Wednesday, September 05, 2012
5. What is your weight history like? How old where you when you first 'went on a diet'? Have you lost and regained? How is this time different from others?
I was first made aware that my weight was an issue at a pediatrician's visit in 5th or 6th grade. It's telling that I'm not sure which. If you look at pictures from the time period I don't look overweight except for a few pictures. This suggests to me that I put on a LOT of weight quickly - probably as puberty approached. Anyway.... I was not even my adult height (5'3") and I weighted over 130 pounds. The doctor wanted me to weigh 100 pounds for 5 feet and 5 pounds for each inch I grew over 5 feet. My mother was afraid she didn't know how best to help us (my sister, who is 22 months younger than I am, was either already overweight or just along for the ride) and didn't (and never has and still doesn't) want us to follow her path of battling weight 'forever'.
My sister doesn't even remember going to see the nutritionist. I was obviously much more affected by it. (Or else she was just as affected and successful buried it?) ALL I took away from that meeting was that I was never supposed to eat pizza, pasta, pancakes, or potatoes.... but bacon was, surprisingly, OK.... and calories were king. Great. I had a game plan. Rules to follow. A goal to reach.
I was (and hope I am no longer) a horrible perfectionist. There was no such thing as good enough and if I could turn it into a competition.... with someone else or , if that failed because I was at the top, myself I did it. So... someone told cutting calories was good and I cut calories. Boy, oh, boy did cut calories. I don't know how my mother didn't notice that I wasn't eating except when I had to (to keep up the appearance that I was eating). I don't know how she explained away a child who would literally pass out if she exerted herself. But it worked! I lost 25 pounds! The doctor was so pleased! My family was so pleased! I was skinny! I was skinny like my mother had never been able to be. I was an example of HER getting things right for her kids that she had never been able to get right for herself. I don't know how I managed to stop the weight loss at 107 pounds but I did and all through middle school and high school I maintained that 100 pounds + 5 pounds per inch over 5 feet rule. I hated it. But I did it! ALL by calorie control. Lots of sugar-free and low-fat products in the house as my parents dieted often.
I went off to college (Ivy League, of course... perfectionist and all) and put on a few pounds. Probably muscle from walking all those hills. I had one fainting spell after starting and KNEW that up there - all alone on that huge campus - I could NOT be fainting! I ate what I needed and maintained my weight pretty steadily at 117 pounds. I was very happy and proud of my body. I'd gain 3-4 pounds every time I went home for weekends or breaks but it would disappear as soon as I got back to campus. I didn't really have to try to maintain my weight and I was generally healthy and happy.
Then it was off to graduate school (PhD, top-notch school, of course... perfectionist and all). The hours in class and lab and doing problem sets were horrendous. Food choices were HORRIBLE. Cornell has excellent food service. MIT has.... food trucks. I gained about 7 pounds in 3 years. I was a size 5 or 7 instead of a size 3 or 5 but I was OK with my body. Over my pediatricians outdated rule but I was aware of healthy weight ranges by then and I was in whatever healthy weight range I had been given.
I got married at 25 and settled into married life. We both worked insane hours and did not exercise at all, except to walk the streets of Cambridge/Somerville/Boston to and from the train and for fun on the weekends. We drank coffee for breakfast. I ate from the food trucks for lunch. I cooked nice meals for dinner. We usually had a beer each night and wine on the weekends. We made little attempt to 'eat healthy'. By the time we'd been married almost year I'd gained 10 pounds and I was appalled. We started a low-fat diet. It must have been VERY low fat because I can remember getting sick to my stomach after a fatty restaurant meal. It worked though and I got most of those 10 pounds off before we decided to try to get pregnant. I knew that a very low fat was no good for that!
I got pregnant in the upper 120s or lower 130s. I don't remember exactly. I do remember that the doctor told me to gain 35 pounds and I thought that was INSANE. There was NO WAY I could do that! But I did it! And got gestational diabetes along the way. I delivered at 176 pounds. When he was 6 months old I was down to 150. By the time he was a year I was happy with my weight again, although I don't remember exactly what it was. 130-135. I lost that weight very healthily - walking about 5 miles a day pushing him in the stroller and cutting calories in a reasonable way. We quickly, as planned, got pregnant again.
