Tuesday, February 01, 2011
I tried on off for 14 years to lose weight. I failed time and time again. Tried every single diet known to man other than pills and surgeries. When a doctor who had never even looked at me suggested I get bariatric surgery to my horror and the horror of his nurse, I gave up on the medical profession. After he left she looked at me and said "honey, you do not need surgery. You are young and have no health problems. You can do this and not have all the side effects and complications of a surgery like that." I still am grateful to her for looking beyond the formulas of Western medicine and caring about me as a human being.
This experience made me keep searching for the answers. I never fully in my heart believed I was destined to be fat for life. There had to be an answer, an aha moment, when I would find what clicked for me. Intellectually I did not want to accept defeat and believe I could not overcome this and be free. The addiction kept sucking me back in and with every failure I sunk deeper into depression.
The thing is about weight loss. The more you fail, the harder it is to try again. Here is why...
This is ALL a mental game. A very small percentage of people have a true medical reason they can not lose weight. It is easy to try and believe you are one of those people but the chances are very slim. Who doesn't want to believe that they aren't the reason for their own misery?
My truth is I felt so badly about myself by the time I reached 345 lbs that I had no hope left. I didn't even bother to try and lose weight because I didn't even believe I could do it anymore. That fire inside me had slowly suffocated and I buried it under excuses and lies to myself for years. Then one day there was a spark again and I knew if I let it die that I would end up like my aunt, 600 lbs, almost a shut in and I could not spend my life that way. As my fiancÚ and I built our life together and started dreaming about kids I knew that I could not sustain a healthy pregnancy at the weight I was at. One thing I haven't shared is I have a medical background and a BS in pre-med as well as grad work in nutrition. Ironic right. I knew the risks, I knew what would happen if I got pregnant. I had to make a choice. Love myself, love my fiancÚ and desire this life or let him go to live the life he wanted and I would eat myself to death. It sounds rather dramatic but I don't sugar coat things. It is the reality.
One day, I chose me and our life together and I started fighting my own negativity. I never drew a mark in the sand and said "I am on a diet". I just put the knowledge I already had into practice. I went to the gym with my mom once a week. She was already a trainer at that point so she created a program for me and I felt confident standing next to her that people wouldn't tease me. The first time I got on the stepper it sank to the floor and I couldn't make it move. I was sad but not defeated. Every single time I got on it and tried and the first time I could even get it going was a victory.
I started making better choices food wise. If you don't get the emails from "Eat this, not that" I highly suggest you check it out. I never weighed myself I just made better choices. No more heavy snacks on the couch, I had pickles. No more endless margarita's. I have maybe a glass of wine or 2 on the weekends but the days of high calorie cocktails are over. I thought about what I put in my body. The whole time battling the voice that said I couldn't do it and telling it to shut up.
I went to a doctor's appointment for something not weight related and again the doctor brought up my weight. I replied, "well I have been eating really well and exercising. I know I have lost weight but I don't know how much or even what I weigh." She looked at my chart and said "well you were 345 when you were here last year and so you have lost 35 lbs". Her face lit up and she said "that is amazing, keep it up". I was excited to learn I had lost so much and wasn't even aware of it. However, I was deeply ashamed I had gotten so high and didn't even know it.
I joined Spark a few months later when I hit a plateau and lost another 45+ lbs. I have always had all the tools and information I needed inside me. What I needed was the confidence and desire to implement them. I had to love myself enough to keep fighting like I am now. To choose me and my future over a donut or a piece of cake.
So I say to you, all of you. Whom are such a huge part of why I am able to stay sane and focused. This is mostly a mental game and you are fighting against yourself. You have to dig down deep and find it within you to keep going. You are worth it and you can do this. It is a choice, a choice to live. A choice to be free. To choose you.
Friday, January 28, 2011
It really isn't much simpler that that statement. I want to be strong, focused, confident, athletic, toned and healthy. Focusing on the negative things you don't like is easy but to put into words WHY you want to lose weight and get healthy is harder. There is no magic place that will make you happy. I talk to so many people who believe weight is the only reason they are miserable, have few friends, no love life but I see many overweight people in happy love matches so that can't be true. Being happy is something inside you that you have to find. A boyfriend can't give you self esteem. Believe me, I tried that. It doesn't work. Self acceptance is when you stop looking at all the things you dislike about yourself and it spurs you to change them. To make yourself better. When I complete a work out or eat foods that are good for me. That is what makes me feel good about me. That I set a plan in motion and I executed it. Plain and simple. Do I have to be perfect? NO. But if I gave it my all and worked really hard than I can never fail. Lying to myself about why I overeat and skipped a workout. That is what chips away at self esteem. Because it is that simple. It is a lie and you know it is a lie and it makes you feel bad. You let down yourself and you let down people in your life that try and support you. I don't believe in "cheat days" because that implies that foods are intrinsically bad and something that you have to sneak around to enjoy. That idea couldn't be farther from the truth. When you work hard and take care of yourself planned indulgences are a healthy part of life. I don't want to live in a world without some chocolate goodies in it now and then.
Sitting down and taking an honest look at myself was the hardest part of this entire process. It is painful to admit sometimes ways that you behave are less than flattering. Hiding and sneaking food creates shame and embarrassment. It is one of the big reasons I was unsuccessful in the past. I was unwilling to look at the emotional root of why I had those behaviors. My mother worked 3 jobs when I was a kid and so I took care of my brother and myself. Being so young I just fed us whatever we liked without true regard for balance or nutrition. The more we were alone the more we would eat out of control. It became comfort. When she was home she cooked healthy meals and I can remember her asking my father what he fed us for dinner and he didn't even know what we ate. Most of it came out of a box or the freezer.
