Getting Back to Fighting Weight

Hello All,

I have been waiting a long time to write this post. In fact, I started thinking about this post last April, and now that I am sitting here looking at it, I feel a sense a pride and accomplishment.

When Green Lantern and I came back from our trip to London, I happily spent a day editing and uploading all of the pictures of our travels to Facebook. I was so excited to share the details of our trip, and all of the amazing things we had seen with my family and friends. You can’t imagine my surprise when the comments I started getting back weren’t about all of the great places we saw. It was about my weight.

Now, it’s worth saying that I have never been a big girl. However, within my struggle of year-long chronic knee pain, I ended up giving up a lot of things I was accustomed to doing. This included most of my physical activity. Zumba, my choice exercise program was painful, and my passion, true dance, was excruciating. Even walking was difficult. Some days I could hardly do it at all, and spent many nights with my knee either wrapped in a heating pad or covered in ice packs. The six months prior to the surgery left me pretty much incapacitated. The trip we took in January to Rome was riddled with instances of me asking Green Lantern to let me sit, take breaks, even go back to the hotel room and sleep some of it off before we went out again for dinner. It was frustrating for both of us, and then it only got worse. I literally could not get through a day of work without a knee brace, and after I got off, most nights couldn’t stand.

I had the surgery in March, and my mobility went from 20% to zero. That was a nasty shock. I felt useless and angry. I hated the crutches and fought the pain miserably. London, which marketed the first full week that I walked on my knee the whole time after surgery, was a celebration for me. I assure you, it was not without its breakdowns, but it was an accomplishment none-the-less.

So you can imagine my utter shock and dismay when people started to ask me questions like “Are you pregnant?” or “Have you been feeling ok? You look awful.” Then, of course, the people who straight out said that I looked heavy and I needed to lose weight. My self-confidence and excitement about all of the wonderful things in my life went straight back to zero. As someone who had rumors passed around behind my back when I was a young girl in school about being anorexic or bulimic, and was told all through high school and the first part of college that I looked “too skinny” or “sick,” I was shocked and shaken when this was the reaction I received. In my head, I developed this idea that I must look like a scared, fully extended puffer fish who just ballooned really quickly when no one was paying attention.

It was shortly after this I had to give my first public dance performance in over a year. Now, I was nervous already, and struggling through recovery as it was. Movements that at one time had been second nature now felt foreign and difficult. It required not only the back and forth motion I had started to get used to by walking, but it also reintroduced spinning and a side to side motion that made my legs ache. During the performance, I hit that high. That adrenaline based thrill that I always got from performing that makes me feel like nothing else in the world. Like I could take on anything or anyone. I was so excited, so proud. So relieved that though I was limited, it meant that I hadn’t fallen into that category of “Never Dance Again.” However, afterward all I could see in the video and pictures were these rolls of fat and a bulkiness to my body I had never noticed before. Now… I’ll admit that some of this was a very poor body image. Even still, devastated would be an understatement for how I was feeling. Looking back, these feelings tainted the whole experience for me. Here I was trying to think about recovery, and now all I could think of was what people were thinking when they were looking at me. Was I like a cow now or something? Even, to my dismay, I found myself pushing Green Lantern away a little as my self-confidence went spiraling down. I was just positive that I couldn’t possibly even be attractive anymore… not only do I hobble and can’t walk correctly and can’t bend my knee or climb stairs or do most of the things I could do before, but I was fat too?

This started the counter-productive phase. I begged Green Lantern to buy me an exercise bike. I had been assigned not a single physical therapy appointment after my surgery, and I was determined that I had to do something. He did so, encouraged me and set it up for me, and what did I do? I immediately pushed too hard. What I intended to be a kind of self-taught physical therapy turned out just to be a way I could torture myself. I would ride until I cried from pain, and had to ice for two days just to start walking to the level I was at before. I couldn’t really see what I was doing at this point though. I wanted so badly to make it better and fix this awful image of myself I had created in my head that I got unreasonable. I felt like a monster. That, in turn, left me even more discouraged.

