Monday, May 27, 2013

The Lies I Tell

I exercise a lot.  On a busy week I will run 3 times, teach 6 hours of Zumba and 2 hours of water aerobics.  At least once a week one of my students says something like: "I'm surprised you're not skinny". Then I say something like: "I have a very slow metabolism" or "I eat whatever I want so I'll never be skinny but I've accepted that" or "Most of my relatives are diabetic and very obese".  I give the impression that I'm happy with my body and like being the fit fat girl.  But that's a lie.

A few years ago I went to see a doctor because I was sure she would tell me that I had a thyroid problem.  How else could I exercise so much and not lose any weight?  Well nothing was wrong with my thyroid.  A food journal showed that I was replacing every single calorie that I burned.  I was hoping there would be something wrong with me that could be solved with a pill or a procedure.  That I would magically go back down to my happy weight of 165-175 lbs without changing my life. 

For the past 6 years or so my weight has been steady at 193-198 lbs.  I had a brief rough patch where I ballooned to 212 lbs and an equally brief healthy patch where I got down to 185 lbs.  It is clear that if I want to lose weight, I'm going to have to make some changes.  For the past few weeks I have been keeping a food and exercise journal to try and better balance the calories burned vs. consumed.  There have been a couple days when I have been on track but most days, I'm way over. 

I don't know how to change my relationship with food.  I don't know how to tell my body that it's really not hungry.  I don't know how to change the way I've been eating for the past 37 years.  But I do know that my joints are becoming less forgiving as I get older.  With every half marathon or Zumbathon that I participate in I end up with a minor injury that hangs around for a while.  I am not recovering from these workouts like I used to.

It was recently recommended to me that I add strength training and biking to my workouts.  These are both activities that I participate in irregularly but that don't give me the same high as a good cardio workout.  I have been told that having more muscle tone will help me burn fat better.  That my body is so used to all the cardio that I do that I'm going to continue to maintain unless I mix it up.  That biking will improve my endurance without putting the stress that Zumba and running do on my joints.  

In the past few weeks I have met three people who have lost a significant amount of weight doing Zumba.  I have to admit that every time one of my fellow fit fatties looses weight that I get a little jealous.  It's getting to the point where I'm the only one.  My fellow instructors are always telling me how great I look and how awesome my energy is but that's not important.  If I actually liked myself at this weight and was happy with it that would be okay.  But I don't like myself.  I don't feel good physically or emotionally.  I don't want to be jealous of people who have more will power than I do.  I want to look like a fitness instructor.  I want the running store associates to stop assuming that I'm a walker when I come in to buy new shoes.  I don't want to have to tape my ankles and wear knee braces when I go on long runs because I'm not sure if my joints will hold up.  I don't want to settle for being less fat than my relatives.  

I have done Weight Watchers and NutriSystem.  I have followed diets from magazines, TV shows and websites.  All for short periods of time, all with varying amounts of success.  The bottom line is that I don't need a diet, I need a complete lifestyle overhaul.  And I don't know how to get there.  

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