Last year I struggled with my weight and by struggled I mean I was struggling to watch myself get fatter by eating whatever I wanted. This wasn’t the first time I’ve struggled with my weight. As I’ve mentioned before, menopause had completely drained me of any emotional reasoning and left me almost hostage in my own body.
My anxiety was at levels I had never experienced before, leaving me to be afraid of almost everything that my mind could conjure up.
I was pretty much scarred by last winter after witnessing my mental health implode and I didn’t want to witness it again. Nor did I want my family to witness it again, particularly Ella who had a front-row seat as she was with me the most of anyone in my family. I needed to be a better version of myself for not only her but also for me.
Years ago, I received a free membership to Weight Watchers and in turn, I was to write about my experience. Within the course of six months, I ended up losing 25 pounds and I felt unsinkable. I was working out five days a week at a gym because Ellie was in kindergarten most days and I all of a sudden had extra free time to do so. It was also the spring I was doing the stage show Listen to Your Mother and I had the motivation to lose weight because nothing motivates me more than standing on a stage in front of 500 people, apparently.
Then my menopause started taking me downhill from there. Medications for migraines, intermittent vertigo, anxiety and the like, made me gain weight, then lose it, then gain it back again over and over. I was losing estrogen by the gallons (yes, I know that’s not how it works) and with every hot flash, I was putting on more and more weight.
I don’t know about you but when I get sad, mad, headachy, or anxious, I eat. Food filled the void when sanity left a big gaping hole. So food is what I sought solace in over a five year period while I watched my body betray the fuck out of me. No matter the diet, no matter the exercise, I wasn’t able to lose, only gain and with each step on the scale, I would fill that angry, sad void with food.
This past Christmas break, I decided that I needed an intervention.
Except, I was the only one who could intervene.
In December, I was only five pounds shy of my weight on the day I delivered Ella, 190 pounds. For my five foot five frame, I looked like an actual potato.
A red potato because hot flashes.
I had listened to a doctor for a couple of years who told me that I needed to do low carb for my blood and I believed her out of fear. My anxiety was telling me to betray what I inherently knew and listen to this well-meaning doctor. A high-fat low carb diet would help me lose weight and not die because I was afraid after meeting with the doctor of losing my life. For a two year period under her care, I felt as though if I ate bread or sugar or carbohydrates in any quantity, that I would die.
I am not even kidding.
I followed her instructions and lost 10 pounds within a month just doing low-carb alone, with moderate exercise. Then I hit a plateau, as you do with low carb but instead of riding it out, I went off of it completely and in the process, dove into a high carb high-calorie spiral of which my body is still trying to recover. I was trying on a pair of leggings one day last December and realized a size large didn’t fit me and I would have to make the jump to XL and that simple fact made me sob loudly in a poorly lit fitting room.
I decided that I needed to try Weight Watchers again but I was not paying for it like I did last winter. Long story short- I paid them so I could gain weight at no fault of Weight Watchers. After a Google search, I found the iTrack Bites app on my phone and immediately downloaded* uploaded* it.
*I don’t know how to use those two words, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.
I also decided that I was going to try intermittent fasting again only eating from 11 in the morning until 7 at night but this time I was doing it seven days a week, not just intermittently, (no pun intended) like I had done in the past.
But the real reason I am writing this post is that I began running the first week in January of this year. I have written about my past experience training for a 5k and how I fucking hated running.
Why would I do it to myself again? I am close to 50 years old! My knees! MY KNEES. But I wanted to try it again for several reasons. Regular exercise routines weren’t working. I would follow plans to the tee with little or no results. And I remembered how good I looked back when I was training for a 5K in 2012.
But the biggest reason was that I
wanted needed to conquer my crippling fear.
Last winter, as part of the “winter o’ terror” tour that was going on in my brain, I had a constant fear of having a heart attack because of an appointment with the aforementioned well-meaning doctor last January. I happened to mention having had heartburn a few nights prior to the visit to which she wanted to do an in-office EKG to be safe. The EKG turned out abnormal and it was decided I needed to have a whole heart workup or some shit to make sure I was good. because woman + heart shit + menopause = catastrophe.
But they couldn’t get me into that appointment for three solid weeks.
Well in those three long-ass weeks, I freaked out. Worrying every single moment that I was one heart episode away from dying. Walking on the treadmill, let alone running on one wasn’t even an option as I was frozen with fear daily. Long story short, it was concluded after several very expensive tests that we are still paying for, I have abnormal EKG’s.
That’s my thing, my jam if you will.
So this winter, I needed to prove to my brain that my heart is okay even though common sense told me that of course I am okay but my anxious brain was all, HELLZ NO MOTHAFUCKAH.
I was on a mission.
Or at the very least, The Blues Brothers.
I added the Couch to 5K app to my phone one crappy January day and began the slow journey to mental peace.
I mean, I was totally petrified of dropping dead with every single gasp but with every run, I was also telling my body who was in charge.
Shouting to my brain that I’ve got it from here, you asshole betrayer, you.
Over the past nine weeks, I have been silently battling inner demons for 30 minutes a day, every other day, three days per week.
In fact, this post was born while thinking about random shit on many of those runs, which is how I am not freaking the crap out and powering through.
One day I thought to myself man, I should create a shirt for a 5k with the words Run Ferris Run on it.
A play on this:
Meshing my love of John Hughes, film, plays on words. and well, running.
I mean, I really don’t love running completely yet, but I do love what it is helping me to accomplish. I want to french kiss it for most likely being the reason I am handling winter so much better this year or the reason I am now down 15 pounds (and counting).
I am alternating my runs to every other day and taking the weekends off so as not to overwork my 49-year-old knees. At my most, I have run 20 minutes straight without stopping which is insane for the girl who used to think she had asthma, who was paralyzed in fear that her heart would just stop, who could barely run for five minutes straight at the age of 42.
Almost eight years younger than I am as I write this.
I am on week nine of Couch to 5K so far but the quarantine has put a damper on it a bit. I am still running every other day but not for 20 minutes straight because the winds have been kind of knocked out of my emotional sails right now. But I am running and that is all that matters.
I do think all of the above are helping me power through and make me think I can conquer the world a tiny bit.
I am also proof that anyone can do this for themselves. If you are consumed by your anxiety or hate the way you look in the mirror (which is normal and okay to feel that way), if you don’t feel good on the inside and don’t know where to start, I am here to tell you that it’s okay to feel those feelings and want to sit with those feelings.
But don’t you ever think that you can’t feel like the best version of yourself because you don’t have the funds or you don’t have a treadmill or can’t afford a trainer or a gym membership or organic food or you work draining jobs and long hours and don’t have the time.
Because you can. I was you and I was in that place for a long ass time.
And for those who suffer from anxiety or health anxiety, you CAN do this despite what your fucking brain is telling you.
I am giving myself and my brain peace.
Controlling my little corner of the world in a very uncontrollable time.
One run at a time.