Journey of 1000 Steps

In March of this year, I stepped on my bathroom scale, afraid to look down. My weight had climbed to a horrific number – 263 pounds – after a decade and a half of minimal physical activity, out-of-control portion sizes, emotionally charged eating binges, and a torrid love affair with carbs.  At 29 years old and clinically labeled “morbidly obese,” I was already suffering the ill effects of carrying nearly 300 pounds on my small 5′ 3″ frame.  For about three years, my feet have ached every morning upon waking, and the pain continued through the day.  The previous several months saw a sharp decrease in my energy levels, which had been already abysmally low.  I was in a place where I’d wake up in the morning and cry because I was so tired and couldn’t find the motivation to get out of bed.  Additionally, my PMS symptoms were horrible.  One day, I yelled and cussed at my poor mother for God remembers what.  It was her birthday.  I felt horrible, but in the back of my mind I was grateful that I had been ugly to her and not my kids; it was she who suggested it seemed hormonal.

So there I was, in March of this year, two months from my 29th birthday, 263 pounds, and sick and miserable. v My husband and I had begun discerning adding to our family, but I couldn’t bear the thought of becoming pregnant again at a starting weight of 263.  I had been on bedrest for my last two pregnancies due in large part to complications caused by my weight. Just like that, I’d found my motivation – the prospect of bringing a new life into this world.

After years of struggling, finding motivation and then losing it again, I found a reason to lose the weight – and it’s for my children, born and unborn.

I made a resolution to lose 100 pounds by my 30th birthday, which will be in May of 2015.  To date, I’ve lot 31 pounds and counting.  I posted my progress on my personal facebook page last week and had over 100 “likes,” and almost as many positive, encouraging comments from friends and family around the world, encouraging me in my efforts.  I could not believe the overwhelming support and love from these beautiful people.  I will be printing their comments and putting them around my house and office to remind myself to just keep going on days when I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper than water, or curl up for a nap rather than go for a walk.

So, how am I losing the weight?  Portion control – my biggest struggle – has greatly improved.  The Paleo diet has been working exceptionally well for me.  This way of eating focuses on vegetables, proteins, and “healthy” fats like avocado, nuts, and coconut oil.  Beans and complex carbs like rice, potatoes, bread, and pasta are off the table – literally.  In addition, I began the Couch to 5k running program (and stopped and started again a few times!) at the suggestion of several friends.  I alternate this with my fave workout from the fabulous 80s – Callanetics – and my very favorite, Pilates.  Perhaps most importantly, I sought medical help for what I suspected was low progesterone.  With the help of a NaPro OBGYN and several months of charting my fertility with the Creighton Model of charting, we discovered that I have been struggling with several underlying medical issues.  I was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency (likely contributing to my depression and fatigue), low progesterone and estrogen (contributing to my horrific mood swings and uncontrollable appetite around ovulation and my period), and Thyroid System Disorder (also contributing to the extreme fatigue, slow metabolism, and depression.)  After six weeks of Vitamin D therapy, my levels are much better than they were.  I have been on the thyroid medication about a week and we are working on getting the dosage right, and it’s still too early to tell whether it’s helping.  All I know is that knowledge is power, and it’s a lot easier to slay your dragons when they have a name.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues for a long time, and I still have a long way to go in remembering that loving myself is more than just a New Age catchphrase – it’s a spiritual discipline.  St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:19 that “…the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”  When I look back at my years of overeating and inactivity, I have to face the stark reality that I haven’t treated my body like a temple.  Kenny Chesney sings, “The body’s a temple/That’s what we’re taught/But I’ve treated this one/Like an old Honky Tonk.”  Yeahhh, that’s me, except I’ve treated mine more like a sit-on-your-couch-in-yoga-pants-and-order-Chinese-while-watching-Runway-Bride-for-the-millionth-time.  I realize now that I’ve got to work a little harder at this temple upkeep thing.  Ironically, I work in Facility Management and help ensure my company’s office buildings are well-maintained and regularly inspected, repaired, landscaped, etc.  If I handled one of our buildings the way I’ve handled my body…well, I would’ve been fired roughly 16 years ago.  Oops.  So I’m trying harder.  I’m eating better.  I’m having random dance parties with my kids, to get us all moving.  I’m drinking black coffee, lemon in my water, and I’ve kicked my beloved Dr. Pepper and Diet Cokes to the curb.  I’m taking baby steps, and they’re making a difference.

They say that a journey of 1000 steps starts with the first one.  I’d say I’m about a 100 steps in.  Will you join me in ensuring our bodies are worthy dwelling places of the One who created us?