When Green Lantern left on deployment, I realized how unreasonable I was being. I wanted to be better, and I knew that I had to make a better plan to get there. I took it upon myself to make a real, more level-headed, and all around better effort. I set up categories of things I wanted to do, how much weight I wanted to lose, and set goals and prizes for particular levels within my massive program, and slowly I started to work. I started first with biking primarily. From there I added some basic dance in, trying to help me get my body used to movements I wanted so badly to find again. I employed my gaming system in with the Wii Fit program. This one took a fairly long transition in as a lot of the movements and exercises I couldn’t physically do yet. The last section I added in was Zumba, which was the most challenging. Because the program is so high impact, and normally last a longer amount of time, that was a rare occurrence. Slowly, I started getting more comfortable. Soon, I was able to do multiple kinds of exercises and play more than one kind of game in a day. Most recently, I also added a regiment targeting abs and a stretching set to help me bring back my flexibility from before.

I used all of this in varying levels to try to change my hurt feelings into something productive. I decided, as any good Batgirl would, that I needed to prove them wrong. Those people who had made me feel so low, and so self-conscious needed to see that I could overcome obstacles. It didn’t matter the reason I put the weight on. I was gonna have that spark and love for my body again. I was going to find that sexy-ness I had possessed when I was still dancing, and I knew I had the moves and confidence that could get people’s attention.  I vowed to myself that by the time I saw Green Lantern again, I would be beautiful again. I would find a way to be perfect.

It is honing in on 4 months since Green Lantern left, and as I sit here I can proudly say that I have lost 20.6 pounds. I have been hitting goal after goal, annihilating everything (so far) that has come into the my path. Even with all this weight loss, I still have goals to hit that will keep me working through the whole deployment. Though I admit I hoped it would work faster (I had a very slight drawback that lost me some time. Silly Thesis Project), I literally worked my butt off to get to this point. And you know what? I don’t plan on stopping now. I’m Batgirl; I don’t do anything half-assed. I want to be better than I was before. I want to be recovered enough that I can dance for hours on end again without stopping. I want to be able to do it every day if I want to. My recovery is slow, but I am testing my limits every day, and working harder than ever.

Just some food for thought:

I can see and understand at this point how hazardous it was for me to let what people said to me and about me get under my skin. Yeah, I will be the first to admit to that I put on weight after I hurt my knee. It is completely logical. But I would never say some of the things that were directed at me about someone else, so I’m not sure why I got to be the butt of the joke, so to speak. I learned that changing for other people is an AWFUL reason to try to change your body. I realized that in my counter-productive stage. The only time you are going to be able to go through the ordeal of weight loss and make it out the other side is when you find a way to actually commit everything you have to it. You have to be ready; if you aren’t you will fail. You have to be willing to decide that you are going to put aside the time and lose the weight for you.

Besides that, I also found that you really have to learn to love your body at all stages: For what it is and what it isn’t. This is a very hard concept for me, and I still struggle. I can’t help it sometimes; I still look in the mirror and pick apart every little thing that is still wrong with my body, even 20 pounds lighter. But I try to remind myself everyday that I am just knit-picking. Green Lantern tells me I’m beautiful. He tells me I’m perfect just the way I am. So any improvements I manage to make are just bonuses to the fact that I love who I am, and make the best effort to love everything about the body I’m in too.

As I said before, I have been called too skinny and too fat. I have been criticized and ridiculed and called many names. But you know what? I don’t really care what other people think anymore. I want to be beautiful and strong and healthy for two people: Me first and foremost, and Green Lantern second. There is no other reason in the world that makes sense to me.

Find your priorities, believe in what important to you, and do it. That is the best advice I can give to someone who might be struggling either with weight loss or low self-esteem problems. And if you are in a situation has similarities to mine, know that you aren’t going through it alone. I know it’s cliché, but I really do think that everyone has beauty in them. They, like me, have to figure out how to see it in themselves first.

