Good Hair and My Beyonce Moment

So I’m about 20 pounds away from hitting the 75 pound mark – nice!  Somehow losing 75 pounds in a year sounds so much more exciting to me than 50.  If I’m pinning down an exact time, I weighed my highest (ever and all time) somewhere between the end of last February and first of March.  I think I initially lost a bit just getting rid of the salt bloat from February Fashion Week, but it found its way back by March. It’s hard to forget the number on the scale at the casting office for Extreme Makeover:  Weight Loss Edition.  That was a life-changing trip to LA in so many ways!

But back to my original point (focus, Christina!) – 75 pounds!  I decided when I hit that mark, likely in the next couple of months if I’m a good girl and eat my veggies and keep hitting the gym, I’m finally going to cut this hair!

The bigger I am, the bigger I want my hair to be – I feel like it balances things out.  And let’s be honest – I’ve lived 90% of my life in a Southern state, and we love our high hair.  Closer to God, you see.  #BigHairDontCare as my friend MAM would say.  My hair is REALLY long right now, and maybe the longest it’s ever been.  I’ve realized in the last decade that I have really good hair.  It took a few disastrous haircuts in the 90’s, but I’ve figured out a few things.  I can’t go too short, I’m lazy with a blow dryer and I can never have bangs.  Please see the photo evidence below.  These were the only two I could scrounge up, as the rest have been burned.  I do love this Glamour Shots, though.  So funny.  Worst cuts of my life were when I was 16 and when I went through rush at Kansas State.  Short is a fail, but it might have a slight edge on bangs.  Woo.

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I can work a bob like no one’s business, though, and I’ve been pulling it off since I was three.  See?  I couldn’t take my eyes away from Guiliana Rancic’s bob during last week’s Fashion Police, and I think I have my next cut!

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So back to this Beyonce moment.  The fabulous Lindsey Parnell has been doing my hair at least five years, including any chance I could snag her while in town from Seattle.  I was so happy to be reunited with her when I moved back to Dallas, and my red has been restored!  (Surprise!  It’s not natural.  Oh, you already knew that?  Well anyway, apparently as I’ve aged, my natural color is dark blonde.  Not that you’ll ever see it.)  She’s absolutely worth the drive to The Shops at Legacy in Plano, because she’s both a lovely person and kickass with color.

Anyone who has ever done my hair will tell you that blowing out my hair is a whip, though no one whined as much as Brannon back in the day.  And he had giant muscular arms!  Wuss.  There’s a reason I wear so many ponytails, and it’s because I hate blow drying my hair.  Well let me tell all of you fine people – if you haven’t had two people blow drying your hair at once, you are missing out.  It is so glorious!  Lindsey set me up with such a nice treat!!  I love having my hair played with anyway, and then you want to double up?  Adam (the gent in the pic) asked me if I felt like Beyonce, and I totally did.  When I win the lotto, I’m going to set up a dressing room Kardashian style and have two people in to blow dry my hair always.

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Happy Blue Friday, everyone!  #GoHawks 🙂

Airplanes, Long Weekends and the Little Joys of Life

Oh man, first things first.  Sometimes you can’t see in the mirror that your ass really is smaller, but American Airlines is happy to let you know.  Seat belts are just as good as showing progress as a notch on an actual belt, not that I’ve worn one in years.  When you’re super short waisted and very large busted, there is nothing less flattering than a tucked in shirt with a belt.  You can validate this statement by looking at any picture of me between 1994-1999.  Shudder.  Not okay.

I know the vast majority of people reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is nothing worse than the day that stupid airline seat belt won’t fasten.  Not even with Spanx, not even when you skipped breakfast.  It sucks, and it’s a pretty humiliating experience.  Not the worst one I’ve ever had, but right on up there.  I have had countless experiences in my life that you’d think would humiliate me right into motivation at the gym, but you’d be wrong.  Hell, I’ve been offered a new car if I would get down to a normal weight for my height.  No dice.  The human brain is a stubborn beast.

I can’t remember the first time I needed an extender.  I’m sure I was embarrassed and I was probably flying alone, but like most bad experiences, I just try to block it out and move on.  (Yes, I know I probably need therapy.  Bill my bio-dad.)  I’ve been within 20 pounds of my highest weight just a handful of times, thank goodness, and each time I swear I’ll never be there again.  Right around my high school graduation, my last year at TCU, right around graduation from SMU and of course right around one year ago.  Crazy how fast I packed on those pounds.  Clearly school (and work) stresses me right into the fridge.  When you’re making your way closer to the largest pant size at LB, it’s time for a little talk with yourself.  I’m not sure of the day or time, but an AA flight attendant took pity on me during one of those time frames and told me to just hang onto my extender.  No more asking!  I kept it right with my shoe bags.  For someone that earned status on AA before she started traveling for work, that was GOLD.  Not having to ask every time just brightens your day.

