Healthy Byte: Forty Pounds to Freedom (Q & A)

2015 8-10 QnA

Now to answer some specific questions from one of my polls of what peeps would like to know:

Q: rayw89 Have you ever caught a few extra pounds coming back on and had to curb it? And do high calorie occasions throughout the year(if you do them) have any negative effects? Thanks. 🙂

A: You bet! I do have a set weight range for maintenance which I monitor quite regularly. My normal weight flux is 93 – 95 lbs → PLEASE remember that I am ‘fun size’ at 4’10” & petite frame … the average size of a 3rd or 4th grader so that # may seem borderline anorexic to some, my height & frame has to be taken into account. My ‘danger danger Robinson’ weight is 97 lbs. In my two year maint I have reached 96 about a half dozen times from my various little eating ‘experiments.’ HAHA For example, I went through a phase where I ate an entire BOWL of popcorn every night for an after dinner snack. I gained weight like nobody’s business! lol  What I learned is that I’m one of the unfortunate souls who do not process carbs very efficiently and had to resort to alternative tactics. ie. eat my dinner later, drink lots of water, leave the kitchen right after dinner so I don’t linger around and be tempted to eat something else just because it’s readily available etc. If I am really hankering for something else, I try to chose the most satisfying and healthy option. ie. PB&J on ½ of toasted whole wheat English muffin. For the second part of the question I’m not really sure what you mean by ‘high calorie occasions’ but I do live by my own variation of the 80/20 Rule. Therefore there are indeed occasions where I have gone as far as 1200 calories over my daily allotment → think bday, anniversary, graduation in the same week – YIKES. I usually am 2-3 lbs heavier for about 48 – 76 hours after, then I go back to my normal eating pattern and my weight goes back down within the normal flux range. No real permanent negative effect as long as it is truly a once in a rare occasion sort of deal → think 2-3 times a year … maybe. And let me just clarify that the 2-3 times a year is by choice. I don’t actively avoid indulgence. It’s just now that my body is SO use to eating well most of the time, when I do indulge in junk I just feel awful for the next couple of days. Sometimes I literally feel like I’m going to die! lol It’s kind of like my body has forgotten how to process junk so it rebels with GI issues. So like Pavlov dogs, the more I feel bad every time I indulge the more I don’t because I like feeling good. Seems silly and a little lame no? Regardless how many calories I consume, I log EVERYthing. If it passes my lips I log it. Instead of being seeing that blaring red number as a teacher wagging their finger at me, I see it as nothing more but data. It helps me to identify food items which make my weight flux more than others or feel more bloated than others. It’s a good tool for analysis & reflection. For example, by having the data to analyze I was able to delineate that it wasn’t so much the carbs that was making me feel sluggish & bloated but certain food groups (FODMAP sensitivity). I’d have never been able to figure that out if I didn’t habitually log everything.

Q: drmartz55 Read a good article on PsyBlog about the psychological secret to great exercise habits, so I’d like to know what prompts you to exercise regularly?

