Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simply Restful...

That's what today was and dear goodness was it needed!

Yesterday, after the Zumbathon, I knew I needed a good day of doing nothing and I finally got it.  Last night I went to bed a bit before midnight because I was lost in reading A Game of Thrones.  I had planned a much earlier bed time to start my day of nothing early. Oh well!

Could you say no to these two cuties?
I slept in until around 10 am and woke up to a snuggly Robin and Napoleon demanding my attention. 

I took half a shower and changed into fresh pajamas for a day of pure indulgence. My goal for the day?  To do my best impersonation of the kitties - lounge, eat, get someone to pay attention to me and more sleep.

It was a splendid day but I am just not built for being a lay about anymore.  I kept thinking "You should do a pilates workout! Get those muscles working so you can try Pi-Yo"  or "You should work on refreshing Footloose! The studio crew really wants to do it!" or "Those dishes aren't going to wash them selves."  I fought the urges though and was successful at embodying sloth as much as it was possible!

Things I did do today include;
  • eating pizza
  • eating a giant Reese's cookie
  • going to Big Lots for candy for trick or treat
  • met up with Sarah and grabbed Moe's for dinner
  • bought way too many songs on iTunes
  • playlists! playlists galore!
I was music buying crazy person earlier this evening.  Sarah and I both love to use random pop, R&B, or rock songs that were favorites of ours as cool downs in class and I found some awesome ones on the cheap today! The ones I'm excited to do the most?  Motownphilly and Faded.  Been listening to them on repeat all afternoon.  They're still upbeat but you can groove to half time moves and sing along while you stretch.  So fun!

I've got playlists for this entire week 95% done.  I've got a core of 8 songs on each and am still playing with the 8 others and warm up/cool downs on the lists for later this week but that's one less thing on my plate this week.

It's been a good, restful, relaxing day.  I'm not quite ready to go back to work tomorrow. I'd much rather be at home, on the couch, with the kitties!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zumbathon: Party in Pink

Today has been an AMAZING day! This morning was the big day.  The Wilson YMCA Party in Pink Zumbathon.  Three hours of heart pumping, sweat drippin' fun for a great cause!

That's me! Shaking it!

There I am! All 330 pounds of me.  Somewhere between hour 2.5 and 3 of fun.  Sarah and I closed the day out with our intense cardio set.  I wasn't sure we'd survive it... we danced a LOT!

That's what I looked like... but this what I felt like...

I totally see the resemblance!

The day started out with a a bunch of fun photo ops on the PiP red carpet.

The instructors pre-sweat

Aren't we a group? Every one of those ladies is a joy to know and work with.  I was honored to dance with them today.

Our dance studio crew
The faces of Zumba at the dance studio where I teach. These ladies have become not only my students but my teachers, my friends and my family!


The dance studio crew loving on their man.
Of course, we had to love on Matt since he hid during the first photo.  The studio gals and their Zumba man.

What's Zumba without a little booty bling?

More studio crew love.  Showing off our best side!

I could not be more proud of all the hard work the dear Mrs. Fatass put in to getting this event set up and off the ground for us.  I'm honored to have met her and am always awed by her sheer awesomeness!

Tomorrow is my first day of absolutely nothing in 3 weeks or so and I plan on enjoying it fully in my bed being a lump!

Happy weekend all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simplifying Office Space

I'm almost finished with the Chalene Johnson 30 Day Challenge. I'm loving the tips and tricks I'm learning for managing my to-do lists, my goals, my priorities and getting my life in order.  Her challenge is one of the things that actually gave me the nerve to start this blog.  

The challenge for Sunday was to work on organization in a space that will aide in moving me towards my goals.

I picked the space in my office because I've noticed that I've been spaced out and distracted by people walking back and forth past my office door a lot lately.  The lack of concentration has impacted how quickly I complete my tasks and has often led me to feeling rushed to meet deadlines.  So I did it! I moved furniture, reorganized and made my office a better environment for reaching my professional goals.

 Before:
 




After:



It's amazing how much moving my furniture around and finding new places for supplies has done for my state of mind.  I did the rearrangement on Monday and between yesterday and today I have completed 3 major projects that I had been working on off and on for a few weeks.  All 3 of them are now off my desk and no longer weighing on my mind.

I still have a few things I need to do like get a new vase for my bamboo and new pots for the tiny plants on my window sill.

