An act of survival

I have been having a hard time with running lately. Mostly, because after the Claire Witch Trial I was in a lot of physical pain. I knew that run would be harder than our actual half marathon but the fear of feeling pain like that again has kept me away from running. I’m still up and moving because I knew that’s what Claire would say. Go for a walk or go for a shake out run. I even ran a 5k and got a new PR. Still, I was struggling with motivating myself. I had admitted to Claire that I wasn’t sure why I was running. That’s the hardest thing about running. You have to want it for yourself. You have to be selfish in that way.  

There are a lot of ways that people and the internet will tell you how to find the motivation again. I know all of those suggestions. “Tell yourself you GET to run”, “reward yourself with new running items”, “don’t wear any technology – just go run”. They can all be helpful, don’t get me wrong. I guess this whole post is a reminder of what I get to do or more like what I can do now.

The first time I ran a race was in 2010. It was in October and I completed a 5k in 53 minutes. November of that same year, after training for 9 week prior, I ran a 5k in 45 minutes. My pace was 14:446yearsago

Training for anything is hard. Training is work. Sometimes you make it fun but really it is ritual and it is work. I get a little frustrated with training when it feels like work, instead of being fun. Worrying about when can I fit in my long run. When can I just get in the milage for the week that is being asked of me. How do I fit it all in, still stay mentally fit at work, be there for my partner, friends, family? How do i drink enough water, eat enough food, stretch the way I need to?

2011 I trained with my first group and I met and made some amazing friends. The finish line photo of my 10k is one of my favorites because four friends ran back to find me and run me to the finish. That 10k was 1:35:54

I made big running plans and started to have wide-eyed dreams of running. I ran the Boliermaker 15k in 2:34:46 – I completed it. It was hard. I was 250lbs at that time. Walking back to the car was difficult.

first run of 20122012 I trained for my first half-marathon. My first 5k time in 2012 when starting training was 49:08 with a 15:55 pace. I trained with a new group with some old friends.It wasn’t a good group fit. Medically, the coach believed I couldn’t achieve the goal. It was a struggle and I was stubborn. I completed the half marathon in 3:34:00. A stress fracture had me sit out for awhile after. I tried in 2013 to train on my own for another half marathon. I ran that one in 3:43:25. I gave up after that.

2015 my old friends I liked from my first running group were trying a new group called New Beginnings. I was coming off two major surgeries but wanted to do something physical again. The first time I was able to run the entire SUNY loop I completed it in 49:33 with a pace of 16:47. New Beginnings Season 01 (NBS01) I ran the 5k in 44 minutes flat.

NBS02, I told Claire my goals. To get as close to a 30 minute 5k as I possibly could. A year ago today she took me out on a secret run where she had me run a 5k in 37:54 with a pace of 12:13.

My season 2 5k was 36:55 with a pace of 11:55. NBS03 I moved up to the 10k group, I made a lot of great friends in the New Beginnings group and Claire believed in what I could do when I couldn’t believe in it. I ran the season 3 10k in 1:10:20 with a pace of 11:28. Making the decision to move up to half marathon training with New Beginnings (NBS04) was two fold. 1. My swolemate and running buddy was in for it if I was. 2. I wanted to beat my old Hudson Half time. I wanted to show my new body what I could do.

That leads me to now, where i’m stuck. My new body felt pain like my old body did. Listen I get all theyearago logic behind it. You push a body, it’s gonna hurt. The emotions, that’s where I am stuck. Fighting through pain and hardship has never been my problem. Seeing the successes, that has always been my problem. In my last 5k I ran it in 34:17 with a pace of 11:03. Claire even reminded me how last year I would have killed for an 11 min mile. Until I saw the photo reminder from a year ago today, I was still stuck in not feeling successful.

The half marathon is 12 days away. For me that is a big deal. It’s also a big deal to our 5k, 10k, and Ragnar Relay groups. While this whole post has a ton of numbers and times and data, i’m trying to not get swept up into that. The Claire Witch Trial was fucking hard but I completed it, my body survived it, my spirit was challenged. That’s what the head unicorn knows is true for each of us in our journey.

“It was was fucking hard but I completed it, my body survived it, my spirit was challenged”



75 pounds

It is often difficult to admit that this person existed.

This is me at my heaviest. 294 lbs June 13, 2009

This is me at my heaviest. 294 lbs June 13, 2009

I placed my lunch into my food journal today and saw that I had a notification that had been there for a few days. It said that I had lost more than 75 pounds since I first started recording my food choices six years ago.

