Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rock Bottom

When you hear people tell their "stories" they always talk about hitting rock bottom.

For the drug addict rock bottom was when he snatched the purse from the little old neighbor lady who used to bake him his favorite cookies in the winter, knocking her down and breaking her fragile hip.

For the alcoholic rock bottom was when she smacked her innocent child's face in a fit of drunken anger or when he smashed his car into a tree killing his best friend.

Rock bottom is always a tragic story. It's never very pretty. Nobody ever says "I really hit rock bottom when I drank myself silly at a party and ran around the neighborhood naked on a dare." No drug addicts story begins with "I knew I had to turn my life around when I was no longer able to afford my weekly massages at the spa."

Rock bottom is always a gross, murky, muddy, messy, bloody, dirty, shameful tragic turning point in a person's life. But even below all the muddiness, below all the layers of guilt, shame and filth, beyond the grief, beyond all of that... there shines a light. It may be a small little pin light that is barely flickering, but there's a definate light.

You will also hear people say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can move forward. I don't know if I totally believe that. I don't believe you have to be in the gutter before you can realize you're on the wrong path. I don't think you have to go 'all the way' before realizing you don't like this roller coaster ride and you'd like to get of please. You don't have to knock your elderly neighbor down, snatching her handbag, before you realize "hey, I think I might have screwed up somewhere along the way."

But I do believe that there was a point in my life where I said "what in the hell am I doing to myself." It wasn't when I looked in a mirror. It wasn't when my arse got stuck in a chair. It wasn't when I stepped on the scale. It wasn't even when I went shopping and couldn't find anything in my size.

That defining moment, my "rock bottom" happened at work. We had just had our company BBQ and a coworker had taken some pictures and sent them out via e mail to all of us. Amongst all the great pictues of the beach, the food, friends, the sunset there was my rock bottom.

I saw a picture of myself and didn't even recognize me. I can sort of see my face in that picture but whose arms are those? Hey that big girl has on my shirt... and my skirt...and is standing next to my husband... kissing him... HEY! THAT'S ME!!!!

Oh my God. That is me. I quickly closed the picture but I knew everybody else in the office would see it. But hey, it's what they see in me every day. That is what I look like. That is what everybody at the office sees when they look at me. That is what people see in the grocery store, in the mall, in the bank. Everywhere I go, that is what people see. THAT is what I look like.


I went home that night and cried. I layed on my bed and just cried. Marco came and layed with me, held me close and asked me what was wrong. Between sniffles and sobs I managed to get it out. "I'm so gross. I can't believe what I've done to myself. Look at me!"

Of course he said all the right things. He told me how wonderful I beautiful I was... what a great person I am... he said everything a husband is supposed to say. But as much as I knew that he meant what he was saying... I also knew that I could not go on this way. From that day on we made changes. Yes we, he and I, both made changes. He vowed to help me in whatever way he could and from that day on we began our new journey together. We haven't turned back since.

So I didn't need to have a heart attack at 40 to snap myself into reality. I didn't have to learn that I have diabetes before saying "Wake up Sarah!". All I needed was one picture... one life changing, defining picture was enough to show me that little pin light flickering in the dark.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


With a loss of 2.4 kilos (or 5.28 pounds) this week I have surpassed my goal of 15 kilos with a total loss of 16.1 kilos or 35.42 pounds!

With the next 14 pounds that I lose I will be halfway to my goal!!!!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My least favorite daily question...

What's for dinner?!?!?!?

I will confess, I'm in a food slump. This scares me for one major reason... if I get sick of the good foods I am eating repeatedly I may slip back into some older, not so healthy dishes and I REALLY DON'T WANT TO DO THAT!!!!

Honestly, it is like torture trying to get a suggestion from Marco. I guess he's in the same boat I am though. Neither of us are very adventurous cooks. We're short on time, tight on money and lacking in the "knowledge of food" category. My friend Keith and Josh are constantly coming up with new dishes and recipes they try and like, but for me it seems impossible.

