A year gone by

Mom and Sarah 1

A year ago today I lost the most important woman in my life. The woman responsible for my presence here on earth, the lady who could see my beauty through pimples, braces and permed hair, and the giver of the best hugs in the world. One year has passed and I am still struggling. Life is different now. I feel like most days I have successfully quelled the stabbing pain in my heart, but sometimes the emptiness her disease and early departure from this earth left in me refuses to be ignored.

For those who do not know, my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 55, considered early onset.  As my Mother got increasingly sicker with the disease I would fall in love with the new woman she had become. I didn’t realize until after her death that I had been repressing all the “healthy” moments in my Mom’s life. It was as if I couldn’t think of her in the past to love her in the present. When she died many memories came flooding back to me. Moments of love and tenderness, laughter and joy, I was truly blessed to have been born to such a spectacular woman.

I would be lying if I said the loss of my Mom was not a large part of this journey. I realized that life was short and I needed to shake things up a bit, focus on living and I am confident that I have done just that. My Dad has told me several times how proud my Mom would be of me doing this trip and how proud he is of me. It means more than he could ever know.

I know that I will never fully recover from the loss of my Mom, and I don’t really want to. I just hope that I can continue to live a life that would make her proud.

Mom and Grandma and Sarah

A BIG bite out of the Big Apple

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Brooklyn Bridge

When I decided to spend an extended period of time in New York City I knew that it was going to be a challenge to maintain my healthy eating and consistent workouts. The city has so many temptations, so many opportunities to over indulge and I took plenty. I have a handful of friends who live in the city and we spent plenty of time going out to eat and imbibing in food and drinks that were not part of a healthy eating plan.

I stayed in the city for about six weeks, and about five of those weeks I wasn’t focused on my health. I chose happy hours over workouts and late nights to early mornings. I was cognizant of what I was eating and watched my portion control and I walked a lot, up stairs, down stairs, across avenues, down streets, through Mid-Town and Downtown, across the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. It was the walking that saved me. I didn’t gain a single pound in New York, in fact I lost a pound. Yes, a pound. Hey I will take what I can get. It was a lesson in how important movement is in life.

This blog has been a wonderful way to share my experiences and challenges but it also is incredibly stressful. I took off on this epic journey telling everyone that I was taking time from my daily life routine to explore the country while trying to become healthier physically and emotionally. Overall, I have succeeded. I have lost over forty pounds, not exactly the number I was hoping for by this time in the trip but still something to be very proud of. One of my dear friends reminded me during his visit to New York that I should be proud of my accomplishments, that weight loss isn’t easy and it has never been easy for me, I shouldn’t discount the weight I have lost even if it falls below where I had hoped to be. He is right, I know he is however, one of my biggest fears as I prepare to head home for the holidays is that everyone I left behind is going to judge my progress when they see me in person. I play reels in my head where I meet up with friends and they can’t even notice a change in my body. I run into ex co-workers who wonder what I have been doing with the last few months, why was it I gave up the security of a job to go travel and lose weight if I haven’t lost much weight.

In reality I know that anyone who cares for me would never judge me in this way and all the others shouldn’t be my concern. I can tell a change in my health, energy and physicality and I am the only one who truly matters. This negative self talk needs to end in order for me to continue my success. And what does success look like for me on this trip? To be honest this trip has become so much more than losing weight, that is still a focus and definitely a goal of mine but there are so many other things to attend to.

New York was an incredible experience, I got a taste of living in the big city, spent time with many friends who I love and adore and was able to visit many cultural and city landmarks. Would I ever consider living in New York? Perhaps, if I had millions of dollars, it is not the best city to be cash poor, then again what city is? My friend Amanda told me that I spoke of Seattle so much while we were together it was as if I hadn’t gotten over an ex and couldn’t stop talking about them. Funny analogy, the thing is I am not ready to break up with Seattle. I will visit New York as often as possible but my heart belongs in Seattle. That said, I am eager to return, until then I have many fond memories to sustain me!

My host Amanda! East Village living!

My host Amanda! East Village living!

My host Emily! Chelsea Living!

My host Emily! Chelsea Living!

My dear friend Josh! Sadly we didn't get a picture together.

My dear friend Josh! Sadly we didn’t get a picture together.

