Tuesday, October 20, 2009
When I was about 5 or 6 years old I started putting on weight. A little tummy at first, and then a big roll around my middle, followed soon after by another roll just above the first and some jiggle to my thighs. My family used to lovingly (? I can't believe I just said that - teasingly would be more accurate) call me Pudgy-Wudgy, in part because I loved that rhyme about Fuzzy-Wuzzy the Bear. I would laugh, but inside I was sad.
From 3rd grade through 9th grade I put on more weight, and had very little regular activity in my life. I longed to play sports and be active but mine were a family of intellects - homework and reading came before play and there was never any time or money for organized athletics. I remember wanting ice skating lessons since I would love to go skate on Friday afternoons with some friends (admission was $0.25!) but I was told that wasn't an option. I wanted to join little league and learn to play baseball, but girls weren't allowed to in those days and my mother scoffed at the idea. I would take my bike out and ride by myself until I was told I was wasting time that should be spent practicing piano (I'm tone deaf for heaven's sake! What were they thinking?). I finally gave up and accepted the idea that I was a "smart kid" and that sports were a waste of time; I didn't understand that this very notion was causing me inner turmoil! I ate to comfort myself, thereby reinforcing the notion that mine was not a body that was meant to move.
When I went to college I "tried on" the mantle of "athlete". I took every P.E. course I could, from beginning tennis to skiing and scuba diving, and I started moving more. I would use the pool during recreational swim and imagine what it would be like to be on the swim team... Eventually, I made that dream a reality, and while I was not very fast I showed up for every practice and worked doubly hard to make up for my lack of experience. I even got selected to play on the school's first-ever woman's water polo team. Maybe it was because of my work ethic, or maybe it was because no one else knew how to play water polo either so the playing field was level, but I had my shot and I embraced it! I refused to let my lack of speed compared to the other swimmers keep me from playing - I studied the rule book and I practiced my passing and defending skills, finding my niche as a starting right wing. Those were some of the happiest days of my life!
From the time I graduated college until two years ago I vacillated between periods of regular fitness activity (swimming, canoe racing, running, weight lifting, skiing, scuba diving, cycling) and serious couch potato status (and morbid obesity). I had a hard time shutting off the messages that kept playing in my head..." You're smart not athletic... Sports are a waste of time... Reading is more important than playing... You're never going to be good at sports, focus on the things you are good at, like school..." Through it all, there was a little ember of desire to be active that refused to die inside of me.
5 years ago I nearly died from pulmonary embolisms. The saddest part is that when I was short of breath climbing the stairs I assumed it was because I was just so fat and out of shape. I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it - until I nearly passed out trying to stand up 3 days later. Turns out I had multiple blood clots in my lungs and they had been piling up for at least 3 days! It took me a long time to recover and once again find the energy and determination to be active, but when I did I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. I started training at aged 47, having not run at all for many years, and 8 months later I crossed the finish line of the LA Marathon!!
Since then I have completed another full marathon and 8 half marathons, my first duathlon and assorted shorter races. I've returned to weight lifting and am in my second year of mentoring other runners as a pace group leader for a marathon training clinic at my local running club. I have left the morbidly obese label for good and am on my way to a healthy weight and BMI, but more importantly, I have fed the fire within me and now believe unequivocally that I am an athlete!!
"Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you have imagined."
Henry David Thoreau
"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
Thursday, October 01, 2009
I started writing this blog half an hour ago, but as I got to the part where I accept the truth about my weight my system froze and I lost the whole thing... Is there a message there? I don't know, but I'm going to face my fear anyway and try to write this again...
You see, I've been trying to kid myself for a long time. I have known for 30 years that I'm fat. I also know how to lose weight - I've lost HUNDREDS of pounds over the past 30 years, but haven't kept them off. I keep gaining and losing the same weight (plus a few more pounds gained each time I diet). I have avoided being photographed like the plague because pictures present irrefutable proof of what I've tried to deny - that I AM FAT.
I've been all too ready to believe the kindesses of other people. They tell me "You're not fat, you're just a big girl" and "You're so tall, you carry your weight well" and my favorite: "You're not fat, you're an ATHLETE". Yeah, right.
