a confession

>> 12.23.2010

This post has been brewing for quite awhile, I just haven't had the time to sit down and truly write it all out. It's long, and it might be a bit tedious, but it's the truth, and sometimes you just can't cut off the truth.

This story starts nearly a year and a half ago, when my middle sister graduated from high school. I flew out to Utah in the beginning of June to be there while my husband stayed in Chicago to work (What a guy...buys his wife a plane ticket home and then stays home working to pay them off). My family had recently joined a new, amazing gym and somehow scored me a membership as well. Part of the initiation into the gym included a physical assessment with a personal trainer, as well as a training session and program.

Fitness and working out hadn't been at the top of my list after I got married. We had a million other things going on (like all newlywed couples), I was trying to finish up school, and work, etc., etc. So I figured that getting a solid examination of where I was at couldn't hurt, and in the very least I might be surprised at what my numbers said.

My initiation day came, and I don't really think that surprise covers how I felt about the results I got. Try horrified and humiliated

(Brutal honesty coming up here...) I weighed 179.5 pounds, and am 5' 7" tall. That put my BMI over the top into the overweight category, and it wasn't by a small measure.  The worst part is when I looked at it and realized that I was only 20 pounds away from weighing 200 pounds.

Are you kidding me?

So, the shock washed over me like a bucket of cold water, and I realized that I had a few options.
--I could get myself together, figure out how to lose the weight and try to get myself in a better place.
--I could do nothing, but keep going in ignorance and telling myself that I didn't really have a problem.
--I could cry and moan about how it wasn't fair, and it wasn't my fault, and maybe it would just go away if I didn't think about it.

I think I took part in option three for awhile, and then decided that wasn't really working for me, so it looked like option one was quickly becoming my only choice. I went back for my training session and realized a few things: a) I didn't have to have gym membership to work out. I told my trainer what my lifestyle was like, and she came up with a program for me that could all be done in a park outdoors, or even in my living room. b) I was going to have to work for this. My muscles were going to get sore, and I was going to groan through the workout, and it was going to be painful. c) That success in this was all up to me. I could do this if I wanted to. Really, really wanted to. This wasn't about the luck of the draw in the fast metabolism category, or the body type identification program. This was about me, making a choice, and continually making that choice every single day.

I went back to Chicago determined to change. I was going to do this, and I was going to make it happen. I would watch what I ate, and work out regularly, and drop the weight in no time. Losing thirty pounds should only take about fifteen weeks, according to the two-pound-a-week principle, right?

If only.

Counting calories is time consuming, and shocking, once you realize just how much junk and fat you've been eating. It's stressful, when you have to figure out how to cut out 300 calories every day and try to not leave yourself hungry. And yeah, it sucks.

For awhile, that was all I could manage. Trying to fit exercise in there was too much, and so for the first time in my life, I let myself take a small bite of something until I could handle taking on more. I'm the type of person who dives headfirst into everything she does, and usually comes up choking because she realizes she doesn't know how to swim very well. So, letting myself go slowly was a milestone.

But it worked.

For six months I didn't exercise. I just wrote down everything I put into my mouth, and made sure that number was about 1700. And almost every week, there was a small drop on the scale (note that I said almost).
There were weeks where nothing changed, and weeks where it went back up. But over time, numbers started going down until January came and I had lost fifteen pounds. It was around this time that I felt like I had enough of a handle on "how" to eat (because yes, I had to re-learn what it actually felt like to be "full". And to realize what true "hunger" felt like as well. It was pitiful, but it is the truth) and now it was time to throw exercise into the mix.

I joined a gym five minutes down the street (because I knew that if it wasn't close enough, I just wouldn't go) and started exercising slowly. Again, a weird and big step for me, to not just try and grab it all at once. I started off with long bouts of cardio, where I wasn't forcing myself to feel like I was going to die. Just forty-five minutes on the elliptical while I read a magazine.
Then I threw weight training in there. Low weight, lots of repetition.
I mixed the routine up a bit--pulling ideas out of 'Self' magazine and things I had read online.
I started pushing myself harder, going a little bit faster, lifting just a little bit more.

I'm going to take a time out to be honest and say that I don't think I've ever been happy with my body. Ever since I was a little girl, and I could point to a section of myself and tell you what was wrong with it. There was a constant struggle to be beautiful, and to look beautiful, and to feel beautiful, and I lost often.

But soon, there came a day when I could see my triceps again, and my shoulders had nice lines and I thought to myself, "Your arms are amazing."
And then, my leg muscles started to come out from underneath the fat they had been buried under, and I thought, "Look. You are strong."
I began to give myself permission to feel beautiful, and it was a hard struggle. Battling twenty years of lies takes work.
But when it began to sink in, it was amazing.

