My First 15K, and my ode to BGSD

Last Sunday I did my first 15K. If you’re thinking about doing the jump from 5k to 15k let me give you one piece of advice: train!

I had signed up with the intentions of using it as a goal in the gym and as motivation to train more regularly. Needless to say I did not. I finished the race, and even finished it under my goal, but then I was in such pain I barely moved from a recumbent position for 2 days. It’s 3 days on and I’m still hobbling around like I left my walker at home, but at least I’m vertical now.

The race was the Mini Heart 15K. You may remember I was also signed up to do the 5K directly afterward with Dad. That was my goal: to finish the 15K in the 3 hours so I was in time to start the 5K with Dad. Well he ended up not doing his race due to knee issues. I finished my race at 2 hours and 38 minutes. After getting my medal, my “free” water and banana I had 10 minutes grace before the 5K was due to start. So, in theory, I could have done it with him. Since I was already regretting the horrible life decision of doing a 15K without any training I opted not to compound the issue and didn’t do the 5K either. If Dad had been there I think I could have managed and pushed through it but he wasn’t and I was already fantasizing of my bed and Tylenol so why torture myself?

As you can see from my stats above I didn’t finish last, though I wasn’t far off. Not sure why my tracking app went crazy and thought I did 19 miles, but you can see where I actually started walking and my average of minutes per mile. Also, take note of that little tail of street we went up and back down. That little tail was someone’s idea of a not-so-hilarious joke I think. “Oh? They’ve been running for 7 miles already? Let’s throw in a super steep hill when they’re already exhausted! That’d be super fun!” Oy vey…

Also, not going to lie. As the minutes ticked by I got more and more pissed off at the tall people! One stride equaled 3 of mine! They’re just casually sauntering down the street while I look like Richard Simmons on crack speed walking.

The only reason I attribute finishing before my goal was because of Bright Green Shirt Dude, and so consider this my ode to BGSD.

As I was nearing the 2 mile mark I noticed my speed was not what it should have been. I was already getting lapped by old dudes pushing strollers. Then I noticed BGSD just ahead of me. He was just jogging away, a steady speed, never slowing or speeding up, just slowly plodding along. He jogged straight for the first 4.5 miles without stopping. I was very impressed. Once I noticed him and his steadfastness I decided to use him as my pace person. As long as he was within eyeshot I was okay. I’d jog for a bit to catch up every now and again, but for the most part I was able to keep up with him the entire time. Near the finish line he pushed ahead and full out ran, losing me in the process. You can see his neon loveliness crossing the finish line off in the distance in the photo above. I had intended on hugging him at the finish line and telling him how he got me through the race, kept me moving and honest, kept me from quitting. He was too far in front of me though and I had no energy left to do a huge last push like he did. So shoutout to the glorious BGSD: you rock and thank you!

Compare my face at the start line to the finish line. At the start line I looked hopeful, although resigned to a not-so-fun task. At the finish line I just look pained. You might also notice the lack of headphones at the finish line. That’s because right after I took my “before” photo I realized that my headphones were dead. With only 10 minutes left I didn’t have enough time to run back to the car and get my other pair so I had to do the whole thing in silence, with the occasional spurt of music from the volunteers’ cars and other runners who were listening to music with just their phones/ no headphones. I didn’t want to be that person to force my music on other people. I tend to exercise to old blues mixed with some newer stuff. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

I’m glad I did it, and super glad and proud that I finished it, but I could have made better decisions surrounding my first 15K.

Lessons learned:

-Train beforehand!

-wear gloves when it’s 45 degrees out and you’re running by the river. My hands were freezing!

-make sure your wireless headphones are charged the night before

– and train beforehand!

Now to apply my newly learned common sense lessons towards preparing for the Flying Pig 10K…

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Racing Craziness

So in my last post I mentioned that I’ve registered for a bunch of races already this year. I thought I’d forward the information on them, in case anyone was interested in joining me or cheering me/Dad on, or just donated to the charities the races support.

On March 10th I’ll be “running” in the Mini Heart 15K by myself at 730, and then if I finish in time I’ll be doing the 5K race with my Dad at 1030. If after both of those I’m not completely dead, I might join my coworkers in the 5K walk at 1230. I don’t really see myself finishing the 15K in time to do the 5K with Dad though. 3 hours to do 15k when I haven’t come close to doing that much in one go yet is a hard ask, but we’ll see. I’ve been trying to train to increase my endurance but so far I haven’t really been doing it as fervently as I probably should.

