Tag Archives: Parenting

October Milestones: Strength Gained, Weight Lost

On Oct 16, 2009 I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting in an act of utter frustration with trying to lose post-twin baby weight, four years after my twin daughters were born.

Here we are in the month of October (2012), the same month I turn 40 years old, and a week later (Nov 4) I will run my very first marathon (ING NYC Marathon) and I am very happy to announce I have lost a total of 28 lbs since joining Weight Watchers three years ago!

Weight Watchers E-tools provides this graph to reflect my weekly weight loss since I joined in Oct 2009 thru present.  I think of this graph as a roadmap. I see the hills, valleys, plateaus, bumps in the road and am reminded of choices I made to move forward.

There are the 28lbs I lost and then there are the incalculable and sustainable life-lessons I gained through the process.  What matters to me is my journey to lose those 28 lbs.  Here is where my weight loss journey begins.

Photo: Amen.

In August 2005 I gave birth to my beautiful twin daughters.  I nursed my girls for 3 months.  Did I lose a pound from nursing twins? No.  The only thing I lost while nursing was a lot of sleep. Three months in and I was still having to wear maternity clothes and was 25 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

As I celebrated my own birthday each October, my frustrations would continually build.  Shopping for clothes was just depressing. Four years post-twins and I was pretty much the same weight.  At a breaking point, in May 2009 I joined Weight Watchers Online and lost 4lbs over five months.  I knew I needed more support beyond the online program.  There was a center near my office. I had yet to get motivated to sign-up.

One crisp October afternoon during my lunch break I bumped into a friend on the street who revealed she was coming from a Weight Watcher meeting. She motivated me to join and that Friday I met her at the center.  From that day forward I religiously attended the weekly Friday meetings.

The Group Leader was a fabulous and beautiful woman named Silmara Roman. If you live in New York City and are looking for inspiration from the Weight Watchers program, I cannot say enough magical words about Silmara.  She coached me on how to change my habits.  From the moment I heard her
unforgettable Brazilian-accented words of wisdom and positivity, I made a promise to myself to always come to a meeting, weigh-in and face my reality.  I have stuck to that promise for three years.

Within a few weeks the pounds started to drop.  The ‘honeymoon phase’ began and I was feeling wonderful and in control.  I became aware of habits I never thought were a problem. I became aware of the points value in foods (calorie count) that were significantly higher than my assumptions.  I learned how to plan and prepare for my meals every day, no matter the occasion.  I made time to shop and prepare lunch the night before and bring healthy and tasty snacks to work. Most important, I learned not to come home from work starving, exhausted, with little time to prepare dinner and spend time with the twins.

Every Friday there was someone in the meeting that would say something that resonated with my own struggles. Silmara would always find a ‘Bravo’ within a member’s struggles.  She would turn their negative to a positive; a complaint into a ‘bravo’. Through the understanding of ‘Weight Watcher’s  Math’, a 2lb gain became a 4lb loss, a half pound loss became a 2.5 lb loss. She focused on the process and the efforts being made to stay on track.

I never felt I couldn’t eat anything. I just had to choose when and how much I wanted to eat so that it balanced with my goal of losing weight.  The Weight Watcher’s points system taught me this indispensable weight loss skill of planning, preparing, deciding. One of my favorite mantras “What You Eat In Private, Shows Up In Public.”  I also love “Bites, Licks, Tastes…they all show up on the scale.”

Weight Watchers is a lifestyle, not a diet. A diet is temporary.  A lifestyle can be adapted to last forever. And as I’ve learned in my WW meetings, a better word for a D-I-E-T is the word E-D-I-T.  Weight Watcher’s teaches you to edit  your choices.  You can have everything, you just need to edit when and how much.

Don’t misunderstand my enthusiasm to imply that the process was easy.  It was hard because I had to make a choice and change my behavior and habits.  Even though those habits were doing me no good, I was reluctant to change because change is uncomfortable.  I had to accept the uncomfortable. I had to change my mindset because being uncomfortable is hard enough. No point in adding to the difficulty with a negative attitude.  I decided to have fun with the process, instead of dreading it as a tedious chore.

After about 6 months of attending WW meetings, and down about 16 lbs total, I felt energized and decided to improve my workout routine. I was already a member of my local YMCA and would go swimming at 5:30am. But I needed more high-intensity cardio to really burn fat and rake in activity points on Weight Watchers.   I started with weight and core training.  Within a few months I ventured to try other activities such as boot camp, spin class and kettle bells.  I was hooked on it all and happily became a morning gym rat.

By the time my twins were preparing to start kindergarten in Sept 2010, I was in a comfy 5:30am workout groove and bordering being down 20lbs but not quite crossing into the twenties.  I could not seem to move past being down 17-18lbs.

With the start of kindergarten, my routine was soon going to change as I wanted to be home by 6:30am in order to wake-up the girls and prep them for school.  My husband would happily do this job but since I work full-time and rarely am home to see them before bedtime, my little morning window of time is precious with them.  I decided to prepare for the change by adjusting my workout routine with an exercise that could be done outside the confines of the gym schedule: running.

