Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ashlie gets fit

This post is about struggles with weight and disordered eating, and may contain triggers for people who also struggle with these issues.  I talk about goals based around specific numbers and time frames, and all of these goals have been set for me with a TEAM of doctors who are focused on the health of my organs and not the size of my pants.  The real focus here is the nitty gritty of approaching health, whatever that means for you.

"Please- if you have not had your mammogram- do not call getting a pedicure “taking care of yourself.” Love is not that easy. Love is not an escape from reality- it’s facing reality." -Tish from Momastery

I spent this April Vacation getting real, and it felt weird.  It started with an appointment to see my midwife about a month ago.  I hadn't been to any kind of doctor since Elliott had been born, and I don't really chastise myself for that, not too much.  Things were too crazy, for a little while.  But a little while was over, and they wanted me to have blood work done.  I went, annoyed to waste a morning getting poked and prodded, and went about my week.  And then I got a call that my resting blood sugar had come back high.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"It looks like your gestational diabetes might not have gone away."

The nurse was cut and dry, and my stomach dropped.  That's bad.  That's the cornerstone of gestational diabetes, that it goes away when the baby is born.  I knew that my wake up call was coming, that this was more than postpartum.  If my blood sugar was still high a full year later, something needed to be done.  I mourned for old, ignorant me, who had no idea what blood sugar numbers were good or bad, felt sorry myself, and then made an appointment with my primary care provider.

While I waited, I did some research online (I am beyond good at internet researching as a form of avoidance) and talked to a lot of friends and family.  To be honest, I found talking to friends and family VERY HARD.  You know I'm not a private person, but discussing weight problems with people who love you- especially when you're sensitive to criticism- is a minefield of discomfort, burning red cheeks, and people falling all over themselves to say, "Well, you DID just have two babies" (I was overweight before my first pregnancy) or "You look fine to me!" (I like a lot of things about how I look, but now the doctor is telling me that body isn't able to function properly, so this is real).  No one wants to talk about fat as a health problem when its about someone they love, and I understand that. It's uncomfortable.

I felt nervous because I am a smart, smart lady. I have lost significant amounts of weight before.  I know about Weight Watchers, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, exercise, running apps, portion control, walking with my kids outside, low carb, no carb, clean eating, and "trying not to reach for juices or soda."  I've dabbled in every weight loss THING I'm aware of, any it's been many years since anything stuck for me.  I'm beginning to realize that my actual weight problem is not grossness or laziness, but the fact that I am an emotional eater, and when you're eating for emotional reasons, all your valuable health knowledge isn't going to rationalize away a binge.  And when you're already an emotional mess and you wreck your diet on a binge, it's even harder to get back on track.  Because you're sitting there hating yourself.  Which makes you get all emotional again. 

I've been overweight for many years, but I've never admitted to myself that I am an emotional eater or that I have problems with binging until about a month ago.  I been listening to a podcast called Half Size Me, which is all about weight loss and maintenance.  I started listening for some motivation to stick to calorie counting, but it's giving me complete power to get myself healthy once and for always.  Many of the guests have lost between 75-150 pounds, and they all refer to their progress as "their journey."  And all of them, even the ones who are at goal weight, discuss their struggles with binge eating, and how the psychology behind diets makes binging almost impossible to avoid.  So many of the journeys start with the typical approach to weight loss: restricting calories, cardio at the gym.  Then, at a certain point, most of the stories shift to a place where the women realize that what they're doing to lose weight isn't sustainable, and they face the fact that when they stop their program or diet, all the weight will come back.  This is combated by strength training to boost metabolism, learning about nutrition and eating with the goal to fuel your body, setting scale and non-scale goals, and crafting a healthy lifestyle.

Hearing people talk openly about failing on their diets was revolutionary for me.  It's not the way weight loss is described at Weight Watchers (which, honestly, was a tool that TONS of people used successfully in their journey on the Half Size Me podcast) or in before and after articles.  I also gathered practical tips for accepting binges when they happen and moving on without letting it completely derail you.  These are the parts of weight loss that I haven't been able to highlight or connect in my lifelong struggle to lose weight.  And one of the changes I need to make is to reframe that struggle.  This is not my struggle to lose weight.  This is my quest to get healthy.