The Mini Heart raises money for heart disease and stroke awareness, education, and research. Due to my Mom’s stroke 6 years ago this race is close to my heart (pun intended!). If you’d like to donate under my team’s name here’s the link: http://www2.heart.org/site/TR?fr_id=4003&pg=personal&px=8898565  When you click on the link it’ll take you to a generic profile page for me/my team. I’ll totally admit I’m too lazy to personalize it with a custom photo and text and such.

On May 4th I’m running the Flying Pig 10k. As of right now Dad isn’t registered for that race yet. He’s debating the 10K with me vs the 5k again. The Flying Pig benefits many charities that you can donate directly to, even if you don’t register to participate or volunteer. Here’s the link for their donation page: https://raceroster.com/events/2019/19341/cincinnati-flying-pig-marathon-weekend-2019/fundraising-organizations   If I had to push you towards any one in particular it would be for Cincinnati Children’s. My girls both were born with congenital hypothyroidism, which basically means they weren’t born with functioning thyroids. Because of this they’ve been frequent flyers at Children’s their entire lives. Plus Phoebe was in their NICU for 10 days after they were born. I can’t say enough nice things about them.

If you’re interested in actually registering or volunteering for the event here’s their main page: http://flyingpigmarathon.com/

Last year Dad and I ran their 5k and even though it was fairly crowded it was very enjoyable, hence why I upped the ante this year. I’m also planning on being a medical volunteer in one of their medical tents, that is once they open the medical volunteer signups.

And last but not least, on June 8th I’m doing the Miles for Migraine 10K. Miles for Migraine is a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving the lives of migraine patients and their families, raising public awareness about headache disorders, and helping find a cure for migraine. As I’ve talked about before, I am a chronic migraine sufferer. It affects my life on a daily basis. I’m usually pretty good at hiding its affects from others, but not always. Not only does this organization work towards research around migraines and potential cures but through raising public awareness they’re working towards decreasing the social stigma that’s often associated with it. Here’s the link if you’d like to donate to their cause: https://raceroster.com/events/2019/21350/miles-for-migraine-cincinnati-2019?aff=TA7EZ

I have few other races I’m thinking about doing later in the year, but I haven’t committed to any as of yet. When and if I do I’ll keep you guys posted!

 

Paris! (part six)

Day Six

Day six, otherwise known as stairs day! We didn’t really plan ahead for our activities this day and the shear amount of stairs we would be doing by day’s end.

We started the day at the Eiffel Tower where we climbed the stairs to the second platform, approximately 700 stairs total. You can’t take the stairs all the way to the top. If you want to go all the way to the summit it’s an elevator ride up from the second platform and a second fee. The day that we went the summit was closed due to high wind.

All the pictures I’ve ever seen of the Eiffel Tower was of the tower itself or the grand gardens out front. There’s also a cute little lake and garden area at it’s base once you go through security.

On the first observation deck there was a little heated bubble/room with video games. There was also a little coffee shop counter and cute little seating areas made out of tram capsules.

On the second observation deck there’s a macaroon bar, of all things. Of course we rewarded ourselves with the yumminess. I discovered early this day why you should never wear pants that drag on the floor in Paris. My pants soaked nearly to my knees by the end of the day.

Climbing the tower’s stairs wasn’t really that hard but the thighs for sure were letting themselves known. Added bonus: the fee for the stairs is cheaper than the elevator.

After the Eiffel Tower we went to the Catacombs. At a certain point in Paris’ history they moved all the cemeteries’ bodies to the catacombs underneath the city. They’re 20 meters down, which meant going down a narrow spiral staircase 20 meters into the ground.

The bones were really surprisingly well organized. Really well, really creepily organized. As you go deeper the years get older and you could tell that those that were moving were getting bored with merely stacking the bones. They started putting designs into them: hearts, crosses, circles, random patterns, etc. As we were walking through the lights started to malfunction and at times we would be in absolute pitch black if it wasn’t for our cellphone light flashes. There was a tour group behind us that was actually ushered out because of the light issue. The experience was very unique and off the beaten path of regular tourism. I loved it. Looking through the pictures, take a special look at the sign for the entrance. They managed to sneak a skull in.

