Rewind

I watched this compelling public service announcement entitled Rewind the Future issued by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in 2013 which essentially speaks to the fact that obesity is not a condition that arises overnight.

There was quite a debate in the comments as to whether the video depicted fat shaming or served to educate the public. This morning I read Mike’s thought provoking post “One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.” The comments below the post were equally compelling and brought up many of my own conflicted feelings on the subject.

I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 30 years. From the early age of 10, I remember overhearing my grandfather saying on what a pretty face I had, if only… You can fill in the blank. In school I was ashamed of how I looked. I felt different and awkward around my peers because of my larger size. In retrospect I was not as large as I felt. I’m still not, but it’s amazing how powerful those words in our head can be. I know what it’s like to be fat shamed by others and myself. It’s never ok to shame, bully or tease someone.

As a healthcare professional I do think patients need to be receptive to hearing the truth without assuming they are being shamed by their doctor. People also need to stop seeking the quick fix when it comes to medical conditions that can be reversed by behavioral changes. Often medications and/or surgical interventions are necessary, but they don’t eliminate the need for subsequent lifestyle alterations.  The truth is losing weight is hard work. It is tedious to have to journal your food  intake and weigh your food. It stinks say no to foods you love and feel a little hungry once in a while. Weight loss tries the patience because it can take a long time. Some days you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. On the flip side losing weight feels amazing and can inspire others around you to do the same.

Oddly enough I just started reading a continuing education module for my nursing license called The Obesity Epidemic and the Nurse’s Role. In the introduction it mentions, “worldwide, the number of overweight individuals is equal to the number who are suffering from starvation.” (Buchwald, 2007) The World Health Organization has deemed obesity a global epidemic and reports that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people and 700 million obese people worldwide.

This is concerning on many levels. Obesity is associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Obesity is expensive to treat. Obesity can impair treatment and rehabilitation of other medical issues.

As a nurse my job is to educate and support patients. I am kind, caring and compassionate. It is not my place to judge and I don’t. I’ve been there. I’m still there to some degree.

As an individual there came a time when I had to take a long hard look at my weight problem and admit to myself how I got to that point. Then I had to face the facts and the hard truth about how I was going to lose that weight. I’m still working on it. I do wish sometimes I could rewind and stop the clock at the very moment food became more than sustenance for me.

What do you think about the video? Any thoughts on this topic?

 

Why Me?

If you had known me back in my younger years this whole running thing would come as a surprise to you. It still surprises me. I believed that I was not, nor was I capable of becoming athletic. I sat on the bleachers during high school gym class because I refused to play football. I nearly failed my junior year for lack of gym participation. I managed to slide under the radar somehow and passed by the skin of my teeth because I told the male gym teacher I had really bad PMS cramps!

This injury is a real bummer, but don’t think for one minute I’m sitting here with a box a tissues whimpering Why Me when I have a marathon coming up in a couple of weeks. Running has taught me so many things and I’m not about to let those lessons fly right out the window because of an injury. Running has made me a stronger, more adaptable person. I will run again and there will be other marathons.

I think the most important thing you can do when you are injured is try to understand how the injury happened so you can avoid re-injury in the future. So how did this happen to my foot? Even without a definitive diagnosis I have reflected on my training this winter and the activities during the week of injury. I did a lot of my training indoors this winter. I have never trained for a late spring marathon and training outdoors in the frigid temperatures with ice and snow on the ground wasn’t possible. I ran a lot of my speed work and tempo runs on the treadmill. I also ran in the same running shoes I’ve had since before the Montreal Marathon in September. I bought a new pair, but stupidly only wore them a few times in the two weeks before the injury because I kept telling myself I would wait until I was outdoors more often. How silly! Three days before the injury I did P90X Plyometrics. I used to do this workout a lot, but hadn’t done it quite sometime. It involves a lot of jumping and dynamic moves. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that a combination of overuse, speedy treadmill workouts, maybe landing the wrong way during Plyometrics and old shoes are what caused this foot injury.

