On Fueling and Feeling Better

Last week on Instagram I showed a not so fabulous side by side picture for transformation Tuesday.

I’ve been holding off on writing about my new fueling strategy for a few reasons:

  1. I hate talking about food.
  2. I hate talking about weight.
  3. I hate talking about food and weight.
  4. I hate talking about how much I’ve hated talking about food and weight for the last 20 years.

And my hatred runs deep friends, real deep.  On #4, I just didn’t feel like internet rehashing my whole, torrid experience with weight, body image and running.  But, as I started on my own fuel better, feel better 2015 extravaganza, I found that other people, sharing their experiences really helped me.  So, in an effort to help someone else, maybe, I’ll tell you all about my experience.

And for that you’ll have grab a {healthy if you feel like it} snack and settle in.  This is a long one.

{link to the tl;dr here!}

When I started college I was overweight.  I think I was overweight in high school but I honestly had no idea.  I was so happy and such a positive self-image.  I had awesome friends, I was gearing up to go to a college I was so excited about and my family was {and is} supportive. How I looked and especially how much I weighed literally never crossed my mind.

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I loved those pajama pants.  I think I also won something.

Then, I got to college.  I lived in a single dorm {no roomate, holllerr!} and my floor was filled with really awesome girls, some of whom I really connected with.  One of their favorite things to do was talk about how much they ate or didn’t eat.  Or how much they exercised {a lot}.  Suddenly,  I was looking at myself differently.  Sure I was still happy and independent and all of the other stuff but now I realized that I was overweight.

I think it’s worth noting here that I do NOT fault my new freshman friends or college or living in a dorm with what happens next.  I think that you are a product of your environment but most of all you’re in control of your own actions and behaviors.  And that was the light bulb for me — I wanted to be in control of my body.

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hi Eric!

The summer after my freshman year, I stayed in the single dorms and worked two jobs and took classes.  I also took the opportunity to start counting calories and working out.  I started by walking on the treadmill 30 minutes every day and lifting some of the weights in the gym I saw the other girls lifting.  On calories I would just write down what I ate and, with out doing any research or talking to a doctor, decided to try to eat less than 2,000 calories per day.

And the weight started to fall off.  And the compliments started to roll in.

I kept restricting my calories more and more and continued to exercise.  By the end of the summer I was able to run 3 miles {!!} without stopping and I was eating 600 calories a day.  This summer started my love of running and my love of controlling how many caorlies I ate.  Usualy the fewer the better.

In the fall, I joined my sorority and was convinced that it was because I was finally thin and therefor pretty, not because I am nice or fun to talk to and tell ridiculous sotries.  I continued to restrict my calories and run.  I was wearing clothes I never dreamed I could wear, meeting people I loved and getting attention for all the wrong reasons.  People would constantly tell me how great my body looked.  I was lean {gaunt} and strong {starving} and people LOVED to tell me how impressed they were {with my calorie restriction and abuse of running {which I loved so much}.

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ugh, I don’t even look healthy.  I do however, miss that belt

That spring, when I was home for the weekend, I went for my run.  I tried to keep the pace i normally kept {this was before I knew anything about cadence, paces or running really, I just knew it made me skinny} and I couldn’t. I got home and complained to my mom that I wasn’t able to run as fast or as far as I normally could.  She looked at my with that worried mom face and said, honey, I don’t think you are fueling it properly.

Wait what?

But I’m skinny!  People like me!  What about this fuel.  You want me to eat more food?!  Food is the enemy!

For the rest of my university experience, I struggled, but I was able to eat and exercise in moderation.  However, every pound I put on caused extreme anxiety.  By the time I gradated and started graduate school I was an anxious ball of worry.

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I really liked that choir dress

That first year of graduate school threw me into a tail spin.  And instead of restricting my intake, I would binge.  By the end of the year, I gained about 45 pounds.

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MB loved that shirt.

I moved to DC and during that time, I completely gave up running {sad}.  I was using food as a way to deal with all my issues:  I missed MB, my life was listless and I was just sad.  When MB came around {hooray!} and moved in with me, he was like look you, I love you no matter how you look {not super great, let’s be honest} but I can’t marry someone who doesn’t eat fruits and vegetables {at the time, my diet consisted of anything fried and liquid cheese.  And diet coke — old habits die hard} and I knew I had to get it together.

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engaged and pumped about it.

So, I started Weight Watchers.  And I lost 50 pounds.  I found running again and I ran my first half marathon.  I was the lowest weight I had every healthfully achieved.  Then I thought I could keep it together on my own, no more Weight Watchers.  I resented the way that I had to count my points.  No one else has to do this, I would think to myself.  I know how to eat.  And I run!!

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totally normal

But I didn’t.

By February of 2013, I was well into my 30 races.  I told myself since I was running so much, I didn’t need to watch what I eat.  Anymore, ever.  As the 30 races ended and I set my sites on my two marathons, I was turning to food to deal with depression and anxiety.  I kept telling myself I could eat whatever I wanted, I was running 125 miles per month.  And the queso, and chips and cookies weren’t telling me I was bad at my job.  After Big Sur, I was realized that there was a problem, I was a running a lot but I was not fueling properly.  And I was legit depressed.

big sur

happy!

It all came together when visiting my new doctor, she said that she was worried about my weight increasing {about 4 pounds within a month}.  We talked about my history and what was goign on with me.  She gave me two options — outpatient therapy or Weight Watchers.  {she also put me on an anti depressant, which helped a lot}.  I looked into the outpatient therapy but it was very expensive.  I heaved a huge sigh and looked into Weight Watchers. Again.

