I remember, not too long ago, how food ruled my day; every day, every hour, every minute, every second.
What was I going to eat? How long was I not going to eat? Was it time to eat? Did I have enough protein to eat when I was supposed to eat? Maybe I shouldn’t eat at all. Maybe I should fast today. What time is it? Is it time to eat yet or is it not time to eat yet? Dam, 3 more hours until I get to eat again?
Are you exhausted yet? I was. My life revolved around food and it was E.X.H.A.U.S.T.I.N.G.
My diet history started in elementary school, in the 3rd grade that I can remember, when kids, mostly boys, teased me for being FAT. And I knew I was different. I was a little bigger than the rest of the girls in my class, but not the biggest. I was naive. Until I wasn’t.
I became the hardest working student in the room, to be smart so that kids would ask for my notes or help, as a strategy to neutralize the teasing. After all, if they needed my help, they wouldn’t tease me right?
It worked for a little while until it didn’t. And then I just became the fat girl who “knew it all” and the fat “miss goody two shoes” and the chubby “teacher ass kisser.”
I started diets young. My mother was weight conscious and so she became weight obsessed for me. My grandmother was blunt and told us we had to lose weight as children. I remember late nights in my family living room, when everyone else was already in bed, doing my Sweating to the Oldie’s Richard Simmons videos. This is where my exercise obsession began.
Fast forward to college, too ashamed to join a commercial gym, I began doing workout videos twice per day. I was running laps around my college track despite having excruciating shin splints. I lost weight, but it wasn’t enough. So I joined Jenny Craig where I lost all the weight I needed to lose (45 pounds) but where I also gained a hellava food and diet obsession.
How was I to keep all of this up? Exercise more. Eat less. Eat less. Exercise more. Exercise even more. Eat even less. And you know what is perfect for that? Marathon racing!
My first race was an ultra marathon called Run to the Sun followed by years of marathon racing. Then running became boring. My weight loss stalled. My body plateaued. And you know what is perfect for that? Half Ironman and Ironman racing!
I went on to spend decades racing mostly the half ironman distance; always on a diet; always chasing PRs (personal records) all with severe refractory Ulcerative Colitis that just became worse, worser and even worser (yes, duh, I know those aren’t real words), but you get my drift.
And BOY, was I run down, beat up, depressed and tired. SICK and TIRED for real. And my fate was colon removal surgery which I welcomed because after suffering 11 years with nothing but your body rebelling against you, I knew for me, it was this surgery or death. You never know one’s demons unless you walk in their shoes.
And so here it was, a situation I couldn’t out exercise, or diet away. I would be out of commission. I would gain weight. I would no longer have access to my coping mechanisms (exercise and dieting); well, I could still diet, which I did, but not nearly as restrictive as I had been.
And then I started over. I gained over 30lbs from that surgery and slowly but surely it came off. I’m not gonna lie, after I recovered I went straight back to my old ways – excessive exercise and dieting – except this time, I added gym sessions every day, cycling classes a few times per week, yoga when I could fit it in, on top of my triathlon training.
I started to realize that I used my exercise and my dieting as a method to tune out my feelings. If I was busy training for a race, I didn’t have the time to deal with how I felt, or think about how my body looked, what it didn’t look like, what I wanted it to look like, my weight, what my weight was or wasn’t. So I just stayed the course of over exercising and dieting because it was the only way I knew how to do it. After all, you have to suffer for the body you want, right?
Then fast forward to getting pregnant unexpectedly in 2018 at the age of 41, something I hadn’t planned on. I have told that story in a previous post, but when I began to get excited about it and started to prepare for it (buying matchy outfits, starting a registry, finally telling family and friends), it was all taken away from me.
In a matter of 12 hours, my life changed after losing identical twin boys at almost 5 months pregnant. The pain of such a loss is something I never imagined. This was something I would never have envisioned for myself. I never ever ever thought this would happen to me. And all my tricks, my habits, my go-tos, my fixes, all of my “methods” that I had used my entire life up to this point-methods that helped me survive a shitty childhood, complete epic races, got me through colon removal surgery – my “drug” of choice stopped working completely. I was a junkie with no veins left, grasping at straws trying to furiously find one, one good one because I JUST NEEDED to get through THIS ONE. LAST. TIME.