Yesterday, I promised that I would share the training program I’m following today…and that I would also share how those of you who aren’t in the DFW area can also participate. I can deliver on 75% of that. Lemme ‘splain…
First, I’m following Hal Higdon’s 5K for Walkers program. You may ask why I’m not following Couch to 5K and it’s simply psychology on my part. See, Couch to 5K is ultimately designed to get you running. I look forward to that someday, but I’m over 300 pounds and my feet hate me. I won’t be running for a while.
Understand, I’m not being a slacker…even when I weighed 125 pounds I was a regular in the podiatrist’s office. My feet really do hate me. I was always bandaged up or going for physical therapy. Two foot surgeries and multiple stress fractures later, I’ve learned to be realistic about what I can put my feet through at this weight – because if there’s one thing that sucks, it’s getting yourself all motivated and ending up in a stress fracture boot for 8 weeks. That shit ain’t fun.
So the psychology of it all? If I was a grown-up, I could read Couch to 5K and just substitute the word “run” for “walk”…but that’s not what happens in my head. What happens in my head is something like this:
Everyone else is running and you’re walking. You can’t run because you’re too fat. What if you never beat this? You never should have let yourself get this big. Who does this? You’re ridiculous. You’ll never run. You’re a failure.
Welcome to my evil twin, ladies and gentlemen…that’s what will be going on in my head if I do the grown-up thing and try to just overlook the word run. I don’t give myself any credit for trying. I’m horrible to myself. So to keep that from happening, I do what I have to in order to avoid those destructive voices in my head…and I keep pushing forward.
I’ll do whatever it takes to keep that crap silent. Determination is what’s most important to me.
I’ll be posting my daily walking goal on my Facebook fan page every day, so if you want to follow along please do! I’ll also be blogging quite a bit about it here…you know I won’t shut up about it.
So for those of you who don’t live in the DFW area and can’t walk the Buffalo Boogie with us, don’t fret…you can train with us! And that’s not all…there is actually one more announcement I have to make this week, but I’m not ready to do it tonight – so stay tuned.
I’ll hurry it up as fast as I can. I should have it out by Wednesday night.
For now, you’ve got the link to the training program I’m using…and I’ll be back soon with the re-birth of a pretty damn cool project I launched a while back. You’re gonna love it!
Yesterday, I shared the story of the 5K from Hell. Although I’ll always laugh about the ridiculous crap I went through on that miserable July day, there’s an underlying feeling of failure that I can’t shake. I hate that shit. It’s been lurking around long enough and it’s time to get rid of it.
The best way to shake off a bad experience is to go out and have a great experience. I can’t think of a better way to exorcise this particular demon than to walk another 5K. Am I right or am I right? I’m right…right?
I’m walking another 5K – and this time I’m not going to end up in the back of an ambulance, damn it. This time I’m gonna boogie with some buffalo.
I’ve decided to walk in the 2013 Buffalo Boogie 5K in Fort Worth, Texas. Proceeds from this event go to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge.
It’s a brilliant choice and I’ll tell you why:
1. The route is flat and shady and the 5K is in May. Heat is not likely to be a big issue.
2. I doubt they let police cars drive around the Fort Worth Nature Preserve, so there will be no self-esteem motorcade behind me if I’m the last person to finish.
3. The route passes the buffalo range at the Preserve, so I won’t be the biggest mammal there.
I’m pretty sure I have all the major bases covered…except one. So far, I’m doing this alone. So if you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and you’re a Hot Mess Princess fan I have just one question for you:
Are you going to make me do this alone?
Come walk with me!
I created a team and everything. If you’re new to 5K’s, don’t fret. I’ll be back tomorrow to share the 5K training plan I’m starting Monday. You can join me! Remember, I’ll still be well over 300 pounds when this event comes around. I’m sure I’m not going to be showing anyone up.
Once we get closer to the 5K, I’ll give instructions on how we can all meet up before the walk. (For example, I’ll be wearing an orange safety vest and a sombrero and will be standing by the registration table.) I mean, how would you find me otherwise?
First, you have to register. So if you’re free on May 11th, how about helping me make a happy 5K memory instead of the craptastic memory I have now?
Click here to register and follow these directions:
* Select the option for Group Team Members.
When you get to this screen, make sure it says Family/Group Team Members (highlighted in yellow below).
