I’m The Little Red Engine, Damn It!

Power walking with my dog the other day, I felt every jiggle of my reemerging Little Miss Muffin Top (how I didn’t miss you!) and a panic I haven’t felt in several years set in: Get this fat off me NOW!

I’ve learned a thing or two about weight loss these last six years, namely that there is no quick fix (duh) and that it will take time (double duh) and that I need to appreciate who I am right here and now, muffin top and all, if I’m going to be successful.

So I went searching for help, like I always do, in the blog-o-sphere. Wise people out there, as you know. First up, DietGirl, who I’m so very sad I won’t get to meet at FitBloggin’. My Jeep needs new tires and a fancy oil change or it won’t pass inspection. Ergo, I can’t afford to go. *tear* If you or anyone you know wants to attend FitBloggin’ and is looking for a half-price ticket (part of my Lynn Needs New Tires fund), shoot me an email at lynn.haraldson@gmail.com.

Anyway, back to DietGirl and her recent blog, “New Year Goals Check-In: April,” in which she outlines what I define as a kind of Self Bill of Rights. One thing she wrote really struck a chord, especially in light of my recent interview on Two Fit Chicks and A Microphone:

“The thought of having to be ‘hardcore’ for the rest of your life was just totally depressing, quite frankly. But I’ve been thinking about it and I reckon what I’ve been doing this year is sustainable and realistic – healthy but not hardcore…I feel so peaceful and positive right now, and a helluva lot happier than I did when I got to my so-called Happy Weight a few years ago.”

Sustainable and realistic; healthy but not hardcore. Hmmm….

Then there’s Sandrelle, who blogs at Keeping it OFF! She, too, is one of my weight-loss heroes. We share many things in common regarding how we lost weight and in our philosophy of weight maintenance. Like me, she’s gained a bit from her lowest weight and feels…well…blah. As she posted on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook: “I’m also up a few pounds, around 140, and NOT happy because it’s not me. It doesn’t feel like me.”

Doesn’t feel like me. Hmmm…

Finally, BFF 40-Something’s Shelley posted this week about being angry that she didn’t appreciate her body when it was at a weight she realizes was probably her “happy weight.” She just didn’t know it until it was gone.

Shelley wrote: “I truly did not appreciate how good I looked last summer. Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled with fitting into the size 6 Bermuda shorts, but did I focus on that? No – I couldn’t stop seeing my extra belly flab…WHY didn’t I appreciate my body then? I’ll tell you why…decades of dieting. Never having the inner strength to say ‘I like how I look and feel now’ – never quite standing up for myself.

“I am so mad. I just want to go back and say ‘You dope! Enjoy what you’ve achieved!’ and I know that I’m not showing self-love, but so what. Sometimes I need a reality check.”

I like how I look and feel now. Hmmm…

So the three points I’m pondering in my continued search for body acceptance are: 1) What is sustainable and realistic; healthy but not hardcore; 2) Why does this extra weight not feel like me; and 3) How do I get to the place where I like how I look and feel in the moment?

I used to be hardcore. Worked out so dang hard I didn’t have my period for 3½ years (see “To Weigh Or Not To Weigh…”). Then my body started falling apart and I had to back off the 90-minute marathons at the gym. But in the last several months I’ve more than backed off. My exercise routine has gone from tsunami to a nearly dried up creek bed. Granted, it’s been a rough few months, but it’s time I…(click on the video)

Somewhere in me exists a balance between Hardcore Lynn and I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It Lynn. I’ve not thought about what is realistic for me and what my body can take in terms of exercise. Therefore, my plan is to sit down with myself and conduct an inventory of what I realistically can do in light of my limitations. I can walk, I can ride my bike, and I can do modified strength training using the exercises my physical therapist prescribed last year.

The tricky part of this inventory, however, is learning to accept my limitations without throwing in the towel. I will establish exercise goals and find the strength and tenacity (which I know are in me somewhere) to reach these goals. Sustainable and realistic, healthy not hardcore.

Next, why doesn’t this added weight feel like me? Considering I’ve been overweight or obese most of my adult life, you’d think I’d not feel like myself at any weight, and yet at 132 I felt at one with myself. Nothing flapped around much, I liked how my body looked in any type of clothing, I felt…healthy. This added weight, particularly around my stomach, doesn’t feel healthy. Having said that, and considering point #1, is it realistic that – given my physical limitations – I will be 132 again without living on 1200 calories a day?

Which leads me to point #3.

If I’m going to accept where I am right now and love the me and the extra pounds (and realistically lose what I can), I first need to understand why I’m not accepting where I am right now and why I don’t love the me and the extra pounds.

