Getting Healthy Five Years Ago

My bathroom scale kicked the bucket last week, and I’m a little sad to see it go. Buying that scale five years ago was a big deal — I was terrified to buy it and see the number staring back at me. Replacing my faithful scale got me thinking about my life five years ago and the changes I’ve made.

Here’s my weight loss and “getting healthy” story.

I should preface this by saying that according to my BMI, I wasn’t technically overweight or obese. My doctor never lectured me to lose weight and I was never teased for being overweight, but I was unhappy with how I looked and felt.

The early days…

As a high schooler, I never gave my weight much thought. It fluctuated quite a bit; I was really fit during gymnastics season (hello, six-pack) and softer during the off-season. I didn’t care about the weight fluctuation and actually preferred being less fit (I was a late bloomer and felt like a boy when I had a six-pack).

Growing up, I was completely unaware of weight issues/counting calories. My mom and sister are blessed with amazing metabolisms and can eat whatever they want without gaining weight. I was an athlete and went through puberty late, so I could also eat whatever I wanted. No one was ever on a diet in my family, and no one ever complained about “feeling fat.” We all ate relatively healthy, but we didn’t stress about calories. Ahh those were the days.

The college days…

I went to college, and my weight fluctuated give or take 10 pounds. Even though I was heavier than I was in high school, I was thankful to have some curves and not look like a boy. I felt confident about my body and was still blissfully unaware of calorie counting/diets.

Without trying, I lost 10-15 pounds and started working out at the end of my junior year, and I accidentally struck the perfect balance between having curves and being fit. Promptly after unintentionally achieving my goal weight, I broke up with my boyfriend and gained 20 pounds in one summer. Yes, in one summer. Keep in mind I’m only 5’3″ and have a pretty small frame/narrow hips.

By the end of the summer, I was embarrassed and disgusted at what I had done to my body. For the first time in my entire life, I felt fat and didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t understand how to diet and lose weight, so I did lots of stupid things in an attempt to shed unwanted pounds.

I tried the Atkins diet and diet pills, and I experimented with throwing up after meals (it only took me a couple of days before I realized how stupid and gross this was). Before our spring break trip to Miami, we went on a “starve yourself” diet. This, of course, didn’t last either.

In hindsight, this all sounds stupid — it was unhealthy and I didn’t lose a single pound. The only positive part of senior year is that I consistently exercised. I started doing yoga, ran a little, went to the gym, and ran a half marathon right before graduation.

College Graduation – June 2007

Hitting my rock bottom…

After college, I spent three months in Europe. Lots of Nutella + Guinness = a few more pounds to my gut.

Beer is not good for your waistline…

Hot dogs + beer = REALLY bad for your waistline…

I finally hit my rock bottom in December 2007 after seeing pictures from a night out. I thought I looked pretty cute that evening, but when I saw pictures, all I saw was my double chin. I finally decided to do something about it, and I was going to do it the right way. No fad diets, no crash dieting.

I bought my scale and realized I needed to lose 25 pounds to reach my goal weight. It seemed like a pretty tall order, but I was determined to do it. Unlike my attempts to lose weight in college, I took a slow and steady approach, and I made it my goal to lose five pounds a month. Acknowledging that I probably wouldn’t hit my goal every month, I vowed to not freak out if I only lost three pounds instead of five. I celebrated every milestone and was happy to see my body changing.

It took almost an entire year to lose 25 pounds. How did I do it?  I exercised regularly (mostly at the gym, but I did run a little), and I watched everything I ate. In the beginning, I tried to limit my calories to 1,200, but once I lost 10 pounds, I was a little more relaxed with my calorie intake. I became an obsessive calorie counter, and this is something I still do today and probably always will.

As cheesy as it sounds, that scale represents a turning point in my life, when I decided to no longer settle for being less than my personal best. If it weren’t for that decision, I probably wouldn’t be running marathons today, and I wouldn’t know how awesome it feels to cross finish lines, push through walls, and be an athlete once again.

So, RIP scale. I hated you at first, but you’ve helped me a lot over the last five years!

Much better! NYE 2011

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2 thoughts on “Getting Healthy Five Years Ago

  1. Not many people would have such a close attachment to their scale—just goes to prove the depth of your character!!!:)

  2. It is important to recognize the turning points in our life. Remember them. Celebrate them as the milestones and millstones that they were, are, and will be. So often we sail right by the important moments without appreciating how our decisions or indecisions affect who we will become, who we will NOT become. I applaud you in sharing this turning point in your life. It takes courage to reveal the essence of who you are. What other turning points have shaped your life? I think you are making your way through quite a few major turning points right now. The house. The engagement. The lure of Boston flickering like a distant lighthouse. How lucky we are to be living this adventure. How empowering to be “an athlete once again.” Thank you for negotiating a few of these turning points with me; and thank you for inspiring me to respectfully pay attention to the turning points I have been avoiding. Your courage emboldens me. As Yogi Berra once said:

    “When you come to the fork in the road–take it!”

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