When I've lost weight and heard "You look fantastic!" I wanted to believe that too. I mean, who doesn't? But then there'd be that occasional picture of me, forcing me to face the truth. I may have lost weight, but I was still fat. So I'm here to face my fear. I am about to publicly announce the numbers so that I can be free of the shame and move forward with my weight loss... drum roll please...
At my heaviest I weighed 230 pounds. I might have even weighed a bit more, but I rarely got on the scale. This is the largest number I remember.
I managed to get down to about 215 a few years ago, and stayed there for awhile, but I was definitely NOT happy. I was wearing a size 16-18 and finding myself wishing I was thinner... I had my body fat measured a number of times at that weight and was always shocked by how high it was, but then I would immediately go into denial (my favorite coping mechanism!). I was thin once, for a short period of time in college, and I had my body fat measured hydrostatically. It was barely 19%. There was NO WAY I had gone from that to 37%, right? WRONG. I had. Of course, the fact that I was about 75 pounds heavier might have something to do with that...
Then in January of this year I found SP and started a weight loss challenge at the gym. In 12 weeks I lost 25 pounds and 25.5 inches off my body, and I have managed to keep 21 of those pounds off for 6 months. I'm comfortable now. I can go shopping and buy the clothes I want in my size without much trouble, I feel good and I'm constantly being told I look good. Until I'm photographed again...
Interestingly, in some pictures I think I look fine, but in the vast majority I see that I still have weight to lose. I'm tired of seeing my arms waving two minutes after my hands stopped. I'm tired of having to look at my rear view before I go out, to make sure my back fat isn't bulging. I don't like the jiggle around my thighs and knees when I'm photographed crossing the finish line of a race. If I were in the normal range for weight and BMI I would be more willing to accept these physical battle scars as reminders of where I've come from, but the truth is I'm STILL considered OVERWEIGHT. I've left OBESE behind (I hope forever!) but its too soon to allow this feeling of complacency to rule my life.
As of this morning, I weighed 192 pounds, down from 213.5 in January. I need to weigh 173 pounds to get out of the overweight category. I started another weight loss challenge at the gym and have 9 weeks to reach my goal of 183 pounds - the halfway mark to healthy.
There. I've said it. In writing.
Hopefully I can now wrap my head around that number instead of giving it the power over me! It is NOT unattainable; it is NOT extreme. Nor is it ridiculous, as I usually tell myself it is... (out of fear I'm sure).
Thanks for your support, I'm on my way there!
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Most of you know that I have been struggling with knee pain since mid-May. In spite of this I have entered and completed one race per month since the OC 1/2 Marathon on May 3rd. Well not exactly one per month, since I ran both a 1/2 and a full Marathon in May and I skipped August and went on vacation instead, but nearly so since this last one was the first weekend in September. Anyway, these are minor details, right?
Sunday's race at Disneyland has one of the most impressive (and heavy!) medals I've ever seen. If you run for "clinkage" (thank you GlobalKeewee and BoilerinAZ for this term) this medal can't be beat!
The race is also very well organized and is relatively flat (only a few short hills). After a week of brutal triple-digit heat and high humidity, coupled with area wildfires, Sunday morning was cool and cloudy. I almost couldn't believe the chill in the air when I left my house at 4 a.m.
My husband and I discussed our race plans - mine was to walk as much as possible (famous last words that I've been saying all summer) and still finish below the 3.5 hour cut-off time; his was to just finish, preferably in the same time, since he has been skimping on his training all summer long.
When we arrived at the pre-race area it was only 4:45 a.m and the race began at 6... so we mingled with the crowd, said hello to old friends and took advantage of the photo ops!
If you're wondering about my unusual headgear, they are princess ears, complete with veil! I "earned" them by running the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon in FL this past March... and by completing this race I would earn a second award, the Disney Coast-to-Coast medal.
As I was greeting friends from different areas of my life... SparkPeople, my running club, my Disney WISH friends... I realized that I knew a LOT of people there! Does this mean I'm actually a "part of" the Southern CA running community? Imagine that!
