Life and Health Update

It’s been a hot minute! I took a little bit of a break after a new development in my health journey, and now that I’m feeling a little more prepared I’m ready to start blogging again.

A lot has happened in the past few months. My birthday was in February, I ran the Disney Princess 10k, and I trained for a new role at work as a Yes Faciltator in the Magic Kingdom. I also was cast in the ensemble of a production of The Wedding Singer, and I’m also costuming it! I’m assisting with the costumes for a production of Little Shop of Horrors as well, but that’s not quite the beast that Wedding Singer is. I have some auditions lined up for the summer and fall as well that I’m excited about. And I’m working on a book for Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time (I have a completed outline ready to go!)

The biggest change, though, happened after my yearly physical. Disney has an amazing health services deparment on property for cast members, and I have a fantastic GP over there. My physical was absolutely normal, but my doctor asked if I had any questions, and I (very anxiously) asked if we could check my thyroid levels. She asked why, and I spilled out a whole list of symptoms that I’ve been experiencing. I never want to be That Guy who comes in with a self diagnosis from WebMD, but at the same time I was experiencing almost everything on the symptom list. Luckily, my doctor is wonderful and immediately agreed to check my thyroid levels.

I got a call three days later saying that not only do I have hypothyroidism, but I also have Hashimoto’s disease, and there was already a prescription waiting for me to pick up that afternoon, and that I needed to make an appointment for follow up bloodwork in eight weeks.

Well. That was a lot to happen at once.

To rewind a little bit, I was experiencing a lot of things that I assumed just came with getting older- tired all the time, muscle and joint pain, weight gain for no real reason. About six months ago, though, I started watching Kathryn Morgan’s videos on YouTube. She’s an amazing dancer and has a fantastic channel, but one of the first things I noticed was that her hair texture was really similar to mine, and I haven’t really seen that before. (If you watch my Evil Dead vlog, you can see how thin my hair is; it’s been falling out in handfuls over time.) Scrolling through her videos she had several about her illness- she has hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. She’s very upfront and well-spoken, and that’s when I started wondering if that could be what was going on with me. I started doing more research, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask about it. I told my mom about it while I was waiting for the results, and it turns out that thyroid problems are an issue for several relatives on that side of the family.

So that’s been quite a change. I’ve started my hormone replacement therapy, and while I have seen some positive changes, I’m looking forward to the results of my next bloodwork to see what the doctor wants me to try next. I’m also trying to make some major dietary changes, namely cutting out gluten and dairy. I’m hoping that, now that I have the correct diagnosis, my health will improve and I’ll start losing weight!

Do you deal with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease? What advice do you have?

Adult Ballet Classes?

When I was little, I wanted to dance. I twirled whenever music came on. I checked out every book I could find in the library about ballet (the Dorling Kindserly book practically belonged to me). I taught myself basic positions and practiced them religiously.


But, for a variety of reasons, I never got to take ballet. I cheered in high school, which was at least dancing adjacent, and I danced a little in college when I was studying theatre. But I pretty much shelved ballet permanently. It’s only an option for the young.

But let’s fast forward. In the past two and a half years, I’ve done at least five shows that requires dancing. And I suck at it. I didn’t used to suck. Yeah, I had some trouble picking up choreography in the past, but I’ve never had this much trouble. And I’m so out of breath. And I feel clumsy and clunky. Especially for my last musical role, when I was Cheryl in Evil Dead, and I had to be sexy on top of dancing. I was miserable. I was so frustrated with myself. My dance captain for Heathers even said (in the most loving way possible) that I’m a terrible dancer. And I hate it. I always wanted to dance, but I’m untrained and horribly out of shape.

In the past few months, especially after my disastrous experiences dancing, I’ve really been thinking about how I can get better, and it’s brought my mind back to the idea of ballet. There’s a dance school within walking distance of my apartment that offers adult classes- drop in, $10 a lesson. And there’s a bigger ballet school that offers a similar rate for more advanced classes for an adult beginner. I started looking into it, and all those childhood dreams started coming back- standing at the barre in a black leotard and pink tights, practicing battlements and developpes, learning how to do proper pirouettes and pas de chats in the middle of the floor. It also brought back the memory of my fifth grade teacher lending me a pair of pointe shoes and secretly practicing steps in my bedroom. I remember how that felt, and how much I want to actually learn how to do it.

