Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm Fat, So What?

This post is not about loving myself and my body at whatever size and shape it happens to be at the moment.

The rest of that statement is: so what am I going to do about it?

I'll tell you what.

I've decided to train for a marathon (okay, half-marathon, but that is a huge commitment for me and my decidedly non-athletic self.)

I am not going to put the numbers out there because I am petite, so what is very over-weight for me is quite a normal range for taller people. You would say: fat? That's not really fat!

But I assure you, I am 40 lbs. overweight.

Until 2 years ago, I could wear all of the same clothes I wore in middle school. (Not that I did, of course.) I was the same height and the same weight within 7 - 10 lbs. between the ages of 13 and 27, and I was never skinny. In fact, I was always curvy and soft, not quite thick and voluptuous, but definitely not a stick figure.

My point is, that I don't have an unreasonable ideal weight in mind dictated to me by the media and the fashion industry that will always be out of reach and unattainable. My idea of what I should weigh and how I should look in my clothes comes from what I have always weighed in my adult life and how I have always looked in my clothes.

I own a scale, but I always went by how my clothes fit me. If things looked or felt a little snug, I would step on the scale and see that I had gained 5 lbs or so, and cut back on something, eat salads for a few days and return to my normal weight.

I was hit or miss with exercise. I liked to because I felt better overall, but I never was in a routine of doing it for weight-loss or weight control. I like pilates and yoga because I used to dance and the moves keep me flexible, they are also great for relaxation and de-stressing and easing muscle tension after a hard day.

I've always known about the benefits of training with light weights, but I got more serious about it around the age of 25 , because, like I said, I have always been soft and once I started on the downhill slope towards thirty, I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on making sure the soft parts didn't start to sag.

When I was little my mother was hardcore about the health food. I mean no cow's milk, no sugar (not even hard candy and definitely no candy bars). She baked her own bread ( from wheat flour not white, of course) and made her own yogurt. I ate carob and not chocolate...I could go on...

But my point is, that while I have not always eaten health food every day of my adult life, making healthy choices was enough a part of me that I didn't crave or rely on fast food, or junk food. I don't sit in front of the tv eating chips and ice cream. (Ahem, didn't used to...)

Several things changed exactly 2 years ago, and I will not go into detail in this post, but in May of '05 I gained 10 lbs., and was unable to shake them. I was terribly upset. Ten became 15 and 15 became 20. Fortunately, I gain weight pretty evenly, so while some of my clothes didn't fit like I wanted, most things did.

Basically, I could wear everything but my slinkiest dresses and my skinniest jeans.

Twenty-five lbs. Oh no! Now my cute little blouses won't button without puckering! And my cute little tanks are beginning to ride up at the back and show cleavage at the front. Not the look I'm going for! Gasp! My strapless sundresses won't zip. Anything with a zipper won't zip!

I've got to join a gym.

I do, for the classes, and the moral support even though I own a treadmill, an elliptical, and an adequate collection of free weights.

I lose 7 lbs and gain 10 and lose 5 and gain 3 and lose 8....

You get the picture, so for months I'm hovering around 25 - 30 lbs overweight and I'm not making progress. I know why. It isn't a mystery, but it is still very frustrating.

Then a few months ago, the bottom really fell out for me (break-up, unemployment, and family illness combined). And I just couldn't find it within myself to take care of myself by eating healthy and working out. It was all I could do to make it through the day and fall into bed exhausted at the end of it...

So...then came the extra 10 lbs.

I am now officially very overweight.

It isn't that pesky 10 lbs I wish would go away so that I can wear my favorite party dress. It is blouses that won't button at all anymore and pullover shirts that get stuck at my shoulders and skirts that threaten to rip at the seams. And flabby arms and visible cellulite on my thighs - yuck!

This is the first summer I have not worn shorts at all. Thank goodness for capris - otherwise I would have been trapped wearing long pants all season.

I can't wear 85% of the clothes in my closet. Not just because I am self-conscious about my body and how I look in them, but because the majority actually don't fit. I cannot get into them.

I am so fed up.