Enter your name and contact information. You know this part.
I selected 5K untimed as my race. The 5K run race begins 15 minutes before the walk does and it appeared to me that the only timed portion was the 5K run. Use your own judgment.
Under “What is your team name?” enter Hot Mess Princess fans. (The top of this screen says your team name must appear in the drop down box, but there was no drop down box…go figure.)
Choose your t-shirt size and you should be good to complete the registration process without my instruction.
Post here and let us know if you’re going…and when you’ve registered!
Oh, also, the website says that clowns will be there…and I am absolutely petrified of those freaks. If the 5K doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you could just show up to protect me from Bozo. Please?
And for those of you who aren’t local and can’t participate…do you really think I’d leave you out of the mix? Hell no!
Stay tuned for my March 10th post. I’m resurrecting a project that you’re going to love – and you can participate anywhere.
It’s time to talk about something ugly…and I’m not talking about my Frankenpants. I’m talking about my first 5K, which shall forever be known in the Hot Mess Hall of Fame as “The 5K from Hell”.
This was back when I was just starting to wake up from all the crap the diet industry was feeding me, so I was really anxious to get the hell on the road to healthy. I was unemployed at the time, which makes things worse because an unemployed Dianne with too much time on her hands can be a scary thing. I’d already lost a little weight and thought I was the shit.
Strictly speaking, this wasn’t my very first 5K. I’d been to a few others, which were more like lazy walking 5K’s centered around fundraising events. Show up, get a t-shirt, sign a poster, stroll the track and chat with friends. Pretty easy.
The 5K from Hell was July 3rd. Here in Texas. Most of you already see what a horrendous mistake this was. Sure, a seasoned runner could tackle a 5K in the Texas summer heat with no problem, but a native Californian with over 200 pounds to lose? Not a good idea. I was dead set on this one because it was at a Fourth of July weekend festival and I’m patriotic to a fault. Yankee Doodle Badass.
On 5K day, I woke up ready to conquer the universe. It was going to be awesome! I was going to power through this sucker. My fellow walkers were going to be so supportive, cheering me on as I kept pace with those who had far less junk in the trunk than me. Chubby people sitting on the sidelines would be Inspired to get up walk at the site of me trudging with much determination towards the finish line. There would be unicorns and bunnies everywhere… and world peace…all because I kicked ass at my first 5K.
That’s not even close to what happened.
There were tons of runners and walkers present that day – so much so that the event parking was overflowing by the time we got there. My friend Brenda was with me, which is good because it’s important to have a witness/moral support when you go through shit like this.
First bad omen: we had to park so far away that we walked more than half of a 5K just to get to the starting line (in 90% humidity, thanks to the rain the night before). No matter. This was it. My day was finally here. It was 8 am, 96 degrees, and I was about to walk my first official 5K. Bring it.
The starter’s pistol fired and we were off.
It was incredibly hot and muggy, but I was bravely shrugging it off. Nothing was going to stop me from turning the page on the next chapter of my new healthy life. I had the road in front of me and nothing but old ladies and fellow chubbies behind me. I owned this day. Fuck yeah.
Mile marker 1 came along and I was ready for water. I didn’t bring my own because I thought water stations were pretty much a given at an event like this. Even the lazy-ass 5K’s I’d been to in California had water stations at every mile marker. No water? In Texas?? In the summer??? Really?
There was no choice but to press on. Just before mile marker 2, my heart rate monitor started beeping. (The kind runners wear around their chest, not the kind they make heart attack patients wear…just to be clear.) The wristband readout was blinking at me. 160. The normal max for me was 148, so the monitor was telling me to slow down. I continued to push forward. Fat girl on a mission…look out!
Mile marker 2. No water. No effing water. Brenda looks over at a group of spectators and yells “Where’s the water?” They just smiled at us vacantly and waved their American flags, cheering us on in what was now beginning to feel like the Yankee Doodle Death March. It was sweltering and the sun seemed to be getting stronger by the second. A toddler sat in a stroller, mocking me with his fucking juice box. There was more juice on his shirt than in his mouth. Cocky little bastard.
My heart rate monitor beeped faster. 170. One by one, the chubbies and the oldies started to pass me. By the time we got to the halfway mark, an old man with a flat ass bedecked in Texas flag running shorts shuffled past us. Not a good feeling. Plus, his legs were pasty white.
