My Response to Emily: A Spark to a Flame, Find Your Kindling For Weight Loss Success

Hello friends! I’ve been remiss in posting here. While I have been posting regular video updates to my channel on YouTube, I haven’t always been linking those here. I am a bad, bad blogger. I guess I’ll make up for it today by posting a blog the length of a short novel, so sit down and get comfortable!

The last couple weeks have been a swirl of transition with me starting back to work. Things have been going… ehhhh, okayyyy I guess?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Going back to work after being off for well-over a year is no walk in the park. Starting any new job is mentally exhausting (which of course leads to physical exhaustion as well), so I’ve been struggling with feeling really tired in a way I haven’t in a very, very long time. But it’s a GOOD tired. It’s not depression tiredness, or slug tiredness; it’s a tired sensation that has heaps of satisfaction underneath. And mornings are invigorating for me in a way they haven’t been in so, so long. I’m looking forward to going in to work every day. How crazy is that?

So despite my genuine efforts to be a superstar and knock balancing my new job with my healthy lifestyle outta the park on the first swing, I’ve still felt like I “haven’t been doing enough” in terms of activity by not formally hitting the gym three times a week. The fact that I was weighing myself every day and seeing the scale go up did not help mental matters. But I was bringing all my food, tracking it, walking around the office as much as possible to get my Fitbit steps in, trying to drink as much water as I could reasonably do while wearing Spanx (pro tip: spanx plus hydration doesn’t work – plus spanx cause me severe constipation, who knew?!?), and taking 15-minute walking breaks each day after lunch. All this while trying to absorb a lot of new information and process… I’ve been totally kicking ass! And yet, feeling funky about my weight.

And then I ended up hurting my foot and putting myself out of commission (and work) for 4 days last Friday night. **CHARLIE BROWN AAAAAAUGH** So yeah, last Friday I planned to go to the gym after work. Packed my gym bag and was all set to go, but mid-day I realized I had left my sports bra at home. Um. These knockers REQUIRE sports bras for anything jumpy I do at the gym, so, harrumph. But I was still DEAD SET on getting some activity in. So I decided to walk the campus at work (they have these 2, 3, and 5-mile fitness paths available) and get a 2 mile walk in.

But I took a shortcut and didn’t change my sneakers. BAD IDEA. The sneakers I wore to work didn’t have my orthotic inserts (also a BAD IDEA), so by the time I was finished with a 2.5 mile walk, my proverbial dogs were barking. Got home, took my shoes off and put my feet up for a couple hours, but when I got up to go to bed I COULDN’T WALK. My right foot was totally out of commission. Couldn’t bear any weight on it and hopped on my left leg into bed hoping overnight rest would fix it. Nope.

Long story short: trip to urgent care revealed a bone spur near my Achilles tendon’s insertion point on the heel, but they couldn’t help me. I spent all day Sunday on the couch. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I could actually put my heel on the floor and put any pressure on it. By the time my appointment with a podiatrist rolled around, I was about 75% recovered. (Yay!)

But this hiccup took a toll, just like the job did. But this toll has been higher. See, what happens when I get sick? Well, my eating goes to hell. It started on Saturday with a trip to Five Guys for burgers. And then Sunday I ate a giant burrito. And then yesterday I finished that burrito and had pizza and a giant chocolate chip cookie for dinner. And I started thinking about going to get a dozen donuts for myself this morning. Feeling mighty binge-y at the moment. Classic Julie. Get sick? EAT ALL THE FOOD.

This is where I’ll transition to talking about my friend, Emily. You may know her. She’s kinda awesome. I woke up this morning and before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes, I was reading her latest post. If you haven’t seen it, click here and read it now. And make sure to watch the embedded video, too. The rest of this post can wait.

Okay, didya read it? Cool! We can move forward!

I was so inspired by her post that as I was reading it I got up out of bed and started heading towards my laptop. I was so flooded with feelings that I was compelled to respond. And thus here I am. I know that in this blog I choose to celebrate my successes a lot. That’s part of why I’m successful, I think, is that I don’t let the small victories pass without bragging them up all over the place. It makes me feel good, helps me stay motivated, and keeps me on what is generally a very rocky path.

The part of Emily’s post that I really wanted to respond to was this:

“I’m still not in a place where I 100% believe that I will lose the weight and build a solid recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. Frankly, I don’t know if that confidence will ever come. I wish I could be one of those people who has a grand “AH HA!” moment, where the heavens open up and I’m suddenly struck with a never-before-felt sense of purpose and motivation.

I am just not one of those people.”

This has been me for so, so long. So many previous efforts, I felt this at my core. Sure, you get yourself whipped up into some willpower frenzy, feel like you can take on the world for a bit, then the reality of a slow process hits you in the face pretty quickly, and you lose that motivation. That’s being human. Why is it different this time?

