Tag Archives: guest post

Guest Post: Coming Out and Getting Healthy

I have another guest post for you guys!

This post is really close to my heart and it’s one that my friend Mac and I have been going back and forth about for a while. I normally only give guest posts a once-over and/ or a couple of editing suggestions, but this one mattered so much to me that I wanted Mac to perfect it.

The thing is, Mac has a wonderful writing style. He’s full of snark, very funny, and very honest. And I love that — but I also had to make the post not only grandma-friendly (hi, Grandma!) but also KWH-friendly. Mac has a way with words that shocks, so there were some things I had to ask him to edit. So, in all fairness, I want you to know that I did some editing of this post myself.

I tell you all of this because I really encourage you to go check his blog out, and specifically the first post he gave me over a month ago, which I asked him to try again. I just want to make sure you’re warned. I also ask that if you think that you might be easily triggered in any kind of eating disorder sort of way, you have a good sense of what you can handle and check it out with that in mind. That being said, he’s hilarious, I love his blog, and I want you to check it out. But, you know, do that after you read his post here. 🙂

When you’re in the closet for 21 years of your life, you have a lot of time to eat. Like, lots of time. And there are a lot of good cakes out there.

When I was younger, from about seven to fourteen, I was super athletic. During those years of my life I participated in all sorts of activities, from recreational baseball leagues to competitive gymnastics. I even won the Best in State All Around gold medal for my age group in Washington.

Yeah, I was pretty hard core. And I looked good in my leotard. Real good.

But then, as life went on, I quit gymnastics and stopped playing baseball. While all my friends, who were pudgy children, got healthier, leaner, and grew into their bodies, I reverted. I stopped exercising, stopped eating healthily, and all-around stopped caring about my physique.

Why? At the time I honestly wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer, but that’s the great thing about 20/20 hindsight.

It was also around this time (7th-8th grade) that my friends started having boyfriends and girlfriends. My first girlfriend was in 7th grade. I’ve always been small and younger-looking for my age, so lots of people mistook her for my babysitter, which was probably the most awkward thing ever. But as soon as my friends and I started dating, I started schlubbin’ it up. And from 7th grade until I graduated from college, I’d be an unhealthy, binge-drinking slob. (Okay, granted, I didn’t start drinking until high school, but you get the idea.)

But, once again, why? Short answer: GAY!!!! (dun dun dun!!)

Inside my Pillsbury Dough Boy of a body (in my stature, coloring, and actual doughy quality), I was quite the homosexual. But for some reason I decided I didn’t want anyone to know that, so I sat quietly in my closet and ate pizza, cakes, and French fries. Pretty much, if it was deep fried and/or covered in frosting, it was usually in my face.

Hey, here’s a tangent: a lot people ask me when I knew I was gay. Truth is, I have no idea when it was. No light bulb went off. No gay switch was flipped. I probably realized I was gay the same way you realized you were straight. Through puberty.

But what was I saying? Oh yeah. I was a hot, slobby mess. Here’s proof!

I wish I could say this was a Halloween party, and that I went as a Ninja Turtle.

Death by mozzarella sticks.

Oh, man. My now-out self is ashamed of my closeted past. What as I thinking?? I was never gonna get any action looking like that.

Aha! We’re onto something here. I don’t know if this goes for a lot of closet cases, but for me, looking like an Oompa Loompa’s ugly step-cousin was actually a defense mechanism, both psychologically and physically. It kept the ladies far, far away so I wouldn’t have to have those awkward physical encounters with them (some like to refer to it as “sexual intercourse” or “coitus” or “doing the nasty”). It also made me look and act more like a “dude.” Extrapolating the sloppy, gross college boy stereotype fed my denial about the whole situation, as did pretending to not like pop music or skinny jeans.

(Just to be perfectly clear: it was never my friends or family that were reinforcing the idea that heterosexuality was the correct sexual identity. It’s our culture in general: from homosexuality not being taught in sex ed. classes to not having many gay role models on television to using the word “gay” and “fag” as derogatory terms. In fact, there was no reason for me to hide it from anyone. For the most part, I was hiding it from myself.)

Then, sophomore year of college, I had my first man kiss. That was pretty much when the denial stage ended. Obviously this was something that I couldn’t avoid forever. I experimented some more, went off to Italy to study abroad, learned a lot about myself, then came back to live with college friend (whom I give a lot of credit for this next part) and her family for the summer in order to complete an internship. It was then that it hit me: I needed to come out, for frick sakes!

As I started coming out, I naturally started losing weight, as if I was taking off a disguise. I’d been playing dress up for twenty-one years, and I was finally taking the costume off piece by piece. It wasn’t simply saying the words out loud, but actually embracing the fact that I was gay rather than trying to hide it that helped me lose weight. I started making conscious decisions about what I ate, I started exercising, and I even started listening to pop music!

Happiness does play a huge factor in weight struggles and body issues. The happier I got, the healthier I became.

