Sunday, May 04, 2014
One year ago today, I ran my first half marathon. It was slow, especially the last few miles, but I did it. It took months of training to be ready for it, and I made it. It's an accomplishment that I still take pride in. If you want to read my post from then, it's here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_j
Running a half marathon wasn't always a goal of mine, but as I started to change my lifestyle, I discovered that it sounded fun, challenging, and motivating. It was my motivation that kept me running and changing my life for seven months last spring. Even now, it's still motivation as I think, "Remember when I ran that half marathon? It took a lot of work, but I did it!"
Now a year later, a lot has changed. I've graduated college, moved to a different continent, and started a job. I'm in a completely different place in life than I was a year ago. Still, I continue to work on living a healthy lifestyle. I hope that I can always say that, no matter my location, age, or place in life.
I've been using SparkPeople consistently for two years this month. I've lost 70 pounds. Change is slow but steady, just like running that half marathon a year ago. This is a journey. It takes time, persistence, and motivation. There are ups and downs, but in the end, it's worth it. All that hard work and self control is worth it. No matter what, never give up!
May 2012: 250 lbs
May 2013: 208 lbs
May 2014: 180 lbs
Saturday, April 12, 2014
One thing that I find very difficult and not talked about often is how difficult it can be to process and accept weight loss for some people. As a naturally shy person who doesn't necessarily like to stick out of the crowd (although sometimes I like to surprise people), I have a hard time with people making comments about my weight loss. When someone says something, it makes me feel all squirmy inside and want to change the subject right away. Lately, I've been losing a lot of inches and needing new clothes. I know that when I go home I will look different and probably receive comments from people, so I've been working on processing the change in me so that I can graciously accept comments.
One thing that I've done is compare myself now to how I looked 2 years ago. I've done this by comparing pictures and comparing measurements. To compare the measurements, I've even taken out my tape measure and set it to how big I was and put that around me so that I can see visually how much more room there is now. It's unbelievable! I've seen the change slowly, every day. To think like someone who hasn't seen me in a while, I can understand how surprised they might be because I truly have lost a lot of inches. I'm at a lower weight now than I was in eighth grade. That's huge!
Another way I've been processing the change is by planning what clothes I'm going to buy. I need to get rid of my 18s and XLs this summer. I'd do it now, but I live in Venezuela and can't find clothes that are in my style here. I think I need to buy 14s and larges (or maybe some mediums). I've been making specific lists about what needs to go and what I need to buy. It's exciting to see that clothes aren't fitting.
Finally, I've been talking with people. Last night, I shared with my mom my lists of clothes to buy and get rid of. This is really hard for me to share because I get embarrassed easily and feel uncomfortable knowing that my parents really struggle with their weight. Why, I didn't even want to tell my parents when I signed up for a half marathon last year! I've also been talking with my roommates, which is easier since they all have shared their struggles with weight, food, and exercise (although, their struggles are very different from mine). It's hard to take the initiative to start conversations about weight with people in person (I blog about it very easily), but it is so necessary to help me process and accept my own weight loss.
Processing and accepting my own weight loss is an important part of this journey. When I think of my weight loss, I tend to think about how far I have to go, but I need to think more about how far I've come! That's what others see, and it's why they give me so many compliments. I've come far, and I'm still going! I need to stop hiding behind my weight and enjoy who I am at this moment! When people comment on it, I need to stop and smile and say thank you. This journey is a slow and steady process. It's not just about food, weight, and exercise; it's about a mindset change as well.
Current Weight: 181.8
Monday, March 03, 2014
Sounds like a contradicting title, right? Well, it is, but it is also true that there is a lot of progress during plateaus.
I've been on a plateau again recently. I quickly lost my Christmas weight and got stuck right where I was stuck from October - December: 189. Actually, then I was at least able to get it down to 187. Now, I usually don't mind plateaus in my weight. I view them as times where I am able to learn to maintain before switching more things up and working extra hard to break that plateau. Learning to maintain is very important. If I can stay at 189, that's better than letting that number sneak up to 200. But lately, I've been kind of down about it, so when I had a suddenly unexpected long weekend (almost a week off school!), I decided it was the perfect time to refocus, conquer my gluttonous ways, and begin exercising more.
