Friday, September 26, 2014

My life is not a series of boxes

Recently I had a revelation.  I was looking over my blogs ("Confessions of a Fat Superhero" and "My Zig-Zag Journey") and realized that having my life compartmentalized was just not working out for me any more.

At one time it made sense for me to put all of my Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance posts in one place, and my general life posts in another.  They were different aspects of me, and I didn't really want people who read my HAES blog to necessarily have access to the rest of my world.  I had my life broken down into a series of boxes, each one separate and distinct from the others, with only a hint of commonality in the form of the walls between each compartment.

But things change over time, and people change along with everything else.  More and more often I found myself considering combining the two blogs into one.  You see, I've become more of a unified person in the last couple of years.  I'm spending more time doing things that matter to me, and less time worrying about being one of The Cool Kids.  As I've grown, I've also grown happier with myself.  This has led to being more confident with myself as well.

Now, here we are.  I've taken the big step and imported all of my Zig-Zag Journey posts into this blog.  I have deleted the other one, and where there were two, there is now only one.

So, hello, World...welcome to my life.  ALL of my life.  I hope that we can continue to grow together and maybe become a little stronger at the same time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sometimes I get tired...

I got home from work this afternoon and settled into my chair to putter on Facebook for a bit before diving into the massive To Do List waiting for me.  I don't normally work Tuesdays, but we're at peak volume for the month and so I volunteered to work extra hours.  It was an all right morning, though I didn't sleep well last night between a restless husband and three restless cats taking turns waking me up, but I while there was a nearly overwhelming urge to just turn off the alarm and roll over, I made it in on time and was pretty productive.

I ran a couple of errands on the way home, looking forward to a little relaxation.  Life is so busy with working a day job, having my own business, and maintaining a marriage and a house that those free moments are to be cherished despite the endemic exhaustion surrounding them.

The exhaustion makes me more susceptible to negativity.  I try not to let it happen, but now and then things just get to me.  Such as the incident that happened today.

My Facebook feed was scrolling along, here a video of cute baby ducks, there a friend's visit with the WADF (Weird-Ass Dream Fairy), over there a request for help in finding an inexpensive wedding dress, then a few photos from DragonCon rolled by, and so on.  The usual items that I tend to see were about, nothing overly attention grabbing, really.  And then I saw a post that caught my eye.  It was a link to an article about a young man who identifies as female and whose school required him to remove his make-up so that he would appear male, and how the school is currently being sued regarding the issue.  I was about to click the link and check the article when a comment a few posts down on the thread caught my eye.

"It was probably some fat ugly woman who isn't happy in her life who complained..." the person writing the comment said.

My heart sank, and I felt a deep moment of hopelessness.  All of the work that we do trying to change the world, all of the efforts to get people to stop treating people's body size like an indicator of anything other than ...well...their body size, all of that struggle, it seems to be for nothing some days.  I get so tired sometimes of fighting the fight and trying to be heard.  People throw the insults and the hatred around so easily, without even really thinking about it, and they don't care.  Sometimes it seems like no one cares at all, and that any hope of changing the world so that people are taken for who they are inside rather than what they look like on the outside is so far out of our reach that it might as well remain an item for fictional worlds, it will never happen in reality.

Some days I believe in the goodness of people and the rightness of the world.  Some days I believe that fairness and intellect will eventually win out over meanness and bigotry, over willful ignorance and the inclination to raise the self up by stepping on others.  Some days I'm an optimist.

Other days, like today, I wonder why we even try, and I think that maybe I should just shut up, withdraw into my own little world, and not care any more.  Some days, like today, I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to be numb.  Some days I'm just really, really tired.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming to Terms with Tracking

I have a long and sordid history with Food Tracking.  It has never been a love-hate thing, it has pretty consistently involved just plain Hate.  I hated doing it.  I hated myself for feeling the need / being told to do it.  I hated the very mechanics of doing it because spending precious time weighing and measuring food then writing it down in a little notebook was not only tedious, but forced every bite I ate into Guilt Territory.

When you log your food or track your food or whatever you want to call it, you have to weigh every bite that you take and each of those bites involve an internal debate:

Eating Self:  I really want this Milky Way bar.

Tracking Self:  But if you eat that, you have to put it in the food log, and then those calories and those fat grams will be in black and white, taunting you, mocking you for your lack of willpower.

Eating Self:  Well, I could eat it and not write it down.

Tracking Self:  Sure, you could, but then you would be lying to yourself along with everyone else, because everyone knows that because you're fat you are OBVIOUSLY eating more than you think you are.  You're just so used to huge portions that you don't even realize they're huge any more.

Eating Self:  What? portions aren't huge!  I measure them JUST FOR YOU and I do it ALL OF THE TIME!  I haven't eaten a hot meal in months because I have to stop and weigh everything before I can actually start eating!

Tracking Self:  Likely story.  I saw the corn you ate the other day without weighing it first.

Eating Self:  ONE KERNEL!  I ate one kernel of corn that fell off the plate!

Tracking Self:  Uh huh.  That's what they all say.

Eating Self:  Fine.  I won't eat the stupid Milky Way bar.  Are you happy now?

Tracking Self:  Not really.  Are you?

Eating Self:  No.

It was even worse when I was a teenager and had to take my food log to weekly doctor's appointments, because then I not only had the pressure from myself to be perfect, but I didn't want to be a disappointment to my doctor and my parents.  Of course, I still was, because it didn't seem to matter what I ate or didn't ate, I was still fat.

Finally, I stopped doing any kind of tracking.  I discovered intuitive eating, and Health at Every Size, and learned that I can accept myself as I am and still love myself.  I don't HAVE to hate myself just because I'm fat.  This was a major revelation, let me tell you!  I'd been sure that I had to put off loving myself until I weighed 140 pounds, and I had to put everything else off too.  My whole life had centered on hating the me I was now, and loving the me I would be when I finally learned enough willpower to be Not Fat.  Now, suddenly, that had changed.  It took me a while to work through all of the loss that went with losing the one thing that had been the focus of my life until then, but I finally got there and just let myself live in the moment, enjoy myself, and love myself.

But recently I started feeling rather blah.  My blood sugars were going up ever so slightly, and I felt lethargic and just all-around mediocre.  So I decided to start tracking my food and exercise again.

This time...this time would be different.

