Best Life Challenge: Tracy
Weight: 238 pounds
One of Tracy's obstacles is figuring out how to be healthy with a busy schedule. "Also I really lack the discipline to lose weight using the diets I've previously tried," she says. On average, Tracy eats out 10 times per week, and often feels she's too busy to go to the gym.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Tracy places her happiness with her life at a 4. "If you look at my life on paper, it would seem like an 8.5-plus, but in my reality, a lot of my great accomplishments and special moments are affected by my weight," she says. "Sometimes it feels like I'm like this really interesting person who's inside a fat suit. But I just cannot seem to find the zipper."
Another feeling that has been out of touch, so to speak, is hunger. My goal is to only eat when I'm hungry rather than when I historically would grab food. Recalling Colin Cowie's approach to eating being something to enjoy and cherish nurturing my body, Matt and I have stocked up on some great produce and getting back to cooking. I absolutely love to cook and think that many times I can create meals that are healthier and tastier than restaurants. Because cooking is something I'm passionate about, I've decided that I want to do a "food-umentary" along my journey. I've started taking photos of the meals I'm having—this way I have documented my meals. It also makes me more excited about producing a yummy and beautiful meal.
For all those friends who have reached me and sent me good luck and offered their support, thank you so much. I think many people were so surprised that my weight was a big issue and something that bothered me so much. It's great to know that there were some people that had been out of touch for a while who offered great thoughts. Thank you to everyone, especially my mentor, Dana, who has been an amazing inspiration.
Thank you so much everyone,
By the time 8 p.m. rolled around, I was starting to get bored and realized that Whole Foods was open until 10 p.m., so we went grocery shopping. Who knew what I would discover? My Whole Foods has a new bistro that serves, guess what? Beer and wine. How fabulous is that? The one place of natural and healthy foods, the one place where I didn't think that I would be haunted by the pressures of sharing a drink, has succumbed to the pressure. Matt said he wanted to have a beer. I'm sure that would have been tons of fun: I'd go shop and come back after he'd had a beer and some sort of free-range, grain-fed snack food. Uh, no. We grabbed what we needed and high-tailed it out of there.
Other than that, my week has been good. Friday night I worked out for two hours—an hour of racquetball and an hour doing cardio. I even met someone who is looking for a new racquetball buddy. I fear that the better I get at the sport, the less of a workout it is. Why am I so good at everything? It really is a curse. Then on Saturday my friend Eileen did an amazing thing and surprised me bright and early so I had a workout buddy. We had a "fantastic" workout. (Note that "fantastic" has been rebranded. The a new and improved meaning is "working out and invoking burning sensations, exhaustion, out of breath, and feeling as though I'm in Army boot camp; previously known as miserable.")
I've worked out far more than I even expected I could have during these last few weeks, and my food has been really clean. We don't have to change our eating habits until Phase 2, however when I get off the treadmill and it says that my "fantastic" workout only burned 120 calories, I can't even imagine grabbing french fries, ice cream or cheeseburgers. I had my diet review with the dietician and Janis said that I'm doing really well. Obviously my friends at the various drive-thrus around the Chicagoland area are probably suffering a major decrease in revenue, but I'm sure that they'll understand.
People keep saying that I look like I'm losing weight. I think that they have to say that. Maybe they're all afraid to say I really just look tired. The laundry itself is enough to make me dizzy! I am basically doing double the laundry I was doing before. This is one of those hidden things that is an extra "bonus" of my new program.
So even on a really tough week I did great, and very proud of myself sticking to the program perfectly. I'm toasting my water with lemon and lime juice.
Onto brighter topics that don't involve pain and suffering, my food-umentary has been going great. All my friends have been asking questions and giving me great feedback on the recipes I'm posting. My good friend Rayce is coming to visit and she somehow confused my food-umentary with a menu and asked me to make sure I'm able to make certain items. I'm just so happy that I've begun to rebuild my relationship with food and not look at eating the things I create with such guilt. I'm learning to cook in a healthier way and even been teaching Matt a thing or two.
