Half way: My struggle with weight

As a child I was always thin and very active. I loved bike riding, tree climbing, and especially swimming. I think my problems with weight started around the age of 13 when I started doing teenage things like sitting around talking on the phone for hours. I started as just a little chubby, but steadily got bigger over the years. I don’t remember being aware of my weight until age 18 or 19. I had other things on my mind and didn’t care what I looked like. My mom had raised my sister and I mostly without secular influence. No tv, no magazines, only Christian music… We did watch movies and went to public schools, but somehow I missed the message that American culture works into the minds of most young girls. I didn’t have an ideal of what beauty must be; no belief that you had to be thin or have perfect skin or gorgeous hair. I have no regrets about this, but I think it explains how I let myself get so overweight. I just wasn’t aware.

When I started dating seriously I started caring about my looks. But like many people, when I got into a serious relationship (with the person whom I’m now happily married) I stopped caring as much. We both loved to go out to eat, to drink lots, to watch movies and unfortunately, physical activities weren’t high priority for us. There were a few dieting attempts and some unused gym memberships, but no real change happened. Our love is “as is” and doesn’t care about the weight. But as an individual, being overweight is hard. I started to become unhappy with myself. I was getting out of breath going up stairs. I had to shop in the plus size clothing sections. I was making excuses when friends invited me on active pursuits like hiking. I would sometimes have to take Tylenol for knee pain. I got discouraged with the failed attempts at dieting. Even though I had the unconditional love of my husband, I was still dissatisfied with myself.

I finally went to the doctor insisting that there was something wrong with me. I was 5’8″ and 262 pounds at the age of 25, which put me into the “very obese” category on the BMI charts. By this time I thought that I was fairly active and ate fairly well and just couldn’t understand why I was so overweight. I had the doctor test my blood sugars and thyroid and anything else she could think of. The results: I was a perfectly healthy, overweight young woman. The doctor sat me down, looked me in the eye and said “There’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to eat better and exercise more.” She went on to tell me about the South Beach Diet by Dr Agatston and how she herself had lost weight with the program. She urged me to try the diet and to simply exercise more. Something happened to me in that exam room that is hard to put into words. Basically I made the decision that my weight problem was just that: my problem. I am the only reason I got that way, and I am the only one who can change it. I took responsibility for my life and decided to DO something.

I bought the South Beach book and read it through. I took a week or two to mentally prepare myself and to get my kitchen ready. Once I put my mind to it I was able to loose about 40 pounds by diet and exercise alone! I started learning about the foods I was eating, the creamer I used in my coffee for example is terrible for you! I started enjoying the gym workouts too. And when I started getting compliments from coworkers I felt great. But as usual, I lost steam over time. I had a nasal surgery because of chronic sinus infections. After the surgery I wasn’t able to exercise for a month and got a little lazy during that time. I regained some of the weight I had lost.

Here starts the next chapter of my life. But first a little explaining. Even before I had my turn around with weight, I had been getting more and more interested in the athletic field. It started in March 2006 with a 5k walk on Mercer Island. I only signed up because my employer (Group Health) paid the entry fee and encouraged us to wear the company shirt at the race. I had one of those experiences that is difficult to explain, a definite fork on the road of my life’s journey. Yancy and I were meeting one of my coworker friends. Somehow she got caught on the opposite side of the street of us at the moment the half marathon runners ran past (just after the start of their race). I’ll never forget that herd of human beings swarming down the road between us and our friend. It was silent except the patter of their feet on the black top and the noise of their breathing. Many of the runners were smiling. There was an almost electric atmosphere… a type of positive energy in the air that is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t witnessed it. Anyways, Yancy and I were sore and tired and had blisters after our first 5k walk, but we had a blast and wanted to do it again! This was the start of several years of walking events, most of which Yancy and I did together. In the Fall of 2008 I realized that I was starting to gain back some of the 40 pounds I had lost and decided I needed to do something bigger. I had heard of Team in Training and went to a meeting with the intention of singing up to train for a half marathon run. I met a guy who had done a triathlon in Hawaii the previous year and was doing it again. No offense to Steve if he ever reads this, but he’s a pretty big guy. I thought to myself that if he could do it, why couldn’t I? And triathlons seemed pretty impressive. So I signed up with the Team to train for an olympic distance triathlon. I did my first triathlon in Hawaii March 2009 and it changed my life forever!    (You can read the whole story here on my old blog.)

Sorry, I got a little carried away there. But that brings us up to date. I’ve done 4 triathlons now (one of which was a half iron distance) and two half marathons. I have another triathlon in 2 weeks and a half marathon in 6 weeks. I’ve lost more weight and am hovering between 205 & 209 right now. But I still have a long way to go. I’m honestly not sure what my ideal weight is, but I think 160-170 pounds would be a healthy goal. I do have a large bone structure and lots of muscles, so I’ll just have to wait and see how I look at that weight.

Every day is a challenge when it comes to loosing weight. I find that I often like to take the easy road… go out for breakfast or dinner, trade the hour of exercise for an hour of sleep or time with my hubby… I still catch myself snacking on things at work that I shouldn’t be eating. But being healthy is what is important to me. Even though it doesn’t always come naturally to me to do the right thing, I’m going to try to make better choices more of the time so I can loose weight and feel better (and preform better in my chosen sports).


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