I was cruising along on my treadmill, trying to rack up the rest of my 10,000 steps quickly with a faster run than usual, when I hopped off for a sec and left the treadmill running to turn on a secondary fan, such was the sweat being produced off my brow… Then I totally spaced out as I went to get back on the treadmill. I had a television show playing on my iPad, I got all involved in the narrative of Chandler and Monica for just a second and then casually stepped onto the treadmill while it was whizzing along at 5.5 mph (yes, that is whizzing for me). Sideways. With both feet.

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What happens next is consistent fodder for America’s Funniest Videos. My feet went flying out from underneath me, my right hip slammed onto the belt while my right hand reached out and caught the handle above my head. My other arm flailed about while I thought to myself, “This is why there’s a safety magnet on this thing!”
I haaaate the safety magnet. It’s this little magnet that has to be on the treadmill to make it work. The other side connects to your shirt or whatever, and if you fall, the magnet gets yanked off the machine and it immediately comes to a full stop. I don’t like it because when I run I constantly, accidentally, pull it off, and the belt stops so abruptly that I almost slam into the control panel time after time, losing my stats and disrupting my run! No safety, however, meant the belt was just cruising along, so I knew that if I let go I would just get pushed down to the bottom of the treadmill against the garage door while the belt continued to turn and turn and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of that position before I was given a pretty nasty friction burn. Instead, I just hung on. And as I hung on, I realized I had control of my body and I very calmly started problem solving my way out of this predicament. I was able to flip my body over, grab the handle with my other hand and then I was able to pull myself up and plant both of my feet on the sides of the treadmill!
I know that might not seem like such a big deal to some people, but when you’ve weighed over 300 pounds, upper body strength is unreliable at best. My arms were not made to support 340 pounds. 199 though? Apparently I can do that. I tell you what, I felt like Tom Cruise from that Mission Impossible movie where he was hanging off a cliff backwards and flipping around and other such insanity. I felt tough and capable- capable of saving myself! That’s a pretty big deal.

After I righted myself, I paused the treadmill and stood there all breathless for a second, assessing my body, assessing my ability to continue. I wanted to stop. It seemed appropriate to stop, but instead I pulled up my big girl pants – you know the ones, thick with polyester, elastic and pull up to your ribs! Yep, those ones. Then I flipped the treadmill back on and finished my three miles as fast as I could.
I feel proud. Like, stupid level of proud. I’m as proud as I was the first time I ran a mile, as when I reached my first weightloss milestone, as when I ran my first 5K. I proved something more important than running far or fast- I proved that I can protect my health with my strength. That’s new and it’s quite thrilling.

Sweaty Hair

I’ve been going around and around about what to do with my sweaty runner’s head. You see, I’m all new to this ‘girl’ business. I’ve been a tomboy from the moment my mom put Sears’ Toughskin brand jeans on me at the age of three, after both of my brothers had failed to shred the knees off. I kept my hair short, skipped make-up and didn’t concern myself much about clothing until quite recently. Then, suddenly, I decided to become a bonafide girl in my late thirties. I realized any vestige of my youth was vaporizing with every passing day and I needed to cash in what little was left of my girlyish self and act a little girly, finally! I had always wanted to be more of a girl but was too shy, low self-esteemed and underfunded to try it out. Now, especially with my own little girly girl, was definitely my moment!

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So, I’m new to all this hair-do-make-up-dressing-in-skirts girlishness stuff and I’ve been confused about how to treat my new, long hair. Like, it is really normal for women to both work out and have long hair, right? So why don’t we kind of agree on a method for taking care of it? I looked all over online and everyone said something different. Some people said that dirty hair holds shape and styles easier, so who cares if you have a sweaty scalp? Some people said as long as your hair looks fine, who cares? Some people just spoke from experience saying that they’ve been running for years and never had a problem with not washing their hair. I guess if it works for them, who am I to argue? But that never did sit right with me. My head feels grimy and itchy if I don’t wash it often enough, but the ends got all dried out and I had to cut the length I worked so hard to grow out with repeated washing…