14 thoughts on “Journey of 1000 Steps

  1. Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to see what you accomplish by 30! You have a whole team of supporters cheering for you! #theREALteamwendy

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  2. You are a wonderful inspiration, dear! You’re doing awesome, and it’s so great that you’re being a great example of how to treat yourself with the dignity you deserve as the temple of the Holy Spirit! With my own weight loss stuff, I really saw in myself that my exterior was a reflection of my interior. I’m amazed at how taking that journey has increased my own self-control, and respect for the gifts God has given me.
    xoxo

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    • Thanks, Andrea! I had another friend point out that I likely had begun cultivating better spiritual habits while learning self-control for the physical aspects – wouldn’t you know, I have? I never would’ve realized the two were connected before. You are so dear!

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  3. I popped over from Conversion Diary because I read the title of this post in a comment, and I was intrigued. I am glad that I did! I understand the PMS, low progesterone, vitamin D deficiency, and extra weight. In the last year, I put on 45 lbs, and I am dealing with extreme pain. I am currently working with my Creighton instructor and my doctor to fix everything. I am a runner, but I haven’t been able to run like I used to. Your story is an inspiration and encouragement to me. I will keep you in my prayers. I know you can reach your goal by your 30th birthday!

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  4. Alternatively, you could do as I did and wait until you’re in your 50s to begin shedding the weight. At my peak I weighed 340 pounds on a 5’8″ frame. Every time I climbed the stairs my chest hurt. I had sleep apnea and slept with a CPAP. My feet hurt. Clothes were expensive and never fit well. Travel was an endurance test (I flew to/from Kenya in that state of life). Getting out of chairs/cars was a multi-step effort. And worst of all? I was absolutely convinced that I could never, ever lose the weight. I KNEW I was doomed to be huge and comical and facing an early death. I even stopped going to the doctor simply because I knew what he would say.

    But, unexpectedly, I found my motivation. It was a weight-loss contest at work and I figured with so much weight, I could easily lose enuf to be the winner. (I wasn’t.) But I lost 35 pounds in three months (of mostly fasting/starving) and surprised myself. So I decided to see how much more I could lose. In a year I had lost 100 pounds. In the next year I lost another 40. For the last 3 years I’ve stabilized, though I would like to lose another 30 pounds and be — literally — half the man I used to be. But for now, no more chest pain. No more CPAP. No more freight train snoring. Clothes that fit and even *gasp* flatter.

    And then the second most astonishing thing happened. I started running. My Border Collie needs a lot of exercise, so I began taking him to the dog park to run free. And I would walk the perimeter. Then I would run (trot) bits of it. Then bits more. Then half way around (!!!!). Then all the way around. Then twice around. When I ran around the park 10 times (about 4 miles, I’m guessing), I knew it was time to try road running. I did, and I was terrible. Gasping and panting and going not much faster than a walking pace and stopping a lot. But I was amazed that I could do this thing at all. I hadn’t run twenty feet in twenty years, yet there I was, running. I signed up for my first 5K and finished it. And I haven’t stopped. I’ve done more than 30 organized runs in the last two years (including 5 half marathons and one full marathon — so.much.pain). I’ve run more than a thousand miles a year in each of the last two years and intend to continue that pace forever. I’m getting a little bit faster with a little bit more distance endurance. (Funny, when people are watching, such as at an organized race, I seem to have more endurance than if I’m out running on my own.)

    The running community has been welcoming, encouraging, full of advice, full of kinship. And that’s the third most astonishing thing: this kind of personal achievement has become self-sustaining for me. I do it because I CAN do it, and I can do it because I DO it. (Does that make sense?) As much as it’s agony at mile 6 to keep going, I keep going. And I NEVER regret the tough runs when they’re done. My self esteem has become tied to my commitment to run. Maybe I’m running away from my old self. Fine. If that’s what it takes to keep me moving, then I’ll gladly run away from my old self. (Or maybe I’m running to my new self.)

    I have two photos on the wall beside my desk at work. One is of me at 340 pounds, looking like a beach ball in clothes. And next to it is a photo of me crossing the finish line of my first marathon. Not super skinny, but certainly fit (and smiling despite the pain). They are a constant reminder of how far I’ve come (especially when some well meaning soul has brought in donuts for everyone).

    Find your motivation, and everything is possible.

    YOU CAN DO THIS!

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    • This is amazingly AWESOME, Paul. Thank you for sharing the story of your incredible journey! I know what you mean about feeling like “running” at a snail’s pace. I have slowly started picking up speed through, so I know it will get better. I can also empathize with your self-esteem being tied to running. I am already seeing that change in myself. Your story is inspiring to me! I plan to come back and read it on the hard days. Can’t wait to have my own “before and after” photos in my office. Thank you for the encouragement!

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      • It ALWAYS surprises me when people say my story is encouraging or inspiring. I have so long considered my life to be a cautionary tale that I can’t quite wrap my mind around being a good example.

        Coincidentally, I keep all of my race bibs in a special binder with a cover that says “The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step.” (I’ll be adding another bib to the collection later today after I complete a 12K run this afternoon.)

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      • Better get to wrapping your head around it. Your story is exactly what people need to hear. All of us on this journey need constant reminders that we can do this, just as other have before us. Best of luck today! Love the binder idea 🙂

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