I had a different OB that time. He told me to control my weight gain in the first trimester and I'd likely avoid gestational diabetes. I did. And I did! But I ended that pregnancy at exactly the same weight - 176. My daughter has Goldenhar Syndrome which is incredibly complex. Some of her manifestations are 'severe'. Others aren't 'severe' but aren't easy either. Her first year was overwhelming and absolutely NOT focused on me. I didn't even THINK about my weight until she was nearly a year old and all I thought about it at that point was how much I HATED what I weighed - 163.
160-165 would be 'home base' for years and years of yoyo dieting. I yo-yo'd for almost 10 years. I counted calories. I cut fat. I walked. I did SB. I joined curves. I did fitkick. I did pilates. Mostly what I did is make appointments for physicals and do whatever I could do to get down to 150 by the time I saw the doctor because my doctor said 150 being at 150 was better than yo-yoing between a healthy weight and obese. I didn't tell her that I was yo-yoing between 150 and 165.
After one of my daughter's jaw surgeries I hurt my arm VERY badly doing jaw stretching therapy on her. VERY, VERY, VERY badly. It was so bad by the time that I saw an orthopedic surgeon that he told me that it was too bad to even start PT and that I needed to get the inflammation under control first. I was told not to do anything that made it numb or tingly or painful. So I sat. Literally. I sat as still as possible for months. EVERYTHING bothered my arm. It recovered slowly but by the time I was cleared to start PT I was 176 pounds! OMG. I weighed what I weighed when I went to deliver my baby. And she was 10.
That was IT. That was horrible. If I didn't do something I was going to be buying clothes in the women's department!
I started cutting calories and lost 18 pounds in 2-3 months. I couldn't exercise because of my activity limitations. But I did my PT which forced me to carve 1 - 1 1/2 hours out of my day 3 days a week. My daughter needed ANOTHER surgery (all that damage to my arm and the surgery ended up being a failure anyway!) and my son had a horrible start at middle school and I came undone. I stopped weighing in. I stopped caring. I needed to focus on them. That was November 2010. A few months into what I now call 'the last time'.
I can't say that I TOTALLY didn't care while I was on that break. I cared but I knew that cutting calories alone felt horrible and I decided I'd get serious again when I was cleared to join a gym. That happened in March 2011. On my break I regained about half of my initial loss. I didn't really beat myself up about it. I did what my trainer assigned until I was ready to do The Female Bodybreakthrough. I ate the way I'd learned was healthy from years and years of reading about nutrition. And I lost weight. It was easier than I ever expected. And I love the gym which was (and continues to be) a total surprise to me. For the first time EVER losing weight didn't feel like deprivation!
There are two major things that are different about 'the last time'. The first is that I found a way to lose weight without feeling deprived. I'm sure what I'm doing would feel like deprivation to some people but it doesn't to me and that's what matters in MY journey. The second major thing is that I decided that I was worth the work and that I needed to stop trying to be perfect at everything I did (and also to stop avoiding doing things that I wasn't going to be perfect at). I'm so over beating myself up when I fall short of my unrealistic expectations. I still set goals, and I've reached a lot of them, but when I DON'T make them I DON'T fall apart anymore. I think about why. I think about what would have been more reasonable. And I move on. It's served me well. I hope it serves me well for the rest of my life.
Edited to add:
Jenny's comment made me think that I may never mentioned my daughter's diagnosis before. I don't talk specifics about my daughter's situation because sparkpeople is totally public and she may not want lots of 'stuff' floating around like that. BUT I do think it's important to spread information because the more people understand each other the easier life is for everyone. Here's a link to more info about Goldenhar Syndrome:
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Day 4: What are (or were) your fears about weight loss?
I have specific fears, which I'll get into in a moment, but I was also afraid of losing weight in general. In fact, it was the subject of the second blog I ever wrote at sparkpeople: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I wrote that at just under 2 pounds over the weight that I quit at over and over again when I was yo-yo'ing. Part of the entry reads: "I feel like I am on the top step of a high dive. I can turn around and climb back down because it's scary to be here or I can walk out on that diving board. Am I prepared to do the work needed to dive into life as a fit woman? I think I am and I am looking forward to seeing what the swim is like! "
I had not been under 150 for more than a few months in over a dozen years. Before kids. Back to newlywed days. Before I became a stay at home mom. When I was still a young PhD candidate with the whole world ahead of me. I knew that I had not felt at home in my body since my daughter was born. I thought that was because at 30+ pounds over the weight I was when I got pregnant the first time I really was trapped in a body that did not fit. But I feared that I would lose the weight and find out I was trapped in a LIFE that did not fit. That's a really scary prospect for a 40 year old wife and mother!
