Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sometimes you're just not okay

For about the past month, I haven't really felt like myself. I've just felt off. The easiest way for me to describe it is the slightly weird feeling you have after waking up from a very vivid dream. That alone would not be so bad. But like I stated in my previous post, everything has just felt harder to me. It's been so hard for me to work out and resist temptations. When I made Halloween dinner with funny Halloween food, instead of being fun, it mostly just made me tired. Things I enjoy are not as fun right now. And for the past couple of weeks, I have been crying pretty much every day, which is not like me at all. I'm sure it has been somewhat worrying and frustrating for my boyfriend Brian to watch his girlfriend break out suddenly into tears and when he asks what's wrong, hear, "I don't know!" as the answer. But the truth is that I don't know. I do know that I am under a great deal of stress right now from multiple sources. And even though some of that stress is from positive things, it's still stress.

I'm generally a very positive person, and am able to stay upbeat in most situations. I've been through some very tough things, and I believe this has made me able to weather things more easily than I could have otherwise. That may have worked against me now, because for the past few weeks, I chastised myself for feeling down and tried to tell myself that after so many hard times the past few years, I finally have so much of what I have always wanted. That I should be ecstatic. But that doesn't make it true. Just like losing weight, falling in love doesn't make everything perfect. I was so afraid Brian would think my unhappiness lately was something to do with him, when in fact, that is the furthest thing from the truth. He has been my rock. He's been my shoulder to cry on (literally), and been there for me in a steadfast way that was hard for stubborn me to admit that I needed. He's agreed to whatever I needed to get my weight loss going again. He's put up with my testiness and random crying spells. He's told me I'm beautiful when I feel anything but. I may be unsure exactly what is going on with me and why I'm unhappy, but I know beyond a shadow of doubt that Brian has nothing to do with it. He is amazing, and I count my blessings every night that we found each other.

Okay, now that some of you may be throwing up from all the mushy stuff, we'll move on. This past Saturday, as I was almost crying at work for no apparent reason, I came the conclusion that I am depressed. This may seem obvious to you after the above symptoms that I listed, but I think I was somewhat in denial about it, mainly because I was hung up on the fact that I didn't feel like I should be depressed. I decided to make an appointment with my doctor, which I did. And yesterday, I got an antidepressant. I don't know exactly why I'm depressed. Maybe my brain chemistry is a little off right now. Maybe it's the fact that winter is coming, and I truly despise winter. The important thing is that I decided to get help. And just making that decision was enough to make me feel a little better. For the first time in a few weeks, I didn't cry.

During this whole ordeal, my anxiety about my weight has been increasing. With my weight gain, I would tell myself I needed to get my act together, but I just couldn't do it. I would manage to work out, but I knew the intensity just wasn't there. And when I was honest with myself, I knew that I was resorting back to old behaviors and making myself feel better with food sometimes. I had the thought that maybe I wouldn't weigh in tomorrow, because I just can't deal with seeing a gain. But like I said, I'm feeling a little better today, and I was able to recognize that as the gigantic red flag that it was almost immediately. If I have gained weight, me not weighing in and not actually seeing the number doesn't make it any less real. I was ashamed, because my one inflexible rule has always been that I weigh in every week no matter what. Skipping weigh ins is a slippery slope that I refuse to start down.

It was finally sunny today after what feels like years of rain (probably not helping my mood either), and I had the day off, so I took myself to the park. While I think I need that antidepressant short term to get me over the hump, I also believe that I have to do things I enjoy in order to help myself too, even if I may not feel like it. And so I ran. I ran at whatever pace I wanted, without my phone to track my time or calories burned. I ran for the pure joy of it. With my recent anxiety and depression, I have become increasingly bogged down in tracking and calorie counting and protein gram counting and blah blah blah. It has been a while since I have done anything weight loss related for the sheer joy of it. I am so far away from where I started that it is hard for me to remember why I started sometimes. Somewhere along the way, I think I have stopped believing that I can reach my weight loss goals. As I was running, I had the thought that believing such a thing really dishonors the girl I was at the start of this whole thing. That girl had enough guts to believe that she could lose almost 200 lbs, despite popular opinion and sheer common sense telling her that it couldn't be done. Who I am to believe that I am unable to lose less than 30 lbs? I feel stronger today. If  I get on the scale and see a gain tomorrow, I feel like I can face it and see it as the minor and fixable problem that it is, not as a huge insurmountable crisis. I feel like I can be happy again soon, and that I am going to be able to reach all my goals, weight loss related or not. And that is a pretty amazing feeling.

I'm not quite okay right now. But I'm going to be.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's Halloween, but I'm the one who's haunted

I've been haunted lately by dreams of gaining back all the weight I've lost. I've written about this dream before, but now it's become like a recurring thing, at least weekly. In my dream, I'll be looking in a mirror, or trying to run and realizing that I gained all the weight back. Then I wake up feeling all weird and panicky. It doesn't help that I constantly see someone on Facebook who DID gain all the weight back in a short period of time. Part of the time I feel like it's not good for me to see that because it makes me anxious, but then part of the time I feel like it's good for me to see how easily that can happen.

I don't know what the deal is with me. Everything just feels harder lately and those pounds I've gained are getting me down. My tighter pants are a constant reminder to me of the weight I've gained. Nine pounds isn't much in the scheme of things, but I can't help but freak out about how easy it would be for 9 lbs to become 90 lbs. It's not even totally about the weight. It's just remembering what a dark and lonely place I was in at 328 lbs. It's no wonder I am terrified of ever going back there.

But fear has never gotten me anywhere helpful. I don't want to lose weight because I am terrified of gaining it. I want to lose weight because it is the healthy thing to do. I feel sometimes like I am in a battle to lose weight, tracking this, tracking that, more protein, less carbs, more exercise. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just stopped fighting so hard. Not give up, not that at all, but just quit fighting so damn hard. Because I am pretty exhausted to be honest. What would happen if I just worked out an hour 5 days a week, and didn't feel guilty if I didn't work out twice every single day? What would happen if I just tried to eat healthy, but not track everything? I don't know what would happen. And for a control freak like me, that is truly frightening. And not tracking right at the holidays seems like a disaster waiting (haha, I originally wrote "weighting" there; Freudian slip) to happen. I don't give up the reins easily. I'm starting to feel like I need to take a risk and try it though. I'm not quite there yet, but we'll see.

I had the thought during my run today that I took my weight for granted 9 lbs ago. I took the clothes fitting better for granted. And then the very next thought in my head, from the rational and sometimes annoying part of my brain, was that I take the weight I'm at right now for granted. I've gained 9 lbs. That's a fact. My clothes fit tighter. That's also a fact. But I've still lost half my body weight. I'm still able to run those 8 miles in the morning. I'm still able to easily find clothes that fit me. I'm still able to do a million things I couldn't do at 328 lbs. Those are all facts too. And the truth is that I take those facts for granted every single day.

I'm not where I want to be right now. But I'm nowhere near where I used to be either. I need to be thankful for exactly where I am. I'm trying. As always, it's a work in progress.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life

I am not a shoe person. I know all that stuff people say about women and shoes, but that's just not me. I pretty much exclusively live in my running shoes, Sperry's, flip flops during the summer, and 2 pairs of boots during the winter. I actually have many other pairs of shoes because I kind of like the idea of cute shoes, but alas, my crazy messed up foot often makes actually wearing cute styles of shoes quite uncomfortable. And I am not one of those girls who will sacrifice comfort in the name of fashion (well, not usually). So I stick with my stand-bys. I love them. And I wear them forever, partially because I am cheap and partially because the breaking-in process of practically any kind of shoe is particularly torturous on my bad foot. Technically, I should replace my running shoes every 200 miles. This is quite impractical though, because that would mean replacing them every month in my case. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of dough lying around. However, I do admit that I should have replaced my current running shoes well before the 1.5 year mark. I just love them so much, because they are the first running shoes I ever had that made it so my bad foot didn't constantly hurt/go numb. After a year and half of pretty much daily running though, they look rough.

