Confession

Okay, so here’s the deal. For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of recent time, it should come as no surprise when I say this: I have not really lost any weight since October of last year. In October 2011, I hit my lowest adult weight of 186 pounds, then I gained a bunch back over the holidays, and have been regaining and relosing the same 5, 10 pounds ever since.

I’ve been skirting around this for the last six months, and it’s time to face up. Lay it all out on the table. Be real with you and be honest with myself. Because if other people can be real about what they’re struggling with — the real, nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes stuff — then I should be able to too, right?

I talk about struggling here a lot. Weight loss is a battle, it’s a struggle, it’s an upheaval of a lifestyle. I talk about the mental struggle of choosing a grilled chicken salad instead of a bacon cheeseburger, the physical struggle of having to run one, five, or twelve miles, the emotional struggle of reconciling the old me with the new. But there’s something else I’ve been struggling with, something that I haven’t really talked about on here before: whether I want to continue actively losing weight at all.

Okay, now don’t freak out (I say that more to myself than to you all). Of course I still want to lose weight, just like every girl and woman (which am I today?) who has ever been unsatisfied with her weight does. I still dream about being able to buy clothing in single-digit sizes. I still fantasize about having a flat stomach and visible collarbones and having a body that someone just might envy (am I allowed to say that last one? Oh well, I’m saying it anyway.). I’ve said over and over and over again here, eventually (probably, hopefully?), I will get to a place where I’m happy with how I look. I’ll reach my “goal weight”. At some indistinct point in my future, I will reach the point where I’m content with my body, and effectively, my journey will be over. Except that this kind of journey is never really over. Even if I do hit my goal, it’s inevitable that I’ll gain a few pounds back. Our weight is in constant flux, so if I continue attaching a weight or a dress size or some other physical endpoint to my self-esteem, I’m only setting myself up for continued disappointment. If I’m relatively happy with how I look now (as much as we can be, really), even though I’m still a good twenty-ish pounds OVER my “goal weight”, whose to say that’s not worth recognition in and of itself?

Lately, every weigh-in feels perfunctory. I no longer feel invested in what the scale tells me. And I know that is mostly because I haven’t been putting a ton of effort into actively losing weight, but maybe it’s also because I just don’t care as much. Sure, I’m watching what I eat, I’m staying active, but I’m not calorie counting, I’m not measuring out the amount of cereal I eat before I eat it, I’m not tallying up the exact number of blueberries I consume. Because of this, however, because of this blog and the pledge that I made, to aim for 165, to keep going, I’ve felt like I can’t really admit that I’ve stopped trying.

“It’s just a phase,” I say instead. “I’m getting back on the wagon!” “I’m recommitting, I’m regaining my motivation, and I’m moving onward… and downward!” Only, I don’t. I don’t really change what I’m doing, I just keep weighing in, week after week, and the scale stays pretty much the same, and then I make up another excuse: Vacations! Birthdays! Holidays! Out of town guests! Because for whatever reason, I feel like I can’t just say, “I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m seriously enjoying my life as-is!” Even though that’s the truth.

So here’s the real issue: because I feel like I have this responsibility not to give up, not to surrender, not to let you down, not to let myself down, I feel myself starting to slip. I still want to lose weight, but I wonder if I’m doing it for the right reasons anymore. I’ve been battling some dangerous thoughts lately, the type of thinking that I remember well from my days as Old Gretchen. Looking for a quick fix solution. Giving far too much thought to restriction and fad diets and procedures and all of the stuff I swore off long ago. And as great as it is that I can catch myself in these thoughts, that I can recognize how unhealthy they are, it’s still pretty bad that I’m having them in the first place.

Maybe I should rephrase what I said earlier. It’s not that I don’t want (or need?) to lose more weight EVER, not exactly. I’m trying to say that I want to prioritize my HEALTH, not just my weight loss. This is not me looking for an excuse to start binge eating baconators again. This is not me asking for permission to stop exercising (my friend Kate and I actually are signing back up with a personal trainer at our gym starting next week!) or to validate the weight I’m at right now by telling me I look great as is. This is just me trying to figure out how to find some balance. Next month will mark this blog’s 2nd anniversary, and it just occurs to me that two years is a long time to have been struggling. I am young, I am enjoying my life, I’m working on some big things, and I’ve already lost 60 pounds. I mean, that’s got to count for something, right?

As you can tell from the general wishy-washy-ness (is that a word?) of this post, I haven’t come to a decision or anything like that. You already know that I hate making blanket statements, so you won’t see me saying “I’m throwing the scale away!” or anything like that. These are just my thoughts: the ones I’ve been hoarding, letting fester, and failing to admit to you all, let alone myself.

