The Thing No One Ever Talks About

When I first began writing this blog, I did so with the purpose of documenting my weight loss story in real time.  Over the past four years, this blog has evolved into documenting my love for running, races, and just general life shenanigans.  During those four years I lost weight, gained weight, maintained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost, plateaued, lost, gained….well, you get the picture.  It hasn’t been an easy battle.  I loved following blogs of others who were in the same boat as me and others who had chosen to document their struggles and triumphs on the world wide web.  My Instagram feed became littered with transformation pics, before and afters, progress pics, daily food journals, and post workout selfies.  I was okay with this because I loved connecting with others and seeing the highlight reel of their life and staying up to date on their progress.  I, myself, had posted pictures of a similar variety.  Last spring (2014) I was in a great place.  My running was stronger than it had ever been, I was fitting into clothes I had never dreamed of wearing, and for the most part, I felt confident.  However, there was still a piece of me that couldn’t be happy with where I was at.  I would look at photos and cringe at how I looked.  I would pick apart every single detail about how I could have sucked in more, or there was major cellulite bulging out of my shorts, or how my face looked puffy.  I was never satisfied.  Looking back at those photos now, I could almost cry because when I see how I looked last year I literally had my dream body.  When I imagine what I want to look like forever, THAT is what I looked like last year.  I just couldn’t see it at the time.  That devastates me.

when i thought i was still morbidly obese.

when i thought i was still morbidly obese.

So, today I want to talk about a topic that I never see talked about.  Weight maintenance and weight gain.

I never see bloggers or Instagrammers talk about this.  You may be able to tell about the struggles through a picture here and there, but it never gets discussed.  Bear with me.

At the end of last summer I began student teaching in order to obtain my teaching license.  I went out and bought a whole new teaching wardrobe since I had a smaller body.  I just knew that being on a set schedule everyday would help me stay on track and even help me become stronger in my running.  Boy, was I wrong.  Lunch trips to the local hibachi joint, candy from my students, cookies and donuts in the teacher workroom, and late night binges due to stress were not in my favor.   School started too early for me to workout before work (I don’t feel safe running alone in the dark) yet I would leave work feeling so stressed and sluggish that working out was just not on my agenda.  I gained a few pounds.  Nothing too major but it was at least slightly noticeable. In November I started training for my marathon.  I just knew that this would be the kick in the butt to help me continue my weight loss journey but it didn’t.  It left me feeling more tired, stressed, and hungry. By the time December rolled around I had probably packed on 10 pounds.

Come January I got an interim position teaching high school.  All hopes for being on a routine went out the door.  One of my student’s parents owned the local Krispy Kreme for crying out loud!  I was able to get in my weekly runs after school and during my planning period but I still had an awful relationship with food.  I couldn’t outrun my diet.  My long runs on the weekends boosted my confidence but the scale was still getting higher and higher.  I did a half marathon in February and had a time I was super happy with even being about 20 pounds above what I was when I formerly had the same time.

looking large.

looking large.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon, I just became really depressed.  I hate saying the word depressed because it’s not truly what I was, but I was just down. My clothes didn’t fit right, I was flabby all over, and I didn’t know if I would be able to do 26.2 miles.  At times I thought my body would fail me, but in reality I was the one who had failed my body.  The marathon came and went and that euphoric feeling of finishing vanished quickly.  I decided to give myself two weeks before running again because I was SO.SICK.OF.RUNNING.  Seriously.  Running seemed so pointless.  Well, those 2 weeks turned into longer than that and before I knew it, August was here and I had packed on 30 pounds.  Yes, you read that right.  I gained 30 pounds this summer. Nothing prepared me for the major emotional downward spiral that can come after a marathon.

I weighed in this week and the scale said 255 pounds.  That’s three pounds heavier than my absolute heaviest of 252.  I could cry just typing that.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s terrifying.  It’s shameful.  And I have no one to blame but myself.  I am the one responsible for every workout missed and for every calorie put into my mouth.

Nothing in my closet fits..not even my fat jeans that I kept around just for kicks.  My workout clothes don’t even fit.  I’m lucky if I can get my sports bra over my head.  I got REAL job teaching 8th grade and had to go waste more money on new clothes so that I would have something to teach in.  It pained me to pay money for clothes knowing that there is no way I should be in that size.  I am horrified to see myself in photos.

No one ever talks about this.  I have felt so alone in this battle of increasing weight.  People talk about how they are 2 pounds down this week or all of their non scale victories.  I don’t read about people struggling with their food addiction, binge eating disorder, and recently developed hatred of exercise.  Am I alone in this??  I have felt so incredibly isolated during all of this.

Why does no one talk about how hard weight maintenance is?  It seems like every time I get near my goal weight, I lose sight of my goals and gain sooo much.  Up and down, up and down.  Now I’m really up and I don’t even know how to get down.

The thing is, I know what it took to get to my goals.  I know the restrictions it took for me to look good in all my pictures from last year.  I know the hunger headaches I had from not eating enough.  I know about the 3 and 4 hour days at the gym trying to work harder.  I know about saying no to friends who want to have lunch so that I won’t be triggered into a binge.  I know about cutting out all of my favorite foods yet still constantly thinking about them.