And then I remembered that I’m sixty pounds overweight, and woefully out of shape, and easily out of breath.

I know ballet can be learned by anyone of any size, but right now I’m not ready. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a real ballet class, even one for beginners. I’m certainly not ready to put on a leotard and tights (again, ballet belongs to anyone no matter the size, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean I feel comfortable right this second).

I’ve set up mini goals for myself, in five pound increments, until I reach my goal weight. One of those mini goals, when I reach 140 pounds, is to start taking ballet lessons. Right now that’s about 33 pounds away- just about halfway to my goal weight. Why 140? Well, that’s the lightest weight I’ve been in the past ten years (and even then I was trying to lose weight). I’m giving myself the time to prepare, physically and mentally, to putting myself into ballet. Right now I need to learn how to eat right and get my muscles used to working hard (which right now is through Cassey Ho’s Blogilates app). I’m going to create some stamina and work with the goal of finally dancing ballet in mind.

And when I reach that goal, you bet I’m going to keep working until I get to go up on pointe. It’s going to happen.

Disney Races! Running the Wine and Dine 2017 Fall Feast 5k

I’ve done several Disney races before (two Princess and two Star Wars) but this was my first Food and Wine. I have to say…it wasn’t quite my favorite. I’m not even entirely sure why. Maybe because the other races are so intensely themed, and Food and Wine’s themeing wasn’t as solid. I’m not sure.

I only ran the 5k, and it was a completely different track than before. The other races I’ve done started and stopped at Epcot, with detours through World Showcase, Hollywood Studios, and ESPN. This one stopped and started at Animal Kingdom, and took us straight through the park. It was amazing! I will absolutely do runs through Animal Kingdom now. It was so incredibly beautiful, especially when we ran through the Pandora section with all of its bioluminesence.

I didn’t bother with a costume, since it was going to be pretty cold out for Florida; we were in the middle of a cold snap and it was in the upper 40s-early 50s. I bought a cute Alice in Wonderland top with long sleeves and a hood from Walmart, along with a pair of my favorite Danskin capris in gray. In the end I was glad I didn’t dress up- at least half of the people there weren’t in costume, unlike the Princess and Star Wars races.

My next Disney race is the Princess 10k in February and I’ll definitely post about it, so leave any questions or comments you have below! Have you ever run in a Disney race?

so what are your goals for 2018?

Every year I read a million articles about how New Year’s resolutions don’t matter, they never work, a certain day to start doesn’t matter…all that stuff. But I like it. I like that January 1st feels like a reset button, a “new [year] with no mistakes in it,” to paraphrase Anne Shirley. And I’ve got a lot to look forward to this year! I have four confirmed shows so far, a new role in my career at Disney, and maybe even an engagement ring coming my way (Shane says that’s his goal for the year and he asked to see my Pinterest boards, so you know it’s real.) So here are my goals this year!

Make changes for my health. “Lose weight” is always the most ubiquitous New Year’s resolution, but I don’t want to just lose weight. I mean, yeah, obviously I want to lose weight. But I’m terrible at food. I make tremendously poor choices, and I need to change that. And I’m so out of shape. Working at Great Movie Ride kept me active, but I was still not doing anything to benefit my body, and at Safaris I’m practically sedentary. I’m nowhere near as flexible as I used to be, and I need to be in better shape to dance in shows. And if I lose 60 pounds? That would be awesome. I know 60 isn’t necessarily realistic for one year’s time, but I’m aiming for at least 30 pounds down, as well as bringing down my measurements.

Blog and vlog regularly. I have a tendency to post a lot of posts at once, and then disappear. Oops. I’d like to make daily posting a thing, and I really want to post more videos. I am trying to save up money for a real camera (I’m currently using my old iPhone 5 with the shattered screen for all my filming) but I also want to develop my filming and editing skills. Daily posting is a lot, yes, but I think the consistency is good.

Write! I used to write all the time. I wrote copious amounts of fan fiction in high school and college, and at one point I even wrote a novel (that I promptly stuck in a drawer). I miss writing, and I have some ideas that I’d really like to work on. Even one sentence a day is still progress!