That makes it sound easy. I did do a lot of sweating. Lets speed this up with some bullets:

  • I graduated a semester early (the semester I came out) and moved away. This was an important time for me because I left my college friends behind for a few months and focused on getting my life on track.
  • I started exercising every day. Went on runs, danced in my room, push ups, sit ups, resistance training… you name it. Anything I could do that was free, I probably did it.
  • I stopped. Eating. Shit.
  • I stopped. Drinking. Shit.
  • I went to bed at reasonable times. I’m not sure how much sleep directly affects weight loss, but it definitely gave me a lot more energy during the day to get off the couch. Also, I didn’t have cable or internet. Physical activity was my only option.

All those things helped me lose weight. Another big motivation behind my transformation was dating! Before I used my body to scare people away, but now I wanted to attract people. I started an OKCupid online profile and used it as motivation to keep up my healthy regimen. I needed a hot profile pic! (Not one of those skanky half-naked ones, but at least one where I didn’t look like Chuckie Finster from Rugrats if he’d grown up to be a homeless drunk.)

And there you have it. Now, two years later, I’m happier and healthier than ever. I hit the gym almost every day (sometimes twice!), I keep a close eye on what I eat, I manage to imbibe only on the weekends (mostly… oh and holidays!), and I generally care about my appearance and emotional wellbeing.

I’ve got twenty-one years of me time that I have to catch up on.

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Guest Post: Healthy After Brain Injury

Hey guys! It’s guest post time again! This one comes from fellow LA-ite and reader Ellen who blogs over at Scrumptious Gruel. The subject of this guest post is one I (thankfully!) can’t relate to — recovery from brain trauma — but which I find wildly inspiring. Ellen has made such an incredible recovery and I am beyond impressed. Read on to hear her story!

Stupid diet trick o’ the day: Incur major brain trauma. Smash your right wrist to smithereens. Not only will you get to sleep all the time and have to limit all physical activity to things that don’t jostle your head or involve the injured arm, but you will eat A LOT and gain no weight because your body is laboring so hard to repair itself. Yep. Sounds like a dream, right?

Actually, a dream is exactly what I thought it was at first. My first memory post-accident was not until about four days into my hospitalization. I realized I was in a hospital bed, sporting a huge cast, a neck brace, a lots of needles in my left arm, and damn, was that a catheter between my legs? I was being fed the best potato soup of my life. It was so good because I was so hungry. I was told I was so hungry because I had not been allowed food for the last several days because the doctors though I might need brain surgery. Hmmm I thought, this is weird. You say I had a bad fall? Surely this is a dream.

Let’s backtrack. How DID I get there?

February 28th, 2010, I headed over to my now-ex’s place. It was Sunday afternoon. We were going to hang out, maybe get some Indian food. At least, that is what I am told. I have NO memory of any of the following: the boyfriend let me in to his place, an art loft in downtown LA that is sort of like a giant concrete box. No windows, so if the lights are out you cannot see a thing. I told him I was going to use his restroom and I’d meet him upstairs. The landing at the top of his staircase had no railing. He tells me that he was in his room with the door closed and because the lights were out elsewhere my depth perception might have been off and I probably just walked off the edge. My theory is that I tripped. I am a dancer which means I am a huge klutz. 😉

Whatever happpened, I freefell about a good ten feet onto a concrete floor.

The boyfriend heard a scream and a crash and ran out to find me passed out with eyes open and my hand wrenched waayyyyy out of place. Poor guy thought I was dead then I came to and apparently would not stop babbling the whole ambulance ride to the hospital about how they needed to hurry up and set my hand. In the hospital my hand was set and brain scans showed I’d hit my head on the right side causing my brain to bounce off the left side of my skull which is where internal bleeding and swelling began. The prognosis was, “This is bad. Get her parents here.”

My mom and aunt made it across the country by the next afteroon. My father was on work in Ethiopia but made it within the next couple of days. He is a neurologist so I can’t imagine how scary hearing, “Your daughter has brain injuries” must have been. Things kept getting worse. Every time I woke up I’d have to be told where I was and what had happened. The swelling continued and the bleeding began to spread, seeping into my brain in what is called arachnoid bleeding, I guess because rivulets of blood branch out from the main area like a spider’s legs. I had a big subdermal hemotoma. Doctors were getting ready to operate if the tables did not turn. The area of my brain affected was messing with my kidneys. I wasn’t retaining sodium which messed with my heart rate and made me even more confused. I was pretty much only allowed to drink Gatorade for a good month after the accident, as water would reduce my sodium levels even more. Miraculously, four days into the whole thing, the swelling in my brain began to subside on it’s own. The docs finally ok’d me for solid food, and I began to retain some memory. It figures that the first memory I had was of food, the delicious potato soup.

Once my brain was stabilized it was time to operate on my messed up hand. I’d cracked my radius nearly in half and the bone was severely splintered. I now have what I called the bionic arm, full of metal plates and pins.

