Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weighty Issue

It's getting hot now and we're running far enough, that we travel with our not-so-stylish-but-very-functional water belts.

As I strapped mine on the other day, I couldn't help but notice how much two 8-ounce bottles of liquid add. Even though I run with only two of the six bottles that my belt holds, this small amount of liquid feels like I'm lugging around a small child latched to my waist. It seems to add several extra pounds in my mid-section.

Then, I thought to myself, I am lugging around several extra pounds. Unfortunately, it isn't only due to the water belt.

Weight's always been an issue for me -- if not always physically, most certainly mentally. Even when I'm at my lighter weights, I feel fat. I look in the mirror and see fat. Even when I know I'm not. It's always been that way and unfortunately probably always will.

Seriously, it's almost obsessive. I look at almost every woman and compare myself to them -- are my legs bigger than hers? My butt? Stomach? I stare and grab at my fatty parts and imagine just cutting out the unwanted stuff. (There's plenty of it.) I pick out people I'd like to look like -- eventually.

I just never seem to get there. And even when I'm closer, I still do it.

Several years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I looked good, I'm sure -- at least that's what people told me -- but I still wanted to lose more. And so I did.

I turned to extreme dieting -- I know I never ate more than 1,000 calories in a day, probably around 500 on most days. I lived on giant travel mugs of black coffee, water and a heaping pile of veggies for dinner. One meal a day, that's it. Definitely no snacks. I weighed myself no fewer than 10 times a day.

Every now and then I'd treat myself to a single wheat tortilla wrap. Yes, that's right. I'd treat myself to a paper-thin, plain wrap. And it tasted so good. I'm sure my body was craving anything substantial -- and at that point, a wrap seemed substantial.

Inside, I knew it wasn't the right way to do it. But, with the gushing compliments and my loose-fitting pants, I kept at it. I began to love the feeling of feeling hungry -- that pit in the bottom of my stomach that never went away. Sometimes I'd be so hungry I'd shake. But I liked it. That's how I knew I'd get thinner.

People began asking me if I was sick because the weight was coming off so quickly. And believe it or not, I actually felt good when they asked.

You think it would be a wake-up call to me -- I mean, really, I'm a pretty smart person -- but instead I felt that it validated what I was doing. Messed up thinking, I know. I guess that's how these things work.

It doesn't help that when you lose weight -- no matter how you do it -- people compliment you. And when you gain, people don't.

I surely wasn't stick-thin, but I took quiet pride in the fact that my hipbones stuck out and I could see each vertebrae on my back.

At my lowest, I was about 30 pounds lighter than I am now. I kept the weight off for quite a while -- a couple of years -- even after coming back to a healthier lifestyle. Then, slowly, the pounds came back. And then some.

These days, I'd love to lose 10 pounds -- well, I'd love to lose 12 pounds, actually, and I'd be happier losing 15 or 20 pounds. But I figure if I set my goals a little smaller, I might achieve them. (Kind of used the same mentality when deciding to run a half marathon before the full marathon, I suppose.)

I imagine that running would easier for me with those few pounds gone, like running without an extra 20 water belts hanging from my body. Maybe I'd actually feel good about wearing running clothes in public, especially the shorts. I'd like to be the person that people look at and aren't surprised that I can run 13+ miles on a Saturday morning. I want those pointy knees, dammit.

It's so tempting to go back to bad habits -- the weight came off quickly, I looked good, I wore any clothes I wanted to, people complimented me on my body. And it was easy.

But I can't. I won't. I have to keep telling myself that.

I'm come way too far to do stupid things like that again. Plus, I know I can't do that and train at the same time.

And so now I struggle -- some days a lot -- with wanting to lose weight the right way and not being able to do it...and the constant temptation to return to the way that worked for me in the past.

I mean, seriously, if you knew someone who ran literally hundreds of miles, spent hours in the gym and had decent eating habits for several months, wouldn't you expect they'd lose just a little? But, nope, not me. Sure, I know I'm a healthier person and I've built muscle, but the scale just doesn't budge.

It's frustrating. Really frustrating, to a point that I've actually cried over it. I can't believe it.

I guess I just have to keep working at it, refine my eating habits a bit more and keep trudging along.

Hmm, trudging -- that's a pretty good description of what I feel I'm doing when I feel like I'm dragging along these tree trunks I call legs. Worse than tree trunks, they're jiggly tree trunks.

I know I should take pride in all that I've accomplished -- and I do. I've done things I never thought I was capable of -- and surprisingly enjoyed doing it. Heck, I'm training for a marathon. That's 26.2-freaking miles.

But I don't like failure. And this struggle to hit those magic numbers on the scale seems like failure.

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