Then, finally, a water station. Overexcited Boy Scout volunteers swarmed us, extending countless cups of water, often with one or two fingers inside the cup. At that point, I didn’t give a crap if I found a booger floating in one of those cups…I needed the water. I drank as much as I could without stopping and trudged on.
180 on the heart rate monitor. Crap. I really needed to slow down. And then I heard a car engine behind me.
Brenda and I turned around to find a police car, lights flashing, and a city truck tailing us. Workers were jumping out of the city truck, grabbing up the traffic cones as soon as we walked by them. Effing awesome. Not only was I dead last in the 5K Death March, but I was now holding up the city from resuming its normal business.
Sensing my embarrassment, Brenda jogged back to the police car and asked if the officer if she could at least turn the lights off. Nope. Apparently, it’s a city law that all fatties attempting unrealistic fitness goals be followed by a police car with its lights on. You know…for public safety. Can’t have the fatties just get on the sidewalk instead, right? I kept walking, but deep inside I started wishing I could just disappear.
Pain set in. My arches, heels, knees, hips, and back were killing me. Every step hurt. I had trained for this 5K, but the combination of the humidity, heat, and desperately trying to pick up the pace were taking its toll.
188 on the heart monitor. If I had seen the Grim Reaper standing on the side of the road, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
An hour and 6 minutes after we started, I crossed the finish line.
Five minutes after that, I was in the back of an ambulance.
I had to tell Brenda to get me some help when I knew I was fainting. There was no place to sit and no shade. The heat was unbearable. Trying to save the remaining shred of pride I had left, I begged her to tell them not to come with the lights and sirens. A few minutes later, she came running back to tell me that help was coming. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an EMT jump into an ambulance.
Me: Oh God, please don’t tell me they’ve got the lights going…please…
Brenda: Okay, I won’t tell you that.
Fuck. Lights and sirens a-blaze’in, here came my knights in shining armor.
The damn ambulance couldn’t fit under the “Starting Line” banner. I shit you not.
People were scrambling everywhere now, trying to get the banner down and save the fatty. An incredibly fit woman with a generous heart and no visible body fat ran up to me and handed me her apple juice and energy bar. Great…now I’ve got skinny people giving me food. I looked up to thank her and saw two EMT’s running towards me with a gurney.
Sweet jump’in Jesus…make it stop.
Me (head between my knees): I’m not getting on that thing. I have some pride, guys.
Hero #1: Okay, ma’am, we have to get you out of this heat right now. Can you stand up?
Me: I don’t think so. Can’t you just check me out right here? I’m sure I’m just hyperventilating.
Hero #1: No ma’am, our equipment is in the ambulance and we need to get you cooled off.
Hero #2 (trying and failing to console me): There’s nobody left, ma’am. Everyone’s gone home pretty much.
Ouch. Point taken, Trapper John.
Every time I tried to stand up I would start to black out. I wanted to cry but I was more dehydrated than beef jerky. I had nothing left. I had to let them help me onto the gurney.
Me: Just give me the body bag. I don’t want anyone to see me.
Hero #2 handed me a folded white sheet – you know, the kind they usually drape over dead bodies. I put it over my face and they rolled me into the back of the ambulance.
Heart rate monitor: 192.
The two hunky EMT’s started putting those sticky electrode things on my chest…and then on my leg, which was even more embarrassing because I hadn’t shaved my legs. In my delirium, I apparently apologized for that because Hero #2 told me I needed to lighten up on myself.
Hero #1: What’s that beeping?
Me: My heart rate monitor…see? (I held up my wrist to show him the display.)
Hero #2: You know the ones you just wear on your wrist aren’t very accurate. You should get one of the monitors you wear around your chest.
Me: Yeah, I’m wearing it…you just can’t see it ‘cause I’m fat.
An hour later, the final diagnosis was dehydration. When I declined a one way ticket to the hospital, they told Brenda to take me somewhere cool and to get plenty of food and water. So we went to Razoo’s Cajun Café and I ate 2,000 calories and drank about five gallons of water and diet soda. (I hadn’t conquered my food demons yet).
That’s the 5K from Hell.
