Step by Step

On Saturday, Matt and I headed out to Charmlee Wilderness Park for a hike. Charmlee is nestled in the Santa Monica mountains, and hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the coast, complete with crashing waves and bird’s eye views of millionaire mansions.

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I had been looking forward to a nature retreat — where the only tweets I’d be interacting with were from real live birds. I was also excited to log some miles towards my 3-Day training, as I’m now to the point where I need to be totaling at least nine miles a week. The hike started out perfectly — not too hard, not too hot, not too many people. I played with my new camera, stopping to photograph buzzing bees and the occasional bumbling butterfly.

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We did two miles easily, enjoying the relatively flat trail. On the second part of the loop, we decided to explore a few trails we hadn’t tried before. I got nervous when the trail started leading us way down into the valleys of the hills, because I knew that what goes down must goes up.

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The hills started climbing. I put one foot in front of the other, determined, triumphant. Surely my walk training counted for something. 3 miles done. I was doing fine. And then all of a sudden I wasn’t. It was like I hit a wall. I was hot, thirsty, and tired. I was out of breath. I was sweaty. I suddenly felt the weight of every single extra pound I carry, the pounds I’ve carried for many, many years. I wanted to stop. I wanted to give up.

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I had no choice. If I decided to stop hiking at that very minute, no bus, train, plane, car, horse, Rapunzel braid or carrier pigeon was coming to pick me up. No bike would suddenly materialize by my side. No rope would cascade down the side of the mountain to help me hoist myself up its side. I had no choice but to keep going.

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So I did. I put one foot in front of the other. I took small steps and deep breaths. I battled the voice in my head that was telling me I couldn’t do this. I kept going. Because I had to. Because I had no choice. I asked Matt to take these pictures, because I wanted to show you the struggle. Finally, I saw the parking lot below us. At that point we had made it five miles, and I smiled.

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All that sweat, all that struggle. All a reminder that the best I can do is just take this journey step by step, and slowly, but surely, I will succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

Mastering a Goal

Good morning and Happy Monday! I’ve been a little more quiet on the blog lately, because I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a very long-term goal… my THESIS!

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I started graduate school in 2010, twoweeks after I got married, and two months after I had scored a big promotion. I remember nervously sitting around a table of unfamiliar faces, still glowing from my honeymoon, starting to freak out a little bit as my eyes scanned the lengthy syllabus of research methods. At work, I went from a copywriter to a content manager, managing a team of three people, writing Facebook updates and blogs for nine different brands. I worked at least 45 hours a week and went to class at night, exhausted, bleary-eyed and hungry, but I made it through with my laptop, diet coke and the support of my husband and family.

I had intended for grad school to take two years, but as the reality of school set in, I knew it would take longer. I ended up staying for three years, and in those three years, I met wonderful friends, some of whom read this blog. (Hi Julie, Emily, Lauren, Virginia and Luis!) I also worked my way through stress-eating (Something I’m still fighting), cried when my 36 page literature review came back for the 10th time needing more revisions (I’m not exaggerating. That %&$#! lit review came back ten times!), traveled to Thailand, lost my sweet kitty Leo, and did a million other things. Life always went on, but it went on with a giant weight on my shoulders – my thesis. I turned down fun party invitations, missed family vacations and spent hours glued to my computer. I wrote and re-wrote huge chunks of the same text, over and over again. I made a lot of sacrifices for the past three years to work on this thesis, but I was always grateful I had the opportunity to be learning and to be in grad school. It was hard. But I did it.

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The first photo of me as Alyssa Curran, MA. Taken minutes after my thesis was approved – with happy tears still shiny in my eyes!

Last Thursday, at 2 pm, I paced the hallways of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication while my thesis committee deliberated my final project. I had come prepared with 106 pages of my own work, two PDFs of the social media handbook you can read at SocialSyllabi.com, and a cheat sheet of notes. I defended my project in front of two women I greatly respect, both who are doctorates, one in education, one in journalism, women who have worked at the Los Angeles Times and have been embedded in war zones. At the end of an hour and a half of changes, they signed a paper and shook my hand – I had just earned my master’s degree!

When they signed the paper, I wanted to leap across the table and hug them. Tears flooded my eyes and I had to do that embarrassing fan-your-face thing to prevent myself from bursting into happy, joyous tears. I have worked SO HARD for this degree, and I am so proud of myself. I’m not usually a braggart (ok, fine, sometimes I can be), but I’ve been basking in my accomplishment the past week. I have a MASTER’S DEGREE before I’m even 28 years old. THAT is awesome. THAT is accomplishment. THAT is hard work, and opportunity, and commitment – and THAT reminds me that this whole weight loss thing? It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life, but I can do this, too. My Master’s Degree taught me a lot. Not just about dedication and time, but about perseverance. About not throwing in the towel when all you want to do is quit. About keeping going, when your eyes are heavy and your heart is tired. About not comparing yourself to others, about realizing this journey is your own – no one elses, and if your heart is in it, you will get there, regardless of your pace. I need to remember these thoughts, these feelings, when the number on the scale is up, when my jeans feel snug, when I compare myself to a thin girl and think that I am not enough. I can do this. I will do this.

