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Every year I find a mantra that I try to live by for the year.

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I was in the last stage of my weight loss journey, with only about 20 pounds to go to reach my ultimate goal weight.  Then life happened (fabulous, wonderful, incredible things happened, don’t get me wrong), and I regained 30 pounds. Not in my plan, but it happened.

So true to Bella form, I’m ready to dust myself off and get back to what I KNOW I can do.  To prove to myself that my incredible weight loss wasn’t just a fluke.  That it really is a lifestyle.

  • I have proven to myself  before that I am stronger than any obstacle in my path.
  • I have proven to myself before that I can accomplish amazing things when I set my mind to them.
  • I have proven to myself before that I am worth the tremendous effort it takes. Every single bit of it:
    • every minute spent planning healthy meals
    • every trip to the grocery store for healthy food
    • every meal logged into MyFitnessPal
    • every ounce of sweat in my workouts
    • every  time I hold my breath right before I step on the scale
  • I have proven to myself before that I can make weight loss a priority in my life.  This time it won’t be my main priority, because my life is so much fuller now than it ever was before (which I’m incredibly grateful for), so this will be a very new aspect of this journey.
  • I have proven to myself before that I can reach my dreams.

And since I’ve proven all of this before, I CAN do it again.  I WILL do it again, and then some!

So it’s ok that I now have 50 pounds to get to my ultimate goal weight.  I am confident that I will get there.  And who knows?  Maybe the reality check of gaining weight when I got too lackadaisical will be the kick in the booty that I need to get all the way there. No, strike that.  Not “maybe,” it is the inspiration I need to get myself all the way there.

I’m ready.

 

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Getting Real

Before I get into my joining in on the ToneItUp Bikini Series again this year, I thought I should take a moment to get real.  It’s been quite some time since I updated my weight on this blog (or even on MFP, for that matter).  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that throughout the fall and winter, my workouts and eating had been a bit sporadic.  I did workouts some days, but nothing extremely consistent, as I had been.  I ate pretty well, but did let more carbs and “snacks” creep into my diet, especially as the holidays approached.  And I gained about 13 pounds from my lowest weight of 170, meaning that on Sunday, April 12th I weighed in at 183.0.  I wasn’t overly surprised by this gain; my clothes had started to fit a bit snugger and my face didn’t look as thin as it had in late summer.  At the same time, I know that in my pre-WLS days not eating great and not working out for 6 months would have netted a gain of much more than 13 pounds.  Which is why I’m so grateful for this VSG tool.  It helps to keep me in line with my portion sizes and helps me make sure that things don’t ever get totally out of control.  13 pounds I can deal with.

TIU Bikini Series

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Thanks to @toningupcoco for creating this awesome image!

ToneItUp is at it again – helping people get “bikini ready” in the 8 weeks before summer.  Since this is their 5th year of the Bikini Series, they decided to kick things off a bit earlier, so this year’s Bikini Series will end on June 6th.  Just like last year, I decided to join in on the fun, and immediately signed up for the Bikini Series.  Unlike last year, I’ve become a full-fledged member of the TIUTeam this year.  I bought the TIU Nutrition Program, which includes 1000s of recipes and meal ideas.  Once you buy the Nutrition Program, you’re a member for life; you’re never charged more and you get seasonal additions to the plan. This year for the 5th Bikini Series, they came out with an 8-week meal plan, making it that much easier to follow the TIU suggested meals.  They even included a grocery list and meal prep guide.  With all this built in organization and healthy eating, I just couldn’t wait to start on April 12th.

To prepare, I hit Sprouts and Trader Joe’s on Saturday, and spent some time meal prepping so that I’d be ready to start my day on Sunday with all the foods I needed for the early part of the day.

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Then I spent a few hours on Sunday prepping food for the rest of the week.  I’m really enjoying the recipes they suggested, and have been liking trying some new ingredients like shredded coconut and almond flour, trying new meals like chia pudding, and eating a bit more calories than I’m used to.  Since their meals are all based around clean, whole foods, upping the calories hasn’t been departmental to my weight loss.  I have had to cut the portion sizes to fit my post-WLS tummy, but that’s been pretty simple.  At this point, almost 2 years post-op, I know how much I can eat in one sitting.  (So, instead of eating 6oz of mahi mahi, I eat 4oz). I love how colorful and full of flavor the meals are, and I’m eating a ton of fruits and veggies.  The recipes themselves are all pretty easy to make, which is a plus.

Here’s an example of a typical day of food on the Bikini Series 8-Week Meal Plan:

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Breakfast: Blueberry Zest muffins, strawberries, and 1/2 protein shake (I added this in lieu of almond milk because it has more protein)
Snack: apple and hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Spinach, tuna w/ wasabi mayo (this is another one of my own meals, not strictly on the plan, but within most of their guidelines)
Snack: Berry Bright Chia Pudding
Dinner: Chili in a Bowl w/1/4 avocado

Bikini Series Goals

Another thing I really like about the Tone It Up approach is that it’s not just about food and working out (although those are super-important!), it’s also about the mindset you have.  They suggested setting goals to accomplish throughout the Bikini Series:

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I’m really proud of the fact that this week, I woke up and did my “bootycalls” (morning workouts) all 5 days before work!  It wasn’t always easy, but I made it happen, and I really do think my day went better because I got the workout in early and felt so energized.  I also love creating the photo collages I put up on IG every morning, like this one I did today:

IMG_3687 As you can see, I’m already well on my goal of hitting 100 miles  by summer! I’m doing so well on this goal that I may increase it to 150 miles by summer – I want to wait another week and see how many I log after two weeks before I make the switch.

TIU Team

Another huge part of the Tone It Up philosophy is women supporting and encouraging each other.  Last year I started following tons of other TIU girls on IG, liking and commenting on their photos.  This year I decided to amp it up a bit by joining two new groups on FB dedicated to TIU.  One is a general TIU Bikini Series group that has people from all over the world in it.  It’s been a fun place to share ideas, ask questions, and get encouragement.  I also joined a more local TIU group on FB for other TIU girls who live in the South SF Bay Area.  This is the group I’m most excited about because it’s full of other women who live in my area.  We’ve already scheduled a few meetups, one of which is happening next Thursday at a spinning studio that I’ve never been to.  I can’t wait to meet some new friends who share my interest in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

Progress Photos – “Before”

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Lots of the TIU ladies were nervous about posting their “before” photos online, but I wasn’t.  These aren’t my before photos – you guys know that I started this weight loss journey at my all-time heaviest weight of 315.  I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished since then, so these photos are a badge of honor to me.  And I just can’t wait to see how much slimmer I look in my “after” photos at the end of the 8 weeks.

