Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Last Week's Accomplishments and the Upcoming Week

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(This is for the week of  Wednesday, February 16th through Tuesday, February 22nd)

Accomplishments & Great Moments this Week:
  • Tracking: I tracked 5 days! One of them isn't complete (Friday), but 4 of them are. This is a vast improvement over the previous week, I'll take it!
Food Journal Week Ending 20110222
  • Activity: I did 9 workouts in 6 days, burning over 2400 calories. Here is my activity spreadsheet-
Activity Week Ending 20110222

  • I attended a long meeting in the auditorium at work and afterward, a woman that I know told me that she couldn't stop looking at me and admiring my perfect posture (I swear, I don't make this up, folks!). She told me she wanted to sit that way too, and she did. For 10 minutes. I lasted the hour, of course. She told me I looked "regal"! I love posture compliments. Sitting upright feels so good - you should really try it!
  • I reached one of my Nike goals - running 8 times in 4 weeks. I was given another 'virtual medal'-
Nike Medal 20110219
  • I finally received my first copy of Veg News. I know one blog reader, Shawn, received hers too. I hope the other 2 recipients have theirs by now.
  • I tried a new fruit - Cactus Pears. They were interesting looking on the outside and beautiful on the inside, but I wasn't really a fan of the taste. For one thing, there wasn't a big taste and the texture was kind of mealy (the same reason I don't like red 'delicious' apples and most pears). I liked the seeds just because they were a little more fun to chew than the rest of the fruit, but I won't be buying these again.
Cactus Pear. I wasn't really a fan.
Cactus Pear. I wasn't really a fan.
  • One big victory - my first outdoor run, which I blogged about. And since then I had another! Here's a handful of photos - 

  • Thank you to all of you who tipped me off to the Weight Watchers television commercial casting. It took me hours of writing, rehearsing, recording myself, revising my words, changing outfits, changing location in my apartment, cats getting in the way, etc... but my very patient neighbor Jaci helped - after 5 takes with her (and about 25 by myself), she recorded me for a short video. I submitted all the online paperwork and actual paperwork. Thank you to all of those that told me about this contest. And et's hope I hear from them :)
I applied to be in a Weight Watchers 

(here's a still shot where the Sarge snuck in...)

      What I'm Working On and Upcoming Events This Week:
      I have such an action packed few days starting tomorrow!
      • Thursday 2/24: WW Party! Not only is my self-imposed 10 day long 'beer ban' lifted (woo hoo!) but internet blogging worlds will collide when I meet Suzi Storm in the flesh! But it will be an even bigger WW party because we'll also be toasting to our amazing selves and WW with Trixie, Melanie & Kitty. (I already pre-tracked my 13 PointsPlus for the 2 delicious draft beers I will be enjoying, thank you very much!)
      • Friday 2/25: A dream come true! This is an event I have dreamt of for years - decades, even - it's the day of the Weight Watchers Success Story photoshoot! How amazing it is to be recognized by them and included in their success stories! This means so much to me, you have no idea. I'm sure I'll tweet updates but I think I'll keep my outfit/appearance under wraps so you can look forward to it.
      • Saturday 2/26: Run! This is the 2nd of my 9 qualifying runs. And it's early - 8am in Prospect Park, 4 miles. I wonder if it's the same course as the Jingle Bell Jog. Probably. I think the whole WW crew I mentioned above will be there (including Suzi, to cheer for us at the finish line!) and I already heard from 2 blog readers I never met that they are running also. I hope to meet those ladies, too!
      • Saturday 2/26: Book Launch! That night is another exciting event - the release for the book about Queens (Forgotten Borough) - you know, the book that used one of my photos on the cover! I still can't believe how cool that is! I'll get to meet the author who somehow found that photo on Flickr and decided it was 'the one'.
      A photo I took (and my bike!) is on the cover of a book!
      • Sunday 2/27: Stairs! It's the Rockefeller Center Stair Climb! This time I'm going to push myself - since that's my only regret about the Empire State Building Stair Climb, that I didn't push myself enough. I'll also meet Diana, a blog reader that I've been in touch with for a long time but have never met.
      • Sunday 2/27: Vegan Waffles!! I'll be capping off all of that awesomeness with one meal I've been looking forward to for weeks: Vegan Waffles at West Cafe! I indulged only once so far - after my run in Central Park a few weeks ago. On that visit, I had the chocolate peanut butter. They have about 6 or 8 options, so I am definitely trying another one this time. I'm so excited for those waffles, I can't wait!!!
        • I came across this Toronto bike blog with amazing photographs. They linked to me under their "Global Cycle Style Sites" category. I am honored to be part of such a category! Thank you, 'Xander!
        • A French blogger seemed surprised I use coconut oil. I'm not sure why. Coconut oil is good for you and makes everything you cook smell & taste wonderful! I translated what she wrote "I must say that I had ever seen a blogger I like to use regular oil coconut. It is the WW program, I do not know how it fits into this program, but she does. These 'Bitch Cakes' and I put two of these post (she alluded to a few times) where she mentions coconut oil" As for how it fits into the program, I use 1 tsp at a time to cook with (for 1 PointPlus). I count it towards my healthy oil even though, technically, it is not in WWs healthy oils list.
        • Thank you to my favorite elected official, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, for giving me a shoutout on his Facebook page, recognizing my Empire State Building Stair climb!
        • Thank you to Meredith for listing me as an inspiration. She's right, I never sit still. And I can't wait to ride my bike again! It's been over 3 months!
        • Thank you Lizzi, for linking to me as a site she was enjoying this week. I hope you really made it to the treadmill! :)
        • I was perusing the Weight Watchers blog portion of the website and came across a WW member who found my blog and had this to say "I stumbled across BitchCakes, and she will never know who I am, but she was a huge part of the kick in the **** I needed to join again." Awesome and now I do know who you are! But then I came across another entry from the same member. She said "I am completely hooked on one blog in particular. She may never meet me, but I want her to know that she changed my life and she was the reason I went back tail between my legs to WW in the first place. I appreciate all her honesty and I can't help but be in awe of all her hardwork. She makes running in the mud look fun! Whenever I beat myself up this week, I just went straight back to her blog and get my a$$ off the couch and on to something that resembled a piece of exercise equipment. I can even look past her hatred of orange (orange is cool (pout)). So, I don't know if she lurks on the WW site or not, but it's cool. She deserves a shoutout and since the job internet firewall and blogspot don't get along, I just wanted to say, "Thank you Bitchcakes!" (hug)" Thank you, CurlyCole!
        • ErinJ86 also linked to me in the WW blogs and had another great quote "For me she is an inspiration not only because of the weight she's lost (and she looks AMAZING) but because of the emotional baggage she has unpacked, and most of all because of her bravery in embracing a totally new way of life." Thank you so much, Erin! (I tried to comment, but I think it's the Australian website and it won't let me in.)
        • And do you remember Mary & Chris from Boston? I hope she checks her mailbox. She has a present on the way...
        A gift for a blog reader

