Running like a graceful gazelle is overrated anyway

sit

Ah, exercise. It is still pretty insane to me that I have gone from my primary form of exercise being walking to the fridge to get more food to running so much around my apartment complex that I frequently have members of the maintenance staff make comments about it. I know that some people may prefer to just watch what they eat in order to lose weight. And actually, right at the present moment, that is what I am having to do since I have pneumonia and would probably pass out if I tried to run anywhere. But generally, I believe a combination of exercise and watching what you eat is best for losing weight.

I’ve heard from many people who get discouraged by how out of shape they are when they start. They feel like the little amount of exercise they are able to physically accomplish is not enough. Well, I’m here to say that anything you can do exercise-wise is going to help you lose weight. When I first started at well over 300 lbs, it was all I could manage to slowly do 15 minutes on the elliptical. And that felt like torture. I mean, when walking up stairs is a challenge, you can’t expect to be running marathons your first week. But I still lost large amounts of weight even doing just that little bit.

I’ve gone through several different stages (for lack of a better word) of exercise. Starting out, I went to the gym a lot on the elliptical. It was easy on my knees and burned a lot of calories. That lasted a long time. Then I decided to start doing some strength training. This sadly did not last very long, as I am apparently addicted to cardio. But it did make for some very disturbing facial expressions.

sit

Then I decided to give running a try. And here is where I found my long-lost exercise soul mate. If running were a person, we would be taking long walks on the beach together and eating spaghetti like in Lady and the Tramp. I  warn you, I’m going to sound like I drank the Kool-Aid or something here, but I just love running. This is somewhat ironic because I used to hate running with an equal passion. I dreaded the mile run at school. I dreaded running laps at soccer practice. I’m not going to lie. Running was pretty terrible when I first started out this time too. But one day as I frantically tried to gulp in enough oxygen and contemplated just falling over on the concrete, I finally experienced that runner’s high. Yes, it exists. I know, I had my doubts too. I thought maybe it was just a delusion of super athletes who had downed one too many protein shakes. But once I had that feeling myself, I was hooked.

I am not a fast runner. I don’t have a natural runner’s build. I’m short and muscular, really more of a gymnast’s build (though sadly, I am actually terrible at gymnastics, as my “cartwheel” consisted of me bending down and kind of turning around in a circle). My legs are the furthest things from slim and delicate. While I like to picture myself looking like a graceful gazelle running through the wilds of Africa, I know I really look more like a rhino running wild-eyed away from a lion. But that’s okay. My running time is exactly that: my time. I don’t have to worry about how I look or anything else when I run. Which is a really good thing since I tend to keep wearing the same workout shirts, as in the ones I wore at 100+ lbs heavier, until they wear out or literally fall off my body. It’s not a good look unless you like the whole ’80’s off the shoulder thing.

wo

So I’ve been running now seriously for a little over a year. In the course of that year, I hit a huge plateau in my weight loss. I continually increased my mileage running, and saw little or no results on the scale or measurement-wise. Let me tell you, if you wake up at 4:30 in the morning to go outside and run 8 or more miles, you want to see some kind of results. I am not naturally a morning person, but I have become one out of necessity. So I decided to incorporate my old friend strength training into my work-outs. I knew from previous experience that I wasn’t going to sacrifice any of my cardio for strength training, so what I did was just add in a couple strength training circuits to my runs every morning. My apartment complex has a one mile fitness trail with different stations throughout. Unfortunately, the stations are all primarily stretching, so I had to invent my own. So now every morning, I start off doing sit-ups, leg raises, push-ups, modified pull-ups (because I’m too much a weenie to do the real ones yet), jumping jacks, this weird ab exercise I call the crab because that’s what it looks like, and burpees (the devil!). Then I run 6 miles, and do another mile circuit of the strength training. Eight miles in all. It sounds like a lot, especially when I’m dragging myself out of bed at that ungodly hour, but I’ve never once regretted it. What I do slightly regret  (although not much because it also makes me feel pretty badass) is the not-so-beautiful appearance of my feet now. Because I have some crazy calluses that I refuse to get rid of because I need them. Worth it though!

foot

You’re welcome for those gross images. So adding in that strength training has changed my body more than I thought possible at this late stage. I still haven’t lost a crazy amount of weight or anything, but the inches are flying off. I even had somebody at the gym who has only been there since May comment on how much weight I looked like I had lost just in those 4 months. This meant a lot to me because it’s been a pretty long time since I felt like people could really see any visible difference in how I looked. Even I am able to see how much my body has changed this summer, and I am always the last one to see any difference in how I look.  I know I’m late to the whole strength training party, but better late than never!

Re-Gain? Is that why my pants don’t fit?

Regain

I remember standing at the go-cart track in the summer of 2007, weeping in my mother’s arms. I was 35 years old and telling her that I was going to have gastric bypass surgery. I weighed 350 pounds. I was realistic enough to know that I would not fit into any ride at the amusement park, but now, I could not even buckle a go-cart seatbelt around myself. With my husband’s help, I extracted myself from the go-cart and I felt my tears, filled with embarrassment, roll down my face. I told my mom how we were just waiting for insurance approval, and I would be scheduled for surgery. She was relieved. Nervous, because I was having surgery, but relieved because she was worried about the weight I had gained.

A few days later, I received my denial letter in the mail. I did not have any co-morbidities related to being super-obese (their medical term, not mine) No high blood pressure, no diabetes, no real joint pain. I was just super-obese. I was so angry. If I had high blood pressure, diabetes, or joint paint they would cover any and all medical interventions necessary, but they were unwilling to cover the surgery that could prevent this all.

