A Brand New Me

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I’ve started a new blog that is dedicated to my Adventures in Weight Loss.  The reason I started a new blog, rather than simply updating this blog, is fairly simple.  Not everybody wants to read every detail about every work out and every meal.  But I need to write about it.  Because let’s face it, my efforts in weight loss over the past 2 years have resulted in weight gain.  So I’ll keep track of everything, so I can’t ignore that chocolate bar I ate at lunch, or that ice cream I ate with Christopher, sitting in front of the TV at 11:30 at night.  If I document everything, right there for the world to see, I cannot pretend I didn’t eat an entire tub of popcorn at the movie theatre.     

Clearly, I did not actually put forth any real effort.  However, it has been a constant battle in my mind, how bad I want to get healthy and look and – more importantly – feel better.  But I have been letting myself use the excuse of “my boyfriend is in great shape and he eats worse than me!” for the past 2 years, and that just doesn’t fly anymore.  His 6% body fat is drastically lower than my own, so yes, he can afford to eat that piece of cake.  And I cannot put the pressure on him any longer to eat like me just because I have no self-control. 

Truthfully, I do have self-control, I’ve just chosen not to put it to use.  Well, here’s to the start of something brand new.  Here’s to the start of making my own choices, rather than relying on Christopher to make them for me.  And here’s to being healthy and fit. 

And to not getting out of breath after walking up one flight of stairs.

And here’s to the new me!  🙂

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Holiday Festivities

I’ve yet to post any pictures on my blog, and I thought a good place to start might be with this little project. Christopher and I helped our friends Sarah and Amy dip and decorate chocolate covered pretzels for her holiday party this Friday. We made quite a few.

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Some of my favorites that I made:

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Christopher decided to go a different route with his:

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Definite sugar overload, but my do they look tasty!

Aside

On Being Legally-Single-but-Spoken-For

After reading a Freshly Pressed Blog about being single, I decided it was time for me to write about being legally-single-but-none-the-less-spoken-for. 

As a side note – Men, just because there is no ring on my finger does not give you permission to continue to ask me out after I tell you I’m not interested, I’m in a relationship.  Please don’t think that you’re complimenting me by telling me that my boyfriend of two and a half years isn’t serious about me because he hasn’t proposed yet.  Also, telling me that you would have asked me to marry you by now does not impress me.  You don’t know anything about me, so unless you’re saying you’d propose to someone solely based on their looks, you have no idea if you’d want to marry me or not.  Please go blow it out your ass.

Having said that, a few of my friends, and one particular family member, seem to have trouble grasping the fact that yes, my boyfriend of two and a half years and I are in love, but no, we are not ready to get married, and yes, this fact is OK with me. 

Reasons why we are not ready to tie the knot:

1)  We’re broke.  I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, and despite the monthly payments I make on my credit cards, they still seem to be maxed out every month.  Christopher just started working again, and we’re struggling just to pay our rent.  Do you really think we should spend $10,000+ on a party right now?

My friends responses?  “You could start saving $5 per paycheck for a wedding.”  That’s all fine and dandy, but do you know how much money I have to last me until Friday?  $10.  Yes, that’s right, $10 and an empty refrigerator.  Thanks for the suggestion, but that’s not currently an option.  Also, if I’m going to start saving for something, it’s going to be a safety net in case things get really tight and I can’t pay my bills.  Don’t they say you’re supposed to have at least one month worth of salary saved up in case of emergencies?

Also in response to reason #1, we have, “well you could just have a cheap wedding,” and “God will provide.”  So in other words, sacrifice the wedding you want and just have punch and cake in my parents’ backyard (her actual suggestion), because being married is the most important thing in your relationship, nevermind your overall happiness.  Look, I know the wedding is not important, it’s the relationship and how you spend your married years, but can I get a little understanding here?  None of my friends would have gotten married for $250 either!  And as for “God will provide?”  I’m sure He is more willing to provide for my necessities than he is my vanities.  Just because you have friends that are professional photographers and were willing to do your wedding shots for free as your wedding gift, does not mean that I do!