I continue to do whatever I can to stay active without the risk of worsening my foot. Yesterday I joined the YMCA for a month mainly so I can use the pool to swim laps. I love swimming, always have. In fact I was actually a pretty decent swimmer back in the day. We used to spend summers at a local lake and I would be in the water from early morning to dusk. My mom was constantly yelling for me to swim closer to the dock, but I always managed to swim my way out towards the middle of the lake. Water has always been a source of peace for me. It was so refreshing and soothing to swim quietly for 45 minutes this morning after an extremely hectic night at work.

I will undoubtedly learn from this experience and take those lessons on the road with me when I start running again. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. A break from running always reminds me how much I love to run simply for the sake of running and not just a race. Although this swimming thing did get me thinking about what a triathlon might be like. I am a good swimmer and I know I can handle the running. Now I just have to get a bike. Orlando if you’re reading this Mother’s Day is on Sunday and there is still plenty of time to go to the bike shop!

 

 

Love Your Body Challenge Day 2: Capable

Where do these stories we tell ourselves come from? As I try to make sense of how I came to feel such disdain for my body I am reminded of how I was acutely aware from an early age that my body was different than other girls. I also decided that I wasn’t capable of being athletic presumably because of my bigger body.

I remember vividly standing in line in my elementary school gym waiting to hang from the pull up bar. It was part of the Presidential Physical Education Challenge. I was so nervous. Finally it was my turn. I grabbed the bar, held on for dear life and lasted probably less than 20 seconds. That part is a little hazy, but I remember even back in grade school accepting the fact that I simply was not athletic.

My Junior High school housed the swimming pool so we were expected to take swimming as part of gym class in 8th and 9th grade, quite possibly the pinnacle of awkward body image issues for prepubescent and pubescent teen aged girls. I feigned pink eye (spray Aqua Net near your eye or rub something near your eye), headaches and menstrual cramps to get out of the dreaded swim class. And when I didn’t have a physical ailment I could complain to the school nurse about I simply “forgot” my bathing suit. I mean really, are you freaking kidding me? You want an already self-conscious overweight teen to strip down in an open locker room amongst her female classmates, get into a bathing suit and then jump into a pool full of boys. Um no!

The only penalty for not attending swim class was to stay after school one day a week and make it up. The make up class was simply swimming laps. I was a strong swimmer and that was a piece of cake, plus I was usually one of the only people there while the swim team practiced in the other half of the pool. The best part was the gym teacher didn’t care if I wore a shirt over my bathing suit after school, but during school we could not. So I would swim my laps effortlessly and still received credit for gym class. On two occasions I was approached by the swim coach to try out for the team. I never did and I kick myself now thinking back. Not only would I have made friends, I probably would have lost some weight naturally from the increase in exercise. I also may have realized my athletic abilities a lot earlier.

I was a dancer and took dancing lessons well into my teen years. However, I didn’t equate dancing with being athletic. I loved dancing, but shied away from ballet which I considered to be for petite slender girls not big clunky girls as I thought of myself. I took jazz and tap instead. I loved dancing, but never felt graceful and elegant as I dreamed I should.

And the list goes on. In my head I’ve always been the “big” girl and therefore I was not meant to be athletic. By college the only physical activity I did was to walk to and from class. During serious attempts at weight loss walking was my go to exercise and I could walk for very long periods of time at a good clip. It was just walking, though, I told myself.

Ironically each year on the third Monday in April I would tune into coverage of the Boston Marathon, reduced to tears as the winners and those to follow crossed the finish line. Never once during those broadcasts did I consider running myself.

As part of the Love Your Body challenge today’s mantra is: ”I am capable of _________, and that’s awesome. In fact, I am capable of anything I set my mind to, that I am willing to work for. “

My mantra would be: I am capable of being an athlete, and that’s awesome…

Today’s action step is a choice between:

1. Engage in the activity that you talked about in your mantra if possible, and if it makes you smile. Remember to repeat the mantra while you are doing it.

2. Think about something that you’ve been wanting to do/learn/practice/master for a long time, and set yourself a reasonable time limit to achieve it. Reasonable is the key word here. Keep repeating the mantra to remind yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to as long as you’ll work for it.

