…Pride is forever. I must admit, I wrote and re-wrote this post several times. How do you just dive into such a journey? It’s like dipping your toe in the swimming pool, you can spend all day inching your way in but who has that much time? Sometimes you just have to dive in. Well here I am, diving in. This saying has been my mantra for the last year and a half. While it doesn’t necessarily need to be your mantra, I can’t stress enough how helpful it has been to have a mantra. For me the ‘Pain’ portion encompasses quite a bit. My ‘pain’ ranges from the obvious ‘I ran really hard yesterday and now my quads are on fire’ to the seemingly minute, ‘I really want that chocolate’ to ‘Everyone else seems to breeze through life and just wake up thin, why is this taking so much work for me’. Aside from legitimate physical pain, these other forms of pain are so short lived in the long run. So someone brought ice cream to work, my favorite by far, and it just doesn’t fit into today’s calorie count. Turning it down only hurts in the moment. Okay; maybe it stings for more than a moment but tomorrow am I really going to wake up wishing I’d eaten the ice cream?
The home screen of my phone has a tile that reads ‘Pain is temporary, Pride is forever’. Admittedly, I don’t look at that nearly as often as I once did but every road race I have run to this point has included a spectator sign with my iconic phrase. Among the other dozens of moments at a race that make me emotional, this one gets me every.single.time. There’s the obvious; the pain of these miles will wear off and I’ll be left with the pride of knowing I finished this race. But that’s just the surface, I get choked up when I start to think about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
So you are probably wondering where I’ve been? Well here’s the quick back story…I grew up in the ‘burbs with the best family you can imagine. Mom, Dad, and a younger sister. I was fortunate enough to know and vividly remember all four of my grandparents, three great grandparents, and one great great grandparent. So many people can tell you that one horrific occurrence where their life began spiraling out of control. I don’t have that. Did I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with food? Absolutely. I can blame it on many things but it did exist to a degree. Food was the language of comfort, celebration, happiness, fear, sorrow, the emotions are endless. I have always genuinely enjoyed working out. I first joined a gym in high school and found the benefits to be much deeper than the obvious physical benefits. A solid trip to the gym reset my compass mentally, emotionally, and physically. I didn’t pay much mind to what I ate or how much of it I was consuming. I was overweight but my mediocre gym habit kept my weight mostly consistent. I graduated from high school and went to college. At that point I was faced with emotional challenges I never expected. I was homesick, deeply deeply homesick. And worst of all, I was longing for something that no longer existed. High school was a memory. I could not recreate it, my friends were all over the country going to school and working. Again, going to the gym was a way for me to find benefits much deeper than the physical. Still, I was on a college campus, with unlimited trips to the dining hall. I saw the skinny girls eating salad and I tried to think I was making good choices but I wasn’t. I spent many evening hours dancing with a student led dance group. After having spent my entire childhood attending a weekly dance class, it was another way to feel at home when everything else was so foreign to me. Still, I mostly stayed the same. I would presume that my workouts and my young metabolism were just enough to keep me the same, mildly overweight. During the summer between my second and third year of school, I met Dan. He was going through a pretty awful time in life. That, combined with having grown up across the world in a totally different culture, meant we didn’t have the same eating habits. He ate mostly rice and vegetables with a reasonable amount of meat. All well portioned. Desserts were virtually non-existent, in fact he just didn’t have a taste for them. When you grow up not knowing where your next meal will come from, cookies don’t make much sense. Add a dash of my love of hamburgers, French fries, chicken fingers, pizza, and all things dessert and well, it got messy. I was going to visit him every weekend, about a two hour drive from my school. We ate out, ordered pizza, and lived without limits. We did cook from time to time, but not with any concern over calorie or fat content. Eventually, he moved, I graduated and we were living close by. We had quite a few discussions about whether it was better to be skinny and sad or fat and happy. We always settled on fat and happy, probably because that’s what we were. Being skinny and happy seemed so unattainable. We had a few short lived ‘campaigns’ to ride bikes together, take walks, eat salad. Still, I was casually going to the gym. As for the number on the scale…I wasn’t paying much attention. We went on in that way for some more time. I eventually moved out of my parents’ house to live alone. Always having been a thrifty bargain hunter, I started couponing. If your first thought was ‘oh I thought most coupons were for unhealthy processed food’ you are correct. During that time, I also found myself unemployed. I ate what I could get for free or cheap but honestly I really thought it wasn’t that bad. And yes, I kept casually working out…only this time on my home elliptical.
