Monday, May 23, 2011

I did it

I used to not be able to walk up one flight of stairs without getting winded. Saturday, I walked up to the top of Yosemite Falls, which took 4 miles, 5 hours, 2 meltdowns, and 64 oz of water (and I wished I had had more). I was so exhausted and am still sore. But most of all? I'm proud. And humbled, because I am not in the shape I thought. But it was great. I will post more details and pictures later.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Challenge to Self

This weekend I am going to Yosemite National Park with a friend from graduate school. I am beyond delighted to see her, and to experience the beauty of one of our national parks. I can barely wait (though you wouldn't know because I haven't had much time to think about packing, getting ready, etc -- although I did order a fold up hiking stick).

My friend lives in California and has been to the park quite a bit. She knows the ins and outs -- she found us a tent cabin to stay in, knows which hikes are good, and so on. I am grateful to utilize her knowledge to help us plan our stay.

She suggested that we do the Upper Yosemite Falls hike. I am very excited about this, but also scared. The coin is always two-sided, right? It sure does seem that way.

Reasons for excitement: obvious. I'm in Yosemite, which is beautiful. I'm with my friend, who I love and don't get to see often. The views from the top of the trail are supposed to be particularly stunning -- as good as Half Dome, but easier to reach.

But I'm also nervous. The hike is 7.8 miles (which is in and of itself is a little challenging but not too bad), and the terrain is steep and rocky. My friend was a varsity collegiate track athlete for a Big 10 school. While I'm in reasonable shape, I am still overweight and carrying the extra pounds will be tough; my friend is literally half my size. I drink a lot and don't want to carry a bunch of heavy water up a mountain. I hate slipping and I have read that the gravel on the trail makes it kind of easy to fall. There's a reasonable chance of rain, making things slipperier and generally more unpleasant. So there are definitely plenty of things to be scared of or nervous about.

I expressed my concern to my friend -- mainly that I would be slower than she was, but that I was in good shape and thought I could make it if she was willing to be patient with me. I told her either way was fine. She responded
Let's give it a shot! We can take it nice and easy and if we don't make it all the way, it's okay. The important part is that we're together enjoying Yosemite this weekend!
First of all, what a great friend! Second of all, she's right.

After all, when will I be in Yosemite again? When will I get this chance to try this hike again? Life is moving on so let's just harness the proverbial bull by the horns and go for it! I will not let life pass me by just because I'm not at my ideal weight or afraid of heights. I will try this daunting task and probably make it to the top, even though it will be hard. If I don't give it a shot, I will regret it. And if I fail miserably? I won't wonder "what if"...and I'll probably have a good story to tell.

So here goes nothing -- Upper Yosemite Falls here I come! I can't wait to share with you how this goes!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's been a year

It was around this time last year that I weighed in at 235. It was the lowest I'd been on the WL train thus far (this time around). This weight is also significant in that it was the weight I maintained the first time I lost weight -- more correctly, I stalled out around 229.5, gained a little over Christmas, and maintained at 235 for several months.

This week, I once again weighed in at 235. In this last year, I've been as low as 228.4, as high as 240.4 and have bounced in between these two weights in the 235+/-5 window. Perhaps a classic case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same." So how do I feel about that?

Actually, I don't really know, but I lean more towards feeling good about it than feeling bad. But let's start by getting the negatives out of the way.

I know that for a person who is my height (5'8"), that 235 is not a healthy weight. I know that I still struggle very heavily with compulsive overeating and that there is progress to be made on that front. I feel somewhat frustrated that I'm about 50 lbs heavier than the weight that I think is probably healthy for my body and that it's been an entire year since I've lost weight. That part is sad/frustrating/annoying.

Before I go on -- I must acknowledge that this is NOT a plateau. To me, a plateau is when you're doing everything right (at least to the best of your knowledge) -- exercising, following your food plan, etc -- and the scale isn't moving. The fact that I haven't lost weight is due to my decision to not follow the Weight Watchers program consistently, my not being as diligent about exercise as I have been in the past, and succumbing to the occasional binge. I KNOW what it takes to lose weight, and in the past year I've either done it inconsistently or sometimes not at all. And THAT'S why I haven't lost weight -- not because my body is confused or I'm starving myself or anything like that. I accept responsibility for my decisions, and am working to change the dysfunctional thought patterns that underly those decisions so that I can once again make progress.