So.... my fears and how they have played out:
1. I feared that losing weight would reveal that my dis-ease was due to something else.
I don't THINK that this ended up being true. I certainly feel much more comfortable with myself and with my life now than I did during the 10+ years I spent overweight. However, my new found comfort and self-confidence may have as much or more to do with setting a big goal and achieving it than in losing weight per se. Since I'm still not sure if all the great feelings come from being smaller or from being accomplished, I continue to set goals as I work on maintaining my weight loss.
2. I feared that I would gain back everything I lost... and then some.
I think this fear was warranted given my history of yo-yoing. The more I lost the more this fear faded into the background. Eventually I got to the point where my loss was SO large that it dwarfed any other loss I've ever had - including the one when I was a preteen that I managed to maintain until I got married (and started 'eating and drinking like a boy'). I have come to peace with the idea that so long as I pay attention to my weight and make corrections before I get out of maintenance range, nothing I do today or this week will totally undo my progress.
3. I feared that I would succeed at weight loss but dislike my smaller body because of saggy skin.
This ended up not being warranted at all. I have saggy skin and 'flab' around my middle, butt, and thighs but it's nowhere near as bad as I expected. In a bikini you can see my stretch marks and the extra skin and flab. I just don't care. I carried a lot of extra pounds for a lot of years and now they are gone. When I look at the loose skin and stretch marks I imagine what I'd feel like if there WAS enough fat underneath to make the skin taut. Suddenly they don't seem so bad!
However, that does not mean that I love everything about my smaller body. A 50 pound weight loss has destroyed my breasts. I was never large-breasted aside from nursing and being very heavy so it's not that I'm sad that they are smaller. But they are TRASHED. They are like deflated balloons. They look fine in clothes. And that's where I'd like them to stay.
4. I feared that DH would not like my smaller body.
DH looooved busty me. There was a spell of time along the journey where I was no longer busty but I wasn't particularly fit either when I felt a real disconnect from him. This was probably the worst part of my journey. He wasn't all that supportive in the first stretch but he was almost negative during this stretch. Somehow I kept pushing through and, eventually, a very fit person emerged. There are body parts DH likes VERY much now. He's much, much more supportive in maintenance than he ever was during the loss phase of my journey. Phew.
5. I fear that I won't be able to keep up my healthy habits.
I fear that DH will lose his job and our grocery budget will be very limited until he finds a new one. My way of eating is really expensive. I worry that I would gain a lot of weight learning how to eat this healthily on a strict budget.
I fear that I will over commit myself to the point that I can't (won't?) make time for exercise. I used to do a LOT of volunteer work. As the kids have grown the opportunities are fewer and I devoted a good chunk of that time to fitness instead. But I'd like to work at some point - either for pay or in a new volunteer endeavor. I am not sure how many work hours I can take on without jeopardizing my workout time.
I fear that I will go back to putting my wellness last on the list. I don't JUST need to eat right and exercise. I need time to think about things, relax, pursue hobbies. Maybe I'm high maintenance? It seems to be part and parcel of being part of this family :-) My husband works a VERY stressful job and really likes having a wife who is around when he's around. I hate to take time away from our family time to do things for me. My daughter has very complex medical and educational needs. We've been advised to make as few changes to her life as possible during her middle school years since they are tumultuous enough without unnecessary changes. My son has a few educational and medical issues of his own but mostly I feel a need to make extra time for him because he isn't as demanding on my time as DH and DD and I'm afraid his needs will be neglected because he isn't as obvious about them. I really want to 'be there' for my family but sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who makes time to take care of me. It's a real balancing game! My current approach leaves enough time for me to take care of me but some of the things that could upset that balance aren't in my control and that is scary.
Edited after my run since this probably doesn't warrant it's own blog.