I finally turned to a few friends who are authentically girly women who work out, and some of them even cut/style/color hair for a living. Here’s what they told me:
WASH YOUR HAIR, TAMARA!
Every time you work out and get sweaty, wash your hair! Salt from sweat pits hair, making it dull and weak! Sweat and gunk clogs follicles and can make your hair fall out! Sweaty heads often break out with scalp pimples!
My greatest concern, however, is that I have really dry ends that split easily.
Here are the solutions that were offered to me:
Shampoo just the scalp and hold the ends up. Rinse it out and get on with your life.
Wash your hair in sulfate-free shampoo and condition with good conditioner like normal. Follow up with hair sauce (AKA penetrating argan oil).*
Condition the ends then hold it up while you shampoo the scalp. Rinse the scalp in a kind of weird way that allows the conditioner to stay on the ends, then mash the conditioned ends onto the hair next to the scalp, spreading a little conditioner around because, let’s face it, this is what I do and my conditioner is at Lj level of expensive and I need to spread it out over my head to make it last a little longer! Rinse as usual after belting out three or four of your favorite eighties tunes, then add hair sauce after it’s damp-dry to complete the ritual.
^^^Clearly- this is what I do when I’m being thoughtful and worried about my ends.
I suppose I could follow the lead of yet another friend who says she just adds extensions into her hair when she wants it fuller because there’s no way she’s going around with a sweaty head! She washes it every time, keeps up on her trims and works her butt out! To heck with the hair! Except she looks amazing.
I’ve learned about dry shampoo and that it can be used in a pinch, like baby powder, to make you less oily looking and add fullness, but I don’t like the way it feels – thick and heavy.
All shampoo should always be sulfate free or it will kill your hair.

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{I forgot a hair band on a recent workout but the wind took care of me. I called this my ‘Beyonce’ run. }
So, anyhow, that’s what I have. Perhaps you have been in the same quandary as I, new to the whole exercise and appearance game and have been turning circles trying to figure out what to do as well.
Now, go wash your hair!
I did. Today. After I worked out, coz, you know, I’m hitting my stride again, running miles all over the place, eating right. Washing my hair after a sweaty workout, even. I’m back in this and hoping to sail beyond 199 soon!
:)
*I’m all about the Argan oil products from ogx , but will buy any of their products when there is a sale and my shelf is a little bare- currently rocking the awapuhi line. No pros recommended this to me except Brittany, Herself.

Smile

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I’ve been bothered by my skin lately. Like, really bothered. It all came about because I’m in smaller jeans, now… You know, my skin-neh-skin-noo-skin-nah jeans that I was hooting and hollering about… Well, they sure fit me well- in the butt, thighs and in the length… But the lower belly area below the waist where the zipper is sure is annoying. We call it the tomato. Some call it a camel toe, but this is not the toe of a camel, rest assured. It is alllll just boring, old loose skin. It is just where all this skin is hanging off of me like an apron that I have to force it into a pair of pants. And as I get smaller, the crotch to waist length gets shorter in pants, too, and this whole dropped-waist, low-rise jeans business that people wear now doesn’t do me any favors!

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I remember shopping with my mom as a kid and we’d try on pants, trying to find a decent pair and she’d remark that our pants were ‘smiling’ at us. She’s the one who coined the term ‘crotch smile’ to describe what happens when too much flesh is forced into too small of pants. The pants pull tight at the apex of the crotch giving one a ‘crotch smile’ that spreads both ways across the upper thighs and pushes any excess flesh up and out of the pants, creating a whole new problem called the muffin top. Classy. And forever and ever I notice whenever I have the crotch smile and try to vanquish it from my wardrobe. So, anyhow, I was talking to some friends of mine at work, whining about all the extra flesh I have and how hard it is to push it all into my pants. I explained the crotch smile to them and grabbed it, tugged on it for illustrative purposes and then realized I should write a post about this! The crotch smile- how much I hate it and how hard it makes my life! I ran home, put on my jeans, took pictures found this:

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Do you see the crotch smile? No? That’s because it only exists in my mind. I’ve been walking through the world all self-conscious and hyper-aware of my non-existent crotch smile in my new jeans. Sure, it does happen, like in the first pair of jeans, but that, apparently, is not my default. Color me surprised!
So, my skin, while copious and a pain in the booty when I’m working out, is not the neon sign I thought is was. Sure, you can definitely see it when I’m wearing workout gear, and I can certainly hear it when it’s not all secured down properly, but it’s not the problem I generally feel like it is. Mostly, I think, I just want it gone and complaining about it makes it into a problem I need to solve, but I don’t think it’s actually a problem I need to answer or fix just yet.