Every day I've been drinking lots of water, eating only if my stomach is growling (I was beginning to forget what it was like to actually be hungry!), working out, and staying active. That usually does the trick within a few day, but this time it didn't. Or so I thought. I've weighed myself faithfully every morning: 189.8, 189.4, 189.2, 189.4. The numbers were hardly changing! Then on the off chance, later one day, I went to take my measurements, and they were great!
This morning I officially logged my measurements (I always make sure to do it first thing in the morning before I eat or drink anything; consistency helps me see results). I may have not lost weight in numbers the past few day, but my body did lose several inches! Just from a little over a week ago (I don't usually measure that often unless I've seen change), my waist lost 0.75 inches, my thigh lost 0.25 inches, and my upper arm lost 0.25 inches! After I logged these, I love looking at the graphs (making sure to change the start date back to my beginning). I often forget how far I've come!
Was my waist really 50 inches? Was my thigh really 30 inches? I couldn't fathom these numbers, so I got out my tape measure again, set it to my starting numbers and watched it as it fell around me. Was I really that big? Did that much empty space between the tape measure and my belly used to be filled? It was unbelievable. Now wonder why some people continue to comment about my weight loss (one thing I'm still learning how to deal with); I truly have lost a lot of inches and probably look different to them!
Some months gets frustrating because I plateau with weight. Often I plateau with measurements (there's been half a year without change). Then, suddenly things will start to change. I just need to remember: my body isn't magic. It takes time and consistency to change. Also, strength training really helps the measurements. Recently I started Tae Bo, which very intentionally uses my muscles and does cardio. I love this combination! Your body won't change without using those muscles.
When was the last time you stopped to see how far you've come from the beginning? Not just with the graphs, but also with life. Remember when I had trouble walking a very small incline to class with my backpack? Now I walk a huge hill to and from school everyday! Remember when I couldn't run without coughing and lung issues? Now my lungs have adjusted, and I even trained for a half marathon! Remember when I ate five desserts in the school cafeteria? Now the thoughts make me sick (although, those were really good cookies). Stop look back, and enjoy the view. Think about progress you have made. Delight when others comment on your progress (this is hard for me). If you are just starting out, track consistently, so that you can go back and enjoy the view.
Starting Weight: 250
Current Weight: 189.4
Goal Weight: 145
Starting Waist: 50 inches
Current Waist: 42.5 inches
Starting Hips: 52 inches
Current Hips: 46.25 inches
Starting Thigh: 30 inches
Current Thigh: 26 inches
Starting Upper Arm: 15.5 inches
Current Upper Arm: 13 inches
Starting Pants Size: 18 or 20
Current Pants Size: 14 or 16
Goal Pants Size: 10 or 12
Starting Shirt Size: 1X or XL (occasionally)
Current Shirt Size: L
Goal Shirt Size: M
Even when I think I'm in a plateau, my body is still working. It's changing. I may see it or not see it, but it is still changing. I just need to stick with it. Look how far I've come. I still a ways to go, but seeing the change makes me stick with it. Slow and steady wins the race! Never give up, and always do things intentionally, even if that's gaining weight over Christmas. We can do it, and we will!
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Living in Venezuela, I am able to maintain and lose fairly easily. This is due to several things:
-There are food shortages, where it is hard to find staples like flour, sugar, chicken, milk, ground beef, and eggs. Therefore, I treat these items like they are very special and am careful when I use them.
-I have to walk everywhere, including to the grocery store. Do I really want to have to carry that package of oreos home with everything else that I really need?
-Not only to I have to walk, but I live at the top of a hill. Imagine carrying your groceries up a giant hill. Plus, my school is on a different hill, so I walk uphill both ways to and from school.
-My body responds to culture shock by just trying to survive. I'm not sure if it's solely due to the facts above or if it just really fights to survive and loses a lot of weight. I'm pretty sure it's the latter.
