Category Archives: Battle of the Butt

Taming Ghosts

Hey, y’all…

This post is going to have precious little to do with my usual weight loss and a hell of a lot to do with making peace with the ghosts of your past. It is also insanely long and has only one picture, which is at the end. Not scared yet? Please continue.

This particular ghost in question has nothing to do with my food demons, but I’ve been battling this monster since I was 15 years old. In order to explain, we have to go back to that time…

I should warn you that this story might be upsetting for some. It certainly is to me, even 35 years later. Time to get it out, though, so here it goes.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s teenage years are awkward. Mine were no exception. When I was 15 years old, I had a problem with my knee and had to take a year of adaptive physical education. That’s where I met a boy who eventually became a good friend. We’ll call him Randy. That’s not his real name.

Randy and I became good friends and hung out together a lot that summer. His family was kind of a mess like mine, so we had that in common. My family, like many alcoholic families, loved to focus on other less fortunate people to steal attention away from the fact that we didn’t have our shit together either. They felt sorry for Randy’s situation and welcomed him into our family with open arms. He loved it because, frankly, there wasn’t much love in his house. Everything was just dandy. For awhile.

At the end of the summer, Randy pulled me aside and confessed his undying love for me. Uh…

Maybe I should’ve been flattered, but he was my friend. I felt only friendship for him and my 15 year old brain didn’t know how to handle this turn of events. My mother and sisters were no help. I was basically told it was all very sweet and adorable, interlaced with my mother reminding me that I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 anyway. And that was fine with me because I didn’t want to date him.

He started buying me gifts. I absolutely adored Snoopy and he bought me everything with a Snoopy on it that he could find. I accepted them because I thought it was mean not to. I was a teenager, for fucks sake. No adult was giving me any guidance. I had no idea that I was just encouraging him.

School went back in session and that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse. See, I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t UNpopular, but I stayed to myself and my little group of four girlfriends. I had no time for school activities because I was in dance all the time. My life was outside of school as far as I was concerned…so no one really knew me. Now hold onto your asses because this is going to shock the hell out of those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile: I was shy. Shut up, I really was shy around people I didn’t know. I was a total nut around my girlfriends, but around other kids at school…not so much. It wasn’t easy for me to trust people.

Anyway, Randy had lost a bunch of weight at the end of summer and went out and bought all new clothes to impress me. He showed up at school and all the girls went NUTS. He did look amazing. I was really happy for him. The cheerleaders were especially ga-ga over him. I thought to myself “Good! Go find a girlfriend and I’m happy for you!!”

That’s not what happened.

Girls started flirting and asking him to dances. Did he like it? No. Did he turn them down graciously? No, he didn’t. His standard reply (and I shit you not) was “I’m sorry, but when it comes to beauty you just don’t hold a candle to Dianne.”

What..the..actual FUCK?

You can imagine how that went over. Not only were these girls understandably hurt, they turned their anger on ME. Because who was I to compare to them, right? They were gorgeous and popular cheerleaders ‘n shit. Or at least one of them was. All the girls in question were prettier than me. Their clothes were perfect, their make-up was flawless. These girls had it together. And then there was 15 year old me wearing nothing but t-shirts and jeans and lugging around a tote bag with Morris the cat on it. A fashion plate if ever there was one.

The entire school year was hell. Randy didn’t budge in his “love” for me. He doodled my name all over his notebooks. He brought me up in conversations with everyone. He was clearly obsessed.

Family life started to get extra hellish as well. He already had everyone’s sympathy in my family and he started playing it to his advantage. Poor Randy. Dianne doesn’t love him. Why, God, why? My sisters started pressuring me to be nicer to him. My mother too. Still so much conflicting information. Be nice…but not TOO nice. Not like THAT, understand?

There wasn’t one moment when anyone in my family considered that they were pushing me out and bringing Randy in. I was already dealing with the asshole dance teacher (you remember him, right? Told me I was fat at nine years old? Yeah, him). My parents were separated, so my barely-there father was non-existent. My girlfriends were all involved in school activities. I don’t remember even trying to talk to any of them about it. I was just trying to handle it as best I could, but I was quickly feeling like I didn’t matter – even to my own family.

It went on and on like this for months. He would pressure me to go to a school dance with him, I’d say no. He’d mope around in front of my family, they’d chastise me for being mean. Over and over and over again. And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, he started showing up at the dance studio to watch me dance. He made friends with my friends. He met “the King”. He knew everyone. To them, he was this sweet teddy bear of a guy who had an adorable crush on Dianne.

To me, he was a close friend that I didn’t trust as much as before for some reason…who caused me a ton of pain and had wedged himself between me and my family. And now he was infiltrating the dance studio.

I started refusing the gifts. Mom (and quite a few others) came down on me swiftly. It was mean and ungracious to refuse to accept them. He’s such a sweet boy. What’s my problem? Why can’t I just be nice?

Towards the end of the school year, I started sliding into a pretty sad place…emotionally speaking. I felt there was no place where I was welcome. No one thought I was nice. No one was on my side in this crazy shit. I felt trapped and I didn’t know what to do. Then the King, my dance teacher, asked to see me. Shit.

He pulled me aside with the expression of a concerned, loving father, which always set me on edge. He was not a loving or concerned person. He was a despicable person who took every opportunity to hurt and manipulate me. Even back then I felt it was true, thought it would be years before I had the courage to break away from him. He sat me down and asked me how things were going. Fine. That was always my standard answer. My family had long instilled that standard reply in my head. We didn’t need to burden others with our troubles. We’re always fine.

