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exercise

Starting Our Facebook Community and Jumpstarting My Journey

Well it hasn’t been easy waking up at 4:30 in the morning again and getting to the gym. My body is still not used to it.  I know it’s for the best, but I am remembering just how hard this is.  I had terrific energy this morning, full of adrenaline after the workout. But then I crashed early afternoon. Just keep swimming…

I’d like to start an online community.  Support for anyone and everyone who is struggling with weight and/or fitness.  I think I will create a Facebook Page for the blog where we can all share and add local events, goals, achievements, pics etc. Additionally, I would like to start some local fitness groups here in Southern San Diego County. And encourage online community members to do the same in their area.  Pages on fitn2016_10_26_13_23_23ess, diet, recipes, style, gardening, crafts – whatever our community wants to talk about.  Our commonality will be the journey we are each on to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I am even thinking about a Fitbit group which we could ALL be a part of!

That being said. Look for OUR page @ www.facebook.com/theassofdeath/

If you are local to the San Diego area my family and some friends will be participating in the Foam Glow 5K on November 12th in the evening at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista.  Come join us and walk, jog or run off some calories and/or stress!foamglow

I am going to have to take another before and after pic I think as I have gained an uncomfortable amount of weight. I was 147 just four months ago and now I am up about 20 lbs. Here is my before pic with a scale shot.  I am not depressed about it, a bit embarrassed, but most of all disappointed with myself.  This disappointment will lead to motivation, perseverance and ultimately success.20161026_15370320161026_154407

Back on the Bandwagon

Who knew life could be this normal? This is not normal in a bad or boring way, no, quite the opposite; normal in an amazing, satisfying, happy and fulfilling way. A life I thought I did not deserve has found me.  Love, joy, laughter, family, friends, even just a daily routine… life is good, very good.  Some might argue that everyone (well almost everyone) deserves some basic happiness.  Maybe this is true. Life is neither always fair, nor are we capable of understanding why things happen or don’t happen the way we might like them to. Given the aforementioned, I will neither question nor attempt to understand how or why my life is good – it just is, and I am very grateful for it.20160815_064810

Romance has put a few pounds back on – yes… I haven’t been careful enough.  A lot of eating out and a lot of simply enjoying myself. I know how to take it off and my intentions are to do so. My journey however has taught me personal joy apart from the weight I carry, or the size clothing I wear.

I have embraced my role as a survivor and a voice for sexually abused women, but I am no longer a loud lone voice. Thirty years later I have an army of women and men behind me.  I am not fighting the battle on my own.  I am standing with thousands of others who now hear me, whose voices resound with strength and power. I have passed the torch to those with the power and strength I can no longer afford to offer.

For me happiness is not about settling or acceptance. It is about savoring joy, passion, feeling content and connected. The “pursuit” of happiness now seems somewhat futile. I feel happiness comes when you are meant to have it simply because you now understand it, and can appropriately appreciate it.

So once again I embark on weight loss and fitness training.  I am very happy, but I am aware that sustaining a healthy BMI and staying in shape will enable me to remain happy, and physically and emotionally strong for a long long time.

I am embarrassed to say I have put on about 15+ pounds and I haven’t been exercising with any regularity.  Back on the bandwagon for me.  But like my tattoo reminds me each and every day – PERSEVERE. The 15 will drop off and I will regain my physical strength again. I love my family, my partner, my friends, my home, San Diego, my job, my garden, my writing, etc., but I must love me more and put my health, and ultimately long term happiness first.  I know how great I feel when I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance. I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance, but I feel it slipping and it scares me after everything I went through to get where I am.20161018_08280320161018_082716

With the support and love of everyone around me I will get back to the best me I can be.

Past, Present and Future

Pull it all together and move forward!

