Thursday, January 05, 2012

Wellness and Weight Loss

Obesity has become an epidemic, but that is really not news to anyone.  The issue I struggle with is our culture's seemingly knee jerk reaction to the other side of the spectrum and there is nothing in the middle.  There is no honest discussion about how to move towards the middle, for both sides.  We have an entertainment industry promoting underweight women and men and a society with overweight people.

I could spend hours quoting links and such like but I think a more personal story is better... I started exercising almost 6 years ago. I began as a very out of shape and quite frankly overweight individual.  Honestly I don't think I realized how overweight I was until I found a picture of myself in my Dad's basement, I just about died from embarrassment.  I knew I was a little heavy but not like that.   Getting started was hard, I joined up with a series of personal trainers and slowly the inches came off.  I kept at it - desperately wanting more, wanting to feel something different.  I had gone into losing weight thinking it would change how I thought about myself, how I looked to other people, that it would solve my relationship issues. 

It didn't. I was shocked, as silly as that sounds.

I worked even harder - I got militant with my diet. I became a vegan.  I will say that veganism like all forms of diets can be healthy - but it was not for me.  It was a coping mechanism, a control - and I knew that if I scaled things back and altered things I could lose more weight.  And I did. I never got scary skinny, but I do remember a week where that I felt myself having that conversation in my head, if I just trade out one more meal for a shake things will be better. . . In the end I had a life crisis that forced me to leave veganism (nothing to do with veganism but I couldn't cook for myself any more).  It was a moment in my life where I relinquished everything, and sure I gained weight, but it was worth it because I had to step back for a period of time.  However, in the process I got physically sick.  I spent the better part of two year sick, going from one antibiotic or steroid to the next never able to kick anything and continuously getting worse.  I struggled to walk up stairs without pain and feeling exhausted.  I pushed on - I still trained for a marathon, I even ran a half marathon with a serious sinus infection. I was all about the pain, I keep justifying that it was part of the process - it was all about about pushing through.   I might have been fit, I may have even been losing weight but I wasn't healthy and I really was not happy.

Things went progressively downhill after my Fall 2009 marathon, and I ended up being tested for everything, and I mean everything.  In the end there were no answers and progressively less I could do and even less I could eat - I was living off very little, and what I could eat was not exactly low calorie - goat milk for example.  I gained about 10 to 15 pounds due to diet and lack of activity.  Things started to get tight and I started to get depressed.  I was gaining back what I had fought to lose and I couldn't do anything about it.

Eventually I got the eating part figured out, and then did a lot of acupuncture in time I started being able to handle a walk and now almost two years later I'm back to running.

Sure I'm soft in a lot of place, sure I would love to have avoided the weight gain.  But I learned something in the process - it is an honour to eat and prepare whole-food meals for myself.  It is a blessing to be able to go for a run, even the post run burpies are a gift.  It is a gift to feel pain from exertion and not from getting out of bed.  My perspective has changed - life is worth fighting for, but you need to know what you are gaining and losing beyond the pounds.

So as you start your running goals and weight loss goals - consider how those goals contribute to your whole life and not just your ability to wear a bikini this summer.

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