I'll confess something else... I cooked with garlic for the first time in my life this week. Real actual live (or is it dead?) garlic. I have always been a garlic powder or garlic salt person (I can almost hear the gasps from all you Betty Crockers out there.) and never really new how to cook with garlic. I like garlic it just always seemed so intimidating with the big bulb and all that peeling and then all those little sections and stuff. So now I know how to peel it, but how do I use it? So far I have smashed it and thrown it in my hot oil before my other veggies in my stir fry but other than that, what's it good for? How do you use it?

I also just started eating chicken since turning my life around on this journey. I cook it one way... with salt, pepper, rubbed with olive oil and thrown in a pan. I know there are a million and one websites with recipes but the ones I chose tend to want you to spend 2 hours prep time and another hour or so to cook. I guess I could serve dinner in bed considering that's where we'd be by time it got done.

Or better yet, in many of the recipes I find they want you to use roots from a tree than can be found and dug up only when the Easter moon rises over the northmost point of the Nile river on a Wednesday..but only if it's snowed in Jamaica. Some of these things I've never heard of much less can find at the store.

So this is what I've been eating for the most part.

a slimfast shake or
a cheese quesadilla (flour tortilla, slice of cheese, toss in microwave for 45 seconds) or
grapes with a half of a cheese sandwich or
yogurt and fruit

Lunch: (the Dutch lunch never varies.... EVER! They live on bread, deli meats, peanut butter and veggies for lunch)
Black bread with ham and cheese. Tomato and cucumber slices.
Occasionally they will have lettuce available for us... then I make a salad with ham and cheese.

Suppers consist of:
Meat (lean steak, chicken... both cooked as I mentioned above or I will have fish and Marco will eat steak)
Veggie (sometimes I get fancy and sautee a wok full of fresh veggies which is very nice, otherwise we have peas and carrots or green beans. I tried cooking fresh asparagus once... it wasn't pretty. Once in a while we will have a salad.)
Starch (baked potato, mashed potato, white rice with cajun seasoning...that's it... no variations.)

And that's it! Thats what we eat... constantly.

Once in a while we go to Marco's parent's house for dinner where we have some kind of beef, boiled potatoes and a veg. Sometimes we order out and I get soup and he gets pizza. Watch out when we go to a real restaurant!!!! It's.... steak, potato and veg for us! It's almost comical.

Most recently I found a sweet and sour chicken sauce and have made that twice. Thats twice in one week. Last week actually. It won't be long before we're sick of that too.

But otherwise it's the same old same old. I dread getting home from work and having to think "what should we have for dinner tonight."

I am lucky in the fact that I have an array of grocery stores around me and I should be able to find most products somewhere or another. Yes I may have to think days in advance and go to 3 different store, but darn it sometimes ya gotta do stuff you don't feel like doing for the cause! Yeah... for the cause! (I've always wanted to have my own cause!)

So if you have a good healthy recipe that you've tried and tested and want to share, please post it here. If you have any good cooking tips (think back to my garlic comment) to share...please post it here! If you are in a food slump and just want to vent about it... post it here! If you just want to point your finger and laugh at my lack of food skills... post it somewhere else, I'm busy trying to figure out that dreaded question. WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

Where´s my cap and gown? I've graduated!!!

I did it! I did it! I did it! I graduated! Not only did I graduate, but I'm the freaking valedictorian!!! So what if I'm the only student in the class! I'm preparing my speech-o-encouragement now!

So what's all this yelling about you ask? (and if you weren't asking or wondering you should have been... try to keep up ok?)

I have finally given my first pair or pants away because they're just too big! As you can see in the first two pictures I am in my old pants (pardon my fly being open in the first picture... oops!).

Keep in mind these suckers used to be tight on me, especially in the butt, hips, thighs and belly...well everywhere except the lower legs I guess. And I'm not talking a little snug, these puppies were lay-down-on-the-bed-suck-it-in-and-be-careful-not-to-breathe kind of tight.