Deciding to lose weight is a huge commitment.  Deciding to maintain your weight loss is an even bigger commitment.  It’s hard. It’s lonely.  It’s difficult.  It’s a process.  It takes time and effort.  If you have ever lost weight at all then you know that.  It is harder to keep it off than it is to lose it in the first place.  And it honestly pisses me off that no one ever gets real and talks about it because it is SO common.    Like, I’m pretty sure the stats show that a good majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight generally gain some if not all of it back.  In my case, you gain more back.

The other day I was out to eat with some teacher friends and I was struck by how darn good my food tasted.  It tasted good.  It tasted real good.  And then I thought how unhappy I was that I don’t fit into any of my clothes and how I am now at a higher weight than I have ever been at.  It almost doesn’t even seem worth it to try to lose the weight again.  What if I just gain it all back again?  What if it takes me many years to get to goal?  What if I never make it back to where I once was?  All of those questions cripple me with fear.  Honestly, it seems easier to just love and enjoy food and not worry about what my weight is.  But deep down, I know that I will never be truly happy at this size.   I won’t be happy knowing that I can’t buy clothes at a regular store.  I can’t be happy knowing that I’m not reaching my full potential.

So where am I going with this?  I’m just addressing what people who lose weight usually don’t talk about.  I’m really just airing my grievances.   I have been a total failtrain at weight loss and I’m confessing.  I’m letting you know that I haven’t been honest.  I’ve just flown under the radar and just stopped talking about all things running, health, and weight loss.  I’ve let myself down and I’ve let others down.

After a long summer and a few long weeks of August, I think I’m finally ready to dust myself off and get back on the horse.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be pretty.  But I’m going to try.  I’m going to do it the right way.  That means no major restrictions.  No strict diet of only chicken and oatmeal and yogurt.  I’ll definitely eat those things but my life won’t depend on it.  I’ll spend a healthy amount of time at the gym which means no more 4 hour gym days.  I won’t let it be the end of the world if I have one two many rolls at dinner with friends.  I won’t allow myself to starve for the sake of shedding a pound.  I won’t beat myself up over the number on the scale.  I will lose weight at a healthy pace and not focus on the negatives.  I will set small, realistic, and worthy goals and I will reach them.  And when I reach my goals I will set new goals that include maintenance.  My lifestyle will be sustainable and not just a fad diet.  I can do this.

Please, if you have struggled with weight maintenance, falling off the train, gaining weight, falling out of love with exercise, or anything like this then please know that you are NOT alone.  People everywhere are in the same boat as you but they just don’t always talk about it.  It is easy to share the joys and the ups of your journey.  It is hard to admit defeat and failure.  But you are not alone and there are so many people struggling just like you.  And if you are in the weight maintenance stage and have been doing good, then always reach out and support those who aren’t doing as great as you. Lift them up, encourage them, and offer them your support.  We are all in this together.    Weight loss is hard.  It is super hard.  If it was easy then obesity wouldn’t be a thing.  Just know you are not alone.

I promise to start keeping it real around here with my real thoughts and emotions along with real photos that aren’t me using camera angle to look a certain way.  Honesty is the best policy.  Thanks for reading/listening to me.

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Sweat Once (or Twice) A Day

Part of the weight loss process and training for a stellar year of strong racing is getting your sweat on.  I love to sweat and will probably be the future president of Perspirers Anonymous, or at least Exercise Lovers Anonymous.  But hey, I have a blog so it really isn’t all that anonymous.  Hopefully y’all can keep my secret.  Today is Thursday and so far I’ve had a fantastic week of workouts with more to come.  I’ve also had many victories this week in my weight loss efforts that I can’t wait to share with you.

This past weekend, my handsome fella and I attended a Spaghetti Ball which was a benefit spaghetti supper for a local church group.  It was our second year attending and it sure did not disappoint.  We had a huge plate of spaghetti with extra meaty sauce and lots of garlic bread.  They had about ten different homemade desserts to choose from but we settled on a Butterfinger Pie.  Yum-O.  I did not feel one ounce of guilt eating all those carbs and we enjoyed a nice evening.  photo 1

Sunday afternoon my Momma and I went on a five-mile walk and the weather was out of this world fantastic.  Even though there was still snow covering the ground, we were able to wear shorts and tank tops and still not get cold.  That’s East Tennessee weather for you.  photo 2

Monday brought me five miles which included a one mile warm up walk, three miles of continuous running with very inconsistent splits but I ran without walk breaks so this girl isn’t complaining.  As always, I did a one mile cool down walk.

Tuesday morning Momma and I were up and ready to hit up kickboxing.  I was able to get in three miles before heading to class. They just added one new bag to the gym so it was great to utilize it and be able to pack more power to each punch.  Momma is getting better and better with keeping up with all the punches and kicks…she is already close to pro status.  That night we were back at the gym for team training.  I did two miles of running before it started.  After everyone arrived it was decided that Bryan and I were free to work out on our own without the group since the area the group trains in is fairly small and not big enough to host spectators/motivators.  The Biggest Winner team is so lucky to have Chris O’Hearn (a trainer from MTV’s I Used To Be Fat) and Joe Mitchell (former contestant on Biggest Loser) coach them at these Tuesday night sessions.  Bryan and I did a major amount of core work AND 100 push ups in addition to logging two more miles around the track at a speedy but untimed pace making it seven miles for the entire day.  I’m slowly learning how to do a real push up and I’m definitely getting there.  That’s progress.   photo bryan

