Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When are you "in shape?"

I've never been a thin girl.  Well...maybe when I was two or three, but as long as I can remember I've been overweight and not all that "in shape."  Here's a photo of me from a college dance, not sure what year, but I'm thinking 1997.

Yea.  In college I did nothing.  Nothing athletic that is.  Sure, I went to class, I was on the radio board, had a radio show with my roommate, worked on the newspaper, had a couple internships, and hung out with my friends.  But, healthy eating?  Sports or at least intramurals?  Nope.  What was that?  LOL!  I didn't gain the Freshman 15.  I gained the College Experience 35.  Yea.  35 pounds.  Sadly, I didn't really notice it until the end of my college career when my size moved towards the 22 range.  I could accept going from an 18 to a 20, but for some reason the 22 was a tipping point. 

After I finished my last semester in December 1998, I decided to go to Weight Watchers to lose the weight.  And that's when I found out I gained 35 pounds in 4 years.  I was floored and vowed to NEVER.EVER. be that weight again (SPOILER: I have never been that weight again.) 

I hate exercise.  Still am not a huge fan, but I know I can't lose the weight without it.  And so, over the last 12ish years, I have worked the WW program and worked out.  Before it would be going to the gym and working out on the treadmill, bike, or taking a class (when I was losing weight before getting married).  Right before hubby and I married we joined a new gym and I used the treadmill, bike, and elliptical.  Before we married in 2001, I lost 45 pounds and weighed less than I did entering college.

Then for years I yo-yoed up and down.  After getting married, I gained a bunch of the weight back (but never getting as high as I was after college.).  Usually I would gain about 20-25 pounds back, get mad and go back to WW to lose it.  By the time we moved to Central PA in 2004, I had lost 55 pounds since Jan. 1999.  And then I gained that 25 pounds back.  Ugh.

In 2008, my friend asked me to be in her wedding.  I was a little surprised, but honored.  Then some personal things happened and the wedding moved to Vegas and only one attendant.  No worries.  I was excited to be going to Vegas for a wedding!  I decided to lose 30 pounds before going; I had 6 months.  And I got close.  I got 25 pounds before hitting Sin City, which isn't awful.  And I tried to keep going.

 Yea, not the best photo....

But, I will say this wedding and trip really made me focus more on eating healthy and exercising.  I had started running a little bit in 2007, but 2009 was the year I ran my first 5k (Baltimore Women's Classic).  I started running longer distances.  I didn't always eat the healthiest, but I ran more.  I really do believe this is was tipping point of realizing I didn't want to be fat.  I wanted to be in shape and healthy.

So, over the next couple of years I started running longer distances, which helped me lose weight.  Then in 2011, I ran my first half marathon.  I didn't do too much in terms for changing my diet, which explains why I didn't lose the weight I thought I would.  LOL!

I signed up to run another half marathon the following fall and between the two I had lost 20 pounds.  I thought I would do soooo much better.  I thought the weight would be the key. 

Best I could do.  No real photos of me from the race.

But, when I finished the Philly Half, I felt really bad.  My stomach was killing me and my body was just screaming.  I knew that if I were to do this again, I needed to be in "better shape."  Which boggled my mind in a sense since I had now run two half marathons.  Doesn't that mean I'm "in shape?"
So, in January of 2012 we joined the YMCA.  I made a commitment to lose the last 20 pounds I needed to reach my goal.  I made a commitment to "get in shape."  I hit the gym 2-3 times a week, kept running on Saturday mornings, attended group classes, and signed up for personal training.  And what happened?  I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2012 feeling the best I have ever felt.  No stomach issues, no pain.  I felt like I could have ran a few more miles when I hit the finish line!

And now I'm thinking I'm "in shape."  But, am I?  When does a person reach being "in shape?"  Is there a certain amount of weights one can lift?  A certain distance they can run?  A certain weight they must achieve?  What is the elusive definition of "in shape?" 


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I too have been back to WW many times, including right now. I know you will reach your goal this time!

  2. I don't like the phrase "in shape" because it implies that we are supposed to be shaped a certain way. Maybe this is the problem for so many of us? I will never be "shaped" the way most media sources depict and define as ideal. Ever.

  3. I actually like my physical shape, I'm quite the hourglass. LOL! I guess I'm meaning more in terms of cardiovascular/muscle shape. When are you fit? Is there a specific test you can take that says, "yes, you are fit." I mean, does running a half marathon mean I'm fit or do I have to run it in a certain time? Does biking 15 miles mean I'm fit or do I need to be able to bike 30? Or is it push-ups, sit-ups, etc. that means I'm fit? I'm not sure there's a real answer to this question. Just thought I'd throw out my thoughts.