A: ahhhh great question! This goes back to being the tortoise nor the hare. Whenever I used to want to lose weight I’d would go full throttle, gungho and go to the gym 5 days a week for an hour and a half, sometimes two full hours. The first week was awesome – “YEA I feel great!’ The second week was less awesome – ‘This is okay.’ The third week I was starting to dread going to the gym – ‘hmmm, why the hell am I doing this?’ By the fourth week I’m like –  ‘pffft whatever I’m not seeing any results anyways – why bother!’ This time, since I know I am not a gym person by nature, so I started small. I asked myself what realistically can I consistently do without feeling like it is a chore? The answer was 15 minutes twice a week. I figure that anyone can spare 15 minutes twice a week so that is what I started with. For a few months I went to the gym religiously for 15 minutes twice a week. When that became second nature I increased the duration and frequency. I bumped it up to 30 minutes three times a week. And when that became this mindless autopilot mode that I just did without thinking (like automatically putting on a seatbelt in the car without thinking about it) I increased the duration and frequency again and so on. What I didn’t know was that by approaching exercise this way, I was fundamentally inscribing a new life habit. And now, honestly, even on days when I absolutely want to just crawl into my pjs & stay home, my auto pilot mode kicks in I mindlessly change into my gym clothes & I go. Once I am physically at the gym, even if I am just dog tired and say to myself, ‘I’m just going to dial it in tonight’, I never do because once I get going, my body takes over and my brain just goes along with it. Also, in my previous failures I did classes exclusively. This time I almost never went to classes but did my own thing because the classes was set to someone else’s schedule which often times meant a 2-3 hours lag time between getting off work until class started. That lag time was very dangerous for me because once I get settled in for the night it’s much more difficult to get myself motivated to go back out. Doing things on my own meant I can come home from work, dump my work stuff, change, go to the gym, knock out my little routine, then D-O-N-E Done! This has worked much better for me and when I get bored I just YouTube or Google something else to do. 🙂

Q: vmsolko I’m wondering about the transition from losing to maintenance. I recently switched from the setting to ose 1.5lbs/week to 1lb/week and I gained 4 lbs. :/ It’s only been 2 weeks, so I’m hoping it comes off eventually as my body gets used to the extra calories. Did you ever have issues getting your body to accept your “set point” of daily calories?

A: hmmmm okay – my first question to you is have you reran your TDEE#? For example,  if someone is 5’5” at 200 lbs the BMR will be more than if the person is 5’5” at 130 lbs. Why? Simply because there is less of you → the body overall will need less calories (fuel) to function & support – the exception of course if someone is training for bodybuilding contest or Iron Man or some extraordinary physical activity. Make sense?

SO to answer your question … I actually changed very, very little from losing to maintenance – calories wise. For example, when I was losing, my daily caloric allotment was 1200 + whatever I earned from exercise, let’s say it’s 300 for a total of 1500. No matter what my total calories was for the day I would leave 200-300 to create that deficit. SO 1200 (base) + 300 (exercise) = 1500 (total) – 1300 (actual consumption) = 200 deficit

In maintenance, the first thing I did was reran my TDEE. There will be a difference between 43 years old at 4’10” 136 lbs with zero and 45 years old at 4’10” 95 lbs going to the gym 6 times a week. Secondly, I didn’t really ‘increase’ my calories per say because I was never starving on 1250 – 1300 calories a day while losing. So what I did was I tried to eat more of what I earned from my exercise calories.

Using the same example above this is what a typical day would look like for me now: 1300 (base) + 300 (exercise) = 1600 (total) – 1400 (actual consumption TDEE) = 200 deficit

I basically ignore MFP base calories and concentrate the daily total. And even though MFP may reward me the 300 exercise calories bringing my daily total to 1600, I would never consistently eat the full allotted 1600 because my TDEE is below that.  So to think about this logically –  if my body ONLY need 498 to support my current level of activities then it would make no sense to go over that.  To the last part of your question, no not really. I did not forcibly up my calories I just gradually ate more towards my new TDEE which was not a huge difference from losing.

That’s why I always strongly encourage people to have some idea of where one should be eating and not just blindly upping calories according to MFP because that’s what we’re suppose to do in maintenance. Just try to remember that MFP algorithms are for the average person, of the average age (36.8), and of the average height (men: 5’10” women: 5’4”) so it’s not something to put a lot of stock in if someone falls out of the ‘average’ spectrum … like me. The important thing I try to remember in maint especially is to eat based on my height,  current age & weight, and level of activities. I rerun my TDEE annually on my birthday because our calorie needs decreases as we get older. Although our actual appetite may not reflect that. haha The other thing I have really focus on in maint are macronutrients. Primarily because my fitness routine & goals are different. Since I am doing less cardio & more strength trng, I do feel more satisfied longer with more protein. SO I have upped my protein, lower my fat and maintain the carbs. This tweaking helped me a lot. Hope all that makes sense.