2) I haven’t completely “found myself.”  I know it sounds corny, but I think the most important factor in any relationship is that each individual knows who they are and is happy with themselves.  I know people change, and you can say that you’ll never truly know yourself because you should always be growing and changing, but I think I should be a little happier with myself than I am now.  My unhealthy mind reflects in my unhealthy body, and I do not want to commit myself fully to someone until I am more comfortable with myself.

3)  Christopher wants to feel more secure in his career.  Please do not tell me that, as a Christian that thinks, “the man is the head of the house,” and “the man is the provider and the woman is the caretaker,” and “wives, submit to your husbands” that you cannot understand his desire.  Yes, his career of choice is scarier than a desk job, less guaranteed.  But don’t ask me to ask him to give up his dreams so that he can put food on my table.  I won’t ask him to do that.  I love him too much to expect him to put his dreams on the back burner for me.

Further differences between me and you:

My parents are also broke.  All of you got a hefty sum of money from your parents to contribute to your weddings.  I will not.  They will give me what they can, but that’s not much, and I’m okay with that.

I do not go to church.  I do not believe that God hates me because I’m “living in sin.”  I believe that if I am doing something wrong, I’ll figure it out and learn my lesson and move on.  That’s what life is about.  Learning from your mistakes.  I also believe that He loves me no matter what I do.  That the most important thing for me to do is to love others.  And that if you are judging me for my actions, you are kind of missing the point.

Your husbands all had their careers well under way before you got married.  Also, two of you married men in their 30’s.  Christopher’s got a few years to go before he reaches 30.

I do not feel that marriage is what will complete me.  I complete me.  Period.

I have dreams of my own.  I think I deserve to make those dreams become reality.  And if getting married is not part of that equation right now I can live with that.  Because when it comes down to it, I love Christopher, I know he loves me, and we are true and faithful to each other.   We talk about everything, we share our experiences with one another, we want to spend time together, we compromise when necessary.  We laugh and we cry and we celebrate, we learn from each other and we are growing together.  Can anyone really tell me there is something wrong with our relationship because we don’t have a piece of paper that tells us we are committed? 

Also, please don’t think it’s okay to suggest to me that the reason I am not pressuring my boyfriend into proposing is because my parents divorced.  Their relationship was completely different from mine, and while it may have taught me something about what a relationship shouldn’t be, it certainly did not scar me to the point of “forcing” me to not want to marry.   

Do I want to get married eventually?  Yes.  Do I think that piece of paper is worthless?  No, of course not.  But do I feel I need to have that, along with the wedding and the white dress and the bouquet, in order to make me a complete person?  No, not at all.  When we are ready to get married, if that is what is in store for us, we will take that step.  But until that time comes, I will continue to love and enjoy my partner.  Period.

You can Buy Me on iTunes

Recently, a new student’s father asked me if I have a website he could view to learn more about me.  I told him I started one, but it is not ready to view at this time.  This is the truth, although I failed to mention that I started over two years ago and haven’t done anything with it since.  It’s been so long since I’ve even looked at it, I don’t remember the web address, or even the host site I used!

I decided that as I continue to grow my studio, I should probably get my website up and running.  It will, at the very least, make me more interesting.  Hopefully.  So I decided to google myself to see what I could find.  I tried all sorts of combinations of “Christina Wagner,” “cellist,” “teacher,” “weddings,” etc, but to no avail.  My final search, however, turned up something much more exciting.  I googled, “Christina Wagner” and “cello.”  Plain and simple.  The first thing that popped up?  A link that I initially overlooked. 

http://www.angelapredhomme.com/images/logos-misc-art/Dont_Wonder_cd_insert.pdf

Then, as I typed in another search combination, my eyes glanced down again and I saw another familiar name.  Brett Lucas is a musician I met while working at the YMCA, and I remembered that I had recorded for an artist he was working with at the time.  I clicked the link, and sure enough, it is a .pdf of the insert for her CD.  I immediately searched iTunes Angela Predhomme on my iPhone, found the album, and downloaded the two songs I recorded on.  I played on the songs “Deeply” and “The Silence of Winter.”  I listened to the two songs on repeat on my way home from work, in awe.  This is me, I thought, bewildered.  I just bought me on iTunes. 