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Half Marathon

Me at my healthiest after running the Hudson Mohawk Half Marathon October 7, 2012

There have only been a few people that have decided to focus on the negative. Mainly how small the portions are that I can eat. People assume I must be starving but the truth is, I’m not. You read that fact all the time in bariatric blogs and you think “this person must be crazy, how can you not feel hungry?” You really don’t. Since surgery I’ve lost about thirty-five pounds. I’ve also been running about 2-3 times a week and fully ran my first 5K the other night at practice in 45:16. I told everyone there that I don’t think i’ve ever run a full 5K, i’ve always run walked. I have official 5K’s this weekend and next weekend.

My aunt asked me the other night if I had cravings still. Of course I do! Ugh. I still crave diet soda and I weep at the fact that beer is a fond memory. It’s been hard because cooking for one is hard enough on its own but now cooking for one and having leftovers from the single portion you dished out is just tough. I throw away a lot of food and that makes me feel horrible and wasteful. Right now it is easier for me to purchase meals from restaurants when I want something hot and then cut up half of it and save the other have for lunch. Chicken curries, asian lettuce wraps, Wendy’s chili, kids meals (hoping i’ll be able to eat A fry and then succumbing to the fact that I cannot)

Parties are sometimes hard too, seeing everyone drink as much as they want and eat all types of food while I search out what I think I might be able to try is just emotionally exhausting. And how do you really explain that to someone? Can you even explain that to someone? I know to try and have more events that aren’t centered around food or to host parties so I can control what the food offerings will be. It’s just a lot to think about.

So what do I look like right now?

This is me back in September, about maybe 3 weeks after surgery.

This is me back in September, about maybe 3 weeks after surgery.

Well it’s odd. I lose weight in my face first and then in the upper parts of my body. I’m still measuring my progress and still taking full body pictures so I can see the difference. I don’t know if I will share them yet. There was a week or two where I regretted the surgery. They tell you everyone goes through it. However, I can honestly say that I am glad I had the surgery. I mean it’s helped cut down my race time and I’m super happy about that.





What’s that?

I’ve had tinnitus for ages. That constant ringing in the ear. High pitched enough to throw off singing. Mix that with like the low dull tone that a speaker gives out when there is scilence. That’s what has been going on today. It’s been so bad today because it’s like the sounds and pressure are trying to find a way out. Which is a good thing, even though it’s quite annoying. 

Why is it a good thing? Because it might mean that the high pressure surrounding my brain may be receding. It means everything might be successful. 

Lately I’ve been dizzy and lightheaded. Each time I try to increase my water or protein intake in hopes that it will take away the lightheaded feeling. 

Once again it’s been two full days. Work. School. Rehearsal. I’m exhausted. Tonight I’m going to try swallowing my evening meds. I think not taking my sleeping medication has had an effect on me. That whole not going into REM sleep thing, it’s kind of a bitch. We’ll see what happens. 


Strength and exhaustion 

My first week back at work was only a four day work week. I made it through 2.5 days of that work week. 

I know that part of the exhaustion is from not getting enough protein yet. It’s also probably from not taking my amitryptiline. The medicine that puts my brain into REM sleep. Without it, I rest and sleep but it’s never restorative.

Why am I not taking my meds? That’s because each time I crush them up and attempt to swallow, I gag and spit them back up. Eventually soon I’ll be able to just swallow pills again but I’m stuck in this weird area. 

So it leaves me exhausted. 

I’ve always been one to push myself. To try and heal quickly or get back to a routine. I rested for 6 weeks back in March. I really don’t want to have to rest an entire month again.

I’ve signed up for some 5k’s and joined a running group. I know the first night will be a lot of walking. So will the second week. At the third week I’ll still miss the gathering but I’ll be able to run. 

I planned a perfect storm. Show. Surgery. School. Work. It’s all a little rocky, along with some of my friendships. I just need it all to settle down. Fall in place and create a routine.

I’ve got a lot weighing on me that I haven’t figured how to navigate. I guess while I try to do that it isn’t weakness to take a little nap. 


New non-scale goals

My first 5k back in 2010 took me 53 minutes. Today’s 3 mile walk took me 73 minutes. My first fitness goal is to get my 3 mile walk time down to 53 minutes. I’ll keep working on that until I’m able to start a couch to 5k program on September 28th. 

So I’ve got about a month to cut my time down. Leaving me a month to get into the walk/run groove before my Halloween morning 5k. 

After I’m cleared for more vigorous workouts on the 28th, I also want to do two days of weight lifting in between the three days of running. They say the more muscle you can build, the less skin sagging there is. Muscle then replaces the gap between where the skin & fat used to sit. 

I lose weight in my face first and I can already see it creating these weird new dimples. I am nervous about my elephant ear arms and what my stomach area will look like as I lose weight. All things that will come in time. All things that can be solved in millions of ways. 