After the catacombs we bought a sandwich to split for the train ride to our next place: Chateau de Vincennes, a medieval castle. The Keep on the grounds was converted into a prison for awhile to hold regular prisoners as well as royal prisoners. You can still see the graffiti chiseled into the stone walls from the prisoners from hundreds of years ago. Included in the grounds of the castle was a gorgeous cathedral with some stained glass windows that rivals some at Notre Dam, in my opinion. Everything was white and airy and peaceful inside. I loved it.

By this time my thighs were literally shaking so I had to sit for a few minutes to rest, drink some water, have a protein bar.

From here we ventured out to the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, the largest and most famous cemetery in Paris. It is 44 square kilometers big. We visited Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde’s graves. Both grave sites are behind protective barriers to prevent vandalism.

Jim Morrison is behind what basically looks like a roadblock gate. The tree next to him was covered in used gum. It was obviously some kind of homage but I didn’t get it.

Oscar Wilde’s grave is surrounded by Plexiglas. Visitors used to leave behind red lipstick kisses on his gravestone. The lipstick was starting to damage the stone and was getting to be expensive so the family erected the Plexiglas. We could see people still left kiss prints on the glass.

At this point we could hear a bell in the distance, like a salvation army bell, ringing. We didn’t realize until someone zipped by in a car yelling at us in French to get out that it signified that the cemetery was closing.

It was very interesting see the older gravesites directly next to the newer, more modern sites. A several hundred year old gothic mini-chapel could be right next to a black granite slab modernist gravestone. It was very cool to see. There was even one that had a giant camera and a thing you could scan with your phone to an informational website.

It was very dark by time we made our way out of the cemetery. From here we made our way to the train station and then home. Napped, showered, and then fancified ourselves for our dinner reservation for our “last supper”.

Our last supper was at Le Wagon Bleu. The front room looks like a standard bar, but the back room looks like a diner car of the Orient Express. It was very cool and unique.

To drink I had my one alcoholic drink of the week: a cupidon (manzana, crème de peche, jus d’orange, jus d’airelle, and champagne). I tried a quintessential French food: beef tartare. It came out with a raw egg yolk on top. Mixed in was chopped onions, peppers, and various seasonings. According the waitress I was supposed to mix it all together, and if I wanted I could mix in either hot sauce, worsteshire sauce, or ketchup. I opted not to mix anything else with it as I found it flavorful enough on it’s own. It was really good but it was a bit weird eating cold beef.

We also had a yummy cheese sampler plate. For dessert we got le fiadone to share. Le fiadone is a traditional fresh Corsican cheese and lemon cake, served with lemon sorbet. It was interesting. Good flavors but very weird texture, kind of crumbly but soft.

I love the difference in height here in our picture together. I’m wearing ballet flats and she’s wearing 6 inch high heels. Her boob is basically on my shoulder. Lol…

When we got home I packed for the next day and Jessie passed out on the couch, while her cat tried to get her snoring catatonic body to pet her.

Paris! (part five)

Day Five

Thursday we went on the open air bus tour of the city. If you intend on getting on and off of the bus frequently and looking around or going into things, definitely invest in the 2 or 3 day ticket. We only bought the 1 day ticket and met the bus as it was making it’s first stop of the day closest to us at 1030am. They stopped at the end of the line at 530ish pm.

We got off the bus at the Notre Dam It is free to go inside and look around. To go up into the towers it costs money. You’re expected to take your hat off and be quiet, to be respectful of those praying. There’s also several little praying niches where photography isn’t allowed. On the right side, once you enter, is a row of confessionals. They have several and they are language specific, which is a nice feature that they even have the multiple options.

The stain glassed inside was gorgeous and breathtaking. The Christmas decorations were very simple and understated. There is also a little section that shows the evolution of the building itself, construction wise, which was cool. Outside a street artist drew my picture for his “collection”. I ended up accidently getting it for free as we ran to try to unsuccessfully catch the tour bus.

The missed bus stop gave us the opportunity to go to Jessie’s school really quick and turn in her paper from the previous day. I got to meet her teacher and mentor really quick too which was nice.

We also got off at the Louvre. We didn’t go inside the actual museum but did go down into the legendary glass pyramid. Underneath it’s basically a giant mall outside the museum itself. The square footage of this place is crazy huge. The museum itself would take several days at a pretty good speed to see everything. We didn’t have the time to do this, and the era of art that I really like isn’t actually at the Louvre so we opted not to go through it.

We went through the gardens and a little Christmas market to meet up with the tour bus on the other side. At the Christmas market they had very obviously repurposed Halloween rides, which was hilarious. We couldn’t resist going on the Christmas Zombie ride. It was hilariously kitschy and bad.

