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?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love you, you're so awesome AND beautiful! That was a super encouraging post.