My dh and I entered our corral and hung out with friends there and he decided that he wanted to stay with me, until at least mile 10. By his own admission, Bob is not a fast walker. He either has to run or he has to stroll - there is no speed walking for him. Since I was planning to walk at a sub-16 minute pace (a stretch for me, I'd rather be running) he said he would just run very slowly while I was walking and then we would both run together when I was running. We started out doing 1:1 intervals (so much for me walking the entire race!) with some extra walk segments whenever I felt like my knee hurt too much to run anymore. Bob would pull ahead of me and then I would run a bit and catch him and we'd go side-by-side for a bit, then it would start again. We were holding a 13:25 pace through mile 7, and that included stopping for a few pics! (Pocohantas and Meeko) (Hula Dancers) and (Mariachi Band)
The best part of the race for me has always been running through the parks - but now that I've done it a few times and have also done a duathlon through the parks I am a bit jaded - and found myself excited this year when given the opportunity to run around the infield at Angel Stadium. The lower tiers of the stadium were packed with spectators cheering and our images flashed on the jumbotron as we turned home plate.
The roar of the crowd was energizing, which was a good thing, because at this point I was walking far more than running! Our average pace had increased by about 20 seconds per mile, which may not sound like much but really is, if you do the math (the increase occurring between miles 7 and 9 but affecting our avg over all 9 miles!).
When we left the stadium the sun came out in force and the going got tougher. I wasn't in any mood at this point to take pictures! I remember passing the mile 10 marker, but it seemed like it took an hour to reach mile 11... which I must have run by in a fog because mile 12 was the next one I noticed! This part of the race is neither pretty nor entertaining, although I do recall lots and lots of cheerleaders encouraging us... My knee was pretty much shot and I was nauseous, either from the pain or the abundance of fluid I had taken on (last year I cramped up badly at mile 9 and had to gut it out to the finish - I hoped to prevent that this year) and Bob was just plain tired. Our friend Sol offered encouraging words and we forged on, knowing we were almost done. Seriously, was there any other choice? Not for me!!
Since Bob and I had stayed together we decided we should cross the finish line holding hands, as we did in our very first race together (the 2008 LA Marathon). He grabbed my hand with about .25 mile to go, and we started running... in hindsight, I'm wondering what the heck was he thinking? To run the last .25 holding hands? Hello? As if it wasn't hard enough already! But we pushed/pulled each other along and before you knew it we were done! YAY!
The irony of this race is that we finished in the exact same time that I ran it last year - only last year I wasn't injured, I was using much longer intervals, and while still new to running I had at least done a moderate amount of training. This year, with the exception of the races I ran, I have taken the summer off to lick my wounds, and yet...
I'm quite pleased with my 3:05 finish, averaging 13:58/mile, considering the adversity I had to overcome and the fact that I took some time to enjoy the sights this time
After the SF 1/2 last month I was quite sore for the better part of a week - NOT my usual status post race - and I was really worried that would happen again. I am pleased to say that I woke up this morning with very minor soreness and took the dogs for a 2 mile walk!
Next up... the Long Beach 1/2 Marathon (in 35 days!).
Monday, August 24, 2009
I returned last night from a 7 day Alaskan Cruise. While it was fun, I'm sorry to say that it didn't live up to my expectations, and I was a little bit disappointed :( Don't get me wrong, I had a good time, its just that in my head I had built it up to be the best cruise ever... we were on a ship we had sailed on before and had loved; I was going somewhere I'd wanted to go for a very long time; I was with my family, and I was thinner than I've ever been for a cruise! I guess I just thought it would be the end-all experience.
Instead, I found the ship had deteriorated somewhat in both service and quality, the food wasn't as good (and I still managed to gain weight :( ), we didn't meet many interesting people and I missed my daily support from my spark friends! I found it very hard to turn my attitude around without my girlfriends to "talk" to. I found myself slipping into old eating patterns and hating myself for doing it. My body responded accordingly, which didn't feel very good, and by the end of the week I was ready to get home and get back with my program.
I hope in a week or two I'll be able to put the experience into perspective and relish the good times, the shore excursions and the family time. For now, I just want to go to the gym!
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