Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Video Blog & Reader Question: About wearing heels, overweight and not

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HRH Teri asked...
I have a question! Have you always worn 4-inch heels? I'm currently 90 pounds overweight, and I find wearing high heels crazy painful now! Don't get me wrong, I've always found heels painful after a while, but, 70 pounds ago, I used to be able to wear them for an extended period of time. I'm working on exercising regularly to lose weight, and one of my incentives is being able to wear heels again. But there's a niggling thought in the back of my head that makes me think, regardless of weight, heel-wearing is for stouter hearts than mine. School me in this, Bitchcakes, is high-heel wearing an acquired skill or is it a weight-restricted event?
Here is a little video where I attempt to answer your question...


For those who can't see/hear the video, basically I said that I've been wearing heels since I was 23 (17 years) but for most of those years of heel wearing, I was heavy/lazy and my "wearing" heels basically meant I walked from my house to car, or from my car to wherever and then sat while wearing heels. I wasn't really walking in them very much. 

At the time, I did have some knee pain but worse - I had terrible bunion pain, especially in my left foot. It was a super sharp shooting pain all the time - whether I was walking, sitting, wearing heels or not. It was so bad it used to wake me up at night! I am guessing the bunions formed because of the shoes I wore (and it runs in my family) but I attribute the pain from the extra weight I was carrying - the extra weight that put extra pressure on my knees & feet when I was wearing heels.

Now I can't say that losing weight "cured" my bunions, because I would need corrective surgery for that, but the pain did go away. I haven't had bunion pain in years and that was one of the BEST parts of weight loss that I never expected. I'm so thankful to not have that pain anymore! (For the record, my knee pain went away also, after losing about 25 pounds. I haven't had knee pain in years and that's great too!)

Now I wear heels all day and they don't bother me at all. The only time I change into flats is if I have to get somewhere fast. (I know I can walk a mile or more in heels, but it will be a little slower than in flats.) 

I guess my point is that if you are significantly overweight now, and heels hurt, don't rule them out forever. Maybe limit your wearing of them now for special events and after every 8 or 10 pound loss, try wearing them and seeing if they feel better. Another thing I would suggest is to make sure you are wearing the right size shoe. I happen to have wide feet (I used to think this was because I was overweight, but it was even the case at goal weight, it's just the way I'm built). When I found Payless & Zappos carry wide sizes and I realized how much better they fit/felt, I haven't gone back to attempting to squeeze my Flintstone feet into regular width shoes.

As a fellow high heel lover, I know that I would be LOST without my heels! So don't give up the faith, HRH Teri. I have confidence that one day you too, can wear heels on a regular basis! For now, go easy on yourself and make sure you are wearing the right size.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The 2011 NYC Marathon!

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These signs start showing up on Manhattan Ave a few days before the marathon

Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint Brooklyn: They didn't paint the blue stripe till the day before the marathon!

Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint Brooklyn: The night before the marathon! (While the runners were carb loading or sleeping, I was on my way home from the bar where I helped Jaci celebrate her birthday...)

Today was the 2011 NYC Marathon, which some of you thought I was running this year. That was not the case - I had to spend this year qualifying for next year. In order to qualify, you just have to join the New York Road Runners, run in 9 of their (qualifying) races and volunteer for 1 event in a calendar year. When you complete that 9 + 1, you are automatically qualified to run in the *next* year's marathon.

So far in 2011, I have run 8 NYRR qualifying races and completed my volunteer event. As of today, I *should have* been qualified... My 9th and final qualifying race was scheduled for last Sunday, October 30th. But because of a freak winter storm that hit NYC on October 29th, Central Park had to be shut down and the race was cancelled (there was significant tree damage to be cleaned up and the ones that didn't fall had too much snow on them, making it too dangerous for anyone to be in the park). Because the run was cancelled, even though I did not run, I get credit for that run. That means that technically, I am currently qualified to run the NYC marathon next year. But there is no way I'm getting in on a technicality like that. I will not consider myself truly qualified until I earn it myself. That will happen on November 20th, when I actually run my 9th race of the year. I know that crossing that finish line will be very emotional for me and I can hardly wait to do it!

Back to today's marathon...

