I will start here, I have been overweight my entire life. Well, maybe I was ok before the second grade, but after that it was all down hill. It never really effected me in a social way, I guess. I was (and am) pretty outgoing. I don't remember anyone ever teasing me (to my face anyway). I went to a private school through the 8th grade and we were a pretty close knit group of girls, so I know that helped. That group of girls really shaped my perception of myself in a positive way. I never felt left out or ostracized for my weight. I did that to myself. To this day, I am friends with most of the girls from grade school. High school was a different story. We moved into the public school system and things changed. I still had my core group of friends, but I could feel the judgements that go along with High School and the pressures to 'fit in' and be 'perfect'. I wish I could go back and tell my Freshman Self that all those 'perfect' girls have self image issues,too. I remember getting my learners' permit when I was 14. I lied about about my weight, because I didn't want my permit to say that I weighed 212 lbs. I remember the number as clearly as if it was yesterday. And I also lied about my weight when I was 16. I don't have a clue what I was at at that point but the fake number was 220, so more than that. At 16. Still, I never felt badly about myself. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with MS that I began to feel like something was wrong with me. Not because i was heavy, but because I was sick. My senior year of high school brought me Matthew. He saved me in more ways than one. He accepted me and loved me despite everything... He never saw the weight, he saw me. Even now when we were looking at older pictures to put in this post, he said to me "Baby, I don't remember you being that big. I just didn't see it." All he knew was that I wasn't happy. To say that, at 286 lbs, I was not happy was an understatement.
Things started to fall apart around 2006. A bad string of things happened, and I just kept falling deeper and deeper. The farther I fell, the more I ate. I tried to eat away the things that happened. I tried to hide behind the food, but when the food was gone, the problems were still there. I would eat more because I felt so bad about eating. It was a cycle I couldn't pull myself out of. It started effecting every aspect of my life. I was tired all the time. All I wanted to do was sleep. I pulled away from Matthew because I was so disgusted with myself. How could he love me? How could he find me attractive? When he would tell me that he did, I would laugh and tell him that he didn't. How many times could I argue with him before he would stop telling me that... I cant give you an EXACT number of times, but it took about 9 years....
I had hit rock bottom in almost every aspect of my life. My one shining star throughout all of the darkness was Hayden. I knew that I had to make a change. For him. For my marriage, but more than those things, for myself. I knew I couldn't continue on like I had been, but I didn't know where to start. And like a sign for the heavens, I got an email from my sister, offering to buy me a BodyBugg. It was my start, it was the catalyst I needed to begin a change I so desprately wanted (and needed!) We all have that moment when we make the conscious, and finite decision to change our lives, and this was my moment. I knew that if I took her up on her offer then I would make it work, and in those moments, in the beginning, when I had given up before, I remembered how much money she had spent to help me, and I kept on going.
With my BodyBugg program, I was able to track all my calories: in and out. I bought a stationary bike and worked out in my basement and I started walking. I started making better choices. I cooked meals instead of eating out. I cut out pop, candy and mindless munching. When I eat, I eat with a purpose as fuel for my body. Soon I started losing weight. 37 weeks after I started my BodyBugg program, I have lost 73 pounds. I am so close to crossing over into the 100s which is a place I haven't been in more than a decade, and that is saying something when you are only 28.
Here are some things I have learned along the way:
You don't have to hate exercise. There are SO MANY different ways to get up and move, there IS one out there that you will enjoy. Try walking, biking, dancing, swimming, tennis, ping pong... the key is to get up and MOVE. Nothing will change if you just keep doing the exact same thing. If you don't like one thing, try something new. You may be surprised at what you enjoy. I NEVER thought I would be a runner, but I recently finished my third 5K race and am looking forward to 2011 because it will be my Year of Racing.
Logging your Food makes ALL the difference! Don't try to guess your portions. We live in a land of Super Sizing (our food and our waistlines). When I first started, I logged EVERYTHING I ate, even gum. As the months went on, I became lazy about logging my food and the scale slowed to a crawl. I wasn't losing what I wanted to, but I was exercising more. It all comes down to food. Keep your food log!
Your body will do what you tell it to, even if you don't think you can. Sometimes it is sheer will that keeps us going. Our body isn't the one in control of you. You control your body. Even when you think you can't run one more minute or do one more rep... you can, and you will if you tell your body to do it! Believe that you can. Your body is an amazing thing if you take care of it.