I think it was official the last time I flew, but not only did I not need an extender today, I actually had three extra inches on the seat belt.  I think it was the particular plane I was on, but I don’t care.  Extra inches?  I didn’t have to suck in and pray?  YESSSSSS!  Happiness abounds.

Not as happy was the lack of leg room since I was too cheap to pay the extra scratch for my typical seat in 9E (14B would suffice.)  Life will go on, though, and I can start booking the exit row again.  Did you know you can’t have an extender in the exit row?  I didn’t until one insanely crowded flight had an empty exit row, and I was sympathetically told no when I asked to move into one.  The girl that ended up in that seat looked substantially larger than me, but hey, the seat belt doesn’t lie.  I’ve avoided the exit row for a while because you lose a couple inches of precious ass room, but bah.  The exit row is mine again, bitches.  These long legs can stretch out ALL. DAY. LONG.

I need it, too.  Hard to juggle my healthy, soy/dairy/gluten free oatmeal (thanks Starbucks!) coat, scarf, water and a neighbor with only four millimeters between my knee and the chair back.  I guess that extra leg room up front does make a difference.  I’ll try not to pout that I was number two on the upgrade list and still didn’t get it.  Sigh.  At least the person in front of me didn’t decide to lay back on my legs for his inflight nap.

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So great to see the Nestlerodes and meet their darling baby.  Hard to believe it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve been to Chicago!  Just like my visit a few Februarys back, I was blessed with sunny skies and moderate temperature.  I didn’t even mind the snow – Katie and I walked up to the local TJ and quilt shop and I was happy as a clam.  Don’t mind the puffer coat, I am totally skinny underneath it.  Promise.

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Back to the grind of the week – meal planning before I leave work today and stopping by the grocery store on my way home.  I was a little less strict than I’ve been in the past this weekend, and my foot definitely paid the price.  I had an amazing hostess that let me pick out my own groceries, but I didn’t ask about vegetable oil (soy) at any restaurant, enjoyed the hell out of some french press coffee both weekend days and best of all, had a couple bites of the most delicious butter cake in the world at Mastro’s Saturday night.  That steak!  Insane.  I hobbled around all Sunday morning, but I suppose I can split that blame between wearing heels on Chicago streets and having some of the things I know aggravate my inflammation the most.  Oops.  Worth it, though.

Cheers and stay warm, east coast friends!

Even Though It’s Not About the Loss…

I’ve been really frustrated lately because my weight has hit a wall. Nothing since Christmas, really, and I’ve picked up my exercise and been just as good with the food. At least I think I have – time for some journal review to see where I can make some changes.  I know I’m still getting way too much sodium and it looks like I need to pick up my protein.  But look at that gorgeous calorie burn from today!  Have I mentioned I love this app?  My Net Diary, y’all.  It’s free, so try it out 🙂

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Two big reckonings while I’m here on the treadmill cooling down:  (FYI, I perfected walking and typing when walking to work every day in Seattle.  NO EYE CONTACT!)

  1. I have lost ten pounds in the last month. Sure, it was all in December, but ten pounds in a month is legit. I’ll try not to think about the two weeks prior, because I’ve probably lost ten pounds in six weeks.  I would like to see it come off faster, but the end game is my health.  The best gauge of my progress will be in February, when I retest my hs CRP levels.  For those of you just tuning in, that’s the test that looks at cardiac risk and inflammation, and I was at a 20.55.  3.0 is the max for normal.
  2. I got an email from the casting agents for Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition this morning, inviting me to reapply. I’m happy to say I no longer qualify, as I don’t need to lose half my body weight. YEAH!  They would probably still consider me, as I need to lose more than 100 pounds, but still. This time last year? I needed to lose half my body weight.  Maybe I could have gotten on the cover of People magazine when they feature “Half My Size!”  Sure, the scale isn’t moving, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve lost 45 pounds from this point last year. I can beat myself up about not dropping 1-2 pounds a week, but I won’t. It’s one of the reasons I left Weight Watchers when it’s worked so well for me before. I just couldn’t take the discouragement.

I’ve talked a little bit about how I wasn’t in a good place last year, and seeing that sad yet politely encouraging face at a weekly weigh in might have tipped me over the edge. This time I’m going at my own pace, in my own time, and rewarding myself with little things like a jeans shopping spree and opening a tote of old clothes in a smaller size.  I still see the appeal of a weight loss show – free trainers, nutrition help, and surgery to put everything back where it belongs.