I love the new set up! Facing the wall keeps me from being distracted by people going back and forth to the printer.  I love being able to look out the window when I'm thinking and I love that the natural light helps my eyes hurt less from the monitor and the lights above me.

It also is a more welcoming office.  I can talk to people without peeking over my monitors.  I can sit and have an actual conversation with people sitting in the chairs in my office now.

I also spent a good amount of time cleaning out my drawers and making sure everything is filed away correctly.

Little changes. Major impact!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Simply awesome

Since Thursday everything has just been flowing beautifully.

Last night I had the honor of joining several Zumba instructors from the Rocky Mount are for their Zumbathon to benefit Operation Purple and Soldiers' Angels. It was a fantastic event and they raised over $700 for the two organizations with donations still coming in from those who couldn't be there.

I got to teach two routines.  I did Whenever, Whereever which I choreographed and End of Time which I learned from one of the NC Jammers.  It was the first time I'd participated in an event like that as an instructor and I was nervous but the folks seemed to love both routines and I had a great time just dancing with new people and learning from other, more experienced, instructors.  I happen to know there are pics of me teaching... when I get them I'll share them if they're not too embarrassing!

After that I got to go out to dinner with Marsh, Matt and one of my Zumba buddies and her husband.  It was fabulous! It was great to just sit and chat and share delicious, delicious Mexican food!

THEN! When I got home I had an email that made me squeal like a school girl! I PASSED the Hip Hop Hustle certification - written and practical.  I PASSED! I can't tell you how absolutely happy that news made me.

I'm about to order the AFAA study book so I can get my Group X instructor certification next February.  Knowing that I passed the HHH course gave me the push to just go for it.  My confidence is really starting to build.  Each little hurdle makes me want to hop over a bigger one.

This morning I had a great Zumba class at the YMCA and what happened after just made my heart happy.  One of the students, an older lady, came up to me and told me how much fun she had.  She told me she was just getting back in to working out after having surgery to remove skin cancer from several spots.  She said she felt like Zumba was something that would help her get fit and she wouldn't be bored or dread going.  She specifically asked what my schedule was and said she hoped to see me in class soon.

It's the moments like that which make me feel fulfilled in my role as a Zumba instructor.  I love knowing that people can come in to my class - first time or not - and find the joy in what we're doing.  I love that they come in, sweat, laugh and leave with a smile on their face (even if they want to hit me for trying to kill their legs!)

Tonight is my birthday celebration! Katie and I are going to see Paranormal Activity 3 followed by dinner and drinks in Greenville and then dancing at the gay bar.  I love The Mining Company! Great atmosphere and grope free dancing?  Yes, please!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Year 29...positive vibes all around.

Year 29 is already shaping up to be an amazing year.

My day started out with breakfast at Starbucks with Matt - my best friend and coworker.  A delicious pumpkin spice latte, skim milk, with an extra shot of espresso. The perfect way to start a brisk fall day. Paired with a delicious everything bagel and cream cheese my stomach was full and I was ready to take on the day.

Work flew through the morning.  Several conference calls later it was time to head out for my birthday lunch.  I thought it would be 6-8 coworkers and myself.  18 people came out to join in on the fun.  It was fantastic and I felt loved.  I don't normally get more than the birthday cards I get from my family but today I got 3 beautiful cards from my team and some very thoughtful gifts. I nommed on salad, breadsticks, and delicious lasagna.  Then... when we got back to the office ... homemade cake.



A delicious cookie cake, courtesy of Matt.

Matt made this delicious treat for everyone at the office to partake in.  Chocolate chip cookie base decorated with smore and oreo icings. Talk about sinful! And delicious!

After work I ran home to see Marshall (the fiancee) and get ready for a night of Zumba.  Since it was my birthday and it was our double header night I got to control the play lists.  I made sure to get all my favorite songs on the list and some old songs we hadn't done in forever.  Sarah and I played instructor leapfrog to make class easier on both of us. Both classes rocked! So hard!

At the start of class though, I got a lovely surprise, Sarah had consipred with owner of the studio and the other dance instructors to sing happy birthday to me.  That included bringing in the little girls in tap class in the other dance room in to sing to me.  It was adorably sweet. That the 30 people in class, all of the staff of the studio and all the little girls wanted in on wishing me happy birthday... I got a bit misty eyed.  Ok... go head.  Judge. I'll wait....