Q: blc1971 Transition tips would be great! Also, weight fluctuations, your set-point (if you have one), weight range, etc. Plus anything you want to share!!

A: hmmmm … my weight flux is about 1-2 lbs on any given day. Maybe up to three during that lovely time of the month. lol My typical weight range is 93 – 95 lbs & my danger weight is 97 lbs. I really had no official transition because I made incremental changes throughout losing so once it was time for maint I just pretty much carried on just like any other day with some tweaking here & there as my goals change from losing weight to fitness oriented ones. ie. muscle definition SO SORRY …  that was probably an incredibly lame answer but by the time maint came around, all the new habits have taken root so it was more a matter of continuing to get the most ‘bang for my buck’ approach.

Overall I think maint should be more about balance and allowances for ‘life’ happens. For example, during the months when the hubs & I were running into the four winds with kiddos spring sports I didn’t get to work out regularly. The old me would have had a complete melt down of how I’m was going to gain weight and be fat again – a thought which horrifies me. But the new me understood that and I control what I could control … which was my eating. So during spring, I ate pretty much on plan near 100% of the time to compensate for the lack of exercise. Maint is about incorporating everything we’ve learned from losing weight and being flexible. Otherwise we’re going to drive ourselves completely mad! lol

HB Sig

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Healthy Byte: Forty Pounds to Freedom (Cliff Notes Version)

WAY BACK WHEN:

EPSON MFP image

2000

This was my stats for about 3 years after the birth of my second child. In my mind, this was what moms are suppose to look like, be like. There were no time for anything else but to live & eat this way.

156 lbs BMI: 32.6 [Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater]

Your BMR is: 1319 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1517 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 3000+)

White or fried rice every day – twice a day (lu & dinner); Pizza & Pasta 2-3 days a week; Chips, Chip & Dip for snack 5 days out of the week; Fast Food: Burgers, Nachos, Burritos, Subs – White bread; High sugary drinks – Starbucks 5-6 times a week – Sometimes twice a day Drink of choice: White Chocolate Mocha – Grande (16 oz), Whole Milk w/Whip Cream (500 calories each), Soda, Lemonade  made w/4 CUPS of sugar in every batch = 3,092 calories per pitcher) 2-3 (8oz) cups everyday is about 386.5 calories each; Lots of fried foods; Beef almost exclusively; Food generally was drowned in gravy or some sort of sauce or condiment ie. ketchup; no veggies; no fruits, no water)

Ate Out: 3-4 times a week

Meal Frequency: Lunch & Dinner only (85% Refined Carbs 5% High Fat Protein 10%Sugar/Fat)

Habit: Ate until I couldn’t move >50% of the time

Activity Level: Zero consistent exercise or physical activity – tried to walk once a or twice a week pushing the kiddos in a stroller in the park … usually last 2-3 weeks then ‘life’ got in the way.

THEN:

EPSON MFP image

2004

My ‘baby weight’ for about the next 12 years after the birth of my second child. LOL I had tried a series of yo-yo quick fixes to losing weight. Anything from popping diet pills to joining the weight loss group at the gym. Nothing stuck because I wanted immediate results but didn’t want to be bothered with the nitty gritty details like nutrition or consistency or patience – working full time & mother of two, who had time for THAT?! In my mind, this was the price of being a working mother and I had all but made peace with it.

133 lbs BMI: 27.8 [Overweight = 25–29.9]

Your BMR is: 1154 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1327 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 2000+)

White rice every day for dinner only; Pizza & Pasta 2 days a week; Fast Food: ‘healthier options’ tacos, Burrito bowls, Subs wheat bread; Pork & breaded fish fillets; Limited condiments to ketchup (tomato based = veggie = healthy); snacked every night (ice cream, chocolate) after dinner because I was overall eating ‘healthier’; no veggies; no fruits, some water)

Ate Out: 2-3 times a week

Meal Frequency: Lunch sometimes & HUGE Dinner always (65% Refined Carbs 20% High Fat Protein 15% Sugar/Fat)

Habit: Ate until I was stuffed >50% of the time

Activity Level: No regular exercise or physical activity other than taking kiddos to the park & pushing them on swings about once a week.