Oh, and another point of inspiration – this morning when I weighed myself I was already down 1.4 lbs since Sunday, weighing in at 181.6.  Not bad for 5 days.  Especially considering that I increased my calories from an average of 900/day to about 1200/day.

Wrapping It Up

I’m thrilled with the choice I made to join the Bikini Series again this year, and I’m really looking forward to all of the positive things that will come of it.

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Every year I find a mantra that I try to live by for the year. I’d seen this quote a few times, and it just spoke to me.

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Now that I’m on the last leg of my weight loss journey, I’ve found that it’s all about doing the small things every day that make a big difference in the long run. It’s not about major lifestyle changes because I’ve already set a healthy life in place.

This year it’s about reminding myself that every single day…

  • each step I take is a choice
  • each step I take shows my true intentions
  • each step I take becomes incorporated into the person I am
  • each step I take moves me through the world in a positive direction
  • each step I take matters
  • each step I take brings me closer to my goals

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December

 

I meant to post this last night, when I was doing my food prep for Week 1 of the Fit Girl’s Guide Winterwonderland Challenge, but I had a lot going on and the time escaped me.

One of the main things I really appreciate about the Fit Girls Guide is that they provide a super organized grocery list for each week, organized by area of the store. That’s how I make my own lists, so this really appeals to my OCD side.  The other thing I like is that the meal plans are developed to get the most out of each item on the list, for virtually no food waste.  As someone who throws away more food than I’d like to admit, I’m happy that I’ll be able to cut down on this.

Even though the list was really organized and clear, I still spent over an hour at Trader Joe’s.  Partially because everyone and their brother seemed to be stocking up for the work week and partially because there were a lot of items on the list.  Here’s my haul, which I tried to divide into food groups:

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I had some items in stock already, so not every single thing I’ll be eating this week is here, but it gives you an idea.

Now that I had the groceries, it was time to meal prep.

photo 5 (1) Week 1 breakfasts actually call for Cherry Pie fridge oats, but since I’m not a fan of frozen cherries, I decided to go with a mixed berry medley.  These are the overnight oats that I love.  Oatmeal, chia seeds, almond milk, almond butter, honey, Greek yogurt, and the frozen berries.  I really enjoyed these this morning and liked the not-too-sweet taste that the 1 tsp of honey added.  I usually put protein powder in my overnight oats, but this version had a really clean, hearty flavor that I preferred.  And the stats aren’t too bad, either: 285 calories, 19g protein, 36g carbs, 7g fiber, 8g fat.

Next up were the lunches – chicken & veggie power bowls.  Because I’m someone who needs variety in all things (life, exercise, food) I made sure to make a few of the suggested variations on the traditional bowl.  I also cut down the quantities to make it more post-wls friendly. Also, instead of steaming the kale, I decided to sautee it with onions, garlic, and a tiny splash of olive oil.  I’m not eating as many snacks as they suggest on the plan (because I just can’t fit that much food into my post-vsg tummy), so I figured a bit more healthy fat in my day would be just fine. Plus I know it’s going to taste fantastic. I’ve never made anything like this for lunch, so I’m excited to try them and see how I like them.

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From left to right:

Pasta Primavera Bowl: less than a cup of sauteed kale w/ onions, 2.5 oz of lemon chicken, 1/3 cup of whole wheat pasta, 1/2 roasted zucchini, 1/2 cup roasted crimini mushrooms, 2T marinara sauce, 2T mozzarella cheese.

Faux-otle Bowl: less than a cup of sauteed kale w/ onions, 2.5 oz of lemon chicken, 1/4 cup black beans, 2T mozzarella, 1 oz roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup brown rice, 2T hot salsa (on the side).

Traditional Power Bowl: less than a cup of sauteed kale w/ onions, 2.5 oz of lemon chicken, 1/4 cup black beans,  1/4 cup brown rice, 1/2 roasted zucchini, 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash.

 

Last up, I hard boiled eggs that I’ll have for snacks this week, par-steamed the sweet potatoes for tonight’s “street tacos,” and chopped up a few other veggie for lunches and  the pita pizza dinners I’ll alternate throughout the week.  I’ve never done meal prep quite like this, but I actually really enjoyed it.  I’m  glad I decided to add the variety to the power bowls, because I know myself, and I can’t eat the same thing for 7 days straight at lunch.

Since the dinners aren’t make-ahead, I’ll post pictures of those on IG and make sure to write a post with a photos from both meals later this week.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to start this plan, because it’s less protein and more carbs that I’m “supposed” to eat.   But I decided to take a chance and try it out because it’s super healthy, completely clean, very well balanced, and seems really satisfying.  Plus, I’m far enough along from my wls that I can eat a bit more normally (albeit much less).

Here’s to the start of a great week, and a fantastic month.

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Did you think I’d fallen off the face of the earth?  I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post, or all that has happened in between.  There is so much to update!

First and foremost – I got a new job!!  It was completely unexpected, but when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to take it.  Let me step back.  For years, since I was in my masters program in 2006-2008, I knew that eventually I would like to become a New Teacher Advisor, which is someone who mentors first and second year teachers and supports them as they begin their careers.  Our local program is run out of the Silicon Valley/Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, which works in conjunction with all of the local school districts in the area.

I was first involved in the program as an inductee during my 3rd year of teaching.  (As longtime readers may recall, I first began teaching for two years, wasn’t happy with my placement, and took an opportunity to work for an internet company during the dotcom boom.  But I missed teaching, so after the thrill of the internet had died down, I decided to get back to it.  Since I’d been out of the classroom for 5 years at that point, the school district where I was working at the time asked me to do the new teacher program, which I agreed to).  At that point, back in 2002, the New Teacher Program was just beginning.  It offered support, assessment, and training, but I still had to take separate classes, which I paid for out of pocket, to clear my credential.  Still, my experience with the program, and especially my mentor teacher, was so phenomenal, that I knew at some point I would like become a mentor teacher.  Plus, my experience at the internet company, where I was training and supervising a group of 20 people, set me up well for the position.