A week ago, I was on and I saw an article entitled 3 Ways to Walk it Off from Prevention magazine. It's a really good article because it gives an actual step by step breakdown of how many minutes to walk at varying speeds to get results. One workout is only 20 minutes, and the other two are 45 and 60.

I won't go into it here, but part of my initial weight gain was due to health problems that sapped my energy. I am recovering, but I can't push myself like I could have when I was, say 20 and fit. I can't just hop on my elliptical machine and go for an hour, or get on my treadmill and run like I'd like to.

But I have to do something because I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel like I'm living in a fat suit. I have fat rolls. Belly rolls, back rolls, jiggly arms - ew! My waist has become absolutely non-existent and my breasts are out of control. I feel like they belong to someone else and they are constantly in my way! It is awful. I am so unhappy and choosing what to wear everyday is such a chore.

So, how did I go from no exercise to deciding to participate in a marathon?

Well, it's been a tickle in the back of my brain for years, but I never took the time to really plan for one. I can't run. I have terrible form. I don't own a good sports bra or running shoes. I will hear about a charity event about 3 -4 weeks before it starts and think: hey! That would have been a good cause to support, but there's no way I could be ready for it. I'm so out of shape, I'd cramp up or pass out on the course and require assistance. No thanks! That's not helping anyone!

There was a link to this page in the article I read. It has information about walker-friendly marathons and more step-by-step advice about how to train for entry in a marathon. I read it and thought: this I can do!

I used the feature: My Walking Calendar to create a 12 week program for myself. If I stick with it, I should be ready to walk 13.1 miles without feeling like I will fall out and die.

I start tomorrow. Now that I have written about it, I have to follow through!

I will keep you posted on my success.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about feeling out of your skin. I'm short as well, 5'3, and putting on the smallest amount of weight makes a big difference. I sadly have struggled with weight and dieting my whole life and have no idea how life would be without worrying about how many calories or how many points I'm putting in my body. I also need to exercise, but I absolutely dislike it. Enough about my complaints...LOL!!!

I know you can lose the weight and do this marathon. Looks like you've got everything planned out and I'm looking forward to your future postings with progress. Just take everything one day at a time and before you know it 12 weeks will have come and gone.

blackrussian said...

Thanks MM,

I am just barely 5', so if I weigh anything over 120, I start to get thick - and not in the good way!

I haven't so much struggled with weight as with body image. I have all these friends who are naturally lean and athletic - runners and basketball players - girls who are naturally 'cut' and toned.

Then there's always been me with my chubby parts. And I just had to accept that I would never look like them and learn to love my body as it was - and that's the frustrating part - I had!

I loved my curves! And as long as I didn't eat junk food and exercised reasonable portion control, I was in good shape!

Couldn't run a marathon, but I didn't have to count calories or WORRY about my eating habits.

But, I have developed some VERY BAD habits in the last two years (like emotional eating AARGH!) and with the amount of weight I now have to lose, simply cutting back is not going to cut it.

I HAVE to work out! I actually like to, the hard part for me is finding time in my day.

I like to sleep until 8 or 9. I am SO going to have to get up at 5:30 to put in my first hour on the treadmill and shower and get breakfast before work.

No more rolling out of bed and throwing on my clothes and heading out the door. I declare. I can go from bed to car in 20 minutes FLAT if I shower at night.

Anyway, it is SUCH a good thing I have SLs. I am glad not to have to factor in what to do with my hair in all of this!

I look back now on the days when I was absolutely DISTRAUGHT over having picked up an extra 7 to 10 lbs, and how I felt like I HAD to go on a diet or ELSE! And right now, from this perspective, I'm just like: It was NOT that serious.

THIS is serious.

But then again, it WAS that serious. This is what I was afraid of. That 10 lbs would turn into 30 or 40!


I've never been on an actual diet (you know with a name and a plan)in my life.

When I was 24, I picked up an extra 15 lbs and went totally (strictly) vegetarian for two months. (Instead of selectively, occasionally vegetarian on a daily or weekly basis.)

I actually lost the entire 15 lbs in 30 days, but kept up the vegetarian regime because I liked it, but alas, I am not committed to it for moral or religious reasons, and none of my current friends and family were vegan or vegetarian (unlike now) so I went back to eating meat just because it was around.

