Greetings, folks! Welcome to fall, and to the last few days of September.

I have a couple of updates that I’ve been preparing for about a week now. One of them is something new and different, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you soon, even if it’s perhaps a little bit out of date now. I wrote it last week, just as I was about to return to my usual 20/20 business and get back on the wagon. That said, the last couple of days were major milestones for me, and I want to prioritize the excitement and wonder of that before I go back to the experimental stuff. (Hey, if I don’t take the time to talk about my own accomplishments, I won’t have anything to rival John’s graduation from Phase 1 this coming week…!)

A quick note on that before I continue: John’s personal trainer is going to be out on vacation for his final week of Phase 1, which means he’ll be handling all his own workouts for next week. If I remember correctly, our first trainer session was a Wednesday, which means that this Wednesday will be the Big Day – which he’ll be celebrating without a team member present. I know that any well-wishes and congratulations you all send him will be deeply appreciated! He’s worked so hard and done such an amazing job keeping up with everything, and I want to be sure that he knows it. Brains like ours have ways of trying to discredit and minimize accomplishments, and I won’t have it this time! While there are no formal celebrations or ceremonies that we’re aware of, we do have a reservation at our beloved Silver Cloud Inn’s waterfront Jacuzzi room in Tacoma next weekend. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the passing of the torch than a chance to truly relax and recover with a great change of scenery. Walking the boardwalk should be even better now that it’s fall!

I’ll also make a point of doing a special update that day, to honor his journey and show off the progress he’s made over the last six months. I don’t know if we’ll have access to the final measurements, official photos, body scans, etc. by that point, but if we do, I’ll share as much of that as John’s comfortable with. (I might even ask him to guest-write an entry if he has time. We’ll see how things turn out.)

For now…

On Tuesday, I went to my endocrinologist and begged her for the medical release I needed to return to the program. I didn’t know this until I’d already agreed to the medical hold, but if you are on hold for more than two weeks in total, they reserve the right to change your providers, so that they don’t keep their staff scheduled during blocks when people aren’t able to show up. This has been haunting the back of my mind for every single day that I’ve been out, as losing the folks that have been so good to me and for me this late in the game would be heartbreaking! I was unprepared to face her legitimate concern about my insistence on pushing myself, after so very many years of her trying so hard to get me to do anything at all, but it was one of those moments where I realized just how far I’ve come from where I started. Before 20/20, I would have sold my soul for two weeks of freedom and rest; this time I’ve been frustrated and irritable because I’ve grown used to – and even enjoy! – the routine and the expectations. Even if some days are exhausting, and I still hate being sweaty in general, and there will always be things I can’t do at my current fitness level – I feel good for doing them.

On top of that, I’ve now reached a point where I accept that that I’m lonely, when I go that long without human interaction. As a proud introvert, and as someone who has always been able to amuse herself when others aren’t available or interested, I never thought I would see the day when I’d miss having to stop and say hello to ten different people over the course of my day. Most days, I have to have at least one extended chat with someone, and I’ve grown accustomed to that instead of dreading it. With no Pro Club access, and John avoiding me for the sake of not getting sick, I’ve spent the last two weeks listening to nothing but the inside of my own head – and even as much as I’ve grown in the social anxiety department, that’s not a comfortable place for me to stay for long stretches at a time. I do need other people in my life, and that’s an OK thing to admit. Being acknowledged and welcomed each day, even in just small amounts, counts for so very much when you’re pushing back the habit of passing invisibly and silently through the world.

My endocrinologist did finally relent and give me the OK to return, as long as I promised to work with my trainer to ease back into things. Erin’s always been great about modifying workouts when I’ve had injuries or soreness before, so that wasn’t hard to agree to. I planned to resume on Wednesday, but my sleep and food schedule had gotten so out of whack from all the sick days that I decided to play it safe (and honor my endocrinologist’s concerns) by sorting that out and returning on Friday. I thought it was a good compromise; one tough-ish workout, followed by a couple of days of nothing but step requirements, before going back to the usual routine.

Alas, I was so glad to be back that I put in a REALLY good showing on Friday. While I didn’t break any records, I did far more than I expected to have the ability for, AND I still felt good enough to walk to the nearby Grass Lawn Park for my steps afterward. Since this may be my first mention of Grass Lawn here; it’s a large park located about a mile from the Pro Club. If you use the sidewalk in front of the Pro Club, it’s a lovely and safe walk with lots of tree cover and not much in the way of difficult uphill or downhill sections. Getting to the point of being able to take that walk without misery was one of my private goals for 20/20, and I’ve been doing it once a week now for a few weeks. I can usually knock out the rest of my daily steps on trainer session days by doing that instead of the treadmill, and then John can pick me up from there instead of driving all the way back to the Pro Club! It’s extra beautiful now that fall has arrived too; Friday was a delightful introduction to the season!

