Thursday, October 27, 2016

TOL #6 Weight Loss: It's Not You, It's Me

Things are gonna get real, k? For this edition of Thinking Out Loud, I'm going to be frank about body image and my struggles with being 30 pounds overweight. I know, I know. Stop the presses: a middle-aged woman is going to talk about food and weight loss.


There are weekly nutrition and weight loss facts posted at the gym where I work. One fact that I read several years ago has stayed with me since: the average person gains tens pounds with each decade. I was like '10 pounds every 10 years? That's not a big deal." Well. That happens to be the exact trajectory I'm following...and I'm not happy about it one bit.

Jennifer Lawrence is my spirit animal.

When I was a little girl into and into my early 20s, I had a very fast metabolism. I was rail thin and self conscious, and I had to drink protein shakes to maintain my weight. I ate poorly and had no sense of good nutrition or proper portions.

I weighed around 135 pounds when I was 25, and was 'skinnyfat'; I was in terrible shape with poor eating habits. I joined a gym and started really getting into fitness and nutrition, and my weight dropped down to 123 pounds. It was the least I have weighed as an adult, but I was physically in the best shape of my life.

I got pregnant with our daughter a few years later, and then had our son four years after that. By this time, I was in my early 30s and took up running. I fell in love with it, and I was able to lose the baby weight I had gained with my son within about 6 months. I started entering 5k and 10k races, and ran my first half marathon. Shortly afterwards, I began training for a full marathon. I was 36 years old, and I had started working for the Y as a spinning instructor. I picked up three classes, and I was offered a job at second gym. I became certified as a personal trainer and had a dozen clients.

Working in the fitness industry made me aware of my own nutrition. Some bad habits had started creeping in, and I made the decision to give up sugar. It was starting to feel like sugar had been running my life, similar to when I was doing drugs or drinking. Even despite cutting sugar out of my diet and working out 5-6 days a week, I began slowly gaining weight and was experiencing intense fatigue. My doctor ordered a blood panel, and we discovered that I had thyroid issues. Unless I'm eating clean, my weight quickly pops up.

Pretty much on point. 

The funny thing is that I don't feel overweight. In my mind, I look slender. It's like some bizarre reverse form of dysmorphia. Maybe that's just called denial? I'm always unpleasantly surprised at how heavy I look when I see photographs of myself. And I'll tell you, it's a total serving of humble pie to have slowly put on 30 pounds and work as a fitness instructor. Here's the important part, though; it's not worth disparaging myself over. The person who is bothered by my weight gain most is me.

It makes zero sense to compare my fitness journey
to someone else's. 

I've never really done a timeline in this matter and looked at my history with food and my weight before. It's certainly been cathartic. I'm getting back to the basics of what works for me: small frequent meals that include protein, keeping track of my food and drinking lots of water, and avoid watching TV or mindlessly looking at my phone while I'm eating. Thank you to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting her weekly linkup. It always gets me motivated and thinking about writing!

What are some of the things that have contributed to your successes in weight loss or maintaining fitness?


  1. You rock! I love your honesty and transparency. Key success factors for me:
    --stay motivated-I start to slide into bigger portions, less desire to be active, giving into more desserts than I should.
    --plan ahead-I bring my lunch to work, track my food, count my protein grams, carbs, fat and calories.
    --splurge on yourself for fitness-this week marks the first time I've ever hired a personal trainer for a 12-week intensive overall body health review and intensity training. I want to look better at 50 than I did at 30. It also makes me put my money where my mouth is, and I like to get value where I'm opening my wallet.
    Three cheers for mind/body/spirit improvements!

    1. That's so fabulous that you hired a trainer! It does feel like a splurge, but I'd argue that it's an investment in your health and well-being. I also love your success factors, Paul! Keeping motivated -- momentum instead of inertia -- is plays a huge role in success.

  2. Unfortunately, I've struggled with my weight ALL of my adult life. At the moment I am at a healthy weight, and have maintained it for 3 1/2 years (and I'm 54), so I can tell you that there's hope.

    The most important thing is consistency and accountability. It's why I go to my Weight Watchers meeting every week (when I'm here, which hasn't been much lately).

    As someone who has been overweight more than she hasn't been, though, I have the opposite problem with body image. I know I look good, but those extra bits of jiggle still kind of get to me.

    I had plateau'd for a long time during my late 40s/early 50s -- mainly due to perimenopause, I think. Now that I'm actually past that, it's gotten easier. For now, anyway!

    So my best advice -- just keep doing it, even when it seems like nothing is moving. That consistency will get it moving, eventually!

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful reply! I'm just about on schedule with your plateau timeline, and I have suspected perimenopause as the culprit for the scale numbers not moving much. I just need to keep at it, as you suggested. If I have a day where I've eaten poorly, it's better to move forward and eat better at my next meal. I'll often use it as an excuse to continue eating blindly, and then feel poorly later. Consistency is king!

  3. According to BMI (which I think is a complete crock of shit), I, too, am overwheight. And to that I say: screw that.
    I'm healthy, active, fit, and eat well. I'm not about to give up the occasional (or more than occasional) glass of wine in order to meet an arbitrary standard.

    1. I completely agree, Ange! Not only is BMI ridiculous, taking measurements for body mass with calipers is inaccurate at best.

      I try to think of the 80/20 rule of eating well...although these days it seems to be working out to more like 60/40 😜