For about a week now I have been tracking what I eat, and the movement I do, and while I did have to fight the resurgence of some old feelings at first, I have discovered that I'm actually enjoying noting this stuff down.  I think that part of it is I'm not trying to meet a certain caloric goal, and I have my settings on the website I'm using listing my goal as "remain the same weight", which means that the caloric number it DOES suggest as part of the site isn't some ridiculously small number like 1,500 calories.  Actually, amusingly, I have eaten fewer than the "recommended" number of calories just about every day so far.  And the deficit is worse because I have also been tracking my movement, and the site takes the calories burned into account when telling you how many calories you have left for the day.

The real reason I'm tracking my intake right now is that I'm trying to cut down my sodium consumption.  I didn't realize how many things I eat that have high sodium.  I love things like pretzels, and popcorn with salt, and bagels (which have a surprisingly large amount of sodium in them!).  So this first couple of weeks is going to be spent just logging and seeing where I am getting the overabundance of sodium from, then I will start looking for alternatives that I still enjoy but that might be a bit lower in the salt department.  I'm hoping that helps me feel less bloated and lethargic, especially since I've re-started my cardio and calisthenics.

Not only am I getting some good information out of tracking my food this time, I've finally reached a point in my life where I am doing it voluntarily, and getting the information I WANT out of it, rather than allowing the information I'm gathering to turn me into a miserable, self-loathing ball of hate.  And really, that's the best victory yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First World Problems

I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that are wrong and the things that are right in my life.  There are times when I get frustrated.  There are times when I get angry.  There are times when I think that I'm never going to achieve my goals.

Despite those moments, though, if I step back and take a really good, hard look at my life, the majority of my issues are "First World Problems".  Normally I hate that phrase.  It sounds so condescending, implying that people who are dealing with the issues of a non-Third World country are lesser beings because their problems are of less import.  To me it is important to remember that each person's problems are important to them.  You may think my problems aren't worthy of worry, or even ridiculous, but to ME they mean the world.

All in all, though, I have a pretty good life.  I have a beautiful home.  My husband is loving and supportive. We are owned by three beautiful, adorable, demanding kitties who sleep plastered to my side every night (except when they're busy waking me up at 3 a.m. to get pets).

We stumble through life, doing the best we can with what we have, and trying to achieve everything that we can possibly achieve.  We all think of ourselves as that special snowflake...just like everyone else.  And we all do have things that make us special and unique, but we can't all win at our dreams.  Not everyone can be an All-Star pitcher or a Broadway star.  Not everyone can have a biography written about them.  Yes, we each have our moments of amazing, and it is quite possible that we all should have a biography written about us because those moments are what connect us to the rest of humanity.  We fight, we live, we love, we die.  Our hearts burn to leave something behind us, something wonderful and to know that we'll be remembered.  Maybe we won't be remembered forever, but we all hope that we'll be remembered for a while after we're gone.

The thing is, maybe we need to focus a little more on the here and now.  The future will be there, and our dreams will change and morph to fit our lives as we go through them, but today is full of opportunities that we look past in our rush to get to the future.  There are roses we haven't admired, there are sunsets we haven't watched, there are people we haven't touched who could use those moments of kindness to help light their days.  We can be the candle in the darkness.  We don't have to be a spotlight that turns night into day for the whole world, there are so few opportunities to create that kind of massive change, but how often do we miss the chances to brighten someone else's darkness?

I've been thinking of things that I can do.  There's a homeless man who camps under an overpass near work. I want to do something, but have been afraid until now.  I think, though, that I've come up with some options.  I don't say this for accolades or pats on the back, but to share some thoughts on how you might make someone's life better for a moment, for a day, forever...

  • This is Texas.  It gets hot in the summer.  We take having clean drinking water for granted when we're sitting in our living rooms or at our desks at work.  But everyone doesn't have the option to get up and go to the sink for a drink of water.  Go to the store, buy a few gallons of drinking water and drop them off when you see someone who needs them.
  • Do you have a bunch of extra pillows around the house?  I know we do.  They're not horrible, but they're past their prime.  I'm thinking that they will go in the back of my vehicle so that I can offer them to folks who may need them, along with any extra blankets that we don't really use.
  • There are survivalist / prepper sites that sell things like solar ovens and solar stoves.  Or camp stoves with safe fuel bricks.  These things could make the difference in terms of someone getting a hot meal.  Combine them with a case of canned goods and a decent quality manual can-opener, and you could be giving someone a month's fewer hunger pangs.
  • Sometimes we can't carry bulky things around, but if you have some extra cash, buy a gift card to a local fast food place.  Keep a supply of $20 or $25 gift cards around that you can hand folks when they ask for help.  Is fast food the best thing in the world?  No...but it is better than being hungry, and there are relatively healthy options available if they want to get them.
  • Donations to the local food bank or homeless shelter are always a good option too.

There are things you can do that help people have a brighter day that are smaller, but shine just as much light.

  • A friend gave me this idea today:  Write out a bunch of thank you cards for the people who touch your life even in the smallest ways.  Give one to the bank teller who takes your deposit, to the fast food worker who gets your happy meal for you, or to the attendant at the gas station who takes your money for the cup of coffee and doughnut in the morning.  
  • Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line.
  • Let the person with only a couple of items go ahead of you at the grocery store.
  • Send a card to a friend that you don't get to talk to as much as you'd like.

Let's be nicer to each other.  Let's be nicer to strangers as well as friends.  Let's become the candle that lights someone's darkness.  Just one candle, that's all the world needs, because if I'm a candle and you're a candle and everyone else is a candle, eventually all of those candles add up and the world is glowing with light.  And in that light, our First World Problems will fade from view for a little while.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Running Battle With Movement

Movement and I have had a running battle for most of my life.  When I was young it wasn't a difficult thing. In school I played soccer through 8th grade, I rode my bike for miles and miles during the summer, I swam as much as humanly possible without getting waterlogged, and I played volleyball all through high school and partway through college.  I liked moving, even if you couldn't tell by looking at me that I did all of those athletic things.

Then I got older, and the rhetoric sank in, turning movement from something enjoyable to something to be suffered through.  I stopped enjoying working up a sweat and began to treat movement as a punishment for eating "bad" foods, and for being fat.

