My voice comes from my puppy when I squeeze him just a little too tightly.
My voice is mine and mine alone.
Oh my gawd so Halloween! It’s my favorite! Chris and I had so much fun making our costumes this year that we’re digging the idea of making medieval versions for the ren faire next year, and we’re already tossing around ideas for *next* Halloween. So there better be as many parties to attend as there was this year! We went to four parties over the course of the weekend and each one was fun in such a different way! I’d do them all over again!
We got some great comments on our costumes! I was a bit nervous that no one would know what we were dressed as. But as we walked into Publix to grab some nibbles for our first party, another customer asked, ‘Where in the world did we get Beefeater costumes?!’ And several people at the parties we went to seemed surprised that we made them ourselves. Well that’s what we do! I live for this shit! We even got stars and retweets from two actual Beefeaters (@ravenmaster1 and @ladyyeoman)! Which is like Rhea getting a Tweet reply from Wil Wheaton. Which is one of the most exciting things to ever happen. So there’s that.
A bit of history: Last fall Chris and Channa and Mariana and I were in London in September and we went to the Tower of London and it was gorgeous and it was amazing and I cannot wait to go back. One of the things that was really awesome to me was not just the tower guards and not just the fact that one of those guards is deemed the ravenmaster and gets to take care of the seven gorgeous birds that live on site but these Beefeater uniforms were amazing to me. They were well built and had a lovely shape and somewhat casual but also really fucking spiffy and military. They were gorgeous! And I found myself looking at Chris and saying, ‘I want to make one of these! I want to make you a Beefeater costume!’ I took a few reference shots of like the back of the uniforms because I knew specialty shots like that would be sparse online.
Fast forward a year and Chris and I were tossing around ideas for Halloween costumes 2015. So we looked at this and we looked at that and I wrote all those ideas down and started secret Pinterest boards for them. I’m not going to tell you what they are because maybe that’s what we’re going to do next year. But we ended up cutting it down to Chris would be a Beefeater and I would be Queen Elizabeth which would be awesome and gorgeous and amazing.
Then in September I freaked out a little bit. I got overwhelmed with the idea of the Queen of England costume because who wants to be the fucking Queen of England if they don’t have the perfect replica crown and the ermine cape with the 6 foot long train and the high-end mind-blowing coronation dress?! I sure as hell don’t. But I was stressed about it. I didn’t feel that I would be able to do the costume justice. So I cancelled Halloween. I told Chris we had to come up with something quick and easy where we are ordering most of it from Amazon, similar to the Mythbusters costumes we did a couple of years ago, because I just couldn’t do it. It was too overwhelming. My brain had exploded two days ago and I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I explained that it was the queen costume that was really freaking me out and that I was still really looking forward to making his Beefeater costume. Chris in his patience and his infinite wisdom looked at me and says, ‘Then why don’t we both be Beefeaters?’ And my brain kind of exploded again. Of course! Of course we can all be fucking Beefeaters! So it was settled, Beefeaters it is!
I had a great time making these costumes. I am thrilled that Amazon Prime exists because I misread the amount of yardage contained in the packages of red bias tape and only picked up a fraction of what I needed at Joanns. I learned a lot about draping. I learned to not be afraid of lining. I learned how to bust out some badass buttonholes and make them my bitch. And that’s one of the things I love best about sewing costumes as opposed to sewing garments that I would wear to work or something like that. I’m not afraid to tackle little fiddly things or things that I don’t do very often or things that I need practice at because it’s just a costume. It doesn’t matter if I mess it up a little bit because I can always temporarily cover that up and make it look fine from a galloping horse. I’m not being paid by someone to make these, no one is flipping my seams, and I’m not entering any contests. The welt pockets that I put on Chris’ Christmas vest two years ago is a perfect example of that. It was a brand new technique for me. It is difficult to get done perfectly, it’s hard enough to get it done well, and I just practiced it a few times on scratch fabric until I felt better about the whole technique and then did it for reals on the vest. It didn’t turn out amazing but it turned out nice enough that I was pleased with the results. So pleased that I told Chris now that he’s lost 100 pounds if he wants a new vest for tuba Christmas I’m going to cut down his old vest around that welt pocket and instead of making one from scratch.
