What a crazy week and a half it’s been.
Sorry, dear readers, for keeping you out in the cold for the last little while. But I have some big news.
I intended to blog three or maybe even four times last week, but it’s funny how life can get in the way of all your big plans.
So what happened?
The long and short of it is that, after much discussion, prayer, hand-wringing and Microsoft Excel spreadsheet budgeting, I accepted a job last week all the way across the country in Washington, D.C.
In so many ways I’m incredibly excited. I’m excited to go back to D.C. (my wife and I lived there before our two kids were born and we absolutely love the area). Not to mention that the weather overall is better (you can actually run outside in the winter in decent temperatures).
But I’ll admit I’m a bit perplexed on how all of this is going to affect the goals I’ve set and the vision I had in my head for the next seven months.
See, when I started out on this latest weight-loss and running journey, I had a pretty clear set of goals in mind: get down to my goal weight of 177 by August 30, and set a PR in the Pocatello Half Marathon the next day.
I’ll admit quite a bit of concern over how this new transition will affect my weight loss. Luckily, we have three months to get our affairs in order (ie, sell the house, pack and move…no small feat in 90 days). The bad news is that I’ll actually be starting in a few weeks, meaning I’ll be flying back and forth from DC from the middle of February until (hopefully) the middle of May or so.
Let me just say me, healthy eating and traveling all don’t get along very well. It’s going to be a challenge.
But that’s what this is all about, right? Challenging ourselves to do big things we haven’t done very well at in the past. I was on the treadmill a week or so ago, going through the latest in my Couch to 5K training. During a particularly tough segment in which I wasn’t sure I could finish, I kept telling myself “You can do hard things! You can do hard things!”
I think that’s part of this whole jumbled mess that is the inside of my head: sometimes I don’t allow myself to realize that I can do hard things.
The next three months will be a challenge. Will I mess up? Most certainly? But I have two choices. I can either bemoan my current state of affairs as it relates to my weight loss, or I can see it as a blessing, an opportunity, and a challenge.
One bit of housekeeping, in my absence I did neglect to publish my weigh-in last week. While I’m disappointed in myself for not getting to the gym on a consistent basis last week, I did do a rather good job of eating well (I attribute that to a nervous stomach caused by having to make life-changing decisions within the matter of just a few days).
Here are the results:
Week 5 Results
Starting weight: 232.4
Ending weight: 229.4
Weight loss this week: 3 pounds
Total weight loss: 15.1 pounds
Another 3 pound weight loss! I’m happy to have hit the 15-pound mark. And I’m happy to be noticing some of my clothes fitting better.
Just this morning, I put on a pair of work pants that I bought several months ago. When I tried them on at the store, I told myself I would get them, and they would fit in a few months when I’d lost 10 pounds.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself that.
And it’s gonna be fun.
WARNING: It’s about to get really real up in here.
I feel like a lot of people start their weight loss story with something like “I’ve been overweight ever since I can remember.”
For me, that’s kind of true, kind of not. I remember people asking my mom growing up if she was feeding me. True story.
Someone posted this (now) embarrassing photo of me on Facebook a while back. I think this is 7th grade.
See, I told you it was gonna get real.
The weird thing is, I always felt fat. I always felt like people looked at me and immediately thought “fat.”
To this day, I can’t explain this. Or, I should say, I’ve never fully explored this, my body issues as a teenager.
Somewhere around my sophomore year of high school, I hit a major growth spurt, I shot up to just about what is now my present height, 5-foot-11, up from 5-foot-6 or so. All in the course of 6 to 9 months. And I ate everything in sight. I was the leading scorer for my YMCA basketball team (my one claim to athletic fame growing up), and I kept eating.
Problem was, my growth spurt stopped.
Fast forward to my late 20s. I’m approaching 30, I have two kids and I look like this:
To be honest, I’m surprised I wasn’t bigger. For all the years of binge eating and shame eating, I’m surprised I didn’t weigh more.
Then, one night, my wife challenged me to run a half marathon with her.
I laughed in her face. Literally. I laughed. Out loud.
Then I thought about it.
I thought about how tired I was of being lazy. Of YMCA basketball being my only claim to fame when it came to doing something that involved moving my body on purpose.
So I did something about it. I got off my behind, started training for a half marathon. I told myself I would cross the finish line in less than 2 hours. I lost 65 pounds in the process. The night before the half, I was 76 pounds lower than my highest recorded weight.
And this was the result:
I was hooked. I got bit by the running bug.
Crossing that finish line in May of 2010 was easily the proudest moment of my life outside of that day I actually conned my wife into marrying me or the birth of my kids.
I had done it.
And so I kept going. As soon as we got home from Ogden, we started looking for more races to run. We found the Pocatello Half around Labor Day of that same year. And in the course of 5 months, I had done twice what I thought could never be possible once: I ran 13.1 miles…in one day….in the course of just two hours each.
I was at the peak of my adult physical conditioning!! I felt like an athlete. I felt like a machine.
It felt amazing.
And then the lazy bug bit me again.
I started to get complacent.
I fell back into old habits.