Yesterday was sprint day and I was back at the gym to see what my legs were capable of.  You have to remember that I’m not a fast runner and have only been on a training plan (thanks to Bryan) for about two months.  The plan yesterday was a 1 mile warm up walk followed by 6X400s.  Instead of given pace, I have to run by perceived effort which puts a lot less pressure on me.  I did six repeats and consistently negative split the entire workout: 2:07, 2:04, 2:03, 2:01, 1:53, 1:53.  Those last two were the fastest 400 meter sprints I have ever completed on land.  My legs enjoyed a nice long slow one mile walk following sprints but they felt so good that I decided to do a timed mile just to see how my legs would operate a crazy good workout.  I clocked in at 8:28 which shocked me and I was ecstatic that I was able to maintain that pace for an entire mile.  This big girl ain’t crying over that.  After a strong workout I ended the day with 6 miles.

This morning I went to the gym and walked two miles and then took a Bosu class.  I enjoy the strength and ab work portions of this class much more than I do the Bosu because it usually hurts my feet.  My favorite instructor in the whole gym was teaching this morning so that probably had something to do with why I went.  I was trying to take it easy because tonight my Momma and I will be back at the gym to meet my best friend/blogger buddy Brittney and her husband to take Body Combat and a special media spin class for the Biggest Winner team.  It will be their first time at our gym and I’m so glad they get to work out with me and my Momma!  I know they will love it. unnamed

Also…this blog began as a way to document my weight loss journey and will continue to do so.  But here lately I’ve been noticing almost all of my clothes feeling looser, me fitting into new sizes, muscle definition, and faster times during my runs. But guess what I’m not seeing?  A smaller number on the scale.  I’m physically getting noticeably smaller (even my Daddy mentioned it to me and he never notices anything) but the scale is staying the same.  Does that bother me?  Yeah, a little because I would obviously like to have a smaller number.  But it really doesn’t because so  many good things are happening for me and so many sweet people are giving me sweet compliments on my weight loss even though I technically haven’t lost anymore.  So, starting this month, I’m only going to weigh myself once a month.  The scale lost its control on me over the summer but now it absolutely has to go except for once a month.  I don’t want to take any chances that a silly number would tarnish any great feelings I get from the little NON scale victories.  Of course I will continue to discuss my weight loss and workouts, but just know that I’m taking a slightly different direction as far as physical and tangible weight goes.  Oh, and this week I was able to purchase two new workout tanks and both were a size XL, not a XXL.  To me, that is success.  I was also able to go into a store and not have to go to the plus size section and was able to try on a few pieces that actually fit, like the shirt below.  photo 3

Have a great rest of your week and good luck to any of my sweet readers who are racing this weekend!!  Did you have any spectacular workouts or runs this week?

You Are an Outfit Repeater

If you have never seen the Lizzie McGuire movie and do not know this quote from Kate Sanders then you really are missing out on life.  I love this movie and I love that quote mostly because it is so very true of myself.  I admit, I am an outfit repeater.  Most days you will find me wearing some sort of spandex and rocking out a sports bra. Workout clothes are comfortable and I like to wear them. On a “good fashion day” for me I am usually wearing jeans with some sort of top that may or may not be a blouse.  I hate shopping for clothes because it honestly stresses me out.  Not all stores have the same sizing so it is frustrating to be in the dressing room with the wrong size and God forbid you go to a store that doesn’t even carry your size (I’m looking at you , J.Crew).   I always laugh that all my photos look the same because I always have about 4 tops that I normally wear to workout in so I’m a total outfit repeater.  Same goes for my “normal” clothes.  I almost always wear the same outfits.

this is one of my go-to outfits.

this is one of my go-to outfits.

I have so many Pinterest outfits pinned but never even think about shopping for the things I pinned for fear of how they will look on my body.  Riding boots don’t fit my calves, straight jeans make my hips look big, shirts are too tight in shoulders but too loose in waist or vice versa.  It’s always something.   I’m naturally a big-boned girl so even at my smallest I might only be a large.  That’s totally okay with me it just sucks that I can’t find fashion that works for me right now.  I’m not complaining about clothes I’m just stating the stress that I have in finding them thus causing me to be an outfit repeater.  Oh and let me tell you about the picture below.  The other day I *dressed up* and before I walked out the door I got a glance of myself in the mirror and had to back up and just stare.  I felt really skinny.  It may not really look like it but man I felt small and that’s all that matters.  By the way my outfit is totally a repeated outfit and something I would consider dressing up.  Hate all you want to.  123skinny

Three years ago when I did Biggest Winner a girl in my town handed me down a pair of her old Banana Republic jeans.  They were size 14 and I personally think Banana tends to run small anyway so I sort of laughed them off and they wouldn’t even pull up above my knees.  By the time I was through with Biggest Winner they fit like a glove and became my favorite jeans!  They obviously do not fit anymore but I know that they are capable of looking good on my body so I have them on a hanger in plain sight at my house so I can stay motivated to fit into those suckers.  It will happen.  And you all will know about it when it does.  123bananarepublic

This coming fall, I will be student teaching for 18 weeks then hopefully I will land a real teaching job.  Looking professional is something that is obviously required of teachers.  I don’t want to have to wear the same five outfits (given I can actually piece together five appropriate outfits from my current wardrobe) every week.  If I’m going to feel good about my profession then I want to look good too.  It would rock my world to be able to go at the end of next summer and buy an entire new wardrobe to do my teaching in and the clothes actually be cute and comfortable.  If I could buy some pieces from J. Crew, Loft, or The Limited and then of course pieces from the fabulous Target and Belk then I would be one happy gal.  Sometimes it is hard for me to see the end goal since I don’t want it to be entirely weight and scale driven.  I think it would be a good goal for me to be at a good place before next school year starts so I’m able to say a final farewell to my fat clothes and have a presentable wardrobe for my career and for everyday life that I feel confident in and so that I don’t have to be an outfit repeater.

