Honesty is the Best Policy

I’m feeling a bit out of control lately and I’m not sure what to do about it. As I was sitting at my desk today completely exhausted from the week’s workouts and a super crappy night’s sleep (thanks, restless dogs!), I peeled myself out of my chair against all logic and advice and ploded to the gym to run 4 miles. I made it 3.3 and it was not easy. So why the heck did I do it?

It occurs to me (and an observant family member) that I equate low weight and happiness in my brain. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I wanted my mom to get me diet soda at age 10. By age 13, I was using my mom’s nordic track in the basement (yeah, showing my age there). 14 showed me how unatheletic I was when I tried to play junior high basketball and volleyball. By 19 I was at the university rec center cranking out hours on the stair climber chanting to myself “your crush doesn’t want a fat girl”. It happens-I know I’m not the only person with similar memories. About 2 years ago, I hit the lowest weight I’d ever seen. I was finally coping with a tough breakup (strangely enough, with my future husband. Life’s funny that way) and I’d found a home with a group of women in town. They were cyclists, and they took me under their wing. I kept running, kept biking, basically always kept moving. If it was light outside, and sometimes when it wasn’t, I was working out. Dinner? A sweet potato and a veggie pattie. Or popcorn. But the thing is, I was happy. I knew I was doing THE MOST that I could to be in shape-and it was with other people! That was fun! I started doing races, something I’d never let myself spend money on before. I blew a lot of money on running that summer, but damn did I have fun. 

Image

my favorite me running photo. I feel like I look happy, healthy, and thin here.

Well, the “problem” is that you can’t live in a vacuum. And while I would eat whatever when with friends, I stayed pretty light at home and really looked for the days I burned more calories than I ate. I got down to a brief 119, the least I’d ever weighed, though most of the time it was 123. I finally felt like I looked good. And shortly after that, my husband and I found each other again, each more confident in the person we’d become. And just like that, my weight slowly crept up. I settled for a while at what had previously been my happy weight, 127, although for the last 6 months it’s been hovering around 130-healthy for a 5’2″ woman, but glaringly at the top of the range to me.

I’m always fighting an internal battle now-I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my personal life, but I have this fear that the scale’s going to go up. I’ve been working out an average of 60-75 minutes a day for the last 2 years just to maintain where I am. And jeez, I’m tired. I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not with Jeff or at work or the gym. I stayed late to go to the gym a second time yesterday because I didn’t know what I’d do at home alone right after work; that time just “feels” like I should be working out. Trying to get back to this routine after my surgery has been exhausting, and honestly I wonder why I do it. I am circling the idea of a Fall marathon, and I realize I can’t expect to keep this level of varied activity up and do well. I could barely let myself heal from surgery before the fear of gaining weight got so big I went for a run 10 days post op-the fear is that great. And really, what would happen if I did gain a few pounds? Jeff’s not going to leave me. But I think in my mind I equate gaining much more weight with a far worse time in my life-a pretty mentally abusive relationship. I was a bit bigger than I am now, by about 10 pounds, and boy was I miserable. He was mean, he was cheating, and I was naive. I try to remind myself that I would never eat like that again, that even if I scale back my exercise some, I know about intensity now. But it was such a terrible time in my life it’s easy to forget that Jeff would never be like that, that I would never be like that again. 

So how do I fix this? I am such a numbers person-my new obsession with the calorie on my garmin should tell you that. So I think that my best course of action would be to find a personal trainer, online or offline. I don’t want to spend a ton of money, and all I really need to hear from them is that if I eat what I eat on a regular basis and want to continue increasing my run miles, what is the max cross training I should do? What run program do I need to follow? I’m up for some slight tweaks to my diet, but honestly, cutting anything out would be a detriment to my lifestyle and my happiness I’m not willing to give up. Jeff and I love good food, going out, and cooking dinner together enough that I wouldn’t dare change that. And my workday diet is primarily, if not all, fruits and vegetables, so cutting much there would be difficult. 

Well, that’s a lot of personal info to throw at you at once. Have you ever used an online personal trainer? Do people ever tell you you’re crazy for working out as often as you do? And, to lighten the mood a bit, what do you have going on this weekend? 

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6 thoughts on “Honesty is the Best Policy

  1. Have you thought about the idea that maybe you’re not eating enough? I know I don’t know enough about your day to day routine to comment but I had to loose a lot of weight (very quickly) to make a weight limit for a sport a couple of years ago, this just led me to be miserable, exhausted and unable to concentrate. Like you I was training my arse off whilst also constantly exhausted, struggling to concentrate and terrified of not loosing weight – and that was pretty much my whole life – pretty miserable huh?! Check out Laura Agar Wilson’s site for some great advise, she also does health coaching which isn’t personal training as such but is unbelievable for changing your attitude to food – http://keepinghealthygettingstylish.com/ or email her at laura@uniquelyhealthy.com – worth a try! Good luck!

    As for this weekend I am living in Buenos Aires at the moment and am going to be cafe crawling to wherever I can find air conditioning!

    • Can’t wait to read the next post about your Buenos Aires life! It is possible that I need more food, and perhaps that would even help me maintain this crazy schedule I’m pretty used to working out with. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I’ve had such a focus on numbers and weight that I had to stop counting calories because that’s a slippery slope for me. If I count calories, I’ll very quickly move into the disordered eating area. I’ve worked really hard over the past year to start listening to my hunger cues and thinking of food as fuel instead of a reward or being good or bad – for me that’s helped a ton. I also cannot weigh myself regularly. Example: I weighed myself on Thursday, during my period, after being sick for nearly 6 weeks and barely working out. Of course my weight was higher! But because of that I was irritable and bummed and frustrated with myself – so bad, because I am not my weight! I am so much more than that, and I know that once I’m well enough to train regularly, the extra 5 pounds will easily come off.

  3. For me, one of the keys to weight has been to NOT weigh myself very much. When you really think about it, you can vary 5 pounds +/- due to any number of things from food in your system to fluids and so on. Chasing the scale is self-destructive.

    The other thing – and this ties into your other post – is that ‘calories’ are not tremendously instructive by themselves. It is important to know WHAT you are eating, and WHEN. They say that is you are exercising and eating right, and are not losing weight then you need to mix things up. The other thought is you are under-fueling – for example, my run today consumed an estimated 1500 calories.

    Think about that – if I was just taking in 2000 calories and doing that workout, I would be under-eating, because you can burn 500 calories pretty easily (I also shoveled our snow before my run). Your body will behave differently when it thinks you are trying to starve it – and it is also a good way to end up injured.

    There is no easy answer – and that is something I talked about this week (and you commented as well). Our image has little to do with the scale or mirror, but more about stuff deep inside of us.

    • As usual, you are so right and spot on with your advice. I am going to look to make sure I fuel myself right going forward and focus on some workouts that are more run beneficial than just burning calories to burn calories. I’ve got to get that weight=happiness equation out of my mind if I’m ever going to be truly OK with this amazing body and soul I’ve been given.

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