When Words Fail

I’ve been sitting on a big, long, apologetic post about how terrible it is that yet again I’ve lapsed into a pattern of ignoring my blog, and yet again I’ve failed to hold up the promises I made on here, but, well, all that really just doesn’t feel important anymore.

On Friday evening, I received devastating news. A wonderful friend and colleague of mine passed away, extremely suddenly and unexpectedly. It was cutting news in more ways than one — Colleen was an inspiring and gracious coworker, a generous and thoughtful friend, and just a really, really beautiful person.

Colleen was, without a doubt, the most vivacious person I’ve ever met. She put my own enthusiasm for life to shame. Her million-dollar smile could lift your spirits by a mile. Her hugs were legend. And even if you only saw her in person once or twice a year, it was like no time had passed every time you were reunited. She just always made things that natural, that easy, that wonderful.

She was also one of the most considerate and thoughtful people I’ve ever known. From little notes on social media to handwritten cards in the mail to completely unexpected gifts, love was a language that Colleen spoke fluently. She knew how to make you feel special… even though she was the special one.

I have experienced very little loss over the course of my years, and I fully recognize how lucky that makes me. So I don’t think there is a way I could have been prepared for what I would feel upon reading the news of Colleen’s passing. It was like a tsunami washing over me. Shock, grief, utter disbelief.

I’m an emotional person, you all know this. Crying simply seems to be my body’s default setting — tears come when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry… well, you get the idea. But for all the hours of my life spend crying, I can count on one hand the number of times I have really wept.

For the beautiful life of Colleen, I wept.

Tears fell, thick and heavy. My body heaved with sobs. I was just overtaken with this immense sadness at the loss of my friend, taken so young, so abruptly, so unfairly.

All weekend, I’ve read the words of others on this heartbreaking event. Words expressing heartache, words offering comfort, words celebrating Colleen’s magnificent life. And I’ve struggled to find words of my own that even start to express my own deep sadness. Because every time I tried to pull together something to say, put shape to my feelings, my words seemed to fail.

I questioned if I should even say anything at all. I questioned if it’s even fair for me to feel this loss so deeply. After all, Colleen touched so many people, she was a bright light in so many lives, and while I’m lucky enough to be counted amongst them, there are so many who knew her longer, better. Would it be better to grieve quietly, to let those who knew her best share aloud? Does saying something add to Colleen’s legacy, or… is it just selfish for me to be so affected by this?

I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, really. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s appropriate, I just know what I feel. I feel amazed by the community of people who loved and were loved by Colleen. I feel heartache knowing there won’t be any more legendary hugs or gushing sessions over our pups, that I won’t see her at Yelp’s annual CM Week in August, or during my trip to Orlando in November (something I had just emailed with her about a week or so ago.) I feel scared seeing how unpredictable life is, how it can be cut so short. I feel comforted knowing that Colleen will not fade out of our memories. And I feel inspired to live by her example — to laugh loudly, hug people with purpose, make every moment count, and to love — hard.

Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way, we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from our wallets in our rooms. But! Overall we still had a good time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs. 🙂

I guess the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.) Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth (Weigh-in #3)

So, yesterday I saw a friend asking about Invisalign on Facebook, and it occurred to me that it’s been a really long time since I’ve given an update about my teeth (aside from the temporary crown situation that I reported on a few weeks ago). For those of you who might not have been following my braces saga, lemme ‘splain:

I was a regular ol’ brace face in 7th grade:

I had something like 14 months of braces (I don’t actually remember how long I had them, only that they were off by the time I moved from Falls Church to Taiwan the summer before 9th grade.) I was good about wearing my retainer until halfway through my freshman year of college because I was an ungrateful child relishing her first taste of parent-free living, and I did not (and still don’t) appreciate all the things my parents did for me.

And so, eventually, my teeth slipped back into a state of… relative disarray.

Sure, they weren’t the worst teeth ever, and certain angles showed them in a much better way than others. But I wasn’t happy with how they looked and eventually, it got to a point where I wanted to do something about it.

So in January 2014, I got lingual braces on my top teeth. Lingual braces are like regular metal braces, except they go on the back of your teeth, so you can’t see them. I had them for just over a year — the picture below on the right is the day I got them off.

 
Then, because apparently I have to do everything the hard way, I later decided that I also wanted to fix my bottom teeth as well. This may or may not have been a month or two after Sean proposed… but anyway. I went in for a consultation at Smiles at Fairfax Corner, and it turns out that straightening my teeth one row at a time doesn’t really work. I could work on the bottom (which were still pretty messed up), but I’d also need to work on my bite, which meant putting braces back on the top as well. Le sigh.

So, for the sake of science and curiosity, I decided to look into Invisalign this time. It turned out to be much more affordable than the lingual braces I had already sold a kidney to do, so I gave it a shot. I think most of you know what Invisalign is, right? It’s braces by way of removable aligners instead of having metal brackets affixed to your teeth.