Believe me when I tell you that there's nothing that will turn love into hate faster than taking something and making it into a punishment, a thing you HAVE to do.  So many kids lose their love of reading because they HAVE to read literature that is then picked apart bit by bit, taking it from being enjoyable to an arduous task.  Children also lose their love of movement when the authority figures in their world and society as a whole treat it as something that HAS to be done to turn all the fatties into not fatties.  It gets worse when that doesn't work, leading to a cycle of self-doubt, self-hatred, and a growing aversion to the very thing they used to love.

I was one of those kids.

Since I've become an adult I've started and stopped exercising more times than I can even count.  I will start a movement program and stick with it for a while (length of times vary), then will start finding reasons to set it aside for a time.  After a while, I just stop doing what I had started.  Then I go for a time without doing any sorts of movement at all, which tends to lead to me feeling less than my best.  After a while I realize that I felt better when I was moving, so I start being active again...for a while.  Over, and over, and over.

Each time I start moving again, I feel good about myself.  I feel accomplished.  I vow that THIS time I'll stick with it!  Each time I reach the point where I start finding reasons to stop, and slowly the movement ceases, and I not only feel physically worse, but I've added another notch to my Guilt Belt.  It is kind of like a gun belt, but instead of notching it for each person I've shot, I mentally notch it for each time I've 'failed' at movement and feel guilty about it.

Right now I'm at the start-up point again.  I had been going to the gym in my company's building.  It is a small, but decently equipped gym that is free for all residents of the office building I work in.  I was pretty consistent, and felt good...and then stopped.  That was several months ago.  Recently, however, I've felt pretty crappy, to be honest, and I knew that a large part of it was that I wasn't moving.  Sitting at the office, sitting when I get home, just sitting sitting sitting.  So today I grabbed my gym bag, finished my work day, and went down to walk on the treadmill for a while.  As always, it feels good.  As always, I find myself hoping that THIS is the time that I keep it up.  But beneath all of that, I find myself wanting to be kinder to myself than I have been.  I'm making a concentrated effort NOT to plan on doing this until the day I keel over and die, but rather I'm going to enjoy it and just take it one day at a time.

I KNOW that I feel better when I'm moving.  I just need to break the block that equates movement with negative emotions and rediscover that joy of moving.  I have it in small bursts, but I need to find it and keep it for the long run. (Heh...I made a funny.  "Long run"..."movement"...hee hee hee!)

Changing the thoughts and habits of a lifetime is never easy, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sometmes you just want what you want

Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm a Pinterest fan.  I use it to save ideas for things I might want to do as we remodel the house, or for "make household products at home" type ideas, gift ideas, books and movies I want to enjoy, things like that.  But my main use for Pinterest

I know, what a surprise, right?  Me?  Wanting to get ideas for new things to cook?  Whodathunkit???

Something I've noticed as I've perused Pinterest possibilities is that so many of the links are to 'healthy' versions of dishes.  "Healthy General Tso's Chicken!" yells one.  "Enjoy this HEALTHY version of macaroni and cheese!" yells another.  "We've lightened up cheesecake!" boasts a third.

Okay, really?  What if I don't WANT healthy General Tso's Chicken?  What if I want good, old-fashioned UNhealthy General Tso's Chicken, but I want to make that at home rather than pay five times as much to order it?  And really?  Who wants healthy macaroni and cheese?  *shudder*  That concept terrifies me.  How can macaroni (pasta...aka carbs) and cheese (fat-filled tasty goodness) possibly ever be made healthy and still retain any of the creamy, rich, comfort-food yumminess that makes macaroni and cheese what it is?

No offense to those searching for " everlasting in a tablespoon of olive oil..."  (Thank you, Chef Didier from Queen Latifah's "Last Holiday"), but sometimes you just want what you want.  And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Because I would much rather believe Chef Didier when he declares that the secret to life is butter.

I've reached the point in my life where I'm tired of worrying about what will kill me. I'm going to die, whether it is tomorrow or in 50 years, and nothing can stop that, so why spend the entirety of the time I have left denying myself things that I enjoy in the vague hopes that maybe, just maybe, that denial will bring me five more minutes of life?

Nope.  In the immortal words of Auntie Mame, "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

Feel free to pull up a chair at the buffet with me for a while.  Sure, there comes a time when you have to push your chair away and walk off some of the banquet, but it is always there for you to come and have another nibble or two when you're ready.

Live, live, LIVE! :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dallas Comic Con: Or How I Learned To Teleport In One Easy Lesson! (LONG entry!)

The past weekend was, quite frankly, one long blur of exhaustion and exhilaration all wrapped up in an orange volunteer shirt.  I will try to be coherent as I talk about it all, but I make no promises at this point! :)

Friday morning I got up, showered, and threw my stuff into the truck so that I could head toward the Dallas Convention Center.  I was running a smidge behind, so I had time to stop at the ATM and get cash for the weekend, but no time to stop and pick up granola bars or other snacks at the store as I had planned.  Ah well, I figured there would be food in the Volunteer HQ as usual, and I would be fine.  That was my first mistake.

A fellow Volunteer, Jennifer (hereafter known as JBD as there are several Jennifers, Jens and Jenns who volunteer) had gotten a hotel room at Aloft Downtown and needed another person willing to sleep on the pullout couch for a reasonable share of the cost of the room.  I've never actually stayed at a hotel during any of the Dallas area conventions, but I figured it might be fun, so I took her up on it. I had meant to drive to the hotel, get my parking pass, and then walk over to the convention center, but as I was running behind I just went straight to the center and paid to park there. I knew I had to be there early for the Guest Escort meeting, which was happening before the regular Orientation meeting. I knew I was going to be working with one of the Guests, but not which one.  We don't find that out until we check in and get our schedules.

Despite the annoyance of starting my day behind the 8-ball, I got there, found my way inside and to the Volunteer HQ, and got in line to check in.

O..M..G....that center is HUGE!  I couldn't help but think to myself that my pedometer was going to burn out from the amount of walking I was going to end up doing!  I was a little nervous about figuring out where everything was going to be, and how to get whichever Guest I ended up working with from one place to another without having to wade through crowds of fans, but I knew that the other Volunteers would have my back and things would be just fine no matter what.

So I got in line to check in, and got my badge and my schedule.  I glanced down, wondering if maybe I would get one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation folks.  That would be kind of cool, after all, right?  I was hoping I would get someone short, because with my luck I would get Jonathan Frakes, and end up having to run at a sprint to stay ahead of him when escorting him places.  I mean, I can't help it that I have short, stubby legs!  Then again, Summer Glau would be kind of fun.  I could tell her that our friend Guillermo said 'hi' and stuff.  Or Ron Glass seemed like he might be pretty cool to work with.  So I open the slip of paper and stare...and stare...and I think my jaw hit the floor as I stared some more.