I am however ready to stop all this daydreaming/catastrophing due to so much free time. I’m happy to be going back to work Tuesday and happy to have rehearsal tomorrow. 

Today just reminded/proved to me that I am capable of some great things. I kind of needed that. 


Purée, hooray?

If you look up puréed food on Pinterest it gives you tons of baby food ideas. However, if you add in for adults, all of a sudden every suggestion is for an alcoholic beverage. 

I’m excited for my egg beaters in the morning. I’m just hoping to feel better. My drain was taken out yesterday.  

Besides it being the strangest feeling ever, it now let’s my right side heal. It’s the same pain as in running when you are exhaling and hitting your footfalls incorrectly. Just a side stich, nothing a little rest shouldn’t care of. If I could only obtain rest. 

There is no comfortable way of sleeping right now. I’m a stomach sleeper naturally so that’s been out for a week. With the drain in I could at least sleep on my left side. Right now my breath is too shallow and every position an inconvenience. 

All I can do is rest and continue on with the next stage of the healing diet. (Stage 2: puréed food) However anyone who knew me after my car accident and broken collarbone knows, I have a hard time resting. 

Actually anyone who knows me in general knows, I have a hard time being at rest. The ankle rehab lasted six weeks in March and I watched 157 different titles of TV & movies. So…I feel like I’ve watched everything on the Internet. I’ve given a few new series the three episode tries but nothing has stuck. I broke out the National Parks coloring book yesterday and it was nice but I needed to be more upright. 

I’m starting to feel lonely. Only because I’m limited and I don’t even know what to ask for in support. For most of those I casually hang out with (where by casually I mean make no plans but still managed to do something) it’s the busiest time of their year. I knew this going into surgery and I knew that I’d have very limited access to them. It just becomes hard when all you want is for them to sit and do nothing with you but they don’t have time to sit and do nothing. 

I know many will read this and be like I’d do nothing with you, Hollie. I know you would but I’d feel anxious if we hadn’t already gotten to that level of sitting comfortably in a quiet room together. So while I love you for being there, it would just stress me out. 

Tomorrow or well today, I hope to find a comfortable reading position and break into the book Chrissy sent me Rising Strong by Brene Brown. She is one of my favorite social scientists who gave a great TED talk on vulnerability. The tag line for the book is The manifesto for the brave and broken-hearted. It really means the world that Chrissy is the one who gave it to me. She’s seen me at my worst and cheers me on with each new success and adventure. So I’m hoping to find a comfortable position without using pain medication so I can fully dive into the book. 

This is all just another step in the process. I just hate that the process is so boring. 


First week post op

First week items:
– you will be scared. People who love you will be scared too. But when they hug you and kiss your forehead, it’s like a shield of armour. Let them know you love them too, no matter how cheesy it sounds. 

– the Harry Potter robe made for lots of hospital cheerleaders 

– load your iPod, don’t trust hospital wifi, bring a sleep mask 

– the two most annoying things from the hospital will be being woken up for your vitals and the IV drip alarm (especially when it gets to ignored angry volume) 

– if you have awesome hospital staff, let them know. Bailey, you were my homegirl!

– the worst part and I mean worst, is the swallow test. Your throat is dry, you can’t really talk, you’re still sore, they stand you up and give you this 6oz cup to drink….which I did and then I threw it straight up. Which made them give me more. 

– SinFree Sorbet is like heaven when you make it to stage 1 diet. 

– shitting yourself is going to happen. Be humble. Say thank you.

– if your hospital roomie doesn’t have the TV on…..keep your own at a god damn reasonable level and try and turn it off at night. TV was on from Wednesday to Friday non stop & loud.

– if a tech spills human waist on you, it’s ok to ask that the tech isn’t assigned to you anymore. Especially if they make you feel like a burden.

– Once you can poop regularly and not have liquid diarrhea you feel like the king of the world.

– I have 5 incision scars. The one I call the second belly button is the worst. It’s like wearing a button down shirt that is slightly too small for you and when you sit or lean forward you fear the button will pop. I took a photo of my scars, eventually I’ll post photos.

– dreaming of food is still a common occurrence. So far I’ve had a nightmare about pizza and soda and a lustful daydream for panera’s lemon orzo soup and a side of bread.

– isopure zero carb drinks were too high in sugar alcohols and made me rush to the bathroom 

– grocery shopping cost me $7

– finding items that are less than 3g  of sugar and 5g of fat is really hard. (But Edy’s slow churned sugar free chocolate ice cream is amazing and fits the rules)

– every thing is so sweet. I’ve had to cut my tea/lemonade mixture with water.

