Back in the day I was an athlete. I ran track and cross country for a few years and played varsity soccer. I never ventured above 115 lbs despite eating or drinking whatever I pleased. I was active year-round, and I was that bitch in gym class who smirked when other girls in the class couldn't run a mile without walking some of the way. I was the first girl picked by the boys when split into teams, because even though I was largely crap at everything but track-related things and soccer, I was at least able to keep up and wasn't afraid of catching a ball.

Oh, how times have changed. At 19, everything spiralled out of control and before you could say "polycystic ovarian syndrome" I found myself much larger and significantly less fit. Or, shall we say, not fit in the least. I subsisted on junk food and soda, and never bothered to exercise anymore. A closet full of fabulous, largely vintage size 2 clothing sat forlornly next to my new chosen wardrobe of bland tops and dull pants from Old Navy. There was nothing to show off anymore, so I saw no point in dressing up what should be hidden away.

Since that initial weight gain 10 years ago, I've existed in a state of self-loathing. I wouldn't dare have The Dude see me naked in a non-lying down position. At least when I'm laying down the flabbiest bits look slightly less evident. I can think of only a few pictures that I've allowed to be taken of myself in this period, as viewing of the end product makes me ill. I don't even see a hint of the person I used to be.

I know the obvious thing is to exercise. Of course. However, I've developed a sort of fat girl agoraphobia and have struggled greatly with the idea of being seen out in public exercising. I convince myself that everyone I pass will be laughing to themselves, wondering why this chubby woman even bothers. I have big boobs as well, so I'm self-concious of how they look when running, as well as my posture as a result. One of my fears is looking unathletic, which I know is strange given that it would be difficult for me to look any less athletic if I tried, but I still see that ghost of my past self sometimes and I know I have betrayed myself greatly by letting her drift away irretrievably.

I thought there was a new dawn a few weeks ago. For the first time since I began to repulse myself, I got up the motivation to go running. I waited until 9pm when I thought few people would be about, and I went out. I walked and ran (largely walked) for 3 1/2 miles, and did so three more times during the next week. I felt fantastic, a combination of the mental images of my new and long-hidden body and the concept that pushing myself to the limit physically was a great method of punishing myself. Disturbingly, I liked the fact that I felt exhausted and sick. It made me feel like I was finally getting what I deserved for letting myself become this way.

I once mentioned on here that I have been a serial near-cutter, which is so overly dramatic I feel guilty even saying it. At low points in the past decade I have been compelled to hurt myself in this way, as I was convinced the physical pain would help release, or at least balance out my emotional pain. Exercising was my new way of attempting that balance without being self-injurious.

However...because there is always a however, this plan has already been scuppered. I have developed extraordinarily painful shin splints and knee pain which inhibit even walking and going up and down our stairs, let alone running. When it first happened I took two weeks off to rest my legs, and also bought brand new insoles with arch support for my return to running. I went out last night, made it about a mile, and could then do no more. Today, I can't take more than a few steps without pain shooting up my legs.

During that mile last night, I felt reinvigorated. I was pleased with myself that I could do this again, and I knew that my dedication would remain. Until. Until. I worry that I have waited too long, and perhaps I am too big, thus putting too much weight on my poor fragile knees. If I can't run, which is painful enough of an idea in itself, what can I do so that I'm no longer this disgusting, gelatinous disappointment? I'm sure my GP would recommend walking, but PCOS means that I'd have to walk about 40 miles a fucking day just to lose a pound a week. Besides, I walk everywhere all the time anyway and it hasn't diminished the Pipgut, shrunken my boobs, or narrowed my face. Swimming is a no-no, once again due to PCOS - children would run screaming from this body in a swimsuit, nor can I bother keeping up the hair maintenence that would be required to be in a swimsuit.

My goal was to lose weight before I went to the States. We are having a big first birthday party for P. and I wanted to be able to be in the pictures. I don't want her to look back on her childhood photos someday and notice that I am absent from most of them. Conversely, I don't even like thinking of myself being photographed at the party, forever documented as the frumpy blob I have become, so far away from that girl who used to be.


Nico said...

It really sucks that your body has betrayed you in this way as well. I think it's great that you're trying to do something about it - what about other forms of exercise? Biking maybe? It's much less tough on the knees than running. Or perhaps rollerblading?