ONDERLAND AT LAST!!!

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I can’t believe I’m actually typing this- I got on the scale today and it blinked 200, then 199.8, and then it wouldn’t budge from 199.0.
I made it! I MADE IT! I DID IT!!!!!!
I weigh 199!
199.
It means nothing and everything to weigh below 200, if that makes any sense. But that number, 199, is like a trophy. When I learned, ever-so-long-ago that I weighed more than 300 pounds, I also assumed that I was just naturally and genetically predispositioned to being big; that my body just wanted to be around 300 pounds, that my natural weight was just heavy. I thought I’d never weigh below 250 again and I was fine with that. In fact, my original goal was to weigh 230. That seemed highly improbable, to even consider below 250 was just setting myself up for failure. Less than that? Ha! So to have shed fat from the mid three hundreds, to having lost every pound in the two hundred’s and now to be in ONDERLAND just blows my ever-loving mind!
Wooooo-hoooo!

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Smug, proud, happy!

Standing on the Edge…

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But I refuse to fall in.
Whenever I choose to push myself really really hard it always comes with a cost at some point. I think over past two weeks I’ve been settling up that debt that I built up with three miles every day running and rigid nutrition like nobody’s business for two months… Not so long? Yeah, I know, but for me, this takes ridiculous focus and drive. And I wore out. I’ve been starting blog posts and not posting them because they’ve just been lists of complaints; things that went wrong and as they compounded over the days it no longer felt random, all of this BS, it started to feel like some kind of natural conspiracy almost; the fates came together to make MY life difficult, right? Yeah. Notsomuch.
So I refused to fall in. That’s been different this time- I have the strength to resist the siren’s song of falling down, letting go and getting up close and personal with my pillow as I ride out the waves of depression and anxiety. This time I was able to see the difference between real, common-sense problems and manufactured drama my PMS addled brain offers up. I was able to make functional action plans and employ strategies to get better. And it was better. I haven’t had a depression cycle for several months and I’m really proud that it’s been so long as well as how I got through this one so successfully. I’m glad to say that even though my mood has been down, I didn’t even gain any weight back or lose progress in my fitness.
Today, though, it finally feels like the clouds parted, the sun came out and I’m really back. I feel like I’m back, at least. I was driving down the road feeling the sun, feeling like the sun and I realized I felt so good. Today, for the first time in what feels like ages, my students’, childrens’ or friend’s choices didn’t decide what kind of day I was having, I decided my mood. I worked through my day and loved my second graders and colleagues just like I am supposed to. I got all of my jobs done and even came home, with a smile on my face, to see my Boyo in his first-ever science fair!
Gracious me, I’m happy, and it feels so good!

Kirkland Shamrock Run

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Lucky.
That’s really the only way to describe the circumstances of this race. It is no accident that it was the Kirkland Shamrock Run, a 5K that is in honor of the luckiest holiday ever: St. Patrick’s Day! Why was I so lucky, you ask?
Well, it happened the morning after my son went on a sleepover with my mom and dad, leaving just the three of us at home. This was perfect because the friend I was supposed to run the race with decided that Hawaii sounded more fun than running in the gray, Washington rain (who wouldn’t?), allowing Bradley and Gigi to take their bib numbers and run in the race instead of them! We were lucky to get freebie tickets and I was lucky to get to run with my loves! What is luckier and better than that?!