Friday:  Float - See Tracy

Okay, I can do that.  No problem.  I like running errands and helping get things done.

Saturday and Sunday:  Guest Escort - Nathan Fillion

*blink*  *blink blink*

I'm sorry, what does that say?  Nathan FILLION???  One of the three headliners of the convention???

It probably would have been quite possible to knock me over by pushing me with one finger at that moment in time.  There was a moment of disbelief followed by several moments of sheer terror.  I nearly took Saul Rubinek's eye out last time and you give me a HEADLINER!??  *kerthud*

I gathered my wits and went in to get my shirts and as people asked what job I'd gotten I answered them in a bit of a daze with "Guest Escort for Nathan Fillion."  Lots of squees and excitement from others really drove it home that I was going to be working with Captain Tightpants for two days!  TWO...DAYS!!!!

Now, realistically speaking, stars on that tier...the top tier...don't often tend to have much interaction with the average Volunteer at these things.  Normally everything goes through the members of their staff who accompany them, and the management who handles their public appearances.  So I knew that I would really be interacting more with those folks than Mr. Fillion, but that was okay.  It didn't matter who I talked to on a regular basis, and who I interacted with, the important thing was that it just became MY JOB to make sure that everything he needed or wanted was anticipated to the best of my ability, and that any hiccups were smoothed to the best of my ability.  I was determined to make this the smoothest convention appearance he ever had.

And it would have worked, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!  Er...Gina Torres, I mean!

But more on that later. :)

Friday was fun.  We did the GE meeting and got to see the various back ways to the Q&A Hall and Photo Op booths. We met the Photo Op people, and they seemed nice.  They also seemed really on top of things, and I have to admit that I was impressed by the fact that people would actually have their photos in hand about 2 minutes after they were taken.  A MUCH needed improvement over the 30 to 60 minutes of the previous company!  I do have a couple of nitpicks like the dark color of the backdrop, but overall they seemed nice and they seemed efficient.

Once people started getting there, the other Volunteers scattered to their posts, and I hung out in the Volunteer HQ with JBD and Tracy, running errands as she needed things taken here or there.  I hunted down Reds to give them paperwork, I chased down Volunteers to send them to other positions, and I held down the Fort when Tracy had to go elsewhere, letting people who came in looking for new assignments where we needed help. I spent a little while sitting at one of the booths in Artists' Alley, letting people know that the Artist had gone to do a panel and would be back in an hour (and chatting with the lovely wife of the Artist 'next door').

I ran here, I ran there, I ran everywhere!  There was a short break as Angel Marie and I broke away long enough to get some lunch (around 4 p.m.  A bit late *grin*).  The panini that I had wasn't too bad, really.  We both wanted something from the Chinese Food booth, but they weren't cooking yet. Neither of us understood that was nearly 4 p.m. and they hadn't started cooking yet?  Ummmm...kay.  So we decided to try the Chinese the next day.  Unfortunately, that never happened, so Angel Marie still owes me a Chinese Food Lunch Date. *grin*

I logged about 18,000 steps on my pedometer on Friday, and was soaked in sweat.  For some reason the A/C in the Convention Center was not turned up too much, and everyone was roasting.  Especially the short, fat Volunteer who was running everywhere! :)  I honestly don't even want to think about what I must have smelled like at the end of the day, and was amazingly grateful to the shower in the hotel room that evening!

I think I covered every inch of the Convention space on Friday, but it was good.  It helped me know my way around better.

The day ended and I made my way down to the parking garage, hopped in the truck, and drove the block and a half to the hotel.  I managed to bring everything in on one trip, hoping I wouldn't have to walk any more than I had to, but upon talking to the front desk person while getting my room key and parking pass, I found out that I had to get the pass onto the truck mirror or it might get towed in the morning.  *sigh*  My feet were screaming at me, telling me that it didn't matter, but I knew that I couldn't take the chance.  So up to the room I went, waiting for the slowest elevators  Getting to the room, I found that we had company.  Several other Volunteers were gathered, hanging out and debating about dinner while enjoying various kinds of alcohol.  I greeted everyone, got my stuff put down, and let them know I was going back down to put the parking tag in the truck.

I made it out there, back up to the room, and considered just collapsing but I couldn't be in company with the gross sweatiness that covered me, so I grabbed clothes and went to hop into the shower.  Clean at last!  I came back out and joined the others, we ordered food, chatted, ate, drank, and relaxed.  After a time they decided to go downstairs and play games, but for me it was best to stay in the room and go to bed.  It is amazing how comfortable a pull-out bed can be when you are exhausted.  I slept the sleep of the dead, not even dreaming, and woke ready for another day.

Saturday!  First day of Guest Escort duties!

I made another bad decision and didn't get breakfast.  I know better, but the hotel's offerings were...lacking.  I figured there would be food at Volunteer HQ, so I threw my pizza rolls into my bag and got everything I needed for the day.  I headed out with the others, and a bunch of us walked together to the Convention Center from the hotel.

The Volunteers gathered, and I got to see Leah and Patrick for a few minutes before Tracy was calling for Guest Escorts to head to the loading dock.  This was it...and I have to admit that I was pretty nervous.  I know that the Guests are just regular people who have had the luck to become famous (whether it is good luck or bad luck I leave it to you, Dear Readers, to decide *grin*), but it still matters to me that I do the best job possible in representing the Convention.  When you are a Guest Escort, you make a huge difference in the quality of experience that your Guest has, and I wanted Mr. Fillion to have a wonderful one.

We waited by the loading dock, trying to stay off to the side so that the Guests had room when they came in, chatting and laughing with nervous energy.  One by one our Guests arrived and we peeled off, showing them to their tables and the Green Room.  We applauded each Guest as they came in, but later were told not to do so.  That did confuse me, I'll admit.  We didn't cheer, we didn't make a huge scene, we just quietly applauded, but apparently it had made one Guest uncomfortable. The rest seemed to appreciate it, but we shrugged and tried to figure out a happy medium amongst ourselves because it just didn't seem right to ignore people as they walked by.  We settled on saying "good morning!" to the folks who acknowledged our presence, and letting anyone who didn't just quietly go by.

