Friday, July 12, 2013

Random Fact Friday – The Stupid Diets Edition

So as you all know, I have been on a nutrition kick for awhile now.  While my eating has improved exponentially, I know I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do. I'll admit, my biggest challenge has been my sweet tooth – I love sweets, especially chocolate!

While I've never been extremely overweight, I have struggled with my weight and body image issues my entire life.  I remember thinking my thighs were fat when I was only 10 or me, back then my thighs were nowhere close to being fat.  Muscular, maybe.  Fat, no. 

That's me on the left, circa 1982...this was at a sleepover and we're dressing up in my old dance costumes.  Yeah, and I was worried about my thighs?!?!?

I grew up taking dance and went on to be on my high school's dance team.  We weighed in every week and I remember being concerned about my weight…I was all of 108 lbs.  Something about being in leotards so much makes you really take notice of every little thing.  Every bulge, every jiggle.  In college, I was at my thinnest at 118 and 140 at my heaviest. 

High school graduation weekend!  My hair added an extra 2 inches and my fake-bake tan is just too much!

Yes, I have been in the "overweight" category.  I guess I would have fallen into the "thick", "chunky" or "chubby" category.  At my heaviest, I was around 162 pounds (give or take a few).  I thought I'd share some of the stupid crap I tried in my younger years that I thought would help me lose weight.  I'd love to hear your experiences, too.

Random Fact #1 – High School = awesome metabolism
In high school, I was on the dance team.  We danced during our regular class hour during school, then practiced for 1 ½ hours or more after school.  Then, 2 - 3 days per week, I'd go to gymnastics classes in the evening.  I would eat a regular school lunch and be sure to grab a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a Coca-Cola from the vending machines before dance team practice.   Oh, and before gymnastics, we'd sometimes stop at Sonic for a Footlong Coney with Chili, Tater Tots and a large Cherry limeade. I suspect that due to all the activity and just being young, I had awesome metabolism, because my weight never crept up past about 110 in high school.  Sure, I "dieted" in high school using my Mom's Weight Watchers tips, but it would only last a few days. 

Dance days...

Random Fact #2 – Early college years…
I was completely clueless about food in college. Because I was not as active, my weight crept up.  I took my required Kinesiology classes and went to the occasional gymnastics class, but that was about it.  I didn't realize how much all that activity had been helping me burn off all that junk food.  I remember thinking that I didn't want to gain the "Freshman 15", so I’d eat a McDonald's side salad for dinner sometimes with no dressing, sometimes with low-fat italian…can we say no nutritional value?  I didn't even add a chicken breast.  And, to make matters worse, I probably had lite microwave popcorn and a Diet Dr. Pepper for lunch.  Later, I had a brief career in pageants where the desire to be skinny peaked - I tried fasting, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the 3-Day Diet, SlimFast, Dexatrim pills and just not eating.  Yep, fad diets with hardly any calories, no nutritional content at all…I'm pretty sure I threw my metabolism into a state of shock.  I also did a few pageants, so the pressure to be slim was even greater.   I remember speaking to a woman at a pageant when I was 19 who told me, "You’re 118? To do this, you should be around 108….but, it's no big deal, you can get that weight off in about a week." And this woman had a HUGE container of SlimFast under her desk! 

Me at my thinnest post-high school weight..umm, yeah, please excuse the hair, puffy sleeves and all the beading, lol!

Random Fact #3 – Later college years…
When I transferred to a large university I did a lot of walking.  But still, the eating (and drinking) wasn't really in check.  I ate a lot of Lean Cuisines and frozen Healthy Choice dinners.  I gained about 10 lbs.  Toward the end of my college career, the new recreation center opened and I found a new love of fitness.  I started riding my bike to campus, I roller bladed (a lot), I started using weight machines and walking the indoor track. 

Right before my final semester, I went to Cancun with some girlfriends.  In order to get ready for the trip, I tried a very extreme 2-week diet plan and regime of supplements called "Cybergenics Quick Trim".  I was eating six small meals a day, drinking almost 2 gallons of water per day (the 1st week) and taking a zillion different pills a day.  While it was a crazy program and probably not the healthiest, I learned more about nutrition than I had ever known – protein, good carbs, hydration, etc.   I lost 10 lbs in two weeks.  I looked pretty damn good!  I kept the weight off all summer…and then I started my first "real" job.  At a desk.  With too much fast food nearby. 

Random Fact #4 – Going to the Chapel…
So, here I was…a year in a sedentary job in a super busy office with not enough time to take a lunch break.  One employee would take our orders and grab us each a meal from McDonald's, KFC, etc.  Or, if we brought our lunches, someone would run out and pick us up some ice cream sundaes from McDonald's in the afternoon.  It’s no surprise that the weight I had lost for my Cancun trip had found its way back.  In an effort to lose weight for the wedding (and lose it fast), I decided to try Metabalife pills.  I was already stressed out about the wedding, but now I was stressed out and a jittery bunch of nerves.  It was insane.  But yet, I kept taking it and I lost a few pounds.  As I mentioned before, after the wedding I gained 30 pounds and felt miserable.

Me at 160 lbs...this was just a few months before I decided to make some major changes to my eating!
Random Fact #5 – Lifetime Member, baby!
I had been active my entire life, but became a total couch potato with my hubby.  This was after getting married, but before having kids.  I wasn't happy with how I looked, but I continued to eat crap and not workout.  Finally, enough was enough.  I was sick of having to buy bigger clothes…when my size 12 pants started getting too tight, I decided to take action and join Weight Watchers.  I remember getting my first 5 lb ribbon and being so excited…then it hit me, I had 25 more pounds to go!  Could I really do it?  I learned so much through Weight Watchers – the most important being portion control.  I learned to like fruits and vegetables.  And I learned that I could still eat pizza or chocolate…just not go crazy with it.  I loved knowing that I was in control again.  I started walking with a friend after work and I started taking ice skating lessons.  I joined a gym and started using the weight machines again.  I started cardio kickboxing classes and bought the TaeBo videos.   I loved being so active!  I lost 34 lbs and managed to keep almost all of it off.  Well, until I had kids.  Sometime in there I also found my love of running.  I ran 3 marathons and kept running until about 20 weeks into my first pregnancy.

