I Might Just Be Back

October 14, 2009

I haven’t written a post in a really long time, mostly because I haven’t felt like I have had anything to say.

A quick update:

I officially finished grad school this summer. I still don’t think I really believe that I have a masters. I always think that you have to be smart to have a masters and I don’t really feel smart enough, but I indeed finished and am very pleased with my grades. The same day that I finished school I packed up my apartment in Chicago, well what was left of it, and headed back to Des Moines. I had sold all my furniture on Craigslist and had been living on an air mattress and desk chair for almost two weeks at the end. I had also had visitors the last couple of weeks who took loads of clothes and such back to Des Moines. I spent a quick night at my parent’s house before moving into my new place the next day. I am now living in an awesome neighborhood in an awesome apartment that I love. It was a really crazy couple of days with finishing school and all the moving.

Shortly after getting home I sat for my LMSW licensing exam. While a license isn’t required for all jobs, it is required for therapy positions as well as if I am interested in gaining the 2000 hours needed to earn the highest social work license (which I am). Luckily I passed the exam and after far too many phone calls to track down my transcript and other ridiculous conversations, I have my license in my possession ready to change the lives of as many children and families as I can.

Now the hard part, unemployment. I ended my summer job a week before coming back and have been spending my time in Des Moines desperately seeking a job. I had been really careful with my money this summer to help me deal with the unemployment but I definitely didn’t have enough. I had no idea I would be without a job for so long, especially since the process started back in May! I was applying to five+ jobs a day in all different fields and experience/education levels. I was getting some interviews but I kept being told I was over qualified or didn’t have enough experience for my education. Apparently it’s not a good thing to get a masters after getting a bachelors(?!).

My parents have been super understanding and helpful and were giving my jobs to do for them both at home and their work which has been helping me earn money for food and rent. About a month ago I was hired at The Gap and have been working for a couple of weeks now. Unfortunately, I have gotten less than ten hours every week so it doesn’t help much and have yet to be able to use my discount.

HOWEVER…..

Yesterday I got a job!!!!!!

I am going to be doing counseling/therapy work with children and families. I would argue that it is one of the best agencies in town and I am really excited. I am SOOO in need of the routine as long with the opportunity to once again be able to rely on myself and not others for money. The process of being unemployed has been one of the most isolating, frustrating, emotionally draining, and trying times I have ever gone through. It still doesn’t feel real yet. Each day I knew that somewhere inside I was hoping to get a job but I don’t know if I ever really thought it would happen. I start in less than a week and I can’t wait to learn more about the position.

As far as working on the weight loss, it seems to have taken a back seat for a while and I am really to get back in the game. I still watch what I eat but was having a really hard time getting to the gym (which seems silly with how much free time I had). I was getting lost with the lack of routine. I recently started going on walks and getting back into “moving” again. I am really proud of how far I have come in a year, but now it’s time to reassess goals in my new life in a new(old) city and find the courage to lose another 70 pounds.

Just because, here are two pictures that I love that my friend Jake took. I am ready to be happy again.

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Weightloss Milestone

July 2, 2009

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been aggressively working on losing weight and becoming healthy while living in Chicago. I started on September 1st and have been pleased with my progress. I have lost 70 pounds in the last 10 months. I definitely have a long way still to go. I would like to lose at least another 50 pounds, though ideally another 80. While I don’t want to belittle the progress I have made, I have to also keep in mind that I am just now half way there.

The whole process of losing weight is incredibly time-consuming and emotional. I had no idea how mentally challenging it would all be. I have had to do a lot of getting to know myself and coming to an understanding as to why I let myself become as heavy as I had. I have also had to learn how to not be angry at myself for the past, but rather direct that energy towards becoming healthy for the future. I have always been a really stubborn or rather persistent person which has been my advantage as I have not allowed myself to slow down or go backwards. I want to be the person that I never dieted or attempted to lose weight before and was able to do it all the first time

I have a pretty strict routine for myself. I work out six days a week, two of those days being with a personal trainer. I wear a heart monitor and watch that keep track of time, heart rate, calories burned, etc. I make myself burn at least 700 calories a workout, though sometimes with my trainer we get close to 1000. My trainer is also a nutritionist so I am maintaining a nicely balanced diet. I am definitely not living a starvation lifestyle and easily eat over 2000 calories a day. Basically, the lifestyle I am living now has become a lifestyle I can keep forever and don’t fear ever not being able to keep it up.