I played the songs for my boyfriend, and later for my mother, and then my cousin.  My cousin’s response was probably the most amusing:  “I don’t know whether to be excited that you’re on iTunes, or mad because you could have been on iTunes 10 years ago!”

She has a point.  It’s something both Christopher and my mother tell me about frequently.  If I would just practice occasionally, just pick up my cello two or three times a week, I would be able to do so much more with my talent.  Now, of course, I have thoughts of LA, playing in orchestras for movie scores.  It’s something I could probably do, if I were able to make the right connections.

Amusingly, today I got an email from my dad.  They are looking for extras for the movie Sparkle.  The extras need to be between the ages of 21 and 55, and they need to play certain instruments.  They are looking for musicians for the band in the Finale, apparently.  I believe this is the scene they are shooting on Tuesday and Wednesday, at the building where I work.  So if they choose me, I’ll show up for work on Tuesday, then go downstairs to be an extra in a movie, then come back up to work on my “real” work when I get a chance during production.

Seriously, how cool would that be?  Of course, they are only looking for people to look like they’re playing, since the actual music will probably be recorded by an orchestra in LA.  But I could be in a movie, with my cello in hand. 

So today you can buy me on iTunes.  Maybe one day, you’ll be able to buy me in stores around the world 🙂

Good Morning, Me, and Welcome Home.

I have decided to blog about my efforts in weight loss.

I know, original, right? 

But give me a break.  I need to find something to write about to open the floodgates of my creativity, and I need to lose weight, so why don’t I combine two of my many projects into one?  My weight will not be the only thing I blog about, but I would like to try to keep track of my eating and exercising habits where other people can see them – although I’m not sure who is actually reading my blog besides myself!

My friend Sarah had asked me to do the Adkins diet with her.  I thought about it, but I’m not sure it’s right for me.  My body does need to cleanse, however.  I have been eating so much garbage lately that I know my liver is working overtime, which I just read today is probably one of the causes of my constant fatigue.  So I am going to do a two-day juice fast and then a week or so of eating only certain whole foods.  After that week I will continue on with my healthy lifestyle.  Once I reach my healthy body weight, I will still continue making healthy choices.  Because what good is it to be thin if you’re still unhealthy? 

Christopher said he would like to join me.  Thin and fit though he may be, he has been eating the same unhealthy foods as I have been for the last two years, so he needs to give his body a break, too.

The most important factor, however, in this entire endeavor, is to just love me.  I am beautiful, I am sexy, I am gorgeous, and in order to break out of this shell I need to acknowledge this fact. 

I had a minor epiphany today about the way I look.  My boyfriend has been telling me for ages that I’m beautiful and sexy, and there have been other good-looking and attractive men flirting with me.  And although I do think I have a nice shape and a pretty face, I focus so hard on what I don’t like that I often forget what’s good.  But today as I walked into the coffee shop I frequent across the street from my work, I noticed a large group of construction workers sitting at the table outside.  Nearly every single one of them was looking at me.  On my way out, heads turned.  One of them told me to enjoy my lunch.  Nothing special, no one asked me out or whistled.  But I commanded their attention for a brief moment in time, and it wasn’t because I had something on my face or toilet paper stuck to my shoe.  It was because they noticed me. 

No, I’m not saying that those construction workers are the reason I feel good about myself today.  In fact, that is not the first time this sort of thing has happened.  All I’m saying is that as I walked away from those men, hips swaying, shoulders back and chest out, I knew I was beautiful.

