Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let's not beat around the bush, this is a big long post about my weight

Attention: Sensitive Topic Alert. Alert meaning, yes this is my opinion and my experience and no way am I, girl who tripped over her own foot this morning, dumb enough to think that this topic is the same for everyone. Ye rest assured, I be not stupid.

I'll start a while back, because I can. I was a really active kid. I grew up outside, running and barefoot and on my bike. In the winter, we made snow angels and snowmen and snow forts and only came inside when we were soaked from the inside out and the outside in. I begged and begged my mother to stay outside even after the sun went down. I went outside first thing in the morning to swing, where I'd stay for hours. This carried into young adulthood. I was never graceful and never the super star of the team, but I was always doing something, always going. In high school, I'd put on maybe six or seven pounds over the winter and then the first nice day of Spring would come and, almost like magic, those extra few pounds were gone.

This was a similar pattern in college, too. In my later years of college I did forge quite the bond with Coors Light (mmmm, yeah, still takes me back today) and therefore, I just spent more time in the gym. It was all so easy then. And my body, so cooperative. I was never a size 2, oh no, my friend. But I was in good shape, entirely manageable and only the occasional fat day, really. I know, shut up, right. I say that now, too.

Then, college ended and real life began. With bills and schedules and someone to answer to. And a desk job. Though I've worked since I was a teenager, I have never had to just show up all day and SIT DOWN for most of eight hours (or ten, or twelve). I never realized what that, combined with age, changing metabolism and blah blah blah, could do to a person. Really, I did it but still, it was sneaky fat. In six months I'd gained about 15 pounds.

That's about when I started running. For a while, it got me back on track. I wasn't my college weight but I was close and by the time I was twenty-four, I'd sort of stabilized. I never really weighed myself after that. I couldn't be bothered. My pants fit, I was alright. Then, over the winter of 2005, I was handed some challenges by life. Looking back, I thought I dealt really well. I WORE OUT A BELT ON A TREADMILL, for crying out loud! And then, winter ended and in March 2006, I began to pack for an island vacation and found that I had only two pairs of shorts that fit. Out of about twenty. It freaked me out and body-wise, weight-wise, 2006 only went down from there.

I struggled all year, during running, during injury, everything. I made excuses, "it's hard to lose weight while marathon training" and "you can't run as much as you need to in order to maintain your weight, you're injured." They were true, but they were excuses. I know it's not rocket science, you have to burn what you're consuming. Even someone that hates math can add that up. Nonetheless, I didn't. I went up and down 5-10 pounds all year, but never really losing what I should have to be healthy and never really focusing long enough to figure out why. I ignored it. And in December of 2006, I ran my first marathon at a weight heavier than I've ever been. In my life. It's a myth, folks, that you have to be a waif to be a runner.

Then, the calendar turned to 2007. I avoided the lose weight resolution and was focused on repairing all my injuries. Knees, ITBs, hips. I went back to lifting twice per week. I was starting to feel good again. I could run a little, and when I wasn't running, I was on the elliptical machine (we became best friends). So I started weighing myself again. I'd get on the scale and see little to no change. I'd write on my blog about how I'd weigh myself after having toast for dinner. It was silly. (The weighing, not the toast. Toast is never silly.) Then, sometime, and I'd be lying if I said I knew the moment, I just asked myself "when did this become acceptable for you?"

And that was it. That was when I realized that yes, things with cheese on them and cake and ice cream were good, but that wasn't my problem. My problem was me. I'd somehow, over the course of four years and "adult" life and marathon training, I'd allowed my weight to become acceptable. I'm a realist, I will not ever weigh 115 pounds and wear a size two. What I do know is that I don't have to be where I am if I don't like it. It's strange, really, because my weight has never made me unhappy. Occasional fat days have always been my thing- I still made friends, got new jobs, ran races, had adventures of a lifetime, worked hard and fell in and out of love with everyone from a friend to the guy that does the weather on Channel 11. What it came down to was that it just wasn't right. It wasn't what I wanted for my life any longer.

I don't have control over so many things but this, this was all me. And I could do something about it, so I did. I am. It's every day.


e.b. said...

as always you are so right on target. this weight thing is so heavy (yes pun intended) for so many of us. i find it can consume (again intended) me for days and days thinking nothing but that. and then in another minute i am happy about it and forget it all. you have asked me before and i feel the answer will never change - i will never be content with mine. but it is oh so very personal to each individual.

justacoolcat said...

Toast is never silly!

I've had to get over the weight thing since I've been lifting weights more in addition to cardio I've actually gained 15 or so lbs, but all my clothes are bigger and I feel healthier.

brookem said...

i agree with eb, this weight thing is such a hot topic for so many of us (myself! included, big time). this was so well written and so relateable.

brandy said...