New York was amazing. It’s my home, my city, where I feel alive and where I belong. When I am there I never want to leave, and maybe someday that dream will be a reality. All the things we did exceeded expectations. For me of course it was the performance of The Color Purple that once again changed my life. I don’t think I stopped crying from start to finish. Alternating between happy and sad tears; relating to the play, the performances, the music, missing regular opportunities to see this quality of production, and my own personal aching for being on the stage. Emotions are crazy things. This show was unbelievable on every level. I didn’t want it to end. If you have the opportunity to see this performance, go. It will change your life.

Catching up with old friends on this trip was wonderful. It’s so amazing to hear peoples’ stories when you haven’t connected in 25-30 years. It’s also good to know that the good memories you share are still there for the both of you. If New York is ever home again there will still be friends to connect with and that feels great.

We did MACY’s, THE tree, Coney Island (fiancée had never been), the holiday windows, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the Star Wars Costume Discovery Exhibit and more. Here are some pics from our trip that came and went too fast.

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When I took my fiancée to Coney Island we road the train along the same line I road when I lived at the home of Mordechai Winiarz/Marc Gafni. I was clammy and very uncomfortable as we pulled into the stop where I would get on and off the train in Brooklyn. It is amazing that 30 years later I can still feel the fear. I am not that kid anymore, I am older, stronger, and have a wonderful support network. Again, emotions are crazy things. I met one of his other victims on our trip. This is the first time we met face to face. We had spoken on the phone, and emailed but seeing one another was a bit surreal. Sharing mutual pain with someone is not the same as sharing joy, or gratitude, or some random experience. It’s very bonding. Even before I met her I felt very protective, almost a motherly instinct, although I am younger by just a few years. I know what it is like to be hurt by this man, as does she. Having this in common with someone is not pleasant, if you are a good person you don’t want others to hurt or be hurt especially when you know the level of pain involved. I may be naive, but I still believe in a time when he will no longer hurt anyone else.

Now its on to Christmas preparations, wedding preparations, and preparations for our yearly crazy community Seder. I need to throw myself into the preparation phase for all of these happy occasions, and block out the newly erupting interest in my victimization that seems to be cropping up more and more each day.

My toes hurt a bit after all the walking, but I am also very thankful that I had the opportunity to walk after all the eating we did. We had one day of rain, and the day we left was freezing cold, but we had amazing weather for December in New York. After all that walking I know I am ready to get back to exercising, still slowly, but definitely ready.

My past, present and future all came together on this trip. Visualizing what you want, and thinking about all the positive outcomes, helps create your reality. So as I move forward I see myself happy, with my wife by my side, bustling about the streets of Manhattan, being involved in creative endeavors, having good friends, loving and being loved, being authentic; and life being exactly as it is meant to be – absolutely wonderful.

New York City Here We Come

First I would like to extend a big thank you to all of you who read my blog regularly, and even those who have only visited once. I hope I have helped some of you stay motivated with your weight-loss, find courage to embark on a journey and/or speak your truth. In just under two months this blog has had over two thousand views from almost every country in the world!

We leave for New York City at the crack of dawn tomorrow, and I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to some time alone. We can’t wait to see all the Christmas windows (particularly MACY’s), the lights, the Rockefeller tree and of course the return of The Color Purple to Broadway. I can’t wait to see some friends I haven’t seen in decades and meet some new friends I have recently made as well.

I am hoping all the walking in the city will help burn some of the pounds gained while off my feet. A lot will depend on how much my toes can take, but they get better every day. The weather in NY is not supposed to be much cooler than the weather here in Texas. This we are very thankful for as our last winter trip had us trotting through a foot plus of snow.

wedding dress lazaro lz3114It’s a lot harder in NYC to eat right since gluten free options abound there.  But, I am determined since we are getting married this spring to fit into something similar to the dress to the right. When I was losing weight I kept this photo on the fridge for motivation, hoping someday when we were ready to get married that I’d be ready for this dress.