NOW:

2015 8-11 Now

2015

I had surrendered completely to being overweight. After all I wasn’t obese – I can fit into rides at the amusement park. I can play with the kids without being out of breath. I was the average mom size. Even though I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror for any length of time, avoided the camera like the plague, and dreaded clothes shopping, I ate mostly whatever I wanted with total disregard to portion size. It was my miserable-happiness. All was copacetic until I got a new job.

The new employer incentivized employees to get their annual physicals by reducing employee monthly health insurance contribution – for a family of four that was a hefty discount so off I went! My first annual physical since leaving the Army some 14 yrs prior. And boy did I get the shock of my life! My LDL was 115 (should be under 100) and my blood glucose was 101 (70-99 is norm). I was technically pre-diabetic. What a horrifying thought. Having been through training to sell diabetic medication, I saw first hand the complications of type 2 diabetes can do. Amputation, blindness, kidney, nerve, the list goes on and that scared me so bad that I downloaded MFP the very same day of the results and was bound & determined that I was going to give 110% effort in preventing the preventable. My goal was to get healthy!

95 lbs BMI: 19.9 [Normal weight = 18.5–24.9]

Your BMR is: 967 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1498 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 1100 – 1400)

Pizza no more than once a week; Chicken, Pork, & salmon – nothing breaded; Condiments: Fat free ranch, Fat free miracle whip, House Italian with lots of spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, chilli powder, & garlic for bold flavors; After dinner snack: if I’m hankering for a snack I opt for a toasted whole wheat english muffin w/ PB&J; Veggies with lunch & dinner; Whole Wheat everything; Fruits with breakfast & lunch; Green tea (w/fat free milk & sugar) & water only – No more than 10 calories a day from what I drink is my personal rule) Once or twice a year I have a Short (8 oz) White Chocolate Mocha Skinny (nonfat milk), No whipped cream. 175 calories and because it is a treat I really enjoy savoring it.

Eat Out: 1-2 times a month

Meal Frequency: Small Brkfst (just not a breakfast person), Solid Lunch, Good Size Dinner (75% veggies 24% Lean Protein 1% Condiments)

Habit: Eat until I am no longer hungry >90% of the time

Activity Level: Exercise 6 Days a Week: 30 minutes Cardio & 15-20 minutes Strength Trng

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Forty Pounds to Freedom (Story Version)

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
~ Maya Angelou, American Author/Poet

2 Yr Wt Loss Ani B4NAFT

9-4-9

Nine-Four-Nine, that is the number reflecting my continued cult-like diligence to logging into the calorie and exercise app – MyFitnessPal. Although that may seem impressive compared to some, that number is still very much in it’s infancy.

Nine-Four-Nine is not simply my number of consecutive days of logging, it also marks a milestone – my two-year weight loss maintenance anniversary. It was indeed 2 years ago when I reached my goal weight and have maintained 100% what I have lost. A feat which statistics had adamantly testified was out of reach for most. An impossible ordeal to obtain. And like a card player at the Blackjack table in Vegas, the odds were very much stacked against me but here I stand, 2 years-in, giving the statistics the proverbial finger.

The Key: The secret to my success? On the verge of sounding like Neo in “The Matrix” … “There is no spoon.” I wish I had an easy answer neatly topped off with a bright shiny bow, but alas, I do not. What I can offer are bits of self observations that will hopefully help ‘flip the switch’ for whoever maybe reading this post. Just be mindful that everyone is different and this is just what has worked for me.

From the Start: My initial goal had never been solely about losing X lbs in X time for X event. Losing weight was certainly a factor to measure progress but my ‘big picture’ goal was always to become as healthy as I can & as far away from developing diabetes as humanly possible. The luxury of time took a tremendous amount of pressure off.