Not a good experience by any means. It was the lack of water that got me, but I wasn’t ready for an event like this. I joke about it because, let’s face it, some of this shit is just damn funny – but when I’m done laughing it off, there’s a little funky residue left over. The multiple failures of this day took the shine right off the fact that I finished. No matter what else happened, I finished that motherfucker…and yet that’s not what I’m left with. I’m left with the embarrassment and the failure of it all. And a cute EMT touching my hairy leg.
The memory of the 5K from Hell is one of my exercise demons. Find out tomorrow how I plan to get rid of it for good.
Do you have any exercise demons in your head? Have you had a less than stellar experience in the fitness world? Don’t leave me feeling all crappy with this demon lurking around.
Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what I have. There are days when it feels like I’m in constant battle against “the grass is always greener syndrome”. Someone’s always luckier than me, prettier than me, has more money than me. Thinner than me. Hell, that’s most of the world.
I’m ashamed of how often I forget to be grateful. I’m luckier than so many others.
Remember back in the day when Oprah had her “Ah-hah!” moment and finally lost all her weight? I remember sitting in a restaurant with one of my girlfriends talk’in shit about poor Oprah. While we chomped on what was easily a day’s worth of calories, we lamented about how easy it would be lose our weight if we had Oprah’s enormous wealth.
“Yeah, if I could afford to hire someone to follow me around all day I’d hit my goal weight too,” my friend said. “She has a personal chef, a personal trainer, a personal assistant…she doesn’t have to do shit for herself.”
Our solution to the problem? Order dessert…because we poor girls, who had to work for a living and struggled so unfairly to lose weight, deserved it. We weren’t really struggling though. Well, I can only speak for me. I started all my diets on Monday back then, after a “last night on earth” eating binge on Sunday night. By Thursday night I was usually so starved and bored that I was calling for pizza delivery. For years, I did the same thing over and over again, failing every time and then whined to myself about it over a pint of mint chip while I watched The Biggest Loser.
It wasn’t until just over a year ago, when I was on the verge of lap band surgery, that I realized the bulk of my struggle was a bunch of bullshit that I was feeding myself. Well, the diet industry was feeding it to me as well – but I was the one swallowing it. Just weeks before my planned lap band surgery, I decided to experiment with a sort of imaginary lap band…and I found something unexpected: gratitude.
My imaginary lap band experiment opened my eyes. I didn’t miss all the processed crap I had been eating when I went without it. Instead, I missed the healthy foods that I enjoy cooking for myself. It surprised me quite a bit…and was the catalyst that caused me to cancel my surgery and do this on my own.
Here we are again, just over a year later, with my food demons in check…and now I’m going after exercise. Just a few weeks into the process of making exercise a consistent habit, I’m putting an enormous amount of thought into every aspect of it. Why do I hate it? What do I hate about it? How can I change that? What roadblocks are in my way? How do I get rid of them? This may seem like a lot of over thinking to some of you, but this is exactly what I did with health eating last year and it worked like a charm. Examine every rock, every stone, every pebble.
This year it’s not my healthy, delicious recipes I’m grateful for. Well, I’m still grateful for all that. With my focus on exercise this year, my relentless over thinking is making me grateful for the fact that I already have everything I need in order to move more. I hate gyms – but I’m grateful for the treadmill in my bedroom that makes gym memberships unnecessary. I’ve always had foot problems that can create issues for me, even when I was thin…but I have strong legs and no serious handicaps that keep me from exercising consistently.
And then there’s the path…
This is the entrance to a 6.10 mile long bike/walking trail in my neighborhood. I only have to walk two neighborhood streets behind my house to get here. The trail connects to other parks with other walking trails as well, providing just over 20 miles of room for me to stretch my legs. If I turn right, I’ll hit the dog park and a few other parks and trails. The bulk of the trail lies to my left. I have no idea what’s down there…but I plan to find out.
This post is the beginning of a series of blog posts I’ll be making as I discover what waits for me on the path ahead…on this trail and in my head as I try to fight some pretty serious mental demons about exercise. Four weeks into my new challenge of making exercise a consistent habit and I’m still resisting myself at every turn.
That’s fine. If that’s how my subconscious wants to play it, I can’t control it – but I can control what I do about it. So I will use the legs that I’m so grateful for to propel me down the path ahead whether my subconscious likes it or not…just like I made myself stand in the kitchen last year and actually cook instead of hitting the drive-thru. At first it was hard, but I avoided fad diets and absolute thinking. Gentle persistence turned into willingness…which turned into habit…and before I knew it my whole way of thinking about food was changed for good.