Unfortunately I overslept which meant I wasn't outside in time to catch the elite runners as they came through my neighborhood. Instead I watched their astonishing record breaking finishes in Central Park on my TV as I got ready. Finally, I grabbed the HK Cruiser and headed out to see the marathon in my neighborhood of Greenpoint. Here's some photos (from about the 12.25 mile mark):

Running up Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint

Check out the guy in the white suit!
Running up Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint
Running up Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint
Running up Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint
Entertainment for the crowd
I'm pretty sure I photographed this woman last year too!
These guys were great and had the crowd really energized.

After hanging out there for a little while, I rode over to Williamsburg:

Running up Bedford Ave
Marathoners on Bedford Ave
Then I rode south a little to watch them pass under the Williamsburg Bridge (around the 11 mile mark):

on Bedford Ave, under the Williamsburg Bridge

Lots of runners carry flags - from all countries
Look at all the onlookers on the Willy B above
My bike enjoys the marathon too
waves and waves of runners
There's my friend, Weight Watchers buddy, fellow WW blogger, newlywed and author of FitCityBlog.com, @RobLongert! (in the red shirt)
I adore this shot
This guy is a LEGEND. He lives in Greenpoint and runs the marathon every year. He's over 70 years old! (the back of his shirt said "Life begins at 70"!)
Who is that handsome soldier far across the street?
He was good enough to come over to my side of the street so I could get a proper photo of him. He was my favorite of the day!
I love the shadows and light streaming in under the Williamsburg Bridge
This guy was representing all the Spanish speaking countries. He had  so many flags and was happy to hand out high-fives and encourage the  runners in Spanish.
And then I headed back to Greenpoint, along McGuinness Blvd:

Corner of Greenpoint Ave and McGuinness Blvd
They would not allow me to ride my bike over the bridge to Long Island City, Queens, so I stayed on McGuinness Blvd for a while.

Just after the water station on McGuinness Blvd
Port o Potties, at the base of the Pulaski Bridge on the Brooklyn side.
I didn't have the heart to tell this guy he spelled "Brooklyn" wrong.
Go forth to Queens, runners!!!
I don't know what this cape was all about
I saw SO MANY bra tops with flags this year!
While I was standing at this point on McGuinness Blvd, I was near a man who was cheering. I heard him say under his breath "young and old, skinny and chubby". It was an observation I made myself the first year I watched. And it's one of the things that made me think "maybe one day I can do that too". It's amazing the cross section of people you see on a marathon route. It's not just low-body-fat-extreme-athlete types. It's *everyone*. Every type of person you can imagine. And they're all out there doing it. At their own speed, in their own outfit, in their own way. And that's what makes it so moving and inspirational to watch. That is why I love the marathon!!!

I loved this graffiti on McGuinness Blvd and waited to get a shot with minimal runners
Back up on Manhattan Ave at Greenpoint Ave
The "Sweep Bus" - guess that means it's pretty much over :(
The aftermath on Manhattan Ave
I've been watching the marathon for 4 years now. It's one of my favorite things about living in Greenpoint. And I knew that this would be the last time I was watching it without having the experience of running it. I thought about that fact as I watched the runners in awe, with a huge smile on my face, and teared up so many times. I was so happy for them and so excited for me.

All day I thought about what it would be like when I run the marathon next year - What would the weather be like? How would I feel by the point they  are right now? How emotional would it be for me to run through my  beloved neighborhood? What will I wear - Should I wear a tutu or little skirt like so many other women do? What will my shirt say? I want people to shout my name as I pass so I have to write "Sheryl" on it. 

I tried to imagine experiencing the sight of the millions of spectators that come out to cheer in every neighborhood in every borough.  I thought about my incredible friend Trixie and how it would be the first marathon for each of us. I hope we run at least some of it together. (Hear that, Trixie?!) I thought about what it would be like to make it over the Pulaski Bridge and know I passed the half way point. I thought about running over the 59th St Bridge, and north in Manhattan, up into the Bronx (via the same route I rode my bike for the Tour de Bronx), then turning around and coming back down into Manhattan, making my way into Central Park for that last 2 miles. That's the park where I did most of my qualifying runs and I know that after I'm there for the marathon, it will never look the same to me again. I wondered what it would be like to finally cross that finish line, arms up, victoriously and who will be there waiting for me? What it would be like to get that medal and what I would feel like - mentally and physically - after I was done? I thought about so much and it simultaneously excited and terrified me. And I loved it!