Another thing I learned this year making Halloween costumes is that Chris not only up for attempting pretty much anything making wise, but he’s also really really good at it. I asked him to make both of the hats for our costumes and he did an amazing job. These things look fantastic. He bought inexpensive Zorro hats from the Halloween store then built those up with craft foam and quilt batting and covered them in fabric so that they were similar to the actual Beefeater hats. They fit great and they look really genuine. I was really so very pleased with them. And then when he asked if there was anything else he could help me with I handed him the red felt stencil for the front of the costumes and my super sharp fabric scissors and asked him if he didn’t mind doing detail work he could start cutting away on those. He cut out all of the red felt applique pieces for both of our costumes and he did such a beautiful job with that. I’m still kind of amazed at these things came out between the two of us.
And he really was up for anything! After I made his costume I needed to make a pattern for the tunic for my costume. The way I made the pattern for Chris’ was by having him stand still with the Beefeater shirt on, and I draped pieces of muslin on him then marked my cutting lines according to how that piece of fabric fit on his body. So it would have been difficult for me to do that to myself. Enter Chris the Wonder crafter! He jumped in with both feet and he did the same draping technique to me! He made perfect pattern pieces for me to make my costume from. And he’s such… he’s such a… a kind of guy who will give anything a shot. If I ask him to help me with it he will totally help me with it even if it’s learning how to do something like drape a pattern for a Beefeater costume.
I think the last thing on my list of things I learned while making Halloween costumes this year is that it is so much easier to make a second identical costume then to make two completely different costumes. I alredy had the construction engineering figured out on Chris’ costume before I even cut mine out, so it took me about half the time to make mine. I just need to remember that if there is a make a mistake on the first piece, I’ll need to make the same mistake on the second one in order to be consistent! And I’ll keep that in mind in the future because not only is it easier, but I think we had more impact with the two of us being together. Especially since it was a military style costume I think it really pulled the two of us together as a team.
So what’s next for me? I think I might do some knitting this weekend. The craft room could use some tidying. And I’ve got some cool sewing ideas using some fabulous new tools that I got for my birthday! Hurrah for making!
I think it’s normal to be anxious about getting a biospy. Even with the whole idea of the possiblity of having cancer set aside, some stranger is going to stick a big sharp needle in your boob and that’s most likely going to hurt. No matter how much research I did, I kept finding more stories about completely different biopsy experiences. Different tables, different equipment, different needles and scapels and such. And all of these things made me nervous because I just didn’t know what to expect. I’m pleased to say that my biopsy turned out to be the best kind of biopsy, and one I hadn’t read about.
The waiting room at the Surgical Group of Gainesville is kind of dismal. There are like a dozen doctors that work out of the facility, but I didn’t expect the waiting room to be that crowded so late in the afternoon. But it was, and most of the people there looked like complete crap. They were ill. They were exhausted. There were patients and caretakers of all kinds, but many of them gave a lot more meaning to the word ‘cancer’ than hundreds of colored ribbons ever could.
My wait wasn’t long, and the PA that spoke to me was kind and gentle. She wanted to hear the whole story of why I was there. It was nice to be able to tell it to someone who would be able to help me. She left the room to update Dr. Hipp, and he joined me and Chris shortly thereafter. After some chit chat (I really like this doctor, by the way. He’s a bit nerdy and easy to talk to.) he summed up my story and asked if it was correct. It was. He flat out told me that the images taken at my mammogram very much quite obvisously show only cycts. He went ahead and gave me a breast exam, which he felt confirmed (See what I did there?!) what the mammogram and ultrasound showed. He then told me that he’s been doing surgery on breast cancer patients for ten years, and that there is no reason to biopsy a cyst. It’s a cyst. It’s full of fluid, not abnormal cells. He said that if I wanted him to, he would take me into the next room and excise the cysts (I think he counted three this time.). They would be gone, and I’d not have to worry about them, but it’s possible that more would grow. He said he would also be perfectly happy to just send me out the front door right then and there and never have to see me again, but remining me to have my regular mammograms. He never dismissed Dr. Alderman’s cautiousness in insisting that I have a biopsy, and he said that he’d write a nice note to her explaining the situation.
