My First Half Marathon

As many of my readers know, the half marathon I was supposed to run in January wound up getting cancelled due to inclement weather so I was able to defer my registration to a different race. Well I’m happy to report that I finally was able to run my official half marathon with RunDisney last weekend, the Star Wars Dark Side Half, and it was a pretty awesome experience! In this entry I would like to regale you with tales of my training and meeting my goals and finishing my first official half marathon. I was able to run my first half with my godmother, Suzanne, and one of my oldest friends, Sarah, which was a great way to stay distracted and have fun for two and a half hours while running.

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Here’s just a preview of some of our shenanigans. 

For my last half, I did a novice training program by Hal Higdon that was really good for me given my starting point. The unofficial half I ran, I clocked in at around 2:53 which is pretty decent for a first go at running 13.1 miles. This time, since I was already pretty well trained from January (I picked up about 3 weeks after) so I wanted to try a different plan and settled on another Hal Higdon plan, the HM3 (for more experienced runners). Despite the fact that it would only be my first “official” half marathon, I felt pretty good after the last round of training that I was ready for a tougher program. I found it to be a great program and only had a couple of missed training runs in the 3 months and that was including a week where I was sick. I was also challenged by an article on the internet to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, which I finished in 28 and definitely attribute to my awesome training.

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28:05 – that’s right stupid internet article I AM in shape! 

Now let’s get on to the real exciting stuff, race weekend! For all RunDisney races you have to attend their running expo to pick up your bib and shirt before your race. They have tons of exhibitors set up at the Wide World of Sports selling various running accoutrements and health related stuff. There was even a booth set up by Celebration Hospital that had a body composition scan you could do for free and in just a couple of minutes.  Suzanne and I decided to give it a shot and I was thrilled with my results! After 8 weeks of bodyweight training (and several prior months of lifting) I apparently have 72 lbs of skeletal muscle mass and 18.7% body fat (despite my BMI being closer to 24). Based on this information I’m in the “fitness” category of body fat percentile and pretty close to “athlete” which of course gave me a huge boost of self-confidence which I assume helped me run my heart out the next day.

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Getting my body composition scan done, fancy machine and all. 

Now on to the actual race, which by the way starts at 5:30 in the morning, and required a bright and early 3am wake up on my part. So after sleeping about 4 hours (because nerves sometimes don’t let you fall asleep), we three lady warriors trudged to the bus stop at 4am to sit around in our corral for a while before it was our turn to run. Now it should be made clear that Sarah (who I’ve known for 20 years because we’re so old now) ran this race after having only 3 weeks of training and also one week of it being sick. Suzanne is a seasoned pro at running, she even finished a full marathon in under 5 hours earlier this year. And right in the middle you have me, who has been running for 18 months and trained the full 3 months for this race. But we stayed together for most of the race, Suzanne keeping me at a pace on track to finish in under 2 hours and 45 minutes, and Sarah kicking ass alongside us until about mile 9. I had my half marathon playlist in one ear to keep me motivated and Suzanne encouraging me and pushing me to go hard and stay on track in the other. One last motivation for me was knowing my dad & Suzanne’s son Hayden (one of my best friends and only 12 years old) were waiting for us at the Boardwalk around mile 12 to help push us through to the finish. I started getting emotional around mile 10, but after seeing them and getting to hug Hayden I couldn’t help but cry a little.

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Suzanne & I still leaping around mile 11, and hamming it up. 

I consider myself very lucky that Suzanne joined me in this race and volunteered to stick with me and pace me for my first race. Without her help I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to meet my goal and finish in under 2:45. Almost every time I wanted to walk or take it easy for a bit, I thought about keeping up with her and wanting to achieve my goal and kept running. Plus we took some amazing pictures together on the race course that I’ve already framed in my apartment and make me laugh every time I see them. I would like to one more time acknowledge the fact that she was placed in the C corral, her best ever, and she came all the way back with me in corral G so that we could be together. Thanks to her and a little bit of my training, I finished the race in 2:33:16 – far under my 2:45 goal going in. Throughout the race I didn’t have any issues until I was sprinting to the finish and my calves started cramping up. So what you can’t see in my finish line photo is the Charlie horse like pain searing through both of my calves, luckily I’m good at hiding my discomfort. I’m happy to say that after plenty of walking, a shower and a stellar breakfast at Olivia’s Café, I was all better for my day at Hollywood Studios and was able to enjoy wearing my medal proudly around the park.