Finally they called out Mr. Fillion's name, and I grabbed my backpack, heading for the loading dock door.  I knew that my other Oranges and Reds would have the table ready and the photos set up, so I didn't worry about that.  I stepped out onto the dock and was introduced to Brandi, Mr. Fillion's public appearance agent.  She and I had a pleasant chat while we waited for his car to arrive.  The last relaxed chat we were going to have all weekend.  The rest were pleasant, but rushed...always rushed...because we had hundreds of people waiting to see him and no time to relax.

The car pulled up, he and Michelle (his personal assistant) got out and we got introduced.  I took a deep breath, smiled up at him (because, of course, I got a TALL person to escort!) and said, "I'm Lys.  I'll be your short, fat lady for the weekend!".  He kind of blinked then chuckled and shook my hand.  Then we were off to the races.

I kid you not, the rest of the weekend is a major blur with only certain high points standing out.  The rest is just one mass of sweating, aching, sore feet and body, crazy, panicked, keep a smile at all times chaos.

The autograph line flowed and our team pulled together like a well-oiled machine.  Everyone in that line got their face-time with him as he signed their items and shook their hands.  Water bottles retrieved from the Green Room (with napkins wrapped around the bottoms so they didn't drip).

There was a brief break for lunch.  I showed them to the Green Room and pulled up a chair outside of it to count tickets and bundle them in 100's for easier totaling at the end of the day.  You see, the system was that when people came to Brandi and myself, they would pay for the autograph and we would give them a ticket for each auto they paid for.  When they got down to Michelle they would give her the tickets so she would know how many they paid for.  By double-counting the tickets and the money at the end of the day we could verify that the totals matched and have the correct numbers.

Anyway, I was sitting there counting tickets after quickly eating the two pizza rolls I had stashed in my bag for myself before leaving the rest in HQ that morning when Michelle came out of the Green Room and said, "I want to bring you a plate."  I, of course, hastily declined with polite thanks.  We're not allowed to enter the Green Room, and the food in there is strictly for the Guests and their people.  She lifted a brow and looked at me, "If I were to bring you a plate, would it be turkey or beef."  Again, I declined with thanks.  She frowned and gave me The Look.  "If I were to bring you a plate ANYWAY, would it be turkey?  Or beef????"  With that I gave in to the inevitable and laughingly admitted that if I were FORCED to eat a plate of food, it would be beef.  The next thing I know, I have a plate of juicy, freshly carved roast beef in my hands.  I tried.  I really did.  I tried not to accept!  I had nothing to do but to eat the yummy, yummy roast beef. :)

With lunch over we went back out for more tickets, more autographs, then off to the photo ops.  I felt so bad for him.  He did an hour of group photo ops with the other Firefly cast members, then without any sort of break did another hour or so alone.  He was literally dripping sweat by the end because there was no air moving in those photo op booths and hundreds of people to push through.

I love fans.  I am one.  But I witnessed a lot of things that made me want to grab people, shake them, and say, "He's a HUMAN BEING!!!"  People who grabbed him, almost tackled him in their eagerness, people who even inadvertently hurt him (Apparently he occasionally has back problems.  Who knew?) by flinging their arms around him despite being told "No hugs, no kisses, no poses, no props!" in the line.  Through it all he smiled, gave people great photos and the memories to go with them, and behaved like a complete gentleman.  There were a couple of different older ladies in wheelchairs, and without exception they all wanted to be out of their chairs and stand for the photos.  Each time we would wheel the chairs to the other side of the photo op booth and they would move to get out and stand, and before we knew it Mr. Fillion was right there, hands at the ready, helping them rise and walk to the proper spot for the photo, then helping them back and into their chairs.  He didn't have to do that.  He could have let us and the photo op staff do it, but he didn't.  He did it himself.

When the photos were done for the day we were already 15 minutes late for the next round of signings but I insisted, against the wishes of Michelle, that he take five or ten minutes first and rest in the Green Room.  I dropped them there and went out to make sure that Brandi was doing all right, tickets were being pre-sold, and that water was in place for when they came out.  Round two began, and the routine picked up once more.  Unfortunately, someone in the Chain of Command decided that we weren't going quickly enough even though our line was one of the fastest moving lines there.  They started bringing over more "help".  Brandi was getting frustrated, Michelle was getting frustrated, and everything was going downhill because all that this extra "help" did was gum up a system that was already operating smoothly and at maximum capacity.  Eventually Brandi made it clear to the folks in charge that their help was not helpful and we got down almost to the original crew again.  There was one addition, but he only slowed us down a little so we powered through.

Finally we made it to the end of the line and it was time for Mr. Fillion's solo Q&A.  Again, I felt so bad for him.  It was scheduled to run until 7:30 p.m. and he was sweat-soaked and tired.  But one of the Reds led his team over there while I supervised evening clean-up and started counting tickets.  Then I waited.  And waited.  And did I mention that I waited?

Everyone cleared out of the room.  All of the other Guests left.  All of the other Volunteers left.  I was sitting there, watching the cleaning crew and waiting by Brandi's suitcase, half expecting the lights to be turned out on me when Erin walked by.  I grabbed her and asked her if she'd seen Brandi, and received the answer that Brandi was backstage at the Q&A counting money.  She called and let people know that I was still waiting with Brandi's stuff, and told me to text her when I finally got out of there so she wouldn't be worried that I was still sitting and waiting.  A few minutes later Brandi finally showed after getting Mr. Fillion to his car.  We did a final match on counts, got her on her way, and I trudged back to Volunteer HQ.  My feet really hated me, and I was dreading the walk back to the hotel, but it was the only way to get to a shower and my bed.

I checked in with Tracy, letting her know how things had gone and that I was leaving.  I texted Erin to let her know I was out of there.  I began the walk to the hotel.  It really was a short distance, but I was so very tired that my legs felt like lead and my feet were throbbing.  Finally I got to the hotel and up to the room.  JBD was there, just leaving me a note saying everyone was going to the pool to soak their feet.  They had already ordered dinner (they'd all been back for a while) but she had the menus to the various places for me.  I declined to join them, just wanting to take a shower and collapse, so she went on down after repeating the invitation should I feel better and change my mind.  I forced my legs to move enough to get to the shower and sluiced off the gross sweatiness then changed into my sleeping clothes.  After making sure everything I needed was in reach (cash for food, menus, phone, Nook so I could read), I called and ordered a small chicken alfredo pizza and a side salad.  I resolved not to move again until I had to answer the door, and then to only move that once until I went to bed.

