Amusement Parks


Last night, Bradley and I had the unique opportunity to visit Disneyland by ourselves, without the kids!  Gigi is finding her newfound responsibility as a babysitter to be intriguing, so last night when Bradley and I wanted to absorb every last drop of Disneyland, Gigi cited a cold as an excuse to stay in the hotel while Jude was just plain tired and found the allure of cable tv too exciting to pass up.  We don’t have cable at home, so the Disney channel is just as much a vacation treat as anything else.  We talked about safety, talked about what to do in case of an emergency, then took a ‘soft date’ at the hotel happy hour to try it out and after one more check on our kids, vegetating in our room, we took off to Disneyland!


It’s been 17 years since we first visited Disneyland on our honeymoon and every return we’ve made has had friends or family in tow.  The result has been a focus on the group dynamic and making everyone happy, but last night we just focused on us.  It was a weird and wonderful experience.  Without the kids, we became the kids.  We ran around, laughed out loud, kissed when we wanted, took too many selfies and rode on just a couple of rides.  We did manage to drink a few beers, too…  I don’t generally drink except in these kinds of situations and Bradley has gone dry over the past year, so we were prett loose and having a great time!   We shopped and impulsively and bought silly souvineers for ourselves like a Little Mermaid bubble wand (for me) and a stuffed octopus for him (Hank from Finding Dory reminds Bradley of himself and he got a little attached to the critter).😉


The other thing that happened was being able to notice the way my body works in an amusement park for me.  Because I’m always trying to point out reasons to myself to stay in shape and to avoid returning to a heavier weight, I decided to do a little reflection here:

  • Belts: Rides usually have some kind of safety belt or security bar.  I was always wedged in so tightly to every ride!  It was kind of nice- I rarely slid around while on a ride and felt safe in my spot.  That said, it was also a tremendous stressor.  While Disneyland does an extraordinary job of making most rides universally accessible to almost all riders (even at 340 pounds and a size 28/30, I fit on all the Disneyland rides, without question), other amusement parks don’t employ the same strategy.  Nobody wants to do the walk of shame for being too big to ride, but once it happens to you, the humiliation and anxiety that rises up as one approaches a new ride is intense.  During this trip to Disneyland, the bar never even touched my stomach unless I leaned up on it.  It was such a weird and oddly wonderful observation.
  • Walking around: The first time we took Gigi to Disneyland, she was 16 months old and I was almost at my heaviest, over 300 but not at my max.  We stayed at a hotel directly across the street, but by the time we got out of the park on any given return to the hotel, I could hardly handle it.  That I had to climb stairs to the second floor was torture.  I’d put Gigi down for a nap, then I’d crash too!  It was simply exhausting!  I ended up being one of those moms who sends the kid and hubs on the ride while I was really, honestly satisfied to sit back and take pictures  -my feet and body were so tired!!!  Now my feet don’t get tired at all.  My hips get sore from all the standing, but last night we were on day 7 of an intense trip and when the jazz band drove by, there were Bradley and I boogeying in the street and running through the park.  My body isn’t sore and I’ve got energy on reserve!  What a wonderful feeling, knowing that I can do this ‘life’ thing, now!
  • Clothing: Disneyland does a good job of merchandising to everyone- they’re going to make sure everyone who wants to spend a dollar has something to buy.  That said, when you’re bigger, things are more limited.  These days I wear a size large or extra large so I can try on pretty much everything in the park.  And if the shirt doesn’t fit, there’s always a size up or down, now, and I can actually get what I really want without settling.  Furthermore, I don’t feel like I have to dress to hide my body.  I saw so many bigger people walking around in black shirts and pants, long sleeved, long panted and I just remembered doing the same and being so hot.  I wore tank tops, this time, a strapless bra under a sundress, short shorts, dresses without leggings under them and even my workout capris.  I felt so free!  Furthermore, I can fit more clothes into my bag and they take up less space, just from the lack of fabric.  We used to marvel that my bag was jam packed while Bradley’s was practically empty, but my clothes simply took up more space than they do now.  Now I have room for important souvineers.  You know.  Like an Ariel bubble wand and stuffed octopus toy.  😋
  • Sweating:  The sweat factor is way different now.  I still sweat, of course, but not nearly to the degree that I once used to.  
  • Exhaustion: I used to nap daily during our excursions to the Magic Kingdom, but now I’ve got serious oomph.  We still come back to the hotel for a midday break, but now instead of sending the kids and daddy to the pool so mom could nap, I take the kids to the pool so dad can nap!  (He’s still dealing with that car accident injury that’s been exhausting him constantly.)  I feel like I get to participate more completely with my family by showing up consistently and not needing extensive recuperation time.  I feel like instead of Bradley always supporting me, I get to return the support to him.  This time it wasn’t just him carrying the backpack, running for fast passes or making bathroom runs with the kids.  This time it was me, too, who shouldered part of that burden.  You know.  Like a real partnership.
  • Heat: When I was heavy I was like a furnace.  I used to tell Bradley that once my core overheated, I needed either a dunk in the pool or a cool shower.  I lived in the pool and shower when I was in California.  In any water play place, I was in the thick of it, wetting my arms, seeking the mist, dipping my toes- anything to cool off!  Any theater was an oasis of air conditioning.  I’d shop in any store that would allow me to stand near an icy blast.  Now I have the opposite problem, funnily enough.  I actually carry a thin sweater with me at all times so I can slip it on in theaters, stores, rides or any other place that blasts that cold, freezing, arctic air!  I goosebump like a porcupine and shiver, almost uncontrollably and definitely instantly until I can return to the sun.  Sadly, this has extended to the pool, too, and I’m no longer the water woman I once was.  Swimming just looks like a chance to shiver, so I avoid it at all costs now.  Sitting by the pool and smiling, though?  I’ve got that jam down.
  • Food: I needed to support my body size and energy level with food, so I was always hungry in Disneyland when I was heavy.  Ice cream called, churros beckoned, the smell of anything reminded me that I needed to eat.  I didn’t want snacks, either.  I wanted a full-on, sit down meal for breakfast and dinner.  It was expensive, but red robin is down the street with AC, bottomless Diet Coke and fries and delicious burgers.  On one trip, I think we ate there five times!  These days we buy a microwave at Target, along with Lean Cuisine, oatmeal cups, vegetarian proteins, fruit, veggies, granola bars, cheese sticks…  We eat snacks (aka many small meals) all day long and only go out to eat a few times on the trip.  We always are fed and hydrated with decent enough food that we dont get too grumpy from being hungry.  (We give the microwave to the hotel, hotel employee or another thrifty family before we head out.You can usually rent a microwave for about 25 per night but they only cost 30ish to buy and we eat so much better with the ability to feed ourselves independently.)

    *Every once in a while I like to restate the purpose of TamaraShazam.com.  I started this blog as an accountability tool for myself.  I realized that I had such shame about my weight that I entirely hid my eating, exercise, dieting and depression from other people in order to keep up appearances.  I realized that transparency is really important to me in order to be successful.  While I share my blog with the world, it’s really, most often, a reflective moment when I own who I am and what I do to myself, sort of a diary.  As my website has grown over the years, in weaker moments I turn to particular posts to remind myself of my power and what I am capable of; I get inspired and find a pocket of determination based on what I was capable of doing before.  Sometimes I feel like I brag too much on here, then I remember, the ‘why’.  That others want to read about my body project is quite a bonus of support.  🙂

    **The Picture set up top is from the exit of the Roger Rabbit ride in Toontown.  Ever since our first visit to Disneyland on our honeymoon in 1999, Bradley has had me pose on that tire stack.  I was so self conscious the first time he made me do it, but now it’s just a tradition!  🙂

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