I now have a lot more friends and associates who have adopted meat-free lifetsyles, so I see myself easing back into it again.

I could actually go forever and not crave beef, chicken, or pork*, but I do love my eggs, cheese, and other dairy, so I know I will never be vegan. And I LOVE fish and seafood of all kinds! I eat salmon once a week!

*However, if I drop by a friend's house and they just cooked some chicken wings or some ribs, it is hard for me to refuse.

And there is the mindfulness of being vegitarian and the need to plan ahead. You have to pack a lunch for work or travel. It is hard for me because I am very spontaneous/fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants about EVERYTHING.

And then there is the fact that restaurants rarely have more than two vegetarian choices that are not salads on even very extensive menus.

Smetimes it just seems like too much to think about, but I don't know. I am seriously considering eliminating meats altogether.

Several times a year I fast and cleanse and cut out meat, dairy, and sugars just because it makes my body feel better and increases my energy...It's something I do so that my body functions properly, but this time I am going to do it to kick-start my weight loss.

I will definitely be visiting your blog and following your links for recipe inspiration!

I'm still looking for your post on why you stopped eating meat.

muslimahlocs said...

if you can afford it and haven't already done a treadmill. having my own treadmill made it impossible for me to have any excuses for not exercising. i started walking, then jogging, then running and then a 5k, and back to the treadmill. i have always wanted to run a marathon but having a baby seriously interrupted my training. i still hope to do so one day, God-willing. maybe i will see you out there!

Anonymous said...

Well, you do seem like you have everything planned out and are on the right track.

It just may help you to be on a "structured" type program, but if you were able to lose by cutting back before, you may just need to combine the cutting back with the exercise. (after all, that is what a structured plan usually is).

I know I have tried to adopt the vegetarian lifestyle for the last few weeks and it has been pretty good, but I think I will keep fish and some chicken in my diet. I haven't completely decided.

But, I have been on every diet known to man. (I am on weight watchers now trying to lose 10lbs!) But I am tall, 5'10 so I guess I am a little fortunate with where weight goes, but I get scared of looking like a big amazon woman, so I try to stay in the right and healthy weight range! lol And I always lost weight sticking with the various plans, but that is the key.

Just keep writing things down and follow your selected plan and you will definitely be ready for your half marathon! And you are now officially held accountable because I will be checking in for weight/inches/goal updates!

Anonymous said...

Here's what I've realized from being veg, there are alot of options out there but you can't go to your average Bennigan's or TGIF... Most foreign food joints have veg options. For example:
-Thai:Pad Thai Noodles with Tofu or other meat option
-Mexican:Burrito w/ Rice and Beans
-Chinese:Stir-Fry Veggies w/ Rice
-Island Food: Curry Veggies or Curry Potatoes w/ Rice
-Indian: Mostly anything!! I just ask for dishes without ghee.

Being a veggie who eats seafood should make it much easier to find dishes at more American restaurants as well...

I need to update more links of veggie sites. My choice to become vegan is soon to come..

Naturally Sophia said...

Good luck! I know you can do it! Consider replacing one bad habit for another. For example, I love midnight snacks. I also love to read. I traded my overnight eating for reading. I park far away instead of looking for the closet spot. Etc.

Naturally Sophia said...

Oh! And weight watchers works!

Mel said...

You seem to be very determined and this will go a long way to help you achieving your goal.

Aya said...

I've been thin all my life, but now that I'm in my 40's, I've noticed a big change in being able to stave off the weight. I've recently jouned Curves. So far I like it, but I have a weakness for sugar. I must give it up if I'm going to lose the extra pounds I'm carrying. All the weight goes to my belly, the worst place.

I'll be cheering you on in your journey to reach you health adn fitness goals.

Renea said...

You have all my support. Kudos for not being complacent. I started gaining weight when I bought my first car. Prior to that trips to the supermarket, jaunts to work, visits to friends were all mini-workout sessions. Once I got a car, the weight steadily crept on until I was about 20lbs. over what I think is my ideal weight.
Like you, no one would look at me and say "You're overweight." But that isn't really the point. Our health and being our best selves should be the priorities.
Since moving to NYC and out of the car culture, I have slowly lost 15lbs. I can't say I've done anything remarkable. I walk more and eat smaller portions.
So I'll be rooting for you!When you get to your goal, you should treat yourself to a new dress too!