The time had come for new shoes, and luckily Shoe Carnival had an amazing sale. Because of this sale, I decided it would be silly of me to get only 1 pair, especially since I read an article about how you should really have one pair of shoes for the gym and one pair for running outside. Going to the Shoe Carnival where I live yielded nothing, because not just any shoes would do. My bad foot causes me to underpronate (or supination), which apparently is a weird thing to do, as most people overpronate and most shoes are made with that in mind.  I also have 2 distinctly different feet: normal foot (narrow and high arched) and bad foot (wide and no arch because of surgery). My feet are high maintenance. Also, here's a tip if you want to know if you under or over pronate: check to see if the outside or inside of the soles of your shoes are more worn. If you overpronate like most people, the heel of your shoe will show excessive wear, as well as the outside edge of the shoe. If you underpronate like me, the outside of the heel will be worn, as well as inside the toe area.

So I asked (told?) Brian to stop in another city (since we were going out of town anyway) to see if their Shoe Carnival had anything. Doing research about underpronation yielded high scientific results about what kind of shoe I needed. Actually, after wading through all the scientific mumbo-jumbo (actual scientific word), I determined that what I needed was a bendy shoe. Earth-shattering, I know. So I basically went through the New Balance row and checked to see how flexible each shoe was. Then I tried on all the flexible shoes and jogged some laps in each one. Brian was quite amused by this method of shoe shopping, especially when I commented that I wasn't wearing workout clothes or a sports bra, and he grinned and said, "I can tell." That's when I called him a creeper. I also shot him a scathing look when he dared to ask me what color shoe I wanted. Color?!? Please, that was the very last thing I took into consideration, other than wanting a darker shoe that wouldn't shoe dirt as much. I may have sounded a bit like a running snob then, which is pretty funny since I am not an elite runner in any sense of the word. Plus, it was also kind of hypocritical since I will admit my primary consideration in running shoes before the past couple of years was indeed the color. Poor Brian...he's so sweet and I am mean to him sometimes lol.

Then, I had a moment of joy that ended with crushing sorrow. Shoe shopping with me is dramatic, ya'll, But seriously, I actually saw my old running shoes in the clearance section for just $30! I was super excited until I saw that they were half a size too small and they couldn't order any more since they were clearance. I had another moment of joy when I was told that the nearest store that had my size in that shoe was Lexington. I was like, "I have family there! They can ship me my shoes!" Alas, the sales associate was referring to Lexington, Kentucky, not North Carolina as I thought, as in the state thousands of miles away where I have no kind family members who will ship their psycho niece a pair of shoes.  I ended up with 2 pairs of shoes that I thought would work. And may I add, I got these 2 pairs of New Balance shoes and compression socks for just $82, when retail would have been $127. Pretty awesome!  I am alternating the shoes between the gym and running, trying to decide which to use for which workout. They are not comfortable yet at all. But that is always the case for me and new shoes. It still sucks. Yay for my new shoes though!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Stressed is desserts spelled backwards

It's been a stressful few weeks. I have some stuff going on, and I'm trying to handle it in non-self-destructive ways, i.e. not cramming food in my mouth to cope. I turned 31, which was much less traumatic than turning 30. However, I went a little bit crazy on the food on my birthday weekend. Sunday was fine. I had a cupcake and  a turkey burger with fries and everything else was pretty much normal. My actual birthday on Monday was a very different story. I started the day with Nutella french toast and it went downhill from there. Lunch was a buffalo chicken sandwich and chips. And then came the big regret. I decided it was only right to get a birthday cake shake from Zaxby's. This shake turned out to be quite large. I am certain that the mini-golf Brian and I played prior to getting shakes did not even make a dent in burning off the calorie count of that shake (which was helpfully listed on the menu at 855 calories!!). At that point, we were both pretty stuffed and probably would have been fine not eating the rest of the day. But then came dinner with my family at Carraba's with appetizer, salad, and chicken bryan. And then came the amazing homemade chocolate Kit-Kat cake that my mom made for me. I had a fabulous birthday. It was really great.

Awesome cookie dough cupcakes my best friend Randi made for me

Brian being disturbingly excited over cupcakes

Randi and I rocking maxi skirts

Intense focus (I won!)

I love me some Italian food ya'll

Blowing out the candles...please pause to enjoy my Little Mermaid crown

Fantastic cake my mom made me

Brian and I posing with my dolphin buddy

Great pic except my phone made my birthday message look pixelated :(

One of the reasons turning 31 isn't so bad is that I can look back at this picture of me and my parents on my 21st birthday, and then look at a picture taken on my 31st birthday, like below...

...and know that I look better 10 years older!

The next morning, however, was a different story. Of course I went on my normal run. This was perhaps not the greatest idea. My stomach rebelled about halfway through, and I threw up. I felt awful from the combination of so much extra sodium, fat, and sugar. Brian has gotten me a private yoga class and Thai foot massage for my birthday, so I went to my appointment for that, but then I went straight back in my bed. Luckily, I didn't work till that night because my body felt like lead. Brian and I laid in my bed pretty much all day (he was feeling sick too) and I threw up twice more. We now refer to this lost day as Slugfest '15. It is something I do not care to repeat.

I weighed in on Wednesday and saw a gain of 3.8 lbs. It didn't shock me obviously.  But then I had an appointment at my gynecologist on Thursday (because nothing says happy birthday like a speculum and a pap smear), and she mentioned something about my 9 lb weight gain since last year.  It felt really bad to me because I haven't had any doctor say anything negative about my weight for a couple years now. It was a bad sense of deja vu. Also something I don't care to repeat.

I didn't feel in control after that week. I still felt that fear that I was going to gain all the weight back. But I kind of decided to fake it till I make it. I went to the gym every day almost. I ran 6 days a week. I scaled back on eating out and made healthy meals. And last week I lost 1.6 lbs. This week I was excited to weigh in because my pants felt looser. Alas, that dang scale only showed a 0.2 lb loss. Muscle gain maybe, but it still frustrates me. I have put in so much effort the past 2 weeks, maybe too much because sometimes my body does feel exhausted after working out at least 2 and sometimes 3 times a day. I expected to see big numbers. I knew I would really have put in maximum effort to lose these last few pounds, but it is disheartening to put in that effort and not even really see good results.

My gynecologist recommended that I have my thyroid checked to make sure everything was okay there, since I have been very, very tired lately. I hate it when people use thyroid problems as a excuse for weight gain, but I figured it couldn't hurt to check. It turned out that my thyroid levels are fine, but my iron levels are quite low. So that at least explains the fatigue, if not the weight gain. I'm still having a thyroid ultrasound tomorrow though, because my thyroid is abnormally large apparently.

I feel like I have had a good balance the past few weeks between living life and having a few treats, but not taking it to the extreme and just binging all day. I am proud of not using food to deal with my stress right now. I still have to make a conscious decision not to eat my feelings, but that's okay. I think that compulsion will always exist for me, but I just choose not to give into it. I choose to do something healthy to deal with my stress instead. My small victories may not be translating to weight loss so much right now, but maybe that will come. I hope so.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When 7 pounds feels like 100

I don't know what is with me lately. The small bit of weight I have gained (that I have already lost a little of) is weighing heavily (haha weight pun) on me. Seven pounds should not be bothering me this much. On the other hand, maybe I'm glad that it is, because last time I gained weight (to the tune of 80 lbs in a year), I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought when my pants got tighter and tighter. But now I think on and off about my pants feeling tighter all day long. These 7 lbs are occupying way too much headspace. It's not really the 7 lbs. It's that I am all too aware of that 7 lbs could turn into 100 if I let it.

I felt more in control after visiting my nutritionist. I'm not sure what is making me feel not in control now. I've done great on exercise and good (not great this week) on food. Maybe it's that my birthday is next week, and I know I probably won't lose then. I mean, I'm not going to binge, but is my birthday and I usually eat what I want then.