I knew it was time to get rid of the old and bring in the new when Marco said "Sarah you look like you pooped in your pants" as I was walking out the door. Apparently the drawers were saggin in the caboose just a wee bit. I did I quick mirror check and sure enough... I looked awful. Think elephant skin only in denim.

So I took out my "skinny" jeans from the cabinet and slid them on up over my knees, over my hips, around my belly and with a slight tug I zipped them! They FIT! (see picture three)

I got my skinny jeans on and not only did they fit but they were roomy in the legs and butt. Yay! I wore them to work last Monday and felt awesome about it all day long.

It feels good to have accomplished that much. It's only the first hurdle but I don't think it's going to be too long before I'm jumping over the next one. Still taking baby steps but my walk isn't as wobbly anymore.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I just turned 30... I need to reflect.

So Friday, September 15, 2006 was my 30th birthday. The big 3-0. I'm no longer a 20-something, but I'm actually 30. WOW.

I took the day better than I had anticipated really. Of course I got all the sweet advice from others about how young 30 still is, how young I look, how incerdibly rediculous I was being for thinking 30 was such a big deal. Another good friend of mine sent me an e-card...what a sweet gesture that he actually remebered my birthday. Of course it would have been better had it not been a sympathy card expressing that his thoughts and prayers were with me in this difficult time. HAHA smartass.

So Marco asked me why I was making such a big deal out of 30 and I after thinking about it I told him what I thought it was. I just thought I would have done so much more by time I was 30. When I was younger, maybe late teens/early 20's I always imagined 30 as being more settled than what it is. Maybe my way of thinking was just silly or not really grasping what 30 really is.

I imagined having a career, not still trying to get through college. I have two years left to go on my degree and have put things on hold for now. I imagined at 30 I would have a house of my own. I did not imagine finding a bigger space to rent. I thought I would have written a book by now, not just thinking about what to write about, still getting my thoughts in order. I thought I would have at least one kid, maybe even two.

I imagined 30 being...well just so much more 'together' than I feel. I still feel like I don't have some or any of the answers that I should have. Questions like "what will I be when I grow up?"

But as I talked to my husband about what I thought 30 should be, he started pointing out what 30 actually was to me. Quit looking at what I don't know but at what I do know. Quit thinking about what I don't have yet, but what I have aquired. He may not say it elloquently (in fact it sort of sounded like he was telling me to quit whining) but he was right. So here are some accomplishments I have made in my 30 years here on this planet that I am happy about, that I'm thankful for and that I am proud of.

1) I have made wonderful friends. I have friends from grade school and high school that I still talk to. I have made friends for life. No matter how long we're apart or how much our lives change I know I am always in their hearts and they are in mine.

2) Although I didn't go to college until I was 25 I still worked and learned a lot about myself. I have learned that the most joyful thing in a nursing home is actually the residents. I learned that even though I wanted to be home at Christmas with my family that these elderly people were depending on me to be there for them and that I had a responsibility to them. I have traveled for work with two different jobs and learned that living in a hotel isn't all it's cracked up to be. I worked in a pharmacy for 5 years, learned all about drugs, customer service, insurance, doctors offices and who really runs them (thank God for nurses!).

3) I did go to college and found out that it's ok not to know what you want to be when you grow up. I learned that you didn't have to know at 18 what your career path should be and you could still turn out ok. I learned that I love to write and that it's an outlet for my feelings. I learned that I love school and learning new things but no matter how much I try I learned that I will never like biology or history...ever.

4) I packed up and left my family, friends and everything familiar to move abroad and I learned that I can live apart from them no matter how impossible I thought it would be. It still sucks at times, holidays and some days when you just want to hug your mom or to go hang out with your friends, but I learned that I have to do what is right for me no matter how hard it is at the time or how guilty I feel for not being there.

5) I learned that the more I plan out my life the more twists and turns life hands me, taking me where I never knew I would be. I learned that I have to be flexible in my dreams and in my wants and that it's ok to change my mind.

6) I learned that my grandma was the most pure hearted, sincere women I will ever meet. She always made me look at both sides of the coin and to give the underdog a chance. I learned that even after death her life lives on, in me and in all the lives that she has touched.

