Progress Pics

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Road to a 200-Plus Pound Weight Loss

The Former Runner

I was never what you would call "fit" until after I had my children and I took up running and weight training to get rid of the pounds I picked up having babies and quitting smoking.

As much as it sucks to contend with a life-long struggle with weight (I know, I did it), I would have to say it sucks even more to attain fitness and then lose it ( I know, 'cause I did this too). I can't go back to the runner I was, I can only go forward from where I am. This is my story......

Fed up with the forty pounds I put on while quitting smoking --- added to the 60 pounds I had put on during my pregnancies, I was looking for a way to get some pounds off without resorting to the same old boring combination of low-calorie diet and half-assed attempts at exercise.

A co-worker had lost 80 pounds and developed a good level of fitness through running and weight training. She encouraged me to try it every chance she got and gave me a stack of running books with training programs designed to take someone from walking to running. I was fed-up with how I looked and felt but just wasn't wasn't ready to make a REAL commitment to do something about it. The books collected dust on top of my dresser for months.

Shortly after Christmas that year, my friend Richie, who was only in his late 40's, was found dead in his apartment --- he had a massive heart attack. He was overweight and had been sedentary his entire life. I was stunned that someone so young could die like that. Richie was one of my "eating buddies." I had shared countless pizzas with him and numerous orders of greasy Chinese take-out--- would I also share his fate?

Immediately after Richie's funeral I went on a diet and began to read the stack of running books that my friend had given to me months before. I DID lose weight in spite of the fact that the only exercise I got was turning the pages of the books as I laid on the sofa reading them.

Eventually I realized that in some instances, knowledge is not power-- with fitness, the empowerment comes with the doing, not with the learning about doing. LOL I had to stop reading and get off my ass. It was hard, really, really hard, as I was still quite heavy and it was the middle of winter here in New England, but I bought a pair of New Balance walking shoes and started walking everyday - even in ice storms, I'd be out there --afraid of falling on my still-fat ass in front of the whole neighborhood, but I would do it none-the-less.

It took me a lot longer than what was outlined in the books before I could jog a complete mile with no walking. It was hard not to compare myself to what others could typically accomplish within a certain time frame, I was constantly discouraged, but I did not give up.

The day that I jogged my first complete mile was like nothing I had ever experienced before that. I had never asked so much of my body and was in a state of shock that it finally did what I had been wanting it to do for months. This accomplishment really raised my self-esteem and made setting new goals (and working towards them) a lot easier -- not in terms of the physical effort as you have to keep challenging yourself if you want to improve -- but mentally and emotionally it became easier to stick to my goals and binge eating became a thing of the past (for the most part - LOL).

To make a long story short, I eventually joined a health club and added weight training and yoga to my routine. Within 8 months, I was running 3 to 6 miles a day and put in two hours at the health club 3-4 days a week. I lost over 100 pounds. I felt and looked BETTER than before I had my kids -- as even though I weighed less back then I was not fit and didn't eat right.

I could run an 8-minute mile and I was so flexible that I could not only touch my toes but I could place the palms of my hands flat on the floor with no strain whatsoever on my legs or back. For someone who once weighed over 300 pounds and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, this was quite and accomplishment.

Right around this time, I felt that I had reached a point where I couldn't progress anymore without some type of guidance and I was looking into getting a personal trainer. I am 6'3" - quite tall for a woman, and when I started using weights I discovered a thick, natural layer of muscle all over my body that had been there all along--- just covered by the flab.

I had managed to firm up in the gym without really knowing what I was doing -- but I had reached a point of wanting more. The running I did pretty much on my own with the help of books. But the weights I found more intimidating. I had no idea how to safely challenge myself but wanted to go further. I wanted to become even even fitter and was just about to take things to the next level when disaster struck!

While driving to work, a tractor-trailer evidently didn't see me when he was changing lanes and sent my mini van into a spin. From there it rolled across three lanes of traffic before coming to rest on the driver's side. I am still amazed to this day that I did not die that night or wake up paralyzed for life. I was not wearing a seat belt. The van rolled more than once yet never hit any other vehicles. Other than Divine intervention, I don't see how I wasn't either thrown from the vehicle or had my spine crushed when the van rolled.
You can probably guess the rest -they told me that my running days were over for a long time, if not forever, and the rest is history. I became depressed, began eating like a pig and gained back all the weight in record time. Just in case the original 100 pounds of excess weight were lonely, I gained ANOTHER hundred to keep them company.
My friend Jeanne and I started a non-profit organization to help Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, as poverty is really extreme there. In March of this year, we planed a trip out there to visit friends and contacts and to attend a Sun Dance ceremony that is run by a friend of ours.
I was MORTIFIED when I realized that I would have to pay for two airline tickets --one for me, one for my ass. Yikes -- talk about a wake up call! I went on a very low calorie diet in April but just couldn't seem to stick with it, so in May, I switched to a low carb plan.
I haven't been on a scale in years but estimate my starting weight at about 450 pounds. I believe that I lost about 40 pounds prior to our trip to South Dakota in July. It got a little easier to breathe but overall, no one but myself would really be able to tell that I had lost weight. The heavier you are, the more that you have to lose before anyone notices.
When I returned home from the reservation on July 14, I immediately went on a water fast, not just for weight loss but for health and spiritual reasons as well. I remained on the water fast for 25 days and began a program of brief walks and upper body "toning" work with very light weights. I was so out-of-shape and heavy to start out with that a few blocks is all I could manage with the walking and I'd be ready to keel over.
When I stopped fasting and returned to food, I started the plan I am using now which I will outline in a separate post. It is August 13, 2009 and I believe that I have lost at least 100 pounds since May of this year.
I was searching online looking for weight loss and fitness support when I noted that a lot of people on similar paths keep blogs and this seems to help them-- so I decided to do the same. And so I will log my goals, progress photos and achievements here, and hopefully make a few new friends along the way.

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