Skip to two weeks ago, when a job posting for the New Teacher Advisor went out from my district office.  It was August 8th, a week before our first teacher workday and less than two weeks before school was starting.  Could I really apply for this job at this point in the summer, leaving my principal in a really bad position to try and fill my spot?  Not that I think I’m irreplaceable, by any means, but my schedule was one that no one else would be crazy enough to want.  I taught four different classes – English 3 honors, yearbook, journalism, and AVID. No one in their right minds would want that schedule (although I loved the variety it brought), especially that late in the year.  I talked to my parents, a couple of colleagues, and did a lot of soul searching.  Ultimately I decided to go for it because these positions don’t come up very often.  The deciding factor was the other teacher I’d be working with if I got the position – she and I had worked closely together last year, and I loved her.  She and I have a very similar style of organization, communication, and planning and the areas in which we’re different compliment each other.  Since you work so closely with the other New Teacher Advisor, working well together is everything.  I knew I wouldn’t have the same opportunity to work with her again in this position.  So I went for it.

I put in my application, wrote my letter of intent, and scrambled to get the last-minute letters of recommendation I needed.  My colleagues and administrators wrote glowing reviews of me, and even if I didn’t get the job, they really boosted my spirits with what they’d said. I’d worked at my school for 10 years, and had forged relationships with my colleagues and students that had created a true community.  I would miss everything about my school, including teaching, but I also knew that the relationships I had with these people would last a lifetime, no matter where the future took me.

The week of August 11th was whirlwind!  On one hand I was preparing to start school as a teacher, but in the background, I was setting up the interviews for this new position.  If I got the position, would I start the year teaching and then move into the new position once they’d hired my replacement?  I couldn’t sleep at night, working through the scenarios of how the school would be able to replace me in the easiest way.  My head was swirling with the different teachers who might take on each of my assignments so we could cobble together a more reasonable position to hire for.  I was at a professional development for our district teachers on the morning of August 13th when I ran into the HR Director in the bathroom, who said she’d heard that I had applied, and she was really excited about it.  She said that if I were to get the position, she’d like me to start right away, and not have me in the classroom at all, because it would be easier for the students.  She said, “but you’re really difficult to replace.  Do you have any ideas?”  I told her a few of my thoughts, which she really liked, and it seemed like a great sign that I might actually get the job.  As luck would have it,  I gave a 15-minute presentation to the English teachers throughout the district about how I use Turnitin to make grading essays easier.  The Director of Curriculum saw me present, as did the Assistant Superintendent in charge of Curriculum.  My presentation was really well received, and it became a way for me to show my abilities in professional development, which would help me in my interview.  Everything was falling into place.

Friday morning I was at my school where I would be teaching if I didn’t get the job.  At the welcome breakfast I felt weird; I wanted to tell  my colleagues what was going on, but knew I couldn’t, since my interview was later that afternoon, and nothing was set yet.  I led my department meeting, since at that point I was still the department chair, but it felt so strange not to tell them about what was going on.  Still, no use in getting everyone riled up if I wasn’t certain about my status.  Later that morning I went into the vice principal’s office with him and our principal to share with them the ideas as to how to replace me, because both of them had the indication that I was going to get the job.  I was thrilled, but didn’t want to be overly confident, because until they offered me the position, it wasn’t mine.  After talking to the four teachers who would take the different sections I was to teach, we had a really viable position to offer someone new.  I can’t explain how appreciate I am that my colleagues stepped up at literally the last minute to take on a brand new assignment so that I could accept the job, if it was offered to me.  One more reason I absolutely love the school I’d been teaching at for 10 years.

I rushed home to change for the interview, because I had decided that I would go into it as if I didn’t work in the district.  In other words, I was taking it very seriously and wanted to present myself in the best possible light.  I would talk about myself as if they didn’t know who I was and what my accomplishments were.  I would go in there and prove that I was THE person for the job.  I had the interview at 3:30, and it went well.  It was a quick 30 minute back and forth where I answered a set of 12 questions.  I had thought that because of the timing I might have the second interview right away, but they told me they’d be in touch and sent me on my way.  I left the district office confused about when I would find out.  School started on Monday.  As I was pulling up to a colleague’s house to attend his TGIF, I got a call from the HR Director who said she’d like to do the 2nd interview on the phone.  All I kept thinking was that I hope my cell reception would last because I was in the hills, and it could be spotty.  She asked me a few hard-hitting questions, which I answered easily, and then, after about 20 minutes of the interview, she paused and said, “well, we’d like to offer you the job!”  Yay!!!!  I was elated, because even though all indications had looked like I would get the position, that my background and experience made me the ideal candidate, I still didn’t want to take anything for granted.  I was elated that I had the position!  I thanked her so much for believing in me and for giving me the opportunity, and went into the TGIF party, where my principal was in attendance, to tell everyone the good news.  It was bittersweet, because I will really miss working at my high school, but it was also amazing, because I was about to start this new adventure.

I spent all of Sunday cleaning out my classroom.  I worked hard, shed tears at all the memories, and also looked ahead to all that I was about to take on. As a New Teacher Advisor, would mentor new teachers, observe them, offer guidance, and gather resources that they needed.  I would be their lifeline into this new world of teaching, which can be daunting and overwhelming, but ultimately so satisfying. With the new position I also have the opportunity to create and present professional development for the new teachers, as well as any other teachers who want to come to them.  Presenting to adults is something that many educators find difficult, but something at which I thrive.  I’ve never felt nervous presenting in front of anyone, whether it’s a 16-year-old honors student or the CEO of a company.  My confidence allows me to command a room, and I was excited that I would get the chance to display my strengths in this area.