The scale has been cooperating, but I must admit it's very difficult to resist the temptation of daily weighing. It's very hard when you want to be reinforced for good behavior, although we're not supposed to use the scale. I've had very few changes to my diet with the Phase 2 changes, once I started seeing that all those workouts were only racking up about 300 calories, I realized that 30 minutes at the gym didn't equal a candy bar.
A funny thing happened to me last week, I was running to a doctor's appointment right after I finished working out and was starving. Somehow, I'm still very hungry after I work out. However, I didn't have time to get something from a sit-down restaurant. I remembered those Slim-Fast drinks and ran into a drugstore and grabbed a six-pack. I think the cashier thought I was crazy, I had already opened the case and started drinking while I was in line. This was a huge success because I didn't plan well, but still managed to make an okay choice that could get me through the appointment and get home, where I could make a good choice.
This week I'm thankful for my massage therapist who, although she can't work miracles, certainly helped get me back on my feet and back to the gym. I only took one day off to wallow in my pain, and for that I should have a monument erected or something.
In pain and pleasure,
It's funny because in the last two months I find myself saying and thinking things that are brand new to me. Yet somehow they have "snuck" into my life almost like they were always there. I wonder if all these changes really have been there, but have been suffocated by all the yucky food and coach potato behavior. Looking back, I just can't even believe some of the things I would eat, how much I would eat, or how I thought that I was busy. Now I look at food and know that every time I put healthy food in my mouth it's a sign that I'm respecting my body. And even with my hectic schedule, I've still found time to get to the gym and even miss it when I have my days off.
When I was in college I remember someone saw me and said, "I saw you running on campus." And I quickly replied, "Oh, I was probably running to catch the bus." Looking back, that statement means so much—the only time I was running was to catch a vehicle that would carry me somewhere. Now I'm driving to a park to take a class to learn how to run. Isn't it funny how things have changed?
As much as I was quite skeptical that I would truly be changing, I'm finally beginning to believe it. I make decisions that shape the way I want my future to be and am much more conscious about those decisions. I'm doing things today that I never would have considered possible, and finding that a little bit of belief in myself goes a very long way. I feel like sometimes that this journey is a lot about letting go and introducing myself to a whole new me. I know it took me a while to believe it, but I'm positive that having faith and believing that these changes are real and permanent is having a bigger impact than I could have ever imagined.
Believing in myself!
My world has really changed so much. I used to lie on the bed and suck in my tummy to get clothes to fit. Now I'm trying to rig up a belt-pinning system because my clothes are too big.
I actually threw a blouse over the top and wore my little black dress to work today. Mostly because this dress has always been such a huge indicator of how good I am as a person. And today I realized that my self-worth is completely unrelated to a piece of clothing.
So I threw on the dress, and I feel like I'm taking today to remember that I shouldn't feel guilty for gaining weight. I'm taking this moment to be appreciative of how wonderful I feel and noting that this journey is about the person I'm peeling away the layers to find. And I'm feeling better irrespective of what outfit I'm able to fit into.
Feeling cute on the inside,
Last weekend I had a completely new experience. First, I have no idea what size I wear because this is what I would normally call a "small girl" store. So I started to embark on this adventure very tentatively by checking the options then circling back. I decided that I must stop just buying things that fit and really focus more on the really great feeling.
There was an adorable dress only in size 12, and I figured that I would just try it on. Maybe I could estimate how long it would take to fit into and buy it as a motivational outfit. To my surprise and enlightenment, the size 12 dress I tried on fit perfectly. In my mind confetti and balloons were falling from the ceiling because this was truly better than any New Year's party I could imagine. I have not worn a size 12 since I was in junior high, so this was amazing and incredibly moving. Most women find themselves crying in the dressing rooms during bathing suit season, and I was crying for joy. I guess there's always a first for everything.