        That's all for now. Heck, that's enough! :)

        Just a note: I doubt there will be a video blog this weekend since I will be blogging about both the run and the stair climbing event. I also have some other top secret things I'm working on that I need to squeeze into my already crazy full weekend. My point? You may have to wait till next weekend to hear my charming voice and see my adorable manerisms again.

        Thank you for reading, have a great night.

        And Suzi, I hope you're packed and ready!!! See you in less than 24 hours!

            Sunday, February 20, 2011

            Video Blog: Reader Questions, Installment 6 (Personal Style)

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            Before I get to today's video, I want to mention two things. First, I uploaded a poll yesterday asking what you wanted me to video blog about today. The 4 options were for topics I've been hearing a lot of questions/comments about lately. The poll was open about 24 hours. These are the results:

            Video Blog Poll 20110219

            The question that won (narrowly) was about my personal style. I get so many comments and questions related to my style, but I usually avoid answering them on this blog because I feel they are not weight-loss related and I really like to keep things on topic here. However, since there seems to be such a demand for it, I'm going to address a few of them. Again, I apologize that this is off topic, it will not be the norm.

            And for what it's worth, I do plan to address those other topics in the future. Eventually. (I have so much stuff drafted, I feel like I'll never get to everything, but I will do my best. And I'll probably use a poll again to find out what you want to hear about.)

            Here's this week's video (click this link to go to Flickr if the embedded video does not appear):

            These questions are answered in the video:

            1- Sarah Davies I lve your style, you are truly inspirational. I would love to know what led to the transition from goth to pin up? Cos i am naturally very nosy. That's why I love blogs. I agree with the bike helmet. It is a MUST!
            Short Answer: It wasn't planned, it just kind of happened. If you see enough photos of me in my 20's, you can see the transition happen. (most notably when I chopped off my hair at 25 years old) But for what it's worth, my makeup barely changed at all throughout that transition. The only thing that changed was my eyebrows.

            2- Future Bombshell (aka Cortney) said...

Sheryl, I know it's not related to weight loss, health or fitness but if you ever feel inclined to discuss it in a blog post or video, I'm sure many of your readers would love to know more about your style - what inspires it, who your style icons are, etc. I too rock a pin-up/retro look and only got into it a few years ago when I discovered the rockabilly scene and started seeing all the glamorous women at the shows. I'm curious how you came to adopt this style as your own, especially since from your previous pics, I can see you used to favor a more goth look. You have always looked fabulous, BTW, but I think this style really suits you!
            Short Answer: I don't have any particular icons or inspirations. I love the aesthetic of the period and over time, just figured out how to make it work for me.
             3- Lizzy Derksen I think I'd most like to know why you make it a priority to always looks your best (if that's not too personal a question). I don't think I know anyone else who does - and I admire you for it.
            Short Answer: Lizzy, I saw your photos on Facebook and you have a great look! That being said, for as long as I could remember - since I was a little girl - I was very particular about my appearance: my hair, my outfits. I always loved dressing up. And I still do. But it's more than vanity - I feel like everyday you are alive is a day worth celebrating, so why wouldn't you want to look your best? Besides, when you look good, you feel good. And don't we all want to feel good? I have tremendous pride in my appearance and couldn't imagine not making that a priority. (also, I apologize, I called you Lizzy in the video, but then I called you Lindsay - I had her on my mind since she had also asked me a question...)

            These question were not answered on the video -
            1- * Ashleigh * said...
            Happy Sunday Sheryl! Thanks for answering reader's questions with real answers. I must say, I'd love to learn your beauty selections since I absolutely love make up, and how you use it always looks amazing :) Since you disclosed about the Urban Decay glitter liner/shadow, I checked it out at Sephora here in San Jose, CA and noticed almost all of it was gone! Sheryl effect per chance?! Have a great week and God's speed with tracking :) You rock!
            Short Answer: Thanks, Ashleigh! I wrote a post a while ago with the products I use. Some have changed, but most are the same (and since people have been asking, I've slowly been replacing non-vegan cosmetics with vegan but I'm not 100% there yet). It should give you a good idea what I wear, even if the products are not exactly the same.