Nearly a year and a half later, I had my numbers reassessed by the same trainer. I found out that I had lost 28 pounds of fat and put on 5 pounds of brand new muscle. My BMI was almost in the normal category, my strength and flexibility were higher, and I had literally transformed my body.
It is one of the biggest successes of my life. I had done it, and I was still doing it.
Let me fast forward to about four months ago.
My husband and I had been talking about starting a family, and having a baby. I wanted to be a mom more than anything, and I felt like now would be the perfect time to go after that dream.
But there was a niggling fear in the back of my mind--What if I got fat again?

I'm now fourteen weeks pregnant, and that is still a real fear.

So let me tell you the small conclusions I am coming to.
--I don't have to give up my body for my child. I don't have to give up myself, and what is good for me for my child. In fact, that's not good for my child either, because then I would simply sit around all day and cry. By taking care of myself, I am taking care of my baby. I think that is one of the first things that God is teaching me about being a mother--I have to make sure that I'm okay, so that I can make sure my baby is okay.
--I need to eat more food. This is weird, and sort of scary, because I'm so into the habit of 1800 calories a day. But my baby needs more food, and so do I. In fact, when I don't eat enough, I get headaches, and am exhausted and cranky. I have to give myself permission to eat more, which is frightening, but also sort of liberating.
--I need to gain weight. According to everything I've read, the average weight gain should be about 25-30 pounds. This is almost the exact amount of weight I lost, and the scale is going to read the same number it did when I was at a crisis point. But this time, it is going to be okay, and it is going to be a good thing. 
--I need to exercise to be healthy. This is the first time in my life that my focus in working out has not been about looking better or losing weight. In fact, that can't be my focus. Right now, I need to make sure that I am staying healthy and strong so that I can take care of my child when it comes. This is strange, because it's such a simple reason for going to the gym and the motivation is different, but deeper.
--I am still afraid of not looking like I used to after I give birth. I know that my body will change, but there are certain things that I want to avoid. And this is all going to be up to me. Just like it was before, I am the one who is going to have to decide what I want, and then go after that. It is going to be hard, and there are days I will feel hopeless, but I know I can do it, because I've done it before.

This was long.
It was hard to write.
If you made it all the way through, thanks. I hope it was worth your time.
This was simply honesty.
Take from it what you will.

5 thoughts:

Rach December 23, 2010 at 6:09 AM  

Just wanted to let you know that your post encouraged me! I'm back at my pre-pregger weight as of like....this week (yay!), but I'd still love to lose 10 or 15 pounds. Knowing that you lost 28 pounds is AWESOME. That is no small accomplishment! So keep up the good work! And don't worry about baby weight....if you plan to breastfeed it usually comes off relatively easily, except for a remaining 5 pounds or so (which is what I just lost). So just enjoy feeding yourself and a baby!

jessicahilgenberg December 23, 2010 at 7:55 AM  

You are beautiful and I love your heart so much! Girl, thank you for your honesty because through it you give others the freedom to be as well. Not to mention an inspiration to me!

Sarah December 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

Camille, I don't know if you remember me, but we went to school together :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too have always struggled with my weight and while i was pregnant, decided I would not weigh over 200lbs, and it was healthy for me to stay under that. Thankfully I didn't have any cravings (Gods grace in my life) while pregnant and sweets did not sound good! I decided I wanted to breast feed - a great way to drop pregnancy weight. My husband and I have started weight watchers - such a good decision for us! I now weigh less than I did as a Sophmore in High School! But rest assured, my body doesn't look like a high schooler! :) ive come to the realization that that is ok. I have a beautiful 6 month old, I feel great and I know I will be able to keep up with my daughter (and future kiddos too).

Keep sharing your story and relying on God's grace to give you strength in every situation. I really enjoy reading your blog (hope you don't think that is weird) :)

Rachel December 23, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

Well said, Cami! Thanks for sharing your journey and your heart. Great things for me to be reminded of as well. :)

Carrie December 30, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

Thanks for being so candid and vulnerable with this post... I can definitely relate! About five years ago - a year after I graduated from high school - I looked at a picture of myself and it suddenly dawned on me that all those years of continual athletics in middle and high school had kept me thin, and that not being an athlete anymore was literally showing. Thanks to that fact on top of eating Jiff peanut butter by the spoonful, I think I gained 25 or 30 pounds in that year alone. Walking with my momma and treating myself to one Dove dark chocolate a day (rather than continuous snacks) helped me bring my weight down - not to my high school weight, of course, but to a healthy woman weight. :)

I can also relate to the whole new wife / full-time student status, which I was for 4 years until last May. Definitely not helpful for having time/money to work out or plan healthy menus. By the way, I could be wrong, but I think we were in Rydelnik's Hermeneutics class together... Not sure if we actually met, but I think I remember you. Didn't you get your wisdom teeth out, or something like that??

Hang in there! I also feel your concern for baby weight... Not that I'm at that stage yet, but hope to be in the next year or two, and that concern is definitely on my mind. Listen to Rach - she knows!

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