After 2 hours of awesome Zumba Sarah and I went to Chili's for dinner.  Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and the birthday ice cream du jour - brownie with vanilla ice cream. It was a delicious meal that was greatly needed after 2 hours of shaking it fast! It felt nice to decompress with Sarah. Were it not for the blah of cell phone service Marsh and Chip would have come along as well.

I have never had a birthday where I felt as loved as I do this year.  Part of that has to do with Zumba and how it made me feel like I finally have a place of my own in Wilson.  Part of that is feeling like such a part of the team at the bank.  Part of it is just feeling like the world is finally on my side.

Waking up to Facebook messages galore wishing me a happy birthday.  Going to work surrounded by people who care and enjoy my company. Hearing from my mother and my niece and nephews all who wanted to sing to me and tell me they loved me. Going to Zumba where I was serenaded by my Zumba divas. Having dinner with Sarah to relax and chat. Coming home to my Marshall and the adorable Penguins of Madagascar toys he got me.  It all adds up to one beautifully, awesome day full of love and happiness.

Year 29 is going to be a big year.  I'm going to keep expanding my knowledge, get my budget in check, and finally beat my scale and increase my health while decreasing my weight and gaining muscle.  I'm going to grow in my professional life and flourish in my personal life.  I can feel it... this is the year everything is lined up for good.

I'm ready to see where the world takes me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Loving myself in to love

Today is Love Your Body Day! But... what does that really mean?

Like most women, I find myself comparing my body to that of those around me.  I'm hyper aware of people looking at me and even more aware of their facial expressions and tone of voice when talking to me.  Why?  Because I know I'm obese and I know people still judge me based on that fact.

Like I said in an earlier post I struggle on an almost daily basis with the stigma of being a plus sized fitness instructor.  I know a lot of students feel comfortable with me because I am a walking example that anyone really can do it but... sometimes that hurts worse.

Why does my weight matter in the grand scheme of things? My body can do everything that a 125 pound womans body can do... why do people feel the need to harp on it because I weigh 330 pounds?

I see examples of "fat persecution" around me all the time.  From little things like the catty "Who told her it was a good idea to wear THAT?!?" comments made between friends to more overt societal constructs like the fact that the only clothes designed to fit me make me feel like I might as well be wearing a burlap sack. I don't want to be running around with all of my goodies hanging out for everyone to see but I'd like to be able to feel sexy, sensual and HUMAN sometimes. 

It seems bizarre to me that we even need a day to focus on loving our body... shouldn't that be the message every day?

Women's media tends to scream loudly about transforming our bodies, fixing our problem areas, hiding our flaws, masking our imperfections but rarely about embracing the things that make each person special.

It amazes me how many people are shocked or offended when I'm in class and I'm hot and I'm sweaty and I decide to either tie my shirt up or tuck it up in to my sports bra baring my stomach to the room.  I'm HOT and SWEATY and my shirt is only making things worse... so I minimize the contact the fabric has with my skin and I feel better.  I also look at the little jiggly bits on my stomach and realize how much smaller they've gotten and push myself harder because I can actually see the changes in my body. 

Yes, I want to change my body but, ultimately, it's not about my appearance... it's about my health.  I want to stay healthy. I want to avoid being on any more medication than I currently am.  I want my cholesterol to stay in a healthy range.  I want to keep my blood pressure where it is.  I want to avoid becoming diabetic.  If I can do all of those things and be 250 pounds that's fine by me. 

I'd like to be thinner (if only for the fashion!) but if my body decides to stay where it is that's fine by me.  I'll continue to gain tone and endurance and become stronger and faster and I'll continue to love my body for allowing to me to do all the fabulous things it lets me do on a given day.

I love my body and I show my body that I love it by giving it quality food, water, and being as active as I can.  I pamper my skin with lush lotions.  I live life to the fullest and try not to let my physical body determine who I will be on a mental, emotional, or professional level.

This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hip Hop Hustle and Zumba Toning Breakdown

And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

This weekend was amazing and awesome and I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world.  Still... I can't believe I broke down the way I did during my practical for Hip Hop Hustle. 

Let's start from the top though.  S and I had a little trouble getting on the go and were on schedule to make it there just on time but we got a little confused finding the place and got there a few minutes late.  The lecture stuff was cool and I learned a lot and not just about Hustle but about fitness in general. The master class section of the day kicked total tail.  I love HHH 17 and The Show segment just fricken rocks! The afternoon flew by and before I knew it... test time.  I knew I had the written part down.  They basically told us the answers.  The practical? Let's just say I had a melt down of epic proportions.