Vacations are my downfall, and by vacations, I mean any time I'm not living on my own and buying and cooking my own food. I tend to treat myself too much, especially when I know it's something that I won't have again any time soon. At least, that's my excuse now. However, vacations have always been my downfall. Back in seventh grade, my family went on vacation, where we hiked a lot, but we also went out to eat a lot. In two weeks, I gained twenty pounds. I never lost that weight. Over my Christmas break this year, I went back to the United States. I found some old medical records, and one showed that I weighed over 200 pounds when I was in eighth grade. Eighth Grade! No wonder why I can't remember when I lasted weighed below 200. I wasn't even fully grown yet. It was so sad. Why didn't someone stop me? Anyways, I reached below 200 for the first time this past fall. I was down staying close by 187 for a month leading up to my Christmas break. My one goal for Christmas break was to stay under 200. I failed. I made it up to 203.
Vacation was terrible if I look at my nutrition and exercise. It was great every other way. As far as nutrition went, it was a good day if I waited to eat a Christmas treat until 10 in the morning. When I first came back, I ate a normal meal with my family and felt as stuffed as I normally would after Thanksgiving dinner. My stomach had shrunk so much! I quickly enlarged it, but I also spent too much time feeling overstuffed, when I should have known to stop eating. I need to make sure that when I go back this summer, I don't make the same mistake.
Now I've been back one week, and my body quickly went into culture/lifestyle shock mode. I've already lost 10 of my 16 vacation weight pounds without really trying. Part of this weight was also due to flying and water retention, and I understand that.
Interested in how my weight looks overall since I started on SparkPeople? Well, here's my weight graph from May 2012 - January 2014.
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, my weight definitely reflects where I was at during that time. During the time on this graph, I have lived four different places: Fort Wayne while student teaching, my University, my parents' house, and Venezuela. The hardest of these places is always my parents' house. I don't buy the food; it's just available to me whenever I want. Looking at the graph, I can see times when I have been there I typically go up (late December 2012, end of May - July 2013, end of December 2013). This summer, I will be living at my parents' house for about 5 weeks. Two of those weeks, I will probably be on vacation with them in Canada. I'm already thinking about and planning how I can make those weeks maintain weeks instead of gain. I'm fine with not losing all the time. Learning to maintain is one of the most important steps in this process, in my opinion. That means learning how to maintain in every circumstance. I probably won't always live by myself in Venezuela, so if this is the only place that I can be the weight I'm at, that is no good.
Also, for those of you new to SparkPeople with this new year, please look at my weight record and notice some details. I have gone weeks with staying just about the same weight (each of those little blue lines are one month). This was frustrating at the time, but how is it looking back? Fine. I'm actually very thankfully I had those chances to maintain. There are weeks where I gained, even giant jumps in gaining like over 10 pounds in two weeks. Yes, it could have been better those weeks, but overall, I'm still much lower than where I started. This journey is just that: a journey. It has its ups and downs. The key is to never give up. Never stop caring. Even when I make choices like I did this past Christmas break, I make them intentionally. I chose to eat and gain weight over Christmas. I knew it would happen, and I was okay with it. I knew what I could have done to prevent it but chose not to. Remember that you do have choices. Did I have to eat all of the steak my dad put on my plate? No, and the first night I didn't because I felt so full that I could puke. He respected me not eating more than I needed. Whatever you do, it's a choice. Every good step is one further than you've taken before. Take those steps.
All that to say, the hardest part of my journey is learning to have self-control in all situations. If I can't do that, the effort I'm putting in now won't matter because I will gain it back once I'm in a different situation, and I can't let that happen. Learning to maintain using self-control is the most important thing we can learn.
My current goal is to be at or under 170 by the beginning of May (my birthday). I will have to work to get there, and I'm getting ready to put that hard work in. This week, I started exercising more: playing volleyball, doing sit-ups, and some other easy strength activities. I already have plans for a few weekend hikes (I do live by/on mountains) in the coming weeks. I'm also trying to begin walking more to prepare for these hikes. I hate being the one who can't keep up.