A couple weeks after the accident I was discharged from the hospital which is sort of where the hell began. The reality of what had happended set in. My whole body was in intense pain much of the time, still recovering from the blow of hitting that concrete floor. My memory was still cruddy, and speech was sometimes difficult. I would stuggle to find simple words. I could not stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. It took a full year for me to feel like my memory was finally back to normal and I had to plan my days around naps for about the next 8 months. The one good thing was that my insomnia was finally cured!

I have always been very active. I dance, do yoga and lift weights, but I could not do anything that jostled my head or strained my healing arm. My first solution was to get an exercise bike. I also took walks which progressed to hikes once my arm was healed more. I got a mighty cute cast in the meantime:

Two months after the arm surgery I got my cast off and began physical therapy. My wrist had zero mobility. I couldn’t take any real weight so I started working with resistance bands to build strength in addition to my PT sessions. My favorite thing at therapy was when electrodes were attached to my arm and the electric pulses would make my hand curl up-totally creepy!

On the nutrition front, I was advised to eat lots of eggs and fish for my brain. I do not eat meat, but I ate up eggs like there was no tomorrow. By late August, the neurologists said I could try going to ballet class again but to start slowly with things like jumps and turns. Wow, did I ever suck in class! I was so out of shape, dance-wise. Around the same time, the opportunity was given to me for a month-long run of an autobiographical one-act play I wrote, and fortunately my memory was working well enough for me to be able to start performing again. It is now more than a year later and I am back to dancing, acting and being an insomniac and I couldn’t be happier.

This whole experience made me feel incredibly blessed. Yes, it was difficult and traumatizing but it could have been far worse. I could have been killed. I could have ended up paralyzed or permanently brain damaged. I may not have had such amazing family and friends to be there for me. Instead, I recovered much faster than the doctors thought would be possible and had my loved ones there for me every step of the way. This has taught me to be grateful for the simple things, like, oh, say, being alive? I now know that you have to be grateful for each day. Don’t put off telling people you love them, or doing the things you want to do. Life could be too short. Finally, eat eggs, lots of eggs. Oh, and dance!

To get y’all started on the eggs, I am leaving my recipe for Vegetarian Baked Scotch Eggs, adapted from The Joy of Cooking, the version published in the 90’s (yes I am a dork who has multiple Joy copies!).
Combine in bowl:
  • 3/4 package of litelife soy ground sausage(the type that comes in sort of a tube shape)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp.chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Place on plate:
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
Beat in bowl:
  • 1 egg
Place on another plate:
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Divide soy mixture into 6 parts and wrap around 6 hardboiled eggs. Roll in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and bake for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, turning midway through. Let rest 5-10 minutes before trying to cut. Eat hot or cold, they are tasty both ways!

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Guest Post: The Impulse Buy That Changed My Life

Hey guys! I have here a fourth installment of my guest post series. I am in love with this post about Claire’s Healthy Tipping Point. It reminds me a lot of mine — one day, Claire just started working out and never looked back. I also really love how Claire and I found each other — she and I have two friends in common (one from childhood and one from grad school, for me!), and through them, Claire found my blog. In fact, one of those friends was my last guest poster… the other Claire! The Claire posting today has been a regular reader and commenter on KWH and I now feel as though we’ve forged our own friendship through the internet. I love stuff like that. Blogs are awesome. Enjoy Claire’s beautiful post below!

This is the story of how I lost 65 lbs by watching DVDs.

I spent most of my life being overweight.  I never understood what it meant to feel full or satisfied by food. I ate whatever I wanted, often secretly buying junk food and hiding it in my room. I even remember getting up in the middle of the night, making a batch of cookie dough and eating it by myself. Not my proudest moment.  At 16 years old I had chest pain, couldn’t walk upstairs without getting winded and had zero self-esteem.

I was constantly embarrassed and angry at the world (aka myself) but didn’t know how to change. I ate to avoid feelings, and felt ashamed because I was overeating. Enter the addictive cycle of food and shame.  By the time I reached junior year of high school I was close to 200 lbs at only 5’3”.

Things started to change my senior year when someone recommended I try Weight Watchers. We enrolled as a family and for the first time in my life I felt I had some control over my weight. I started to understand portion control and the value of healthy foods. I lost some weight, but soon gained it back. I tried again in college and lost significantly more, but I yo-yoed and by a year after graduation I had gained it all back again.

I knew how to eat healthy but I didn’t exercise.  As a result I had nothing to fall back on when I fell off the diet wagon. It was definitely the all-or-nothing mentality Kaitlin has talked about on her blog. I was either dieting or pigging out for weeks *cough* months at a time.