Til next time,

BG

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Dream a Little Dream of Me

August 19, 2011. One year ago today there was a marriage that combined the hearts of two super heroes. I am, of course, talking about Green Lantern and I. We joined forces and promised to love, honor, cherish, and save the world every single day of our lives. At least… I think that last part was in our vows…

Now, I won’t spend this blog going into laboriously detailed descriptions of what happened that day. I would be here for days, trying to recall everything from what was the very joyous but kind of blurred memory I have. Instead, I want to highlight some of the moments that meant so much to me.

When I think of my wedding day, the first image that pops into my head is the first time I saw Green Lantern. How sappy and romantic right? But I remember my mother Phoenix and Lantern’s sister, (Insert Name Here as soon as she gets back to me about her alter ego 😉 haha) had just finished putting the finishing touches on my dress. I asked for them to bring my hero to  me, and when they left the room, and I knew that right behind that door was the man I would spend the rest of my life with, I’ll admit I got a nervous. In fact, I will go so far as to say I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He opened the door, came into my dressing room, and shut the door behind me, and looked at me. I like to think that I knocked him speechless, but since Green Lantern is a man of few words when it comes to expressing emotion, I can’t know that for sure. Though when he told me that I was beautiful, and touched me in that soft gentle way that I had learned to both expect and love from him, every butterfly melted away. I can honestly say that I didn’t have a single doubt about what I was about to do. I knew Green Lantern was the perfect fit.

Fast Forward to the ceremony. I will always remember the way I felt when I walked through the french doors at the back of my venue with Batman (a special moment for me just alone) hearing the chords of a song that meant a lot to me, and catching sight of him standing there in front of everyone. It’s worth mentioning how handsome Green Lantern is in uniform just normally, but that dress uniform, that hat, that sword…. I quite literally could look at nothing else. Proof landed in the ceremony while I was looking at him and completely blanked on the words the minster had just told me to say to him. Guess he distracted me. In the end I got the words out, and kissing him right there in front of an entire league of the other heroes in our lives was life changing.

You might have picked up from earlier posts that I have an intense and passionate love for dance. If you haven’t, well, you should go back and read some of my other posts. 🙂 The idea behind that is to lead you to the next important section for me: Our First Dance. If you know me, you know that I have a complete and absolute fear of the Total Protonic Reversal of my body if I dance like I’m at a middle school dance. Meaning…. I might literally explode if I sway in a circle. I have being doing latin, swing, and ballroom so long that if feels unnatural for me to dance that way. Green Lantern had the good sense to realize this, and allowed me to give a very short and sweet dance lesson. The result was probably one of the best 3 Minutes and Ten Seconds in my life: a triple rhythm swing to “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by Michael Buble. I, to this day, can’t thank my hero enough for doing this for me. It was beautiful, it was perfect, it was everything in the world I ever wanted. The thing is, I really, truly mean that with all my heart. I don’t think he could ever really understand how combining my love for him and my love for dance in this wonderful mesh of sweet, romantic movements, with just enough sass to look like me. This is the memory I always look back on with the most fond memories.

I remember thinking that night when we got back to the hotel after it was all over, how I wished it could have lasted longer. I didn’t want the day to end. But looking at my Green Lantern, standing there in that room as he took off his hat and sword, I knew it would never really leave me. The wedding might be over, but this crazy, amazing, fantastic adventure was really just beginning. The world was at our feet, and I was ready to conquer it as long as he was there beside me.

Green Lantern:

On this, the day of our Very First Anniversary, I would give anything for us to actually be together. This is a big deal… we have made it through the first year on our journey together. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade a single day, or change a single thing. I want nothing more in the world then to be with you, in this marriage with you, for as long as I live.

The time has flown by so quickly. I often wonder as I look back how it could have passed so fast. Wasn’t it just yesterday? Those words we spoke to each other still ring and hold true, and give me the strength to keep going, and keep standing here, waiting for you to come home. Every day is one step closer.