My end goal of 145 is in sight, and I love that! Slow and steady wins the race! I'm excited to get back under 191 later this week, which puts me back into a BMI of overweight instead of obese.
We can do this! Keep making those good choices! It's all about baby steps! Self-control is key! Learn how to maintain!
Current Weight: 193.4
Saturday, September 07, 2013
Sorry that I have been missing from SparkPeople so long, but things have been changing, and I haven't needed it like I did before. Since I was on here last (June since last post), I have moved to Venezuela. Today, I finally reached my first glimpse of ONEderland, being 199.8 this morning. Woohoo! Anyways, what I really want to talk about is seasons of my life and how that has affected my weight. I think it's important for us to realize how different life events/seasons affect us in this way. As a recent college grad, I have been through a lot of different seasons and can see how they affect me. For me, having this knowledge puts dangers on my radar where I know that I need to be careful. To begin my story, we are going to go all the way back to my childhood.
In fourth grade, I remember thinking that I was chunkier compared to my friends, but I figured in my head that I was still growing and as I grew it would continue to even itself out. Wrong. I wish someone would have been able to talk with me about how weight changes and what a proper weight for a grown woman was when I was this age. Then, I would have at least had the chance to be knowledge and not put off dealing with it when I knew from looking at others in my family that it would probably be an issue for me. Note: talk with children about weight and growing up (as a fourth and fifth grade teacher now, I want to cover this at some point during the year, talking about both ends of the spectrum of food and weight issues)
During middle school, I tried to be active. I tried out for the volleyball team twice and had my heart broken by not making the team after I had practiced all summer (plus only a few girls didn't make the team). I loved riding my bike and playing at the park, but that's not fun to do without friends and none of mine were interested, so I slowly became less active while still eating the same or more. In seventh grade, my family went on a two week vacation. During this vacation, I felt like I was very active, hiking, biking, and playing in the pool, but we also ate out many days. At this point, I wasn't wise enough to understand that while I was active, sitting and eating in the car and having chicken fingers with fries most days would affect my weight. I remember considering that thought but figured that it would all even out. WRONG! I gained 20 pounds in those two weeks. This put me higher than the weight I should have as an adult, but I didn't know that.
During high school, I continued to gain weight. I still had gym class every fall and loved to ride my bike, but otherwise, I was not active. I ate whatever I wanted, and now cringe when I think about how many chocolate chocolate chip muffins I ate for lunch during those years. During this point in my life, I was very aware of my weight and knew what I needed to do to change it. I contemplated exercising but knew that once I started working on my weight, I would become obsessed with it. I wanted to make sure that when I dealt with my weight, I was mature enough to not have it be a controlling factor over my whole life. At this point, I was working to build other important habits like reading my Bible and praying every day. I did not want trying to decrease my weight to become an idol that I put above God, and I knew it would, so I did nothing about my weight. I'm not sure when during high school, but at some point I reached 250 pounds, and this is where I stuck.
Then I started college. Simply moving away from home, where I ate food I knew and sat around, changed my weight. At this point, I decided I could not ignore my weight issues for long. During my freshman fall, I lost 30 pounds. I didn't really try to lose this weight. I just stopped drinking pop (why bother? was my opinion) and began walking to all of my classes and church. The next semester, I gained it back :(.
I spent my sophomore and junior years stuck around 250. I would try to begin exercising with a friend, and after a few weeks, they wouldn't wake up and go with me anymore. I tried eating healthier and got bored of the choices I had at my college. My weight was something regularly on my mind. I researched different options and found SparkPeople during my junior year.
The summer before my senior year, I decided it was time. I began using SparkPeople regularly as motivation to help me. For a month during this summer, I lived away from my parents and school for the first time. It was easier to lose weight when I had to buy my own food and didn't want to waste it on junk. I lost 10 pounds! When I went back home that summer, my self-control was not that great, and I just maintained.
In the fall (Fall 2012), I moved back on my own and was busy student teaching. During student teaching, I was on my feet all day. I also made the effort to bike and walk places around town rather than driving. I bought my own food and became responsible. In October, I began running. On November 30, I made the decision to try to complete a half marathon that May. I wanted to have that as motivation to keep going during the spring. Altogether, I lost 20 pounds that fall and was down at 220.