Are you an outfit repeater?  What are some of your staple pieces in your running and “normal” closet?

Second Chances and Mom’s Big News!

Has anyone been watching Biggest Loser this season?  I love that show and year after year the contestants get more and more inspiring.  This year, the show’s theme is “Second Chances”.  I love the idea  of second chances and people being given such great opportunities which is why you’ll probably catch me red-handed with a box of tissues every Tuesday at 8pm when the show airs.

Back when I started this silly little blog, I did so so the Knoxville community could see what the first ever Biggest Winner team was up to.  Feel free to read a little more either in the archives or in my weight loss story tab.  Obviously in the almost three years since then I have packed some pounds back on.  I have my love-hate relationship with food to blame for that but mostly just myself to blame.  Anywho, I’ve been really working to get back in Biggest Winner shape because what BW did for me was life-changing.  When this year’s BW application opened, my Momma wanted to apply.  She ended up chickening out so I applied for her anyway and lo and behold she got picked!! I was also asked to be sort of an “assistant coach” offering mostly encouragement and humble advice to new contestants.

you can call me coach kelsey.

you can call me coach kelsey.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime.  My mom will receive the gym pass, unlimited access to the two coaches (former Olympian Missy Kane and former Biggest Loser contestant Joe Mitchell) along with a personal trainer and dietitian.  Basically you cannot fail on this program and I am so excited for my Momma to get to be part of this year’s team.  I was in Vegas when they had the first team meeting but when I got back the team had their first photo shoot.  These photos will be used in publications and press releases for the marathon which makes them sort of a big deal.  I enjoyed being in front of the camera and it was fun seeing my mother get over her shyness and smile for the photographer.  He ended up getting a few good shots.

we could totally pass as sisters

we could totally pass as sisters

With my coaching opportunity, I get a pass to attend the local health club for free along with my sweet Momma.  This excites me so much because I contribute so much of my success to the time spent doing group fitness classes and training circuits and the gym.  Now I get a second chance to prove myself and get back to where I worked so hard to get three years ago.  Not only do I get a second chance, but I get to do it along with my Momma and support her and cheer for her and her deserving teammates.  I really feel so blessed with this opportunity and I hope that I can continue the healthy habits I’ve been working on for a while and get back under 200 pounds.

WALKING MACHINE.

WALKING MACHINE.

Last week my Momma and I took a Body Combat class.  I was worried she would hate it but she loved it and we have already made plans to attend another one.  This morning she had her “fit design” which was basically a personal training consultation where someone created a workout plan for her at the gym.  While she was doing this I took advantage of the free weights and the rowing machine.  I also did my timed mile since everyone on the team is supposed to record themselves so they can see improvement by marathon day.  Unfortunately I did it at the indoor track.  Note to self…12 laps indoors is a major snoozefest.  BUT when I finished my 12 laps and looked at my watch, I was stunned that it read 9:27.  Did I really just run it that fast?  Blew my mind.  The fitness classes seem to already be paying off and I am excited to see what training will do for me.

getting our sweat on!

getting our sweat on!

Momma will also be starting her own blog during this process so look out world!  Again, I’m so excited for this life-changing opportunity she has been presented with and excited to embark on my own second chance journey.  Big things coming our way and I can’t wipe the smile off my face.

Non-Scale Victories

Ever since I said sayonara to the scale, I have been focusing on small ways to really see results in my fitness and weight loss efforts.  A lot of readers have commented or emailed that they hate the scale yet they just don’t know how to stay accountable without it and I have found that there are so many ways to keep tabs on how you are doing without stepping foot on the scale.

Some people (including myself) use the age-old technique of just going by how your clothes fit.  This is probably the easiest way because it tells you instantly if you have seen a drop in inches or possibly even pounds.  When I was rowing, the scale didn’t tell me that I had lost weight yet I got to buy clothes in sizes I had never done before.  If I had measured success via a number, then I would have never felt satisfied.  But putting on a pair of pants that used to not go above your knees and suddenly they fit great is a huge accomplishment and a non-scale victory.  Here lately, I’ve been looking for lots of victories that don’t revolve around the scale.  Here are three clothing related victories that have boosted my confidence as of late:

  • The white pants I wore for my spring graduation photos are now so loose I can barely no longer wear them.  They were super snug back in May.

    long ways to go but this is a start.

    long ways to go but this is a start.