I told the doctor that the word ‘excise’ sounded pretty extreme. He agreed. I told him that if it would make him happy to see me simply leave right now, I would hate to disappoint him. After he left the room, I high-fived Chris before I even put my shirt back on. Then he took me shoe shopping and bought me a jumbo soft pretzel. Yep, best kind of biopsy ever.
I had a mammogram years and years and years ago, like when I was… I dunno, early 30-something or so, because I had a sore spot on my breast. Nothing came of that and all was good. But it was good to get one under my belt. Then I had my first regularly scheduled it’s-time-to-start-doing-this-thing mammogram four years ago. They let me go a little later than usual because I had had that first one before that and it showed nothing mysterious. And I had put off that second one a bit because of nipple rings.
You see, everything I read on the Internet about mammograms and nipple rings said that they are a no go. That all jewelry above the waist would need to be removed. And wow, what a pain in the ass that would be for me. It would mean a trip to the piercing shop, none of which I was currently on terms with, perhaps a trip back if they didn’t have the plastic jewelry I needed to replace my metal hoops, having a piercer I don’t know replace my jewelry for me, getting the mammogram, and then maybe even having to go back to the piercer to have my original jewelry replaced. The reasons the Internet gave for removing all jewelry was pretty vague. Some said that the metal would interfere with the x-ray (Interfere? Ummm… dubious.). Some said the doctors are afraid that there might be lumps or bumps hiding behind the metal (In my nipple? Which sticks out? Dubious.). Some said long necklaces would interfere with the big machine moving around. That one I get! But a long necklace is easier to take off than body jewelry. I wasn’t ready to give up this mark of passage just yet, especially for another rite of passage that I wasn’t really looking forward to. So I called my diagnostic center (Doctors Imaging Group, if you’re interested, Ladies.). On the phone! And talked to a stranger! That’s how important this was to me. And you know what they told me? They told me that’s all bullshit. They asked me not to wear copious amounts of dangle jewelry, but my happy little nipples would be just fine all dolled up for the doctor. They said they are more worried about the liability of somone leaving an expensive piece of jewelry in the dressing room than the mammogram getting messed up because someone’s wearing earrings. That was such a relief! So I happily went to have that mammogram. And that was that. I had the mammogram, a quick ultrasound (Which I assumed was just to get a baseline since no one said anything otherwise.), and was sent on my way with a simple, ‘All clear!’ from the doctor.
All of this means that I was completely prepared for this mammogram. Which is good, because I was a little nervous about the outcome. I donned my tutu and my combat boots for the appointment, and was given a lovely cape when I arrived! It all went very quickly once I was called into the dressing room. The mammogram lady was super nice and just the right amount of chatty about just the right things (Walking Dead, natch.). I knew I’d have an ultrasound, so she promptly whisked me off to do that once she was done with the x-ray stuff. And the ultrasound went fine! I had read that it’s a good sign if the tech says nothing. And mine said nothing! Not even a ‘hrmmm’ or an ‘ohhhh…’. Good signs! She went off to have the doctor look at the pictures of my boob (She scanned just the one problem one.). The doctor came in a few minutes later. She said, ‘It’s a cyst! (Yaaaayyyy!!!) And the last one hasn’t changed at all. (Yaaayy… errrrr?!?!)
‘The cyst they found the last time you were here.’
‘No one said anything about a cyst the last time I was here.’
‘Well didn’t you get an ultrasound?’
‘Yeeeees, but still no one said anything about a cyst…’
‘Well there was a cyst. There is still is, and it hasn’t changed.’
And I was sent on my merry way.
You may recall from my last post that my GYN, Dr. Alderman, who I adore and respect and it totally cool and knows what she’s talking about, told me that if I was given an all clear and wasn’t referred for a biopsy by the imaging center that she would make a reference for me. She stressed that it was very important for me to not only have a mammogram and an ultrasound but a biopsy as well. And that’s scheduled for Wednesday! Yay?!
…but there’s definitely something there. You need to get it checked out. What are you doing after this?’ And so begins my morning of Googling ‘breast biopsy’ and touching my boob a lot.