Of course, he brought Randy into the conversation. And there it was. With all the fake concern he could muster, he proceeded to tell me that I needed to give Randy a chance.

Go ahead and ask me why he said that. Go ahead. Why?

Because a girl like me with ten extra pounds on her should feel lucky to have ANY boy’s attention.

Not even kidding. He said that shit.

I let him say what he had to say. I listened to it. When I look back at times like these I wish to God someone, some adult somewhere, had taught me to have some balls and stand up for myself. I just listened. And I left feeling like there was truly something wrong with me because I didn’t have romantic feelings for Randy.

I started shutting everyone out. It hurt too much to be told all the damn time how mean and horrible I was because poor Randy was hurt. Everyone obviously had more love for him than me. So fine, I’ll back out. I hope you’re all happy with each other. By the time the school year was ending, I was making plans to leave home and never come back. I didn’t know where I would go, but it was better than putting up with this hell.

I remember walking home from school alone one day when Randy’s brother came walking up beside me. He wanted to tell me that he was sorry for what I was going through. He told me he didn’t think it was right that his brother was turning everyone against me so much. We talked all the way home and I remember feeling happy for the first time in a long time just because someone understood that my life was hell.

Then something really horrible happened.

My mom had to leave for an hour and I didn’t want to go with her, so she left and told me to lock the door behind her. We had just been fighting…over Randy. What a shocker. In my teenage anger, I decided not to listen to her and left the front door unlocked – but the screen door was locked. Sure, it was only locked with a thin strip of metal, but I was a teenager…so I was invincible. About ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

Randy.

He was crying. I rolled my eyes as soon as I saw the tears. What the hell did I do now?

He told me that he’d seen me talking to his brother and that he was so hurt because he finally understood what was going on. Obviously, I’d been secretly dating his brother the entire time and THAT is why I wouldn’t go out with him.

What???

I was so angry. I started yelling and I couldn’t stop. I let it all out: how I felt about him manipulating everyone, shutting me out, being so obsessed with me. I emphatically denied dating his brother (for the 500th time, I wasn’t even allowed to date).

The whole time he stood there, he was holding something behind his back. I didn’t know what it was. I assumed it was flowers or another Snoopy. Whatever it was, I told him I didn’t want it. I told him to go home and come back in an hour when my mom would be home so that she could punish me AGAIN and he could get sympathy AGAIN. I slammed the door in his face.

I stepped back and watched to make sure that he left. I couldn’t see him through the window in our front door because it had a sheer curtain over it, but I could see his shadow. I saw him pull something out from behind his back. It was long and sort of bulky. He was pointing it in the air for some reason…and, just when I started realizing what it was, the loudest boom I’d ever heard in my life made me jump right out of my skin.

A gun. He was firing a gun.

As long as I live, I’ll never forget that moment in my life. After a second of absolute terror, I bolted down the hall and locked myself in the bathroom. Hysterical and crying, I waited for another shot. He hadn’t hit me, thank God. It didn’t take me too long to realize I’d just done the dumbest thing I could do: I barricaded myself in a room with no exit. What was I going to do…wait until he found me and then let him kill me?

I don’t know how I found the courage to do it, but I opened the bathroom door and stuck my head out to see what I could see. I had an open bottle of rubbing alcohol in my hand in case he was right there. Logic, huh? I was going to try and throw it in his eyes if he caught me coming out into the hallway.

All clear…but I could see his shadow on the living room carpet. I didn’t know if he was inside or outside. He fired again and started screaming my name. I ran into my parents’ bedroom and shut the door, but the lock on the damn door had been broken for years. No way to be safe in here, but the phone was here.

I grabbed the phone and called the police. We didn’t have sub-stations back then and they were a good 30 minutes from me, but I had to try. I told the dispatcher what was going on and she desperately tried to get me to calm down.

Another shot rang out.

She asked if I could get out of the house safely. I told her I didn’t know where he was. She told me to get out if I could and run to a neighbor’s house, so that’s what I did. I kicked the screen out of my parent’s window and climbed out. I ran straight into my neighbor’s house, no knocking, and hid behind one of their living room chairs. Mrs. Smith (surprise, also not her real name) was scared to death. She was like a second mother to me. She had no idea what was going on.

Randy wrapped the rifle up in a towel and walked home to wait for the police. He’d been crouched outside my parent’s bedroom window and heard everything. The fact that he went from crazy to calmly walking home was one of the first times in my life that I remember knowing that there’s a God. He could have killed me and the Smith family for sheltering me, but he calmed down and walked home. No rhyme or reason.

My mother arrived home to find four police cars in her driveway and her daughter missing.

Mrs. Smith went over to tell them where I was. I remember a police officer standing over me and trying to talk me out from behind the chair. I could see his lips moving, but I couldn’t hear a sound. It was like I was underwater or something. To this day, I don’t remember the sound of his voice. I simply didn’t hear it. When I heard my mom crying and I saw her, I came out.

It took about 30 minutes before I could find the words to talk. I remember being freezing cold, even though it was a warm California day. I couldn’t stop shivering. A few officers stayed with us and the rest headed to Randy’s house.

