June 25, 2013

The climb

Recent conversations with friends, family, and Matt have all included some form of the following dialogue:
What about your blog? How's that going?
Meh ... I don't really do that anymore.
I haven't been hiding intentionally, I've just been uninspired and unmotivated. I've used the new baby excuse, even though Noah is incredibly easygoing and I'm remarkably well-rested for the mother of a 7 week old baby.

The other day, to keep myself entertained while using the breast pump, I started a Pinterest board of all the recipes I've shared here over the years. And I was amazed at how many there were. And not just recipes - posts in general. While I was in the archives, I did some rereading, and was very genuinely amazed.

When I started losing weight in 2010, I blogged every single day. Every day, for 365 days and 150 pounds, I wrote a post. They weren't all brilliant introspective revelations, but still, I committed to sharing something daily. The posts slowed down as I moved to California, as I struggled with accepting the major transition in my life and the period of weight maintenance that came with it. They became even less frequent when I found out I was pregnant and, essentially, quit running and became considerably less concerned with what I was eating.

In California, I was full of self-loathing. Seeing 196 on the scale day after day, knowing that at 195 I could claim 150 pounds lost, was heartbreaking. I obsessed over the number, to an unhealthy level. When I found out I was pregnant, I had binged myself up to 210 pounds, only able to say I'd lost 135 pounds. 135 pounds lost, yet I could only focus on the regain. The loss of control over my body, matched with depression over other pregnancy and relationship related issues, was enough to push me to return to old habits. I didn't binge, but I didn't eat mindfully. When all my body would tolerate was bland, carb-heavy foods, I allowed myself them. I wasn't eating for nourishment, I was eating for emotional satisfaction that I was, unfortunately, so quick to forget is never able to be found at the bottom of a bowl, box, or carton.

The day I was admitted to the hospital to be induced for delivery, I could only claim 60 pounds lost. In the days leading up to delivery, I cried so often - please just be born already, I want my body back.

And I was so furious, so resentful of my former self. How could I have been so ignorant and foolish? Before, I could only see trees and not a forest; now, here I stood, facing a huge task that needed re-accomplishing, one that I had previously sworn I was completing for the last time. The recurring thought in my mind: I'd kill to be 196 pounds. Even 210. As I actively search for a job, I find myself filled with multiple anxieties. First, the one where I grow concerned that my French is too rusty and no one would want to employ me; second, the one where I realize that if I do get a job, I own nothing professional or even business casual to wear. I've been living in my maternity gauchos since a month or so before delivering. A year ago, I was a half inch away from being able to completely zip the size 10 Jason Wu dress I'd bought to motivate myself; now, these stretchy pants are pretty much all that fit.

After Noah was born, I continued to struggle. The incredible feeling of losing over 20 pounds (all baby/fluids, I'm sure) in a week was followed up by three weeks of traveling, where I was able to avoid dealing with my depression by continuing to indulge in foods I knew would hurt me. I saw myself in the pictures Matt took, looking more and more like my "before" picture, and instead of feeling motivated, I retreated further away from my goals, hoping to swallow my sadness with every bite. I saw my father not only at dialysis, but I rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital, saw him devastated that he was denied a visit with his grandson because his condition had landed him in a critical care unit - and still, I ate off-plan. I regained a few pounds, of course. The weight of the guilt of my eating was far heavier than the pounds I physically carry.

A healthy relationship with food is and will always be my Everest. Right now, I'm climbing, trying to achieve the incredible views I've been promised are at the top. I've been close before, caught glimpses even. At the moment, though, I'm still very involved in the climb. Even though I'm not at my heaviest again, I know as well as anyone else who's struggled with his or her weight that it's a slippery slope and I could be back there - or heavier, even - before I know it. I know I'll get heavier if I keep eating this way, and I'll end up sick like my father. The benefits - the good blood pressure, the healthy blood sugar, etc. - that came with two years of active living and nutritious eating will only last so long. You can't out-exercise a bad diet - really, you can't out-anything a bad diet.

But, like all addicts, I'm selfish. I can only see myself presently, the depressed and angry self that craves to an extreme. I don't see Noah in the future, in my shoes, sitting by my side like I do with my father, watching a parent deteriorate to an unrecognizable version of his or her previous self. I know how badly it hurts, yet in the moment, when I decide to eat too much of X instead of healthier Y, I can only think of myself, of my urge, my craving.