Kate! My main reason to head to Brooklyn!

Kate! My main reason to head to Brooklyn!

My dear friend Rebekah! First out of town visitor!

My dear friend Rebekah! First out of town visitor!

Sissy and Dave, all the way from Hawaii!!

Sissy and Dave, all the way from Hawaii!!

Couldn't be luckier to have been given such an amazing friend as my college roomie!

Couldn’t be luckier to have been given such an amazing friend as my college roomie!

Jason and Brenna Profit! Visiting from Seattle! So great to see such great friends!

Jason and Brenna Profit! Visiting from Seattle! So wonderful to see such great friends!

Getting into the holiday spirit!

Getting into the holiday spirit!

Gonzaga friends unite!

Gonzaga friends unite!

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Cold walk on the Brooklyn Bridge!

Halloween 2013! Best group costume ever!

Halloween 2013! Best group costume ever!

Macklemore XBox One release party! Invite and image given by Tyler Davis

Macklemore XBox One release party! Invite and image given by Tyler Davis

Yoga, a plus!

Rochelle and Sarah

Plus size, as you may know is not my favorite phrase. Perhaps it is because I have had to ride miles of escalators to the depths of retail stores looking for the “Plus-Size” section or it may just be that I have been Plus Sized for so long that I hate being lumped into a category. It is a well known term, everyone knows what it means when it is mentioned so I am pretty sure it will be around for awhile and I will just need to embrace it.

When I came across a class called “Plus-Sized Yoga” I was at first a bit hesitant, if I go then I am admitting to the whole world or at least those in the class that I am plus sized. I realized that a class is no different than shopping in the plus sized section, and really who said it was such a horrible thing to be plus sized after all.

I arrived at the studio where Rochelle Rice was teaching a series of five classes for her “Plus-Size Yoga” class. I joined a handful of other woman of all shapes and sizes, some clad in fancy yoga wear others in sweatpants and t-shirts, we laid out our yoga mats and started to stretch. There was nothing intimidating about this class or these women, accidental met glances were returned with smiles and everyone was very welcoming. I was invited to get up in front of the class and explain my journey and I was met with even more warmth and support, many of the ladies approaching me after the class to learn more and to encourage me.

Rochelle is the President of In Fitness & In Health, an organization she created that encourages movement and exercise among all body types regardless of size. Her bio sums up her passion for her company “Rice’s interest in Plus-Size Exercise came through her concerns about the inordinate stress put on thinness in our society, rather than fitness. Providing a safe environment where women could exercise physically while feeling secure emotionally, became Rice’s passion.”

If the yoga class I took is representative of Rochelle’s work then I personally believe that she is living her passion. If only all fitness classes everywhere could be so welcoming and warming to the soul. I left and had absolutely no qualms about being labeled “Plus-Size” with these amazing woman.

Refine Method

Refine Method 1

Two tough HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts in two days were a common thing for me prior to leaving Seattle, now, not so much. I dragged my aching body to Refine Method in New York’s Upper East Side on a Monday, walking tall having successfully survived the class at Exceed the day prior.

This studio was very small and the staff knew everyone and when I walked in they welcomed me by name. My instructor, Pam Leary, was very friendly and enthusiastic about my journey.

A few minutes into the warm-up it was evident that I wasn’t working at full capacity. I knew I was tired from the previous day’s workout but this type of fatigue was unusual, then it hit me, I hadn’t eaten since my breakfast smoothie. Rookie mistake! I don’t know if it was because of my lack of nutrients or if the class was just hard but this was the toughest workout I had done in a long time. The workout consisted of a combination of full body cardio such as jump squats to strength training with kettle bells and suspension straps. I was so weak and tired that I wasn’t even able to add any weight to my workout, I just worked out against my own body weight which at the time felt like a million pounds.

The other people in the class seemed to be moving through the workout with ease, my experience was more of a breathy wheeze. I was so off my game it was a bit embarrassing, which is a common feeling for me on this trip so I felt right at home. There were a handful of times throughout the workout when I seriously considered leaving, I was long out of water and light headed. I am proud to say that I stuck it out and finished the class. As I left the studio it was quite clear to me that I have some refining to do to my fitness method.

Refine Method 6