Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthdays, Health Scares & Diet Failures

A blog post on Sparkpeople really encouraged me and inspired this post.  You can find it here:  Spark People Awesome Blog.

It was all about milestones, setting dates for yourself and how you can set yourself up for failure pretty easily.  It started with a "how not to do this."  It should resonate with anyone who ever started a diet.

Here's my story.

March 1, 2009, I turned 30 and was SO depressed about it.  I was 285 pounds, hated how I looked and didn't see anything good about turning 30.  A few months later I began easing into a healthier lifestyle - and after having done WW, cabbage soup, you name it, this "easing" worked so much better for me.

I say "easing" because I didn't go all hard core eat-like-I-do-today in August 2009 when I got started.  Because every diet I had started had failed.  Every moment of "I can't have that" made me want to eat 10 of "that."  And I would.

My weight fluctuated alot after high school.  I weighed around 155 at my lowest point in high school (I am 5'6) - I say lowest because I was actually starving myself to lose the weight - some of which came from being depressed from a bad breakup.  I had a great friend (you know who you are) who said I should stop losing weight and they were worried about me.  I found my "happiness" again and began gaining weight again.  I finished high school somewhere in the 170s I think.  A size 11/13.  Not huge, but not skinny by any means.

I moved out of my parents house when I was 19.  I was drinking alot, not getting enough sleep, hardly ever working out and eating like someone who didn't budget well for her first set of bills (literally, I forgot to factor in my car payment).  I ate out all the time, getting into credit card debt too by the way...that's how you make ends meet when you don't make enough money.  Wasn't that american of me?

I then met my husband and he didn't mind me not being skinny which was good.  :)  Then he saw how happy ice cream sundaes made me and he made me one every night - now I am NOT blaming him, but I quickly packed on some weight in the next few months and was in a panic 2 months before the wedding, I was around 200 then.  I joined a fat attack type program at the gym and lost 18 pounds in a month.  I weighed 181 the day I got married - in fact, there was a new panic the week before my wedding as my dress had to be altered more than intended...oops.

I fell off the wagon after the wedding and gained AGAIN.  I was 21 years old and we were newly married - and frankly, I had alot to learn about cooking still.  We ate out, sometimes after something I cooked didn't turn out edible (lol). 

So, I joined WW again!  Because it worked for me!  My routine was that my weigh ins were on Thursdays - so I would go weigh in, then pick up a large pizza and eat half of it that night.  THAT was healthy.  Food rewards were a huge issue for me back then.  I never got below 200 that time.

Then we decided we were ready to have a baby.  This was 2003.  I was blessed to conceive quickly, and my baby girl was born that December.  I was 214 when I went in for my first dr appt.  My doctor made no bones about the fact that she would be fine if I didn't gain ANYTHING while pregnant.  Thanks alot.  And no thanks, I'm eating all the fried chicken sandwiches my body can handle thank you very much.

I gained 51 pounds.  I weighed in at 265 when I went in to deliver.

During the next year, I made it back to around 220 then crept back up to 225.  Being busy, trying to eat better, etc., all "sort of" worked for me.  But I joined WW one more time to see if I could get the weight off.  I remember one WW weigh in where I had weighed 220 for about 8 weeks straight.  The leader exclaimed, "Well, you've got maintenance figured out!"  Yeah, maintaining my heftiness.  Thanks lady.

I joined Curves and went pretty faithfully 3-4 times a week for awhile.

My husband sustained a serious illness in 2005 that affected us hugely.  A month in the hospital, closing his business, etc., all took precedence to us being healthy.  I dropped my Curves membership and slowly packed on more weight.  I also dropped out of WW again, and found myself gaining and gaining...but also dealing with a crazy undiagnosed health issue so that was distracting enough.

Around the same time my husband felt a call to the ministry so we began planning to move for him to go to college.  We moved in May 2007 and that meant more eating out, not having friends in a new place, traveling for work, all the things that put together mean disaster for a healthy lifestyle.  When you don't know what one is, that is.

I finally got a diagnosis in April 2009 of a meningioma brain tumor in my left cavernous sinus, wrapped around my carotid artery.  90% of these tumors are benign, and that's good since we can't biopsy it due to the location.  I have an MRI annually to check the size of the tumor - eventually proton or radiation therapy will be an option if the tumor starts to grow. 

Suddenly, I was out of excuses.

During the time of my "mystery" illness, I felt tired, had joint pain, muscle spasms, problems sleeping, breathing, nausea, migraines, other crazy headaches and just felt terrible all of the time.  I also had 3 falls in a 6 month period.  Fortunately back then, I bounced.

When I pulled out the tumor symptoms, guess what was left?