It's funny because I'm standing there easily zipping up this dress, and at the same time thinking that this journey really hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would have been. I spent years sitting around thinking that something magical was going to inspire me or motivate me, but nothing more than losing weight has inspired me like this.
I was celebrating this last week a lot. I have FINALLY made it to "one-derland" when I weighed in the other day at 198 pounds. And even as I saw the numbers, I was still really surprised. I'm really working on being happy with the changes.
Appropriately timed, I'm heading off for an adventure vacation where I'll do rock climbing, kayaking and hiking. How ironic that when I was looking at hydration systems for our hike that I was choosing based on which bag was heaviest. Had I taken this vacation in February of this year, my body would have been 40 pounds heavier—what a treat I have given myself!
For all those that are thinking about starting a weight loss program: My suggestion is to RSVP "Yes" to yourself and soon you, too, can have a dressing room party!
With much jubilation!
The absolute highlight of the trip was the rock climbing. Well let me clarify that a bit, the rock climbing shoes hurt my feet so bad, next time Oprah is complaining about her high heels, I think she should slip on a pair of rock climbers. The good part is that you're so scared the whole time you're climbing that you completely forget about your toes feeling like they're in a vice.
I did four climbs and found it to be really rewarding. It was very scary, but repelling down after you've made it to the top was worth it. Falling from 200 feet in the air wasn't very fun, and it felt like I fell about eight feet (…after watching the video, I realized that it was actually only about 18 inches—how embarrassing!) However, I liked the rock climbing because it really challenged me to believe in myself, my whole body was hanging on teeny little ridges in the side of the mountain, and many times the climbing guide was encouraging me to make a move that seemed impossible.
In many ways, rock climbing was really the greatest metaphor for my weight loss journey. I have a great support system to help me when I start to slip, and know that I can get back to climbing and not have to fall all the way to the ground. Also I know that this is about really a lifetime of complex climbs and that racing to the top of one hurdle doesn't mean I'm done.
So I'm back to my usual life in Chicago, unfortunately a little bit of a head cold, but I'm planning on setting some serious running goals. The number of people who have told me that The Big Weigh In episode had them cheering for me. Confessing how difficult it was for them to start running was very inspiring. Thank you to everyone for their support.
The scale is just hanging tight, which is a very good thing. Although sometimes I feel disappointed that I'm not losing weight, I realize that at some point when I hit my goal weight my new goal will just be maintaining. So I have a self-imposed plateau until I can get well and back to the gym. Hopefully I'll be able to start peeling away the pounds again once I get back to my old self.
I'm so glad chicken soup is approved on the diet!
Coupled with my career change I managed to buy a car that I ended up not liking at all. Unlike a blouse that you try on and decide you don't like after a few hours, cars cannot be returned. I made a really bad decision and it was really going to cost me, to say the least. This has been a tough time because it was the first time I bought a car by myself and I feel like a total failure. For now I'm going to hang tight and just pray for a good resolution. Right now every option that is being offered is really less than acceptable.
To top all of this change off I'm still feeling sick. So I'm stressed and not working out. This has been a really tough time for me and with everything that is going on, sometimes friends will say, "How's the Oprah thing?" And frankly, I haven't been able to concentrate on it like I would normally want to.
What I'm doing is concentrating on making good food choices, trying to maintain my current weight and know that I'm going to get through all of this hectic mess and resume the better lifestyle that I had adopted before I had such a collision of major life changes.
Trying to maintain!
So it happened—off the wagon I went. I went through the fast food window and was a very bad girl. I know that God is with me right now because when I went to dive into my ice cream there was something in it. I think it was catsup, but who knows? It was enough to gross me out and get me to throw it away immediately. The fries tasted yucky, so all in all I just had a cheeseburger. I do feel like God was saving me from myself, and it really reminded me that even if I had all that junk food I would have felt terrible and it wouldn't have helped me feel less stressed.
I have been doing Pilates and some weights in the wake of my head cold, which makes me feel better even though I know that cardio is what is going to help peel away the pounds. I know that the rest of my life will have big decisions and challenges, and for that I'm happy to know that for the last few weeks I've been maintaining my weight loss and not slipping back like I would normally.
