Nine years ago I was at my heaviest (non-pregnant) weight ever.
I had given birth to five kids in six years, was overwhelmed, had no money, was in a fucked up marriage and was not taking care of myself.
Life looked like this:
Nine years ago I was 43 years old.
I was solely focused on what I looked like, I had very little confidence, and I was constantly chasing this pre-child body (a body I only maintained through a steady diet of Marlboro Lights):
All my self-worth was connected to what I looked like.
Back then I was sure that all my problems would be solved if I could just lose weight.
I had no concept of self-care.
I had two perspectives: I was fat, or I was flawless.
Those were the options.
Physical and mental health had nothing to do with anything, really.
It was just, you’re fat or you’re perfect.
It was all black and white and there was no in between.
And perfection was never attainable.
So I joined a weight loss competition at the Y, and being a black or white/all or nothing person (at the time), I went ALL IN.
I was over the top.
The competition was an overall weight loss competition, and it also had different categories you could win:
- most cardio minutes
- most spin classes
- most fitness classes
- most laps swum
- highest percentage of weight lost
Because moderation was not even on my radar back then, I started out wanting to win one category but before long I wanted to win the whole thing AND be in the top 5 in every category.
I won the laps swum category.
I came in second in overall weight loss.
I placed in the top 5 in every category.
I transformed my body from this:
I lost 24 pounds and traded lots of fat for muscle.
And while the competition wasn’t about solely losing weight – it was about taking better care of yourself – I was laser focused on one thing: losing weight and what I looked like.
Of course this all or nothing strategy was not manageable long-term.
I was successful in losing weight but not in a way that I could sustain. I was working out for 2-3 hours a day to get those results.
And I wasn’t focused on self-care at all.
I was focused only on my reflection and numbers on a scale.
My reflection didn’t look too shabby in the mirror, but as you can see in this picture from the summer of 2013, eight months after I first joined that competition at the Y, I looked great in a bikini but I still didn’t look genuinely happy.
I had no idea how much work I needed to do on myself.
And I had no idea how none of it had to do with the scale.
There were some great things that came from that competition at the Y back in 2013.
I had gotten in such great shape that I entered the the 2013 NYC Triathlon with Team in Training that July.
I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, and I LOVED it.
In fact I loved it so much I decided to run my first marathon – the NYC Marathon – three months later.
And THAT led to five more marathons in the next four years.
I became a runner because of that Lose to Win program, and eventually I did learn that exercise was crucial for my overall well-being.
It helped me mentally more than it helped me physically.
And over time, exercise became a non-negotiable for me.
It’s a part of my daily routine.
Two to three hours of working out a day was not manageable or sustainable, though.
And unfortunately, you can’t outrun your fork.
Breaking the cycle of emotional eating has continued to be a challenge for me, and so as the amount of exercise I did decreased, the weight inevitably crept back on.
I’ve yo-yoed back and forth over the years, always looking for quick fixes.
There are no quick fixes.
Fast forward to today.
I exercise consistently. Daily.
In spite of this, in 2021 I gained 25 pounds.
I started off the year at 160, and I ended the year at 185 pounds.
Clearly 2021 was a very uncomfortable year for me emotionally.
And I dealt with that emotional discomfort by eating.
I knew what I was doing.
I chose to navigate my way through my first year as a divorced, single mom, through a move and through a pandemic by numbing myself as much as I could with food.
I did a great job of numbing myself!
Now I’m ready to start taking care of myself and sitting through the discomfort.
I’m 13 pounds heavier than I was nine years ago when I joined Lose to Win.
I carry all my weight in my midsection, and that’s not good.
I’m not only overweight, but my waist measurement was 39″ on day 1.
That’s the biggest it’s ever been, and it’s well outside a healthy zone.
That puts me in a danger zone for heart disease and a bunch of other stuff.
I don’t want to live this way anymore.
I’m ready to take care of my whole self.
My desire to change isn’t led by my reflection. It’s led by my desire to be healthy.
I’m ready to feel things that don’t feel good so I can live the life I want to live.
But I also know myself.
In some ways I’m totally self-motivated and accountable to myself. Like with exercise. I don’t need external accountability to do that consistently.
But with new stuff it’s a different story.
While I’m not an expert at sitting in discomfort, I am an expert at knowing how to create new habits.
I know the more attractive you make changes, the more likely you are to be consistent with them.
I really like competition.
I like competing against other people, and the older I get, the more I like competing against myself.
So nine years later, I joined the same Lose to Win competition at the Y. It’s a 12 week program.
This time around I’ve got 3 goals:
- Practice moderation and resist the temptation to go overboard. (I feel confident this won’t be a problem).
- Win the “laps swum” category. This will be difficult since I got Covid last week, swam zero laps last week, and can’t get into the pool until this weekend. But I’m gonna give it a go.
- The third goal? Well naturally it’s to win the weight loss competition. DUH. The biggest challenge with this is to do it in a way that I don’t pack the pounds back on as soon as the competition ends. To do it in a way I can maintain forever. That will be a challenge.
But it’s a challenge I’m up for.
And so, here’s where I’m starting.
This has nothing to do with hating my body.
It’s got everything to do with taking better care of myself.
I’m really excited to reclaim my total health, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the journey with you.