I love my gynecologist (Dr. Jennifer Alderman at the Gainesville Gynecology Group if you’re in Gainesville and looking.). I’ve been going to her for about ten years, seeing her once a year like clockwork. She’s super cool, speaks to me frankly without seeming cold, asks the right questions, and gives the right answers. I saw her yesterday and everything was business as normal until my breast exam. ‘Have you felt this lump?’ she asked me. ‘I don’t remember feeling anything like this on you before.’
I hadn’t felt it. I don’t do regular self exams. I know I should. I do it when I think about it. I do. But that’s only once every few months. But I don’t think I would have caught this lump if I *did* do self-exams. Dr. Alderman had me feel it, and while I definitely did feel something there, it’s not how I expected a lump to feel. I expected it to feel as hard as a rock, probably spherical, and pretty small. This lump is firm, but somewhat soft. It kind of feels like a muscle in comparison to the slightly softer tissue around it. It’s about the size of my thumb which seems huge to me. It definitely moves separately from the tissue around it. But I really don’t think I would have noticed it without Dr. Alderman showing me right were it is.
The doctor wanted a mammogram and ultrasound done immediately. She was firm, without being alarming. She was serious when she asked me what I was doing after this appointment. I did have to go back to work to finish something up before the weekend, but the GYN office made an appointment for me on Monday. Dr. Alderman explained to me that if something looks funky at the imaging center, they would send me for a biopsy. She was sure to make me understand that if the imaging center tells me everything looks clear and sends me on my way, I need to have a biopsy anyway. Turns out mammograms and ultrasounds are great at detecting changes in your breast, especially if you have an imaging history, but are pretty lousy at detecting the difference between all the different types of lumps and bumps that can live in your breast. So I was instructed to let her know immediately if the ultrasound center sent me away with a clean bill, and she would refer to me to someone for a biopsy.
As Dr. Alderman sent me on my way, I was feeling a little quirky. Not frightened. Not quite nervous. But there’s the whole unknown thing. Not the unknown of whether I have cancer or not (Nearly all lumps are completely benign. I don’t think I have cancer. If I do, well, we’ll deal with that when we find that out.), but the unknown of what happens behind the doors of a different doctor’s office. I’ve had mammograms before, so that’s fine. Right after the last one they whisked me into the next room to have an ultrasound, and that was kind of scary because it was unexpected. But I’ve never had a biopsy. I had a skin melanoma excised** from my left butt cheek about a year ago, and that ended up being a *lot* different than I expected it to be. I don’t want those kinds of surprises again. I want to know what to expect.
As I walked across the parking lot to my car, I remembered that Lorena had gone through a similar experience to this a couple of years ago. So I did what I do: I went straight to the Internet. Because Lorena does what she does: She writes. So I found her first post in a series about her mammogram, Lenny the Cyst, and her biopsy. I read most all of Lorena’s series on the way home at red lights and finished later in the evening. And Lorena, I want you to know that it helped! It helped me *so* much. I wasn’t sure if I’d write about this, but Lorena made a couple of really good points throughout her posts that I’d like to reiterate.
She found that when she started talking to ladies about her breast lump experience, many would surprisingly tell her, ‘I went through the same thing!’ It seems like this kind of lump/mammogram/biopsy thing happens pretty frequently, but for many reasons we don’t talk about it. I understand if one prefers to keep medical matters private. That is totally ok by me. But if you don’t care so much, as I don’t, I think we should make a point to talk about things like breast lumps. Talking and writing about it makes it much less frightening to others, and even to ourselves. Just writing this up this morning while I’ve clicked around on biopsy sites has made me feel tremendously more at ease with whatever next week brings me. I have a better idea of what’s going to happen, so I’m not as nervous and my mind isn’t racing the way it was last night when I went to bed.
Also, my lump is completely different from Lorena’s. Hers was painful; mine is not. Hers is tiny; mine is larger. Hers turned out to be a cyst; I don’t think mine is. So the more we talk about all of these different lumps and bumps and breast stuff, the more we realize that there are all kinds of things that can go on in there, and nearly all the time these things are perfectly fine and not cancer.