So good morning, me.  It’s nice to see you again.  My body is my temple, too, so welcome home.

Searching for Peace

My mind is in such a state of turmoil right now, I’m not even sure peace is an option.  I owe so much money I feel completely buried under bills.  My debt may not be that high compared to some, but it is much too high for my own standards.  There is no reason for me to be swimming in debt with the amount of money that I make.  I should be able to support myself, without having to live with a roommate.  I should be able to save enough to travel and pamper myself every once in a while, without wondering how I’m going to manage paying my bills.

I also seem to be drowning in my own fat.  I have gained approximately 36 pounds in the last 2 years.  I weight 202.5 pounds.  I look at myself in the mirror and I can’t believe all of that is mine.  People keep telling me that they can’t tell I’ve gained anything, I still look beautiful, I actually look like I’ve lost weight since they last saw me, but the fact of the matter is, I am obese and I am unhealthy.  I don’t like the way I feel.  I’ve never felt so constricted in my own skin before.  I can’t bend down like I used to.  I can feel my back and my butt touching in ways they never have before.  My “pouch” as I’ve called it since highschool, hangs much further down that it used to.  I don’t know how my boyfriend can’t tell, since he sees me sans protective clothing, but I know he’d be honest with me if he could.  So apparently it’s been gradual enough to third parties that they cannot see a major difference.  But who cares what they think when I can’t even look in a mirror without thinking, “Eww, gross, what happened?”

Maybe the reason I gained all the weight that I did is simple.  I have noticed over the past couple years that I am always trying to make sure that everyone is happy.  My parents divorced in 2007, and since then I have been trying to make sure my sisters and I don’t make either of them feel left out forgotten on holidays, birthdays, weekend events, whatever the occasion may be.  I call my sisters to make sure they are doing whatever they can to satisfy both parents.  Thanksgiving Day it’s “let’s make sure we get to Grandma’s early so we can make it to Yiayia and Pappou’s and not leave anyone out.”  Don’t forget that I am in a committed relationship, so I have to try to squeeze in my boyfriend’s family as well.  We don’t want them to feel left out, and I love him so much, I don’t want to make him think I don’t care about seeing his family.  Christmas is a little easier because my father’s family has so many pre-Christmas-day events that we pretty much say “Merry Christmas” to him prior to the day of.  But even then there’s my mom, her family, my boyfriend and his family.  So it’s, “let’s make it to my mom’s early, open presents and eat breakfast there, then head over to your parent’s so we can celebrate with them, probably eat lunch and chat, and then head over to my Yiayia’s so we can see them as well.”

Then there’s making sure to see my mom enough, hang out with my friends who have families, so of course they can’t come out to me I am expected to go see them at their house, and they can come here once in a while but then only for an hour or two.  There’s making sure I don’t ever leave Christopher out because of course, why would I want to?  Then I think in trying to make sure he’s okay it probably feels like I’m being clingy and needy, which maybe I am because if I’m always trying to be everywhere at once then why shouldn’t he?

All of this and I don’t even take care of myself.  I am out of shape and financially unfit.  When would I possibly have time to take care of me?  I’m absolutely bombarding my body with everything outside of myself, so I build myself a literal wall.  If I can’t spend time with me, at least I can trap myself in my own fat.  Maybe if I gain enough weight, I can use that as an excuse to not to do anything with anyone.  “Sorry, everybody, but I’m too fat to go anywhere.  I get out of breath too easily to walk to the car and to socialize.  I’m just going to keep to myself from now on.”

Maybe this layer of fat is like a costume.  I remember at my senior all-night party, I put on this sumo wrestler costume.  That’s what this feels like.  I put it on because I have to show everyone just how happy and satisfied I am with my life.  The real me is trapped somewhere underneath.  The real me that just wants to make music, or spend time writing and reading.  If I wear this costume then no one will know me, and I can hide from myself just exactly what it is that I really want to be doing. 

