Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Meet my FXB Instructors: The Beast

The Beast: a.k.a. Dawn

Those of you who know Dawn will not be surprised that I’ve dubbed her The Beast. Basically, Dawn only knows how to operate in one mode:

It doesn’t matter what it is—instructing, working out, completing an extreme obstacle race, or participating in a FIT challenge—Dawn is in full on Beast Mode all the time.

But that’s not what earned her this nickname. You should know by now that I try not to be obvious with my nicknames. So what’s the driving factor? Well, it’s not this guy:

Sure she could give him a run for his money on a Spartan course, but he’s all beast and no beauty where Dawn is both.

That leaves this Beast as the primary driver for Dawn’s nickname:

Yep, that’s right, I’m talking about The Beast roller coaster at Kings Island. Why? I’ll give you 3 good reasons.

1. The Drop: If you ride roller coasters then you know that the drop is critical. There’s the initial drop, with the slow climb to build up the anticipation. Then there are all the subsequent drops which come quickly and often by surprise. Dawn guides you through those critical drops in a bands class in much the same way: build-up and anticipation of that first band drop and then you’re quickly hit with drop after drop after drop.

2. The Whiplash: The twists, the turns, the loops—a good roller coaster is going to whip you up and down and all around. Well, a Dawn-led kickboxing session will do the same. All you can do is throw your hands up and enjoy the ride!

3. The Voice: Dawn’s instructor voice makes her the perfect roller coaster operator. Her cadence is so spot on I’ve come to the conclusion that she once had a summer job at a theme park. I don’t have a recording to share with you, but listen for it the next time she leads your class. I dare you not to imagine her also saying, “Please keep your hands and legs inside the car at all times.”

If you’ve never had the opportunity to have The Beast as your instructor, then here’s a video of The Beast at Kings Island. It’s basically the same thing. Except the dude’s voice for the safety instructions. Dawn really needs to go and record a new one for them.

~ Carrie

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let Go and Improve Your Health

Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been and if my little corner of the blogging world was still active. While I do apologize for that, at the same time I don’t. My whole focus is on getting healthy and remaining in control of my Binge Eating Disorder. I learned a while ago that stress knocks me off my course quickly, so I’ve been putting a lot of effort into reducing the stress in my life. And as a result, my blog posts have suffered recently.

That’s not to say this blog is bad for my health. In many ways it has been the largest catalyst to my success. But there are stresses that come with it. I’ve blogged before about the negative impact of feeling overexposed from sharing my deepest secrets. While I’m doing better in that area, it’s still difficult sometimes. Lately the stress of keeping up this blog has been due to my lack of time. There’s a pressure in trying to remember when to post and what to blog about. Then there’s the time it takes to actually write it up. I’d like to say that these posts write themselves as if they were flowing out of Rita Skeeter’s Quick Quotes Quill (sorry, I’ve been in a Harry Potter frame of mind lately), but the reality is it takes time to get my words out of my head and into a coherent post that’s not too long.

I also hate to say that I’ve been tired for almost a full year now. I’m averaging less than six hours of sleep a night, and my mind wants more than that to function efficiently. I had to change my workout time to an early morning class which meant I had to either sacrifice sleep or time with my family in the evening (since both my husband and daughter are night owls). So far, my family has trumped sleep. I don’t drink caffeine, so that means I’m running on fumes most days. Stress and tired don’t mix well for me and it increases my urges to binge. In addition, creativity doesn’t flourish in a foggy brain. I’m deep in a novel that I really want to get done this year, so I wanted to channel whatever creative mojo I could conjure into the novel. All this meant I had to let a few things go.

But do not fear—I don’t intend to ignore my little blog forever. Right now I’m just choosing to not stress over having to post at specific or regular times. And I figure you might get tired of me just posting sweaty pictures to my Facebook page, so that’s gone a bit dark as well.

In the past I’ve taken big steps to reducing the stress in my life, like cutting off toxic relationships. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I know it was the right thing to do for me in the long run. I’ve also eliminated certain tasks that seem irrelevant, like mailing birthday cards, but the result was a lot less stress in my life. In the birthday card example, I still find a way to say happy birthday, I just don’t have the stress of remembering to buy and mail a card in time so it arrives on the proper date.