The pizza arrived, I paid and settled in to eat and read.  Finally I pulled out the hideaway bed, collapsed into it after remembering to set my phone alarm, and slept.

Sunday (Almost done!)

I actually woke before my alarm!  Who knew it was even possible!  Up...dressed...make-up on...grabbed stuff and was out the door.  I decided to take everything down to my truck and drive it over to the Center so that when the day was done I could just hop in and drive home.  Got in, got a great parking space, and headed inside.

Sunday's pizza rolls were safely deposited in HQ.  I chatted with Leah and Patrick again while they got ready to be tourists for the day.  They saved my life with a large bottle of water (instead of the baby ones we had in HQ) so I could dump in some Emergen-C.  Then it was off to the loading dock and a rousing game of "We're the ocean, that's the lava!" to make sure we stayed out of the Guests' way as they came in.  Disappointingly, Ron Glass had a neon yellow shirt on instead of the Volunteer Orange shirt he'd had the day before.  Everyone was very gracious as they came in and said good morning.

Somehow Mr. Fillion got in without anyone notifying me that he was there.  Luckily, I saw Michelle and realized they were there, and jumped up to escort them to the Green Room.  I admit that I got a bit flustered by being caught off-guard, but they were both very gracious about it.

Went out, made sure Brandi was set up and ready to go and that the lines were prepped.  Water was in place, Brandi had a padded chair that I'd found for her the evening before while waiting.  She's expecting, and I didn't like that she had to sit on a hard chair like us, so I hunted around a bit and switched her chair out.  She seemed to appreciate the gesture.  Then he came out and we were off to the races once more.

Autographs, autographs, autographs.  My job was really to make sure Brandi had tickets ready for her to hand each person and to chat with the people who were waiting to try and keep everyone smiling and yet calm.  A lot of people were really, REALLY excited to see him, to the point of hyperventilating.

Finally the time for the Firefly Q&A rolled around, and the Guests all went into the Green Room to wait so they could walk over together, which, of course, led to all of us Oranges waiting outside the Green Room to escort them!  Once they were ready, we headed over en masse via our Secret Pathway (MWAHAHAHAAAA!!!) and got them into the backstage area.  The neat part was that we could watch everything they were previewing on the large projection screens from the back.  They chatted and asked us to watch bags and things, then we all watched the personal message from Joss Whedon, which was awesome.

The next few minutes aged me about 40 years, and taught several of us how to teleport through space and time.

No merde, there we were, standing and watching as each person got announced and went through the curtain.  Somehow Mr. Fillion had beaten us all to curtain duty, and was standing there pulling it aside for everyone as they went through.  Last before him was Gina Torres.  Apparently she came back down after her introduction in order to pull the curtain for Mr. Fillion.  Well, she got VERY enthusiastic, FLINGING the curtain wide for him to come out.

Did I mention that these curtains were only attached to a 20-ft high structure made up of poles that only had bases about a foot or so square?  The Oranges were hanging out in a group about 20 feet away, just watching everything, when it happened:  the entire structure was pulled off balance by that curtain flinging, and started to fall forward toward the Guests and the audience.

I kid you not when I say that we teleported, because before it even hit about a 45-degree angle there were Oranges grabbing every pole on that side and hauling to try and pull it back upright.  It amuses me that videos on YouTube show this and in their notes talk about how Mr. Fillion and Mr. Baldwin are "Big Damn Heroes" because they grabbed the poles to help push the curtains back up.  No disrespect to them, but quite frankly, the real Big Damn Heroes were behind the curtains, heaving for all they were worth.

We got it back upright, but it wouldn't stay, so we remained in place holding the poles and trying to breathe again since we had all been scared beyond any rational thought.  We just looked at each other, trying to keep hysterical laughter from getting too out of hand, straining to keep the curtains upright, and watching the chaos around us.  There were suddenly staff and riggers all over the place, running about trying to figure out how to fix it.  All that we could do was stand on the bases of the poles and keep holding them in place.  They got their guy onto the cherry picker that was back there and he started going from pole to pole, reassuring us that while he had to drive only inches from our feet, he wouldn't hit us...and he didn't.

Then the other side started to go.  Half of the people on our side then teleported again, grabbing the poles on the other side of the stage and desperately pulling them upright once more.  Luckily, no one on either side of the curtains was injured.  The Guests were obviously a bit shaken up, but gamely continued on with their panel.  I didn't really get to see any of it until people posted it on YouTube because I was sort of busy hanging onto a pole.

We spent the next 30-45 minutes working with the riggers to get things corrected.  The pole I was on had actually bent as a result of the whole thing, and they ended up dropping all of the poles down to about 10 feet high instead of the full height.  Just as they got everything stabilized and we could let go, the panel ended and the Guests were ushered along the front of the curtains to the very end and brought backstage there.  We walked them back around, some going to the Green Room for lunch, and others back to their tables.

Mr. Fillion took a short break, and I let my team know I was going to go grab a sandwich at the sandwich stand because I'd not had any food yet that day and between that and the adrenaline spike from The Great Curtain Incident, my hands were shaking so hard I wasn't of any use to anyone.  I went, waited in line for food, got a tuna sandwich, a soft pretzel, and a piece of turtle pecan fudge and by the time I got back with it he was already back out and signing. I would have just tucked it away and eaten it later, but Brandi basically forced me to take my chair back behind the curtain and eat.

While I was inhaling my food, things apparently came to a head with our not so helpful help, and they decided to pull him from his expediting spot next to Mr. Fillion.  Basically, what you do as an expediter is pull signed items off the table and hand them to the exit Volunteer, then usher the person who just met the Guest in the direction of the exit and the person holding their item.  If done right, and smoothly, it gets things out of the way in the case of people with more than one object to be signed AND it encourages people to move on and let the next person in without being rude about it.  There IS a bit of an art to it, though.  You have to be smooth with it, letting the Guest sign the item at their own speed, getting it out of the way unobtrusively, letting the Guest shake hands with the Attendee if they so choose, and then encouraging the Attendee to step on and let the next person in without being rude or cutting the Guest off.  It is usually only a position used for the biggest guests, the ones who will have the longest lines.

