Thursday, January 3, 2008

Where have I been...Where am I going?

I wrote a summary of my weight issues for another site and wanted to share it here too. I promise no more long posts for at least a year

It seems I have been battling weight issues my entire life. I remember being about 9 years old and having family members call me "Shelly Belly". They apparently thought I was fat, and so did I. As an adult I look back on the pictures of myself at that time and I was fine, certainly not fat. The questions, the why's and who's, are long past their time but I believe that was the beginning of my dissatisfaction with my body. There are plenty of other reasons why I have hidden behind about 100 pounds of fat almost my entire adult life, some more compelling, but my point is that it's always been an issue.

I have faced this weight loss battle before. At 24 I lived in Hawaii and had just graduated from college. I was feeling alive and grounded. I lost 70+ pounds and got into the most amazing shape of my life, bicycling, swimming, hiking..I loved it all! I kept the weight off for several years. Eventually I moved back to California and slowly my lifestyle changed and I became sedentary once again. Overeating and lack of activity led to the weight coming back.

At 29 I was engaged to be married. Motivated by the wedding I got back into it. I exercised, ate healthy, and lost a lot of weight again, nearly 50 pounds. I was in a size 12 and feeling great! We went on a honeymoon to Ireland and I hiked around enjoying myself and feeling fit, attractive and fabulous. I can't tell you how long after the wedding I stopped working out but within a year I was back at 190 pounds.

As many of you know, I made an attempt a few years ago, reading the Body for Life (BFL) book and following the three month plan. That book is very motivating. The information and techniques are excellent. I lost about 30 pounds, got down to 201 but shortly after the 12 week challenge was over I quit. I kept a journal during this period and, reading back over it recently, I realized I lacked balance. My diet was too structured, I was exercising too hard and not resting enough. By the end of the challenge I was exhausted and had little energy to continue.

In the years since the BFL challenge I've wrestled with whether or not I had it in me to give it another go. I feared I did not. I began to accept my fate. Except accepting my fate led to increasing feelings of depression and increasing isolation. I was in a cycle of work, couch, bed, work, couch, bed. I had no interest in anything and felt tired from the moment I woke up to the moment I went back to sleep.

I decided I needed to work on some psychological issues. I entered individual therapy and began talking. Weight, and how it served me, was often a topic. I started making small goals. First was to get out of the house. I made a goal to do something social, out of the house, once a week. I joined an activity group in my area and started making plans. I went on factory tours, wine tasting, games nights, pot luck dinners. It was hard at first, I didn't want to do it, I was both happy and unhappy in my rut. Eventually I started feeling a little better and my therapist (and doctor) suggested Weight Watchers.

In February I went to my first meeting. At my first weigh-in I learned I was 233.8 pounds. Wow. I had never weighed that much in my life. The task ahead was daunting. So daunting, that I couldn't commit to facing it outright. All I committed to was going to the meetings. I promised myself I would go to the meetings no matter what. I made no promise to follow the plan, to track my food, to exercise...only to go to meetings. And not to stop going.

For the first few months I was pretty motivated. I followed the food plan (Flex plan, "Points") and tracked my eating. By July I had lost a little over 20 pounds. I was feeling a bit better and doing more out of the house. Then the motivation stalled. I stopped following the plan, stopped tracking my food. But I never stopped going to the meetings. I kept that promise. I weighed in every week and went up and down by a pound or so every week. I lamented my lack of motivation but didn't challenge it. I was, after all, keeping my promise to myself.

In November my motivation returned. I went on vacation in late October and had some time to think. That time away re-started my engine and when I came home I was going again. I started tracking and following the plan again. I talked to my husband about TV watching and we ultimately decided to cancel Cable. Yep, no TV, none, zip, zilch. It felt great to silence that box. We used the money to join a perfect is that? We signed up on November 15th and I've been going ever since. Since starting the gym I've lost about 10 pounds.

Well, I'm on fire right now. I feel motivated and on a roll.

I have a lot of fear though. I know this road, I recognize the surroundings, I've been here before. Honestly, I have doubts that I can reach my goal weight of 145. More than that, I don't know if I can maintain. That is my biggest fear. If I barely had the umph to get into shape this time 'round, I really won't have it if I put the weight back on. So, I often say, "it's all about maintenance." I think more about how to maintain than I do about how to lose. I am trying to make habits that will serve me long after I've lost the weight. I am really invested in the concept of a lifestyle change and not a diet. When I eat chocolate, or cheesecake, or KFC...I know I am not "off" my's all part of the plan. It's all part of eating in a way that I can sustain for a lifetime.

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