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.

Tips to Avoid a Food Binge

It is no secret that I struggle with a serious addiction of food and was even diagnosed with a binge eating disorder.  Over the last several months I have really tried to focus in on what makes me binge and ways to address it.  My therapist often had me think of reasons that I binged and then encouraged me to mentally place myself in a binge situation then verbally say how I would attack it.  This sort of role play really did wonders mentally.  If I could think about the situation before it happened then I was better equipped to handle it once the issue arose.  Mind you, this doesn’t always work and there are still days when the urge to binge controls my mind.  But I get through.

Sure I overeat sometimes, but that is normal.  I rarely full on binge anymore and if I do then the next day I pick up the pieces and move on.  It certainly is not as easy as it sounds but wallowing in pity will only make me eat more.  So, I’d like to share with you some ways I have learned to avoid binge eating.  You may have heard some of these before since a few of them are talked about a lot but a friendly reminder never hurt anyone.

  • Plan ahead.  This seems like a given but so many of us (myself included) fail at this.  If we know that we are going to be out and about all day then it is imperative we pack a meal or some snacks for the road.  Not only does this help in not stopping by Taco Bell, but it aids in satisfying our appetite so we don’t feel famished later on which could potentially result in a binge.  Same goes for restaurants.  Women like to have conversations over a good meal.  If you know that you and friends will be meeting for lunch or dinner then try to see if the restaurant has its menu or nutrition content online so you can walk in confident in the food choice you will make and not be caught off guard when the menu arrives.  Planning ahead also consists of meal planning.  If you know exactly what groceries you need at the store then you are much less likely to make a purchase from the candy aisle.
  • Pre-portion your food at home.  I despise doing dishes and cooking multiple times a week so I usually spend one day cooking all of the meats I have purchased so I won’t have to worry about it later.  Usually I will put all my cooked chicken in a big bowl and then divide it into small plastic baggies for fridge storage.  Doing this helps me not put a little bit of extra chicken on my plate when I go to reheat it.  This is also helpful because once you portion it out you know exactly how much you have left for the rest of the week.   You could also do this with snacks like carrots or baked chips so that if you are in a hurry to rush out the door you can go ahead and grab that plastic bag and be on your way.
  • Don’t focus on “bad” foods.  Binge eaters tend to feel bad about themselves after a binge.  Multiple reasons go into this but a main one is that we feel bad that we ate “bad”.  I heard a quote recently about there is no such thing as bad food.  While I do not wholeheartedly agree with this, I can see the valid argument.  One french fry isn’t horrible for you, but a whole order could be.  But we have this mindset that certain foods are the enemy and then when we indulge or binge in them we are left feeling bad since we believe that the food is bad.  That is a bad cycle.  If you must splurge on a so called “bad” food then just be aware of the portion of it and think of it as a treat and not something that is bad and horrible for you because that will leave you feeling guilty and bad yourself.
  • Cards in the trunk.  My biggest binge spot is my car.  I pass more than a dozen lovely fast food restaurants on the way home and could easily pop through the drive-thru and go through my ritual of trying to get the employee to believe that I’m getting food for multiple people and no one else would ever know that I ate that food.  The car is a danger zone.  A trick I learned is to put my debit card in the trunk of my car.  When I’m driving past CookOut and really craving a hot dog and milkshake then I am a million times less likely to pull over, pop the trunk, get out and retrieve the cards, then go through the drive-thru.  Too much work.  This trick really works for someone like me who has issues with binge eating in the car.  Another card tip that I found out through a recent customer is to take a Sharpie and literally write NO JUNK FOOD on the card.  When she presented her card to me I inquired as to why that was written on it and she explained that by putting it on there then she is too embarrassed to purchase fast food or junk food.  That was a new concept for me but she swears by it so that may be another option.
  • Brush your teeth like your dentist is watching.  I’ve long heard the brush your teeth tip but taking it to the next level might be even more helpful to avoiding a binge.  If you brush your teeth for a solid two minutes, rinse, use mouth wash, and then meticulousy floss then that will take up a good five minutes of your time.  Time to think about the binge, reflect on why you don’t want to binge, and plus it makes your tastebuds all out of wack so you may not even crave that food anymore.
  • Talk it out.  Ever have something you need to do and then get a phone call and suddenly forget what you were supposed to do in the first place?  If you feel a binge coming on then call a friend.  Talk about the weather, the Braves game, future plans, whatever!  Just get your mind off of the binge and see how you feel after.  Heck, snapchat your neighbor if you have to.  Anything that involves getting your mind off food and your craving.
  • Drink it up!  I love water.  Absolutely adore it.  I even wrote a whole post on why I love hydrating.  Water fills me up and leaves me feeling satisfied.  If I feel a binge coming on, I can fill up my bottle and focus on emptying it.  It gives my hand and mouth something to do and helps my stomach out, too.  9 times out of 10 I won’t binge after really focusing on hydrating.

