Friday, February 4, 2011

for the weight of us

I’ve read some interesting blogs lately about weight and weight loss and perception.  I don’t talk about my weight or weight loss, really, because it’s not my focus, not when there are puppies to take pictures of all over my house.  But what is?
When I started this blog, it was about running.  About 6 posts in, I got injured (of course), so it became about running as related to injury and then gradually became about the cross-training I was doing as related to injury and then morphed into triathlon training because that’s really what I was doing all along.  Now, I’ve been injured a few times before, and each time, instead of fighting through it with cross-training, I’ve ended up giving up and sitting on my couch for months eating cheetos and complaining, which I talked about here.  I believe that the reason I didn’t give up this time had a lot to do with this blog, and the community of runners and triathletes that I found myself sitting in the middle of once I looked around.  The motivation and support that I had, coming at me from all sides, led me to do tons of things I might not ever have done, like buy a bike, cook tofu, do a sprint triathlon, ride a century, and then later on, make the decision to and then have the surgery that I needed.  And I realized that this support was a unique experience this time around, and then realized that not everyone has that same kind of support and motivation.  So I am lucky.
But through all of this, I’ve never really talked about my weight.  I read a lot of blogs.  I read the blog of every single person that follows mine, and then I read about 70 more that don’t.  They cover a wide variety of topics, like running, triathlon training, cooking, eating, weight loss, cycling, etc.  And they all serve a very good purpose, both to the writer, I am sure, and the audience.  I read a post last week, which kicked off this line of thinking: she talks about how people say that losing weight won’t make you happy, and calls bullshit on it.  It kicked off a hurricane of hateful comments, as I’m sure you can imagine.  But I agree with it, I call bullshit as well.  And I feel like I’m allowed to, because I’ve been on both sides of that line, and that, I guess, is what I actually want to talk about.  Weight as related to happy.  I’ve told my story, in a way, through a letter I wrote, and it's actually one of my favorite posts to date.  Please go read it if you haven't, or just tell me you'll go read it, because it makes me happy.  But this is telling it, yet again, in a different way.  If you'd rather go look at pictures of puppies instead of reading this, I'm hooking you up right here here here here and here here.  Otherwise, here we go, with numbers.
When I graduated from college, I weighed about 135 pounds (I’m almost 5’5”).  I ran, a lot, and by this I mean 2-3 miles at a time almost every day, and didn’t really eat all that much.  I would definitely not call myself healthy here.  Thin, yes, healthy, no.  Happy?  Mostly.
Later that year, I moved to northern VA to start my First Real Job, and I got injured.  Over the next 4 years I was bounced from doctor to doctor and physical therapist to physical therapist, and no one could fix my knee.  And you know what?  I was a workaholic, and I got lazy about my body.  I gained at least 50 pounds over those 4 years, and maybe even more, but I never weighed myself because I didn’t want to know.  IGNORANCE WHEEEEE.  Finally I ended up with a physical therapist who changed my life by sending me to the magical mystery man, Dr. P, who did surgery on my first IT band in August of 2006.  But it was too late to get that person back, the bouncy college girl who liked to run.  And you know what?  Dudes, changing your life is hard.  So I didn’t.
I moved to Boston after surgery, and then back to Maryland, and then later down to Virginia (I hate moving).  I got married, and I weighed myself on my wedding day (note: this is a terrible idea).  183 pounds.  Was I happy?  Not even close.  I hated my job, I didn’t feel like I was being successful at school, I was miserable at home and was far away from all my friends (especially while living in Maryland).  Did my weight contribute to that unhappiness?  Definitely.  
(photo credit: love life images)
We moved to Alexandria later that year, and I started running with an old friend from college.  Suddenly I had someone to meet up with, someone who didn’t mind my slow pace or the fact that I hadn’t run longer than 2 miles in 6 years.  Then I picked up another running buddy, an old childhood friend who was just starting out as a runner.  I completed a race, something I hadn’t done in 10 years.  
And then another one.
