Mind the Gap

I am writing this post on a train to New York City. My sister, Megan, is hopping on further up the tracks and we will stay with her sister-in-law, Ashley, who has lived in Manhattan for the past several years. Less of a hassle than flying but not quite as time efficient, the train offers me views of the northeast cooridor and the ability to pack a full-size conditioner bottle in my carry-on. A win-win, for sure.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that it has been over 10 years since I’ve last been to the city I would dream about in childhood. As a tween, I unironically wore an I ❤ NY shirt and would happily tell anyone who listened of my post-collegiate New York City plans. The New York, New York Babysitter’s Club Super Special book was my favorite (wasn’t Stacey just the coolest?) and when I finally experienced the city for the first time as a 12-year -old, I became consumed by the sights and the energy. We lived in Arizona at the time and I was absolutely blown away by the iconic east coast city.

We moved to Pennsylvania during the middle of my 7th grade year. My family often took advantage of being a quick train ride from the city so I was able to get my fix during my teenage years. I briefly considered attending college in the city, the lure of a traditional college campus proved to be stronger and I ended up at Clemson University in South Carolina, which is about as in-New York City as a place could be. My freshman year roommate and I went there over Spring Break and Clay and I spent the three days that Fort Drum afforded him after our wedding in New York City, which marks the last time I’ve been, save for a layover in one of the area airports.

Yes, I am a New York City fan girl. And yes, I’m excited to be visiting this weekend. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the opportunity to live there but you can sure as hell bet that I’ll never stop visiting the city that never sleeps.

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It’s Polar Vortex Time!

Do you hear that buzz? It’s the residents of mid-atlantic and southern states not being able to stop talking about the record-low temperatures we’re currently experiencing. While our northern neighbors are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at the sub-zero freak-out, many of their southern counterparts are dealing with inadequate winter gear, frozen pipes, and lacking the resources to combat such extreme (for this part of the country) temperatures. Our little family is doing just fine (we’re northerners at heart) but I understand why many others are struggling with the windchill.

Here in the Washington DC area, we broke a 120-year record. We woke up to a 3-degree atmosphere with a -15 degree windchill. It would have reminded us of our Fort Drum days but the windows weren’t rattling and cold air wasn’t seeping in through cracked floors and siding so we’re quite toasty and happy. Schools are cancelled so the kids and I are getting ready to brave the elements and hopefully take advantage of empty roads and stores.

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While we don’t mind the cold weather, there is one member of the family who absolutely relishing in the sub-zero temperatures and the lasting snow. Lucy is in her element and loving every single minute spent outside. She is pulling for orders to Alaska, and as much as we would love to be stationed there, unfortunately, it isn’t a possibility for us. So for now, we’ll just have to settle for occasional sub-zero record-breaking weather.

My Struggle with Binging and Purging

I have gone back and forth on whether to publish this blog post because it is an honest account of my weight and previous encounters with disordered eating. But obviously, I decided to go ahead with it. So here goes nothing…In a previous post, I discussed my newfound love of running – not only am I finally experiencing the fabled runner’s high and feeling great, I’ve been enjoying seeing my body change for the better.

photoMay 2003

In this picture, I was at the heaviest I’ve been in my life. It was between my sophomore and junior year of college and evidently, I was having trouble finding clothes that fit. Clay had come for a visit that summer before leaving for some Army training so I showed him the sights of Philadelphia over a couple of days. I don’t have many pictures of me during this period because I was uncomfortable in my body, especially when compared to the picture-perfect girls that seem to flock to Clemson University. I wasn’t fat per se but I was overweight. During my freshman and sophomore years of college, I fluctuated between 170-175 pounds, which was a lot for my 5’7” frame. I was relatively active but just ate way too much food and didn’t pay much attention to my calorie intake.

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July 2003

The Liberty Bell picture was the catalyst I needed to make changes. When Clay returned home, I flew out to visit him in Ohio about 10-15 pounds lighter than the last time he had seen me. The picture above was taken at Cedar Point and represents the height of my disordered-eating phase. That summer, I was binging and purging on a regular basis and truly believed that the only reasonable way for me to lose weight was to throw-up after eating ‘bad’ food. I was exercising but not in a really meaningful way (e.g. elliptical machine, running inconsistantly, etc..). I wasn’t healthy and I obviously wasn’t treating my body with respect.

Thankfully, I had a minor medical event that scared me enough to realize that I couldn’t go on binging and purging. After a purging session, a blood vessel in my right eye burst, causing blood to pool and turn my eye blood-red for about 10 days. I told people it was because of excessive caffeine consumption (I worked in a coffee shop) but it was really from throwing up too much and too often. I was able to stop binging and purging on a regular basis and only engaged in the practice on the extremely rare occasion.

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April 2004

I spent junior and senior year of college around 155 pounds. While I wasn’t binging and purging anymore, I wasn’t what I would consider a healthy eater. I drank Slim Fast shakes for breakfast, I ate a lot of Lean Cuisine-type meals for lunch, and I didn’t pay any attention to portion-size when it came to dinner.

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 December 2004

Surprisingly, I didn’t actively try to lose weight for our wedding. Around the time Clay proposed, I accepted the fact that I was never going to be thin and my focus shifted from wanting to lose weight to just being healthy. If shedding a couple of pounds was a by-product of a healthier lifestyle, great, but it wasn’t my goal. I focused on eating more whole foods in their natural state and not restricting myself, which always seemed to result in me binging. After our wedding, we settled into married life as Clay prepped for his first deployment to Afghanistan.

DSC_0067July 2007

It turns out that deployments can be great for weight-loss. Clay was gone for 16 months and during that time I continued to eat healthy, I ran regularly, and I incorporated weights into my workout routine for the first time ever. By the time Clay came home, I was 135 pounds – the lowest I’ve been in my adult life. Because life is crazy fun when your husband returns from war, I settled comfortably around 140 pounds and was happy with the number. I felt great and thought I looked good and healthy and I maintained that weight for the next couple of years.

IMG_1972July 2012

Through diet and exercise, I was able to get back down to 140 pounds after having Weston (b.2009). Clay was deployed for a year soon after the little guy was born so yet again, a deployment proved to be an effect weight-loss tool. I maintained at that weight for three years until I became pregnant with Violet (b. 2013). After Violet, I found losing the baby weight more difficult the second time around and with my regular eating and exercise habits, I plateaued at around 150 pounds. And I totally joked with Clay that he needed to deploy again so I could lose those last 10 pounds.

IMG_8056August 2014 – 150 pounds

I am a large-framed girl. I’ve never been described as dainty, petite, or delicate. I am never going to be 120 pounds nor do I have any desire to be. I like the fact that I am strong and I’m built with some meat on my bones. But I know that I can be in better shape, which is why I am running more and being more mindful about my food choices – don’t worry, I still eat the occasional cupcake and you will have to pry cheese from my cold, dead hands.

FullSizeRender-2No work-out blog post is complete without a post-run selfie. 

I’ve lost about five pounds since I started my running regime but I’m not expecting to lose much more, if any. But my body is changing for the better and becoming more lean, and I have endurance. Weight, after all, is just a number. Most importantly, I haven’t binged/purged since my college days and I haven’t eaten fake chemically diet-food in years. I try to eat as naturally as possible and don’t practice restrictive eating. I love food and I respect food. And I respect my body, which is why I am doing whatever it takes to carve out time to exercise. My 32nd birthday is around the corner so I can’t think of a better gift to myself than getting into the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. The right way. The healthy way.