I had an entirely different blog almost completed and maybe I’ll finish it one day, but today I have something much more urgent I need to get out. Comfort zones. Comfort zones have ALWAYS led me to grow stagnant. In my case growing stagnant means….getting like maybe a little pudgy. When I say a little pudgy I mean like I can pack on 30 pounds in 4-5 months. That is a skill I am not super proud of. I have started to think of what pushes me into these comfort zones. Or what about these comfort zones lulls me into a state of making excuses for myself and rationalizing the terrible choices I make with food.
I got into a comfort zone in high school. I stopped playing sports because I wasn’t the best at them anymore. Drinking and hanging out with people who probably weren’t the best crowd was my first comfort zone. I had a car and they didn’t, I had a job and they didn’t, and I felt wanted because they needed these things. I also lived on a diet of fast food and beer. My personal favorite was when I would eat – JUST – a bag of chips. For those of you who are like a bag of chips isn’t the worst, and is only 100-200 calories. Well I am offended by you because you assume all I can handle is a snack bag. HA! I would eat a family size bag one serving at a time throughout the day, but I rationalized it by saying I only had one bag and it was only 120 calories per serving. I don’t want to shock anyone, but I didn’t lose any weight. However, I did lose all of those friends who when I ran out of things to give them disappeared.
After deciding to get out of that comfort zone it was clear to me that it needed to involve exercise, and possibly cutting bag to half a family size bag of chips (…you know…everything in moderation). So in true Liz form I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I joined a gym started working out, and then celebrated each workout with a Wendy’s frosty and sometimes some nuggets if I had worked extra hard. YOLO. I was losing weight though because I had so much to lose so I got comfortable there. Work my ass of and celebrate with Wendy’s. At some point as any athlete will know you hit a plateau and have to shake things up. Small issue, shaking things up is uncomfortable. Unless you’re shaking up a cocktail, and then that’s totally cool.
Here we are again, all comfy and safe and happy…..and fat. Time to get out of my comfort zone again. This time it is at the hands of Tobe Taylor. I started seeing him for personal training and a little more accountability. You don’t actually know fear until you are paying a person to train you and you have to step on a scale in front of them weekly. Then the excuses you can come up with for why you didn’t drop x number of pounds get nuts. Whooping cough, west Nile, the plague, death, my mothers brothers cousins fathers cousins made me a pie and I couldn’t not eat it because that would have been rude, I tripped and landed in bath tub of ice cream and had to eat my way out to survive, I got jumped and instead of robbing me they forced me to eat pizza at gun point. Somehow this guy got through to me and I dropped down to 139 pounds. I was motivated and dedicated and I was comfortable there. Until I wasn’t anymore. Then I slipped backwards and packed on a few more pounds and found a happy balance.
That lasted for a few months until my comfort zone became more comfy and less exercisey. Oops. I vividly remember realizing I had done it again. I was sitting in my bedroom floor in my parents house and I had just stepped off the scale and was crying. When my mom asked what was wrong I told her I had done it again. I weighed in at 155 pounds. I had thrown away months and years of hard work and self control down the drain, and I knew it only gets harder to lose it the older you get. Here we go again.
A dear sweet friend of mine thought it would be a good idea for me to do an ironman triathlon. I was drinking so I agree’d. I trained my ass off for the next year and made that ironman my bitch. I finished in 13 hours and 15 minutes I think and I took second place in my age group, which was quite a feat considering there were only two people racing in my age group. I pretty immediately signed up for the next same race the following year…..but I didn’t really start training for it….like barely at all. Spoiler alert…the weight crept back on.
I lost the weight….again….and then I met a boy. My workouts became less frequent because I was having dinner with him, drinks with him, seeing movies with him, and definitely not exercising with him. I slipped into a comfort zone there that as long as he loved me as I was I would learn to love myself even if I was a little bigger than I was comfortable with. Another comfort zone, another rationalization of less than my best.
When he moved away it shock me yet again out of my comfort zone. I had three jobs and was still fitting in workouts but too busy to stop and eat. I dropped down to 135 pounds and didn’t even try or realize. I did not get to this weight in a healthy manor – let’s just go ahead and cover that. I was having cucumber soda (shout out Mr. Q) and two brownies for dinner at 4PM and then working a 5 hour serving shift and having cocktails after work (hey their cucumber cooler at 1885!). My body I think just gave out on me.
I moved to Philadelphia and was reunited with lord Voldemort (he who was not be named), and I fell effortlessly back into the comfort zone. Working out less an going out for food and drinks with him more. I slipped back down the mountain, we broke up, and I just powered through it by eating every feeling I had for a solid year. Hear a song that made me think of him? Shove a cheesesteak on top of it. Have a thought about him with a new girl? Drown it with a bottle of wine. Start feeling worried that you don’t feel that sad? Better order a pizza just to be safe.
That became the new comfort zone. Eating my feelings. Folks….that’s not a good comfort zone. I’ve been floundering. The double whammy for me is the bigger I get the harder my depression and anxiety are to control. Fat Bastard said it best, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy Because I eat. The best therapy for me is sweating out and pushing myself. When I’m not sweating it out and pushing myself I have a lot more feelings to eat. Vicious cycle. So here we are. Well here I am….at 166 pounds. For those of you who struggle with math…let me take the guess work out of it for you. I have gained 30 pounds since I moved to Philadelphia. If that doesn’t slap you in the face I don’t know what will!
So over the last few months I’ve struggled with finding a way to shake myself out of my comfort zone. I let a friend talk me into doing another tough mudder. I have avoided this since my first tough mudder in 2012. Side note – When your doctor tells you that you should not do a race because you have a 103 fever and you are very sick. Listen. If you decide you can still do it and drive to the race, but it ends up being 20 something degrees and multiple obstacles require you to be submerged in ice water…GO HOME. Naturally I ran the race and it was the worst day of my life…. but, I digress. I accepted the challenge and bullied another friend into joining me. I went into it scared I would fail at everything because I’m like maybe a bit chunkier than usual. I was worried that I would be th weak link on the team of people that I really didn’t know or they would judge me for my big ol beer belly.
I was terrified, though you would have never known it. I could not have been further from the truth. These people welcomed me with open arms. They were genuinely beautiful people inside and out. We laughed, we peed in obstacles surrounded by other people, and I think I have some new friends. In the least they are definitely invited to the wiener dog race.
Moral of the story. Never get comfortable. Never settle. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Push yourself, and never allow yourself to settle for less than. You’ll always struggle and worry and second guess, but take the leap and see if you fly.