June 8, 2011

The best race of my life

I weighed in at an even 200 pounds on Friday, and saw the same number on Saturday. I ate really well on Saturday - I didn't go to the gym, but I walked a lot, and went to bed feeling really happy and confident. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up in onederland, and then I will run the best race of my life.

I woke up and immediately got to my morning ritual: go to the bathroom, go back to my bedroom, take every thread of clothing off my body, tap on the scale to wake it up, step on, and hope for the best. I could feel the tears welling up, I was so excited. The 1 is coming, I can feel it - I've been working hard, and my body feels a new level of small right now.
The tears came, alright. There may or may not have been some serious expletives. I ate my breakfast somewhat begrudgingly - a bowl of overnight oats made with steel-cut oats, unsweetened plain almond milk, and fresh blueberries - and could feel myself losing steam. I showered, put my running outfit on, and double-checked the bathroom mirror. I look so fat in this. I feel so fat today.

Funny, I didn't feel fat until I stepped on the scale. But the thoughts manifested themselves and grew from there, and I found myself growing more and more disheartened as the bus got closer to the zoo. A gain. A FREAKING SEVEN POUND GAIN! I won't be able to do this race. I'm failing. I knew this was all too good to be true. I knew it couldn't last forever. Mom was right.

I lined up in the starting corral and started my iPod right before crossing the starting line. I had some great songs on my playlist, but my mind was everywhere but the music. I'm going so slowly. I should have registered for the 5k. I should have stayed home in bed. What was I thinking? I don't belong here. These people are thin and active. I can't even get over one stupid threshold.

As I came up to the first mile marker, I looked at the clock.
And mile 2?
... oh.

I wasn't sure what the clock said when I crossed the starting line, but regardless - I was doing an amazing job. My per mile time at the Shamrock Shuffle was 11:32 - and now, two months later, here I was - clearly kicking butt.

I shut my brain off the best I could, and just focused on the moment. It was warm but not too hot yet, the music was all perfect, and the scenery was incredible: we ran around the zoo, then up through it, then a little further north to one of the harbors, and finally back down to the entrance of the zoo.

When the finish line was in sight, I started sprinting. And then, it was over. Nearly six and a quarter miles, and I survived. More than survived, actually.

To put this in perspective, at the first 5k that I walked, I finished in 65:00 - and it was exhausting. This was twice the distance in less than a minute more, and I felt great.

I grabbed a bagel (not sure if it was on-plan - but it was either that or cheesy nachos from Qdoba. Yikes.) and a bottle of water and started walking through the zoo. I got overwhelmed after about two minutes and headed towards the underwater viewing area for the seals and sea lions, which I knew would be dark, so I could sob.

I'm kind of glad the crying picture turned out so dark, because really, that moment was all mine. I can feel it when I see the image. It's cold down there, and a little dark, and I'm scared - not of the conditions around me, but of so many intangible things. I kept walking out towards the gardens, still crying a little, and munching on my bagel. I was a little glad that Lorelei bailed on me and the race, because this was a really heavy moment for me.

Physically, I'm what feels like an entire world away from the girl I used to be. But with all the stress and anxiety on my emotional plate, I've been exceptionally vulnerable to old thought processes creeping their way back - and I don't like that, not one bit. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: the physical weight loss means nothing to me if I'm still in the same place mentally/emotionally that I was in July 2010. My wish came true - I ran the best race of my life - but all morning, all I saw was the gain. I couldn't stop thinking about it. That split second of weighing myself, those stupid numbers on the scale - they were calling the shots. Never mind that I'm still nearly 140 pounds lighter than I was ten months ago - the events of this one day's weigh in made me think I was failing.

Maybe I had too much salt on Saturday. Maybe it's my upcoming lady business (though, admittedly, I hate that excuse and have yet to not lose during a TOM week). Maybe it's the suddenly high heat and humidity. Maybe it's my totally screwed up sleeping patterns and intensified stress and anxiety. It's likely all of these things, and maybe even others I'm not even considering. But whatever the case, it's not terminal. I'm not failing if I gain weight - I'm failing if I let it ruin my day. Or if I continue to gain because I get the mindset of oh, well, I gave it my best shot, and as long as I'm going to gain after eating vegetables and rice, I might as well eat half a jar of peanut butter. Or if I throw in the towel because of one bad day, or even two, or seven, or fifteen.

