Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Wedding Advice!

On August 8th, I got married to the man of my geeky dreams.

It was a beautiful, small, non traditional wedding, followed by our Honeymoon in Ireland, and then two separate receptions. One for Husband Jon's hometown, and one for mine. We both have huge families, and many people who simply cannot travel out of state. So we thought, maybe naively, that we would bring the celebration to them. That led to a 3 week long whirlwind of careful coordination, complicated emails, and Jon and I having a wonderful time but complete exhaustion.

Finally, the whole adventure is over and I'm collecting my advice for future brides who want to step off the traditional path like i did.

1) Create a separate joint email account. Do this before anything else. 
    • If you decide to go to a Wedding Expo, or venu open houses, have a separate email. I don't know if they collaborate, share, or sell email addresses, but somehow I ended up getting on a harassing email chain for renting SWANS. 43 emails about renting swans. REALLY! Despite repeated requests to remove me. 
    • Besides, sites like hotmail and gmail are common and free!
    • Give it a password you both will remember. You can also set up mail forwarding so you see it in your regular inbox.
    2) Do this TOGETHER, and don't sweat the small stuff
      • Probably about 80% of the decisions won't matter in the long run. You are not going to keep a shrine of your place settings in your home for the rest of your lives. 
      • Partners in crime can get the impossible done. Divide and Conquer. 
        • I asked Jon what tasks he wanted to be in charge of. And though my Type A personality was just itching to take it back when he didn't complete it six months early...i learned to trust him...with a couple of reminders.
        • And he totally did an awesome job.
      • He kept me sane. It's so easy for someone to get sucked into traditions and all the amazing ideas pinterest plagues you with. He would be gently honest when i was biting off more than i could chew. 
    3) If you need contact info, ask people for their address because you want to send out Christmas(or holiday) Cards. (assuming the holidays come before your wedding)
      • Everyone wants a Chrismahaunikwanzaa card. It was the easiest way to get mass information without it being directly "i plan to invite you to my wedding"
      • You can do shutterfly picture holiday cards for about 80$. Or general holiday cards come significantly cheaper. 
        • Use address labels to save on the hand cramps. 
      • We printed out a mass short letter detailing the events of the year, including the engagement, slapped it on the back and called it good. 
      • And we got over 150 addresses. Put it in a shared excel file and used it when it came time to do the wedding invites. 
      • Bonus...we got several back that year from our loved ones. :)