As I said in my The Plus Size Stigma I fight with myself daily about being 330 pounds and a fitness instructor.  People judge me.  I feel judged.  I do it because I love it though and that's really all that matters.  If I get a good workout and everyone with me gets a good workout then everyone wins.

However... I really kind of needed my Xanax to survive Saturday.  I got called in the first group for my practical and I was nervous and I was in a line with 4 beautiful women who were tiny, pretty, and one was quite possibly the best dancer I've ever been in the same room with.  I did fine on the first few moves, rocked them out, smile on my face, having a good time.  Then came a move I couldn't NOT jump/bounce on.

I've got an ovarian cyst that doesn't want to go away and it's putting pressure on my hip.  The doctor cleared me for this weekend but said little to no jumping because, basically, if I do something wrong and it ruptures the cyst and I'm in the air things would end badly for everyone.

I went for it though.  Pain.  Every single move.  The world started to eat me alive.  I felt like crawling in to a hole and dying.  I kept going.  I faked a bigger smile and put more attitude in to it.  When it was over I walked back to do my written test trying not to puke or cry or both.  It was horrible.  S tells me I kicked the practicals tail and I shouldn't worry about passing but I'm sure I'm "in training" the more I think about. 

I survived though.  Didn't take a Xanax even though I wanted to and probably should have.  When I got home I showered and changed and then went to a wedding reception and danced the night away.  I even pulled out some of the moves from HHH class on the dance floor.  Success!

This morning S and I left even earlier for Zumba Toning.  We were frightened.  Basic 1 was a tough day. Very tough.  Toning was hard but there was a lot more lecture to the class than I expected.  She still kicked our tail with the master toning class and the drills in the afternoon got to be really hard focusing on the same muscle groups to learn different ways to incorporate moves into the choreography.

I don't know just how bad tomorrow morning is going to feel but I doubt I will be feeling all that wonderful.  I'm already sore from head to toe!

This weekend was a good growth experience for me.  I survived a pretty massive panic attack without Xanax.  I held my own ground against dancers and fitness professionals who are more fit and more experienced than I am.  I learned a lot about the human body, about how we work and about how to use the tools I have to sculpt my body into what I want it to be.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fitness Fanatic Weekend

That's what I jokingly called this weekend earlier today and it kind of stuck. 

I really feel like I spent today preparing for battle.  Picking my weapons. Packing my go bag. Organizing my life within an inch of insanity.

I'm totally stoked for Hip Hop Hustle tomorrow and even more so for Zumba Toning on Sunday. I'm completely addicted to Zumba and can't wait to add HHH to my repertoire.

I can honestly say I'm falling in love with Chalene Johnson, HHH and Chalene's general life philosophies.  I'm in the middle of doing the 30 Day Challenge and am already grateful for the lessons I've learned in the first 14 days.

I fully believe that I wouldn't have survived this week without my CCDM to-do list.  I've never been great at organization and her tips, tricks and ideas about what makes for a to-do list that will stick made it easy to get everything done. 

Now I can only hope that I not only survive, but thrive this weekend as I sweat through two hot, sweaty, intense licensure courses.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Plus Size Stigma

I'm a big girl.  I've got curves. I've got extra padding.  I'm fluffy.  Most of all - I'm a fitness instructor.

It's a fight every day to remind myself, and everyone else, of that fact.

I loathe the look on a new student's face when they look at me and I know they're thinking "THAT'S the instructor."

But you know what I love even more than I loathe that moment?

The look on their face after 60 minutes of heart pumping, sweat slinging Zumba.  The look of "oh..damn... that woman... my body... ow!"  After a class where I turn those judgmental people in to believers I could walk on air.  I changed their perspective.  I broke down a bias.  I changed the way that person is going to view people... even if only for a short amount of time.

Tonight S and I did two ridiculous hours of Zumba.  We played instructor ping pong so we both could teach all out during the two hours and still have some recovery time in there.  New folks who had never been to our class got to see the best of what both of us are capable of.  That always makes me happy.

S is closer to what people expect to see when they walk in to a fitness class.  She is far more in line with the stereotypes of what an instructor should look like.  Together we are an unstoppable force and it feels amazing to feed off each others energy to get through 120 minutes of cardio.

