I was filling out a Weight Watchers profile the other day. It asked about how many times you’d lost 10 or more pounds, which had me thinking about how I arrived at the place I’m at today – weighing over 200 lbs and seeking a fresh start.
I was a skinny kid. I loved gymnastics, running, climbing (although not getting back down), and whatever other forms of activity I could find. In high school, I played basketball, volleyball, softball, kickball, and even ran cross country. My mom had always been a bit heavier, but I never really imagined I would get to that point. How could I? I was so busy!
During the winter before I turned 17, I had a sledding accident that resulted in a shattered vertebra. The treatment was a back brace for 3 months and limited activity for 6. Whether a result of the accident or just a natural progression of my learning, I decided to graduate that year and be done with high school. To be honest, I have no idea what I weighed at the time of my accident. I just know that by the time I reached graduation, I was a size 10.
My therapy was swimming at the local pool. When it closed down for the summer, I lost what felt like my last avenue to exercise. I think my late night snack habit kicked in around then. It may have been there before, but kept in check by my active lifestyle. I’m not really sure.
Two years later in 1993, I went away for college. I remember pondering the term “freshman 15″ as I gained weight that year. I ate too much at the cafeteria. I snuck food (mostly candy and Snapple) at my job. I was a bit adrift – spending way too much time in the music hall even though I wasn’t a music major as I tried to figure out just who I was, what I believed, and what I wanted to be. I have no idea what I weighed, just that I was gaining.
When I met my husband in 1995, I weighed somewhere around 230 lbs. I hadn’t actually weighed myself in so long that I don’t know for sure what my top weight was. I just know that it was a lot. I think that’s one thing I appreciated (and still appreciate) about Doug. He wants me to be healthy, but his main concern about my weight is how I feel about it. Through the subsequent downs and ups, he’s been constant in that.
Before we were married, I went on my first real diet. I signed up for Jenny Craig. I can’t remember if I started at 210 lbs or if that’s where I stalled out. I just know that I didn’t love the food, didn’t love the “support,” and didn’t feel very motivated.
After we were married, I joined a gym that had just opened a location near our apartment. I think it might’ve been Gold’s Gym. There, I met Linda Lyons who became my personal trainer. She was a spitfire of a women who had gone from weighing over 300 lbs. to being a competitive body builder. She helped me manage my nutrition, pushed me to exercise, and when going to the gym got tough, she found ways to keep me motivated. She even trained me at my work gym for a while just to make sure I stayed on track. Under her guidance, I reached the lowest weight of my adult life – 152 lbs. I felt great. I looked great. I was in shape. I wasn’t a “perfect” size by some standards, but I was a comfortable 8/10 and loved it.
In December 2005, we found out we were pregnant! I had turned 30 that year, and we were so excited to be starting our family. Our excitement was short lived, however, when we discovered that the pregnancy was ectopic and would have to be terminated. We were devastated, and I was depressed. I gained 30 lbs in the 6 months after the loss of our first baby.
In June 2006, we were pregnant again. It was thrilling and scary. We didn’t want to get too excited after our last experience. I didn’t have much in the way of morning sickness. I ate like I was eating for 2 or more. I worried every day that I wouldn’t get to have this beautiful girl. And I gained a lot during my pregnancy. I think I was around 235-240 by the time River was born. I really don’t know.
Between the time River was born and us discovering that Hazel was on her way, I had managed to get down to about 180 lbs again. I think. It’s all a blur now. I know it took a lot of hard work and a half marathon to get there. Then, I was in the midst of another pregnancy where I gained 50 lbs.
According to my wifi-enabled scale, my lowest weight since Hazel was born in 2010 was 185 back in March 2012. Since then, I’ve spent much of my time flirting with 200 up until my shoulder surgery in August 2013. After surgery, I think I let everything go. I ate more. I exercised less. And I ended up where I am today.
Perhaps that’s my biggest road block. I now drink wine and beer and cocktails on occasion. I love well-prepared food in nice restaurants. I have a hard time saying no to that voice in my head that says, “But it just tastes sooo good!” And the louder voice that says, “Do you really have time for a workout?” seems to drown out the other voice that whispers, “But you love being healthy and in good shape.”
I’ve spent the last year signing up for running races to try to reclaim that feeling I had back in 2009 when I trained for my first half marathon – the motivation to exercise, the healthy body, and the ability to enjoy food in moderation. Up until now, I’ve failed. I’ve trained halfway. I’ve kept on eating and drinking as much as I feel like in the moment. I’ve let myself ignore all the signs that my body is not happy with these choices. And I’ve actually skipped most of the races I’ve paid money to participate in.
In June 2014, I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5k that was to take place on March 1, 2015. Yup, I signed up for a race 9 months in advance with the idea I would have plenty of time to be ready for it. Plus, hot chocolate! As March 1 approached and I realized my training was abysmal, I considered skipping the race. I had exercised just enough for it not to be a bad idea, but not enough for it to be any sort of “race.” Plus, I couldn’t seem to get anyone else to sign up for the 5k. People kept saying, “Sure!” but…
The day before race day, I actually went and picked up the packet. I still wasn’t convinced I was going to make myself get up at the ass-crack of dawn and drive alone to downtown Seattle for a race. Still, I had to at least pick up my cool hoodie that came with my race registration.
On race day, my alarm went off. I dragged myself out of bed. I put on the only “running” clothes I’d found that still fit. I tied my shoes and hit the road. I suffered through traffic. I found my corral for my approximated 15-minute pace (stated back in June 2014). And I did it. I walk/ran the race. I finished with just over a 15-minute pace. And I remembered why I had enjoyed training for that first half marathon so many years before.
When Candie mentioned that she was going to be running the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in June and wouldn’t I like to sign up, I decided that I would like to sign up. I will be 40 this summer. I want to run into my 40s with a plan, a goal, an ambition. I don’t want to be a size 2 or 4 or even 6. I really just want to recapture that feeling when I completed a half marathon in just under 3 hours. That feeling when I weighed 152 lbs and could wear a size 10. It’s not about the size, but about the sense of accomplishment that the hard work brings.
And I want my daughters to answer this question the way River did so many years ago: “What does your mother do?” She’s a runner.