Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Reality Check: Food Deamons

Okay. Here goes. I think its important that people know that while it is fun and exciting to be training, there was a period in my life where getting physically back to a place where I could train seemed impossible. I am writing this blog as REAL as I can, which means that I need to FESS UP to being a former fatty. This is what I used to look like, only add 20lbs, because I don't have any photos of myself that fat. The highest weight, (more than two years post my last preganacy...) 189 ladies and gentlemen. And 42% body fat. And just stable there. Ugh.

This photo is from about 2 years ago, and I packed that extra 20lbs on when we moved to Montana. Alright. Now you know.

This is not something I really WANT the world to know, because I am ashamed of it. I hated my body, I hated how weak and slow and ugly I felt. I liked to tell everyone that when I got pregnant the first time, I was almost 15% body fat and training for an Ironman distance triathlon. But that doesn't really matter. It doesn't change how people SEE you now. You don't suddenly get a "hotness filter" that shows what you used to look like. You still just look, well, fat.

I had always assumed that I'd be great at being pregnant. That I'd stay thin and hike and do yoga and grow a perfect little basketball for a tummy. Then, I'd give birth, revel in my perfecly napping new baby, stroll lovingly with him in a stroller all day long sipping lattes, wearing flip flops (well, I lived in California) and wearing my size 0 jeans.

The only part I got right on that one was the flip flops! Now I need to say here that having kids has been an incredible adventure, and I am so glad we have them. I love those little grommets fiercely, they are confounding and difficult and highly entertaining all at the same time.

But what I didn't love is what happened to me. Over time, I came to realize that I have an eating disorder. My pregnancy allowed me to indulge in it to the maximum... yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a binger. So sometimes, I feel like this.

The hardest part for me was that I felt like I was walking around in an alien body. I'd see myself in the mirror and be SHOCKED. I'd delete photos of myself, thinking I was going to get back in shape any day. And I had lots of good starts, each of which helped me to loose 10lbs or so... but they'd fizzle out for some reason, usually relating to the fact that I wasn't able to strap my insane children down into any sort of jogging/biking/hiking device, they just aren't made that way. They are like me. They want to get out and be active.

And I am NOT blaming my kids here, but I gotta say, I felt thoroughly thwarted. The childcare at the gym was making them catch every cold in the world, babysitting is expensive, then I felt guilty for being away from them for something as selfish as exercise.

I thought my life as an athlete was over. I thought I was dead. I decided to accept this, to find the silver lining, and just be okay with being fat and out of shape. My amazing husband always told me he thought I was sexy no matter what, that he loved my body because it had made and delivered those amazing kids, and not to worry. But I was hiding, and sad. I had been a competitive athlete my entire life, and suddenly, in six years, that was erased, and replaced with this.

I was trapped in this new body that I created, and unable to affect change. I was redefined as "mom". I love to be that person, to be the mom, to cook and care and love and all the great stuff that goes with it. I just wished I could be fast and lean and hard and strong and nimble at the same time.

And then I ran into the man who would rescue me, change my life forever and help me take it back. Dave Evans. Snowsports supervisor at Bridger Bowl. I had just decided to go back to work the night before. We were low on funds, and one of our local moms had been asking me to coach figure skating. I finally agreed. Then I ran into Dave, while I was waiting for Ethan to come down the hill so I could put a snack in his pocket. I mentioned that I had taught BRIEFLY at Northstar in Tahoe, and he pounced on it. "We need alpine instructors!"

Uh, Dave, I am sorry, did I not tell you? No, no, I don't ski anymore, I haven't been on snow in six years, and on skis in over a decade, my last skis were 195 straight skis, I've never been on shaped skis... I am fat, out of shape, and I can't be a ski bum, that part of my life is over! I'm a mom now!

Needless to say, two weeks later, I had started part time, I was putting together a hiking/adventure program for the Ridge Athletic, I was beginning to work at Spire climbing center, and I was coaching figure skating. Wow!

To make a long story short, I had to struggle hard for balance. I got addicted to skiing, even more addicted to being in training again, and I missed my kids. Meanwhile, I had lost 18 lbs, just skiing every day! So suddenly, I was starting to feel like Kate again. But I missed this cute kid and everything that went with him.

Our little family got rocked hard by my schedule: up at 3:45 am and not home until 7:30 pm (because now I was staying to have beers after work finished up around 5...) New found Freedom!

Luckily for me, Tom told me "You obviously need to cut loose and be wild for a while. We'll be here when you calm down again." What an amazing man. What a selfless gift. It took about 5 weeks.

Anyhow, things are more balanced now, and I am feeling more like myself, in a body I am finally beginning to recognize. But that food thing... that evil binger still creeps up on me.

And I wanted to say that, because I think a lot of people think its easy to be thin and fit and energetic. I wanted to put out there that my relationship with food is a daily struggle, (I binged for the first time in a month the night before last, and I was just SO angry at myself. I work TOO hard to make a mistake like that.) But it, like finding balance in family and work and play is also a constant act of adjustment and forgiveness. Its a work in progress.

So here is what I do. There is an old Evian ad from the 80's that I love. It said simply "Every day is a new chance to feel healthy" and its true. But I like to change it to "Every moment is a new chance to recommit to doing something that makes you healthy".

So here are some of the mantras that keep me going when I don't want to go to the gym, when I want to eat five helpings of strawberry shortcake and an entire bag of smartfood.

Does this help me reach my goal?
Don't give up, you can start over NOW.
This is a new chance to begin. Now.

and my personal favorite (from an old No Fear ad)

Somewhere, someone is practicing harder than you are. And when you meet them in head to head competition, they will beat you.

That usually gets me off my ass and headed out into the world to get it done.

So those of you that are struggling, who ask me how I do it, who think they never could... there is a Dave Evans out there somewhere just waiting to help you make a decision that will give you your life and body back forever. Don't give up. Just be patient.


Deirdre Cooley said...

What an inspiration you are! I like the mantra where you can start over NOW. Because now is always here.

That being said, I am on the other side of the struggle. Wishing after 10 years that I could reclaim myself...

And it's the worst: even after so many years not being my thinner, prettier self, I am still surprised (shocked, even) every time I look in the mirror. I don't remember that I'm this way. I know I feel bad, but I don't remember that it translates to not looking like I remember I used to look.

Didn't mean to ramble, but this is a good post and I wanted to thank you for your courage to tell it all and for being so brave as to reclaim the athlete inside.

Now... if I could only get home before 10:30 at night... or not have to leave by 7:30 in the morning, I might be able to start solving the problem.

I don't have kids, but my job is my kids. And it's a tough road to walk.

a said...

Hey, Dierdre

Thanks for the kind words. I know how hopeless it feels. Just try to remind yourself to keep trying to start, eventually, it will stick. Your job makes it so SO hard on you, but remember that ALL the little things add up.

I know you've tried before, but here are some new things to recommit to and see if you can make them stick:

1. Drink a gallon of water a day for three weeks.

2. Start taking your vitamins, do this for three weeks.

3. Walk everywhere you can. Stairs instead of elevator. Park further away and walk across the parking lot.

Make these, not your overall body image change your goal, and see if you can affect some positive feeling in your life. Once you realize that these are things you CAN have control over, you can do more and more little changes. This will take longer, but these changes will stick.

And read Mindless Eating! The link is in the sidebar, its a great book.

Good luck, and feel free to check in for help.