About 2 years ago an impulse-buy changed my life. I saw an easy work-out DVD while waiting in line at TJ-Maxx, (they stack the queues with little items like that on purpose…), and bought it on a whim. I got up the next morning and did the video before work.  I loved the extra energy it gave me and it kept me motivated to eat right throughout the day. I’ve been working out every morning ever since and now have a collection of about 20+ DVDs. I don’t need to spend money on a gym membership; I just grab some hand weights and sometimes an exercise ball. I rotate my favorites depending on my mood and what I feel my body needs that day.  The variety of DVDs means I can focus on cardio, strength or combine the two.

The first DVD I bought at TJ Maxx: Shape Cardio: Bikini Body All Year Round

The DVDs also allowed me to exercise in the morning, something I’d NEVER thought possible for me. I’ve found that starting the day with an endorphin boost is addictive. I even started eating breakfast, which I hadn’t done in about 10 years, because working out made me hungry!

I love that I don’t have to drive anywhere and I don’t have to look pretty.  I can just roll out of bed, throw on whatever I want and jump around my living room. Doesn’t matter if I look like an idiot because no one’s watching!

My previous attempts at weight loss failed because I just wanted to be thin, but I didn’t care about being strong. Now my whole outlook on exercise and food has changed.  I want to be strong and healthy, food is fuel and exercise feels oh.so.good. Now if I overindulge, instead of falling back into the endless cycle of food and shame, I just get up the next day, pop in an exercise DVD and it puts me right back on the wagon.

A selection of my favorite DVDs:

If you are interested in trying out any DVDs I suggest just looking around Amazon, reading user reviews and getting what seems right for you.The next evolution of my exercise journey has been yoga. It has been so great for keeping my body strong, muscles flexible, joints open and mind calm. I go at least twice a week and even completed 30 days of yoga in preparation for my wedding last month. I never would have gone to a group class before, I would have felt too embarrassed, but working out at home allowed me to increase my fitness level before venturing out in public.

It only took me 15 years, but I finally found something that works for me.

Life is good.

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Guest Post: Claire from The Renaissance Woman

Hey guys! It’s time for the third installment of my guest post series, and this comes from one of my very best friends, Claire. She writes a blog about trying new things, which is also, helpfully, the theme of this post. In fact, a fitness-focused “new things” post was one of her first.  I think you’re really going to enjoy this one because she is so completely relatable in her quest to find a fitness routine that works for her. Also, she hand-drew all of the pictures below, which I L-O-V-E. Enjoy!

Hello readers of Kaitlin with Honey!  My name is Claire.  I blog over at The Renaissance Woman.  I write about trying new things and generally expanding my horizons.  For my guest blog, I’m going to write about something near and dear to Kaitlin’s heart: exercise.

I should confess that exercise traditionally isn’t that near nor is it dear to my heart. My pattern has always been to start a new workout, go like crazy for a month or so, then my motivation fizzles out.  I am kind of a genius at coming up with excuses to avoid working out – and I can easily convince myself that it is the right choice to be sitting on my couch eating chips and watching B movies on Netflix streaming.

The way I’ve been combating this tendency lately is by constantly giving myself new challenges to keep that motivation fresh.  So I’m going to tell you how I go about finding work out plans that have worked out for me.  (See what I did there?)  Because, no matter if you are a fitness novice like me or an old hand at working out, like Kaitlin, sometimes you need to change things up to stay fresh.


Figure 1.  Experience as represented by Kaitlin.  Inexperience as represented by Claire.

The first thing I did was think back.  Like many of us, my childhood didn’t involve spending twelve hours a day in front of a computer screen (as so many of my days do now).  So I thought back to a time when I had a more active lifestyle, to a time when I moved my body not just to work out, but actually for the fun of it.  I was counting on the principal that if I found it fun once, maybe I would again.  So I took the plunge, literally.  (Oh yes, I’m a pun user.)

Figure 2. Remembering myself in the ol’ swim team days.

I got back on the swimming bandwagon after ten years and loved it as much as I ever did.  I looked around on the internet and adopted a program that would ease me back into the swimming routine.  The goal?  To swim one mile without stopping. Since I already had good form built into my muscle memory I was less worried about embarrassing/injuring myself at the gym.  Of course I was still embarrassed (seriously, who feels 100% comfortable in their swimsuit?) and injuries included stubbed toes, and very sore muscles.  Sure there were some days I didn’t want to go, but I persevered because I couldn’t stand the thought of failing to achieve my one-mile goal.  It felt amazing to take back some of the strength and fun I’d enjoyed as a child, and as a bonus, I looked slightly less silly in my suit by the end of the six weeks.  I intended to continue with swimming as my regular work out, but my short attention span and propensity for creative excuses quickly made my ‘regular’ workouts more ‘occasional’ workouts.  So after six weeks in the pool I needed a change.