And I was losing weight from running again, and lifting a little bit, and was I happier being thinner?  HELL TO THE YES.  It sucks to look at yourself in the mirror and see that the thin person you were in college has been eaten by a tired, old, fat person who is sad and exhausted by life.  I weighed myself a few times during this 6-8 months, and I was down to about 160 pounds, and I was feeling better and better about myself.  MY PANTS FIT BITCHES!  My eating habits were still pretty awful, but I was running all the time so the pounds were falling off my junk.  Thinner?  Yes.  Happier?  Yes.  Healthy?  Not really.
And I was signed up for a half marathon, when one night after a long snowy run, I stood up and felt a little pop in my foot.  
And maybe I am over-metaphorizing, but that little pop was the dam bursting.  My life fell apart.  I couldn’t run.  I had no escape from the sadness of my relationship at home and the complete hell of my job.  2009: my year in free fall.  I drank too much, I never came home to face what was going on, I thought hateful thoughts about my coworkers but never did anything about it, and I was in complete denial.  One of the few bright spots in this was my trip out west to visit a friend where I got my tattoo.  Was my weight part of my misery here, back up in the 180s again?  Absolutely.
But then, my divorce was finalized.  Suddenly my house was my home, instead of someplace to avoid.  I started painting it and fixing the incredible list of broken things, and it was healing.  I transitioned over to a new job, the best job that I have ever had, where I am challenged all the time and get to work with amazing, brilliant people.  I brought home a teeny tiny puppy.  And I started running again, and that’s where this blog begins.
And for the both of you that have been here since the beginning (and the 3 of you that have read my blog from start to finish), you’ve seen it happen.  You’ve watched me learn more about nutrition, and change my diet to better fuel my life.  I gave up red meat, and then most meat, and started eating tofu, and trying to get more protein in, and learned about fueling during distance cycling.  I stopped drinking quite as ridiculously as I had been.  But this time I was making changes for the right reasons: because I wanted to be able to lift, because I wanted to last 5 hours on a bicycle, because the less junk in my trunk, the easier it is to haul ass up those big hills.  And the weight fell off again.  It’s been gradual but very definite.  I’d guess that I was weighing in at close to 185 pounds last Christmas (2009).
Now, today, I weigh 137 pounds.  
(photo credit: kardelen portraits)
But we all know that’s not the whole story.  Am I happier?  Yes.  But am I healthier, this time around?  Absolutely.  That’s something else I’ve learned from a lot of people, somewhere along the way, that it’s not about being thin.  For me, it’s about being able to power up that hill, or through the 10th 50 yard sprint, or rock the face off that tempo run.  I love all things that make me want to puke and die.  Has that happiness, healthiness bled into all corners of my life?  Of course.  How could it not?  
(photo credit: kardelen portraits)
Now, some people probably look at 137-pound me and think I could still lose a little.  Some might think I’m too thin.  I love my body (except for the fact that it’s falling apart so quickly).  I have muscles.  I can ride a bike for 7 hours.  I can (and will) leg press your mom.  I love being an endurance athlete.  I will never be able to run a 5-minute mile, but some day I might run 100 of those miles.  I eat like a 137-pound endurance athlete who trains 10-15 hours a week, so that’s what I look like.  If I was eating like a 160-pound person who never worked out, that’s what I would look like.  Do I pay attention to the nutritional value of everything that goes in my mouth?  Absolutely.  Do I let that stop me from eating 3 cupcakes for lunch sometimes?  Not in the slightest.  Because sometimes 3 cupcakes for lunch makes me happy, but I also know that averaging 20mph on a bike makes me happy and it's a lot harder to do that when I weigh 180 pounds, so I don't do it every day.  
A lot of the blogs I read are from people that have stories like this, and some of them talk about it, and some don’t.  Initially, I didn’t want my blog to be a place where I talked about it - probably, in large part, because I was ashamed that I would let my life look like that for so long.  Do I think that thin = happy?  No, of course not, but I still call bullshit on the people that say being thinner doesn't make you happier.  And I call bullshit on you if you try and convince me that I'd be this happy if I weighed 183 pounds again.  My journey hasn’t been about weight loss, but it’s happened, a side effect to living my life the way I do, to doing the really tough work that makes this brain and this booty a little bit more comfortable to walk around in.  Am I happier for it?  Of course.  

