Getting – and staying – in shape is super-hard. Have you ever noticed that?
At the beginning of this year when I made my goals for 2015, I purposely didn’t say anything about weight loss or getting in shape, because I knew damn well that I’d just be setting myself up for failure. There are just too many other things that always end up taking priority with me. But lately I’ve been thinking about such things, and I can’t help but frown like a grumpy toddler as I do.
Probably the best shape I was ever in in my life was during high school. I was a cheerleader for two of the three years, and I also took Tae Kwon Do classes with my boyfriend. Combine that with a very healthy metabolism (I used to eat like a horse and never gain a pound) and I was slim and trim. I’ve always had huge thighs and a sizable rear end, but back then they were two parts of a strong, toned lower body, not the result of too many pizzas and donuts. I was a teenager, so of course I still thought that I was fat and ugly, but in truth I was the perfect size and shape for my body, and I could rock bikinis and belly-shirts like nobody’s business if I could just muster up the confidence. And though I suffered from mild asthma related to physical exertion even back then, I was healthy and fully capable.
Around mid-college things started really slowing down, including my metabolism. Anyone who has been to college knows that it’s not a period of healthy eating and exercise; it’s a time of quick, cheap meals, copious amounts of alcohol, and lots and lots of sitting on your ever-expanding ass. I wasn’t a cheerleader anymore, and when my boyfriend broke up with me I quit Tae Kwon Do to avoid seeing him. I went through a mopey period during which I ate too much and moved too little, and even after that period ended I never really bounced back. My eating habits only got worse, and in about three years I gained upwards of 50 lbs. I felt like crap. I work baggy clothes and didn’t spend much time on my appearance, and I cringed every time I saw a photo of myself.
The job that I eventually got as a maintenance tech at a paper mill stopped me from gaining further weight, as I suddenly had a bit of actual activity in my life, but I didn’t lose any. It wasn’t until my husband proposed to me that I decided that I was going to slim back down. I was absolutely determined because I wanted to be able to look at my wedding photos and be proud, but it was far from easy. I really had to watch what I ate, and I struggled to force myself to exercise whenever I could. For a while I joined a gym, and I’d spend almost an hour there every morning before work because I knew if I waited until the evening to exercise I wouldn’t do it. Over the course of a little more than a year, I lost about 30 lbs. Then, a few months before the wedding, my husband and I took up the P90X challenge, and through that I managed to lose another 10 lbs. I was almost down to the weight I’d been in high school, and those last few pounds could be attributed to the fact that I was now much more muscular than I’d been then. I looked great and felt great, and both my husband and I looked amazing in our wedding photos.
After the wedding was over I got a little lazy, as people are wont to do, but I still managed to maintain my weight within 5 lbs or so. Then my husband and I decided to try for a baby; about 8 months after our wedding day I was pregnant. For the first six months of the pregnancy I took great care of myself. I was very concerned with eating good foods and avoiding anything that might not be good for the baby, and I made sure to keep active, even if it was only 20 minutes a day on the treadmill. I was gaining a healthy amount of weight and nothing more. But then the third trimester hit and things got out of control. I started experiencing a lot of back and foot pain, and thus stopped moving unless absolutely necessary. My appetite went through the roof and I started craving nothing but fat and sugar. And I started working from home, which meant that I was accountable to no one and within arm’s reach of chips and Netflix at any given time. I blew up to about ten pounds more than my previous highest weight. All of my hard work was undone and then some. Of course, it was all worth it to meet my beautiful baby princess, but I was beyond frustrated that after giving birth to a 7 lb 6 oz baby and all the associated fluids, I’d somehow only managed to drop about 5 lbs off my own weight.
In the months that followed my daughter’s birth I managed to lose a couple of pounds through breastfeeding, but I was so exhausted and hungry all the time that I never managed any more than that. When my daughter was about 18 months old I started my first “out West” job and started getting into running around the camp in the mornings. I lost close to ten pounds, but then disaster struck in the form of gastrointestinal issues. I literally became terrified to run, and quickly gained the weight back again. Since then I’ve tried several times to get back into shape, but always something else takes precedence (writing a novel) or destroys my efforts (the gut problems). I have never been able to get any closer than 30 lbs away from my goal, and have had a very difficult time even holding that weight.
I’m not trying to make excuses, because the fact is that a lot of the time I’m just plain lazy, or not willing to siphon time from other areas of my life, or completely unwilling to give up my junk food. I’m also not bemoaning my horrible body because although I might fervently wish my tummy and butt were smaller, I’m actually pretty comfortable with my “mom” body. What really bothers me, though, is that I remember how it felt…how it felt to be 50 lbs lighter and in infinitely better shape, and I would very much like to feel that way again.