Things I Wish I Knew 103 Pounds Ago

I have always liked those stories of what someone would tell their younger self, knowing what they know now. One hundred and three pounds ago was only early 2013, but I was a completely different person then.

So, here’s my advice to 248 lb. Karen.

Dear Karen,

You’re about to embark on a journey that scares the hell out of you, but you need to know a few things before you take that first step.

First, while you think it’s a weight loss journey (and while you cringe at the whole “journey” phrase that’s all over the boards in My Fitness Pal, you’ll come to embrace it), you’ll eventually figure out it’s a health journey. It’s more about the numbers on the scale (or as you refer to it and still do today – ” that f%$^&*g scale”), it’s about all the changes you’ll make, the pounds you’ll lose, yes, but more importantly what you’ll gain.

I know “gain” is a four-letter word, but hear me out. As all that fat falls off, you’ll also lose self-doubt, insecurities, and while it’s a harsh term – but sadly it fits – self-loathing. But what you’ll gain is priceless, self-efficacy (look it up, you’ll learn about it later when you take that Health Coach class), confidence and the ability to say you like and love yourself.

It won’t be easy. Whoever said weight loss isn’t linear was right. Lots of ups and downs on that f%$^&*g scale will drive you crazy. Stop basing your worth on what that one number says. It’s one number! What’s more important is how you feel. You’ll be able to do so much, from simple things like touching your toes, to deadlifting more than your body weight (okay, not the 248, but 175 lbs. was pretty impressive), to running a couple of 5Ks each year. And you were “overweight” while doing those, so what does it matter what the scale says? Yes, this is also for current day Karen, as I do still give the scale more importance than it’s worth, but I’m trying and getting better at it.

After your read this, you’ll start logging today’s food on My Fitness Pal. This will be one of the key moves that leads to your success. Read all the forum threads you can, there’s a lot of great information on there and it’ll show you how to make this work because it can be done. And you will do it. The education of what, how and why is the reason this is going to work for you this time, you didn’t know enough before, but you will now.

You’re going to learn to cook. Stop laughing and put down the takeout menus. Nothing wrong with eating out but you can’t keep doing it every single day. Not good for your body or for your wallet. Start backing off now, you’ll thank me later.

You’re going to exercise. Again with the laughing?? I’m serious. You’ll start walking, first around the lake, then gradually longer distances. You will enjoy it so much and you’ll notice how you feel when you miss a few days. Appreciate it now, because when you catch up to me, your new job will only give you time to do it on the weekends. It’s still great therapy, even when those pesky geese threaten your life.

And it won’t be just walking. First you’ll use the gym at the clubhouse, including a trainer, then you’ll join the UNC Wellness Center and start doing classes. You are going to love TRX, it’s something you can do, even when you’re obese. You’ll go to several TRX classes a week and start to get what you call “baby biceps.” What you’ll also notice during this time is that you’ll choose the straps that face the mirror and you can actually look at yourself without feeling disgust. Yes, really. You’ll start noticing that whole confidence thing, you’ll make friends in these classes, you’ll try new ones, Kettle Bells, Muscle Conditioning, Boot Camp and more. And guess what, you’ll start going to the 5:45AM classes!  In fact, you’ll go at that hour Monday through Friday before work and find it gets your day off to a great start, (yes, you got a new job, you survived).

Do more strength training now. I made the mistake of focusing on cardio and the need to burn calories. Many plateaus later, I went to the dietitian and learned, that while I lost fat, I also lost muscle mass and that’s why things slowed down. You’ll decide to use a trainer to learn to lift heavy. You’ll feel intimidated by the idea of lifting weights in that part of the gym, but you’ll follow your trainer around and see how comfortable she is and over time, you’ll find you can go there by yourself, and feel like you belong. And realize no one else really cares or is staring at you. That’s a major step.

Probably the biggest hurdle for you is stress eating. You’re too good at it. Food has always been a source of comfort, food doesn’t let you down like people do, food is a reward for a bad shift at work, or when life in general isn’t going well. You need to stop this. I need to stop this. It’s still an issue, but with the help of our dietitian, it’s been less of an issue lately, you don’t want to disappoint her by backsliding when things aren’t going well. It’s still hard, but less hard for me, than for you. Just hang in there. You’ll get it.

We navigated this journey over some potholes and detours, but always found the way back. It’s worth it, it really is. You’ll do great, I’m doing great and we’ll handle whatever else comes along.

“She believed she could, so she did.”

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