Ran 4 miles in 40 minutes on the treadmill (and then did a 5' cool down). I adjusted the pace to keep at 10 minutes per mile at each mile point. I need to work on pacing but I also need to work on running faster. This seemed like a good way to do it. That last half mile was really tough so I think I'm going to keep on running 4 miles at 10:00 per mile until it feels 'comfortable'.
Running for 2012:
80.75 miles + 4.25 miles = 85 miles
19 days until my next 5K.
Monday, September 03, 2012
Day 3 already! It's not too late to join! See my earlier post about the challenge. Jump in anytime. Let me know and I'll add you to the 'Are You In?' blog roll.
Day 3: Who have you shared your weight loss goals with? What has been good about sharing your goals?
I've lost 28% of my starting weight. By the time I was done simply walking into a room announced my weight loss. I really can't remember who I shared with when along the way except in the roughest of ways.
When I started 'the last time' I shared with a very few people and I told NOONE when I started struggling. When the difficult time passed and I was focused on my journey again I had regained about half of my initial loss and decided to do things a little differently and that included telling more people.
At first I did not talk about losing weight. In fact, I wasn't even really thinking in terms of losing weight. My doctor had told me that exercise would help with every single concern I had brought to her so I was focusing on exercise and better coping skills. I did share those goals. I kicked off for Lent of 2011 with two goals. I gave up alcohol for Lent, except for Sunday, because I felt like I used alcohol to relax too often. I also committed to joining a gym before Easter. I shared my goals with a select group of family and friends on facebook. I knew that if I didn't join a gym by the time Lent was over I was going to have to own up to it. By the time Lent was over going to the gym was well on the way to being a habit AND I had started losing weight. I was under the weight I had gotten stuck at over and over and started to feel like maybe, just maybe, I was going to be successful this time. I started to share my weight loss progress on FB and I returned to Sparkpeople for added support. Over time I shared with more and more people on FB until finally, in maintenance, I started sharing with everyone.
Sharing my goals has been a mixed blessing.
Early on it became clear that some of my friends/family were NOT going to be supportive. They weren't going to come out and be negative but they simply were not going to acknowledge my hard work or my progress or support me through the hard parts at all. Over time most of them have acknowledged my success to some degree or another but to this day one of them has still not acknowledged my weight loss except in snarky comments about how she doesn't want to be a size 2 (obviously directed at me). The lack of support is really hurtful because some of these people have relied heavily on me for support through their own struggles. As I've gathered more supportive people around me and realized that others have been inspired because of my willingness to share, I've left the hurt feelings behind but, admittedly, that only came with distancing myself from the people.
On the other hand, sharing my goals has held me accountable, helped me forge new relationships, AND inspired other people to begin their own journey towards healthier living. I need the accountability, especially in maintenance. I know from previous weight loss attempts that it is really easy to just stop paying attention - stop weighing in, stop checking calories, stop making time for workouts. Knowing that I update on my maintenance once per month keeps me on top of things. I don't ever want to have to say I am out of maintenance range. I've also made new connections in real life because of my journey. Some of the people I am closer to now are people who have struggled with their weight and who, I think, have been ashamed to share those struggles who seem to have turned their negative thinking into positive action because I have been willing to share my journey. It's a nice feeling to know that other people understand how hard it is! Some of the people I am closer to now are people who are very fit and who I think saw me as just another overweight housewife. These are people I didn't tell my goals to.... but my progress is obvious and I 'own' it when they comment (instead of downplaying it). One of them was my key IRL inspiration! She didn't even know that and regularly stops me around town to tell me how great I look. I love that! Finally, sharing my goals has inspired other people to make their own healthy living goals. I have local friends who have lost weight partially inspired by me. Others who have take on fitness goals. It's great! I continue to talk about my journey because it keeps me accountable AND inspires other people to not give up on their own journeys.
I think of goal/progress sharing as a rippling out of connections that just might help turn back the tide of obesity in this country. Others shared their goals and progress and struggles with me. I took what I needed from that and share my journey with others. They'll take what they need from that and, I hope, share with still more. You know all those people who encourage you to 'cheat' on fitness or diet? Imagine if slowly all of those people became cheerleaders in support of fitness and healthy eating? I feel like that is what happening in my world. When I started social gatherings were a nightmare for me. Now when we gather there I am never the only person trying to make healthy choices. It's amazing :-)
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