What does one do for the second anniversary?

Rachel says:  Cotton. And if you are feeling a bit more modern, China.

These are the gifts of one gives to celebrate 2 years of marriage. Two years ago, we–Karen & Rachel–took our very first steps towards making a whole new life. We said “I do!” to working out, proper nutrition & sleep. So as we began to approach this milestone, we started to look back at all we have done, and what we still hoped to do. Between the two of us we’ve lost 120 pounds, we’ve built working out into our weekly rhythms, and we’ve learned to LOVE chicken and turkey. But come on, let’s get real, shall we? We are still quite a way off from our goals.

True, our first goal was to make this a way of life. And we’ve done that, mostly. I mean, we eat well; chicken, fish and turkey is almost always the protein of choice when dining out. And well yes, it does come on a delicious bun, and yes we did choose sweet potato fries instead of real ones. We work out at least twice a week. Well mostly. Always at least once. Sometimes as much as 4, but you don’t want to know how we reward ourselves for such accomplishments. Ugh. Two words: slippery slope.

So, on this–our cotton/china anniversary–we are swearing off sugar and doing a hard restart on our goals. We are committing to dropping down one more size in our cotton threads and we are breaking the glass (or china) ceiling of our current number on the scale plateau. And we start tomorrow.

This is our cupboard that we are closing off for at least a month, before and after.










And this is breakfast tomorrow morning. IMG_2813

I’ve got to go to bed, its way past my bedtime (and good quality sleep is a key piece of fitness and weightloss). But stay tuned in the days and weeks to come.

We’re baaaaack.


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.


let the thanking begin


It’s not what we have in our life, but who we have in our life that counts.

Rachel, feeling grateful and late, as usual.

I’ve always wanted to be that person who could pen a quick return thank you card. This practice, this art of the thank you card, is one of those things I believe you learn as a young person, likely from your mother whose library contains several Judith “Miss Manners” Martin books. I do not come from a home that taught me this. My beloved did. It is one of the things I marvel most about her and her family—the swift thank you reply. A thank you card, handwritten and heartfelt, is I think one of the most beautiful acts of kindness I know of.

I’ve made new years resolutions about doing this, I have at least 100 different actual thank you cards on my desk. I keep forever stamps on hand and little piles of momentos all around my house, in obvious places so I won’t forget, and I don’t; these piles just grow and turn into little guilty reminders of who I could be if I could only set my priorities straight.

Which brings me to today, reflecting on setting my priorities and making different choices. When we decided to dive headlong into this rabbit-hole of health, we had no fucking clue what we were actually signing up for. Time, suddenly vanished, consumed by lists, cooking, planning and the shuffling of schedules to make our workouts happen 3 times a week (or more). Friends, patiently wondering if we were in fact the busiest people on the planet, impossibly wanting to make plans but inevitably postponed or worse, just unable to commit. Meanwhile, you all have been cheering us on in cards and comments, notes and emails. We’ve gone off the rails, and there you are, waving and hooting along this unpaved path. Friends, don’t let anyone try and tell you differently, setting priorities that puts you as numero uno is hard work.

But today, I begin again. There are so many people to thank, so many little moments that I am sure if you saw your name here you would have NO IDEA the impact you’ve made on my life. Going forward I will try to tell some of these stories, peppered along side of some “what’s next” and progress posts. I hope my endless thanking won’t bore you all, as your encouragement still butters my biscuit.

So for starters, a huge thank you goes out to our friends Courtney and Tony. The image here is of a card we received in the mail just as we were starting this whole fitness/healthy escapade. It quotes J.M. Laurence saying “It’s not what we have in our life, but who we have in our life that counts.” Now THAT is some Gospel truth. The card included a gift card to Whole Foods along with some words of encouragement for the crazy ass shit we had just signed ourselves up for. I am sure they had no idea how much their words and friendship would come to mean to us. When I think to myself “can I do this, can I go on? Can I get up and work out even though I am dead ass tired?” I often find myself thinking about these two. They are capital B busy people. They travel, have kids, and each have a bunch of people who demand a lot of their time. Good Lord gravy if they can do it, I can at least try. Their presence and kindness has been like the unassuming accountability partner, without all the checking in and “non-judgement” judgement.

And so, it began, with friends by our side and a thoughtful card in the mail. But this certainly wasn’t THE beginning. No, this whole thing actually started just over 7 years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, looking for a new house. But that is another thank you, in a different post, after my sweetie takes her turn writing.

6 months, by the numbers

Well, Friday marked our final workout with Forte Fitness and our main [workout] man Zach. For the record, we LOVE Zach (pictured here). He is kind, funny, smart as hell, encouraging, and nothing makes him smile like hearing where you hurt from the last workout. Yep, he’s everything we could have hoped for in a trainer. We couldn’t have done what we did without his help.

We did our first official workout with him on January 14th, and our last on July 26th. Here is our 6 month progress, by the numbers.

Neck:  .75 inches lost
Chest:  2.5 inches lost
Waist:  8.25 inches lost
Hips: 6 inches lost
Upper arm (aka gramma fat / chicken wing): 4 inches lost
Thigh: 4.75 inches lost
(My old thigh is was one inch smaller than my new waist! Ratchet says “that is reVOLTing!”)
Rear end-o (butt): 5.5 inches lost
Weight lost:  53 pounds

Neck:  2.5 inches lost (whaaaaa? eeeeeew.)
Chest:  6.5 inches lost
Waist:  11 inches lost
Hips: 9.5 inches lost
Upper arm (aka gramma fat / chicken wing): 4 inches lost
Thigh: 3.5 inches lost
Rear end-o (butt): 6.75 inches lost
Weight lost:  60 pounds

Wow. WOWwowwow.

