I may have hit a nerve yesterday when I used the word ‘fat’. That morning when I woke up and felt ‘fat’, it wasn’t just about the scale, it was a combination of things. I felt exhausted, unhealthy, disconnected from my life. I didn’t feel like I was being a good role model to my children. It had crossed my mind that “I am the mother of two children, I cannot continue to take advantage of my health“. I have a son whose life is burdened with Type 1 Diabetes. I have a daughter, who at an early age started to think about being ‘fat’ after a girl in her kindergarten class called her fat. (Yes kindergarten. Ladies our work is not done.). Regardless of either of these things, I needed to get my act together.
Last night my sister-in-law noted that I would be ‘beautiful at any size‘, (thank you!). But it got me thinking, some people always feel beautiful, regardless of their size. The fact is though that I didn’t feel beautiful. I don’t mean beautiful like ‘pretty’, and honestly as I type this I still don’t feel comfortable with words like ‘beautiful’ and ‘pretty’. Truly this journey for me goes deeper than the weight I carried around. For me, my weight was directly connected to the way I was feeling. I am not saying this is true for you, but it was for me.
If I would have woke up that morning and thought “Man, I feel blah“, I don’t think it would have startled me enough to make a change. I had to hit my bottom, I had to feel ‘fat’. I felt unhealthy and I knew that my weight was a big factor in that moment.
So here’s another moment of coming clean, when I left Wisconsin I weighed in at 236 lbs. According to various charts I was approximately 75 lbs overweight. 75 lbs. I can’t even believe I just put my weight out there, but I think it’s important. The few people that knew my weight when I first started changing my life, well honestly they said they never would have guessed that I was that overweight. Obviously, I never guessed it either. I’m tall, I have a knack for hiding extra weight.
To get the reality of my weight to really sink in wasn’t as hard as you think, the one thing that stuck with me was when I thought, “It’s like physically carrying my daughter and my son around all day long“. I visualized what it would be like to put them down and walk away 75 lbs lighter. Think about how relieved your body feels after setting down a heavy bag of groceries on the counter.
75 lbs people, that is not about being a ‘big girl‘ or being ‘beautiful at any size‘, that is a health risk. Just take a look at these two pics for a second, the day we left WI, Nov. 2011, and then the day of my first 1/2 Marathon, January 12, 2013.
So when I say fat, I mean fat. I don’t say it to be mean, I would never use the word in a conversation, unless of course my girlfriends and I were sitting around spilling our guts. But I would never use it to describe someone. That is not what this is about. This is about a woman, a mom, a friend, that woke up one day and said “I have got to make a change, for me, for my children, for my family“. I had to look at how I was feeding my body, and realize that I wasn’t feeding my body, I was feeding my emotions.
I can hear my family and friends now, “We love you just the way you are, you are not that heavy“, I’m hear to ask you to love me more, love me healthy. Oh god, don’t get extreme and take away my vices when I want them, just cheer me on when I cross the finish line and be healthy too.
It’s not about being skinny or a certain size. It’s about being healthy, and about honoring the body you have.
I have heard so many times “But I’m happy, I don’t need to lose weight“. I don’t doubt that you are happy and yes, big girls run, they swim, they ride, they do all kinds of things, I don’t care how big you are, I care about your health.
Taking this weight off in my 40’s is a whole heck of a lot harder than it was in my 20’s. And let’s face it, some girls look great with ‘junk in their trunk‘, but this girl, well my junk doesn’t go into my trunk, it goes into my saddlebags.
I’m not trying to blow smoke up your running skirt or tell you “Hey, look at me, if I can do it, so can you“, well maybe I am a little bit. I just wished I would have come to this place a little sooner in my life. I still struggle. I still have about 20 lbs to lose and some days it’s a slippery slope. Some days I see that infamous logo “Just do it” and I yell back at it “No, YOU do it“.
Because some days just suck and I’d rather eat chips and dip than run a mile. But I hope you stick with me. Stick with me over the year and see where we go. Just a warning, some days I will hate running, some days I will ride or walk instead, but I have to trust that I will always consider how good it makes me feel when I’m done before I give up and not do it.
I realize now that being a healthy mom is a part of being a good mom. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint, I’m not sitting around eating celery wearing a t-shirt that says “You are awesome“, know that you will catch me with orange fingers from eating Doritos’s or the like, but this time it will only be a few and not a whole bag.
Do I think you can do a 1/2 Marathon? Yes I do. Do I think you need to do one? No I don’t. But if you want to do one I would be your biggest cheerleader. A 5k, a 10k, a walk… I would love to be there when you cross the finish line. I am dead serious, sign up for something, anything. Don’t get caught up in all of the fancy gear, etc. just start moving, it will all come together. Tell me when your event is, I will support you all the way, and if I can I will meet you at the finish line. Stranger things have happened.
I never thought I would run, much less cross the finish line, but I did. It felt great. Did I struggle with my training? Yes. Did I question my body. Yes. Did I wonder the hell I was doing? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. I walked away a different person, I can’t explain to you how, but I can bet it will change you too.
I’m not here to tell you to lose weight, I’m not here to tell you to do a 1/2 Marathon. You don’t need to be told to do anything, you already know in your heart what you need to do. I’m here to share, in hopes that someone out there will relate, not feel alone and maybe tomorrow they will choose an apple over cookies, or if they choose cookies they will also go for a walk. It’s about being healthy and feeling strong in a whole new way, maybe a way you never imagined.
I don’t care what size your jeans are but I do care about your health, I want you around for a very long time.
A special thank you to everyone that read my post yesterday, you were the net for my leap of faith. It’s quite a feeling to realize that people other than your mother are reading your blog. I appreciate your comments, kind words and conversation. I enjoyed so many e-mails yesterday from people that wanted to talk about their own challenges. I urge you to share your story more often. Is it risky, sometimes. Is it worth it, yes.
Next up, the running connection and how one random moment at the Milwaukee Public Library lead me on my way to lacing up.