– an app to remind you to hydrate is fantastic. However it’d be awesome if you could snooze those reminders when you take a nap.

– I haven’t been taking my depression medicines because crushing up pills and putting them in pudding or protein drinks just doesn’t help it and it makes my tounge numb. 

– it took me a few days to get up to walking a mile. Once I did, I slept for two hours afterward

– I pin my drain to my shirt and rock it like a badge of honor. It just makes it not hurt as much as it would if I let it hang. 

– I feel like I have mastery skills when I strip my drain tube of gross stuff

– I was able to sing at rehearsal but laughing made my side hurt

– drinking a homemade protein drink that is only 8oz makes me so damn tired. Like thanksgiving food coma tired. 

– my cats have been adorable protectors. However, “no belly” has been shouted several times.

– so far each day it’s been I have too much energy to just lie in bed but not enough to actually do something 

– passing gas is the roulette of am I going to shit myself or not

– I stopped taking the pain killers 3 days from being released from the hospital.

– EC’s subway smelt so good the other night. I just wanted a bite. One on one food things are ok but I’ve been avoiding eating with groups.

– Thursday morning my drain will be taken out and I can eat puréed meats and mashed potatoes. I can’t express how happy that makes me feel and how grossed out I am at the same time.

– I will always love butterscotch pudding 


unsure emoticon

So I’m starting to get really scared. We were talking in the car trips the other day about the social aspects of weight loss surgery. It started me thinking.

Most of my friends are obese or struggle with weight. Most of our gatherings center around food. When I was training for my half marathon I constantly had to tell theater people that I couldn’t go out on a Friday night due to Saturday morning training runs. I often got a lot of flack for it. Now I’m sitting here facing that all again. Flack for not going out drinking, not eating casually, not having soda. Having to make very calculated choices and I don’t want to become the person that is a burden to plan around in regards to food. I also, don’t want to feel left out because I can’t really eat the same things or enjoy them in a manner of excess like my friends can.

I know in some friendships it will cause a divide and I know the adage of true friends will understand but I’m not 100% worried about those friendships. I’m worried about how to face the masses of acquaintances. The ones who will think I’m doing this to be skinny. I can’t explain my brain issue and my weight loss surgery reasons in a quick 2 minute funny quip. So I’m just getting more scared. I have a hard time talking to others about exactly how scared I am.

I remember when I first thought about surgery I had said something puzzling. I said I was afraid you wouldn’t care about me if I had surgery. Let me unpack that. I knew that in your own way you fell in like with me when I was heavier. I was afraid (and still am to a certain degree) that if I lost all this weight, that I’d loose the way you once saw me.

What if you don’t like me after surgery? What if I’m too much trouble? I know you’re thinking I’m silly. I’m just scared and it’s hard to calm my fears down. If I talk about them or face them it is better for me. So I’m telling you all of this so you know what I am afraid of. In hopes of you finding a way of your own to reassure me that I am being silly. I know the food stuff that is scary is just for 6 weeks and I know I don’t want to just avoid social get togethers because that will make my head think that I’m losing people. I am just really starting to get scared about what if I fail and I can’t do this and I just become a different type of sick. Instead of healthy, active and confident.


On the last episode….

The last time I posted was right before my ankle surgery. I had finished almost all of my major tests for bariatric surgery and I was just waiting to heal from the ankle and really get things started.

That process took a lot of time. My ankle still swells, I’m still in physical therapy once a week and I am working out for 30 minutes 5 times a week. While I was still unable to exercise, I lost the 20lbs that I had set out to lose before surgery. Going to the doctors the other day, I had placed 5 pounds back on. I know what it was. Humid weather and alcohol. More than anything, beer or items with carbonation since I know I won’t be able to have them anymore.

I am 27 days away from having surgery. I’m scared. Only because there are so many things you can’t plan for because everyone is different. So it’s just a wait and see kind of thing. In another week or so, I’ll order all my items from my bariatric amazon list so I’ve got the supplies I need for when I return from the hospital.

The hardest part right now is not being sure that all my friends understand the undertaking. I mean everyone knows it’s like two bites and I’m full. But I feel like I am gearing up for a fight, trying to make people understand. 1. I will be tired and easily agitated because of how little caloric energy is happening in my body. 2. I might only be able to eat two bites but that doesn’t mean that you can finish my food for me or make the “joke” that you’ll finish it for me. 3. The most helpful thing you can do is ask me out for a 15 min walk. (15mins out, 15mins back) 4. Read up on what it’s like or watch a few youtube videos tagged #VGS

It was a big decision to get to this step. I have been put down and cut down with jabs by my family for my whole life. It will be enough to battle those, please be my supportive friends and try to understand.