Saturday, August 8, 2009

Four frustrating years

Four years ago, at the end of August 2005, I moved to Virginia. In a farewell to readers of my newspaper weight-loss column (see prior blog post journeying the 150-pound weight-loss over two years), I promised I'd handle my new life, in my new body, with care.

It would be harder than I expected.

At my lowest weight, I was 167 pounds, maybe 166. But even before I left North Carolina, I was already a tad heavier. I remember snacking on trail mix in my hotel room during my interview for the Virginian-Pilot job. I had trouble buttoning my jeans.

During the move, I snacked a lot. Cereal, trail mix, more trail mix, more cereal. And that first month in Virginia, I didn't exercise at all. By October, I was already 13 pounds heavier. At one point in December, I weighed 193 pounds.

I still ran, though. And in January, I took on my first big running challenge: the half marathon. Through the Team In Training program, I trained to run a half marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. I completed that challenge in June 2006 (while raising more than $7,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and would go on to run six more half marathons and countless 10Ks and 5Ks. I loved running. But I was a slow runner, thanks to my weight gain.

My weight fluctuated a lot, and I was constantly trying to get back on the wagon, but I never could get back down to the 170s, let a lone the 160s. By early 2007, I was in the 200s. By late 2007, I was 210.

I remember thinking that if I got close to 215, I'd have gained 50 pounds back, and that terrified me.

So last summer, in the summer of 2008, I worked hard to lose weight. As a result, I found I could run better. I got to 178 pounds and it was thrilling. But then...

After completing the Baltimore half marathon and celebrating my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., the weight began to creep on once again.

This year, I started working out harder than ever before in my life: spin classes twice a week, PowerCut classes twice a week, running three to four times a week, including the long marathon-training runs that have climbed to 15 miles. And I would watch what I ate about five times a week, with some backsliding on weekends. For two or three weeks, I'd work hard, step on the scale, see no progress and go into manic bouts of eating, eating, eating. The "why bother" phase I wrote about before.

I had promised myself I'd be at a lower weight as I got into the harder marathon training phase, and yet, I'm heavier than ever (well, not ever, but "Virginia ever"). I know you're not supposed to try to lose weight as you train for a marathon; I've read dozens of books and articles and I know better. But I've got to try. I'm tired of injuring myself so much -- injuries I can't help but think wouldn't happen if I weighed less.

So I'm back. Publicly writing about my weight-loss attempt, hoping it will be the key to success. Of course I want to lose weight to look better, but more than anything else, I want to be a better runner. All the training in the world can only go so far if I remain this overweight.

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