    4) Plus Size Wedding Dresses and alterations
      • David's Bridal is not your only choice. While nice...the sales people don't listen. They bring their top sellers...even if it's something you specifically say you don't want. I stated flat out...NO BALLGOWNS and yet somehow ended up trying on 5 ballgowns. My sister called around and found a few other stores who had better options and comparable prices. Ultimately, I was not a DB bride and all the happier for it.
      • It's hard emotionally when they try to squeeze you into their only sample that's 4 sizes too small. It's hard when you see your back fat squeezed into a corset. It's hard when the dress you fall in love with looks horrible on you. You need people who understand what you're going through and have felt the emotional roller coaster that is body image. 
      • In-house alterations are way more expensive than a normal seamstress. But, make sure your seamstress knows how to work on wedding dresses. I got lucky, one of my best friends has made some custom wedding dresses and did a wondrous job customizing my gown.
    5) Be real about what you can afford, and never assume anyone will pay for anything.
      • We went into this assuming we would pay for everything. We didn't ask for any handouts and it may have been that attitude that led to our families graciously offering to take on some of the larger items. 
      • We also didn't take advantage of anyone's generosity. Even when the money was someone elses, we worked hard to reduce the cost and not give into temptation. I even managed to wheedle down a 900$ dress to 635$. Then my mom refused to let me pay her back. 
      • Some people can DIY. Some people can't. Sometimes DIY ends up being more expensive and more stressful than you anticipate. 
      • There will be unexpected costs: you need a buffer. You can be as detailed as possible, but you will forget some things tiny things like boutineer pins or gel inserts for high heels. Something will come up, or prices will change or you'll change your mind. 
      • We still went over budget. As time went on, we got more lax on weeding out the cheapest option. Or it was last minute and we just didn't care anymore. 
    6) Wedding colors don't matter, but saying "there's no theme" apparently doesn't compute with most people. 
      • I refused to pick "wedding colors" thinking it would make everyone's life easier and happier that they could wear whatever they wanted. 
      • But what it led to was confusion: things i didn't expect depended on this very  important question (sarcasm): Your invites, your center pieces, your bouquets, boutonnieres, shoes, cake, and thank you cards should match! (whoever came up with that...needs to be slapped)
      • I think if i did this again, i would suggest a color range (like warm colors or jewel tones) 
    7) Postcard RSVPs: 
      • Either in black light pen or handwritten before it goes in the envelope...write the name of the person you're sending it to. We had over half come back with no names, and if not for the black light pen...i would NEVER have know who had RSVPd or not.
      • Don't forget to put a picture on the back. Seems obvious, but in the midst of everything else, i forgot. Thankfully my friends and family took it as room to draw something for us. Laughter ensued. 
    8) Have a digital invite too
      • Create a digital copy of your invite, and set it up so RSVP info (like emails) are hyperlinked. This is a digital century, and many people plan their lives on their phones and computers. This will save you time in the long run. Plus the last week or so when everyone's like "who, what, where, when, how"? (And they will...right up to less than an hour before the big day) you can just email them a new copy. 
    9) Spend the money on a professional Photographer and Videographer not decorations.
      • Our pictures and video were phenomenal. There is no way we could have done it ourselves anywhere near that well. 
      • This is where we put the bulk of our money...even though we did the smallest time packages possible. 
      • We recorded our ceremony so we could share it with the extended family and just have our immediate family there for the big day. Pixel Dust Productions was amazing and even managed a fast turn around. 
      • We also picked a photographer who was proudly displaying a plus size bride picture. Several photographers told me capturing plus size brides was the same as "normal" brides. (rude much?) But Melissa Miksch was phenomenal. 
      • These are the items we will treasure. And so it was worth it to get the best quality possible. 
    10) Do your own makeup.
      • I'm a tomboy. I rarely wear makeup and if i do, its just eyes and lips, no foundations, bronzers, contouring, and blush. But, there was no way i was spending 600$ to have someone do it for me. If I can learn the tricks, so can you. But practice a lot.
      • You don't need department store brands but go to the makeup counters to learn how to do it. 
      • I went about seven times, then bought drug-store brands and brushes and then practiced a few times a week for months!
      • Use primers, and blotting papers liberally.
      • My favorite new trick is a foundation blending brush (pic). It allowed me to get full coverage, with minimal foundation. Apply foundation streaks in each area with a paddle, then blend to death with the blender. Also...i have oily skin. So the brand of foundation i choose was Maybelline Dream Matte Mouse. As long as i blotted stayed in place, it didn't cake or run, and it looked great until the end.
    11) Bring flip flops if you're wearing "pretty shoes"
      • Beauty is pain right? My shoes must have been gorgeous cause they hurt like hell! It wasn't the heel so much as it was the balls of my feet despite having gel padding there. My sister/MOH was dangling them like a carrot at the final shoots. 
      • Standing on grass was a pain! my heels sank right in. Thankfully, my father had wood and cut me a small plank to stand on. Wish i had thought of that for the other ladies. 
    12) People are R.U.D.E. and you will need Allies. 
    • The biggest thing i can suggest is surround yourself with allies. Those people who have seen you at your worst and still love you. The people who will tell you what you honestly need to hear, not placate you. The people who can take over for you at a moment's notice. And the people who can listen without judging.
      • People started telling me I HAVE to do this or that, they question everything and cram tradition down your throat. 
        • I was informed that this person was going to be in my bridal party 5 minutes after the proposal. (
        • I was chastised for wanting to wear white
        • told i had to have to take Jon's name or the marriage was doomed, 
        • and down right insulted that i wasn't skinny enough to wear that dress. 
      • It was bad. Every day I got inundated with questions, people being nosey or impertinent, or just mean! it got to the point where i posted this on my facebook
      • I asked myself every day, why is this socially acceptable? How dare these people? and who the fuck are you???
        • I should also note....this was VASTLY disproportionate to what Jon had to deal with. He had a couple of people ask him a few details and let it go. I got probably 99% of the grilling. 
        • So fellas, when your fiance says "people are pissing me off" NOT dismiss it as her being over sensitive. People are probably not treating you the same.
      • Jon has been especially good for me in that he takes my gigantic anger balloon and just deflates it. When I cried, he listened. When i railed, he agreed that most of the time i was not overreacting. (sometimes i did...ok a lot towards the end). Just being validated that i was stressed and getting bombarded with hurtful remarks helped so much. 
      • He would remind me over and over that we didn't have to do anything these people said. What mattered was that at the end of the day we would be married.
        • Then he would kiss me and remind me that he loved me.
      • Also a big shout out (in no particular order)
        • to my BFF/Seamstress Stevie for also being a wonderful sounding board and coaxing out the numerous "F them"s and being there for my emotional well being.
          • despite ending up in the emergency room
        • My sister for helping with research, coordination, and putting her haggling skills to get some amazing deals for us.
        • Jon's Sister-in-law for taking over the bouquet assembly because i just couldn't handle any more
        • Our parents going above and beyond to help with coordination and opening their home to strangers
        • Jon's brother and my sister for throwing a fun filled bachelor/ette party
        • Jon's sister and boyfriend and my brothers for pitching in on anything we asked
        • Jon's nephews for being awesome kids.