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My finish line photo, feeling very triumphant and not at all like my calves are on fire and seizing up. 

For my first half marathon, I could not have had a better experience. RunDisney may not be perfect in their organization, but I had a great first race at the Dark Side half marathon and would most certainly do another in the future. I’m thinking my next goal might be to complete the dark side challenge, which consists of running a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles in 2 days doesn’t sound so rough right now, but ask me again by the time next year’s race rolls around. For now, I’m going to keep running 3 days a week, bodyweight training 2-3 days (more on that soon), and working on my nutrition. At this rate, I’ll never stop working on being the best I can be- which isn’t such a bad position to be in.

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We 3 Amazonians conquered the 13.1 mile course, and I’m super proud of all of us! On to the next adventure! 

What Comes Next For Our Hero?

I would like to apologize for my lack of entries this month, but it’s been really crazy with the holidays and such. Here’s one last entry to wrap up the year since I achieved my weight loss goal finally! It has occurred to me that I never really explained what my ultimate goals were with my weight loss, especially since I so infrequently use the numbers on the scale in my blog. The truth is, that for a while I was pretty embarrassed of how high my starting weight was and didn’t want anyone to know just how far gone I was at the start. Now that I’m below my goal weight and I’m no longer ashamed of the number on the scale I’m not afraid to share my weight or where I started. When I began this journey, my weight was not the highest it had ever been but it was certainly much higher than I ever expected to be at 264.6 lbs and a BMI of 39.1, which is right on the edge of being classified as morbidly obese. Now here I sit about 18 months later weighing 163.6 lbs with a BMI of 24.2 (healthy weight!) and in the best shape of my life. I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made and hope I can continue to reach future goals going forward.

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12/16/16 – I reached my weight loss goal! 

Now comes the part where I admit to you that I’m not perfect and I’m only human and have legitimate fears, one of which has to do with my weight loss. I’ve lived my life as an overweight person for a very long time, more than half of my 25 years. For the last year and a half, I’ve lived my life as someone losing weight and I’ve been pretty ok at it, to put things modestly. But what absolutely terrifies me is what comes next, when I reach the goal weight. I have no idea how to live as someone maintaining weight, as it’s not something I’ve ever had to do before and I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be very good at it. Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying about things like gaining the weight back and ending off worse for it, but I do worry a lot so that’s not particularly unusual for me.

What is unusual for me, is having finally reached this goal and not knowing where to go next. I work well with linear things like schedules, lists, and goals. When I started this weight loss journey, I never really expected to get this far or to ever make it to the goal I had set initially (which was 200 pounds and I have long since surpassed). Now as I have surpassed my V-W Day (Victory in Weight Loss)  I worry about the next step of my journey. When I began this noble quest, I knew that this was a lifelong journey and I was going to make changes in my lifestyle that were permanent. I guess I just didn’t expect to reach my goal so quickly, not that 18 months is a quick amount of time to lose 100 pounds, but it is much faster than I expected for sure. Based on my previous weight loss struggles, I didn’t even think I would make it this far.

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December of 2013 weighing in around 279/ December of 2016 weighing around 165

When I started running I used the Couch to 5k plan and loved having a schedule, then I got signed up for a 10k and began the Bridge to 10k program. After my 10k I took a couple days off and relaxed, I said I wasn’t going to run for a week but I ended up lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run 2 days later. When I finished my two and a half mile run, I got home and felt very odd, sort of empty, when normally I feel great after a run. I realized that I felt empty because I had nothing I was working towards, I had completed my 10k and had no future goal for my running. This was when I allowed my godmother to swindle me into doing the Disney Half Marathon in January 2017. Having several months before I needed to start training granted me the freedom to take things easy and spend the summer running shorter distances and working on my pace which I am certainly grateful for. Around October 4th I began my half marathon training program and was so happy to have a set schedule leading up to the half marathon next weekend.  But I’m getting away from the point here, which is I like schedules and programs and when I’m without them I tend to get distracted easily like I am currently.