Running completely changed my life for the better. So my girls started kindergarten and Mommy started running.  By the time they graduated kindergarten in June 2011 I had finally crossed over the twenty-pound milestone and was keeping off 22lbs total.  Behind that number were miles upon miles of running, weight training, spin classes, waking up at 5:00am, squeezing in errands between a run and soccer games and kid’s birthday parties.

At this point, my 22lb weight loss got stuck in a rut. I plateaued and got very frustrated.  There were months where I felt as though I had gained back 2lbs. Knowing how hard it was to lose every single pound, gaining back 2lbs, felt equal measure to 10lbs!

My Friday meetings at Weight Watchers were like a church confessional where you cleanse your soul of any wrong-doings and get a fresh start for the coming week.  I would see +.2lb and then -.3lb or +1.5lb and then -1lb. Some of those weeks were because I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I was getting cocky with my activity level, tricking myself into believing I could eat more ‘points’ because hey, I workout, I’m active.  Not true. The scale showed the truth.

My girls moved on to the First Grade and I was teetering on a weight-loss of 23lbs. I kicked up my activity level with running and joining races almost every weekend. I got it in my head to run the NYC Marathon and qualify via the NYRR 9+1 guaranteed entry (run 9 qualifying races / volunteer for 1) to celebrate turning 40 years old on Oct 25.

I had to remind myself to look at the big picture and not scrutinize the decimals of pounds I was dropping on a monthly average.  The fact was, looking at the Weight Watcher tracking graph, I was still heading in a downward direction.  Trying to lose plus 20 pounds was proving to be a very slow process, drawn out over merely two years.  My patience was tested.

Once again I got cocky and tried to cheat the Weight Watcher program. An extra glass of wine or a handful of office candy, what’s the big deal? I was now down 23lbs – and my ego decided that 23lbs were really 25lbs, making me overly confident and even more cocky in my actions.  Thus began another plateau.  I continued to go to my Friday meetings and weigh-in but I remained just one pound away from my Weight Watcher goal weight.  So close to goal and yet it might as well have been 100lbs away.  I felt like I was doing everything: running constantly, cross-training, watching my food points… Why was I seeing no change on the scale?

The fact is that I wasn’t really trying as hard as I had been when I first started Weight Watchers.  I had to change my way of thinking. Just because I thought I was trying hard, didn’t mean I was actually trying hard. The scale never lies.  I had complete trust in the Weight Watchers program and knew that it worked as long as I was honestly doing it.

I remember sitting in a Friday WW meeting, fuming with frustration, hating other members for their big success stories, jealous of the men that dropped 25lbs in just a few months without seemingly even trying.  I decided to dig deep inside myself and accept that I needed to do more.  I needed to follow the program; not try to cheat it.   I started tracking my points more closely and increased my activity level just a little bit more; in subtle ways like walking an extra block to the train or taking the steps or adding an extra five minutes to a workout.

I kept going to my weekly Friday meetings looking for inspiration and motivation from Silmara and other members. I tried to track my points as best I could, even if it was a general outline (Breakfast: 10pts / Lunch: 15pts).  Doing something was better than doing nothing.  I was far from ‘perfect’ every single day and that was perfectly okay.  These pounds were the last and had been with me for many years so they were not about to let go of my body without a fight!

In January (2012) I achieved my Weight Watcher goal weight, was down 24lbs and maintained it for more than 6 weeks.  This accomplishment awarded me “Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers”.  Meaning, if I stay within my goal weight by 2lbs and continue to weigh-in once a month at a center, I will never have to pay again and can continue to reap all the services WW offers.

When I achieved my Lifetime Weight Watcher status they gave me a golden key charm. I cannot describe the extreme pride and happiness I felt, all for me. Usually I’m the one being happy and proud of other’s accomplishments. This time the feelings were 100% for me, myself and I.  When I left the meeting with my key charm dangling from my necklace near my heart I felt an enormous wave of joy envelop me right to my core.

Since January and with all my marathon training these past few months I have lost another 4lbs making me at a total weight loss of 28lbs. Every single pound lost has made me a stronger person both physically and mentally.

I have often wished Weight Watchers had a double-scale system. One for tracking your weight loss and one for tracking the effort behind the process.  That second scale is what I always considered as a ghost-scale; the one I needed to step onto in my mind, after I stepped off the physical scale and looked at the number printed into my Weight Watcher log book.

In many ways, walking into the group meeting after weighing-in was just like stepping onto the second scale for measuring your effort.  The combination of attending WW meetings, an accountability on the scale, my workout routine at the YMCA and running are the foundations to my weight loss story.

This story is equally about what I gained in strength, endurance and stamina. I am proud of myself for every single step I take towards getting to my goal, not just for reaching the goal.  Sometimes I feel like I already achieved the goal because I enjoy so much the process towards getting there.  I have the exact same outlook towards marathon training too.

The name of my blog once again holds true to my entire philosophy about how to approach goals in life… be positive, enjoy the process and you will indeed Smile Across The Finish! I hope my story encourages you forward towards pursuing your dreams too.