I actually got into blogs through some weightloss ones, dietgirl is an absolutely fabulous place to start if you're looking for inspiration.

Amanda said...

It's terrifying addressing weight loss because even though those first steps feel courageous, it's like a screaming admission of failure. I think you are incredible for doing this, your your own self worth and for the time and respect your little one deserves. Good luck!

tonya said...

I have so much admiration for what you are undertaking. I know that feeling of self-loathing, hating to be in pictures, etc. I hope you find a way to make your plan work for you without it being so painful.

(Assvice alert)... I had excruciating shin splits when I was in track, and the coach had me do TONS of calf stretches to counteract the shin muscle tightness causing the pain (That, and tape my legs). I remember the awful pain! I hope you find some relief soon.

Thalia said...

So sorry the running thing isn't working for you. Two thoughts.

1. The reasons you give for not swimming are unconvincing. Who cares what anyone thinks about you in a bathing suit, and ditto with the hair. If you went to your local pool you'd fine plenty of women with bodies far worse than yours and hairy legs and pubes getting changed and getting into the water. It's not anyone else's problem, it's how you feel about yourself and your body that's the barrier. Could you try it once and see how you feel just to get started?

2. You prob won't like this either, but you could use a cross trainer or bike at the gym pretty seriously and kick your body into gear. Both are low impact. I know you might be inhibited from going to a gym, but again a lot of the ppl there will be in worse shape than you.

When I started swimming to lose weight I was really quite fat, so I used to go late at night to the pool at work so no one could see me. Then one day I showed up at the pool and there were other people there. I nearly went home again but stopped myself thinking this is ridiculous. I got in the pool in front of them despite my hideous thighs and ugly suit, and started swimming. No one said anything other than hi, how are you.

I'm just saying.

rockmama said...

My body betrayed me similarly when I was 19. I developed Interstitial Cystitis which made even walking, let alone running extraordinarily painful. My favorite excercise by far, swimming, (I was captain of the swim team once in high school. Imagine that.) was out now that chlorine made the problem significantly worse.

I CAN go to the gym, but after about 3 heavy sessions, the cystitis rears it's ugly head again. It's not as bad as it was when I was 19, but it's definitely not gone like doctors promised it would be after having a baby.

I can totally identify with your feelings of self loathing. Looking in the mirror at the moment is terrifying. The baby gut is so large and prominant it just makes me want to cry. (I don't know what I expected, really, but it wasn't quite as flabby as this.) I'm starting on WW again next week, but I know it always makes me grouchy and unsatisfied. (I loves me my food)

Huge good luck. I know how it feels to show up in the States and have one or both parents look at you sideways.

seepi said...

Walking up really steep hills works for me. Depends where you live I guess!

I haven't lost any weight on the scales, but my stomach has gone in a bit, and my face has shrunk amazingly. I've been walking every day for 2 months after doing nothing for about 2 years....

DrSpouse said...

I'm with Thalia on the swimming. I think I'm still on the "you have to be nice to me because I'm grieving" free pass so I will say Get Over Yourself, dear.

Or rowing/cross training/cycling (not too bad for the shins), either at the gym or cycling in the outside since at least it's summer at the moment. Cycling to work? Walking to work?

I have read that you use the same number of calories to walk X miles as to run X miles.

Isabel said...

It sounds nice, but walking and running are not the same calorie-burning-wise.

I'm a big fat cow right now, so if you come up with an excellent, gym and running-free way to lose weight, I can't wait to read about it on your blog.

I've read a lot about t-tapp, but can't order it due to the overseas shipping issue I have. Apparently it's no-impact.

I think any exercise that involves you and your baby together might make you feel better about what other people think: a jogging stroller or a biking thingy or a yoga-with-baby class.

Emily said...

I think swimming could work for you. I have crappy knees, too, but I live to run. So, I swim in addition to help keep my joints in shape for running. I promise you, the bodies I see in the pool have got to be worse than yours -- big flabby brests, excessive hair, butts hanging out. The women probably look pretty bad, too. Seriously, I actually don't know how any of the bodies look at the pool because I have to take my glasses off to swim. Just assume everyone else is like me and can't see 14 inches past their swim goggles.

I also HATE the excessive bikini waxing needed to swim. So, I got a suit that has a shorts bottom. No more bikini waxes! Bonus -- I can take my kid in swimming without planning a spa visit in advance.