Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shifting My Focus

All right guys, I know that my attempts at humorous posts are probably more appreciated and enjoyable to read than the more "serious" or "heartfelt" ones but I'm going to post this one anyway.  A big part of my life and this blog is my health/fitness/weight loss journey and I like to record each phase, for posterity's sake and also so that people who are having a tough time know that everyone goes through tough phases.  It's another hard one for me to put out there so who knows, I may delete it.  Read it while you can!

So I've lost 100 lbs, give or take, since changing my lifestyle from sedentary couch potato to active gym rat.  I'm proud of this and I don't want any of what I'm about to say make you believe that I am not.  I know it's an accomplishment and I know it's not something that people do every day.  But here's the thing.  I've been stuck at the same weight for about 4 months now.  Part of that is attributed to being more relaxed over the holidays but a large part of it is just being stuck in an awful, seemingly never-ending plateau.  I've changed what I eat a million times it feels like... adding more protein, adding more calories, adding less calories, eating different foods, etc.  Nothing really seemed to be making the scale move in the right direction.  I know that other positive things were happening, such as my ability to do push-ups better, or lift more or run longer but I was pretty focused on the weight thing.  I kept thinking that I should be in a smaller size of pants by now or at a different weight.  I was so frustrated and was getting upset with myself, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't make it happen anymore.  I felt like I wasn't doing enough.  I must be slacking or something.  I felt like I lost it... that whatever I had been doing right for a year is something I would never find again.  For the record, my goal is to lose about 30 more pounds, give or take.  Let me also say that I know I have been building muscle and that you can't rely solely on the scale to tell if you are losing weight, but since my pants weren't getting any looser, I could tell that I wasn't losing.

Anyways, I think I've said all that before in a different blog so here's the actual confession for this blog.  For the past month or two, when I look in the mirror, I have been seeing the same chubby girl of a year and a half ago.  When I compare "Before" and "After" pictures, I don't really see much of a difference, except in my face.  Intellectually, I know this isn't true.  I know there is a HUGE difference, but I don't see it anymore and it's been kind of freaking me out.  Obviously I know that I am wearing a smaller size than I was back then (my pants/dress size is over half of what it was before) but I don't feel like that's a big deal or like it's enough.  I don't know how to explain it.  I'm having a hard time putting it into words.  Needless to say, this thought process and these feelings are terribly flawed.  I recognize this.  This process has not just been physical.  It's a mental thing too and while for the most part, I am happier than I ever thought possible and sooooo proud of myself, the past month has been hard.  My flawed body image of the past month has been fueling my borderline-obsession with losing pounds and vice versa.  It's making me a little sick to my stomach to put this stuff out there because I really don't want anyone to think that I'm unhappy with myself (I'm truly not) or that I'm not proud (I truly am) or that I am incapable of getting past this little hurdle (I'm already working through it).  The only reason I'm posting is because, like I said, you never know who this might help and if it helps even one person with any body image problems they might have, then it's worth a little humiliation on my part.

So let me get to the bright side now.  I know these thoughts are flawed.  I recognize it and being the problem-solver that I am, I'm determined to fix it.  I'm much better at being a happy, proactive, positive person than I am at being frustrated and anxious and stressed.  So here's my solution.  I'm taking all thoughts and talk of weight and measurements off the table.  They are no longer part of my process right now, at least not for the next month or so.  I needed something else to focus on, something healthy and something that I could work on that could only bring positivity.  I needed a fitness goal.  You may recall that one of my goals for 2012 is to run a half marathon.  I was originally just going to do the St. Louis Rock n Roll one in October but after consideration, that felt too far away.  I wanted something sooner, something that I would have to push for.  So... I signed up for the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon, taking place on July 22nd.  I've got just under 4 months to get ready to rock my way through 13.1 glorious miles of pure athletic glory.

I can't put into words how good I feel right now after shifting my focus off of weight loss... how good it feels to have given myself permission to not care about what the scale says anymore... to only care about how strong I'm getting... to care about how I'm going to feel when I'm crossing that finish line, not how I feel when I stand on top of a square of insignificant plastic that tells me how much I weigh.... how good it feels to get back to a simpler way of eating that works for me (heavy on fresh produce, lean protein and healthy fats), rather than tracking the nutritional profile of every single bite of food that goes into my mouth... how good it feels to enjoy being "in the moment" during my workouts, feeling how strong I am and how far I've come, rather than how skinny I'm not.  I felt myself getting happier with every single footfall during my sprints today.  It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.  I'm confident the rest of this weight will come off as a byproduct of my training and eating habits but that doesn't matter right now.  What matters right now is that I am confident that I am going to cross that finish line in Chicago on July 22nd.

And do you know what I saw when I looked in the mirror at the gym today?  I didn't see the chubby girl from a year and a half ago.  I saw an athlete.  I saw a woman who was going after her goal with a vengeance.  I saw pride and determination and strength and happiness and beauty.  That's the me that I know and love.

So, this has been a pretty long post and I thank all of you who actually made it to the end of it.  Like I said, this has been hard for me to write so don't be too hard on me, okay dear readers?  I'm not even going back to proofread this before posting as I fear I will delete it all, so forgive any grammatical errors that you come across.  And, as always, if you feel so inclined, feel free to shoot me a message if you feel at all impacted or inspired by this particular post.

Peas and Love Peeps!  (I have Peeps on the brain ever since seeing vegan marshmallow Peeps in Whole Foods a few days ago)


* Edit:  Hopefully this did not come across as a "woe is me" kind of thing.  I only meant for it to be commentary about how important it is to have healthy goals and body image.

* Second Edit:  I know I posted a month or so ago about being frustrated about being in a plateau and that I was going to focus on what I could do (strength-wise) instead so this may seem repetitive.  But what I had been feeling like recently was different than frustration and more intense.  Before, even when frustrated or stuck in a plateau, I always saw the positive changes and I was no longer seeing that recently, if that makes sense.


  1. Good luck with your training. Glad you are giving yourself a weight break. Sometimes the scale doesn't move simply because you are looking at it too much! I suggest making sure you incorporate sprints into your trng. And obey the days off so you don't get injured. I learned the hard way. :) I think nearly all women fight the body image fight...I know I hang in there and stay positive. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks Christine! I think you are right about nearly all women having some kind of body image issues at some point in time. It's one reason why it's good to have wonderful friends who can support you when you need it! And thanks for the training tips! I try to do sprints at least 1-2 times per week, usually tabata-style. And I especially appreciate you driving the point home about rest days... I have a tendency to push too hard sometimes and need people to tell me to cool my engines for a minute. Thank you for the encouragement! You kind of rock.