A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

Dad August 23, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 2:18 am

Monday morning, I got a call from my mom letting me know that my Dad had passed away the night before.

I hadn’t seen him since I was 19. I had moved to Arizona, and he and my mom came to help me “settle in.” Mentally he was gone by then. I remember getting dinner with he, my mom, and Drew, and feeling embarrassed by how crazy he sounded.  Something about cell phones. This is probably the last memory I have of seeing my father.

My father was an addict, but I didn’t know that growing up.  And while there were signs, I didn’t know the extent of it until one day during Christmas break of my first year of college, when my Mom burst into my room in the middle of the night.  She had to tell me then, tell me everything, because he was out of his mind, threatening her with violence, threatening to check out of the rehab he was in and come home.

Rehab didn’t stick. Whatever drug he was doing left him paranoid, out of his mind.  But I didn’t see most of that; I was away at college, and then away in Arizona. My mother finally left him shortly after I moved to Arizona.

He’d tried to contact me after that, but I didn’t trust him. He tried to pretend as though nothing happened, and I finally confronted him after he tried to blame the split on my mother.  He gave me a bitter apology, and after that, his contact became sporadic.  For years, I had nightmares about him finding me. He’d been physically intimidating with my mother, threatening her, and I knew about his temper.

Every six months or a year, he’d still try to contact me.  We would text, and I would usually respond.  Until he started pressuring me to see him. I’d always say I didn’t feel ready yet, because I didn’t. Because I was still afraid, and I didn’t know if he was still using, and he never really apologized or acknowledged what had happened.

In June, he sent me a facebook friend request with a short message: post more baby pictures.  I didn’t know he was sick then, but he knew. He had lung cancer, and he’d stopped treatment after it spread.  He knew he was sick, dying, but he didn’t tell me.  I ignored the friend request. It sat in my inbox, popping up occasionally on my fb feed.  He never sent any other messages.

I don’t know why. I don’t know why he chose to keep this to himself.  To not give me a chance to say goodbye, to have closure, for him to meet Eleanor. Maybe if I didn’t want to see him when he was healthy, he didn’t want me to see him just because he was sick. Maybe he was trying not to manipulate me into seeing him. Maybe he was being prideful and hurt. I’ll probably never really know why, and now I’ll never have that closure.

In a weird way, those messages that gave me anxiety were also reassurances that he was alive, and that, even if for only the times when he sent them, he was probably sober.  And that he still cared about me despite everything.  Just as they were upsetting, or made me angry, they were also comforting.

His death has made me reflect more on who he was, and as a result, who I am.  During my childhood, he wasn’t using.  He was involved. He was, by all accounts, a good dad.

I don’t have a great memory.  Lots of moments from my past are fuzzy, and sometimes it seems like the bad is always easier to remember, because it stands out.  Even before, when he was sober, he still had a temper.  He would explode over small things. One time in high school, I spilled a container of guacamole on the steps before a party. He screamed and cursed at me, red faced, in front of my friends. I ran to my room, crying, hands covered in spilled dip, humiliated and ashamed.  My friends didn’t know what to say.

I’ve spent a long time in my adult life having written him off, thinking I had mourned him a long time ago because, in many ways, he was no longer the same man he was when I was growing up. But these past few days I’ve thought a lot about the person I am now, and the memories I have of him.  For a long time, the fourth of July was a difficult holiday for me because of all the good memories I had with him. We’d buy the fireworks weeks in advance, travelling over the border to Pennsylvania or New York. It felt secret and dangerous and fun to pick out the giant packs, to try a new firework in the hopes that each year it would top the last.  He’d let me set them off, hold bottle rockets in my hands.  We’d light them and run, and my Mom would either hide inside or sit, perched, worried.

He would drive me around in his S.S. Monte Carlo, burning rubber, playing the Doors or Queen.  Sometimes we would go through the car wash and pretend a monster was eating the car.  Sometimes we’d take the T-tops off.

