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Monday, September 2, 2013

Breaking up with the Scale and Loving Yourself Instead

At the Biggest Loser RunWalk expo, during Danni Allen's talk, a woman that looked no older than 23 asked a very relevant question. Having already lost 175 lbs with a few more to go, the woman said that she was having issues with body dysmorphia and still seeing herself as her obese self. She asked how Danni dealt with these feelings.

I'd see this and thought I looked thin
I nodded emphatically as the woman asked the question. Since reaching goal, body dysmorphia is something that I have struggled with as well. The dysmorphia I'm experiencing now is the opposite of what I experienced when I was obese. When I was obese, I would look in the mirror and see photos of myself and not see myself as morbidly obese. I thought I looked fine, even as I would lose my breath tying my shoes.

Now, I look in the mirror at a woman of healthy weight and BMI and still see something with which I'm not happy. It seems absurd, since I know I should be very proud of my accomplishments, and I am, but I still am having trouble letting go.

The demon I'm still facing is very real, and is sitting just a few feet away from me in this room as I write -- it's the scale. As useful as it was during my weight loss, the scale is now my worst critic. But I can't break it off with the scale. I'm still so tied to the numbers on the scale, and it's getting to the point where I'm doing myself more harm than good by stepping on the scale every few days.

This is particularly an issue at the moment because I'm still having a very hard time balancing my food with my half marathon training. Now running upwards of 20 miles a week, I know that I have to be increasing my calorie intake because of the work I'm doing. However, this means that I'm suddenly basically eating everything in sight, which, after losing 90 lbs and exerting such self-control for so long, brings on immense feelings of guilt.

What I see now -- and I'm still unhappy
I've gained a few pounds back with my half marathon training since I probably am eating a little too much for my training, and each time I step on the scale, I feel shame. I know that it is all in my head, and it is all totally self-inflicted. I look at the number on the scale, think "oh my god you're such a fat cow right now." Then I look at myself in the mirror, and because I thought it, that is what I see.

I felt it earlier today when I ate way too much of things that I should not have at some friends' party this afternoon. I went into the party thinking I needed to get a handle back on my eating habits during social events, since my choices lately have, well, sucked. Did I eat as much as I would have during my obese days? No. I probably would have helped myself to two more crab rangoons and another one or two pieces of birthday cake. But I was still disappointed in myself for not living up to my own promises. As penance, I went to the gym as soon as I got home and ran until the gym closed.

But running should not be a punishment. It didn't even assuage much of my guilt. Sure I burned off a bit of what I ate, but I still am upset with myself that I ate it and that I lost control. Again. I'm mad that keep calling myself a fat cow to the point where I see it in the mirror. I'm upset that I still allow the scale to control me, causing me to lose control over myself.

More than ever, I realize that it is time to put away the scale -- put it out of sight completely. If the number I see is just going to make me upset all day, I need to break off my relationship with the scale. It's gotten to be a toxic relationship and I need to do what makes me happy. I need to learn to love my body, "warts and all" as they say, and not punish it by not only eating bad food, but then later, out of guilt, depriving it and "disciplining" it with workouts.

I need a full body-love attitude makeover. It'll require me to grasp control of my eating habits and rid my pantry of the foods I know I tend to binge on when I'm thinking "I ran 7 miles today, I can eat whatever I want." It'll require me to store the scale out of sight, and find the fun in running again. It'll require me to stop calling myself a fat cow, even when I feel like it. It is not what is actually reflected in the mirror and the self-negativity helps absolutely no one.

I need to stop comparing myself to the women who have lost a ton of weight and have perfectly flat stomachs and not my deflated skin mess of a stomach. It's not fair to myself and it's not productive. I have to stop tying my recent unlucky dating adventures to my looks ("did I wear something that made me look fat on our first date?")

I need to start loving myself again.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Race Review: Buffalo Grove Stampede 10K (or, why races should start at 7am)

I wanted a good filler 10K in the midst of my half marathon training, so I got it in the form of the Buffalo Grove Stampede, part of that town's BG Days, a village festival. Buffalo Grove is very close to where I grew up and not too far from where I live now, and the Stampede is also a CARA Circuit Race, so I signed up so I could get some points with my running club.

I arrived in Buffalo Grove and managed to find a parking spot in one of their designated parking locations. Thankfully, I did not have to park at the movie theater and take the shuttle bus to the starting line. I couldn't imagine the smell on the ride back on one of those school buses!

The registration area was pretty easy to figure out -- I picked up my packet without issue, but then over the loudspeaker came the announcement that they placed the B-Tags on the bibs in the incorrect orientation and we would have to turn the bibs sideways. Not a big deal, but I had just pinned on my bib when I had to take it off and re-pin it!

I found the Oak Park Runners Club participants and joined up with them pre-race to chat. Side note: I am very happy that I have now met several members. It's nice to have some folks to chat with before and after the races!

Now, as to the race itself. I'll start with the positives. The course was lovely. I was a little worried when I read the disclaimer that 60% of the 10K course was a crushed gravel trail, since I had never run trail before, but it ended up being totally fine, and actually better on my joints. Once we got back to asphalt after going through the trail, my knees were like "Nooooo!"

The trail bit was very pretty -- through a forest preserve and down along the banks of a creek (it was so hot I considered jumping in!)

And that brings me to the negatives. This obviously was no fault of the organizers, but it was blazingly hot. By starting time, it was over 80 degrees with over 60% humidity. The sun was just beating down in a cloudless sky and the course was literally shadeless. By the time I finished, it was 90 degrees outside.

One thing that could have been done about this is the race start time. When I checked the weather forecast for Sunday, I was expecting a race start time temperature of about 70 degrees. Wrong-o. First of all, the 5K started at 8:00am. The 10K, however, started at 8:22am. In my opinion, that is just an incredibly late start, particularly for a 10K. Starting a 10K at nearly 8:30am on a weekend that still is usually warm in Chicago seems nuts to me. This may just be a personal opinion, but races should always start at 7:00am or earlier, no matter the season.

I was displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion by Mile 4. My goose bumps were out of control, and my body depleted itself of fluid so rapidly that I literally had stopped sweating. I had hydrated myself a ton the day prior and the morning of the race, but I had no more fluid to even sweat out. As soon as I crossed in a fairly the finish time, in a time that was quite disappointing to me if I'm being honest, I had to run for the shade and sit down. As soon as I did, I thought I would faint. I hope that the 76-year-old man that crossed the finish with me then nearly collapsed is OK.

Obviously I'm fine now, but it was a very tough race for me. I would love to do it again next year, but maybe I'll do the 5K instead. Hopefully things will cool off before my long-awaited and long-anticipated Run For Your Lives race in three weeks! I'd be so mad if I overheated and had a miserable time at that event since I have been looking forward to it for so long.

But on to the next, each race is a learning experience, and I certainly learned from this one!

Buffalo Gove Stampede 10K
September 1, 2013
Buffalo Grove, IL