In February 2010 I had what I call my “come to Jesus” moment with the scale. It was the middle of the night, my mother was visiting, and after brushing my teeth, I decided it was the perfect time to step on the scale. Now “perfect” is an interesting word because while that late night decision first led to a little emotional breakdown, it then led to joining a gym, attempting a 5K run, and seven years later I am a week away from my 10th marathon.
The late night scale revealed I weighed 250 pounds. Because it was midnight, I kept repeating over and over that 250 was a quarter of a ton. I couldn’t weigh a quarter of a ton. And I couldn’t let myself get any closer to an actual ton. I had started gaining weight in elementary school due to lots of factors and kept gaining weight through lots more reasons. I can, and sometimes do, blame others for not noticing or calling out my destructive behavior. But most of the time I realize how many opportunities I had to make a change. Skip ice cream in the cafeteria. Take a more physical PE class than dance movement. Actually run the mile rather than volunteer to take attendance. Lots of opportunities.
And I had attempted a few times to change my fate. I’d visited my college gym. I’d attempted a crash diet or two. I’d given up chocolate for Lent…well, for the first few days of Lent. Lots of attempts that fell apart within two weeks and landed me back on the couch with remote in hand.
I try to be honest about my journey because maybe it connects with someone else’s and offers encouragement for whatever steps you have coming next.
Over the course of about two years I lost 75 pounds and prepared for my first marathon. My entire wardrobe changed. I even had to buy new rings. I still remember complaining to my mother that I had never thought my fingers were fat. And if they were, why couldn’t the weight leave my stomach first and not my pinky finger. Priorities body!
By summer 2013 I was 175 pounds and fully clothed in outfits from the more regular clothing sections of the store. I had been obese for my entire adult life, so getting to explore this larger section of the store was practically overwhelming. The plus size section at Macy’s, for those who don’t know, is often a sea of floral patterns, low-cut tops (seriously?!?), and for some bizarre reason sailor style clothing. Not instead of a corner that you would walk through in five minutes, I had half a store to explore. And much like Ikea, I had to come back a second time before I was ready to actually buy anything. In summer 2013, I was on the right path for my training, my weight, and my fashion options.
Then I became a doctoral student.
With less time to exercise and a biological need for more caffeine to survive, I slowly put some of the hard lost weight back on. I drifted back up to 200 pounds and kept my eyes tightly shut in denial about the tight clothes and slower running times. I was still going to the gym six days a week, but avoiding the harder exercises in favor of the stationary bike or other options that allowed for reading. I was still training for races, but less hours because of that paper that was always due. And the manic crazy that was my full-time job filled in every part of my heart, head, and calendar that I’d allow.
I was physically and emotionally falling apart. Slowly but surely.
It was time to stop the bleeding. Time to make some big changes to help me shift from doctoral student to graduate. From advisor to leader. From runner to marathoner.
Part of that change was leaving a job that I had been in for 10 years. I had learned so much and changed so much in that time. I truly loved, and still love, my students and my co-workers from that time. I prayed for months about what I should do as I saw no clear doors or windows. Finally the answer was simple yet so freaking hard: “Do you trust God enough to quit without a next step?” It took me another few weeks before I answered yes to that question and put in my two-weeks notice.
I focused my time on dissertation research, some life recovery needs, and on getting physically back to where I want and need to be. I created to do lists to help focus my research process, and a goal list for my exercise. Inside my phone is a list with goals and rewards:
“Stop the bleeding”
If I can achieve and maintain a weight below this number for three weeks (to prove its not a fluke), then I get to buy a prize:
- 185 – Waitress on iTunes
- 183 – Tapestry by Carole King
- 181 – Salty Kisses by Robin Jones Gunn
- 179 – new pillows
- 177 – Hamilton soundtrack
- 175 – light alarm clock
- Overall Goals – 175 or less by July 1, 2017; pride in my Eugene Marathon experience; retrieve clothes from “too tight” closet
Three months into this #Next, I work part-time at my church, have completed most of the interviews for my dissertation, sleep soundly and calmly at night, and have achieved the first two phases of my exercise plan.
That’s why I share the picture of the scale with this post. Yes, its to admit to the pathetic-ness of my toenails, but its also to share this chapter of the journey. Its a recovery chapter with lots of reflection, gratitude, and collaboration with real friends.