I went back to my doctor, and told her that I didn’t think it was for me, tracking points.  Other people don’t have to track their food.  She very patiently responded:  do you manage your finances?  Yes, MB does.  Do you manage your task list at work?  Um, yes, I definitely love making lists and crossing them off.  So why don’t you manage what you eat?  Um.  I don’t know, because I don’t want to?  Why not, she wondered aloud.  It might help make you feel better.  Maybe just by changing that mindset of feeling sorry for yourself.

FINE.

So I went to my {second} first Weight Watchers meeting at the beginning of October.  Since then, I’ve lost 22 pounds and I finally feel in control of my fueling.  Rather than thinking about Weight Watchers as a diet, I’m completely, 100% committed to it as a lifestyle.  Like forever.  Tracking points, going to meetings {for support.  which is wonderful.  I love the meetings} will be how I manage my fuel from now on.  My running has also improved.  Turns out when you’re not hauling around extra weight, you run better.

tl;dr :  I used to restrict calories and over exercise.  After I got help, I started getting depressed, swung the other way, was binge eating and gained 50 lbs and stopped running.  Then I lost it again.  Then I started binge eating again ever though I was running.  Now I’m back on Weight Watchers, lost 22.2 pounds and I feel super.

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I don’t take enough bathroom mirror selfies

There’s really no way to end this without being weird or trite.  So that’s the end.  I hope,if you stayed this long, and you needed a boost, that this helped.  The one thing I’ve really taken away from this is that I am worth taking care of, that I have to manage my food intake to run healthy.

12 thoughts on “On Fueling and Feeling Better

  1. dpost36@cox.net says:

    Hi Lauren, I’ve read your entire blog on this and over many months of reading what you write, it always pops up how many ‘sugar’ food/diet coke you eat. I’m not one to talk because I do the same and as I grow older the lack of exercise doubles the effect of sugar. My biggest source of sugar is regular coke! It is addictive, and that’s the way Coke and all soft drinks manufacturers want, drinkers craving more. And it works! I limit now how many 2 ltr. bottles I buy and even dilute it a little with water to have some and still not as much effects. I don’t particularly like water, but make it a point to get it in the best form I can – by itself!

    I’ve also learned self hypnosis for many things related to my physical, mental and spiritual health. Things I am totally in control of. Very effective.

    Each of us inherits a body type from someone genetically related. Mine happens to be my Grandmother Hoffman. She was probably not overweight because of being a farmer’s wife, but my build and even facial looks are a lot like her. I note that other health issues like hers and my mother have shown up over the years. I have virtually ALL of the same health problems mom had. The other side of this coin is that FOOD WAS DIFFERENT when she was alive! Farmers had the best advantage, if they chose to, of controlling what their meat source intake was, vegetables and fruits – long before pesticides arrived.

    Now when I go to the store, even those selling ORGANIC food, it is almost (not quite) amusing to read BOXED PREPARED FOOD as being organic! There is no way something in a box could be completely organic ! AND the fresh food (vegetables and fruits and meat) have to be even suspect because the BUZZ word is ORGANIC. Whatever sells shows up everywhere in everything. Supposedly fresh foods do not even taste as they should. I notice the fresh fruit out here is plentiful all year around and the strawberries have no flavor! They LOOK beautiful, but no taste.

    I see the food industry becoming even more convoluted, and expensive. It seems the more they leave OUT of food, the more expensive it is! Food coops are good places to become involved in because even if you are not as totally enthusiastic as other members, you’re in the loop for learning, and appreciating what really GOOD food is like.

    I had a doctor in Illinois that I went to after I was finished with 30 radiation treatments for breast cancer because I was very disturbed about the side effects of the anti-cancer drug I was on – supposedly to keep it from returning. He just happened to be a Doctor of Osteopathy (they require more medical studies than MD’s) who gave up the current medical paradiem of “reach for the prescription pad.” He wanted to “get to the root cause” of disease and other health problems – not band aid them. He always said unhealthy persons are in DIS-EASE with their body. He has been widely assulted for this, but his dedication to changing the public thinking has been unshakable. He was tough! No dancing around the issues with him. I still research his newsletter for information in order to get his opinion on health issues I’m dealing with. He’s also one to follow the dollar when it comes to the intertwining of industry with politics, giving a broader picture of what makes a given situation what it is.

    Food is a life style. One that is increasingly harder to maintain. I wish you well in the support you receive from friends, and hope that those who major in these fields will continue to be a resource for you.

    Love to you, and keep it up girl! You are destined for greater things! It is coming together!

    Aunt Donna

  2. My Brave Wings says:

    I seriously needed to read this today. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. That last picture, you look so strong and happy and full of love for your amazing body. I, too, have struggled with my weight since I was a child. I desperately want to change, but need pushes like this to finally do something about it. I run, but my diet is holding me back. I’m not fueling my body, I’m letting my emotions feed on crap. Thanks for sharing, I hope I can truly begin my journey and become healthy, you are an inspiration.

  3. Sarah says:

    I am SO proud of you for sharing your story. You’ll never know how many hearts you’ll touch- or how many lives you’ll change- just by sharing your experience. I’m so glad to call you friend. Love you!

  4. Lauren Hopkins says:

    I needed to read this today. I’ve been struggling recently – traveling too much to work so eating like crap, getting sick with colds (because I’m traveling too much and swamped with work and exhausted) so I’m not running as much, and just not being happy with what I see on the scale or the mirror. I’ve been resistant to the idea of weight watchers as well because I don’t like the idea of having to track points for my food (really, I think I’m in denial and I’m afraid tracking points will make me realize I need to cut back on things I love).

    Thanks for your courage and inspiration!!!! <3<3<3

    Also, are we going to see your gorgeous face next weekend?!

    • lnrbailey says:

      Lauren I’m so glad that you found this at a time when you needed it. That’s exactly why I wrote it!
      AND YES I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOUUUUU!!!!

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