Now I’m going to keep this photo on the fridge to have a constant reminder of where I came from and where I am now 135+ lbs lighter.  This photo terrifies me.  I never thought I was THAT big, and I don’t even recall being that big anymore (from a 3X to a 6). I don’t ever want to forget, its when you forget that history repeats itself.the worst picture ever

I am more convinced than ever that sugar and artificial sweeteners are the biggest culprit. Since the holidays my sugar craving (which had all but disappeared) is back with vengeance. That being said I intend to return to a very low sugar, low carb, high protein diet as well as get back to exercising again now that the orthopedic surgeon has cleared me to start slow. I don’t have much to lose this time, but I intend to return to my pre-surgery weight and stay there.

I’ll track my progress here and keep everyone up to date with what I am eating and how much I am moving daily in case you  want to join me and begin your own journey!

A Chanukah Success Story

Our Chanukah dinner was a big success.  A bunch of mostly adults acting like children, drinking wine, and having a great time. A few people learned a bit, lit menorahs, and I think with the help of my piano teacher sang a fun celebratory Hebrew song. The menu was a hit with homemade gluten free schnitzel, apple sauce noodle kugel, carrot tzimmis and potato latkes.  For desert we had homemade gluten free rugaluch, macaroons, chocolate cake and jelly donuts. We played dreidel (some guests had SERIOUS beginners luck!) and visited with our friends who learned that they were neighbors… living literally down the street from one another!

dinner menorahsWhen we all lit the menorahs the dining room looked so pretty, but man did it get hot!

Cooking all day did take a toll on my toes, but it was worth it. My tooth has basically stop hurting which I am so thankful for. During all of this I am trying to plan a wedding and our yearly crazy huge community style Passover seder.

I’ve stopped thinking about when the NY Times will publish the article. I need to live my life as though it isn’t of any consequence at all. Because ultimately I have had almost 30 years of indifference, disbelief and disgust to deal with so nothing has ultimately changed.

NormalAppImage(3)Our trip to New York is around the corner and I can’t wait.  My fiancee will get to see the Rockefeller tree for the first time and all the Christmas windows and lights.  Most importantly MACY’s who has devoted this years’ windows to Peanuts’ 50th Anniversary, and she is a Snoopy fanatic. (Check out this link for some great pics of the windows: http://www.amny.com/lifestyle/macy-s-holiday-windows-a-charlie-brown-christmas-theme-for-the-50th-anniversary-of-peanuts-1.11121486) For me, tickets to The Color Purple with Jennifer Hudson – one of my most favorite Broadway shows (we are both going of course).  And… getting to eat at SMAC – where I can have custom made gluten free macaroni and cheese!  When you can no longer enjoy real NY Pizza, this is a huge deal.

When we get home I then start preparing for our Christmas party, LOL… you know although its hectic and crazy I love the holidays, and celebrating all sorts of things with family and friends. If you are reading this I hope you have somebody to celebrate something with; regardless of who it is or what you are celebrating, we must realize how lucky we are to have this opportunity. So many on this planet do not.

I still have not gotten back to the gym and the clothing is starting to feel tighter.  I am so busy and I cant seem to find the motivation like I did in the past to get up at the crack of dawn to work on my body.  I KNOW it needs to happen, and I use the excuse of my toes, or my exhaustion, or my teeth.  I need to quit with the excuses and get back on the bandwagon with each passing day it gets more difficult.

Ny in txI know I will be moving a lot in NY so that has me hopeful. There is this huge part of me that hopes we get stuck there, LOL.  I cant afford to get stuck there, but man would it be nice. It’s still my home and I miss it everyday.

A Case of the Nerves…

Okay I have to be honest – I am a little nervous about my pending foot surgery.  It’s not the surgery that has me scared its the fact that I will be expected to stay off my feet for the most part for weeks afterward.  Now, I haven’t been good about exercising recently, but I make sure to move quite a bit during the day.  With this surgery I will be only able to be “active” sporadically for quite sometime and its not like I am going to stop eating.