Recently I’ve been looking for more little things I can do to reduce my stress and free up some of my time, like unsubscribing to newsletters I don’t read. You might be wondering why it was stressful/time-consuming if I didn’t read them in the first place. Well, they cluttered up my inbox, making it appear I had more items to respond to than I really did. Another thing I’ve started to embrace is bailing on books I’m not enjoying. Reading is not only a favorite pastime—it’s essential for my life as an author. Before this year, I had only ever abandoned 2 books. I’ve had some books where I’d skip parts to get to the end, but I’d almost always finish. For one, I don’t like to quit anything. For two, I always want to give the book a chance to redeem itself in the end. Well, this year I’ve already doubled my ‘did not finish’ count. It can still be a struggle, but I keep telling myself that having a smaller ‘to be read’ pile is more important to me than finishing a book I’m not enjoying.

I encourage you to think through areas of your life where you can let go. It could be big or small—in the end it all adds up to a healthy improvement.

~ Carrie

Friday, February 24, 2017

Breaking Binge: Phase 2

One year ago tomorrow I took a leap on my Operation Breaking Binge journey—and I haven’t binged since!

[moment of pause to jump around and do my happy dance]

I’ll admit the last 12 months haven’t been a walk in the park. I still have cravings, and I have still eaten things outside of my Fun Day that I’d put in my ‘bad’ category. Every time I start to get down on myself for these slight stumbles, I force myself to remember what I was eating prior to February 25, 2016. Those binges were epic and had me in tears. The guilt and shame following were astronomical. I force myself to think back to all the hard work I’ve done this past year, and I remind myself that progress does not mean perfection.

My biggest struggle now is moving on with my nutrition. While I maintain that my journey is not about losing weight, the reality is that I really should lose weight. I’m carrying around a lot of pounds and my body is getting older (i.e. tired). And I think my knee would be happier if I gave it a bit of a break. I had found a no-binging eating pattern that allowed me to maintain my weight for most of the past 12 months. The downside is I became afraid to change anything. I was afraid I might start binging again if I did. The things I’ve been eating have kept me satisfied. Don’t fix what’s not broke, right? And my biggest broken part was the binging, not my weight.

I was sick pretty much November thru January, and I gained a bit of weight due to missing workouts and the medication I was put on. My eating still hasn’t changed, so here I sit at a weight I thought I had told to kiss-off for the last time.

I’ve decided that since I seem to be embedded in superstition on this journey, I’m going to work it to my advantage. On February 25, 2016 I took steps that have led me to a full-year of amazing success. So, tomorrow, February 25, 2017, is the day I embark on Phase 2 of Operation Breaking Binge.

What’s Phase 2, you ask? Well, it looks a bit like this:

Pretty clear, right?

I do know my Phase 2 will focus on nutrition, which has never been my strength. I have excuses out the wazzoo (I don’t like to cook, I have BIG issues with chicken, I don’t like a lot of meat, I don’t—I don’t—I don’t . . .) I know what I ‘should’ eat, but the issue is sticking to it. I haven’t mentioned it much, but a big part of getting this far in Breaking Binge were my sessions with Health Coach Lynn Killips on a process called Immunity to Change. I learned so much about myself and why I eat the way I do thorough this process. But I have to say the most profound thing I learned was when Lynn asked me one very basic question. We were discussing my tendency to place all food into two categories: good or bad. She asked who said these foods were good or bad. I told her it was based on my knowledge of nutrition, which I’ve learned over all my years of trying to get healthy and the various programs Ive tried.

Then came Lynn’s ground-shaking question:

“How long have you been following these plans?”

As I added up the years, I realized I had been trying to follow one plan or another for about 20 years. And then the true magic of the question hit me—that’s 20 years with no sustainable success (key word being sustainable).

That’s a Long. Damn. Time.

I should point out I’m not condemning nutrition plans/programs. In fact, I have learned so much about not only nutrition, but also about my eating struggles through these various plans. But there’s a reason why some find success through Weight Watchers, and some find it in Jenny Craig. Others only see progress with Paleo, and then there are those who only find happiness with the Beachbody program. And, of course, there are those like me who have fallen in love with the way Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB) has transformed their lives along with their bodies.