A great post to share during the 'start of summer' when everyone store is talking about 'bikini's' and people are offficially 'freaking out'. I have to say, I'm glad you are doing what feels good for you, what is keeping you healthy and that you are writing about it. As a teacher, I have a SERIOUS problem with the idea that being extremly overweight is okay. Medically, it's not. It's hard on your body and 11 year olds shouldn't be wearing a size 34 jeans. Healthy doesn't mean size 2 (as you pointed out), but it should mean being able to touch your toes. Thanks for sharing!

OC said...

Great post! As females, we are almost naturally weight-aware and it depends on how far to either extreme you go with it... but really it is about being comfortable with yourself - and the lifestyle you lead. If you want to put peanut butter and hot fudge on toast (uh I *heard* its good), go for it. But that's no longer the 90-calorie piece of bread!

Sizzle said...

the crux of it is, you have to be ok with you. no one else. nobody else's standards. just you. and you'll get there.

i always have thought the body image stuff is so much more about how we feel on the inside.

and yes, toast is NEVER silly. :)

justrun said...

e.b.- Part of me (maybe a sick part) is okay with not being 100% okay. Then I'll keep things under control. I don't know if that's right, but I won't lose sleep over that either. :)

JACC- Us and our toast, eh?
I get it with the weights. You have to be realistic... the body can rarely do two drastic things at once, right? "Get huge!" haha.

brookem- Yes, the weight knows no bounds. (Okay, that was bad.)

Brandy- I agree. Health is health and if someone is "okay" with heart disease or diabetes, that's NOT okay.

OC- That's for certain. And I wasn't comfortable, not enough anyway.

sizzle- I knew I wasn't okay with it, definitely. And I'm not perfect now, I'm just happier and feel better, which is a way better place to be.

Dawn said...

I've been blessed to not really have to worry about my weight...but I have anyway! :)

Back in college, I was irrational about it...I look back and think about how close I came to having an eating disorder. Not good!

Now I workout so that I can eat whatever I want, rather than working out and still not eating what made me happy.

And no, toast is never silly.

Backofpack said...

I'm glad you figured it out, only gets harder as you get older. Harder to take it off that is. I've got a whole new challenge now that I've reached menopause (a little early - I'm not 50 yet!)- my weight is the same, but I swear it is redistributing itself! I'm still doing Pilates and you know I've been running like mad - so it should darn well stay put.

I grew up hating my clumsy, overweight body. I was a chubby child, and I was bigger in 8th grade than I am now. My Mom put me on WW and I actually stayed slim during high school. My body image has always been and still is, chubby. I've learned to love my body though - I remind myself that it gave me two spectacular and beautiful boys, that it has carried me through pregnancies, illness and lately some really long runs. It is a strong and sturdy body. I'm working on the good self-talk!

GirlGoyle said...

It's really about feeling comfortable with yourself and I know that no matter how active I am, I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see. I struggled for 4 months to drop down 10lbs but it seems impossible to maintain. I haven't been back on a scale since as I got tired of eating salads. But now it's beach time and I feel fat. I just don't know how, like you, to take control but I guess will have to find a way. At least I know it's not abnormal seeing that you struggled too.

justrun said...

Dawn- So interesting how that works, isn't it? And yeah, I'll never completely give up the good stuff. No way.

BoP- See, that is the healthy feeling I wanted. It feels good to get there, even if you know it's not perfect, you know it's good.

GG- It isn't abnormal... but I'll be damned if so many people want you to think it is. I think it's just about knowing where you feel good- hopefully this is it for a while. Thinking about it is exhausting.

Danielle said...

Ah weight...wouldn't it be nice if it was easy? I was like you as a kid, always running around outside, begging to be outside, and I look at my graduating class and there were a couple of people that were bigger, but no one was FAT like they are now. It's sad and so wrong...but I digress. Being comfortable with oneself is the key. I know I'm not fat. I am, for the most part, fine, but I know I CAN lose a bit more and still be OK and not a stick and I want to lose that so I can feel good. It's not about what anyone else thinks, you have to do what is good for you.

adam said...

It is good to hear that you have such a rational view on body weight. Even though I am a guy and not subjected to quite the same social pressures I sometimes fall into the prevalent simpleminded view: weight gain is evil. It is much more important to be healthy than to be skinny. I am quite certain that I naturally gain weight in the fall, as it gets colder out. But those pounds fly off in the spring when it is warmer and my appetite for calorie dense foods diminishes. Thanks for the reminder: I love buttered toast with sugar and cinnamon! And no it isn't silly.

The Exception said...

That computer and associated chair a so not good for the figure! I never realized what a difference in my body simply having a job behind a computer could have.

I can speak from a parent's perspective. My daughter is, like you were, the image of activity. She is always on the go. The challenge is to get her to eat, not keeping her from eating. But, for us, we don't talk about weight loss or getting fat etc. We talk about having a healthy body; eating things that we keep it healthy; and balancing our what we eat with an active lifestyle. Right now she is reading labels and being forced to eat things with protein over her preferred food group - carbohydrates!