At age 28 I finally took my first plane ride. As I sit here contending with leftover lethargy from said flight, I want to reflect on the journey to and from St. Louis.
I learned in my class in STL that I’m a thinker, which totally explains why I prepared for this flight like it was a school exam. I read so many blogs about things to expect when in the air and special concerns first-time fliers would have. Noises. Sudden movements. Navigating security.
One piece of advice I read was to get to the airport two hours early. After doing this twice I’ve concluded this must depend on the airport. I probably could have arrived at 2:12 for my 3:12 flight out of GSP and still had a few minutes to chill before boarding.
When I approached the security area I verified my carry-on would fit in that metal crate thing. The TSA agent said I was one of the few people who did that. I made it through security with one hiccup…my headband.
So there I was in a nearly empty concourse two hours before my flight. Two hours to think about all the things I read about flight. Two hours to reflect on the $10 club wrap I bought at the snack bar.
A gate agent later appeared. The flight is booked to the brim and they didn’t anticipate having enough carry-on space. Does anyone want to volunteer to check his or her bag free of charge?
I pulled my word puzzles out of my bag and volunteered my bag. As a new flyer, this would be my biggest concern for the next four hours.
My main source of entertainment was the preppy fellow across the aisle. When we reached cruising altitude that dude pulled out a footlong sub. Seemed like a kind of hardcore food to whip out on a plane. But what did I know? I was new at this.
A piece of advice I found to be very true: Drink lots of water. My throat did feel dry up there; I ran through a 20 oz. bottle in the 30 minutes between Greenville and Atlanta.
I braced myself for chaos when I landed at ATL. Turned out to be quite easy to navigate from my arrival gate to my departure gate. I went to the bookstore and found exactly what I wanted on a table at the entrance: Orange Is the New Black. I was 15th on the list of requests for the book from the library. So it was obvious the free route just wasn’t happening. And now I had a book to read on the plane.
Landing in STL is when it “got real”. I’m a gal traveling alone. I’m in an unfamiliar city. I checked a bag that may or may not be here. And I have to get a taxi. I mean, it was thrilling but still kind of a weird reality.
Baggage claim was a little anxiety-inducing. I saw a string of bags with my flight number pass…then nothing for a few minutes. I went back to flight advice I read a week earlier: Chances are everyone around you is a seasoned traveler. If they’re not freaking out, you shouldn’t either.
I finally saw my zebra-print bag rise from the great unknown under the conveyor belt. Victory!
I had considered taking the rail to the hotel, but it was dark and I didn’t know much about the relative safety of that mode of transportation. So I opted for the $45(!) taxi ride.
The hotel was a weird experience. I checked in on Wednesday. When I returned to my room after class Thursday, I noticed the housekeeping staff moved a lot of things–and not really into an arrangement that looked like when I arrived. The decorative pillows were either in the corner or on the bench near the bathroom. The lotion and face cream were on the counter instead of on the sink where they started. The TV remote was randomly thrown in front of the TV…not even in a straight position.
Forget this. I’m putting my “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for the rest of my time here…
After chatting with the hotel concierge at checkout about the safety of the rail line, I decided to use it to go to the airport. The ride was $2.25. A welcome change.
I ran into another too-early-to-the-airport situation. In fact, the flight using my gate before my flight used it had not started boarding when I arrived.
When I boarded my final flight, I was so eager to be home. This grew even more intense as we sat near the takeoff point and waited for four planes ahead of us to takeoff.
Overall I really enjoyed flying. The best things I read and heard were to
*chew gum, though it seemed even more helpful to swallow water to keep my ears clear.
*pay attention to the way other people are reacting to things. Falling a bit unexpectedly and changing noises are totally normal.
Now that I know what to expect when flying, I want to travel more often. Ignoring the post-flight haze I’m in, of course.
Last night I encountered a lively gent in front of my friendly neighborhood supermarket. The chap was selling portrait packages. “Eight photos for $10, giiiiirl!!”
I had that brief moment of dread as I approached the store. This is not going to be a saleman to whom I can politely decline interest and leave.
I was right.
Guy: “Hey, I know you want some pictures made. Look at these babies. These families. You can get you family some pictures!”
Me: “No, but thank you.”
“Aw, you got no kids?”
“You got a husband? You can pose with your husband.”
“No, I don’t have a husband.”
“Hey, you can do a diva shot, you know? You got a sweetheart on the side? Maybe you two can do a few poses.”
[At this point he showed me what poses might look like.]
“Oh my goodness.”
“No sweetie on the side? Maybe we can do some pics.”