The 2012 Marathon is a mere 52 weeks away and I feel like I have so much to do to get ready! I have to get used to running longer distances and I need to run much more often than I've ever run before. I have to run in all kinds of weather, in different places. I want to get a trainer to help me, at least for a little while, because I'm sure there are things I could be doing differently/better. I want to be more efficient as far as my breathing and how I use my body. I also want to get a Garmin so I can track my distance. So much to do, and you bet you'll be hearing a lot about it...

This is one of the biggest and most exciting things I've ever prepared for in my life. And just a few years ago I would have NEVER believed I'd be doing this in my lifetime. I'm so proud for how far I've come, and so excited for what I'm going to do.

Congratulations to my friends who ran this year - especially Jill, Rob, Elly, Scott and Twitter followers who I unfortunately didn't get to meet today - Michelle from VA & Elizabeth from CA. Congrats to everyone who ever ran! I have so much admiration and respect for you and I can't wait to be able to say that I, too, ran a marathon. Not just any marathon, but The NYC Marathon! I can barely wait to be a part of it!

(my entire photo set can be seen here)

And 2 photos from the days following the marathon...

left over on Manhattan Ave, morning after the marathon
I found this sign on Manhattan Ave - I think they did a great job on it!
the marathon half way mark on the Pulaski Bridge
Biking over the Pulaski two days later, I photographed the halfway point marking

Friday, November 04, 2011

Body Image, Revisited

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I've written a few times about body image. It's one of the trickier parts of the whole journey since I don't think we ever see ourselves the way other people see us, or the way we truly are, and I feel like it's one of those issues we all have to be mindful of forever because we tend to distort things for good or bad.

I remember writing about how, when I reached goal weight, everyone had an opinion about my body that they were more than happy to share with me. They told me what they liked or didn't like about my new body, what was too big, what was too small, etc. It was a lot of conflicting and strong opinions to process suddenly, when the only thing I wanted to do was enjoy the feeling of pride I had for my new healthy body.

I don't think any of the comments were malicious, I consider them more of an observational statement from the person revealing them. But considering my history - a lifetime of being overweight and obese, years of being ridiculed for my weight, decades of negative and warped body image, and the very new body that I was still coming to terms with - some of those comments were just too much for me to handle.

At first, I allowed some of the comments get to me. They confused me or hurt me a little. But then eventually I came to the "Everyone has an opinion but the only opinion that matters is mine" attitude. And that's where I've been ever since. Let them say whatever I want. I can't control their words, I can only control my reaction or non-reaction to them. Right? Totally!

But recently something happened that unnerved me a little bit.

I started dating a new guy. When we met, he didn't know anything about me - not about my weight  history or my blog or anything about me for that matter. All he knew about me was that I was the stylish, sexy chick on the pink bike with the big ass, who he'd often see while he was out on his bike. He knew I rode my bike a lot, and commented about how strong and healthy I am. But as we got to know each other better, I revealed my (not-so-secret) Bitch Cakes identity to him, and explained that I was not always the way I am today. I only started riding that bike a few years ago, running a year ago and spent most of my life not active and not healthy. I showed him my blog, and my before photos.

His reaction was not what I expected. First, he told me how beautiful I was at my heavier weights (190 +). That wasn't such a big deal. People often told me I was beautiful when I was heavy. (But I never FELT beautiful and feeling it matters much more than hearing it.) Then he asked me something I didn't think a man would ever ask me. Ever. In my lifetime.

He asked me to gain weight.

I am pretty sure I replied with something like "Are you @#$!%%! crazy?! No! I don't ever want to be that weight again! I don't ever want to feel like that again!"

I was so confused. He met me at this weight, he thinks I'm beautiful at this weight. He knows I'm healthy NOW but he wants me to put weight back on?!

After my very visceral reaction, he retracted slightly, bargaining with me - "Just gain 20 pounds".

No! I told him! No way! I'm currently a little over goal and my plan is to get back to goal -- lose weight -- not GAIN weight!

The conversation was over but I couldn't stop thinking about it. It took me to some dark places in my brain that I haven't visited in quite a while - I remembered growing up how none of the boys in school liked me because I was too fat. I remembered being called 'fat' or 'tubby' every day by my junior high bully. I remembered how my own prom date told me "You're so pretty, it's too bad you're so fat." I remembered how even in my 20's, the guys that dated me acted like they were doing me a favor because I was the fat girl and they were taking pity on me, and they'd eventually ask me to lose weight while they were with me.