So the good news is that I have a couple of baseline mammograms on file so there will be something to compare the new one to. I’ll find out what kind of biopsy I’ll have before I go to that appointment so that I can research that a bit and know what to expect. And then everything will be fine and dandy and life will move right along. I really kind of hope it’s a mass of hair and teeth, but I doubt if I’ll be that lucky. 😉
**Edited to add: I really had no idea what I was getting into with that one. No one told me I’d be having a ‘wide excision’. I thought they would just shave some more of the mole off, similar to how they did the shave biopsy, but just go a little deeper. Chris asked me if I wanted him to go with me, and at first I declined. But thought about it for a minute and thought it’d be a good idea. I like having him around. So when we ended up on the surgical ward I was so confused. I wasn’t having surgery. I was just having a mole removed! Things were a lot more invasive than I imagined. I ended up with like seven or eight stitches. If you’re interested, here’s a great blog post documenting someone else’s wide excision: http://martinfamilyjourney.blogspot.com/2013/11/caution-graphic-photos.html
I did get ice cream after that one, though. Always a bonus.
1 Bicycle basket liner sewn
7 Magically happy pillowcases constructed
1 Tutu resized to fit
1 New skirt from my own pattern completed
2 Upcoming sewing projects in the planning and fabric purchasing stages
729 Creative ideas formed
0 Cars washed
All Pizzas eaten
0 Floors vacuumed
2 Puppies forcibly hugged and kissed upon my whims
0 Papers organized and filed
4 Naps taken
0 Blog posts written
1/4 Lawn mown
0 Fucks given about getting hardly any chores done
The point here is that I took a week off of work in order to stay home and sew. I sewed and sewed and relaxed and ate pizza and sewed, and I loved it. I needed a reset, and I’ve totally got my mojo back. And damn, that feels good.
I’m ‘doing’ the NaBloPoMo in August. I’ve signed up and given my url and everything. But I’m obviously finding it to be a difficult task. When I said, ‘YES! I can do this!’ I figured that the worst case scenario would be that I could post a photograph or or a short quip each day if I didn’t have time to write a full blog post. That isn’t happening, though, and I’ll tell you why: Too many social media options. When I’m thinking I can write up a quick little blog post even when I don’t have the time for a proper decent post, I write it in my head and realize that it’s a Facebook post, not a blog post. And then sometimes I realize that it’s not even a FB post, but a Tweet! If it’s a photograph that I really like, it’s going straight to Instagram. So you can see that in my wee head I’ve composed a dozen blog posts this week, but they’ve been expressed on Facebook instead of here.
Chris and I made a video today! We’ve made a small handful of videos together, all of which have been me talking to the camera while working from an outline. Chris and I have had a blast putting these together with me in front of the camera and him behind it. He’s a great editor, and I enjoy being a movie star for the day. We’re a great team! This time, we had a script and a set and costumes and wow.
A friend of ours is turning eight years old next week. He’s having a huge Harry Potter birthday party (Ok, who are we kidding? His *mom* is having a huge Harry Potter party!) and we’re going to have to miss it because we’ll be camping all weekend. We wanted to do something super special and a wee bit magical for him, so Chris put on his Cornelius Fudge costume that I made for him many years and many pounds ago, and he ACTED for this kid. He ACTED his ass off. Unlike our previous works, this one was done with one camera in one take. Granted, we worked that take over and over and over again, but our final run through wasn’t too bad at all.
We found a little corner of our home that looks kind of old school and turned it into Fudge’s office where his secretary, Ms. Fussywidget, took a letter from the Ministry of Magic to our friend Kieran. We’ll print the letter up on some faux parchment paper and slide it to Kieran’s mom sometime this week. We’ll have a QR code on the letter that his folks can scan with their cell phone that will play the video of us ‘making’ the letter for him. Of course at the end of the movie we’ll have a little muggle shout out to Kieran with our birthday wishes to him. I hope Chris puts his trademark outtakes at the end too! Regardless of what makes the cut, though, I’ll post the video here when it’s all said and done!
Chris and I are on our annual Mother’s Day vacation, and we’re at our favorite part of it: Our time with our dear friends, Katie and Paul, in Maryland. This is time that we treasure each and every year. We usually try to find a couple of fun or unusual touristy things to do, and Paul will take a day or two off of work to play hooky with us. Katie just finished up her first semester of nursing school, so I’m excited that she was done with her finals by the time we were pulling into their driveway. She kicked ass on her exams, by the way!