Unfortunately, our expediter was slow, and was causing delays with the line.  So they pulled him, and told me to jump into that spot when I came back out.  I finished eating my sandwich, went back out and tucked the remains of the pretzel and the fudge into my backpack, ate three Altoids to kill the tuna smell (because of COURSE I chose to eat a tuna sandwich right before they put me one foot away from my Guest) and hopped into the Expediter spot.  This was kind of cool because I was right by his side, literally, and quite often would find that I had inadvertently put my hands right where his were going when we were holding down something like a rolled poster so that he could sign it.  After about the fourth time I apologized and told him to smack me if I was in his way, and he reassured me that I was doing just fine.  So I guess I sort of got to hold hands with Nathan Fillion for a bit that day. *LOL*

Sadly, about 20 minutes before he had to head for photo ops, my back started spasming.  I think that when I grabbed the curtain pole and pulled I was in a slightly twisted position and I strained my back muscles a bit.  I made it until it was time for photo ops, but had to ask Jen L. to take him over there because I absolutely HAD to sit down.  She suffered through that duty *grin* and I hastily dug out the Box of Wonders and took some painkillers to ease my back.

When he got back I let one of the others take a turn at Expediting and I returned to Tickets.  There was some kerfuffle about our line, with too many people being allowed into it when he only had about half an hour to sign before having to leave to catch a plane, but our team was good.  Really, really good.  We got everyone in that line pushed through in time, and I believe that we managed to do so in a way that still let people get their moment with Mr. Fillion.

The time to leave rolled around, and I escorted Michelle and Mr. Fillion to the loading dock so that they could catch their car to the airport.  I shook both their hands again, thanked them and was thanked in turn, and sent them on their way.

Then I went backstage and had a minor breakdown.

I had been running for three days on adrenaline and it was done.  Between that and the scare with the curtains, my hands shook for about five hours, and I had two crying fits.  But we got everything cleaned up, the photos all packed up, and the area cleared.  One last photo with the four of us who had survived both days, and I grabbed my backpack and headed for Volunteer HQ.

I checked out, got my goodies for working the entire weekend, said goodbye to my fellow Volunteers, and began the slow trudge to my truck.

I was about halfway to the elevator that went down to the parking garage when I saw a familiar face turning away from a drinking fountain.  It was very nice to see Eric Zapata's face light up as he saw me and hurried over for a hug.  Eric Z. is one of the contestants from the TV show "Face Off".  He's a talented make-up and effects artist, and I am very honored to have gotten to know him over the past three or four conventions.  We chatted for a few minutes about the Con, and how things had gone for him as well as what I had been doing this time around.  I must have looked wiped out, though, because he gave me another hug and said that I should get going to my truck and go home to get some sleep.  I really did appreciate him being so glad to see me, though.  It is nice to be more than just an Orange Shirt to someone.

Almost to the elevators and I noticed the Starbucks booth was still doing business.  I got lucky there, as they closed the line two people after me.  I bought a Venti Iced Tea (half green, half black, unsweet, no water!) and got into the long line waiting for the elevators.  I had a lovely chat with one of the vendors as they waited to load their handcart, and then I was in the truck and on my way home.

I got home, took another shower, and collapsed into my recliner until bedtime.

It was a wonderful weekend, full of lots of smiles, laughter, and a few moments of panic.  Everyone I worked with did an amazing job, and I would work with any of them again without hesitation.  No power struggles, no egos, just everyone pitching in to do what needed to be done.

I really can't wait for the October Con. :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to win friends and influence people...or how Saul Rubinek of television's Warehouse 13 will never forget me!

Note:  Some rather salty language in this, so if you're not comfortable with that you might want to skip the post, but if you do you're missing some funny stuff! :)

So I spent my weekend working Sci Fi Expo.  

My job was to sit next to Allison Scagliotti (she is one of the stars of Warehouse 13) and be her assistant.  This includes taking the money for the autographs / photos / etc, making sure she has everything she needs, politely getting the people who just won’t move on to realize that others are waiting, and herd whatever cats need to be herded.  I had a blast.  Allison is a sweet young woman and genuinely appreciated the work I was doing for her. 

We were seated in a row of tables with a lineup of stars from the television shows Warehouse 13 and Defiance.  So next to Allison was Saul Rubinek, also of Warehouse 13.  They had a lot of fun, riffing off of each other and joking around.  It makes sense, as they have worked together for 5 years or so, and are very comfortable with one another. 

Saul Rubinek is one of those men who has an amazing poker face, and an extremely dry sense of humor. A lot of people are unsure whether to laugh, be insulted, or be shocked at the things he says.  Most of the time, though, you really can laugh.  He’s hilarious even if you can’t tell he’s laughing because, like I said, the man has a totally winning poker face!

So there we are rocking through the weekend and everything is going fine.  Then I attempted to gash open Mr. Rubinek’s face.  Okay, I didn’t decide to do this on purpose, and it probably would only have been a LITTLE blood if it had happened, but still…it is not good for continued employment (or volunteering) if you manage to actually injure one of the major guests!

Mr. Rubinek has a particular photo from a particular show where his character’s tagline is something like, “If you do that again, I will FUCKING HAVE YOU KILLED!”.  He stood up on a chair and announced to the entire line of people waiting for his autograph that anyone who bought that photo would get that tagline written on it with the word “fucking” in HUGE red letters.  This, of course, made that photo sell like hotcakes when people started coming up to the table!

He had one photo that he had already written it on, and he wanted to hang that photo on the big banner behind him.  I noticed what they were doing as Allison was gone to lunch and I wasn’t busy right then.  I offered the roll of Scotch tape I had sitting next to me.  When I went to throw it to Betsie (his Guest Escort), a little of the sticky part of the tape caught on my finger and skewed my throw.  This meant that the little plastic roll of tape went flying toward Saul’s face with the sharp tape-cutting part in the fore.  

Yeah, right?  Wouldn’t that have been GREAT? 

Television News Anchor:  “Warehouse 13 star Saul Rubinek was rushed to the hospital today when a volunteer at Sci Fi Expo, where he was signing autographs, gouged out his eye by accident.  Story at 11!” *snerk*

Luckily both Saul and Betsie have great reflexes, and they both managed to reach up to knock the tape away before it made contact!  Phew!  But wow…did he give me a LOOK!  Then he kind of grinned very briefly and made sure that I knew he wasn’t really mad or anything.  I’m glad, because if he really WERE giving that kind of look, I would probably have just offered him a sword right then and there (if I’d had one) and let him cut me down. *LOL*

But this isn’t why Saul Rubinek called me “unforgettable”.  Oh no, kids, this is just the prologue!  There’s more!!!!