I already know a plastic surgeon is in my future – for the perky boobs I’ve always wanted and never had – but also for skin removal. It’s coming my way. I know I need to get out of my own head when it comes to the skin thing, because it’s a bigger issue for me than my actual weight when it comes to dating. When you feel gross, you don’t want anyone to touch you.  I think if I was already in a relationship I would feel better about it, but it’s hard to get excited about starting from scratch.  Dating is the WORST.  Plus, it’s just really f’ing annoying to work hard to get in shape, yet there’s some weird loose skin on your belly.  I’m just not snapping back like I used to when I’ve lost weight in the past.   I’ve heard some of my slim mom friends bitch about it too, but at least they have a little one to show for it 🙂  Stretch marks happen to the best of us.

At any rate, I know what I see in the mirror isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but we’re always hardest on ourselves, right?  I’m sure the right guy would love me even without perky boobs, and they do look pretty fantastic in some great lingerie.  Not that I would ever take a Kim Kardashian or Amber Rose style selfie.  No thanks!  Have I mentioned those will be the first thing I have done?  I already have a couple surgeon referrals to check out when it’s time.

On a lighter note, I picked the worst outfit in the world to put on straight from the gym.  I am obsessed with this sweater and skirt set my parents got me for Christmas, but it is toasty warm.  Just what you want when you actually spent an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill because you were typing out a blog!  At least the locker room has plenty of make-up stations and Kiehl’s in the shower.  I definitely put on my air conditioner for the drive to work, even though it’s 38 degrees.  At least I had the courtesy to make sure no one was around me, unlike the 18 year old blonde girl that no doubt has me in my bathrobe blow drying my hair in the background of hers.  Rude.  Also, it’s too bad I love ivory sweaters, because I’m definitely the same size I was in the pic I posted wearing a grey cardigan, but it’s not nearly as flattering 🙂  The double layer of shirts probably doesn’t help either.

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Headed to Chicago on Friday so I need to find all my snow gear, and I will definitely bring this outfit!  Why do I always find myself up there during the winter?

Cheers!

Christina

Weight Watchers, Food Journals and Weight Issues

Good morning!  First, just have to say thank you for everyone that read my blog yesterday!  I think I had 125 views, and it even found some people that weren’t already my friends.  So cool!  Y’all know I love some statistical data and WordPress has all kinds of charts for me.

So, food journals. I’ve been on Weight Watchers on and off since I was 16, and heaven knows how many thousands of dollars I’ve spent.  That said, I think it was a good use of money.  Any time I’ve kept weight off for any period of time, it’s because I was doing WW. Having weekly accountability for my weight and food journaling really makes a huge difference, and I know I’ve learned a lot about nutrition through them.  (And a bunch of dietician, nutritionists, my BFF Colleen and countless other sources.)

I like the way the new PointsPlus is measured – it’s from fat, fiber, protein and carbohydrates.  What I didn’t get, though, is that there wasn’t any kind of data.  You bank all this interesting info, and then you can’t see the results.  Surely there’s an app for that, right?  And there is – MyNetDiary.

I tried the free app and cancelled my WW subscription within a couple of days.  This thing is awesome.  All the data this nerd could want, and then some more!  DATA!  YESSSSSSSSS!

All the normal stuff like meal tracking, workout tracking, measurements, weights, vitamin intake and a handy dandy analysis graph to let you know where you are totally f’ing it up. For me, it’s in sodium.  It’s never been a big issue for me, but water retention is a hateful snatch and it’s something I’m starting to keep my eyes on.

The best part, though?  You get a total nutrient count for the day, and you can select the things that mean the most to you.  Since I’m severely anemic (this is why I’m always covered in bruises and take a nasty iron supplement) it’s a way for me to check my food-based iron intake.  In this example, I totally screwed the pooch.  And wow, so much fat!  It was healthy fats from avocado, but I also managed to get 24 g from the chicken sausage I had for lunch. I just left the default for calorie ratios, but I imagine I could tinker with it if I were so inclined.  You’re not nearly as worried about carb intake when the majority of your carbs come from fruits and veggies, though.

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Coolest thing ever.  EVER!  There’s more data if you want it, but I just wanted to give a snapshot.