So what upside down world was I living in now? How did I get to this place, where someone was now asking me to GAIN weight?! After everything I've been through?!?!

It was the same thing all over again. Whether they were asking me to lose weight or gain weight, it didn't matter. It was the same thing. The same feeling of confusion and self doubt.

For a moment I felt the way I hadn't felt in a long time, but had felt so many times in my life before - that I was not good enough the way I was. Why was I not good enough? Why did I need to be changed? And who was this person to even consider asking me to change?

I reminded myself of that post I wrote when I hit goal - about how everyone had an opinion, but the only opinion that mattered is mine. And that helped alleviate the anxiety I was feeling after he asked me that. I didn't need to let his question get to me. In fact, I wouldn't allow it to get to me.

Instead, I explained to him that the woman he saw in those photos - even if he thought she was beautiful on the outside - she was dying on the inside. She was so sad and missing out on life. She cried every day. She wasn't having fun. She wasn't energetic. And she certainly wasn't riding a Hello Kitty Cruiser or entertaining the thought of running a marathon.

I thanked him for appreciating my beauty at other weights but told him that I would not be returning to those weights - not for him, not for anyone. And I reminded him that I had a few pounds to lose to get back to goal, so I would in fact be losing weight while we are together.

That whole thing happened a few days ago. And when I saw him last night, and I was scantily clad, he told me that I'm beautiful. And that I'm perfect the way I am right now.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Interview: Women You Should Know

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I was recently contacted by a website called Women You Should Know and they asked me to answer a few questions. After checking out their site, I was more than happy to oblige. And I'm thrilled with the results. Check out the article, and the interview here.

(special thanks to the Twitter follower who recommended me, to Matt for letting them use a photo he took and to Women You Should Know for contacting me!)

Oh and since this is a tiny post... someone left a comment asking what happened to my video posts. I actually forgot about those! If you have a suggestion for a video post, leave a comment below for what you want me to answer or show in a video and pick one of your suggestions and film one this weekend.

And if you forgot, I'm blogging over on WeightWatchers.com twice a week. If you miss me over here,  check out my posts there!

Thanks and have a great week. Stay awesome! :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Biking Adventures: Tour de Bronx 2011

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Last weekend was the final bike tour of the year, the Tour de Bronx. You may remember that I did this tour last year also. Every bike tour is special to me - this one because it's in the Bronx, which is where I was born and spent the first 8 years of my life. The tour goes through parts of my original borough that I'm familiar with (including the block where I grew up), but also a few sections that I hadn't seen before this bike tour. The Bronx is huge! Here are my pics of the day...

Bike tour outfit
I wore:
  • Shirt from Filene's Basement $17.00
  • Belt from Payless $12.99
  • Skirt from American Apparel $74.00
  • Tights from Target $9.00
  • Shoes from Payless $20
I left Brooklyn and rode over the Pulaski Bridge to Queens -

they are re-graffitying the building in 5 Points again (Long Island City, Queens)
These runners were SO FAST! I was doing 7mph going uphill on the 59th St Bridge and they kept the same pace with me. I didn't pass them until the downhill. I congratulated them as I (finally) passed them.

Weeeee! Riding down the 59th St Bridge to Manhattan.

When I got to Manhattan, I rode straight up 1st Ave to the Willis Ave Bridge at 125th St.
My bike poses for a photo on the Willis Ave Bridge

Look at that! One of my favorite graffiti artists, Jim Joe, was here!

I thought I'd be taking the pedestrian path to the Bronx but that "Stairs Ahead" was no joke. I decided to NOT do the stairs with her. I ended up picking up by bike (60 pounds!) and lifting her up & over that concrete barrier shown above -  from the ped path to the car/truck portion of the Willis Ave Bridge. Note: I do not recommend riding on that bridge if you can avoid it. Cars do over 40 mph and it's quite terrifying but I had no choice.

Phew! I made it over the Willis Ave Bridge and into the Bronx.

I photographed this corner last year too. They painted over most of this wall since then.

I took Grand Concourse to the starting point. I loved these rounded fire escapes.

How cute is this car wash sign on the Grand Concourse!
I got to the starting point just in time!

Woo hoo! I made it with mere minutes to spare.