After the bus tour we swung by Jessie’s apartment and dropped off the gifts/souviners that had been collected throughout the day and then straight back out to the Musee d’Orsay. If you have to go to one museum in Paris, go here. It’s where all the impressionists are: Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, etc. I could have spent a really long time in here but we only got here an hour and half before closing.

Afterward we went to a cute little bistro around the corner and had a super yummy steak dinner, of which I was able to eat about 6 delicious bites of. Of course I got the rest to go.

Paris! (part four)

Day Four

As Jessie is in her fancy Master’s program she didn’t get to play with me everyday. Wednesday she had a paper to write so I adventured out alone.

First I slept in, which was heavenly. Then I went to investigate what Paris offered to the quilting geek that I am. I discovered Marche Saint-Pierre. It is a 5 floor fabric store and is quite possibly one of the largest I have ever been to. Each floor is several different kinds of fabric with the top floor being the quilting notions and accessories. The fabrics are all on huge rolls, not the normal bolts with folded fabric that I’m used to in the states. It’s a minimum 1 meter cut. None of the staff spoke English and of course I speak no French, so we used a combination of mime skills and my 4 French word vocabulary. There’s a staff member that is walking around with a meter stick. You track her down, she comes to the fabric pile that has your selected fabric roll and she measures and cuts it right there on top of the stack of other fabrics.

In the states it’s normal to find a remnant section in a fabric store. There they had whole remnant stores that were either next to or across the street from the main store. The few I popped into were 3 meter bundles and each were priced according to the individual fabric. I found some silk that I’ll probably fantasize about for a long time, but it was 30 euro a meter. With the limited budget I had brought with me, I couldn’t justify it regardless of how gorgeous it was. If you see a store that has “coupons” in the name, that’s a remnant store.

The whole street that this particular store was on was mostly little fabric and craft accessories stores. I was in quilter’s heaven. I fought really hard to stay within my budget though and mostly won. I’m kind of proud of myself.

After prying myself away from the fabric store street I decided to go wonder around the area around Notre Dam some. We had seen it briefly the day before while getting our Uber and I wanted to explore some more. I didn’t go inside yet though because the next day we were going on the open top bus tour around the city and I knew it was one of the stops.

At night it’s all lit up and pretty. At the beginning of the month they had an event thing where they lit it up all special with a light show. If you wanted to get close you had to buy tickets.

You always see the front of the Notre Dam, but you hardly ever see the backside. The two sides kind of feel disconnected architecture wise to me. The backside has a cute little fenced in garden. It doesn’t feel as big and overpowering. It feels more delicate.

Once it gets dark most everything shuts down. I didn’t want to eat out by myself so I ventured home on the train.

I do have to say it was nice walking around by myself for awhile. The two days before, though very fun, were very full and very long, with timeframes that had to be met. This day was nice and relaxing. I could go where and when I wanted. I wasn’t expected to talk to anyone about anything. It was a good day to decompress and experience the city. I’m one that sometimes likes to just sit quietly. My husband and I are perfectly content to sit next to each other on the couch not talking as we are talking most nights. It was nice to just be alone with my owns thoughts for a bit.

Jessie was still writing her paper when I get back so I supped on some yummy lemon chicken soup she had made in bulk, binged Star Trek Discovery, and worked on my hand sewing project for the rest of the night while she worked.

Paris! (part three)

Some observations for things to bring with you if you’re traveling to Paris in the winter:

  1. Bring thermals, or at minimum leggings, to wear under your clothes. It’s not as cold as Ohio but it is quite cold to be out in the whole day. In that same vein bring a coat, hat, gloves, scarf, etc but also bring sweaters and long sleeve shirts to layer underneath.
  2. Bring waterproof, warm, comfy boots.
  3. Don’t bring pants that drag on the ground, ie boot cut or bell bottom jeans. The ground is always wet. Even if it’s not currently raining it probably rained the night before. The couple of days I wore my boot cut jeans they soaked up nearly to my knees just simply by having the cuff drag the wet ground.
  4. My best purchase beforehand was a travel anti-theft cross body purse from TJ Maxx. The zipper has this little clip that hooks to a thing so it can’t be easily unzipped. The straps are super strong so they can’t be cut. It’s small enough that it’s not in the way and big enough to fit my water bottle I had bought at the airport and just kept refilling the whole week. It also fit my tiny travel umbrella, wallet, and cellphone with no issues. It’s lined with anti-rfid technology. And it also had a little locking clip on the back for the strap that I used to clip my bags to as I gathered gifts and souvenirs throughout the day.
  5. Bring a portable charging stick. I only used my phone as a camera during the day, leaving it on airplane mode the whole day. It came to the rescue more than once.

