Anyone that knows me knows that posting photo’s of myself is about as painful as a root canal without anesthesia. But for me, February is all about coming full circle and connecting the dots. This month I celebrate my 1 year Runiversary and as you know, I’ve been posting on FB that it’s all about revealing, being brave and having fun. Well, this part isn’t that much fun, but it is a bit revealing and maybe a little brave.
I have always been a ‘big girl‘, and in my dating years I would overhear my mom’s friends whisper, “She’s so nice“, as they seemed puzzled by my lack of dates. Now don’t write to me and tell me that weight isn’t directly related to dating, I know that, you know that, but when you are young and naive and struggling with your weight, sometimes you don’t realize that there is more to you than your physical appearance. Unless, unless you are one of those lucky ones that are dripping with confidence, or blessed with a spectacular metabolism, maybe this has never been an issue for you. Whether it’s your weight or not, we all have our challenges that dent our confidence, so I’m trusting that you will relate on some level and not judge.
So as I struggled with my weight, which often times was connected to my self-esteem, I would be reassured it was just because I had ‘big bones‘. Truth be told I was not taking care of myself, regardless of my size, I was not making healthy choices and I just got fat. That sounds kind of harsh, but sometimes it just is what it is and for me I had to face it and make some changes. Words like ‘over-weight‘, ‘a few extra pounds‘, ‘baby fat‘…well they didn’t really affect me the same way as the day I woke up and just felt ‘fat’, well that scared me into action. Keep in mind, my goal here was to feel strong and healthy, not be thin.
Over the years I continued to struggle with my weight, on a daily basis, or so it seemed. I know I”m not alone here, but it seems to be that my body just absorbs calories without even digesting them and my metabolism couldn’t win a race if my life depended on it.
I had always wanted to be athletic but never fit the stereotype, I didn’t understand that anyone could be athletic, you didn’t have to be a certain type. I didn’t play sports in high-school unless you call “drinking-in-the woods-and-carrying-a-case-of-beer” a sport. (And yes, it is wrong on so many levels, believe me I have thought about it more than you ever will.).
Fast forward to Motherhood, Logan was colic for an entire year, I was sleep deprived, he wasn’t developing the way he was supposed to, missing a few benchmarks and I was home, in.the.house. All.of.the.time. I figured that this was what it was supposed to be like, mom’s are tired. Looking back I probably had the ‘baby blues’ but never addressed it as I thought that was ‘typical’ for a new mom.
At three years old Logan was diagnosed with Type 1 and food became the center of attention in our family. I continued to gain weight but still ‘fit‘ into my clothes so I didn’t really think about it too much. Yes, now and then I felt like crap and thought about losing weight but that faded quickly as I reached for a coffee loaded with sugar and flavoring, thinking that it would at least keep me awake.
One day when we were faced with a stressful moment, we had people in and out of our house 24/7 for therapy for Logan, I was feeling ‘trapped’ and faced with questions that I didn’t have the answers to, it all came to a head. I found myself in the kitchen, looking in the fridge, looking in the cupboards, searching, searching, searching until finally I just grabbed something to eat and Tony looked at me and said “You know you are a stress-eater“. WHAT? I pictured Oprah eating frozen hot dog buns with chocolate syrup.
That’s right, I had no idea that my emotions were so tightly intertwined with my eating habits. Which reminds me, before you go flicking donuts out of your friends hands ‘for their own good‘, make sure you know what they are attached to, those donuts might be attached to grief, anger, depression, fear…and if you don’t recognize that first, well taking that donut out of their hand might encourage them to eat two donuts the next time. (I am not a health care expert, but I know stress and I know donuts).
Sadly, the brilliant revelation that indeed I was a stress-eater did not catapult me into a new lifestyle.
Instead I stressed about it and ate some more, feeling overwhelmed and not able to dig myself out of, what appeared to be, a gigantic hole. Meanwhile my already naturally big hips were expanding at an alarming rate. (Whenever I fret over the unwanted gift of big hips I think about my freshman year in college, I had just turned 17. A young man I had met, Brad, who was about 6’9″, barrel chested, best hair I have ever seen, and always complaining that college derailed his opportunity to be the greatest Solid Gold dancer ever, well, he thought that telling me that I had “child-bearing” hips was a compliment. So Brad, wherever you are, you are forever a part of my story and you were right, I do have “child-bearing” hips as my husband can attest, my Doctor actually caught Zoe when she was born that’s how fast she came into the world. So thanks for the insight, but next time maybe wait until I am actually having children to give me that compliment.).