Be the Tortoise Not the Hare: Having tried multiple times, with all the standard array of weight loss methods and ultimately failing was oddly good for me. It was good because based on all my past failures I learned that in order for the results to stick, whatever change(s) I was going to incorporate into my life to not only reach healthy but to stay healthy, had to be sustainable … as in ‘rest-of-my-life’ level of sustainability (a tall order). Unlike previous attempts I didn’t dive head first plunging into a totally new eating plan and go to the gym 5-days a week to only give up 3 weeks later because I didn’t see any results or was just burnt out. Nope! This time I had wisened up that I needed to make small incremental changes in order to banish my old habits for the rest of my life. For example, the amount of sugar I use in my tea. Over a period of a year I went from 4 TBSP →  2 → 1 → ½ TBSP → 1 TSP → all the way to what I am using now which is 1 Dash. I continue making small incremental changes even now in maintenance. I am always looking to make this lifestyle easier by maximizing efficiency. Like continuously swapping out nutritious poorer foods with more nutritious rich foods. Or an exercise which works more muscle groups at once rather one at a time. I call this the ‘most bang for the buck’ approach. For example, I only do compound exercises. If I am on the elliptical I set it to high resistance and vary my stance in varying degree of the squat position. This not only gets my cardio in, but the resistance & varying positions builds muscles. Kill two birds with one stone … so to speak.

IMAG2622

Example of small incremental changes: 4 TBSP → 2 → 1 → ½ TBSP → 1 TSP → 4 Dash → 3 Dash → 2 Dash → to current 1 Dash

Where Everyone Knows My Name: To finally understand and accept that there were really no finish line, that reaching goal was just a stepping stone to the bigger, grander scheme of things … aka maintenance was utterly daunting. Perhaps the oddest phenomena of losing weight  was the loss of support from my existing social circle. The initial banter of support somehow evolved to an aire of backhanded compliments and insinuation of an eating disorder. As my social circle shrank my feeling of isolation grew. I became disheartened with the monumental task before me. What I needed was to build a network of support. A network of those who collectively had given the statistics the same proverbial finger. RAWR! 🙂   I began to actively procure fellow maintainers as MFP friends & this was one of the two pivotal turning point in my maint journey. Having MFP Friends, although it was mostly virtual, tamed the soulless bewildering beast that maintenance can be. Maintenance became a soft little purring kitten quietly curled up on my lap. It provided an outlet to share my frustrations, to ask questions, and the simple camaraderie gave me a sense of that I am a part of something special. ❤

Drop a House on That Bitch: Two numbers was the other pivotal turning point in maintenance for me.  80/20 (Rule). To say that I was hyper-vigilant in my losing weight phase was putting it mildly. OCD came in handy to adhering to a set daily caloric number. hahaha The same approach which helped me reach goal was actually quite counterproductive in maintenance. I was incredibly disappointed that I was unable to stay 100% compliant 100% of the time … for the rest of my life. I realize that sounds rather ludicrous but the strict adherence is what helped me reach goal so naturally in order to stay there I just had to continue no? I constantly struggled with snacking after dinner and I have had my fair share of occasions where I said ‘fuck it I’m having some cookies n cream ice cream’ followed by cookies, then sweets. Just as I licked the last bit of chocolate off my fingers, a tremendous sense of guilt and failure would ensue. And of course this feeling of self disgust at the total collapse of my ‘willpower’ or perhaps it was just a genuine detrimental character flaw resurrects the super hyper vigilant sadistic controlling bitch (aka me) to be even more boisterous. It was a cycle which became evident that what I was doing was no longer working and the internal tug-of-war was a miserable existence. Then in researching nutrition for a blog post I came across an article referencing the 80/20 Rule. If this was a television sitcom exalted angels would be singing in the background complete with a beacon of light shining gently upon my little head. It was brilliantly simple. To maintain, all I needed was to eat on plan 80% of the time and then 20% of the time, if I so chose, I could indulge within reason (portion controlled). The minute I gave myself permission to eat what I wanted was the minute that I stopped craving it – it’s just human nature I suppose.