Yesterday, I rolled out of bed and realized that two weeks of no steps was a bad move. Despite being sore, we had an errand to run; earlier in the week, I noticed that all of my fall jackets were hanging on me like bags! Back to Eddie Bauer for some wardrobe adjustment. The staff at Alderwood Mall was amused and VERY helpful as I piled up ten or fifteen jackets in a dressing room to try on. I wasn’t sure about my size anymore, and I’m the sort of person that overheats at the drop of a hat; finding something waterproof without being overwhelming or crunchy has always been hard for me, and I wanted to be sure I got something I’d enjoy. In the end, I left with a great hooded rain jacket and a more typical, un-hooded training jacket for non-rain situations. If it ever snows here again, I’ll still be in big trouble – but by then, I’ll need to rethink my sizes again anyway!

That was good enough… but the jackets I found fit me in a LARGE. Not XL. Honest-to-God LARGE. I cannot remember a time in my life where I wore a jacket in that size. Shirts, sure. I’ve even worn medium once or twice when it’s knit fabric. But jackets have almost always been plus-size for me, and I’m used to having to buy to fit the widest part of me, which historically is my belly and hips. It’s one of the major reasons I hate jackets; they’re always bulky, shapeless things on me that make me feel five times larger than I am. Not this time. I still have a body under both of my new acquisitions, and there’s no gaping fabric to be had anywhere. They are on the tighter side still (I have to suck it in to zip up, but everything fits beautifully without bulging once they’re closed) but I have every faith that two weeks from now, they’ll fit me without my even having to think about it. I won’t buy anything that’s unflattering at my current size, but learning to size down and not up is NOT an instinct I’ve had to develop at any point in my life until now!

I also bought two other things, both of which are personal triumphs for me. The first, if the gentlemen reading this will forgive the mental image, was a sports bra. It’s one of those cute, trendy, fun ones that you see much smaller ladies wearing for yoga and such. It has one strap that goes down the center of the back, and everything else is pretty much exposed. My back has never been my best asset, and every time I’ve tried on bras or swimsuits like this, the humiliation of having rolls where none should exist has been a clear sign that these styles aren’t meant for ladies like me. Avoiding garments cut too low in the back has been a challenge for awhile now. But… all I can say is that TRX must be doing its job. I stood there and stared at myself for a solid ten minutes in the mirror because I’d originally tried the bra on as a joke; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Not only did it fit, but it looked GOOD. (Didn’t I say that about skinny jeans, too?) After that, I had no choice but to buy it and love it! …Not that I think I’ll be wearing it without a shirt for quite some time. If ever.

And last but not least… there was a simple black travel dress I tried on and fell in love with, the last time we went to Eddie Bauer. Though I could fit in it, it wasn’t flattering, and it highlighted my belly more than I was comfortable with, so I passed it up. I was surprised to see it still on the rack yesterday. and in light of all my size changes, I figured: what the heck, worst-case it will just be as bad as it was before. Well. I still have a tiny bit more belly than I’m happy with, but it’s NOTHING like it was last time. As long as I don’t slouch, it’s quite flattering! It’s amazing how fast things change. Erin had told me on Friday that I looked smaller, and I’d come to the same conclusion myself already; despite not working out for almost two solid weeks, my endocrinologist and the gym both confirmed a drop of seven pounds last week! That’s a good sign that the diet is right and I’ve been following it well, since any deviation from that would have absolutely dragged me upward again. It also means that I’ve officially lost over fifty pounds since starting the program.

We left Eddie Bauer with our new goods and started to walk the mall for steps… when I realized that my pants were starting to fall down. Badly. As in, every few steps I had to stop and hike them back up again. You might be able to guess where this is going at this point… yep. Those size 20 skinny jeans I’d bought a short couple of weeks ago – the smaller of the two pairs – were getting baggy after a few hours of wear. I couldn’t believe it! I tried a pair of XL pants on at Eddie Bauer and was uncomfortable in them, so I’m not quite out of the woods yet on plus sizes, but it looks like I need to consider going down to an 18. That is the smallest pant size I’ve worn since I was a teenager, and ties with the smallest I’ve been in at-all-recent memory. When I drop below that, I’ll be in brand new territory, AND most likely able to buy things off regular store racks! I don’t know what to do with this information. I’m thrilled, but it doesn’t even feel like I’m talking about myself when I say it. Seeing myself as anything more than just overweight and a difficult fit is going to take more than six months, I’m afraid.

With our purchases complete, and fighting a losing battle against my pants, we started to head home… and then I realized I was standing right next to a Regis hair salon. I’ve been arguing with myself over what to do about my hair for months now, and I’d almost talked myself into booking an appointment at the Pro Club some day after my workout to take care of it. I’ve had good luck with Regis in the past though, both in Washington and Arizona, and I feel like they’re a good, affordable middle ground between something like Great Clips or Cost Cutters, and a real, expensive salon with all the bells and whistles. It’s been two or three years since I’ve cut my hair at all, and while it’s pretty and I like it long, I know that having it this long is the result of years of neglect and inability to face the social pressure of sitting in a chair talking to other ladies for multiple hours. Most of my length isn’t healthy, and it’s a huge pain to have to put it up in ponytails or buns all the time for gym stuff. I very much enjoyed the process of coming to accept wearing anime-inspired twin-tails out in public, but I was getting to the point where I couldn’t even do that because the length of them made them so hot that I had to take them out again. Given my druthers, I tend to prefer it short because I have so little patience for hair styling and heat; if I’d been able to commit to frequent trims before, it would never have gotten so long again!

