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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I work really hard to stay positive and not put myself down, but that doesn't mean I don't have insecurities. I had a conversation with a spark friend that got me thinking, and I decided to write about it because I am probably not the only one who struggles with self-doubt.

There are times on sparks where I feel like such a fraud--a fraud because I project a positive face even when I'm struggling, a fraud because I give people encouragement and advice when I feel mired in the swamp of my own weight loss efforts. A fraud because when I joined sparks I weighed 172. And while I had periods of weight loss, mostly I have maintained or even gained, hitting an all time high of around 215. Part of that was changing scales--I gained 20 pounds just by changing from the Wii Fit to a real scale. Part of that was muscle mass, because I when I started down this journey I had very little muscle--especially in important areas like the core, and i have worked hard to build up my muscle strength. I know this because I gained 43 pounds since joining sparks but never went up in pant sizes; toward the end when I jumped from 200 to 215, my clothes got tight, so it wasn't all muscle, but 43 pounds of fat should have put me up several pant sizes.

I know that part of my struggle with weight loss is that I have been building a lot of muscle--I am so much stronger than I used to be. I can do so many things now that I couldn't do when I first joined sparks. My older spark friends might remember my preparing for a march of dimes walk 5 years ago in honor of a friend's friend--which I believe was a 4 mile walk (ended up being only 3 miles due to terrible weather) and not being sure I could walk that far. A couple of years later, I walked the Mackinac Bridge--a walk from end to end of about 5 miles. Since I started weight training, I can leg press about double what I used to be able to. I have seen gains in shoulder presses, triceps exercises, biceps, etc. (not quite as impressive, but still progress). I've worked hard at building up my core. I am fencing now, something I have wanted to do for almost 20 years but have been physically unable to since 2000. And as much as I would have loved to have pushed my self hard every week and see the pay off on the scale, I'd rather have the strength than the pounds lost on the scale, to be honest, because that strength and endurance I've been building up are letting me live and enjoy my life. I can do things I enjoy doing, like fencing, which I love. I can do things like go to museums, amusement parks, and zoos and walk them on my own two feet, not from a wheel chair. But that doesn't make it hard not to be discouraged when I work really hard and make sacrifices like passing on that doughnut I really want or drinking blah water rather than the soft drink I'd prefer, and yet *still* see gains on the scale.

I know part of my problem is that I really struggle with inflammation. It's not just my hip--it's also in my arms (elbows, wrists, hands) and probably my knees as well. I know from weighing in that a day that pushes myself physically--say fencing at an event all day--can easily result in an overnight gain of 5+ *pounds* of inflammation--inflammation that can take a week or two to recover from, more if I don't give my body enough time to recover. Which means that I'm constantly doing a tricky balancing act between pushing myself enough to make progress but not so much I need to rest to heal up.... tricky because the center of balance in that equation is a constantly moving target. Also, during a BLC round I work really hard to maintain at least 5 days of 20 minutes of exercise a day... which ends up often pushing myself a little harder than my body can handle, so that by the end of the round I'm in pain and inflamed and need to rest and let my body heal and catch up again before the next round.

And I know that a big part of my problem has been stress--not even stress eating, but pure stress. Stress causes the body to release a hormone called cortisol that, among other things, makes you crave carbohydrates (quick energy for that fight or flight you need to do), can increase appetite, and causes the body to store energy, particularly in the belly. I don't know how much it increased my appetite since stress also made my stomach hurt... a lot. I'm still paying for that, though that it's better. But at it's worst I could barely eat--I ate a lot of carbohydrates both for the energy but also because they settled my stomach (a lot of rice and toast in particular) and chicken and eggs. I couldn't handle fats, fruit, vegetables, or most proteins. I wasn't eating very much over all--and yet packed on the pounds like crazy.

Since I graduated (and moved 3 times in the following 6 months) we ate out a lot and even trying to make moderately healthy choices most of the time I know that I ate way more calories than I normally do, but I actually *lost* weight--the 15 pounds I gained when I was so stressed and barely eating.

So that's my background on sparks. When I lose weight, I lose it painfully slowly. And by painfully I mean *glacially.* Sparks says for a realistic weight loss, most people can expect to lose an average of 2 pounds a week. If you are close to maintenance weight, that rate might be reduced to 1 pound a week. Every BLC, I shoot for a very modest 0.5 pound a week weight loss--6 pounds in 12 weeks. Last round I lost a whomping 3 pounds, and that is one of my best rounds ever as far as weight loss goes.