Improve my living space. My current apartment no longer suits my needs. I do enough alterations and sewing jobs that I need more space to work and meet with clients, so I want to transfer to a new apartment in the same complex that has a little more space. I also want my place to feel more homey and more like me, rather than a hodgepodge of mismatched furniture and random plastic bins for temporary storage that somehow became permanent. It’s a lot of hoops to jump through but I really want to move!

So those are my big goals for 2018! Comment below with your goals; let’s keep each other motivated!

Running Races at Walt Disney World

I did my first Disney race completely on impulse. I’d thought about it before, but always chickened out before actually pursuing it. But one of my friends at work was thinking about it too, and she said if I signed up for the princess 5k she would do it too. So I did it!

(Did I train at all? Nope. I think I went running three times in the months leading up to the race.)

Of course, I felt super overwhelmed, especially when I went to the race expo surrounded by Experienced Runners in their short shorts and their KT tape. And there was so much stuff to buy. I didn’t realize that they sold so many things for runners! There was a lot happening. But I got caught up in the excitement and was so jazzed about running the next day that when I passed by a booth that was still accepting signups for the Star Wars race, I bit the bullet and signed up.

For the 10k. Because I am crazy.

The princess race turned out to be a lot of fun. Like all Disney races, costumes are encouraged, so I bought an XL Elsa children’s costume from Cast Connection and took it apart. I decorated a teal running tank from Forever 21 with silver glitter paint to look like Elsa’s bodice and sewed the cape from the costume to the back, then made a new waistband for the costume skirt to make it a separate piece. I added gray running leggings and braided my weave into my hair with some sparkly Elsa snowflakes from the Disney store, and it ended up pretty cute! My time wasn’t great, but I had a magical time running the race and was so excited for Star Wars.

Cut to Star Wars. I was not excited. I procrastinated (as I usually do) and waited till the night before to work on my Dapper Day outfit, since Dapper Day was happening right after I ran the 10k, and I had made plans to go with my sister and my friends. But something went terribly wrong with the dress (that’s another story) and I was a crying, panicky, asthmatic mess. Bless her, my best friend offered to fix the dress for me so I could get some sleep. I ended up getting pasta from Panera to carboload, fell asleep around 10 or 11, and got up at three to go to the race.

Surprisingly, I had a great time. My costume was distinctly less fancy this time; I cut an orange shirt from the boy’s section into a vest and added a patch that said Matt. So I was Matt the Radar Technician. It was a lot of fun, especially when people would call “Matt!” as I ran by and I’d give them the scowl and a thumbs up. And yes, I did go to Dapper Day afterwards and ending up clocking around 39,000 steps total.

My next race was another princess 5k, and this time I didn’t even bother with a costume. I bought a new running tank from Raw Threads, a company that makes great bamboo tanks and tees with Disney themeing. I bought one at my first race (an Ariel themed one that says “though she is little, she is fierce) and bought a purple Rapunzel one that says “make today the best day ever.” Did I wish I had a cute costume? Absolutely, but I loved my new tank.

My sister ended up helping me with the outfit for my Star Wars 5k. She found the most badass Leia tank at Hot Topic, which I paired with black shorts with cutouts on the thighs that I bought at Ross for like $7. The night before I had dress rehearsal for Mousetrap, so I did a bad thing and slept in my stage makeup. At three the next morning I rolled out of bed, added more glitter and a lip stain, put my hair up in mini Leia buns, and popped over to the race! I was really happy and perky that day, and you can tell. It was a good race and I felt great.

My next race is the Food and WIne 5k in November, and then I’ll be running the princess 10k and the Star Wars 5k. I should start planning those costumes now! Any suggestions? And do you have any experience with Disney races and have advice to give? Share it in the comments below!

Weight Loss Update

If you guessed that, with all the chaos in my life, my weight loss efforts have fallen completely off track…you’d be exactly right.

Yeah, there’s been a lot happening. Not only starting the new job, but being in three shows at once put me in a whirlwind. I was leaving my apartment for work at 7, leaving work and getting straight to Heathers rehearsal by 6, and then going to Evil Dead rehearsal afterwards from 8 till at least 10…and then starting over the next morning. And then once I got into Evil Dead performances, I wouldn’t get home till 11- 2am if it was a midnight performance- and I would get McDonalds breakfast in the drive through on the way home. It was just too much.