I’ve done both. This morning I attended my usual Vinyasa yoga class, but there was a substitute instructor who had a totally different style than my instructor. I was challenged from beginning to end. Of course I also went for a run today, but not just any old training run. I’m running with a friend as she prepares for her first 5K. She is doing an incredible job training. She is super motivated. She is losing weight naturally and healthily. She is also loving running and pushing herself to go a little further each time. We ran almost 4 miles this morning on a rather hilly route. She didn’t back down once. I’m so excited for her and thrilled to be a part of her training. We will run a 5K at the end of April and she is already talking about doing my favorite 10K this summer.

As for the second option above I have hinted around the blog that I’ve been thinking a lot about running an ultra marathon. I did the Fat Ass 50K back in December and although that is technically an ultra it was a torturous 10 redundant loops through and around a paved park. I would really like to experience a 50 mile ultra marathon on trail. I’ve come along way from the “big” girl who wasn’t meant to be athletic. I’m truly in awe of what my body has accomplished in the last 5 years. It’s time to see what else it’s capable of accomplishing. So on my 13th wedding anniversary I will be running the Vermont 50! In preparation for the 50 mile race I will be running the Vermont City Marathon on May 25th, ironically, the same day registration opens for the Vermont 50. Training started about a month ago. I’m happily settling into a routine with a very new style of training plan. I have a few other races planned and a goal or two I hope to accomplish along the way.

I’m not sure how my story started, but I’m so glad that I decided to change how it ends.

Running: Friend or Foe

An article title caught my eye recently on Yahoo. It was entitled Your Cardio Routine is Making You FatI clicked on it although I knew what it was going to tell me. I’ve heard it before…the evils of cardio. I’m sure all the running haters are nodding their heads and saying yup I told you so. Oh how times and information has changed. The days of aerobics class as a primary means of exercise are long gone and in its place we now have Cross Fit, Body Pump and kettle bells. I’m not naive to the importance and benefits of strength training. I have actually amped up my strength training from 1-2 days a week to 2-3 days a week. I have created very obvious definition in my arms where it was once soft and loose. I love the way I feel after a good session of weight training. I worked with a trainer in the beginning of the year to learn more about how to incorporate strength training into my typically cardio heavy workouts. I watch You Tube videos for instruction and learn from some of my favorite bloggers. I am by no means an expert on strength training, but I will continue to learn and grow in this area. However, it has become a part of my fitness routine and I strongly suspect that it will become an even greater part once I have completed my fall marathon because I really like the results I am achieving with my strength training.

The article begins, “Are you interested in gaining weight? If you are, perform cardiovascular exercise, and a lot of it.” As a runner training for a marathon I run, A LOT! For some this statement would be extremely discouraging. If I hadn’t already trained for and completed two marathons while successfully losing and maintaining weight loss I would have a new reason to blame for my weight issues. Last year while training for the Philadelphia Marathon from July to November I successfully lost and maintained a 10 pound weight loss. I have surpassed that loss and continue to maintain my weight despite being mid marathon training once again. I’m not depriving myself or running on inadequate fuel. I’m actually eating healthier than ever and experimenting with more natural fuel sources before long runs. I’ve made a number of sustainable changes to my life while performing a great deal of cardiovascular exercise.

I am absolutely not disputing the information in the article. It touts interval based strength training as a more effective means of weight loss. While I know all about the benefits of interval training and I do incorporate it to some degree into my workouts, the majority of my exercise still comes from running.

Ironically a few days after reading the article on how my cardio routine is making me fat I stumbled upon what seemed to be the article’s counterpart, 4 Reasons Running is Best for Weight LossI laughed when I saw it because as you know for every bit of information on the internet there is another piece of information to dispute it. My mind spins sometimes. This second article is by no means a scientific argument for why you should run. It points to four positive aspects of running namely running burns more calories than walking, it is time-efficient and convenient, and lastly it stimulates endorphins which essentially keep you coming back for more running.