  • A Patagonia pullover that I wanted very badly last year but didn’t even come close to fitting now fits AND looks good on me.  Last winter I was afraid of ripping it in the dressing room trying to get it off.  I will definitely be adding this to my Christmas wish list this year.    oct7patagonia
  • My beloved Gap jeans that I would equate to the same sacredness as those in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants now fit like a glove.  These are sort of my “gauge” jeans because I can always gauge how I’m doing fitness wise based on how these jeans fit.  This past week I was able to put them on with no struggle and button and zip them with no trouble and when I sat down I did not have the fearful sensation that they were going to split in half.  Oh, and my fat rolls didn’t hang out the side of them.  This is success, people.

These may seem like no-brainers to some.  “Well duh Kelsey of course things will fit better if you lose weight”.  But it is so much more than that.  I am seeing physical results in my body that aren’t reflected on a scale.  I am seeing results that aren’t totally visible to myself when I look in the mirror but my clothes tell a different story.  It doesn’t matter how you measure success, but I would challenge you to find a few things this week that you can count as non-scale victories.  That may be fitting into a new size of jeans, running one mile without stopping, eating a salad when you really are tempted to order fried chicken.  Whatever it may be, find success outside of the scale and I promise it will put a big smile on your face.

Some Thoughts

Do you ever just stop and think about things and have all these thoughts?  Most of my deep thoughts come when I’m out for a run or when I’m on a long walk with a friend.  I feel like my mind just turns in circles and all these things surface but I have no idea what to do with them.  So I made mental notes and now I’m here and just gonna type what comes to mind.  Please excuse the randomness or the tangents or the lack of cohesiveness.  Who knows, maybe you’ve had some of the same thoughts as well.

Stream of consciousness.

Sometimes I look back and wish I had never lost 57 pounds to begin with.  Getting to a goal weight of under 200 pounds can really mess with someone if they gain their weight back.  Before I lost weight I imagined what I would look like at a certain number or a certain size.  I dreamed about it and fantasized it.  Then I actually tasted it when the scale hit 195.  I felt that victory and I lived that victory.  But after gaining some weight back and working hard to get back to that desirable number it is hard because it is no longer a dream, it is a reality.  I know what that number feels like and I know the work that went into it.  Long hours in the gym and restricted eating got me to that number and I lost 37 out of the 57 pounds in just 2 short months.  Sometimes it was easy to put my goal aside and say I would never get there because the dream was slightly unimaginable but once I was there I felt invincible.  Now that I have a healthier state of mind and no longer aim to restrict just to see a low number, it still kind of sucks because I know where I once was.  I had it, and I let it go.

Back when I was on the rowing team, I had a healthy diet and obviously a rigorous exercise plan.  My eating was on point but I was also eating a lot more to make up for the killer calories I torched while practicing and running.  For once my eating and exercise combo actually fit each other.  I was almost as small (if not smaller) than I was back on Biggest Winner.  I wasn’t scared of wearing a tank top since my arms were defined with muscle.  I didn’t cringe in photographs of myself.  I didn’t focus on a number.  I ran 8 miles without stopping for the first time ever.  I set my half marathon PR.  I wasn’t obsessive about every ounce of fat that consumed my body.  I was healthy.  I was probably the happiest I’ve ever been in terms of eating and working out and having a positive body image.  After rowing ended I stepped on the scale thinking I would easily be under 200.  Nope, I was at a solid 215.  That number should have devastated me.  All that hard work and still 215??!!  How could I have done so much running and working out and been JUST AS SMALL as I was at 195 and be 20 pounds heavier.  It didn’t make sense.

But you know what?  That number didn’t devastate me.  It didn’t bring me down.  It made me appreciate myself and have a new outlook on numbers and how I looked in the mirror.  If I could essentially look the same as my lowest weight and be 20 pounds heavier than why am I worrying about a goofy number.  No one walks around with their weight tattooed on their forehead.  People could comment and say “Wow Kelsey you have really slimmed down, how much weight have you lost?” and I could tell them that I gained weight and they might be color shocked.  Because people look at you and see how you look.  You look in the  mirror and see how you look.  When you fantasize about your dream bod, it is all about how you look.  The number doesn’t make up for that.  Numbers come in all shapes and sizes.  If I could be twenty pounds heavier than my lowest weight but still look the exact same yet have a healthier mindset and healthier habits then WHY am I stressing?!!

One time my friend Jess asked me “If you could have your dream body and the scale had you at 225, would you be happy?”  Uh, yes I would.  If I could have a healthy, lean, and fit body then I would throw my scale out the window and it would never be heard from again.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I need to start focusing on results and non-scale victories as opposed to chasing a number.  Scaleless Summer really  helped me get a jump-start on that.

I really need to work on that.  Yes, I would love love love to be under 200 pounds.  Actually I would prefer to be a solid 190 so that if I were to go on vacation or go and have a lovely “cheat day” or just gain some period pounds then the scale would still never see a weight with a 2 in front of it again.  That may be what I want.  But is that technically my goal?  No way.  Sure I’ll celebrate one day if I ever reach Onderland again but I think back to how incredibly happy I was last year when I was at a good size and had a good state of mind and how the weight didn’t even matter.  My legs carried me 13 miles in record time and I set all sorts of PRs and personal milestones.  That is what important.  That is what fitness is all about.

Getting back to that state of mind is going to take some work especially since I’m not on a team anymore with structured and coached workouts.  But I’m capable.  My body has achieved great things more than once before and is perfectly capable of achieving the same great things again.  I may not hit my dream weight, but I can still be a hottie with a body and appreciate the health that God has given me and that I have worked for.