The point is that no one person is the same. Plans and programs are great, and often times essential. However, my downfall was that somewhere along the way I started looking at it as being told what I had to do, and if I didn’t do it then I failed. And I think you all know how I feel about failure. I’ve been looking at this as though I have been the one failing for the last 20 years. I wasn’t sticking to plan. I must not have been trying hard enough. Look at all those who did have success—it must be me!

It took Lynn to open my eyes for me to wonder if maybe my lack of sustainable success was due to the fact that I’ve been trying to follow someone else’s plan that doesn’t fit my specific needs. She then pointed out that for months I had been following my own nutrition plan, and while I wasn’t losing weight, I wasn’t gaining it and I wasn’t binging.

I (reluctantly) admit I’m a stubborn person. I think deep down I don’t like people telling me what to do. And I really don’t like failing to meet expectations. It seems pretty clear to me now what I have to change.

The plan is for me to use my nutrition knowledge to build a custom plan that fits my specific needs. One that I can adjust when necessary if I feel an urge to binge sneak up on me. Out of all the programs I’ve been through, I still believe the FXB program is the most right for me.

So wish me luck as I jump in and try to define that elusive Phase 2 within Operation Breaking Binge!

~ Carrie

Monday, February 13, 2017

5 Unsung Benefits of Exercising

I’m sure you’ve read an article or two about the benefits of exercising. Besides the obvious benefits to your health, other perks often mentioned include: going up a flight of stairs without getting winded, having the energy to play with your kids/grandkids/niece/nephew/dog-who-thinks-he’s-a-kid/etc., improved skin, and lower stress.

That’s all great, and I love it. But there are other benefits that are just as important no one’s talking. Well, it’s a good thing you’ve got me. Here are a few of my unsung benefits of exercising.

1) Sing, Sing, Baby
To my daughter’s dismay, I love to sing. Like many others, I perform best in my car. I’ve got the car-jam down by now. However, some songs are a bit trickier than others. Prior to regular exercise, singing/rapping along with artists such as Eminem was usually a lightheaded experience. I either missed half the words as I sucked in air, or I turned into a red-faced balloon as I attempted to reach the lyrical break before taking my next breath. Not such a good thing for my car-based performances. However, regular exercise gave me better endurance. Forget about how increased endurance benefits me going up a flight of stairs—it’s much more fun to not get winded during a wicked rap song. So break out that karaoke machine and take your turn trying to be The Real Slim Shady.

2) Poppin’ a Squat
There comes a time in almost everyone’s life when they are presented with a very difficult choice—hold it until you’re in pain or use the disgusting Port-a-pot/John/loo/whatever-you-call-it. The smell, the unmentionables covering every surface, the lack of sanitizer to dunk your entire body into after usage . . . [shiver] It’s no surprise I’d rather hold it. However, when holding turns into a risk of an embarrassing accident, I go in and hold my breath while attempting to hover. It’s a difficult and scary endeavor. Thankfully, regular exercise has saved my bladder. As mentioned in the first point above, my ability to hold my breath is substantially better so I can suck it in without fear of passing out and falling into the pit. In addition, I have a better ability to hold my squat, regardless if it’s #1 or #2 calling, without touching any of the surfaces.

3) Load It Up
When I get home from a shopping trip, I have this overwhelming need to carry all the bags into the house in one trip. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this crazy personal shopping challenge (you know who you are). I’m not sure where this compulsion stems from, but it probably has something to do with proving I didn’t really buy that much if I can carry it all in one trip. Its always been difficult and not without risk. There is usually that one bag that slips slowly down my arm until Im holding on with nothing but a quivering pinky. But now my arms are solid. I just channel my ISO bicep curl hold and load up. Now all I have to worry about is not nicking the walls as I enter the house fully loaded . . .

4) Pigpen Pride
I went through this difficult hormone struggle a few years ago. One of my many challenges was heat intolerance. Basically, I couldn’t regulate my body temperature. I had to take my showers at night because if I did it in the morning my body temperature would be too elevated while getting ready for work. I’d sweat profusely just walking from my car to my desk. I couldn’t wear coats in the winter or I’d get so hot I’d get light-headed. I’d get so embarrassed whenever I was in a room full of people and felt the sweat run lines down my face and back—just because I was standing still. That particular issue has been resolved (yeah!), but I still sweat when working out. I usually look as though I’ve just finished the She’s a Dream dance from Flash Dance. The difference is now I wear it with pride. I’ve even gone to the store after a workout. How is this a benefit, you might ask? Less embarrassment = better self-confidence. If anyone turns their nose up to me I just smile and say, “You smell that? That’s the smell of my hard work.”