The first word that comes to mind is “failure.” I feel like I’ve failed. Failed myself, failed my family, failed my blog readers. Looking the way I do now, with a bit more weight (which I know is hardly noticeable to most people, but I see me naked every day), I want to hide in t-shirts and shy away from being touched for fear someone will “feel” the real me. I’m this close to saying, “Weight, you win! I’m crawling back in that fat hole again. I give up.”

However…like Shelley, I’m going to stand up for myself and try a little tough self-love first:

“Lynn, you worked damned hard to lose 170 pounds. Don’t you DARE start gaining it all back. No food is going to comfort you; it will only bring you down. You KNOW how to say ‘No’ to yourself. Remember how you used to ask yourself, “How will I feel 5 minutes after I eat ____?” Yeah, well, chicka…make that your mantra AGAIN. Now. Not tomorrow. Today. You want medjool dates? Fine, but one will suffice. Same goes for all your other favorites. Go back to the beginning. Read your blogs. Remember how it felt at 250, 200, 170, 150. You can do it, Lynn. You really can.”

At least, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

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18 thoughts on “I’m The Little Red Engine, Damn It!

  1. Oh Lynn, boy does this touch a nerve with me!

    I started at over 350 pounds. I've lost 85 pounds. Meaning I'm right around 270 pounds. I'm hoping to get pregnant this summer. I have found myself fearing “what if it all comes back?” “Will I be kicking myself one year from now for not appreciating what I've accomplished?”

    I get so caught up in obsessing about how much further I have to go. I sit and stare at my stomach, legs, arms, and wish that they were smaller.

    But, then I think to myself how the worst parts of obesity have improved SO MUCH. I can fit pretty much anywhere. I can walk anywhere, I can get up and down. I can DO all those things that I could not DO before.

    So I find myself trying to find some kind of balance between being thankful for where I'm at while not letting my desire to be someone else derail me BUT maintaining my desire to be someone else so that it motivates me. I mean, we need that desire to keep moving to where we ultimately desire, but we also need acceptance and happiness where we are at in order to get any further.

    What a huge mental mess! It's no wonder all of this body stuff is so freaking hard!

    Thanks for putting it out there. And yes, YOU CAN.

  2. I'm still in the weight loss stage, but your post really resonated with me–because I have been in your position before. I think I regained because I couldn't find a place between being a hardcore dieter and a maintainer who felt guilty about eating anything that wasn't part of my previous weight loss regimine. I think it's mostly the guilt that will do us in.

    Those of us who struggle with weight will probably always have a struggle. All one has to do is read these blogs, and no matter where the person is in terms of their process (weight loss, maintenance, regain, second or third time weight losers), it is not easy.

    But I also notice how strong most of us are in so many ways. I have always been amazed at your strength, Lynn. It's a very discernible part of who you are.

    I like “sustainable and realistic.” I know many people who have always been in the “normal weight range” (some thinner and some heavier) who have their “sustainable and realistic” way of eating. I wish that for all of us. It sounds like a peaceful place to live.

  3. I am two days away from being at my goal weight for ONE MONTH! A new personal best for me. Like you, I lost 170 lbs. However, I started at a higher weight, thus my weight now is more than yours (160), but I'm liking me here. I can wear an XL and a size 12 or even 10 in pants. And that's such a huge improvement for me, I'm satisfied with this weight.
    But I'm desparate to figure out how to stay here. I like your mantra, “How will I feel about this five minutes after I eat it?” I'm trying to do that right now as I fight the urge to eat a 50-cal. piece of dark chocolate, that I do NOT need. But I want it. But how will I feel five minutes after I've eaten it?
    Good luck Lynn and good luck to me and to all of us out here, we're struggling, but at least we're still trying!

  4. “Hardcore Lynn and I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It Lynn”

    This is a very hard balance for me, and the scale has crept up from my lowest low 10 pounds ago over the past year. I have to wonder what price to pay to lose it and do I want to pay that price. I kind of think I do right now, but then never actually *do* anything, you know?

    Weight never really can define us.

  5. I'm tellin' ya girl, low carb. It's been awesome. It feels good to have my real body back and to not feel undernourished or hungry along the way.

    And I don't exercise at all, other than what happens in the course of life.

    I am so happy. Jay's been doing it too this week and has dropped ten pounds since Sunday. MEN!

    love you, hon. Don't give up, whatever you do. love, Val

  6. GREAT IDEA to go back and read your blog from the beginning – I'm totally stealing that from you. I have a lot of hope that in a few months we both will be back at our happy place, and extremely appreciative to be there.