I started looking around at all of my amazingly in-shape friends and started asking them what they liked to do to work out.  (To my surprise not a single person said they were just genetically perfect … they all participated in some form of exercise.  Which was comforting.)  My friends apparently enjoy rock-climbing, roller derby, cycling, bikram yoga, long distance running, weight training, and soccer leagues.  I took my own likes and dislikes into account as I discussed with my friends the pros and cons of different fitness routines.  I dislike working out in the mornings, I hate working out in a class (so many judging eyes), and I like to be able to stay as cool as possible since I tend to overheat which is not pretty.  So obviously I found myself trying yoga for the first time at seven a.m. at one hundred and five degrees and surrounded by experienced yogis.  Awesome.

Figure 3.  Examples of my awesome friends doing what they love.

Perhaps it is here that I should mention that it is essential to keep an open mind when looking for a new exercise routine.  I found out that most of my objections didn’t actually reflect my dislikes, but what I suspected I disliked.  (I’m a picky eater too, why do you ask?)  The yogis were supportive of my newbie status, and I was so proud to still be standing (laying down in savasana) at the end of an incredibly challenging class that I had to go back for more to see if I could do it again or (dare to dream) better.   It was also a huge help in my motivation knowing that my friend who introduced me to bikram would be in class and give me hell if I wasn’t there.  (Work out buddy for the win!)  I ended up going three days a week for a month.  By end of the month, I was stronger, more flexible and I had broken almost all of my work-out taboos.  While I am by no means an expert at yoga, the adrenaline rush of being out of my depth has subsided, so I’m looking for something new.   (I told you my attention span is short).

Next on my to-do list is to figure out the crazy machines in my gym with the help of a personal trainer.  I’m excited to try an analytical approach to strength training.  Comparing different weights and reps seems like an easy way to mark an increase in strength.  I’m pumped.  (Does that count as a pun?  Perhaps only if you say “pumped” a la Schwarzenegger… which you all did right?)

So to sum the Find-A-Work-Out-That-Is-Right-For-You: Claire Edition.

1. Think back to past experiences you’ve enjoyed.

2. Look around and seek advice from those around you.

3. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to (safely) try something new.

And most importantly … (maybe this should have been number one… too late now.)

4. If you have trouble staying motivated, find new ways to challenge yourself.

That is literally all the wisdom I have to offer on the subject.  I’ll be keeping my goals small and easy to accomplish for the foreseeable future.   Perhaps someday I’ll get the self-discipline to train for a marathon (or similarly crazy-intense thing), but right now my plan is to stay one step ahead of my own mind games.  Hope you folks check out some new and amazing work out routines, (and eventually invite me along… I’ll be bored again soon).  Thanks!

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Guest Post: On “The Chubbening”

Hey guys! Here’s the second installment of my series of requested guest posts. This post comes from one of my favorite friends from college and I just know you are going to love it and him!

Hi, my name’s Ryan. Kaitlin and I went to college together. We had a lot of classes together and I love her to pieces. When Kaitlin put out the call for guest bloggers I offered to write her a little something about my own experiences with weight loss and healthy living.

(FYI if you ever meet Kaitlin in real life be sure to mention how much you love Beauty and the Beast, she’ll dig it.)

I like to eat and I gain weight very easily.

These two traits have made my life rather difficult. If it was just one or the other I think I could’ve really cruised. If I’m honest with myself I admit that the latter is really most likely caused by the former: if you list “eating an entire sleeve of Oreos” as a hobby on Facebook you can only avoid loosening the belt for so long.

I first gained weight when I was in middle school. At the time I was doing theater and was really into Star Wars, so getting glasses and gaining weight just seemed inevitable. Albertsons, the grocery store in South Florida, had a $4.99 8-piece fried chicken deal that was, without hyperbole, my favorite thing on Earth.

(source)

Nothing, not my family, not my friends, not the fact that Rachel Goldberg and Allison Alt had started to grow boobs could compare with the feeling I got when I’d ask my Mom if we could stop off before home and return to the TV room triumphant. What exactly I’d triumphed over was unclear (healthy eating? common sense? living to a ripe old age?).

(source)

Was I eating because I was unhappy? Maybe, but I was 13; everyone is unhappy, not everyone consumes half a birthday cake just because they’re bored. I had a pretty normal childhood, we moved around a lot but other than that my parents loved each other, I had friends, I just really liked eating. Perhaps I was trying to fill something up in myself, perhaps I just never understood the consequences but whatever the reason I got big.

That changed in high school when I went out for the track team. What began as a desire to kill some time between 3pm  – 5pm and bulk up the activities resume became one of my favorite things about high school. I wasn’t a spectacular runner (the term “passable” is probably a good way to think about it) but I made a lot of good friends and running helped me shave off most of the excess weight I’d been carrying around and sped up my metabolism so that I could eat a lot and wouldn’t really feel the consequences. I slimmed down which was great for me because I was really into punk rock and the tight t-shirt look was in.