All of this happened before there were anti-stalking laws, so basically this meant that he had to actually shoot me in order for the cops to do anything about it. He hadn’t. I was unharmed, physically anyway.

The cops took him into custody and confiscated the rifle he’d fired. They left the other 17 guns in the house. Randy was locked up for observation for 48 hours. That’s the best they could do. No charges were filed because I didn’t have a mark on me.

Suddenly my family went from telling me how horrible I was to being concerned about me. I was scared to death, but I was relieved to at least have my family back. I saw Randy when he wasn’t there. Any loud noise put me into instant hysterics. I was constantly afraid of strangers around me, afraid that they would hurt me. I was afraid to be alone, but when I was with people I was still afraid. I was always afraid. I’m sure I had either post traumatic stress or something like it.

It was the last week of school. The police told Randy he couldn’t go back because he had to stay away from me, so his teachers let him finish from home. My friends walked me from class to class because I was afraid. And, even though I thought things couldn’t get any worse, a rumor went around the school that I was raped.

I wasn’t raped. He never touched me.

Trying to help, my sisters called the school and told the principal that they weren’t convinced I wasn’t raped. LOL. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. It’s like a really horrible reality show. I was called to the principal’s office to talk. A social worker, a police officer, the school nurse and my school counselor were all waiting for me. I sat with them for an hour, repeating the story and telling them again that I was not raped. They finally believed me, but the damage was done. Again.

So that’s the story of the ghost I’ve been carrying with me for years. I was probably in my 30’s before car backfires didn’t leave me in tears. It took me a long time to get over this.

By the way, Randy stayed away from me after that. A year later, he was coming home from a camping trip when he was killed in a car wreck. I was sad about it…and I still am. He was a good person before this whole episode, and I had faith that he would be again.

Back to the ghost…

Hot Mess Hubby is a country boy who grew up in Texas. He also served in the Marine Corps for six years. That means he likes guns. It wasn’t a problem in California because you need 37 permits to even think about owning a gun there. We weren’t living in Texas for very long when he brought the first one home.

I cleaned around the thing. I was afraid to pick it up. And I can’t even adequately describe how much I freaked out when he would clean it and the barrel would even come close to pointing at me.  (And let me just say here, HMH would NEVER point a gun at me. He is the safest person I know. So if you’re not a gun person, please don’t think we’re one of those families who accidentally shoots grandpa on Christmas because we’re just playing with our guns in the house.)

I don’t like being afraid of things. It sucks. I’m actually pretty afraid of bridges. What did I do about it? I walked the Golden Gate Bridge, bitches. I like the feeling I get when I don’t let my fears win. So when we moved to Texas, I was determined to make my peace with guns. I don’t think anyone should live in a home where there are firearms if they don’t know how to handle them safely.

In 2014, one of my new year’s resolutions was to get my concealed handgun license (CHL). I had done so many fabulous things in my life that I was sure it was time to get over the gun thing. I went to the gun range with HMH, which I’d done a few times when pressed to do so. It didn’t go well. Even with double ear protection, the sound of gunfire had me in tears within minutes. I was okay with HMH and I was even sort of okay firing a gun, but not with other people firing near me. I was terrified.

I didn’t get my CHL last year. It was too much for me. It felt like what trying to run a marathon when I weighed 383 pounds would have felt like. Too much, too soon. I gave up.

Now it’s 2015 and I’ve conquered even MORE badass shit. I’ve lost 116 pounds and 8 sizes in clothes…there’s no limit to what I can do, right? So I’ve been to the range a few more times. Still pretty terrified. But about a month ago, something pretty awesome happened: I found a group of badass chicks called A Girl & A Gun. They’re into competition shooting and educating women about gun safety. And a friend of mine made me realize that, as much as I love him, HMH is really not a very good teacher when it comes to guns. So I went to a meeting. At the gun range. By myself.

It was really weird walking into the gun range without HMH, carrying our crappy little .22 and a box of ammo in a Kate Spade tote bag (hey, just because I’ve got a gun doesn’t mean I have to carry it in a backpack, peeps. Handbag ho forever!)

But I did it. And it was awesome.

It was so great to get to hear about the whole gun thing from a woman’s perspective. Most of the women in the group are competition shooters. The ladies who run the group are patient teachers and all the ladies in the group are welcoming and just plain badass. I stuck with our crappy .22 for the first meeting. At the second meeting, I had the courage to fire a few higher caliber guns. I was afraid of most of them, but the sheer sense of comraderie made me feel safer than I’ve ever felt at a gun range. These women were my sisters and they were going to make sure I knew what I was doing when I was ready. They let me set my own pace, but they offered help and let me decide what I wanted to do. They graciously showed me their guns and explained what they were. They offered me to try them all. They created a safe place for me to explore something that used to terrify me.

Not long after, I started shopping for my own gun. I was just curious at first, but it got to be fun looking for something of my own. Last week I found a gun that doesn’t freak me out…and I started learning how to handle myself when a gun jams.

Today I went to the gun range with HMH again…and even he’s noticed how much more relaxed I am. I still jump when a stranger is firing a high caliber weapon anywhere near me, but I’m much more confident than I was. I’m slowly squeezing the 15 year old victim out of my head. It feels pretty good, peeps. It feels pretty damn good.

hot mess gun goddess

If you want to learn more about gun safety and shooting, I highly recommend connecting with a women’s only group. As much as the men in our lives may love us, there are some things women can teach us better…and that includes how to shoot around the hooters. 🙂 Go find A Girl and A Gun chapter near you.