Hey if you are still reading then you are a trooper.  This post has been all over the place but this is where my mind is.  Stream of consciousness all the way.  Expect to see some non-scale victories in a few posts later on because that’s how I can focus on the good instead of obsessing over an imaginary number.

A Scaleless Summer

Anyone that knows me (or reads here) knows that I struggle with weight issues.  I mean, I was born weighing over 10 pounds for crying out loud!  As a Biggest Winner contestant my focus was the scale.  We had an official weekly weigh-in and whatever number popped up on the scale was recorded in our medical file and was a major component over who would win the competition.  The scale was my best friend and my worst enemy.  It defined me.  During the program I worked so hard to successfully lose 37 pounds, making it 57 pounds total gone from my highest weight ever.  I will never forget the day I stepped on the scale and saw 199 and then proceeded to weigh myself close to a dozen times after to make sure it was accurate.  Just a few days later it would read 195-my lowest ever.  That number told me that I was successful, that I was valued, that I was full of worth.  But it lied.

The day after the Biggest Winner was announced I went on a trip to Nashville and probably had one of the worst binges to date.  I had reached what I deemed to be success and that was enough for me.  I attained the magic number and that was all that mattered.  In just a few short months I would pack on every pound again and be right back where I started.  Then the cycle would begin again.  I made the UT Rowing team and spent endless hours a week training and conditioning my body.  Although I never really weighed myself that much when I was rowing, my body was stronger and smaller than it had ever been before and I didn’t have a care in the world about what the scale said.  I was proud of having a 5k PR, I was proud of running 8 miles with no walk breaks and I was proud to have toned muscles.  A number would not have made me feel any better.

sad that it doesn't say the number I wanted.

sad that it doesn’t say the number I wanted.

What happened to that girl?  I went from being scale obsessed to only being proud of my accomplishments back to scale obsessed.  Every single time my friend Jess and I get together we talk about the scale.  It is like the big elephant in the room that haunts us and never lets us forget about our weight and food issues.

I’ll be the first to admit to being a compulsive scale girl.  It is the first thing I do in the morning.  Get naked, weigh myself, use the bathroom, weigh myself, hate the result, hate myself.  Mind you, I don’t do this every single day but most days that is the cycle I go through.  But the number doesn’t represent how much muscle I’ve gained from my strength training workouts, it doesn’t reflect how much fiber I have added to my diet, and it doesn’t tell me that I’m a better person.  It is just a number.  A three digit number that happens to have a 2 in front of it.  Who cares?! I shouldn’t but I do.

After reading Ashley’s blog and seeing her adventures with a scaleless summer, I reached out to her and asked if she would mind if I did a similar post documenting a summer without the scale.  She was so encouraging and was totally okay with letting me do this!  This summer will be her third year doing it and that to me is dedication.

Summer brings lots of things that may not normally happen during the other seasons.  Cookouts are plentiful and s’mores make the best dessert.  Vacations and road trips happen and sometimes “healthy eating” gets put on the back burner.  A lot of people would argue that it is all about planning ahead and making sacrifices and I respect that.  But for me personally, sustainability is key to a weight loss that has longevity and by giving up special things that normally only happen in the summer just won’t cut it.  I will end up feeling deprived and making even worse food decisions as a result.  Is that an excuse?  Maybe, but I know my body and my habits.  I would much rather give in to a s’more and feel great about it than not eat one and end up eating three Dairy Queen s’more blizzards on the way home.

it shouldn't be either.

it shouldn’t be either.

A lot of people use the summer to maintain and not gain which I think is totally awesome.  If I make it to the end of summer without weighing and still weigh the exact same then I will be super excited.  If I happen to gain a few pounds, then that is okay, too.  If I step on and see any loss then that will just be a bonus to me getting over my scale obsession.  This summer is all about feeling good about myself, trying new things, and focusing on bettering myself and not about bettering a number.

So here’s the deal.  I weighed myself on Sunday morning and the scale said 228.8.  It has been a long time since I’ve been in the 220’s!  The scale will be collecting dust until Labor Day.  Sure, I have a goal number I’d like to see when I step on the scale again but I will be fine no matter what it says on September 2.  The next two-ish months will give me time to build muscle, burn fat, work on my fitness, try new things, eat “summer” foods, and stepping outside the box.  Can I do it?   Yes I can.   scale.

If you struggle with scale obsession, then join me for a scaleless summer!  If you can’t bear to make it the whole summer, then scale (pun intended) back to one day per week.  This is going to be a fun summer!!

Staying Active On a Beach Vacation

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend eight glorious days in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with my best friend and workout partner, Jess.  They were brave enough to let me tag along on their family vacation.  Vacation can be an intimidating thing for people looking to lose weight.  Days of beach vacations are often spent lounging around in the sand  during the day with big meals full of calories at night.  Not ideal for weight loss efforts.

I started vacation a little nervous about backsliding and completely making a pig of myself in terms of eating and not getting exercise in.  But once we got there, I knew that exercise would not be a problem.  Each morning, I woke up around 7:30 and hit the local neighborhoods and beach access ramps for some mileage.  I walked the majority of the time, but on shorter runs, I would alternate running with walking.  Jess joined me on a few mornings, but others we did our own thing since she is a speedster and I can’t keep up.  We also rented beach cruisers and would ride them during the day for short spurts and then ended each and every day with a 5 mile loop around the golf course we were staying at.