Luckily I did at least try to slow my roll, so to speak. I didn’t have any time to work out, but at least my shows kept me moving. Heathers and Evil Dead both had dance numbers, and Evil Dead was an incredibly physical and high energy show. So that at least made sure I wasn’t full sedentary.

My eating habits weren’t great though. I relied on a lot of fast food, but I did start to order smaller portions and healthier options rather than mega burger meals every single time. I also started picking up burrito bowls and juice from Wawa on the way from work to rehearsal- basically knockoff Chipotle. Again, not great, but a lot healthier.

Now that things are settling, I’m doubling down on my efforts. I’ve started doing Pop Pilates again, which I know will help. And I have a 5k to run tomorrow; I do really enjoy running and I need to do it more often.

I also gave myself some from motivation. I have tons of cute dresses in my closet that I can’t wear since I gained more weight. I ended up measuring each dress and pinning a note with the bust and waist measurements, and put them in order in my closet from biggest to smallest. My goal is to lose enough weight to wear everything! I even have three Betsey Johnson dresses that I can’t wear- I want to lose enough weight to wear them!

I’m still sitting about 170, but my goal is to lose at least thirty pounds by next October. Fingers crossed!

0 down, 55 to go 

(What a way to relaunch my blog, huh? Just jumping right into it. Well, here goes!)

I was in the eighth grade the first time people started bringing up my weight. I had always been teeny tiny before that, until puberty hit me like a Mack truck- well, except for the growth spurt that everyone else seemed to be getting. Looking back, I still wasn’t fat, but I took it to heart. In high school I gained some weight, but managed to keep in under control by staying active on the cheer squad. My weight spiked right before senior year when we moved and I started at a new school, then went down when I started doing theater. My weight spiked again (majorly) when I started college, then went down when I started my Disney college program. And thus I started on a Sneaky Hate Spiral- going through a period emotional turmoil, gaining a lot of weight, starting a workout/diet regime, losing five pounds, giving up, and repeat ad nauseum.

Now that I solidly fall into the category of An Adult (when did that happen, I ask myself as I sit in my bedroom decorated with Disney princess art) I know I really need to lose weight for the sake of my health. I’m lucky that my job keeps me very active, but I don’t do any intentional exercise outside of it. I also have terrible eating patterns, which have sometimes veered into disordered eating in the past. And I can feel it. I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes, my asthma is a constant struggle, I’ve been getting this acid reflux nonsense that affects my singing voice. In general, I just constantly feel unhealthy. Would I like to lose weight to be thinner? Absolutely! But honestly I just want to feel better. So with that in mind, I’ve set some goals for myself.

-track what I’m doing. I have a Fitbit Blaze (currently borrowed from my best friend who didn’t want it anymore; I’m going to pay her for it so I can keep it) that I’ve been wearing and using fairly consistently for the past six months. It’s given me a pretty good window into my current statistics, and it’s a solid (and honestly kind of fun) way to track where I am and where I’m going.

-drink more water. I live in Florida, America’s sweaty armpit, so I’m constantly surrounded by heat and humidity. And my job not only requires a lot of running around, I also wear costumes made from literally the worst poly/wool blend that don’t breathe, so I sweat constantly. You would think I would chug water all the time, but somehow I’m terrible at it. I need to up my water intake, or at least reliably drink enough water.

-be mindful of my eating. I first tried tracking calories in college, using the Sparkpeople website, and quickly found myself spiraling into a crazy person who couldn’t accurately verify exact portions and ingredients of the school cafeteria food she was eating, and therefore went nuts. A lot of the sites I’ve tried since then don’t calculate and accommodate for calories burned, either, so I would go through phases of working out for an hour but still eating only 1000-1200 calories a day. It wasn’t healthy and it never worked. And when I wasn’t tracking, I fell into unhealthy patterns- skipping breakfast, eating a lunch of a soft pretzel or a muffin, and then eating my body weight in fast food or pasta for dinner. I want to focus on eating at consistent, regular times and eating smaller portions. When my eating patterns settle and I can consistently eat reasonable amounts at reasonable times, then I can try cutting out certain foods and try different eating plans. Right now I need to start with baby steps. What I will cut out though? Soda and fast food. I’ve already cut back considerably since my boyfriend and I started cooking for each other (usually him, if I’m being honest!) but those are two things I know I can cut out.