This year we took a little trip to Savage Mill to check out the shops, have a pint, and just hang out with our friends. We were in a particularly quaint store that sold only handcrafted items. A place after my own heart! As I looked at handbags and tchotchkes and jewelry I thought about the lovely things that my maker friends produce and how well it would fit in there. I thought about the makers of these products and made a decision to definitely buy a thing or two in order to support them in the best way possible. The shop is made of up three rooms that aren’t necessarily small or isolated, but there were very few shoppers in the mall this Thursday afternoon. As we entered the shop, the four of us split up and we wandered in different directions, towards things we each found to be interesting.
As I glanced at some too cute little signs on a wall, a man, maybe in his late twenties (I’m horrible at guessing ages.) or early thirties commented to me about how nice the artwork is. I smiled, like I do, nodded in agreement, and turned to continue shopping. I’m usually pretty aware of people around me when I’m in public. Not in a paranoid way, but I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. At the grocery, for instance, I like to know who is in front of me and who’s behind me so that I don’t block an aisle or something. I had noticed that this guy had been pretty close to me most of the time I had been shopping in this room, but I didn’t think much of it. He was a little closer than I like a stranger to be to me, so I turned to actively avoid talking to him any longer. When my back was to him I felt the hem of my skirt move. Skirts do that. They move when your butt does. It’s not unusual. What *is* unusual is when you twist around to fix your skirt and you see that the guy who had been next to you is moving into a standing position and is putting something behind his back.
I didn’t immediately realize what had happened. I saw that whatever the guy was putting behind his back had a light at the end of it. I was confused. Why would this stranger have a light of some sort near the hem of my skirt? I’m sure he saw the recognition dawning on my face as my brain put together the clues and formed an idea of what this cretin had done. I was between him and the exit of the shop and I started slowly backing away. I could feel the blood rushing to my face as I raised my finger at him. ‘You… you!!!’ I said, shaking. It was when he immediately got defensive that I *knew* that he had done what I suspected. I called out for my husband. ‘Chris…? Chris! CHRIS!! THIS GUY JUST UPSKIRTED ME!’
At this point a couple of things were going through my head: 1) Don’t let this guy get away, and 2) Let as many people hear the commotion so that they will help detain him. I was not embarassed. I was not going to be quiet. I think those first few moments helped define how I feel about the situation right now, a couple of days later. I think being outspoken about it right then helped me continue to be outspoken about it and not brush it under a rug. And I think that’s a good thing for me.
As Katie and Paul and Chris came to see what was going on, the guy was walking, backing actually, towards the door, talking, saying how he did nothing wrong, using lots of ‘Maams’, ‘No no no’, ‘You don’t understand’, backing away, on his phone, deleting the photos, hurrying to the door, walking, ‘Maam’, ‘It’s not like that’, walking, deleting, ‘I didn’t do anything’, walking. As Katie and Chris blocked his way in an effort to slow him down, Paul began video taping the confrontation on his phone.* Chris and Katie were trying to get the guy to hand over his phone. He would show them a photo or two, but wouldn’t hand the phone to either of them. We were out in the hallway part of the mall by then. The guy was still trying to walk away, still deleting, still defensive. Katie smelled pot on him. Walking. Deleting. ‘I didn’t do anything’.
Chris asked me what I wanted to do. If I wanted to report it. The evidence, if the guy even got a good shot, was gone**, there was no witness, I had somewhat humiliated the guy in public, and I didn’t even know if upskirting is illegal in Maryland.*** I asked Chris to just make sure there were no photos of me on the guy’s phone and that would be enough. Paul was still video taping. I was still confused. I was *so* pissed. I was pacing. Walking towards Chris and Katie and the guy, then walking back to Paul. Back and forth. I just wanted the guy and his phone to go away. The guy finally handed his phone to Chris, and among the seemingly consentual nude pictures of ‘his girl’, Chris found no upskirt photos of me or anyone else remaining. The guy apologized to Chris who in turn made the guy apologize to me. Whatever. Just go away. He did.
