one year on. that was then …

This. Is. Now.

One year ago today we was sore as hell. We had just finished our first workout with a personal trainer, were a week into food journaling, and were quite sure we’d lost our minds by getting into this. One year ago today we’d be starting a low carb, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar nutrition plan that I wasn’t sure I’d last a day on. Ratchet was confident, she always is. I love her for that.

One year ago today feels all at once like forever, and yesterday. So what has changed over this past year, what have we learned?

  1. Rachel says:  Though I work at the best pizzeria in all the land, I have greatly reduced the amount of pizza consumed in my life. I haven’t given it up altogether, and when I do choose it, I mostly choose the gluten free crust (yep, actually we’ve both discovered we are gluten sensitive) and eat 2 slices (not all 6). Yes, the name of this game is portion control, and I am getting pretty damn good at it.
  2. Ratchet says:  I really like almonds.
  3. Rachel says: Oh my gosh, me too. I had no idea how sweet they were until all sugar was eliminated in the beginning. Now, they quite regularly stand in as a “dessert” option.
  4. Ratchet says: I know more about food & nutrition than I ever thought possible. And even still, I want to know more. I find myself googling recipes for ground turkey and veggies, and I use those Mark Bittman books (How to Cook Everything) that my sweetie bought me.
  5. Both:  We drink more water. Rachel says: For me, I still don’t drink nearly enough, but more is good and I am ok with good.
  6. Ratchet: I’ve always loved reading, but now I read more and more fitness articles, about running and shoes and the latest and greatest on strength training. Then I try the things I read about and sometimes I even like it.
  7. Rachel:  I am down from a size 22 to a size 14. Yes, numbers are just numbers, but well, what these numbers mean is that I no longer am relegated to the “big girl” stores and the highly picked over, never satisfying “plus size” section of the thrift store.
  8. Both:  We find ourselves talking to people about being fit. It’s like this shared conversation that we got invited into. We like it, we like that people want to talk about it with us.
  9. Ratchet: if I had to sum it all up in one nice soundbite, I’d say we’ve learned how to make good choices: in dining out and staying in, in portions and proteins, in dessert (yes, we eat dessert) and having fun with our friends (yes, we still have fun).

Yesterday was our 1 year fit-aversary (thanks for that amazing word invention Colleen Welch!). Ratchet is down 60 pounds, and I (Rachel) weighed myself Monday. The scale read 170.5 – a total weight loss of 67.5 pounds, damn near to 70. If you’ve been tracking our progress, you know that we have slowed down on the weight loss, but have done a killer job of keeping up the gym habit. We love our Monday and Thursday classes at the Y, and have started a regular “run” day. In a week we’ll be back to working with our favorite personal trainer Zach. In just one year we have changed our lives, our habits and have allowed ourselves to dream new dreams.

What are we dreaming about? Well as we have downsized our bodies, so too do we feel the need to downsize our lives. 2014 will be our year of living more simply. We will downsize our home and things, continue to downsize our bellies, and eat whole foods, making recipes (read continue to cook more at home) with fewer ingredients.

One year people. One year.
Not only is this shit is possible, it is doable and oh so amazing. We are two women, with one goal: to live lighter, happier and healthier. They say it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and we STILL ain’t about to start singing.


I’m going streaking #rwrunstreak


Rachel, day 6 of running. In. A. Row.

Running, it was one of the ways I knew my sweetie was for me when we first met.  We shared a deeply held value that one should only run if needed, like because you were being chased by a grizzly bear. Running was a necessary evil, not something to be attempted at home or without dire reason. 7 years later, here we are, changing our tune, again.

A few days ago a post from a friend asked “Hey, anyone want to join me in the Runners World challenge to run (or walk) everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas?” “I’m in” I replied. Well shit if there wasn’t a group formed and posts flying a few hours later. I hadn’t even told Sweetie, I just sorta thought to myself that I’d try it. No pressure, no big deal, just run a little every day. I’ll post in the group, so I can be held accountable and all.

So, apparently my settings are such that when I post in the group my whole facebook world can see. And all of the sudden it was real. And public. And Sweetie knew. So here I am internets, telling you, I am not a runner BUT I am committing to run every day between now and Christmas (and probably even New Years Day like the challenge says). I will become a better runner, heck with this little app ease into 5k, I might even run some fun run 5k thingie (with cute giveaways of course).

