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."