When I was very little, he’d take me to the Staten Island Zoo, and he’d hold me up over the alligator cage, perched up on the edge, holding me safe, but sometimes feigning letting me go.

He took me on my first roller coasters, at Hershey Park.  The Cyclone and the Super Duper Looper. We rode the Cyclone twice and the Looper three times. I was proud of myself for being so brave, for riding a big girl ride even though I was young, for not being afraid.

My Mom was always caring, loving, safe, kind. She was stable, there for me.  She was my yang, my light. But my father taught me how to have fun. To be adventurous. He’s the reason I’m not afraid of rides, he’s the reason why I tried sky diving and wasn’t afraid to move across the country. He’s why I could get tattoos and piercings and take risks and scuba dive and go on adventures.  He was my yin, and between the two, they balanced me.  They probably balanced each other.

Towards the end of their relationship, both their personalities magnified.  When intensified, my Mom was over-bearing and anxious, my father, destructive and abusive.  When my Mom finally left, she regained some of the balance within herself.  I don’t know if my father ever did.

I spent so many years feeling like the father I knew had died, but a part of me had always hoped for some sort of closure.  A part of his death still doesn’t feel real, that somehow he didn’t really go without saying goodbye.  Having to truly mourn him has made me reflect and appreciate some of the better times, and for what he was able to give me.  Despite everything else, I was lucky to have a dad like him growing up.  I’m thankful for the darkness, the balance, the fun he gave me.  I love my adventurous side, and I hope that’s something I can pass on to Eleanor.  I’m excited to take her on her first roller coaster in a few years.

Rest in peace, Dad.  When I think of you, I’ll try to remember all of you.


Mombod: The Struggle is Real July 2, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 10:21 pm

So I haven’t updated this in a while, but lately I’ve really missed having a place to talk about all this ish.

17 months and 2 days ago, I gave birth to a super adorable, sweet, amazing little girl who is the absolute best.   Here’s photographic proof of how amazing she is:


The face Eleanor makes when I don’t immediately put her on the swings when we get to the park.

Before getting pregnant, I used to fantasize about having a big ol’ preggo belly.  I couldn’t wait to have a tummy to rub all the time while I glowed like a pregnant goddess.

I have to imagine that I’m not the only one to find my idyllic goddess pregnancy fantasy turn out to be a lot more like heartburn, weight gain, swollen feet, and more weight gain.   I had this annoying if I don’t eat I feel nauseous thing, and by the end of the first trimester, I had gained the recommended weight gain for the entire pregnancy.

Miss Eleanor arrived a week late, and by that time, I had gained about 90lbs, clocking in at 256lbs at my heaviest.  Two weeks after giving birth, I weighed in at 238lbs.  Nursing was a struggle, and anyone who says that the weight will fly off while nursing deserves the angriest mom evil eye I can muster.  It doesn’t. Nothing flies off.  N-o-t-h-i-n-g.  It’s only been through blood, sweat, tears, that I weigh 199lbs now (and yes, that one pound is fucking important, ask anyone who has ever lost weight).

I don’t recognize my body.  Facebook reminds me daily with “On This Day” of what I used to look like (thanks Facebook), and it’s been difficult for me to come to terms with this new “me.”  I’m continuing to exercise and “diet”*, especially because I’d like to be in a healthier place before we try for baby 2.  But I’ve also got some mad respect for my body right now.

First of all, it birthed another human being and then fed it for 9 months. That alone is pretty amazing. But now that I’m working out again, I am ridiculously impressed with the things I can still do.  For instance, I can sustain a 5mph+ run for 2 miles.  Yeah, that’s slower than what I used to do, but I’ve got 50 extra pounds strapped to me. I don’t know if I could have done that before with 50 pounds strapped to my body.

The same goes for climbing.  Sure, I can only climb 5.8s, and I can’t do underhang walls clean, but I think it’s kind of incredible that I can climb anything.


Good job, body.

So, sure, my body is a work in progress. And I don’t feel as sexy as I used to, and I have to buy a bunch of new clothing, and I don’t always love what I see in the mirror.