On January 14th Sweetie and I will have our 1 year anniversary of a very non-committal lets-just-try-it-and-see commitment to wellness. We met with a personal trainer and said sure, I’m in. Saying yes to this challenge feels a lot like how we got started in the first place. And I can’t say where its leading, but I can say that I think I like it.


oh wait hang onRachel, lying in her cuddlduds on the couch, having read all of your posts about Turkey Trots, thankfulness and warm family recipes of pie, stuffing and all things carb-a-licious.


If I could remove any one word from my vocabulary and life, it would be this word. I should have run a 5k turkey trot. I should have hosted Thanksgiving again this year. I should be excited about sweet potatoes and turkey breasts. Truth: I didn’t, I couldn’t, I’m not.

After we pass this holiday there will no doubt be much discussion about the “true meaning” of the season aka Chanukah/Christmas/Festivus/Kwanza and so on. But before we get there, I am here, in total conflict over what this holiday is about.

Is it about the food? I mean who can make it through this day without thinking about a meal that includes all kinds of trimmings? From turkey to tofurkey this day is food-centric. And damn if this whole year hasn’t been the most food-focused, count calories-protiens-carbs-sugars of my life. Over the past year I have worked my ass off to train my body how to eat and crave differently. Forget that I have been in the restaurant business since I was knee high to a grasshopper – I have learned more about food and nutrition in this past year of my life than all of them combined. I have built a new life built on portions and control. Today is about expandable pants and farting to make room for pie (or wait – is that just me?). Today feels hard, its messing with my memories and prior feelings of carefree pie choosing bliss.

Is it about just being together as family? Perhaps it is, but today I just want to curl up and grieve. People have been asking “do you have big plans for the day?” I say something like “yeah, well my family is mostly dead with the exception of the ones that are out of town … getting together with Sweeties family.” I swear when I say it, it doesn’t sound as horrible as when I write it, but writing it somehow I can see the pain underneath. This holiday is one where I almost always miss my dad. I made his stuffing again this year, and again this year it didn’t come out like his. I want to call him and ask what I did wrong, but well what’s that saying about not knowing the area code to heaven? I want to show up at his house, having lost all this weight so far this year, and run into his arms and have him be a little drunk, telling me how proud of me he is. Noone can fill in for this insane request. And it sucks. You’d think I was used to this.

If you saw my facebook feed this morning you’d swear today was all about running. Fun runs, turkey trots, little kids and friends I had no idea even thought about running; they all ran today. I didn’t. I keep telling myself I still might, but the truth is, I don’t want to. I mean I WANT the feeling, I just don’t want the work. I want to be lazy, but I hate all of the mental games it plays on me. I want to rest, but I can only see all of those fitness motivational posters telling me “when you think about quitting, remember why you started” and “the difference between who you are & who you want to be is what you do!” Ugh. Truth, these sayings have got me by over the last 10 months. Also true: these sayings are plaguing me today.

My baby sister, an avid fan of me AND running called me to wish me Happy Thanksgiving today. I told her about some of the running guilt I was having. She reminded me how hard I have worked, and that it is ok to just rest some days. I don’t believe her, but I am grateful for her saying so. Ah ha! Hey—did you hear that? I am grateful! Maybe there is some sort of hope for me yet.

daylight savings time and other things one gets used to

Daylight savings Sunday, Rachel after a long time not writing

There I was, along with at least half of my other face-space friends, flipping through the feed wondering why-oh-why I was awake at 6 in the morning; it was FALL BACK after all. If you don’t know this about me, I’m a night owl, always have been. So the 5 am bladder, followed by the 6 am wake up and finally 7 am resign to get up is sort of a weird new thing. Oh how our bodies are a wonderful, frustrating and magical thing.

Right around 7am I thought what-the-hell, as long as I was awake I’d get up and go to the gym, get a run and a few 7 minute workouts in. I rolled out and ran some water through my bed head, brushed my teeth, laced up and headed down the block to the Y. When I was within viewing distance, I noticed there was not a single other car or person in the lot. Oh wait, here comes one person … what time do they open?

I was the second person at the gym, waiting for the door to open. What? Who am I?

A lot has happened since I last wrote, but when you experience it one day at a time, it just seems so insignificant. The workouts are good. The weight trickles off. The body you see in the mirror is still changing, but there is not much rapid or radical storytelling here. Until one morning you wake up and hardly recognize yourself. And you may ask yourself … how did I get here? [It is NOT the same as it ever was.]

How DID I get here? One day at a time.

One cold day in December I asked if Ratchet would be interested in talking to someone. She said yes. Then, we asked someone for help AND allowed ourselves to let be helped. We work out, we eat differently than we used to. We live and learn and try and fail and try again.  What’s the magic secret? There is none. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Shit is H A R D (but can be fun) and  choices aren’t always easy to make (but they get easier with results).