I know that all of these things are temporary and I'm looking forward to getting back on track!
We went out to one of my favorite tapas restaurants. For those who have never enjoyed the "small plates of Spain," tapas are usually really delightful, appetizer-sized portions of food that isn't really healthy in general. I had a salad to start (good job), then I had a bite of this heavenly lamb that had this tangy sweet sauce (eek, one bite was too much, I think!), then I moved onto beef tenderloin with blue cheese (again, scraped the blue cheese off and avoided the fries), scallops—absolutely yummy (no sauce, so I had two scallops and didn't feel bad), bacon-wrapped dates (I drooled over these but didn't have a single one), another order of the beef (again, just had good conversation during this dish), escargot (okay, total yuck so glad someone ordered something I don't like).
Did I mention the sangria was everywhere? Have I mentioned how iced tea, although a great drink, doesn't have the fun party atmosphere of sangria? I was waiting through all these lovely dishes because I knew what was our dessert. They serve an almond sorbet, which is so small but really delectable. One of the people I was dining with even mentioned that it seemed like I was "sandbagging" a few courses before dessert. I smiled and thought about what a good girl I had been. I ate my sorbet knowing that it was worth the sacrifices and that the rest of my day had been perfect as far as food goes.
For now the only dates I've been having are ones with my personal trainer, which is perfectly fine. Now if only I could come up with some sort of treadmill that after every mile I got to have a tablespoon of that almond sorbet. There's a great new idea!
It is totally amazing to be participating in this event, but right now I just keep checking the weather and doing two-a-days until the race. When we registered, I requested a size large T-shirt, thinking that was such a risky move (I was a XXL at that time). But now that I'm wearing size large in my dress shirts, I know that I made the right choice.
I'm also in process of planning a big trip to Seattle for work, but Matt is going to tag along for the weekend prior, and we're going to do some hiking and mountain biking. I remember the last time we were hiking three years ago and I had to stop every 20 feet to catch my breath. I'm really excited that hiking will be more fun for both Matt and I, and he won't have to stop while I take little breaks. When I was requesting info from the tour guide for the bike ride, I requested that they extend the bike ride longer than 10 miles, because 10 miles is really not far at all and is normally the distance I ride to and from my Pilates class.
I really feel like a changed woman. I remember a few years back telling someone that all I wanted to do was fit back into a size 14. And now that I'm there, I'm surprised in some ways that I had the ability to do this myself and it didn't require some remarkable intervention like gastric bypass surgery.
Today I'm going to thank God for small favors. For instance, I don't have to wear a bathing suit this weekend for the triathlon, and frankly, that's a very good thing.
Here's to the first of many triathlons!
The relay teams went last which, of course, made me have a complete freak out—it was 5 a.m. and it looked like I wouldn't be on the bike until 10:30 at the earliest—and the temperature was going up every moment. I forgot to eat breakfast, and thank goodness Matt went out to grab breakfast for Vanessa and me. Now was the time to hurry up and wait, so much time was going by. My lesson learned by 6 a.m. was that apparently the transition station, where you change from one sport to another, is a major pick-up area. So, if you're single and looking for some major motivation for the triathlon, I suggest you hit the road and start training.
Vanessa was awesome on the swim, we were heat number 52 and she beat a lot of the people from heats 48–51. I call her the little amphibian. I ran out of the transition area and got started, and then people started passing me. It was really tough—and somehow I completely missed until the day before that I wasn't allowed to wear my MP3 player during the race. I depend on music motivating me so much and I was left to my own devices and no distractions from the heat, sun and just trying to avoid potholes since I don't know how to change a flat tire. As I was riding for 40 kilometers I thought about how I would hardly believe you if you had told me at the beginning of the challenge the person I had transformed into.
