Back in 2005-ish I found myself a little heavier than I wanted to be. I was working full time and attending classes for a Master's degree 3 nights a week. I was dating a guy and so when I wasn't in class I would be at his house watching TV. This lifestyle meant a lot of sitting. It was winter so it was dark by the time I got home each afternoon. That meant very little running since I wasn't a morning runner yet. And over time a few pounds crept on to my 5'3 frame...and then a few more.
I didn't like it, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. I ran when I could, but I did not eat very well. Looking back, I don't think I really knew how.
I talked to Mom about it and she gave me a Prevention Magazine article about "grazing." I bought a calorie counting book and a little journal where I could keep track of my calories and my exercise. I also joined the university gym so I could exercise at night. I eventually finished my classes and broke up with the guy and his TV (I didn't have one at my house).
The majorly eye-opening thing was how easy it was to consume too many calories. Once I started counting and paying attention to what food contained, I was shocked! I measured and counted and added and planned. I started reading labels and trying to get more fruits and veggies in my diet. I ate 5 small meals instead of 3 big ones. I stopped eating out because that was hardly worth the calorie intake or the money. I discovered fun gym classes such as cycling and muscle works. I went rollerblading at the greenway and I continued to run.
And it happened. Over the course of about 6 months, I lost 10 pounds...and then a few more. Running became easier and my pace began to drop. I became more confident and happier too. Men started to notice me and I'm not going to lie - that was fun. I got some highlights in my hair and a sassy new cut. I left my easy, dead-end job for one with more promise, and eventually met the man who would become my husband.
I look back at those days and I have to smile. I had the absolute time of my life. A friend of mine recently shared a quote she'd read, and at first I thought it was so petty and shallow - mean even. But then I realized it was true. She said, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I was living proof that feeling better about how I looked (whether you would classify it as "skinny" or not) meant way more to me than anything I could consume.
I mentioned in some previous posts that I have returned to my calorie counting days. I haven't put on any weight, but I have decreased my physical activity somewhat, so I decided a refresher course was in order. With extreme training comes the added bonus of (almost) getting to eat whatever I want. When the marathon and ultra-marathon training comes to a temporary close, however, I can't eat like that without consequences.
Once again, I am shocked. Jason has joined me in this and together we shake our heads at just how difficult it seems to maintain a healthy weight and not gain any extra. It seems almost impossible without burning at least 500 calories a day, emphasis on "at least." I write down every single morsel that enters my mouth, and it is astounding how quickly everything adds up. I pack my lunches, count everything I put in my coffee, and cringe at the thought of eating out.
So yeah, it is a little challenging at the moment. Jason believes we will get used to this in about a week. And overall, I feel really good about taking care of myself, fueling my body with less bad stuff and more good stuff to make those calories count toward my overall health. I intend to share this new little journey on this blog, in hopes that it might help readers who find themselves where I did back in 2005 and now. Whether you are trying to lose weight, or simply hoping to maintain, I believe our culture has made it somewhat difficult and I'd like to break the cycle. America's obesity rates are climbing rapidly and I often wonder if it is simply because people don't know how to do it, don't believe they can, and don't realize how incredibly worth it it is to like the person you see in the mirror. Sure, there's more to that than body image, but the way you see your physical self plays a massive role in how you view the rest.