Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Confessions of a Fat Dietitian

Since today is technically a day off (okay, so I did do some Pilates core work), I will not bore you with an account of today's run. Instead, I'm going to share with you something that I wrote, shortly after losing my 60 pounds. It's a bit long, but it essentially tells the story of how I got to where I am today (physically). Enjoy!

I’m not really sure how it happened… Call it complacency (I have a husband who adores me no matter what), call it being overwhelmed with life, call it lazy…. Any way you slice it though, I was grossly overweight and unwilling to change. The day I checked into the hospital to have Caroline, I weighed 232 pounds. Funny thing is that I thought I was doing good! I felt great (for a 9 month-pregnant woman) and had only gained 15 pounds, on bedrest even!! The “baby weight” came off easily. Nursing every 2 hours around the clock for 4 weeks will do that to a woman! I had wanted to get down to 200 pounds for my 6 week post partum check up. I think I was maybe 6 pounds away from that goal. I stayed in “mommy survival mode” way too long. You know, you do just enough to get by each day. In just over 2 years, we had 2 children and a major (and very stressful) move. I knew I was getting bigger and bigger. I just had no desire to change it. I was addicted to food. Food was my comfort, my strength, my relaxation. Each day I got ready to go to work I hoped the outfit I had chosen would miraculously camouflage the obese body I had hiding under it. I was clearly fooling no one. I struggled each day at work as I taught the pre-op classes for people getting ready to have gastric bypass surgery. Some of these patients had only slightly higher BMI’s than myself. It was embarrassing. I work in the acute care setting and each week at our team meeting the critical care doc would tell me not to “overfeed” my critically ill, obese, vent-dependent patients (they don’t require as much nutrient intake as other critically ill patients). Clearly he saw my love of food and eating. I assumed he just didn’t want me to pass that along to my poor, unsuspecting patients (which I never did, by the way). In May, we went on vacation with my parents. My Mom did Weight Watchers about 5 years ago and has stuck to it. My Mom and Dad ate great the whole vacation. Chris and I…not so much. It felt glutenous to eat so poorly in front of them. I looked completely hideous in a swimsuit. I was embarrassed to be seen on the beach. I was a disgrace and the pictures we took on that vacation prove it! A few weeks after returning home from vacation, we attended a class at church to prepare us for dedicating Braden and Caroline. The teacher struck a chord with me that night. “Parents are a child’s most valuable teacher and role model”, he said. What had I been teaching my children? Was it good, bad, just okay? Regardless, I didn’t like the image I was portraying. Someone who thought so poorly of herself that she was blatently disrespecting herself and God. God has given us one chance on this earth. Was I making the most of it? Was I setting a healthy example for my children? Did I want to have the guilt of long-term health effects of obesity robbing me of time on this earth with my children? The answer was a sobering “no”. It was shortly thereafter that I made the decision to change. I began preparing myself. I had never fought an addiction. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to do it. The day following Mother’s Day, I made the commitment to a better future. I started by just simply counting calories and watching portion sizes. On Wednesday, I admitted to my Mom that I was dieting. I was embarrassed that I needed help losing the weight. She offered to go to WW with me. She wanted to lose a few pounds before her upcoming cruise. Thursday night we went to the meeting. I was so ashamed. Here I was a Registered Dietitian, seeking help in an area that I was suppose to be an expert in! I felt like a complete failure professionally and personally. I weighed in at 215.5 pounds. I was over 60 pounds away from my “goal weight”. To make matters worse, the first person I see in the meeting class room is a social worker from my work. Great…now everyone knows I’m a failure. I went home that night and figured out how many points were in everything in our pantry. It was fun! Since I was still nursing Caroline full time, they allowed me extra points for nursing. I think I started with 32 or so points! Professionally I knew I should really only weigh myself once a week. By the second or third day of following the plan though, I was curious to see how I was doing. I gave in and weighed myself. Low and behold, I had lost some weight! It was just the motivation I needed to continue. I lost over 5 pounds the first week. I felt great! Great enough to even start exercising. I started out by walking Cooper. The poor dog hadn’t had a decent walk in 2 years! Chris had also decided to get on board with eating healthy and joined the rec center that week. We set up a work out schedule for the 2 of us. Chris got Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work out in the morning before work. I would get up on Tuesday and Thursday (my days off) and work out. After just one week of doing this, I felt even better…and knew it would help me to lose the weight even more quickly. I remember a coworker telling me that there was an exercise TV on demand channel. No excuses there. It was ready, whenever I was ready. No loading the kids up in the car to go to the gym, no changing nap schedules so I could attend a class, no extra money out of my pocket. I could do it at my discretion! I then started doing one of those videos on the mornings that Chris was at the gym. I even found Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred video. I had heard great things about this video and was excited to try it! I was now working out 5 times a week and the weight was coming off very easily. By the end of the first month of doing WW, I had lost a total of 17.8 pounds. As a reward, I got my hair cut and highlighted. I felt fantastic!! People had just started to notice I was losing weight. I knew I was going to have to step it up a bit though, if I wanted to continue at this rate. I added a long (and hard) Saturday morning work out to my week. I also started taking Cooper on a long walk on Sunday evenings. I was now working out 7 days a week. I was addicted! I could count on one hand the number of days that I hadn’t worked out, in 6 weeks. We walked all over Oakwood. We started out on the quaint east side and then ventured down to the northern end near the University of Dayton campus. It was hilly and more challenging than our previous routes. More time efficient! Eventually we began to explore the beautiful west side, through the hilly and lush terrain of the city’s most amazing mansions, down cobble stone streets, past old Hawthorne Hill and into a tranquil sanctuary in my mind. Not only did I enjoy the physical benefits of getting out and walking, but it was my “me” time. I loaded up my iPod with Kanye (amongst others) and began to believe “that, that don’t kill me, will only make me stronger”. By the end of the second month, I had lost a total of 29.2 pounds. People could really see a difference now, and it was all I thought about. My clothes hung off of me. My butt was virtually gone! I refused to give in and buy new clothes, yet. I was on a mission to reach my goal! It was getting tougher and tougher though. I was hungry… a lot! I had begun weaning Caroline at this point, so I had to also wean my extra nursing points. I was determined though. I started to run short distances of my usual walk. I have always loathed running, but I knew it was the most time efficient way to burn calories. Getting up early to work out was getting exhausting, but I loved knowing for the rest of the day, that my work out was done. By 3 months, I had lost 35.8 pounds. I was now able to fit into a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn since my junior year of college. The weight loss had definitely slowed though and I began to get discouraged. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything differently? My family tried to encourage me. It’s not normal to lose that much weight in only 3 months. In all honesty, I had thought it would take a full year to lose all my weight. But after a successful first 2 months, I was greedy. I wanted the weight gone, and I wanted it gone ASAP! I reigned in my “careless” eating. I stopped stealing a fry here, or a goldfish there. I needed to get back on track. Chris had made me a nice work out area in the basement a while back, but there was no cable access. I started renting exercise DVDs from the library. While I did find some videos that were really good, I thought the key to my initial success may have been due to Jillian Michael’s intense work out routines. I broke down and bought my own copy of 30 Day Shred. I also bought myself a new pair of jeans…a pair of Seven brand, size 10 boot cut jeans. Now, they fit really snug, but at least I could get them buttoned and my thighs actually fit into something boot cut for once! I had another incentive to continue with my weight loss. I set a new goal of Thanksgiving for reaching my goal weight. Everyone at work by this point had clearly noticed my weight loss. They wanted to know my secret. I was ashamed to tell them I was doing WW. I attributed it all to my basement (and walk/run) workouts! It was embarrassing to tell people how much weight I had lost. A dietitian shouldn’t ever weigh that much, I thought. At 175 pounds, I was finally below 130% of my ideal body weight. Significant to dietitians only, in that above that percentage, you have to use an adjusted body weight to calculate nutrient needs. ALL of my body tissues were utilizing nutrients at the same rate. I began to feel not-so-huge, but still a long way from being considered “thin”. Chris was amazed at my body transformation. He couldn’t keep his hands off of me! I began to wonder just how fit I could make myself. Could I have a six pack? Could I get rid of my love handles completely? Could I wear a sleeveless shirt with complete confidence? Would I be able to wear a bikini next summer? I continued with my 7 day a week workout routine. Along my journey I had thought multiple times about quitting going to the WW weigh ins. Did I need that accountability anymore? Time didn’t allow me to actually stay for the meetings, so I was essentially spending $12 a week for someone to weigh me. I wanted to see it through, though. I wanted to become a “lifetime member”. 155 pounds was ingrained in my mind. By 4 months, I had lost a total of 45 pounds.