Artist’s rendering of what I looked like while running

Unfortunately the transition from high school to college taught me one extremely important lesson: a bad habit always catches up with you. When I was running competitively I ate like a runner: lots of carbohydrates, large quantities of food before and after races but since I was usually running it off my fascination with junk food, intact since my fat kid days, never really affected me.

That changed in college. I stopped running, also stopped doing any exercise of any kind but still ate like a marathoner. It didn’t help that I gained a reputation as something of a party animal/eating machine. Numerous students at Connecticut College at the beginning of the 21st century will remember me as the guy who ate 50 Chicken Mcnuggets in one sitting or the guy who ate 12 lobsters at our school’s lobster night (I had a lot of vegetarian friends). Before long I’d started gaining weight again but, to my detriment I had no idea how much I’d gained.

Generally my fighting weight is around 185lbs – 195lbs (I’m 6’ 2”). I knew I’d gained weight but since I didn’t have a scale I had no idea how much I weighed. However I was on Spring Break in Louisville, Kentucky visiting a friend and we went to the Kentucky Derby museum. While there I saw a scale at an exhibit on jockeys. The exhibit explained that jockeys generally weigh between 120lbs – 140lbs and invited us to weigh ourselves to see if we could make it as a jockey (The exhibit seemed geared at children but whatever, I was in a new city). I stood on the scale. To my horror it informed me I was a cetacean 240 lbs. I had thought I was a jockey carrying his saddle, in reality I was a jockey who had eaten another jockey.

Pictured: Myself Junior year of college, standing hungrily with my friend Tim (I’m on the right..you know, in case you can’t tell)

This was too much. I’d be used to being described as “big” or “stocky” since I’m just built that way, but this was different. This was fat. I was a fat guy. The line had been drawn in the sand: on one side, cake and ice cream; on the other, feeling good about myself, not needing to nap after lunch and being attractive to women who meet my impossibly high standards. It was a hard choice (especially when I figured out you can put cookies ON cake) but I eventually decided I was too young and just too damn handsome to be out of shape (both were later confirmed by several female relatives and people who agreed to go to the dance with me “just as friends”).

Pictured: The Enemy

(source)

I began the long, slow journey towards being in shape. It’s hard, especially if you’re really out of shape. Where once I could breeze through a six mile run, now I wheezed and coughed and croaked my through three.  I endured the humiliation of asking the dude who ran the fitness center where the 10lbs. dumb bells were. I did yoga and when the woman asked me to put my legs behind my head I passed out. I ate salad.

In time the weight began to go away. It was gradual. I didn’t wake up one day and was suddenly thin. There were relapses (the occasional late night Wendy’s run, housing a box of Oreos whilst watching Gremlins etc.) but in time the weight faded. 240 lbs. because 200 lbs. I graduated college and started training for a 5k. 200 lbs. became 190 lbs. I started doing a lifting routing I’d read in a magazine, 190 lbs. became 180 lbs. I felt lean, lost the X in my XL shirts, could answer the front door without a water break, life was good.

Pictured: Me achieving my fitness goal of loosening the sword in the stone for some lucky child to remove right after me…whatever that thing’s rigged anyways

It’s not easy, there are days when my commitment to not consuming entire racks of ribs for old times’ sake is truly tested, but I must say that by and large, I wouldn’t change the way I feel for the way I felt for all of the Snyder’s Pretzels in the Shaw’s snack food aisle.

I still struggle with my weight. It’s hard, because I love to eat, and don’t particularly like to exercise. Still, from my journeys from big to, well, less big I’ve learned some important lessons:

  1. Just do it – I can’t stress this enough. It’s very easy to decide to get healthy and then set a date in the future. Making lifestyle changes is hard and must be made gradually. Just throw on the gym shorts and go outside. If you get really tired on a run, walk a bit and then work on making sure you don’t stop. Nobody begins anything as an expert, you need to build up to it. The sooner you start though, the sooner you’ll be great.
  2. Identify the things that make you want to eat – People have triggers about food. For me it’s TV. Watching TV, especially in marathon form makes me want to eat. Think about the times you snack and figure out a way to combat it. For me it’s just sheer boredom, or a desire to do something with my hands. As a result I try to have my computer nearby, or have my phone so I can keep myself busy without going to was on my emergency stash of Cape Cod chips.
  3. Be social – For me the best motivation is that I work out with friends. I also like to engage in a little friendly competition. My friend Jon and I are in a race to see who can bench 300lbs. first. Neither of us are sure how this got started but we’re both totally committed to it.
  4. Remember you are hot, you’re just getting hotter – Seriously, look at you!

Is he great, or what?

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Guest Post: Catherine from Jig and Jog

Hey guys! Remember how I asked for guest posts a while back about dealing with injuries/ weight loss/ anything else inspiring and along those lines? Well, here’s my first one! Catherine is a fellow LA blogger and a fellow injury-ridden athlete, so she’s a pretty perfect guest poster for KWH. Enjoy!

