Years ago, I overcame an eating disorder. I don’t often talk about it because it is a past part of my life that I choose to keep to myself. In the heart of treatment, I often felt embarrassed to admit my bulimia, not because of the stigma associated with an eating disorder or mental illness, but rather because I was afraid people would think I was too fat to suffer from an eating disorder. I was average size, not one of the stick-thin images connected to eating disorders.
Twenty plus years later, the same nerves come back when I mention working out. I do not have the body of a runner or athlete. While I have a good amount of muscle, it is protected by a nice layer of fluff. My body is soft and curvy. Parts of it continue to move after I’ve stopped. In racing photos, I’m aware of the top stomach roll that peaks over the top of my running pants. I’ve learned to love Body Guide when running in shorts during warm weather.
There were several reasons I really began focusing on working out and taking care of my body.
- I was turning 41; my dad had a heart attack at this age. I remember how terrified and helpless I felt and didn’t ever want Liam to experience that. (My dad is fine now; it was a wake-up call for him to take better care of himself.)
- I am a role model. Liam watches everything I do. We were aware that he inherited our sweet tooth and want him to be active and eat healthy foods.
- I’ve been gaining and losing the same ten pounds since before I had Liam. I watch my diet on SparkPeople, measuring and counting everything I eat, get to a point where I don’t cringe when getting on the scale, then go back to eating how I used to. I don’t eat terribly, I just could always be better.
My goal weight has changed dramatically in my adult life. I remember being devastated when I got into the 140’s. I remember being devastated when I moved up to a size ten (double digits! gasp!) Now, I am content being a consistent size twelve.
My goals for working out no longer have anything to do with weight or size. Yes, it would be nice to shrink a little, but that is no longer the endgame. I want to break 100 pounds in my bench press; I’m only five pounds away from doing that. I want to PR in the thirty-five-minute range at a 5K next year. I want to complete my second half-marathon in under three hours. Someday, that elusive pull-up will become a reality. None of these goals have anything to do with a number on the scale or a number on a tag in my jeans.
Every Saturday morning, I take my measurements. I track my weight, muscle and fat percentages, and measurements. Since January, I have gained one pound. However, I have lost 14.5 inches overall. While giving me my information, my bathroom scale also provides BMI. Most weeks, it kindly informs me that my height and weight calculations put me in the obese category. I’m thankful that I had the foresight to track progress in ways beyond the scale. I can see my body change and tighten.
My journey is no longer about avoiding being fat or being able to outrun weekly nachos with my coworkers. It’s about being strong. It’s about doing things I previously couldn’t. It’s about being a role model for a son who proudly says that his mama runs races and lifts weights. He and I run together; he proclaims that he “runs like a gazelle.” He watches me struggle and try to improve, teaching him that he won’t get things the first time; he needs to work hard to achieve things. The joy he shows when he able to do something at ninja class for the first time is amazing! He rides that pride for days!
Maybe, as I up my running to prepare for the halfs, those last ten pounds will melt away. If they don’t, I will still be happy with my accomplishments. This journey is no longer about fat and food; it’s something much bigger!