I recently saw a video posted on Facebook by a girl who started losing weight about the same time as me, started out at exactly my starting weight, and had her lowest weight be just a little higher than my lowest. This video was heartbreaking and courageous all at once. When I saw her face, I knew she had gained some weight, but since you couldn't really see her body, I didn't know how much. But she said she had gained all of her weight back. All of it. She went from 160 lbs back to 328 lbs in less than a year. I feel such empathy for her. And yet, it also scared the living hell out of me. That is my worst nightmare. In fact, I did have the exact nightmare last night and woke up drenched in sweat, I couldn't imagine being in that body again. More importantly, I couldn't imagine being in that state of mind again. I had several thoughts. One, it made me grateful that I have just the 7 lbs to deal with losing again, and not nearly 170 lbs. This journey has been wonderful, but make no mistake: losing 170 lbs is super hard work, and I would not be anxious to do it again. But two, like I said before, it made me scared. This girl with so many similarities to me went back to that place we both swore we would never go. That could be me. All my hard work could be gone in a matter of months.

When I am honest and realistic with myself and manage to quell all that fear for a second, I realize that I don't honestly think that will happen to me. Not that it realistically couldn't (because I am well aware of how easily I gain weight), but because I really changed not just the outside, but the inside too. Permanently. With the way I am obsessing about my pants and those 7 lbs (not that that's the healthiest behavior), I couldn't see myself just letting my weight creep up 50 or 100 more lbs like I have done in the past. Five years ago, 7 lbs wouldn't have bothered me much at all. It is the very fact that I am all too aware of how easy it is to slowly and insidiously sink back into old unhealthy patterns that keeps me militant about not missing more than a day or so of workouts and not letting unhealthy treat meals turn into a regular things. Because I know all too well that you don't gain 170 lbs all at once. You gain it a pound at a time by telling yourself missing one workout doesn't matter just this once. So maybe sometimes I come off a little OCD about missing workouts and treat meals, but if it keeps me from gaining the weight back, it's well worth it.

In the end, I know that only I can truly hold myself accountable for my choices and decisions, but I have had talks with my family and my boyfriend Brian about talking to me if I ever look like I am gaining weight and struggling. I am well aware that that kind of talk would be very awkward for all involved. But I would rather have a few awkward, eye-opening moments than weigh over 300 lbs again. I want to be sure I have safeguards that would nip it in the bud well before that point. Last time I gained weight to reach my heaviest weight ever, no one said a word. Not a word. Not my family. Not my friends. Not even my doctor. And honestly, I don't hold that against them because it is ultimately my responsibility. They told me later that they could see I was struggling and using food to cope, but they just didn't know how to help. And honestly, I don't know if them saying something would have helped, because I was just not in a place yet where I could make a change. But even so, if that ever happened now, I still want them to say something to me. I want them to acknowledge that something is wrong and that it is not okay. Maybe it would be the eye-opener I needed. Obviously, I would want them to address their concerns in a kind and loving way, not something like, "Hey Chubs, let's lay off the cheeseburgers and go for a run!"

I thought about posting my before picture on my bathroom mirror to motivate me. But that motivation would be coming from a place of fear, and fear has never done anything but hold me back. So I found a quote that really spoke to me, and I wrote that on my bathroom mirror because I am a gigantic cornball. Here it is:

I am done running from my problems. I choose to face them now. I am going to lose those 7 lbs, not because I am afraid of what they could turn into, but because I am working to keep the happiness that this new body and mindset have brought me. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Losing weight isn't all sunshine and rainbows: A guide for those times when you just want to eat a cheeseburger and be a lazy bum

I tried writing this post several times over the past few weeks, but the words just weren't there. It's been such a great summer for me in many ways, but weight loss-wise, it's really been blah. I've gained 7 lbs since May. I vacillate (good word, right?) between telling myself that 7 lbs is no big deal and convincing myself that I am one cheeseburger away from weighing over 300 lbs again. As usual, I believe the right approach lies somewhere in between. I find myself being kind of bitter lately and I don't like it. Mainly because that 7 lbs was oh so easy for me to gain. It's not like I've been on a summer-long bender of ice cream and french fries and have been making a permanent butt indention on my couch instead of working out. Nope, those 7 lbs hopped on simply by having a few more treats than usual and not working out at my usual intensity and sleeping in some days. But what makes me mad is that I gained weight by eating more healthy and exercising more often than probably 95% of people. And yeah, I did just make up the 95% off the top of my head, but seriously, I do eat better and exercise more than most people. But apparently my body requires more extreme measures. Because I will always gain weight easily. I will always have to work harder even to just maintain my weight. I can't just take a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill and call it a day. No, apparently to even maintain  my weight I have to run 8 miles before dawn and then work out at the gym for at least an hour 6 days a week. My doctor even said as much to me. And sometimes that makes me want to cry because it's just not fair. Sometimes I don't want to have to work so hard all the time. Sometimes I don't want to worry that having a treat day will make me gain 3 lbs. Sometimes I want to be able to skip a couple workouts and not know that it will come back to bite me. Because that's not me being paranoid. That's just true. 

I don't like this side of me. It's whiny and lazy and just generally not attractive at all. I am well aware that life isn't fair, and that there are far worse things to deal with than gaining 7 lbs and not being able to get to your goal weight. I know that I should be grateful that I am able to work out at all. I should be grateful that I was able to make such a change in  my life. And for the most part, I am. But I am also very, very human, and sometimes I just can't help but wish it were all just a little bit easier. As much as I wish losing weight and living a healthy life was all high fives and awesome runs and delicious healthy meals, sometimes it just feels like a lot of work.

These past couple weeks, I have finally been able to give up my sad little pity party of one for the most part. Self-pity is fine in small doses, but I really detest any more than that. Please forgive the corny saying, but I have been telling myself that I can be bitter or I can be better. Me being bitter isn't accomplishing a thing besides making me feel ungrateful for what I have and probably gaining more weight. I need to accept the cards I've been dealt and move on. The truth is that 7 lbs is concerning, but not the end of the world. I need to make a plan to deal with it. 

I've thought about seeing my nutritionist again for a while. I stopped seeing her around Christmas. At first, I wondered what the point what be, as I didn't really see her telling me stuff I didn't already know. Then I told myself I would see her after I lost some more weight because I didn't want to be ashamed. My nutritionist was always praising me about how well I ate, and I didn't want her to see that sometimes my diet wasn't  perfect. And then a week ago, I realized that logic was really, really stupid. That logic is exactly what got me over 300 lbs, and that more than anything else, even more than the weight gain, scared the crap out of me. The girl who was afraid to ask for help. The girl who didn't want anyone to know she wasn't perfect. Those were the traits that led to me being morbidly obese at 27. 

But as much as that freaked me out, what I did last week was equally as comforting to me because it made me realize that though I may have lapses into who I used to be, the core of who I am really has permanently changed. That even though I may gain a few pounds, the person I am now would not allow things to progress so far like before. I made that appointment with my nutritionist. And even though I was a little embarrassed to have gained weight, I was honest with her about how things had been going. I let her see my food log. I got on that scale. I let her see that I am not perfect. I did what I needed to do to get on the path to being better. And while most of the stuff she told me was not new information, she did have some good tips. What I think will be most helpful is having accountability to her. I asked her to set me a weight loss goal for next month and she did. 

My mood is better than ever now that I am being proactive about dealing with my weight gain. I'm doing things like making charts that I haven't done for a couple of years now in order to get myself motivated. Sometimes I think you really have to get back to the basics and do what works for you. And so far, it really is working. Losing weight and living a healthy life isn't easy. There are times it is difficult to stay motivated. But when I am honest with myself, I realize that it is very, very worth it. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The only people who love curly hair are the people who don't have it

A haircut is probably not a big deal to lots of people. But for me, as my boyfriend Brian put it, getting my hair cut was an "event." I've had pretty long hair for most of my life, but every now and then I get sick of dealing with all that hair. Because I have an crazy amount of curly, thick hair. So much that I will never have to worry about going bald. My hair can be an unmanageable, frizzy monstrosity, but it can also be gorgeous when I take the time to deal with it. My hair has been my security blanket because even when I felt my most fat and ugly, I knew that I had great hair. It felt like could cover up all the ugliness with that one thing.

