how did it come to this?

My name is Julie. I’m 30 years old and I have been unfit – and fat – my whole life.

In college I got a little fitter and a little thinner, though at my lowest weight I still hovered around 200 pounds – I walked everywhere, went out dancing a lot, and for one year took over an elliptical machine at the university gym. That was also the year I subsisted on canned soup, satsumas, and alcohol, which in hindsight was incredibly unhealthy, but at the time seemed like a smart decision because, if weight loss requires calorie restriction, then greater weight loss requires even greater calorie restriction, right? I am incredibly fortunate I didn’t develop a lifelong problem with anorexia as a result.

In the 8 years since college I have, like so many people I know, gained weight. It’s been slow — 5-10 pounds  a year. Every couple of years or so I lose about 10 pounds when I start an exercise program that I inevitably abandon, then I gain it back, plus my annual 5-10.

A year and a half ago I made a commitment to health, and I started the Couch to 5K running program. I was 2 months in (with a bunch of repeated weeks, so I still had about half the program to go) and I was feeling great about it. I don’t love running but I don’t mind it for 30 minutes at a time, and it didn’t require special equipment or a gym membership.

And then I broke my leg. It was bad — I had surgery and now I have a leg full of metal. Rehab was slow, and hard. And it put an end to C25K.

In June 2013, I thru-hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail with my brother and sister. I had planned on hiking the whole thing, with dreams of emerging from the woods 6 months later not just dirty and smelly but also fantastically fit and thin. But we had to stop hiking because we reacted really severely to the abundant mosquitos (long story for another day). And when we emerged from the woods, I was dirty, smelly, a bit fitter, and no thinner.

I hiked a mountain yesterday – a mountain which would have been just a nice little climb on the AT – and it was harder for me than my first AT practice hike way back in March. My hard-earned trail legs and marginally improved cardiovascular fitness are gone.

It’s time for a big change. I think I’ve finally figured it out: it’s not about losing weight, or at least not entirely. I want to be fit and healthy. I want to climb mountains and lift heavy weights and discover what my body can achieve and then break those limits. Weight loss is a nice side effect of those things. So I’ve outlined a fitness program for myself. It’s a lot, but I have a choice to spend my free time watching TV or becoming a badass. I choose badass.

This is my plan:

1. Walk to Mordor and back. I love the LOTR films (hate the book; I know, I’m a philistine). I want to increase the amount I walk anyway — why not do it with a “destination” in mind? 

2. Restart C25K. Plus, those miles totally count for my trek to Mordor.

3. Strength training. 3 nights a week with my ex-body-builder boyfriend.

4. Hike every weekend (I pretty much do that anyway).

5. Change my diet. It’s not bad as it is — I’m pretty good about eating lean proteins and healthy fats. The next step is decreasing processed carbs and increasing fruits and vegetables. I am *not*  completely cutting out grains, potatoes, dairy, and sugar (i.e. going paleo). I love pasta, I love cake, I love cheese, and I love going out to dinner; I want to continue to enjoy those things. In moderation.

6. Take progress pictures (torso front/side, face front/side) and my measurements (waist, upper arm, thigh, neck) once a month. Weigh myself every 3 months. Daily and weekly weigh ins only make me feel bad about myself, and if I’m truly going to prioritize health and fitness over weight, the scale is not my friend.

7. Stay accountable. I want to be accountable to someone besides myself. The entire internet is a good start. I will update with the following: progress pics, measurements, and weight; strength training progress, C25K progress, number of miles towards Mordor, weekly hike info.

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