Today, I am back to basics - my little cup of light yogurt for breakfast, and slowly but surely reintroducing the eating habits I've been the most successful with. I really liked the plant-strong eating challenge, and I think in maintenance, I'd love to be vegan - but it just wasn't as conducive to weight loss as I hoped it would be. I had two huge losses (4-5 lbs.) followed by inexplicable gains - the last time, I managed to pull off a one pound loss for the week, but only after completely exhausting myself with workouts. This week, it will be considerably tougher, and as much as I want to be in onederland, I'm not going to overdo it again in order to avoid having to record a gain. I'll try my hardest, don't get me wrong - but my goal from the beginning has been balance, and it breaks my heart a little that one of my first thoughts after seeing that huge gain was that I should skip breakfast. That's not healthy in general, but especially for someone about to go run a race. I don't want to get hurt - I want to live the healthiest life possible. In the event that that means inexplicable weight fluctuation, I need to make sure that I'm still happy and motivated and intent on seeking balance.

This is going to be for the rest of my life; what I aim to do now is figure out how to enjoy the good days, cope with the tough ones, and keep up hope that the hard times cannot last forever - and that even my worst day is a success. Because I have seen myself at 345 pounds, and I never want to see myself that way again. Because I want to continue to succeed - I want it too badly to fail. Because I'm the only one that can make that happen, and I intend to.

Because really, every day ought to feel like I'm kicking butt in the best race of my life - and because I am, without a doubt.


Tammy said...

You have done so well!! Don't give up. I hate the damn scale. It either makes my day or makes me depressed, discouraged, angry. Sometimes I expect the gain...because I haven't been doing what I should. It's when you DON'T expect it..when I have been exercising and eating like I should, drinking water like I should, that really annoys me. But we have to keep going. I know there is no easy fix. We just need to keep looking at the bigger picture and remember how far we've come. So be proud of you...of everything you have already accomplished.:)

financecupcake said...

GREAT RACE!!!! Gosh, I still can't get over your amazing weight loss! Have you had a real plateau yet? After such a massive weight loss, at some time your body really may need time to adjust to being so much smaller. Do you take your measurements? When the scale stops reflecting your hard work, just focus on all the other positive things. After all, weighing in is just one way to measure your improved health. You may roll your eyes when you read this, but you know what I mean. Keep up the hard work, woman!!! :)

Amy said...

Amazing post!! That's an amazing running time!!!

I hate unexplainable scale spikes, it's so discouraging even though it's impossible to gain 7 pounds over night it's always such a disappointment. I'm sure you'll have an amazing week and onederland will be here before you know it!!!

Erin said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you had such a tough morning. I know how devastating it can be to have a gain, but like you said, everyone is entitled to a slip up. You'll have the excess weight off in no time.

And, if I had to judge your weight based solely on your full body picture, my guess would be that you weigh 150-155lbs. No lie. Keep up the great work!

Shannon said...

This post made me cry and it made me smile, too....so many emotions! Oh, the highs and lows of a journey like this! You are so amazing, Mary. You are doing great, and you should be so, so proud of yourself!

Meghan said...

Your time was amazing! Congrats on just having the balls to sign up for a 10k in the first place. You deserve a medal just for that! Even if you had come in last place you should still be proud of yourself for this amazing accomplishment.

SCREW THE SCALE! It will all even back out. My dad is a marathon runner and he too gains some weight after races. You know this isn't "real" weight.

You go girl!

AlmostGastricBypass said...

You look beautiful !!!

Caron said...

Bravo! You are incredibly wise for one so young. Yes, I can say that since I'm double your age plus 15 years. Yep, old enough to be your grandma. :)

I loved reading this post and most of us can totally sympathize with the inexplicable weight gain. When I thought I had made my 10% at Weight Watchers and was ready to be rewarded for my efforts, my leader told me I had not made it and was UP on the scale. I was SEVEN pounds heavier that evening than I was when I weighed in the morning. Explain that! Hang in there. You look terrific!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just Wow. You ran an amazing race. I can't wait to do my 10k but I'm nervous to.

I suspect the emotions of disappointment and elation were really confusing, I really hope that you find the extra weight disappears. Sleep can majorly screw things up.

Andrea Ward said...

Great post!! Congrats on the 10k race!! I am still very new in my journey but posts like this help me see that even when I see my first gain and others that will happen I don't need to give up. I just need to evaluate the possibilities as to why it happened and then adjust. The dreaded TOM, I had an IUD removed about 2 months ago and I have had 3 separate TOM's since. It is frustrating but I haven't gained anything but I feel awful. I hate that excuse too but it is a factor, maybe not a huge one like a lot of people make it out to be but it is a factor nonetheless.

