Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tis the season of milestones... and a little about running

In the last seven months, I have been on an incredible, and sometimes incredibly difficult journey.  One of the things that makes this journey worth it is the milestones I have been able to reach as I get closer and closer to my goal.  So here are a few milestones that have stood out to me in the last two months, roughly in chronological order, along with some notes about why these particular milestones matter to me.

1.  Fitting back into my high school prom dress.  Of course, I don't ever intend to wear it again, but it's one of those things that makes me think back about how far I've come over how much time.  What's interesting is when I wore my prom dress the first time, I weighed something in the neighborhood of 180 lbs.  When I fit back into it a decade ago, after losing 80 lbs with Weight Watchers, I was about 190 lbs.  This time, I fit back into it at 210 lbs.  The major take-away from this difference?  I have a lot more lean body mass now than I used to in high school or when I was 25, because I was physically the same size even though I weighed more.  I've been working with a personal trainer once a week for almost a year now, and I think my smaller size is due to that work.  Hooray!  Truth be told, I don't really care what my final weight is as long as I feel healthy and I'm happy with how I look, and being fit and strong is a big part of that final goal.

2.  Being able to shop at (AND buy clothes from) stores like Gap and Old Navy.  I've always wanted to be able to shop at Old Navy, but I was afraid I wouldn't fit their clothes so I never went in and tried.  As a kid, I used to enjoy clothes from the Gap, but they quickly became too small for me to squeeze into.  It took a lot of courage that first day to walk into those stores, unsure if anything there would fit me, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only did they fit me, I was able to find stuff I liked and could afford to purchase! Awesome. :-D

3.  Realizing when clothes from a certain store don't fit me, it's not a problem with ME, it's a difference between the shape of my body and the shape of the clothes... nothing more.  On the same day I tried out Gap and Old Navy, I also went into Banana Republic.  They have cute clothes and stuff that would be very work-appropriate, so why not, right?  I started looking around, and found a pair of size 16 slacks that looked interesting.  Then I did a double-take, looking at the slacks more closely.  Banana Republic's idea of a size 16 is NOWHERE near Gap or Old Navy's idea of a size 16 (it is, of course, much smaller).  Not only that, Banana Republic seems to design their clothes for women who have less difference between their waists and their hips.  That person will never be me.  I will probably end up with a figure approaching Marilyn Monroe's once it's all said and done; no matter how much weight I lose, I will always have an hourglass figure so Banana Republic may never be a store I shop at.  It's nobody's fault, and nobody's bad... it's just not a good fit for me.  What a relief to realize that!

4.  Getting under 200.  When I reached my breaking point with my weight and decided to go on the MNP, I was almost 300 pounds. I weighed 298 lbs, to be precise.  I was desperately afraid of what would happen to me if I allowed it to be OK in my mind to have a "3" be the first number in my weight.  To go from that place of fear and worry to now having a "1"at the beginning of my weight is an incredible relief.  And it helped that it was nearly simultaneous to the next milestone...

5.  Losing 100 lbs.  This is the most weight I have ever lost in my life. In fact, I've lost more than my 10-year-old nephew weighs.  That's pretty darn stunning. It also means I'm about 2/3 of the way to where I think my final goal weight will be.  Woohoo!  To celebrate, I got myself a massage.  :-D

6.  Getting to the point where I can run one mile again.  This is a biggie for me.  When I was growing up, I used to dread "Presidential Fitness Testing" season.  You know, where someone tells you to do a whole bunch of exercises that you've hardly ever done before in your life, and then expects you to do well at them and criticizes you if you don't.  Not a very happy experience for someone with perfectionist tendencies.  In particular, the one mile run was a form of torture I would have happily foregone if there had been any way of doing so.

I remember one particularly bad year, in 6th grade, when we were told to run the mile for Presidential Fitness Testing.  I had just recently developed asthma and didn't have any aerobic exercise as part of my regular routine due to the majority of my time being spent in singing rehearsals. The combination of those two things plus pushing myself to do well and desperately wanting not to be the last person to finish left me exhausted, nauseous, jittery from the overuse of my asthma medication, and humiliated.

This memory has stuck with me my entire life, and you can imagine how I felt about running for many, many years.  Then, in 2006, I had the realization that maybe the reason why I didn't run so well that day was because I had never TRAINED for running, and had never been TAUGHT how to run for longer distances by the school that was supposedly preparing us for these fitness tests (I'll save the rant on physical education in the schools for another day), and I decided to learn how to run one mile by training to run a half-marathon through Team in Training.  That was one of the best experiences of my life, with amazing and supportive coaches who accepted me where I was without hesitation.  Most of all, they taught me that running is about gait, not about speed and that in order to run, I have to find a pace that works for me and go from there.

Unfortunately, I injured myself that year (my overenthusiasm got the better of me and I pushed myself too fast, too far), and spent several years doing physical therapy and walking to strengthen my leg to the point of being able to think about running.  When I had been able to run, though, I absolutely loved it. I loved the way my body felt when I was striding along at my comfortable pace, and I loved how my mind cleared after getting into the groove of the running motion.  Being able to get back to that has been a long-time goal for me.  About two weeks ago, I was able to run my first mile in a long time, a huge, amazing gift, and one that I don't take lightly.  I'm really careful now not to push myself too far or too fast, because I know re-injury is just around that corner, and running is something I don't ever want to have to give up again.


  1. Thank you for sharing Erin! What a pleasure and an honor it is to read your story in blog form! Go you! :-)

  2. Thank you for sharing such inspiring milestones! It feels like I am just beginning my journey so it is wonderful to hear these wonderful moments!