Ok, go.

Last post, I said I wasn’t going to get all confession-y. Well, this time I am. Just to the extent that it puts these recent posts into some context.  And on the wild off-chance that one of the 3 readers out there can relate.

I wasn’t a particularly thin or fat kid.  I was a geeky reading and theatre and music kid who had a passing familiarity with a few sports. I roller skated, ice skated, swam and dove, played a little tennis, a tiny bit of volleyball and soccer, ran and cross-country skiied. I eventually found that all those ski/skate forward-motion sports came naturally, but I never thought of myself as an athlete or even a potential athlete.  I could’ve been, but I wasn’t very interested,  and besides, I didn’t think it was an option for me.  My two favorite sporty things — diving and skating — weren’t school sports options. And then I broke my leg in middle school (roller skating, of all things!) and it sort of killed any ideas I had about volleyball (the third option). It was like I’d missed the zero-entry point, and now I’d have to jump into the deep end of the pool.  Meh.

I couldn’t say exactly when weight came on. In little waves, I’m sure.  High School. College. Break. Law School. Break. Library School. Move. Move. BIG Move.  My highest weight ever was about 2 years into my time at Yale. Scary high, and I actually talked to my primary care physician about what to do — the first time I’d ever had a conversation w/ a physician about weight.  She gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: Find an activity that you love doing, for its own sake. And just do it, for you. The rest will come. So I picked ice skating, remembering all the fun I’d had as a kid, thinking it might be a year-round option. There was a basic skills class for adults starting up at the Whale, and I signed up. I don’t know how long it had been since I’d been on ice, but I was almost instantly hooked. Over the next three or four years it sucked me in about as much as derby has these last couple of years.  Ice dancing, moves in the field, lessons, skating club, early morning perfect ice with the two or three incredibly generous students who’d secured a cheap timeslot for more serious practice. It wasn’t my style, but it was fun and great exercise, and I poured myself into it. Speed skating might’ve been exactly the right fit, but a bad experience with the leader of the local group turned me off in a big way (“come one, come all!  oh, you?  yes, your skates are ok; they’ll be the least of your problems”). Feh. Anyway. So I stuck it out w/ the short blades. Toe pick!

After I moved to Illinois, concerned that I wasn’t dropping weight (which was the goal, of course! DROP THE WEIGHT!  GET THIN! GET FIT! GET A MAKEOVER!  BE A NEW PERSON AND SHOW THEM ALL!!!), I signed up for one of those medically-supervised fasts.  Yes, one of those. Yes, I know. Sigh. It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Cost me a small fortune, and maybe wrecked my metabolism, and did as much to screw with my head as any other experience in my life. But I lost 90 pounds. I was running a lot, skating a little, and my nutrition was pretty good (not that it was bad to begin with; it was just really unbalanced). But everything in this new health world of mine was good/bad, virtue/shame, compliant/uncompliant, scale up/scale down. And I still had no clue about what motivated me to keep myself healthy.  I knew how to reward  (I knew that going into the program), and now I knew how to withhold.  In a really big way, with food and exercise. Great weapons, those two.  So wrong.

So even though I kept the last 40# off completely, I moved into the first 20# relatively quickly, and have bounced around in the other 30# for the last 5 years.

There were many things about roller derby that drew me in. I’d never really done a contact sport, and the idea of doing one on roller skates — where I felt like I had a bit of a leg up at the start — was super-appealing. I also really admired the women’s empowerment ethos that marked the new roller derby. I loved the idea of physical challenge and actual physical contact as a way to work off stress. Frustrated at the end of a long day of work or home not going well?  Go to practice and hit people! Hard! The harder you hit, the more they’ll like you!  For real, that part is the best. And, like ice skating a decade earlier, I was looking for a sport/activity that I loved and that would help me continue the support and motivation to take care of my health. Ok, so I was also secretly hoping that those 30# would magically melt off.

They didn’t melt off, and once I hit a sort of plateau with my derby skills, I headed into the gym to work on strength and endurance. And those 30#. They were like an obsession, those #. Watching the scale, watching calories, waiting for clothes to fall off, hitting the gym over and over again, like my head against a wall every morning with a 4:15 alarm.  Not entirely, but that dynamic was there the whole time. It took so much more time than I would’ve liked, and the frustration was so great it leaked all over my closest friends. But the headbanging eventually did pay off in speed and endurance, and in more confidence to push my agility and take more risks. And then life got in the way this fall and I lost my routine for a few months, which brings us to now, back to those damned 30#, and the next stage.

New league, new perspective, new routine. New goals. No more obsessive goal-setting, scouring race calendars and jumping on the scale practically every time I see it. The scale is gone. It’s something for my trainer to watch, not me. I’m watching whatever is happening now. No more getting depressed by whatever I did or didn’t do last month or last week or last night; No more living in a vision of the future where everything is better.  I’m just working and enjoying the work now. Starting again. Watching the track, my PiYo and running form and the dust from my bike trainer tire. Listening to the sound of a few hundred wheels moving across the floor, and that little voice in my head saying “come on, just a little more.”

going around the bend, by McBeth

  1. I figure skated as a kid.. until I was 18. But, it never kept weight off… I still love it, though and when I can afford it I plan to do it again (expensive hobby!!) But, I did find that I LOVED workout DVD’s and these actually DO get the weight off. So, I’ll keep doing those even when I start skating again. 🙂 I love the idea of Roller derby…

    • Stephanie
    • January 23rd, 2012

    Thanks for the comment! You’re right, it can be expensive! Ice time isn’t cheap. 🙂 Neither is derby, I suppose, but I love it. I bet there’s a roller derby league near you… there are so many now!

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