The last time I cut my hair was when I was right in the middle of dealing with hard times in my life primarily by devouring every pizza in America and gaining 80 lbs in a year. I cut it kind of as an act of desperation. I hated how I looked in the mirror more and more every day. Losing weight didn't seem possible because I couldn't give up the comfort food, but I could change my hair. So I dyed it dark and cut it pretty short. It wasn't flattering, but at least it was different. And I badly needed different. Here is that haircut:

This time when I decided I wanted to get my hair cut, it wasn't because I didn't like what I saw in the mirror. It was because I decided I didn't need my hair as a security blanket anymore. Well, also because it is approximately 10 million degrees outside and I was sick of dealing with that sweaty, frizzy mess. And also because my hair is so thick that it literally took 7 hours to air dry. And maybe also because while my hair does look great when I take the time to style it and wear it down, during April-October it is also so humid that it only looks good for about 15 minutes before it morphs into a gigantic afro, and I resort back to my ever-present side braid or ponytail. Okay, so I guess there's a lot of reasons I wanted my hair cut. I wish I could show you the horror that my hair can be after air drying in all that humidity, but I have wisely never allowed myself to photographed in that state (that I know of). So here is a different before/after shot than the ones I usually post here:

My hair looked this good for maybe 10 minutes after this shot was taken.

New do

My hair feels awesome and light now, and most importantly, I can still put it back in a ponytail for the gym (seriously, the woman at the salon probably thought I was a gym obsessed freak because I emphasized this point like a thousand times). I can wear it curly or straight or somewhere in between. I've got a lot of changes in my life coming up in the next few months, and even though it may seem silly, a new haircut helps me feel like a new person and like I can handle everything coming up (without shoving pizza in my mouth at an alarming rate). 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Back to the basics (and the foam crown man)

I came across a quote this week that has really stuck with me: Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods. As of late, I have not been super flexible. Yes, I did give up the scale for 3 weeks and saw that I did not magically gain 10 lbs, and in fact, lost a little bit. But I keep doggedly running day after day, despite my lack of progress on the scale. Mainly, this is because I really love to run. And that's cool. I can still run. My problem is that I usually do nothing else. That has to change. I seem to have forgotten that it's not necessarily how long or for how many miles you work out, it's what you're doing to work out. Not exercising longer, but exercising smarter. I was about to wear out my body the way I just kept adding mile after mile to my running regimen.  I lost a lot of weight last year when I combined running with the elliptical, and also did strength training at the gym. So I am giving that another try. I am also trying to eat more protein and less carbohydrates. Not really carb cycling per say, but more like being more mindful about the amount of protein and carbs, since that is not usually something I track.

I haven't been the gym since I think about October of last year. I've been running outside (or when the weather was too cold in the winter, riding my bike inside) exclusively. It felt strange yesterday to go back to a place that once felt like my second home. I devoted numerous blog posts to this place, such as Foam crowns, free weights, and a flasher: Alliteration at its very bestSweat, decapitation, and Tigger: All in a day's work at the gym, and the ever popular Up in da gym, workin' on my fitness. It was odd at first because I had some feelings similar to those I had when I first went to the gym at over 300 lbs. Like are the employees going to recognize me (because I was seriously there every single day, usually twice a day) and judge me because I haven't been in so long? Are they going to assume I've fallen off the wagon and gained weight (even though I'm pretty much exactly the same weight as I was in October)? It didn't help that when I went in and gave them my member number, the girl gave me a weird look and was like, "We use barcodes now."

But then there were some very different feelings even from the last time I went to the gym, being at a relatively normal weight. Back then, I still felt like I didn't belong sometimes. I still felt like the fat girl. I didn't feel like that way today. Even being away for about 9 months, I felt like I belonged there. I felt normal. It was nice to see the old regulars there, even the odd ones like the guy who wears a helmet with a foam crown on his head. I even remembered that last summer I refused to wear tank tops and tight running pants to the gym. I opted for baggy shirts and yoga pants every day.  I wore one of my running tank tops and pants today without a second thought. So I guess I have made some mental progress even since last October.

The elliptical kicked my butt. Anyone who thinks that the elliptical is just something you do if you can't hack the treadmill obviously has not been on the ellipical for any length of time. It just apparently works different muscles than running because I was soaked with sweat after an hour. I was glad to see that though. As far as strength training goes, the plan right now is for my boyfriend Brian to sign up at the gym tomorrow so we can start doing that together. Because while I may have pretty awesome self-motivation skills as far as cardio goes, I can't say the same for the strength training. I think being accountable to someone else will help that.

I'm pretty excited about these changes. They're not super big changes, but I have always believed that small changes are best because you can stick with them. Hopefully I will see some significant weight loss by the time I turn the big 31 in mid September.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Year 3: I'm all about dat bass (or something like that)

It seems crazy that as I write this, I am bringing year 3 of my weight loss odyssey (see, a different word than the ever-present journey) to a close. This year has gone somewhat differently than I imagined. This time last year, I thought for sure that I would have hit my goal weight by now. I haven't. And you know what? That's okay. It's really, truly okay. It's okay because I am living my life, and that's more important than 20 extra pounds. Sometime in the last year, I have really figured out the space in between all or nothing (shameless title plug). For awhile I beat myself up over not being super hard-core with my work-outs and eating 100% clean, but I eventually came to the realization that I would rather live my life and maybe take longer to finish losing the weight, than push myself to the breaking point getting the weight off and hating my life. I haven't fallen off the metaphorical wagon. In fact, I am driving the wagon. That dang wagon is fully in my control. I exercise a normal amount, and I eat clean 80% or so of the time. I let myself have treats. I let myself enjoy life. And you know what? For me, who has struggled with finding balance and moderation my whole life, that is a bigger win than losing 20 lbs. And though I still struggle to view it this way sometimes, I know in my heart that even maintaining a weight loss of almost 170 lbs like I have is something to be very, very proud of all by itself.

I believe a big reason for my attitude shift is my boyfriend, Brian (who will probably be embarrassed when he reads this, but I won't act like he hasn't played a big role). I've written before in here about my eternal singletude, and my disappointment that weight loss did not automatically translate to success in dating (check out Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I guess my Prince Charming got stuck in a traffic jam). But last August, the impossible actually happened. I started dating Brian, and 10 months later we are still going strong. He's been so supportive of my weight loss efforts, but he also helps me keep a sense of balance (i.e. he calls me out for being crazy when I run 24 miles in a day or run out in the 100 degree heat). But he accepts and loves me just as I am, and what's more is, he accepts and loves who I used to be. I showed him my "before" pictures on our second date, and he wasn't disgusted by them. In fact, he said he wished he had known me then because then he could have been there for my whole transformation. There wasn't really a good way to be like, "Oh hey, by the way, I used to weigh over 300 lbs" but I felt like I needed to tell him because it has played such a huge part in my life and who I have become, that it would have just been weird not to tell him. Brian's kind and loving attitude has helped me be more kind and loving towards myself. So that kind of makes up for the fact that he can regularly eat 2 fast food dinners a night and never gain an ounce (hey, at least I've converted him to drinking water instead of soda!). If only he could let me borrow that superhuman metabolism. Here's a picture of us, because I think we're pretty cute.

Anyway, back to year 3. My year one post was filled with numbers. Pounds, percentages, inches oh my! Year 2 had some of that too, but I also talked about my other accomplishments. For year 3, I feel like I'm able to look past all those numbers and physical accomplishments, and look at the big picture....being happy, healthy, and active. You know, it's funny, but now when I look at my before picture, it almost feels like I'm looking at someone else. That girl is so different in every possible way than I am today. But unlike times past, I don't look at her with despair or regret or disgust. That girl was sad and unhealthy, but she was worthy even then. I look at her with love. While so many things have changed about me, the core of who I am remains the same, be it at over 300 lbs or less than half of that. I'm so glad that I decided the girl I used to be was worth saving. That's why I get annoyed now when people put down their before pictures or someone else's. It takes a lot of courage to change your life, and the person who first decided to do that wasn't the person who is fit and healthy today. It was the overweight person that people feel such disgust about that had the courage to take that very first step.