Renea said...

Also I can't say I'm a fan of 'diets,' they are hard to make habits. That said I followed "The Zone" with great success about ten years ago--but it is very strict.
This summer I eliminated white foods-- rice, flour, sugar...--But I am not strict about it. As for ribs and chips and all that good stuff, just have less. Instead of a whole slice of cake, I just have a small piece. I'll only eat half my sandwich...
A lot of times, I ate a lot more than my appetite craved simply because it was available.
I also keep less food in the house. If it's not there, I can't eat it!

brunsli said...

*clap clap clap*

That's applause for your commitment to your healthy goals. :)

Goodnapps said...

As a lil shortie myself, I know all about the weight struggles, body image, etc. In fact, we are actually about the same height. I'm about 5' even with no shoes on. Getting in touch with a realistic goal is key and finding a realistic plan you can stick with to make it happen is next. Sounds like you are well on your way and I certainly wish you all the best. I'm sure you will keep us posted.

blackrussian said...

Muslimah, I DO have a treadmill. I don't even think this plan would work without one. It is my goal to be able to walk a marathon first, for weight loss and endurance, but my next goal is to run a 5K.

In fact, I want to walk a marathon that is scheduled for January and run a 5 k that is scheduled for Feb. We'll see.

Let me know when you resume your training or post about it.

Diva, it's pretty much my plan to try cutting back and exercising. I have to exercise first. Once I establish a good routine, junk food won't even be a temptation, because I'll look at fries or cake or ice cream or cookies and think: how many miles/minutes on the treadmill will it take to work THAT off? SO not worth it!

I actually have never had ANY problem losing weight. When I do exercise and eat right, it comes off and I tone up pretty quickly. I've just been eating all the wrong things and sitting on my duff, eating high calorie foods right before bedtime, not getting enough sleep - ALL the things I KNOW I shouldn't do.

But you know how sometimes you just fall into a rut and then you get depressed about it and the cycle of bad habits perpetuates itself?

I'm kind of there right now.

I am SO NOT going to measure. IF I see what my measurements are right now, that will just make me want to cry. The scale hurts my feelings bad enough. (badly) I'm really going to go by what I see in the mirror and how my clothes fit. I'll be able to tell I'm making progress and that'll be good enough for me.

I will probably post actual weight loss, and of course before and after photos.

Thanks for the tips MM. I actually eat food from all of those cultures on a regular basis. I LOVE LOVE LOVE asian and indian food. And weird as it makes me, I've always liked tofu. I ADORE beans and rice and ALL island and/or latin cuisines that feature those as staples.

I like brussels sprouts too! Liked them even as a child. How strange does THAT make me?!

Thanks for the tip Sophia. Being a city girl at heart, I ALWAYS walk when I have the option. I wish my city was more pedestrian friendly. If it was, I would walk much more often to shops and grocery stores, etc. There just aren't enough crosswalks and sidewalks so it isn't safe, but I TOTALLY park in one place at a shopping center and walk everywhere I need to go.

I take the long way and the stairs whenever I have time and I am running errands. That's part of how I have always controlled my weight.

I've just really fallen into such poor eating habits lately that my normal routines haven't been enough to overcome excessive calorie consumption.

Thanks for the encouragement Mel.

Aya, I belonged to Curves last year, and I liked it at first, especially the half hour concept, but after a very little while it didn't challenge me enough. I felt like there wasn't enough variety or intensity to give me the sort of results I wanted. (Quick toning and weight loss.) I didn't want to take 6 months to lose 15 lbs.

So...I cancelled my month to month membership and promptly did NOTHING!!! Great call, right?

Anyway...thank you for your support.

Renea, one of my life changes was going from a job where I was ALWAYS on my feet - I was teaching and hyper and would scarcely sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time, to a job where I was SITTING AT A DESK for 8 hours a day and I would barely walk around or stand for 5 minutes at a time.