    We are not traditional. But our wedding was uniquely ours. From the fairy lights in my bouquet, to the dearly departed pictures on Jon's boutonniere, to the traditional Lei's we wore, to the Xbox achievement unlocked sign we had the minister display during our first kiss. It was perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. Our families combined and welcomed each other with open arms. Our two receptions were a whirlwind of fun. 

    I hope that these bits of advice help make your wedding day a little easier. If nothing else, know that your wedding may not be what the wedding industry, other people, or tradition wants. You are the final authority, not a bride magazine or pinterest. But your wedding should be all about what matters most to both of you.

    Also...avoid swans.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

    Geeky Wedding Invites

    Our wedding invitations came together like a thing of geek beauty.

    The epitome of us as geeks. The great thing about being a geek is you don't have to be limited to one fandom. But it grows with you over time. And who says you have to take the wedding invite seriously?

    For us, we have two HUGE families. And it wasn't fair to ask so many people to travel to Washington where we live. So we decided to bring the shindig to them. Twice. 

    We're also Italian and Hawaiian...we all know how to throw a great party without including all the fussy stuff. So we're going the laid back route.Sorry wedding're not getting me to shell out $$$$ for matching napkins and tablecloths. 

    A lot of the invitees have commented positively on the wording for the Registry. 

    We are fortunate enough to already have the customary items needed to start a home. 
    But if you still wish to contribute something to our future together, we are registered at:

    We live together. In the 21st century. And we only have one bed. Read into that what you will, but obviously we don't need the same kind of wedding gifts that were customary in the 1950's. I think this is becoming really common regarding modern brides and etiquette is a little hazy. Feel free to steal, fellow brides. :)

    I feel horribly awkward asking for gifts no matter what the occasion so i thought good and hard about whether or not to have one at all. However, nor did i want to deal with 12 toasters and 37 towels a recently married friend received. Some people ask for donations for their honeymoon, others for charities that they love. 

    For us, we're moving into a house soon, and we NEED stuff...we just can't store it right now. So we used Simple'll let you know how it goes. Still too early to tell if guests are understanding it. 

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Anne's tricks for Ukrainian Easter Eggs (Pysanky)

    It's that time of year when I clear off my craft table, pull a box out from under my bed and set up to go back to my roots. It's Ukranian Easter Egg time!!!

    A lot of people say "painted eggs". This is incorrect. They're made with a wax resist method. Meaning you cover the color you want to keep as opposed to covering the white area you want to hide. So it's backwards, in a sense. If you've ever written your name in that white crayon found in common easter egg kits, and it magically shows up afterward...well, this is the same thing, but a bit more elaborate.