Katie had asked the shop-keeper to call security. She kicked it up a notch and was on the phone with 911 by the time we made our way back to towards the store. I told her not to send the cops. She asked if I was ok. A couple of women who had been watching the confontation asked if I was ok. That helped. It somehow helped me feel better that strangers recognized a horrible situation and at least seemed to care. I don’t know why, but it did.
I felt myself start to cry, but I didn’t allow that to come to fruition. Fuck that guy. I didn’t want him to be able to make me cry. In the end, that’s exactly why I didn’t want the cops. I didn’t want this guy to have the power to ruin my day. I get just a couple of days a year to be with these people who I love, and I was not going to spend one of those days dealing with cops and paperwork and statements, let alone take the risk that this horrible thing that happened to me would be downgraded to a ‘Oh, sweetie, just you don’t mind. These things happen when you wear cute little skirts.’ I won’t forgive, and I sure as hell won’t forget, but I really just wanted to have a good day with my friends. Again, I didn’t want to give him the power to ruin my day, let alone my whole vacation, or this place for me.
So did I do the right thing? By not reporting the crime, I have failed the guy’s future victims. But I don’t think calling the cops would have stopped him from doing this next week. But I did do the right thing. I did the thing that was right for me at the time. It’s the decision I will live with, so it has to be the right thing. And if this ever happens to you, you will do the right thing for you at that time. At this point the only thing I can think of that I wish I would have done is this: I wish I would have thought to tell him, ‘For every disgusting act like this that you do, someone is doing this to your mother. Someone is doing this to your daughter. Someone is doing this to your sister.’ I wish I would have had the foresight to make it personal to him. That’s the only way he will realize that what he is doing is wrong.
*Fucking brilliant. That somehow comforted me.
***Even if the shot(s) he got had been crappy, if he hadn’t have had time to delete them, the tattoos on my legs would have positively identified them as being photos of my underskirt.
***It is. I think. Maybe? Frankly, it’s hard to tell.
Since I posted this picture on Facebook and announced that my husband and I have lost about 135 pounds between the two of us, I’ve gotten several questions from friends asking for details, how we did it (Sometimes I like to tell people ‘Oh, you know, laxatives! And an occasional amphetamine.’), and how we use our Fitbits. I hope to answer some of those questions here! Today’s post is all about the Fitbit and how I use it and its app. The next post will be more about my actual diet.
Over the past year or so, I’ve dropped more than 45 pounds! And if I can toot my own horn (And it’s *my* blog, so I can!) I think that’s kind of amazing for me. I came by my weight gain honestly. As I became an adult, I just slowly gained weight as I drank more beer and ate crappier food. It creeped up on me, and it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have a bathroom scale for years, and when I realized that I had hit 140 right before my wedding I kind of panicked. Then I lost a few pounds, and when I hit 150 I panicked again. I lost a few pounds again, and this cycle continued until 169, my absolute maximum weight ever.
So for ten years I’ve been on and off the weight loss wagon, always losing ten or fifteen pounds, then gaining back even more before long. It wasn’t until Chris joined me in my weight loss journey that I was really able to get a foothold and start making the pounds come off. Him being the head chef around here, I needed him on board to ensure low-calories meals all day long, and not just during the day when I was on my own. The best part about that is that he’s lost about ninety pounds himself!
So as a goal-reaching treat I’ve bought myself a new Fitbit. This ole beat up one has seen me through three years and 5.1 million steps and countless calories in and out. The new one will ring in a lifestyle of caloric moderation, weight maintenance, and some strength training.
So let’s talk about the Fitbit for a bit. I have always used one of the Fitbits that ride on my waistband. I don’t care for the look of the wristband pedometers on myself, and I’ve read that not only are most pedometers pretty inaccurate, but the wrist-worn ones appear to be the worst. Yes, most pedometers are inaccurate at best! Yet mine has helped me lose a third of my body weight! I think it’s all about consistency there. Because I wear mine every day, I recognize things like I shouldn’t wear it when I’m riding my bicycle because I get a crazy ton of non-steps logged as steps.
