Getting Candid about Weight and Health

Last week, I ordered us FitBits. I don’t really know where the idea came from. Maybe it was the realization that we’re going to have another wedding to go to this summer, maybe it was the thought of seeing my old high school friends for the first time in 10 years this fall. Maybe it was seeing my friend’s new treadmill. Maybe something in my crazy brain just got tired of the way things are right now. For whatever reason, somehow I decided I should look into getting a FitBit. 

The plain and simple truth is that I am not at a healthy weight, and I haven’t been for a while now. 

CLGA Juniors 2004I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’ve struggled with their weight all their life, but that really wasn’t the case for me. I was a really active kid. I grew up playing soccer (outdoor and indoor), running cross country and track, and I even played basketball one year. Don’t forget the fact that I used to be a competitive golfer. During my senior year of high school I spent 3 – 4 hours each day training at the golf course and 1 – 2 hours in the gym, and I did that 5 days a week. When I graduated in May my 5’6” frame was a lean 135 lbs with 14% body fat. For a woman that age, I was on the low end of healthy, and was told that it would be unhealthy for me to let my body fat percentage get any lower.

Spring 2005 - the healthiest I've ever been in my life!
Spring 2005 – the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life!

My weight gain has come in spurts. I definitely lost that muscle mass and gained some weight when I started college. I was more focused on my academics, and even though I was playing on the Butler golf team I wasn’t training or spending as much time in the gym as I had in high school. It was my freshman year of college when I injured myself. Unable to get an accurate diagnosis, I went through years of time consuming but ineffective therapies. While my injury wasn’t the main reason I quit golf cold turkey my junior year, it definitely played a part in my decision. Walking golf courses, especially 36 holes in one day, was painful. Without that piece of exercise in my life, I started to gain weight again.

When I was in my senior year of college, my dad convinced me to join a gym where I could work with a personal trainer so I could exercise without really aggravating my back / leg pain. That’s how Cody came into my life. I always say that Cody’s amazing because he introduced me to Dave, but Cody has many talents aside from being a matchmaker. He was the best personal trainer imaginable. He actually found ways to get me exercising without causing me to be in pain for the next few days. Don’t get me wrong, I still had that good “burn” pain from working out, it was just that the workouts weren’t making the existing pain in my back and leg worse. In fact, my pain was usually at a tolerable level….except when I did cardio.

Since my injury, I’ve struggled a lot with walking and with stairs. Sitting in the same position for a long period of time (like in a car or on a long plane ride) is also a big problem, but usually I can just continually adjust my sitting position to keep myself somewhat comfortable. As a former cross-country runner, I really prefer running…which is why the treadmill used to be my preferred cardio work-out machine. Unfortunately, it always causes a lot of pain. Elliptical machines were a bit better, but not by much. Bikes ended up feeling worse than the treadmill. What I know now is that any movement of my SI joint, low-impact or not, was going to result in pain. Cardio has pretty much been a huge fail since my injury.

That's me in July 2012, when I moved to Wichita
That’s me in July 2012, when I moved to Wichita.

When I moved to Kansas, I lost Cody. I was happier with where I was in terms of my weight / body composition than I had been before I started working with Cody, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied. However, I knew that my job in Kansas wasn’t going to leave me a whole lot of spare time for exercising, and I was right. My goal was to maintain my weight until I was through with residency, and after I was through that I could go back to exercising and working on weight loss. Honestly, my lifestyle in Kansas was not healthy at all, but I did manage to maintain my weight in a really odd kind of way. I barely ever had time to cook myself good meals. Honestly, I don’t even remember cooking at my house in Kansas. I know I did, but not as often as I would have liked. However, I was constantly skipping meals. Usually that was unintentional. I remember one day when it was almost 5pm and I realized I my only intake for the day was my morning coffee and some water. The hospital was also pretty big, so I spent a decent amount of time on my feet walking around. I wasn’t always taking in a ton of calories and I was moving around enough to burn off whatever calories I was eating…hence my stable weight. 

Spring 2014 - I've turned into a big fat unhealthy blob.
Spring 2014 – I’ve turned into a big fat unhealthy blob.

My next weight gain spurt occurred when I moved back to Indiana. I was no longer walking around a hospital burning calories, and I was no longer forgetting to eat. More calories in + less calories expended = weight gain. This most recent weight gain has been harder on me than all the ones in the past. I finally hit a point where I was really not happy with myself. Before I knew I was a bit over my ideal weight, but it was always within sight. Getting back to a really healthy place wasn’t so far out of sight that it seemed unreasonable or daunting. Now, the amount of weight I need to lose is a bit daunting. Impossible? No. It’s just going to take some work….and because of my injury I know that work is inevitably going to be painful.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to lose weight to fit into a certain item of clothing, or to look good in a bathing suit. I’m not doing it for my husband, for my parents, or for my friends. I’m not doing it so I can love myself more, so I can be happy with the way I look in pictures, or so I can be comfortable walking past a mirror. I’m doing this for me, and I’m doing it because it’s necessary for my health and well-being. Everything else is just an added bonus. 

I need some major motivation to get back on track. It’s tough enough for most people to convince themselves to exercise, and I’m trying to convince myself to be more active even though I’m in pain and getting up and moving will cause that pain to get worse. That’s where the FitBit is coming into play. I can see exactly how much I’m moving and set goals for myself. So everyone – I need whatever support and encouragement you can give me. I want to be kept accountable. So far, I’m loving the FitBit. I’ll post a review soon!

Until later, Ashlen

  • I completely relate to his post! But you have the right idea… You have to do it for you. I’m on the same journey!

    • There was a long period of time when I wasn’t ready to do this for myself, and I know I wouldn’t be successful if I wasn’t doing it for ME. I don’t know what flip switched in my brain, but now I’m ready! I wish you all the best on your journey too!

  • Mae

    Good for you for getting back on the ball! I have heard so many wonderful things about the fitbits.

    • Thank you! I’m really loving the FitBit – it’s making me change so many habits (in a good way)!

  • You go girl! You can absolutely do it – we’re all cheering for ya 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your support, it means so much to me!