In an effort to step up the weight loss, I starting running more. I still hated running, but I needed an activity that burned a lot of calories! Within a few weeks, I could easily run a mile. It became an obsession for me. Could I actually be a runner? It was then that I decided to start training for what I thought was a Thanksgiving Day 5K. Come to find out, it’s actually 5 MILES. I had 2 months to train for it, and I knew I could do it. My workout schedule became: Monday – 30 DS level 3, Tuesday – Run, Wednesday - 30 DS level 2, Thursday – Run, Friday – 30 DS level 1 (with heavier weights), Saturday – weight train/run. Sunday, I decided I just had to rest. I was starting to get burned out. I needed a break. The guilt I felt (and still do feel) on Sundays was horrible. I’m guessing because of all the cardio and weight training that I had been doing for the past 4 months, running came easily to me. I felt so strong and powerful. This was definitely a new feeling for me! By 5 months into my weight loss journey, I could run 5 miles and I had lost a total of 53 pounds. I was 7 pounds away from my goal…and Thanksgiving was only 5 weeks away. Getting up early in the mornings to run was cold and dreadful some days, but I had a goal to meet! On the bright side, I was enjoying buying new clothes. The size 10 jeans fit perfectly now and I was even buying size 8’s in dress pants. I never, ever thought I’d see the day! I loved it! I kept plugging away and with Thanksgiving one week away (and 6 months into my journey), I hit 154.5 pounds. I don’t know what I thought would happen when I hit that “magic number”, but the truth is that I felt no different at 159 pounds vs 155 pounds. It was just a number. I felt fantastic and healthy. I was running 5.5 miles, 3 days a week now (and weight training the other 3 days). The Turkey Trot was just around the corner. I was afraid that that too would end up being anti-climatic. Had I built it up too much?

In any case it all has been a major accomplishment for myself! My very generous Mom, “rewarded” me with a shopping spree….$1000 to buy new clothes. I was ecstatic! I could finally have decent clothes that looked nice on me! I can also finally hold my head high as a dietitian! I know my weight battle will be with me the rest of my life. I know it will always be something I’ll have to work at. Being healthy isn’t such a bad habit to have though…is it?

1 comment:

Marlene said...

Congratulations! What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing your journey.