So this morning was a bit historic, in my personal weight loss journey: I weighed in at 169.4 lbs. While this would horrify some, it thrills me. I’ve not seen the 160s since early 2007 – six years ago. For the past six years, I’ve weighed over 165 lbs. I do remember thinking that it was where my body just settled, at its own “happy” weight: no matter what I did, it would always bounce back to that number.
However, to stay under that “happy” weight, I was starving myself. And restricting food. And exercising obsessively. Then binging, sometimes purging, and starting the whole process over again. I was obsessed with calories in vs. calories burned, not in the good way. I felt actual pride knowing that I hadn’t consumed food for days. It made me feel strong. I felt smugness towards others who “caved” and ate. Basically, I saw eating as a weakness.
Obviously, it’s not possible to maintain those sorts of habits – at least, it wasn’t for me. And I’m thankful for that, because I have no idea what sort of damage I was doing to my body. I was never very “good” at being consistent with whatever kind of disordered eating I was doing at the time. Who knows what kind of strain that was putting on my systems, the very systems that were keeping me alive, the systems that I purposely deprived of fuel.
I wanted a quick fix, and what faster way to lose weight than to simply remove “food in” part of the equation? To me, it was the only way to do it. Nothing else ever worked. In reality, I had never given anything a chance to work. If I hadn’t lost five pounds in a week, obviously it was impossible for me to lose weight at all, so I would give up. Never mind that I knew nothing about basic nutrition – it was all about calories and nothing else.
Over the years I drifted away from fasting and hit the total opposite end of the spectrum: overeating daily. So many poor choices in food, but I kept doing it. Along with it came debilitating depression – I was unable to do anything but go to work and overeat on the couch, alone, before going to sleep before 7pm. This introduced a new idea: which antidepressant could I get on to suppress my appetite? Even in my recovery attempts, I was still obsessed with food and how not to eat it.
This dynamic left me exhausted emotionally and physically. The way I felt about food and its direct relation to my body was literally all I could think about. When I walked to work, I was sure everyone was staring at me with pity and disgust. “Look how out of control she is,” I imagined people thinking. “She shouldn’t be out here.” I cringed every time I caught my reflection in a window. I hated sitting in an open area at work, or worse yet, in a meeting room, because how was I going to hide my stomach rolling over the waistband of my pants?
It took a long time for me to figure out that really, no one cared about my appearance. “No one is thinking about you – they’re thinking about themselves, just like you.” It also took me a long time to understand that I had to want something badly enough to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve what I wanted. I wasn’t going to reach my goal weight by eating Chipotle every night and then crying into my empty burrito bowl.
It took a therapist and the Couch to 5k program to help me understand how to fuel my body properly for what I wanted it to do. I learned how to recreate healthy versions of some of my favorite “bad” meals, and I began to look forward to being able to run for minutes at a time. My mood lifted, and I felt pride for reasons far better than starving myself. I was ready to end the cycle and stop abusing food.
My weight loss gradually ended after losing 20 pounds, when I began distance running. I felt justified in eating more than the average person, because I was running a lot of miles. However, I was still overeating, despite the mileage. My body makeup definitely changed, but I still had (have) a lot of fat to remove. After two years of the scale number bouncing between 175-185, and learning of a friend’s wild success on Weight Watchers, I decided to give it a try in August 2012.
As I’ve always done, I tried it out and was obsessed with it for a few weeks, then forgot about it. One of the big factors was the massive point values of some of my favorite healthy foods which seemed vital for running. Peanut butter, rice, oatmeal – all high in necessary carbohydrates, but also high in points. I hated to see that my daily points used were double my daily allotment. I decided I wouldn’t try to lose weight while marathon training – it would be impossible, I reasoned.
With my whole punch this year in the face goal, I’ve decided that I would try losing weight whilst training for the 2013 Pittsburgh marathon. Obviously it’s only three weeks into the new year, but I’ve been on plan (training & eating) the whole time. To see it working is so encouraging, and I’m going to stick with it. Unless I feel adverse effects on my training, I’ll be on plan until I reach my goal weight of 135-140 lbs. This time is going to pass anyway, and to be honest, I keep signing up for marathons. When else will I do this?
I did a lot of things wrong last year, and I want to do those things right this year. I want to have positive experiences, and I want to put the proper work in to ensure that the experiences will be positive. I want to line up on race day knowing that I did everything I possibly could to prepare myself for victory.