The down side to all of that is being so hyped up from 2 hours of high intensity, music pumping, Zumba is that it's damn near impossible to get to sleep afterwards. 

The other thing that's got me up and thinking is the impending Hip Hop Hustle/Zumba Toning double feature I've got on my schedule for this weekend. It was hard enough being the fattest person in the room for my Basic 1 licensure but to be the largest person in the room for two days of 8 hours training sessions?

It's going to be a test of wills to not need to grab my bottle of xanax to deal with the fat girl stigma surrounded by those fitness professionals.  Those OTHER fitness professionals, I should say because I, too am a fitness professional. Regardless of what the fat stigma says... the two are not mutually exclusive.

Goal - Simplifying Nutrition

Trying to get a handle on nutrition is no fun.  No fun at all. Everyone tells you weight loss is a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out.  Maybe that's generally true but my body is guilty of fuzzy math.

I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis and PCOS and I swear no matter what I do my diet is never "right" for progressive weight loss. I'm on synthroid, cytomel and metformin to control the three issues but it's only helped minimally

I've done it all.  Not so much guilty of yo-yo dieting as much as being nutritionally schizophrenic.

I was vegetarian. I tried Atkins. I tried South Beach. I've tried gluten free, dairy free, sugar free (and all three at the same time!) diets.  I've looked high and low for a dietary strategy that will work for me.  Nothing works.

I faithfully use sparkpeople.com and myfitnesspal.com to log my food and exercise.  I try to limit my intake of pastas, potatoes and even bread to a large extent so that I can stay lower carb.  However....I can't, mentally, deal with any diet that makes a food or group of foods off limit.

So what am I doing to simplify my diet? I'm trying to be moderate in everything... even moderation.

The big thing I'm having to learn is to forgive myself for being normal.  I go through periods of time where I don't want fruit but I eat a ton of vegetables.  I go through Atkins like spells where all I want is meat.  I even have carb binges where I crave pasta and potatoes in dishes like we had when I was growing up.

My current nutrition goals are to continue broadening the fruits and vegetables that are my go to foods.  I love my carrots, cucumbers, celery, and spinach.  I adore raspberries, strawberries, bananas, pineapple and mango. I know there's a whole world of other fruits and veggies out there for me to try.  I've become a zucchini and squash addict in the last few months.  Now to keep exploring!

That goes doubly for the meats I bring in to the house.  I've never cooked duck and I rarely bring fish in to the house because I hated it in the past and I'm scared to spend the money on something I wind up hating. I need to stop being so scared and expand my horizons.

So to those of you out there in blog land - What "new to you" foods have really gotten your cooking juices flowing?  What about fruits and veggies you love that are off the beaten track?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tis a gift to be simple...

And it's not a gift I am particularly blessed with. 

My name is Samantha and I am currently eight days away from turning 29. 

I live with my loving (and often frustrating) pseudo-finance and our five insane cats.  I call him a pseudo-fiance because he tells everyone we're getting married but I have yet to see a ring or hear a question.  He's a good guy though and I love having by my side as life keeps hurtling on towards adulthood. 

I work for a regional bank here in eastern North Carolina as an analyst in spend management. I solve puzzles all day!  I have a BA in English from Peace College.

He is finishing up grad school getting his degree in the program for Maritime Studies at ECU. He studies ships and history and museum type sciences. 

Yes, we're geeks.

We also several good friends who might as well live with us they're here often enough.   It's like our own little weird, happy, dysfunctional family unit.

My other hobby, and other job, is Zumba fitness.  I became licensed to teach Zumba in June of this year and am currently taking, teaching, or co-teaching up to eight classes a week.  This coming weekend, as a birthday present to me, I am (hopefully) adding Hip Hop Hustle certified instructor as well as Zumba Toning licensure to my fitness resume.

My fitness fascination is a result of severe medical issues which caused me to balloon up to near 500 pounds at my heaviest.  I have lost 150 pounds and am sitting in the realm of 330 pounds and struggling to keep the scale moving.

This blog is going to be a place to discuss, dream, and explore my life as I begin moving towards a simpler, cleaner and healthier existence. 

 I have big goals set out before me for my last year in the 20s.  You're welcome to join me for the ride.  I promise to try to keep it simple...
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