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Remembering bits and pieces

26 Apr

I’m trying to lose weight. Fifteen pounds (as of today) to be exact. Usually I weigh myself on Thursdays. I use the scale at my gym, and I go there in the morning after I’ve used the bathroom (TMI) and before I’ve eaten breakfast. Today is Wednesday. I needed to weigh today because I can’t do it tomorrow.

Something has been off in my body and spirit for a week or so. I’ve had tummy troubles, and this morning I woke up with a terrible headache. Not that there are good headaches. Funny that I always feel the need to qualify my headaches so you know they are bad.

Anyway, headache. Didn’t want to get out of bed. Didn’t feel hungry or even want coffee, which is a sure sign that I’m in bad shape. Been feeling so, so, so very sad, and I don’t know why. Nothing has changed in my diet or my routine. I am not experiencing more stress. Yes, the weather has been rainy and cold and windy, but I live in North Dakota and it’s March.

So I was running late and I went to the gym, stripped off my coat and shoes, and stepped on the scale. I gained more than a pound this week. Last week I stayed exactly the same as the week before. Previously, I had been losing close to one pound per week.

I threw my coat and shoes back on and got in my car to drive to work, and I cried. Lip quivering tears with little whimpering sounds like kittens make. Over a weight gain. Really there has to be something more going on, because I’ve fallen into a funk and I can’t get out.

When I got to work and stepped out of my car, I was thinking, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t eat anything today.

Since I started feeling so low, I’ve had bits and pieces of a quote I believe I once read floating around in my head. It has to do with what gets us down — like you can tell a lot about a person by the things that get them down, or make them upset. I have been Googling the bits and pieces and can’t find it.

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This isn’t the one, but it’s good. And Einstein.

The quote itself doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I start crying about gaining (or not losing) weight and start thinking maybe I shouldn’t eat, it really makes me say, Geez, Wendi. Is that all it takes to get you down? Aren’t there more important matters in the world?

There are more important matters, and I have a lot to be grateful for, but at this very moment I know something is going on that needs my attention. There is a dis-ease in my body or spirit. Yesterday I thought about suicide — not making plans but just the thought that flies into and out of your head. It happens sometimes, and I know it’s important.

Instead of not eating, which I honestly don’t think I could EVER do, I decided to let go of two things today: the scale and tracking my food. It will be hard for me to do that, but ultimately I think it will help.

Thank you for reading this far. Please understand that I don’t want any advice about weight loss or mental health. I would, however, appreciate your support and understanding. Like, “I understand this feeling, Wendi. Is there anything I can do to help? Would you like a latte or a million dollars?” Like that.

 

Loving and losing

16 Apr

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about my weight loss. A lot of friends and family did exactly what I asked — they told me “Yay!” — and helped me celebrate my accomplishment.

But one friend made a comment that caused me to ponder the reasons people lose or gain weight, and the reasons people decide to make those changes to their bodies. We can lose or gain for many reasons, positive and negative, and several factors might motivate us to make changes.

Later in the day, as I was writing and rewriting this post in my head, a friend said on Facebook that his wife had started a diet. A friend of theirs commented, “Tell your wife she is perfect just the way she is.”

And that set me off!

I want to propose the idea that it is possible to truly, deeply love yourself and your life, to be very happy and content, and still want to lose (or gain) weight. That decision need not come from self-loathing, a desire to conform to any real or perceived standards, or any other unhealthy attitudes toward one’s own body or food.

At times in my life, I have certainly hated my body and wished it would magically become smaller without me having to make any lifestyle changes, even though I knew that wish was ridiculous. It’s the dream of every person who has an addiction — to do whatever you want and not face any negative consequences.

Since I became an athlete and a personal trainer, I have had to confront and refine my ideas about body image, weight, health, and wellness. I know that weight loss is not always a reason for congratulations. I also have become very passionate about the fact that we feel comfortable saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” to friends and family, but when we notice someone has gained weight (and don’t lie, you notice) you don’t ask or wonder if that person is physically, spiritually, or emotionally well. We think loss is “good” and gain is “bad,” but both are usually more complex.