I am contemplating the physical activities I can participate in that will keep me from putting pressure on my feet.  I know I can do upper body work, and probably some ab exercises and leg lifts.  Once the stitches are removed and I can get my feet wet I think maybe I could swim for some cardio (although I pretty much suck at that). Maybe a recumbent bike would work? I dunno, but this will be the first time in a LONG time that I will basically be unable to easily burn calories on a daily basis.

The surgery I am having is for bone spurs in my toes which have basically made wearing almost any shoe at all painful.  And… its both feet.   Its a form of Hammer Toe surgery.  Here’s a pic of one of the toes to be operated on.

My toe... yes it hurts!
My toe… yes it hurts!

Needless to say, I am nervous about eating and not moving.  I will keep everyone updated as I try to figure out ways to move everyday so I don’t just put weight back on.

But, I have to realize that even if I do have a setback, it will just be that, a setback and I will just jump back on that proverbial wagon and start moving again.

I don’t think the director or choreographer of the show realized truly how much pain I was in during all the dancing we did.  As one of the oldest cast members I was bound and determined to give it 110%. So while I paid a price for the effort, I wouldn’t change a thing.

It seems that is how most things in life which require you to put forth all of your effort are.  You may suffer some, and it wont be easy, but it will be worth it.  The journey and the pain make you appreciate the destination, and the goal entirely; more than you ever would have had the path been simple, easy and painless. It also makes you keenly aware of what it took to you to get where you are, and more likely than not, you will not want to make that same journey again, or move backwards along it.

Surgery is not scheduled till next week.  I am going to spend sometime researching things I can do to stay active off my feet. Post some comments if you have any suggestions… I would love to hear from you.

Exercise…UGH!!!!!

A bit about exercise.  First I want to tell you – although I’ve done a ton of it over the last year and a half or so I STILL HATE IT.  When I am done the endorphins are released, I am in a great mood and feeling wonderful – that is the ONLY saving grace.  It’s a shame sex doesn’t burn as many calories because at least you are having fun during, and get all the same post activity benefits!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Great Big Stuff!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Great Big Stuff!

Since all the rehearsing and then the performances of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Rockwall Community Playhouse my schedule changed dramatically, and I could not make it to the gym, nor did I have any energy left to do so.  But, during the show I did a lot of dancing which used different muscles – muscles I had forgotten I had.  I pushed myself even though I am not much of a dancer and pretty much an uncoordinated klutz.  I loved it, and now I think I want to take dance lessons again (I did it as a kid.).  Maybe it will help me be a bit less of an uncoordinated klutz?? Now I just need to get our choreographer to start an adult class at the studio where she teaches. Moving to music seems to make moving easier… hence my enjoyment of Richard Simmons as well.

The key is to find something you enjoy to do when it comes to moving and that when done with some intensity will burn a decent amount of calories if you are trying to drop the pounds.  I don’t really enjoy the gym but know I probably need to go back to stay healthy – it’s not all about weight, but about staying fit as well. Aerobic/cardio movement is very important for your heart and burning calories, but so is strength and resistance training because building muscle helps you burn more calories. Staying fit gives you more energy in general and keeps you healthier.  I firmly believe it boosts both your metabolism (duh!) AND your immune system.  I was not sick once while I stayed working out routinely.

Another key is… IF you are going to join a gym, join one that is VERY close to home.  If you have to travel more than 10 minutes to get to your gym, it’s not likely that you will go with any regularity.  I am very lucky, as we live basically around the corner from an LA Fitness. Having to pass by it every day also helps pour on the guilt of not getting back there – you pay for it… go.  Growing up Jewish, let me tell you… guilt works.

Some people will tell you to not eat before working out and others will tell you to have something in your stomach.  Honestly, I am not sure which answer is best, I think it’s a personal choice. I prefer working out on an empty stomach as there is less chance of feeling sick during or afterwards.  This choice forced me to work out in the morning before starting my day – and I am NOT a morning person.  But, after having forced myself into this routine, mornings have become a bit easier for me now.

Let me share with you the supplements I take on a daily basis which I also think help quite a bit.

