I met Em online back in 2007 while part of a Biggest Loser Team on Sparkpeople. After the teams were established and the message boards were set up for chatting, we discovered that 3 of us lived in or had connections to Connecticut. Two of us living here full time and the other living in St. Croix but with family here so she comes quite often.
Additionally, all three of us CT girls were runners. The other two were beginning runners and often contacted me for running advice. I'm no running guru. Believe me, I'm just an old, chubby, and slow but extremely determined runner. Which I guess came through in my posts because it wasn't long before the whole team was calling me Crazy Running Woman.
Eventually, we got to meet in person - at first one at a time but ultimately the three of us would try to get together if we were all in the state at the same time.
As I said, you would think Em and I would be unlikely friends,but need of weight loss and love of running overtook the age difference and anything else that might have hindered us, and our friendship has slowly developed over these years. We have supported each other at races, run races together, and also taken a weekend trip to Boston with other members of that now defunct group. Which goes to show you that virtual friends can indeed become in real life friends too! Two years ago, when Gary died, even though she lives over an hour away, she came to the calling hours. I'm not sure I've ever told her exactly how much that meant to me. But I digress.
Em taking me to brunch is something she has insisted on doing for the past few years somewhere around my birthday. (Her parents live about 20 minutes away from me so she just makes a day of it and visits them after we get together. ) Even though the time never seems long enough we always manage to cram a lot of conversation into the couple of hours we are together.
This time, after catching up on important stuff like boyfriends and husbands and houses and gardening, we inevitably started talking about our weight. Both of us have gained back quite of bit of that weight we'd lost 4 years ago and both of us are suffering for it. By suffering I mean, paying the consequences: everything physical activity is harder, your cute clothes are packed away, stomach rolls and cellulite have made a reappearance.
As faithful readers know, I struggle with a wack job thyroid. (The rest of my issues would come from wack job choices.) For Em, it's a busy, busy career as a fairly new litigation lawyer. She basically works 6 days a week and probably puts in 80+ hours. As you can imagine, it makes it extremely difficult to have much "life" outside of a job like that. Everything is hard: meal planning, meal prepping, exercise, and even as she put it, "I'd like to clean my own house instead of paying someone to do it!" (Well maybe not literally, but you get the idea of that thought.)
Yet, there we sat, our ages two decards apart, both pondering the same end result of circumstances in our lives. I'll tell you what's universal: when a woman gains weight she doesn't want, her thoughts WILL go to trying something drastic to get it off. On the other hand we both know that while a liquid diet or extreme drop in calories 'might' take a few pounds off quickly, that's not something either of us could live with. What we are both searching for, literally, is balance. In terms of eating, we both admitted there are times when we could just flat out make better choices, yet we also acknowledged that it seems so much easier to fall back into old habits. So just how does one get there? To develop a new process that actually becomes a habit to reach for the apple instead of the chocolate, to choose the baked potato over the fried. Not that chocolate and french fries are bad; they just probably shouldn't be the choice all the time. Again, the key here being balance.
I shared with her that I recently had a conversation with another online friend who is a personal trainer who takes part in a running message board I participate in. I was complaining about my lack of progress with getting some poundage off and how it affects my running and the trainer said, "Helen - don't beat yourself up, I have a client with thyroid issues... and she has the worst time losing weight, I see how hard she works and what she eats and it's just an uphill battle for her. The sad thing is, if she slips even a little on the working out/eating, she gains. So keep doing what you are doing!"
I'd been on thinking on that all week because as Em and I talked, I admitted I do not want to live a life of restriction. It makes me angry that if I waiver even a tiny bit from food or exercise my thyroid says, "Here's an extra 6 pounds for you!" It makes me frustrated that I can't 'be' like other people. I want dessert. I want a Saturday night martini. I want a cheeseburger. BUT - I also want whole grains and fruits and vegetables. I want to to sleep in and I want to get up and exercise. I want variety and I want balance.
Guess what? So does Em.
And so, as we sat talking about our hopes and dreams, we both agreed. Life is way too short to not be at peace about food and exercise. That the key probably is just to acknowlege when better choices could have been made and then move on. No wallowing, just steps taken to course correct. The key being honesty about what you really want. Honest enough to reflect and then keep on keeping on.
This is something I'm actively exploring these days and I'm sure I'll be sharing more about my discoveries in the future. I especially want to share with Em. Because I'd like her to be free of all this by the time she's 51.