Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Go 'head and sang

I’m a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was an era fraught with cheesy TV and even cheesier TV theme songs. Still, I don’t know many people my age who still can't sing all the words to the “Facts of Life,” “Growing Pains” or “Cheers” theme songs.

These songs were important. They’d give you something recognizable, singable. You’d still have the show in your mind, because you’d still be singing the songs long after they were over. Sadly, the TV theme song is a thing of the past. I think “Friends” may have been the last one to really have a full song (who among us didn’t clap along with them?). But I think we should all adopt the theme song in our own lives.

I’m not the first to do this. People have been talking about personal theme songs for years. I’ve given a lot of thought to mine. When I was younger, I would have said “Dancing Queen.” During breakups, I would usually adopt growly girl-power songs, a la Alanis Morisette.

Today, though, my theme song is about me. It’s about finding myself. It’s about enjoying life. And I can sum it up in two words—and an initial.

Cue the Mary J. Blige.

My theme song as of late is “Just Fine” by Ms. Blige. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

So I like what I see when I’m looking at me
When I’m walking past the mirror
No stress through the night, at a time in my life
Ain’t worried about if you feel it
Got my head on straight, I got my mind right
I aint gonna let you kill it
You see I wouldn’t change my life, my life’s just…..

Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh
Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh
Just fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh
You see I wouldn’t change my life, my life’s just fine.

Preach, Mary.

Do I always feel that “I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past the mirror?” Most definitely not. But I’m working on that. And Mary reminds me to do it.

It’s a perfect theme song—it’s got a great beat and uplifting lyrics. Plus, it’s super fun to dance and sing along to in my car—one of my most important theme-song qualifiers.

Now I want to know yours. Lay it on me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The power of vulnerability

I don’t often reread my blogs. But I recently decided to go back and read from the beginning. It was a strange experience.

In some ways, I don’t even recognize that person. I was so unsure of myself. So scared about what I was doing. But I also was so raw and honest that now reading them and knowing how many others of you have read them makes me cringe a little bit.

I don’t regret anything I’ve written (though I still think of deleting the eating-out-of-the-trashcan entry), because I truly believe every word has gotten me to where I am today.

Still, it’s almost an out-of-body experience to read them. To see the pictures. To remember the struggles. I was determined then, but I was still so worried about disappointing people. Disappointing myself.

When new people come into my life, I have to make a decision when (or if) I tell them about my last two years. And then I have to make another decision—am I proud? Or am I embarrassed?

Depending upon the person, I sometimes hover between the two. Sure, I realize I’ve accomplished something. But I also can’t help but sometimes feel embarrassed about the fact that I had to accomplish so much. It’s a constant battle for me—shame versus pride.

And sometimes I also kind of like knowing I have this secret. If I meet someone new and don’t really care whether or not that person stays in my life? I can just be Erika as I am now. If I choose to let you in, though, and tell you about Erika as I am now, but also Erika as I was and am becoming, that means you’re special.

Though it makes me vulnerable to share my story, it also makes me a little bit powerful. Maybe one day, I’ll be comfortable being both.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shopper's delight

When I was very young, nothing made me happier than going shopping with my grandmother. When she would visit, I’d immediately say, “Let’s go hopping, Grandma!”

I still love hopping. But for the past decade or so, I’ve focused my retail therapy on stuff that I didn’t have to worry about fitting—food, accessories, shoes and lots of makeup.

Clothes, however, are a different story.

As a plus-size girl, I had very limited options. Let’s say I had a wedding to go to. I’d look online. I’d go to the mall. I’d hit the plus department at Macy’s. Walk out and go to Lane Bryant. Maybe the Avenue or Ashley Stewart. And if I didn’t find anything? I really didn’t have any other options.

I’m officially too small for those plus-size stores now (whee!). That should make me happy. It does, but it’s also totally overwhelming.

Now when I walk into the mall, there are so many choices. Whereas I had probably four options before, I now have hundreds. It’s strange. It’s almost like I have to relearn how to shop. But practice makes perfect, right?

Sometimes I wish Clinton and Stacy from TLC’s What Not to Wear would sweep in and teach me the rules. For the longest time, I just bought what would fit. Now I have to figure out if something actually looks good. I’ve realized I have no idea how to tell anymore.

Does this make me sound like I’m complaining? It’s not meant to. I have shed many a tear in a dressing room in the past several years. But last week, I did a happy dance—literally—when I fit into a size I never thought I’d see again. This is good stuff. I just feel a little bit like a baby foal finding its legs.

I’m totally willing to put in the practice hours. Anyone want to do a shopping workout with me? I envision an ‘80s-themed makeover montage, followed by us walking slowly down a staircase while everyone oohs and ahhs.

It could happen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The metrics system

Today, I attended the annual Health Risk Assessment Screening. Those of you who are longtime readers might recall in my very first blog I wrote about skipping the wellness fair out of humiliation.

I went last year, several pounds down from the year before. And I saved that piece of paper with my results. I remember I used to cut the size tags out of clothing so no one (including me) could ever see them. I would never have kept a sheet with all my numbers on it. I’m so glad I did.

From last year:

Weight: 50.4 pounds lighter
Total cholesterol: Down 4 points
Cholesterol/HDL ratio: Down 2 points (and into healthy range)
BMI (this one’s my favorite): Down 8 points

I have a way to go until everything is in a healthy range. But man, it’s good to know I’m on the right track. I can’t wait to see those numbers next year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

1 + .8 = Bah

I have to admit, I’ve gotten a little off track. No, I haven’t gained weight—well, not really, but I have gotten a little complacent.

Here’s how I know. This week, I lost 1.8 pounds. Last week, I gained 1.8 pounds. The week before? I lost, yep, 1.8 pounds. That 1.8 and I are not BFFs. I’m tired of it going away and coming back.

So what is it that’s gotten me in this cycle? I can blame it on my extreme busy-ness. I can blame it on traveling. I can blame it on the heat. I can blame it on the rain (sorry). But really, the blame should be with me, and me only.

In July, I was busy. I was traveling. I was hot. But that shouldn’t excuse me from making better choices. I’m taking this opportunity for a new month to start a renewed vigor with my plan. I will track my food. I will get in my workouts. And I will make my next goal.

I could use some inspiration, though. Does anyone have anything for me? New snacks? Quick recipes? I’ve been especially craving seafood, so I could use some new ways to make it.

Go ahead, blow my mind with your ideas. I’m waiting.