Hello!  My name is Catherine, and my blog is Jig and Jog.  I write about my life in Los Angeles, attempting to eat and make healthy choices, and the process of training for a marathon and the path to become an Irish dance teacher.  I wanted to write this guest post for Kaitlin because I’ve gone through injuries in the past and her story has really resonated with me.

Athletes of all kinds train and compete through pain and injuries. It’s a mark of strength, it measures your bad assness, right?  Dancers especially are notorious for not taking care of their bodies properly, and for ignoring and dancing through injuries.  I was absolutely no exception to that rule, and it took a huge toll on me both physically and emotionally.

I have spent the past 19 years of my life involved in some degree with Irish Step Dancing.

I began dancing when I was 10 years old, and found, for the first time, something I truly enjoyed doing that I also had a strong natural ability for.  Irish dancing, is extremely hard on your body. It is a very high impact art/ sport, with dancers experiencing up to G force levels of pressure on their feet and joints. [Catherine gave me this articlefor you to check out.] So, considering this level of impact, I was lucky. I made it through most of my competition career with a couple of mild sprains and tendonitis in my ankles and knees which was diagnosed by the time I was 13.

When I first started dancing, Riverdance had not yet been anything more than Eurovision song contestant, and there was little if any warm up and stretching involved in my early dance education.  Irish dancing has evolved at an incredibly rapid speed, sadly gaining athleticism before technique, which is a recipe for injury.  In competitive Irish dancing, the highest competition you can compete at is The World Championships.  This is the Olympics for Irish dancing, and qualifying is no easy feat.  It took me ten years to reach my goal of qualifying to dance at the Worlds.  In preparation for my big competition debut, I was taking Irish dance classes four to five nights a week, doing pilates twice a week, and taking tap, jazz, ballet and pointe at the local community college. I was doing everything I could to make sure I was ready.
So, when I went to the first local competition of the year, a mere three months before I was scheduled to leave for Scotland and twisted my ankle, I figured, it was no big deal.  I dropped out of the rest of the competition, I went home, and I iced my foot.  Instead of resting any more than that weekend, I went right back to my hectic routine of six days a week dancing.  About a month later, I woke up and couldn’t put any weight on my left foot.  A trip to the podiatrist confirmed that I had in fact, torn ligaments in my foot.  The doctor looked at me and said, “No dancing for six months, and we need to get you into physical therapy right away.”  My response was “I’m leaving for Scotland in 3 weeks, so you do whatever it is you need to do to get me dancing, and then I’ll think about taking a break.”
Seriously.  When he realized there was no arguing with me, we did three rounds of cortisone shots and off to Scotland I went.  I ended up rolling my ankle again while practicing in Scotland and danced, in a huge amount of pain.  My dad walked all over Glasgow looking for Icy Hot and tape and instant ice packs, and I taped myself up and accomplished a goal ten years in the making.  I danced on the stage at the World Championships.  After the competition, I should have taken a break, I should have gone into physical therapy.  I’m sure you can guess I did none of those things.  I took maybe two weeks off, and then it was time to prepare for Nationals in July, then it was time to prepare for Regionals again in November.  I was 20, and all I could see in taking time off, was my window of opportunity closing.  Taking time off in your 20s seemed like dance suicide.  So, instead, I powered through, and never fully healed.  When I moved back to Los Angeles I decided Regionals in 2005 would be my last.  I would officially retire after I qualified for Worlds again.  Sadly, that didn’t happen, and I was in so much pain, I pulled out of the competition after the first round.  I resolved the competition my dance school hosts in March would be me last competition, and in some ways it really was.  I ended up with a huge stress fracture across the top of my foot.  All because I never let myself heal properly back in 2002.
After that injury, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown.  I didn’t have insurance at the time, so I could only afford about four physical therapy sessions, and it looked like I would never dance again.  I took a year and a half off before I was able to go back to dance in teams only.  No more solos for me, which was really difficult to come to terms with.  My entire life had become Irish dancing, I didn’t know how to be someone who WASN’T an Irish dancer.  In fact, I didn’t really know who I was without dance.  I struggled, a lot, in the years since breaking my foot. It took several years before I was able to really accept that I wasn’t JUST an Irish dancer, and that dance didn’t need to completely define my life, and that it was okay.

In the last year and a half I have started running, which until I completed my first half marathon last September, was something I never thought I’d do.

Now, I’ve finished two half marathons, and am training for my first full marathon this October, and my third half marathon in January.

It’s been a wild ride, and even though my knees still bother me, it’s a new outlet for me, which is great. It doesn’t completely fill the void that was dance, but it certainly helps, and lucky for me, I’ve been able to go back to dance.  Certainly not in the same capacity as before, but I do perform with a small company, and I am currently working toward sitting the exam to become qualified to teach Irish Step Dancing.  So, my dance plans may not have always worked out exactly as I’d hoped, but in the end, I couldn’t be happier with where I am.