So as some of you know, I take progress pictures every year. The thought entered my mind that maybe I shouldn't take them this year since I haven't really lost weight. But then I decided that was stupid. I have made immense progress this year, just not in terms of pounds on the scale, and that deserves to be celebrated. So I put on my pretty white dress (a dress I never, ever would have worn at over 300 lbs for fear looking like a gigantic marshmallow), and even got a spray tan (because I rock an extremely severe case of sports bra tan lines and pasty white legs), and I went out to the park that I run in all the time to celebrate all I have been and all that I am (wow, that was super corny, but I'm allowed to get all sentimental and sappy on my anniversary). I decided that I also wanted a gigantic number 3 in my pictures. I stood in Party City yesterday and decided that, yes indeed, I would spend $10 on a huge balloon shaped like a 3. I mean, if all of this hasn't at least merited a gigantic balloon, I don't know what does!

So without further ado, year 3 progress pictures (taken, as all my other progress pictures were, by my mom), both the good and the humorous, because my face in some of these pictures is, well, special. Also. I like to try "interesting" poses, such as the one below that looks like a prom photo of me and an inanimate object. I thought about taking a picture of me wrestling and/or punching the 3, but that was too weird even for me.

Duh, got to have the before picture

 It's our official couple picture...sorry Brian

Really, I just enjoy the unintentional creepy look on my face here.

Home Alone...enough said.

I also enjoy this weird face.

It looks like I'm taking the balloon for a walk.

No, I'm not pretending to be an airplane.

*Gazes meaningfully in the distance*...and when picture isn't taken fast enough, wonders how long she will have to continue to stare meaningfully.


Me and me

You can tell which pictures I actually thought were good because of my lack of snarky comment. But seriously, when I saw these pictures, I thought that I looked beautiful (well, actually in some of them I thought I looked hilarious). But for the most part, beautiful and very, very happy. It kind of bothers me that maybe that seems arrogant, but I know in my heart that it's not. It's not like I go around all the time thinking about how gorgeous I am. For once, I didn't focus on my loose skin and gross arms and crow's feet. and blah, blah, blah. For once, I didn't think how I still kind of look fat. For once, the most kind thought I could muster up about myself wasn't "I look okay" or "I look decent." It was, "I look beautiful."

I was looking back at my anniversary blog posts from year 1 and 2, and I came across this quote that made me tear up. It hits home so much for me that I'll use it again this year too.

Take time to celebrate. Celebrate your successes, your growth, your accomplishments. Celebrate you and who you are. For too long you have been too hard on yourself. You are a child of God. Beautiful, a delight, a joy. You do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything you are not. Your beauty is in you, just as you are each moment. Celebrate that. 

What do I hope for in year 4 (seriously, it really does seem crazy to write that!)? I hope I continue to keep this great sense of balance. I hope I continue to be kind to myself (but also give myself a come to Jesus talk when I need to). I do hope I hit my goal weight, even though that one single number isn't as important as it once was.  I hope I get more and more comfortable with the concept of being perfectly imperfect. For that matter, I hope I get more comfortable with the fact that while losing weight did improve my quality of life exponentially (SAT word!), it didn't suddenly make everything perfect.  And finally, I hope I keep living this amazing life that I could only have imagined and wished for 3 years ago, and never, ever take it for granted. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The siren song of the scale

I'm a week and a half into my no weighing experiment. And while the scale still calls to me with the persistence of a spurned lover (I just wanted an excuse to use the phrase "spurned lover" there really), it's nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. There have been moments where I have freaked out not knowing what I weigh. Then there have been moments where I freaked out because I wasn't freaking out not knowing what I weigh because part of me, however small, still fears going back to that girl who lived in denial about her weight and kept the scale hidden under the sink. And because I'm a little crazy. So basically, yes, there have been some freak-outs for multiple reasons. But here's the thing: they are getting fewer and fewer.

I thought during this experiment that I would be extra careful about what I ate and make sure I got tons of exercise because I would be terrified of gaining weight. But sometimes life gets in the way. For the most part, I have been careful about what I ate. But I made cookies last weekend, and I ate some. Not ALL THE COOKIES, just a normal amount. I've worked out every day, not an increased amount like I intended, but my normal amount. In short, I have lived my life (wow, that sounded more dramatic than I intended). Whether I intended it to or not, my lack of scale has not controlled my life, eating, and exercise habits.

It's been freeing to feel strong and in control of my body, and not have to worry about a number wrecking that feeling. I think it is interesting (and somewhat ironic) to realize that I let my weight control me at over 300 lbs but also at less than half that number, for very different reasons and in very different ways, but yet at both extremes I allowed my weight to control my life. I know now that I am doing what is right for my body, fueling it with the right foods and exercising in a healthy way, and for once, that is truly enough. I am at peace for the most part, whether I lose weight at the end of this or not (but of course, duh, I hope I lose weight lol). While the scale may not reflect my effort, I feel like as I close out my 3rd year, I have fought for and learned some very valuable lessons.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The break-up of my scale and me: It's not you, it's me finally realizing you're terrible for me

I'm breaking up with my scale. The scale and I have a long angst-ridden relationship. You can read about it in Tales from the scale: Confessions of a weigh-in addict and Holding my scale hostage under the bathroom sink. Seriously, you should read them; they're pretty entertaining, if somewhat disturbing, if I do say so myself (and I do). Sometimes it comes as a revelation to me that some, if not most, people can go weeks or months at a time without weighing themselves. The mere thought of going that long without weighing makes me shudder. It also is somewhat of a revelation that most people can step on a scale at any time of the day, after eating drinking, whatever, and not care if they have on a heavy sweater or if they went to the bathroom before or if they have water retention....blah, blah, blah. I put so much thought into it. I'm fed up with it. I'm fed up with me...more specifically how I continue to let the scale dictate how I feel. I can feel fantastic after a week of working out and eating great and all that can vanish with one step on the scale. And on the other hand, I can feel great for losing weight when reating a mere 800 calories a day while running way too much. That's just messed up. I don't want a number to dictate how I feel. I want to decide how I feel. I want to know that I treated my body right, and have that be enough, number on the scale be damned.

With that said, I will not be weighing myself until my 3 year anniversary of when I started all this (still not sure what to call it since it is much more to me than a mere "weight loss" anniversary) on June 26. That's about 3.5 weeks away. This scares me and that is how I know it is exactly what I should be doing. Usually the things that really scare me end up being exactly what is best for me. It's pretty risky too since I am involved in a weight loss competition that also ends on that date. But even if I lose the competition, even if I don't really lose weight (hopefully I don't gain!), I think taking a break from the scale is more important than all that. I think it will help me really realize that that number is just that, a number, and it in no way defines me. It's ironic that I've spent so much of this journey losing weight and having a number define me, as in "I'm Kristen who's lost 168 lbs," only to recognize at the very end that the number is the least important part of it all. I want to be "Kristen who's healthy, fit, and happy."

Friday, May 22, 2015

News flash: Doctors don't know everything

As a nurse, I know that doctors don't know everything more than the general public realizes. Yet, I still managed to make myself believe that when I went to my physical today, my doctor would have a magical answer for my weight loss woes. He didn't. He told me things I've heard a million times before: more strength training (done), more protein (done), more smaller meals (done), different kinds of cardio (done), get more sleep (ummm, not done, but I like my early morning workouts too much to swing this one). The one useful thing he did tell me was that when you've lost as much weight as I have, your biochemistry is permanently altered in a way that is different from "normal" people's, and weight loss becomes much more complicated than calories in/calories out. They don't know why this is, and they have no way to change it. While this is disappointing to say the least, it is at least somewhat of a relief to finally understand more about why I am not losing weight despite burning many more calories than I eat per day. It drove me crazy the way the math just wasn't adding up!

