Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's get real: Weight regain

I get fascinated with the Facebook feature "On this day," which lets me look back to memories as long ago as about 2008, when I started using the site regularly.  Lately "On this day" has been letting me know that about two years ago, though I was not happy with my weight, I was thinner than I am right now. The picture on the left was taken a few weeks ago, and the right, two years ago.

I haven't quite gained 20 pounds, but close, and that means that instead of trying to lose the last 20, I'm dealing with 40 unwanted pounds. This is what two years of weight gain looks like:

You'll notice it's not all straight up, lots of peaks and valleys. Still, the general trend is up. And what happened in those two years? For one thing, my dad started to go into a rapid decline, eventually leading to a long period of suffering before his death. I was also starting to realize that my "dream job" was no longer what it had been. That started one uptick. Then things leveled off for a while. I even lost a little bit of weight as I was training for my big race last year, not a lot, but a little.

Then, after the race, I decided to see a functional medicine doctor, who told me I was exercising too much and that I should back way off of my workouts, cut out dairy and coffee and go gluten-free. At the time, I didn't realize how sharply my weight was rising. I'm sure that I could have handled all of that better. I had also quit my old job and committed to my new corporate contracting gig. At that time, I liked the work, but I had less time for my old routines, and I'm sure that didn't help.

I'm in a situation now where I want to make a lot of changes. I have a different assignment at work and I don't like it as much as my original one. It involves a lot of administrative tasks and not a lot of human interaction. It's stressful and boring at the same time. I have been really regretting not finding a way to stick it out at my faculty job -- even though I was unhappy with a lot of things that were going on there, I had a role to fill and a lot of people I cared about. Now I spend most of my days alone in a cubicle doing computer work. I feel like I gave up on my dreams trying to chase a higher salary, and I didn't even get the money to show for it.

It has been really hard going through all of this. I don't say that as an excuse -- I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to hold my healthy habits together better than I did. I still am hoping to find better, more satisfying work, preferably in an environment that is more conducive to my mental and physical health. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to make changes where I can.

Me on the left, with two of my awesome tri friends.

It's not like everything has been failure. I did some of the most challenging races of my life in this two years.  Last Saturday, I did my first century bike ride -- 100 miles in one day. I have some great friends and family members who have been really supportive through all of this. It has just been hard, and I feel like I have been hiding from the truth, so here it is. I am hoping that posting this will help someone, maybe even me.


  1. 8:28 PM

    I understand firsthand how hard it is to face weight gain, and I'm sorry you're struggling with it. I also think it's incredible that you're facing it head on.

    You have done some awesome things - things that you could not accomplish without an amazing amount of hard work, motivation and a strong will. That only shows that you can do everything else you want to do as well.

    Hold your head up high, and I'll be thankful with you that it's not too late for us to try again.

    1. 9:00 PM

      Thanks for commenting! I have been afraid to be honest and that's why I have posted so little lately.

  • 9:03 PM

    Be proud of what all you've accomplished and ignore the scale for a while.

    1. 8:03 AM

      I am proud but I also feel unhappy about how I look right now -- it's not just the number on the scale.

  • 11:51 AM

    Hey there Jen! I was thinking of you as my FB memories told me that NINE years ago yesterday I was jetlagged in Chicago! I can't believe it's that long since I met you :)

    Just wanted to chime in with my support and applauding your courage. I empathise completely. You've been through so many major life changes and upheavals and I honestly feel that there is only so much we can hold together in times like that. Reading from afar, I have admired all you've been doing! :)

    A few months ago I did a blog interview with a friend about regaining weight back and I felt at first like I may as well have posted a naked picture, I felt so exposed! But talking about it openly (instead of hiding for years as I had been doing) really did help. Hope you are feeling okay too and feeling the support and love from your old chums in ye olde blog land! :)

    1. 8:05 AM

      That Chicago conversation seems so long ago. I am so glad we got to spend that time together. It doesn't feel like we haven't been together since then thanks to the wonders of social medial. :)

      Honesty does work better than hiding. Sure, there are some nasty people out there in blogland, but I think most people understand.

  • keepitupdavid3:58 PM

    Bravo for the honesty, Jen! I understand completely. It sounds like you've done a lot of the hard work, identifying the issues and circumstances that may have contributed to the gain. And I'm confident you'll be successful in the next step: identifying changes you can make that you can incorporate into your live right now that will help you get back to where you want to be. I'm rooting for you! KEEP IT UP!

    1. 8:06 AM

      I am working on that next step right now. I appreciate your support. I had so much fun hanging out with you in Indy.

  • 7:08 PM

    I get it. 2015 starting with uprooting my life to Japan for 10 weeks..let's just say I don't know HOW they stay skinny, because all of the food there (save the most expensive sushi) was fried (SO much fried), or super rice heavy...and thus the unintentional stress related weight gain began.. A year and a half later, I'm up 30lbs and struggling to find my way back down.

    David is right. Step 1 is identifying what did it, step 2 is figuring out changes. You've got this!
    PS: it was great to meet you.

    1. 8:09 AM

      Sorry to hear that you are struggling too. I hope that like me, you felt like you got some new energy at Fitbloggin' -- glad I got to meet you!

  • 12:13 AM

    Weird question - methods you are using in order to stand to be in a bike seat for 100 miles? I have a very broad bike seat. It should be enough support. But I have numbness problems and discomfort. I have to stop and get off the seat regularly. Ideas?

    Glad you posted. I was wondering how you were doing. Family health issues are very hard on everyone and can have a (kind of terrible) ripple effect. Jobs and job changes are also very tough. You have had a lot going on. Sorry it has been so hard.

    1. 8:02 AM

      I ride a road bike, which is different than a cruiser like your Townie. I would say that a broad seat is not necessarily the best choice for comfort even though you might think it would be. The seat I have on my road bike is narrower -- the goal is to have a good fit with your pelvic bones so they rest on the seat. Mine has a cutout so that my lady parts don't go numb (on a road bike, leaning forward, without this cutout that part of your body would be touching the seat). My seat is also pretty hard -- the whole idea is to have your weight supported on your bones and extra cushion is not comfortable sometimes.

      It took me a whole summer of training to get to where I was comfortable to ride this long. And toward the end I was very happy to be off the seat.

      My recommendation would be to visit your local bike shop with your bike and let them know what problems you are having and get them to show you seats that might fit you better. You may do better with something narrower and not as cushioned.

      I wear lightly padded shorts, too. I don't like the ones with the big huge pads in them. And I use chamois butter, which helps to keep the chafing minimal.

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07