At one point, in the spring of 2012, I considered joining Weight Watchers but I kid you not, my hang up was that I didn’t want to live a life that didn’t allow peanut butter cups. I felt like maybe I would just log the foods I already ate and make a minor tweak here or there. I was afraid if living by a food diary. I settled for buying a bathroom scale and using it periodically. Around the same time, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and within a total of four months, we went from diagnosis, there’s a better chance he will be cured and fine that not, to clear PET scan and this was all just a bad dream, to the cancers is back or was it never really gone but either way, this is only moving in one direction and its moving fast. Those were a lot of emotions to live through in such a short time. After his passing in July 2012, I was working part time combined with odd jobs to help my grandmother out. I wasn’t sleeping and I was largely subsisting on unsweetened iced tea. Most days, I was up all night, would finally fall asleep between 4 and 5 am and be awake for the day between 8 and 9am. The lack of sleep meant I drank more caffeine and more caffeine meant I didn’t sleep. It was a terrible cycle that I didn’t know how to get out of.
In October 2012, I was hired for full time work. Eventually, my body returned to a somewhat normal schedule due to necessity. I can’t say that life was returning to normal but I was navigating my new normal. At some point in the beginning of 2013 I started to hear some chatter about My Fitness Pal, an online food and exercise tracker. My mom kept telling me I would like it. One day I went on and created an account so I could check it out. I went ahead and entered my food for that day and pretty quickly, I realized if I had to look at my habits in black and white, I needed to change them. Now. I wanted to use the tools and track honestly but if I was going to be honest, I didn’t want to see the numbers that reflected the truth. I started reading labels much more closely and I had an idea of what I should be consuming. I had had the harebrained idea I would like to be back at the weight I was when I met Dan, by the time we were 5 years from our first date…that gave me from March to August. Ugh, that was over 40 pounds. How did that happen? All along I had been working out here and there, I didn’t think my eating habits were that poor. So, I made a big decision. I thought wow that’s impossible but instead of stopping there and drowning my sorrows in another bowl of ice cream, I decided even though it seems like a tall order, let me just see how close I can get by August 22nd. Well, I did it. It wasn’t always pretty but I did it. I knew if I could go that far, I could continue to push a little farther and a little farther. If I could work through 40 pounds, I will have figured out what works for me right?
This blog is a product of my deep desire for others to experience a positive life change like I have since March 2013. I was overweight and unhealthy but more than that, I was living a lame boring life. Work all day, come home watch TV, eat, sleep, repeat. That’s not to say I had nothing exciting in my life, but I never had a solid hobby that was my own. Something I could do on my own, without relying on others availability, without spending a fortune. I don’t play an instrument, I’m not all that creative or crafty, and you can only do so much shopping. Being fit and healthy has become my hobby. Working out, making healthy recipes, reading health and fitness articles occupies my free time and it is so much better than watching TV and eating candy. 60 pounds didn’t disappear without outside support and countless internet searches as I navigated my transformation so I hope that I can be a resource for someone else. I’m excited to share with you the experiences I have had and am having. This is more than a history, it’s a story that is still being written. It’s about so much more than the number on the scale though. It’s the realization that if I want to do something, I can. If I set a goal, I can achieve it. I don’t have to sit back and wish I was lucky enough to be able to achieve the seemingly impossible.
So will you experience pain on the journey of getting healthy and fit? Absolutely! You can call it all kinds of things: pain, disappointment, frustration, the possibilities are endless. Ultimately, it’s about making sure your pain is outweighed by your pride. In the long run.