Another great concern I have is that after losing all of this weight I will have become someone who is never content with their body. I’ve lost 101 pounds and I still occasionally find myself noticing things I want to change, like how I wish my arms would be slimmer or that my tree trunk thighs would get smaller (granted I’ve lost eight and a half inches from them) but I am my own harshest critic. I suppose as long as I’m still working toward a goal (finishing the half marathon in this case- which is 7 days away) I’ll have room to work on my body and won’t have to worry about my weight so much.

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Stretching like a dork before the Jingle Bell Run 5k in Bradenton earlier this month, it looks like I have no idea what I’m doing but I swear I’m a real runner. 

Basically I just wanted to take this last entry of the year to talk out some of my anxieties and show you all that I’m not some awesome perfect weight loss guru. I’m just as unsure and anxious as anyone else, maybe even more so. If anyone else has struggled with the same thoughts or has been through it, I would absolutely appreciate comments and discussions on the matter.

Let’s Go To The Mall!

I wish I had the enthusiasm of Robin Sparkles when it comes to shopping, but alas I remain Sparkle-less. I’m giving everyone a fair warning here, it’s very likely that this is going to end up being a bit rant-y by the time this entry is all said and done. But I feel like my readers have learned to put up with my humorous view on life and will take the good with the bad. At least I hope so. After 18 months of hard work, I’m currently one pound away from my goal weight, though at this point it doesn’t even excite me much because it feels like a given. When you’ve lost 99 pounds, 100 doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still immensely proud of my accomplishments but it’s no longer the largest focus in my fitness journey.

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What I wouldn’t give for that 90’s Canadian savoir faire.  

Now that I’m finally at the end of this weight loss journey (or at least as far as I wanted to get), it’s time that I finally bite the bullet and rebuild my wardrobe. For many women I’m sure this would be a very exciting opportunity, but for me it’s more of a nightmare scenario. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a very casual/boring dresser. My daily outfit pretty much always consists of jeans or shorts, some semblance of a pop culture t shirt, and flip flops or converse sneakers. I’m not what one would call a snappy dresser, I like to wear clothes that are comfortable and allow me some form of self-expression. Over the last several weeks I’ve been taking a few hours here and there to attempt to shop for some new clothes, however most of these errands have been rather fruitless. So I’ll just go ahead and lay out for you the things I’ve discovered about shopping after losing a pretty significant amount of weight.

Being an “average” size makes it hard to find clothes. This one was rather unexpected, because I recall so many issues with trying to find clothes when I was a size 22 and I assumed being a size 8 would make my life easier. The fact of the matter is, being a size 6/8 (medium) means that I’m now fighting for clothes with all of the other “average” sized women of the world and that means there’s less available. At size 22 I would have to try several stores to find a dress for a friend’s wedding that even fit, let alone be something I actually wanted to wear. Now there’s definitely more variety available to me, but there’s also less of a chance that they’ll have the dress I like in my size. #TheStruggleIsReal

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This is my “impressed that I fit into a size 6” face. 

I have no idea what style clothes look good on my new body. For most of my life, I’ve known that darker colors work better for me to hide the problem areas. My mom taught me to look for dresses with A-line silhouettes and a cinched waist to accentuate my curves. Now that I’m “thin” I have no idea what looks good on me, I’m super indecisive and it’s just compounded with my total lack of fashion knowledge. I’ve been trying on an extensive assortment of tops, dresses, pants, etc. trying to see what looks good and it all seems so strange to me. The clothes look good, but none of them feel quite right. Though that’s probably because I need someone else to tell me that I’m not delusional and something looks good on me.

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I don’t really know when this whole sleeve cutout trend started, but I tried this on specifically because it looked like something Elektra would wear. 