            2- Lindsay Beeson wrote:
            your natural body & face shape seems to pair so well with the ideal-lady-images of the era that inspires you. happy coincidence?
            Short Answer: Yes, actually, I think it is a happy coincidence. That or I was just destined to have this look. Either way I consider myself lucky (and thank you for the lovely compliment).
            3a- Julia Schmedes You used to have longer hair - how did you make your curls stay in there, without your hair liking al fizzy? I try and try and always fail... The curls are either gone after half an hour or it's all a frizzy mess if I don't straighten my roots before... I'd also like to know how you get your hair cut
            3b- Jenna Bouchard I would love to see a vlog of how you do your hair :)
            3c- Evelyn Hardie I second that Jenna! And how you apply your makeup! :-)
            Short Answer: Regarding my hair, I posted a step by stop blog to how I do my hair years ago. The products have changed, but the process is the same. Although, hair washing night is cut down to about 1.5 hours. And I don't think I mention it in there, but daily hair curling takes only 10 minutes. While the curlers are in my hair, I do my make up. So the total time for daily hair + makeup is 20-25 minutes.
            4- Becca Polard But it DOES have to do with weight loss. I uuuused to have style...but then I got chubby and I had to settle for wearing clothes that fit...but that weren't ME. I long to have my style back. So...seeing you is awesome because it makes me realize that, once I get healthier, I can reclaim my awesome self-image. Tada!
            Short Answer: Becca, I hope you do not wait to 'get your style back'. You should do what you can to find clothes that make you feel great *now* - no matter where you are in your weight loss journey. Because like I mentioned above, when you feel good about the way you look, you will project that. It affects your mood & attitude. Don't wait to feel great!
            5- Andrea Macaluso Gaspar Where did you shop, pre-weight loss? 
            Short Answer:  I've always been a mall girl. At my heaviest weight (size 16), and from about the year 2000, I shopped mostly at Ann Taylor Loft, Lord & Taylor, Old Navy, Target and Ann Taylor. It wasn't until 2006 that I started shopping at Banana Republic (I was a size 14 in their dresses & skirts at the time). And Banana is where the majority of my wardrobe comes from today. Regarding style and shopping, I have blogs for that too!
            1. Where I shop
            2. Shopping Strategies
            3. Style Philosophy
            And because my life is like an episode of Seinfeld and all my worlds have finally collided...
            If you haven't heard the amazing news, Project Runway's Tim Gunn (who knows my Dad - seriously! And who told my Dad I'm "gorgeous" - YES, SRSLY!) is now part of Weight Watchers! Check him out, giving fashion advice on the WW website. (and even more world's colliding - check out my autographed Tim Gunn book - I blogged this over at Fred Flare a while ago)

            I'm going to leave with a really great compliment I received from my friend, Joe Vincent, when I asked for your style-related questions. I met Joe at a barbeque in Brooklyn in the summer of 2006, just a few months before joining Weight Watchers. I remember him thinking I was beautiful even then. And in fact, I have a photo of that day - It's one of my before pictures (he's in the background of the photo, on the right)- That's a strapless dress from Ann Taylor, size 14, and the shrug is also Ann Taylor, size XL (I wouldn't have dreamed of revealing my upper arms back then)-

            June 2006, Around 190-195

            Joe left me this comment -
            Joe Vincent I have always known that you have the greatest style! You always stand out in a room of 100 people. You are an amazing woman and you will have my admiration forever!
            Thank you, Joe Vincent. And thank you to all of you for your interest in my look and your endless compliments. I hope that answers your questions and inspires you to embrace or enhance your own style!

            Saturday, February 19, 2011

            Last Week's Accomplishments and the Upcoming Week

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            (This is for the week of  Wednesday, February 9th through Tuesday, February 15th)

            Accomplishments & Great Moments this Week:
            • Tracking: I tracked 1 day. Not awesome, but I will continue to work on this goal.
            • Activity Spreadsheet: I worked out 5 times in 4 days, burning just under 1000 calories:
            Activity Week Ending 20110214
            • Poster from Kevin: Before my world famous climb up the Empire State Building, a blog reader/twitter follower drew and photographed a fantastic picture for me. I loved it so much, I asked him to mail it to me. And he did. How great is this? (note: this is my trophy corner on my vanity!) Thank you, Kevin and Cindy!
            • 2/11 My Fastest Run Ever! Last Friday, I broke a 10 minute mile! I had no idea this would be the run when it would happen. It started off pretty bad, actually. I'm going to blog about it in an upcoming running post. Here is my graph from Nike. (My pace was 9'44"!)
            Nike Run 20110211 - Fastest run ever!
            • That same night, I boarded the 7 Train in Grand Central and this pretty young woman did also. She told me she's a blog reader! Woo hoo! I love it when that happens! I don't think I've ever been approached on a subway. This is Alessandra - We talked about Weight Watchers for a few minutes till we arrived in Queens. It was great meeting you, Alessandra! (I hope I spelled your name right)
            Alessandra, a blog reader I met on the 7 Train tonight!
            • 2/12 In Total Body Conditioning, not only did my brave neighbor, Jaci, join me again. But another local friend, Elaine joined! It was memorable right there - but even more so when I realized my 5 pound weights are too light to use as my 'light weights' (keep in mind, they were my HEAVY weights when I started that class). I retired them, using my 8 pound weights as my lights & mediums, and my 10s are still my heavies. But I likely have to upgrade to 12 pounds soon.
            • This is odd - I think my right leg from the knee down recently got smaller. Not much, but just enough to cause a few weird issues - I first noticed it with my leg warmers. The right leg kept falling down. I washed them & dried them thinking it was a fluke but every pair I have worn has had the same result, the right side slides down! Not only that! But I keep walking out of my right shoe. Yes, only the right one. My right calf and foot have mysteriously shrank. Not enough to be noticeable to the eye, but certainly enough to impact my clothing. Crazy, huh?
            • Do you remember that I mentioned a photo I took was going to be used on a book cover? Well I received the book and it's just amazing to see it! This is the book, and my own cover girl, the HK Cruiser in the background. (She's shy) I can't believe a photo of mine is on a book cover! Thank you, Nicole!
            my bike is on the cover of a book!

            Final Pretty Awesome Moment...
            • This is super exciting. I hope you're sitting down... I was picked by Weight Watchers to be one of their Success Stories! This is something I dreamed about for as long as I can remember - even years ago, in previous attempts when I didn't reach goal - I would read the Success Stories and tried to imagine reaching goal and being featured. And of course during this journey too - I dreamed of being a Weight Watchers Success Story. I mentioned on my blog it in July 2007 and in August 2010, after reaching goal.  This dream is actually coming true! They're going to recognize my incredible journey and feature me! I am almost too excited for words! (Before you ask, I am not sure if this is for the magazine or online. And yes, I will be at the photoshoot with Suzi Storm!) This is a huge honor - HUGE - and I'm so excited about the photoshoot next week! Thank you, Weight Watchers!!! (and big thanks to my leader, Melanie, for recommending me!)
              What I'm Working On and Upcoming Events This Week: 
              • Tracking! My usual 'at least 5 full days' goal. I'm off to a good start!
              • No beer! For a little while... I haven't had a beer in about a week but this ban is being lifted when Suzi Storm comes to NYC on 2/24 and she and I finally meet! We have special beer-related plans already! :)
              • No vegan treats or vegan packaged snacks (cookies, chocolate, bars, soy crisps etc) until 2/25, just because I've been eating too many. This is comfort food for me. It's non-essential so I need to cut it out for a little while. Because I can never have enough of what I don't really need. So I'm going to have none... For now. 
              • I forgot to mention: My job has been launching a bunch of wellness initiatives, which is great! So I've been going to yoga on Mondays now, since they offer a free class. I also started attending their Weight Watchers At Work meetings (I get to go for free since I'm a Lifetime member) Not only is it great because I get to inspire people (many of them know me since I was 200 pounds, so they've seen the transformation) but the best part is that this upcoming week - a leader of mine from 2001 is filling in! I haven't seen her since around then, and of course she's never seen me at goal weight. I can barely wait for her to see me!
              I know this is already very long, but before I go, I want to mention one last thing that happened this week - 

