How can I be so active and obsessive about food and still be overweight?

I bike almost everyday.  Some days I bike around 10 miles to work and back again.  Some days I “cheat” and take the light rail or stop at my best friends place and stay over.  It often depends on my mood, the weather and my PTSD.  Nearly two years ago I was hit from behind by a truck on my bicycle.  It was at night, nearly 10, in March.  It was a light showery night.  It was dark and now if I get caught in a rain shower at night I panic.  Literally, I panic.  I get all freaked out and sometimes I walk my bike a long distance.  I have never really talked about it, but it does happen.

It has gotten better, now for the most part the only time the dark gets me is the first thing in the morning.  My route to work is very high traffic, and even though I am taking a designated bike route, it terrifies me to ride in the dark with that much traffic.  I have lights, do not get me wrong, they help.  It i just that internal voice that keeps nagging me.  So sometimes I fail to ride the whole way.  I do however ride at least 5 miles each direction almost everyday.  So that puts me ahead of the game with other people.

I am primarily a vegetarian.  I eat a little bit of fish, this is due to low B-12 levels and my body does not absorb it well.  I am a step beyond vegetarian, though.  I am a real food freak.  I cook most of my own foods.  I even bake my own breads.  I am picky about what I consume.  I find processed foods to be wasteful in packaging and there are ingredients in them, that as a chemist, I have to look up what they are.  When I make hummus, for example, the ingredients are chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yet if I buy it already made it has weird things like HFCS, sodium benzoate and other strange non-food items for freshness.  Uhhh, yeah, no thanks.  I eat mostly veggies, whole grains, fruits and fresh herbs.  I have a weakness for cheese, which I try to use a minimal as possible.  I also consume eggs, but these are my main source of protein.  Nuts are a handy snack to chase off the craving for salty crunchy snacks.

I have been biking since 2007 and eating this way for the past 4 years.  So there is always this question, why am I still overweight.  In my defense, I did lose nearly 60 pounds before the collision.  I went from a size 16/18 to a 12.  I was so thrilled and I looked good. I still had a tummy bulge, but it was not as noticeable.  Today I have lost about 15 pounds of the weight I gained back after my collision.  The frustration is that, if I had not been hit, I would never have gained it back.  The problem was that I could not walk, let alone shop and cook.  I depended upon the kindness of others and my children to get things done.  Friends and family mean well, but processed foods are such a drag on my system.  I gained much of the weight back, with a different less stringent diet and no physical activity took its toll.

It took me a month and a half to get back on the bike.  This was not because I was ready, but because I wanted it.  The bike is part of my life, to not have it made me feel incomplete.  It was like cutting my left arm off.  Something was missing.  I needed to be able to ride as soon as I could.  I spent 3 days a week in Physical Therapy to ensure I was back on the bike as soon as physically possible.  The first bike I rode was my partner’s bike.  I was grateful to have access to it, but it was a terrible bike.  It was totally geared wrong and too big for me.  I rode that bike until I was able to purchase a new one.  My goal was to be able to ride when I was released back to work full-time.  I probably pushed myself to hard at first.  Sometimes you have to do that.

The damage was done, though.  I gained the weight back, and I was not physically able to ride the long hard miles I had grown accustomed to.  I would take the bus partway often.  Which is frustrating, the point of getting a bike was to avoid the bus and paying the outrageous fare daily.  With the medical bills piling up, it became difficult to eat the same way I had before the collision. I know, every excuse is just that, an excuse.  Seriously, eating real food is not that expensive, it was more about how to get the food.  I can ride over to Capital Hill and get my produce from the Co-op, or a farmer’s market on the weekends, even the Pike Market after work, I shop all those places, but sometimes I just want to go home and crawl into bed. I get extremely tired, more often than I care to admit.  Prior to the collision, I would go for hours after work, meeting with friends and hanging out, going to shows and art galleries.  These days, I mostly come home and try to relax.

It amazes me how much one stupid incident can completely change one’s entire life.  I have lost some of my motivation, I have definitely suffered from lack of energy, and the pain sometimes depresses me.  I am not saying that my life is over, just modified.  It takes some getting used to.  I look forward to days when I can do the same things I used to do at the same energy levels.  I realize that may never happen. One thing for certain, I need change in my life.  I cannot lose weight just allowing my pain and exhaustion to rule my life.

I have started to lose the weight again, but it will be a long battle.  I imagine this summer when I am biking 75 miles per day, I may lose some.  The biggest fear I have is depending upon others to feed me during that time.  Are they able to understand my specific desires in my food choices?  Or will they just feed me a ton of spaghetti and tofu?  I hope not, I take issue with these options.

As a disclaimer, I will never follow a fad diet.  I eat the things I do, because they are good for me and good for the environment.  My goal is to reduce my forkprint.  I am not about highly packaged stuff and the ingredient lists better have things in them that I recognize as food.  A friend had me over for dinner on Friday night this last week.  She was excited, because I was the vegetarian friend that she had that actually ate vegetables.  She wanted to understand how I could eat and get all my nutrients.  She was fascinated with the idea of having a meal that was veggies and grains only.  I actually felt honored that she spent so much time thinking about what to feed me and how to prepare it.  It is these small steps that are truly appreciated.  The next time you have a vegetarian guest, remember you do not need any fancy pre-packaged foods to feed them.  A simply saute of vegetables and some whole grains are perfect.  Even a good quality pasta is great with many veggies and some olive oil with garlic tossed over it.

I also know that undoing 25 years of damage to one’s body is not going to reverse quickly.  I allowed myself to be an overweight lazy woman, now I have to undo those things that my body became accustomed to.  I make no excuses for my being overweight, it is my fault, mostly.  I just need to jump back into my former habits and work it all back off.  As I get ready for this ride across the country, I will be focused on what I am eating and how much activity I am putting in.  I will also have to cut back on my coffee and alcohol consumption.  I need to go back to tea, maybe one cup of coffee a day, this is the hardest part.  Cutting my coffee consumption will do wonders  I love a flavored cream in my coffee, and that adds many calories.  It also adds to my addiction.

Today is the first day of the future.  I will be stronger than I have ever been, and I will be more successful than I was before.  I will be updating this information often.


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