    What I love most about this tradition is that I was raised to make them for gifts only. To give the egg away is to give the gift of the meaning behind the symbols to the recipient. To keep them removes those blessings from your own life. Superstitious I know, but that's what I was told growing up. If nothing else, it makes me happy to see someone admire my work and I can tell them "Here, take it and enjoy.".

    I've spent every year scouring my mom's stack of designs and books and pamphlets collected over the last 40 years and more recently, through the internet. On a typical year, I'll make a dozen eggs.  I love finding sites were masters offer their tips and tricks. I don't feel that I'm particularly a master, but I have some tricks of my own passed down through my grandmother and also just from trial and error. I hope this helps.
    Disclaimer: This is not a step by step process for pysanky. Merely a collection of tips. I'm only sharing my personal experience of what works, not endorsing anything.

    White: Fine, Blue: Medium, Red: Thick

    Where do you get your special supplies?
    I live in Seattle. And the best place I've found is the University Bookstore (associated with UW). They sell individual dyes, modern and traditional kistkas, and entire starter kits. I'm a fan of modern Delrin kistkas and have never tried an electric kistka, but i hear they are amazing. For large chunks of beeswax, check out a craft store candle making section. They usually sell 1 pound blocks that will last you 4 or 5 years. I break mine up into reasonable chunks with a hatchet or a hot knife. 
    I've also had no trouble ordering through this website:

    What kind of eggs should i use?
    If you're just starting, plain white eggs from your grocery store are perfect. White eggs are better because brown eggs will make the dye colors different. My mom swears by "fresh from the chicken's butt" eggs and goes searching all over for them. Whatever floats your boat. Always, always allow your eggs to come to room temperature. Condensation will not allow the wax to stick properly. As you get more advanced, try duck eggs and goose eggs, though be aware of what size jar you have your dye in. 

    How do you store your dyes and for how long?
    Wide mouth mason jars are your friend. I get them from Ace Hardware. I keep them in the cardboard divided box they come in and i have 10-12 colors at any time. Every year, the first thing i do is shake each dye and look for "floaties". Light dyes almost always have them, replace them. Check darker ones with a white plastic spoon. Then I do a tester egg. I divide an egg, label each section for a color while its still white, and put it through the dye progression (light to dark) using a wire egg lifter from a grocery store kid's easter egg kit. Slowly, I cover each  labeled section before placing it in the next dye. That tells me what colors are still good. If a color looks odd or is way too light, I dump it and make a new batch. Every other year, I will usually refresh all my colors just to be safe, but if they're still true to the colors, you can go longer. 

    Why light to dark?
    The color progression goes light to dark because you're replacing the dye at each level. If you put a lot of yellow eggs in a red dye, it will become orangy over time, but go the opposite direction and the dye will turn orangy a lot faster. So light to dark limits the visibility of color contamination. 

    How do you keep your lines straight in pencil?
    For lines through the middle of the egg (in any direction) i use a 1/4" thick rubber band and trace along its edge. It's a little tricky to hold, so pillow some paper towels under your hand just in case. 
    For the side, nothing compares to Wayne Schmidt's toilet paper roll method:

    An upgrade from a standard candle:
    Candles are the traditional method, and they work well. But another option I like is an Alcohol Torch. It's a medical tool and it burns clean, steady and there's no smoke or wax drips. This is not a good idea around children because the flame is less visible. I got mine off of Amazon for about 15$. It requires high proof alcohol (91%) which I get at a drug store in the first aid section (standard is 70%). Just be careful and it's a handy tool.

    My kistka is clogged! What can I do?
    My white kistka gets clogged occasionally. First i'll empty the well back onto my beeswax clump. Then i'll heat the kistka until it's really smoking (not on fire). Then i plunge the point into the middle of the beeswax clump several times, reheating as necessary. After that, fill the well with a little beeswax and test it on a practice egg or practice paper to see if the flow has returned. This has always worked for me, but my mom also keeps a super fine wire to feed up the point, which is another method.