This Monday was my first day, and it was hectic.  I had a new office, a new position, new responsibilities, and a new schedule.  Because I work around when the 1st and 2nd year teachers have time to meet, my schedule isn’t set.  Eventually I’ll get into a regular schedule of meeting with them, but for now, my day-to-day routine was very scattered.  As much as I like change and variety, I also crave structure.  I like knowing my schedule, getting into a routine, and working within those boundaries.  It keeps me organized and sane.  Not to mention fitting in workouts.  I was a bit uncomfortable and overwhelmed at the beginning of the week with the amorphous nature of the days, but after I was able to take a bit of time to organize my appointments, I felt so much better.  Never once did I think I’d made a mistake, and I can already tell that I made the right decision.

This week has been chaotic, but it’s been wonderful.  I didn’t workout as regularly as I would have hoped, but I did fit in several cardio workouts.  I lost weight (more on that in a later post), and I was able to set a bit of organization in place.  I attended two trainings, drove to 4 schools, went to Santa Cruz for a forum, met individually with 4 new teachers, sent countless emails, and even prepared and presented an orientation for our 1st year teachers.  What a week!

I’m so excited with this new direction my career and my life has taken.  My main focus, besides doing an awesome job that supports these new teachers, is to retain a work/life balance.  I have struggled with that in the past, because my natural instincts as an overachieving perfectionist make me a workaholic.  I am bound and determined not to go down that rabbit hole as I have in the past.  I know that this new position will make my schedule challenging, but once I get into the rhythm of meeting weekly with the 18 teachers on my caseload, I know I’ll be able to build a manageable schedule.

It’s not lost on me that I have achieved another goal that I set for myself years ago.  I am so proud of myself and my accomplishments, and happy that my hard work over the years has led me to this point in my career.  I wanted this job for so long, and now I’m going to be able to do it! I’m thrilled at the possibilities that are laid out before me, and I want to appreciate all that I will experiencing.

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(I used the Rhonna Designs app on my iPhone to make this pic. I used this picture I took from my recent visit to Santa Cruz Boardwalk).

1.  This is my last Friday of summer vacation. 😦  This time next Friday I’ll be at a “Welcome Back” meeting for the start of the new school year for our first teacher workday.  My plan for the day is to spend it the way I’ve spent the entire summer – a combo of fitness and fun.  Fitness: a session on my home elliptical, walking the dogs with my dad, and swimming some laps. Fun: a bit of shopping (just took advantage of Victoria Secret’s most recent email offer), reading poolside, and a possible date later tonight.

2. This week has been a very social one, getting together with lots of friends that I’ve known since high school, which I’ve loved.  That’s one of the huge distinctions between my life now and my life before I lost all the weight.  I was always a social, extroverted person, but I often felt a bit depressed about the way I looked. Not to mention the clothing issue – I always tried to look my best, but nothing ever fit the way it should’ve.  I can’t count the number of times I turned down an invitation or made some excuse just so that I wouldn’t have to deal with all of that.  Now, I have tons of clothes in the closet that look great and make me feel fantastic.  Now, I am happy and excited when someone suggests going out.  I’m actually getting teary-eyed thinking about what a huge switch this is.  Just one more thing to be so grateful for about this new life.

3. I’ve been getting into Instagram a lot this summer, as you can tell by my feed on the right.  I post daily check-ins for my workouts and lots of pics of other things that just strike my fancy.  While I’ve been off, it’s been easy and really fun. This month I’m participating in three different photo-a-day contests, and I’m hoping I can keep up with them once school starts. If you haven’t joined a photo-a-day contest, I righly recommend them…maybe not just three in one month.  Still, the contests are a great way for me to stay focused on fitness, get motivated, and inspire myself and others with all the photos.

2014-08-02 08.50.30One is for the TIU community,

2014-08-01 12.17.59 one is hosted by @MoxieFitchick,

photoand the third is the Active Living Challenge with Fit Approach and Lorna Jane Active.

4. In anticipation of the school year starting in about a week, I spent a good portion of the day yesterday mapping out my school year workout plans in my iCal.  Since I have a morning prep period on my B days (which means I can get to school a bit later than normal) I’m going to fit in early morning fitness classes at the gym several times a week.  The live Insanity class that I tried a few weeks ago is now offered Tuesday mornings at 5:45am, and I’ll be there whenever Tuesday is a B day.  I’m also going to spinning at least once a week at 5:45am.  I’m still undecided about what I’ll do on my A days, when I need to leave my house by 7am.  Towards the end of last year I was waking up at 4:30am to do a morning workout, but that is just SO early.  Although it’s not ideal, I think I may go back to afternoon workouts on A days, because I really did enjoy them and they’re a great way to relieve the stress of the day.

5. 2014-08-07 12.40.49 Kandis, one of the TIUgirls, mentioned a week or two ago that she had started reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles.  Who doesn’t want “subtle shifts for radical change and unlimited happiness” right? The reviews and general internet buzz about the book was so positive that I thought I’d give it a try.  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?  What book are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments.

That’s my Friday Five – I’m off to enjoy some pool time.

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Happy Friday! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of fun and exciting adventures.

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Saturday, August 2nd – a day I’d been anticipating for more than 20 years.

You see, that was the last time I had actually ridden a roller coaster, and then just barely.  My memory is a bit fuzzy with the details from that fateful day 20 years ago, the last day I was able to ride a roller coaster.  The day my weight changed from “she’s so pretty if she’d just lose a bit of weight” to “too fat to ride a roller coaster.”  I think I was at Great America, squishing myself into a ride, saying a silent prayer that the safety bar would click into place.  Only this time the prayer went unanswered because the bar wasn’t going to click easily.  The attendant came over, about to tell me I had to get off the ride, and he must’ve seen the tears flooding my eyes and the pleading look on my face, because he took pity on me and let me ride the ride anyway.  Totally unsafe, but if given the choice between getting hurt on a ride that I wasn’t completely secured in or the mortification of being asked to get off the ride because I was too fat, I’d gladly take the chance of getting hurt.  After that ride, I never risked it again on a roller coaster.  And I got bigger, gained more weight, and knew that riding roller coasters was a thing of the past for me.