My sweet friend Ruby and I in 2008. We are still friends to this day!

My sweet friend Ruby and I in 2008. We are still friends to this day!

My master’s degree is so much more to me than just a paper saying I’m well educated in the field of mass communication and media. It’s a reminder for me that when I work hard, I can do anything. I just need to remember to take it one step at a time, believe in myself, and try my best. On May 21 I’ll once again walk across the Oviatt Library steps, exactly five years after I earned my BA in Journalism in the same spot. In a lot of ways, I’m a different person than who I was in 2008, but one thing remains the same – my ambition to make my life worth living to the fullest, every minute of every day. I am proud of the person I am, and you should be proud of who you are, too.

So tell me – what is one thing in your life, big or small, that makes you proud of the person you are today?

 

My reflections on my no-weigh month

In a couple days, it will be one month since I agreed to say no to the scale for a whole 30 days. The first few days of not weighing, I felt anxious, like I wanted to just hop on and see what was going on. Since I had started boot camp three times a week, I had a hopeful feeling that the number would be lower – but then I remembered all the times I got on that scale thinking the number would be lower, and it was the same, or up, and it put me in a crappy mood for the next hour or two. The reason I decided to go no-weigh for a month was that it was getting discouraging to see the number not move. One bad weigh in and I was grumpy for the rest of the day, tempted to blow off my eating plans or exercise, because why did it matter? All that hard work and I was getting no where.

After the first few days of no weigh, I felt free. I didn’t hop on in nervous anticipation every morning. The scale became less of a mood-breaker and more of an annoying piece of furniture taking up space in my bedroom. It was liberating not to worry about a salty meal the night before, or if my exercise had “caught up” with me. I loved it. I loved being no weigh.

To help me keep track of my progress, I took all of my measurements the first day of no-weigh. I checked in today and did a re-measure, and I can say that I’m happy with the way things are going. At the end of this week, I’ll weigh myself and see what’s up. I don’t know what to expect. My fitness habits have been great, and I’m accomplishing major things fitness wise – running a mile without stopping, getting through 60 minute cardio sessions without dying, enjoying the healthy flush and spurt of energy that regular exercise gets me. Considering that I’ve just started a new job and am in my last month of grad school, my mood has been amazing. However, my eating has been more spotty with the last few weeks of school. This week, there were many days when I worked an 8 hour day, came home and immediately started working on my thesis, finishing up at 1 AM, snarfing down a few slices of pizza or going out to grab a Vietnamese noodle bowl with my husband. I haven’t been able to put as much thought and preparation into my meals, but I’m hoping my diligent exercise efforts have helped balance it out.

We’ll see how my weigh in goes at the end of this week, but if staying away from the number didn’t do too much damage, I might consider weighing myself less frequently. Over this long, long process, I’ve learned that you can FEEL skinny, FEEL fit, FEEL good – and not lose weight. But maybe you gained muscle. Or maybe you’re bloated. Or maybe you didn’t go to the bathroom. Or maybe you forgot to take off your bath robe. There are so many variables to what affects the number on the scale – and after my no-weigh month, I’m learning to give those variables less “room” in my daily life. Life happens. I don’t need a scale to tell me my worth, or what kind of day I’m going to have. I will choose to be conscious of my health by the way I feel – how I’m sleeping, my moods, my energy level, the color of my skin.

Have you ever considered doing a “no weigh”? Why or why not?

 

 

FitBloggin’ Recaps Day Two – Joyful Shimmy, Janet Ober, Hank Hannah and Jack Fit

The Gang's all here! FitBloggin 2012!

Hello everybody! I am home from Baltimore and slowly getting back into the routine. First things first – I’m lucky to be able to travel as much as I do, but MAN, do I miss cooking when I’m on the road! I just made a delicccccious wheat pasta with a charred broccoli and onion sauce, mixed with lean bacon bits and small mozarella pearls. Super tasty, fairly light (if I keep the serving right!) and homemade. Best of all, I managed to scrape that together before going to the grocery store. Whew!

Laura from Joyful Shimmy learned to love her body by getting naked!

Friday night at FitBloggin’, we had an ignite fitness keynote session. What this meant was instead of the usual boring 1 hour keynote, there was 15 speakers, each broken up into 5 minutes with 15 slides. It was fun, fast-paced and kept us entertained – especially with stories like those from Laura, of Joyful Shimmy, a recovered bulimic who learned to love her body through burlesque! I loved Laura because she was actually the first blogger I met while decorating my badge, and she was friendly, approachable and funny – a perfect introduction to my first fitbloggin’ ever.

Image from JanetOber.com. Click to read her story and buy her book.

There were also really moving stories, like Janet’s. Janet was hit by 5 semi trucks at a time – leaving her leg mangled and nearly destroyed. Despite crippling depression and the serious physical trauma, Janet overcame her struggle and now runs marathons. Her speech was EXACTLY what I wanted to get from FitBloggin’. I’m always the mayor of excuses village, and if Janet can overcome nearly losing her leg, suffering major depression… and then continue to run MARATHONS, I can lose this weight. Excuses are not valid. Janet is a powerful speaker, and her words shook me to the core – not with fear or pressure, but with complete inspiration and validation that if you work hard enough, anything is possible. (Except finding a comfortable bra. I have decided that is impossible.)