As I write this and I think about the fact that I’m going to go down this path whether I want to or not, I’m afraid. I know it isn’t real fear. There’s nothing to be afraid of down this path. (Well, at least not until spring when the bugs come back.) But, as I’ll explain in more detail later, there are mental demons at the heart of this that I haven’t confronted in over 20 years. When I think about the crap I’m going to have to claw through this year in order to change my life, last year seems like a total breeze.
It doesn’t matter in the end. It has to be done…because I want it done. I may not be particularly courageous, but I am stubborn.
I’ve got about four different blog posts going right now and I can already see the writing on the wall: none of them are coming easy. The writing process is a lot like giving birth for me (or at least what I’ve heard about giving birth). There’s a lot of pushing and sweating and, in the end, a big mess and a lot of crying. Hopefully when I’m done, though, I have a new bundle of joy…er, words…to post for you. I’ve been pushing on this one for days. Either I post it tonight or I’ll be looking for an epidural and a rubber donut to sit on tomorrow.
I got a very sweet email from a reader the other day that really made me smile. She was highly complimentary about my little blog. Honestly, I truly consider it an honor when you write to me to tell me your personal stories. We’re all in this together, right? We’re all fighting the same battles.
This reader was asking me in particular why the “pounds lost” ticker on the right has been at 44 pounds for quite a while without moving…because watching that ticker go down is very motivating for her. Like so of my loyal readers who follow my blog (and I love every single one of you!), she’s inspired by my story and enjoys the motivation she gets from it. It made me realize that I haven’t spoken much about my trips to the scale and my weight loss since I began my goal of moving more in 2013.
This wonderful reader gives me more credit than I deserve, even supposing that I’ve continued to lose weight and am keeping it a secret until I can announce that I’ve lost 100 pounds with much fanfare and merriment. I would never do that to you, I promise. We’re in this together – and my purpose in writing this blog is to lay it all out on the line in honest form. I believe it’s only in honest, raw form that we really succeed. Anyone who tries to hand it to you all neatly packaged and heavily marketed is selling you something. And if they’re selling you something, you can’t trust them. They’re making money off your misery, kids. That’s why you don’t see any ads for weight loss surgery or acai berry gel or the HCG diet here. I’m not going to be part of the problem.
I’m going to give you my progress report but I have mixed feelings about talking about it – not because I have bad news, but because I’ve grown tired of the predictable response I get from anyone I speak to about my progress right now. Let me give you an example of a recent conversation I had with a nice enough person who seems to only be interested in instant solutions. For the sake of abbreviation and anonymity, we’ll call her Clueless.
Clueless: So how’s the weight loss going?
HMP: Fine, thanks!
Clueless: How much weight have you lost so far?
HMP: 44 pounds.
Clueless: Oh, good for you! What was it before? I haven’t talked to you since way before Christmas.
HMP: 45 pounds.
Clueless gets a puzzled look.
HMP: I lost 45 pounds, then I gained 7 back. I’ve lost 6 of those…so the total is 44 pounds.
Clueless: Oh, what’s wrong?
HMP: (with a slightly patronizing smile) Nothing’s wrong.
Clueless: Well, 44 pounds is great. How long did that take you?
HMP: A year.
Clueless frowns with much disappointment.
HMP: (resisting the urge to throw something at Clueless) I feel successful and that’s all that matters. I’ve lost 44 pounds and kept it off all this time. I’ve never done that before. We fatties consider that a big deal.
Clueless instantly realizes she’s disappointed that I lost weight and feels embarrassed. Desperate to change the subject, she says “So who do you like on The Biggest Loser this season?”
HMP: I don’t watch it. That isn’t real life or a responsible way to take care of yourself.
Clueless made some more small talk and walked away…most likely chalking my 44 pounds up to failure. Probably feeling sorry for me in some way because she thinks I haven’t figured it out yet. Well, I haven’t figured it all out yet…but I’m well on my way.
I experienced something very similar last year when it first became noticeable that I was losing weight. People were elated for me. They would come up to me excitedly asking how much I’d lost, how long it took me. Since I’d lost a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time, they were all ears. Next came the question how did you do it?