But in all these years, I never gave up the hope that someday I’d ride them again.  I put it on my #createyoursummer wishlist for ToneItUp.  I have it on my bucket list.  I even mentioned it to TR on one of our first dates when he asked me what my plans for my summer vacation were.  The problem had been none of my friends, or even my nieces, wanted to ride roller coasters with me.  It seems very few shared my love of speed, daring, and adventure.  TR was one of the only people who seemed even remotely interested in joining me, and he was actually really enthusiastic about it.  He even mentioned it again on the night of our goodbye phone call.  So about a week ago when I realized that the days of summer were  quickly disappearing, I texted TR and asked if he’d still be up for riding roller coasters with me, which he was.  We figured out a date, and now I just had to wait.  And you guys know how great I am with waiting.

That entire week I had a lot of trouble sleeping.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about how the day would go.  About whether TR and I would have fun or if it would be awkward now that our relationship was relegated to something between dating and the dreaded “friend zone.”  About whether or not I’d be able to ride any of the rides.  About what I was going to wear.  About what the weather would be like.  About every single detail.  Friday night was the worst, I was giddy with anticipation and trying to sweep any doubts or dread out of my mind, until I finally just got up at 5:30am, as excited and anxious as a kid waiting for Santa Claus.

I picked TR up at 9am and we drove in the Beetle with the top down, even though it was an overcast morning.  As it turned out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about in terms of our rapport.  The conversation flowed as easily as ever, and I felt as comfortable with him as I always had.  We made excellent time and got to the Boardwalk in 30 minutes.

My heart was pounding out of my chest from the moment we drove by and I saw this sign.

My heart was pounding out of my chest from the moment we drove by and I saw this sign.

After finding the ticket booth and buying bracelets  that would let us go on unlimited rides (TR bought both our bracelets, which was incredibly generous of him, especially given the fact that I invited him and had been planning on paying for both of us.  In some ways it made the day even more special, because it was like a gift), TR asked me which ride I wanted to start with.  “The Giant Dipper!!!” I immediately responded.  “Starting off with the big one, I like it!” he said.  And I told him, that that’s how I like to live my life – do it big or don’t do it at all.

Because we’d gotten there so early and were among the first people at the Boardwalk, we had a miniscule line to wait in.  But it didn’t stop me from being ridiculously squirmy.  I was so excited, nervous, & anxious, and I couldn’t keep my thoughts from zipping around my head. Would I fit? Would the bar close?  Would my heart ever stop beating so hard?  Would we have fun?  The list went on and on.  I think I verbalized a bit of it, and TR just tried to reassure me that YES I would fit without any problems, that YES the bar would close with plenty of room.  If he could read my mind the poor guy might’ve run in the other direction from this crazy girl he was standing next to.  I must’ve been giving off some kind of vibe because right before it was our turn to get on the ride, the man in front of us turned around and said, “she’s more excited than my son to ride this ride!”

Finally, the moment of truth arrived.  It was my turn to get on the ride and sit down.  Even as I was doing it, I kept thinking, “please, God, let me fit.”  Of course I fit, with plenty of room!  The bar came down with no issues, and before I could even say anything, we were off, swept into the darkness of the ride, making our ascent to the top of the coaster before that first and best plummet.  The ride was SO much fun, but it was all a blur because all I was thinking the entire time was, “I’m doing it! I fit in the ride.  I’m small enough to fit in a roller coaster.  I can ride The Giant Dipper!!!”  

As we got off the ride, I was completely overwhelmed.  A wave of emotion washed over me.  I was so dizzy that I grabbed TR’s arm to steady myself, but then worrying that he’d think I was being too forward or trying to be romantic, I dropped it.  Tears were in my eyes, and I was trying to explain what I was feeling.  I apologized for acting so strangely, to which he replied, “you have nothing to apologize for.”  He really is an amazing person.  So I asked if we could walk down to the beach, to be near the waves, because the ocean always calms me.  He said of course, and as soon as we sat down, I felt better.  As I was sitting in the sand next to TR, I was talking a mile a minute, beginning the “ugly cry,” looking out at the ocean for strenth, and trying to capture all that I was experiencing. It was something along the lines of:

I am so excited that we just did that! I can’t believe we just rode The Giant Dipper!!!  I am sorry that I’m crying, I didn’t expect to react this way. Actually,  I don’t know how I expected to react.  After not being able to do something that you love for over 20 years and then finally being able to do it, it’s just crazy.  More than any number on a scale, more than any size I’m wearing, doing this today is amazing to me.  It’s something that I thought about, wished for, and wanted for so long.  And I can finally do it!  I’m finally a NORMAL person.  I know it’s crazy to you that I thought I wouldn’t fit. But even now, after losing all of this weight, I still don’t always see myself as I really am.  I’m surprised by how small I am now.  I’m surprised when I see pictures of myself in the same way that I used to surprise myself by how big I looked in pictures when I was heavy.  My head is still catching up to all of these changes.  And I guess that’s why with you I showed so many insecurities.  I’m such a confident person in every other aspect of my life, but I’ve always been insecure about my weight.  And even now that I have lost all this weight and I’m so proud of myself, I’m still getting used to this new body.  To this new person I’ve become.  From the outside, no one might know that I’ve lost all this weight, but underneath my clothes, there are still issues.  Things that I wish looked better, were tighter, or whatever.  I’ve worked so hard, and I wish all that hard work really showed and that I didn’t have any loose skin to feel weird about.  And this whole dating thing is so new to me.  I didn’t date for so long, and then I find someone like you that I like so much, and it’s so great.  And I totally understand where you’re coming from with the whole kids thing, so don’t worry. I heard you.  I just wish it could be different, but I get that it can’t.  And that’s ok.  I’m so glad that you’re here to share this with me today. This was awesome.”

And TR was really great about my little meltdown.  He said it wasn’t a meltdown, and that now he understood that I wasn’t afraid to actually ride the roller coaster, but that was nervous about fitting in the seat.  I told him it was never about being scared of going too fast on the roller coaster – that it could never be too fast or too high or too wild for me – that I loved all that.  And he got it.  He also said that we all have insecurities and that I never came across to him as insecure, which was really sweet of him to say, although I’m not sure how true it is.  While we were sitting on the beach something pretty incredible happened – two dolphins were right near the shore, swimming around.  They probably shouldn’t have been there, it was probably dangerous for them to be that close to the shore, but I took it as a sign.  That the day was going to be amazing.  That TR was exactly the person I was supposed to be sharing this experience with.  And that I could just calm down and enjoy it.  Which is what I did.

