Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Beginning of the New Me - Part 2

After I finished the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K, it was time to face another issue. My feet. They were killing me. The second I stood on them, I felt a stabbing pain in my heels. I could barely walk. I visited a podiatrist and he said I had something called "plantar fasciitis." PubMed Health describes it as an "inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot." Either way...I HURT. The cause? Me trying to run. Basically, he told me in a nice way, I was too fat for my feet to be able to run. I had given myself plantar fasciitis and the only way to fix it was to stop trying to run, do certain stretches, wear only tennis shoes, and ice my heels. He left out "and lose some weight, fatty" but I knew that was part of the equation. How in the world was I suppose to lose weight if I couldn't exercise?? I HAD to lose weight. Plus I was going on a cruise in November, and I had to at least be mobile!

I tried on my own, but the scale wouldn't budge. I decided I couldn't do it on my own anymore, so I did some research on weight loss programs. I landed on Weight Watchers because they were the only ones that didn't involve buying pre-packaged food. I knew, in order for me to lose and keep the weight off, I had to do it without special foods and learn how to lose weight by being able to make my own food. I walked into Weight Watchers on August 28th, 2010, and stayed for the meeting. It was like every comedy sketch I had seen - all these people talked about was food. I wanted to laugh! But I was inspired by the people there who were openly sharing their struggles. I decided to give myself three months. I didn't even tell my parents until about the third week. For so long I had talked about losing weight, it was time for me to shut up and just do it. So I did it. Right after I got myself a final farewell Five Guys Burger and Fries for lunch. Literally. I went to Weight Watchers, signed up, and got a cheeseburger and fries for lunch. Isn't that an indication of the change that needed to be made? Sheesh!

By the time my cruise had rolled around, I had lost 15lbs in two months. I even lost 4lbs on the cruise! I was finally feeling successful. The pain in my feet was starting to lessen. And more importantly, the pain in my mind and heart from the "incident" was starting to lessen. The one thing that I've learned during my weight loss journey is it's not just about confronting a number on the scale - it's about confronting the reasons and the emotions behind why the weight was gained in the first place. The more that I addressed my weight, the more I kept reliving the "incident." The weight I carried around was a burden and a reminder of the insulation I had built to protect myself. As I shed the weight, it also meant having to shed the hurt. Part of me had become accustomed to the hurt, if that makes sense. I had lived with it so long, it had become part of me and I had to be willing to let it all go if I had truly forgiven that man. In November 2010, I ran into an acquaintance, someone I only knew by his first name. He seemed uncomfortable, but that's because he was trying to work up the nerve to share with me that I knew his brother - "the man." He didn't know the specifics of what happened, but he wanted to apologize to me on behalf of his brother for the harm he did to me. I can't imagine how difficult it was for him to talk to me about that. But I realized that I hadn't forgiven his brother like I thought I had. God gave me the opportunity to see that I still had work to do in regards to forgiveness. But I resisted the opportunity and turned back to what always comforted me in the past: food. Over the next two weeks, I ate and gained 4lbs. He had invaded my world again, and I wanted to rebuild the insulation. I was so mad at him all over again. I realized that I was scared to let go of the hurt that he had caused. If I let go of the hurt, then what did I have to hold on to? Truly, letting go of the hurt meant that God could have filled that space with something fantastic, but for some reason I kept choosing the hurt because it was familiar.