I ran into my friends Malaika & Marcus shortly after arriving.

Me & Diana - a woman I met in Weight Watchers last year.
At the line up, about to begin.
When the tour started, Amanda & Robbie had not made it to the start yet. I rode near Ann, Ross and Marcus. Unfortunately, after not long, Ann had a serious problem with her bike and had to abandon the tour. I felt awful her. I continued along alone, which I really don't mind.

Check out these two stylish folks!
My friend Malaika on a gorgeous bike she won through an auction during NY Fashion Week
RIP Tinks
Hey, there's Marcus behind me!
I remember this sign from last year too!
Elevated subway line in the Bronx
We're on a car exit of I-95. I love the subway rolling in.
There's fellow cyclist pals and bloggers: Mandy and Malaika!
Well hello boys! (I love shots like this, where every person is looking at me. Adorable.)
On our way into City Island
In front of my favorite neon sign in City Island. I love that crab with sunglasses and wine glass!
I love this enormous neon lobster too!
King Ave :)
City Island is such a cute little fishing town... in the Bronx!

I have no idea where I am but this proves how many trees are in the Bronx!
Looking down
I'm sure you remember Ross?
I love this shot. (Inside Maritime College)
Me with the Throgs Neck Bridge behind me
I love bridges!
Leaving Maritime College

Hello, boys! Thumbs up!
We had another rest stop at Orchard Beach. I had been here 3 weeks earlier, with William, for the Down & Dirty Mud Run!

Do you remember this? I was here a few weeks ago for the Down and Dirty Mud Run! Check out this photo!
These are some of the young men I photographed earlier - in the shot where they were all looking at me. How cute are they?!

Me & my bike at Orchard Beach. Yes, my heels are sinking into the sand.

Just like last year, we were on Matilda Ave, which is where I grew up. I broke off from the tour to get a photo of my bike in front of my childhood home. This is the sidewalk where I learned to ride a bike over 30 years ago.
I rode around the block to rejoin the tour and had to get a photo of the McLean Bowl O Drome sign which I've loved since I was a child.
From there, we rode through beautiful Woodlawn Cemetery, where many of my relatives are buried.


in Woodlawn Cemetery

Hangin out on the corner

Tour de Bronx, that a way!

I love the shadow of my high heel in this shot!

On Jerome Ave, under the 4 Train

At the last rest stop, in Riverdale.

At this stop, I had a quick bite and used the facilities. And much to my surprise and delight, I ran into Amanda & Robbie! They hauled their asses off to make it this far this quickly. I was so happy to see them!!!
Leaving this rest stop, we would be riding through Riverdale. This is the most challenging portion of the whole tour. This is where the big hills are. But it's also very beautiful. You feel like you're riding through the woods.

Amanda, and Robbie waits up ahead.

Mine & Amanda's shadows

Robbie & Amanda behind me.

I like that bee!

Yay, so good to have my favorite riding peeps with me :)

omg it's over! We're at the finish in the Botanical Gardens.

Amanda, Malaika, Me & Mandy

Marcus & Me showing off the post tour shirt

I met twitter follower, Amy! Congrats on your first bike tour!
Ashton & Me (you may remember him from the Naked Bike Ride and Century Tour)

Me & Cruiser Dolly aka Christina

zomg Robbie's first tweet!!
History in the making, folks: ROBBIE SENT HIS FIRST EVER TWEET! (yellowbikebk)

Come on crew, lets get back to Manhattan and then home! (Robbie, Amanda & Malaika)

On the Grand Concourse

Beautiful old theater on the Grand Concourse

I love, love, love this shot!!!

Hell yeah! Bronx, represent!

Passing the new Yankee Stadium

On Macombs Dam Bridge, entering Manhattan. Look at that sunset!

me on the bridge

We cut through Central Park at 110th St and rode south to get to the 59th St Bridge

Finally! Back in Brooklyn for my post tour ritual of Beer & Waffle Fries at Habitat!

Here are my heart rate monitor stats:
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 59 minutes
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 5 hours, 27 minutes
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 78.04%
  • Fat %: 29%
  • Average Heart Rate: 128
  • High Heart Rate: 171
  • Total Calories Burned: 2367
  • Total Miles: 70
I admit I'm kind of sad that it's the last bike tour of the year/season. I'm already looking forward to next year!

(the entire set of photos can be seen here)