Invisalign boasts its “invisibility” as one of the main reasons to go that route instead of traditional or lingual braces. It also offers the “flexibility” of being able to remove the retainers so you can still eat anything you want. Well, on those two claims I have some opinions, but in general, I’ve been just as happy with the results netted from IL as I have from the lingual braces before. Still, for anyone who might be considering IL, let’s talk about them in a little more detail:

 
As you can see in the above photos, in which I am wearing my aligners, Invisalign is most decidedly not as invisible as you might think. Perhaps when the technology first came out, you could get away with folks thinking your teeth are just a little shiny, but now getting IL involves getting “attachments” — little enamel bumps strategically adhered to your teeth to better help the aligners grip and move them.

Now, I’m all for efficiency, but the unfortunate side effect of the attachments is that they make the aligners even more visible when they’re in your mouth. The good news, however, is that the bumps truly are tooth-colored, so when you don’t have the liners in, you really can’t tell unless you’re basically staring someone straight in the teeth.

You can kind of see one of my attachments on the left side of my mouth in this photo — it’s sticking out a little bit. But I actually have multiple attachments all across my front teeth as well that you can’t see. (Just in case, however, I did have my attachments removed for the wedding and then put back on after I returned from my honeymoon.)

So, what this extreme dichotomy in “invisibility” ended up meaning for someone like me (coughvaincough), is that I really have only worn my aligners at night, and have gone bare-toothed during the day. I want to emphasize that this is NOT the recommended way to do it. In fact, Invisalign encourages ideal weartime of 22 hours a day. However, I am a very conceited person who takes a lot of selfies, so I just couldn’t do it.

The aforementioned “flexibility” was also a factor here. See, you can’t eat or drink anything except water with the aligners in. So, for a chronic snacker like myself, that meant taking out my aligners, eating, brushing, flossing, and shoving ’em back in like, 6 – 10 times a day. Not the most fun. Then again, maybe if I’d actually stuck with it, I’d have curbed my snacking habit instead. And maybe my extraordinarily excessive oral cleaning would have prevented my weird crown cavity thing. Or, maybe it would have made it worse because I’m terrible at flossing anyway and would have just half-assed it and ended up smooshing more food up against my teeth every time I popped my aligners back in. #whoknows

ANYWAY. All this to say that I’ve basically been operating for the past year with only wearing my Invisalign at night, and it’s worked out for me. But, I reiterate, I am also not saying that others should blatantly disregard the instructions of professionals.

So, here we are! Two and a half years have passed since my original foray into lingual braces, and another year since diving into the world of Invisalign, and I’m very nearly done! I’ve just a few more aligners to go at this point, and have some nice straight teeth — top AND bottom — to show for it.

So there you have it! A much longer, more drawn-out story (and process!) than I initially intended, but just like with all aspects of my life, evidently I really just have to do things my own way. 🙂

And speaking of those other life aspects, I owe you guys a weight report!

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.6 lbs
Current Weight: 241.8
Difference: +.2 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.4 lbs

Well, this should come as no surprise if you read my post yesterday, which recapped the stuff-my-face tour of Savannah that I took last week. And I’m not sure if next week will be much better, since I’m headed to Playa Mujeres on Friday, heh. But, hey! Life is for living, food is for eating, teeth are for straightening (I guess), and I’m just happy that I didn’t put the 12 pounds I have lost back on. ‘Til next time!

Georgia on my Mind

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where to begin? I definitely didn’t mean to take such a long hiatus so soon after making my triumphant blogging return, but, hey, what can I say? Life happens, yo. And has it ever been happening over the past couple of weeks!

For a large chunk of the time I’ve been away from you guys, I was back in Georgia for a dual-purposed trip. The main purpose was work-related, as my duties with Yelp called me back to beautiful Savannah (my life is so hard, I know.) I was there for an event organized by the Community Ambassador there (whom I advise as part of my role here in Northern VA.)

The other purpose, as you can see, was to see my sister, brother-in-law and super cute nieces, who all currently live in Macon (but who are moving north of Atlanta in just a few weeks.) Macon is essentially on the way from Atlanta to Savannah, so it really works out that my job sends me that way a few times each year. It was particularly great fun that this event was family-friendly, so I got to drag the whole family along, hehe.

Mia was our unofficial Yelp brand ambassador for the day. ;)

We got to see the Savannah sights as part of the event, which involved a pedicab (rickshaw) tour around the historic downtown area, and then lunch at an awesome local restaurant. Actually, the trip in generally involved not a small amount of food at various awesome local restaurants. Savannah really is a food-lover’s paradise… though, granted, it does make a pesky thing like losing weight just a tad challenging, heh.

Okay, so I didn’t eat “well” while I was there, but damn did I eat gooooooood. Alas, I feared this did not bold well for my return to the scale upon my, er, return to my house. So imagine my shock when said scale revealed I did not gain any weight during my trip! Miracle!