So life moved on, my body morphed into something I became comfortable with, in an uncomfortable way, and winter had become my new best friend. Filled with big sweaters, comfort foods and hibernation. Weight had become a regular topic for discussion with my closest friends, always exclaiming that I needed to do something about it as I shoved some sugary treat into my mouth.
It wasn’t until we moved to Colorado that I allowed myself to become aware of the state of my health. Now don’t go and start blaming Wisconsin, I’ve done enough of that on my own, but I do admit that my mental well being played a big part in my weight struggles, and for me, overcast days filled with Packer party goodies were the ticket to ride the “everybody does it train“.
This is the photo that got me thinking….it was Christmas, we had only been in Boulder for about a month. We were so psyched to be surrounded by open space and nearby trails. We had gone out for a hike that day and I remember walking up a pretty steep incline and noticed how hard it was for me to breathe and get to the top. Taking the altitude into consideration I chalked it up to that, because it must be that, not the extra pounds I’ve brought with me.
When going through the photo’s from our walk I noticed this one and couldn’t stop staring at it. Most of us have those moments where we are folding our laundry and we fold our jeans and think “Is my *ss really that big?” or before trying on a pair of pants we hold them up and think “Those are huge, they’ll be too big“, only to find out that they are too tight and you head to the nearest drive-thru. Well this was one of those moments for me. I had to face the truth, it wasn’t the angle of the camera.
I believe we all have our own comfort zones when it comes to our weight, a range of pounds that usually tip us off when they go too far one way or the other. It usually gets us to pay attention to our bodies and health. Usually. Sometimes we ignore it and keep going until something hits us upside the head and makes us think “Man, I have got to make a change here“. And sometimes not. It’s tough to make a change, regardless of what it is.
Lucky for me a new friend was joining Weight Watchers and she asked if I wanted to join her. Even though we had talked about losing weight I still thought her invitation was pretty brave. I say brave because you know yourself that talking about someone’s weight can be dangerous. First thing I thought was “Oh Gaaaaaawd, I don’t want to sit around with a bunch of people and talk about how fat I am“. But I did. I didn’t talk about how much weight I had gained but people did share on occasion.
It really wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. (And not to pick on Wisconsin but I have to tell you that in my first meeting the leader was asking what brought us to WW. I mentioned that I had just moved here from Wisconsin and before I could finish my sentence the lady next to me said “Wow, you must have been at the top of your game there“, cue the laughter). It’s not the WW you might think it is. Maybe it is, but seriously, I was the last person on earth I pictured sitting in a room learning about points. It wasn’t in a damp musty basement either, as I expected, and I knew no one except for my new friend. I mean really, how terrifying it is to find out that your neighbor knows your dirty little secret- that you are trying to lose weight and get healthy. How scandalous.
That was in January of 2012. I started losing weight and took up walking. Here is where I come clean, it might not be the first time. I was so uncomfortable in my own body, surrounded by endurance athletes, Moms that did triathlon’s, setting PR’s…good Lord, I didn’t even know what the hell a PR was and I wasn’t sure if I could put myself out there yet. So…this is it, my confession, I started doing the Leslie Sansone walking work-out in my basement. Oh yes I did.
I admit that when my mom had mentioned it to me years earlier I laughed it off and thought, “Oh that’s nice, good for you,but really, I think I’m kind of more advanced.”, way to be humble Denise. Then, feeling a bit desperate, I popped in the DVD and once I got over the fact that it felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit (I have one of her very first work-out DVD’s I hear they have improved), Leslie became my new best friend and helped me lose my first 20 lbs. Oh yes she did.
Oh, it didn’t come without scrunched up noses and comments like “So….you walk….in your basement? You just walk? In your basement?“. You have to understand, that if you don’t know Boulder we have more walking trails than you can even imagine, so walking in your basement without a treadmill, does raise an eyebrow or two.
So where does it take me, stay tuned…….running, “Seriously don’t people say “hi” on the trail?” and losing weight, yes all 52 lbs….and yes, I still eat donuts on occasion.