Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review: 2010

2010 was the year that I decided to take back my life...  That I decided to stop blaming and quit making excuses, and to start seeing my weight as not only a problem, but I problem that I could- and should- take responsibility for.  I made the decision to stop using my Hashimoto's and PCOS as my inability to lose weight and to quite making my grief an excuse for eating.

One of the most interesting things of 2010 was the amount of physical activity I got in as I was training for races... and yet, no weight loss.  Not a pound.  I ran, biked, and swam several times a week, and competed in a couple of races.  Nothing.  We joked about it, but really- who works out that hard and the scale holds steady?  Someone who eats... and eats... and eats...

I could blame growing up without really giving a damn about portion control.  But let's be honest....  I'm a grown up.  I've read books and articles and know what portions look like.  I just wasnt putting a portion on my plate.  Maybe 2 or 3 or 4 portions.  And then, because I didn't want to waste the food, I would eat it.  And eat it.  And then eat some more.  And, while I was cleaning up, maybe a little more.  And then, there were the food choices. If I wanted it, I'd eat it, without a real thought as to what I was consuming.

I love to cook and I love to eat, and my weight showed it!

By September 2010, I weighed 240 pounds, which was only 10 pounds lighter than my heaviest when pregnant with Bobby and Maya (a few days prior to labor, I weighed in at 250lbs).  Being told that I carry my weight well and that I looked fine helped me see passed my obesity and it wasnt until I was in a dear friend's wedding and saw the pictures that my weight was so clearly in front of me.  I cried that day.  It wasn't embarrassing enough that my bridesmaid's dress was too tight and I had to be sewn into it.  It wasn't embarrassing enough that I couldnt wear my bra because nothing else would fit in that dress.  But looking at the pictures of all of us together...  These beautiful women, having a great time.  That's when I saw myself- and my weight.  That's when it was just too much to ignore.
at the bridal shower in July
at the wedding in September

When I look back on the pictures, I barely recognize myself.  It's hard to look at that image and know it is you, but not be able to really "see" it.  And, frankly, hearing how "great" I look for having twins or how I "carry the weight well" only gave me an excuse to ignore the fact that I was 240lbs and looking at 250lbs in the face.  That I wore a size 18 pants (and wrote it off that, at least I wasnt in the size 20 pants I was in when I was working or pregnant).  That I couldnt shop outside of Lane Bryant because most stores didnt have clothes that fit.  Seeing the wedding pictures made me acutely aware that I had to take responsibility for myself and for the choices I was making.  They also gave me the opportunity to look at the how of "how did I get here".

Part of it is my health concerns.  Yes, Hashimoto's and PCOS do influence the body and how the body metabolizes.  HOWEVER, it just makes the body's job so much harder when you put crap into it on top of that.  Yes, they (and Hashimoto's especially) do make it hard to get up and get moving sometimes and, as my DJD gets worse and I seem to be moving closer to early arthritis, it can be very painful to wake up.  But none of these things make making healthier choices impossible.  In fact, they should be a catalyst for those healthy choices!  Less weight=less joint pain.  Better foods=more energy.  These are good things!

Part of it is grief.  When we hurt emotionally, it is so much easier to try and dull that pain with something.  My drug of choice has been food.  When it hurts, bake a cake... And eat it.  Lots of it.  When you feel so let down by your body, show it who's boss by making a huge dinner... and stuffing yourself until you can hold no more.  When it hurts and you'd rather crawl under a rock than breathe but you are out with friends and want to show them that you're okay, order a delicious and decadent meal... and finish the whole thing, then follow it up by the biggest designer coffee they make (and a piece of cake!).  But it doesn't work.  The emptiness, the heartbreak... It's still there.  It may be under a layer or two or three of fat... But it's still there.  And it still hurts just as much.

Part of it, as well, are the unhealthy habits I brought into adulthood.  We all know the teenage syndrome- where you can eat nothing but crap and drink soda and coffee and not gain a pound.  I was there.  It was great.  (Was it?  Looking back, my memory says yes, but I honestly can't imagine that as "great" for my body).  I was athletic and didnt really worry about weight gain.  I ate what I wanted, drank what I wanted, and all was good.  I also saw my mom yoyo with her weight and inherited some very bad body image habits.  I saw how she was never happy with herself and saw herself as fat.  My mom is beautiful.  Regardless of her weight, she always has been.  But kids and life got in the way and her very fit body became the typical "mom" body because she didnt/wasnt able to/etc focus on herself for more than a second at a time.  And that led to self loathing.  And, at times, putting the entire family on a diet of some sort.  There were times when she would try to force portion control on us, but, for the most part, people just took multiple helpings.  It wasn't eat until you aren't hungry or until you are satiated; it was eat until you were stuffed so full you couldnt walk.  And, when we did eat together, it was eat quickly so you can get on about your day.  It was tough raising kids and working hard to be the PTA mom/working mom/stay at home mom- all rolled into one.  And, as such, I saw how much little time she gave herself in all that.  And her body image suffered.  And, growing up in the southern tradition of fried foods and fatty foods, her body itself suffered too.  As a woman, I think we see our moms (and female role models) and we subconsciously fall into their body traps as we are confronted with the societal view of what is beautiful (perhaps over what is healthy).

