Wednesday, December 29, 2010



Ok, so I admit it.  I've been missing from here, the studio and most forms of exercise for a few weeks.  That doesn't mean I've fallen off the wagon - not completely at least.  I've managed to run a little, walk a little and I totally kick butt at Just Dance 2 on the Wii during our little holiday vacation, but you're right, I let myself down this holiday season.

No worries, though. Hyam returns from vacation tomorrow and thus, so do I. I can't even imagine how sore I will be on Friday (she's had an entire week to plan and scheme!) but I'm SO ready to get back in the studio.  Who knew I'd miss those killer workouts so much? I did!  

Side Note: The girl in the that picture above is also Missing in the "I barely recognize her anymore" way, too - hooray!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friendship Buffet

I saw the term "friendship buffet" on the front of a magazine the other day and decided I was going to adopt it as my theme for the holidays. 

Since so much of the holiday season centers around eating and drinking - two things I am trying to control - I've been a little apprehensive about how I was going to deal with all of it.  A "friendship buffet" seemed like the perfect solution.  Instead of indulging on cookies and cocktails at get-togethers this month I will focus on filling myself up with my friends.  

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, our lives get in the way of the things that are most important to us.  After a difficult week that left me feeling pretty low I was fortunate to be able to spend time with several of my really good friends over the weekend.  Though we've all been extremely busy lately we carved out a little time to share with one another.  It was exactly what I needed - and I ended the week feeling fabulous. 

In class sometimes Hyam talks about the exercise "filling up your tank" rather than depleting it.  I love that analogy, and think it can be transferred over to so many aspects of our lives.  The holidays sometimes become so full of hustle and bustle that they leave us feeling stressed, tired and drained. But that is the antithesis of what it's really supposed to be about - it's supposed to lift us up - make us feel incredible.  So that is what I'm going to focus on.

That is also my challenge to you.  Find a way to fill up your buffet with friendship, love and laughter this holiday season.  Include a few cookies and cocktails along the way, but focus on the blessings that you have - and on being one to those around you.  It will leave you full in a whole new way - and you won't even have to unbutton your pants to enjoy it!

This *#%! Works!

I've been asked several times recently why I'm such a big proponent for Clay Fitness & Nutrition and this quote, from a classmate of mine - "This shit works!" always comes to mind.  Stephanie made this comment while banging out push-ups in class a few weeks ago - something she couldn't do when our program started.  And while it probably won't make the "Testimonials" section of Clay's website or Facebook page, I personally love it

Stephanie was a beautiful person when she started working out at Clay, but when you see her now she knocks your socks off. She's lost a significant amount of weight and gained some really gorgeous muscle, but it's not just the physical changes that make her so stunning - it's the psychological ones.  Even though she may not realize it - she exudes a confidence that I didn't see in her 12 weeks ago.  It's truly beautiful.

I don't get paid to throw Clay's name around or say nice things about Hyam. This blog was my own idea - a way to hold myself accountable and, hopefully inspire other people with struggles similar to mine.  I asked her before I started, of course, but nothing I say here is ever officially prompted by her.  She creates content for the blog without even realizing it by saying and doing things that inspire me (and many other people) on a continual basis. 

I love what I'm doing at Clay because though I'm not breaking any weight loss records I'm having greater success than I've ever had with my diet and health.  I rave about Clay Fitness because I'm 25 pounds into my weight loss goals and still I'm having fun doing it.  I brag about Hyam because she has an amazing ability to push me beyond my self proposed limits while building me up instead of tearing me down.  I go on and on about my workouts because despite the fact that I'm there three days a week they are always different and I'm never, ever bored.  I blab about it because quite simply - this shit works!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tears and Laughter

I spent Tuesday night with a few of my girlfriends. It wasn't your ordinary GNO, however. We entitled the evening "Tears and Laughter" because we started the evening at a church service held by The Compassionate Friends for parents whose children had died. Our friends Jennifer and John lost their son Carson a little over a year ago to complications to H1N1 and we were there to support Jennifer.  That was the "tears" part of our evening.

After the service (where there were definitely lots of tears) we all went out for a few cocktails and some laughter. It was a little somber at first, of course, but this is a really fun group of girls and tears of laughter ensued almost immediately. 

It was a very emotional evening for me on several different levels.  First, I was taken by surprise when I arrived at the church to see one of my babysitters standing at the door.  One of her sons had committed suicide several years ago - a story I had heard through the grapevine but she had never shared directly with me.  I smiled, hugged her and moved forward toward the two pews full of my friends.  As I rounded the corner I was completely taken aback when I saw my neighbor and her husband sitting in the last pew. I ignorantly asked, "Do you go to church here?"  I was unprepared to hear her respond with "Jennifer was killed in September."  Jennifer, their daughter, who was about my age, a single mom to 3 teenage daughters, was killed in September.  I had no idea.  I felt horrible for so many reasons.

