Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Weigh It Is

I have never been so excited to put on weight; stop, have I ever been excited to put on weight?  Like any American woman, I'd have to say no. The welcome three pounds that I added over the past two weeks and celebrated at yesterday's doctor visit represent a first; the first time that bulking up represents the goal and not the enemy.

Over the past four months I've been on what my sister and I call the "I feel like hell diet." Because I developed a 'leaky gut' due to my autoimmune disease, all of my nutrients were going right through my body and the pounds fell off no matter how much I ate. I felt completely out of control and directionless, as well as unattractive and incapable of doing necessary chores like grocery shopping and laundry. Here's the big rub, though - up until the last four or five weeks when anyone could see how unhealthy I was, I kept getting compliments on how 'good' I looked, how fit.

People mean to be kind, and it is not their fault that we women interpret looking good to mean looking thin. Unless a woman is on a weight-loss odyssey (which is a good bet in 2012 America), we don't really want to hear it.  I have many friends who agree to forebear all discussions of weight, who don't buy magazines with airbrushed models, and who refuse to look at the scale at their doctor's appointments.  I intend to adopt this last habit as soon as I hit my goal weight, because if I keep on going and add a few extra pounds (and curves) I don't want to know about it and start judging myself harshly.

The weight-related comment I remember after 20+ years is one that a college classmate made to me after I returned to school for my junior year. I had been on a summer binge of cheesecake and ice cream (which I would nearly kill to eat now), and had put on ten pounds. My friend waved to me as I walked toward him through the flagstoned courtyard and said, "wow, don't you look healthy!"  At the time I took this comment as a negative, and instantly applied it to my extra weight. Yet now my ultimate goal is to BE healthy, and whether I look that way or not will be my business and not anyone else's.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Master of a New Fate

"It was a fine balance-one tiny fraction too much training could do it-between being acutely fit and chronically ill." from Gold by Chris Cleave
*Author's note-this blog was pinch typed by Laura's sister Karen.

That "fine balance"? Well, I completely tipped the scale, and not in favor of "acutely fit". The weight of racing, training, school ending, and an even busier home life triggered my auto-immune difficulties and caused a cataclysmic internal chain-reaction from which I am still trying to recover. Since I last posted my hope has been further tested, new and less acceptable four letter words have been  uttered, and I temporarily hit my new "lowest point" before beginning the upward climb back to health.

From the depths of my troubled waters, though, I have been blessed with many bridges back to health. The help started with my husband Rob carrying me through the moments when I honestly didn't think I could get out of bed, and continued with my amazing boot camp buddies and training partners. They brought meals and simply showed up to talk. And then there was family. My daughter Aden organizing me and watching her brothers while I headed off to doctors appointments. My in-laws researching food solutions and coming out to help, to more recently my superhero mom coming to stay and offering peace of mind as well as endless meals and child care (both of me and her grandchildren). Mom was relieved by my sister Karen who brought culinary genius, child development expertise (despite what her nephews may think), and a strong shoulder to lean on. Lastly, the neighborhood at large banded together to form a Caring Bridge Brigade of delicious food, play dates, and offers of time together. These accumulated gifts of kindness have left me with a feeling of deep appreciation and a keen desire to pay it back and pay it forward as soon as I am able.

This summer I have had a lot of time to reflect. I have realized that in the last two years I was attempting to turn back the clock by revisiting my training regimen of my collegiate years. Finishing a marathon and completing other races with best times at the top of my age group gave me an ego boost and a thrill. Who said I couldn't compete with the twenty-somethings?! The pursuit of this blind focus led me to a sharp descent, much like hounds following a rabbit off a cliff. Now, finding myself at the bottom of the ravine looking up, my goals have changed. As I climb laboriously back up the cliff towards good health my only focus now is on being well and being present for family and friends. Competition may be a thing of the past for me. I don't fear losing, but I do fear something else Chris Cleave wrote about in Gold-"The lingering sensation that in pursuit of my own exacting goals and objectives I might not have been as generous of spirit as I could have been with regard to the needs and dreams of people I cared most about or for whom I was emotionally responsible."