Next posts: Ummmmm …  thank yous to a few amazing cheerleaders and helpers along the way AND what will they do next? Stay tuned.


Rachel, post shopping for new bras.rainbow sleeves

I love the word tits. I love that it is an adjective of something rad / awesome from the 80s. I love how it feels, saying it out loud, TITS. I also like saying titties, breasts, boobs, bazangas, melons, lucious lumps; nearly any nickname you’ve heard for them would make me smile. Not only do I love saying these words, but I actually love everything about them, on nearly any and every woman. Every woman except—that is—for me.

I was in 5th grade the first time my bra strap was snapped. It was a classic scene; young girl in purple cords and a rainbow across the sleeves then chest then sleeves puffy shirt moving from class to class.  A gang of troublemakers are mumbling behind her, then one gets pushed out of the crowd towards her and suddenly “smack!” her back is as red as her face and she is running towards the school office with tears bursting. Go ahead a few years in school and now that same girl is being called a “slut” because her body looks like its heaving in all the wrong places, and because of something that happened that wasn’t her fault. A few years more and some sexual experiences under her belt, and now she is just used to it. Finally schools out (forever) and she is off to the military. Drill Sargent Dan is calling her name across a field, telling her to “strap that shit down private—wear a damn bra for crying out loud private!” She wishes the conversation was private, but its not, and its not the first time. And it won’t be the last.

In 1996 I had a breast reduction. I had 10 sticks of butter removed from each breast (this is also equivalent to 2 coke cans per boob is what they told me). It was the one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’ve always wanted to be flat chested, having the freedom to wear or not wear a bra if I wanted and not be obscene if I chose not to. They took me down from a size EE to a size C. It was glorious, for a while. Then, they grew back. No, I am not kidding. Little by little, pound by pound they crept back on. In the last few years I have just come to accept them and “love” them, as in I love you because you are family not because I actually like you.

The other day a friend of mine asked if I was on pintrest. She said she found some cool pins on this woman who learned how to size her own bras due to how much weight she was losing. I looked down at my mamas and back at my friend and smiled.

Of all the things that I have loved about this journey this has to rank right up there: my boobs are shrinking. They are still big, and my sweetie still loves them on my behalf, but they are getting smaller along with the rest of me. Its not surgery, but this officially tops that decision I made back in the 90s.

(Also, I love Tig Notaro. A lot.)

a view from 90 days in

Rachel and Ratchet exactly 90 days in90 day waiting period rule hras

Its been busy, perhaps you can tell from our lack of posting. Since last we’ve written we’ve gone on vacation, we’ve lost our best furry friend of 18+ years, and we’ve worked, worked out, and continued the tupperware party that is our daily eating plan. 90 days in, we’ve found a few items to be true, and worth noting.

  1. After living a fairly sedentary life, we can honestly say that this life—the one with movement, new crazy exercises, and surprised muscles screaming hello—is FUN. We liken this to being newly vegetarian; when you go out to eat you see the menu in a whole new way. You look deeper, ask questions and can see stuff that maybe you’ve never seen before. We are looking at the menu what life has to offer in a whole new way. Suddenly there is a smorgasbord of things we can do now.
  2. Your taste-buds can and do change! If you would have asked us 6 months ago if we could give up bread and cheese, we would have said not no but HELL NO. Not only have we given that up for this season, we’ve let go of sugar, fruit and our beloved post meal sweet treat. And if this sounds like doom and gloom, no-this-no-that diet hell, then you haven’t seen us lately. Not only are we happy but we’re sure we will stick with the basic principals of this thing for the rest of our lives. Yes, we are still enjoying our meal plan and thrilled about what we have learned about food and its relationship to our bodies.
  3. While we had an amazing time on vacation and were profoundly sad at the loss of our mitten, we did not turn to our old comfort food ways in our life happenings, both highs and lows. Did we have amazing off the plan cheat meals, but we made good informed choices, learned about what our new portion size looks like (hint: not a burrito the size of your head) and grief & exercise are exactly a perfect pairing; like peanut butter & jelly, Hall & Oates or Walmart & a disproportionate amount of our country’s fashion fails.
  4. We can actually FEEL our muscles and
  5. sweat looks pretty in the right light. Generally both are viewed best on a wall of mirrors, with a soundtrack of grunting.
  6. Two huge piles of clothing donation later, the clothing purge is addicting, encouraging and ridiculously ridiculous.
  7. We have news eyes for beauty. When people tell us that we look good, we find ourselves looking back at people looking for their beauty. And it goes beyond just people’s compliments, in general this has helped us notice beauty. The simple truth is: more people are telling us we look great more often. It’s a glorious self-propelling cycle. (Hey reader, you look gooooooooood!)
  8. We had no idea how many friends we have that are not only encouraged by what we are doing, but how many people we know that were already doing this. We feel so fantastically supported that it makes it nearly impossible to fail. We want to pay that forward and are happy to talk all about what we know (and don’t know) to keep going.
  9. In our marriage: it feels like we have more together time, which is amazing and fantastic. We are together people; if given the chance, we’d spend every waking moment together. We have jobs that have us on very different schedules, but this has offered us space to be together in times we would have never carved out for ourselves before. It is a huge gift and hella sexy encouraging awesome.
  10. We know that we want to keep going (and going and going…)—something neither one of us could have ever imagined before meeting our Forte fitness friends and family. 

Stats: Since January 14th

Rachel has lost 36 pounds, percentage weight loss of 15%.

Ratchet has lost 35 pounds, percentage weight loss of 14.4%.

… in 90. Freaking. Days. Holy. Crap. Yeah, I think we’ll keep going.