Random Fact #6 – Post Kiddo
After having the Kiddo, I went to Weight Watchers again.  I managed to get off all but 7 lbs of baby weight.  I was 140 pounds and still felt pretty good.  I was running again. A year after I had the Kiddo, I ran 3 marathons.  I was baffled as to why those last 7-8 pounds would not come off, but I knew I was in decent shape and didn't worry about it.

Random Fact #7 – Gaming the System
After having the Munchkin, I lost some of the baby weight with the help of Weight Watchers.  But the weight seemed even harder to get off this time.  To make matters worse, I felt flabby.  The Hubby decided to order P90X.  I was hesitant, but ended up falling in love with it!  I loved getting stronger and building muscles.  I was getting definition back that I hadn't seen since my dance/gymnastics days!  Then, half-marathon training kicked into high gear and I had trouble finding time to fit in the P90X workouts.  And, even with P90X, my weight stayed the same.  I went back to Weight Watchers, but now I had learned how to work the system…yes, I could eat those Hershey's minatures…they were only a few points.  Frustrated with my weight loss plateau, I sought the help of an expert – I saw a nutritionist.

March 2009, approaching the 1 year birthday of the Munchkin...after WW, but before the nutritionist.

The nutritionist really made me aware of my pitfalls – I was eating too much sugar…those 100 calorie snacks were NOT my friend.  I was not eating enough protein.  Making some basic changes to my eating habits, I managed to get back to 142 again.  But I got stuck there…for 4 years!

Random Fact #8 – Clean eating?  I wash my veggies, what do you mean?
I started reading more and more about clean eating before I ran NYC in 2011.  And, I found that by eating clean(er) and cutting way back on the sugar, I could actually lose a few more pounds.  I was at my all time lowest post-pregnancy weight (139) when I ran NYC. 

In NYC, eating clean(er) and getting lean(er)

Unfortunately, there were the holidays and an injury right after that and my weight started creeping up.  And up.  As my weight started to creep higher, I decided to try something new – I made an appointment with my Chiropractor. Yes, that's right my DC.  He knew a lot about nutrition and I saw some amazing results from my friends who were also working with him while running and doing triathlons.

O.M.G. this took my attempts at clean eating to a whole new level.  I started eating almost NOTHING processed.  And can I say WOW?  It was hard in the beginning.  But, within a few weeks I felt better and I noticed some major changes – my belly was flatter, I could see my muscles.  Within a few more weeks I found that I had cheekbones.  And a collarbone.  Who knew?  I won't lie, I constantly struggle with staying on track.  The holidays stretched my willpower and I caved.  A lot.  I finally feel that I am getting back on track, but it will always be a daily struggle. 

Me at a comfy 132 lbs...not skinny by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm happy with it!
So why am I posting all this?  I guess I want people to know - you do not have to be obese to have eating and body image issues.  Just because someone is thin, doesn't mean that person doesn't struggle daily to eat well.  I struggle.  EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  As you can see from my past, my weight has yo-yo-ed back and forth.  A LOT.  I want people to know that they are not alone in their struggles. 

I am also posting this, because I am going to gradually be changing my blog. Rather than always focus on running, I will be shifting to a balance between training for running races and tris, nutrition and strength training. Being fit, lean and mean is a combination of working out and eating well. I hope that you will enjoy this and share your experiences, too! 

What crazy measures have you taken to lose weight?  Is it a daily struggle, or do you find it easy?


Cindy said...

thank you for posting this! i've struggled with my weight my whole life...i was never obese, but had issues with disordered eating and bad body image. it's been a long, long journey but finally after all the pieces falling into place (work/life balance, clean eating, running and strength training), i think i'm finally there after 44 years. i now don't have to count every single calorie that goes into my mouth because it's all clean, healthy food (OK, the occasional cheat) but i've never felt leaner or more fit, even though i actually am at a weight that would have sent me into a panic years ago. back when i was in my teens, i would eat maybe 200 calories a day in an attempt to starve myself but never seemed to lose any weight and always felt awful. i just shake my head now!

my blog has also gone from only being about marathon training to more about strength training/clean eating and the journey to get to this point.

Cindy said...

i have trigger finger and posted too soon! looking forward to reading more about your balanced approach to health!

Junie B said...

Dance team in high school here too! And every single Monday we got weighed in and if we were over our weight limit, we couldn't dance on Friday night. My weight limit was 110 and I never went over (I was NOT going to NOT dance!), but I still felt 'fat'. I dont think HS dance teams still do that (I've seen the drill teams), and I am glad they dont. I got back to HS weight in my late 20/30's and was SKIN AND BONES! It was definitely an UNHEALTHY weight for me given how and why I was that thin at that age. Anyway, loooove this post; looking forward to more!

Lisa said...

Wow, I'm kinda been a little bit down this same road myself.
I am 5 ft 2 inches tall & at the end of my first marriage was 138 lbs. I got down to a comfortable 124 after the marriage ended.
I started using myfitnesspal early last year & I've maintained a healthy 115 lbs. I've never felt better about my body image.
Great job with the blog. I can't get motivated to make mine any less boring.