March 4, 2015


I suppose my last real update from my absence is to talk about my exercise habits, which have generally been "all or nothing." I go to the gym after my last class of the day, stay for 30-60 minutes depending on how I feel, and then head to the daycare to get my son. This works well for a week, two weeks, three ... then work gets overwhelming, or I get stressed out or anxious about something, and I not only stop going to the gym but I start to eat terribly.

I made a few New Years Resolutions this year:

  1. Lose 52 pounds
  2. Read 12 books
  3. Save $1200
  4. No binge eating
  5. Walk at least 26.2 miles every month

December had been rough. I had my usual great intentions when my son and I went to visit my family for Christmas, but when my husband joined us a week later and the sneakiness began again, I just surrendered and ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

My January 1 weigh in, I saw 313 on the scale. I sobbed. Bawled. Just completely devastated. I remembered the first time I lost the weight - I bought a birthday candle, a little wax number three, and melted it while meditating on my journey. I was symbolically demonstrating to myself that 3 was gone, and 3 was never coming back. But now, here it was again. I cried in California when I would weigh in at 196 pounds, because that meant I lost 149 pounds overall, and I couldn't claim 150. How foolish I was to obsess so much over insignificant details! Now, the compounded result of untreated anxieties and depression over the last year and a half: I'm back in the threes, unable to claim even a 50 pound loss.

Even worse than the feeling of seeing that number is the feeling of knowing everything that happened in order for that number to come back - not the foods specifically, and not the skipped workouts, but the problems, the events in my life that I've quietly ignored and allowed to fester instead of treating them and helping myself heal.

So in January, I committed, hard. Lost 13 pounds, put a little money aside, kept my eating in check, and logged nearly 30 miles of workouts. Then, in the first week of February, my father-in-law decided to surprise us with a spur-of-the-moment weekend visit, and everything for the rest of the month went terribly. Three weeks of no workouts and insane amounts of binge eating (which cost almost all of the money I had set aside a month earlier), both of which contributed to regaining 8 of the pounds I had lost in January.

My father-in-law is a trigger for me. He's very judgmental, and even at my smallest, I never felt good enough, so now, so terrifyingly close to my biggest, I feel absolutely terrible about myself. We go out to dinner at a hamburger place, and he says you might enjoy a salad? The thing is, I would have ordered the salad. I have before and felt great that I could enjoy a meal out without it being excessive. But to be told what to do like I'm a child, like I am completely unaware that a salad is a better choice than a cheeseburger and fries ... it sets me off.

And for some reason, when he leaves, it doesn't end - the binge cycle. I feel awful and call myself a failure and head to a drive thru, making sure I keep the windows down on the drive back so the smell of chicken sandwiches and fries doesn't fill the car - my husband finding out would lead to a discussion about the problem I'm having, and the last thing I want right now is to confront my demons.

Eventually, just like Geneen Roth wrote about, giving in and allowing yourself the "off plan" foods gets old. You get sick of them, and you feel lousy, and you want to do right by your body. So I get back to what I know works, and I head back to the gym, and I do well for a few more weeks until the next big upset.

Right now, I am in a good place as far as my eating and exercises. It's been less than a week out of the binge cycle and into a pattern of healthy habits, but I feel cleaner, healthier, better - writing certainly helps. My youngest sister is coming to visit over spring break next week, and luckily, I don't feel the same as I did when I found out about last month's visitor. My sister loves and doesn't judge. I can go to the same hamburger place with her, and when she says what looks good to you?, I'll say the salad and truly mean it.

Another safety net set in place is that I've arranged for us to do a virtual race while she's here - a little walking every day, with a goal of a half marathon over the week. At the end, we will get medals! I have been doing a 5K once a month for the last two months, and I'm excited to up the distance (and complete it with a partner!). The sites I have been using for the medals are JostRunning (the adorable Cabot medal and the one we will be walking for next week) and FullMedalRuns (the Route 66 medal). They send you a medal and part of the registration fee goes to a designated charity - for Cabot, it was Feeding America; for Route 66, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund; and for the upcoming race, the National Stroke Association (which is meaningful to us, since our mother had a stroke about a year and a half ago).

I know the biggest missing piece in my goal for complete health is mental: I can eat well, I can move my body. But I keep ignoring the mental health issues, and that in turn impacts all other areas. I tried counseling here in South Carolina, with really terrible results. I'm not sure if I can find something online, or if I should hold out for wherever I end up next. But I know that long-term, my success is dependent on how I take care of myself in terms of working with and treating my depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors.


Running Meg said...

I know you are already having issues, but I think your husband allowing your FIL to say things like that without saying anything is 100% unacceptable. Yes, you are an adult and able to defend yourself, but this is HIS father and he should be the one to nip that crap in the bud!

Enjoy your visit with your sister. I hope her presence brightens your days!

Kami said...

I completely agree with you on the mental part with weight loss. I have my own struggles with weight loss too. I know what I should eat and what exercise to do, but I have found not addressing the mental part leads to gaining weight back. The kicker for me is that I am studying to be a mental health counselor and know what to do to work on the mental part. It is much easier to help someone else than to help yourself. I am sorry to hear about your counseling experience not going well. There is nothing wrong with calling different counselors and finding out about their theoretical orientation and techniques that they use. Finding a counselor whose orientation lines up with your views on life could be a big help. Also, there is nothing wrong with trying out a counselor for a session or two and moving on to someone else if it is not working for you. Sorry for the long post but hope it helps.

Kendra said...

I'm so glad you're working on taking care of yourself. That's the important thing - no matter how many times you get knocked down, or fall down, or what have you, you're getting back up again. The virtual races sound like a lot of fun, I may have to look into them as I've been struggling since having surgery back in December with exercising regularly myself.

The FIL issue sounds really rough. I'm sorry that he's making such inappropriate comments. It isn't his place to police your behavior. (((hugs))) my friend.

Denise said...

Fuck that guy. Fuck his backhanded comments and his stupid visit and his stupid, stupid face.

timothy said...

I understand the fil is an ass, and life gets real hard. the BIG picture issue seems to be self esteem. you do KNOW you're a fabulous caring woman and you DESERVE to be happy/healthy/whole. please don't give up on the idea of therapy or a support group. you need to be able to vent and to work through those issues that all of us face. hang in there and keep working it!

Debby said...

Don't let someone like your father in law determine your self worth. Chances are he has his own demons and takes it out on others. You are an awesome and totally amazing person, inside and out, no matter what weight. The mental aspect of life is so huge. I'm glad you've realized you need to confront it. Do you think trying a different therapist or agency would help? I'm not sure what kind of resources there are in South Carolina, but there's quite a few options in my city so maybe explore what else is out there. Keep on keeping on, and most importantly keep writing, cause I love reading your wonderful insight!

Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear that you're taking better care of yourself. The extra summer classes will help fill up some time as well as get you close to the gym. And extra money never hurts. Hugs, Mary. It's good to see you writing again. I've missed you.