HMP: Well, I gave up sugar and processed foods first. Then I gave up diet soda and fast food. It’s been amazing.
Clueless: What diet is that?
HMP: It’s not a diet. I eat grilled chicken, raw spinach, grilled turkey burgers. Apples. Greek yogurt. I eat healthy.
Clueless gives a disappointed look. No pills, no shakes. No magic sprinkles to shake on my food. Nope, just hard work and life changes. It’s not so sexy to some people who don’t want to hear the truth.
I’m not comparing any of you guys to Clueless, believe me. Y’all are like me. You’ve been around the block enough and you understand how the game works. You’re tired and ready for a solution that works for you…and when you find someone like me with a big mouth who puts all her big butt frustrations on the internet, you feel like you found your long lost sister. 🙂 I feel the same way about you every time I get an email or a Facebook message. We understand each other’s trials, tribulations, and frustrations in a way that our slim & trim friends never will.
I wish I could tell you I’ve secretly been losing weight so that I can surprise you with a big number, but that’s not the case. The truth is that the ticker is right. It’s holding at 44 pounds…and it’s not going to budge again until I make exercise a consistent habit. That’s how my body works. Yours may be different – but mine gets to a point where it says “Okay, I’ve lost enough…if you want to look awesome you’re going to have to work with me a lot more.”
I know someone who’s very physically active. He’s an avid mountain biker. Very athletic. He has a serious problem with food temptations. Too much beer. Too many yummies. But the exercise part? He’s got that down pat. I’m exactly the opposite. My food is in check. My exercise needs help.
That’s why I bought a Fitbit. That’s why I tried Fitocracy. 2013 is all about moving. It’s all about getting going and battling all my old exercise demons. By the end of the year, I plan to be an absolute badass.
My goal is no longer about keeping a stranglehold on my food intake and keeping temptation at bay. I’ve got that down. My goals are now about moving more, finding a form of exercise that I enjoy, and pounding out some of the stress in my life with running shoes and treadmills and nature trails. Eventually, I will get back on the scale on a regular basis. I do that because I enjoy it, not because I’m obsessing or feel like I have to. However, to get on the scale in the beginning of all this…when the shortest walk feels like a major, painful effort… is suicide. All it will do is make it seem like the scale isn’t moving fast enough for all the hard work I’m doing…and I’ll quit. I don’t want to pull at that thread.
Some of you have asked me what motivates me. Obviously, it’s not The Biggest Loser if you’ve read my posts about my experience with them. One of the things that inspires me most is People magazine’s “Half Their Size” issue. The before and after photos of the people who’ve lost so much weight are incredibly inspiring to me. I dream of how I’ll feel as I’m posing for my “after” picture. That’s what motivates me. So when I see someone disappointed that I’ve lost 44 pounds in a year…or when I don’t tell them that I put miracle sprinkles on a hamburger and lost a size in a month…it’s ok. It’s really ok. I close my eyes and I think of the day I’m posing for my “after” picture. It will happen.
The instant gratification that society is trying to slap on us isn’t real. Contestants on The Biggest Loser use asparagus binges and deprive themselves of water before weigh-in day in order to hit the big numbers. Shakeology, HCG, and all these scam diets are just people making money off of those of us who struggle with our weight. If any of these things really worked, we would all be slim already and obesity wouldn’t be such a raging problem. But they don’t work. Not for us, anyway. They work for the diet industry…because we’re putting billions of dollars in their pockets every year. Well, not me. I’m done.
So 44 pounds in a year. It’s not sexy and shiny. It’s not all wrapped up in a pretty package. I’m not showing you how quick and easy it is. It’s work. I have many, many more pounds to follow…and I just need to move a little farther down the path. I’ve already started moving more. I’m about to increase my goal again. In fact, you’re about to see me start getting really physically active…and I hope to inspire you to do the same.
I’m proud of my 44 pounds. Incredibly proud. I feel like they’re my badge of honor for fighting the food demons last year. There will be many more badges of honor this year as I battle my exercise demons. I promise to share it with you here. For whatever reason, I’m called to put my personal experience out here for the world to see.
So here I am, world. This is me. This is my life before the “after” picture. This is the work that’s been done and the work that needs to be done. This is the blood, the sweat, and the tears of it. This is what it takes to get to the day when at last you take your “after” picture.