Seeing this all clearly, for the first time in a long time, made me realize that I dont want Bobby and Maya to see the self loathing I have.  I dont want them to take it on themselves.  I dont want them to subconsciously bring those issues to their own bodies.  It's not fair to them.  And it isn't fair to me either.  We all deserve better than this.  Looking at them gave me the push to make their lives better by giving them a mother who is going to be around to raise them... By giving them a mother who is a healthy example.

Of course, it does come back to weight too.  I dont want to be fat.  I dont want to be obese or overweight.  I dont want to be unhealthy (and unhappy).  Our lives are so limited; I want to live each day to its fullest and have no regrets.  There is so much I can't change; for the things that I can change, I want those changes to be positive ones and ones that benefit myself, my family, and my community.

And so, here we are...  3 months into this change.  And (31) pounds lighter.  31 pounds... That's a toddler.  Gone.  Down to a Lane Bryant 14 in pants (and those are loose).  It translates into around a 16 in regular pant sizes (from the 20 I was, since I was in LB 18s).  But they are loose and I have to look into buying pants at a "regular" store.   Emotionally, I still weigh 240 and I'm still ashamed of my weight.  But, looking at my body... Looking at this body...
the day after Christmas, 210lbs
... I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I see the positive example that I want to be.  And that is a beautiful thing.

So, what am I doing?  What is different about what I was doing versus the me of today?

I'm exercising.  I run or bike or swim or do yoga or ab work at least 2-3 times (usually 3 or more to be honest!).  It started with me barely being about to bang out a quarter of a mile without thinking I'd die.  Now, I can easily run 4-5 miles and have done well over 6 miles.  With winter, I think I'm going to make 5 miles my "long" run and bring it up in the spring, but I'm out there.  And that is a big deal for me.

I'm exercising portion control.  I know my weakness and, one of them, is self control.  I know that I needed to teach and relearn how to control my food impulses.  Part of that has been dropping full calorie soda and switching completely to Coke Zero.  And, if I'm out and there isnt any Coke Zero, then it's water.  I also have been drinking water during the day.  I buy the 100 calorie packs and that is what I eat, and then I'm done.  I eat Lean Cuisine meals for my lunches.  I look at serving sizes and calories per gram and I make better choices based on that.  I eat a bit and tell myself that I can have more in half an hour/an hour/whenever if I am still hungry but that, right now, it's time to walk away.  I have talks with myself: "Are you hungry?  No??  Then get out of the kitchen." "Are you hungry? Yes? Just a little bit?  Then have a 100c pack and, if you are still hungry in an hour, we can reevaluate."  "Are you hungry? Not really but you are having a hankering for something sweet?  Wait half an hour and, if the urge is still there, have a 60c pudding or a 100c pack."  Sometimes I forget I want the sweet taste.  Other times, I'm counting down the half hour (or whatever time I've set.)  If I need a snack, I have the snack.  But it is in proportion.  I know that it is too easy for me to just eat a bag of chips.  So, I dont have the big bags right now.  Maybe in the future, it will be easier.  I am testing myself.  I keep the M&M bowl that Peter likes handy.  And I walk by it.  Or, if I decide that I'm going to have some, I eat 5 (55 calories) and move on.  It's hard.  It's really hard sometimes.

When we go out to eat, I try to scope out the restaurant beforehand so I know what I am going to eat and can figure out calories/portion size, etc.  It's tough, especially when I know the temptation will be there.  But it's okay.  And, surprisingly, I'm enjoying food MORE.  Because I savor it and I am really getting up close and personal with the flavors.  I dont feel deprived.  I feel satiated.  It's a new feeling... A good one.

When I need to, I ask for help.  As embarrassing and hard as not just knowing my weight was but actually speaking it outloud to a few select folks, I knew that I needed to tell Peter and talk to him openly.  I needed to let him know that, while I appreciate his belief that I am beautiful, I didnt feel that way inside and why.  I needed him to know what would help me and what would send me over the edge (when he thought he was "helping").  I needed him to know that sometimes I might call on him, not because I needed him to "fix it" but because I needed a voice on the other end of the phone, a voice that would tell me it was okay and that I was stronger than the urge to eat.  I told Sarah because, as my workout partner and best friend, I knew I would need someone to vent to on the bad days and someone to celebrate the good days with.  And, there have been times that I've needed to call on them.  And just talk.  And they've helped.  Their support has made ALL the difference, especially during the hard times.

I've also made myself accountable.  I am responsible for my weight.  What I eat, exercising, etc... I make these choices and I am responsible for who I am.  Part of recording this journey has been forcing honesty in what I eat and how I exercise.  I also went into this with, in spite of my embarrassment, making this public at some stage, to tie in with My Life After Loss, since this is part of my journey.  Part of that means being honest so that others can be helped.  There's something about that accountability.  It helps me make better choices.

I'm not perfect.  And, when I have a 3000 calorie day, it's okay.  I dont beat myself up.  I tell myself that tomorrow will be different and I move on.  There's no point in holding onto that; there's tomorrow to think about.  And, from where I'm sitting right now, tomorrow's a pretty bright day.