Running alone will not make you lose weight. Training for endurance races can and often do cause a slight to moderate weight gain in many runners. So why the heck do I run if weight loss has been an important goal for me?

On one hand the answer is simple…I love it! Of course there’s more to it though. Running challenges me and pushes me clear out of my comfort zone with almost every run. Training for races keeps me accountable and has been integral in maintaining a fitness routine for the last four years. While the running may not have been responsible for my weight loss it did jump start it initially and I’m certain that hasn’t hindered it. The more I run the more I want my body to be as healthy as it can be. Running motivated me to change my diet. Weighing less helps me to run easier, more efficiently and faster. Running has taken me to new places with my family. It has enabled me to keep up with my extremely active child. Rather than lag behind him I’m right there next to him.

Running changed me in so many ways. It has become my “me” time, my thinking time, my alone time. It is as much spiritual and emotional as it is physical for me. It’s no longer about weight loss for me. Running is a key factor in how I care for myself holistically.

The bottom line is that through running I went from inactive to active, obese to no longer obese, and from a negative person to a positive person. Running is not for everyone and that’s ok. If you are struggling to make healthy lifestyle changes do what works for you. You can spend all day researching the best way to lose weight, lift weights, run, etc., but eventually you simply have to get out there and do it. Find something that makes you happy or that you think might make you happy and get out there and do it!

“Just don’t give up trying what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald

This is what I typed into my workout calendar entry for today’s exercise.

 

3.25 mile run in 31:42

My usual route around home

A few words about this run:

-My Garmin was acting funny and my pace was all over the place despite a steady normal pace for most of the run. This is a very familiar route and at one point on a flat bit my pace was around 15 min/mile. That is impossible. I will note that the weather is overcast and very cloudy so I’m not sure if that was interfering with the satellite signal to my Garmin.
-I binged on cereal before my run and boy could I feel it in my stomach. I am ashamed of this. I haven’t done this in ages, but I started on it and couldn’t stop. The fact that it was flavorless millet puffs doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I recognized the behavior and learn from it. It’s really hard not to be disgusted by my actions. I thought I was over this behavior.
-I am an emotional wreck for some reason. I couldn’t stop thinking about this issue with Laura and the gift card which led to all sorts of thoughts about things with my Dad. I was literally about to burst into tears and if anyone had seen my face they would have thought I was crazy or constipated!
-On a positive note I ran…I ran even though I didn’t feel like it. I went out and got fresh air. I moved my body for 3.25 miles. In doing so I stopped my binge and now I’m going to move on for the day. This will not break me. I didn’t get fat from three bowls of millet puffs. I will not beat myself up over this. 

 

Oddly enough just as I finished cutting and pasting this here my Mom called. I’m not going to get into the whole saga regarding my Dad, but my Mom managed to coax me into unloading onto her. I sobbed and sniffled my way through my feelings. My Mom demanded that I stop letting my Dad (they are divorced) make me feel badly. My aunt got on the phone (my Mom and her sister work together) and she joined in on lecturing me not to let anyone make me unhappy. They are right and by the end of the conversation I felt so much better. So now I’m going shopping in my new size 6 khaki capris. I am going to buy a nice dress for Carlos’ Kindergarten graduation tomorrow. I’m going to get a manicure, my eyebrows waxed and a makeover at Bare Escentuals. I would love a pedicure, but my feet are in need of a podiatrist before they can look pretty again. Ugghhh they’re feet who am I kidding?! More on that another day! Then I will finish putting together the Kindergarten class gift for the teacher. Eventually I will go to bed because I have two more nights to go of my 6 night stretch.

Life has been busy lately, in a good way. I keep up with blogs in the middle of the night from my phone when I’m on break and sometimes in the morning when I’m eating breakfast. I miss commenting and I miss writing here. I have some fun news to share and with any luck I’ll be back before the end of the week. Now time to hit the mall.

Skin Deep: New Life

I began this series almost a year ago with this post. Through these posts I have learned so much about myself. I have worked through many emotions related to my weight issues. I’ve struggled with my weight since adolescence. There is no way to effectively lose weight and keep it off without addressing the reasons I have been overweight for the better part of my life.