But at the same time, damn body. Thanks for everything you do. I’m trying hard to treat you better. I promise to be kinder to you while you house baby 2.

*Diet rant: “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” I hear this and other anti-diet stuff a LOT, and I sort of hate it with a fiery passion, and not just because it is preachy tripe that seems designed to just make people feel bad. Yeah, yeah, it’s true: eating “healthfully” is a lifestyle choice. But the truth is, you can eat “healthfully” and not lose any weight**. So, if your goal is to lose weight, you have to, in some way, shape, or form, restrict your caloric intake, which is obviously not how you should eat forever. There are lots of ways (aka diets) to do this–high fat, high protein, paleo, keto, south beach, Atkins, low fat, whole foods, macros, bla bla bla bla. And some are more “healthy” than others (if you think eating processed foods is unhealthy).   Personally, I prefer to eat low carb, high protein, and moderate fats, while eating whole unprocessed foods as much as possible.  I have trouble with portion control, so I prefer to cut carbs and sugars, which can have a lot of empty calories.  Yes, this is a diet, because I still have to monitor my caloric intake while doing it.  No, it is not THE diet.  If you end up restricting calories, and your goal is weight loss, ANY diet will work.  Just find whatever works best for you.  If you want to read more about this, with science and stuff, check here: The Best Fat Loss Article on the Motherfucking Internet

**Weight loss rant: No one can or should tell you what to do with your body, provided you aren’t intentionally causing self harm.  Do what feels right and good for your body, and fuck anyone who tries to tell you to do or feel something that you don’t.  Yes, body positivity movement, I’m looking at you.

Mommy Musings:

I’m super excited about Octonauts, which I would have loved if I were a kid. As far as I can tell so far, the basic premise is a bunch of weird land mammals live underwater and go on adventures to rescue ocean animals.  Also, the Creature Report song will DEFINITELY get stuck in your head.

My favorite character is Professor Inkling Octopus because he is the stuff of nightmares:


However, husbando said his favorite character is Kwazii Kitten because he has definitely seen some shit:



My August Fitness Challenge! July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 9:37 pm

After a month of vacation, restaurants, and pampering, I think I’m more than ready to get back to a healthy lifestyle.  So it’s time for an:

August Fitness Challenge!

I’ve decided to design a challenge for myself based on what I want to improve, mainly strength, muscle tone, and weight.  So, here are my rules:

  • I will do 100 pushups, situps, squats, and calf raises everyday!  The pushups will probably be the roughest, and I know I might have to kneel for my last couple sets at first.  I also will vary the activity– so i might do a mix of crunches, leg raises, and Pilates for the situp portion, for instance.
  • I will run 3 miles everyday!   This is pretty self explanatory.  It can be on a treadmill or outdoors.  I won’t have any particular speed goals in mind other than keeping up the run at at least 6mph (which is pretty slow for me at this point).

The new sneakers my Mom got me for my birthday will be put to good use!

  • I will eat a gluten free and sugar free diet.  This one seems the easiest but will probably be what I struggle with the most.

What challenge would be complete without before and after data?  So here are some measurements and unflattering photos to kick off the month:


Weight:  143.6lbs

Shoulders:  40″

Right arm:  11 1/4″  (Flexed 11 3/4″)

Left arm:  11″ (Flexed 11 1/2″)

Chest:  34 1/4″

Waist (two fingers above bellybutton):  31″

Hips (at widest spot):  39 3/4″

Right and left Thigh:  22 3/4″

Right calf:  14 1/4″

Left calf:  14 1/2″

The fine print:  Month begins July 30th and ends August 30th.  I am allowed four "cheats" during this time frame, 1 a week, for each activity.
These activities will be in addition to my normal workout routine, and I will still be climbing, doing yoga, and taking YMCA classes throughout 
the month.
No kittens were harmed or measured during the creation of this challenge.

