Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

the never ending journey

Recently I've felt for a number of reasons that I should share some of my health and weight journey here.  My primary reason is to hopefully be a source of encouragement to someone else as I've found reading others' stories to be super helpful to myself.  It's not over by any stretch and I expect it will continue throughout my life but here at least is the start.

My weight and insecurities about my appearance have been a "chicken and the egg" debate in my own head.  I've tried to pinpoint which came first, was I really overweight when I first became concerned or did my early attempts to diet in an effort to become a more "ideal size" create the problem to begin with?  I'm still not sure as I've looked at pictures and tried to remember details from my early teens.  I read so many books and tried so many methods, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Atkins' diet, the Carbohydrate Addicts diet, the 3 Day Diet.  I had a jog/walk routine I stuck to pretty regularly for a couple of years and went through a phase of TaeBo and other at home workout routines.  Nothing seemed to help long term.  I would typically lose some weight at first but the moment I stopped dieting for a holiday and tried to go back to it the scale would not budge again.  At least not in the direction I wanted it to.  It continued to creep up and up no matter what I did.  I love eating and I hated the constant feelings of guilt.  So long as I was overweight I felt wrong eating anything, even when I was truly hungry.  Honestly looking back I really didn't eat a whole lot of food either, I wasn't sitting around gorging myself when I was not really hungry so when the scale always went up and never down it was so depressing thinking I was doing something wrong.

At 22 I was wearing a size 18/20.  I remember finally crying to God one day and saying that I gave up and I was tired of trying.  If I was supposed to be fat then so be it.  About the same time I joined Curves with my mom and decided if I was at least working out regularly and not going crazy with my eating then that was good enough.  I stopped "dieting", I stopped obsessing in my head over everything I ate, and I determined to learn how to dress myself.  The Science of Sexy was amazingly helpful in learning more about dressing in a slimming and figure flattering way as was the blog Missus Smarty Pants.  Because guess what girls?  Just because it's in your size (and are you sure it's your size?) doesn't mean it flatters you!  But still I hated taking pictures and always being the biggest one in the photo.  There was always the thought in the back of my mind with things like camping chairs that I would be near the weight limit and how embarrassing it would be if I broke one.  A year or two passed and everything pretty much stayed the same.  Then I got my first job as a nanny and miraculously about ten pounds just came off on their own.  I was surprised after a year to realize I had gradually gone down for the first time in years and I hadn't even been intentionally working on it.

As a regular blood donor I had begun to notice something else concerning to me, my blood pressure seemed to be getting gradually higher.  One time I went to donate and they had me wait a few minutes because it was too high.  This among a few other health issues was the catalyst to send me to a doctor.  I knew I wanted to have kids and I knew I'd listened to enough women say how much easier it would be to get healthy before you got married then to do it afterward so I decided this was my goal.  My doctor put me on a Candida diet, determined my thyroid was a little sluggish and gave me a prescription for Armour Thyroid.  In one month I lost 13 lbs.  I was thrilled!  That summer I was very busy with children's programs, work and I went for two months to France.  Needless to say I did not keep up with my diet the whole time but the weight continued to just fall off.  By the end of that year I was down another ten lbs and wearing a size 14.

Throughout 2011 I held steady at that size until December when I convinced myself I needed to follow the Candida diet again to remedy symptoms that had returned.  This time I followed it for about six weeks and also did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.  I dropped another ten lbs and started clearing out all the remaining size 16 clothes in my closet and replacing them with 12s!!  The most amazing thing in the world was being able to discover finally that there was more to my weight problem than simple self control.  It did crazy things to my head to feel like nothing I did was enough. I think it's all about learning about your body and what works and what doesn't work for you.  If you've tried to lose weight and can't I highly recommend going to your doctor because I know how miserable it can be feeling like you just can't seem to work hard enough.  I'm not saying everyone will find something magical for them but it's worth checking out.  In my case it was more than just losing weight though it was also about a whole variety of symptoms that now that we've addressed one or two small things, a whole lot of things are getting better.  I didn't even realize how bad I felt before until I had started feeling healthier again!  I do not share any of this in an effort to gain a lot of sympathetic comments but to be honest with where I was at and how God has brought me to a better place but when I was heavier I felt ugly.  I think women everywhere can identify with this feeling but I literally felt like I could never be remotely attractive at the weight I was at.  One of the wonderful things God has been teaching me is that I'm beautiful because I am His no matter what weight or size I'm at.

I hit a plateau about 30 lbs from where my doctor recommended I be because the Candida diet is hard for me.  When all you can have has to be cooked from scratch, and you are eating so much more meat without potatoes or pastas to fill, it makes it more expensive as well.  I just couldn't stay long term on that kind of diet nor did I want to.  I didn't want my body to adjust so that I would gain all the weight back when I stopped eating that way.  I feel like everything should be acceptable in moderation and therefore I shouldn't gain weight eating normal amounts of food.  Funny how it sounds so simple in theory but in practice it doesn't always seem to work as well.  But I decided I could be fairly happy at that size, that I wasn't affecting my health with my weight, and kept it right there for awhile.