As I was nearing the end I actually passed a number of people. And as I rounded the curve, Vanessa and Matt were cheering and filming me finish. I turned the corner and rode as fast as I could to transition to Cathy. Cathy did great, and we had a great little photo op with our medals at the finish. I was thinking, as I finished, about my next triathlon—where I'm doing the swim, bike AND run on September 8. I am so incredibly excited…and did I mention sore, hungry and a bit sunburned. No pain, no gain, right?
I feel great and know I need to make some tweaks in my training for the next tri. But I've really come so far—this is awesome. Thanks Vanessa and Cathy, I couldn't have done today without you.
Here's to the first of many triathlons!
I also went to my doctor, an experience I used to completely dread. I would try to concentrate on relaxing so my blood pressure wouldn't be off the charts. I had what they call "white coat hypertension," which means that I was fast on the path to having high blood pressure. Since the challenge started, I've had a few 120/75 readings lately, so I dread it a little less. When I was in the office this time I had a remarkable 90/60. First I questioned if I was still alive with a stat like that, but apparently it's great news.
When my doctor came in he was so supportive and continued to comment on how impressed he was with my success. I have a wonderful doctor, but I must admit that going in for my checkups is no longer something that I worry about. Admittedly, the nurses think I'm odd because I get so excited when I get results from my lipid panel or blood pressure, but for everyone who has had a struggle with their weight, I know that the scale isn't the only way that progress is seen.
I ended up going to the gym after 10 p.m. several evenings, and even though I worked out, I came home and still did more work. I managed to get in my a.m. run and my p.m. strength training despite all the time I was at the office. Even though this was a tough week I made it, and I didn't just survive—I really triumphed. The people on my team were amazed that I had so much dedication, but I found that actually during a stressful week the exercise really energized me and helped me be a better contributor.
I even managed to eat pretty healthily considering the stressors of the week. I did have one sad realization—I think I have to give up Thai food. I had been sick several weeks ago and had a lot of red curry. Red curry has a coconut milk-based soup that is spicy and has chicken and bamboo shoots. It tasted really comforting, and I thought that it was the salt that caused the scale to go up and didn't think much more about it. On Saturday Matt and I went out for Thai food and, sadly, the scale hasn't gone back down. So for now Thai food is going to have to be a treat, and I think it is going to have to go out of the normal rotation. I was a little sad about that but maybe I'll just enjoy it a bit more when I have my Thai treat.
All in all things are going well. I'm here to announce my pact with Vanessa—we've decided that together we're going to lose 20 pounds each by the next show. Vanessa is a great friend and we're doing a good job holding one another accountable and cheering one another on. I think that it's helpful to buddy up every once in a while and shoot for a goal. I really love having a workout buddy and realize that it is due to amazing people like Vanessa that I've been successful. Losing weight is tough. I've been successful in this journey, but it's the people who tell me I look great or that they admire my dedication that keep me going when I hop on the treadmill and after two minutes I feel like crap. It's those same words of support that get me out of bed in the morning to run at 4:45 a.m. and pass on banana cream pie even though it's my favorite. Thanks again to everyone who is supportive in this journey.
Skipping the Thai to make my goal,
I'm really excited to be in Seattle. Last time I was here I was much heavier and had to keep stopping when we were hiking. Now I'm excited to be much more active. The best part about Seattle is that, food-wise, there are a lot of healthy choices. What I really like out West is that it is a very healthy lifestyle, there are people who actually kayak to work—isn't that fantastic?
Things are going well, and I think I'm finally to the point where the Best Life Diet is really my Best Lifestyle. It's no longer a question of making excuses—it's really just about realizing possibilities. Tonight I ran for 18 minutes straight on the treadmill—that's a new personal record for me. I'm very excited and cannot wait until I can run for 20 minutes straight. I still remember when walking two minutes and running one minute for 20 minutes seemed like a workout.
It's great to realize such a change in my capabilities.
I have been running in the mornings at 5 a.m. and talking with my mother who is an avid runner for tips. I've been doing sprints as well as working on endurance. Although I have been doing all this training, I recently got very nervous that I would start to get winded and end up hailing a taxi to make it to the finish.
