I always find it difficult to write a bio about myself concisely, as I am prone to include too many superfluous details that don’t necessarily pertain to the storyline. What, you don’t want to know what color my backpack was on my first day of kindergarten?
(It was red, blue, and yellow, courtesy of Fisher Price.)
I think I’m going to go with the Quentin Tarantino non-linear approach, and start with the here and now.
My Life Today
My name is Nancy Nash and I live in New Hampshire with my wonderful husband Brian. Brian and I exercise 6 nights a week, keep track of our caloric intake in a food journal, and try to eat a nutritionally balanced diet without deprivation.
I have slowly come to a point in my relationship with food where I no longer eat mindlessly. I certainly still have my moments when I want a larger portion than what I should have, but by not making foods off limits I finally feel like I have access to what I want in order to maintain the balance I need. Exercise has become a piece of my identity and a source of daily satisfaction, and no longer just a just a tool I use to torture myself.
Our Wedding and My Life ‘Before’
I will always love our wedding photos. They capture the true affection we have for one another, and I feel so blessed to have had so many friends and family travel to share in that joyous day with us. However, the bittersweet reality is that Brian and I were both around our heaviest weight that day, 350 lbs and 450 lbs respectively.
When I met Brian, I was working out about 3 times a week and thought somewhat about what I ate. Between the hour drive between our apartments and our mutual love of food, I let my workouts slip away. I lost my job the day after we got engaged, and we wound up moving in together much sooner than planned. Being unemployed truly humbled and depressed me. I definitely turned to food for comfort in a bigger way than I ever had before. As I continued to look for work, I became fascinated with the Food Network, and entered into a more serious relationship with cooking. This proved to be both amazing and frightening, as I sought out new interesting recipes and unique ingredients with reckless abandon. I began salting things that I hadn’t before in attempt to bring out flavor. Brian and I began eating more and putting on weight at an alarming rate.
Food and Family Dynamics
I have always enjoyed food, experimenting in the kitchen, and creating recipes. My mom still has my hand-written recipe for “Warm Fluff Bread”.
I am the oldest in a family of 11 children, and my youngest brother is 20 years younger than me. Although I think the mental relationship humans have with food is complex, I can conclusively say at this point that, for myself, the sheer demand for food in our household contributed to the eating habits I formed early on. Fruit, and certain breads and cereals went really quickly in our household and became special treats that I remember overeating as a kid.
I think, like most kids, I ate what tasted good to me, and gave little thought to what balance of foods would help me feel satisfied and energetic. I don’t remember my first peanut butter sandwich, but I do remember realizing in middle school that I was a ‘fat kid’.
Exercise In My Younger Years
Growing up I spent a lot of time playing outside, riding my bike, and going on hikes with my Dad. In middle school I intermittently attempted team sports, but had more success spraining my ankles showing my brother my sweet karate kicks than scoring soccer goals.
I ran cross-country Freshman year of high school, and although I was always at the back of the pack, I learned how great exercise could make me feel. Unfortunately, I let a bad ankle sprain keep me from exercising altogether , and I started to gain weight. Sophomore and Junior year I dressed in baggy men’s clothing to hide my body and became antisocial. Senior year I took a kick-boxing class at a local gym. It felt like I gained access to a part of myself that had been sleeping. I felt empowered, brave, and less self-conscious. I started to lose some weight, and bought a dress for Senior banquet that made me feel pretty.
After high school I attended Hallmark Institute of Photography. Shortly after graduation I moved to Grand Rapids, MI. My friend Ariel was working out several days a week at the local YMCA. She gave me a huge gift by dragging me with her to the gym the day I arrived in the city. Over the next few months, my ideas about exercise rapidly expanded as I started to really learn about proper weight-lifting, and tried yoga and circuit-training for the first time. I was still very self-conscious, but exercise was a regular part of my life again. Seeing my body become stronger and more powerful was satisfying, but my expectations of myself always exceeded my performance. I started to think more about nutrition, but also frequently went out drinking and subsequently made terrible late-night food choices. “Negative Nancy” would return the next morning as I put myself through grueling workouts hung over. It didn’t occur to me that constantly telling myself that I wasn’t good enough was the chief cause of my erratic behavior and overall unhappiness.
A New Beginning
After seeing Brian go through a scary battle with pneumonia, I realized that if I wanted a long life with this amazing man, it was time for a real change.
The mental battle to get in shape began before the physical one. I knew that a half-hearted attempt wasn’t an option, and yet I was afraid that I might give up on myself early on. I wanted to want to change so badly that I wouldn’t turn back, and wouldn’t let myself down again. I wanted to feel happy with myself, and not worry so much about the way I looked. Very slowly Brian and I started to make some healthier additions to our life. We started making fruit and yogurt smoothies. I found a DVD of 10 minute workouts on a box of Special K cereal, and would sometimes do them before work. We started visiting the gym in our apartment complex on occasion. I started to feel like I had a little more energy at work, and some of my daily back and shoulder pain subsided.
Looking for better employment led us to relocate to Southern New Hampshire. Brian accepted a job offer, and our new life as New Englanders began.
March 2010 marked a new beginning for Brian and I as we made a pledge to one another to ‘get healthy’. I made an appointment to get a long-overdue physical, and desperately wanted to weigh in at 300 lbs. I weighed in at 312 pounds. While I had lost weight, I remember sitting in my car afterward, disappointed that I hadn’t met my goal. But something in me had changed. I knew I could do this if I wanted to, and that if I really gave this my all, I could reach my goal.
A Journey and Not a Destination
Today I see Health and Fitness as progressive journey. Nothing that I’ve accomplished has happened overnight, and I continue to learn and grow into a more thoughtful and balanced version of myself.
When I was younger, I often hoped that there would be a point where I would arrive at my target weight, and could then maintain my new physique while eating whatever I wanted with reckless abandon, being able to throw caution to the wind, and work out when I so desired.
I still want to reach my target weight, but my reasons and relationship with the weight loss process have changed dramatically along this journey. My weight loss and fitness goals have become much less about being thinner, although that is nice. I now just truly want both Brian and I to be the best, most energetic and ecstatic-about-life versions of ourselves. The mental health and happiness we have found along the way is far more precious to me than simply the physical health.
About My New Lifestyle
The truth is, I no longer want to throw caution to the wind. I’ve found a confidence, happiness and satisfaction with myself and my performance that I’ve never known before. I feel confident, strong, and genuinely happy with who I am. I don’t think that younger me realized learning to praise myself and revel in accomplishment were tools I needed to achieve my goals and be the happy, whole person that I wanted to be.
When I thought about maintaining my weight in the past, I thought about not getting fat. When I think about it now, I think about not wanting to give up this life we’ve carved out for ourselves. I think about all that we’ve accomplished, the new things I’ve been brave enough to try (including this Blog), and the newfound reckless abandon I approach my life with. Well okay, maybe I’m not that reckless, but I feel so much more adventurous, so much more alive than I ever have. This is what I think about now when I am tempted by the sight of a potentially delicious brownie. 😉