You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 11, 2010.

I’m a warrior on a quest for my healthier body.  I was going to call it my old body, but I’ll never be 20 again, and I don’t want to think of my body as old.

The fact is, I let myself go.  There are all kinds of excuses – deaths, grief, desk jobs, divorce, stress – you name it, it can be turned into an excuse.  I sometimes joke that I’m trying to lose the baby weight.  Kelsea is almost 14. 

In my younger days, I was a dancer – ballet and contemporary.  I took class with companies in Durham and in Boston.  I took master classes with legends in the art through the American Dance Festival.  I was appointed to the Governor’s School in North Carolina for my dancing.  Visitors used to come to class in Boston to watch me dance.  I was slim, strong, and graceful (except when walking – I was a complete klutz when it came to walking.)

Even though the dancing stopped due to broken toes and torn back muscles, I still stayed slender and active and fit.  I got a little out of shape in my mid-twenties, but got it back courtesy of free weights, 5-mile walks home from work, and Lean Cuisine.  At 30, during the dark year, I lost too much weight, thanks to marital problems and a steady diet of whiskey, fried chicken wings and country/western dancing until the wee hours.

As things got better, I (and my diet) got healthier again.  I was a little heavier than I wanted to be when I got pregnant, but when Kelsea was two, another round of hiking, supplements and protein shakes helped me shed that extra weight to get to a beautifully balanced place.  After that, physical work helped me stay fit for a few years, but when I finally got that good-paying desk job, the downhill slide started.  It was slow, gradual and kind of hard for me to notice.  But eventually, that pair of pants didn’t fit anymore (huh, they must have shrunk).  Or my shirts were too tight.  (Pat must have put them in the dryer – shrinkage again.)  I would look in the mirror and – I don’t know quite how to express this – I would see myself, my old self, wrapped in denial.  I look okay, right?  When I suck in, I can still see muscles.  That roll on my belly when I sit down, that’s just water weight.  Yes, denial. 

I got back into slightly better shape once I started going to the islands.  But nowhere near where I needed to be to be healthy.  And then, as I lost my parents and the Captain and my marriage, it just got worse and worse.  I was eating emotionally, to fill a need, to distract myself from pain, because the comfort food was there.  Excuses, excuses.  I was depressed and lonely and didn’t feel like exercising or eating right.  It was all I could do to get out of bed, to get through a day.  Thank the stars for Kelsea – she was my raison d’être, although I knew I was setting a poor example for her.

In January, I hit my peak weight.  It was ridiculous.  I went to a gym with a friend and realized I wasn’t one of those fit, hot women.  I was darn near porky – and middle-aged.  It was an awful epiphany.  My friend has watched my struggles and has encouraged me to eat healthier for years – and been frustrated with me when I don’t.  As hard as that’s been to hear, I need it.

I started the Atkins Diet right around the beginning of the year.  The weight didn’t exactly fall off, but it did start to drip off.  In the early summer, I joined the Rec Center and started using the machines a little bit.  I found a couple of fitness classes that I like.  By the time I went away in the summer, I had lost 20 pounds.  But after the EAR, where Kelsea and I were on the road so much, and struggling with eating healthy, and not exercising, I gained 8 pounds back.  It was so frustrating.  I know the whole thing isn’t a diet – it’s a lifestyle change, it’s a mental shift, but I find I still struggle with the deprivation mentality from time to time.

Now I’m back on the regular regime.  I’ve even added a few carbs back to my diet – a little milk here, a couple bites of chocolate there – to help avoid that deprivation hurdle.  I haven’t stepped on the scale in weeks.  Some diet experts say you should weigh yourself daily, others say weekly, others say never.  I find that often, if I’m feeling good about my weight loss and the scale tells me something different from what I think, I get discouraged and switch to “What’s the use?  I might as well eat” mode.

Today, I had a great class.  I’m wearing something slightly more form-fitting than a baggy gym shirt.  I used heavy weights.  I could see my neck and my collarbone more clearly – I wasn’t just looking at fat.  It felt really good.  This is what I call my “easy” class, since the instructor is not the ass-kicking hard body that I take Kickboxing, Zumba, and Ultimate Core class from the other days of the week.  But it was still tough – lots of slow, strength building movements.  I was up front, and I swear I could have been teaching it.

After class, I went to the grocery store.  I notice I shop differently now.  I almost never go down any of the inner aisles.  I buy fresh stuff – a few veggies, cheese, fish, meat, chicken – almost nothing is processed.  When I asked the fish monger how his day was going, we exchanged gushing sentiments over our awesome, amazingly marvelous moods.  Better living through chemicals and salmon.

On Saturday, I hiked over 6 miles with a friend.  When we first started hiking together, I could barely go a half a mile.  After Saturday, I was proud of myself.  Yes, when I sit down, there’s still fat there, but not what there was in January.  I haven’t stepped on the scale yet this week – maybe tomorrow – but I feel really good about how strong I’m getting, about this new body, to go along with the reborn spirit and the gentle, recovering heart.

It makes me look forward to life – and to Kickboxing class tomorrow.

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