Obesity & as a result, obstructive sleep apnea.

From my diagnosis in April 2009 to July 2009 I was restless.  I knew I needed to do something, especially as I knew now that I was not going to die from this tumor and I could live with the symptoms.

More details on the back story here can be found in the February 2010 area of my blog so I won't rewrite it all.  I'll just say my friends Barb and Heather get huge props for helping me move towards a healthier me.

I refused to call it a diet.  Diet = instant failure to me.  I had jumped on and off the wagon so much I wanted to do this without a wagon.  I needed to walk anyway.

So I eased into it at 285 pounds.  Made little changes and tweaks.  I did NOT go back to the "diet that always worked for me."   If it had really worked, WHY was I having to do it again?  Just saying.

Didn't give anything up all the way, food wise.  But my tastes changed quickly too.  I no longer crave french fries at all and can only smell the grease in them.  And I love a good grilled chicken breast with broccoli.  Happiness on a plate.  But that's now.  That took time.

I didn't set my first goal until the first 20 pounds had gone.  Then after 35 pounds I injured my ankle (a week into C25k mind you) and that set my training back 9 weeks (that is when I started blogging, as I was absolutely panicked that I would gain weight back).  But I got back out there.  And readjusted my goal again.

I've run 5, 5k races since June 2010.  In a year, shaved 10 minutes off of my first 5k time. 

I wanted to lose 100 pounds by the end of 2010 but I am not a 2 lbs a week loser - I'm just not.  I set and reset goals constantly.  Pre-pregnancy weight goal (214).  Onederland goal (199).  Just a month or so ago, I decided I wanted to lose 100 pounds by August 31 (2 years and a few days from my actual start date of my "easing").  And I did it.  I also set goals to lose weight during the holidays.  And I did, 2 years in a row.

My plan?  Healthy real food, whole grain (very limited white food), lots of fruits and vegetables, no "fake" food, no processed food, no "diet" food, nothing sugar free, and yes to chocolate chip cookies in serious moderation, dark chocolate every day, and a good mix of fuel for my body overall (protein, carbs, and fat).  

The next 20-30 pounds will be interesting.  I would like to be "done" losing weight and ready to go into maintenance by Jan 1, but I'm not going to turn myself into a miserable, dog-kicking ogre of a person in order to do it. 

A great friend asked me recently, "What will you do when you reach your weight loss goal?"

My answer?  "Get up the next morning and run again."  I'm not ever going to be "finished" with my healthy lifestyle.  I'm in this for the long haul...and that haul is for as long as I'm blessed to wake up another day, breathing and smiling.

Life is waaay to precious and short for me to waste time wishing I could lose weight faster, or be like so and so.

I'm doing this journey on my own, and it won't look like anyone else's journey.  Same could be said for you if you are on a journey of your own.

As you've seen above, I've tried alot of dieting.  It wasn't until I figured out it was a healthy lifestyle that would finally "fix" me....that I was able to really work on fixing my mind, emotions, and that has resulted in fixing my body, as much as I can anyway.  The brain thing is what it is...but I will say, I no longer suffer from headaches, I get *maybe* one migraine a year and I haven't fallen for no reason in awhile.  No muscle spasms, and I just got the go ahead from my doctor to come off of my anti-inflammatory joint medication.  Oh, and I don't have sleep apnea anymore.  And no credit card debt either.  Phew!

On my 32nd birthday, March 1, 2011, I ran 4 miles and felt more alive than I ever have.

The original outlook on my 30s was they are full of possibility.

I will not tell you its the easiest thing I've ever done, but as you can see, I've had my own reasons and things I could use as "excuses."  But now, eating how I do and exercising as much as I like to is pretty easy.  Because it is a habit, and its just how I live my life now. 

Life is what you make it.  Want to make it healthy?  If I can, you can.  All it takes is a little determination and a huge will to live.


PS: Some of my FAVORITE tools to help in the journey: (free!) (my newest addition - not free, but worth every penny!) - I google food stuff alot!  Look up super foods and try to eat lots of them each day!


Anne said...

A lot of that sounds so familiar! I have the queen of excuses and setting myself up for failure with deadlines, etc. I feel different about it this go around. I guess I just have a different attitude this time. And thanks to your blog for reinforcing that. Going back and reading your journey has really given me confidence that I can be a new and improved person.

ClaraB said...

Thank you for your comment Anne! I'm so glad to hear you can identify with my struggles; it is nice not to be alone in this. This time feels different because its the LAST time, right? I know that without a doubt for me. I'm at zero risk of backsliding at this point because I know HOW to be healthy forever (as do you). Excited to walk this journey with you! Keep it up!