Day Three

Versailles!

It is an hour train out to Versailles, usually. However it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get to Versailles. 20 minute train ride from Jessie’s apartment to the connecting station. Waiting on the platform for the train to Versailles that comes every 24 minutes. 24 minutes come and go. On the tracking screen our train has disappeared and then reappeared a few minutes later. 24 more minutes go by and it does the same thing. We finally think to translate the French in the bold red border trailing across the bottom of the screen. Our train is actually delayed a minimum 1.5 hours for mechanical issues.

At this point we’ve hooked up with another American family that had been waiting for the train as well. We all decide to go topside and split a taxi. We all trek up the stairs and down the street to the taxi stand, experience our first view of Notre Dame in the process. All the taxis that come by are too small to fit all 6 of us. Eventually we decide to split up for time sake, and of course after that decision the only taxis we see are full. After about another 15-20 minutes of waiting we call 2 Ubers to come and get us. 45 minute car ride filled with French rap music later and we finally arrive at Versailles!

For awhile we tour the palace with the American family, who were super nice, but eventually we break off on our own. The murals and ceilings were all gorgeous. The grounds were gorgeous. Learning about the evolution of the palace itself through the ages was really interesting. Jessie took me to see Marie Antoinette’s little farm on the corner of the estate. I could definitely live there for sure. Because of the time issues getting there it got dark earlier in our tour than we had planned so we didn’t get to see too much of the grounds and gardens, but as it’s winter it’s not the biggest of losses. All the statues were covered up and nothing was in bloom.

After our tour of the palace itself and before venturing to the other things on the estate we had a quick lunch in a little ala cart café inside Versailles.

They didn’t really have any protein heavy meal options left, as it was late in the day, so we had tomato basil soup, strawberry nectar, and macaroons. Pretty much all carbs on top of carbs, but super yummy to be sure. Very glad I had brought protein bars and string cheese with me.

I simply can’t describe the beauty that is Versailles so I’m not even going to try. If you ever get a chance to go, go. Be prepared for a bunch of school field trip kids to be around you though. And take the extra little petit train ride out to the ourskirts of the estate to see the mini-palaces. I actually liked them better for living. They were smaller in scale but felt less claustrophobic to me, weirdly enough. There was also the option to rent a golf cart to self tour around the grounds.

One thing that I found a bit irritating was the times for the restaurants. They open and close at the weirdest hours. Before you set out for any particular place triple check their times. We ended up finding a little restaurant about a 5 minute walk to the train station to eat in and they actually were closing up for the day right after we left. It was only 7pm. I honestly don’t remember what I ate. I was so tired. But I do remember that it was yummy and that I took leftovers home with me, par for the course, and ate the rest later at the apartment as a second dinner, like the hobbit that I am.

I don’t think it’s usual practice for Parisians to take leftovers home with them. Every time I asked for a doggy bag I’d get a look and their to-go boxes weren’t really travel-friendly. Also you have to ask for a bag, no matter what you’re buying. If you’re buying anything in a store they’ll actually charge you for a plastic bag, so people bring canvas bags with them everywhere.

Luckily by time we got to the train station at the end of the night it was functioning again and we had no more issues going home.

Paris! (part two)

Day two

Day two’s plan was to run amok at Disneyland Paris. Not realizing our e-tickets had to be physically printed out we had to make a detour to Jessie’s school to use their printer. Not a bad delay though since it gave me the opportunity to see her school. We then took the hourish train ride to Disney.

Paris Disney is not nearly as big as ours. They just have two parks, Magic Kingdom and Studios, and a lot of the rides are repeats between ours and theirs, if you’ve ever been to Florida’s Disney. They do have a few they are unique to Paris though, like the Ratatouille ride in Studios. Their hours are also a lot shorter and their restaurants stop serving a lot earlier before closing than ours. Combined with the times and the delay getting there to print, our time was limited.

