I can't even put a number on how many times I'd tried to lose weight before. I started "dieting" in fourth grade, and was pretty much either dieting or binge eating for the next 18 years or so. I really never even knew what it was like to eat "normally"--it was always one extreme or the other. Sometimes I was successful at losing weight before gaining it back, and sometimes not.
Still, I never ONCE lost weight and kept it off for more than a couple of weeks.
Which is why, when I stepped on the scale this day in 2009, I didn't feel like this time would be different somehow. I figured I would try for a few days, and then go back to my bad habits and continue watching my weight climb higher each year.
To this day, I really can't tell you what made this time different. I got on the scale a week later and saw that I'd lost eight pounds. That first week was SO CHALLENGING, however. When you first start losing weight, it's very easy to say that you'll just start over tomorrow. You haven't yet built up that streak of good habits, or seen a significant dip in the scale. You have to just want it badly enough to see it through until you DO see those changes. And that's the hardest part of all!
There is one thing that I consciously thought of when I started my weight loss this time around, however. I told myself that I would only make changes I was WILLING TO live with forever. I hated exercise, so I told myself I didn't have to do it. I wasn't willing to give up sweets, so I found a way to fit them into my diet. I wasn't willing to eat 1,200 calories a day for the rest of my life, or give up restaurant food, or carbs, or any other extreme measures... so I didn't.
Instead, I chose things that weren't so important to me, and made small changes. I cut calories where I could--I ate much smaller portions, focused on the healthier foods that I liked, and cut out some of the junk food that I really didn't care that much about (french fries, for example--they're okay, but I could take them or leave them). Instead of eating a whole pint of premium ice cream for dessert, I'd have a scoop of regular ice cream with some chocolate syrup and peanuts. I figured anywhere that I cut calories would help me to take the weight off, and I strove for doing it in the most painless way possible.
Lo and behold, it worked! I won't get into the rest of the story, because I've written it on my blog several times; but by August 19, 2010 (one year later), I was at a healthy BMI for the first time since the fourth grade!
Over the last six years, my weight has gone up and down several times, but I have kept off the majority of the weight ever since (I wrote in detail about this yesterday). Until I wrote yesterday post, I felt like I was always in limbo--just waiting to gain it all back. Each summer, I put on some weight, and then take it off in the fall and winter months; but before I start losing it, I always feel like I'm just going to continue gaining until I am back up to 253 pounds.
When I wrote yesterday's post, I feel like I finally accepted that the gains and losses are just a normal reality for me. Instead of fighting against it, I'll just go with it, knowing that I have the tools to get back to my comfortable goal weight. I always felt like I had to keep my weight in a very small range to be successful; but now, I believe that my body likes a bigger range, and I'm good with that.
Each of these photos was taken in August over the last seven years (except for my "before" photo, which was taken in May 2009). It blows my mind that it's been seven years!
Last year, I wrote my annual weight loss anniversary post, and I wrote this about going into year seven:
"Going into Year 7: I've gotten to the point where I'm not as interested in racing as I used to be, and I'd like to use running for fitness. My injury has flared up again, so I will continue to look for other ways to stay active. I just started calorie counting (instead of Weight Watchers) to see if changing that up will help me to stay motivated in getting back to my goal weight. I've accepted that I'm far from goal, and while I think I look okay now, I'd still like to get back to where I felt my best. (I'm going to reflect back on this in a year, so it will be interesting to see how Year 7 plays out!)"For the most part, this remains pretty accurate! I'm still not that interested in racing, especially long distances. With the exception of my 10K training in the spring, I use running for fitness. I have stayed uninjured all year (woo hoo!). I calorie counted my weight back down to goal (and even beyond). I did not look for other ways to stay active, unfortunately--once I was able to run again, I sort of took off with it. But thankfully, I've stayed injury-free.
In addition to those goals, I also crushed my 10K PR in April, which was totally unexpected. I was even more surprised by that than I was by dropping 125 pounds in 2009-2010. It just seemed so impossible at the time (about 10 months ago).
On the difficult side of things, I also experienced depression this year that was worse than ever before. I thought I had gotten past it, but I had a couple of bad days this week. However, I found a counselor that I absolutely love, and she has helped me a lot in the short time I've been seeing her.
Going into Year 8: I'd like to continue with therapy to help with anxiety and depression, which will hopefully also help with emotional eating and binge eating. I'd like to continue to run for fitness, and maybe set one bigger running goal over the next year (likely, the Indy Mini in May). I'd like to calorie count through the fall to take off my "summer weight".
All-in-all, I feel like Year 7 was a success :) Each year that goes by that I'm healthy and I've remained active is a win. I've dealt with a lot of ups and downs through the last seven years (not only with weight, but with life situations as well) and I'm still kicking! I look forward to seeing what Year 8 has in store for me.