The person I want to be now is someone who eats and enjoys food for its value. Who doesn't eat away emotions but process them in a healthy way. A person who finds pleasure in a good workout and being active for the joy I get, not because I see it as a way to be thin. To have a body that is strong and healthy and have that be my ultimate goal rather than just a specific number or pants size. To be able to look in the mirror and not just be pleased with my aesthetics but also RESPECT the person who looks back at me.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I have been feeling badly about being stuck at this weight for awhile. When you are stagnant you start to find your flaws again and the negative self talk starts to creep into your psyche. At the beginning of SP I was losing weight so quickly that each and every day was a new discovery for me. I still remember feeling my hip bone sticking out and panicking because I thought it was a lump. The joy of seeing my rib cage again, the loss of my double chin, collar bones. Each and every NS victory kept me going. Then it stopped. I started to notice how saggy this place was and how my saddle bags looked more pronounced. Blah blah. I am not going to go there and list all of neurosis because that is giving them power. You get my point.
Sunday I made my triumphant return to the gym and the elliptical queen has retaken her thrown. I added back in my abs and back routine and it is funny but I SWEAR I already look like I lost a size. When you combine the clean eating with the working out. I look smokin and skinny. In fact, a guy at work today told he was surprised I drink so much water. I said "well I used to be really fat and this is part of how I am not now" (there is no sugar coating in Ashley's world) He looked shocked and said "but you are so skinny now I can't believe it." Honestly, I wanted to kiss him right there. He used the S word.
It got me thinking about the old me. The person who got winded at the mall. Couldn't even walk up the stairs to my apartment. Who could barely sleep at night I was in so much pain. I forgot her to cope but I need to remember her a little so I can be proud of myself for how far I have come. I barely look at before pics these days and I need to sometimes. I showed a few people at work and they couldn't believe it was me. It isn't just how different I was on the outside but for me it is how I have changed on the inside. Loving myself, is the most valuable thing I have ever learned and it is how I am successful. So, I say to all of you. When the going gets tough, and it will, remember how far you have come and how you are never going back. This life is too awesome to give up. My goal is so close. I am almost half way there!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Today was the day I broke my exercise drought. FINALLY. I talked about it on here, I talked about it at home. Last night I was talking about it again and my fiancÚ stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes and said "Honey, enough, you can do this. Stop telling yourself you can't because we both know you can. Now do it." He is not usually this verbal. Generally he is a pretty quiet guy and the directness and frankness of his words surprised and quite honestly impressed me. He is right. Enough excuses, just go. So this afternoon I packed my gym bag and drove him to work and then headed off to the gym. I managed to get myself so worked up I gave myself an anxiety attack in the car. It has been years since I had one and this one was bad enough it felt like I was dying and I just kept going. I knew what it was and what it was about and although it is horrible to experience I refused to let it beat me. I pulled into the parking lot and sat outside the gym thinking of reasons not to go in even playing solitaire on my phone. Not one of my finest moments. Then I just went in. As soon as I was in the locker room the anxiety stopped and the athlete came out and I was ashamed I had let myself behave so ridiculously. I missed the feeling of the gym so much and the adrenaline and excitement took over. As soon as I hopped on the elliptical I was off and all the endorphins kicked and I totally over did it. Apparently I thought I was still in good shape and I worked myself until I almost threw up. When I got to that point I got on a bike and did intervals and then an extra long cool down until I didn't feel sick anymore. I did abs and back work for my ST and my abs hurt so much right now it hurts to laugh but its a good hurt. I am so proud of myself I could burst.
This whole experience got me thinking about the idea of I want to vs I have to. I think that is the big key to this whole experience essentially. PELESJEWEL left me a comment that really hit me hard when she said that for some people the exercise part of this is easy but they struggle with the food and others like me have an easier time with the eating and a harder time staying motivated to workout. IT IS SO TRUE. The diet part of this for me is honestly pretty easy. When I read about people who list their food for the day as something to the effect of low fat cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a lean cuisine for lunch and takeout for dinner it really freaks me out. I just choose to eat as little processed food as possible because it is just healthier and it isn't hard. I just don't buy it. I measure and weigh everything. When I gave up soda I never thought about it again and it isn't even a consideration. Now please don't think I am looking down on people for eating processed or drinking soda. I think we all make our own decisions and what works for me doesn't work for everyone else. The point I am making is that mental part of what I eat was the easier thing to tackle because I WANT TO. I actually enjoy healthy food and healthy cooking and I get personal enjoyment out of seeking out new cooking methods and foods I haven't tried. It is a hobby.
Unfortunately for most of my life I treated working out as a I HAVE/NEED TO kind of thing. By doing so I stripped any and all possible enjoyment of it. I played sports because I was good at them and my family wanted me to but the training part of it I saw as a necessary evil. I never engaged the workouts as much as I could have. When others on the team would be wanting to do more conditioning I would look at them like they were crazy. Now, I wish I had back those moments of bootcamp and having team mates to push me. The most success I have had in the past regarding losing weight have been the times when I worked out for me and did it because I liked it. I looked forward to it. Just 2 months ago I was in that place again. I felt strong, powerful and in control. My moods were more even and I woke up feeling great every day.
As I sit here right now I am coming down off that work out high (you know what I am talking about) and I want this feeling again tomorrow. This is it, I found my happy place again and boy did I miss it. Tomorrow I am working out not because I have to but because I want to.
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