On Losing Weight...
Last year I lost 30 lbs. Yes – in 2020, during the COVID-19 Quarantine craziness, while a lot of people were packing on the pounds, I lost weight. But don’t congratulate me just yet! I have to make two things clear here:
1-It’s not a shock that I lost 30 lbs; the shock is that I had 30 lbs to lose (actually, I have more than that. I’m still working on it).
2-Sadly, if I hadn’t lost 30 lbs, I would’ve gained 30 lbs (or more!). This I know for an absolute fact.
Now that we’ve made that clear, here’s a little backstory…
If you’ve only known me since 2018, you don’t know that back in 2014 I weighed about 10 lbs less than I do now. In 2015 I weighed even less – probably 15 lbs less than I weigh now. I maintained that for most of 2016, then I started gaining weight after the summer. Slowly but surely, the weight started creeping up on me. At first I didn’t notice, but then it was blatantly obvious because I love taking pictures so I started to notice that I didn’t look the same. Then I noticed a difference in my running – I couldn’t run without getting winded. I ran a race in February 2017 and it was like “whoa!” I about died out there. I’d like to say that was my wake-up call, but it wasn’t. Instead, I didn’t run for a while and kept gaining weight and when I finally started running again, it was a struggle. I hadn’t even gained a lot of weight yet – I weighed just about what I weigh right now for most of 2017, but then in 2018 everything went to shit.
I had just started running again in early 2018 and, as I mentioned, it was hard. But I kept at it. I knew it was what I wanted and I signed up for a half marathon in March and began training for it. I also started going to therapy again, which was very helpful (if you know me, you already know I am very vocal about my mental health battles). Sadly, the day after the half marathon I began to feel a pain in my right leg. At first it felt like I just hadn’t stretched after the race (which was true) so I figured it’d go away eventually, but instead it only got worse. The pain would come and go throughout the day so I just called the VA and made an appointment to be seen for it. In April I ran a 50k and I walked a lot of it because I was in pain. When I finally had x-rays at the VA the doctor said he didn’t see anything wrong with me and suggested physical therapy. I wasn’t convinced though. I knew there was something wrong and I turned to where all the answers are: Facebook. I do have friends on there who are Doctors of Physical Therapy and I took their advice and asked for an MRI but the VA wouldn’t give me one until I’d gone to physical therapy for six weeks, so I had to wait.
Then on July 1st something happened – I don’t know what – but starting that day (I remember that moment so clearly!) the pain just never went away and it was pretty much excruciating. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but I don’t deal with pain very well and this pain was just completely non-stop. Day and night it was there. I would have trouble falling asleep because I was in pain and I would wake up in pain throughout the night. Needless to say, I stopped running – again – and sat on my couch all day, every day. And did I focus on my nutrition to lose weight as my well-meaning friends recommended? No. I kept gaining weight. Mid July I finally had the MRI and it turns out I had a bulging disc, L5 S1, that was pinching my sciatic nerve causing me to be persistently in pain. I was told I could have a microdiscectomy (which wasn’t guaranteed to fix me) or I could live in pain for the rest of my life with the help of pain management medications. I decided to take the risk and have the surgery because I did not want any more meds, and I was tentatively scheduled for December. So what did I do from July to December? I replaced my running with drinking and I gained more weight. I gained about 30 lbs in 2018, which is why I say if you’ve only known me since 2018 you don’t know that I haven’t always been this heavy.
I had the surgery in October of 2018 – two months earlier than planned – and from the minute I came out of anesthesia I was completely pain free! Dr. Pourtaheri was the best and I am so thrilled with my results. So, of course, once I was allowed to start running again, I did! Right?! Wrong. I didn’t. I was afraid I would injure myself and I didn’t trust my back to hold up with the pounding on the pavement, so I didn’t run. I didn’t walk. I didn’t do any exercise at all. Instead, I kept drinking – a lot – and the weight kept creeping up. I did sign up for the VA TeleHealth MOVE! Program, but it didn’t help because (surprise, surprise!) you have to do the work to lose weight. There is no magic pill or hidden secret. Blah. The program is good though, if you do what you’re supposed to, but I didn’t, so I didn’t lose any weight and most of 2019 I weighed about 40 lbs more than I do now.