              On Valentine's Day, I had plans to meet my friend Amanda at a tattoo shop (Thicker than Water) on Ave B in Manhattan. The receptionist, Sam, recognized me from my blog! (I think she said she loves it, in fact!) Thanks, Sam!

              Sam recognized me from my blog! Awesome!

              While I love being recognized from my blog, it gets even better: I have to thank 2 of my favorite lady friends - First, my lovely friend and neighbor Jaci (who is quite the cook and working on her own blog, I'll link to it when she's ready). She was in the area and stopped by to say hi. (Jaci, why do I look gigantic next to you?!)

              Jaci was in the area and stopped by

              Jaci was somehow prepared for this unexpected run-in because she presented me with a really beautiful vintage-y Valentine's Day card with a super sweet note that got me all choked up (yes, I'm a super emotional girl...) And look, there's even a Twitter reference. How cute is this?!

              from Jaci

              I also have to thank Amanda for being my Valentine's 'date' - she arrived late because she stopped to buy me flowers (FLOWERS!) My last flowers were from Melanie the night I reached Lifetime. Amanda, they are gorgeous!!!

              Flowers from Amanda

              She also brought me a slice of vegan cake (which isn't pictured because I devoured in bed when I got home).

              After the tattoo shop, I took my lady date to Lakeside Lounge, where we enjoyed Belgian Beer & cider and took photobooth pictures -

              Amanda & Me @ Lakeside Lounge

              But what better way to top Belgian beer? With Belgian Fries, of course! We went out of our way, to 2nd Ave, just to be gluttonous at Pommes Frites. (cue Homer drooling sound here...)

              Nom nom nom

              Nothing wrong with a french fry splurge every once in a while! :)

              It may have been my best Valentine's Day in a decade, maybe more. These two women took time away from their men to make me feel loved and special on this stupid holiday, so I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart - the heart that is terrified to love again. Thank you both so much! I'm so lucky to call you friends!

              On that note, I hope everyone had a day filled with love. And enjoy the weekend! Spring is almost here...

                Friday, February 18, 2011

                Milestones: My First Outdoor Run

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                As you likely know, I only started running very recently. And I would call myself a 'treadmill runner'. To date, my only outdoor runs have been for events on closed courses (Central Park & Prospect Park only, in fact). I knew I wasn't ready to run outside... yet. Mostly because of the weather. We've had a brutal winter here in NYC. Between the sub freezing temps and record snowfalls (some of which still litters the ground), it wouldn't have been practical or realistic. In addition to that concern, I didn't want to worry about everything else: cars, traffic lights, pedestrians, the condition of the road etc. Basically, I didn't want to have to pay attention to all of those things. That's one reason I like the treadmill. It's just me and my thoughts. No distractions. My only concern is keeping up with the converyor belt so I don't slide off.

                But earlier this week I realized I didn't have enough time to walk to the gym, run for 40 minutes and walk back. It was also supposed to be 45ish degrees - the highest temp so far this year. So instead, I decided to do something crazy: Go run outside!

                I was at work, and it's a little hilly in that area, so I had to plan a route based upon what I remembered of the roads when I used to drive around there. I picked a starting point (outside my building, at the base of a hill). My plan was to run as far as I could for 20 minutes, then turn around and come back.

                I wore compression pants, socks, Nike Frees, sports bra and a lightweight t-shirt. It was actually VERY chilly & windy when I got outside. But I didn't want to have to deal with a jacket since I had nowhere to leave it. I was just going to suck it up. (I didn't bring water for the same reason. And because I find it next to impossible to drink water while running. I have to stop to do it. That and I didn't want to carry it as I ran.)

                I made my way to the starting point I decided upon, started my Nike+ on my iPod, cuing up the Girl Talk, started my heart rate monitor and took off! I ran up that first hill, making a right on that block and then just kept running.

                I ran past a few cafeteria workers who likely recognized me and probably thought I was nuts. I ran past Con Ed workers who enthusiastically smiled at me. I ran past homes I could never possibly afford. I ran past smokers and held my breath so as not to inhale their smoke. I ran as cars and trucks passed me and beeped at me. I carefully ran around melting snow, hoping I wasn't going to slip on ice. And before I knew it, I ran past a sign for the Hartsdale Metro North Train Station. That may not mean much to most of you, but I take the train to the White Plains Metro North Train Station every day. Seeing that sign meant I had officially made it a town over. Half a block from there (technically in another town - Scarsdale!). That's where I hit the 20 minute mark - my half way point. And I turned right around to head back.

                As I ran, I thought about the significance of the event - my first outdoor run on my own! And I realized that it was also in White Plains that I also did my first ever indoor run (at the gym). I thought about how I didn't really mind the distractions the way I thought I would. In fact, they kind of kept it interesting. I thought about how even a year ago, I would have never thought I'd be doing this - running at all, let alone outside. I thought about possibly running outside in Brooklyn and NYC - over the bridges - the same bridges I ride my bike over. I thought about the 2012 NYC Marathon. And I thought about how awesome it is to be alive and healthy enough to run!