Or maybe the fat is reflective of the responsibility I am piling on myself.  I make it my responsibility to make sure other people are happy.  Is it my responsibility that my parents are divorced?  Or that my father doesn’t make an effort to see me outside of orchestra or holidays, especially now that I am “living in sin” with a boyfriend who truly cares about me?  Or is it my responsibility to make sure my sister’s do their “daughterly duties?”  Do I really want them to do what I do?  To feel as stressed and upset as I feel? 

I MUST STOP WORRYING HOW MY ACTIONS WILL AFFECT THE PEOPLE AROUND ME.

If it’s good for me, it will ultimately be good for everyone else.  If I want to do something, I should do it.  If I don’t want to, I shouldn’t, no matter who it will affect.

I want to lose weight?  Okay, then, do it.  There’s no excuse, someone this big does not have to try that hard to lose at least something.  Exercise for an hour everyday.  I have time, my gym is open until midnight.  Nothing is stopping me from going in by 11:00 at the latest to get an hour of exercise in.  Eat healthy.  That means cooking for myself, no more eating out.  The unhealthiest I should be eating is the occasional ramen noodle.  No more big desserts at restaraunts.  9 times out of 10 those things have a full day’s worth of calories in them.  If I must have sweets, Edie’s 1/2 the fat ice cream is plenty.  But really that should be limited to once or twice a week as well, no more of this every night thing.  And certainly not after 9:00 at night. 

I want to save money?  Okay, then, do it!  Why the hell am I spending on things I don’t really want or need, anyway?  Why spend all that money going out to eat?  If I really need to go to a bar or restaraunt to socialize, drink water and let them do the ordering.  Eat before going out so there’s no tempting stomach-growling going on while they’re eating.

I want to be an opera singer?  I want to go to grad school?  Okay, then, do it!  How can I possibly make it if I never practice?  So take that black binder that I have so neatly organized and open it up, for God’s sake!  And really, for God’s sake, because why am I wasting such a beautiful God-given talent?  I am a singer.  So start acting like one!

There’s some things to think about.  Stop hiding from the world, the world not only can handle me, but they need me.  They need me to be me, not to be everyone else’s support system.  Because if all I do is support everyone else and not myself, eventually I will crack under the pressure.  Something’s gotta give, and today it’s everything and everyone else.  Today I am here for myself.  Period.

How to Save Money Now – A Common Sense Guide

Step 1 – Budget.  Plan how much money you are going to spend each month.  Don’t forget to include the small things, such as shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper.  It’s up to you whether you include these in your groceries budget or make a separate category for them, but you should plan on spending money on these types of items.

Step 2 – Stick to your budget.  Do not, under any circumstances, spend more money on things like eating out or going to the movies than you budget yourself each month.  If you do, you will spend everything you have and never save anything.

Step 3 – Repeat steps 1 and 2.  You will save money if you handle things this way.  Do not spend more than necessary.  If an unexpected expense arises, you should be able to work it into the budget.  If you cannot follow these guidelines, you will never pay off your credit cards and you will never save enough money to do things that you want, such as travel.  On a positive note, if you do follow these steps, your credit cards will be paid off in less than 2 years and you should still have money left over.  Remember to follow your budget!

There was once a chance I didn’t take…cont…

All through my life, certain things were kind of handed to me.  I was a straight-A student without hardly trying.  I rarely studied for tests, I skipped as many homework assignments as possible, I passed notes in class – hell, I even slept in class.  And for whatever reason, my teacher’s loved me.  I tested well, so I never had a problem getting A’s on my exams.  I was a swimmer, so most of my teachers didn’t even care that I would put my head down and close my eyes.  On one occasion my freshman year, Mr. Waldman woke me out of my sleep, asked me to pass a handout to Dustin behind me, and then told me, “okay, go back to sleep.”  And I did.  I put my head right back down on my desk and immediately began breathing the soft and slow breath of a heavy slumber.

