I feel like I need to have the Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" as the theme song to this post. You know, if I had accompanying theme songs to my posts. Things could not be better for me right now. It's just amazing to me how loosening up the reins a little both in my head and nutrition and exercise-wise has resulted in a pretty dramatic breaking of my freakishly long plateau. I'm steadily losing weight again (except of course when I had to be on prednisone), but more than that my body is undergoing the most noticeable changes I've seen in about a year now. It's pretty wild! I even had this woman in the gym today come up to me in the locker room and say, "I just want to let you know that I've been coming here 3 months now and seen you here all the time, and you have had a big change. You look really fantastic." And then she wanted to know what I was doing to accomplish it. That just kind of blows my mind to have someone say they noticed a change in me, not from the time I started all of this (which, duh, of course that's a big change), but just from the beginning of this summer. It's nice to know that others can see it and I'm not imagining change where there is none. I've been pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do all summer, both with running and strength training, and is immensely satisfying to see it pay off on both the scale and in the mirror.
Seeing the nutritionist has definitely made a huge difference. Increasing my calories is still kind of an ongoing internal battle for me (even knowing the science behind how metabolism works, my brain just still wants to tell me that the less you eat, the more weight you will lose), but I make myself do what is right for my body. I can't put in the amount of running I have been doing and not properly fuel my body.
But honestly, I think the main thing behind breaking my plateau was me getting out of my own way. The longer I stayed on a plateau, the more it drove me crazy and the more I obsessed over every bite taken and every calorie burned. If I wasn't losing weight, I thought I should cut calories and exercise more. I rationalized that if was going to get to my goal weight, it would take sacrifice. And yes, it's true I do make little sacrifices every day. I sacrifice extra sleep by getting up to run. I pass up cupcakes at work. That's okay. But sacrifice should not be the main byword here. In my desire to "finish" losing weight, I inadvertently forgot that there is no finish. That this can't be about sacrifice because I am on this journey for the rest of my life, and you can't sacrifice for the rest of your life. Life is for living.
I still push myself hard at the gym and on my runs. I've never run farther before and I don't think I've ever sweated as much (seriously, I have to wring my hair out after work-outs). The difference now is that the purpose is not to lose weight. I mean, of course that's great and I obviously I want that to happen. But I work out now because I like to work out (which in itself is a miracle from where I started). I like to get up before the sun and see it rise. I like to get into the zone with nothing but the quiet of the early morning and my feet hitting the pavement (well, and of course my iPod). I like to smash personal records at the gym. I am even starting to find a certain satisfaction in strength training.
I also think some part of my plateau was due to some unconscious part of my brain not being quite ready to take those final steps towards maintenance (yes, we're getting all deep and psychological here). On the outside, I was doing everything I could to lose the weight, but on the inside, I think I knew that a little part of me was scared to death of hitting my goal weight. Sounds kind of crazy, but after all, I have no experience with being anywhere near my goal weight before now. Me, be a normal weight and not have to try week after week to lose weight? That's totally outside of my comfort zone. So I think the plateau was kind of my brain's way of telling me I needed to take a step back and be truly mentally ready. From what I've heard, maintenance has its own challenges and I am going to need to work through them just like I worked through the challenges of losing weight. I am ready to do this now, and I think my brain and body both know that. It's an adventure that I will welcome. I hope to lose this last 20 or so pounds by the end of this year, and welcome 2015 and most of my 30th year ready to tackle this next phase of my life. And ready to rock it!