[I think my eyes grew a little wide here with incredulity.]
“I really need to get my groceries.”
I think we’re all getting just a little too comfortable with each other these days…
I haven’t updated my blog in over a year! I thought offering wise words about changing one’s body would be a nice restart.
I have been on and off exercise kicks (pun somewhat intended) for years. I never really saw results during those phases; I think I was too casual about it back then. I even took diet pills years ago and did lose a lot of weight, but it felt dishonest. Not to mention I was in a constant state of headache from the high caffeine content.
So I again became lax. Put on more weight. One day earlier this year I was a little winded after doing some mild moving of things and I thought, “This is ridiculous. You need to fix yourself.”
This time around, I knew things would be different. I was in a dear friend’s wedding and I had to decide if I wanted to start working on this body before or after the event. Seemed like it would be better to wait until after the event. You know, alterations and such.
So there I was in the left side of the above photo. Chunky monkey. It was a super cute dress but I felt kind of gross. I was out of shape and I knew it could cause health problems down the road.
I think your health is like cooking a meal in a crock pot. If you want it to turn out well at a certain point you have to start early.
At the beginning of April I started this journey. I looked into prepared food programs; I thought this might be simpler if someone told me what to eat. I considered Nutrisystem. As I looked at their foods I realized they were pretty much normal meals. The only difference was the portion size. So I decided I was going to try to make this as painless as possible. I was going to eat my normal food, just less of it.
I’m not going to lie. It was hard for a few weeks. I wanted the messy burgers I loved. I wanted to eat a saucer-sized brownie. I kept things under control in the early days by thinking of how close the next meal time was. I don’t need that 600-calorie snack when dinner is two hours away.
When I ate meals, I started paying attention to serving sizes. Just because you can fill a plate it doesn’t mean you should.
After I grew accustomed to the dietary change, I started exercising again. Oy. It’s hard to get going and to stay motivated when you start or restart regular exercise. In the beginning I probably only made it through 30 minutes before needing to stop.
What helped me to stick with exercise even though I lacked a lot of endurance is I remained realistic. I knew it would take a while to get to where I wanted to be. I am in this for the long haul.
I finally built up my cardio endurance so that I could exercise an hour a day. I was on my way.
I had read many weight loss stories and I saw a common thread: A food diary. I knew there was surely an app or website to make this easy. There was…MyFitnessPal. It makes it so easy to track what you eat and what exercise you do. I looked up a lot of foods I used to love to eat and I was stunned to see how many calories I was eating. The app tracks other information such as sodium and cholesterol. After you complete the day the app will project how much you will weigh in five weeks. It’s kind of a tangible way to see how what you’re doing is changing your body.
For the past month and a half I’ve transitioned from cardio to strength training. On the occasions when I used weights I used five-pound dumbbells. “I’m not going for bulk. I’m toning! Toning!”
Yeah. Never really saw that toning. So I started reading and realized strength training is vital for reshaping your body. Really, it is. You’re not going to become bulky. I stepped up to 10-pound dumbbells and soon I’m going to have to go up again.
I’ve noticed the most transformation of my body in these past few weeks since I’ve started doing Jillian Michaels kickboxing. It combines cardio & strength; I feel so great after the workout.
I think one of the keys to succeeding is changing your lifestyle gradually. It’s hard to wake up one day and try to exercise hard and do a shake two meals a day. Believe me. I’ve tried several times.
What has worked for me is sticking to regular foods in proper portions (that’s one cup of cereal, folks. One cup.). I stuck with exercise in those early days when I thought I’d never build up my endurance.
Most legitimate body transformations take time. Those people who lost half their body weight usually took a year or more to do it. I’m happy where I am but I’m excited to see where I can go. I feel strong and many times healthier than I felt that day I was winded after moderate exertion. I walked around downtown Charleston for 10 hours a couple of weeks ago. And it felt great.
If your head is in the right place, it’s a journey worth taking to become a healthier person. A tone body is just a bonus. I didn’t start this thinking, “My body is going to look like X”. I just didn’t want to be that person who is winded while grocery shopping. But now I can see the changes and it helps to keep me going. I can resist foods that are too far off the charts.
I used to think people who said diet and exercise were all they did were full of it. Surely they’re hiding something. They actually workout three hours a day or they only eat salmon and rice every meal. I’ve since realized it really is true. After a few weeks of eating better and exercising regularly you really do feel a 180 difference.
I don’t eat any funky foods or drink weird shakes. I can dine out like anyone, except I’m going to opt for healthier choices.
It can be done, folks. I’m doing it.