                I still felt good on my return trip. I wasn't even chilly anymore. On my way back, I ran around a mailman on his route. I ran past a UPS driver parked on the sidewalk, giving him a dirty look as he forced me into the street. I ran past the same Con Ed workers who smiled at me again. I ran past the pizzeria many of my co-workers go to at lunchtime, hoping to see some of them (I didn't). And finally I ran to that hill where I started - this time descending. In my mind this was my home stretch. The bottom of that hill was my imaginary finish line. And this is where I kicked it into high gear just like I do at the running events with actual finishing lines.

                I made it to the base of the hill and stopped my iPod & HRM. It was just over 39 minutes, which means I cut 1 minute off my return trip! I. Felt. AMAZING! But it was weird to have no one to share it with, like at the running events. No bagel or apple. No finish line photo. Not even any water. It was a little anti-climactic, but still a great experience.

                When I got back to work, a co-worker told me "I saw you running!" My first question, something I used to ask William all the time - "Do I look like a real runner?!" (Seriously, I'm dying to know if I look like i know what I'm doing or just a spastic jogger) She told me she had seen me just as I stopped and was checking my HRM. So she didn't see me running. She saw me stopping. :(

                Darn it. I still don't know if I look like a real runner.

                I went online to map out my route and determine my mileage. It came to about 3.7, so my pace was pretty good: 10'35". Considering all the obstacles I had to deal with out there (the cars, pedestrians, smokers, snow, uneven sidewalks, construction workers, driveways, red lights) I was very happy with that distance in that time. And I am certain I will do this again. In fact, if they are right about today's weather, it will be this afternoon! (But this time I'm bringing a camera, tissues & my cell phone - things I didn't have last time)
                And if any of you see me out there, running, do me a favor - let me know if I look like a real runner - because I'd really like to know!

                Sunday, February 13, 2011

                Video Blog: Reader Questions, Installment 5 (My Body)

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                (The following questions are answered in this weeks video blog:

                1) Marie said...
                Random question, maybe someone has already asked - but how do you deal with stretch marks? I'm 224 currently, lost 8lbs (in 1 week, not sure how that happened) but I've lost 3 inches in my waist so far. One thing that really worries me is the stretch marks. I'm not sure how to get rid of the little pooch either. They keep telling me cardio, but shouldn't i be able to do some crunches too? You on the other hand look AMAZING! I hope some time soon I'll have the confidence to take my undies pic! :D <3 
                Short Answer: Thanks :) Believe me - I do have stretch marks - but I don't do anything about them. See my answer below to Yvonne re: cardio/crunches.

                2) Sarah in England said...
                Hello, I absolutely love your blog and was proud to see that I was mentioned on your Twitter List "Health and Fitness Inspiration" - I need to make sure I earn my mention and has spurred me on! My question is, what do you do to achieve such a tiny waist? Or do you think it has more to do with eating healthy.

 Thank you Sarah (@sarahww77) London England
                Short Answer: I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with eating healthy or my activity level - I am fairly certain it's entirely genetic. I've always had a small waist and hourglass shape, even at my heaviest weight. I've always loved my tiny waist and consider myself very lucky for being built the way I am.

                3)Yvonne said...
                that is amazing. congratulations. =) I have a question, are crunches useful? I mean, I have a little bit of stomach fat that I want to lose, and was doing crunches in january, up to 2,084, but my bf has said to me, and a yahoo online article has said that they ... "don't do anything". What exercises did you use to tone your stomach? I don't need a six pack or anything, just would like it to not be flabby.
                Short Answer: First, I want to remind you all that I am not a personal trainer. I can only tell you what I have learned and what I believe. I left Yvonne a comment on her blog: "I have news for you - I'm still flabby, I just photograph myself carefully :) - the thing is, yes, crunches work *if you do them correctly* but keep in mind, they build the muscle, underneath the flab. You need to lose the flab by eating less/losing weight. Crunches alone won't fix the whole problem, and if done wrong they won't do anything."

                (for those who don't see the video below, here is a link)

                A few other quick questions answered:

                1) From my GridIron post, Anonymous said...
                I was wondering how you got your total time and your time in the cardio zone to be the same there should be a time difference since your heart rate isnt in the cardio zone at the exact same second you start working out.
                Short Answer: My running stats are always 100% in the cardio zone, because I don't start my heart rate monitor until I officially start running (at a 6.0 mph on the treadmill, or when I cross that starting line). It takes a good 30 or so seconds before either of those things occur - until it does, I'm jogging to get to the 6.0 or to the starting line. My cardio zone (for my age) starts around 120 hbpm, and I easily hit that in 30 seconds. So by the time I press start, I'm already in my cardio zone.

                2) In that same post, I received a comment from Amy...
                Congrats on another great accomplishment. Go Girl! I have to say that I cannot understand how you manage to find the time and energy for the full hair and makeup before you exercise. Where do you post about the products that you use? I personally remove my makeup before I exercise, but I suppose you wouldn't be you if you did that. Such style!
                Short Answer: Thank you, Amy! I really never consider the 'time or energy' it takes - it's just part of my daily routine, doing my hair & makeup. It only takes 30 minutes. And since most of my workouts are at lunchtime, it's already done. I would not remove my make up, work out and then put it back on. That would take much longer. I will mention that on weekends, I go to the gym with no makeup since it's first thing in the morning. When I get home, I shower and then do hair/makeup. As for the products I use, it would take too long for me to list them, sorry.

                3) MissHaneefa
                @bitchcakesny question for your next video blog: how many pairs or exercise pants do you own? Keep up the amazing work! Love ur blog!

                Short Answer: Thank you! Hope your 7k went well! I currently own 3 pairs of those amazing CWX compression pants. I wear them for running - and wear them a few times each before washing. When I get home, I turn them inside out, hang them in my shower and spray them with Febreeze sport. (it's not ideal, but keep in mind, I live in Brooklyn and only get to do laundry every 2 weeks). When I do the stairs/pilates I don't need as much support so I wear one of my other pair of workout pants - I have a bunch of Champion pants from Target. But after having the superior fit of the CWX Compression pants, all other pants pale in comparison.

                That's all for this week. If you have questions for next week, leave them below. Thanks!

                I will keep mentioning this, since I get emails & comments daily asking for my other blogs: If you are looking for any of my other blogs, they are temporarily unavailable. No one has access except me. They will be back eventually. I apologize for that, especially for all the links that no longer work. Thank you for understanding.