Jedi Mind Tricks: We all can borrow a page from Stuart Smalley. His daily self affirmation is “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” As corny as that may seem Stuart is on the right track.

There is a genuine disconnect period after weight loss where the brain hasn’t quite caught up with the new physique. I’m not sure what the science behind it is is but it’s fairly common that the fatty mentality lingers on well after the weight is gone.  For example, it took me about 2 years to wear leggings because my mentality was ‘oh I can’t pull that off.’ SO the odd thing that I have done and continue to do is partake an activity of the youth … I-take-selfies! Yes I can hear the eyes rolling but hear me out.  We see ourselves everyday and it’s easy to take things for granted. By taking snapshots of myself I am visually reinforcing that I have indeed changed. Every now & again when I just don’t ‘feel’ like I’m making any fitness progress I go take a selfie. When I see my bicep getting more defined or my bat wings less wing like,  I get excited, I get pumped, and I’m super-charged to continue to do what I am doing. Self-affirmation and re-motivation is an important part of sticking with it. Another quirk I’ve developed is that I carry a photo of fat me around on my phone. It’s not very different from a child with a new toy. In the beginning they are all about it but after awhile they get tired of it and want something new. I think it’s very typical of human nature in general, not just children. Every now & again, I do get use to being the new size and grow callous to all the time & effort that I’ve invested to reach the new size. My brain would start to think, ‘hmmm, maybe it’s time to take a break from the exercise or the eating.’ This is when I pull up the fat me photo then look at the healthy me photo and on the verge of sounding self-absorbed I let myself marvel at the transformation. This visual helps remind me where I was and that what I’m doing every day does indeed matter. Because at the end of the day, we have to be our own best advocate. SO yea go on, be a bit more like Stuart, take some selfies, and allow yourself to bask in your accomplishment!

HB Sig

Bit of Fiction: Tension [1200 word limit]

emma-watson-regression-poster

The Cupboard

She huddled in the fetal position in the pitch darkness of the tall and narrow cupboard next to the built-in refrigerator and its lulling hum. The space was cramped for her near 6’ lanky frame. There were awkwardly stowed limbs everywhere, like a contortionist practicing a new act but without the elegance. It was at least 10 degrees warmer in the cupboard and the musty stale air of forgotten dry goods impaled her nostrils. A blinding light seeped in from underneath the door making her eyes water when her gaze had outstayed their welcome. She tightly clasped her hands on either side of her knees wrapping her arms around her legs, uncomfortably forced against her chest. ‘Boobs. Boobs would make this more tolerable,’ she considered. ‘Boobs,’ she repeated, ‘it would at least offer some cushioning’ her mind distracted by her current physically distressing position.

Sweat was beading down her forehead committing hara-kiri on the top of her knees. If she was lucky, the bead of sweat would run its course down over her shin bone. But the current path of choice was running all the way down her inner thighs and straight towards her crotch. ‘Just lovely! If someone finds my body they will no doubt deduce that I inevitably wet myself in my last moments,’ she sulked in the thought. And for a moment, a calmness flirted with her. For a moment, there was peace. For a moment there were even an absent of her current condition.

Then quite suddenly the sound of the squeaky doorknob interrupted her moment and swiftly replaced calm with panic. The door swung open with a little too much force and crashed into the wall with a thunderous bang. The sudden break in silence startled Audrey to let out a small muffled yelp. Quickly followed by both hands covering her mouth as if the gesture can promptly retrieve the sound waves which so freely passed through her lips. The thick rubber soles of a workman’s boots grazing insidiously against old wooden floors caused her anxiety to escalate with every step.

“C’mon please, please, please” she whispered through clenched teeth. Each step seem to have vibrated the floor joist beneath her jabbing her protruding butt bone just enough to make her wince. Adding to her physical discomfort. Adding to her growing angst of what’s about to come.