Listen to your body too! On the opposite side of the coin, your body will tell you when it is enough. Don't push it so far that you hurt yourself. If you are used to walking, and you want to push it and start running, start slow. This applies to all aspects of the journey.
Small changes over time are more effective. Starting small and easing into the lifestyle changes you want to make, will be more likely to stick than changing everything at once and becoming overwhelmed. Start small like just adding more water, or adding 10 minutes of exercise. Build on those small changes and make a foundation for good health.
Don't be afraid of slip ups, Be afraid of quitting. The only failure occurs when you stop trying. Don't berate yourself because you had a cookie (or 4). It happens. Tomorrow is a new day. Don't give up, just learn from it, and move forward. Why did you eat the cookie? Were you bored? Stressed? Examine the trigger so that next time you can be more prepared to resist giving in.
You don't have to give up your favorite foods. Simply enjoy a little less of it. I could easily sit down and eat 5 pieces of taco pizza and a carton of Hagen Daas Coffee ice cream for supper and not bat an eye, but are 5 pieces really better than one? Nope, cuz there is guilt attached to 5. I will still have the occasional slice of pizza, but I find that I enjoy it more now, because it is a special treat, than simply something I stuffed down my throat.
Calories should be spent wisely. Use them like money. Is that food worth spending 300 of my calories on it? Not usually. By asking myself this question, I have found that while I eat LESS food now, the quality is so much higher! If I am going to use my calories on something, i want it to be worth it! I would much rather spend 400 calories on a piece of Maple glazed salmon, grilled zucchini kabobs and garlic red skin potatoes than on a single piece of taco pizza. And guess what, sometimes that piece of cheesecake IS worth the extra workout you have to do!
Its all about starting. You don't have to be first. You don't have to be perfect. The important thing is that you are out there DOING it. You are out there moving. It is the same philosophy that I apply to my races. I am not the fastest runner. I may have to crawl across the finish line, but I WILL finish. My time isn't important. I like to know it, but whether its a personal best or my slowest time, it doesn't matter to me. It is about being out there, running for me. Pushing myself farther than I thought I could go. It is about taking that first step and starting on your journey. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to lose the weight the fastest. You just have to keep going. Go farther than you think you can go. Push your preset boundries and see how how you can go. You may be surprised at what you can do.
I hope that by sharing the things I have learned, you can take a moment to reflect on your own journey to good health. Look at the differences (no matter how small they may appear to be) in yourself from the beginning of your journey to now... those small differences will begin to add up and start forming the new, healthier you. Use those lessons and work towards your goals! Sometimes we have to pause to reflect and reevaluate. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that Food Logs work, Water is an invaluable tool, and trying something new WON'T kill us (unless your something new is skydiving w/o a parachute [which I DO NOT endorse]).
Did losing 70 pounds fix all my problems? Not by a long shot, but in order to get to the root of my eating, I had to take an HONEST look at why I was using food to hide my feelings. I have had to learn to love myself, respect myself, and know that I am worth all of the sweat, sore muscles, and tears. I am not 100% there yet, but I am a work in progress. I can appreciate my strength, and admit my weaknesses. I have found healthier ways to deal with my stress (Hello, Zumba!) and I was forced to examine the real problems in my marriage. I have never felt better. I can't remember the last time I was this happy. My marriage is better than it has been in the last 10 years that we have been together. Did losing 70 pounds do all of that? No. Weight loss isn't the magic bullet that makes all of your problems disappear, but I believe that when you start putting in real, honest effort in improving your health, it forces you to confront the other things in your life as well, and in doing that, you can heal the wounds, fix the problems and move forward as a happier person. At least, that is what I have experienced. Every one's journey is different. I had to admit that I didn't think that I was worthy of love. I had to face those demons, reopen those wounds and figure out WHY I felt this way about myself. It was hard, to say the least, but I did it. Some days those feelings return, but I am more capable of dealing with those raw emotions now. I find that if I deal with the emotions and not try to bury them in a pint of ice cream, then I feel better about myself. Don't look for weight loss to be your magic bullet, but use the process to examine what it is the brought you to this point and where you want to go from here.
My hope is that I will shed the last 40 lbs. I want to become stronger runner. I want to do a Half Marathon. I want to pass on healthy habits and attitudes to my son. I have an amazing little boy and I want to be around to see the fantastic things that he is going to do in his life.