I’ll keep you posted…


Radians Remington Womens Eye and Ear Protection Combo Pack

I have seen the light!!!! No, really. I have.

So do you remember the episode of Friends when Rachel FINALLY realized Ross had feelings for her? They’d known each other since high school and he’d had a crush on her forever, but he could never get her attention. Yeah, I just had a moment like that…but not with Ross Geller.

Ross and Rachel…perfect for each other

 

The past several weeks have been a struggle for me. Things are crazy stupid busy at work right now, and not likely to lighten up until the holidays. My 12 year old craptastic Hyundai has been breaking down, viciously dipping into my handbag fund and putting household repair projects on the back burner. We’re in a bit of a financial bind at the moment.

On the happy side of things (I think) I’ve landed an opportunity to do some ghost writing for a decent sum…but where do I find the time for that? It’s rare that I can find time to write a blog post of my own. Am I to work a full day and then come home and work several hours more, then struggle to relax enough to get a few hours of sleep? For a Hot Mess like me, that’s not much quality of life…and honestly, one of the main things that keeps the food demons in check is me maintaining my quality of life.

To top it off, HMH has changed his work schedule and we’re all in the middle of adjusting to a new way of life because of it. So I’ve got a mountain of things to get through and the new schedule is jacking me up…and I’m constantly running around to compensate for it. Honestly…I’m quite stressed out. Things are a mess.

As y’all know, I’ve been trying to make exercise a real habit – and for a few weeks there, I was actually doing it. My alarm goes off at 4 am so that I can get up in time to get on the elliptical trainer and get on with my day. I was really kicking ass at getting it done every morning. And you know what? It felt great! I loved getting to work in the morning feeling wide awake and ready to go, even though I’d gotten up at an ungodly hour. I loved the energy I had and the powerful feeling in my legs and the downright badass feeling I had because I was actually effing DOING IT!!!

And then things got busy. Then they got crazy. The ghost writing job came…and the car problems…and the family members visiting and all the little busy work in between. And what did I do? What I always do: I started shutting down and eliminating things that I deemed an inconvenience. So…what have I always looked at as an inconvenience?

Exercise.

Working out has always been a mundane task that I stubbornly chose to do because of what it can do for me. Even then, I don’t stick with it long enough to really see what it can do for me. Except for those few weeks that I truly enjoyed last month.

Yesterday, I was sharing all this with a friend while lamenting my own stubbornness and inability to juggle all this crap that’s going on…and BAM! It hit me like a truck load of Little Debbies: as things have gotten crazier, I’ve not had time for exercise and the stress is piling up.

No exercise.

Stress piling up.

Not exercising…and stress is getting worse…

Wait a minute…I may have something here…

DUH!

I know, I know, I know…most of you are reading this and thinking “HMP, you’re a dipshit!” The older I get, the more I realize it takes me five times longer than the average person to really learn the big lessons in life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles and books on exercise and have been told that it’s a great stress reliever…and every time I’ve read it, I’ve said “yeah, yeah, yeah…blah, blah, blah” in response. For me, I’ve always thought it meant exercise that people find enjoyable…and I can’t honestly say that about any cardio.

Sorry, fitness freaks of the world…it’s not fucking enjoyable to me. So I wrote it off as fitness guru rhetoric. It never occurred to me that ANY exercise, when done regularly, relieves stress. Even if you don’t like doing it.

Until now.

Suddenly I was Rachel Green realizing she had feelings for Ross. But I’m not Rachel, I’m me. And I don’t have feelings for a lovable paleontologist…I have feelings for my elliptical trainer. Feelings that, for once, don’t involve anger and revulsion. Holy shitballs, Batman!

Actually, this has happened to me before. In 1986. Yep. I had just broken up with my first love and I was absolutely a mess. Even though I’d graduated high school four years earlier, I was flipping through my high school yearbook one day for some reason and saw something I hadn’t seen before. My sweet, lovable pal Dougie had written this in my yearbook:

“I never had the guts to tell you, but I think you’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world.”

WHAT????

I didn’t see it for four years because I never read it till then. What a superficial bitch, right? LOL. Poor Doug was probably waiting by the phone for a few days, wondering if I’d call and say I felt the same way. But no…I was too busy being happy that I was finally out of high school. I never knew he had feelings for me until it was too late. He probably led a horrible life after he realized he couldn’t have me. Poor Doug.

Actually, I’m still a little embarrassed that I never read what he wrote in my yearbook. He was the sweetest guy. How rude of me not to read it until it was too late. And then when I read it, I cried like crazy because I was all “OMG, the love of my life doesn’t want me…and poor Dougie might have really been the one but I was too blind to see it!”

We were just two ships that passed in the night. Actually no. He was like a really sweet ship that probably would have been really nice to me. He would’ve treated me with respect and wouldn’t have tried to show me his anchor till I was ready. But I was a total bitch ship. Like a big shiny cruise ship with too much shit on her deck who thought she was all Royal Caribbean when he was just some local tour boat. Oh, for fuck’s sake, I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Let’s get back to my point…if I can find it.

All this time I’ve been angry and pissy about exercise, never realizing what it was doing for me. Thank God I had the fortitude to stick with it for a few weeks. I wouldn’t have noticed the difference otherwise. I stuck with it long enough to miss the benefits when they were gone.