‘Oh wonderful, now I have to go to the loo?’ she thought to herself with certain indignity. The heavy footsteps ensued with a certain clumsiness. As the wearer of the boots came closer in proximity the steps served to announce its amplified insidious intent. The only barrier separating Audrey and the wearer of the boots was a paper thin plywood cupboard door. She slammed her eyes shut and turned her face from the light to listen. To pray. To beg whoever or whatever was listening. An ardent student of atheism, who was she praying to? What was she praying to? Begging pardon with? Asking to be spared? God? The Universe? Leprechauns? Rainbow Unicorns? Audrey could not resolve to believe in the intangible but at the first sign of impending doom the archaic notion of ‘being a slave to outdated notions of a commoner’ came back to possess her. ‘pffft, famous last words – this is karma for you Hughs’ she thought regrettably.

Audrey listened with such intensity that her racing heart and shallow breath dominated the conversation. She squeezed her eyes even tighter in an attempt to muster additional concentration, as if magically her hearing would broaden its reach. But she heard nothing. Not one sound. Not even the sound of the curtains fluttering ever so delicately in the warm summer breeze. Silence fell because there was nothing to hear. The footsteps had halted. As abruptly as it started it ceased with equal unapologetic bluntness. Her scrawny frame instinctively began to slightly rock back and forth as dismay settles into her bones. ‘Why wasn’t there anymore footsteps? It was not possible to reach the cupboard doors in so few steps. Where the bloody hell are the boots?’ She frantically reasoned with herself in an attempt to employ logic over borderline hysteria ‘Open your eyes Audrey Grace! Open – your – eyes – you – little – coward!’ she berated herself. She let out a soft exhale and obscenely slow peeled her left eye open, then her right. Squinting at the terrible white light, her irises rebelled adamantly making her light green eyes water in an instant. She did her best to clear them, tilting her head and alternating turns rubbing on each perspective shoulder; leaving streaks of tears, mascara, and foundation on her pale yellow shirt. ‘Bloody freaking hell, that’s not going to come out in the wash’ she irritatedly assessed. She blinked feverishly and as the white blur came into focus, she desperately cocked her head in the most unnatural way in hopes to catch a glimpse of the world beyond. Anything. A crumb. A shadow. A sign. Any sign. Any gesture of where the wearer of the boots may have taken up residency.

A shuffling could be heard. Then a step. Then another. Before Audrey could consider the situation her fight or flight instincts kicked in full force and she sprang out of the cupboard with a crazed gleam in her eyes. The wearer of the boots leaped across in no more than three steps triumphantly yelling, “GOTCHA!” His arms wrapped around Audrey so keenly that he could touch both sides of himself. He hoisted her off the floor with her legs flailing and kicking like a fish desperate to find its way back to water.

Audrey screamed loudly in despair and every inch of her body convulsed as if she was having a fit. She squirmed, twisted, and kicked to break free but it was a futile attempt. Her initial fight had relinquished itself to being defeated. Audrey’s entire body fell limp in his arms. A broad cheesy smile flashing his perfect pearly whites encompassed his face. Audrey’s brother 5 years her junior had finally surpassed her in height, strength, cunning, and evidently cockiness. He gave her a few good shakes and Audrey’s arms lifelessly flopped up and down with each shake as if she was a string puppet.

“Say it!” he demanded, “Say IT Audrey!”

With an exaggerated sigh and her head drooping lifelessly she mouthed the words of defeat.

“Oh c’mon! I can’t hear anything! Fair is fair Audrey – say IT!”

With another exaggerated sigh she duly recited the oath of losers. An oath which she created when they were children. An oath that he had recited almost exclusively until now. An oath of complete surrender. An oath that now she had to attest, out loud, browbeaten. Her reign over him is officially over.

“You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re kung-fu is the greatest” Audrey uttered void of spirit.

Rong Rong Name Stamp