the end of old habits, the start of something new

I don't talk about weight all that often on my blog. Sure, I've brought it up from time to time, but it isn't something I make a regular habit of discussing. But I've hit a wall. A heavy wall. I feel uncomfortable in my skin. Things aren't where they should be and I just don't feel good about myself right now.

I've always struggled with my weight. I was a chubby kid, a chubbier teenager, and topped out at my maximum weight of 245 pounds in college. I slowly lost weight after graduation, but still felt uncomfortable. I always thought of myself as the fat girl, an identity that still bubbles up in the depths of my psyche. Old habits are hard to break, and seeing myself as undesirable, unattractive, and uncomfortable with my body was something that tormented me for years, and still it is a habit that still rears its ugly head from time to time. Thankfully, I am learning to break down those mental traps, and am finally beginning to see the beauty that is me, inside and out.

Despite this, it doesn't change the fact that right now, my body is in need of a bit of maintenance. The last few years have been a rocky ride, and I have been all over the scale. When I was very sick in 2008, I rapidly lost 60 pounds in about 6 months. I ended up at an unhealthy 145 pounds, which looked skeletal and unnatural on my 5'11" large frame.   I was skinny, for the first time in my life, and it was horrible. I looked terrible, I felt worse.  The worst part is that many people told me I looked great.  Our culture's association of skinny = healthy is so warped.

As I've gotten healthier, I've slowly gained back weight.  My gut is healing and my blood sugar is stabilizing and I'm absorbing nutrients again. I no longer look grey and lifeless. My hair is shiny and my skin is bright. My menstrual cycle even returned - it was absent for 2 1/2 years. It's like a miracle. My curvaceous, hourglass figure has returned; my hips are full, and I have cleavage again.  

Unfortunately, my weight gain hasn't stopped, and I've continued to add curves, and more curves, and more curves... While it may be side effect from my Lyme medication, issues with my thyroid, or some other medical issue, I think it is more an issue of not having enough physical activity and just eating too much. I love to eat and I'm not real keen on using the treadmill. I have no portion control. I tend to snack and eat mindlessly. Snacking late at night is a common occurance. I need to reevaluate my relationship with food; it is something that has always been a comfort and a refuge, and at times, it takes over my brain. In addition to practicing more mindful eating habits, I need to get some exercise in. Lifting a fork, unfortunately, doesn't count. I miss feeling strong, and seeing my muscles ripple under the surface of toned flesh. I don't like having muffin tops over the tops of my jeans - even if they are gluten-free muffin tops. I want my nice Gore-tex parka to fit again. I want to feel sexy and strong and confident, and that my body reflects who I want to be inside.

Right now, I don't feel any of those things.  My current weight, which fluctuates around 185 pounds, is just too much. I felt really good at about 165-170 pounds with more muscle tone, and would like to feeling like that again.  I would like to lose weight in a healthy way that doesn't compromise my healing process and work on building muscle and toning.  But I'm a little nervous; I tend to get obsessive when trying to lose weight. Food journals are not healthy for me; counting calories makes me crazy and I get too restrictive. I have some disordered eating tendencies that create a very slippery slope for me, and I have to make sure I'm not slipping into self-destructive thought processes and habits. 

So, I am making a public commitment to ending old habits and starting new ones, and taking a balanced approach focused on how I'm FEELING and not how I LOOK. Thankfully, I am healthy and well enough to start gentle exercise again (YAY for Lyme treatment!!!!), and need to take advantage of these huge leaps in my healing process. I need to fully honor my respect for food and follow my own advice when making choices to eat, practicing mindfulness and portion control. I need to return more diligently to a diet that I know makes me feel good - lots of meat and veggies, no grains, moderate amounts of beans, seeds, and nuts, and lots of healthy fats. And most importantly, I need to send loving kindness into every cell of my being.  

Hopefully, this process will allow me to learn where my ideal weight is, and learn  new habits that exemplify who I want to be and how I want to view myself. Wish me luck.  To kick it off, I'm starting with three simple and easily attainable goals.

WEEKLY GOALS: 

  1. Stop late night snacking. Seriously.
  2. Take five deep breaths every time before I eat. Think about the food, imagine it nourishing my body, and check in with myself to assess how hungry I really am. 
  3. Go the gym and do light resistance training 2-3 times this week. 

CURRENT WEIGHT: 192 pounds (whoa, what? I almost fell off the scale when I saw this...)

HOW I'M FEELING: Shocked the scale told me that weight, first of all. Otherwise, I'm feeling really weak in my core, totally squishy everywhere, and wishing I had well-defined arm muscles again. I'd prefer that my pants didn't feel so tight at the waist and in the hips as well.  On the plus side, I've been biking to work again the last week and that feels super great. Hooray!