Anthony and Cleopatra. Peanut butter and jelly. Ross and Rachel. HMP and exercise. Matches made in heaven, peeps.

(By the way, I reconnected with Dougie a few years ago. It turns out that not being able to date me didn’t ruin his life after all! He’s happily married with children and everything. I’m so glad he was able to rebuild his shattered life after losing out on a hot mess. *smirk*)

I haven’t exercised in a few weeks. I’ve been letting the stress monster get to me. My elliptical trainer is dusty and sad looking. It fills me with guilt every morning when I grumble and stagger past it on my way to the bathroom. So today, while I was housecleaning, I went into the bedroom and gave it a good cleaning. I wanted to talk to it, but I wasn’t sure what to say.

I’m sorry I’ve been a cold hearted bitch?

I can’t believe I never realized what you do for me?

I’m really looking forward to our date tomorrow?

No. I just sprayed cleaner and wiped it down with paper towels. I think it realized that I’d had this epiphany, though. I pushed one of the giant pedals too hard as I was cleaning and got a pretty good gut punch when it came swinging back at me. Probably my elliptical’s way of telling me never to ignore it again. We hugged it out, though. We’re good. Now it’s sparkly clean and waiting for me.

Another crazy work week is ahead of me…and I’m slightly more okay with it than I was last week. Because I know, even if I’m sleepy and grumbly at 4 am, I’m going to get up and get on my elliptical trainer. Because even though I might not like pumping away like a sweaty monkey at zero-dark-thirty, I love what it does for me. And that’s enough.

It took me a while, but I think I finally got the point. Elliptical trainer, you’re my lobster.

Do you have a dusty unloved friend sitting in your house right now? Maybe it’s time to pull the laundry off of it and put it back into use. What do you say?


Workout Journal (Diary, Notebook, Fitness)

A Different Kind of Shrinking

So for the past few weeks I’ve been really pushing towards making exercise a habit…and it really pisses me off. And that really surprises me. Whenever I start thinking about exercise I cease being the normally pleasant, mild-mannered, extremely feminine and gorgeous (shut up) Hot Mess Princess…and I become, well, the Hot Mess Raving Lunatic Bitch. Really.

The good thing is that I’ve determined that working out consistently works best for me when I do it first thing in the morning, before work and life and the general Hot Mess of my life takes control. If I wait, I’ll always find a reason why I can’t workout later. If I let my day go on, a million distractions take over.

The bad thing? I have to wake up at 4 am in order to make this happen…and forcing my 4 am self to do anything is not advisable. As it turns out, though, forcing myself to exercise at any hour of the day is quite a challenge. My internal monologue goes effing nuclear.

Here’s a sample of the shit Hot Mess Raving Lunatic Bitch says in my head:

This is stupid. This is so stupid. I don’t want to do this. I DON’T WANT TO!!!

I shouldn’t have to do this. Why do I have to be punished?

If I wasn’t so fat, I wouldn’t have to do this. How can I be this unlucky? Why couldn’t I be born skinny? There must be something wrong with me.

Yeah, I know. She’s nuts. And she’s rolling around in my head and getting in my way…and I’m tired of her. This leads me to another problem…

I have no idea how to get rid of this bitch.

Gastric sleeve surgery gave me a big ass tool with which to combat my food demons and put them in check. But this? This is all in my head. There’s no tool for that, really. If I was Oprah-rich I could afford to hire someone to physically manhandle me and put me on the elliptical every day, but I’m not. And that’s not really the way to handle this, is it? I need to find my way to a mindset that’s accepting of a physically active, healthy lifestyle that involves working out without wanting to stab myself in the leg with a pencil.

awesome

Alex, the exercise specialist dude at my surgeon’s office, gave me some great feedback at my last follow-up visit. He encouraged me to transition from looking to the scale for results to creating exercise goals for results. His guidance makes sense to me until I try to apply it with Hot Mess Lunatic Bitch hanging around.

I tried it, really. My goals were to increase my time on the elliptical by 1 – 3 minutes each week and add 1 – 3 reps to each resistance exercise each week. The problem with that is…I don’t give a shit!

I don’t care if I can do another minute on the elliptical than I did last week. I don’t have the slightest interest in doing more reps of something I find annoying in the first place. I. Don’t. Care. I get nothing from it. Yes, I know that’s not true. My body gets a lot from this activity…but Hot Mess Lunatic Bitch is very entitled and very loud.

I need to find out who I am as an exercising badass. Right now, everything about exercise just pisses me off. I know that’s not all me. Some of that is Hot Mess Lunatic Bitch, who I believe exists because of ghosts from the past. She’s the reason I’m pissed off just stepping on the elliptical. That’s obvious. But I’m not so sure she’s the reason I want to punch the lady in my workout DVD right in the vag when she says “We’re going to totally shred this workout, ladies. DOESN’T THAT FEEL GREAT???” Yeah, I think I just hate the DVD chick in general…because that shit is annoying!

(This is also the reason I can’t take any kind of aerobics or Zumba class. I’m pretty sure I’d be jailed for assault any time one of my classmates let out a little “woo hoo” in response to the teacher yelling her shrill motivational sayings. BOOM! Right square in the vagina. I hate that shit.)

