November 8, 2017

Weight Loss Wednesday: Feeling Fat at Goal Weight

I think I am ready to start running again. But I will write about that in a minute.

Lately, I've been feeling fat. And before you slaughter me, hear me out; I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially for people who would be thrilled to be at the weight or size I'm at now. I used to hate the thin girls who complained about their extra five pounds while I was sitting there with over a hundred.

My attitude changed when I got down to my goal weight, and realized that I had to work just as hard to maintain my weight loss as I did to lose the weight. The girls who complained about five extra pounds? They had to work just as hard as I did to lose weight, if not harder. And it was not up to me to judge their reasons for wanting to drop five pounds.

I've learned that five extra pounds on top of my goal weight makes my clothes tight and uncomfortable, and I avoid wearing certain items of clothing because they aren't flattering anymore. I understand all of that now.

However, I have also learned something new during maintenance over these last several months: It's possible to feel fat even at my goal weight. I am still in a tight goal weight range, and it seems ridiculous that I could feel fat when I should be thrilled I'm maintaining, but I am sure I only feel this way because I'm not running.

I don't regret making that decision one bit--I am very glad that I've taken all of this time off of running. I needed the break, and badly. I was dreading my runs every single day, and I didn't see the point of it anymore. I had met all of my personal running goals, so I just wasn't excited about it. Or any kind of "formal" exercise, for that matter.

This is one of the last runs I remember really enjoying. It was around this time
that my depressive episode started. (This was in May 2016)

The odd thing is, I don't know if it's all in my head or if I actually do look 10-15 pounds heavier than I did last year at this same weight. And honestly, I don't want to do a photo comparison, because it doesn't matter. Whether I feel bigger or I am bigger, the outcome is the same.

I learned that "feeling fat" can happen to anyone of any size, for all sorts of reasons. The reason I have been feeling fat lately is because I stopped running about eight months ago, and I've gotten "softer". I'm wearing the same size jeans, but they don't feel quite like they used to. I feel kind of uncomfortable in this body, and I'd like to feel as confident as I did when I was running--even when I was overweight and running.

There have been several times in the last few weeks that the thought of running again has popped into my head; and over the last week, I've really been thinking about it a lot. And the more I think about it, the more open I am to the idea of starting to run again.

I don't necessarily want to do it for cosmetic reasons. Perhaps I don't look at all bigger than I was last year at this weight--I don't know. But I do like that the negative thoughts I had about my body were so much quieter then. I felt proud of myself each time I reached a running goal, or just at the fact that I was "a runner".

I am aware that there are other exercises I could do--and I've tried--but nothing has ever given me the deep-in-your-gut-thrill that running does. There is something almost magical about it. Before I lost the weight, any thought at all that I may have had of being a runner was that it was literally impossible. I can't stress enough how the thought of being a runner wasn't even a thought at all, because it never occurred to me that it was an option for me.

I forced myself to try exercise videos, bike riding, swimming, and walking for fitness (among several other things), but I never dreamed I'd be able to run. And I think that is the biggest appeal to me--doing something I once thought was impossible.

I stay fairly active in my day-to-day life, but I don't push myself enough to get my heart rate up and drip sweat, or feel a post-run high. I used to love that feeling, until it just didn't feel that way anymore.

The thought of starting over now actually makes me excited. I like the idea of a sub-30 5K being challenging--last year, that was a cakewalk. Now, it is a challenge. I even like the idea of possibly running a half-marathon again someday. (No desire for a marathon--there aren't enough anti-crazy pills in the world for that to interest me!)

Yesterday, I made up my mind to run today, Saturday, and Tuesday. I am not going to think any further ahead than that. I want to see how it goes, how I feel, and if I want to continue. But I am not going to make a decision until I do those three runs.

Today, I actually felt really nervous about running! And I've become such a baby in the cold. I used to love the cold, but running when it's 30 degrees outside makes me not want to go out there. After I get started, I'm okay, but the thought of going outside in the cold turns me off.