Sure, I also didn’t lose any weight, but hey, when there are waffle fry nachos in the mix, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll take what I can get.

I pretty much credit this to Jenny’s healthy influence whenever I visit her. We may have all indulged a bit while in Savannah, but during the Macon-portion of the trip, I was relatively self-controlled AND my fitness instructor sister also dragged my lazy butt to the gym 3 out of the 4 days I was there.

 
Alas, if only Jenny lived up here and could physically force me to sweat on the daily. I’d be hitting my goals like ka-POW! Oh well, guess I’ll just have to keep whining about how much I hate working out to you guys instead. 😉

Anyway, along with all the eating and sweating and plotting to kidnap cuddling with my nieces, I also got just enough pool time in to take my new ‘kini for a test drive (it’s from Swimsuits For All), as well as get a nice light dusting of sunburn.

  
Sadly, no matter how much sunscreen I apply nor how religiously I reapply it, I always seem to get at least a little bit burnt. I guess I’m just that white, sigh. Luckily (?), my burn always fades into a tan, so I look slightly less ghost-like than I did before I headed to Georgia. This is important, since I’m headed to Mexicooooooo on Friday! And I don’t know about you, but I’d really prefer not to get burnt to a total lobster-like crisp on my first day.

Although, given what the weather report is indicating right now, I might not end up getting much sun at all! Current forecasts are calling for a lot of rain in Cancun this weekend, which would be no bueno… mostly for my wonderful friend who is getting married in Playa Mujeres on Sunday, but also, you know, for my selfish, vacationing self.

I’ve never been to Cancun/Playa Mujeres before, but those of you who may be more familiar with it — what does rain tend to be like there? Do the storms tend to be short, or are we likely to be relegated to indoor activities for the whole day? I know it’s still early, so things could change, but after my recent experience with Mother Nature putting a damper on things… well, can you blame me for being anxious?

Well, c’est la vie, right? You can’t control the weather, and I’m just super excited to have some time away with Sean, to celebrate my two wonderful friends getting married, and spend some time chillin’ with my brother and sister-in-law (Ben & Taylor are photographing the wedding). It’s not Friday yet, though! After a super chill, laid-back Memorial Day weekend (we didn’t go anywhere or do, like, anything… hahaha), I’ve got a full docket for the rest of this week — meetings, calls, and appointments galore! So with that, I bid you adieu for now. Adios!

Eating through the Weekend

Guff, this weekend man. So much fun, and soooo much food. Which, you know, isn’t inherently a bad thing, but when you’re trying to make every calorie count, it can make things a little bit challenging. All things considered, though, I definitely think it was worth it.

On Saturday, I met up with the lovely Alicia, who was visiting DC from Florida! She was out in Northern VA for the day checking out the Air & Space Museum, so we met up at one of my favorite local restaurants, Chasin’ Tails, for some delicious seafood feasting.

Then, later that evening, Sean and I attended a pre-opening event for a new LongHorn Steakhouse opening up in the area. Despite the plethora of options available to me, I actually reigned myself in pretty well and went for salmon instead of steak (well, other than the bites of Sean’s steak that I snagged, heh.) Guess I’m just on kind of a seafood kick!

The portion of salmon was, as you can see, absolutely gargantuan (10 ounces!), so I ended up with a tasty lunch the next day as well. Well, truth be told, cutting myself off at just half the plate was actually more challenging than I like to admit, but I really wanted to save room for dessert, heh.

Totally worth it! This banana cream pie was bosssss! So, funny story, the banana cream pie was actually our second-choice for dessert, but our first choice (the “Chocolate Stampede”) was sold out for the evening. Turns out, that was a real blessing in disguise! When I was logging my meals in My Fitness Pal after dinner, I got a peek at what the Chocolate Stampede would have set us back. 2178 calories. FOR ONE DESSERT. Insane!

Meanwhile, that banana cream pie ended up being a mere 390 calories. Quite a bit more manageable as a splurge… especially when sharing. 🙂

Anyway, as if my Saturday eating adventures weren’t enough, on Sunday I got to attend the DC Lamb Jam with my coworker Kimberly. We ate our way through lamb dishes from many of the area’s hottest restaurants, and it was, obviously, delicious.

Kinda made it hard to track everything in MFP later though, ahaha. I had to do not a small amount of guestimating on that one.

Sooooo, yeah. Now you kind of understand my “guff” from above, no? Between my Yelp event from last week, the Pentatonix concert, and this weekend, I’ve been eating a lot of deliciousness that’s not exactly on-plan. But, you know me, a life without eating out would, well, not be my life. And since it’s literally unavoidable in my kind of work, I just need to get comfortable with making healthy choices on a more regular basis.

Even I need a break from the constant barrage of food prepared by others, though! So tonight I shall feast on a delicious, homemade something-or-other, depending on what looks good in my fridge. I’m thinking… short ribs, roasted broccoli, and cauliflower puree, maybe? Stay tuned.