However, like I said, the larger part of me is proud/happy/optimistic about what I've done with my weight the past year. I have dealt with depression and a lot of anxiety about my career and future. In the past, food would have been my primary source of comfort to deal with these issues; now I more often turn to friends and to God (although food is always there and still gets abused sometimes). I also have just in the past few months have made several realizations that are critical to my longterm succcess, thanks in large part to OA and a book I'm reading called Made to Crave. The biggest realization is that not only do I not have to do this alone, I really can't do this alone -- I must seek help from God if I am truly to recover from using food as a substitute for strength, love, comfort, and hope. And that fills me with unspeakable optimism.

On a pragmatic note, I must acknowledge that I have gone down a size in the past year despite my weight staying the same. I think this is because I work out and I've converted some fat to muscle. I must also admit that I think this is the first time I've ever maintained a weight for a year. While one might see that as a negative, as someone who has either lost or gained a significant (10+ lbs) of weight each and every year of her adult life, I see a year of maintenance as both extremely significant and extremely positive. A year of maintenance puts me one step closer to stopping the madness of gaining gaining gaining or losing a significant amount of weight each year, and so I am extremely proud of that.

I'll leave you with pictures of me from last year this time at 235 (black shirt) and this year (blue tanktop and bad posture). I see a little bit of a change on the side view and I think my face looks skinnier (more pronounced chin), but other than that they look kind of similar to me. I can, however, assure you that those pants fit much better now which means that even though I may not see it, I know progress is being made.
And yes, that's a calendar year of concerted effort to grow my hair. Curly. hair. grows. so. slowly!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The newly found importance of OA in my life

One of the things that got crowded out when life got busy was Overeaters Anonymous, OA, where I'd been going for about a month prior to getting so crazy-busy.

I stopped going to OA for a few weeks, not because I don't like or believe in the program but because I chose to do other things on my Saturday morning -- hang out with friends doing scheduled stuff, Zumba, relax. All of these things are perfectly justifiable, especially as self-care when life is pressing on me from all directions and I need to be particularly careful about my mental health. I do not feel badly about doing any of them.

However, as a result of my absence from the OA program I've realized that -- for me -- OA is going to be something that at the very least will be an ongoing part of my life for the next season. Maybe forever. It is a huge piece in helping me stay sane as far as food is concerned.

I feel like people at OA get me. I love that OA reminds me that I'm not alone in my stuggles with food -- there are not only other people, but most importantly God will and wants to help me with my food. This past weekend, I went to several OA phone meetings (they're free!) and I felt supported and validated and, best of all, that I let go of the compulsions about food. It was fantastic, and I had a great day of eating and activity.

Giving my food and my will about food is something that I'm realizing I must do everyday. It is not a switch that gets flipped; rather it's something like exercise that you must do regularly to derive all the benefits. I am learning this, and learning that I cannot be trusted with food in my own strength is something that is simultaneously very very difficult and humbling to do, yet oddly liberating at the same time.


The end of the semester is usually grueling, but for some reason it seems even more so this semester. I am buried in a stack of grading and just as I make progress on it, it seems that more gets dumped on me. I'm so stressed out.

I've visited the ol' friend of compulsive overeating to help me get through. The busy-ness has also crowded out most of the exercise I'd usually do. After gaining about 10 lbs in about 4 weeks, I feel gross. I feel lethargic and I am starting to feel softer in places that shouldn't be soft, and am losing muscle definition. By all accounts, these things are undesirable.

But do you know what? I realized I am oddly grateful for this. As a result of this, I got to feel how my body shuts down when it's not properly fed or nourished. It's not pretty, and I feel disgusting. It was a great reminder as to why I'm getting healthy. Also, it really reinforced the idea that I am a food addict. Though I am not proud of the title, I think I need reminders sometimes when I feel like "man, I've got this" -- you know, the whole "pride comes before a fall" thing. I have ruined my brain chemistry and neural pathways pathways to not treat food normally (or it genetic, I don't know -- but either way, the result is the same).

Starting yesterday, I said "This is enough." Yesterday and today I have eaten food that honors and nourishes my body; I went for a bike ride yesterday and went to Zumba today. I have worked a whole lot, but I am cutting out TV and excessive internet usage as a way to relax, and instead spending that time on working out. I feel a lot better, even with just 2 days of healthiness under my belt.

I've said it before, and I've said it again: I am a tough broad and I will not give up. This healthiness thing is the way God intended for us to live, and I am going to need to trust Him to help me restore my body to the way he intended for it to work. That starts with giving the body what it needs and deserves both in the form of food and exercise.
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