I dressed in running clothes right away when I woke up, so I wouldn't change my mind. When I first started running back in 2010, I loved how my running clothes made me look like a ninja (or maybe a burglar). So, this morning, I wore my most ninja-like clothes, and prepared myself for the 30 degree temperature outside.

Totally fake half-smile

I dropped the kids off at school, and drove to the State Park. There is a 5K loop with zero shortcuts back to the car, which has two advantages: 1) I couldn't quit early because there was a lake between myself and the car; and 2) I couldn't slow to a walk, because I'd freeze to death.

Getting out there was the hard part, but once I started running, I felt like I was accomplishing something. I even thought that my pace must be in the low-9:00's, because I was working really hard. Then my first mile split beeped on my watch. I mean, 11:21 is almost the same as 9:00, right?

Second mile split: 11:42. Was there something wrong with my GPS?!

Halfway into my third mile, I saw my pace was around 11:30. I decided to play the game I used to play with myself all the time, and see if I could get my last mile under 11:00 (I used to make up little challenges for myself when a run felt hard for whatever reason--it helped bring out my competitive side). I was already halfway through the third mile, so I'd have to pick up the pace quite a bit; and I already felt like I was working hard.

With that mini-goal in my mind, I was determined to do it.

So, I did. Mile 3 was 10:52.

That heart rate! Such a huge change from my 10K training last year.

Today, when I was totally spent from a 5K, I felt that deep-down excitement about running again. Not on the surface, though--running is hard and my lungs were hurting and my legs felt weak and my nose was running and nobody else was out there, so why should I be? I'm talking about that deep-down determination that says, "I'm going to get better at this. Whatever it takes--one day, this run will be a cakewalk for me."


Today, my 5K time was 35:20. And I worked hard for that. Next time, maybe it'll be a little less! 

The best part is, when I was done running today, I no longer felt fat--I felt strong (and also like I might die). My body size obviously hadn't changed in the 30  35+ minutes I was running those three miles, but it definitely made me feel better mentally. I'm actually looking forward to running again on Saturday.

Let's just hope I can even move tomorrow--I will probably be super sore! ;)
<hr>
My weigh-in today:


At goal and feeling good about it :)

37 comments:

  1. Everything about this post... YES :) I feel fat after losing 100 pounds because I've gained 5 back. You said all of the things :) Thank you! It's validating to know I'm not alone :)

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    1. Ohhhh, I can totally empathize with that! It’s ridiculous that we can’t give ourselves credit for losing all the weight when we put on 5-10 pounds. Great job on the weight loss! Hope you can feel proud of it—the five pound gain shouldn’t take away from that (of course, coming from me, that sounds hypocritical!) ;)

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  2. I am so excited about this possible return to running! As long as you can find the joy in it again, I will be excited to read about your runs and your goals. I'm also getting started again after months of on/off running because of injury, and paces and distances I used to take for granted are beyond me at the moment--but I love being able to make progress and set goals again. It may seem counterintuitive that losing some fitness because of time off has advantages, but I think it does, just as the mental break certainly makes a difference. Now we are ready to conquer the (seemingly) impossible again!

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    1. I think it has advantages as well--you're right, the mental break has given me the "newness" that I needed to get excited about running again. This time, I don't care so much about PR's, but it's fun to set goals again!

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  3. Yep, the whole you know you're not fat but you feel fat....totally get it. I recently saw a picture of myself and told a friend that I liked the picture because I actually looked skinny. She laughed because she thought it was funny that I don't see myself as skinny...can't explain it but totally get it! Love you Katie and I am excited to see your times go down again

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    1. Something like that happened to me recently, too! When I was in Portland and getting dressed, I put on my jeans and a t-shirt and I felt SO bloated (probably from eating restaurant food the day before--something I hadn't had in a while). My stomach felt like it was going to burst open, and I felt miserable. Jerry kept insisting that I didn't look like that, and he took a picture of me from the side to prove it. . I looked so thin in the picture! I was so surprised that my stomach wasn't enormous because it certainly felt like it.

