An amazing three years on Spark...in pictures

Saturday, May 05, 2012

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**!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon What a great story, and you should take pride in your challenge to fight back and get your health back. I haven't checked on you in a while as I too am fighting my own weight issues. I finally got serious last July 2010, I weighed 282 pounds. As of today I now weigh 217 pounds. Its taken me almost a year to get 65 pounds off, and there are weeks of success and weeks of set backs. I just got through a recent set back. But I'm back on track. Your sharing your challenges, help to motivate me. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    2142 days ago
  • EXPRESS2012
    I loved this blog.
    2170 days ago
    What an AWESOME blog!! I'm just getting back to the healthy eating and exercise I was doing (35 pounds ago!). I just needed to read this for so many reasons. You are an inspiration!!
    2172 days ago
    You are such an inspiration. You really are!! Why? Because you are REAL. I know it was tough to put yourself out there, but that's part of what makes you an inspiration & a motivator to so many. We can see part of ourselves in you, which encourages us to press on because we're not alone.

    You are awesome and I appreciate you!! Congrats on your 3rd Sparkiversary! You have lived, learned, and grown so much in the last 3 yrs!

    Girlfriend, YOU ROCK!!!
    2173 days ago
    I do love seeing you in purple...
    My journey has been so similar to your minus the car accident. Different bumps along the way but same worries. I admire you for writing an honest story - Spark is so much more than the first loss, it is maintaining, losing ground and gaining it again. I am here to cheer you on for your races, your dresses and your journey in general
    2173 days ago
    My heart sunk when I saw the picture of the car...my husband was hit by a drunk driver 2.5 years ago. And the way it has changed our lives is just astonishing to me. He is the same, yet so different...and constant pain is a thing now for his life. I think it is just amazing that you are working on running again, that your husband and you both survived. Blessed are you, in so many ways! Thank you for sharing. And PLEASE keep it up!
    2173 days ago
    Who cares about Megan Fox, you have conquered so much! You have found the strength and perseverance to strive on! Way to go! You are an awesome inspiration! Keep at it.
    2173 days ago
    Congratulations! It is heartning to know that you have started your journey again and wish you success with it.
    2174 days ago
    Love your story. You are an inspiration. I, too, think you were my first chosen friend here on SP. So nice that you have inspired so many. I love that you and your DH are sharing this experience. emoticon emoticon
    2174 days ago
    I'd love to get your veggie burger recipe! :) I too am now vegan and am enjoying cooking healthy recipes for me and my husband (he still eats animal products outside the house, but is 100% supportive). Congratulations on your third Sparkiversary!
    2175 days ago
    Wow! You are amazing to go through all of that and still be as determined to get healthy as you were at the start. Thank you so much for sharing your ups, downs, and downright scary accident with us. We all need the reminder to live life to the utmost everyday and not wait to get healthy. Keep striving forward, and thanks to your inspiring blog...I'm off to do the same! emoticon
    2175 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    Happy 3rd Sparkversary! You have done remarkable!
    emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
    You just gave me chills, made me laugh, and made me cry.

    I'm still here too and my story is similar in a lot of ways...You had the accident, I had my Mirena nightmare. Your husband had the gall bladder attacks, mine went off cholesterol/blood pressure meds and then had to go back on. I lost 52 lbs, gained back 25,lost 12, gained 15. I joined, left, came back. I tracked every bite that went in my mouth, ate healthy but did not track, went back to my old ways, then started tracking again.

    As of this moment I am tracking, exercising, losing, and feeling good (2 years ago at this time I was 16 lbs lighter and feeling awesome!!) I WILL get there again and so will you!!

    We started SP around the same time and I think you were my first sparkfriend!! I am so thankful for that. You inspire me to do more.

    I wouldn't have ever tried zumba or bought a bike if not for you. That's the absolute legit truth.

    Thank you for sharing, I love you for it!

    Together, We CAN and WILL do this!!!
    2175 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/6/2012 9:44:20 AM
  • MJ7DM33
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon What an amazing journey you have made. You are an inspiration to me to keep trying.
    2175 days ago
    Happy three-year Sparkaversary! You are amazing!
    2175 days ago
    I was so glad when you came back, and now you're making a serious comeback!
    I can tell you how boring a straight road is ( we live in the Canadian prairies emoticon ). Without the plateaus, we'd never no how good the highs are.
    You're a real motivator, I love it. emoticon
    2175 days ago
    You've come a long way on your difficult journey and you've learned to live happy and healthy! That's awesome! I applaud you for not giving up! I look forward to reading your future blogs! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
    Yes, you are a motivator!!!! Thanks so much for telling your story. I feel like I can do it, too!!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
  • CAT609
    Awesome! You look fantastic! Keep up the good work. Bravo! emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
    Kick Butt Woman! emoticon
    2175 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.