So I moved onto plan B– I had to sign up for insurance where I work, in November, and go through their bariatric program. I was temporarily sidelined in 2008 by a retinal detachment and nasal polyp removal, but finally in September 2008, at 365 pounds, I had my surgery…

The weight slid off of me, literally, with no effort, other than just kind of sticking to what I was supposed to be doing, it slid off of me. And I do mean, kind of, sticking to the plan. By September 2009, just one year later I had lost almost 150lbs.

I had no medical complications except for a small ulcer, which had long since healed. I was pretty much eating what I wanted and not exercising at all. I had a pretty active job, but no purposeful exercise. But my clothes still fit, and I was enjoying life. Well, except for my mom was sick…

My mom had been sick off and on since I was 20 but she was hospitalized, for what would be her last time, in September 2010. Even though she came home, I knew that her story was not going to have a happy ending. She was seriously ill, with an auto-immune disease that had taken over her body.

On August 2, 2011, I received the phone call I had been dreading. My dad was calling me to tell me that my mom, my ever-present source of love, had passed in her sleep. She was 57 years old.

I did not deal with her death well. On the outside, I acted ok. On the inside, I was broken into one hundred pieces. The grief was like a white, hot burn through my heart.  I spent the next three months burying myself in a long, complicated software conversion at work. This resulted in messed up sleep and eating. I worked six 55-hour weeks in a row and on Friday and Saturday nights I drank to not think about my emotions. I did not want to deal with the pain of her passing.

RegainIn March of 2012, my husband and I decided that we probably could use a bit of a vacation, so we planned a trip to the Mall of America. Armed with spending cash, I hit the clothing stores. In my head, I knew I was a size 22/24, but that size didn’t fit. And a size 26 was feeling snug. I was completely freaking out. When we got home from our trip, I immediately weighed myself.  I was stunned, I weighed 253 pounds. I had gone from 217 pounds to 253 pounds. My only thought was, “Crap, I am going to eat myself out of this surgery.”

That trip, while giving me a much needed break from all the stress, also gave me a kick in the seat. Trying on those clothes was the wake-up call I needed. I no longer could just rely on my gastric bypass surgery to keep the weight off. Within two weeks of being home from vacation, I had a gym membership. That first step into that gym transformed my relationship with food, it transformed my thoughts on exercise, and it, quite literally, transformed my life.

Follow my posts to see how I took off the re-gain, how I continue to lose the weight, and how I pushed myself beyond all my preconceptions about myself and exercise.

The Story of Us (Me and My Fat)-Part One by Lindsay Flye

Lindsay Flye tween birthday

I did not grow up thinking I was fat. I had a happy early childhood and don’t remember having any younger year issues with my size or how my size related to the world. I did, however, weigh more than other children in my age/height range. I am convinced, to this day, that I just have dense bones. ;>

My mother was overweight and struggled with her weight her whole life. When I was 11, in an effort to make sure I didn’t turn out just like her, she put me on a 600 calorie a day diet. I don’t remember all that I was able to eat, but I remember an abundance of nonfat yogurt, string cheese and deli turkey slices. I remember having to regulate myself, with her help, and track calories. I lost 15-ish pounds and my mom seemed happy so I guess I was happy, too. Right?

Wrong. I felt insecure and unsure of who I was and where I fit in with all the others who were more “normal” (aka more slim) than me. Entering the early stages of puberty, I felt like I wasn’t good enough just as I was. I had to slim down to fit in. And I was so so so hungry. In my mother’s attempt to not make me like her, she made me just like her… weight and food obsessed, low self-esteem and a deep sense that being heavy makes one unworthy of the best life has to offer. Bless her heart, she really did (and does) the best she can. Dieting by the age of 11 set up the foundation for a deprivation issue that I struggle with to this very day – when I don’t think there is going to be enough food for me, I panic. Deep, primal, pure panic. And if I get very hungry, I kind of flip out… deprivation mentality at its best.

The overarching message I heard from 11 onward was that when I lost some weight… when I was a smaller size… when I was a more “normal” weight … then I’d get the friends, the boyfriend, the social life I so desired. I was a social kid but didn’t have an abundance of friends (and certainly no boyfriends), and over time, I didn’t think I really deserved them. I took what I could get, putting me in a lot of strange and borderline abusive friendships, and eventually, relationships.

My junior year of high school I started dating “M”, two years my senior, who went to another high school and I was with him, off and on, for three years. It was a mess. I was a mess. While I’ll go into that relationship more in Part Two, it was my very first relationship (albeit, not my last) that could be classified as “love addiction.” I couldn’t let him go… and I was dieting constantly…. Even eating/drinking nothing more than breath mints to try to drop a few pounds. My self-esteem dropped lower and lower. And then high school was over and it was time for college (Stay tuned for Part Two)!

Lindsay Flye ImprovingWhen I look back on my life thus far, I think in terms of “what I weighed when”. When I was 11 I was 135 pounds and got down to 118. I started high school at probably 145 and I took my senior pictures at 175 and I graduated high school at 185. While college and beyond will be covered more in Part Two, I hope that I can think of my life, eventually, in terms of accomplishments, successes, adventures, love stories and beautiful moments. After all, it is all of these things, and more, that define who we are, not a number on a scale or a size on a tag. We are more than our weight; we are AMAZING!

Stay tuned to read The Story of Us (Me and My Fat) – Part Two – The Middle years (19-26)