Half-Marathon Success! April 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 5:44 am

While I apologize for my lack of blogging this month, I promise that I have not been slacking off!  On the contrary, I’ve been busy training for my half-marathon, which I rocked this past Saturday!

One of my New Years resolutions this year was to run a half-marathon.  About five weeks ago, I started training for the Havasu Half, which takes place in Lake Havasu, AZ.  Fun Arizona fact:  The original London Bridge is in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Some eccentric rich dude had it shipped here, piece by piece, in 1967. For my half-marathon I ran over it– and thankfully it did not, in fact, fall down!  The run took me around the shore of Lake Havasu for about 13 beautiful miles.  The day was luckily gorgeous– while it had been pouring rain the whole drive up, when I woke up the next morning I was happy to see the sun, with the perfect cloud/wind ratio.

I was running on 5 hours of sleep, so i uncharacteristically downed a coffee, popped some Advil, had a sensible breakfast of a banana with peanut butter and a Luna protein bar, and went down to the London Bridge Beach to pick up my “goodie bag”, which had my number, an awesome sweat-wicking t-shirt, and my tracker!

So, I’ll be honest.  I was nervous.  Super nervous.  I was silently (and sometimes audibly) cursing myself for not having run a race ever before– not even a measly 5k.  Also, while the cool weather was almost instantly appreciated once I started running, I was quite chilly waiting for the race to start.

But all my butterflies flew away as soon as I started running.  I wasn’t sure how fast I was going– at one point, I know I passed the 2:10 minute pacer, but I spend so much of my time running completely zoned out, I wasn’t sure that she didn’t re-pass me.  The run was absolutely beautiful.  And not once did I ever hit a wall or feel like I needed to stop or slow down.  I actually felt great– endorphin charged and happy– the whole run.

It was so amazing to see the clock when approaching the finish line and realize i was actually 6 minutes under time! Here are my official stats:

2011 Havasu Half Marathon, Women, 20 – 29 Years Old

Place Name S Ag Chiptim Split Pace Bib
Vanessa Phillips

I can’t believe I ranked 24th out of the women in my age group!  I have to say that, had I realized I was going to run so close to 2 hours, I would have tried to get under 2 hours– but now I’ve got a goal for next time!  Upon crossing the finish line, I had an amazing boyfriend, a medal, and a free beer waiting for me.  One of these things was a terrible idea– I’ll let you guess which.

(hint: it wasn’t the medal)

I’ve struggled with the idea of calling myself a runner.  What makes someone a runner?  I’m not going to win any Olympic competitions.  But I think that, officially, after this race, I don’t have any qualms about calling myself a runner.  Somewhere on this run, it just sort of clicked for me– the fact that, after a long car ride and little sleep, I could still get up and run 13 miles, and run them at a damn good personal pace– well, that’s it.  I might not be a sprinter, or the best runner, but I feel comfortable now with just that statement– I am a runner.

But to what do I owe my running success?  There are 5 things that I could NOT have done this run without.  So if you’re thinking of running your own half-marathon, here are some tips:

1.  Train! Train, train, train.  You don’t wake up one morning never having run and say, gee, golly, I think i’ll run a half-marathon!  For the past five weeks, I have been training, and the only reason that it only took me five weeks was because I already was able to run about 6 miles without stopping when I started the training.  Here’s a breakdown of my schedule:

2.  Have a rocking playlist.

This little guy made my training and race so much more enjoyable.  Here’s the music that got me through it:

  • Hot Boyz- Casiotone For the Painfully Alone
  • Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell-  Das Racist
  • Fembot-  Robyn
  • E.T.-  Kate Perry
  • Tonight-  Enrique Iglesias
  • Bottoms Up-  Trey Songz
  • Gold Digger-  Kanye West
  • S&M-  Rihanna
  • Monster-  Kanye West
  • Down On Me-  Jeremih
  • Blow-  Ke$ha
  • No Hands-  Waka Flocka Fame
  • Power-  Kanye West
  • I Gotta Feeling-   Black Eyed Peas
  • Somebody Told Me-  The Killers
  • We R Who We R- Ke$ha
  • Tik Tok- Ke$ha
  • Telephone-  Lady Gaga
  • Konichiwa Bitches- Robyn
  • Poker Face-  Lady Gaga
  • California Girls-  Kay Perry
  • Paper Planes-  M.I.A.
  • Merry Happy-  Kate Nash

