My life has been a roller coaster of diet & exercise. I’m one of those “all-in” types – either going at it 200%, or not at all. My biggest weakness is the ability to find balance in my fitness world. Growing up, I was a fat kid. You know, the one in school that everyone teased. Back then there weren’t any of those zero-tolerance, no-bully rules, so I often spent recess in the school office begging them to call my mom to come get me. That stigma has been with me my entire life. Kids can be so very cruel. My girlfriend once told me I have “fat eyes”….when I asked what she meant, she said “It doesn’t matter how thin you get, you always look in the mirror and see that fat kid looking back”. It’s true. As I’ve matured, I’d like to think that I’m kinder to myself, and more forgiving, but truth be told I still have a ways to go on this journey.
Before kids, I was thin. Not healthy, but thin. Not fit, but thin. Healthy implies I ate well and didn’t smoke. Fit implies I could run half a mile without feeling like I would die. But I wasn’t overweight. In 1997 we moved to Germany with the military. With two young children and a husband that was gone a lot, depression kicked in. I ate my way through my feelings. I’ll be the first to admit that I am an emotional eater. I found myself with about 40 lbs to lose. I joined a Bill Phillips Body for Life challenge and 12 weeks later I was in the best shape of my life! It changed my life. It brought me out of depression, it encouraged me to get out and start working again, and it gave me confidence I had never had before. I felt strong in so many ways. I learned all about lifting weights and the wonderful ways that strength training helped my body lose fat and be strong.
A few years pass, and I got lazy with my diet and just busy with life. The typical excuses. And there I was with the weight to lose again. Bottom of that roller coaster hill once again. 2004. We were now living in Virginia. I joined a gym and started enjoying group fitness classes along with my weight lifting again. And I was in even better shape than I was before! I was a total gym rat and loved every minute.
Wow…even looking at this picture now, at this point in my life, I realize that my “before” picture is really not bad. I’ve learned a lot since that point in my life…but, you know… “fat eyes”
Again…another move across the country to Arizona, starting up my own company, and the weight starts creeping back on. This time packing on almost 60 extra pounds and weighing more than I did the day I delivered my 9 lb baby boy! Yikes. Fat eyes or not, I definitely needed to lose weight! Roller coaster hill #3.
2012. In my mind I could still do all the things I used to. So when my sister in law called me up and asked me to run a relay race with her I jumped at the opportunity!! Then I read about the relay… the Blue Ridge Relay. I’d have to run a total of about 15 miles. Crap. I dusted off the old treadmill and went for a run. Sort of. More like I trudged along for 2 miles and then puked. I had some serious work to do. So I did work. I trained. And by the time the relay came around I had lost about 20 lbs and could manage a 10 minute mile pace for the relay. Not terrible. I was hooked.
I kept at it…I was really enjoying the running – something I didn’t really do a lot of before. So I ran. A lot. Like Forest Gump a lot. I also switched to a vegetarian diet for the entire year of 2014. The weight just fell off. I felt AMAZING! In about a years time, I went from a (very tight) size 12 to a comfortable size 4. But more importantly, I felt strong. I felt full of energy. I was running every day and recovering quickly. I was happy.
I worked on getting my certification as a personal trainer through ACE. Then I worked on getting my running coach certification through RRCA. My life was all about fitness and health. I was running 5Ks and 10ks and every race I could. I ran a half marathon, then I trained to run a marathon. 26.2 miles!
My first marathon…December 2014. I was on top of the world!! And on top of that roller coaster hill once again. Little did I know. In January of 2015 I started getting pains in my left knee. I tried taking some time off. But every time I went back to running I was in severe pain. A mile of running resulting in a day of limping. Finally in March I had xrays that revealed a stress fracture in my pubic bone. I had to stay off of it completely to let it heal. So, I did. And depression set in. And I gained weight. A lot of weight. I can barely squeeze into those size 12 jeans in that picture again.
Another move across country (the last time!) and here I am in South Carolina. Finally able to run (albeit slowly and not far yet), and with about 40 pounds to take off. Roller coaster hill #4. It gets harder each time. I’ve run a little bit – even ran a 5k with my dog on January 30th…but I have some work to do. Again. I have races planned this year. Already registered. Doing the Blue Ridge Relay again in Sept – but ULTRA style. So, I’ll have 30+ miles to run! And a Ragnar trail race in October. And hopefully a second shot at the Whitewater Center 50k again this October!
My goal? To find balance. To make a lifestyle change that I can keep. To get off this freakin’ roller coaster once and for all. To heal this body of depression and all the yucky effects of being out of shape once and for all. And to share this crazy journey with others in hopes that I touch one life, or inspire one other person to do something healthy in their own life.
I honestly believe that so many people are on this same roller coaster. Many are stuck at the bottom of that first hill. Hopefully as I transform once again, it will help others to see that nothing is impossible. To see that they are not alone. Thank you for sharing my journey with me!
written March 2016