When I started this process I was in a dark, dark place. I had been out of work, had fallen into another massive depression spell, and was working through it. My eating was off-the-charts bad. And I was feeling the physical effects of the weight on my body in ways I hadn’t previously. When taking my daily walk from the bed to the couch, I’d feel my heart pound and would actually feel winded at the end of it! I despised myself. I felt suicidal. I felt that I had screwed my life up so much it might just be better to end it.

I reached out for help. I always do, thank goodness. I sought counseling for my depression, and slowly, like it usually does, the depression started to lift. I started to care about myself, the teeniest, tiniest of bits. And when I crawl out of my depression funk, one of the first things I start thinking about it losing weight. It’s like a self-defeating cycle.

I knew I had food issues that I needed to work on. I didn’t know how to approach my desires to lose weight, so of course, TO THE INTERNET! I found blogs to follow, I looked up nutritional counseling, found a practice nearby that seemed like it was what I needed, and met a fabulously-positive counselor who made me feel supported and normal and human in a way I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. And then I did the thing that ended up changing everything for me: I called my insurance to find out how to extend my available time with her, and learned what services were available to me. This is how I found 20/20 Lifestyles, which, for me, was the structure I needed to really start on this journey for reals.

Here’s the thing: while there is a place of hope that needs to happen at some point on your weight loss journey (usually at the start), this hope needs to be supported sufficiently and strengthened by success.

That hope is not enough to carry us. We need supportive structures around us that keep that hope alive. Because wanting it isn’t enough. I’ve been that person who’s been wanting to lose weight, knows I NEED to lose weight for my health, but I didn’t feel that hope deep down for very long. Maybe for a week or two, but never long enough to sustain the necessary efforts. This has gone on since I was a teenager. And this is what got me up to being so overweight.

That “A Ha!” moment Emily mentioned doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It usually starts with a small spark. Maybe there’s a little fuel to keep it flaming for a second or two. But without a sustained supply of oxygen, it will not keep burning. We get those sparks dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times. But so rarely do we have that sustainable resource of support to keep us going.

Part of the 20/20 Lifestyles program were weekly support group meetings with other women on the program. That group started with about ten women, and ended with merely three of us. The fact is one solution isn’t the kindling for us all. We all have individual needs in that regard. What works for someone else isn’t gonna work for me, and vice versa. For some food tracking may be the thing that works for them. For others, they may need a hearty rewards system. Still others may need intense years of therapy to keep them going. And some, like me, may need ALL of those things and more!

The other part of Emily’s post I wanted to address was that overwhelming feeling of having so much weight to lose. When you’re looking at needing to lose over 100 lbs to get down to a reasonable weight, and losing 1 or 2 lbs a week is your average (or less), it can feel too monumental a task. The hope helps at this stage.

But as you start knocking pounds off, two things happen:

1) You start realizing you CAN do it. That spark starts to become your persona. You’re not just hopeful that you can do it, you ARE doing it; and,

2) The changes you’ve effected start to work in your favor. Your eating patterns are different, and habits are formed that make it considerably easier to resist temptation. Activity becomes part of your life and missing out on it becomes something you actually MISS when denied the opportunity. And as you get smaller/fitter/whatever there’s a strength that comes that makes you feel empowered to do more, to strive for more. Confidences are gained that you never thought possible. That doesn’t happen at the END of the rainbow, that can hit at any point along your journey! Thank goodness!

These two changes, these evolutions that occur are vital, as well. Because, life. Illness happens, injury happens, funky times happen. I’m going through it right now. Last night I was plotting the route to Top Pot Doughnuts and planning which dozen I would select. This morning I’m thinking about the leftover pizza in my fridge. I WILL ALWAYS HAVE THESE URGES, AND SOMETIMES I WILL GIVE IN TO THESE URGES AND BINGE.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean I’m going to fail. That’s not something I felt at the beginning, I can 100% tell you that. But I feel it at my core now. I am not sick with feeling of failure while planning on eating pizza. I know that I’m going through something (injury + TOM hormones = binge), but that I’ve gone through something before and come out of it. This is what self-compassion is for me, and it’s vital to this process of transformation.

At the end of this, all I can really advise is: find your kindling wherever you can, and fan those flames, friends! I know we can win at this!

Weigh-In Update + Vlog #44: Going Back To Work!

Hi folks! It’s about that time for another weigh-in report. Last week I weighed in at 187.6 lbs, and this morning the scale read 186.0 lbs, so I’m down 1.6 lbs this week, for a total weight loss of 86 lbs since starting last summer. Go, me!

Watch my full video update with exciting news below!