  7. lynn,
    your post resonated with me too. at 40 years old, i figure i have spent 3/4 of my life wishing that i loved my body.

    i love the person i am inside, the person i have become after listening to lifes lessons but..why can't i love what i look like outside?

    when i bike 40 miles or mountain bike on rough terrain or do a 10k, i need to respect my body and thank my body not think about how i was the largest girl there, or i wish i looked better in shorts, etc.

    i am a size 12, the scale shows WAY more than i want it to and i would love to lose 20 pounds. i hate myself for hating myself! there are people that read your blog (and you yourself) that have either lost 100+ lbs or need to..and i hate myself over 20 lbs? over a size 12?

    when i was a size 6, it was for one month and i wasn't dating anyone, didn't have a life outside of work and the gym. i didn't even realize how good i looked! what in the He*ll!

    i have read your blog for quite sometime and wondered when you would be where you are today. you are human…you may have done super human things, but you are still human. you are no different than us, and to read this affirms this. you have the same struggles despite your success and we all need to understand that we're not alone.

    its easier to preach than to practice what we preach. i am telling you – i totally hate myself for the amount of time i have spent worrying about how i look, will i have a double chin in my picture, will my fat roll show when i sit down? at the end of the day, we are all our own worst enemies….

    what can we do collectively to learn to love and accept ourselves? is it even possible?
    Lisa S

  8. stressing over a 50 cal. piece of dark chocolate?!!…getting to the “happy place” of weight?!!…We are alive, and mobile and breathing without the aid of machines and we have all of our body parts and they are all moveable? (say amen if you hear me sisters). We walk, talk, hear, see, laugh and love…How lucky we are..how lucky we are…!!! Fat is not something that happens to us, it is something we do to ourselves. Remember: Life is short. Before we know it we'll look back and wonder, why didn't (I)…?

  9. Ah, yes… “the all or nothing” mentality. I totally know what you're talking about. And then the guilt and/or resentment that comes with it eats us alive. You know where we get this from, yes? Love and accept yourself, every day, no matter what!

  10. this post reminds me yet again of why you are my maintenance hero. Sooo much to comment on but this really struck me: “Somewhere in me exists a balance between Hardcore Lynn and I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It Lynn”

    i admire that you had that realisation after gaining a handful of pounds and not 50 like muggins here in Scotland… 🙂

    i think about how much you have been through this past year and think, if i was in you shoes, i would be giving myself a big ol cheer for surviving it all so well. here's to a little self-love and time and baby steps and all that jazz 🙂

    (going to miss you so much this week… cars! arrgh! xx)

  11. Hi Lynn,
    I am new to blogging but not new to the weight loss roller coaster. I just found your blog and read your Oprah story. Sorry it took me 3 1/2 years to find it. LOL.
    I enjoyed the “I'm the Little Red Engine, Damn it!”. Keep up the good work.

  12. First, thank you for your honest take on where you are at.

    Second, from reading your blog the past three years, you INSPIRE us.

    Third, you have to give yourself alittle credit. You are going through health issues and life changes that would knock a lot of us down and stay down.

    Last, you are not your weight. Please be kind to yourself at this time and just do what you can. Just keep on doing what you can.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Late to the party as always lol

    I'm with Lori though for me it's about what I have to give up for those few more lbs down the scale being worth it or not. We aren't defined by our weight and I think we do have to be comfortable in our bodies whatever number we choose for ourselves. You have had a tough time of it lately I think once you find your balance in your new life you will get back to being where ever you want to be on the scale.

  14. Lynn…your blog inspires me…I love your wit and outlook on life …you are so real!!!!
    As a sinlge mom…a widow….. I feel your loneliness and pain….love your wit and sensibility….. I have 20 to loose to be really svelte …but look good….I am healthy , happy love my kids….would love to have a good man …but what can I say….life is good

  15. I'm probably (definitely) misquoting, but there is a statement that goes something like the best way to fail is to stop trying. You not only keep trying, Lynn, you also keep looking at what you are trying, tweaking along the way. If there's any sure way to success, that's gotta be it. Things change, and we have to change along with them to stay in the game. Thanks for sharing your adventures; they are so helpful to others.

  16. I love the locomotive visual. I used to sing that song to my kids and my oldest turned 18 on May 23rd.

    I have lost 100lbs and WAS so pleased to fit into pants with a zipper. I am mad at myself from slacking off at the gym this year and “feel” giggly. I would also like to find my sweet spot between hardcore/obsession and I don't feel like it me – hand me a bag of $%^&.

    I felt trapped in my body with an additional 100lbs and need to remember to enjoy my freedom to do whatever I want to do NOW. Some wise blogger out there said something that was true for me. The FAT didn't hold me back I did.

    You Rock Lynn!!

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