 

 

Hank was sick of being the fat guy - so he took charge and shed over 100 pounds.

There were also light and humorous presentations, like Hank’s, from the Business of Losing Weight. Hank has lost over 100 pounds, and to illustrate his points, he did each of his slides in paint. Check out this awesome artwork  – a valiant effort, right?! I don’t think I could do that in Paint!

 

 

 

Jack's No Flack Jump the Track Creative Smack Attack

One of the show stealers of the night was definitely (and not surprisingly) Jack Sh*t. Jack Sh*t is well known in the weight loss blogging community for his offbeat and hilarious blogging style. Jack put together a funny and random slide show with things like slides of iced tea, and things that spark his creativity… including Mentos. Towards the end of his presentation, he magically procured a 2-liter bottle of coke from behind the podium, and dumped in two mentos. It was awesome, and was like the Ozzy-Osbourne bat-eating event of FitBloggin’. I raise my hat to you, mr. gettin’ fit.

There were so many other amazing speakers this weekend, but if I keep going, my jet-lagged body will never have time to sleep! Stay tuned tomorrow to find out about my Twitter Community live blog, and also, which fantastic fitbloggin’ folks I met and chatted with.

 

What gets me through the hard days? Humor.

Hi everyone! This week’s weigh in was kind of a bummer because I gained a little bit of weight, and consequently, cut my calories a little bit. I even wondered what I should do on the blog…fess up? not mention it? And then I realized, the whole point of this blog is to stay honest to myself, so I gotta keep it real! I get so discouraged sometimes with weight loss – it seems like its the one thing in my life so far that I just cannot do! However, I know that hard days and times like this will pass, and I have to keep going, and never give up. So when I need a little more pep in my step, I always look to things that will make me laugh – and lately, that’s been Pinterest! Enjoy some of the health related funnies and motivational little pix that have made me smile today! Also, if you’re on pinterest, follow me! I’m @lyssacurran .

Source: tumblr.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

Guest Post: Jennifer’s Weight Watchers Success Story

Hi everybody! I work with an amazing gal named Jennifer P. who has been an awesome success story in our Weight Watchers Meeting. I asked her to guest blog since I love hearing the “success stories” in regards to weight loss!  It’s a good reminder that anything is possible as long as you work hard for it and stay focused. Please read her story below and show her some comment love!

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My journey to a skinnier me began on April 15th, 2010. Weight Watchers was being offered through work and I immediately jumped on the opportunity to join. I had been on Weight Watchers before between 2003 and 2004 and had lost 65 lbs. before I stopped going and eventually gained everything I lost and then some. The entire time I had been away from the program, I knew in the back of my head what I should be eating but my desire for delicious food almost always won out and I reverted back to my old habits quite easily.

Jen's awesome weight loss!

When I started Weight Watchers this time, I took a different approach than I did before. I followed the program as best as I could and I wouldn’t let my little mishaps affect me on a larger scale. If I happened to gain weight one week I would, and still continue, to tell myself that I can lose it again and it’s not the end of the world. I had lost 10% of my starting weight by Aug 2010 and by the end of 2010, I had lost 50 lbs. There were a few months in between Oct and Dec of this year in which I has lost my motivation and the only reason I was maintaining my weight loss at the time was because I was going to the gym on a consistent basis. After the holiday season, I decided I needed to get back on track and by April of 2011 I had hit 60 lbs. I must say, I was extremely proud of myself. I still ate whatever I wanted, but in monitored portions, and limited myself to snacking only if it was within my points for the day and/or week. This was a new accomplishment for me and I found I had completely changed some old habits that I had. I’m the main food preparer at home so I got quite a few cookbooks and magazines that contained nutritional information and utilized Weight Watchers online for additional recipes and cook foods that are within reasonable point’s values on a daily basis. My family has never complained about any of the, as some people would consider, “diet” recipes.

Now, since April of 2011 through Feb of 2012, I have fluctuated between 55 and 62 lbs of weight loss. Believe me, it is still an accomplishment to have come so far but I want to reach my final goal and I only have 25 lbs more to go. I’m a little aggravated and I’m personally trying to figure out why I have been stagnant in my weight loss. I’m trying not to let this plateau affect my motivation and I do continue to struggle daily. I have noticed that my clothes continue to fit differently, however, and I’m becoming more tone. I continue to attend the gym on a bi-weekly basis and also attend a pilates class to focus more on my core strength. Before these past couple of years, I despised any sort of physical activity and would never in a million years have considered working out and being a member of a gym. Now, I can’t live without it and the amount of physical energy I have now from both the weight loss and the additional exercise that I’m getting is a phenomenal feeling. I’ve even contemplated doing a 5K, which is also a first for me. I feel younger than I am (even though when I wake up in the morning I feel like I’m 80…so much for getting older) and it has increased my self esteem as well. I am continuing with the new “me” and I hope I can share my 100% success story once I reach that final goal.