In the short term, losing weight is part of what I need to be healthy.  After she saw my weight, blood pressure, lab results, and listened to me ramble at her for twenty minutes, my primary care physician had a very frank talk with me, which was brutal and I deeply appreciated.  She told me I needed to lose some weight.  She suggested seeing a therapist to discuss issues behind emotional eating and strategies for managing that, a nutritionist to evaluate my eating, and a program like Weight Watchers retrain myself on portion control and lifestyle change.  She said I needed to work up to 30-60 minutes of exercise- sweaty, elevated heart rate exercise- and to do that daily.  She told me that, if I didn't make these changes, I face hypertension and prediabetes, sooner rather than later.  We set an appointment date 4 months in the future, and she wants me to lose ten pounds by then.  I'm shooting for ten percent of my body weight: 21 pounds.  Yes, if you do math, I just published my weight on the internet.  It's time for real talk.

I've spent a little over a month taking in the reality of this situation, and I'm feel motivated (obviously) and scared.  I'm scared because I really don't want this to be another chapter of my life where I start something with great intentions and let it slide.  I don't want it to be another experience where I lose a ton of weight, look and feel great, and then let depression or a life change wipe out all my good work.  I want this to be permanent, and for it to last, I need to go slowly and deliberately.  I'm never going to get away from my metabolism or my predisposition to certain weight-related diseases, but I have a feeling that I'll have more luck tackling them at 28 then if I wait.

Right now I am on myfitnesspal under the name ashlieelizabeth, and using Map my Walk and Couch 2 5K apps to keep track of walking or interval jogging, depending on the day.  I've been keeping a food and exercise journal for two weeks.  I've been seeing a therapist and am meeting with a nutritionist today.  I have lost two pounds.  I am feeling strong.  But I'm not celebrating yet.  I've been at this point before, and I'm getting close to the time where I let something derail me.  I'm sharing this for accountability, and to keep track for myself, and in case there is anyone else who might feel inspired reading it.  I'm hoping to revisit the subject of my progress and share resources and information as they come to me.  I'm willing to do anything to make it stick this time.

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At May 7, 2014 at 9:46 AM , Blogger Becky Goerend said...

Thank you for being so transparent with this. I'm rooting you on.

At May 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

You're such a great cheerleader. Thank you :)

At May 7, 2014 at 2:24 PM , Blogger Momof3 said...

You can do it! This is something just for you. I hope you grow to love the time working it all out! I too have had a similar experience. Make sure to listen to your favorite music, look up and around during your walks/runs and treat yourself to several smiles and some time alone to take a few deep breaths and so something for just you! I hope this begins to feel like a special treat just for you :-)

At May 7, 2014 at 9:57 PM , Blogger Sue Peters said...

Ash....thanks for your honesty and inspiration. I can totally relate. I just finished a hypnosis course to "get healthy" Here is the link to a file I purchased...hope you can download it...let me know. I find the hardest thing is to find the time to work out, meal plan, grocery shop, cook healthy, listen to my hypnosis file ( which by the way is very beneficial for stress also). I can't imagine having two todlers on top of that and all the lesson planning , meetings...etc. that you have to fit in your day. Kuddos to you!!!

At May 8, 2014 at 8:17 AM , Blogger Meg said...

Ashlie, you are wonderful. you are beautiful. you are strong. This post was so honest and lovely. Good luck on your quest to health! I can TOTALLY relate and this year, on my 29 list, #29 is to achieve my version of a perfect body. If you ever need or want a walking buddy, a gym buddy or someone to grab a healthy meal and catch up with, I'm here! :)

At May 12, 2014 at 5:33 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

There are definitely days where it feels like a chore and other days where it's something I look forward to. Thank you so much!

At May 12, 2014 at 5:34 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

Thank you so much, Sue. I find the hypnosis thing so interesting- how do you like? I could certainly use a little stress relief, too. Thank you again <3

At May 12, 2014 at 5:38 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

<3 Thank you, my beautiful friend! I am going to take you up on the walking buddy offer. I love your goals, and I miss you.

At May 12, 2014 at 8:56 AM , Blogger Meg said...

I miss you too & I look forward to some walks with you :)

At May 17, 2014 at 8:57 PM , Blogger Kate said...

I saw myself reflected in this post... the struggles. I have insulin resistance and it IS a struggle. The medicine makes me SICK but when I actually take it it works. It works SO WELL...but chains me to the bathroom...which is a known side effect.

I find that I do so well tracking and prepping for days and then I get bored or sad or stressed and I have myself a (little or a big) binge and feel terrible about it and "since I already ruined my day's eating" it just goes downhill from there.

I am trying to lose 29 more pounds by the end of August. I've lost 17 by really actually trying, but I haven't been really actually trying for the past 2 weeks...

Good luck. I'll keep giving you a thumbs up on MFP. :o)

At May 25, 2014 at 4:38 PM , Blogger ashlie said...

<3 <3 <3 The thumbs up help me almost more than I'm willing to admit. Thanks for inspiring me to get back to tracking.


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