In my last post I finished nursing school and had recently found out I was pregnant. My mentality was beginning to shift from being solely about looking better to living a long healthy life so I could be there for my husband and child. However, old habits are difficult to break.

The Muffin

This is a story about the muffin. No, that’s not a cute name we coined for our unborn child. In the early stages of pregnancy I immediately gave myself permission to eat more. I quit Weight Watchers and though I tried to eat healthy I definitely ate for two. I developed morning sickness by the second month and an eager craving to eat breads, muffins, bland starchy foods and watermelon. Meat and vegetables were a turn off. My diet was still full of processed convenience foods. Once a month I shopped at Costco and for years I bought a dozen large blueberry muffins for my husband. As long as I had been buying them I never indulged in one. I had deemed them off limits because of their enormous calorie count.

One morning after returning home from a walk and suffering a bout of morning sickness I found myself craving a muffin so I ate one. It happened to be one of the last muffins in the package. My husband had seen me at various weights during our relationship. He was aware that I struggled with my weight, but never criticized me or made me feel badly about my weight. He has always loved me for me. However, watching me go through so many trials and tribulations with my weight he had also learned how food, weight gain and my body image contributed to my mood, personality and attitude.

Later that evening my husband was acting funny towards me, barely speaking to me. He seemed angry. All of these behaviors were highly out of character for him. After prodding him for a while he relented and admitted he was upset and annoyed that I had eaten the muffin. He reminded me how I always said the muffins were fattening and unhealthy, and that’s why I would never eat them. He had a right to be pissed. If I chose not to take care of my body pre-pregnancy that was my business, but being pregnant means caring for someone else, putting someone else first. That someone was our child.

Pregnant Body

My body grew in a way I didn’t expect. Instead of a cute protruding baby bump I grew two sizes in my behind. I joked that it looked like I was having twins, one in each cheek. I didn’t look pregnant. I simply looked like I had gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time. My clothing didn’t fit nor could I find flattering maternity clothing.

My hair got frizzy and began to thin in the front. It was far from healthy and lustrous. Initially my skin looked ruddy rather than glowing.

By the time my morning sickness ended I was left feeling large and bloated. I, all but ceased exercising save for intermittent walks here and there. Oddly I couldn’t stand music on my headphones or in the car during my pregnancy. I took walks in silence and thought mostly about how cruddy I felt.

Pregnant Mind

I felt conflicted all the time. I was supposed to love being pregnant, right?  I didn’t really. I was supposed to feel radiant. Well I definitely didn’t. I mean don’t get me wrong I loved what was going on inside my body. I loved every flutter and kick. I adored talking to my baby. Orlando and I decided not to find out the sex of the baby, yet all along I felt very strongly that I was having a boy. We didn’t care either way.

I did my absolute best to put on a good face when others asked me how I was feeling. I lied a lot. I said what I knew everyone wanted to hear…”I feel great!”

Pregnant Pause

By the time I actually began to look pregnant I had tipped the scales at well over 200 pounds. My legs and feet were swollen. My face was round and chubby. I hated the way I looked despite the joy I felt about becoming a mother.

Working nights gave me a lot of time to think during the day when I was home alone. I was angry with myself for allowing my weight and body image issues to be intertwined with my pregnancy. I knew I should have committed myself pre-pregnancy to achieving a healthy body weight. Fortunately my pregnancy was uneventful and healthy despite my weight.

I have never loved anyone as much as I did this baby growing inside me. I knew I had only one more chance to confront my weight issues and at last commit to a healthy lifestyle once my child was born.

A Gift from God

I’m sorry to say I never grew to love my pregnant body. I cried when I became unable to tie my shoes. I was frustrated that I was reduced to a select few articles of clothing including a pair of unbuttoned non-maternity plus size jeans. At my last OB/Gyn appointment just 5 days before I gave birth I weighed 223 pounds. I had gained exactly 40 pounds during the pregnancy. I was very unhappy about those numbers.

Despite the disdain with which I viewed my body I never once felt anything but amazement and adoration for my baby. After the muffin incident my husband embraced the changes in my body through the eyes of a loving husband and soon-to-be father.