7) I learned how hard it is to live in a foreign country and how brave people are to speak a language that is not their own. I will never look down my nose or be frusterated with a person whose English is less than perfect (when I am in the US) or whose accent is so thick that I can barely understand them. I know now how humbling it is to be somewhere and need medicine, or help or to be lost and to not be able to ask for it. People who are brave enough to attempt to speak a language that is not their own, in a country where they are unsure of themselves deserve respect. I am not ignorant, just foreign.

8) I learned that the "man of my dreams" came in a totally different package than I ever imagined. He is everything I never knew I wanted.

9) I learned that I have so much more to learn!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Take THAT Mr. Puppy Pants!

Well I finally did it. It's been a long time coming. I've had the little booger almost 2 years now and I finally beat him at his own game...

I out ran my dog.

Granted he has 6 inch long legs and I don't run in a fur coat...but still..I beat the little guy. Now we all know puppies have lots of energy. Scooter is almost 2 so he's still got a lot of puppy play in him. We can walk him for an hour and come home and he will immediately get a ball and want to play catch. He'll play catch until he can't breath anymore, lay down for 10 minutes and be right back at it. We just can never wear him out.

Well I went for a jog last night (I am no longer jalking (combination of jog and walk) (can you put a parenthesis in a parenthesis?) but jogging now) and for the first time ever I made the entire path without stopping to catch my breath or stopping to walk. THAT in itself made me feel pretty good, but then I turned around to jog back from where I came. I honestly felt like I could run forever. My legs felt great, my chest felt great, I had a head full of thoughts to keep myself occupied and not focusing on how long I've been running.

Unfortunately I only made it about 1/3 of the way back around and turned to check on Scooter and he was sitting in the middle of the path about 20 feet behind me, just chillin'.

I called to him "come on buddy, let's go" and he did look at me...only to make sure I saw him as he turned his head the other way and slumped down to his belly. Stubborn ass.

So I jogged back to him and of course as I approached he rolled over to his side and laid his head on the pavement. When I was only a few steps away he made his final dramatic move and rolled from his side to his back, all 4 legs straight up in the air.

"Aw come on Scooter! Let's go!"

Legs in the air.

"Wanna good boy treat?"

Slight movement of the head in my direction, but still in the full dead position.

"There's your friend."

Yet another twitch, but still no variation from the dead puppy in the road position. That's when I knew I did it. Usually when I tell him his friend is coming he jumps up and goes on high alert for an oncoming dog. But this time I only got a flinch. He didn't even want to play with his friend.

I beat him! I out ran that ball of energy. Not only did I outrun him, but I wanted to keep going! I still had energy to burn. Way to go me!!!!!!! Of course Scooter wasn't having any of that. So I conceded. We stood around for a little bit and I rubbed his belly as he caught his breath. Finally when he was ready... we walked home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Only 0.6 kilos away from my treadmil!

Just a quick little post. I lost another kilo or 2.2 pounds this week bringing me so so so very close to my first big milestone! Only 0.6 kilos more and I OWN that treadmill! (for those who don't know, I made a deal with my husband that if I lose 15 kilos or roughly 32 pounds, I get a treadmill for home)

My long term goal is to lose another 70 pounds for a total of 100 and I am off to a good start!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just a quick update...

Sorry I've been a slacker this week w/ posting but it's been a hectic one for me. Hopefully next week I'll get back into my 'groove'.

So I weighed in Tuesday and good news, another 3 pounds gone! YAY!

I am still wearing my old pants as my "skinny" jeans are still not where I want them to be quite yet. They're so so close though. I put my hand in my back pocket of my old jeans while I was walking down the hall at work today and I about slid the whole thing right off my arse! Right in front of the VP's office no less. Wouldn't that have been a show? I guess I need to invest in a belt until those skinny jeans are ready to be worn.

I've been having some rough patches, moments of weakness and just plain old stress this week. If you have any extra karma or good vibes can ya send them my way? Even a prayer or two would be helpful.