We concentrated on doing the Parisian specific rides and the few iconic must-ride rides, like It’s a Small World. I also did all my Holiday shopping for my twins here. Phoebe is obsessed with Minnie Mouse, so that was easy. Zoe, however, is into villains. Maleficent to be exact. We went through just about every store and only found a 2 foot section in the very last store of villain related paraphernalia. Luckily they had exactly what I needed, but still. Not every little girl is obsessed with princesses.

We didn’t plan our food throughout the day well enough and by the end of the day were a little desperate for real food. I had brought a few protein bars with me but those were consumed earlier while waiting in lines. Early on we split my first official new French food, a crepe with fig jam. By time we decided to eat all the restaurants were closing for the day. We ended up finding a sandwich place next to the little shopping area (downtown Disney kind of) next to the train station where we got something for the ride back to Paris. It was gloriously yummy. I ended up only eating half mine of course, saving the rest for a midnight snack later.

Note my fun leggings. They’re sugar skull Disney Villains. I love them 🙂 I actually wore these doing my very first 5K, which happened to be with Jessie too.

On the way train ride back we just happened to sit and chat with a lovely British couple that had been on the train with us that the morning. They had recognized my hair. Apparently I’m just a tad conspicuous…

 

Paris trip! (aka traveling post-wls)

This past Saturday I returned from a weeklong trip-of-a-lifetime visiting a friend in Paris. She’s there for a year doing a fancy Master’s degree at the Parisian branch of Columbia University. As promised in a previous post I’m going to take you guys through my incredible week. Fair warning, it will be picture heavy but I will work in information every now and again about how it is to travel as a post-op WLS patient.

I’m going to do an individual post for each day, just so it’s broken up a bit and this one post isn’t forever long.

Day One

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I left Cincinnati at 610pm and got into Paris at about 800am Paris time. They’re 6 hours ahead of us so my body actually thought it was 2am. 8.5 hour flight and I didn’t sleep a single wink.  I was smack dab in the middle seat of the plane, between two men that slept the entire time. I was definitely more comfortable in my seat than I would have been 100lbs ago and was very aware that I was no longer encroaching in on their space, which was a nice feeling. I also had a fair amount of the seatbelt tail from tightening it more than I have been able to in the past. I was going to take a picture of the seatbelt tail and space left over in the actual seat on either side of me, but with being in the middle seat I thought it’d be too conspicuous.

The food wasn’t terrible in flight. I got a chicken something or other. It was edible enough and actually perfectly sized for Madame McSleevy. I stashed the extra cheese nibbles and crackers for “midnight” snacks. I also brought with me protein shake powder that I had bought from my doctor’s office, in individual sample packets to pass security, and a bunch of protein bars and string cheese. Of course they had to do extra security checks on it all at the TSA checkpoint, making sure I’m not sneaking in something nefarious. They rubbed this little paper all over the packaging and then put it into a machine. I suppose they were checking for residue of some sort. Once through security I was able to buy a bottle of water and use a packet of my protein powder for lunch. I had brought one of my smaller shaker bottles with me.

I was met at the other side by my friend Jessie, after some being lost and not being able to find each other fun-ness. Word of advice: if you fly into Paris don’t venture away from the immediate arrivals area if meeting someone. The signs don’t help you find each other at all. She met me with flowers, a lovely handmade sign, and white chocolate (my go-to candy choice pre-surgery).

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After an hour train ride, that felt like no time at all, we got back to her apartment and took a well earned nap. Woke up about 2-3pm and adventured out! We took a train to the Arc de Triomphe and wondered down the Champs-Elysées, which has the most expensive stores you will ever see in one place. Eventually we stopped for dinner at a little place called Le Grand Palais. We ended up splitting the duck and a crème brulee. It was delicious and the perfect amount of food.

 

One thing in Paris, and I’m not sure if this is just Paris/France specifically or applies to most European countries, is that you have to specify if you want tap water or not. If you don’t specify they will bring you a bottle and charge you for it. Tap water is free. They also don’t ever put ice in their water. It’s not exactly room temperature but not far off. One bonus is that you’re not expected to tip. They’re actually paid a living wage and don’t expect it. If you leave something then it’s just a bonus. Also, there’s no tax. The price listed on something is the actual amount you’re going to pay. Even on the last day my brain couldn’t overcome this. It kept trying to automatically calculate the tax when I was buying something.

After dinner we decided to walk over to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up at night. Every hour, on the hour, it lights up all shimmery sparkly for maybe 10 minutes. It was gorgeous. We then walked to the train and went home to rest up for the busy week we had planned ahead of us.