    When do I empty my egg? And how?
    At the end. Why? Because the innards of the egg will help it sink in the dye. At the end of the dye process, I will cover the entire egg in a thin coat of beeswax (Fill the well, heat it super hot, then flip it over so the wide end is down and smear it, reheating often, you'd be surprised how much you can cover with just a few well fulls and a hot kistka). This is overkill but I don't like to take risks with my pysanky. The egg white will ruin the dye so on the off chance I might get a little on my hand, I cover the egg. If you're doing big eggs, this may be impractical, so cover at least the top and bottom 1/4 of the egg. 
    Make the hole: I've tried those egg drill that comes in the kit - they suck in my opinion. I don't have a dremel and no...a drill bit in a screwdriver doesn't work well, it cracks the egg from pressure. I do it like my mom taught me: With a corsage pin: the one with the big pearl on the end? yeah. Press the pin in firmly making 4 hole like a square. Then 4 more holes between those to make it more circular. Then more holes between those until you have a little dotted circle. Keep pushing between the holes until the perforation breaks all the way around. I do both top and bottom.
    Empty the egg: I've used those yellow squeeze pumps. They work just fine. Just be careful to not suck egg backwards up the nozzle. But, I usually just use my mouth. The beeswax prevents the dye from getting on my lips as I blow in the top, and the egg part flows out the bottom. If you're worried about salmonella, use the pump. 

    How do you display the eggs?
    Honestly, we just get clear napkin rings from bed bath and beyond. They're the perfect size and while not as nice as the guilted pedestal you see in specialty stores, they're effective and still look nice. We have been gifted several from friends thanking my mom or me for teaching them. They have a special place in my mom's china cabinet (they've been emptied so they won't explode).

    Through my father's side, I'm 1/4 Ukrainian. Ironically though, it's my mother, who has no Ukrainian heritage, that has passed on this tradition to me. My father's mother (full blood Ukrainian) taught my mother soon after they were married, finding that she had artistic talent. I think I started picking it up around 7 or 8 years old and have looked forward to it every year since. I hope I eventually have a kid to pass this onto myself.

    All of these were made in the traditional wax resist method by me. No paint was involved.

    I love the tradition and craftsmanship of this method. It's not unusual for me to sit for 4 or 5 hours, working on 2 or 3 eggs at a time. Truly, I enjoy it that much. I only do it for the few weeks of April, leading up to Easter, then the box goes back into storage until next year.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    A mom with no makeup

    I remember, in Junior high all the girls would start experimenting with makeup.
    And they always looked so good.                        When i experimented, it looked like this:
    I had NO idea what i was doing. My friends would expertly correct me with deft brush strokes i couldn't mimic. I would ask who showed them what to do and they always said "oh my mom". This kind of left me in a conundrum.

    The first time i saw my mother wear makeup was her 25th Wedding Anniversary. She wore lipstick and that was it. I was about 10 at the time and i swear it threw me for a loop for a couple of hours.

    That was also the last time i saw my mother wearing makeup and they just celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary (can i get a WOW?-for the anniversary, not the makeup thing).

    I was forbidden to wear makeup until i was 16. Which meant i started hiding makeup in my locker at 13. I thought i was being so sneaky but mom knew, mostly because i would forget to wash it off before walking home. My feeble attempts at self expression through pigmentation usually led to my mom scowling at me saying "you'd look better without all that nonsense". and she'd make me wash it off with cold cream (which i now irrationally hate)

    So by the time i got to college, i had gleaned enough tricks and information from my girlfriends to apply a decent made up face. Mom gave up the battle and just said i looked nice.

    From my mother, I never learned things like how to moisturize properly, or what my colors were, or how to pick my shade of foundation. And for years i yearned for that kind of motherly advice.

    But what i did learn turned out to be so much more valuable.