THIS in combination with an office culture where most of the women were overweight foodies who brought fattening sweets and goodies to the breakroom on DAILY basis. And something about that office made me want to snack. I really think it was the lighting or the colors in the decor or something. Perhaps it was just the boredom and stress of working in financial aid, I don't know...but my last job did me in like your car did you in...but thank you for your support and encouragement as well!

It really isn't hard for me to go without ribs and chips and sweets, etc., but I do have to be all or nothing about it, for some reason I do better if I have none than if I say I will just have a little. I am one of those people who will have a little and a little more and a little more...but if I have NONE, I am fine.

I refuse to buy those items for my I must stay away from the vending machine at work! Have to start packing fruits and veggies again!

Oh, and I have already started a file with pictures of clothes I am going to reward myself with when the weight comes off!

Thanks, brunsli. In three, months, I hope that I will be able to take a bow to go with that applause.

Thanks Goodnapps, Y'all KNOW I will be posting.

muslimahlocs said...

runner's world magazine publishes a calendar of all the major and most minor running events. check them out online at
training will resume in the new zip code (lol) and i plan to run another 5k as well.
i was inspired to start running by a law school buddy of mine. we did a study abroad together in kenya. bluntly, back then he would say that he was "fat". after law school he made a commitment to loose the "law school" weight and started running, then training and then went on to run a full marathon in greece. i heard about the progress via email, phone etc. and then saw him at a mini-reunion of our group about 3 years later. having never run a full mile in my ENTIRE LIFE, i bought a treadmill as soon as i got back home and ran my first 5k shortly thereafter. i say all that to say, it he could do it, if i could do can you. see you on the track!

n'Drea said...

'Ow yu so lie? Which part a yu 40 pound ova-wha? No sah. Mi nuh believe yu.

Sista, me t'ink yu look awright, but if yu nuh feel so, dat cool still. Nobadda get too mawga now.

An' yu know, if yu was eva in JA, de man dem woulda nyam yu up, yu fret.


Just love the skin you're in.

I used to be obsessed with being slim, and even now I could probably do with a few more pounds. I find that I'm actually considering being as voluptuous as I was back in my teen years. But then, I'd need a whole new wardrobe, lol.

Do yu t'ing, sista.

blackrussian said...

Well, n'drea, I SAID I wasn't going to break it down by the numbers, but SINCE you don't BELIEVE me...

My ideal weight is right around 110.

I still look ok (not too skinny) at 105 and pretty good (not too plump) at 115. I've always been perfectly happy with the way I look and feel anywhere in that range.

I'm probably about 113 in the picture below.

But LAST week I stepped on the scale - because NONE of my clothes were fitting (I really don't obsess about my weight and the only time I go to measure it is when I notice that my clothes fit differently) - and it said I weigh 148.


I know where it is. It's in these 36 DDs that used to be a nice 34 C and the 42 inch hips that used to be 36.

I was a NICE 34-25-36 FOR YEARS. We won't even talk about what the 25 is pains me to think about it!

You'll see, there's no way I'll end up super-skinny. I always joke that I could never be anorexic...I DON'T have the will power.

I can go all of half a day without eating before I'm like: Enough of this! I need some FOOD!!!

Seriously, though, my clothes don't fit. I'm not trying to be a 0. But I have always been a 4 or a 6 because I am petite with a small frame. If it were just a matter of accepting my body type and that I am an 8 or a 10, that would be different.

But I've NEVER been larger than a 6, and I didn't have to starve myself or count calories to stay at that weight. I just had to eat good food and stay away from the junk! I didn't even HAVE to exercise. It was always optional.

I KNOW I'm not supposed to be this size. I've gone into the store and tried on bigger clothes and I LOOK frumpy and DUMPY. I look like someone else.

If you could see me in person, you would be able to tell that my fame is not designed to carry this much weight. It looks out of place, and I can't buy clothes that are cut right for my proportions.

I thought it was hard to find a good fit when I was only that I am short AND plump shopping has LOST abs-so-LUTE-ly ALL of its appeal!

Anyway...enough dwelling on the depressing details of it...I AM determined to focus on the positive changes I intend to make.