 

 

Just the week or so before we were there, there was a huge protest in this spot by the arc. I had seen a picture that there was so many people it was just wall to wall people. You couldn’t see any evidence that anything had happened at all. Everything was totally cleaned up. Later in the week I did see some graffiti referencing their president in another spot though that hadn’t been cleaned yet.

The above picture of me standing in front of the arc is about 20 feet from the metro escalator. When you’re coming up the arc kind of just slowly presents itself as you emerge upward. It’s very dramatic. There is an option to buy a ticket and go up the internal stairs of the arc to an observation area. We opted not to do this.

Mini Tough Mudder!

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Last weekend, on Labor Day, I completed my first tough mudder. Though this was considered a “mini” tough mudder, not nearly as intense as the officially sanctioned ones. It was a shorter distance at just over 5K, and even though it had more obstacles, they were less difficult for the most part.

I also managed to rope two others into my craziness, one of my oldest friends, Faye, and my brother’s lovely fiancé, April. They were both less than pleased with the adventure I believe. Having never even run a standard 5K before, this was a tough one to start on, no pun intended.

The event itself was Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet. It’s an annual thing at Morgan’s Canoe and Campground in Brookesville, Indiana. If you’re interested in seeing a video of the course I’ve included a link below to the actual site.

https://www.morganscanoe.com/mud-gauntlet/

Included in the 5K-ish course were 40 obstacles, 6 mudpits, and the largest hill to climb up and down in all of creation. Most of the obstacles included various combinations of hay bales, canoes, tires, ropes, etc. There was a fun slide into a deeper watery mud pit. I attempted 38 of these obstacles, successfully did 37 of them, and did all the mud pits. screenshot_20180903-2208343232470142886541569.pngI skipped #35 and #20, though #20 was accidental. We turned the wrong way when getting out of the river and skipped the whole loop on that side, going directly from obstacle 19 to 21. #35 was the reverse of #34, which were both giant climbing walls. I manage to get up and over the first one with only moderately freaking out, but couldn’t bring up the courage, and the confidence in my arm strength, to attempt the second. I’m not sure how many obstacles Faye and April completed. I wasn’t honestly keeping track. I was just super grateful and excited they were there with me, even if it was just to cheer me on as I climbed over/under stuff.

Faye opted out of the gigantic hill at obstacle #11, meeting back up with us at #14. April opted out at #22, meeting back up with us afterward. Faye and I walked/crawled across the finish line at 2 hrs and 17 minutes.

If you’ll notice in the pictures below, my gym shoes died a horrible death. I ended up throwing them away once I got home. About halfway up the monstrous hill the soul of my right shoe decided to come away, so every step I took after that was followed by a lovely flopping noise/feeling. If I had duct-taped my shoes on like all the sites suggested this may not have happened, but I probably still would have thrown them away anyway. They had gained probably at least a pound each with just the sheer amount of water and mud. These were my yardwork shoes though, and were at least 8 years old, so they’ve lived a good long life.

As part of the registration fee we received a long sleeve, black commemorative shirt (very useful in 90 degree heat), a finisher’s medal, a “free” meal of pulled pork/beer, and “free” camping the night before onsite. The pork was super yummy. Out of the more than 400 participants not that many took advantage of the camping option. We, of course, did. We came the day before, set up camp, and then went exploring!

Another benefit of being a participant is that we could have gotten half off canoeing if we had wanted to. We opted not to, not wanting to mostly kill ourselves before completely killing ourselves the next day. Instead we wondered to the nearby town of Metamora. April and I went horseback riding, then we meandered around the kitschy little town for a bit, and ate dinner at a little English themed pub/tavern. Afterward we went back to camp for campfire and alcohol induced fun.

This was the first time since losing the weight that I’ve been horseback riding. I’m pretty sure I’ve commented on the lack of cushioning on my posterior now. 5 days later and that’s the only part that is still hurting some. My “undercarriage” didn’t appreciate the hour in the hard saddle. No matter which way I shifted I just couldn’t get comfortable. I did come ahead of April though. Her horse ran her straight through a large tree branch causing a long scrape up her upper arm.

We were at campsite #14, which was right next to the river. If you look at the race map we could see obstacle #23 from our tent.  Though it was cool to be able to walk down to the water, I will say that navigating a sand-filled campsite isn’t the funnest thing in the world.