Sorry so short and not very witty. I promise better things to come!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's got a good beat and you can really dance to it!

anthem –noun
a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism: the national anthem of Spain; our college anthem.

a piece of sacred vocal music, usually with words taken from the Scriptures.

a hymn sung alternately by different sections of a choir or congregation.

There is a line in one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, Spirit Voices, that says “some stories are magical, meant to be sung” and that's just so true.

I think we all have that one song that just speaks volumes to our hearts that tells our story. That song, that anthem, is comprised of the emotions and phrases that others snuck into your head and stole, scratched down on paper, put a melody to and sang while strumming their guitar and beating their drums.

Whether it be a love song depicting your heartfelt emotions about your significant other, a hymnal from church rejoicing in the spirit of the Lord, a catchy rhyme that brings you back to your teenage years or a bitter sonnet whispering the deep scarlet secrets of a relationship gone wrong...we all have them... it’s your own personal anthem.

Now I’m not going to break out in song and dance for your entertainment, and trust me it would be entertaining. More of a comedy than anything, but I digress...

There is one anthem... that I can always go back to, always turn on and get my groove on to. One song that always brings a smile to my face.

I will have to preface the revealing of my song by telling you a little bit about my late teens and the better part of my twenties. Since I was 18 and up until a few years ago, the better and most fun part of my life was spent in dance clubs... gay dance clubs for the most part. My most fond memories (and some I can’t remember, but according to the pictures I had a BLAST!) are of listening to music, feeling the bass in my chest and cuttin a rug with my friends.

There were times when I would look at my friends and think, does it get better than this? I can still hear those songs now and be transported to a time when all I had was a stack of unpaid bills at home, a Captain Morgan in one hand, a cigarette in the other, some change in my pocket (or in my bra if I had my black pants with no pockets in them on) and the bass of the music beating my heart for me.

So now I am in a different place in my life, on a new journey. Sometimes during weight loss you need an anthem, something to remind you of fun times (especially when exercising doesn’t seem so fun), something to keep you going, something to just get you on your feet and make you move your butt. That’s what my anthem is to me.

The song is, of course, a bass thumping club song, the type many people can’t stand. But the words of the song, although simple, are really what makes this song so important to me. I listened to the song when I didn’t have a job and was deeply in debt. I listened to the song through breakups that I didn’t think I could survive. I listened to the song when I didn’t think there was anyway up. I sang the song to my friends in Wales while we waited in the rain in line for a cab to take us home (drunk of course).

The song is by an artist names Inaya Day and it’s title is “Keep Pushin’” The lyrics are simple, like I said. Inaya got her start singing in church, has a beautiful strong voice and can belt out this song in such a way that it makes you want to believe. The lyrics are:

Keep pushin’on
things are gonna get better
It won’t take long
keep on movin to the top
Keep on movin movin
Keep on pushin to the top
Keep on pushin pushin
Keep on pushin to the top

Reach on up and reach on in
Keep on pushin and you’ll win
Reach on up and reach on in
Keep on pushin and you’ll win
Youre gonna win, gonna win, gonna win
Your gonna win

So the mountain seem to high
And the valley low
Keep on pushin
And you will know
You will know

Of course parts are repeated and just reading the lyrics without hearing the song doesn’t do it justice. But believe me, when that beautiful strong voice belts out “Keep on pushin and you’ll win” you better believe I feel like I’ll win. When I’m halfway through my workout, feeling like I can’t go on and she's preaching at me to “reach on up and reach on in” it truly makes me reach further, push harder.. I pull my head up, reach deep down inside and find something, that little fire in my belly, that keeps me going, keeps me pushin.

If only to humor me, download the song and listen to it at least once. There’s a few different versions, remixed by different artists. Find one you like, or can get through. Get past the long intro that all club songs seem to have. Listen to that woman belt out my anthem and tell me it doesn’t make you feel like maybe you can keep on pushin.

Please, share your anthem with me. I can always use more inspiration.