My doctor gave me the speech I've become accustomed to over the past year or so. I hear a version of it from many people, and I always have a mixed reaction to it. He told me I needed to be proud of all that I had accomplished, and be proud of being able to maintain my weight. He said that he doubted 1 out of 1000 of his patients could do what I have done. He said I was very, very, healthy and looked great right now. You're probably thinking, who wouldn't want to hear a speech like that? I mean, it's really flattering! So yeah, part of me likes this speech a lot. But part of me gets frustrated by it. I am well aware that what I have done is pretty darn amazing and I am proud of myself. But me being proud of myself doesn't take away the fact that I know I can accomplish more. It doesn't take away the fact that while I have lost a massive amount of weight, I still have a bit more to lose. It's not like I have body dysmorphia and weigh 100 lbs and think I still look fat. I legitimately still have more weight to lose. But it's like all anyone wants to tell me is how I'm good where I'm at. So yes, that is frustrating. I need someone to help me figure out how to lose this weight without making me feel like I'm being crazy or too extreme for wanting to lose it.

While I'm on the subject of doctors, every time the topic of my weight comes up nowadays at my visit, I am slightly mystified. Because this topic does come up every single visit, even though I haven't dropped any significant weight in nearly a year. Not only do all the doctors in that practice congratulate me for my accomplishment all the time, but they also talk about it to the rest of my family when they come in for a visit! Again, not that it's a bad thing at all; everybody loves compliments! But here's why I get mystified: when I weighed well over 300 lbs, when I had pre-diabetes, joint pain, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea all at age 27, the topic of my weight was never discussed. And I do mean never. I can't recall one instance when it was brought up. We discussed medication and the need for a sleep study, but never the single underlying cause of all of those conditions. And I believe that is inexcusable. I get that it's an uncomfortable topic. It's embarrassing to address for all parties involved. I even get the argument that fat people know they're fat without having a doctor tell them. But you know what? If you have previously diagnosed diabetes and refuse to manage it, you still know you have diabetes without a doctor bringing it up. Same goes for asthma or high blood pressure or any number of conditions. But the difference is, a doctor will always bring up those conditions. Every single time. I find it reprehensible that a condition such as obesity that will substantially reduce life expectancy and life quality is not discussed due to it being uncomfortable. Or maybe just because doctors don't think it will do any good. To that I say, you never know until you try. You never know when a person is at their wit's end and ready to make a change. It baffles me that we are so willing to throw drugs at diseases such as the ones I had when losing even a small percentage of weight usually at least improves or even eliminates them all. I know I personally completely eliminated all of my problems I listed above by the time I had lost about 50 lbs and was still significantly overweight. I know that some conditions do require medications, but many conditions can be treated with simple lifestyle changes. Often these changes are not discussed because it is much easier to write a prescription.

Obesity is a medical condition and it deserves to be treated like one. Its origins are multi-faceted and don't just boil down to "Stop eating crap and get off the couch, you lazy bum!" We need to lose the stigma attached to obesity and start discussing it in a non-judgemental, helpful, and supportive way. And I feel like as someone who has personally experienced obesity and also has experience in the medical field, I am in a perfect position to educate both people having issues with this problem and also their doctors. As is the case in many areas, I think education and compassion go a long way towards solving this problem.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

If you do what you always did, you'll get what you've always gotten

It's confession time. I've always prided myself on being 100% honest (even if it wasn't exactly flattering to me) in this blog, and there is no reason for me to stop now. I've gotten crazy again lately, and seem to have forgotten that this is a way of life, not a diet or a race. I have been undereating (usually only about 800 calories a day) and overtraining (running up to 20 miles a day some days). Then on my treat days, I've been indulging a bit too much because I felt so deprived the rest of the week. In my frustration to lose this last bit of weight, I have adopted an "ends justifies the means" attitude, and it is has not been healthy at all (or for that matter, effective either!). I thought it showed my dedication that I was willing to do whatever it took and make whatever sacrifices that I needed to make. It seemed only logical that the more work and sacrifice I was willing to put in, the better results I would see.

It's the old all or nothing attitude all over again. It will always be a part of me, one that I must guard against. I have not been vigilant about it lately. I thought I could save moderation for when I "finished." But you know, it just doesn't work that way. My stubborn mind insisted that calories in/calories out would prevail and I would lose weight, as I was obviously burning many more calories than I was taking in. I mean, it's basic math, right?!? Part of my brain still insists on believing it, despite the lack of results on the scale. Because even with all that effort, all that sacrifice, I'm not losing weight. And that drives me crazy, and makes me act crazy.

When I push past the stubborn, crazy part of my brain, the rational part of me knows that I have stalled my metabolism. My body thinks it is starving, because with all that exercise and that few calories, for all intents and purposes, it is! And a body that is starving is going to hold onto every spare bit of weight that it can. I've not been being kind to my body at all. I should have been looking at food as fuel, not as the enemy. Instead of making me stronger, my extreme attitude has just made me very tired lately. My knees and hips hurt from all that running, a problem I have not had since I was 300 lbs.

I am ashamed of myself because I know better. What will it take to drive the message in my stubborn head?!? I feel like a hypocrite too because I tell others that it is about making a sustainable lifestyle change, and I haven't been doing that lately. I let myself believe that the end goal was weighing 140 lbs, when the end goal should really be about me being happy and healthy. I mean, does it really count as a victory to be 140 lbs if you mistreat your body to get to that weight? It would be better to be carrying a few extra pounds like I am right now and be doing what is right for my body.

But you know what? Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone gets off track at some point. The important part is recognizing where you've gone wrong and correcting it. After all, isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? So undereating and overtraining isn't cutting it for me. I need to switch things up, and so I've decided to try Chris Powell's carb-cycling methods. As a general rule, I don't like "diets", but this really isn't one. It focuses on clean eating, like I do anyway (when I'm not starving myself, that is), but has you alternate high and low carb days, and have one treat day. I already know that going low carb is effective for me, but I also know that I have an intense love affair with bread, and so swearing off carbs entirely is not realistic (nor healthy) for me. Alternating high and low carb days revs up your metabolism because it doesn't know what to expect.

I felt like Chris Powell was reading my mind as I read his book. He asked if I was undereating. He asked if I was overtraining. He told me that all of this combined to stall my metabolism. Honestly, I already knew I had stalled my metabolism, but it was nice to see it in writing. With his plan, you eat 5 times a day. You can count calories, but you don't have to. You just eat the right portion sizes, using your hand as a guide. On high carb days, you eat a protein and carb at every meal with no fats. On low carb days, you eat a protein and fat and vegetable at every meal, no carbs. And every day, you have a protein and carb at breakfast. I'll admit, this has proven hard for me, because of course I want to know exactly how many carbs I should be eating. As far as calorie counting goes, it is so ingrained in me now, I doubt I could stop if I wanted to.

It's been tough so far to eat so often. I feel like I'm eating so much, but really on low carb days I'm eating around 1200 calories and high carb days I'm eating 1500 calories, just like I'm supposed to. Sometimes it makes me feel panicky to eat that many calories (and yes, I know it's really not a lot!), especially since I haven't weighed in yet, but I know that is just my crazy thinking. But it also makes me feel good to know that I am finally correctly fueling my body again, no matter what that fickle scale may say.

I think I'm also going to scale back on the running, and incorporate other forms of cardio like bike riding and tennis and soccer, as well as strength training. Running is still my favorite, but I also don't really want to need a hip or knee replacement when I'm 50.

I lied to myself lately. I told myself that it didn't matter how I reached my goal, just that I reached it. But it does matter how I reach my final goal. Not just because of my health (though that is very important!), but because of my integrity. Do I really want to know that I lost nearly 200 lbs by doing it the healthy way, except at the very end because I got impatient?  No, I want to finish knowing that it's not about sacrifices or depriving myself, not about driving myself crazy with counting calories and carbs and miles run. It's about living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. It matters how I finish this because it shows who I am and what I stand for.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The hard stuff and the not-so-hard stuff: An eloquent synopsis

I got to thinking the other day about how parts of this whole weight loss thing have gone much differently than I originally thought they would. More specifically, there are parts that are much more effortless than I thought they would be and parts that are much harder. So I thought it might be cool to list them out (mainly because I am a master list maker).