One of the many things I didn’t anticipate when I started this journey was how expensive it would be to lose weight. I don’t regret it at all, but belonging to a gym, paying a trainer, and keeping up with the lost inches gets difficult on a full-time grad student budget. I have not been able to keep up with my clothes nearly as well as I wish I could. I never thought that wearing clothes that were too big would make me feel so uncomfortable with my body. I really do feel the best when I think I look the best. There are some necessities I have had to update but I haven’t been able to do it as much as I like. With not updating my wardrobe often I think I have lost track of the progress I am making. I also thing there is a huge mental component to becoming comfortable with who I am. It really is a bizarre feeling to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. The second I think I know who I am I have lost more weight and look different yet again. I am not really complaining but its hard to have a strong sense of self during all of this.

This past weekend I was back in Des Moines and a friend suggested we go shopping. I am the first person to agree to go shopping with others, but I never shopped with others when buying clothes for myself. There are so few places to buy clothes for larger sizes and even then they are so “old” as if overweight people only exist from the age of 50 and above. I sort of laughed at the suggestion but then gave in. We found ourselves in the Gap and I was picking out some shirts to try on. I was quite nervous heading into the dressing room as I was convinced nothing would fit. As I was putting shirts on……THEY FIT ME! They weren’t even tight. I showed my friend and then stepped back into my dressing room and started crying. I have NEVER purchased clothes from the Gap before. All of a sudden I felt like I could be a normal person. I honestly felt like I was never normal.

It was a weird experience because I have an image in my head of what a woman’s size must be in order to wear clothes from “normal” stores and I still don’t fit that image. I know that the long process of figuring out who I am and what I look like will continue. I still see myself as a fat person and don’t really know how I appear to others. While I couldn’t buy much because of money and because hopefully I keep losing weight, I would be lying if I said I am not looking forward to seeing what other “normal” stores I could buy clothes from and starting to find out what my personal style really is. I have never felt like I could have a style since I had to buy whatever was available in my size in the limited stores. I am looking forward to the opportunities to actually be picking about what I wear and go shopping with others and not just being the friend that gives opinions and holds hangers.

It’s my turn to have my hangers held!!!!

EDIT: Someome suggested I had a before and after picture. I don’t really have any good ones that are full body images but I do have one from two weeks before I started and then one that a friend took when visiting three weeks ago.

This one is the before:

Before

Here is the most recent: (I don’t want to say after, since I am not done yet!)

Caribou

I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last post. I think its mostly because I feel as if nothing exciting is really happening that could justify a post.

Classes have started and are in full swing. With classes only being for ten weeks there is really no time to waste. I am already completing my first paper and working with a group on another project. My program is a twelve month program and fortunately (or unfortunately in some moments) you can pretty must start whenever you want in the cycle. I started last August but the beginning of the cycle actually starts in June. Basically this means that my two classes this summer are the two beginning classes and I have already completed everything beyond them. I am and will learn valuable material while being in these classes, but I must admit that I have become rather judgemental too quickly about my fellow classmates. It is just easy to tell that they are new to the school scene. Most of my classmates are adult students so they haven’t been in this setting for quite some time and they seem so anxious and always asking a thousand questions. I know it will get better has each week passes but for now I seem to be a little impatient.

