Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday #2 -- Year in Review, 2013

Continuing to share from my old MFP blog, here is the "Year in Review, 2013" post of November 2nd, 2013:

I don't usually post blogs, but I've been logged in for 475 days now, and as I just turned 28 I've been thinking about the progress I've made and the difference in my life between now and when I started.

When I was a kid my family lived near the water in a small town in New England. Combined with our large back yard, this meant lots of running and playing, biking, swimming, kayaking and rowing. I wasn't a particularly active kid, I don't think I was more active than most, and certainly not athletically gifted, but I loved being outside and running around.


When I was a teenager, I developed a really bad depression problem. There were a lot of factors for that, but it meant sleeping a lot (usually 12-16 hours a day). I didn't actually gain weight, when I look at pictures from then, that's what I think of as my "normal" weight. I certainly wasn't active, aside from the occasional kayaking trip, but I didn't feel unhealthy aside from the crazy amounts of sleep. That continued really until I was about 25. Always worse in the fall and winter, and it made college really difficult. The depression got to the worst it had ever been when I was 26.
In 2011 I was hired for my first ever teaching job, working in a rural district. The circumstances around my hiring were strange (one person on the interview) and the entire year I was compared to the person I replaced. The kids, my boss, my coworkers all compared me to the previous teacher. To top it off I got the distinct impression from my boss that they believed "Men can't teach elementary school".

To put this in perspective, when I look back on it, that was totally insane. I had a good bond with the kids (I have the Christmas cards, posters, and notes from them to prove it.) I had positive interaction with parents, and I learned so much that year. But the pressure from all sources telling me I wasn't good enough was killing me. I hit 225 pounds, slept an unbelievable amount and would regularly polish off a box of swiss cake rolls instead of eating real food. Combine that with the 120 miles a day I was commuting to get to school and home, it was a crap situation.

In the spring of 2012 I was on a kayaking trip with my grandfather and what I call the "old man paddling club" (a group of retirees we regularly kayaked with that year.) We were out in some extreme heat, trying to navigate a narrow river (my grandfather and I in out 15 ft. kayaks) and about four hours in, I started to feel really lousy. I had to get out of the boat immediately. I made my way for a nearby embankment, near the local gun club, half-fell out of the kayak, and proceeded on to shore where I lost conciousness. Two members of the club made their way to shore, put some cold water bottles on me, and a gun club member very kindly took my grandfather to get his car to come pick me up. My wife took me home, put me to bed, and took care of me.

Something had to change.

Something clicked in my brain.

I had a friend who linked me to mfp, and I talked about it with my wife. We each had our doubts, but I felt like I really had to try something, so we signed up and agreed to support each other. A lot of that first month was just logging what we ate, eating consistently, and going for walks in the evening.

I started using the running guides (the run/walk one) and kept it a secret from my family. I have an aunt who is a triathlete, and I was actually worried if she found out she would make me run some crazy race I couldn't handle! I didn't really see anything to brag about, anyway.I was only covering a mile or two a day and I wasn't moving quick at all. There were some really lousy days, and it was really hard work. I had shin splints for two weeks straight at one point. My hips clicked when I walked. I never stopped, because I couldn't see another way out of the situation.

Then the weight started to come off. I used the running time to center myself, found my confidence, and went on several job interviews. I won a job (the job I have now) and resolved to run my first 5k.

By August I was down to 206 pounds. By the end of that month I was at 197. It kept going, I kept adding mileage, and lost more weight steadily. (180 pounds in October, about the time I ran my first 5k and finished in 28:42.)

I also invested in a sun lamp to help ease the doldrums and combined with the running I had the first depression free year I've had in a long time. It still gets hard, but I have my coping methods now and I use them -- frequently.

These days I weigh about 152 pounds. I used to think I'd like to weight 150, but what I've learned is that I don't care so much about the number, just about feeling energetic. I still go overboard on what I eat sometimes, but I do it a lot less frequently, and I keep a much more active lifestyle. I find I get frustrated with people I've met when they don't recognize me. It takes a second to put that in perspective: 60 pounds doesn't seem like a lot of weight to lose, but it makes a huge difference in appearance.
I'm off today to run a 5k by the water with my wife and a friend. If you read all this nonsense above, I hope it provided some sense of inspiration. I really appreciate all the friends I have made on this site. Seeing your workouts and consistency pushes me to keep up. Reading your run reports makes me think, "Man! I want to do *that*!"

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