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A + B, for Monica, Did Not Equal C

I am so excited to share a guest post with you today. You’ll remember Monica from various posts in the past… the blogger meet-up that she put together, for instance, or that crazy 2-hour spin class we took together. After I tried one of her favorite breakfasts last week, Primal Oatmeal, I asked her if she’d be interested in sharing her story and why the Primal lifestyle works for her, over here. Check out her recipe for Primal Oatmeal here. Plus, you’ll find yours truly on that page!

Please welcome Monica from Yellow Brick Beauty!  Please say hi to her, both in the comments here, and over on her blog!

A + B, For Me Did Not Equal C

As someone who has struggled with constant weight fluctuations for most of my life, I believed that the hardest part about maintaining a healthy weight would be the task of gaining and practicing discipline. Magazines and books always told me, “weight loss is simple – it’s a basic equation of calories in, calories out”. I believed the process of weight loss would only be hard if I made it hard by not following the simple rule of a + b = c.
At two separate points in my life I tipped the scale at 230+ and at my lowest points on the scale I hung around the 170-range. I have always kept my weight in a constant swing and confused not only my body on what is comfortable and what is not, but also my mind on why I eat and what the purpose of food is. Eating was never something I enjoyed and often had guilt associated with it. Exercise was done to justify eating and it was a vicious cycle that I felt trapped in.

In the summer of 2009 I thought I found my groove. I discovered spin class and gained empowerment like never before. I also found a new calorie tracking system that made the process less obsessive and more straightforward. Things were going great and I started to feel physically and mentally connected again. I didn’t know what I had lost until I gained it back. Confidence, self-love, belief, and evolved relationships with food and exercise flooded into my life and I believed that I had finally put the simple equation into practice.

As we moved into the holidays and into the year 2010 I was presented with some challenging moments and my relationship with food went into a very ugly mode again. Watching old habits resurface scared me and left me in tears on multiple occasions. I admitted to my husband that I had bottomed out and that I needed help. I took a step back from the situation and looked for trends throughout my life to identify what was happening and saw that I had an addiction to food. However, as I began to peel back the layers of the onion (through two stints with two different weight-loss programs, many food/weight-loss book readings, and journaling), I learned that I actually have an addition to sugar and carbohydrates.

The trends in my habits began to send up red flags everywhere and it all pointed to sugar/carbohydrate addictions. When I consume products with either of those ingredients something in my body disconnects and all the traffic signals go on the fritz. The equation breaks down, and no amount of discipline brings me back to a + b = c.

In addict programs this moment is called the break-through, but it is really just the beginning of a long journey, a lifelong journey, to constantly evolve and improve one’s habits. My journey has led me down many paths to try various equation combinations, but my husband led me to one path this last fall that really left a significant mark on my life. He was reading a book called Primal Blueprint and requested that I remove grains from meals that I cook for the two of us. I thought it was a bunch of hoopla, but I supported his request and altered our diet to be grain free and low in carbohydrates. What happened to my body was remarkable and helped me realize that limiting processed sugar, carbohydrates and grains is what my body really craves. Not quite the a + b = c that I was striving for, but an equation nonetheless.

Currently I follow Weight Watchers to help me with my portion control and then I also follow a grain free approach to eating. I let things slide here and there, but feel best when I eat sugar/grain free. When I first considered going grain free I told myself that there was no way I could give up my breakfast bowl of oatmeal or my toast and almond butter pre-run snack, but it was easier than I thought it would be. I just feel better without those items in my system. There are so many sites out there with great Primal recipes and I have found many favorites that I use quite frequently. One in particular is for my favorite kind of sandwich, a grilled ham and cheese. Yes, you read that correctly, I live a grain free life but enjoy sandwiches.

Here is the recipe for Primal Grilled Cheese and Ham Sandwiches:

Inspired by This Primal Life, first blend 4 eggs, 2 cups of spinach, 1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/4 cup of almond meal, and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix until it looks like pancake batter.

Cook the mixture just like a pancake in a little bit of olive oil.

And once each of your pancakes are ready to go, return your pancakes to the pan and fill with your desired sandwich ingredients.

For me the mixture yields 5 pancakes.

See diet adjustments don’t mean giving up something forever, it just means getting creative and learning from those who have been where you are.

I am on track with my weight loss goals and am healthier than I have ever been. It radiates through my skin, smile, movement, pretty much everything! It has become so clear to me that health isn’t a number on the scale, but is really a messy equation that leads you to your happiest self. The equation is very different for every person and I had to accept that there is no such thing as an a + b = c route to weight-loss. Everyone is different and every body has different needs that are unique to their lifestyle. Look within and take the time to understand how you mentally and physically operate and you will find your custom equation.

If you have any questions on my history, lifestyle, or the Primal way of eating please don’t hesitate to reach me at yellowbrickbeauty@gmail.com. Otherwise feel free to read my blog and see how I work daily to build my own road to health and happiness.

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