The day continued, and the whole group had gone to lunch then on to their Q&A session.  They started trickling back from the Q&A separately.  Eddie McClintock (another Warehouse 13 star) came back first, and then Saul stepped out of the curtain behind our tables less than two seconds later.  Eddie’s line gave a huge cheer when he came out, and when Saul came out there was a spattering of cheers, but nothing near what Eddie had gotten, so I stood up and called to the crowd, “You can do better than that, come on!” and got them to cheer a bit more.  Still not nearly enough, though, so I sat down again and looked at Saul. 

This is the moment when I should have just kept my mouth shut.  Lips should have stayed clamped together.  Teeth should have locked.  But did I?  Oh no!  Of course not!  I opened my mouth and before I could censor them, before I could push back the influence that my husbeast, Shado, was apparently remotely exerting on me from elsewhere in the building, I said it. 

“That was sad.”

*headdesk*  *headdesk*  *headdesk*

Saul stared at me.  And stared.  And I realized just how that sounded and was flabbergasted at how I could have managed to completely lose any sense of proper phrasing in any way, shape or form.  And Saul stared some more. 

I believe I may have literally facepalmed as I burst out laughing and apologizing all at once. 

“I meant THEM, not you!!!!”

Yeah.  Saul stared at me some more and lifted a brow.

Finally I just said, “What???” while trying to stop laughing and stop wanting to sink under the table.

“Oh, I’m just waiting for you to blush.” He replied.

Luckily, I have a rare skill.  I can blush on command sometimes.  Weird, right?  So I blushed.  A nice, bright red, just for him.

At this point, Jaime Murray, one of the stars of Defiance who was sitting on my other side asked what happened, so Saul turns to her and says, “You have to hear how this exchange went, Jaime!  I came out, and she told the crowd, ‘You can cheer louder than that’ and when they stopped she looked at me and said ‘That was sad’.”

Now I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t really talk but I tried to interject, “You’re editing!” but he shushed me and just looked at me again, then looked at Jaime.  She was now laughing, and proceeded to lean forward around me and call down to him every time another line cheered, “Much better than you got, Saul.”, or other such comments.

Allison got back then (thank goodness!) and we all got back down to the business of signing autographs, but that wasn’t the end of it.  Later, when there was another moment that Allison was away from the table and no one happened to be in line, he looked over at me again and I said, “You must hate me by now.”  The reply I got was both gratifying and horribly embarrassing.  He grinned suddenly, with this bright twinkle appearing in his eyes and said, “No, I think you’re funny.  I’ll definitely never forget you.”

I laughed with him and said, “This isn’t really how I WANT to be remembered.”

“Maybe, but it is definitely how I will remember you.” He said with another grin.  And then we had to get back to signings and chattings and general being hospitable-ings.

So, not only did I almost draw blood from Saul Rubinek, but I got him to tell me that I’m unforgettable.

Between that and getting to hang out with Allison for two days, it was the best…weekend…evahr!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I am currently dealing with a mental crisis regarding weight loss, Health at Every Size, body acceptance, and myself.  You see, I have come to firmly believe in the tenets of Health at Every Size.  I believe that it is possible for everyone, no matter their current weight, health status, or body size, to begin making healthy changes in their life if they so choose.  I firmly believe that it is their choice, and should a person choose to prioritize something other than their health, it is really none of my business.  They have their reasons, and unless they choose to share them with me, it is none of my concern.

It has been a difficult road for me to achieve even a minor level of self-acceptance when it comes to my body.  The struggle to come to a point where I don't actively hate myself every minute of every day has been a long, uphill road and one that I don't ever wish on anyone.  Knowing that society as a whole views me as lazy, sloppy, and a failure is something that I have finally managed to come to terms with and, for the most part, ignore at long last.

That said, I have apparently hit a crisis point.  I am really, REALLY struggling with the desire to fall back on old habits and start trying to lose weight again.  It doesn't matter that I know intellectually that 95% of people who lose weight only end up regaining it (usually plus extra). It doesn't seem to matter that I've spent 40+ years of my life riding that merry-go-round with the only results being that I ended up weighing over 500 pounds at my peak weight and only managed to get below that by amputating my stomach.  I KNOW these things, and yet I am still struggling with the desire to be smaller.

The compromise that I have forced on myself at this point is to focus on health.  I am going to work on adding more movement into my life, and getting more vegetables in my life.  I am going to try add alternative grains like quinoa, barley, and so on.  I am going to do all of this to keep my diabetes in check, to lower my cholesterol, and to give my heart and body better tools to work with.  But there's That Little Voice in the back of my head (remember, we've discussed TLV before!) that keeps whispering, "And maybe you'll lose more weight!"


Why won't it go away?  I'm struggling and struggling with it.  I don't want to become someone who obsesses over calorie counts, points, or measures every bit of food that goes into my mouth.  Quite frankly, there's only so much room in my head, and I just can't push other things over to make that kind of thinking the central point of my life.  My business, my family, my friends, activities like crafts and reading and studying new things all take up what space there is currently in my head.  They matter too much to me to push any of them aside for these old tapes that I thought I'd thrown out.

I know, logically, that part of it is frustration.  I get frustrated with living as a fat woman sometimes.  I get tired of walking into a room and looking around to determine which chair is safest for me to sit in (and I will fit in).  It is tiring to constantly have to pay ten times as much for clothing as smaller women, with a much smaller selection of items to choose from.  My heart winces every time that I think about going on trips because of the added stress trying to find the funds to pay for an extra airline seat or to figure out if we can afford the gas and time to drive to our destination instead.

I won't lie.  If I had a magic wand and could change it all, I would.  Whether that meant changing the world so that no one had to deal with such things, or just change me so that I didn't have to do so (preferably the former).  Or even both.

But there is no magic wand, and no miracle cure, and even with the changes I'm making it is statistically unlikely that I will lose additional large amounts of weight and keep it off.

Weak woman that I am, I still dream about how my life would be different.

Fantasy creates my current crises.  I have no idea how it will come out.  I just want to like myself.  All of myself.  Why is that so much to ask?