I don't want to be selfish anymore. When I choose unhealthy food and inactivity over a healthier lifestyle, I'm robbing my son of his mother, Matt of his partner, my siblings of their sister, my parents of their daughter. I want to be healthy for them as much as I want to be healthy for myself. I want to be selfless, to see food as nutrient fuel and not as a hobby or a drug.

Being here, writing this, is a healthy first step.

This isn't a triumphant return to blogging - as easy as Noah can be, I still can't guarantee I'll be able to create daily content again, but I want to try to open up here more often. To reclaim this space that gave me so much motivation and encouragement the first time around. I'm 3 days strong in a streak of good choices and logging everything on MyFitnessPal, and of course, the scale reflects that. There's still a good distance of the mountain to climb, but I'm feeling strong, and ready to set off again on the journey.


Kendra said...

I just want you to know that I'm here, cheering you on and believing in you. Even though I'm not the best at commenting all the time, I'll be here believing in you until you can fully believe in yourself again. (((hugs)))

Tessa said...

This is my first time commenting but I've read each and every one of your amazing and inspirational posts. I just wanted to say great job for taking that healthy first step!! You can do it!
P.S. Your baby is crazy adorable.

Weight Wars said...

My heart ached for you through that, I've felt all those words before and I probably will again to some degree. I know you can do this because you inspired me to start, inspired me to continue and you continue to inspire me. You are brave and a warrior and now a mother who is more than those two things. Having a baby does something to us, but one good thing is that it gives us something outside ourselves to love enough to get through the addiction.

Unknown said...

Mary, this was a very brave, eloquently written post. It sounds like you've regained some sense of control and I look forward to hearing about the journey. Take care.

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! said...

Even though you haven't posted as regularly lately, your blog is still one of my favourites to read. Your honesty is amazing and so inspiring. I wish you luck with the journey, not that you'll need it :)

This was a blog. Now it's not! said...

You are courageous and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I will always struggle with food. I now know this. I will never have a healthy relationship with food, but I realize no one is perfect. When I was doing the all or nothing thing it didn't work! But allowing myself to enjoy treats moderately, things started falling into place. The day I thought I was having a heart attack because I was obese and almost 38 with a family risk of heart disease, my kids are what made me try again. I didn't want to die young and think of them standing beside my coffin, barely teenagers. Now, I do it for myself, because even though life still sucks sometimes, I am definitely happier now. It's not perfect because I weigh less, but it's better. That's all I need. You'll get there again, Mary. Just take it one step at a time.

timothy said...

just hang tough darlin you can/will/shall get to that point again in the meantime fake it till you make it. your subconscious will recognize the healthy habits and acknowledge them even if you mind doesn't!

Jill Walker said...

What is it, I wonder, that drives us to think we must take this journey *perfectly*? We certainly didn't get where we are that way, did we? It is part of the journey, I think...this thing inside us that makes us struggle to analyze, and pick apart, and rationalize our short-comings, instead of embracing them (if that's what they truly are) as a part of the process. Very few reach goal smoothly...no matter where we go, there will *always* be bumps in the road. It's up to us to decide whether those bumps are enough to derail us....and for the life of me, I can't see you sitting in the middle of the road for long, simply because you ran over a rock! :) Now...excuse me, while I go speak harshly to myself for being guilty of the same. Tomorrow's a new day....and *we* can DO THIS!!!

Debby said...

You are very human Mary, but you are also one of the strongest, not to mention bravest bloggers I have read. I know I've used your story, your determination as motivation for myself. We all stumble once in a while, and a pregnancy is a HUGE change for a body to go through. I know you will get back on track, even if it's a long journey with a few stumbles along the way.

Poison said...

I know the feeling of starting over and over and over unfortunately. Here my daughter is going to be 10 months old in just 3 more days and I'm roughly the same weight as I was the day I had her. I've lost and gained and lost and gained. I feel like I've restarted things this past week though and hopefully for good and the right way that I know it should be done. I've let so many stressors get to me over the last several months but its time to put all those things behind me and worry about the things I actually can control about my life. I can't just decide to have a job or just decide to have my own place or decide that my kids will be good when I want them to, but I can decide to take a step in the right direction for my health every single day. I hope you don't struggle near as much as I have. I am trying to learn to use myfitnesspal as well to keep myself in check. I wish you the best hon and I'm always here to talk to, too. <3

halfdozen said...