  • Biotin (cause my hair and nails are very thin)
  • A women’s multivitamin
  • Calcium + Vitamin D (for bone density)
  • Echinacea & Goldenseal (for my immune system)
  • Probiotics (for digestion)

If you are prone to urinary tract infections I would add a cranberry supplement, and be sure to eat yogurt routinely or add a live culture supplement as well.

I think it always all comes back to staying happy – which makes it easier to stay healthy.  Finding yourself… finding joy in a variety of things, 02 Four Weddings 11 x 17doing them consistently and always giving 110%.  I know that is not practical for most people on a daily basis, but it’s something to strive for.  I’m auditioning for another production… this time a comedy at Rover Dramawerks in Plano, TX.  Even the name of the play is funny: Four Weddings and an Elvis.  There won’t be any dancing, but again it will bring me the joy necessary to continue moving forward as a healthy and happy human being.  I’d ask that you wish me luck, or say “Break a leg!” but given my history that would be something I might actually do.

How I Lost 135+ Pounds…

No Biggest Loser, no Extreme Weight Loss Makeover and no gastric surgery….

People ask tattoome this question almost every day since December of 2014. How did you lose all that weight?  How did you stay motivated? How are you keeping it off? Did you have gastric surgery?

I am going to try and answer everyone’s questions here, and by starting this blog I hope to motivate and continue to help people.

MOTIVATION

This was actually the hardest part of the process, and continues to be.   I cannot put my finger on the exact moment I basically cracked, but I do remember this – stepping on the scale sometime towards the end of April of 2014 and seeing the number 287.  I freaked out. I thought OMG I am closing in on 300 pounds, the prior month at my yearly physical my doctor told me I was prediabetic, I am going to be one of those people who can’t get out of bed without the assistance of a hydraulic hoist!  Something snapped.  I can’t tell you what, I can’t tell you why… all I can say is that I realized at that moment that I was going to be 45 years old in just under a year and I felt like I was 85.  I needed to act quickly because it was only going to get worse and only get harder to do something about it.  So that’s basically how the journey began. I vowed to reach my goal weight by my 45th birthday.

I had lost weight after babies in the past with the help of Weight Watchers and to this day still believe it is the ONLY healthy way to lose weight as it is truly a life style change and not a diet.  Not having time for the meetings, and not wanting the initial humiliation of that first weigh in, I joined online, and began immediately counting points and getting rid of all the trigger foods in the house.

Going into a public gym feeling as self-conscious as I did was not remotely an option. So I began slowly moving at home.  I walked the dogs every day. Then (being the crazy off kilter person I am) I started doing Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies II (I still love that workout – just the music makes it fun). I couldn’t do it with all the gusto of my youth or even make it through the whole work out at the beginning – but I was determined to not give up. Still too embarrassed to enter a gym I purchased an inexpensive exercise bike/elliptical machine.  I began alternating my friend Richard with my new friend Elliptical every day.  At that point I was only exercising once a day, but I tracked how many steps I took with a pedometer and roughly how many calories I thought I might be burning during a workout.  Believe me accuracy was not critical to me, just approximates to stay motivated.

When you ask people about weight loss they tell you don’t weigh yourself every day, do it once a week.  I firmly believe that that needs to be a personal choice for your individual psyche.  I weighed every day.  It never discouraged me, it kept me on track and kept my eye on the prize so to speak.

The first few weeks if you are doing it right, you always see some impressive results – its sticking with it afterward that’s so hard for so many.  The first two weeks I dropped roughly 8 lbs.  This was encouraging enough for me to keep going. I stuck with Weight Watchers for about three months – till my body learned portion size and healthy eating.

Having suffered with IBS since my early teens I believed that managing it was going to be a lifelong commitment.  During my weight loss journey I had come across a few different articles online which indicated that individuals with IBS may actually benefit from a gluten free diet. I had been checked for celiac disease in the past and was told that my blood work did not indicate such an allergy. I figured at this point I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if it worked.  So another round of removing food from the house began.  (I did keep a stash of real bread, etc. for Jan as this gluten free thing was not something she could get on board with.)