Despite being thin, I still gravitate towards baggy clothes. It seems that even though I know I can now wear tighter clothes and they won’t make me look like a sausage about to burst out of its casing, I’m so used to being in baggy clothes that it’s the only thing I feel comfortable in. As I’ve mentioned, I pretty much live in t shirts and even though most of the time now I can fit into a men’s small or women’s medium I find myself still buying a size up. I’m hoping that with time I’ll get used to wearing clothes that fit and will be more confident in purchasing them for myself. That being said, I don’t think I will ever give up my penchant for wearing flannel shirts over my t shirts in the “winter” of Florida. 2 years ago in Target I saw a mannequin with a flannel shirt over a Thor t shirt and jeans and felt vindicated that it was stylish if it was on a mannequin. Or at least that’s what I told Ariel and was my defense for the look.

My procrastination skills extend to rebuilding my wardrobe. I am a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to most things in life (i.e. being 25 and still trying to finish my bachelor’s degree). This is even more of an issue for me when it comes to clothes shopping. Over the course of my weight loss journey, I would wait until my previous pair of shorts/pants was hanging off of my waist and wearing a belt no longer even helped before I would buy a new pair. I also tend to rarely have more than 2 pair of shorts/pants at a time especially while I was in the middle of losing weight. If you need any more evidence of this, you’ll just have to look in my fitness clothes drawer which is still more than half full of L/XL shorts that I have to tie the drawstrings on so they don’t fall off at the gym. As long as I have the bear minimum to get me through the week between laundry loads I won’t buy new clothes. Though that may be a combination of procrastination and my stubbornness in all honesty.

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Before I wrap things up, here’s another progress pic. 99 pounds of difference and 2.5 years between these photos. 

Well I usually feel like I’m able to wrap up my blog entries into this nice neat little bow, but considering how this one ended up as I suspected becoming a rant I don’t really know how to end it. So I suppose when in doubt, use a Bob’s Burgers gif to wrap things up and how Gene is in this one accurately captures how I feel about my new style. Indecisive but committed.

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Happy Hallo-Weight-Loss!

Well folks, All Hallows Eve is nearly upon us and it’s certainly one of my favorite holidays (if not my actual favorite). This week I would like to take the time to talk about Halloween and share with you some of my favorite memories. I would also like to talk about how much I’m looking forward to celebrating this year, and the costume I’ve been dying to wear for years is finally one I feel comfortable in after my weight loss. Which is not to say that plus size women can’t wear any costume they want to, but more just about my personal preference and feelings about my body.

Growing up, Halloween was always a big deal in my house. My dad would take my brother and me trick or treating and my mom would stay behind and give out candy while the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloween, or The Exorcist played. Our house was always very well decorated and I couldn’t wait to pick out a new costume each year. My mom loved horror movies and generally all things spooky, and every year on October 31st she would watch John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. As a kid, I of course didn’t partake but once I got older I would join her every year. Once I went off to college we would both watch at the same time and text each other things like how dumb Laurie was being. It was a tradition that we loved and I carry on each year even without her here.

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In case anyone needed proof I’ve always loved making faces in pictures. Halloween 1993 as Mickey Mouse. 

As I grew older, I found that I never really grew out of my love of Halloween unlike so many of my peers did. I would often start planning out possible costumes as early as August, and slowly assembling what I thought would be perfect. As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of comic books and often times I like to come up with fun costumes from that. A few years ago, when I was “ballin’ on a budget” I made myself a “poor man’s Thor” costume for a party. This entailed hot gluing CDs to the front of a black shirt, dark leggings, boots, wearing my curtain as a cape, and the Thor helmet my mom bought for me. It was hilarious and I had a great time wearing it. The next year I decided to step up my comic book costume game and made myself a Black Canary costume, complete with platinum blonde wig and fishnet tights. I’ve always been a confident girl, but being comfortable enough with my body to wear that costume was a bit of a stretch for me. Looking back, it’s one of my favorites and it was a great costume, but with how I look now I would’ve been much more comfortable with a comic accurate costume.

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My “Poor Man’s Thor” costume, was a big hit in 2013. 