Some morning miles on the endless shores of Hilton Head Island

Some morning miles on the endless shores of Hilton Head Island

Here’s a rundown of the activity of our week:

Sunday: 6 morning beach miles alone/evening 5 mile bike ride
Monday: 6 morning miles with Jess/bike ride/evening 5 mile bike ride.
Tuesday: 3 mile walk with Jess/evening 5 mile bike ride
Wednesday: 6 mile walk/ evening 5 mile bike ride
Thursday: 3 miles/ evening 5 mile bike ride
Friday:  8 mile morning bike ride/ evening bike ride
Saturday: No workout (other than packing)

bike riding on the golf course

bike riding on the golf course

Not the greatest of workouts and it was all mostly just walking/running plus our daily bike rides, but getting up and getting a fantastic sweat in each morning really made a difference with food cravings during the day.  That kick-start to the day was well worth a morning alarm.

Since we were able to stay in a house, I ended up packing lots of food to eat during the day so eating out would not be a temptation.  Every day, I would wake up and have peanut butter toast and lunch would usually consist of a turkey sandwich with fruit on the side and some baked chips.  Not horrible for a vacation, right?  Of course we did eat out for dinner each night, but I never felt overly stuffed or bloated since we ate lighter throughout the day and did a morning workout.  It is all about finding that balance.

Jess's on left; mine on right.

Jess’s on left; mine on right.

I will say that each night after our bike rides we went to the best frozen yogurt place I’ve ever been to.  Yo Addiction just opened up on the island about a month ago and is so fantastic. The yogurt was delicious and the toppings were on point.  They gave us a vacation card that got us 20-30 percent off our entire purchase each night so that kept us coming back.  Fro-Yo isn’t THE most healthy thing in the world, but it beats going out for fatty ice cream each night.  I loved ending each day with a big ole bowl of fro-yo.

Truly an addiction

Truly an addiction

Staying active on vacation was much easier than I thought it would be.  Getting up never bothered me and I always felt like I was pushing myself harder than I would back home because I knew I wanted to enjoy my restaurant meal each night.  Plus the humidity really really made me sweat hard.  It also helped having a friend there to wake up with and get you out the door.  Vacations can be intimidating, but thanks to a little morning exercise, healthy(ish) meals during the day, and an evening bike ride after dinner, I left feeling skinnier than I did at the beginning of the week.  morning miles

How do you stay active on vacation?

 

Small Victories

Many times when it comes to weight loss or fitness, we measure our success by numbers.  How much does the scale read today?  How fast did I run that mile repeat?  What is my max rep weight today at the gym?  Numbers define us.  Since seeking help for my eating disorder, my therapist and I have had many come to Jesus meetings about the scale.  The scale used to define me.  I would wake up, weigh myself, use the bathroom, weigh myself, get naked, weigh myself, stand on one foot, weigh myself, and the cycle goes on and on.  Whatever number flashed back at me was an automatic marker as to what my mood would be that day and how I would feel about myself.

I have removed the scale I had in my apartment.  The only time I really weigh myself is when I go home, and even then, I only step on one time the entire visit.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned not to let that number bother me.  Sure, I want to lose weight, but I am more concerned about how I look and feel than what some silly scale number says.  When people look at us, all they see is us.  They have no idea what number we are.  I’d much rather fit into a great pair of jeans or be able to rock a tankini than have a specific number pop up on the scale.  So, in an effort to eliminate scale anxiety, I’ve been celebrating small victories that are non scale related.

Last week, my friend Jess and I went on the hunt to find a dress for my birthday dinner. We went to Old Navy and I had a gift card that expired that same day so I was in a bind to buy something.  Shopping can be scary and so can dressing rooms.  When something doesn’t fit right or doesn’t fit at all, it defeats me and really kills my mood.  But I decided that day that I was going to try on stuff and not worry about the results.  After trying on countless dresses and none of them working, I decided to try to find something else.  Jess proposed a pair of neon pink shorts since they were in the right price range.  I laughed and said no way.  Recently, Old Navy stopped carrying size 18 bottoms and that is the size I wear there.  I told her that the maximum size of 16 just wouldn’t fit me and wasn’t even worth the pain.  She insisted I try them on.

While she waited outside the dressing room, I slipped into these smoking size 16 shorts, pulled them up, and low and behold the darn things buttoned and zipped.  I couldn’t believe it.  I threw the door open with elation and said LOOK!!!  Sure enough they fit.  Such a defining moment in that dressing room.  I bought those shorts and felt so proud that I fit into them.  I’m going to wait until summer to actually rock them out with my hopefully tan skin, but until then, they sit proudly on my dresser to remind me of the work it took to fit in them.

Sure, those shorts were a certain size.  But if they did not fit, I still would not have let the size define me.  I would have just shrugged it off and put them back.  After all, they are just a piece of silly fabric.  But celebrating small victories is extremely important in staying motivated for me.  Do I want to be a size 16?  No, not really.  But a size 16 is way better than the size 20 I used to be.  I will celebrate the small victory of being able to fit in them and purchase them and feel proud.