The Effortless (or at least, the way easier than I expected):

  • Giving up fast food: This was a big one. This was a huge one! I used to eat fast food pretty much every day. It didn't much matter where from, as long as it was fried and in a large amount. If you had told me that I would now eat fast food once in a blue moon, I would have thought you were crazy. That it just couldn't be done. But the thing is, when I splurge now, I don't want it to be on cheap junk. I want it to be something I really want, not just something that's convenient. 
  • Giving up soda: This was another daily occurrence. Granted, I exclusively drank diet soda, but that is still far from healthy. I pretty much just drink water and sugar free grape kool-aid now, and it wasn't even that hard to switch. I used to let myself have diet soda as a little treat in the beginning of my journey, but now it really bloats me, so I tend to stay away because bloating does not count as a treat. It was actually kind of an eye-opener the other day to how little I actually do drink soda now when I ordered Diet Pepsi at a restaurant and my boyfriend Brian looked at me like I had suddenly grown 3 heads. It's that unusual an occurrence.
  • Exercising (running in particular!): This part was not effortless at first. There is no way it can ever be physically effortless for someone over 300 lbs to do any sort of exercise. And running now is not physically effortless for me, nor should it be. I push myself to be better everyday. But what I mean is, the habit of exercise is now effortless for me. It's not a daily battle whether I am going to work out or not, because of course I will. And that takes a lot of stress away. 
  • Eating healthy: This falls under the category of "way easier than I expected." It's not effortless. I still crave cheeseburgers at times. And I still eat cheeseburgers at times. But eating healthy is far from the carrots and celery drudgery than many people think it is. There are truly delicious healthy recipes out there, and it has been really fun for me to learn how to make things and make healthy (and painless) swaps. 
I'm glad these major issues have been easier than expected, but there are some parts that have been harder than I expected too. They're mostly emotional issues that, like many people, I just assumed would be solved when I dropped the weight. It's so easy to believe that life will be perfect when you are thinner. I think that's actually one of the reasons many people keep the weight on, even if it's just subconsciously. It's easier to stomach having a life you don't like very much if you have a reason for it, a reason that theoretically, you can change. It's comforting in a way to think that maybe life isn't great now, but that's only because you're fat, and once you aren't fat, life will be great. It doesn't work like that. Many things are better in my life now that I have lost weight, but the majority of those things are better because I did some inner work in addition the outer work. But things still aren't perfect and never will be. So here are some things that are still hard for me.

The Hard Stuff:

  • Body image: Granted, I feel better about how I look than when I weighed over 300 lbs. I even feel like I look pretty good when I have clothes on. But when I don't have clothes on, it is still hard for me to see anything besides the imperfections. I see the skin losing all that weight leaves behind. I see the floppy arms. I see the stretch marks. I see the thick thighs. I see other people who have lost weight embracing these things as a part of their journey, and while I greatly admire them, it remains hard for me to see them as anything other than flaws in myself. It may even be a little harder for me now that I am so close to my goal weight, because I recognize that there is not enough weight left to lose for there to be some kind of miraculous transformation. This is how I am going to look now. And I wish I could look in the mirror with no clothes on and not immediately have that inner critic bashing every body part. 
  • Emotional eating: This one is tricky. I've had so many people ask me how I overcame emotional eating. The truth is, I didn't. I don't believe anyone completely overcomes emotional eating. It's something you learn to deal with. It's something you learn to recognize as a part of yourself. For a long time, it was something I was ashamed of, something I did feel like I needed to overcome. I felt ashamed and like a fraud, when even after losing a lot of weight, sometimes my first impulse when I was upset was to eat. But now, I get a lot more peace by acknowledging that emotional eating will always be something I am prone to, always something I need to remain aware of. I still have days when my first impulse is to eat my feelings away. There are some days when I do exactly that. But there are many more days when I acknowledge what is happening and that I am not actually hungry, and usually go for a run instead. But the fact remains that emotional eating is not something in my past that I don't have to deal with anymore. It is still a battle for me. 
  • Clothes shopping: Weird one, right? I mean, who wouldn't want to go shopping after losing weight?!? This has actually started to get a lot easier for me lately, but it's still something I didn't anticipate would be difficult at all. The thing is, for a long time it was practically impossible for me to choose the correct size. I would always get at least 2 sizes bigger than I actually was, simply because that is how I saw my body. So it took forever to shop. I don't know what it was, but I think it was mainly stemming from a fear of trying on clothes and having them be too small. Because when I was at my heaviest, when I tried on something too small, it wasn't a matter of just getting the next size up, because there was no next size up. I was just out of luck. So when I lost weight, it just seemed safer to always try on clothes that I didn't think would be too small, even though it wouldn't be the end of the world now to go up a size. Recently, I have begun fitting into size small tops. This has never happened to me before, and of course the first time it happened, I just said this brand must run really big. But after trying on many brands and having quite a few smalls fit me, even I can acknowledge that I really am a small/medium size now. I've been doing better about not stressing about sizes so much, and I think that has allowed me to start picking out my actual size clothes without the whole 2 sizes bigger thing. Also, a side note about clothes shopping: While it is fun to get new clothes, when you're losing 170 lbs, it isn't quite so fun to have to buy boring basic things like jeans multiple times and hardly get any wear out of them before you go to the next size. Plus, it's expensive!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Repeat to self: I am NOT a Mayan sun priestess

We haven't had any running adventure stories in here lately, so I felt like it was about time. Luckily, fate provided me with a fantastic story filled with adventure, danger, humor, and of course a stunningly beautiful heroine (wait, strike that last part).  It just doesn't get any better than this, folks. Well, actually it most likely does get better than this, but as I appear to have a knack for turning my misadventures into humorous anecdotes (if I do say so myself), I'll tell the story anyway.

I spent Sunday night at my boyfriend Brian's apartment, and since I had taken a rest day from running Sunday, I needed to run Monday morning. So Brian showed me a 3.5 mile route I could take around the university right near him. It seemed simple enough, just follow the sidewalk he said. He gave me his key so I could lock up in the morning and be able to get back in upon my return. I promised to try to not wake him up. Actually, I said I would be "stealthy." As anyone who knows me can tell you, this was a foolish promise, as I have a clumsy streak approximately a mile wide. We go to sleep. Here is what follows the next day:

  • I wake up at 3:20 am. I intensely dislike setting an alarm for 4:30 in the morning just because it alarms me to even acknowledge that time exists, so my rule of thumb is that if I wake up any time after 3 am, I get up and run then. I always seem to wake up sometime between 3 and 5 without fail. I immediately break my promise of being stealthy by fumbling around in the dark and having to turn on a light so I can put in my contacts. My early morning brain forgets to bring my phone. This is a problem later (foreshadowing!).
  • I have extreme difficulty locking the door. Enough difficulty that Brian hears and has to lock the door for me. Although, to be fair, he maybe should have told me that his lock was "tricky" (his words) the night before. My promise of early morning stealthiness is officially shattered. 
  • I finally start my run. I feel pretty safe, as the path is well lit and easy to follow. I thought maybe there would be fellow runners, but it's a little early for that. I finish the 3.5 miles at about my regular pace (at least, I think I did, as my phone is back at the apartment).
  • And here's where things get dicey. On my first loop, I noticed a blacktop trail that seemed to follow an even wider loop around the university. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to follow this trail on my second loop. This was a poor idea.
  • Things go fine until I realize I am actually well behind the university, in a poorly lit wooded area. At some point, I become surrounded by woods on both sides. I am sure during the day this trail is very picturesque and beautiful, but right then the only thought I could conjure up was that this is how people end up murdered, mugged, and/or raped. And also, why didn't I bring my pepper spray?!? Naturally, this thought compels me to run faster.
  • Eventually, the blacktop trail ends. As in, just stops. Not loops back around the university. I am now in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood. This situation is not ideal. The thought crosses my mind that I could just backtrack, but I have no desire to go through the sketchy forest again. 
  • I decide to use my frighteningly accurate sense of direction to try to run in the general direction of Brian's apartment. I use the term "frighteningly accurate sense of direction" in as ironic a way as it can be used, as my sense of direction is so poor that it is frequently mocked by friends and foe alike. I often actually get lost trying to navigate office buildings. 
  • I quickly lose track of which way I have turned, as I run through what seems like endless neighborhoods. In a moment of what I can only suppose was delirium, I decide that if worst comes to worst, I can wait till the sun rises and use it to navigate my way back. Like I could seriously do that? Did I think I was some Mayan sun priestess or something?!?
  • As I run, I contemplate the simple fact that this whole situation could have been avoided if I just had my phone with me. Directionally challenged though I am, even I am capable of following GPS directions. 
  • I turn into a wealthy-looking subdivision. This does not seem to be leading to a main road. I turn back around to the road before the subdivision. At this point, the Melissa Etheridge song "I Run for Life" comes on my iPod. I am not yet at so melodramatic a point that I believe I run for life, but at this point I do believe I may run for my sanity. Because seriously, at this point I am running just to try to reach some kind of road I recognize before I go crazy. I do not care where this road is at or how far it is from Brian's apartment, just that I recognize the road. 
  • I eventually exercise a modicum of good sense and decide to listen for road sounds and look for bright lights in my quest to find a main road. This is an infinitely better idea than my sun navigation idea. 
  • At last! Salvation in the form of a road I recognize. I am not sure exactly where it leads, but I do know the name. I run on this road for awhile until up ahead I see what appears to be a traffic light, Is it a mirage? I hope not, as this could indicate extreme mental illness since mirages are not as common in the suburbs as in the desert. 
  • It's a main road I recognize!! I am a bit farther away from Brian's apartment than I thought, but I know how to get back. Along the way, I gain a second wind. I feel like I could run for days! Either it was a second wind or I was just that relieved to know where I was. 
  • Of course the door won't unlock and Brian has to open it, apparently deciding there was a better chance that it was me back from my run than it being a crazed killer with extremely bad lock-picking skills. While I was pumped up back from my crazy misadventure, Brian simply looked like a man that had now been woken up twice by his crazy, running-obsessed girlfriend and just wanted to go back to sleep. Because it was only 5:30 in the morning by this time. What felt like days running in the wilderness of the suburbs was a mere 2 hours. My story could wait till later.
When we woke up again at a later hour that normal people arise from slumber at, Brian was much more interested in my story and thought we should try to retrace my steps to see where I had ended up and how many miles I had covered. I couldn't remember some of the street names, but we eventually figured out my route, and Brian seemed to enjoy pointing out the spots where I could have easily run back to his apartment. I ran a total of about 9.2 miles or perhaps a bit more since I did backtrack at some places. So my pace was 3 or 4 minutes slower than usual, which didn't surprise me as I had walked some stretches trying to figure out where I was at. But I did run more than a mile more than normal, so that was a win. 

In conclusion, I can be a directionally-challenged spaz at times, but I am at least entertaining.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A foray into my psyche: Buckle up, it's a wild ride!

Wow, I just realized it's been over a month since I posted! That's the slackest I have ever been. I'll chalk it up to the combo of being busy, it being winter when I seem to lose any motivation to do anything, and just pure laziness. Just as a warning, this post may be kind of spastic because I have a lot of thoughts in my head. Also, it may include me arguing with myself, mainly because I still haven't worked out how I feel about some stuff.

I'm not going to lie, it's been a tough winter. It's maddening the way I'll gain and lose the same couple pounds. But I also know I haven't been pushing myself the way I know I'll have to in order to lose the last 18 lbs. And there have been a few too many treats sprinkled in here and there. Sometimes I get angry at myself for being a slacker. But, I had a light bulb moment the other day when I realized my definition of "slack" may be slightly off. Because I have gotten to the point where I feel like I'm being a slacker if I run any less than 8 miles a day. I have to admit, I am slightly proud of this (who wouldn't be after sitting on the couch 24/7 in my previous life?) , but I also recognize I need to be okay with running 2 or 3 miles too and not feel guilty about it.

At times I feel like a fraud, like who I am to be masquerading around as a "success story" when I have days where I just don't feel like working out? Days where I choose to eat cake instead of an apple. Days where I don't feel like much an inspiration to anyone, least of all to myself. But you know what the truth is? What I have described is part of the definition of a success story. Somebody who isn't perfect. Somebody who has moments where a cheeseburger sounds a whole hell of a lot better than chicken. Somebody who doesn't rise to the occasion every time. Sounds weird, huh? But I believe that a weight loss success story involves someone who is truly living their life. Life isn't perfect. But having success is about having the strength to get up when you've fallen down and giving it another try. It's about having mainly good days, but not beating yourself up when your days aren't so great. When I first started losing weight, I was super strict. My life was losing weight.  Really, with the amount of weight I needed to lose, my life needed to be all about losing weight. And I was very good at it, if I do say so myself. My life now doesn't revolve around losing weight. I still count my calories, I still run 6 days a week, I still weigh every Wednesday, but I'm not obsessed with it like I was. And I think that is much healthier in the long run. Because what is the point of losing all the weight if you can't even enjoy it? Where is the victory in that?

I'm so close to my goal, and I just can't seem to get there. But then sometimes that little voice of reason in the back of my head (and sometimes, depending on my state of mind, the voice of excuses) tells me that I have no reason to be ashamed. I have kept off 170 lbs for over 2.5 years now. If I'm honest, that's a pretty awesome accomplishment. It certainly is something I have never even come close to accomplishing before. I often forget that maintenance in and of itself is an achievement.

Speaking of goals, I think sometimes (like we are all guilty of at times) I do get too focused on that one magic number on the scale. When I see I have not yet hit it, I feel like a failure. But really, isn't my goal more than just a number? My main goal is and has always been to be healthy, happy, and able to live my life. I am all those things now. That is a goal I have achieved, one that I take for granted too much, considering that 3 years ago at 328 lbs, being healthy, happy, and able to live my life seemed like a very distant dream. Whether I'm 158 lbs like I am now or 140 lbs like my final goal, I doubt that 18 lbs will make that much difference in my quality of life.

I decided I needed to have an honest talk with myself in order to figure out where to go from here. I needed to figure out why I want to lose these 18 lbs. Is it because I want to weigh an arbitrary "acceptable" number? Because if that were the case, according to the BMI charts, I need to weigh 105 lbs. And that's how I know BMI charts are crap because I would be sick if I weighed 105 lbs. I wouldn't have any muscle left. I think I would have to starve myself to get there. So no, I reject the notion of weighing a certain amount just because I am told that is what I should weigh by somebody who doesn't even know me or my body. Everyone is different. Everyone's bodies are different. 140 lbs is what my doctor, a trainer, and my nutrionist all agreed was a healthy number for me. And being honest with myself, there are some areas I do want to see improvement in. Most of the time, I know I look "normal" now (whatever that is). But there are some jiggly bits where I want to see less jiggle. I think losing 18 lbs will help that. It's vanity weight, as I don't think losing that 18 lbs will really improve my health all that much. My health is pretty great as I am right now.

I've never been in the position of just having vanity weight to lose. I've heard it's the hardest to lose because your body wants to hang onto it just in case of an impending famine (which is pretty unlikely with a fast food joint on every corner). So like I said earlier, I have to be super hard core to lose this weight. But I also recognize that could be dangerous territory for me and my all or nothing personality. This is the part where I argue with myself. I am fully aware that in the past, it was all too easy for me to get too crazy and extreme, to the point where I burnt out and then went in the complete opposite couch potato direction. I can't afford to let that happen. So the million dollar question is, have I reigned in that part of my personality enough to be able to have a period of really buckling down without being crazy extreme and overdoing it?

I believe that I have changed enough mentally to be able to safely do this. I just have to be honest with myself and listen to my body. I want to reach my goal. Yes, I know that goal isn't primarily a number. That number, that 140 lbs, may change. Maybe my body will be happy at 145 lbs. Maybe it will be happy at 135 lbs. I just want a number I am happy with that I don't have to kill myself to maintain. But mainly, I want to reach that number goal to say that I finished what I started. That I weigh this number not because it was too hard for me to go any further (which would be the case if I stopped now), but because this is my ideal weight. To be able to say, this is what I set out to do, and I did it. Not that this is what I set out to do, and I stopped at the 5 yard line because I was pretty okay with where I was at and didn't feel like putting in the effort required to finish.

I hope you enjoyed your foray into my psyche. It can get a little wild in there sometimes! Stay tuned for much more regular posts.