I reminded myself that all of these emotions were part of the journey, and I didn't want to blow the progress that I had made. I learned that when I was stressed I would pig out. I used food to calm me. I would also use food as a reward for when something good happened. When I celebrated completing my first 5K, I went to Five Guys. It's pretty obvious I have a thing for Five Guys, isn't it? I also used fast food as a crutch. Instead of planning food, I'd convince myself that I was too busy to make lunch so I'd have to get Burger King or Wendy's or Chick-fil-A. I noticed that failure to plan equaled failure at the scale, and disappointment with myself. There were some weeks where I stayed the same, and I was okay with that because it meant at least I was dealing with whatever issue popped up without going to food. At some point I realized that I was tired of being disappointed in myself and by myself, and it was stupid for me to continue to do things that made me hate myself. I decided to start doing less of the things that made me hate myself and more of the things that made me proud of myself. If I knew I couldn't eat out and come away feeling proud of myself, I didn't do it. If eating a second helping of something was going to cause me to feel hatred or disappointment toward myself, even if I had the Weight Watchers points for it, I didn't eat it. If watching TV instead of going for a walk made me feel disappointed in myself, I went for the walk. I didn't succeed at doing this 100% of the time, but "do less of the things that cause disappointment in myself and more of the things that make me proud of myself" was a guiding principal for me and still is today.

During the winter months I joined a gym to keep myself active. I also had set a goal to be able to drastically improve my time at the the 2011 Baltimore Women's Classic 5K. I practiced running for 30 seconds every two minutes or so and would gradually build up my time. The important thing with exercise, for me, was to just do something. When I first started exercising at the beginning of the prior year, I could barely do 10 minutes at 2.0 on the treadmill. My brain, lungs, and legs screamed at me to stop. But I did it. The next day, I did it again. And I did it again after that. I told myself each time that I would look back on this day and remember where I started. I remember going for a walk in my neighborhood and being able to only "run" for 10 seconds. It felt like torture. But I told myself that I was laying the groundwork for Future Erin to live out her dreams. I needed to suck it up and do it for her. And I reminded myself that, a year prior, running for 10 seconds wasn't even an option. Each time I got out there, I could do a little more. My goal was to be able to feel successful at the 2011 Baltimore Women's Classic and do my best race.

By the time the 2011 Baltimore Women's Classic 5K rolled around I had lost 30lbs with the guidance of Weight Watchers (45lbs total) and a lot of hard work. This time I did the BWC with some wonderful women that I met through Weight Watchers. It was amazing seeing each of these ladies succeed at completing their race. I ran/walked my best race, and I was so excited to cross the finish line. I secretly hoped to be finished the 3.1 miles in 40 minutes, and I finished in 38:24 with a 12:22 pace. I shaved 10:52 off my time from last year!! I can't tell you how exhilarating it was to cross the finish line and know that I had given it my best.

Over the next two months, I continued to be diligent about my walking/running and did the River Valley Run in August for the very first time. I had always photographed it and secretly wished that I was like the people doing the run, so I made the decision to just do it. Unfortunately that day I was feeling miserable with a head cold, but I did it anyway. That was another big change for me. Before I would have backed out, but this time, I did it. I didn't worry about beating my time from the BWC, I just enjoyed the scenery and was thankful that I could complete the race - and I did it in 40:30. Not bad for being sick and not really trying!

By the time the fall came around, I found myself losing steam. I knew that come winter I would lose motivation and not want to work it. It's my pattern. So I decided that I needed to change that pattern. Also, I had hit a plateau and I couldn't seem to bust past a certain number on the scale. I had felt good that I had lost all the weight that I had gained from "the incident," but I was stuck at the weight I was when it all started. Mentally, I felt like if I could separate myself from that number than it would give me a clean break from what happened and I could put it behind me. I didn't realize the work God was going to do in me about that number over the winter months.

Read Part 1 of the story here.
Read Part 3 of the story here

5 comments:

  1. Erin - thanks for being so transparent! I couldn't help but notice your finish time of 40:30 and God said to look up Isaiah 40:30 "Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; (vs 31) but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." God Bless!

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  2. Erin: As a woman who understands much of you are going through, I am inspired by you. What an honor God gave you to bless so many through your journey. Thank you for sharing such a personal thing with us. Amy, Halethorpe, MD.

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  3. Erin- Thanks for sharing your story. I do understand much of what you are going through. I still find myself at times turning to food for comfort or out of bordom. It makes me angry at myself that I have been doing this over and over for years! Time for a major change.
    Is there a part 3 of what God did for you last winter?

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  4. You are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. :)

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