2014-08-02 10.48.44 Although at the next ride, the UnderTow, I did have a few moments of worry creep back in.  There was a sign saying that guests should check to make sure they could fit in the seats, because they were bucket seats, and smaller than on the other rides.  I asked TR if I should check if I could fit, and he said, “you can if you want to, but you’re going to fit.  With room to spare. You don’t have to worry.”  So I didn’t check ahead of time and just took it on faith that I’d fit without a problem.  And you know what, I did.  Plenty of room.  No worries at all.  It was at that point that I really just let all the insecurities and doubts go and just enjoyed the day.

As you can see, there was plenty of room in the seat.  I love the action shot of the two of us.  LOL.

As you can see, there was plenty of room in the seat. I love the action shot of the two of us. LOL.

We rode the Giant Dipper four times, the Under Tow twice, and the Log Ride once. I relished the fact that I could ride ANY ride on the Boardwalk, I could fit into ANY seat. That nothing could keep me from these roller coasters ever again! It was such empowerment, such freedom. As if I could fly. It was a remarkable feeling.

TR commented that I look "so tan and ripped" in this photo.  :D

TR commented that I look “so tan and ripped” in this photo. (I’ve never been complimented on my arms before, so that was very cool, even if it wasn’t quite accurate).

TR said that he was inspired by my accomplishment and wanted to conquer a bit of his own fear – a fear of heights, so he agreed to go on the gondola ride with me. Which was so impressive and endearing.  I give him so much credit for doing it, but the ride crept along at a snail’s pace and he was pretty shaky and white-knuckling it the whole way across.  “We won’t be taking that one again,” he said, and I completely understood.  That’s the thing about our dynamic that I think is so rare and so incredible – we can be completely open and honest with each other, revealing our vulnerabilities, and appreciating each other all the more because (rather than in spite) of them.

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Spending the day riding roller coasters was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped, and probably moreso than I could have ever imagined.  It was thrilling, exciting, and incredibly fun. The day was fantastic in a way that I can’t find the words for.  It was day that I will never, ever forget. It was living my dreams and fulfilling long-held desires.  It was the highlight of the summer of 2014. It was perfect.

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(I used the Rhonna Designs app on my iPhone to make this pic. I used this picture I took from my trip to Oahu in April.  This is Waikiki Beach, and I loved the color of those umbrellas).

1.  As soon as I finish writing this post, Sofi and I are hitting the road and going to the beach for the first time this summer.  I can’t believe I haven’t been to the beach at all yet this summer. I’m excited to beat the heat (it’s supposed to hit the mid-high 90s here today), walk along the beach with Sofi, and just enjoy the crashing waves. Look for pictures on my Instagram later.

2.curly-curling-creme_0For those of you with curly hair, you know how important it is to find the right products.  It’s only recently that my hair has returned to it’s normal curls. After getting my hair smoothed with the formaldehyde-free keratin treatment last December, my curl pattern was completely changed; it wasn’t curly anymore, it was barely wavy.  I’m glad that I got the keratin treatment, because my massive weight loss affected my hair terribly, making it thin, frizzy, and really difficult to manage.  But I’ve realized that I’m just not great at blow drying my own hair on a regular basis (I just don’t have the technique), so I’ve decided not to get the keratin treatment again (which costs $300), and instead treat myself to Dry Bar appointments now and then. But let’s get back to the products.  Now that my hair is back to it’s normal curls, I wanted to find a product that would keep them defined, control the frizz, but and not build up. After trying lots of different things, I found Curly Sexy Hair. I’ve been using the shampoo, conditioner, Full-On Curls, and the Curling Creme.  I like that these products are really affordable, and that they work. I’ve been enjoying lots of compliments on my hair lately, which I haven’t had in about a year.

3. I’ve had a few clothing NSVs this week.  On Sunday, I found the cutest top, but it as in the petite section.  I liked it so much that I decided to try on the petite Medium anyway, and it FIT! Then on Monday, I was shopping around Target and found a cute 49er tee that was a juniors Large (see Instagram photo). The week before last, I went online to Venus and found a bunch of cute tops, all of which were size Mediums; they came on Tuesday, and every single one fits great (see the turquoise, floral peplum top in my Instagram). Yesterday I was thrilled to finally fit into the Chase Infinite tank that I’d bought a couple of months ago (again, see yesterday’s Instagram workout post). Every time I buy clothes in these small sizes, I am amazed at the fact that they fit. Not only fit, but that they look good.  Shopping is such a pleasure now.  I’ve always loved getting new clothes, but now that I can walk into any store and find something adorable, I am loving it!

4. I usually love watching movies in the summer, but I have to say that I’ve been very underwhelmed at the offerings.  The last movie I went to was The Fault in Our Stars, which was very good.  In the many weeks since, there really hasn’t been much I’d be willing to see.  But suddenly there are a few that I’m looking forward to:

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5. 2014-07-13 00.05.37 I found this photo on Instagram awhile ago, and I love it.  Not only is “choose happy” the way that I try to live my life on a daily basis, but I also love the beach and the image of the sun.  Seeing this just makes me smile, and I’m going to put it up on my white board at school as a daily reminder.  Because no matter how stressful the situation, how disappointing the news, or how unfortunate the event – I choose my reaction and I choose HAPPY.

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Happy Friday! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of fun and exciting adventures.

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As you guys know, I’ve been loving the ToneItUp‘s workouts since mid-January.  I’ve done them 5 days a week, every week since I began, only missing while I was on vacation in Hawaii.  (If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend you do.  It’s completely free, and they have a fun community, full of supportive, motivating people who cheer on every workout you post about).

They’re about to launch their new #bikiniseries this coming Monday, which will run for 8 weeks, until the official start of summer.  Karena and Katrina put so much into the daily workouts they design, and the best part is, the whole thing is free.  All you need to do is sign up for the #bikiniseries and you’ll get reminder emails, weekly workouts, fun giveaways, yummy recipes, contests, etc.