After nearly 18 hours of labor and a Pitocin drip I had only dilated to 2 centimeters. There were complications arising and what I thought would be a relatively uneventful delivery turned into an emergency C-section. I have never shunned my body for not being able to deliver naturally. I was too concerned with the health of my baby to care how he came into this world. At 6:29 pm on December 17th I heard the most melodic cry as Carlos entered the world and changed our lives forever.

As a new mother all I wanted was to give my son the most wonderful life imaginable. Little did I know he would be the one to breathe new life into me.

 

Running up a mountain

I posted this on Facebook yesterday to one of my co-workers:

A while ago you suggested that I try running up Skinner Mountain to change up my running routine. I did it! I’m pretty sure I won’t be as excited tomorrow when I can’t sit down. — at J. A. Skinner State Park.

I totally threw my arms in the air, a la Rocky, when I reached the top. I may have even thrown a little fist pump out there. No one was watching, but frankly I don’t think I would have cared if there was a crowd of people.

I’m really bored with my typical running routes. The weather has been weird and cold even when the forecast calls for a sunny day in the 50s. I feel like I’ve worn out my welcome at the gym and although the treadmill and I have grown to tolerate each other I am so tired of looking at the same walls, same people, same TV screens and same digital display of the treadmill. So yesterday I decided to shake things up a bit. Work has been particularly trying lately thanks to one particular patient. I work on a locked psych unit so it takes me A LOT to say that my patience is being tried at work. I needed to release some tension so I made up my mind to run the mountain and I refused to think of anything else until I made it to the top.

I got out of my car, stretched out a bit and took off. I’m not quite ready for steep trail running so I played it safe and ran the paved road that circles the mountain up to the summit. Now we’re not talking the Rockies people. This is the western most peak in the Holyoke Range which is also part of the 100 mile Metacomet trail system. The mountain itself is actually called Mount Holyoke which is home to J.A. Skinner State Park. I have also heard it referred to as Skinner Mountain. It rises 935 feet which is roughly three quarters of a mile, but in taking the road my total distance up was 1.75 miles. I ran every bit of the way up without stopping. I pushed hard, my breathing was heavy, but my legs powered on. The road curves and the hills come sharper and steeper as you near the summit.

Like I said, this is not Kilimanjaro, but wow what a great workout. My legs were on fire by the time I reached the top, but that good on fire feeling that makes you feel strong and alive. I cooled down a bit while strolling around the summit enjoying the view of the Connecticut River valley.

My legs are definitely feeling it today, but again in a good way. I can still sit and even felt great during some speed training this morning. I can’t wait to do it again though. There is another similar mountain I am hoping to try soon. I love when I find new ways to infuse more fun and variety into my workouts.

I also came away from this experience with a new appreciation for my legs. Biz wrote a post about loving her ass (if you don’t read Biz you should because her post titles alone will make you smile!) this morning and she asked her readers to comment on which part of their body they are going to embrace today. I haven’t commented yet, but my answer is my legs. For most of my life I have hated my legs. I have thought really mean things about them. I have looked at them with disgust. I have cursed them and cried about them. Despite the weight I have lost, my legs are still large. They are not as large anymore. I can even admit that my hips have slimmed down a bit. Remember my body is a classic Anjou pear shape, small on top and very voluptuous on the bottom with the largest area being the butt, hips and thighs. Oh how I’ve loathed my lower half for so long.

Like Biz, my husband has always loved me and my body no matter what size. He is quite pleased with how I’m beginning to feel about my body though he doesn’t understand my feelings about my legs, bootie and hips. He quite likes them. After running that mountain yesterday I saw my legs in a new light. I appreciate more about them the more I accomplish through my fitness endeavors, but yesterday I was thankful for them. They are strong and powerful. They do not let me down. They have helped me move faster and achieve goals I never even knew I had. So today I am embracing my legs.

While Biz embraces her ass and I embrace my legs what body part will you be embracing today? (Biz I hope it’s ok if I stole your question?!)