When we were walking out of the service I stopped to hug and talk to her for a few minutes.  She said she wished her friends had come with her instead of her husband. Not surprisingly losing a child is extremely hard on many marriages - even those that are 30+ years strong.  My heart ached for her. I didn't know what to do or say so I just hugged her and said I'd be there.  I meant it, but I'm not sure how much it helped.

On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum I couldn't help but feel really blessed that night, too.  Don't get me wrong - I have spent hours crying over Carson's death, weeping for my friends' loss and questioning my God as to why this happened.  This night, however, I was also reminded of how fortunate we are.  I sat there surrounded by nine really incredible women that night there supporting their friend. Schedules were juggled, babysitters were called in and husbands came home early from work so that we could be there.  None of us gave it a second thought. There was no place we would've rather been.

Jennifer and John have started a great foundation called The Carson Raymond Foundation in Carson's honor. If you'd like to help bring baseball to kids in our community check out the foundation's website at or feel free to give me a call.  GO PLAY! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Had a Bad Day

I cannot tell you how glad I am that this week is almost over.  It's just been one of those weeks.  It's not surprising, as today's date is December 9th. The holidays are in full swing and we are, like most people, busier than ever.  

It was made worse by the fact that I started the week off with an arguments with not one, not two, but three of the people closest to me. I never fight with my mom and sister, and somehow I managed to offend and hurt both of them within a matter of a few hours.  Everything is okay now, but it was an awful feeling.  The third benefactor of my rage was, of course, the Spicy Chicken. He's used to it, though, so that one was over before it even started.  

It's not a good feeling when you realize that you are, in fact, wrong.  Though I may have had a valid point or two, I was the common denominator in all three of these arguments and I was out of line. That sucks.  While any guy I ever dated would probably call bull shit on me for saying this, I don't actually like confrontation and controversy.  I'm a pleaser by nature - I like to keep everyone happy.  I guess that's why things like this happen.  I keep everything in until I finally blow.  I wouldn't advise it, however,  it's not real effective - just ask my mom and sister.

On a positive note I have managed to get rid of the 3 pounds I gained over Thanksgiving.  Exercise has been my saving grace during this week of insanity - I'm not sure how I managed without it for the past few years.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words

That's me, circa. 1988!

I met Kristine Pringle a few months after I started my "journey".  She had documented the McIntire Park Fireworks on the 4th of July for the Newsplex and subsequently appeared as a guest on C'ville Plugged In with me.  I was in awe of how she captured not just the beauty of that event, but also the feelings surrounding it.  After the segment I made a plan to contact her in the fall, when I'd hoped to have lost "a few pounds" (like 40).  

For years I've put off getting family photos taken because of my weight. Documenting it  would've forced me to accept it.  Denial was much easier.  I coveted, however,  the beautiful family portraits my friends had covering their walls, and knew I was depriving my children of years of laughter in their adulthood (the hair in that pic above was cool when the photo was taken, I swear.) by not getting them done.  I made that vow that every overweight person makes -  I'd do them "once I lost weight".

September came and went and I found myself only at -20. I had planned to use these photos for our Christmas cards, but was I really ready to show 150 of our "closest" friends what I beast I still was?  Not really, but I decided I'd trade my pride for the beauty of a Charlottesville fall and gave Kristine a call.

You will see from the photos below that Kristine has mad photography skills. Sadly, however,  I still found it hard to look at myself.  I immediately started picking apart my flaws and was mad at myself for not losing more weight.  I hate that.  

The longer I looked, however, the more credit I began to give to myself.  I've come a long way from the fat girl, sleeping on a lawn chair on the beach last spring.  Once I recognized that, calmed down and added "be kinder to myself" to my growing list of New Year's Resolutions I saw just how beautiful these photos are.   Even more importantly than that, however, was how Kristine managed to really capture who we are - even though she barely knew us.  That's talent, people, pure talent.

We did what Kristine calls a "countrypolitan" shoot - 

Urban shots downtown Charlottesville...

...and a little country at Jefferson Vineyards
(And yes, we drank a bottle of Viognier during the shoot)

Goofy picture of me, but I love that we are running together!

Can you believe this is my baby?

Messy hair, playing in the grass, absolutely beautiful...
SO Maggie.
And this, of course, is my favorite.

You can see more of our photo session with Kristine, as well as other examples of her talent at  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unintended Consequences

The first time I sat down with Hyam it was simply to interview her for a story for SuzySaid.  A friend had tried out one of her classes and thought it would make a good story so I checked it out.  Less than 30 minutes in to our conversation I knew my life was going to change. At the time, however, I believed those changes would be limited to my own personal journey back to health.  I had no clue I'd be blessed with so much more.

