Most states on the mainland have their sports and teams that they cherish – football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR – the banners and logos and hats and t-shirts are everywhere when the teams play. In Hawaii, once a year at this time, our little Hilo town comes alive with the Merrie Monarch Festival.
This is the Super Bowl and Olympics of hula rolled into one week, an internationally acclaimed competition that brings out the most dedicated hula dancers in the state – men, women, old, young, large, small, mostly of Hawaiian descent, who have studied the art, the traditions, and the culture – and have spent thousands of hours preparing for this revered event.
This year, the most coveted honor, Miss Aloha Hula, went to Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling. Yes, people here often have long Hawaiian names like that! What I love is that women don’t have to be slim and drop-dead gorgeous to earn this title; it’s based on skill, dedication to the art, and pure performance. Many of the dancers are large, some are old, some are incredibly beautiful, but no matter what size you are, if this is what is in your heart, the hula community will welcome you.
Even though you see all sizes, all ages, and all appearances up on the stage, I’ll go out on a limb here and say I love watching all those good-looking men dance the hula. They’re in great shape, and because they’re practically naked you see every muscle on their bodies. Call me shallow, but good-looking fit people are fun to watch!
Speaking of being fit, I weighed during the week and actually saw 153 lbs on the scale, but I go by Sunday weigh-ins and this morning shows me at 155. It’s okay, I’ve had the best workouts this week so far – and they say muscle weighs more than fat. I am now at a 14-minute mile on the treadmill, I’m actually running for about 15 minutes straight, my weight lifting is improving, and overall I’m feeling stronger. For the first time in my life, I felt some “sweat” outside of a hot flash. My energy level is good and my hair loss has really slowed down, so I have nothing to complain about.
I found an old exercise top of mine and realized it was the top I wore when I took my all-time worst photo of my life. This photo wins the award for the best Before photo – I was at my highest weight and I’m looking pretty depressed on top of it. I was so disgusted with myself that I thought, I’m going to take a photo even though I know it will be awful in the hope that it might motivate me to lose weight – and it actually did. I started losing weight not long after it was taken, but the weight came off in nano-ounces and it wasn’t until the surgery that my weight really changed.
I put on that top this week to show real Before and After photos. What a difference – the armholes are huge! I don’t know who invented the vertical sleeve, but I’d like to thank her or him, and my husband who has been an amazing support for me through this. And the people on the Vertical Sleeve Forum who have answered so many questions – it’s a wonderful and fast resource. This blog, these photos, and my life as I know it today (not to mention that I never knew I had a neck!) would not exist without this surgery.
So here is my photo at 223 lbs 16 months ago, and here I am today. And although this might be too much information (TMI), I just have to say how excited I was with the After photo. If you look really closely, you’ll see a little puka at the top of my legs – puka in Hawaiian means hole – yes, my friends, the top of my legs don’t touch! I have arrived!
It’s hard to believe I am halfway done with my yearlong blog. In some ways it seems like I had surgery a long time ago, longer than six months, but in other ways it all seems fresh as I am learning new things every day. All I know is that I feel so fortunate to be healthy, have a great husband, and look forward to an exciting future full of new adventures. Twenty-six weeks down, twenty-six to go!