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  4. Thanks for sharing! I'm down here in Iowa and feel your pain about running in the cold. However, I signed up for my first half marathon in May (what have I done?) and want to make sure I keep running through the winter.

    One question I do have for you is in regard to pace. I've looked at your training programs, and the idea of the 80/20 really interests me. However, I don't feel like there's a distinction between trying to run hard (it's always hard) and running easy (it's still hard then too). Do I just accept that my pace will be sluggish? Thanks for your insight, and good luck on your next run!

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    1. That's awesome you signed up for your first half-marathon! Regarding your question about 80/20... it's hard to accept that you may not be able to run in the beginning (except for 20% of the time). If you use your heart rate as an indicator, you want to make sure you keep it at the recommended bpm. If that means walking for a while, then that's what you're supposed to do. But that other 20%, you can do the hard running, which will eventually make you able to jog easily and keep your heart rate low. You have plenty of time to train, so I would start with it now! Good luck :)

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  5. I had to stop running due to an injury and found Crossfit and Deep water Aqua Aerobics. Both give me the same sense of accomplishment as running. The challenge and sweaty grittiness and new accomplishments of Crossfit. The way the water feels when I'm pushing through movements in Water Aerobics. Everything else I've ever tried: Body Pump, Step, HIIT classes, Yoga- kill me, Zumba- set the knives on fire and kill me... before finding these nothing else set me on fire mentally and physically like running could. I'm hoping I can get back to running eventually, but glad to finally find a class/workout that didn't make me dread going.

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    1. That's fantastic that you found other activities you enjoy! When I was injured in 2015, I tried the deep water running, and after the first week of it, I was so bored! Haha. I hope you heal fast!

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  6. I do not know why I am "Northern Europe," but this is actually Michelle with the triplets :)

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    1. Thank you Michelle! I'm glad you clarified, because I wouldn't have known ;)

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  7. Great read! I’ve followed you through all your running and non running days; so glad your back to running! I may just have to do this too, walking just isn’t given me that “feeling” ! Great job Katie!

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    1. Well, my running certainly isn't going to be how it was before, when I was training like crazy for that 10K, but I'm glad to have some new goals to set :)

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  8. Yes, this post!! Thank you for posting this! I've found it soooo hard to get back into running after taking a break since this past May. I ran my half marathon in May and then just quit cold turkey. I simply didn't want to do it anymore. But that bug is coming back up to bite me again ;)

    Can't wait to read more of how your runs are going. You got this!!

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    1. I think training for something like a half-marathon (or to PR my 10K) is definitely exhausting mentally. I've felt like that after each tough race I've done--whether it's distance or speed. I never had the courage to take time off, which sounds silly, but I'm so glad I finally did!

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  9. I love this post! Thank you! Thank you for writing this all out. You are definitely not alone in taking the running breaks and the thoughts. You seem so emotionally strong these days and always an inspiration. Your blog is the blog I always read and recommend to people.

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    1. How kind! Thank you so much. I never realized how many runners take long breaks like this--it's nice to know I'm not alone!

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  10. I'm at about the same point you are -- at the point to go back to running after a long break.

    I've been going to a Crossfit class 3-5 times a week for about a year now, so running hasn't been my main source of exercise or training. And training in a Crossfit gym is completely different than on the road for a run.

    It's brought a whole blur of new challenges and I'm hoping combining these with running will be just the right balance for where I'm at in my weight loss journey!

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    1. I'm sure the Crossfit will have helped your ability to get back to running! I am only having such a hard time because I haven't done any real cardio in 8 months. It's great you found another avenue for staying fit :)

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  11. I love this. I love that you know what you want. I love that you share this, knowing others will give their opinion on whats best for you. You know you the best...keep it up!
    -Kady

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    1. Thank you, Kady! I always had such a hard time with doing what *I* wanted, because I worried about what other people would say. Once I stopped caring about that, it's been easy :)

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  12. Congrats on getting your first run done! Amazing that you could do a whole 5K after not running (almost at all) for months!

    Are you going to do the heart rate thing (the 80/20) that you were commenting on above?