3.  Never underestimate your footwear. One of the early snags I ran into was a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot after running.  I’d never felt this before, but I’d also never run so much outside.  I had good sneakers, but needed to add one of these little guys in my right shoe to make my budding plantar fascisitis disappear:

Thank goodness my coworker had a spare pair of these inserts from when she had a similar problem!  After using this for a week (and taking Advil/icing my foot), I was virtually pain-free!  So, if you notice something isn’t quite right, don’t just ignore it.  Proper foot-gear can have a huge impact on your running enjoyment.

4.  Carb load! I’d normally be the last person to say this, but when running long distances, you NEED your carbs!  Even though I was doing some pretty intense physical activity this month, I still gained weight.  But there was just no way I could run that much and not eat!  My pre-race meal?  My first ever trip to Carl’s Jr., where I scarfed down a guacamole turkey burger, zucchini fries, and a Oreo milkshake!  Healthy?  Maybe not exactly, but it’s full of the energy you need to finish such a long run.  So, if you’re planning on running a half marathon, don’t plan on dieting!

5.  Have an amazing, supportive significant other!

Or friend.  Or relative.  But really, I honestly don’t think I could have done this without someone there for me, and I was especially lucky that it was someone as supportive and wonderful as my boyfriend, Isaiah!  He drove the whole way (11+ hours), woke up bright and early to drop me off at the starting line, and was there waiting for at the finish to snap that photo of me crossing the line!  Not to mention all the moral support he offered along the way.   I very highly doubt I could have done this without him.  So, if you’re thinking of doing something like this, try to have someone you know you can count on, no matter who they are in your life, there.  Even if it’s not a long drive, having someone waiting for me at the finish line made all the difference.

So, that’s that!  While I’m certainly not going to give up running, I am looking forward to getting back to the YMCA and having a more well-rounded fitness routine.  I’m also looking forward to getting back to a healthy diet, and have decided to go paleo+dairy for the month in an effort to shed some pesky pounds and get my healthy diet back on track!  If you’re confused or curious about paleo, don’t worry– a paleo post is in the works!


Out of sight, but not out of mind. February 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 11:39 pm

So I’ve been admittedly absent from the blogging world lately!  But that doesn’t mean my healthy living quest has ended.  I’ve just been blog-neglectful!

So here’s a quick month summary of what’s been going on with me in the world of health:

The break-room at my job has struck again.  I’ve gained almost 5lbs from sugary sweets!  It’s made me feel bloated, sluggish, grumpy, and all around unhealthy.  So it’s ending now.  I’m officially starting my “last 10lbs goal”, which is mainly to lose my last 10lbs, have a 5lb fluctuation range, and stop thinking about my weight.

Recently I had an encounter with someone that made me really question why I cared about this.  Was it to please someone other than myself?  Talking to someone who has opposite body ideals than the norm made me question whether or not I’d consider gaining weight for a partner.  This was an interesting idea to me, since most partners have always wanted me to lose weight.  After giving it some thought, I realized that what I’m doing with my body is really, truly for myself, and not about whether or not someone would be happier with me thinner or fatter.  I make choices with my body based on what would make me happiest.  I’m confident being strong, feeling healthy, and with how I look.  And no one person can take that away from me.

So, does that mean I’m tackling one of my new years resolutions?  Slowly but surely!  I’ve been making progress at Rocks and Ropes as well.  I’m able to climb half of the 9+ routes there, though not without some pit stops.  Still, 10a is just one little jump away!  I’ve also cashed in my Groupon this month for Crossfit Purgatory, which I’ve actually really been enjoying (despite these incredibly embarrassing pictures they posted of me on their blog)!

