Friday, September 3, 2010

Self-Sustaining, Green, Crunchy, Locavore, and….Obese?

The Problem
This is a hard post for me to write but one that I can’t put off any longer. As our family continues this journey towards a more sustainable way of life, the one aspect of our lives that sticks out like a sore thumb is – me! I never guessed that I would be one of “those women” who "let themselves go" after getting married. But I've become a textbook case! I've gained almost 40 pounds in the five years of our marriage (20 in the first 1.5 years & 15-20 since having my son in 2007). My BMI (
Body Mass Index) today stands at 31.9 - for me, 11 pounds into the obese category! Me - obese! The word makes me cringe. And while I don't think of myself as obese, I am certainly overweight. It's time to take action.

I've always enjoyed food. However, in my younger, unmarried (and no kids!) years I was usually able to exercise when I wanted, for as long as I wanted. This helped to keep my weight down to a more acceptable range. It doesn't help that I'm a stress eater. My cousin, on the other hand, is a stress non-eater. Under stress she gets sick enough to her stomach that the mere thought of food makes her queasy, whereas under stress I get sick enough to my stomach that I eat to make it feel better, which then makes me queasy! It's a vicious cycle.

Upon our marriage I became an instant full time mom (with a full time job) to two children under 6 and within a few months we were crazy enough to both quit our jobs and start a new business. A year after our marriage I became pregnant with our youngest. Needless to say I was stressed. New marriage stress, business stress, money stress, and kid stress. So I ate.

The Ramifications
About three weeks ago I woke around 2:00AM with fairly intense pain & tingling running down my left arm. I never got back to sleep and it had only slightly lessened by daybreak. To say this freaked me out would be an understatement. I went to a walk-in clinic a few hours later and my blood pressure was completely fine. Thankfully, no heart attack (which of course I figured but I didn't know if anything else unsavory was going on). I did request a basic panel of labs drawn since I hadn't had any in over three years. Fortunately the results came back with fairly flying colors. No more blaming my weight on a possible thyroid problem or diabetes (both issues in my family). Even my cholesterol was 198, the lowest it's been over the last 15 years (again, my family has a tendency towards high cholesterol).

But there are other reasons to lose the weight that have nothing to do with the medical side of things. For instance, I don't really like to go out in public. I think I probably hide it well, but I could think of a million other things I'd rather do than be seen in this body. I've become much less outgoing than I used to be. I don't usually strike up conversations with people I don't know because I don't want to draw attention to myself. I'm so sick of wearing the same two pairs of jeans (even to church!) and 3 or 4 shirts because I haven't fit into my "cute" clothes that I've had in a box in the closet for the last 4 years. My self esteem can be low at times and this effects our marriage. Then there's the cost of purchasing more food than I need. Another thing that has really been on my heart recently is the fact that here we have this "healthy living, sustainable lifestyle" blog, and while we live and breathe everything we write about, I can't get a handle on my eating. It's hypocritical and embarrassing and I don't want to be that person any longer.

The Plan
I need to lose about 50 pounds. I truly can't remember the last time I weighed 50 pounds less than I do today. Even on my wedding day I was only 35 pounds under what I am now. Losing 50 pounds would still put me at a BMI of 23.0, in the higher range of normal. However, I have never been a bean pole and I don't expect to ever be one. Now, just how quickly can I lose 50 pounds? When I “did” Weight Watchers a few years ago (twice, actually) I almost always lost exactly 1.2 pounds per week after the initial higher weight loss of the first few weeks. Dividing 50 pounds by 1.2 pounds/week, that means it will take me approximately 42 weeks to lose that much weight. 42 weeks – to the end of June, 2011 - almost 10 months! Ugh. That sounds like a really long time. It’s hard in this culture of instant gratification to accept the fact that it may indeed take that many months to lose this much weight. But it took me a while to put it on, so it should take me a while to take it off. Plus I do not want this to be a diet. It is a lifestyle (both mental & physical) change that I must sustain for the rest of my life. And I’m OK with that. I want to see my kids grow up, and I want to be able to retire with my husband. And consuming more food than I biologically need in theory takes away from those who are truly hungry.

What I Will Do to Keep Myself Accountable

  • Write down what I eat for each meal and snack, every day. I find that I am so much more "present" with my eating when I follow this simple rule.
  • Weigh myself once a week.
  • Exercise at least 5 days a week. I've been having trouble with plantar fasciitis since about April, but on the days that my foot hurts too much to walk, I will do a Pilates video or the like here at home.
  • Do a quick blog update once every two weeks so you guys & gals can follow along with me.
If you want to join me you are more than welcome! Feel free to post something here even if you have less or more weight to lose. I know I'm not the only person going through this right now. We can encourage each other - celebrate the milestones and perhaps give ideas to work through the setbacks. Losing the weight will be better for our health, our family, and the environment. Are you in? -Carrie


  1. I'm a self-sustaining, green, crunchy, locavore...and VEGAN and still fight my weight at each turn of each day!

    What I eat is so very good for you but really does one need 6 (or 8) pieces of homemade bread in a day...I'm thinking not!

    So I utterly and completely feel your pain. I would love to lose 30 pounds which I have very well distributed across my body.

    And having yet another woman (my mom) diagnosed with a cancer that is quite likely tied to the overproduction of estrogen in fat is yet another motivator.

    So count me in for sure! Kim

  2. I don't think you need to weigh 15 pounds less than on your wedding day!
    You look great on that photo. It might cause a lot of frustration if you shouldn't loose those last pounds, instead of, at that point, happiness for losing 35 pounds already.

  3. At my wedding I weighed in at a svelt 123. What I wouldn't give to be even 15 pounds more than that now.

    So, to that end, I am in. Recognizing that I would look somewhat skeletal at 123, I am going for a loss of 20-25 pounds.

    From past experience, a food diary makes a huge difference in results. Sometimes it just isn't worth writing down the junk food, so, you skip eating it.

    Way to go girl. The first step in success is admitting the problem.

    The Silver Fox

  4. What Pigs Don't KnowSeptember 4, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Kim - Thanks for joining in! I know people look at me quizzically in the grocery store because I, too, eat almost only healthy food - I just eat too much of it. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Hopefully doing this together we can reach our goals. I'm sure your mom would appreciate it.

    Anonymous - Thanks for your kind words, I do love that photo. And about your concern - I was originally planning to lose 40 pounds. Just under wedding day. But when I checked the BMI it says that I would only be something like 0.1 points under "overweight". Now don't worry, I will not let the BMI calculator rule my life. However, I think it has some validity. Believe me, if I can get down to my wedding weight and maintain it - I will be ecstatic. I'm going to take it day by day.

    Silver Fox - Welcome aboard! The more the merrier! I already feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders by getting this out in the open. Hopefully it will for you, too. I totally agree with you about the food diary. It truly does help.

    To all - I've added the label "Getting Healthy" to this post so if you want to look only for posts related to this topic, check there. Also, would you guys prefer a brief weekly update or one every two weeks? I still want to keep this blog green-focused, so I don't want to overload it with my "new lifestyle" journey. Let me know if you have a preference! Thanks - Carrie

  5. Hey everyone,

    I just saw this. How are things coming along? -Edith