-exercising regularly. My job requires a lot of energy- so much energy that sometimes my Fitbit automatically switches into exercise mode! However, when I’m out of work I usually become a couch potato. I turn on the TV (lately I’ve been rewatching Glee because holy guilty pleasure, Batman) and eat dinner while I play around my phone and I stay there until it’s time to go to sleep. Granted, I’m often in rehearsals for shows (I have two shows that are starting soon and an audition for a third!) and that keeps me busy, but I don’t do any kinds of specific exercises. My goal is to run three times a week (at least once minimum) and start doing Cassey Ho’s Pop Pilates regularly (at least one video per day from the calendar). I actually really love running, and I do two or three Disney 5 or 10K races a year, but I’m never consistent with running, even though I know that I always feel so much better when I run. I’ve also done pop Pilates before but never stuck with it after seeing the first minimal changes. So really, what I’m working towards is consistency with exercising.

-taking vitamins. I started doing this a few weeks ago and it’s made a difference already! I also have two prescription medications for my asthma and allergies, and I want to consistently take those so I can get the full benefits.

I’m hoping that by making lifestyle changes I can lose the weight and improve my health, and that by blogging about it I can stick with it. I’m tired of feeling run down and not feeling my best, and I want to do better.

How much weight am I talking about losing though? Well, to be quite honest I haven’t weighed myself in a while, but I know that at my heaviest, my freshman year of college, I was…drumroll please…170 pounds.

Yikes. That’s a lot for someone of my height. A lot. That’s so much extra work that my organs are having to do to compensate for the extra weight pushing on my frame. That’s not good. I also know that I’m not happy with how I look. Weight is such a personal thing, and while I don’t hate how I look, I don’t love it. And I’m always uncomfortable in clothes. No matter what I wear, I’m constantly sucking it in or tugging at things to try to hide my own perceived flaws, and I’d like to get myself at a point where I can feel more confident. Also, I know for a fact that I have lost out on certain parts in shows because of my weight. It sucks, but it’s true. (Ask me sometime about my Guys and Dolls experience.) I was also told at a Disney entertainment audition that if I lost the weight (and fixed my eyebrows…) they would take me. It kind of sucks getting those kinds of responses.

My lowest weight was the end of my first college program, when I weighed 139. I haven’t seen a number that low since. And that still wasn’t even in the approved range that my doctor recommended, which for me is about 110-120. My goal is to eventually get down to 115. That’s a 55 pound difference from my heaviest weight. Yeah, it’s a lot, and yeah, it’s a lot of work, but I know it’ll be worth it. I don’t feel healthy, I don’t feel happy in my own skin. Maybe I won’t reach 115, but any kind of change will be beneficial.

I took a series of embarrassing photographs of myself at my current weight. It’s so bad. See, I bought this adorable shirt a couple of years ago, a white juniors-cut tee with Ariel’s purple clamshells on it. But I only bought a large, which was already too small, and then it shrank. So now the cute clamshells sit comically high on my clavicle instead of where they want to be. I figure that taking progression photos once a month in that shirt (with the same bra and the same pair of tight yoga shorts, aqua because of course I’m continuing the Ariel theme) I can make it easier to see the changes in my body. I’m, uh…well, let’s be real. I’m not ready to show those photos to the world yet. But they’re eye opening, and when I’m ready to post them I will. In the meantime, here’s the most recent full body shot I have- this was taken the night I auditioned for Heathers.

Last night I went out and ran. I actually ran the full distance of a 5k. My time wasn’t great- 48:14- but I’m going to use a 5k runner app over the next few months to give myself the opportunity to progress. And I felt fantastic afterwards, and slept like a rock, and I’m feeling really good today, so I want to keep this up.

I’m going to post my weight and measurements and changes on my fitness page (which is in the bar at the top) and I’ll post updates as my body changes and I make changes to my health plan. And wish me luck!

From Matt the Radar Technician to a Wendybird. Translated: it might not be the best idea to get up at 2:30 in the morning, run a 10k, and then get dolled up for Dapper Day. #starwars10k #matttheradartechnician #wendydarling #dapperdayspring2016