Hope these tips give you some insight on what works for me and tips that have aided me in becoming a recovering binge eater.  Do you have any tips that work for you or that you would like to share?  Would love to hear about them!

Overeating vs. Under-eating

I’ve touched on the topic of my eating disorder before, but haven’t done the best at writing about my therapy sessions and my ongoing struggles with food.  I did awesome during the month of June with working out and eating a mostly balanced diet.  There were times when I would splurge on a milkshake every now and then and I would still eat at a restaurant on date night, but I never ate bad food with a binge mentality.  I ate it, it was good, I worked out the next morning, no big deal.  I didn’t sit and think about the food and crave the food and feel out of control while eating.  If you have ever experienced binge eating or had a binge problem then you can relate to the difference between a binge and overeating.

It is summer, I’ve overate quite a few times but haven’t ragged on myself about it and I’m looking pretty good in photos and my clothes fit nicely so I’m not over the top worried about it.  I would never pass up a s’more.  Yesterday morning I was running stadiums at the track to “warm up” before taking a yoga class and my stomach got the best of me, causing me to leave a nice present on the bleachers.  It was slightly scary, but I knew it was a result of eating chips and Oreos the night before.  I realized it was a result of overeating and trying to compensate with exercise.  Bad combination, for sure.  smore

I’m not sure if getting sick caused me to not feel hungry all day yesterday or if my body was still full from a weekend of bad eating, but I was not hungry at all yesterday.  I felt fine and did not think that much about it.  After looking back at what little I had to eat yesterday, I can only count about 750 calories that I consumed if even that.  Plus I ran in the morning, did a yoga class, and did 2 miles later in the afternoon.

For breakfast this morning I made some whole grain toast with sugar free jelly, a turkey sausage patty, and some scrambled eggs.  My body wasn’t full on starving, but it was definitely growling from the instant I woke up.  My lovely friend Yvonne texted me to see if I was up for a longer morning walk.  I haven’t walked with her since starting summer school and I wouldn’t turn down the chance to exercise.  breakfast

We went a little later in the morning due to time constraints but I was excited since higher temps equals more sweat.  We all know I love a good sweat.  The day was perfect.  We walked down Little Chestnut Hill then back up Big Chestnut Hill before hitting the trail.  Walking always goes by much faster when you have a friend to talk with.  At the end of the bike trail, we stopped at a local store to use the bathroom and get some water from the fountain. My mouth was parched!  We were about a half a mile away from her house when I started to feel light headed.  The asphalt seemed to spin and I couldn’t even focus.  I didn’t say anything to Yvonne until we headed up Little Chestnut and I thought I was going to pass out.  I started telling her that I needed water and something sugary.  At the top of the hill, the heat, the lack of calories, and dehydration sat in and I had to lay down in the road.  I couldn’t stand and my ears were ringing.  I asked if she could run to the house and get something to drink or something to eat for me.  I laid down for what felt like forever before finally feeling slightly better (and embarrassed) and I slowly got up to go back to Yvonne’s house.  She was jumping in the car as I hit the driveway and she gave me a huge jug of water and a hot biscuit.  I never felt so relieved to have air conditioning and to eat and drink in my life.