I thought I could live in my “if I want to eat it, I’m gonna eat it” world at the same time as my “I want to keep hitting PRs.”
Something in the back of my mind told me I couldn’t live in both worlds, and if I was going to think like an athlete, I needed to eat like an athlete.
Mostly, because I was still having success.
In the spring of 2011, as a tune up for our second-annual Ogden Half Marathon (aka, the place where it all started), we decided to run the Salt Lake Half Marathon.
And, despite a 3-minute pee stop, I set a new PR, beating my old one by over a minute.
My new PR only fueled my irrationality
“See?” the fat me told me. “You can have it all! You can eat whatever you want and the miles will wash it all away. The training makes it all okay!”
I really thought I had struck gold. Just train for half marathons, and you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
I started binge eating again. I started shame eating.
Binging cause I couldn’t stop. Shaming because I knew, deep down, I was sabotaging myself. And I started to hate that part of me again.
But I kept running.
That made 4 marathons to date. All just at or below 2 hours.
I thought I could just do this forever.
I even tried a 5k that summer.
Granted, there were only 35 entrants, but I finished second, behind this rascal who out-kicked me over the last 100 yards to take home 1st place.
And then, in the summer of 2011, for some reason, I just decided to take a break from running.
But, like high school, the eating didn’t stop.
I skipped over race opportunity after race opportunity in the summer and fall of 2011. And kept eating.
Looking back now, there was a void. A void from not training. From not pursuing that next goal.
And I filled that void with food, like I always had in my life.
October of 2011 rolled around, and it was time to register for next year’s Ogden Half Marathon.
On a whim, without really thinking it through at all, I signed myself up for the Full Marathon.
I’m just going to do this, I thought.
I started training. I got all the way up to a 13 mile run.
You know that voice you have in the back of you’re head when you’re running that tells you “Why are you doing this? You’re tired, you’re miserable, this hurts and you could be at home relaxing. You’re crazy.”
The voice wouldn’t shut up that day. It just wouldn’t shut up. I had lost the will to push it back like I had learned to before. I wasn’t mentally equipped to push it back. I wasn’t fully committed. I wasn’t invested.
And I let it win.
I still know exactly what road and what spot on that road I stopped running. I ripped my hat off my head, tore my headphones out of my ears, threw them both on the ground and screamed at the top of my lungs. Screamed in frustration that I couldn’t get the voice to shut up. Telling it to shut up. Telling it to go away.
There are two ways to make that voice go away. One is to keep pushing, keep training and envision that finish line. The other is to give up and stop running.
I was done. I was done training. I was done running.
I gave up on running and I gave up on myself. And worst of all, I gave up on my wife.
She had been my biggest cheerleader, my biggest support and my inspiration.
We trained together, taking turns watching the kids so the other could go running. We kept each other accountable. We shared our successes. We lifted the other up when one of us was down.
And I just gave up on her. I told her I was done running. She was already registered for Ogden the next year, and I told her she’d have to go it on her own.
I spent the winter of 2011-2012 feeling outwardly that running was a nice phase I went through for a period, but that I was “over it.” Inwardly, I was battling the same old demons. I was eating too much, becoming too complacent and lazy, and hating myself for it the whole time.
The next spring, the guilt of giving up on my wife, who had been the reason I fell in love with running in the first place, was too much.
I transferred my full Ogden registration for the half, then signed up for the Salt Lake Half Marathon again and ran it with a friend under the auspices of “training” for Ogden, only a month away.
But, in the two years since my first half, I had gained back more than half of the 65 pounds I had lost.
My body couldn’t handle it. The pounding of the extra pounds. The lack of training.
I finished…barely. I almost had to crawl across the finish line.
A month later, at Ogden, which used to bet the Super Bowl of running for me, the result wasn’t much better. I finished. And got a medal. But not much more.
And then, with my obligation to not abandon my wife for a race we registered for months ago fulfilled, I put away the running shoes.
Oh, sure, I dusted them off a few times in the early summer, trying to get that spark back. But I just wasn’t the same.
You often hear people who lose weight talk about the “person they used to be.”
That’s how I feel about myself. It’s certainly how I felt in the spring, summer and fall of 2010. I was a different person.
I think it’s important to relive past failures just as much as past successes. That’s where this post is coming from. I became a different person when I first fell in love with running.
I’d like to find that person again. I’d like to hold onto that person.
I’d like to tell him when I do find him, “Don’t ever let this go again. Appreciate this. Appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Appreciate how much more you could do. Remind yourself every day how hard this journey was and that you don’t ever want to have to do it again.”
And although it feels so far away, I know it will be here before I know it.
I live in Idaho.
Usually, that’s not a hindrance to doing the kind of physical activity I like to do.
Except in the spring when the wind is blowing 40 miles an hour. Or in the fall when we get snow in December. Or in January, when it’s -15 outside.
You think I wanted to get up on Saturday morning and go to the gym when it was -15 outside?
No, siree. But I did it anyway.
And that’s what separates “this time” from “all the other times” in the last three years.