I like the approach that Tone It Up takes toward living a healthy lifestyle.  Not only do they include workouts and nutrition, but they also concentrate on mindset.  Take yesterday’s challenge, for example:

The challenge asked participants to create their own summer must-do list.  Beyond workouts and eating right, what were things that we wanted to make sure to fit in this summer? I loved this! Any time I can make a list and get creative with my summer plans, I’m all for it!  As a teacher, lots of people ask me, what do you do all summer long?  My answer is always the same – anything I want to!  🙂  This summer, I really want to concentrate on enjoying each and every day.  I didn’t include all of my plans on my list, but I did include most of the things I’m hoping to do:

 

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The photo I used is one that was taken for me by a Danish tourist while I was riding my bike at Kailua Beach on Oahu.  She worried that I would be upset that so much of it was in the shadows, but I assured her that I actually liked the way it turned out.  It was the perfect photo to use for this assignment because it has an artsy feel right off the bat.  I like the way I’m in silhouette with the bike, but the ocean and the beach are in the bright sun in the background.

I thought I’d elaborate a bit on each of these summer plans…

Mid-morning swims: One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to swim at the pool at my parents’ townhouse complex.  More often than not, if I get there by 10:30 or 11, I have the entire place to myself, and I’m free to swim laps to my heart’s content.  Sometimes my dad and I meet there and swim together, and it’s a nice way for us to connect with each other as we update each other on the latest family happenings while we’re drying off in the sun.  It’s also a great time for me to be alone with my thoughts and just let go of all worries and stress.  Swimming really soothes me, and I can’t wait to start my almost-daily swims.

Daily doses of laughter: Whether it’s retelling a funny story, joking with my nieces, or watching Sofi do something goofy, I want to appreciate all the little moments of laughter that are part of my daily life this summer.  Laughter is good for the soul and the spirit, and I want to make sure I’m enjoying it all the time.

Hawaii-themed party: Since I had such a fun time in Hawaii, I figured it would be fun to have a party with a Hawaiian theme.  I’m still deciding if I’ll combine it with a Silpada party that I’m planning to have, or if it will be more of a traditional party.  Either way, I have plenty of fun outfits to choose from.

Coffee chats: I live really close to Starbucks (doesn’t everyone?!), so close in fact, that I can walk there with ease.  It’s become a habit with three or four of my friends that we meet up there and catch up about all that’s going on in our lives.  It’s the perfect place to get together because I can get a calorie-free passion iced tea, or a caffeine kick with an iced cinnamon dolce misto.  As far as I’m concerned, coffee is the perfect drink any time of day, so it fits well with a more carefree summer schedule.

SF (and SJ) Giants games: I love supporting my Giants, and plan to go to as many games as I can afford to this summer.  One that I know I’ll go to is the Italian Night at the Giants, where a really large group of family and friends all get together.  It’s so much fun!  The tickets at AT&T Park are expensive, so lately my friends and I have been opting to go to the SJ Giants games.  Not only are they ridiculously inexpensive (less than $10 per game), but they’re a lot of fun.  Very family-friendly, with lots of activities for the kids to participate in between innings.  My friend Di and I are even signing up to do the Giant 5K, which gets us into the game the evening of the race.  I’m actually going to an SJ Giants game this Friday with my sister and nieces, which will be tons of fun.  Bring on the baseball!!

Going on dates!: I’m actually really looking forward to this one.  Assuming of  course there are men to go on dates with.  I was only on Match.com for about 2 months back in November/December, and I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed.  I got lots of winks, emails, and nudges, but when it came time for the guys to just make the move and ask for my number so we could move it to the next level of texting/talking on the phone and then hopefully soon afterward meeting up, they never pulled the trigger.  Even when I directly said, “here’s my number, I’d love to figure out a time for us to meet up for coffee or something.”  They disappeared quick.  I’m not one to go into a long and drawn out relationship online via email, or text, for that matter.  If you’re interested, you think I’m cute, you want to get to know me better, then let’s do that – let’s meet up and see if we hit it off.  Because we can have all the chemistry in the world online, we won’t know if we’re really going to be attracted to each other until we meet up.  I’m hoping that this time of year will be easier to connect than it was around the holidays.  One of the major takeaways I had from my trip to Hawaii was that I’m really ready to be in a relationship, even a more casual one.  Hopefully I have a bit of romance in store this summer.

Leash-free beach trips: Last summer I had a blast taking Sofi to a lesser-known beach where she could run off leash.  We have the best time when we go – she loves running along the shore, but is afraid to get too close to the water, so I don’t have to worry much about the waves taking her.  We both get in a great walk, we get some sunshine, and I get to read and relax.  What could be better?  Besides just that particular dog-friendly beach, I also hope to hit the other local beaches often this summer.

Long walks w/ Sofi: I take Sofi on walks almost every single day, but in the summer it’s so nice to be able to wake up and take a nice, long walk before the temperature heats up too much.  I love exploring all the different streets around my neighborhood with Sofi.  She loves when I find new places for our walks, so that’s definitely on my to-do summer list.

Reading: I’m not off to the best start so far this year in terms of my reading goal on Goodreads, but I did get quite a bit of reading time in when I was on vacation in Hawaii.  My goal for the summer is to fit in at least an hour a day of reading time.  I enjoy reading so much, and I want to make it a priority during the time of year when I have so few responsibilities pulling my focus from the things I enjoy.

Riding roller coasters: This is a huge one for me! It will definitely be its own blog post when it happens because it will be a major NSV.  I love going on roller coasters – the wilder and faster the better.  I haven’t been on one in I can’t even remember how long because of the time that I got on one and almost had to get off because the safety bar wasn’t going to close.  I pleaded with the kid running the ride to let me stay on it, and he did.  After that I only got bigger and knew that roller coaster were way out of reach.  I didn’t ever want to risk the embarrassment of being asked to get off before I was able to ride the ride.  So, this summer I plan on going to Great America and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to ride as many roller coasters as I can.  Can’t wait!!