After you hit college, Halloween doesn’t hold the same meaning for women as it did to me when growing up. Every year I would see these “sassy” versions of great characters being made into short skirts and low-cut tops for girls to wear. Not only were most of the women’s costume offerings of the more revealing variety, they often didn’t sell them in a size I could wear. When I was at my heaviest and wearing a size 22, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have been able to find a costume at Spirit Halloween or Party City that would fit me. Rarely did you see a creative store-bought costume that had coverage if you didn’t feel like flaunting your assets for a Halloween Party, which is why I started making my own. I didn’t want to be “sassy Captain America”, I just wanted a women’s Captain America costume I could wear that wasn’t a short skirt. I have no judgement for those women who like to wear these costumes, it just wasn’t something I was comfortable with at my size.

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When I couldn’t find a costume I liked, I made my own Black Canary costume for 2014. 

This year, after losing 96 pounds, I’m finally ready to wear the costume I’ve been dying to wear but too anxious to try for most of my life. This year, I’m dressing up as Wonder Woman and I could not possibly be any more excited. I’ve always felt like I have the spirit of an Amazonian warrior (and the height to match), so Wonder Woman has been a big inspiration to me since childhood. After my weight loss and fitness achievements of the last 16 months, I think my body is finally in Wonder Woman shape to pull off one of her many iconic looks. I have some last-minute tinkering and crafting to do before the weekend, but I hope to do one of my favorite characters justice this Halloween. And of course to show off my rockin’ new body.

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I may not have Adrianne Palicki’s body, but hopefully my Wonder Woman costume will do the character justice. 

Don’t Let The Slip Ups Keep You Down

Let’s face it, even the strictest dieters/fitness fiends among us can’t get through a diet/fitness regimen without a slip up here and there. I’ve been counting calories for over a year now and working out nearly as long and while most days I’m within my calorie goals every once in a while I have a cheat day that turns into a cheat weekend or slack off on going to the gym. Slip ups happen and it’s important to remember that they are going to happen, you just have to keep going afterward.

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This was a particularly good piece of inspiration for me, as I had given up so many times before. 

I’m someone who likes to keep things pretty regimented, I’m not good at playing things fast and loose and I acknowledge that. That means that starting a fitness/eating regimen for my weight loss wasn’t very tough for me, and I’m lucky to be like that. However, that also means that when I have slip ups I tend to be a little harder on myself. My excuse whenever I want to eat something I know is bad for me is “Well I hate myself so I’ll eat this pizza”. Now keep in mind, I don’t actually hate myself. In fact, I’m pretty narcissistically into myself at this point because my pride in my weight loss has turned into serious self-love. I think that really I just say I hate myself when I slip up because it gives me an excuse to break my routine.

When you look at my weight loss graph over the last year it’s a pretty steady decline, but there’s also a couple of peaks from my serious slip ups. Obviously some are predictable, around the holidays and other special occasions you’re going to overeat a little or just generally be less careful about what you’re eating. But there’s also some others from when I got lost for a bit, and let a slip up turn into a bad week or longer. Throughout the last year I’ve averaged to about a 1.5 pound loss each week even with my slip ups.

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This is my weight loss graph, as of 7/20/16 circled in red is my “Danielle spike” as described below. 

I have one big spike in my graph, around the beginning of August that I like to call my “Danielle spike” because it was when my friend Danielle was visiting and when I’m with her I tend to drink a lot of my calories. Love you Danielle, but you know it’s the truth. Plus at the time I didn’t have easy access to a gym, I was living in a house instead of an apartment complex with a fitness center and it was such a hassle to drive to campus to use the UCF gym. So I let myself slip and gain weight and I was miserable, I felt like garbage because I was eating garbage and drinking often. I made excuses and continued to be miserable for a couple of weeks, but one day I decided I was done. I laced up my shoes and went for a run and even though I coughed and sputtered through the whole thing, I felt better about myself when I got home and that was the real gain. I didn’t let the slip up keep me from getting back on track and that’s all that mattered, I got back on track and put the past behind me.

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Me and Danielle at our favorite local hangout, December of 2014 (we don’t take lots of normal pictures together). Notice the beer in front of us, always drinking with this one!