I thought all this mental crap would subside if I just put my nose to the grindstone and kept pushing through it, but it hasn’t. When I realized it wasn’t going to go away, I knew I had to bring in reinforcements. And the only reinforcement I could think of that would help me combat this crap is therapy. Psychological counseling. Head shrink’in time!

I’m not a stranger to therapy, not by a long shot. I spent a total of six years in therapy over the course of my 20’s and 30’s while I tried to unravel all the shit I went through in my childhood. It was a lot of work, but I learned how to be my own person and how to put up healthy boundaries that were not in place at the time. Therapy helped me to stop the seriously out of control binge eating that got me to my top weight. It helped me to stop hating on the entire male population just because of a few a-holes. It gave me the first seeds of courage that I would need in order to grow into who I am today.

The benefits that my employer provides allow for four free sessions with a therapist, so I decided to take advantage of them. My first appointment was last week. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d made the right decision. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked around at her book selection and there seemed to be an awful lot of books focused on finding your inner child…or speaking to your inner child…or going to Disneyland with your damn inner child.

I think the whole inner child angle can be helpful to some folks, especially at first. Way back in the day, it helped me to be able to look back at nine year old HMP and realize that no adult should ever have treated me like that. But as useful as those lessons were, it can also be a trap. Speaking from personal experience, my first therapist kept me on the inner child track for too long…and I ended up re-living a bunch of shit and perpetuating a victim mentality that just made me angry and hateful as an adult. It’s not something that would be useful to me now as an adult – and the books on her shelves were making me roll my eyes so hard I burned a few calories doing it.

Thankfully, when I met her my fears went out the window. She seems like a capable person who can help me. And honestly, I don’t expect to have this whole thing handled in four sessions…but I do think I can find my way back to the right road. Right now I’m so far off the road it’s not even funny. I don’t recognize the terrain out here. I don’t know which way to walk. When it comes down to handling Hot Mess Lunatic Bitch, I’m lost.

My homework for this week is to take note of the following:

  • Write down every memory I have from when I was at the dance studio
  • Write down all the shit rolling around in my head when I get up to workout and when I’m working out
  • Think about how my dance teacher made me feel. Write it down
  • Think about how I sabotage myself and why. Write it down

Not a problem. I’ve got this. I have no idea where this is going to lead me, but I’m proud of myself for being willing to look at it. I’m finally ready to whack this bitch into submission. Why now? Because of moments like this:

I climbed onto the elliptical trainer on Wednesday morning last week and started pedaling. Immediately, I said to myself “Wow, this actually feels good! This is good. I’m so glad I’m doing this again. I’m making great progress.”

That was immediately followed by this:

“No it doesn’t! This is stupid!!! I hate this! Don’t you dare like this…don’t even start that shit. This is stupid!!!! I HATE THIS!!!!”

I have no idea where that’s coming from, but it’s not helpful. In fact, it’s harmful. I can’t allow this kind of negative self-talk to continue…and if I do, I truly believe I’ll end up back on a path of self-destruction.

So I’m sorry, Hot Mess Lunatic Bitch, but I’m suiting up and getting in the ring. Your ass is going down.  You might want to leave town right now. Just say’in.

 


Bad Childhood—Good Life: How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood

Change, Change, Change baby!

Sometimes I hate change…and sometimes I love it. The past two years have been amazing for me, filled with lots of change, contemplation and quite a few humbling moments. I’m going through one of those humbling moments right now. I hate that shit.

I’ve always gauged my weight loss progress with a scale. Always. It took me a long time to be able to use the scale as a tool instead of a weapon of self-loathing. I weigh 270 pounds right now and I can honestly tell you that I can get on the scale every day and look at that number and not hate myself. Actually, it’s more than that. I get on the scale every morning and love myself. If that number goes up a pound or two for water weight, I don’t care. I’m a woman. That’s what happens. I don’t attach emotion to the scale…or at least not like that.

I am, however, too attached to my scale and I don’t want to admit it. Okay, I just did admit it. But I’m fighting that admission. I’ve been fighting the change I know needs to happen.

A few weeks ago, I had my one year follow-up appointment at my surgeon’s office. Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while are probably thinking “Wait…what?” You’re right: it hasn’t been a year. It’s been a year and a half, actually. My work schedule kept getting in the way of my appointments and I had to keep bumping them. So finally I’ve had my one year follow up. Better late than never.

I was a little apprehensive about it, honestly. I had an amazing first year. 113 pounds lost. 7 sizes in clothes gone. I feel fucking amazing. And then I broke my gallbladder 10 months in…and everything slowed to an agonizing crawl. I dropped one more size, bringing the total to 8 sizes…but I’m still crawling.

Ever since the crawling started, there’s been a little voice in the back of my head that’s been saying “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is all I’m going to be able to do.” Even worse, I was fearful that I would get to my one year follow-up appointment and the people who have done such an amazing job supporting me would be disappointed. I was afraid that they would suggest I needed to go back in for a revision from gastric sleeve to gastric bypass because my gastric sleeve surgery had done all it could do. Well, that’s not what happened.

As usual, the whole team was happy to see me. I don’t meet with my surgeon anymore… because I don’t need surgery. My support team consists of a nurse practitioner, a nutritionist, and an exercise specialist…and they’re all awesome.