40 comments:

  1. Katie, I love this post. Thank you for so genuinely sharing all of yourself. It's inspiring, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I also love that you can leg press my mom and I'll join you for anything that makes us want to puke and die, anytime!

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  2. Great post. I have never blogged about weight, because a lot of people would look at me and say I don't need to. I gained weight training for a half-Ironman last year, and I so love to cook (and eat). Your post reminded me that I couldn't run as long or bike as far if I don't eat enough. Thank you.

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  3. I love this post. Thank you for being real and honest, and for saying what we're not supposed to -- that weight does have an impact on whether or not we're healthy, happy and capable of doing the things we love to do. It's a tough balancing act, but I think it's awesome that you're willing to share your story. Thanks!

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  4. What a great post! You have been down a long road and I love that the story has a happy ending. You've got it goin' on, sister!

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  5. Great post! I actually have a similar post about weight issues in my mind. I agree that while thin does not necessarily equal happiness, I would be lying if I didn't feel better about myself when I'm in the best shape I can be (and then that happiness spreads to other parts of my life). Being healthy and strong is the most important thing, which you clearly are.
    p.s. I remember your letter to yourself post, and it was one of my favorites too.

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  6. This hit at just the perfect time for me. I have had such a struggle with my weight but because I love running and cross training I have been able to maintain for a while now. Then two weeks ago I injured myself. I can't run, swim, bike, lift or even walk much more than from my desk to the couch. It has sent me into a tail spin. I have been cranky and nasty and while I have said it is because I am not exercising (and some of it might be that) it is mostly fear. Fear of losing myself in the fat and unhappy Ann I have been in the past. Thanks for posting this because when you are going through it, fearing it, you can feel so alone. It is nice to know I am really not.

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  7. Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing. I'll be bookmarking this one!

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  8. Terrific post Katie. You've had quite a number of ups and downs, so I'm glad you're at a much happier place now. Having struggled with my own weight issues I can identify with a lot of what you discussed.

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  9. Kate, thanks so much for sharing. I'm not a big reader of blogs, but this post was really well written and introspective.

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  10. There are so many things to love about this post. Every time I read your blog I think you've lived a very long life in a very short time. I'm so glad you started blogging and sharing yourself with us, most of the posts that you link here are my favorites of yours as well.

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  11. I heart you, your honesty, bravery and new improved outlook on life! Keep smiling, loving and living and don't ever look back girl!

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  12. Katie, this is such a great post! I love your journey, your humor, and your honesty around it all.

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  13. Great post! It's not always easy to take an honest assessment of your life. Keep up the good work!

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  14. Awesome post! I totally agree with the blog you are talking about and with what you are saying here.

    You look AMAZING!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your story! This is a really great post and I feel inspired by your journey and your attitude.

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  16. Great post, extremely candid and well written! I too am someone that has always struggled with their weight. My happiest is when I am at my most active and have people around me that are also active and trying to accomplish their athletic and healthy lifestyle goals :)

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  17. I have nothing to add; the post is perfect as is :) I love the honesty here.

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  18. So good to see the results of your hard work and perseverance... the results of good-for-you choices. Here's to much more of that happiness stuff!

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  19. AWESOME post! You look gorgeous now, btw, the healthy and happy kind...it shows : ) ps, I've actually been through a divorce too and have always been sort of, uh, ashamed to mention it. love your honesty. hopefully I'm on twitter next time you're on the trainer so I can send more bushisms your way ; )

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  20. I guess I've only known you on the happiness upswing, but I'm so glad you made it to happy! And I don't think thin=happy, but exercise and eating right will always make you feel better. That and good friends who are up for ridiculous challenges and exercise extravaganzas :)

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  21. I am a fairly new reader to your blog and don't know you personally, but dare I say: you're not happy because you're thin--you're thin because you're happy.
    MJ

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  22. Awesome post!! I can identify with many of the details here, especially the weight fluctuations. I'm 5'4 and I have 5 different sizes of pants in my closet.

    I do feel that I am in a good place now - for me that's right in the middle of those sizes.

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  23. I loved reading your story. I can relate to so much of what you said and have had very similar weigh fluctuations. I'm in the process of coming down from my highest weight (for the second time) and your story has definitely inspired me not to give up.

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  24. Dang, you are articulate. Well written my friend, well written. You look amazing - but sugar we all know it isn't just because you are thinner. You are HAPPY and that shows from your very soul.
    Best wishes to you - mwah!