The main function of your Fitibit is to simply count your steps. Simple enough. And that’s how I started my weight loss: by setting a step goal and doing whatever I could to reach that goal daily. I still do it! Along with the other common tips that you hear about gaining steps such as parking in a far corner of the parking lot and such, I walk laps around the conference room at work. I jog in place while I’m at the copy machine. I may look stupid, but I feel great! And who’s the one looking stupid in the long run, eh?! While many people get most of their steps in in one fell swoop during a morning walk or on the treadmill, I like to spread mine out. I made a little chart that shows me how many steps I need to accumulate every couple of hours in order to meet my step goal at the end of the day. Make sure you put your daily step goal into your Fitbit Dashboard!
You *do* use the Fitbit Online Dashboard, right? Not just the app on your phone. The app is great, and it’s getting better, but there are so many more tools in the online version. To add or change your step goal, logon fitbit.com and hover over the Steps box with your mouse. Click on the gear icon, and edit your daily step goal from there.
The Fitbit Diet
Once I was hitting my daily step goal fairly regularly, I began dieting. It wasn’t a ‘lifestyle change’. It was a diet. A diet to lose weight. I ain’t ashamed. It worked, and now my lifestyle *has* changed, but it didn’t start out that way. Remember that everything I’ve done has been an evolution of diet and exercise. I set a moderate goal at first. It was realistic, and at a pace I knew I’d be happy with. And here’s where the Fitbit tools work amazingly for me.
To set your weight loss goal, go to the dashboard online, hover your mouse over the weight widget, and click the gear icon. Click in the Goal Weight area and you will be walked through the goal setup. You tell Fitbit what you want to weigh, and it will give you options about how fast to lose those pounds. My humble advice is at first to not look at the projected dates for when you’ll reach your goal. Start off with minimal weight loss and wean your way into hardcore loss if you like. When you do, go back to the dashboard and click the settings button again.
From there it’s calories in versus calories out. Every day Fitbit will tell you how many calories you can eat based on how many calories you burn throughout the day. And this is where I love the Fitbit more than anything: You can *earn* food throughout the day. Just like a lab rat! The more exercise I log and the more steps I get in, the more calories I am alloted, all while keeping within my weight goal caloric budget. I love this! I will totally walk ten more laps around the conference room in order to eat a little piece of chocolate. Again, I ain’t ashamed.
Logging Your Intake
Now comes the pain in the ass part: Logging your calories. Every day, every meal, every time you put something in your mouth, you need to tell your Fitbit about it. This is time consuming. This is fiddly. This is a dance of estimating how many calories are in the pancakes you make at home as opposed to the pancakes at IHOP. And sometimes you have to fake that shit. But it is all worth it!
To log your calories on the app, open the dashboard, click the area where you’re told X in/Y out, and use the icons in the top right corner to either log your food by scanning the barcode of the item, adding miscellaneous calories, or searching for a food to add. To log your calories online, open the dashboard, click the X cals left to eat box, click See More in the bottom right corner, then at What did you eat? start typing in the food that you had. Fitbit will do the searching for you and allow you to adjust the quantity and such.
It is so important to be consistent and log your food. Even if you’ve over eaten that day, it helps give you an idea of what kind of calories are in the foods you eat, and this leads to the evolution of your diet. This is another area where it helped to have Chris on board with our weight loss. We talk about what we’ve logged, and he helps me count up the calories in the meals he makes at home. Because my chef is tracking calories, it’s much easier for me to as well. Logging your food is *so* eye opening. You may think, ‘Oh, I haven’t really eaten anything today.’ But you’ve had a cup of coffe with cream and sugar, half of a granola bar (We’ll talk about the health halo in the next post!), and have grazed on various stuff from the fridge. Those things really add up, so count them! Again, yes, it’s a total pain in the ass. I really do understand that. But you get used to it. And you may find that you eat similar foods often enough that they are easier to find in the app and such.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about the Fitbit and its apps. I am happy to answer any more specific questions that you have! Send me a note on Facebook or post a comment here. I’ll do another post in a couple of days about my diet, how it evolved, and where I’m at now with my meal planning and eating habits. Thanks to you, my friends, for your encouragement and cheerleading about my weight loss. I’ve never felt better!