Then I spent two weeks at home for Christmas and gained 6 pounds back.
In Spring 2013, I went back to college to finish my last semester of classes. Since I was a senior, I had a shortened meal plan and only had one meal a day at the school cafeteria, which helped with my self-control. With the half marathon to motivate me and a free gym, I worked out on a regular, scheduled basis. I ran (intervals of running and walking really) three days a week and watched for signs of doing too much too quickly on my body. Along the way, I ran a 5K, 10K, and 15K. Finally, in May my goal of completing a half marathon was accomplished! By my graduation, I weighted between 206 and 210, which was a total of 40-45 pounds lost since the beginning and 10-15 that semester.
Then, I went home for the summer, and what always happens at home? Right, I gain weight and lose motivation. So I did, but this time, I had the knowledge that a life change that would certainly impact my weight in a positive way was coming up. I knew that I could quickly lose what I would gain that summer. I let myself enjoy foods that I was sure I would not be able to enjoy that fall, and then I moved to Venezuela.
So, that's where I'm at now. Just like I expected, this season of my life has made it easy for me to lose weight, and I'm not even trying. During the summer, I was back at 220, and after a month and a half here, I have reached ONEderland. Why would this be? There are several reasons:
-Food - my favorite treats aren't available here, nor would I want to pay for it since I have a very limited salary. Finding even basics like flour, chicken, and milk is a struggle (we have shortages).
-The Hill - I walk uphill both ways to school every day. Sound impossible? It's not. Both are on foothills/mountains in the area with a valley in between. The Hill up to my house is killer, and I have to carry my groceries up it. That's one way to make me not buy as much.
-School - Teaching requires lots of energy and being on your feet all day. I probably walk at least a mile every day leading my students around and pacing around the classroom.
I haven't really started to officially exercise here (although The Hill every day gets my heart pounding for 15 minutes), but this week I did begin Zumba with a few teachers after school. We had a lot of fun, and it was a great stress reliever. Soon, I need to start a small strength routine. I was doing really well at sit-ups and other things and need to get back into it.
The seasons of my life strongly impact my weight. I know that being on my own can be a wonderful thing because I control everything I eat and really do like being outside and active. Going back to my parents' house or a place with lots of temptations has not been good for me. Vacations are always a struggle. Being able to look back and see this leads me to some conclusions:
-I need to be careful and work hard to just maintain when I go home at Christmas and during the summer. I will also have to work hard to stay as active as I currently am at those places.
-Vacations are great times to be active, but I need to be careful with what I eat. In October, I am going on a short vacation and will have lots of food available. I know that I need to be careful.
-Sometimes I need something to motivate me. This past spring, I would not have made any progress without the half marathon as my motivation. During some seasons of my life, I may need something like that. Other times like now, just surviving and being careful works.
Think about the seasons of your life. How do they affect your weight? Your nutrition? Your activity level? When do you need to be careful? When can you be more carefree? When do you need extra motivation?
Right now, I'm being more carefree (well, really I'm just trying to survive here) and losing weight. I'm not at a point where I need extra motivation like my half marathon or SparkPeople, so you might not see me here too much. I'm keeping at it though and adjusting for this season of my life. In a little less than ten more pounds, my BMI will officially be out of the obese range and into the overweight range. I can't wait! I also can't wait for the day when I can walk up The Hill and not be so out of breath that I need to pause and look at the beautiful view. Later this year, hopefully, I will feel comfortable with beginning to run here and can work back to being able to easily run a 5K.
Oh, one other thing I've learned is that I have to take weight loss slowly. In the end, the best I can do is lose between 10 and 30 pounds a semester. I shouldn't expect it to be faster than that. Some weeks I may lose 4, and the next week may be none. That's ok.
I hope this blog post helped you think about the seasons of your life. I'm going to keep living and losing. Maybe one day, I'll reach my goal weight. Even if I don't, I'm not going to let that stop me from living a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life no matter the season.
Current Weight: 199.8
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