Actually, May 6th is my official Sparkversary but I will be out biking with the hubby tomorrow, so I am celebrating today.
I was 300 pounds before I decided to change my life, maybe even heavier. I couldn't really say for sure; not confronting the scale gave me plausible deniability. I looked the other way even when I stepped on at the doctor's office and asked the nurse not to tell me the damage. I had a wardrobe full of size 24 clothes that had all apparently been left too long in the dryer. My husband had to cut my wedding ring from my finger because it was too tight to take off any other way. We slept more often than not in separate rooms because my snoring kept him awake all night.
It is easy to identify how it got to that point, but I'll never know why I LET it get to that point.
The hubby and I were the poster couple for a sedentary lifestyle. We regularly split a large pizza, a dozen chicken wings, an order of cinnamon stix and a two liter soda for dinner. We could eat a tub of ice cream in two days flat and thought watching our sodium intake meant skipping the salt on our french fries. Dining out invariably started with an appetizer that easily racked up a day’s worth of calories and two or three of saturated fat before the meal even arrived. We gravitated to restaurants that offered free bread to snack on while we waited for the "food" to arrive and always asked for seconds.
Neither of us ever felt very good, complaining daily of back or knee pain or both. The hubby started having gall bladder attacks and was hospitalized three days for a kidney infection of unknown origin. My constant swollen ankles warned of circulation problems and plantar fasciitis made even standing painful. Just walking around a grocery store left me flushed and out of breath.
I don't have many "before" photos because I avoided the camera whenever possible. Can you blame me?
This is a bit more flattering "before" but it was taken two weeks AFTER I decided to change my life. I wasn't very happy yet, but I could smile because I had at least begun.
Together, we changed the way we thought about free time. We bought a WiiFit and a pair of bicycles. We started exercising instead of vegging out on the sofa, going up to the lake for a ride instead of out to dinner and a movie.
I started tracking everything I ate and educating the hubby about the astonishing truth about our favorite foods. We started reading labels and cooking more at home. Well, the hubby started cooking; I did not yet know how.
Over the next year or so, I dropped worked by butt off (literally), battled plateaus and blogged every little success and frustration. Around my one year Sparkversary, I started my own version of the C25K program. It wasn’t a scientific approach, but over time I ran more and walked less and finally signed up for my first race. I actually cried when I saw the finish line and realized I had done it; I had run 3.2 miles without walking.
I was hooked. I started entering a 5K every month and training for my first 10K. A year and a half after my journey began, I was almost 80 pounds down.
That picture was taken the morning of November 3, 2010, at the last race I could fit in before the hubby and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary.
We had booked a cruise departing December 5th. I couldn’t wait for formal night; I was so much thinner and healthier than I had been even on our wedding day.
Then just after 12am on December 3rd, 2010...
A collision that sent us hurtling roof over wheels a dozen times down a 2 lane black top in Lughoff South Carolina, just a few hours into our drive to Florida to catch the boat. We were incredibly lucky; we escaped with only a few keepsake scars to remember it by, to remind us of how close we came to losing each other.
Still, it would take months to get off pain medication. I gained 15 pounds with startling ease, but was determined to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. On a leisurely walk along the route I used to RUN, just a mile in, I had to call the hubby to come pick me up. I was racked with pain; how could that be? The nurse practitioner at my doctor's office suggested I take it easy, looked down her nose at me and had the audacity to ask, "After all, how much exercise were you doing before the accident?"
The hubby jumped to my defense before I could pick my mouth up off the floor to answer. "She was running a 5K every other day and training for a 10K on Saturdays." She raised her eyebrows in clear disbelief and shrugged.
I stopped and started so many times last year I lost count, growing ever more despondent at my situation. Plainly, I felt sorry for myself. When you have pulled yourself up to the top of the mountain, it is hard to start all over at the bottom again.
My two year Sparkversary came and went without so much as a whoo-hoo. I didn't want to face all of the success stories here when I felt like such a failure. I stopped weighing myself until I finally admitted all my clothes were too tight; I had gained 15 more pounds.
It wasn't that we forgot our good habits. We ate mostly healthy food, but didn't track intake, so ate too much of it. We tried to get back into the habit of working out and were plagued by lingering injuries and the frustration of not being able to DO as much as we could before the accident. We joined a Meetup group for a ride on the New River Trail and struggled just to finish; the same ride had been the "short" leg of a 50 mile cycling vacation a year earlier.
Last November, the hubby had his first gall bladder attack in two years and we knew it was time to quit wallowing and start fixing things…again. After watching Forks over Knives and a few other documentaries about the benefits of a plant based diet, I suggested we give it a try. I was a vegetarian when we got married, so I knew I could live without meat, but I was shocked that my former meat and meat (potatoes optional) husband was game too.
Since his meatless menu ideas were limited, I told him I would assume kitchen duty. My first attempt was an epic fail to which the hubby stated emphatically: "I cannot eat this sh*t for the rest of my life." I shouldn’t have expected much from that first meal. After all, I still didn't know how to cook. How was I supposed to know a little bit of allspice goes a long way or that active yeast is not in any way a substitute for nutritional yeast?!
Six months later, I am making veggie "burgers" from scratch and posting vegan food porn on my Facebook page. I get a kick out of impressing carnivores with my meatless cuisine. Not only can I cook, I am pretty bleeping good at it. We've come a long way from fake cheese, Tofurky and texturized vegetable protein.
Finally, I got back on Spark in earnest and recommitted myself to running. Not with a poorly planned, doomed-to-disappoint attempt to do what I USED to be able to do, but a coached 5K training program where I am not haunted by the ghost of my former self. I even enlisted my neighbor to join me. This time I am no solitary runner training on a back country road. I am part of a movement.
While I am still weeks away from being able to run a mile non-stop, much less three, I am already running faster than before, with mentors and teammates to push me out of my comfort zone at every practice.
I have long viewed that last race before the accident with idealistic nostalgia (the good old days)
But I will set a PR at my next race.
The scale hasn't started moving much yet, but that's OK. Three years ago when I began this journey I didn't have much confidence I'd get this far or persist this long. Of course, I thought surely if I DID stick with it, by now I'd look something like this.
But that's OK too.
This is me now. (Eventually I am sure I will look decidedly more Fox-like.)
Two steps forward and one step back may make for a longer journey, but is forward progress nonetheless.
We are none of us just a number on a scale, a measurement, a dress size, a meal plan or workout, nor can we spend our lives dedicated solely to the pursuit of those things. I am an advertising director, an aspiring foster/adoptive parent, a writer, a friend, a wife. I read constantly; my kindle is loaded with books about religion, parenting, nutrition and holistic medicine, epic fantasy and supernatural romance. I am a vegan, a runner (well run/walker at the moment) and a SP Motivator. I have lost, plateaued, gained and lost again. Life has gotten in the way from time to time. But I am still here. And so are you. Whoo-hoo to us!
PS. This year you all get to see me kick A**!