I really enjoy your blog, it really does give me hope, encouragement and motivation. So thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Mary, I know all to well how a gain on the scale can effect mood, outlook and overall feeling of self worth. I'm glad you muscled through, and I'm sure it was just a fluke, and you will get to onederland right quick. Most importantly, congrats on your race! Your finish time was simply amazing! Great job!

Anonymous said...

"I want to live the healthiest life possible. In the event that that means inexplicable weight fluctuation, I need to make sure that I'm still happy and motivated and intent on seeking balance."

You should consider pasting that above your scale or on your bathroom mirror. I am considering doing it because it is very grounding.

Thrills, clapping and jumping up and down excitement for not only finishing your race but being so snappy. Double snappy! You are a powerful, admirable woman.

Christie Farrar said...

Good job Mary. It sucks seeing a gain, and a 7 lb one over night would be a mind-blowing experience for anyone.

You handled it with far more grace than I could have managed. Way to go on your race, and I hope there are many more for you.

Tim said...

You look like a super hero in that last picture! Great pic! Totally love it and I love your attitude!

Kelliann said...

Wow... what an amazing post. I feel like we share a brain (no offense!)
I know exacly how you feel about the scale, and expectations, and trying SO hard not to allow it to screw up the healthy life you are establishing for yourself. What a triumph to experience that amazing run, and learn something so important about yourself. Congrats!

Jennie Palluzzi said...

I am so proud of you, Mary!!!! You are champion of the world. :) xoxoxoxoxo

timothy said...

i honestly think the scale is way over-rated! weigh once a week or once a month but as long as your clothes are getting looser and you feel good it doesn't matter. i know that's easier said than done but we allow those numbers to control how we act/react. you've done amazing and that's a great time sorry that bump made it less that in WAS! be proud of yourself , we all are. you're an amazing kick ass warrior woman who can do any gosh darn thing you want. shot you prove that every single day! xoxoxoxoxoxo

Ann said...

Mary - sending you ALL my love and support! You are SO incredible and I'm SO AMAZED at your 10k race time. Great job! And that gain? PLEASE don't be discouraged! I totally understasnd how you feel. In the moment, OMG, it's a HUGE thing. But take a step back and try to see yourself how WE see you - fantastic, beautiful, amazing, strong, an inspiration. You are SIMPLY WONDERFUL. I hope your perspective changes - even just for a minute or two every day. You desrve to relish your success and turn it to complete happiness. <3

CarolineCalcote said...

I no longer weigh myself at all. Even when I go to the doctor, I close my eyes and tell the nurse not to say the number out loud. I also tell the doctor to only tell me if I NEED to know. She never tells me. I know if I'm up or down, on plan or not. The number is so meaningless. That said, I of course DID weigh myself when I was in weight-loss mode and not maintenance. It's amazing how that number can affect our emotions. The psychological aspects of weight loss are so complex. You will forever be a "formerly morbidly obese person" just like I am, no matter what. It's who we are. Hang in there. You are so amazing.

Katie Foster said...

First, CONGRATS on such an amazing time for your race--what a great improvement!

Second, I know exactly how you feel with the gain. It's amazing how much a stupid number on the scale can make or break your day. Sometimes, I wake up feeling so light and happy after a few days of eating really well and exercising, and then I get on the scale... and I instantly feel fat and bloated if it's not the number I was expecting.

Throughout my entire weight loss, however, I learned that as long as I stayed consistent, I would eventually reach my goal. One of the biggest lessons I've learned (and it looks like you have too) is that it's never beneficial to OVERcompensate when you have a bad weigh in or a bad week, or even a bad day. I learned to just keep doing what I was doing all along to lose the weight.

Anyway, I'm so happy for your awesome race--WAY TO GO!!

Unknown said...

Mary, I know I keep sounding like a broken record but this is certainly one of you best posts. I had to read it twice. My negative thoughts and the process behind them are so right in line with yours it was almost too difficult to read because I've been dealing with those myself, lately. This coming from someone who's been preaching for the past 10 months exactly what you say to yourself: "the physical weight loss means nothing to me if I'm still in the same place mentally/emotionally that I was in..." After all this time and I'm still sabotaging myself. BUT, seeing your lovely face at the end of that race was all I needed - to believe in you, to believe in me, and to believe that we were meant to live our best lives - no, we're LIVING our best lives, right now.

Anonymous said...

I printed out that little part of your post I found so inspirational and I taped it to the cabinet above my scale. I just wanted to tell you that. Freaking centering little thought there.