This time, I am working toward weight loss as part of a focus on overall wellness, but I also have a very specific and perhaps lofty goal: I want to take about 20-30 minutes off my marathon finish time. In case math isn’t your thing, that means I would need to run at least one minute per mile faster than I did at my best. A goal like mine requires attention to nutrition, sleep, stress, weight/mass, attitude, meditation (which I don’t do!), strength training, AND running. I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been running for only six years, so I have a lot of work to do!

hearthandsFor me, this weight loss is an act of self-care. I’m eating whole, real, delicious food that helps support my goals and activities. I feel strong and beautiful and capable. And I’m in love with my life, which is exactly why I believe I’m seeing improvements in my body and my training.

I believe you can love yourself and still want to change. Do you? I’d like to know.

Noticing changes 

14 Apr

You know those Facebook friends or the people you follow on Instagram who are all fit and constantly posting pictures of their exposed abs and tight buttocks? I usually unfollow those people because (let’s be honest) I’m jealous.

Because of the way I feel about those people, I have pretty strict rules about posting comments about my own weight loss or pictures of my (emerging) abs or (not-so-bad) buttocks. I mean, nobody wants to see that anyway. Well, if they do, they’ll ask.


Despite the fact that it generally bothers me, I think I understand why people who have nice bodies, or people who are going through body changes like weight loss or muscle development, post pictures — they want others to tell them “Yay!” In my family, we say “Tell me yay!” when we do something good. My nephew made it up.


Here’s the point (finally!) of my post: I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last two months, and no one has noticed.


To be fair, I haven’t really told anyone that I have been working on losing weight. I started Weight Watchers online in February, and in March I did my first Whole30 with a friend. Changing my eating pattern, continuing to run and bike, and adding strength training has changed my body in ways that are very noticeable to me. I’ve been working really hard, and I feel great (super sexy) and I have a lot more energy than I have in a long time.


So either it’s not noticeable to others, or nobody wants to comment. I have also been growing out my hair and it’s pretty crazy compared to my old pixie cut. Maybe that is why no one has noticed. 



I’m conflicted about posting this because, like I said, I am somewhat contemptuous of unfollow people who show off their bodies. But honestly, I really just want someone to tell me “Yay!


That’s not so bad, is it? Please don’t unfollow me. 

Counting the fat

11 Apr

I have a lot of anxiety about food. Actually I have a lot of feelings about food, which is dumb because it’s food.

I did Whole30 in March, and I loved it. Whole30 helps you kick a sugar habit if you have one and moves you away from highly processed, nutrient-poor foods. It does other remarkable things, which you can certainly read about if you are interested. After I stopped craving lattes (like three or four days in) I felt better, had more energy, and lost weight – and I was eating a ton of food. Who wouldn’t love that?

You follow the Whole30 way for 30 days, and then you can continue if you want or move on to “reintroduction” or like “Whole30 life” and try adding grains, dairy, and legumes back into your diet. That’s my current stage. I have no desire to reintroduce dairy because I’ve found alternatives that I feel better about. I tried corn (CHIPS!) and that was fine, so I’ll have them from time to time and try not to get back to the point where I eat only chips and guacamole for dinner. And I also tried peanut butter, and that was an immediate disaster. So no more PB for me.

Everything is great except for the situation that causes me anxiety. I also have been doing Weight Watchers for quite some time which means I track the points value of everything I eat and drink. On Whole30, I eat a lot of fat, and fat is a lot of points; thus, my anxiety. For example, I made this amazing butternut squash, kale, and bacon soup that has full fat coconut milk in it, and a bowl is 12 points. I eat about 30-37 points in a day, so I am going WAY over my points total every single day, especially on my long run training days when I have to replace 1,000 or more calories.

Herein lies the rub. (I think it’s the rub. I should really look up what the rub is.) If I ask the Whole30 people for advice, they will say, “EAT THE FAT!” and if I ask the Weight Watchers people for advice, they will say, “GO LOWFAT!”

I am not going to switch to low-fat or nonfat options. I think low-fat and nonfat are horrible. That’s my personal opinion and I’ll tell you why if you really care. And before you ask, YES, my cholesterol levels are awesome. And in case you’re wondering, YES, I have been losing weight. Plus I eat a ton of food. Really a ton of vegetables and fruits and meats (with some fat!) and nuts and eggs.

