Sunday, December 25, 2011

Do These Nachos Make My Hiney Look Fat?

In starting this blog, I decided I have to talk about where I have been before I can talk about where I am and where I want to go. This is the story of a chubby chick that ate her way into a serious ass, blew the zipper on her jeans and fell off her shoes. The happy ending is that one day, she got back on her feet, started eating smart and hobbled her way into the demesnes of a personal trainer named Kevin.

This was me in 2007 and the approach of 2008. Chubby, but cute, right? Size wise, I was roughly a 14 misses with a chance at some size 12’s. I regularly rode English hunt seat, hiked and often biked to work.

I was working full time, taking classes at an academic institution with a serious level of rigor, preparing to start my senior thesis work and enjoying an active social life. Not to get into the whole sorry mess, but on February 12, 2008, life knocked me on my backside. I got to watch my boss and best friend of 14 years receive a terminal diagnosis, see the firm I helped build be sold to another company and lost my mind in the process.

During this period, I made many decisions. Most of them were bad. I was angry, self-destructive and had no outlet for my grief. I never had the chance to slow down and stop the juggernaut of a life I was now living.

So, I did what any Sicilian woman would do. I ate. (Let’s be clear, I ate a lot. I also drank a lot of wine. Anyone who owned stock in M&M’s, Willamette Vineyards  and/or companies that make nachos, made a fortune.) 

I realized I was taking on much larger proportions when I had to invest in a pair of size 16 jeans to ride at the barn and my chaps no longer zipped. I kept eating. I knew it was bad when a co-worker tried to talk to me, remarking she’d never seen me eat such unhealthy items day after day and that she was worried by my size.

I kept right on eating, even after the zipper blew on those jeans during a riding lesson as I jumped a fence. Yes, you read that right. I busted my pants – my FAT pants – and kept on seeking comfort in nachos, pizza, takeout, martinis and wine.

May, 2009 arrived and suddenly my graduation from college had arrived. This is me, wearing a pair of 18W trousers on Honors Day. Can you even tell that is my face? I cringe just looking at this – and it got worse before it got better.

A few days after this was taken, 6 days before graduation, I fell off my shoes – damn backless platform wedges – while climbing into my SUV. Funny thing, I’d glanced at my bike on my way to the truck and thought, “I need to start riding to work again”. So there I was, on my back in the garage, grateful to have not slammed my head into the snow blower on the way down, but well aware my left ankle was busted and my right foot was stuck up under the dashboard with blood running down my leg.

Trust me, it got worse.

Welcome to the Woman from Glad on my drizzly graduation day. All I say when I see this is “nice cankles”. 
Hello, broken fibula resistant to healing. 14 weeks after the injury, August, 2009 brought metal screws, a plate and a bone graft. By the time I got upright, my left leg was devoid of muscle. Peroneal tendonitis, ortho boots and walking aids dominated my life right into the new year.

Did I mention, with the year of inactivity and continued reliance on takeout food, I was wearing a size 20W trouser and an 18W dress?

I tried to ride a horse on Valentine’s Day, 2010. I removed my brace, put on a riding boot and carefully mounted Sam I Am. I could barely handle a walk. A rising trot was impossible. I had no muscle, lots of pain, and an inability to control my now bloated upper body. I knew I needed to do something. It was time to make some changes and deal with the damage I had wrought.
I learned some really valuable lessons from my late boss. One of the smartest things he ever taught me is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, find people that do. Hire them. Learn all you can.

Sounds like common sense, right?

I was 218 pounds. This was daunting, but I was determined. I started to watch what I was eating - small changes with better choices.

I went to work with a vengeance. Researching, reading, looking at nutritional plans – asking questions, picking apart programs, looking at statistics, and trying to find one that had a maintenance plan with a proven track record. I finally found a board certified bariatric PA out of Yale and on April 27, 2010 made drastic changes to my eating. 

I weighed in at 210.5 pounds, already down a few because of the choices I started making already.

The pounds started to come off under the new plan, but I was still limping, wearing an ankle brace and unable to ride. I knew I needed to exercise. I tried a brief stint at Curves, but even with an ankle brace, I was well aware that this was not going to be intense enough for me and their staff was comprised of women who were not trained in fitness nor were they particularly fit. Some of them were larger and less agile than I was. So I moved on to a gym.

I started walking on a treadmill, but the ankle did not respond well to the walking. I changed to an elliptical. I was too self-conscious to use the weight area without guidance and had no idea what I was doing anyway. I refused to waste time. I wanted effective and efficient workouts.

Following Michael’s rule of hiring people with more knowledge and following their advice, I  made the jump to hire a personal trainer and started working with Kevin Carlson. He had a plan for me and created programs meant to help me strengthen my body. Working around my still braced ankle, I started seeing Kevin for once a week private sessions that included pushups on a bench, weight lifting and strength training that left me drenched in sweat. Kevin kept me motivated, answerable, challenged and gave me confidence I lacked. He became my workout buddy and an amazing support system. He was my cheerleader, lauding accomplishments and helping me reach new goals. Just title this picture "my hero".

By the end of July, I tossed aside the last ankle brace and started wearing small heels. I was getting stronger. Kevin ramped up the challenges. The fat kept melting off. By September, I slid into size 8 jeans. I kept looking at Kevin wondering how this was possible. He kept pointing and saying "go". I went where he pointed. My body kept changing.

This is me, having my fat chaps altered. I am wearing a size 2 jean in this photo. 

And here is the day I got to wear them, cantering most of the ride on Sammy in December, 2010.

Mostly these days, I wear a 2 misses trouser. I wear some 0's depending on the fabric and cut. By the same token, occasionally I wear a size 4 depending on the fabric and cut.

