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.