I challenge you today to find a small victory that you can celebrate that has nothing to do with the scale.   A stupid three digit number does not define the amazing person inside of you who is capable of so many wonderful things.  Find your victory, and celebrate it.

Alternatives and Substitutions

I am not a believer in diets.  While not true for all people, usually diets result in nothing but empty promises and gaining weight back.  I believe in a lifestyle.  I believe in replacing bad habits with better habits and doing a plan that is sustainable.  A lot of people in the running/healthy living blog world often use the term “clean eating”.  Clean eating can mean a lot of different things but I most often see it used to describe an eating plan that is primarily low in processed foods, high in fruits, veggies, and lean meats.

Two years ago when I shed 57 pounds, I was miserable.  I was eating a restricted calorie diet, I had no cheats, I ate all the fruits I could because I despised veggies, and I went to bed every night with  my tummy growling.  While I was able to maintain that for the four months of my weight loss program, as soon as it was over I was back to old ways and eating everything in sight.  My eating plan may have been ideal, but it was not sustainable.

Fast forward to here and now.  I am a binge eater.  No shock there.  I am also a college student so my budget is somewhat limited.  Oftentimes I will say that I am eating healthy.  The only kicker is that my healthy might be the farthest thing from healthy as someone else’s idea.  At this point in time, it is important for me to find foods that satisfy me and keep me full while also making me feel as though I’m eating something substantial.

Something I’ve discussed in therapy is substitutions.  What I eat may not be “healthy” by many people’s standards, but they are much healthier than what I would normally eat.  It is all about finding a substitution for what I once ate.  This is super helpful in me not binge eating.  If I eat a SkinnyCow ice cream, I genuinely feel like I’m eating ice cream so the urge to go binge on Ben and Jerry’s goes away.  Yes, the whole natural almonds might be what is best for you but I never feel satisfied and the feeling of deprivation could lead to a binge so I get the lightly salted ones instead.  Hopefully in the near future, I can make even healthier food options, but for right now I am focusing on making substitutions and finding alternatives.

Before I began to tackle my binge eating disorder, I could easily put down a whole pizza by myself.  I loved the taste, the smell, the warmth, everything about it.  But pizza isn’t obviously something that is great for you.  I substitute Lean Pocket pizzas for a regular pizza.  Yes, Lean Pockets are probably some people’s worst nightmares and is nothing but processed, but it works for me.  I can eat one Lean Pocket and feel completely satisfied and my mind is happy that I just ate pizza.  No binge in sight.

see the difference?

see the difference?

I also used to love toast slathered with butter and huge sandwiches.  Now, I just buy whole grain bread, but one slice in half and toast it then use Parkway No Butter Spray (basically flavored water) as my butter.  I come away with only one slice of bread and it feels like two, plus I have “butter” on it.  Oftentimes for lunch I will do the same thing with one piece of bread then I will add one serving size of reduced sodium turkey to it and slab some mustard on it.  Totally satisfies my taste buds.   sand

As a student, there are times when I’m out and about on campus all day and don’t have access for a fridge or a microwave.  So in times like these I pack a bunch of snacks.  I’ll pack a boiled egg and just eat the egg white.  Low fat/light string cheese is a great option too because it tastes like full flavored cheese but only packs about 2.5 grams of fat and 50 calories.  Sometimes I’ll eat a chocolate chip/granola fiber bar in lieu of a candy bar.  Of course it does not taste the exact same but definitely satisfies my sweet tooth.  I may pack sugar-free pudding snack packs, applesauce cups, or a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Anything to get me through my busy day when I don’t have time to go back to my apartment and prepare a meal.    snackpack fiber

My binge cravings are the worst after about 5pm.  Shortly after comes dinner so I have to make sure I eat something that will truly satisfy me or else the temptation to binge will become overwhelming.  Progresso just came out with a new Light soup and I’ve found two flavors that I really enjoy.  The Potato, Bacon, and Cheese soup is so great and so is the Zesty Chicken Tortilla.  They are both extremely low in fat and only pack 200 calories per can.  Yes, they are high in sodium, but I try to limit sodium throughout the day, so usually it doesn’t pose a huge problem.  Last week I even saw the Biggest Loser contestants eating it.  I also like to cook reduced sodium red kidney or pinto beans.  They fill me up great and make me feel like I’m eating real southern.  Again, they may not be the healthiest options in the world, but they are alternatives to what I could usually be eating.    soup

Then of course I do try to eat at least three fruits a day.  Usually I will enjoy an apple with my breakfast, a banana with my lunch, then some grapes as a snack.  Those may not be the best fruits on the food guide pyramid but a fruit is a fruit.    fruit

This is just a small taste (pun intended) of what I might eat on a weekly basis.  Of course I do actually eat prepared meals throughout the week like grilled chicken, steamed corn, grilled turkey, etc, but that’s all the stuff that I’m supposed to eat.  For me, it is all about balance.

Some of y’all may have your jaws on the floor right now thinking I’m crazy, unhealthy or even delusional. I may be one or all of those things.  But I’m finding what works for me and right now, using alternatives and making substitutions is what works for me and curbing a binge.  These foods are also something that is convenient and that I can have easy access to, making it sustainable for long-term purposes.  Change takes time, but this is just step one in changing my eating habits and patterns.