So that is why I struggle sometimes with feeling like a fraud. I feel powerless sometimes when it comes to weight loss; I try so hard. I work out consistently, though at the moment I'm not pushing as hard because my body needs rest (still exercising, just at a more modest pace). I have largely cut the soft drinks from my diet (replaced with tea) and, again, *gained* weight--over 10 pounds. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and making an effort to eat whole grains and lean proteins. I'm not perfect. I know that. My diet and exercise regimes are modest compared to what many people do because I need them to be sustainable--sustainable with all the aspects of my life, which means sharing meals with my husband, listening to my body's limitations, and being realistic about what I can get done since I'm always really busy. But it's hard not to get discouraged when you make healthy choices and see the scale going up instead of down more often than not.

Being me, I do try to stay positive--I know I'm healthier than ever by almost every health measure *but* the scale. I'm stronger and have greater endurance. I also know that the muscle I'm building up is a good thing, and that the scale is lying to me--otherwise I'd be wearing around a size 26 now, not a 16. I've been told I "look" like I've lost weight. And that it's okay for me to give advice and encouragement because even though the scale doesn't show it I have learned a lot on this journey, mostly through trial and error. I project a positive face because I know that the only way to win this fight is by focusing on what I can do, and what I can control, rather than get trapped in the things I can't do and can't control. And that battle starts in my mind, and in what I chose to focus on when I write blogs and post on teams and spark pages. Staying positive is the first and biggest battle in the struggle for a healthier me.

But maybe the fact that I'm still here, and still trying, is my biggest reason I'm not a fraud. Because I'm still showing up and making the effort, no matter what the scale says.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I know I'm late. Thanks for posting this. You do amazing things, and have made such progress. I feel your pain. Hang in there and keep fencing! That you can do this says more about your physicality than anything else you could do. Speed, stamina, dexterity, hand/eye coordination, its all there. Very good!
    2024 days ago
    I think we're in the same boat..... just gotta keep rowing!
    2069 days ago
    emoticon Stress sucks mud. Sounds like you have ALOT of tough issues.

    emoticon Give yourself credit for hanging in through some really tough challenges.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Let the honest roll! Crank up some tunes and testify to the BLUES. Howl, shake, rattle and roll and I guarantee, you will feel better by the end of your session.

    emoticon Love in Vain

    Key to the Highway

    emoticon Crossroads

    emoticon Piece o' My Heart

    Sometimes ya just gotta howl.

    2092 days ago
  • LINDA!
    You are certainly NOT a fraud. You are working hard and trying to reach your goal. It is unfortunate that we hit some many bumps in the road. But we are not giving up!
    2140 days ago
    Speak it, sister! I'm so glad I finally had some time to go through and catch up on some blog reading, and got to yours. This is how I sometimes feel-who am I to say anything, since I have not yet reached my own goals? But you are right, we are still here, still working, and that makes us more of a success than someone who just walks away.

    2140 days ago
    Healthier and stronger - that's the ticket! You are not now, and never have been, a spark fraud! GREAT blog! Hang in there. ;-)
    2140 days ago
    Excellent blog - we all feel this way from time to time during our journey here- thanks for sharing your honesty.
    2140 days ago
  • MEWING71
    Positive Outlook, even if it is encouraging others rather than ourselves is good. We benefit from that positiveness, it does not make us a fraud. Rather the positive words/encouragement eventually came come to our remembrance in our own struggles helping us to press on and find the strength we need. I am full of insecurities, but I refuse to not find the positive in others and hopefully a little more often in myself.
    2163 days ago
    Oh thank you! I've started weight training a few weeks ago been walking outdoors and treadmill for awhile, im new to this site i joined cause I'm not seeing the # go down like i think they should. Im putting my scale away focus on how i feel.
    2171 days ago
    If we did not struggle with our weight, we would never have searched and found this site for support. We are all striving for the same goal - to be healthy, feel better, have more energy, and lose weight in the process.

    2171 days ago
    I have felt the same way. Sometimes though, I feel really good about the advice I give and it makes me think about why I am not following that advice. It's as if I am actually speaking to myself. Keep up the great job you are doing. We are all here for you in the up and down times!
    2173 days ago
    Oh boy can I sympathize! I'm in the same boat... I've yo-yo'd lately; but am continually wearing smaller clothes. My trainer keeps telling me to ignore the scale and focus on the strength gains and smaller sizes; but it's SO hard...