December marked the end of my latest 12 week session at Clay.  To celebrate our success, as well as Hyam's (surely you read the Daily Progress article about Clay's upward expansion into the former Bel Rio space?) two of my classmates had us all over for dinner.

On the way to their house I gave the Spicy Chicken a run down on the names of people he hadn't met.  As I started telling him about each individual it dawned on me what an amazing group of people they were and how highly I thought of each person.  

Whether they realize it or not each of them has guided me on my journey in their own way. Sure our workouts consisted of some really intense training, but somewhere between the curling & crunching, skipping & jumping and squatting & lunging there was a whole lot of smiling, supporting, laughing, encouraging and inspiring going on.  

Twelve weeks later I've lost few pounds and added a few new friends.  I'll take those unintended consequences any day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pretty Cool

I got an e-mail from a colleague the other day that stated "And by the way, I saw you were named as C Magazine's "blogs we love" - congratulations!"

What?  SuzySaid was mentioned in C Magazine?  That's awesome!

I had actually picked up a copy of C Magazine (C-Ville Weekly's quarterly style supplement) that day but I hadn't had a chance to look at it. I immediately tore it open to find that it wasn't SuzySaid, but rather Finding Amy...Again - this blog - that they were talking about!  I was floored.

My childhood friends like to tease me about my "celebrity status" in Charlottesville.   I remind them that while Charlottesville might be nationally known because we're home to things like UVA and Monticello, it's actually fairly small. Being a "celebrity" is kind of like being WBLAHS Homecoming Queen (which I was not, btw). 

But I have to admit that getting noted in C Magazine - a trendy, hip publication - felt pretty cool.

Thanks, Caite White - you made my day.

Back to Reality

Getting back to reality after visiting my parents is always hard.  I feel so incredibly relaxed when I'm home that I even manage to sleep well (when I don't wear five layers of running clothes and my shoes to bed).  I'm blessed with really easy going parents we don't have those stereotypical stress-laden family holidays.  Even when we're really busy (as we were this past trip) it still feels really relaxing. (Starting cocktail hour at 3pm always helps, too).

Unfortunately the Spicy Chicken and I both wound up with killer chest colds upon our return.  Neither of us could breath well enough on Monday morning to run up the stairs to wake the girls, let alone make it through an hour with Hyam.  Fortunately for us (unfortunately for her) she also caught some crud over the holidays so we got off easy.

If you've been reading this blog fairly regularly you might be thinking "This girl's a freakin' hypochondriac!" But I swear I'm not.  Somehow I've had more stupid colds in the past 3 months than I've had in the past 3 years! It's frustrating because missing that many days (the week I was in MN plus a few extra since I've been home) sets you back a few steps, whether you realize it or nor. 

And let me tell you - I realized it Friday when I finally got back in the studio.  W-O-W - it was tough.  On the other hand, Saturday morning's cycling class felt so good I was almost disappointed when she said it was our last song...Almost.

Breakfast Is Back

A week or so ago I posted that I was struggling with eating in the morning and therefore, struggling through my workout.  I got some great feedback both here and on my Facebook Page about how others rev themselves up in the morning, and it really rejuvenated me.  I have a tendency to get stuck in a rut when it comes to eating healthy, so a few new ideas (or reminding me of old ideas) helped me get back on track.

The first thing I embraced was oatmeal. I'd forgotten how much I like oatmeal and just how filling it is. For extra nutrition and the protein I really need to sustain a killer session at Clay I add in a handful of nuts (I prefer almonds) and some blueberries.  Berries are pretty expensive this time of year so I'm probably going to have to go to frozen soon, but KK and M love them too and they pack so much nutrition into a small package that it seems worth the expense for now.

I also renewed my love for greek yogurt this week.  Apparently eating the same thing every day for months will tire you of it - who knew?  But after a few weeks vacation yogurt and I are back on good terms.  On workout days I get crazy and add in a little granola. It's pretty high in fat and calories, but a little goes a long way so I don't feel too guilty.  My favorite is Bear Naked's Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch.  One serving (1/4 cup) has 120 calories, 2.5 g of fat, 2 g of fiber and just 4 g of sugar.  I stir about an 1/8 cup in and it fuels me for the morning.  Hyam would prefer that I eat the plain and sweeten it with honey, but I haven't quite come around to that taste yet

Finally, I decided to take the bagel off the "Devil List".  Don't get excited - I realize these days most bagels could feed an entire small country for a week.  They can, however, also be a decent source for breakfast if you do it right.  No super-sized shmear of cream cheese  here - just a half a whole wheat bagel topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and banana slices.  It's a good start to the day - and you've got your carb craving curbed before 9am!