If you know me, you know that I’m the happiest when I’m paddling through the open water and my feet are hanging off the sides of a kayak. Last year, when I finally realized that owning my own kayak really wasn’t going to break the bank, I literally jumped for joy while hiking with my friend, Ivy.
A few weeks later, I said yes to my beautiful orange Perception Sport 10 ft. kayak, a yellow paddle, and a cheap foam pad and straps car top carrier. And though it was an absolute pain to hoist the thing on top of my CR-V while keeping those darn foam pads in place (why don’t I have roof rails again?!?) without scratching the paint to tarnation… I was ecstatic.
No more borrowing, begging, renting… waiting, paying, or suffering in an ill-fitting kayak. I had my own, and I could go where I wanted, whenever I wanted. The next time I turned down my street on my way home from work and the glistening waters of Binder Lake flooded my view, all I needed to do was load up and drive two minutes and I’d be there. Paddling something fierce. Happy as I could be.
That was ten months ago, and Sunset (my kayak) and I have already been on several lovely floats all around Missouri. This summer, I have big plans to take her down to Arkansas to float the Buffalo River – my all time favorite. I’ve even been thinking about splurging on some roof rails and a kayak carrier so I don’t have to keep pulling a “Jane in the Jungle” every time I climb up my CR-V to tie it down.
And after a year like we just endured… 2020… And the blasted winter that decided to cram itself into the past two weeks… I’ve never in my life been more ready for some solitary paddle time in the sun.
But last weekend I did something that could rob me of it all. Something so stupid… I really hope I don’t regret it.
Let me back up…
I’ve been really struggling with my weight lately. And, sure… it’s pandemic times and I’m sure most of us are dealing with some kind of residual weight gain. But this is something that goes so much deeper than that.
Growing up, the atmosphere in my house was… tense. I wasn’t abused or physically neglected by any stretch. I knew my parents loved me and would do anything to care for me. But, they were dealing with some serious emotional hurdles that even at a young age I could sense – and internalize as my own.
Grown up problems are a lot for a little kid, and being ill-equipped to navigate, I turned to TV and food as a means of escape. And just before I hit puberty, the chub began to pile on. And the shame I felt inside matched it pound for pound.
Watching my waistline protrude, my family tried to help by urging me to exercise. To eat healthier. To get outside. But none of it worked. And all it did was continue to breed the shame and disgust I already carried around with me.
As I grew, so did the shame triggers.
In fifth grade, it was a little dirt oval in a field behind our school. I remember the first time I was told to run around it until I reached a mile… and how panicked I felt knowing I could never do it. The snickers from classmates who whizzed through in 6 or 7 minutes.
In high school it was the track around the football field and every time the P.E. coach made us run, I ended up gagging on my own breath – huffing and puffing until I collapsed.
Thankfully, a college music degree didn’t require much physical exertion, though I found myself growing more and more out of shape. More and more shameful of the way I looked – and really unhappy with the way I felt.
After graduation, the pounds kept piling on and my self confidence continued to plummet. Rejected once again by an old high school flame for a girl much more petite and fit than me, I got fed up. I was sick and tired of being fat. Sick and tired of making excuses for something that I knew I was strong enough to fix.
So, one night… I just started running. It was a late November evening, and the sun was starting to set, but I was ready. Starting down the winding country road near my dad’s house, I let my feet pound through the night chill. And with each step, I forced the years of frustration and pain down deep into the pavement. It hurt like hell, and I still couldn’t breathe, but I was doing it.
Over the next three months, I just kept trying. I ran farther and farther. Eventually, I could run a mile without stopping. Then two. Then one day I finished two and thought – I bet I can make it three.
And I did.
And I have never felt more powerful and more free. To conquer something that used to steal my breath and cause so much fear – and to actually ENJOY it – wow.
At the same time I was pushing my physical limits, I began working through Weight Watchers. I started with a paper tracker and weighed in at my meeting every week. I learned so much about how to cook healthier meals, control portions, and to choose foods that would satiate me. I learned about protein and fiber – and about how addicted I was to sugar. I started to crave vegetables and fruit. And little by little, the pounds fell away.
For the first time in my life, I could master my thoughts. I could control my behavior. I could say no to things that didn’t help me toward my goal. And I could feel and see tangible results. I lost almost thirty pounds in six months. And I kept it off.