Work is work. Some days I can’t help but roll my eyes realizing that I work at a zoo. I would have never thought that at this point in my life that I would be at a zoo. Luckily, it is a convenient summer job that I will be able to easily leave when I am ready to move back to Des Moines so it works. I was promoted to Shift Lead. I am actually really glad because 1) there is a pay raise and 2) I get to do a lot more in a day rather than having to just stay at one spot. I am not someone that can handle monotonous work very well so I am appreciate the opportunity to have a varied day.

Along with school and work, I continue to stay busy with working out. I have been working with a new trainer and really love it. I lost another twelve pounds in the five works of working out with him. I have lost a little over 60 pounds in 9.5 months. I am really pleased with my progress but I am also staying realistic about how much more work I want to get down.

I had a friend in town last week and someone in town for the next 5 weeks. Having visitors really makes it feel like summer.

Summer is Official

May 17, 2009

I know my summer has officially arrived once I have gotten my first sunburn. My daily moisturizer has SPF 20 built in but apparently my mind was elsewhere yesterday and about half way through my day at work I realized that I had forgotten to put it on. Needless to say once I got home from the zoo my face was sufficiently red and crispy. The cherry on top is that I was sitting under a slatted awning so there are silly patches of sunburn-free skin. It was pretty sore last night but luckily it has blended itself in today and is turning into a nice early summer bronze. At some point I really need to accept the fact that I really am a pale Norwegian and that I will always be a little red no matter how well prepared I am.

Work is going well but it doesn’t really give me many hours. Apparently a lot of people quit or ask for time off as the summer goes on so they hire a lot of people up front. The downfall is there are lots of people to share minimal hours in the beginning of the summer. For the next week I am only working two days. The responsible part of me knows I should be upset because it means I am not being able to save money but the rest of me is glad to have time to do something else. Spring has finally arrived in Chicago and I want to take full advantage before the humid summer shows its face. I have classes starting again in two weeks so I have a little bit of time left to do all the silly things that always get pushed aside for assigned readings. I am thinking I am going to need to do some reading on the beach next week and even out this sunburn as well as take advantage of my free admission to museums and go see some sweet stuff.

In other news, I have started working with a new personal trainer. It’s a long story as to why I switched but I think it is a really good new addition to my journey. He is amazingly hardcore and I am pretty sure I love it. I seriously never knew I was capable of sweating that much. I think it is good that I feel sort of nervous walking to the gym before meeting with him because I know he is going to kick my butt. He is really good at talking into my ear while doing something really hard and almost taunting me. For instance, today I was doing this crazy arm set and he just kept saying “I know you don’t want me to help you. I know you want to do it on your own. I wonder if you can go to 15 and not stop at 12.” Through this LONG process of losing weight I have really started learning how stubborn I am. While being stubborn can be a bad thing, in this case it has been quite positive. I will never turn down a challenge. I always want to go the farthest I can and the hardest I can. I want to always prove I am capable of something more. I am really optimistic for my time with the new trainer and think I am going to make a lot of progress this summer.

Finally, my interview back in Des Moines went well. Unfortunately, the program is funded through grants so they are unsure at this time how much funding they will receive for this next year. Once they know how much funding they receive, they will be able to know how many people they can hire. The need is great so it all comes down to money. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I am getting anxious and just want to know.

I took my last final this past Thursday so my semester is officially over. While there are days that I really wish I were back in Des Moines and thinking this will never end, I really can’t believe how fast these two semesters have gone. I am two short summer classes away from completing my masters. I really can’t believe that. It feels like something that only smart, crazy people can do….maybe I am smart and crazy.

One of the things that I have been most looking forward to with the end of the semester is the ability to read for pleasure without actively putting off some other required reading. In fact, I have already completed my first book, “Angry Conversations with God.” It was a really good book in which a comedian and long-time Lutheran took God to couples counseling. It was quite fitting considering I took a Religion in Therapy course this spring. I honestly took a lot from it and while it is only a memoir, I could see referencing it again. I also loved the silly Lutheran references being a long-time Lutheran myself. It’s really amazing outside today so I think I will walk the couple of blocks to Caribou to spend some of my gift card I got from my parents for Easter and start my newest book, “Entertaining Disasters” I have a couple of more books on my self that should get me through until payday.