    And my favorite line, maybe ever, is "I can and will leg press your mom." LOVE IT!

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  25. i love how honest you are in this post (and ALL your posts)! i think there is a very close relationship between one's happiness (satisfaction with life) and his or her weight. i know whenever i'm lost, searching, or feeling blue...i try to fill that void with food and inactivity. i'm not sure exactly how the cause-effect relationship works and i would never presume to be able to estimate someone's happiness by assessing their weight...but there is a connection there for sure.

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  26. First of all, Katie, you look Fabulous!! Not because you are exactly 13x pounds or can ride for 7 hours or run a x:xx minute mile, but because you're radiant with the satisfaction that you've made Changes for yourself! You've found your healthy weight, your healthy lifestyle, your healthy relationship and your own way to fuel it all. :)

    And you could probably Leg press more than any of us combined, and damnit you Should brag about it. ;) Heh. xo

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  27. amazing post! thank you for sharing. Love:)and can relates since March 2010 life has been rough in many ways, I too dove into my running and then lost it last yr to the break, and have had to face a lot demons. Some of which ,any have read on too emotional post (like home sickness, and feeling left out things/groups)I am working through everything, and It's great to see that it is very possible to get out of the rough patches and be happy. :)
    You are an amazing person.:)

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  28. Awesome blog! I think happiness really has to do with loving yourself, knowing who you really are, and knowing how to take care of yourself. And your weight can be a reflection of that. Just because someone loses a lot of weight, doesn't necessarily mean they will be happy, but if they are UNHAPPY with their body, then that will be a good step in the right direction. Sounds like quite a journey, Katie. Thanks for sharing and kudos to all your progress!

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  29. AMAZING POST!! Seriously, thank you for sharing your amazing story with us! You are absolutely beautiful girl and you are a kick a ATHLETE!!! Seriously, I am just so happy for you! You have been through so much and you have made the best of everything! LOVE YA (sorry I know I don't know you but I am just feeling the love for ya after that amazing post!)

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  30. As a long distance runner, I feel a real difference even when I am a pound or two lighter. But I have many friends who have expressed concern that I was getting "too thin." I've never been underweight, and the amount I eat - which includes both healthy and indulgent foods - is pretty impressive. So much is others' perception of what you *should* look like and what you used to look like.

    A lot of people have commented on how your honesty - with your feelings, about your struggle with weight, as a life philosophy. I think THAT may be the true secret to happiness (and a happy weight, as well).

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  31. Thanks so much for being brave and honest enough to post this. You've distilled the issue of weight and happiness to its core: that your happiness or unhappiness manifests itself in healthy or unhealthy habits, which manifests itself in your booty. Now, go find somebody's mom to leg press!

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  32. I love this post. Love, love, love it!! I wish I could take the time to say thoughtful, insightful things, but I'm swamped today so I just wanted to make sure you knew that I think you're awesome and beautiful in every picture.

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  33. Great post, thanks for sharing your history! I think where most people get caught up is the conflation of "thin" and "healthy". If you are thin and unhealthy (as you've pointed out) you won't necessarily be happy. But if you're healthy and carrying a few extra pounds, you will definitely be happy. And it's nearly impossible to live a healthy lifestyle and be 50 lbs overweight (or if you are, you won't stay that way for long!)

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  34. I stumbled accross you post tonight and was very inspried. You seem to have found what you are looking for. That is really cool.

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  35. Great post! I have absolutely no idea how I got to your blog but I will definitely be coming back :) Also, I want your dogs.

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  36. look, I read it, so I am commenting. You are awesome. and look sexy while riding a bike up a hill. that is all.

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  37. Can I just say how happy I am that I began reading your blog? You are extremely inspiring. This is the start of my journey which looks very similar to yours, so it's helpful to read from people that have been there, experienced the ups and downs and setbacks and STILL come out on top.
    Thank you!

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  38. Well. 2am and I have somehow gotten lost into the internet world and found your blog for the first time. This is great Katie. Someone who actually calls 'bullshit' AND has the courage to let readers into their real, uncensored, not always perfect lives. It's really damn refreshing. So. Cheers! (hashtag) Inspired.

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