I am thinking of starting a monthly gathering of people who live in the Twin Cities and want to do the work that Ratchet and I have done and/or are interested enough to let yourself sit with other people and talk about it.  I imagine it might look a little like book club? Get together, exchange stories and recipes and laugh (and laugh) and help one another to keep trying. No money, no products, no hitch, just people. Interested? Holla.

fear and possibility

photoRachel, late morning, a cup of coffee, a circuit class, 20 oz of water and some oat bran into the day

“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”   Friedrich Nietzsche

Wake up, eyes dart open: panic. This is not something new; not for me anyway. Oh, its not constant or chronic, and I am certainly not complaining about it. I am very aware of my first world problems thankyouverymuch. However, the feeling & ruminating still totally suck. The feeling/questions/storyline: what if …?

What if all this work I have done doesn’t stick? What happens if I can’t get rid of my grandma flab arms? What if I forget all that I have learned, gain the weight back and have to start all over again? What if I get sick of chicken? What then? Honest to sweet baby Jesus, this is what has come over me lately.

I think I have reached the point of in this journey that fear has taken root, and I have to find a way to shake that bitch loose. So if you will indulge me, I think I am going to try and answer some of my own questions of “what if?”, maybe you’ve got some answers too?

So, what if all this work I’ve done doesn’t stick? What then? Well, what I can know for certain is that I will still be loved. My partner loved me as a smoker, and now as a non-smoker. Obese and now just clinically overweight. In sickness and in health is what she signed on for, and no matter what, I know she will love me. If this doesn’t stick, she will. I am loved.

What if I can’t get rid of my flabby arms? My grandmother Luella was a strong, beautiful woman. Her parents were both dead by the time she was 15. She raised her younger brother, then married an alcoholic. She raised two kids pretty much on her own. Later in life, her husband died, her daughter disowned her, her grand-kids got busy, and she lost her mind. She had her fair share of shit handed to her. She had flabby arms, and they smelled like BO. I loved her arms. She squeal with delight when seeing me, she’d hug me for all she was worth and the skin that hung beneath her limbs seemed to slap and cover all my sad parts. I have her arms. Suddenly, if I don’t lose them, maybe its not so bad.

What if I forget all that I have learned …? I have a shit-for-memory. I forget stuff all the time. To try and aid this issue I’ve tried apps, asked friends for best practices, bought pretty moleskine notebooks, and plain ol’ legal pads and all sorts of other tricks that are “guaranteed” to work. I have not been a pot smoker, and still I have the brain of one, or of someone who has undergone serious head trauma. This fear of forgetting, its real.  I have never been the person I am now, and this person is so new, so underpracticed in this new lifestyle, I am afraid I will forget, slip into my lowest common denominator, and go back to being a depressed couch potato who will get off my ass and sweat tomorrow, after a good nights sleep, when its not so hot/cold/perfect outside. Sheesh, sorry, I really thought I could turn myself around on all these questions, but apparently that isn’t entirely true. Also what is not entirely true is my fear of getting sick of chicken. (Damn I love me some chicken.)

BUT, and mine is currently still a big but(t), if I fail, if I somehow fall off this wagon, I know one thing to be true: I can get back up and do it again. It is possible. And because it is possible, today I will dwell in this possibility. Fear, back off, be gone you crazy-ass bitch, I’ve got some work to do. Lord have mercy, let it be so, amen.




before we got here: steps [and failures] along the way

the long and winding road                                                                          on how we got where we are now

Rachel, another Monday post workout

2006 was a banner year in the Swattison household. We bought our dream home, moved and got married—not something I recommend doing back to back. We began to dream about who we could be and what kind of lives we were going to build together. Suddenly 2007 rolled in like a lion and Ratchet was plagued post-honeymoon with strange medical event that could only be described as pushing the boundaries of our vows. The whole in sickness (and health) thing was pushed to its limits and more, bigger transitions were right around the corner.  Who knew that this would be the start of the great unravelling of me?

One of the first pit-stops in this great coming undone (yes, I see the current trajectory as finally getting my shit together) was a job that got me on the rebound from a really-crappy didn’t-like-how-it-ended other job. The job I left was not crappy, the environment and situation were. That along with a lack of leadership, lack of honesty, and inability to shine light on the truth and doing the right thing is what sent me packing, right into the arms of the new job.  So of course the new job, much like the next lover post breakup, is the rebound, the one to suffer. And suffer we all did.