So, today, when I’ve tried to jump my car five times, and it still won’t start for lack of heat (did you know there’s no such thing as cold, just lack of heat? See, Mr. Winters, I did learn something from 9th grade science class), I will still find a way to get to the gym and start Week 2 of Couch to 5k.
Oh, what’s that you say? I’m on Week 2? Why yes I am…
I’m sorry, what was that? How was Week 1?
Why thank you for asking. It was splendid! Really, it was. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m so happy to be back on the treadmill (even though it’s the treadmill, and not the pavement, that’s how excited I am).
I’m having to resist the urge to push myself too hard too fast as I start my new training. I do, after all, have 6 marathons under my belt. I know how to do this. I know how to run 13.1 miles.
Or I should say my mind does. My body is not back there yet. My body never had to run 2 or 3 or 13.1 miles with an excess 60+ pounds on its frame.
And that’s ok. Because I’ll get there.
I’m a food addict.
There, I said it. It’s out there. We’re all on the same page.
I don’t mean that flippantly. Because it’s not flippant to me. I really am addicted to food. Not just in a “I crave a slice of pizza all the time” or “I order the jumbo popcorn at the movie theater every single time I go” way.
I remember once I was watching what is still my all time favorite TV series, West Wing.
If you’re familiar with the show, you know that one of them main characters, Leo McGarry, the President’s Chief of Staff, is an alcoholic. Someone asks him during a very dramatic scene why he’s an alcoholic. She asks him how he could risk his reputation, his job, his family, his whole life, just for one drink.
His response floored me.
My brain does indeed work differently. That famous saying about not being able to eat just one chip? They got that from me.
I don’t understand how someone can limit themselves to just one chip. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to eat and eat and have that wonderful, mesmerizing flavor racing through your mouth until there’s literally nothing left to eat.
McGarry says later, “I like the little things. The way a glass feels in your hand, a good glass – thick, with a heavy base. I love the sound an ice cube makes when you drop it from just the right height. Too high, and it will chip when you drop it. Chip the ice and it will melt too fast in the Scotch.”
The little things. I love the din of a crowded restaurant, the way a polite person waits on your every need as you pick and choose from a menu of food options, all right there at your fingertips. I love the mixture of socializing and eating, of watching a funny or scary or dramatic movie and eating, of being with people you just enjoy being around and laughing over your favorite delicious meal. I love how the holidays and delicious, delectable food are always intertwined, the memories of running in the door on Thanksgiving morning after playing flag football and being hit with a wall of delicious aromas.
I’m addicted to food.
I Googled “food addiction” a while back. Here’s a sample of what I found:
I Googled “food addiction” the other day and, frankly, I was embarrassed by what I read, because it described me to a T:
All of those describe me at one point or another in my life.
Except when I finally got control. One period in my life where I actually managed to get control over my addiction.
It was when I discovered running, and how it made me feel empowered. How it made me feel in control over my body, like I was the one in charge, not my appetite anymore. I was in control of my body, my mind and my spirit for the first time in my life. It was only then that I was able to fully, really, truly recognize my addiction and that it was a problem I had to be conscious about and fight against every day. Running helped open my eyes, helped me see more clearly, and ultimately helped me get to the point where I actually viewed food not as entertainment, or a warm blanket, or a comfort, but as FUEL.
That…now that was empowering.
And then I let it slip away.
It’s time for me to start running from food again. I have to, or it will take me over. It’s time to start putting food back in its proper perspective, or it will continue to rule my life. It’s time to remember that overwhelming, heart-pumping, mind-numbing sense of absolute joy and pride I felt when I crossed over the finish line of my first half marathon.
That’s why I’m here. And that’s where I’m going.
I’m really great at starting things.
Finishing? Not so much.
Seems I’ve been that way pretty much my whole life. Have grand ambitions to do something great, then I abandon my plans out of laziness, fear, lack of desire, you name it. I guess I’m no different from most people in that regard. There’s a reason why Weight Watchers and gyms spend the majority of their marketing budget at the beginning of the year. Everyone’s hopping on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon.
But this year, it ain’t no bandwagon. This is for real. Three years ago, I started something and finally finished it. I trained for and ran my first half marathon, and lost 65 pounds in the process. I changed myself and my relationship with food. I felt like a new person.
Then, over the course of the next three years, I slowly allowed that old, unmotivated, undisciplined, lazy person back in. And I gained all the weight back.
Every. Last. Pound.
No more. It’s time to get back on the horse. 2013 is going to be one of the hardest years ever, but it’s also going to be one of the most rewarding.
Here’s where you can follow my progress. My successes, my failures. My triumphs and frustrations. Writing has always been a catharsis for me, a way to organize the jumbled information in my brain into concrete motivation to counter act the little voice at the back of my brain telling me it’s not worth it, that it would just be easier to give up and live a life of ease and mediocrity.
So here we sit. It’s January 1, 2013. Over the course of the next 8 months, I’ll be on a mission: to get down to my goal weight of 177 pounds and run the Pocatello Half Marathon in under 1 hour, 50 minutes and set a new personal record.
It certainly won’t be easy. But it’s gonna be a wild ride.
So here we go. All over again.