What this all means is that I have to deal with the anxiety that is all about the number – the points value – of food that I believe is better for me. When you are assigning a value to a food, and you are supposed to stay within a certain range of values, you can get really focused on the numbers.

I have also considered the possibility that I don’t need to count points at all anymore, and I could allow my (healthy awesome delicious) choices to free me. That’s probably what I should do, since anxiety sucks.

Have you faced a similar situation? I’d love to hear what you did!

Weighing in

31 Jan

This morning I put on a pair of pants that usually fit quite nicely, and they were tight. I mean, uncomfortable. Part of the reason is that I washed and dried them yesterday. You know how you feel betrayed by your clothes when you put them on after they’ve been in the dryer? I felt betrayed.

The other part of the reason, I presume, is that I’ve gained weight.

scale

I don’t weigh myself because it makes me crazy. I just looked at the notes from my last weigh-in, I think in November, and I wrote one word: fuck. In six months, while I was training for a marathon, I lost 8.6 pounds. Up and down, up and down. During the weeks when I ran like 25-30 miles, I gained weight. It was maddening.

So today, since I was feeling so bad about myself, I signed up for a weight loss program again.

This particular program is a good one, I think one of the best. But in any sort of program, there is a potential to hook up with people who have negative and unhealthy attitudes about food and their bodies. I mean, I do, so there you go. The last thing I need is to feed that fire. So I’m doing it by myself this time (no meetings). At least that gives me a fighting chance at staying on the saner side. Except I’m going to be alone, which means I’ll spend a lot of time in my own head, and that’s not always good.

That is, I suppose, where you come in! I could use some help. I think what I want more than anything is someone to say 1) I feel you, sister and 2) I support your efforts to be healthy and strong, regardless of how much you weigh.

Thanks for reading and “listening” and for sharing your struggles with me.

 

Surviving a fat attack

7 Jan

It is 12:34 a.m., coincidentally one of those magical times like 11:11. I woke up an hour ago, thirsty and uncomfortable because last night I ate pizza for dinner. This fat attack — which began immediately after I took the first bite of that salty pie — and the acid reflux that has plagued me for about two months, are making it nearly impossible for me to sleep.

At the suggestion of a friend, I bought When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair by Geneen Roth nearly 18 years ago. I’d like to quote almost every page in order to explain the fat attack that followed last night’s dinner. Instead, I will share a piece of the introduction by Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers.

Wherever you are on the path toward health and balance…these essays will guide you, feed you, make you laugh, and provide some light for each day’s healing. They will help you understand or remember that everything you need for self-acceptance and joy is inside you now, like seeds already planted in the moist ground of a garden.

She advises the reader to make a cup of tea, put on some favorite soft pants, wrap in blanket made by someone who loves you, and breathe. As I read, I was sitting on the couch wearing my flannel Christmas cat pajama pants, wrapped in the blanket my Grandma Libbey made for me when I graduated from high school in 1989. I wept when I read Anne Lamott’s words, and then I picked up my computer to write.

Last night I had a fat attack.

My friend and I were going to see a movie, but at the end of a very busy work day I knew I could not stay awake long enough to finish it. So I suggested we go out for dinner, and pizza was my choice. I typically don’t eat pizza, not because it’s a “bad” food (I do not label foods in that way) but because I knew there was a good chance I would be affected emotionally and physically.

On the way home, I started feeling a tightness in my chest. I thought maybe I’d have a heart attack, although I realized it was most likely my stomach acid punishing me. At home, I changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt. I stood looking at myself in the mirror, and the person looking back at me was gigantic. I squeezed the fat on my thighs, stomach, butt, and arms. I thought, Remember that guy from Match.com? He said he knew your excuse for not sending more pictures. He said it was the reason you never had any second dates.

I paced around my apartment. I changed clothes. I touched my fat.

You are disgusting, Wendi. No one will ever love you, no matter what you do. You are a failure. Tomorrow you need to wake up early and go to the gym. You need to eat more vegetables. You should join Weight Watchers again. No, you sucked at that the last two times, remember? You know what to do, but you just don’t do it. You eat too much salt and sugar. You are a bad person, a bad trainer. Drink some water. Go up and down the stairs in your apartment 20 times. Your company party is tomorrow night. There will be so much food there. You are going to be miserable unless you don’t eat anything. Maybe you shouldn’t go. You are so far off track. Soon you will be bigger than you’ve ever been.