I also read that sugar calories were much harder to burn off than fat calories. So I began eliminating almost all refined sugar from my diet and increasing my protein intake to help build muscle and burn calories.

After three months on Weight Watchers, and exercising on my own, I had lost roughly 46 lbs.  I could now face a gym with pride – I had come this far – certainly I could do even better with real equipment and some guidance.

Eating was now more or less simple for me.  I drank ONLY water and a ton of it all day. I ate the same basic things daily:

  • Breakfast:

Steel cut oatmeal, with blueberries and toasted flax seed – [Occasionally I changed up the fruit and/or added some nuts])

  • Mid-morning snack:

A very low sugar cup of Greek yogurt (I recommend Siggi’s if you can get it) and a cup of Naked Juice’s Green Machine

  • Lunch:

Gluten free protein bar, some low-fat cheese cubes and an apple

  • Mid-afternoon snack:

A handful of cashews and/or a protein shake

  • Dinner:

A normal dinner like a medium sized steak, some rice or potatoes, a salad with sugar free dressing or some cooked green vegetables (asparagus, green beans…)

I’d try to eat dinner by 6:30 the latest so I wasn’t going to sleep on a full stomach when burning calories is more difficult. I also tried very hard not to eat after dinner.  This was hard, but when I did succumb to temptation I chose something healthy or in the very least refined sugar free (a fruit, some sugar free pudding, popcorn etc.). Being a chocoholic I stuck with dark chocolate during my weight loss, and still try to reach for it when given the option.

It’s all about movement, portion control and healthy choices.  It’s NOT easy.  Becoming gluten free has been really difficult, but also the best choice I have ever made.  I miss real pizza, real bread and real CUPCAKES!  The gluten free alternatives are not bad, but it’s still not the same. Before I fully understood what the family of gluten was comprised of, one night I made a huge vat of mushroom barley soup for my family and after having two large servings wound up in the hospital with an intestinal infection.  Needless to say – I’m staying gluten free.

So – over the next 7 months I stuck with all the above.  I went to the gym every morning for an hour (half hour of cardio and a half hour of strength/resistance training), and then again at lunch for 30 minutes of cardio (walking, elliptical, bike…).  In those seven months I lost roughly 90 pounds.

I set smaller goals throughout the journey and had a karaoke party when I dropped below 200 lbs. making sure there were healthy choices on the table along with regular “party” foods for all our guests.  We had a blast and it helped me stay motivated.

At the gym I found a trainer who would occasionally take some of her personal time to help me learn to use the machines properly, and rotate through my muscle groups: using muscle confusion and interval training.

In just under a year and right on time for my goal I had lost 135+ pounds, and weighed in at 150 lbs. I fluctuate within a healthy range of 5-6 lbs now.  Between 147 and 153.  I don’t weigh in everyday, but I do keep constant tabs to be sure I am staying on track, as my eating behaviors are not as stringent anymore.

One day while I was on the elliptical machine at the gym, I continued to stare intently at the décor on the wall to my right.  Skinny, muscular people in a variety of workout phases and activities.  There were words superimposed on these figures.  One word stuck in my head – resonated, and has never left: PERSEVERE. When I reached my goal I had this word tattooed on my body in both English and Hebrew in a design I created. It’s on my calf where I can see it at all times.  It reminds me what I went through to get here, and reminds me to keep moving forward.

Everyone says I am an entirely different person now –and honestly they are right. I do feel like an entirely different person… I feel like the person I was meant to be.

I hope this has been helpful to those of you who have asked how I got where I am.  I will answer anyone’s questions, and I will support anyone who needs help finding their motivation.  Just ask….(it’s a good place to start!)

Oh, and for those of you who have no idea why my blog is named theassofdeath, read my next post and it will become clear!

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