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My friend, who reported a sunburn after only driving to the hotel in Hawaii today, told me that there was a little hill at the beginning, but then it was a fairly downhill run on the way home. I was ok with that, but we overheard other people during the run complaining about the new race route because it was so hilly! Bradley and I both commented that it seemed like the first 4K’s were pretty much up hills and the last K was downhill. That said, it was beautiful to run through such pretty neighborhoods, and as I crested the final hill, I could see the Seattle skyline across Lake Washington and had it been sunny it would have been gorgeous! As it was, I was just glad to be running with the overcast sky and light drizzle. It was refreshing and I felt alive, today. It was a good race.

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The best part of a race is always that last leg and the moments right after. We got actual finishing medals, bananas and all the usual after race swag. But mostly I felt alive, satisfied, full of love and happiness. I felt lucky in love and life and PROUD of my daughter, husband and me, too. Life is amazing.

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{my daughter captured my finish <3 }

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{stats}

The Lost Weekend

Today on my way into work I ran into a friend to regularly reads my blog. She said that she was looking all weekend for updates about how I was doing and was disappointed that there was no post. I told her why and she pointed something out. I suppose it might actually be time to admit it: I am human. I had a lost weekend.

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{for those wondering, this was the only time I got out this gorgeous weekend and it was Sunday night.}
I don’t often have lost weekends anymore- I generally have pretty solid control with little exception these days. Usually I bank all of my lost weekends and just call it lost October, lost November and lost December; my eatin’ months, I suppose. This weekend, though, I was a mess. I had anxiety ridiculously bad. It was what I call ambient anxiety, where nothing in particular is really triggering anything, but my brain is going nuts and I was freaking out for no reason at all and I was having to talk myself down from ledges like crazy. I wasn’t very pleasant to be around- for my family or for me!

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And it was like this weekend I had an attitude about it. I just didn’t care. What was really weird was that I didn’t really think about what was going in my mouth very much. On Friday night I found a clearance priced Symphony milk chocolate bar, and I usually keep some chocolate around the house for those moments when I really need some chocolate; in fact I would say that I eat chocolate almost daily. I am just smart and controlled about it. This weekend though? Well, I cracked that chocolate bar open when I got home on Friday night and by the time Sunday rolled around, I only had one square of it left. And I’m not talking about a regular sized Symphony bar- oh no. I’m talking about the big, baking-size bars! Yes, some of it went into other people’s mouths, but because I also tried out the new Cadbury Cream Eggs (newly owned by Hershey’s and, thankfully, not nearly as nummy), tasted ice cream a few times and never once worked out more than this walk I took with my family, I feel like I can take ownership of an entire baking sized chocolate bar consumed after a week of resting and weekend of no working out.
Have no fear, though! The Shazam is strong in me today… I can feel it. I’m on my treadmill right now as I type this… Back at it to kill my 200!

Still Waiting…

I was certain that I’d be reporting this awesome, below-200 weight the next time I wrote, hence the long delay between posts, but in typical Tamarella fashion, I’m just chilling in the barely over 200 range. 200.2, 200.6, even 200.0 – but it won’t break under 200! What’s the dealio?
I actually know what the dealio is. I’m giving my body a rest and not getting that consistent fat-burn cardio. On Monday I did decide to run with Move 60, the after school activity club at my school, and it seriously was a huge effort! I knew I needed to take it easy, but I was surprised at how right I was. I stopped after a little over a mile and went home with that horrible lung burn thing and feeling just beat. Anyhow… Still the waiting game. Rest assured, I’ll be crowing it from the rooftops when it finally happens!

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I didn’t feel bad for long, though, since I was lucky enough to be featured on Runs For Cookies 100th Motivational Monday spectacular! I was one among 20 men and women who have lost over 100 pounds. She invited each of us to share a little of our stories, and I was moved to tears by how much their stories sounded like mine. We had so many similarities in our approaches and philosophies… Suddenly it didn’t seem like I was so alone as a massive weightloss person anymore; what I am doing doesn’t seem like an experiment that could go wrong at any moment anymore. I gained strength and certainty in myself and my project through their stories and successes.