I was still slightly light headed once I got back home, but not near as bad as I was on the road.  Looking back, I can’t pinpoint if it was the heat/humidity, dehydration, or under-eating, but it was a scary experience and a valuable lesson.  Even though I had a somewhat large breakfast, I still did not consume near enough calories yesterday and even if under-eating wasn’t today’s issue, it is still dangerous.  Like I said, under-eating may have not even been the issue, but this episode certainly made me stop and think about the hazards of not eating enough.

must. eat. food.

must. eat. food.

From now on I will not make the mistake of not eating enough even if it means eating when I’m not hungry.  This week has taught me the consequences of overeating as well as the negative effects of not consuming enough.  Also, for me, using exercise to overcompensate for eating badly or eating too much is not a good idea.  Everyone is different and only you know your body, but both types of eating can be hazardous to us.  Balance is always best.

Have you ever experienced negative effects of either overeating or under-eating?  Have you ever nearly passed out during a run or walk?  What is your favorite thing to refuel with after exercise?

True Life: I Have an Eating Disorder

The words eating disorder have a certain ring to them that can make any person cringe.  Usually the first thoughts that come to mind is someone who is suuuuuper skinny, yet sees their self as fat  or someone who eats a lot and then forces themselves to throw up later.  But there is a third condition in the realm of eating disorders: binge eating.   The Mayo Clinc defines binge eating disorder as the following:

Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret.

Some major symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

Sounds scary, right? I suffer from all symptoms listed above.  After my post about feeling bullied I spoke with a friend concerning my eating habits.  She told me about how she often used to feel the same way and visited a counseling center to deal with her eating.  I took note and one fateful Thursday, she made the trip with me to meet with a psychologist, holding my hand the whole way.  After the initial appointment, the psychologist suggested that I seek weekly individual counseling with another therapist.  The thought terrified me.  I made a call to my mother and tried to tell her.  Through the unending sobs, I just could not get the words out.   I ended up sending her an email to tell her that there was a reason I struggle with food so much.  It is because I have an eating disorder.

So, you may be wondering what binge eating disorder looks like.  It is hard to sometimes classify binge eating because it usually involves overeating, which so so so many Americans love to do.  Is going out to eat with your family binge eating?  Can anyone be a binge eater?  What classifies someone as a binge eater?  These are all questions I desperately seeked answers to, praying that I was just an avid overeater and that I didn’t have an eating disorder.  I sought help and am currently receiving it.  My questions are being answered, and my body and mind are both in a recovery process.

Here’s my story and what binge eating looks like for me.

I am currently a senior in college and have struggled with food my entire life.  I literally have a photo of myself circa 9 years old eating straight from a huge bag of cheetos drinking a 2-liter of soda.  Back then, I felt no shame in eating.  Now eating has become eating that same bag of cheetos, but adding in a bag of salt and vinegar chips, Doritos, and pretzels and eating every last bite all alone behind closed doors.  When I have finally finished and am physically sick to my stomach due to it being so full, I put the empty bags in my backpack, walk down the hallway, and put them down the trash chute.  Destroying the evidence.  Some nights it might look like getting two combo meals from Cookout, a combo from Taco Bell, an order of nuggets and fries from Chick fil a, then sitting in my parking garage in the farthest corner I can find and eating every single bit of food as fast as my body will allow.  Promptly after finishing this binge fest, I get out to throw away the trash, then go find a parking spot closer to my apartment.  There have been times that I go into a normal fast food joint, ordering a normal size meal that a normal person would eat.  Then after examining who is working behind the counter, I go through the drive through, ordering more food, always ordering two drinks, and making the person taking my order think that there is more than one person that this food is intended.  I get to the window and am so overly nice since the kind lady working the register has no idea I was just in there and that she just politely handed me my poison of choice.