I was so glad to read your post. I check your blog daily. I too have used food as my drug for years and am trying (again) to use food as fuel and not a pacifier. You are a smart lady to get a hold of this now. My biggest regret is all the years I wasted being fat. I look forward to your posts. The first step is the hardest, so You are on your way!

TCHBD5 said...

one day at a time little one!! You will get there again. We are all so proud of you. xoxoxo

Amy said...

It's always such a good step to admit to yourself what you've been up to. I let my gym membership expire and have in my hands a highly discounted membership to return. I haven't been since January and I continue to make excuses for not going.

I lost a lot of weight early winter, but I've slowly let myself make some bad 'summer' choices and it's returning my taste for poor foods... which just increases my cravings again. I need to go on a 'cleanse' of the processed foods that make me want more processed foods and go back to all natural clean eats again. Because over my body and my weight, I care about being healthy and feeling healthy first.

I know it can be incredibly hard to be back to a 'before' place again. I've been there in my own way and it took me years to be able to work past it. Hell, I still am in many ways (I'm not back to my after).

But the most important thing I have learned and that I continue to work on is loving the right now. I really don't think we will make any progress unless we commit to loving ourselves right now. In many ways we love ourselves when we're making progress and it continues to push us and propel us forward... so I think that's why plateaus can be so damaging.

But committing to loving ourselves I think is the biggest thing. Can you think about how you felt at 196. How horrible in some ways you felt and how much further you wanted to get still? How you still didn't feel like enough? But, how much you'd LOVE to be there now? We so often fall into that trap. (I wrote a bit about my version of this recently: http://missamysmiles.com/2013/06/13/freedom/)

You should read the posts about how amazing you felt at the weight you're at right now. Love the right now, no matter where you were, where you're going. The only thing we're guaranteed is right now.

AlisonMK said...

Mary, your blog is amazing and so are you - I also check it daily for inspiration and have been anxious to hear how you're adjusting to motherhood, etc. Hang in there - I know you can get to the top of that mountain - just be kind to yourself in the process! And let me know when you're ready to race again - I live in the Chicago 'burbs and would love to hook up!

Katie said...

I look every single day to see if you have a new post. I don't comment often, but I do check your blog daily. I'm here silently cheering you on. You're already doing so much better than I did following the birth of my son. I had GD and actually weighed less after I gave birth than I did before getting pregnant, due largely to the fact that I couldn't keep anything down. I then proceeded to gain over 50 pounds in the 6 months following his birth, simply because I could eat again without getting sick. It's taken me 12 years to lose that 50 pounds. I have all kinds of excuses for that, and of course none of them are truly valid. Just keep being you, Mary. You are an amazing woman and your son already knows that about you.

Jill said...

Such a beautiful heartfelt post. Please be kind to yourself. You are an amazing person, an inspiration, and you will do this thing when it is time.

Much love to you, Matt and your beautiful new baby!

Unknown said...

Mary, you still are, and always will be, one of the most inspirational health bloggers I've ever followed. Your honesty and openness allow us to share your heartache with you, so you are not alone.

Some of your challenges are new, but the fundamental knowledge of what you need to do to be healthy is still there. You've done it before and you can do it again! Just think, down the line maybe you can get one of those neat jogging strollers. ;)

Jennie Palluzzi said...

Mary, you are amazing. Thanks for sharing! I am really starting to pay attention to my body, what makes me happy, how to make myself more fit, and to watch what I eat. It's hard, but I have a great support system - and a hero like you! You are so brave to share your life, and you show us all that we're not perfect but we're human and we deserve to be better, so we should be better. Matt and Noah, and your whole family, are so lucky to have you. I am lucky to have you. Love you!

Une femme en santé said...

Câlins ma très belle !!!!
Une fois l'an passé, après que Bel Amoureux ait été malade, j'étais au gym avec un entraîneur personnel et je lui contais ma perte de poids et ma reprise, il m'a dit une phrase qui m'a fait assez de bien. Il a dit : 'Tu l'as fait une fois, tu es capable de le refaire' Tu es capable ma chère de reprendre le contrôle et de le refaire. Tu sais quoi faire.

Bonne chance xxx

That Loud Redhead said...

I'm so glad to see you posting! I know you can do it!!