Weight loss is not easy, it takes hard work and dedication to see results and sometimes that means you have to be strict. It doesn’t mean that you have to be hard on yourself for a splurge here and there or a day you just don’t feel like going to the gym. Another important virtue that my weight loss journey has taught me is patience. Results take time and you have to be patient with your body as it adjusts to the changes you’re making. So when you slip up and gain weight when you’re trying to lose, you have to be patient to get back to where you were. Persistence is crucial you can’t give up just because you slip up. Get back on the horse and saddle up for success!

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In the words of Tina Belcher, “I’m no hero, I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else”

What’s Wrong With Being Confident?

If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning (or care to go back and read “The One With The Origin Story”) you’ll recall that I’ve had my struggles with self-confidence and weight as I’m sure many of you can relate. One of the things that really helped ignite my journey to fitness and weight loss was the regaining of my self-confidence. I had much like Stella (aka Angela Bassett) had, gotten my groove back though unfortunately Taye Diggs was not involved in my groove retrieval. It did however include the introduction of my own personal hunk to treat me right, make me feel like a natural woman, and various other Motown-esque puns. But this entry isn’t about how Meg got her groove back, as you’ve already gotten the cliff notes version of that. This post is to discuss how weight loss completely retooled my views on self-confidence.

My mom always raised me to be a “strong, independent woman who don’t need no man” which involved the watching of many films/tv shows with strong heroines (Buffy, Alien, Terminator 2, etc.). She taught me important life skills like how to change a tire and even make minor home repairs so that I would be able to do whatever I wanted on my own. She instilled a strong sense not only of independence but also confidence. When I was in my whiny teen years complaining about how I was unattractive and no one liked me she would look to me and say “I’m going to tell you exactly what my mother told me, I don’t have ugly children”. She made sure that I always knew I was special and deserved nothing but the best, especially when it came to the people I chose to spend my time with.

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With a badass mom like this, how could I not have serious self-confidence?

After I lost my mom, I stumbled for a bit and lost a lot of my self-confidence while I was trapped in a less than ideal relationship and couldn’t find the way back to the right path. Once I got my groove back and found my self-confidence again I realized there was one thing holding me back, the only thing I was still truly self-conscious about was my weight. Now don’t get me wrong, I carried myself very confidently it was more of a deep seeded, personal concern. I had an amazing man in my life who gave me the self-confidence to want to make myself the best I could possibly be. Within the first month of consistently losing weight, I was losing my hang ups and beginning to hold myself with more confidence.

As the pounds continued to slowly fall off of me, I noticed subtle differences like how my posture was getting better. When I first started running, I would avoid making eye contact with the other people on the trail, but as I started to feel more confident in my running and myself I started smiling and waving at other runners. I was talking to the other people in my class, not sitting with my ear buds in until the professor started talking. My temporary introversion was slowly melting away and the long disappeared, extrovert Meg was finally back.

The biggest change I was noticing though, was how I shopped for clothes. In the past, I bought mostly black shirts to hide my “problem areas” but suddenly colors I had never considered were making their way into my wardrobe. I was comfortable wearing tank tops in public and not worried about people noticing my back rolls or how big my arms looked. I bought shorts that were shorter than mid-thigh, and didn’t care if they were tight on my thighs. I started dressing how I wanted, not how I thought other people would want to see me. When I started fitting into medium t-shirts for the first time since middle school, I really started feeling good. The day I tried one on and it fit, I almost cried I was so filled with pride of the progress I have made.

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The Meg of 2014 summer always wore big T-shirts, now I wear tank tops for most of my workouts and sometimes just because I can. 

These revelations in self-confidence extended beyond my wardrobe and how I carried myself though, I began having the confidence to take chances in the rest of my life. I started taking risks with my painting and having more confidence in my abilities. I had more zest for my business, and was trying out new designs. I was finding confidence in every aspect of my life and I owe it all to my weight loss and more importantly to Chris. If he hadn’t given me the confidence to start this journey and want to make myself better I don’t know where I would be now. I know it’s cheesy, but he means the world to me and I’m so thankful we found each other and he was up to the task of supporting me as I made such big changes for myself.

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Chris really is so good to me, love you babe.