(Side note to explain “again” for those that don’t know: as a kid, I had butt-length hair that my family always braided to keep it out of my way. My dad was a staunch believer in “women have long hair and you’re not a woman if you don’t,” and my mom and I both had super-long hair as a result. When he died, we both decided to cut our hair as an act of rebellion once he wasn’t around to chastise us for it. I’ve never once regretted it! I loved my dad and I still do, but I realize and accept that some of his behavior was controlling, and that kind of thinking isn’t something I’m willing to cater to anymore. Much as I might sometimes hate being a girl, I am still one, and anyone who knows me knows that.)

Long story short (ha!) I decided that I’d had enough waffling and hesitating. It was time to do something about the ratted, unhealthy mane I’d been wearing for years and unearth the girl beneath it all! They were able to take me immediately as a walk-in, and I even had a picture with me that showed what I wanted done. In the end, the hairstyle I chose is the same short one that most of you have seen me in before: an inverted bob, where the back is super-short but the front is longer and frames the face. However, because I’m going to be getting it sweaty and washing it multiple times a day, I decided there was no point in trying to keep it ironed straight like I’ve done in the past. The look works well curly, and my hair is naturally curly; all it takes is a little bit of oil to condition it and some texture spray to separate the curls, and I’m done. I’ve been putting that same stuff in my long hair already, so I didn’t even have to buy anything I didn’t have at home.

In the end, I’m still a little sorry I didn’t get up the nerve to try a pixie cut, but I think this is going to work GREAT. I’m happy with it, and I didn’t even flinch as my stylist snipped off the bulk of my old hair. It’s great to be back to the way I used to think of myself as being; I feel like I’ve lost 20 pounds of baggage and hair on top of all the 20/20 progress! My stylist pointed out the oddity of deciding to chop everything just in time for fall and winter, but I’m OK with this; as I said, I overheat easily, and this is way easier to stuff into hats and hoods than my old style would have been. I can keep it in shape with minimal effort, it’s out of my way, and I can pin it back for workouts without needing to worry. The only thing I’ve lost is the twin-tail look, which does make me a little sad – but it’s not enough to dampen the otherwise overwhelming joy! Hopefully you all will like it as much as I do.

Phew! This has been quite the update! Today should be calm at least. John is out with a friend watching the Mariners play, and I was supposed to go to a yoga class today. One of the fantastic ladies that runs the Pro Club’s resource center has taken us under her wing, since we’ve gotten to know her through our frequent blood pressure checks, buying protein powder, etc. It turned out that she was teaching a special beginner’s yoga workshop today, and she made sure to invite us personally. Yoga is something I have a lot of interest in, and I very much enjoyed the bits and pieces I learned from Wii Fit back in the day – I still use some of those moves as stretches after workouts – but I’ve never been to a formal class before. Most of the standard Pro Club classes are on trainer workout days, and I’m not quite strong enough to handle double sessions yet! Alas, last night was plagued by extreme leg cramps – the first I’ve had since I started 20/20. I know I wasn’t drinking enough water or using those muscles while I was sick, so I’m willing to bet that this is just fallout from my extended break. That said, I can barely walk right now, so trying to attend a yoga class seemed like a bad call! If she ever teaches another one, I’ll be sure to try again (maybe John will be available then too!)

On a similar note, the Pro Club is doing a special deal for pilates classes too. Erin said she had a few free coupons for those to give out, and she’s going to try to make sure I get one. I don’t know a lot about it, other than that it seems to get mentioned a lot in the same breath as yoga. I know it’s good for core and flexibility, both of which I need as much of as I can get! If that comes through, I’ll be curious to see what I can learn. There’s an introductory course that you have to take before you can attend pilates classes, because that’s where they teach you how to use all the equipment. The reformer looks a little scary, but then again, so does everything else until someone shows you what to do with it!

The next time I talk to you all, at least one of us will be graduated from Phase 1! It’s been a heck of a wild ride, and I’m still so glad I got to share it with all of you. I’m still planning on posting as we continue through Phase 2, and I’d love to find time to talk about other things (games, writing, etc.) but for now, I’ll have to settle for doing what I’m able to do. For my part, I’m looking forward to cheering John across his finish line and ramping back up so that I can join him soon!


  1. Carolyn

    Darling haircut, Amy! I love your curls. (smile) Also- Congratulations on continuing to eat healthy and lose wait while you were away from the gym. Thanks for the heads-up that this Wednesday is John’s “graduation day”. And, as always, much thanks for this, your marvelous blog, which is so wonderfully informative. Blessings and hugs to you both!

  2. Carolyn

    Hi Amy- I may have lost track, but I think this is close to your time for 20/20 “graduation”, yes? If so… My most sincere Congratulations to you! Way to go! I really do think it’s wonderful how much you have done towards establishing a healthier lifestyle. Bravo! Hope you can feel the warm hugs I am sending to you, along with my love.

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