Even though I didn’t always finish a book we were reading in English class, I participated in class discussions.  I didn’t even watch the movies to get an idea of what I had missed.  I just listened to what other people were saying and went off of that.  And every single one of my teachers were impressed with the input I had to give.  I never made a fool of myself, although sometimes I worried that I was stretching too far out of my reach. 

Music was always easy for me, too.  As early as elementary school, my music teachers and even my peers took notice of my special abilities.  One day we were all given the opportunity to sing either by ourselves or with a partner in front of the class.  My friend Helen and I decided we would sing together.  There were three verses in the song, so she would sing first, I would sing second, and then we’d sing the third verse together.  When it was time for us to sing together, Helen stopped and let me continue on alone.  With a sly smile on her face, she watched me sing by myself as I turned to her puzzled.  We were in fourth grade.

In fifth grade, it was time to choose our musical instruments.  After hearing a John Catching’s CD recording of hymns, I had fallen in love with the cello, so that was the instrument I chose.  I learned so quickly that my orchestra teacher gave me an extra packet of music to practice at home, and told me that at the orchestra concert, I could choose one of those songs to play as a solo.  In sixth grade, I had advanced so far beyond my fellow classmates that she had me play in the seventh grade orchestra.

All of this came so easily to me.  I practiced, but little more than the required 60 minutes per week.  When I got to high school, it was much of the same.  I received a lot of attention and praise from my teachers with little effort on my part.  I had a natural talent that those around me could not ignore.  Choir was the same way.  Anytime there were solo auditions, I got a part.  My senior year of high school, I sang an entire song, Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem, with the orchestra as my accompaniment.  All of this with minimal practicing.  It was so easy back then.  Others may not have been able to ignore my natural talent, but I certainly could.  Being aware of it was the same as ignoring it.  I wasted it by going through college on the same bare minimum idea.  I ended up hitting a plateau that I couldn’t overcome.  I didn’t improve.  I didn’t get worse, but I sure as hell did not get better.

So that was my story.  That was the reason I would never be a Master of Music student at Julliard, UofM or even Wayne State.  Not because I wasn’t good enough, but because I wasn’t motivated enough.  I wasn’t serious enough.  I coasted through life without ever trying to improve or do something better with myself.  Christopher moved on and became incredibly successful, my mother’s writing took off along with her massage business, the people around me moved on and up, and I stayed right where I was.  I never took a chance on anything, and I remained right on the edge of “good enough.”

There was once a chance I didn’t take…

I lay in my room staring up at the blank ceiling.  My alarm screamed obscenities at me for the third time that morning, and I debated hitting snooze and letting it attack me one more time.  Today was going to be just like any other day.  I would shower, get dressed, do my hair and make-up, and I would pack my lunch for the day.  Today was a pizza veggie burger with mayo, mustard, sweet relish and jalapenos, triscuits, a spinach-leaf salad with walnuts and dried cranberries, and a strawberry yogurt for dessert.  It was no surprise that lunch was the most interesting part of my work-day.

Today was going to be like any other day, but the worst part of it was that it was supposed to be different today.  I was supposed to be starting classes at Julliard today.  I should have been awake much too early, packing my bag and taking way too many pencils with me, ready to start my first day as a Graduate student.  I should have been warming up my vocal chords on my way to class, even though I wouldn’t have a voice lesson until midway through the day.

But alas, here I was, laying in bed alone in Ferndale, trying to convince my legs that it really was time to get up and out of bed.  Christopher had been in New York for the last two months, living out his dream in a small but beautiful Manhattan one-bedroom apartment.  I was stuck here and by no one’s fault but my own.  Too afraid of failure, I never even auditioned for a Master of Music program anywhere, much less at Julliard.

To be continued…