After I got married a few pounds crept back on here and there.  When I got pregnant last year I felt so icky in the beginning I couldn't make myself workout.  I gained a total of 33 lbs during the pregnancy which brought me back to almost where I started, and I wasn't able to lose it all after Isaiah was born.  I lost about half of it by 10 weeks postpartum and began working out again with my Jillian Michaels DVD but the weight started creeping back up again until I got back to my full pregnancy weight.  Everyone said breastfeeding is supposed to help you lose weight but not so for me!  I am back in plus sizes for now.  I have feelings at times of insecurity (okay like a lot of times!) but it's a constant process of God teaching me to not see beauty the way that the world sees it but the way He sees it.  I am working on constantly shifting my focus to healthy instead of skinny and maybe I will spend the rest of forever doing that.

I've been so encouraged by several other blogs and thought what if they'd never shared their story?  So here is mine and hopefully there will be more to come.  My baby is 5 1/2 months old and I feel very strong physically but the weight is just staying there.  I am trying to learn to turn off all the voices on the internet telling me I'm not doing enough or that I'm not good enough because I didn't bounce back right away.  It's okay to be different!  It's okay for it to take time.  The biggest struggle for me is the uncertainty of not knowing why the scale won't go down but perhaps my body will just retain the fat as long as I am nursing.  In the meantime I'm going to keep exercising and enjoying healthy foods with my coffee and chocolate in moderation because to me life is too short to not enjoy eating.

Have you struggled with doing all the right things and the weight wouldn't budge?  What makes you feel healthy?  What have you learned in the process?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

hello old friend

It has been awhile since I posted hasn't it?  This was such a therapeutic place for me once upon a time and life just got in the way.  I didn't have time or energy to write.  I went from not knowing what the next step should be to suddenly planning a wedding to my best friend and then only three months later we were preparing for our first baby...

And six weeks after we got married my husband began working out of town and only coming home for the weekends.  That was so so very hard.  How does one learn to cleave when the person you are supposed to cleave to is miles away?  My love languages are very strongly split between Quality Time and Physical Touch.  Both were hard to get enough of with only Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.  I was able to go out and spend some time here and there with him but since I was working still I wasn't flexible enough to be able to do it much.  I'm going to be honest, I spent most evenings sobbing on the phone.  I felt like God was playing a cruel joke on me to give me my heart's desire of a husband then keeping us apart.  I would come home to an empty apartment at night and feel exhausted, hormonal and alone.

During the summer we moved to our house which helped a little to have more space and the dogs but it was still hard.  At some point I began to fear being alone when I went into labor.  Even if the midwife or my mother came right away, he was a 3 1/2 hour drive from me and that was a long time to labor without him.  Thankfully he finally finished up the job when I was 5 1/2 months and there was work enough locally to keep him through until the baby was born.  Isaiah Nolan was born in January only three weeks after I quit working, and in May Jonathan began working out of town again only this time it's even worse--he is only home from about Saturday around 7 PM until Monday at 7 AM.  And whereas last year we could spend the evening watching TV in sync together or talking, he is working until 8 or 9 PM every night.  The only thing keeping me sane so far is that I've been able to visit almost every other week and when I am home I have an amazing little boy to snuggle and fill my days with.  I have also been able to attend a bible study once a week and make trips to visit my mom and others to give some distraction.

I've had a lot of people with the best of intentions tell me to "look at the bright side"--it could be worse!  He could be in the military or something and I could not see him for a year at a time.  Can we just all agree that the WORST thing to say to someone who is hurting is "look at the bright side"?  Why do we feel we must build them up with how much worse they could have it?  Sometimes things hurt and that's the way it is.  Let's just hug each other and feel their pain too rather than say things like "well at least he's got a job".

Sorry for the rambly post but I guess I'm sort of trying to insert a transition from what this blog used to be to whatever comes now.  I'm not sure I have it figured out but I know how much I enjoy reading others blogs so I thought maybe there's someone out there who will find something they can relate to here.  I'm the kind of person who appreciates real transparency and honesty and the nitty gritty.  I am sure there will be some of that.  I'm sure there will be talk about my baby and motherhood, homemaking, and many other things.  I have become fascinated with babies on a whole new level now that I have one of my own.  It's so much different when you actually have the ability to practice all the theories you have in your head.  I'm sure the topic of fitness and health is going to surface as it's ever present on my mind--learning to keep everything in moderation, to be healthy and strong but also being realistic with what I am able to achieve.  It seems like most people are always on the extremes with crazy exercise regimens and strict diets.  My goal is simply to keep my body healthy for my sake and for the sake of the children it will grow and nourish.  And even if none of these things are where you are I hope to also speak of spiritual growth and what I am learning.  I know that what I love about blogs is the ability to visit with so many different kinds of people from different walks of life.  So just get a cup of coffee or tea and let's visit from time to time.