    We can do this... even if it is glacially. LOL! Look how far we've come.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2174 days ago
  • SNS1968
    2175 days ago
  • BETRHO48
    I don't think you are a fraud either. Many of us struggle in the same ways you write about. It's what we do. I think the times we project a positive face even when we are down and struggling, actually helps us. Keep doing what you are doing.
    2175 days ago
    You are not a fraud... I thank you for sharing and wish you all the best as you continue your journey! 😀 It has been very hard for me to remind myself that although the scale has not been moving as fast as id like I am making a me healthier me! HU
    2175 days ago
    You are no fraud you are making continuous progress and loads of non scale victories.This is about health not a number on a scale !
    2176 days ago
    You are not a fraud - this is a journey and you can go up and down as long as you realize that you have goals to work on.
    2176 days ago
    You are not a fraud. Most of us have been "there" and have had similar experiences. Hang in there and remember that you can always be open and completely honest with how you feel and what is going on in your life.
    2176 days ago
  • MOCNVW23
    I understand what you are saying about being positive to others and giving them advice that you are not taking for yourself as well. I am guilty of that to, but instead of looking at it as a fraud, I look at it like not only trying to help someone else but in time your advice will help you as well. So you are helping two people.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2177 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13669487
    Your working it!! emoticon strength is very important!!! emoticon
    2177 days ago
    I don't see a fraud! I see a wonderfully, honest, sincere, incredible woman who keeps showing up, does her best, and supports, encourages, inspires those she is in contact with!
    2177 days ago
    You're no fraud. You're doing what works for you and discovering more about that as you go. Keep up the great work!
    2177 days ago
    No way are you a fraud. One of my mantras is 'fake it until you make it'. It doesn't mean being phoney, it means acting your way into what you want.
    2177 days ago
    No way are you a fraud. One of my mantras is 'fake it until you make it'. It doesn't mean being phoney, it means acting your way into what you want.
    2177 days ago
    2177 days ago
    Not a fraud! Not perfect (none of us is), but definitely not a fraud!
    2177 days ago
  • ZIGGY7611
    You are no fraud my friend. Your last paragraph says it all! That combined with being a stronger and healthier you?! = 100% genuine!!!
    2178 days ago
    Fitter and healthier day by day. A shining example to those who struggle. You stalwartly keep on keeping on Zanna when others would quit. And you do it when it would be easier not to and keep on working toward the ultimate goal of being fit and healthy above all the adversities and setbacks. YOU are a emoticon SHEro!
    2178 days ago
  • KATIE5668
    Great job of honest analysis. I think there are a lot of us that put on that Happy Face for others.. What is that old saying...behind every clowns smile are tears...
    The up and downs are part of it and it sounds like you are doing very well at being honest with yourself and focusing on moving forward .

    Remember tis true....

    If you think you can...then ...you can!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2178 days ago
    Yes, the last paragraph! emoticon
    2178 days ago
    I think all of us have felt this way at on time or another. I however do not believe you are a fraud. This site is about a healthy life style not just weight loss. You are living healthy doing activities you love and getting stronger!!! That my friend is a role model and an inspiration.
    2179 days ago
    NO WAY are you a fraud. You have done so much to become healthier and stronger AND it shows by the activities you can do now that weren't so doable in the past. You can be *p*r*o*u*d* of your spirit and determination to keep doing the things you know have helped you in the face of obstacles and discouragement. Hang in there!
    2179 days ago

    Success is the continuous effort of trying

    emoticon emoticon
    2179 days ago
    Very good blog. Thanks for sharing. About your inflammation. Have you ever considered going wheat or gluten free for a month and see if that helps? I know it helps my inflammation. I am not celiac, just wheat intolerant or gluten intolerant. I often eat more wheat products on the week ends and man, those Monday mornings are hell.
    2179 days ago
    Well, I think you are a success and not a fraud AT ALL !!
    You have turned your health around and are maintaining that within the restrictions of your situation. You have so many non-scale victories and they really are the ones that count. Don't worry ....you are busting your bunnies and seeing results ! You're NOT a fraud. Au contraire....you're a role model for people that are keeping it real.
    That is worth celebrating ! emoticon
    2179 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/22/2015 2:20:53 PM
    A lot of us feel like frauds at one time or another in our lives. But your personal analysis and honesty in writing say otherwise. Your goals focused around health, and that is what you are achieving. Keep up the good work. Make sure your plans (food and activities) are realistic and, if necessary, throw out the scale. You are a hero! Best wishes to you as you move forward.
    2179 days ago
    emoticon You are feeling what we all do. I have thryoid nd other autoimmune issues which have my weight going crazy at time. at one point I was down to 209 and thanks to a doctor who figured she would treat my thryoid instead of my pitutary, raised my dosage up and I actually gained 35 lbs back

    Just take it one day at a time and if you get stressed say tomorrow is a new day and all out to us for support
    2179 days ago
    Thanks for sharing you are not alone.
    The main thing I see from your blog is that you are healthier. So what the weight is not down, you are stronger. It is a long journey and the race is not for the swift. Slow and steady is the way to do it. Learn what your body can tolerate, then push a bit harder. Improve little by little, slow and steady.
    2179 days ago
    Feel this way a lot too - thanks for sharing
    2179 days ago
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