5 days later I’m just now not feeling sore. Even with that I would not hesitate to do this again next year. It was a blast! I got such a sense of accomplishment from completing the obstacles. At my fluffiest I probably wouldn’t have even attempted them, psyching myself out. I never would have even seen if I could do them, thinking I was to fat to even try. Now the only issue I ran into was my height. Being on the shorter side made some of the obstacles harder, and made the monkey bars literally impossible. I couldn’t reach the damn second bar!

I’m probably going to have to find other accomplices next time though. I don’t think Faye and April will be willing to join in again. I can’t imagine how sore they probably were. I have a year and a half of working out 3 days a week under my belt and was still walking like a little old lady needing her walker.

It was such a fun weekend though. I had such a blast! Thanks again to Faye and April for joining me!

It’s a mind-fuck: Body image after WLS.

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You know how Facebook will occasionally show you memories of this day from years past? I’m always a little shocked when I see old photos of myself now. I almost don’t recognize myself sometimes. (above picture 2015 vs 2018. I wasn’t even at my heaviest there)

When I was big I never felt that big, not really. I knew I was in reality, but I just didn’t feel that way. I don’t know if you can chalk it up to denial or that I just didn’t have any health issues yet aside from the general lack of fitness, but the fact remains that I never felt as big as I look/looked in photos.

Fast forward to now and I have fallen into a funk. I have long stretches of time where I actively feel fat. I know I’ve lost 100 lbs and am significantly smaller than I once was. I’m stronger, fitter, and more athletic than I’ve ever been. I’m enjoying what my body can do now. I’m told by multiple people/coworkers/family/friends time and time again how good I look, how thin I look, how proud they are of me, etc. But it’s still there in the back of my brain. It’s a mind-fuck. It might be related to the loose skin, or that I thought that my rolls would disappear vs just shrink and stay roll-like. I don’t know. I fantasize about plastic surgery while playing with my rolls of loose skin in the mirror, shaping them to how I think I’d like to look.

Body image issues are very common in the weight loss surgery community. Distorted body image involves a preoccupation with overall body mass. Body dysmorphic disorder involves obsession focusing on a specific part or feature of ones body. Both are common. In the WLS community distorted body image happens more often than BDD however. It can stem from being “invisible” before and then suddenly thrust into the limelight, so to speak, after the weight loss. Feelings of not being happy with our bodies before just continue and just evolve after.

Weight loss is not a magic pill that fixes everything. It definitely helps the overall physical health, but mental health is important too. The mindset that “everything was easier when I was fat” is a common thread and is a precursor for self-sabotage. Recognizing that one is experiencing these kinds of thoughts and feelings is an important first step. I will admit here that I’ve found myself letting old bad eating habits sneak back in. I don’t want to gain weight. I don’t feel that “everything was easier when I was fat”, but I’m still self-sabotaging, either consciously or unconsciously, and it needs to stop.

There can be a disconnect between the brain and body when it comes to self-perception. Seeing and believing aren’t always automatic. It takes time. Here are some recommendations I found from an expert on the psychological adjustments associated with weight loss surgery:

  • It is important for anyone struggling with body image issues to seek help as soon as they can. Whether it’s BDD, body image distortion, or body image adjustment, getting help will allow the sufferer to not feel alone in their struggle.
  • See a professional to assess where you are on the body image spectrum. Don’t self-diagnose.
  • Seeking professional help to minimize self-sabotage behavior is a must. A clinician with experience in bariatrics and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be a tremendous ally.
  • Be aware of conditional value; “As long as I look a certain way, I am worthy of other people’s love and acceptance.”
  • In therapy, work on learning to accept compliments and handling comments from others.
  • Anyone who has a history of weight-related mistreatment and abuse are more likely to have body image concerns.
  • Monitor your own tendency to obsess or be preoccupied with anything related to your body image. You need to be kind to your body.
  • Monitor any self-critical behavior. The best anti-bully campaign you can be a part of is giving yourself positive words that are like nutrition for your soul.
  • Attaining and maintaining self-acceptance at all stages of the weight loss journey is key. Without self-acceptance, sabotage will result.
  • If you don’t reinforce you’re worth it, you’re not going to sustain it (your health).

I’m slowly working on my brain, now that my body is pretty much at status quo. It needs to play catch-up. I’m not beating myself up too badly but at the same time I think I need to be snapped back to reality a bit. A bit of tough love maybe? I don’t know. But then I get defensive and shut down typically. Just ask the husband. Oh well. Work in progess…

“Knowing there’s a trap is the first step in evading it” -Frank Herbert