I guess the title spoils the big surprise this week, but I’m stoked to announce that after spending a little over a month interviewing for a position, last week I was offered the job and I start TOMORROW! Squee! Going back to work is both totally exciting and totally scary at the same time. Excited because this is the place I’ve wanted to work at since moving up to Seattle, so obviously that’s worthy of excitement. Scary because I haven’t worked in over a year, and there’s a small part of me that thinks maybe I can’t hack living this new healthy lifestyle while working full time.

But that’s a very teeny, tiny part of me now! I’m confident that with the proper attention, I can continue my path of healthy eating and pushing myself in my exercise activities. So wish me luck!

Second thing corresponds to the above-mentioned exercise activities. A while back, I tried running a little bit during my training sessions on the 20/20 Lifestyles program. My body didn’t like it: shin splints and hip pain plagued me whenever I tried to switch up my walking cadence to a jog, so my trainer and I concluded that maybe I should wait until I dropped a bit more weight before my body could really handle the mechanics of running.

Well, this weekend on a stroll around the block I got the urge to run a bit, and managed to run a whole 0.8 kilometers WITHOUT STOPPING. My previous record for running was maybe two minutes at a time, tops – and this length blew that time outta the park! I was so excited I went out again the next day to see if I could break the kilometer barrier – AND I DID! So, so exciting. The first few moments while I’m running (okay, jogging), it feels really hard. But at some point it feels like things get better. I focus on my breathing: deep breath in, fast breath out; deep breath in, exhale again… and then I’m around the block.

While I’m still huffing and puffing and sweating like crazy after a mere kilometer, it still feels SO MUCH BETTER than it used to. I’ve decided I’d like to train to run longer distances (I’ve even added a “Running” category here on the blog – GAME IS ON!), and my next goal is to go a mile without stopping. And after that I’d love to run a 5k. If I can run a 5k by the end of the year (or ever, for that matter), I will be SO INSANELY PROUD of myself I just don’t know what I’ll do.

The final exciting thing this week (as if I needed any more) is that I’ve had my first fitness-related article published! Readers may remember that I bought a bike earlier this year and took a private course at the Cascade Bicycle Club to help me get back on the horse, so-to-speak. About a month back, someone from the club contacted me asking if I would be willing to translate my blog post about it into an article for their monthly periodical. And it just went live this past week! Head on over here to read the article!

Hope all you lovelies are having a great week yourselves. Thanks for reading!

Weigh-In Update: Program Goal Reached! Over 75 Pounds Down!

Hey everyone!!! Lot’s of exciting things are afoot here at Julie Loses! HQ. I’ve been out and about on a couple hiking adventures, including my first summit of Rattlesnake Ridge near North Bend, WA. Take a look at my “Day in the Life” video below for full coverage (including some shots of my adorable puppy towards the end!)!

While the workout and activity front this past month has been AMAZING, the scale hasn’t been playing along. In my last post I updated you on my first weight gain on the 20/20 Lifestyles program, and I’ve been watching the scale closely to see when this first real plateau would abate.

I’m happy to announce that as of this morning, the plateau is officially over. I weighed in at 196.6 lbs on the home scale, down 3 lbs from last week’s weigh-in of 199.6. Stoked! Extra exciting was having a dietician appointment today and seeing 196.0 lbs on their scale. My program goal for the end of Phase 2 was 199.0 lbs, and I was way happy to blast through the goal. Unfortunately, no bells went off, nor party whistles sounded, nor confetti rained down – but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all afternoon.

This brings my total loss since August to over 75 lbs. 75 FRICKIN’ POUNDS! I never thought that I had it in me to lose that much weight. Of course for years and years I’ve WANTED to be someone who was capable of such a feat, but only now have I really proven it to myself. I can lose this weight, and now I feel pretty confident that I can maintain this weight loss.

One thing that’s worried me from time to time has been how I will maintain this new healthy lifestyle while working full-time. If you’re new here, you may not know that I stopped working last year due to some health issues, and after wrangling them I decided to dedicate a block of my time to working on ME. The opportunity was there, and it was just TIME.

While I certainly love my leisure time and have been taking full advantage of my extraordinarily fortunate situation, I do need to go back to work eventually. As the weight comes off and my fitness improves, I’ve found a lot more confidence, and wanting to get back into the working world has been another surprising result. I’m ready for my career to take off again, and started putting out feelers for employment a couple weeks back.

Lucky me, I found a job listing that seemed a perfect fit for me, close to home, and they liked my resumé enough to invite me in for an interview later this week. Squee! The only downer is I don’t have ANY professional attire since losing all this weight. All of my old work clothes fall off me now, so I had to go find some interview-appropriate attire. THAT was quite the experience, and if you’re interested in hearing more about my epic win at the local Lane Bryant clothing store, I encourage you to watch the Update Video below!

My interview is on Thursday, so keep your fingers crossed that they like me, and as always, thanks for stopping by!