                Saturday, February 12, 2011

                Last Week's Accomplishments and the Upcoming Week

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                I will have to keep mentioning this, since I get emails & comments daily asking for my other blogs: If you are looking for any of my other blogs, they are temporarily unavailable. No one has access except me. They will be back eventually. I apologize for that, especially for all the links that no longer work. Thank you for understanding.

                 (This is for the week of  Wednesday, February 2nd through Tuesday, February 8th)

                Accomplishments    & Great Moments this Week:
                • Tracking- I was short of my 5 day goal, but here is the snapshot of my weekly tracker:
                Food Journal Week Ending 20110208
                • Activity Spreadsheet - I worked out 5 days, burning just over 2000 calories:
                Activity Week Ending 20110208
                • In my recap for last Sunday's GridIron run, using the time on my heart rate monitor (41.49), I calculated my pace at 10'28". But according to the official results on the NYRR website, my finish time was 41 minutes 40 seconds, putting my pace at 10'25"! That's a full 38 seconds per mile shaved off from my previous run - the Jingle Bell Jog in Prospect Park. What a great pace! 
                • Speaking of the GridIron run, a photo of me showed up in their gallery (so many people tipped me off to this, thank you all) I don't think I'm allowed to screen cap it, so if this link doesn't bring you right there, you have to click the #4 on the bottom to see me.
                • And you know how I love buying those overpriced event photos, well for some reason, they only had 2 pics of me. I'm not sure if my jacket was covering my bib # or what, but these are the only photos of me. There's this one, which I don't love (it's my bad side), but thank you Marcus for finding that photo for me! Then there's this one - the one I had told you about in that blog post - the pic of me crossing the finish line while I was taking a photo of the finish line time. I actually think it came out great and it's really funny, so I'm definitely buying it!
                • This week I registered for 3 more NYRR runs (that brings me to 7 of the 9 I need to qualify for next year's NYC marathon): 4 miles in Central Park on April 23rd, 5 miles in Central Park on Father's Day (yes, "Google's Secret Weapon" will be there to see me cross the finish line!) and on May 21, my first half-marathon - the Brooklyn Half! (Yes, I ran the distance of a half marathon on a treadmill in December, but this is my first *real*, outdoor half marathon! In the beautiful borough I am lucky enough to call home, the County of Kings and 1 Bitch Cakes!)
                • Last Saturday, I brought my neighbor, Jaci to my total body conditioning class at the Y. This is my favorite class - it's all weights (no cardio). We work on our biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes & abs. This class has really changed my body - It has not only made me stronger, but has given me some really well defined muscles and light toning. The first time I took this class, though, it was a very humbling experience. It's challenging, but it has to be. If it were easy, it wouldn't have any effect. I hung on through that class and went back for more, again and again. I had no idea how it would change my body, I just enjoyed challenging myself and my muscles. But I remember how tough it was that first time (I almost cried. No joke.) Anyway, Jaci made it through like a trooper! Sure, she was sore for 3 days (I was fine, went for a run the next day, but I can relate to her experience!) but she did it! Congrats, Jaci!!
                (here we are at the Farmer's Market in October 2010. Just cause it's so cute!)
                Me & Jaci @ the Farmer's Market
                  What I'm Working On and Upcoming Events This Week: 
                  • Tracking - needless to say, I need to get my tracking back in check!
                  • It's possible (weather permitting) I will actually get to ride my bike this week for the first time since November! I can't even tell you how much I miss her. I recently had a dream with her, nothing special - just that I was riding her, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes when I woke up and realized it wasn't true.
                  • Congrats to one of my favorite other WLJ peeps, Julia, who was inspired by my Empire State Building Stair Climb and signed up for her own stair climb! You go, girl!!!
                  • I want to thank Mary in New Zealand for giving me a shout out that my Empire State Building Run Up recap was one of her favorite posts of the week.
                  • Thank you Sara in Belfast for another really sweet shout-out in her blog! "I am LOVING Ms Bitch Cakes and her health and fitness adventures in New York. She rocks a wicked coif, red lipstick and rides a hello kitty bike! She's fucking fabulous!!! She even works out in full make up!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! " haha, I love it!
                  • And yet another great shout out, this time from Texas! "I don't really know if it's possible to love another blogger you've never met, but this comes close. BitchCakes started her blog when she weighed 200 pounds and still looked amazing. She now weighs 134 and works out more than any person I have ever met. Recently she climbed the stairs of the Empire State building. The words she writes to encourage, inspire, and motivate herself are priceless to anybody working towards any goal. Instead of beating herself up, she gives herself the okay - even for months at a time, and knows she can start back up at any place she desires."
                  • Natasha at Unlikely Triathlete also mentioned me and had an important realization - "I thought about Bitchcakes, and how if I ever ran into her without knowing who she was, I would think of her as one of those lucky people who just happened to be thin. But she isn’t, as we all know. She used to be 75 pounds heavier. To look like she does now, in addition to changing her diet, she does 45 minutes of cardio, every day, at absolute minimum. For goodness sake, after her amazing Empire State Building Run-Up, she went out for her “real” workout afterwards!"
                  • Blog reader, Kelsey, in Texas, did something that's a first that I'm aware of - she named her bike after me! How awesome is that?! She left me this enthusiastic comment: "Sheryl!!
                    You are amazing!! I am a blog-o-holic, and you have moved up to my number 1 spot of which blog I check out first!! 

But mainly this comment is to tell you that I have been wanting a cute bike forever, and finally found the one that I wanted. I bought it today, and just can't have a cute bike like it without it having a is hereby named Sheryl! Hope you don't mind!"
                    Kelsey, I do not mind at all, I'm totally honored!!!

                  And with that - I have to get out of here. Time to get ready for that Total Body Conditioning class - Jaci is already ready! I'm so proud of you, Jaci! Let's go get strong, shall we?