Sharon, the nurse practitioner, went over my lab results with me. All great. Alex, the exercise specialist, took my measurements and went over my inches lost. Fabulous. And Amy, my nutritionist, had a look at my daily food log and gave me her input. I’m doing awesome. The whole time, I’m thinking “Why am I stuck at 270 pounds then???”

So I did the unthinkable: I asked. 🙂

I’ve never met Alex the exercise dude before. He’s new. Like everyone at my surgeon’s office, he’s sincerely invested in helping me get to my goals. He’s not full of all that schmoozy motivational bullshit lingo we all see on tv. He’s real. So I decided to share my concerns with him over being stuck at 270…and he told me I need to stop worrying about what the scale says and start watching the tape measure.

Well….shit. The tape measure moves like an effing snail, Alex. C’mon!!!

But I know he’s right. I can feel it. Especially since I want to argue about it. I want to lash out and punch it. I want to scream to the sky “It’s not fair!!!” Oh yeah…he’s right. I’m looking at this all wrong. All wrong.

I remember when I first had my gastric sleeve surgery. Eating was a whole new adventure for many reasons. I had to re-learn so much. Hunger was gone (and still is). I couldn’t even eat 1/4 cup of anything at first. I had many strict rules about what I could put in my stomach as it was healing. It was really overwhelming, but I got through it. It was eye opening and it was FUN.

I know I’ll grow once I’m on the other side of this, but I can feel myself fighting it tooth and nail. And I don’t know why I’m fighting it…because this is just the exercise version of what I already went through with food. Just like the past year and a half, this is going to be weird at first. I’ll have to follow strict rules at first while I create all the new habits I’m going to have. It’s going to be overwhelming at first, but I’ll get through it. It’ll be eye opening…and fun. Sound familiar?

I know I should embrace it, but I’m struggling against a primal urge to sit in a corner and pout like a two year old. Sometimes I amaze even myself with my stubborn pig-headedness.

The only thing I can think to do right now is to cling to the ritual of it all. Alex gave me a workout schedule, which I tried for the first time last week. If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my daily morning updates on what my exercise goals were. It was 10% fun, 30% overwhelming, and 60% weird. I know it won’t always feel that way. It’s a change thing. It’s a growing thing. It’s a whole frigg’in hot mess thing.

I’m also (and I cringe as I type this) putting away the new Mr. Scale for awhile. I need to embrace the idea of letting the tape measure and my own clothes tell me whether I’m making any progress. When my clothes feel loose, I’ll drag out Mr. Scale and see what’s up.

So…how about you? Have you ever been faced with change that felt clunky and weird and overwhelming, but you knew you had to do it? Tell me how you did it…maybe it’ll help me or one of our fellow hot messes. I’m going to grab a cup of tea, get comfy, and relish the wisdom in your comments…so let me hear ya!

Royal Albert 3-Piece New Country Roses Teacup, Saucer and Plate Set, Rose Confetti

Bicycle Paradise and Hey, Strava…You’re a Bunch of Dicks

So remember last year when I hit the “I’ve lost 100 pounds” mark? What a great day that was! The reward I promised myself was a new bike of my very own. What better way to celebrate the first 100 pound loss of my journey than to give myself something that encourages physical activity, right? Right! So there I was…picturing myself with a cute little beach cruiser with a basket and a cute little bell…in the perfect shade of light blue. Adorbs!

There was just one problem: HMH is a total bike snob.

HMH is a mountain biker. Actually, we don’t have mountains in Texas. He’s a trail biker. He loves the idea of riding for miles and miles through the open country, down dirt roads and across abandoned railroad tracks. He loves to be out in nature. With the dirt. And the bugs. And the snakes.

Me? I enjoy viewing nature through the window while I’m curled up with a good book. I have no need to be out in it. I don’t want nature crawling up my pant leg and biting me behind the knee. I don’t want nature croaking at me from a pond or scaring the crap out of me when I ride by at an inopportune time. I like nature to behave itself…and if I have to be out in nature, I prefer a concrete bike path to enjoy it from. I don’t want to tear across the dirt, blissfully unaware of the muddy pothole that’s about to impale my lady bits on my water bottle holder – because, trust me, if that’s shit’s gonna happen…it’s gonna happen to me.

You can imagine, then, that there was some significant disagreement in the Hot Mess household last year when it was time to buy my bike.

“I just want a cute little beach cruiser…nothing fancy,” I said as I headed to Target.

“You’re not coming home with a bike from Target. I won’t have a crap bike in this house,” HMH grumbled.

“Babe,” I said, “I don’t need a fancy, sporty bike. I just want a cute little beach cruiser.”

“Target bikes are crap. We’ll get you a good bike. Trust me.”

And then HMH would whip out his smart phone and start showing me pictures of what I’m sure were all very nice bikes…but they were ugly. Sporty black and blue with neon crap on them. Thick, knobby tires or weird handle bars. I just wanted a cute little cruiser!!!

We argued about it for weeks and weeks until the whole thing just sucked all the fun and joy out of it for me. And I gave up. And then winter came and there was no point arguing anymore because I couldn’t ride a bike in the icy Texas winter. So poo. Forget about it.

But now the weather has started warming up…and I started thinking about getting on the bike trail again. We live fairly close to a cute little bike trail that runs adjacent to several neighborhoods. It’s a nice little ride.