Or other times binge eating looks like going out to eat with friends at a sit down restaurant, ordering a normal menu item, and being “too full” to finish, then proceed to hit two fast food stops on my way home to reward myself for not cleaning my plate in front of my friends.  Sometimes I hide in my vehicle and eat in shame, other times I hide the food in my backpack, walk through my apartment saying hello to my roommates, then lock the door behind me as I scarf down more food than my body can handle before my roomies knock on my door wanting to chat.  I tell them to hold on while I change clothes, trying so hard to hide the bags in my closet.  This is binge eating.

Usually on binge days, I sit in class daydreaming about what I’m going to eat afterwards.  The thought of food consumes my mind sometimes and my mind is always wondering when my stomach will gets its next fix.  When I do binge, I feel out of control.  Even when I eat past the point of sickness, my brain won’t tell my hands to stop going to my mouth.  I reach a fullness capacity and still refuse to put the food down.

I have wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, magnificent parents, and I am enjoying my senior year of college.  My ducks are all in order.  I don’t hide in my bedroom or my car because I’m weird and anti-social because I’m not.  I do it because I’m ashamed.  If a skinny person ate two huge combos by themselves, they and others would joke around and loosely use the term “fatty”.  But if a fat person like me was seen doing the exact same thing, words would go unspoken, and judgments would filter the air.  As long as no one can see me indulge in my overpowering food desires, then they don’t know that I do.  Hiding is part of the shame.

Food fills my stomach and body until I get physically ill, sometimes throwing up.  Not because I purge myself like a bulimic, but simply because my body needs to spit out the excess that I consumed in under 10 minutes.  I end up staring at my wrappers, empty boxes, and crumbs and feeling disgusted, guilty, and discouraged.  Usually a multitude of tears follow and I crawl into bed praying that morning comes so I can forget the negative and hateful feelings that flood my mind.  Being fat isn’t fun.  Being a binge eater is even worse.  I am addicted to something that surrounds me constantly.  Food.

I make a conscious effort to avoid the scale at all costs on binge days.  The number is only an ordinal to the level of unhappiness my body feels on the inside.  A number isn’t important at that point.  My weight loss goals aren’t important.  I’m not important.  What is important at that point is food.  On non-binge days I hop on the scale crossing my fingers and toes that the number will be acceptable to me.  If not, it usually induces me into a binge state.  In my mind I know what it takes to lose weight.  I know that eating a great diet and being more active will get me the results I want.  But sometimes when my mind is focusing on a binge, it doesn’t think logically.  I know what it takes.  After all, I have lost 57 pounds before and felt good doing it.  I can be that person again.

Binge eating disorder is a real thing and it shakes me to my core.  Now, there are some days that I don’t binge at all and don’t even have the thought of a binge.  Other days I don’t binge at all and fight all day for the accomplishment of saying I did not binge.  And of course other days I binge with regret, guilt, and disappointment.  Most recently, I made it 22 days without a binge.  But food got the best of me.

So, to treat my eating disorder, I meet once a week with  my therapist.  We sit in a room with big comfy chairs facing each other.   He doesn’t write anything down, but all of our sessions are both filmed and recorded.  I always have a box of tissues next to me ready to wipe any tears that never fail to make an appearance.  We talk, he asks me questions, and I answer as honestly as possible.  I get real, I get raw, and I get emotional.   I say things that have been hidden and suppressed for so long and I do not receive judgement.  It is such a liberating feeling to freely express my addiction and disorder with someone whose primary concern is to help me heal and recover from it.  I always leave counseling with a huge weight off my shoulders.  The past three weeks have been great, and like I said, I made it 22 days without a binge.

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing random tidbits of what I learn in therapy and how I am recovering from my eating disorder in addition to my regular postings about becoming a runner and losing weight.  A long road definitely lies in front of me, but I hope that by being honest and real here on my blog that people will know who I really am and that will encourage me not to hide my shame and guilt.  Maybe some of you are struggling just like I was/am.  Please know that you are not in this alone and that there are people and resources there willing to help you.  I may have an eating disorder, but an eating disorder does not have me.