                  Tuesday, February 08, 2011

                  Weekly Meeting Topic: Hunger

                  Links to this post
                  Tonight we talked about Hunger - physical (real) hunger and mental (emotional) hunger. I've covered this topic a few times already, so I am not going to cover it again. But I urge you to read my previous blogs on the subject. I just re-read them and they say everything I would have told you tonight. Please go check these out and then come back -
                  Now I want to mention a few more things not covered there:

                  First is a quote I heard on that show "My Strange Addiction". One of the therapists said to a woman who had a compulsive shopping habit (I no longer have it on my DVR so this is paraphrased but very close to what she said, if not exact) "You can never have enough of what you don't really need." Did that hit you? Because it nearly knocked me off my chair when I heard it. Go back and read it and let it sink in.

                  You can never have enough of what you don't really need.

                  To hear it put in those terms was so simple, so true. In this woman's case, it was shoes, but it pertains to anything. Any addiction. Naturally, I immediately thought of food...

                  I can never have enough of what I don't really need. Let's see...

                  When I'm physically hungry, my body *needs* food - I need protein, fiber, real, nutritious food. My body literally needs it. And when I supply my amazing body with that food, I get satisfied and move on.

                  But when I'm emotionally & mentally hungry, and I'm eating what my body doesn't need - I feel like I can never get enough. I can binge on a gallon of ice cream, a dozen donuts, a box of cereal, pounds of candy, a jar of peanut butter - anything I can get my hands on (*note: those are actual examples of things I've done while on plan). I am never, ever satisfied. I might feel sick, but never satisfied. No matter how much I consumed, I never once got enough of those things I didn't really need. She was right.

                  I couldn't believe how she summed up addiction like that - so simply - and how that had never occurred to me - and all the other ways I applied it to my life and realized how true it was. That quote has not been far from my mind since I heard it, I think it's so powerful.

                  Second, was something my friend Nina said in the meeting tonight. In talking about emotional eating, she mentioned how we eat to numb ourselves. I totally agree, I think a lot of us eat to numb or distract ourselves for any number of reasons. But then she added something that really got to me, that I had never thought of before - she said that what starts off as "I'm sad, I'm going to eat" turns into "I'm angry that I ate all that/did that to myself".

                  Of course I related to that pattern, but I had never attached those emotions to it as she did. And the reason it affected me so deeply was because I noticed this exact pattern in myself a while ago - I realized that I have a terrible time dealing with sadness, but I'm much more comfortable dealing with anger. And I often do what I can to turn sadness into anger.

                  Anger has been my go-to emotion for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child, even. I always had a tendency to get mad often, and about ridiculous things - mostly things that were out of my control. My ex husband used to tell me that I got mad about things it would never even occur to him to get mad about. But since I grew up in a very negative/angry environment, it never even occurred to me that this wasn't normal until he pointed it out when I was a very angry 30 year old woman.

                  But for me, anger was always my norm. Anger was what I understood. So it made me feel better to be angry than to feel anything else.

                  And though it never occurred to me until tonight when Nina said that, I am certain that some of my emotional/overeating was just me subconsciously repeating that scenario many times with food - replacing the loneliness and emptiness of sadness - something I wasn't at all comfortable with, with something I was much more comfortable feeling - being angry that I was abusing my body with food.

                  The food was a way to get me from sad to angry pretty reliably. And when I was angry, I didn't have to be sad. Problem solved, right? Not really... (Wow, Nina. Thank you for making me see this pattern in myself!)

                  Of course at this point in my life, I don't eat to replace sadness with anger. In fact, the last time I was really affected by sadness I didn't eat for days. And anger makes me lose my appetite completely.

                  But I'm smart enough to know I'm not cured from emotional eating - as with everything else, I will continue to work on it for the rest of my life. But these days, my strategy isn't numbing myself with food - it's to be aware of the emotion and an uncomfortable/painful as it is, *deal with it* (or as I once heard "Feel the feelings, don't feed them").

                  I realize that's a lot of heavy stuff  to think about, but I hope you absorb some of it and figure out what drives your emotional eating and some strategies for dealing with your own triggers.

                  But before I go, I want to remind you of a Weight Watchers quote that I know you all enjoy and it's one of my favorites: "If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution."

                  Good night :)

                  Sunday, February 06, 2011

                  Fitness Adventures: Gridiron Classic 4 Mile Run in Central Park

                  Links to this post
                  Today I completed my first of the 9 runs I need to do this year with the New York Road Runners in order to automatically qualify for the 2012 NYC Marathon. It was a 4 mile run called the Gridiron Classic (before you ask, I have no idea what that means). Here's how my day went:

                  I got up early, had my vegan pumpkin pancakes & coffee and got ready to leave the house (yes, my cats are playing on the floor)

                  I wore:
                  • my super tight CRX Compression Pants, $82
                  • underwire sports bra from Victoria's Secret, $34
                  • pink RUN shirt from the New York Road Runners, $30
                  • socks from Runner's World (they are supposed to keep your feet warm and they did the trick at the Jingle Bell Jog), $10
                  • Nike Free Sneakers, $85

                  Starting time was 9am but I didn't want to get there too early and be freezing outside, waiting for the start, like I did with the Jingle Bell Jog. Because of that, I purposely cut my time close, giving myself an hour to get there. I caught the B62 to Queens and the 7 Train to Grand Central, then transferred to the 6 Train, riding 3 stops to 68th Street. (side note: I think the 6 line is my favorite, just based on the amazing tile work at the stops)

                  Follow the other runners!

                  I walked west to Central Park and arrived around 8:45. The problem was that a lot of the pedestrian areas were very icy so just getting through the crowd was difficult. It turns out I had cut my time *too* close this time. But at least I saw the cheering section on my way in -

                  As I carefully maneuvered the icy path looking for the bag check, Melanie spotted me from her corral! (if you think I'm enthusiastic, you never met Melanie. She's like the energizer bunny!)

                  I finally got my bag & coat checked and carefully made my way to the starting line.

                  But it was already 9:15! By the time I got to my corral, they were already disassembling it! I couldn't believe it!

                  I walked to the start and posed briefly at the starting line -

                  Then I turned around, and ran towards it. As I crossed it, I hit 'start' on my heart rate monitor. I ran a bit and looked around, thinking "Something is missing..."

                  Girl-Talk! I hadn't started my iPod!