5) Go Ahead, Make My Day
Back in my college days at Purdue, one of my constant possessions was keychain mace. Most girls had them. I often had to walk home at night, sometimes through dimly lit streets, and the mace was a necessary safety precaution. I remember this one time . . . it was late, the street was dark, I was walking home with my finger on the mace trigger as usual. I wasn’t far from my apartment when suddenly I heard rapid footsteps coming toward me from behind. I spun around, mace raised. The poor guy about had a heart attack. He threw up his hands and pointed to my left, telling me he was sorry to scare me and he was going over there. I think he learned a valuable lesson that night—no matter how late you are, never EVER run up behind a girl at night. These days I don’t walk down many dark streets, but when I do I don’t feel the need for my old keychain mace. I’ve got a wicked back-fist. And if that fails, I can spin and finish with my powerful jab-cross.

I hope you have all benefited from these unsung benefits as well. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me some of yours!

~ Carrie

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Just Eat the Duds

I recognize I haven’t written about my Binge Eating Disorder (BED) since the start of September. I had promised a regular series called ‘Breaking Binge’ to help you all understand my BED a bit better. My intention had been to post a topic once a month; however, I’ve struggled to keep that pace. Partly because I’m not really sure where to start. The logical part of my brain wants there to be this clear linear progression from point A to point B where I can take you through my journey in a streamlined order. I quickly learned that’s not how this is going to work.

The other reason is pretty simple—it’s still difficult for me to open up about this stuff.

Well, I’ve never let a challenge keep me down for long. It’s time to take a deep breath and dive in.

If you don’t suffer from BED, or know anyone who does, it can be difficult to understand. There are lots of great sites available to explain the symptoms of BED (here’s a good one), but what is it really like? I’ve decided for this series I will select one of the symptoms from the list and take you inside the mind of a binger. My hope is to let those who do suffer know they are not alone while helping those who don’t suffer from it understand why this disorder is so emotionally draining.

Today I’ve selected one of the symptoms I struggle with the most:
  • Feelings of extreme guilt, shame, or embarrassment about my weight or how I eat

My Weight

It has taken me a very long time to overcome some of the embarrassment and shame I carry with me about my weight. Being overweight is a difficult vice to have. I can’t hide it from others. It’s there every day, front and center, for anyone to judge. I’ve had hurtful comments said to me and behind my back. I’ve seen the memes people share and like on social media (like the one telling the fat person to stop using the handicap space and just and park at the back of the lot and do jumping jacks on the way in). I’ve had innocent kids ask me, “Why are your arms so big?” It takes a lot to just smile and respond with, “Because I’m so strong.” You don’t have to look far to realize society doesn’t like fat people. We are judged and we are determined to be less than our worth. We are assumed to be lazy and selfish. Why would I not be ashamed of being overweight?

Here’s an example of how embarrassment rules my life at times. A couple years ago I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with some friends for a fun weekend. The girls decided they wanted to go on his mountainside roller coaster. I got in line with them, but then my chest started to constrict. I felt as though I couldn’t pull in a full lung’s worth of air. My palms started to sweat. It wasn’t because I was scared of the ride. It was because I was scared I wouldn’t fit in the seat. I imagined all the looks of pity and disgust from the other people still in line that would be thrown my way if I tried to get in but didn’t fit. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face that possible embarrassment. Then I was mad at myself for letting my weight hold me back. I cried back at the cabin, but lucky I had been surrounded by amazing friends who helped me let it go—at least for the night.

This panic seizes me often. Squeezing through tight spaces. Turnstiles. Airplane seats. Stadium seating. Movie theater chairs. Really, the thought of having to fit into any kind of chair that contains side arms sends my heart into rapid palpitations.

I’m getting better. The voice that tells me to try is starting to become louder and stronger than the voice that tells me to run. And if I don’t quite fit, I try really hard to not feel ashamed.