    Somewhere in my lifetime I realized that makeup isn't necessary to have a good day. I could leave the house with no makeup at all. It wasn't required for me to take pride in my work, to look people in the eyes, to smile and say good morning. Even when i did feel like putting some on, it would look better with some simple touches as opposed to a full spackle and paint job. When i do a full face of makeup including foundation, i call it putting on my war paint because it's usually what i do when i know i'm going to be meeting with someone who will clearly be judging me. Like for dates or interviews or meeting with executives.
    I think my skills would fit in perfectly at this job
    Friends who had makeup wielding mothers often would say "oh i can never leave the house without at least mascara or tinted chapstick" or something that was their shield against the judgement of others. And i respect their preference. I don't feel that i'm better or anything. I just marvel at the different priorities that seem to derive from our mothers.

    I went to the Wedding Expo and one of the hundreds of things i signed up for was a Mary Kay party to which i invited my mother. (for the record...I just wanted to play with colors for my skin, and did not enjoy being terrorized and bullied about the impending wrinkles by my consultant for 4 hours.) It was the second time in my life that I saw my mother in makeup. And it was WEIRD!!!!!

    She looked nice and was an amazing sport for the party. I figured she would humor her two daughters who both wear makeup occasionally and then just be herself for my wedding. But now apparently she wants to wear makeup for my wedding. So i'm in the totally backwards position to teach my mom how to augment her features with makeup.

     I have no idea what changed her mind or if she somehow thinks that i want her to change. To me, she's my mom who may have the same pair of pants in 6 different colors and the same pair of shoes in 4 different colors. She's also this indomitable force against the fashion and makeup industry. And she taught me to see my beauty as a mixture of imperfections that do not require camouflage.

    Maybe my sister and I have shown her that a little bit of makeup can be a fun enhancement. Or maybe mom's just trying to keep us on our toes.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Lapping everyone on the couch

    My last post, i talked about all the changes that made the second half of my 2013 year SUCK. Needless to say, i wasn't focusing on ME at any point. I knew i was getting heavier and stress eating. So I avoided the scale and stairs like the plague.

    About a week after Jon proposed, (so we're still back in November) we were scheduled to participate in a "get your numbers" health promotion which i was not looking forward to one bit. You go in, get poked and prodded and they give you your health numbers. Weight, BP, cholesterol, etc. Then counsel you on how to be healthy. Yeah, sounds like super duper fun, right?

    But Jon wanted to do it especially with his workload he hadn't been taking care of himself either, and we both knew we needed and wanted to get our eating habits back in control. This would be a perfect opportunity to find our starting point. I put on a brave face, knowing my blood pressure numbers would make the nurse look at me in horrified shock. And indeed, he looked me square in the eye and said something cautionary about the variety of ways it could kill me too young.

    But it wasn't until I got a reassuring look from Jon from across the room, that something clicked in my mind.

    I'm getting married to this amazing man, and we only get the rest of our lives to be together. Do I want to cut that short?

    Here was this future, that I had never considered the correlation with my health, staring me in the face. It wasn't all about getting thin for a wedding dress, though even I'll admit it's spurring some early extra effort. But my main reasons now are to live and spend as much time as possible with Jon. To be healthy enough to have children. Being healthy enough to help them grow and learn to be healthy as well.

    I don't know why it took getting engaged for me to reach this realization. But, i hit my crossroads and turned to the harder path of weight-loss.

    That week (still in November), i finally went to my doctor and to a local gym. In the past, I had dangerous collapsing issues. Aside from blood pressure, doctors couldn't figure out why it was happening. I tried to get my blood pressure under control, but i wasn't rich enough to handle the cost of multiple visits to the doctor. So i just tried to ignore it til it went away. Doctor Shiva-the-destroyer (she's scary when she's mad) seemed dubious that this time my resolve was real, but she started the process to control my blood pressure and approved me to start a workout regimen under a trainer's supervision.

    The gym was all too happy to sign me up early before adding me to Jon's insurance. They assigned me a trainer named Ally, who was a former nurse, for a trial personal trainer session. She was one of those ladies that clearly has never been overweight and is determined to be your own personal cheerleader for the smallest things. I found her extremely annoying. Those "i know you can do it"s were just frustrating. My experience told me that just when i thought i was doing it, i would collapse, stop breathing, and probably konk my head on the way down.