If you’re looking closely, you can add 40 pounds to my current weight and see that I had gotten to a very scary place.  My highest weight came after ten days of NYC market, where my biggest fears were breaking tiny plastic chairs and wondering where the hell I could get a salad.  Salt bloat is a killer when you eat out three times a day!  Well, or twice a day.  Lunch was usually a coffee and a handful of almonds.  #FashionProblems. When I was trying out for The Biggest Loser, some of my friends were baffled and didn’t think I was big enough to qualify.  That’s one of the beautiful things about being six feet tall, but at my heaviest weight, I would have been one of the largest women ever cast on the show.  EVER.  Seriously.

I think that’s a big part of why I didn’t get on there – for one, I don’t have a lot of the self-esteem issues most of the contestants have.  When you’re told you have such a pretty face enough times, you believe it 😉  I was 25 pounds away from a potential contract with Ford Model’s plus size division when I was in high school.  I have a lot of issues, but thinking I’m ugly isn’t one, at least not since I was a teenager.  I’m just extremely overweight, and fortunately lucky enough to have a “thin” face and not all crazy like Honey Boo Boo’s mom.

The second thing is that I’ve been over 200 pounds and near 300 for most of my life. I was a 174 pound sixth grader, and I’ll remember that weight always thanks to the nurse announcing it to the entire room.  Awful.  But I digress…the most successful stories on TBL are from people who were at a normal weight most of their lives, but gained the weight later.  I was at my thinnest adult weight when I started grad school in 2009, but I would still qualify for TBL then too.  I felt amazing, though, and I’m so excited to get another 45 pounds off and get back into my jeans from the Gap!  Shopping goes into another post, though 🙂

So again – this isn’t a weight loss blog.  I’ve been dieting my entire life, and there probably isn’t much new I can offer in that area.  My metabolism is shot, but my bigger issues are truly health related.  And not the normal overweight person health problems – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.  I’ve never had any issues there, likely because I’ve always been so active and I’m already a pretty healthy eater.  I don’t want to be anemic anymore, and I don’t want this inflammation issue taking over and hurting me down the line.  And I’ll be honest, diabetes and high blood pressure will probably catch me too.  I’m not that far from 40, and getting older sucks!

Cheers and Happy New Year, everyone!

A little before and after…

I didn’t really think 40 pounds meant much, until I compared these pics.

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Sure, charcoal is loads more flattering than white, but the camera doesn’t tell much of a lie here.  The pic on the left is in LA, March 2014.  The one on the right is in Springfield, MO, December 2014.  Yay.  I was able to go down one jeans size, if not two.  Damn you, junior fit.  (Also, thank you for the best fitting jeans ever!!  Torrid and Silvers FTW.)

Funny story about the LA trip – Holland from The Biggest Loser was casting for Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and wanted to interview me.  She remembered me from 2011’s casting for TBL.  I needed a little R&R and Mom was able to come meet me.  I didn’t get the show, but I did resign from my job when I got back from that trip.  Thanks, Mom!  That trip changed my life 🙂

It’s not a weight loss blog. Seriously.

Update on 1/30:  I’ve now moved my original post to it’s own page so it’s easy to find.

Seriously.  But with great change comes great reward, so I’m sure I will post about those changes too.  This all started in October, when I found out I had to cut gluten, soy and dairy from my diet.  Completely.  WHAT???  And don’t get me started about losing wine.

How did I even get here?  I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, trying to eat organic when I can, smaller portions, all of that good stuff.  But I’ve had a rotten stomach since I was an infant – mom will happily tell you her shoulder smelled like vomit my entire first year.  Sorry, mom.

Two years ago, I was living in Seattle and just feeling sluggish, run down, exhausted.  My memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be, I had constant headaches and just general blahs.  I just didn’t feel smart anymore.  It could have been the lack of sun, missing my friends and family, the stress of a new job, a mostly sedentary lifestyle…you name it.  Maybe it was that giant student loan on top of a giant downtown Seattle rent 🙂

Enter Dr. Vo.  I signed myself up for a primary care physician who was also a naturopath, figuring trying to fix my issues without popping a ton of chemicals couldn’t hurt.  I blame west coast living and too many chats about nutrition with my BFF.  After a zillion page questionnaire about my life and more than a few tissues full of tears as I walked through my concerns, I was sent on my way for blood tests.  Standard, right?

Let me preface – I’ve been overweight my entire life.  For a child who started her life continually throwing up, I’ve always managed to gain weight.  Fortunately, all of the normal things that happen to chronically overweight people never happened to me – my glucose, insulin, any diabetic factor was great.  Cholesterol is fantastic.  Even my liver is in fine shape, which is awesome considering how much it works.  What wasn’t fine was my cardiovascular risk.