I picked up one of the poetry books by r.h. Sin that I received yesterday. I paged through, looking for an answer. I read “love of self” in whiskey, words & a shovel:

you belong to you

sometimes your soul mate

is yourself

and everything

you’ve been searching for 

can be found

deep within your own soul

Maybe I have an eating disorder. Perhaps, like Geneen Roth writes, I am perversely drawn toward “the alluring drama of feeling fat and its attendant sweeps of emotion.” Certainly my thoughts and feelings about food and my body are at times disordered, destructive, disturbing. For the most part, I recognize them for what they are: not facts but simply fear.

I don’t need potions, powders, pills, or programs to lose weight or feel better about my body. I need to let myself remember that everything I need is already inside me.

I’m going to drink a big glass of water and allow my body and my mind to rest now. On Sunday afternoon, I’ll start reading Geneen’s book again, but until then I’m going to do as she suggests: do my best at all times, be curious, treat myself with kindness, and act on my own behalf. If you want to know more, talk to me and we’ll do this together.

My blog is called “Being Wendi.” This is the most “me” I’ll ever be — broken, beautiful, honest, crazy, wonderful, real. Thank you for reading.

Gaining weight

15 Mar

A few years ago I weighed 198.6 pounds. Here are my before and after pictures (2006 and 2010 respectively). I lost roughly 75 pounds in 9 months. I literally worked my ass off. And other parts, of course.

beforeandafter

Ali Vincent, the first female winner of NBC’s Biggest Loser, was one of my inspirations to lose weight and start running. At the end of the season, she and the other finalists did a triathlon. When I started running and would be hating on it big time, I would think of her and I’d keep going even if I was sore and hot and frustrated.

Recently I saw her online and she’s gained weight, like maybe 30 pounds. So have I — about 25 pounds since my “after” picture was taken. What I thought when I saw her was, “If she can’t keep the weight off, neither can I.”

I stared at her picture on Facebook for like 20 minutes. I felt let down. Then I felt bad for feeling let down about a stranger’s weight. And then I realized that she was me, because I identified with her in so many ways, and we both had gained back some of the weight we had once worked so hard to lose.

Now, let me just take a minute to point out a few things I think are important when discussing weight loss and gain. These are beliefs I hold, but sometimes (a lot of the time) I am very, very bad at remembering that I believe these things and instead of reminding myself I immediately say, “You are fat. You are bad. Do not pass go. Do not collect $100.”

  1. Numbers (weight and size) do not define me. They do not make me a good or bad person. They do not make me beautiful or ugly.
  2. Neither do your numbers define you.
  3. I am not fat. I have fat.
  4. Being emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy is more important than the numbers.
  5. Being “thin” need not be my ideal.

There are much more important matters for me to focus on than my weight, my measurements, or my pants size. Have you heard the one about how Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs? It’s because she had shit to do. So do we all. That said, I have a tendency to spend a great deal of time thinking about my thighs.

Since September, which was the beginning of the end of a very unhealthy relationship and the start of my journey back to North Dakota, I’ve gained weight. I feel uncomfortable. When I look in the mirror, I want to cry. And then I feel bad for feeling bad, because Mother Teresa.

For me, gaining weight is a sign that I am neglecting my health. It means I don’t want people to notice me and I don’t want to go out in public unless I’m wearing my pajamas, which is weird because I am neither a skinny high school student nor an over-tired mother of a toddler. It means I am pissed off that if I eat whatever I want, I’ll have to buy bigger pants.

I know that if and when I want to lose weight, I will. I know how to do it in a way that is healthy and sane. I know how to get started and how to keep going. And I know what not to do, too.

More importantly, I also know that if I don’t lose weight, if I don’t get to a magical number on the scale or a certain pants size (of which I have several sexy pairs of jeans in my closet), I’ll be fine. I can still run a marathon. I am loved by many. I am thoughtful and smart and funny and talented and cool most of the time. I’m a good cat mom.

And if Ali Vincent gains weight or loses it, she’ll still be the same amazingly beautiful, courageous, and inspirational woman she is right now. Whatever her size, I’ll still love her in the same way I love other celebrities I’ll never meet.