A Weight has been Lifted

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For the first time in years, I look in the mirror and feel confident about what I see. It’s easier to pick out clothes because I’m not worried about concealing my extra weight. It’s gone and so are the feelings I shame I carried for so long.

I can’t blame my weight issues on being pregnant; I had gained it all long before Milo. You can see it in my engagement picture and how round my face was:

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Sure that was before the baby, but I had just had two foot surgeries and was unable to run or workout for several months. It was to be expected that I would have put on weight after all that. Except here I am several months before the foot surgeries and in the midst of marathon training:

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This feels so humiliating. I am a runner. I train for marathons. I was a personal trainer, my job was to help people lose weight and all the while I couldn’t control my own. These pictures make me want to cry. I should have never looked like that. Not when this was me just years before:

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Whatever. That is in the past. I’m healthy again. I’m confident again. I’m running fast again. The old me is gone, never to return.

And she won’t. Because there are lessons I’ve learned. Mistakes I’ve made that I won’t repeat.

My life was unstable. I had no idea where my life was going or what I was doing. The gym where I was working was sucking the life out of me, but I had no idea what to do. So I drifted, I worked at 4 different places in 2 years. That was so much stress on me mentally and emotionally.

I dieted. I feel like there should be a slogan “friends don’t let friends diet.” Honestly, diets are the worst. When I was running my best, I ate some form of grain at every meal. Every meal. Then came the hatred on grains. I hadn’t even started putting on weight yet, but so many voices were saying grains would make you fat and so I cut them out. That was one of the biggest mistakes I made. When the weight did start creeping on, I panicked and tried everything out there. I did the protein shakes, I did the detox, I did the elimination diets. And the only thing that accomplished was adding more pounds. I wasn’t giving my body what it needed (fuel) and so it waged war against me. The more weight I put on, the more I told myself I couldn’t have certain things, and the more often I binged.

I made myself workout more. If I would have stuck to the plan my coach made for me, I would have had time to rest and recover. But I equated resting with getting fat. So I added in extra strength training sessions. I spent my lunch breaks on the elliptical. I tried to keep moving as much as possible because what I was doing wasn’t enough. But just like when you don’t give your body fuel it causes weight gain, when you don’t give your body a break it can lead to weight gain as well. The body uses fat as protection, so when I was giving my body an all out assault and not properly eating, it tried to protect itself with a nice layer of fat.

My pregnancy was actually the best thing that could happen to me in terms of losing that weight and regaining a healthy relationship with food. For one thing, I had to let go of my restrictions on what is acceptable and unacceptable to eat. There were times I was so sick, the only thing that mattered was what I could keep down. So if French fries would stay down, they were the healthiest thing I could eat. And eat them I did.

And of course nothing kickstarts weight loss like breastfeeding. Because breastfeeding is powered by fat, I easily lost all of baby weight and then some in the first couple of months (thank you, Milo).

But now I’m far removed from my pregnancy and the initial postpartum stage. At this point, my body is a reflection of me; of what I put in my body, of how hard I train, and of how well I rest and recover. I can tell you, I eat chocolate on a daily basis. I love a good pub burger and fries. And I eat an average of 3 bowls of cereal a day (for real, I love cereal). And I look great. Food isn’t my enemy, I don’t have to work hard all the time, and my mental and emotional state is so much more stable.

I still can’t look at pictures of myself without feeling awful about what I did to myself. But I’m trying not to dwell on it. Instead I look at this, my present self who is kicking ass and looking great:

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It’s All Connected

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For the last week or so I’ve had this discomfort starting in my right hip and traveling down my leg. My foot will feel tight, as if someone’s pulling the muscles out of my foot through my leg. I’ve tried the usual stretching and strength training but nothing was helping. So yesterday I went to see my massage therapist.

I get there and Jeff asked me what’s going on. I tell him about my hip/foot issue. I press my right glute and say “I can feel something right here.”

“We’ll see,” he responds.

The thing about Jeff is he never jumps to any conclusions. He’s been doing this long enough and is wise enough to know that things aren’t always what they seem. So just because you feel something here, doesn’t mean the problem isn’t over there.

He works on me for some time trying to get to the bottom of what could be causing me so much discomfort. I’m worried about all of the possibilities: I’ve developed some strange gait from the surgery on my right foot two years ago or that my hips are a complete mess from having Milo.

After working on my back half, he tells me to roll over and starts to work my abdominal area. He hits something and all of a sudden I could feel my foot release. What on earth? The muscle he was working on was my iliopsoas: one of the major hip flexors. How was this muscle in my front causing so many problems in my back and down my leg? Because it’s all connected.

Muscles don’t work in isolation; they work in movement patterns and groups. So when they hurt, they also hurt in groups. And a lot of the time the muscle hurting isn’t the actual problem, it’s hurting because it’s having to pick up the slack for the real problem. My iliopsoas was out of whack causing my glute muscles to need to compensate. Then every other muscle connected to my glute had to react.

So why do I share this with you? Because I think we experience this same concept in other parts of our lives. We think we are able to compartmentalize issues; work problems stay at work just like home problems stay at home. But we’re not as successful as we might think.

Have you ever left a long day at work and as you’re driving home every other driver on the road just annoys you? Did every idiot driver really just start driving down the same road, or are your emotions from work getting the better of you as you drive. Have you ever lost sleep at night and then felt irritable all day long for “no reason.” Or have you ever argued with your spouse and then struggled to find the energy to get through your workout?

We can’t separate our lives into neat categories that don’t bleed into each other. It’s all connected, so if one thing is out of sync you’re going to experience it in other areas of your life as well. I’m certainly no expert, but I think there are plenty of times we need to slow down, step back, and ask ourselves what’s really going on.

So back to my iliopsoas. While it’s a common muscle to strain from running and it was certainly causing problems while I ran, what was making it aggravated in the first place? The way I was carrying Milo. My mommy life and habits had bled into my running life.

Go figure.