Five years later, I lost another fifteen. I trained for and ran a half-marathon. I learned how to swim and completed a sprint triathlon. I had a baby and gained most of it back, but I started training for Bike M.S. and completed 115 miles in two days. It took me a couple of years, but I lost all the weight again and was SO proud of myself. I looked and felt SO good.
But then my marriage ended. I became a full time parent three days a week and every other weekend. I became my own sole breadwinner. When I wasn’t parenting, I was working a full time job or teaching flute in the evenings. I didn’t have time, energy or the money to prioritize my health. And any time I tried, something would happen to disrupt any sort of rhythm or routine I established.
And for two years now, I have been fighting the same damn twenty pounds to get back to a weight where I feel my best. Where I feel healthy… strong… and love how I look in a pair of shorts.
I’ve tried everything. Weight Watchers… Noom… Beach Body… blogilates… intuitive eating… keto… paleo… nothing is working. And, just so we’re clear, it’s not because these programs I’ve mentioned aren’t effective. They are. If you work a program, it will work for you. The problem is that you have to actually work the program. You have to be consistent. You have to be honest with yourself.
And I’ve been over here in my teenage head eating all of the chocolate and making every excuse in the freaking book to justify why Gilmore Girls, Bridgerton and wine every night is what I need to do to make myself feel better.
Well… something cracked in me about a week ago. I saw myself on a video of a worship service I was helping lead… and I just didn’t look like me. I was bloated. I was tired. Not the healthy and strong woman I know myself to be.
And so, I do what one does when one feels out of control.
I started making lists.
I brainstormed ways to motivate myself.
-I need to actually stop eating when I’ve tracked all my calories for the day.
-I need to have a close friend hold me accountable every day to make sure I did.
-I need a reward to motivate me toward my goal of losing 20 pounds.
-I need to get books to lure me into my bed each night rather than eating mindlessly in front of the tv.
I felt pretty good about it. I even got a couple of days under my belt. I actually stopped eating and transitioned to reading books (Thirst by Hannah Anderson… HIGHLY recommend). I told myself I could invest in a roof rail system for my kayak if I reached my goal of losing the 20 lbs.
I felt so good about it that I shared my brilliance with Mike, my boyfriend, while he was in town for the weekend.
I don’t know how I expected him to respond… maybe a “good idea, honey!” or a “you got this!” or a “I’ll be here cheering you on!”
Instead, a sly smirk emerged on that cute face of his, and he said…
“And what happens if you don’t succeed? You need a deadline. You need a consequence.”
“You lose 20 pounds by June 1st and you get rails and a kayak rack.”
Okaaay… keep talking…
“If you don’t, you sell the kayak.”
It’s only been a year, but this dude KNOWS me. He knows that I will do pretty much ANYthing if it means I can go kayaking. He went with me the day I bought Sunset and saw how gosh darn happy it made me. He sees my face light up when I realize there’s a lake/river/murky body of water nearby and I have a kayak I can paddle through it.
How DARE he suggest I sell my kayak?
…yep. This just might work.
I slept on it for a couple of nights – and you guys… I’m terrified. But I know I have to do it. I have to prove to myself once again that I have what it takes. That I can master my mind and my behavior. That I can set a hard goal, and I can reach it. That I can do hard things.
I have 13 weeks from this past Saturday (2/20) and 20.6 pounds to lose. That means that I have to lose an average of 1.57 pounds per week from now until Saturday, May 29. That’s a 700-ish calorie deficit every day. I will weigh in every Saturday morning and document my progress.
Mike, being the loving wonderful boyfriend that he is, has promised to create a Facebook marketplace draft post of my kayak. He even offered to do research on how much money we could get for it. Isn’t that nice?
What a NICE guy.
Starting weight – 170.6 lbs.
Today’s weight – 170.6 lbs.
Pounds Lost – 0
Pounds Remaining – 20.6
Goal weight – 150 lbs.
Daily Calorie Deficit – 750
Current Workouts of Choice – running, hiit class, spin class, hiking
Time Remaining – 13 weeks
And you guys, please tell me what tips you have. What advice do you have? What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked for you? Should I buy a kitchen scale? What apps are the most accurate for tracking calories in vs. out?
Also – thank you for reading this. If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you SO much. I hope you’ll be there cheering me on, because I NEED TO KEEP MY KAYAK. Lol.
Until next time…