The job at the zoo is in full swing. It’s an easy job that doesn’t require any thinking but it still manages to wear me out. I worked three days in a row over this past weekend. 8+ hour days at a free zoo is really crazy. The hardest part is being “on” for that long. It’s funny though because it’s all genuine, at least for me. I was at the carousel yesterday and it was so much fun seeing all the kids get so excited to ride and then wave every time they pass their parents. I am laughing and smiling along with the parents and then smiling and welcoming new riders and saying thank you and goodbye as they leave. It really is a lot of smiling. My cheeks starting to get tired…what a lame complaint. I am appreciating my day off today to give my face a rest.

I am heading back to Des Moines on Thursday for an interview for a real grown-up job that requires my masters. I am really hoping it goes well so keep your fingers crossed for me.

It’s a New Day

April 24, 2009

Yesterday was the last class of the semester….I made it. It was a stressful week with completely papers and a last-minute grant for my internship but it all got done on time and I feel good about it. As I was leaving my last class on Tuesday I found myself having to choke back some tears. It really surprised me at first, but then I laughed because of course I would feel like crying. I learned so much from this course and know that I will be a better clinician because of that professor. It was a bittersweet ending because it means I am one step closer to being ready, but it also means I am getting closer to having to do it on my own. I take a lot of my relationships at school very seriously. There are a lot of professions that run in families like teaching or medicine and even social work. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for me. Therefore, the connects I have at school is my one opportunity to have community where I can speak the jargon and tell the stories and have everyone understand. I have one last final next week and then I don’t start up summer classes until June.

I had my first day of training at the zoo last Saturday. It was an introduction to everything about the zoo. I go back again tomorrow, this time to get training on all the actual tasks I will be doing. It’s sort of weird knowing when I need to be there, but not knowing when I will be done. I like knowing ahead of time how long my days will be. Hopefully I am not there forever. I am on the regular schedule for next week so work is soon in full swing. I was able to have a nice, calm day today and have a couple next week but I am welcoming the quick transition. I don’t do well with day upon day of nothing to do; I think I lost tolerance during my summer long unemployment last year.

Some exciting news…..I GOT AN INTERVIEW!!!!! I am trying really hard to not get too excited since it is only an interview but it is so exciting thinking that my degree could actual mean something. I don’t want to say too much yet to jinx it, especially because it sort of feels too perfect. The possibility of knowing that I have a job to go back home to would make this summer so much more enjoyable knowing I don’t have to budget multiple months of potential unemployment. I will be heading back to Des Moines in two weeks for the interview process so keep your fingers crossed for me. I am also secretly excited to get back to Des Moines, even if it’s only for a couple of days. It will help pace the summer more.

I wish I was a blogger that had time to write posts more often. I have felt the pressure and desire to write again but I never feel like I have enough time and/or anything important to say.

I had a really great time back in Des Moines for a week over Easter. Each time I go back to visit it gets better and better. I really feel like I fit in Des Moines and that there is a community there for me. It validates my decision to return once I am done with my degree. The down side is that I always have to come back to Chicago. It’s not that I hate Chicago but it is always such a contrast from where I have just been. I go from being around people all the time to being by myself busy with life. Its hard to adjust from “vacation” back to normal life. Without any hesitation everything had to go back to how it always has been.

Class is done next Thursday so I am busy with finishing papers as well as finishing meetings and projects at my internship. In the middle of finishing everything up, I have training this Saturday for my summer job as well as my parents in town. Its going to be a crazy couple of weeks and sometimes it feels hard to keep going but I will of course get through.

A side note, it has been 45-50 degrees the past couple of days which isn’t terribly cold but I have been FREEZING! Seriously, I feel like I have had goosebumps for days. I can’t seem to be warm no matter where I am. I even have had the shower with hot water only and it still hasn’t been enough. I hope Chicago can figure out that it is Spring soon. I am really tired of being cold.