Next month I’ll start my half marathon training, which I’ll hopefully run in April.  All in all, I feel good about my progress!

Also, while it’s a little unrelated to health and fitness, I did finally have my tattoo finished!  And I think not having to sit in a chair for 5+ hours of pain every other week has made me a bit healthier.



I’ve also been trying to go on more hikes lately on account of the gorgeous weather in Tucson.  I went on a pretty nice one to Tanque Verde Falls at the start of the month.

So, look forward to more frequent blog posts!  I’ve got a sweet potato shepard’s pie recipe and a Crossfit Purgatory update in the works!


The Obligatory Resolutions of A New Year January 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 1:51 am

As much as I think it’s cliché, I do make New Years resolutions.  So here are my 5 new year goals that will hopefully lead to a happier, healthier me both physically and mentally by 2012.

  1. I will begin graduate school. I have been putting this off for almost a year now, and enough is enough.  Where do I want to be in two years?  I’m not sure, but I feel like this year has been very tumultuous for me, and I’m still only recovering.  I need to do something for myself and my future, and furthering my education sounds perfect.  Hopefully, come this fall, I’ll be enrolled as a graduate earning an MA in English education.  I’ve already registered for the GRE;  wish me luck February 20th!
  2. I will run a half marathon. I will do this by April, hopefully, because running much later than that outdoors in Tucson sounds dreadful.  I’ll still continue running once or twice a week in the meantime, but come March I’ll start my training.  That being said, anyone who would like to start training with me or has any training tips for me, please let me know!
  3. I will comfortably climb 10s at Rocks and Ropes. I’d be happy with any 10s, even 10a, but 10b or 10c would be ideal.  I will also climb outside.  I feel like these two goals will be easily attainable if I continue at my present rate.
  4. I will learn to love myself. This includes loving my body, being happy with my weight/ass/legs/tits/everything, but not only that.  I now live alone.  This is both terrifying and thrilling to me at the same time.  I went through some big life upheavals last year, and in a lot of ways am only just starting to process them now.  I want to be happy with myself– with just myself.  I want to not need another person to make me feel complete.  I want to look out for myself more.
  5. I will begin to sell my artwork. Hopefully I’ll have a website with a gallery and a store soon.  I need to stop being afraid of doing this.  I’m finally starting to develop confidence in my work and abilities as an artist, and to make some extra money on the side from it would be incredible– maybe just enough to support it and continue to grow and develop.  In addition to this, I will finish the comic I have been working (albeit slowly) on.  It’s autobiographical, and I need to get down a layout of the events I’m drawing before I forget them like I forget everything.

So, cheers to a new year.  What are your resolutions?


Gluten and Sugar-free 4 life! November 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 2:14 pm

I feel that, health-wise, I had a really amazing month.  I now weigh between 134-135lbs (down a good 3-4lbs from the start of the month!), I feel better about myself, I’m more energetic, I’ve had less tummy troubles– all around good!  I ate more veggies, fruits, nuts and rice than I had been, and even cheated (about once a week) without feeling guilt-ridden, sick, or just generally bad about myself.  Success!

The hardest (and biggest) cut was artificial sugar.  I never realized how much refined sugar I ate before!  I feel so much better not having that junk in my life.  Why would I ever want to eat that way again?

That’s not to say I haven’t dabbled or occasionally indulged.  I think once a week is a good amount of cheating.  I’ve missed Ethiopian this month, so I’m looking forward to having that again.  But I think I’ll permanently stop buying sugary snack food to keep in the house (sorry, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds).

Also, in honor of Halloween (and a great way to spice up a Thursday night workout) a few friends and I went to our cheesy strength/cardio YMCA class decked out in full 80s gear.

Pretty pre-workout shot

Sweaty post-workout with Jennifer and Rowena!

How those 80s chicks worked out with hairspray in their hair is beyond me.  It was dripping in my eyes after the first fifteen minutes.  Yuck!  But it did make class more fun and was a great motivator!