I (Re)Lent

‘Tis that time again, folks. While I was busy regaling you with overly detailed accounts of my trip to Harry Potter World, it was Fat Tuesday for everyone else. That means it’s time for (some of) us Christian folk to saddle up and head out on a 40-ish day journey of deprivation in the name of spiritual solidarity. We sacrifice one of our comforts to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, prior to his crucifixion. Last year, I went vegan for Lent. This, as some of you may recall, turned out to be an epic failure for my weight loss, since eventually I got bored of salads and ended up on a predominantly french fry-based diet. No bueno.

eat this salad
Not that fries

This year, I’m taking a slightly different tactic. Most people see Lent as a time when you give something up — i.e. meat, fried food, chocolate, soda, etc. I, however, have always been taught that as an alternative, you can instead make a specific commitment/change to better your lifestyle — i.e. go to bed an hour earlier each night or stop eating in front of the TV. In my case, this year I am committing to exercising regularly. It should come as no surprise to you all that I am not exactly a rockstar when it comes to exercising. I have an endless list of excuses that I am always willing to whip out, but what it comes down to is that I just. don’t. like. it. Despite my best efforts to jump on various wagons — Zumba, Hot Yoga, Racing — in the back of my mind I always held onto the fact that, hey, I had lost 50 lbs without regular exercise, so why did I need to do something that I don’t enjoy? It’s been difficult for me to convince myself that I do, in fact, need it. After all, here we are, one Lent later, and I’m BASICALLY at the same weight that I was during at this time last year. Fail.

I mean, I know it’s been a process, and I’ve lost a few, and gained a few, then gained a lot, and did a little bit of exercising along the way to train for races and the like. But still, it hasn’t even been a true part of my lifestyle. I think I may have finally (yes, FINALLY) come to the realization that I really need to fully incorporate exercise into my life in a REGULAR, CONSISTENT way in order to boast any kind of actually healthy lifestyle. Not to mention if I still intend on losing any more weight, and boy, oh boy, do I ever still intend that! SO. Here’s the deal: I am committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit? Well, I’m giving myself 40. If you’re fixated on the fact that Lent is about giving something up, just think of it as me sacrificing a small portion of my general laziness (which, as you all know, I do so enjoy!). If nothing else, the guilt that inherently comes with the season of Lent should help me to stick to my guns, right? Hahaha.

What am I doing here? Excitement?

To kick things off on the right foot, I did something I never thought I’d actually do: I joined a gym. A real, live, gotta-pay-actual-monies-to-go-there gym. As someone who generally has no trouble wasting lots of money, I’m not sure that the monetary incentive will really do THAT much to motivate me, but at least it’ll be giving me options. I joined Vantage Fitness in Falls Church, which is a mere 0.6 miles from my house, and despite the start-up fee, I’m pretty excited about it! They have tons of free classes, too — everything from yoga to kettlebells to spin — so I’ll have some choices that will hopefully prevent me from getting too bored. And since I seem to be one of the unfortunate few people that doesn’t actually enjoy running outside, maybe having a treadmill underneath my feet will help me build my stamina back up in time for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and Reach the Beach Relay. In case you were curious about the relay team, by the way, here’s the line-up:

1. Anne P. (Fannetastic Food)
2. Sarah (Sarah Fit)
3. Patricia (Run Foodie Run)
4. Tina (Carrots ‘N’ Cake)
5. Ashley (A Healthy, Happier Bear)
6. Bridget (Yogurt and Berries)
7. Elizabeth (On Tap for Today)
8. Theodora (Losing Weight in the City)
9. Yours truly!
10. Monica (Run Eat Repeat)
11. Ali (Fit Chick in the City)
12. Melissa (Fitness NYC)

We are being generously sponsored by New Balance, and so our team name is thus “Off Balance”! You know, ’cause let’s be honest: 2 days, 6 sweaty girls packed in each van, little to no sleep? If we weren’t all a little unbalanced before the relay, you can bet your sweet bippy that we will be afterward! (It was my name suggestion, too! Wheee!)

I am still steadfastly determined NOT to completely humiliate myself during the race, which won’t be an easy feat since as you can see I’ll be running with not only ACTUAL runners, but fierce ones at that! 🙂 I swore to myself that I’d be able to hold my own, though! And I know that throwing myself into the ring exercise-wise will be the ticket to doing so (uh, duh?). I had a consult with a personal trainer last night (free with signing up) who helped me identify some goals and specific exercises for weight loss too. And then totally duped me into buying a few personal training sessions, haha. Oh well, it’s provably necessary to sustain my motivation anyway. Teach a man to fish and all that. I will obviously be spending some days where all I’m doing is running, but hopefully by mixing it up with some other stuff in between, I’ll be able to cement this good habit FORREALZ. Wish me luck…!

What, if anything, are you giving up/committing to for Lent?