Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weighty Ambitions

An ounce can make a world of difference.  When we have children, we memorize birth weight down to the ounce (my son came into this world at a whopping 5 lbs 2.8 oz -- when we brought him home from the hospital he was a mere 4 lbs 11 oz).  These numbers are ingrained into our memories forever.
When I was first diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in the fall of 2008, I had just experienced a period of weight gain, due to a birth control pill that was not suited to treat PCOS, followed by an even more rapid weight gain due to the cessation of oral contraceptives all together (we were trying to conceive).  PCOS, I soon learned, causes exorbitant amounts of excess poundage, mule-like weight retention, out of control hormones, infertility, and many other unpleasantness that seem all together unfair.  I was shocked to learn that day that I weighed exactly 200 lbs (I don't normally disclose my weight, but I want this journey to be an honest one.  Also, I have learned that my weight doesn't define who I am, so I shouldn't care whether or not you know my exact poundage).  I hadn't had a scale at my house for eons (believing it was unhealthy for me to have one).  200 lbs... I was sick to my stomach.  The doctor sent me on my merry way after telling me I had to lose 50 lbs before I could even think about getting pregnant, and gave me the instructions to try some whey protein shakes and take diabetes medicine.  Awesome.  Thanks doc.
I tried my hardest to lose the weight, finding it impossible, referred myself to a specialist (who determined that I did not need the diabetes meds) and was, thankfully, blessed with a pregnancy.  I will shamefully admit that my pregnancy was a lazy-fest, and a food free-for-all.  I ate ice cream daily (twisting my husband's arm to join me in these indulgences), slept too much, and was the absolute polar opposite of active.  I'm not proud of it.  The day I delivered my beautiful baby boy, I weighed 257 lbs.  Two hundred fifty-seven pounds.  I was too exhausted and happy and scared to care much about my body at that point.  But looking back, I never should have allowed that to happen.  Apparently when my OB said that I should gain only around 25 lbs during gestation, I heard "eat anything and everything you want".
I will admit that the first 40 lbs came off fairly easily.  Taking a birth control pill that helps treat PCOS (along with a hormone implant in my hip every 12 weeks) helped tremendously.  I have gone through several seasons in the last twenty months of being motivated to stay healthy, to living off of french fries and ice cream.  But if you've noticed, I have been incredibly motivated as of late.  After a very long period of hovering around 213 lbs and only briefly being able to get below 209 lbs, I had had enough.  I decided, once and for all, that I was no longer going to be fat and unhealthy and consistently tired.  I had to make the choice to quit traveling down the same pitiful road to nowhere that I had been on for far too long.  I made the choice to make some changes, to get healthy.  I decided to cut down on my portions, make healthy food choices, add in more healthy proteins, keep a food journal, and exercise at least 5 days a week.
The first few weeks, I was so hungry.  All the time.  But I was able to stick with my plan with a lot of help and encouragement from my friends and family.  When I wanted to give up, they kept me going.  Thank goodness one of my best friends is a fitness and health professional.  She helped set me straight on a few food myths I believed to be true.  I had always thought it was best to stop eating after 7:00pm, but she taught me the importance of eating protein before bed (so that your body continues to burn calories, stays anabolic, and will not feed on your muscles for energy) -- my usual choice is skim milk with protein powder or a small spoon full of natural peanut butter.  I am also following my doctor's advice to make sure I eat a good lean protein (a hard boiled egg, skim milk with protein powder, whole grain toast with natural peanut butter, or Special K cereal with protein powder) within an hour of waking.  I am not going to divulge all of my food choices for a few reasons.  I don't know what your specific needs are, and I am not a health professional, so I am not in a position to recommend a healthy-eating plan for you.  What I do know is that you don't need some stupid gimmicky diet (17 Day, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, etc) to lose weight.  Yes they will work for a while, but they aren't maintainable, the results aren't lasting, and if the quicker you lose, the faster you gain.
When I started this health plan, I had a long-term goal in mind (I would eventually like to be 150-160 lbs).  But I didn't focus on that.  Instead, I chose to focus on shorter, more maintainable goals.  My first goal?  To weigh less than 200 lbs.  That is all I wanted... to step on the scale at the gym (I still don't have a scale at home) and have that number start with a 1.  I didn't even care if it was 199.9... just as long as it didn't begin with a 2.  I have been lifting, yoga-ing, eating healthy, and food journaling consistently for a little over a month.  Last week I weighed 200.0 lbs, one lousy (yet incredibly important) ounce away from my goal.
This morning, I walked into the gym knowing it was weigh-in day.  I was a little nervous (we had, after all, been out of town over the weekend and in situations where I had little to no control over my food choices).  I dropped off my son at the gym's daycare, found the scale, took a deep breath, and stepped on.  The numbers jumped around, back and forth (annoying, like they do on The Biggest Loser), low and high, until finally they stopped.  199.0!  I wasn't certain whether to cry or scream, so instead I took a picture with my phone.  I'm not sure if the picture was more for proof for myself, or to share my success with the people who have been instrumental in this journey (who sent me back amazing messages of praise and encouragement... I have fabulous people in my life).  I feel amazing and thankful and blessed to have finally been able to achieve something that has been seemingly impossible for so long.  I know that I still have a long way to go before I am healthy.  But I have hit a very big milestone.  This is the proof I needed to know for sure that this health journey really is possible.

Be healthy.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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