When my blood tests came back, Dr. Vo was very concerned.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she asked me, “Christina?  Have you been in a car accident?  Are you covered in bruises?”  If you’ve known me for more than five minutes you’ve probably seen me fall, run into a door, etc.  Bruises are my every day, thanks to anemia, piss poor depth perception and general clumsiness, but I didn’t have anything going on out of the ordinary for me.  One of the tests Dr. Vo ran is called hs CRP, which looks at cardiac risk and inflammation.  Clinical acceptable range for this is 0.00 – 3.00, and I registered at 20.55.  OFF THE CHARTS.  No wonder she was concerned.

So if I’m not recovering from a physical injury, what’s the issue?  Food.  My body is trying to heal itself from a car wreck of food.  Good grief.  No problem, I thought.  Dr. Vo gave me an anti-inflammatory elimination diet so we could get to the source.  And then reality set in – I travel constantly, and I’m supposed to give up gluten, coffee (I live in Seattle!!!), dairy, soy, nightshade vegetables, all alcohol, red meat, eggs and a handful of other things I can’t remember anymore.  I lasted two weeks.

Life goes on, and finally I hit my breaking point.  After hitting a particularly low point, I listened to my friends and family, hustled myself to a chemical prescribing doctor and got myself on an antidepressant.  With my family’s blessing, I was able to quit my job, take a few months of R&R, move back to Texas and take my time making a career change.  Amazing what a little pill and quitting a job can do for a girl’s psyche!

The fact remained that I had gained nearly 90 pounds since I started grad school in 2009, and I didn’t have that weight to gain.  The first 20 pounds came off pretty easily, thanks to daily walks, supportive roommates who like to cook and ramping down my restaurant time.  After all, this girl was on a budget.

Time goes by, and I started a new job in August.  I’m still not feeling like myself, but things are on the upsweep.  On my October visit to Seattle, I checked in with Dr. Brown and my numbers are ran again.  Guess what?  My inflammation is still off the charts.  Instead of doing an elimination diet, I signed myself up with an allergy doctor and also had an independent lab run an ALCAT.

Food sensitivities and food allergies are not the same, though they can have similar results.  You might know someone with an iGe allergy that has to carry an Epipen, avoiding shellfish or peanuts like the plague.  Or maybe it’s an allergy that causes rashes or hives.  I get those same reactions without an actual allergy.  Lucky me!  I won’t need a hospital trip if I’m exposed to shellfish, but chronic inflammation can lead to all sorts of nasty things like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and heart issues.  And on a less serious note, I’m really bitter that my skin was better as a teenager than it is now.

Countless needles later (all over my back and giant patches on each arm – I should post pics) and all kinds of blood put into vials, I come back with a mesquite allergy and a whole host of food intolerances.  For the next six months, I need to immediately avoid the following:

  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Blueberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Carob
  • Cottonseed
  • Cranberry (but it’s so good with champagne or vodka!)
  • Garlic
  • Grapes (WINE?????)
  • Plums
  • Spinach
  • Black Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Ginger
  • Goat’s Milk
  • Honey

I won’t even get started on the mild intolerances, which I’m supposed to “avoid when possible.”  Seriously, all that’s left is meat, eggs and a handful of fruits and veggies.  Not my favorites, though.  Who has an intolerance to spinach??  This girl.

The same day I got my results back, I quit.  I went straight from the lab to Trader Joe’s, and started a new adventure of label reading.  I cleaned out my cupboards, took my wheat based vodka and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches to friends in my building and called it a day.  I got to have one last splurge before I was tested for Celiac, since you have to have gluten in your system, but aside from a couple coffees and glasses of wine, I haven’t voluntarily touched this stuff in two months.  And thankfully, I don’t have Celiac disease.  I puff up and my blood hates me, but my intestines are functioning just fine.

The result?  My skin looks WAY better.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s on the way.  I’ve lost a few inches and I’ve lost a total of 45 pounds since leaving Nordstrom in March.  I still have 45 to get back to my grad school weight, but it doesn’t seem as out of touch as it once did.  It’s a whole ‘nother blog post and a handful of cocktails to talk about how I found myself there in the first place, but I’m glad I’m going in the right direction.

My allergy doctor told me that the ALCAT tests can be controversial, and to focus on the major allergens to see how I feel.  Dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts are such major allergens that food companies are required to clearly label if the food contains these ingredients, which is a major help.  Restaurants are really hard, because while it’s easy to avoid the obvious (bread, pasta, cheese plates) soy is EVERYWHERE. I hate being the girl that asks if chicken is seared with butter, vegetable oil or olive oil, but that’s just how I have to be.  This is why you haven’t seen me in restaurants for two months.

At any rate, who loses weight during the holidays?  This girl.  And it’s because I had to change the way I ate.  This time it finally clicked.