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Today I met with one of my best girls ever. She’s one of those people who I wish I could see so much more often, but, you know, life, excuses, kiddos, jobs… All that stuff. She took me to this gorgeous place called Richmond Beach and asked if I wanted to walk some stairs with her. I was game so we climbed them several times among a bunch of other people doing the same. While I liked the stairs (A LOT!), I liked the conversation best. I like being able to do things with friends, like walk up a bunch of stairs and chatting for an hour and call it fun!

Any Second Now…

I’ve been close before, on the precipice, really, staring down the tunnel to that light that is in Onederland. You know; anyone who reads here with any regularity knows that I’ve been on the edge of Onderland for ages. Every time I get here I seem to just bounce right back up to 206… 208… 212… 221 (but only in December), but I have never been THIS close.

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{woo-hoooooo! 200.8}
I can’t remember the last time I officially weighed under 200. What I do remember is that I lost a bunch of weight in my junior year of high school and I remember getting down to my lowest adult weight of 145, realizing that I was ‘done dieting’, and then I stopped and I hit the buffet. The last under-200 weight I remember was about five months later when my baggy work pants felt tight and I hopped on the scale to read it at 173. Within an hour, my dad was walking behind me and noticed my weight gain as well, telling me that I was gaining my weight back. I knew, but I played possum and acted like I was being proactive… But I was seriously done dieting and thought I could just be a normal kid. I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I didn’t. I was 18 then, and the next thing I remember was weighing in at 220. From there I didn’t get on the scale unless I was at the doctor’s office so I have no idea what age I was at when I hit certain numbers. I know 235 when I officially got together with Bradley, I weighed about 255 when I got married, 320 when I got pregnant with Gigi, and 290 with Jude.
I do remember, however, the last time I was on the edge of weighing under 200. I was 16 and had just finished my junior year of high school. My friends and I headed out to a local festival/carnival near my town called Salty Sea Days. I was still losing weight and weighed myself before we left and saw 201. When I came home after a fun night of playing hard at the carnival, I weighed 199. It was that simple; my body didn’t know the significance so it didn’t alert me or anything. I just remember this very quiet, very private celebration in my bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and crying with disbelief. I started out weighing 260 or so and never thought I could lose weight. But I did.
And I’m doing it again. Only this time I am playing for keeps. This time I’m going to do the work after I reach goal just like I’m doing to reach goal. I’m going to be forgiving of small gains, but vigilant about maintaining my exercise, solid nutrition as well as my commitment to never get over 200 and to panic and immediately slap myself back into life if I ever reach 220 again.
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I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard over the past couple of weeks. I made that deal with myself that if I work my hardest and get as close as I can to goal (185 by summer) before the concert on 5/6, that I get to do something fun with/ for NKOTB, and at this point, I think I am totally earning it. I’m losing weight like a boss (that’s a full 20 pounds gone since 1/1/15) and I’m exercising really, really solidly. I ran 19 miles last week and the week before that I ran 17. Yes, they are sloooow 11 minute miles, but still, I’m really pulling my mileage numbers up and I feel proud of that. I’m after that fat burn heart rate of the 130’s-140’s and I’m getting it. I’m problem solving, taking a proactive role; I’m seeing results. Those third- row, floor seats right next to the stage are making my tummy flutter with all the very right stuff that’s going to be in spitting distance of my flipping face. Gracious me. Maybe I’ll even buy a tshirt.
With that in mind though, I’m realizing I need to switch things up a little. Yesterday and today I had hard runs. All of this consistent exercise is great for the fat loss but my body needs a day or two of rest. My muscles are worn out. Today I ended up walking about a quarter mile of the run and yesterday I found myself stopping for any reason I could to hop off the treadmill and take a break. Tomorrow I’m going to try Zumba with two ladies who I work with at the LA Fitness they go to, I think I’m trying out Insanity at the same place on Tuesday, and from there we will see what I want to do. I’m hoping that just switching up the workout from a three plus mile run per day will give my body the break I think it needs, while still burning fat and calories.

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{Our homage to Dr. Seuss, and the end result of my green hair.}