Monday, May 24, 2010

The Long Haul

As a runner, I am not a sprinter.  I do not actually care for the 5K distance because in order to run them best, you have to sort of go all out right from the starting line.  I'm actually a pretty slow starter but I do tend to get faster as I go along.  For example, I ran 3.25 miles this morning and each mile I ran was almost exactly 1 minute faster than the previous mile (love being able to see my splits at the end of my run due to my Garmin!).

I have often referred to myself as a Crockpot - the longer I go, the more I heat up and then I cook steady.  (Sprinters are more like microwaves - they zap! their runs.)  I am at peace with that.  Maybe it's because I didn't even start running until I was 42 years old and didn't try a race until I was 43.  On my very first training "run" I had a 75 year old runner come back around to look for me because everyone else had finished the loop.  Humbling.  And eye opening because I had to decide right then and there if I was going to stop running or if I was going to be at peace with my pace. Ultimately, I did make peace with my pace and found out about 10Ks, 10 milers, Half Marathons and Marathons.  Not that I became like a fabulous Kenyan runner or anything but the longer distances allowed me to settle into my pace - to be in it for the long haul and actually enjoy what I was doing.

Every night I read a little bit when I go to bed.  Currently, thanks to a lovely blogging friend, I am in the midst of reading The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl.  This is Shauna Reid's memoir of losing half her body weight.  She composed the book in a diary form by week.  After the introductory segment in which she explains her background and her thought process to deciding to do something to lose weight, the entry starts:

Week 1
January 16
351 pounds
186 pounds to go

By last Thursday I had reached the point in the book where the entry read:

Week 110
February 18
222 pounds
129 pounds lost, 57 to go

I don't know why I suddenly "saw" what I was reading but it dawned on me that while she had lost 129 pounds, which is a heck of a lot of weight - but it took her 110 weeks (averaging 1.172 lbs./week).  Then I remembered that wasn't 110 uninterrupted weeks of weight loss.  She had some ups mixed in with her downs.  Suddenly bells and whistles and lightbulbs start going off in my head. Shauna is a Crockpot!

For whatever reason, this realization gave me hope.  I definitely used to be a microwave when it came to weight loss.  I was one of those people who would decide to drop 5 or 10 lbs. for an event and would do so, with a small amount of effort. I think because of that, this journey I'm on now has been extroardinarily hard. Now, due to years of dieting that messed up my metabolism, plus an uncooperative thyroid, plus midlife, I am not only a running crockpot, I have become a weightloss crockpot.

At this point I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Well, it's a lifestyle."  Intellectually, while I know that to be true, I've had my secret deadlines like anyone else trying to lose weight.  My perfectionist streak has been very angry because over the last 3 years, I never seem to make my ultimate goals and I have been involved in some pretty terrible behavior. No one is as hard on me as I am on myself.  I have punished myself constantly.  I have not let myself  fully participate in life - by not enjoying things I should have, by not having the fun I should have.  I have excluded myself from events and activities because I wasn't as thin and pretty as the other women involved.  I have sat at the edge of the pool and refused to cool off on a sweltering day because I didn't want to expose my horrendous looking body to others at the pool party.  Instead of buying something that fit, I have stuffed myself into too small clothes and spent many days in misery and uncomfortableness.  I have even beat myself with food - at first by refusing to "allow" myself to even have a taste of something I really like, because I didn't "deserve" it, and then alternately stuffing myself with too much because I had been subsisting on steamed green beans and lettuce with vinegar for days on end. 

Enough is enough.  I am done with self flagellation. Lately, I've begun to realize that it doesn't matter that I started trying to lose weight in 2007  Maybe I haven't finished yet and while I've had some ups, I've never regained all the way back to my highest weight. As nutty as it might sound, I'm pretty proud of that.

I am stopping the attempt at a sprint right here and now and I am preparing myself for endurance. I am going to make peace with my pace.  Like a crockpot, I may cook slowly, but I don't have to have a deadline to get to the finish line.


  1. You can do this Helen!

    Very very clever, and I'm glad that you realized something enormously helpful. You are incredible, unstoppable and undefeatable. If you believe in you as much as we do. You are AWESOME.

    P.S. you've nailed twitter. You are a postgrad now.

  2. GREAT post. Really needed this type of thinking!! Thank you!

  3. Great post, Helen. I'm glad to see that you are cutting yourself a bit of slack. Perfectionism is a wicked master, for sure.

    I was a slow runner, but I was so tripped out by the fact that I was actually running that I never let it bother me (much). I knew that I was never going to be good, but that wasn't my point.

    Why, oh why do we do the whole stay on the side of the pool thing? I've done it, too. Far too many times. Putting so much emphasis on what we weigh takes a lot of joy out of our lives. Yes, health is important, but so is living fully. The story I tell myself is at the end of my life, no one is going to announce my weight at my funeral. What I hope they do tell is stories of the joy we shared, the experiences we had, the laughter and the fun - and the fact that I learned not to take myself so seriously.

  4. I absolutely loved reading this post Helen! Loved the analogy of the crockpot too! I am just like you - I want to sprint and get this thing over so I can do maintenance, but it is a constant self sabatage - extra bites of this, the extra glasses of wine.

    Thanks for your writing today!

  5. Thanks for this post!! I love it! :)

  6. Great mantra - enough is enough. I've coined it and meant to email you to tell you but forgot. Glad to see it's coming in handy for you too. Way to relax and ease up on yourself.

  7. Great realization and likely the start of a new outlook for you. It takes a lot of courage to face the truth. Sometimes the truth sucks, but facing it is the first step.

  8. I have realized lately that I feel really good. I weigh in at around 156-157 lbs.
    The rest of the weight I want to lose is really vanity weight. It will come off as Igo. If I just stick to the calories and the exercise. So I have decided NO MORE DEADLINES. I am enjoying things now...I will hit goal when I hit goal.

  9. It's so funny. I had written a post on Saturday about how terribly disappointed I was in myself. 27 months and I'd only lost 75.2 pounds. I should be at goal. The more I wrote the post the more ridiculous I sounded.

    I'll get there when I get there. I've changed how I live, how I eat, how I exercise. I'm comfortable at 164, but 135 still sounds like my dream weight. Maybe I'll get there, maybe I won't, but I've decided it's okay. Sounds like you're in the same place. :)

  10. Hey that is so cute! I am a crock pot too! Better slow and steady than never ever!

    I know that when I gain weight I want it gone yesterday. It just does not happen that way.

    I am glad that you have made peace with your weight loss and can take it as it comes.

  11. You may cook slowly, but you still COOK!!! I love this post and I love your new perspective!! Thank ma'am!

  12. Crackpot! I'm reading Women Food and God and she talks about beating ourselves up and what kind of life we might have if we actually stopped beating ourselves up. what a novel idea. And so are reading the books - novel ideas.

  13. Im a plodder not a runner.

    and I adore shauna.
    hers was truly the first book I read (I did a video review of it on my site when she was having a virtual book tour) where I finished and thought:



    she inspires.

  14. Loved this post Helen - it speaks volumes!

  15. You hit the nail on the head! I've decided that this is my forever journey. That's ok, I'm working on me!