You know how much I love you; I don’t know how to describe it other than unconditional and unyielding. I would give anything for you. However, after a year, I have learned that I adore you so much more now then I ever could have the day we married. I need you in my life, and I believe in you with every fiber in my body.

Happy Anniversary, my darling hero, and I hope that we get to spend many more of them together.

Always,

BG

Up, Up, and Away

Hello All,

Well Phoenix and I again had an eventful weekend a couple of weeks back, and it, of course, inspired me to share the story. Now, in addition to the small trips we had planned, which included Nuremberg, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Wurzburg, Germany. However, the one other big trip we had planned, other than Venice which we recounted in my last blog, was to the Eagle’s Nest.

Now, most of you are probably wondering what I’m talking about. So let me elaborate. The Kehlsteinhaus, as it is called in German, is the only surviving structures from the era of Adolf Hitler. This structure was a present meant for Hitler’s 50th birthday, though he visited it very rarely, and it was used mostly for visiting dignitaries. It is quite literally built on the top of a mountain looking over Austria and Germany. Not only do you have to ride a bus up the side of a mountain and through 5 manmade tunnels through the mountain, but you also have to take an elevator that is built into the center of the mountain. The building is still layout out and structured much as it was in the 1940s. The only reason that it was even spared at the end of the war was because Hitler visited it so infrequently that it wasn’t considered to be significantly important to him.

Phoenix and I took to this trip pretty excitedly. Me, being a history buff, found the background fascinating. We took the bus ride up to top with anticipation, expecting to see this glorious view as far as the eye could see. Instead, when we got to the top, we saw this.

That’s right. The day of our trip turned out to be one of the cloudiest days of the duration of Phoenix’s stay with me in Europe. We quite literally spent the day wandering through the clouds at the Eagle’s Nest, so high in the sky that we could see nothing but each other, and sometimes the house itself if we were close enough. Can we say slightly disappointing?

I’m recounting this and reflecting on the time we spent together or the past few weeks. Phoenix is getting back on that plane tomorrow, and going home. I’m not going to lie; I am looking at that sentence right now with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat. I may be a grown woman, but I have learned, and been sharply reminded in the past few weeks how much a girl can need her mother. Green Lantern leaving for deployment was heart-wrenching. This makes me feel the same kind of emotion in my gut, but in a different way.

I always hope that goodbyes are going to get easier. So far, my experience has proven otherwise. Leaving the people we love is hard, but there is almost always something to look forward to. There is a goal, a focus, a plan. I hated leaving my parents to come to Europe and it broke my heart to be thousands of miles away. However, I had a whole new life to look forward to. I was coming to be with my Lantern. I couldn’t waste a single precious moment of our time together before he would leave to go fight his own battles.

As much as leaving hurts, being the one here, watching them go, has got to be worse. What do I have to look forward to when I come back tomorrow? My dog? My cat? Yes, of course. However, what is going to ring the loudest is the suddenly empty house again. No talking, no laughing. No one to share stories or meals. No one to play games with or watch movies with. No Mom.

I can’t stress enough the importance and gratitude I feel in every ounce of my heart right now for my Phoenix. I am so happy that she came to spend the summer with me. It made my time without Green Lantern not only bearable, but so much easier. I am constantly reminded of the beautiful bond between mother and daughter, and how much she did for me growing up. My Mom is the reason I grew up to be this capable, strong Batgirl. My mom showed me how to be a good wife. She showed me how to wait for my soldier.

So what can I say to Phoenix? Mom, I love you more than words can say. I’m so glad and thankful that you came to spend these weeks with me. You helped me with so much, helping me complete projects, test ideas for my kids at school, cleaning my house, cooking, taking care of the animals, and of course helping me focus and redirect my energy into my new goals. I can’t even tell you how much I’m going to miss having you around the house, sharing my time and experiencing Europe with me. I hope that you enjoyed your time and being here, and that the time until I see you with be short. Even though I am an old married woman, I am and always will be your little girl. I love you.

Always,

BG