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I’m IN to Finish 2012 ING NYC Marathon!!

My 67yo father has been running for more than thirty years.  He has run 8 NYC marathons and countless other NYRR races.  His first marathon was in 1979 when I was 7 years old.  Living on Staten Island, the start of the marathon was always an extra big deal in my house.  My mom would wake us early, my younger brother, sister and even my grandparents, and drive my Dad to Fort Wadsworth near the Verazzano Bridge and then cross over to Brooklyn to stake our first of several cheering spots throughout the race; Brooklyn and then on to Manhattan, on the East side just off the 59th Street Bridge and again in Central Park for the last 5 miles.

My Dad said that what piqued his interest in running were Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter, two of the most elite and successful American runners of all-time.  The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and originally consisted of four loops around Central Park with just a few hundred runners.  In 1976, thanks to the pioneering vision of Fred Lebow, the race expanded to hit all five NYC boroughs and attracted approx 2000 runners, including Olympians Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers.

In this picture we had just dropped my Dad off at Fort Wadsworth.  The date was Oct 21, 1979.  Notice the limited crowd and the low number on his bib.  The running boom was just getting started!

It was absolutely thrilling to see him come running up to us, cold and sweaty, and hug and squeeze us at every spot!  Back then there was no such thing as gels and power drinks.  My mom would have a huge container of honey that she’d scoop into my Dad’s mouth like medicine for a baby and I would hold fresh-cut oranges in a ziplock baggie.  My fingers would freeze holding out extra oranges and then go numb from clapping so hard for all the runners.  As if that was an act of endurance?!

I also remember seeing all kinds of characters pass by.  There was the waiter who we saw at every marathon.  He wore a black jacket with tails and bow-tie and held a tray in one hand with a champagne bottle and glass.  There were those who ran backwards and the guy who ran while juggling.  To my young eyes, watching the runners sometimes felt like being at the circus.

I remember after my Dad finished his first NYC Marathon he received a spectacular poster of the Verazzano Bridge with all the runners crossing it. The shot was taken from above so you saw the full span of the bridge from Staten Island and thousands of runners charging across it.  I put this poster on the wall just to the side of my bed.  At night I would lie on my side and stare at the poster wondering where my Dad could be amongst the crowd.  My Dad told me how runners would start stripping off layers of clothes while crossing the bridge and just throw them on the pavement or off the side of the bridge.  I found this little fact about littering your clothes on world’s largest bridge to be fascinating and would daydream at the poster imaging shirts flying off the sides of the bridge.

That same year I decided  for Halloween I would dress-up as ‘Daddy’s Super-Jogger’.  My mom ironed the letters onto a sweatshirt (she lost the ‘Y’ so it actually read Dadd’s Super Jogger), gave me my Dad’s sweatband and wristbands, a water bottle (she didn’t have a real water bottle so she gave me my little sister’s baby bottle!), sneakers and off I went proudly jogging in the P.S.69 Halloween Parade.  Running doesn’t require much of any props so my costume kinda looked like I was going to gym class.  That’s me in the middle holding up my sister.

In 1981, when my Dad was 37yo, he finished the NY Marathon in his best time ever – 3:29:30.  He said that as soon as he hit Central Park he suddenly felt like ‘a firecracker was up his ass’ and he ran like the wind to the finish.  He got across the finish line faster than my family could keep up to greet him.  My Dad bought a picture of himself crossing the finish line which has lived in a frame on top of the piano all these years.

Everyday when I would practice piano I would gaze at the picture and think how casually normal my Dad looked, merely hopping, over the finish line.  But I never understood the magnitude of what he accomplished, from achieving a fantastic time to simply finishing the run of 26.2 miles!  Until now.

Back then I never felt a desire to run.  I never even dreamed of running the NYC Marathon. I just enjoyed being an observer, the daughter of someone who was a marathoner and a very driven runner.  My friends and neighbors all knew my Dad as a runner.  So many times someone would tell me, “I saw your Dad running near my house at 5:30am when I went out to grab the paper.  How does he do it?”  I would shrug and just say, “He does. He gets up and goes running.”

It wasn’t until I myself reached my 30’s, when I began very light running on the treadmill and outside (3-4 miles tops)  that I started watching the NY Marathon on TV and unravel a hidden desire to want to run this race myself.  My childhood memories of being surrounded, unconsciously, by the NY Marathon and the determination of a marathoner, came flooding back to me.  Yet I never mapped out a real goal.  Occasionally I would go for a short run with my Dad but I never considered properly training for races or making running a consistent part of my lifestyle.

Maybe it’s because I’m a mother and wife now and recognize the value of organizing time, staying healthy, and generally feeling balanced between work and life that running has become my center around everything else.

So here I am now at the start of 2012, turning 40yo in October, officially accepted into the NYC ING Marathon! I just wish I could find that poster I once had on my bedroom wall.  Only this time I’d put it on the wall in my girl’s bedroom.

Here are some more vintage pictures of my Dad running the NYC Marathon back when it wasn’t even 5 years old. Notice the light crowd of runners and the simple clothing.

 

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