I planned to run alone, however, I asked Matt to run with me at the last minute. He came along and did a great job even though I feel like I could hear the worry in his mind—"When is she going to stop and walk?" My mother gave me great advice to not worry about everyone else and do Tracy's best run. There were two women chatting like crazy and they reminded me of how my mother is incredibly yakky and talks the whole time she runs. I ran behind those ladies for the first mile, but then they decided to walk. I forged ahead past the mile marker and knew that I was keeping my pace pretty close to my training. The next mile is kind of a blur, mostly because I was waiting for my body to tell me to stop any second. Thank goodness for my MP3 player. It kept me going as I just concentrated on breathing and doing what was my best effort. It was amazing, I made it to Mile 2 without walking at all.
The very next thing I knew I had made it to about 2.75 miles and then there was a hill. I knew that I had far exceeded my expectations for the length of time I had run without stopping. I realized that it would be silly to walk across to the finish and that I should take some time to walk now. I walked up the hill, and when I got to the top, I could see the finish. I started jogging down the hill.
When we got to the part near the finish I started sprinting, I figured that I had some energy left and I might as well pass a few people and feel like I did my best. I wasn't sure of the time, but I desperately wanted to be 45 minutes for time, so I really started to hustle. I honestly must have passed about 20 people right near the end. Matt and I held hands as we crossed the finish at 38:10.
Under 40 minutes for someone who could hardly run a tenth of a mile last spring is something that I'm really proud of. Thanks so much to my mother, my trainer and, of course, Matt who did a great job being my running buddy.
I went to the running shoe store and was getting a new pair of shoes and someone asked if I was doing the marathon. Hmmm. Interesting fantasy, but no. Just 5Ks for now, thank you. I remember feeling like I was so out of place in March when I was buying new running shoes. Now I walk in and know exactly which shoe I want because I'm a real runner!
When shopping for clothing I always sort of felt like size 12 and 14 were just barely "normal girl" sizes. Now that I'm buying some size 10s I feel like I'm not on the cusp of being a "plus-size girl." Also I don't feel like I have to tell the sales ladies I'm just browsing or looking for a gift for someone else—I really belong in the "normal girl" sizes.
At this point the only place I don't know that I fit in is at work. I feel like I'm trying to get by on just two suits because at the rate that I'm outgrowing suits I can hardly keep up with a wardrobe. Sorry everyone that I'm a frequent "outfit repeater." When I get to my goal I promise a whole host of great outfit variation.
Yes, working out at 11 p.m., or arriving home after 24 straight hours of travel and work can be hectic, but this truly is the life I want. I love the gift of going to the gym late when I know everyone else is there because they have the same level of dedication, and spending an hour on the treadmill and arc trainer. It's a great way for me to wrap up the day, and feels great to kick off my 4-inch heels and give myself a special moment to collect and reward myself with something that is completely about me.
There is no end to this journey. I firmly believe that there probably is not going to be a day when I cannot think twice about the food and beverages I put in my mouth. That being said, I have an amazing perspective on how it feels to dig down really deep and find the motivation and self-love that it takes to get my life back.
I think, going forward, Matt and I will continue to choose our newfound adventure spa vacations and that we're going to keep trying new activities. We never were quite fond of lying on the beach. And who's to say that rock climbing, running 5Ks, mountain biking and a massage aren't the best ways that we can share our time together.
I recently watched the first Oprah Show and caught when Oprah mentioned that this isn't about getting into a pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans. Well, I'm in a size 10 and can definitely say that this isn't what this journey has been about. A very nice perk, but not the impetus for my motivation. This has been about making time for me to make the right choices in my food, and about every morning when I wanted to lie in bed and found that place deep inside that got me out running.
So no, the last show isn't about taking a break and going out for milkshakes and burgers. The last show is a great time to reunite with my fellow challengers and show everyone that something I thought was never possible can come true.