HMH and I went bike shopping at his bike shop. No cruisers. *sniff* Almost all of the bikes they had were too big for me. Apparently I have short legs, even though I’m 5’7″ tall…so I’m not a dinky person. I tried a couple but the seats hit me too high in the girly bits (and the seats were lowered all the way). Finally, I saw it. Over on the side of a row of too-snazzy looking bikes was a non-threatening looking, pearl white beauty. I threw my leg over the seat and…wow! I didn’t feel like I was going to fall!! I felt like going for a ride!!! Yay!!! I left the store feeling confident that there was a bike out there that I could ride. There was hope for me!

The next week I had a really hectic time at work. It was Friday. I’d been running rampant all day. By the time I left the office I was really ready to scream. I just wanted to come home and relax…but when I came home, HMH had some news for me.

“I broke something,” he said to me, all solemn.

Crap. Now what? Can’t I just get home and unwind in peace. Damn it, we can’t have nice things!!!

HMH led me out to the garage. The garage is full of his crap, not mine…and I was busy trying to figure out what he possibly could have broken out there that I’d care about. He opened the garage and I found myself staring at my new bike. Surprise!!!

Check out my sweet new ride, baby!
Check out my sweet new ride, baby!

I’ve been having fun with it ever since…including playing with apps that track my bike rides.

Since HMH and a few other friends and family members use Strava to track their bike rides, it was the natural choice for me. I loaded it up and I’ve been tracking all my rides since. Yesterday, however, I smelled a rat. A big, fat, gooey rat. Let me explain…

I log my food intake on My Fitness Pal and I was delighted when I saw that I could link Strava with it so that my exercise was automatically logged. Yay!!! Then HMH and I went on a big bike ride yesterday. Well, probably not big for y’all, but for someone like me it was monumental. We rode 8.7 miles! That’s my longest ride yet. I felt quite accomplished. So imagine my surprise when I get home and My Fitness Pal has logged that I burned a very underwhelming 262 calories for all the work I did.

Okay, sure…I’m a big fat girl still. It takes some seriously lame leg pumping to get my ass up any kind of incline. It’s almost embarrassing. Except I don’t care…because I’m too proud of myself to care…and I’ve got HMH behind me saying “You’re doing GREAT, babe! You’re awesome!!”

How can I argue with the best husband in the world? I can’t.

 

Feeling rather dramatic and badass on the trail
Feeling rather dramatic and bad-ass on the trail

Anyway…it seemed a little hinky to me that I did so much work pedaling up those treacherously moderate inclines and I only burned 262 calories. And let me just make a quick point here: it’s not that I want to burn more calories so that I can eat more. Not at all. It’s that I worked my ass off and I want proper damn credit. That’s all it is. And 262 seemed like a pretty crappy number when I know how hard I was working.

I decided to wear my heart rate monitor the next time we went out. I should mention that I don’t have one of those cruddy $30 monitors that attempts to monitor my heart rate through my wrist. Nope. I’ve got the one that straps around your chest and next to my heart…listening. There’s a wristband display that shows me what the heart rate monitor is detecting. I’ve programmed it with my height, weight and age…so it knows all my secrets.

Strava, by comparison, knows my height and weight. There is no device settled near my heart. It’s an app on my phone that tracks my speed and route via GPS.

So Strava said I burned 262 calories for 69 minutes worth of bike riding at less than 10 mph. (I did go over 10 mph at times, but my average was less than 10 mph). Then I went directly into My Fitness Pal and logged 69 minutes worth of bike riding at less than 10 mph…and guess what?

I burned 563 calories.

Um…what?

Exact same time. Exact speed and activity. Totally different number. Who should I believe? I turned to Google…sort of. I searched “How many calories did I burn?” and came up with half a dozen websites that have free activity/calorie burn calculators. Every single one of them had my calorie burn at upwards of 500 calories. Excellent. Finally, as if there was any doubt at that point, I checked my heart rate monitor. 560 calories burned.

Up your ass, Strava dicks!

Above, the Strava version of my bike ride. Below, the My Fitness Pal version.
Above, the Strava version of my bike ride. Below, the My Fitness Pal version.

Further research revealed several forums in which various users expressed similar experiences with Strava tracking their calorie burn either way too low or, in some cases, way too high. Their app needs a little work.

I’ll continue to use Strava to map my rides…but that’s it. I have family and friends on it who send me kudos for bike rides…and I think that’s fun…but I’m not going to believe their calorie burn bullshit anymore, that’s for sure. And that’s my point in writing this blog post today: do your research before you believe whatever app you’re using to track your health and fitness.

It chaps my ass even more that there are fellow hot messes out there who might be just starting out with this kind of thing. They might not know enough about fitness and calorie burn to raise an eyebrow at that 262 blinking back at them. They might think that 262 is correct. Perhaps they’ll only feel discouraged…and that can be the beginning of the end for some people without a strong support system. False information can put a crack in your morale. Believe me, I know.

Just a smidge of the trail I ride
Just a smidge of the trail I ride

So if you don’t have someone riding behind you and cheering you on, take heed here and do some research. If everything’s on the level, you can rely on your app to track your numbers and focus on the things that require your energy. If it’s not on the level, at least you’ll know before you get used to it and find a solution that works for you.

We have enough to deal with between trying to tame our food demons, eating healthy and living an active life. Why make it harder on ourselves than we need to?

Life is an open road. Pedal faster…and enjoy it. (But make sure your damn apps aren’t lying to you!)


Want a super cute bell like the one on my bike? Here it is!