Side Note: You’re probably wondering how I know my weight at different times in my life. Well, it helps me to track my weight so I’ve always weighed myself often: once or twice a month since I joined the Marine Corps and since starting the VA TeleHealth MOVE! Program I’ve weighed myself every single day (unless I’m out of town and don’t have access to my scale). That doesn’t work for everyone though, but it does for me. I started weighing myself daily because I had to do it for the VA TeleHealth MOVE! Program, and at first it was annoying to see my weight go up and down so much, but eventually I got used to it and now I welcome the fluctuations. I know it happens and it’s fine with me (progress isn’t linear) and I’ve learned to be okay with that.
I had started tracking my weight in 2019, thinking I would lose weight that year since I was pain free now and, for the first time in a long time, I was completely off medications – of any kind! But like I said, I didn’t lose any weight in 2019, so in 2020 I tried again. I tracked my weight daily, I kept a spreadsheet, and I actually decided to not drink for most of January which definitely helped me lose some weight; but of course, as soon as I started drinking again, I gained most of it back. Not all of it though and I finally started seeing some progress in January and February which was encouraging! Then COVID-19 hit in March and life as we knew it was no more. I drank a lot, sat on the couch, and moped around missing my friends and the outside world. And while I didn’t lose any weight that month, I also didn’t gain any!
In April of last year I started seeing all the memes and posts about people gaining weight during quarantine, and while it was funny at first (and I know most of them were just joking), I realized that if I didn’t do something about it, I was going to become the statistic and gain weight during quarantine. So, with all the resolution I could muster, I told Jacob that I was going to start counting calories again to help me lose weight. Saying it out loud and having him hold me accountable definitely helped. I started the last week of April, very chill, no pressure, and on May 1st I went all in! I started exercising at home with BodyBoss and tracking my calories with MyFitnessPal. And yes, it finally happened. I finally started losing weight. I’ve done this before, counting calories, and it really works for me because I can eat and drink whatever I want and still lose weight – and actually keep it off. Restrictive diets don’t work for me because the minute I can eat or drink whatever I was restricting, I go HAM and gain all the weight back. I rather allow myself to eat or drink whatever I want, and take into consideration portion control and balance. Yes, I can have a Coke today, but I won’t have one tomorrow. Yes, I can drink Mimosas this morning, but I will have a salad for dinner. Again, what works for me might not work for everyone, but all that matters is that it works for me and it’s sustainable.
In August my sister came to visit and we started a Weight Loss Commitment Challenge with some girlfriends. It was a good incentive because we all put money in and I didn’t wanna lose it! We all did well and kept each other motivated, but in the end, I won! ;-)
At the end of 2020 I was very happy with my progress. From my weight on January 1st 2020 to my weight on December 31st 2020 there was a difference of 30.3 lbs. I officially lost 30 lbs in 2020! Again, you might think it’s something to be proud of and I am proud (sorta) – I’m proud I stuck to it this time, I’m proud I did the work, I’m proud I made it happen, yes. But I am not proud of having had that much weight to lose (and more still to go!), I’m not proud of letting myself get so heavy, and I’m not proud of needing the stupid memes about gaining weight during quarantine to be my wake-up call. Wow. Doesn’t bring the most pride now, does it?
In January of this year I lost a couple more pounds; actually, 3.5 lbs, which helped me win the Weight Loss Commitment Challenge. Then on February 1st I stopped counting calories temporarily… or so I thought. But now it’s been three months and I just decided it was time to start again. I am happy to report, however, that I still weigh slightly less than I weighed on December 31st of last year, so my weight loss still stands!
I put together this little video that shows my weight loss in photos, from when I actually started doing something to lose weight, April 2020, until now.
Sure, I should’ve lost more weight by now, and I want to, and I will, but I needed that break from tracking every calorie going in my body and I appreciated every minute of it and I have a better relationship with food because of it. The fact that I’ve only gained a few pounds (2.8 lbs to be exact!) in three whole months without tracking my calorie intake is a huge improvement for me. I just started again this week because I started this exact same week last year, so I hope that means I’ll do just as well this time around! I have set a few goals for myself that I know will help me on my journey to a healthy and happy – and manageable! – weight. My friend is getting married on July 31st, so I have a goal to lose 10 lbs by then. I am also in another Weight Lost Commitment Challenge with a few of my girlfriends, and that one ends on September 1st so that’s another goal for me – I want to win some money!!! And of course, I want to be at my goal weight by my 40th birthday! So, the motivation is there, I just gotta put the work in and make it happen! Wish me luck!!!