                  My instinct was to run back to the starting line so I could re-start my HRM at the same time I start the Nike+ sensor but then I realized that even if I do that, I can't restart my racing chip and this is a timed race (they go by the chip time, not my HRM time) so I had to keep going and fumble with getting my playlist started as I was running. It wasn't the easiest thing ever (especially since we had been warned to look out for black ice and I was nervous about taking my eyes off the road) but after a minute, I had my running soundtrack on.

                  From the start, I felt great! I was running really well and was only mildly chilly but I knew I wouldn't be for long. A man passed me and complimented my  'fancy running hair do' I told him it would look just as good at the end (that's the good thing about the cold - it keeps my hair & eyebrows intact).

                  Before I knew it, I was at Mile Marker 1. The time reads 28.28, but since I wasn't sure what time I had started, I had no idea how long it took me to get there.

                  Soon after that, I ran past the Guggenheim. I love that building! (I'm a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. Probably not surprising)

                  Keep running!

                  I hit Mile Marker 2 just 10 and a half minutes later, so I was very pleased with my pace and I still felt fantastic.

                  I continued enjoying my surroundings in Central Park and taking photos as I ran-

                  As I was running, I really didn't think about much - I was comfortable weather wise, and my body felt fine, so my thoughts went to Central Park itself:

                  1) It's such a beautiful park and if you've never been there, I would think you'd be surprised at how huge it is. I also thought about how lucky I was to be there, enjoying it, running in it on this sunny winter day. I'm so proud to be a New Yorker and am so thankful I get to call it home. Some people only see NYC or Central Park in photos or movies and dream of being there in person, so I feel like I need to enjoy it for all the people who can't.
                  2) The park is hillier than you might expect but I remember handling the hills really well. I may have slowed down a little, but very slightly. And I never walked for even a second.
                  3) It occurred to me that this was really my first run in Central Park, since the last time I was in Central Park for a run was on Halloween and that didn't go very well. I walked most of that one. But I ran for all of this one!
                  4) Then I thought about the 2012 Marathon - how I'll be running through there for the last 2+ miles. I always try to imagine how I will feel when that day comes, when that moment comes, when I enter the park knowing it's the homestretch. I wonder what my body will be going through, what I'll encounter mentally and how I will feel knowing I have only 2+ miles to go. It's fun to think about.

                  And before I knew it, I was at Mile Marker 3! I still had a really good pace too -  under 11 minutes-

                  I didn't stop for water at either of the water stations -

                  When I had about 1/2 mile left, I shot a few seconds of video -

                  I love this building!

                  The pond was frozen over. There were ducks on it, too:

                  Right after taking that photo, who should pass me but the guy from the beginning of the race who commented on my hair. He actually told me it was "still looking good". Ha-ha!

                  And suddenly I knew it was almost over. You could tell by the crowds that are lined up cheering even before you see the Finish Line.

                  And there is something so indescribably exciting about actually seeing the blue columns of that Finish Line - it's amazing! When I see the end, I can feel a huge smile wash over my face and then I let every ounce of energy I have kick in and I RUN. MY. ASS. OFF! I run faster and harder in that last hundred or so yards than I do for any other point of the race. And it feels amazing. I swear, it feels like I am not even in my own body. I really am a machine at that point! I can't believe how incredible my body is or the things it can do, but it all hits me at that moment. I. Am. Awesome!!

                  As I crossed the finish line, the photographer was there. But unfortunately, I don't think my overpriced finish line photo is going to be good, since I was taking a photo of *him* -

                  Immediately after crossing the finish line, I finally ran into Trixie! Turns out I flew past her with my impressive sprint to the finish line. And as it turns out, her husband Mikey caught some great action shots of me running, with her right behind me! (Great job, Mikey!!!) These are so funny! I had no idea she was back there!

                  Here, she is directly behind me:

                  And then you can see how I slowly started to gain some distance - when I was racing towards that finish line! (Look at the faces she's making, what a goofball! I love that woman!)

                  I think my feet are off the ground in this shot! Thanks Mikey!!

                  On the other side of the finish line, we grabbed water, fruit & bagels -

                  And that meant it was over. :(

                  It always takes me a little while to wind down, post-race. Crossing that finish line is so exhilarating, but even though my body stops, my brain is still racing and I'm looking around thinking "now what?". I've noticed that sometimes I can't even speak coherently. My sentences don't even make sense. I don't know why that is. It just takes me a while for my brain to realize it's over and everything to return to normal. 

                  We made our way to the finishers photo backdrop. I like how sad I look in the top shot -

                  I asked Mikey to capture my 'big guns'-

                  Finally we caught up with Melanie and got this group shot-

                  Mikey & Trixie - adorabs!

                  On my way home, I stopped in Grand Central and posed for my photo in the same mirror I photograph myself in on weekdays-

                  Sunday Afternoon in Grand Central

                  I had coffee & a vegan cookie and headed home on the 7 Train -

                  But by the time I got home, I was still busting with excitement and energy. These events just do that to me, I don't know what it is but I have even more energy when they're over than I did before or during. Since I was busting out of my skin, I decided to let my photos upload and as they did, I grabbed my stuff and ran to West Cafe in Williamsburg for their vegan waffle brunch. Literally, I ran for waffles. Another 1.25 miles clocked! Nice! I totally earned these vegan chocolate peanut butter waffles. Look at these things! Only 9 bucks! (They were made by Vegan and Chef Ayinde Howell and they were even more delicious than they look-)

                  Finally, I was ready to wind down and returned home. I needed to shower and get this blog up. But before I decided to get clean, I cut up my shirt and did this, you know, for tradition-

                  Not only did I have a really amazing run, but I had my best outdoor pace to date! Here are my Heart Rate Monitor stats from the run in the park:

                      •    Total Time: 41 minutes, 49 seconds
                      •    Minutes in Cardio Zone: 41 minutes, 49 seconds
                      •    Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 100%
                      •    Average Heart Rate: 168
                      •    High Heart Rate: 190
                      •    Total Calories Burned: 430
                      •    Total Miles: 4
                      •    Pace: 10'28"

                  It was a great day to be a runner! Oh heck, it was a great day to be me!

                  (The entire set of Flickr Photos can be seen here)