    She had me do a maneuver i had told her had caused tunnel vision in the past (my warning signal), so clearly something i already didn't want to do. And sure enough, i was breathing hard and very nervous when she got down on her knees in front of me and said "I'm right here, i'm not going to let anything happen."

    I believed her. Really, truly, fundamentally BELIEVED her. For the first time, i felt i could trust a stranger to see just how much this scared me. I couldn't help myself, i started tearing up. We talked past our allotted time and she kept saying: "The hardest thing you have to do, is come back the next few times. Despite the soreness, despite the worry, despite the scheduling. Make it happen the next few times and it will start getting easier."

    By that point i was so emotionally raw, that i was almost ready to believe her if she said the moon was made of cheese. Almost :). But it made sense, so i bit the bullet and committed to SIX MONTHS of the 1/2 hour trainer sessions 2x a week. I had gotten a promotion and a raise which certainly helped a LOT with the budgeting, but i knew i had to make it work. Plus the six months was now paid for so my frugal side was now determined to get my money's worth.

    I wasn't sore after the first workout, but the second, third, fifth, tenth....oh yeah! I could barely move for the first month after every session and i was convinced my workouts were negated by the couch potato i was becoming because i was too sore to move. I complained incessantly to Jon about how i hated being sore every minute of every day in every place imaginable.

    And it was HARD. Hard going in and watching fit women strut around in their workout bras and short shorts (Strange that even my perception of fit women has changed, I used to call them "twigs", so rude of me). Hard trying to find workout clothes in my size (come on, if we're supposed to get down to those sizes, give us cute clothes to start with!). Hard changing your eating habits from chocolate to dried fruit. Hard going into a yoga studio with 15 other thin people who don't know what it's like to have your boobs try to smother you in bridges or twist yourself into a pretzel with fat thighs getting in the way!

    I don't know who you are, but you rock lady!
    But with Ally's reminders at the end of every session "just come back", and the money already spent...i kept going in and teasing her about what new torture she had in store for me today. The first month, i thought i saw or felt a few changes, but it was nothing i could point at and say "it's gone!". The second month, i noticed that certain spots were less squishy, and i had bulges from muscles that were not there before. And then i realized recently, that i wanted more; I wasn't even tired after the 30 minute sessions. So i asked Ally for more butt-kicking.

    It's been 3 months with Ally's ministrations and keeping my blood pressure in check.

    • I'm just a few pounds shy of my first 20lbs
    • I can do a full set of 10 pushups
    • I can do almost 45 seconds of planks
    • I'm not gasping for breath at the top of the stairs of our 3rd floor apartment
    • I'm doing yoga weekly, increasing my flexibility and endurance
    • I've only had 2 dizzy spells but no collapses. 
    • My energy level has skyrocketed
    • I can take my jeans off without unbuttoning
    • Subsequently, I now require a belt
    • Both Jon and I are eating healthier
    • Co-workers have started commenting that i look like i've lost weight. 

    In the scope of my goals, this is only the beginning. There's a long way to go and i'm thankful every day for Ally being my personal trainer and cheerleader. I'm thankful Jon is so supportive: Jon even signed up for his own trainer and regimen citing me as inspiration. "If you can do what you're doing with all the extra health crap on top...i have no excuse."

    Don't think i've ever been someone's health inspiration before. It's still so tempting to eat a pint of ice cream, or an entire bucket of extra butter popcorn. It would be SO easy to just go back to ignoring it.
    I don't think i'll ever WANT to workout over a netflix marathon. Or consider half a sandwich a meal. But it's becoming easier to make the choice for the healthier options.

    For now, i know that i'm re-upping on the personal trainer sessions when the six months expires. I'm not confident enough to workout alone with the risk of collapsing still there. I'm thrilled to be seeing some tangible results, but I'm not satisfied yet. I never expect to be super thin or on the cover of a fitness magazine. Heck if i manage to make it to size 10, i'll be thinner than i've been since i hit puberty. Even if i'm never running around in a pushup bra and short shorts, just getting my body healthy will be enough for me. I just want to be healthy enough to live out my life.

    Oh, and do the splits again. Yeah, that would be awesome at any weight.