Family BBQs: I love grilling any day of the week, but getting together with my family and friends and sharing a meal as easy as BBQing is something really look forward to.  Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing my meat over to their house for an impromptu BBQ; other times it’s a more planned affair, like for Father’s Day or 4th of July.  Either way, I can’t wait to fire up the grill and get cooking!

Cocktails: Summertime is a great time to relax and let go a bit.  While I usually only drink on special occasions because the alcohol has empty calories, there is something to be said for enjoying a nice glass of white wine or a Swirl (local peeps will know what time talking about) with friends. Any afternoon or evening becomes more of a celebration when you add a cocktail.

Bike rides: I love riding my cruiser around, and now that more of my friends have bikes, too, I hope to get out and go on rides all summer long.  Half Moon Bay, Morgan Hill, and everywhere in between.  I love the freedom I feel when I’m riding my bike, the sun shining on my face, the wind in my hair.  There’s nothing in the world like it.

Backyard lounging: I have this great Adirondack chair that I bought a few years ago that’s nicely weathered now.  I adore sitting in it and enjoying the peace and serenity of my backyard.  Looking at the garden and seeing the flowers and trees.  Watching Sofi cavorting in the grass.  Reading, listening to music, or just trying to keep cool on a warm night.  Sounds perfect to me.

There are a lot more things I could add to my list, but I’ll save those up until I have enough to create an entirely new one.  This was such a fun exercise, and I’m really glad the Tone It Up girls gave this assignment.  It put me in a great mood and gave me some inspiration to get through these last weeks of my school year.

Now that you’ve read my list of how I’m going to create my summer, I’d like to challenge you to write your own list.  Either in the comments or by joining the TIU challenge.  Post a pic on Instagram with your list.  Tweet about it.  Write your own blog post.  It was a fun activity that really put me in the mindset to enjoy myself this summer, and I can’t wait to read about your plans.

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After more than two months of planning, anticipating, and preparing, yesterday was finally the day I left for Hawaii.  All week I had the same feeling I had when I was 6 years old and my family was about to go to Disneyland for the first time. I had a lot of last minute errands, meeting, and grading to do to keep me occupied, but if I’m honest, my mind was really concentrating on the beaches of Oahu, and rightly so, I haven’t been on a true vacation since 2008, and I haven’t been anywhere tropical since my trip to Jamaica in 2001.

Back to Saturday morning. My flight was leaving at 8:55am, so my dad was set to pick me up at 7am to get there with time to spare. I woke up around 5am to make sure I had everything ready and I’m glad that it gave me time for a snuggle session with Sofi. Leaving her behind is the only downside to this trip. But she’s going to have a ton of fun with my sister, my nieces, and their dog, Minnie.

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Getting through the airport security was a breeze, even though that imaging machine is so strange. I even met a guy who was flirting relentlessly with me. Granted, he was 7 years old, but still. Lol. He was the cutest thing ever! He noticed that I had on an SF Giants tee and asked me to high five because he had on a 49ers sweatshirt. He said, “I’m going to Hawaii, where are you going?” And when I told him I was going there too, his face lit up. He asked me my name, and said, “bye, Bella” as I headed to get my Starbucks fix. We were seated a row apart on the plane, and every now and then he’s smile and wave. When the flight landed, he was right next to me at baggage claim, asking which bag was mine and then whether or not I was married. The scamp! His parents just smiled at me when I looked over at them. Finally, while I was waiting to be picked up outside the airport, he and his family passed me, and he said, “bye, Bella!!! I hope we see you in Hawaii!” Too cute! Now if only he was about 30 years older.

I had a major NSV as I took my window seat on the plane. Not only was I not spilling over into my neighbor’s seat, but I had lots of room with the seatbelt! On my last flight in 2008, when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight (in fact I’d just lost about 50 pounds because of that medically supervised fasting diet), I needed an extender. And when I went to put the tray table down, I was so scrunched that it wouldn’t sit flat. Not this time!!! This time, I had tons of room, and was like any other normal person. I could even move up & down the aisle of the plane, passing other people, with ease. Only someone who has been obese can understand the silent triumph I felt as each of these realizations hit me.

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The flight itself was amazing! I’d never flown Alaskan Airlines before, but definitely will again. The staff was friendly, the service was quick, and we we’re ahead of schedule the entire time. Not to mention the complimentary Mai Tai! I was seated next to a really friendly woman who was just chatty enough, but also respected my desire to read. At baggage claim my bag was among the first ten off the conveyer. And from there, I walked outside and within 15 minutes, my friend was picking me up to take me back to the house.

The house itself is awesome! It’s a little, hidden bungalow with this amazing view backyard view. First, let’s take a look at the inside: the living room, the kitchen, and the wall of windows…

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As nice and comfortable as the house is, the backyard and dock is by far the best feature of this place. Every time I see that dock, I’m reminded of the dock that Gatsby looks at in the distance, towards the green light at Daisy’s house.

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The view of the house from the private dock

The view of the house from the private dock

It rained a bit in the afternoon, but even that was so refreshing.  Hawaii is so humid, and the rain brings relief from that.  Plus, I love hearing the way it sounds against the dock.  I sat on the back porch and read as it rained, and it was so soothing, especially after a long flight.

One other “feature” of this place is ALL the stairs that lead to the street level.  There are three full sets of stairs that are fairly steep.  Yesterday I used them to get a workout in. No matter how much I may indulge on this vacation, I think I’m going to leave with my booty in better shape than it was when I got here.

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I went to Safeway to get some food for the week, and I can definitely see what they mean about how expensive things are.  I bought yogurt, salads, Flat Out wraps, salami, deli turkey, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, cottage cheese, strawberries, granola, coffee creamer, and some Boom Chicka Pop popcorn and the bill totaled $101! Needless to say, I’m going to eat as many meals at home/pack my lunch as often as I can.  I do plan to go out for sushi and maybe one other meal.

Once I got back from grocery shopping, I spent the afternoon lazing around – napping, reading, and feeling amazingly lucky that I’m able to spend this week here in what is truly paradise.  I stayed home last night, took a shower that let me wash off the day and made me feel like a new person, and just enjoyed a quiet night.

10154938_10151946586235426_644419868_n If yesterday is any indication, this is going to be an amazing vacation!

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