The person I was hired to replace, now a good friend, had no idea she was being let go. I came into an office with no phone, no computer, no desk, no job description, and a boss who was leaving to go out of town for 2 weeks tomorrow. I had a whole slew of people who wondered who the hell I was, and where was the other person they love so much? It just got more awful and dramatic from there. The details are useless in painting a picture of anything other than a complete mess. I didn’t last long. But what I did gain from this little job that was supposed save me was the seeds of a life that would, eventually.

Janice was the friend who replaced me in the rebound job. Years later I think I can look back and point to when I met her and say with confidence “There. Right there.  Meeting her is where this ship, this Titanic life, started to turn.” How you may wonder? Simple hospitality.

Janice and her husband Eric invited us over for dinner; I can still almost taste the corn soufflé she made that night. Whipped it up like it was no big deal, inviting us into their home and lives. We met Marlee the dog, and a sweet fattish kitty. We talked about this and that, about the job we shared in common, and laughed and laughed the night away. Some of you may know about this me: my mind is like that of a 50-year pot smoker, I don’t remember the details well but I do remember the highs. This night was the night we’d see our first glimpse of what a healthy life might start to look like.

We had already slipped into being strictly financial supporters of the YWCA up the street, paying our bills but never actually setting foot in the gym. Upon getting the tour of Janice and Eric’s home, we saw their in-home elliptical. It was serious. And fancy. It looked like the ones in the gym with all of the lights, bells, and whistles. I distinctly remember asking if they liked having theirs and they said they did. They didn’t have to go anywhere, it fit their life and lifestyles, being accessible any time of day. And if we wanted one, Eric could get his hands on one for us for a really great price. We looked at them and thought “Yes, we want this; this life, this machine, this ability to be together and make a lovely corn soufflé. Yes, sign us up.”

A week or so later we had one in our basement. And we loved it. But of course you know this isn’t where the story ends. No, it would be another few years, and a few more gigantic purchases with the best of intentions, filled with even more failure before we would be ready to call in the personal trainer and get started for real.

But Janice and Eric, you were a part of the beginning. We do use the amazing elliptical now–we are now able to use it as a central part of our home gym. And no, we never used ours as a laundry drying rack. The home gym we hoped for long ago now exists and actually gets used. You helped us start it. And even though we don’t see each other much at all, please know how grateful we are to both of you. You are lovely amazing friends who helped us find our way to where we are now, and we couldn’t have made it this far without you. Yes, you.


livin’ the dream

Rachel: on a Monday in August after a kick ass TRX: HIIT classfront_2

Some of you may know the story of how we got to be in the house we have; if you have, I’m sorry, I am telling it again.

We love where we live. When Ratchet and I first started dating she was just closing on her first home, an adorable stucco number over in the Powderhorn neighborhood. It had 2 legal (and one perfect sized but less than legal) bedrooms, built-ins, a teeeeee-ney tiny kitchen and it was a perfect size home for a lovely single gal. She had been single for some time and was not going to wait around for Ms. Right to come along to buy a house. Then, along came Ms. Right. It was a really sweet house, but soon after we were together, we knew it wouldn’t hold us for long.

A few years later, happily in love and planning a wedding, we started to look for a new home. I wanted something bigger, something that we would be able to share with others. Maybe we’d adopt, or live communally. Either way, I’m a hospitality junky and needed more hosting space than our little home could offer us. After I had searched and found a few properties to look at in our price range we called our friend Marta the realtor, and put together a day of looking at potential houses. The day was booked, but we had a bit of time in the early afternoon with no pressing agenda. “I’ve been feeling really fat lately” I remember telling Ratchet. “Why don’t we use our spare time and head over to the YWCA and join.” Sure, why the hell not? Off we went and wouldn’t you know it, on the way, we drove past a house that captured our hearts and imaginations. It was green and white, the gem of the block. We took a flyer—gasped—and headed down the street to the Midtown Y.

That day we signed up at the Y and we put in an offer on the big dreamy green house.

Signing up at the Y was—in a way—the starting spark of this fire to get fit. We saw the house, saw its potential, and frankly ours, and said yes. And that happened over 7 years ago now. Some people might think, geez 7 years, what-the-fuck took you so long? When I started writing this post I think I felt that way too. But here is what I’d rather believe: some things, they take time. They take time and patience. Time, patience, the right fit—good lord a good fit is so important. I don’t know why this, all of it, finally clicked. I just know it did. Buying this house was the start of a dream. But it was just the start, we had a lot more fitness failures to live through before we got to where we are now.

That dream, the one about living in a big beautiful house and walking to the Y, being organized and happy in our work and looking great and being happily married—its finally coming true. Yep, we are living the dream, which means its probably time to dream some new dreams.