    I've taken years off of running because of having kids and being a single mom but i still dream about it sometimes. i do videos in my living room and i like that i don't have to face the enormous dread that is going out into the cold! and worrying about bathrooms!

    but hopefully someday i'll get back to it!

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    1. Thank you! I don't plan to do the 80/20 method until I decide (or IF I decide, rather) to train for a race again. For now, I'd rather just run for fitness a few times a week to feel good about myself.
      It was hard to get away for a run when my kids were little, and I can't imagine how hard it would be as a single mom! But Jerry works very odd hours, so sometimes, my friends and I would "trade" taking care of each others kids so we could run. She would watch all the kids while I would run, and then I'd watch them all for her to run.

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  13. Awesome post! You are so right to have taken a step back from running. It's not worth forcing yourself out the door for a run every day, if you aren't enjoying it at all. I'm excited to hear how you reproach running goals if you decide to continue. I've had to take extended running breaks before, and during I definitely felt "fat" with less muscle, even though I technically weighed the same. I agree and love how running makes me feel stronger!

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    1. Exactly! Even though my size/weight are the same, I just didn't feel as good about myself as I did when I was running. I enjoy when my muscles feel a little sore and used, and working up a good sweat feels like I really accomplished something.

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  14. Good luck with your running. I have to admit that I really enjoyed the posts that were not so heavily focused on the number on the scale. Sometimes "goals" are meant to be a way of focusing on our interior self as opposed to our exterior shape.

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    1. Well, I only write about the scale/weight once a week, on Wednesdays. But I agree--there is SO much more to me than the number on the scale, which is why I started branching out the topics of my posts. These past 8 months, I've done a ton of focusing on my inner self... which is why I think I'm ready to start running again. This post was more about how I feel about myself rather than the number on the scale. I'm starting to feel like a slug, and the thought of running again makes me a little excited!

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    2. I wish you continued success Katie. Your positive outlook and your willingness to share your life with us is like a breath of fresh air. May you continue to blossom and embrace the challenges as you follow your journey. Blessings~

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  15. Great post and I am in the SAME boat. A year ago, I was doing a sub 30 5K. I broke my foot in Jan 2017, went to Disney, yadda yadda yadda, tried running again in the past couple of weeks and felt like I was in quick sand and had to stop and WALK a lot. UGH! Feels like I'll never get back there, but I will. WE WILL. I'm currently 7 pounds over my goal weight...and I feel like I'm 50 pounds over it. Trying to reduce that number as much as possible before 12/15. :)

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    1. I know exactly how you feel! I think it's interesting how my weight really doesn't play much of a role in my running--I'm at my goal weight, and running feels just as hard (if not harder) than it did when I was 50 pounds heavier! I've lost my fitness, and I am excited at the thought of getting that back. Not training nearly as hard as I was training for the 10K, but just not feeling like a slug would be nice ;)

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  16. Love this post! When I feel fat at my goal weight, I refer to that feeling as not feeling at home in my body. And it’s ok to want to feel comfortable or at home in our bodies...and exercise is a great way to feel strong and comfortable in our own skin. So. I totally get it! And I’m excited to follow this part of the journey!

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  17. I loved reading this! I totally know the feeling of having a crappy run and trying to give yourself an in-run goal to shoot for. Reading this got ME excited about running. :) Great job!

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  18. I've weighed up to 322 lbs, usually around 306lbs and I was really active... hiking, ellipticals, stationary bikes, stair climbers, but I felt like running was a closed door. I just couldn't do it. So this July I switched to a low carb diet and had so much energy and I knew what I wanted to do with it was make myself a runner. I ran 2.25 miles yesterday and it's such an accomplishment. The longest I had ever managed while playing volleyball in high school was 1.12. It's slow--3.7 mph, but it's definitely a running pace-- I can run for 36 minutes and multiple miles. What was unthinkable is now doable... I could go kick ass on the elliptical, but that's just drudgery-- doing what I can do easily and ticking off an exercise obligation. Running is constantly breaking down barriers. I totally understood what you meant.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)