I now work with Kevin in private session twice a week and attend the Extreme Boot Camp (one hour) on Saturday. Accelerated Fitness in Cromwell is my home away from home. I no longer flinch when I look in a mirror or worry about having my picture taken. I'm confident in my body. It's not about having a perfect body. I've seen me naked. Trust me, I am not in the vicinity of perfect. This is about confidence. I have it in spades. I feel strong, healthy and capable. I simply like the body I have, with all its imperfections. I cannot believe I am in this place, but I am grateful to Kevin Carlson and Accelerated Fitness for all the support and guidance that got me here. I owe Kevin a great deal for his attention and guidance. He listens to my goals, frustrations and dreams. He turns them into a program meant to get me where I want to go, all the while making me laugh as I sweat, lose my breath and work on my conditioning.

Here is where I come to the point of this blog (took me long enough):

Starting in January, I will be working with the Accelerated Fitness nutritionist who will create a specialized nutrition program for me. I'd like to drop my body fat while protecting my muscle. My body has maintained my current size for one year. It's accustomed to my current eating habits and it is time to shake things up. I'd like to get a little more cut. This blog will detail the highs, lows and adventure of this new journey. Emily Woodward of Images by Emily has agreed to photo document the process, attending some workout sessions to photograph the process.

I cannot wait to see what the new year brings. I'm in such a good place finally.

Thanks for following along! The rest of them won't be nearly so wordy!


  1. I adore you. I admire your determination and your willingness to do what it takes to make lasting changes, but beyond that, I love that you encourage others.

    I've seen you do it repeatedly. You don't put anyone down for being wherever they are right now, but you make it clear that where they'll be tomorrow is entirely in their hands. Then you step back and mind your own business.

    For most of my adult life, I was a perfectly healthy weight. Not particularly fit, but alright from a weight standpoint. Then I hit 45 and my hormones went absolutely berserk. I packed on some poundage as I fought to maintain my sanity and my vow to do the menopause thing without resorting to HRT.

    Right about then, I got a huge kick in the gut and experienced a loss that knocked me right on my ass. There were a couple of really shitty years, but I'm still here. I'm stronger for having battled, and my scars, though faded somewhat, will remain mine forever.

    That's okay.

    I now know that I can do absolutely anything. Anything. And this year, one of those anythings is to not only get back into my skinny jeans, but to achieve genuine fitness that has really never been mine.

    I'll turn 50 in 4 days. By the time I blow out 51 candles, I will own this.

  2. Love it, love it!! It is never too late to be who you want to be - and thank you so much. I just try to tell people, if they want it, they can have it. The best part of Kevin is that any judgment he might have had never showed on his face or in his demeanor. It was always, "ok, follow me" and there was a plan. He gave me his confidence. I love when my friends shadow me at Accelerated and experience it for themselves. I appreciate your gentle read!

  3. I have been around for the first part of the story. Looking forward to the next part.

  4. Thank you, Richard. I'm glad you're along for the ride! You've been a great friend through it all.

  5. love love love this, i can't wait to follow your blog and help take some pics for it :) i love you, you're an inspiration to me, and i know you can succeed at anything you put your mind to :)

  6. Thanks, Emily. I wouldn't trust anyone else to get these photos just right!

  7. That's fantastic! So proud of you! I need to lose 20 lbs, unfortunately I can't afford a gym or nutritionist, I wish I could, I'm sure it would come off quicker, I'm not the most self-disciplined. lol I'll keep reading!

  8. Madge, thank you for following along - I certainly didn't do this the least expensive way, but patience is not my strong suit. The education along the way has changed a lot of my thinking about workouts, how exercise and diet are marketed to women and how we need to change how we think about food. I no longer think about dieting (deprivation) or pounds because my goal is not to lose weight, it is to lose fat. I am a size 2. I weigh about 150 pounds (although I haven't been on a scale since February). I just try to eat clean - it makes a difference.
    The future blogs will have photos from workout sessions, things that you might even want to try at home. I do a lot of what Kevin has taught me at home - it helps keep me conditioned.
    And Madge, you are a single mom. You've raised great kids. If you can do that, you can do anything.

  9. hi maria. WOW! inspiring. full of strength, and humor. i love it! you look awesome...

    thanks for stopping by my blog, and taking the time to read.... please continue to follow as i will most definitely keep you in my reads...

    thanks for sharing..

  10. Thank you, thank you! Much appreciated - it has been a long time since I've written for public consumption. And I love to read other bloggers!

  11. If Kevin makes house calls, send him my way.

  12. He actually trained a friend of mine via the internet while she was stationed in Antarctica - his advice helped her to get her program started under very restrictive conditions. But, he is worth the trip here!

  13. What a wonderful story. You are indeed strong and fearless. You are an inspiration to all of us struggling with that last 20 pounds or nasty body image. I don't think a women is every happy with the body she is slipping into a pair of jeans, but if she can feel good about herself and be strong, then heck, that's something to celebrate. Congrats!

  14. Thank you so much, Brenda. I think anyone who has ever struggled with weight will have experiences and feelings in common - whether it is 20 pounds or 100 - my next blog post will have some photos from a training session - I don't look very attractive in them, but I like them just the same! I appreciate your comment so very much!

  15. OMG, you are amazing! I followed Misseffin's link from FB, and am so glad I did. It is a pleasure to meet you, and to see how far you have come.

  16. Thanks, Jean! Any friend of Trishie's is good with me! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read - this has been a grand journey so far. I'm on day 3 of the new nutrition plan so I have high hopes it's time to rattle and hum again!

  17. Thanks, Anna! I appreciate the read!


You comments are truly appreciated!