What I Eat

The feeling of shame or guilt around what I eat is proving very difficult to overcome. I have this constant list in my head and every food item falls to either the left or the right—good or bad. I stress over it every time I eat. I’ll do a post at some point in the future about my ‘good or bad’ food obsession, but here I want to focus on the feelings of guilt and shame that come with those choices.

Back in May, we drove down to my dad’s house in Louisiana. We wanted to shorten our very long drive as much as possible, so we packed the car with loads of healthy snacks. On the drive back home, I was tired of the same old foods. I wanted something different, so I headed into the convenience store on one of our stops. I’m not exaggerating when I say I took at least 15 minutes, wandering through the store, trying to figure out what I should get. The things I really wanted fell on my ‘bad’ list and I usually would never eat them in front of other people. I stood agonizing in front of the bags of Chex mix when my husband walked over. He looked over my shoulder and said, “Huh, I didn’t know they still made Bugles.” He then snatched a bag and walked off.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to stomp my food and ask why it was so easy for him to just grab that bag of Bugles. Sure, he maybe had a fleeting thought about if they were healthy or not, but the bottom line is he didn’t have to spend 15 minutes agonizing over his decision. And I’m quite certain he didn’t feel guilty about it the entire time he ate them (as I did with my bag of Chex mix). His food choice probably left his mind by the next day. I’m still thinking about it 5 months later.

Another incident happened a couple months ago when I went to the movies. I was on my own, which is fine. I actually don’t mind going to the movies by myself once in a while. It’s good for me to take myself on a date occasionally. Anyway, it was fun day, which meant I didn’t have to feel the guilt of what I would eat. My biggest struggle was if I wanted to eat popcorn or candy. I settled on candy and stopped by the gas station on the way so I didn’t have to play an arm and a leg for a box of Milk Duds. I entered the theater and looked for a seat. I sat down with 3 open chairs to my right and 2 to my left. Two people came in and sat to my right, still leaving one open seat on that side. I was happy—I’m a big girl and movie theater chairs are not always nice to large people. I don’t like feeling as though I need to fold into myself the entire time so I don’t brush shoulders with strangers.

As the lights dimmed, I opened my purse to get my Duds. Before I could pop open the box, a couple sat down in the two empty seats to my left. I froze. I seriously could not eat those damn Milk Duds. I felt the lady next to me would be thinking, “She doesn’t need to eat those. Doesn’t she have any self-control?” It took all my remaining strength to focus on the movie and not the fact that I couldn’t eat my box of Milk Duds just because someone sat down next to me. You see, it’s not a coincidence I waited until the lights dimmed to reach for the box in the first place. I wanted the cover of darkness to hide the fact that I was eating something ‘bad’. But someone sitting right next to me would be able to see, even in the darkness. In my mind, I would be judged. I felt ashamed. I felt I had no right to eat those Duds because I was already too large to be ‘acceptable’.

I analyzed the situation the entire way home while eating my Milk Duds in the privacy of my own car. I had worked hard at the gym all week. I hadn’t binged. I had ‘earned’ that treat, but once again I let my guilt and shame take control of the situation. I allowed myself to believe something that may or may not have been true. I allowed myself to care more about what someone else might think of me rather than what I thought of myself.

I’ve been working really hard at trying to establish a more healthy relationship with food. I know that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle I need to eat healthy foods. As a result, I will always have to consider the nutritional value of food and whether or not I should eat it. But my hope is that I can get to a point where I don't obsess over it. I need to be able to let go of the guilt and shame. I need to move from “I’m a bad person for eating this.” to “Eating this won’t help me make my goal, so if I do eat it then I need to compensate in another way.”

I have a lot of weight I’d like to lose, but I know the largest weight I carry is from guilt and shame. That has to go first. Then it will be easier for me to focus on the physical pounds I want to shed.

Last night my daughter went through her Halloween candy. She pulled out a small box of Milk Duds and handed it to me. I thought about eating them but put the box down to save for my next fun day. I’d like to say I was making a ‘good’ choice, but the honesty is that I had already had a few small pieces of candy (in private) and I didn’t want to eat them in front anyone. It wasn’t fun day and I technically wasn’t allowed to eat them. A minute or so later, my daughter handed me the box again—opened.

I took it as a sign and I ate the Duds.

~ Carrie