Its really easy to write when things are going well.  It seems like we are almost hardwired to share our successes, but its not so easy to share our failures.   In some ways I don’t know where to begin.  In 2012, my year ended with Ironman Florida, which was fine.  But after Ironman Florida things got less fine.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have always struggled with my weight.  I know I’m not huge, but for someone who wants to go as fast as she possibly can at long course triathlon, I carry around too much fat and have body composition issues.  I have always struggled with this and have always needed to drop 15 or so pounds to get to race weight.  After Ironman Florida, I started to gain weight and not just a little bit of weight.  By December of 2012 I was gaining 1-2 lbs per week, training about 15 hours per week and eating 1200 or so calories a day.  Up about 10 lbs from my Ironman Florida weight, I had a physical in January of 2013 and expressed my concerns to the doctor.  She told me that maybe this is the weight that I am “supposed” to be at and not to worry about it.  I had her do a full panel of bloodwork on me and other than liver numbers that were off my bloodwork was in her words, “fantastic.”  I was very healthy physically; I also was fat. 

All through January I kept gaining weight.  I got to the point where my clothes no longer fit and every day I felt more and more uncomfortable in my body, things that weren’t supposed to jiggle and move did and there was way too much of me. In response to the gain, I did my best to eat as little as possible, I eliminated food groups, I tried to do all of my training without any calories, I continued to watch the number on the scale creep up day after day and each day I hated myself a little bit more.  It seemed like the harder I tried to control the situation, the more out of control it got.  I felt like could do nothing right and that there had to be something wrong with me as a person.   I even stopped wearing pants to work because I was too fat to wear dress pants.  I was scared to seek help from a RD because past experiences (one of which I was accused of lying about what I was eating).  By February of 2013, I was up about 25 lbs on my Ironman Florida weight (and now about 40 lbs from race weight) and I was a complete mess.

Finally I couldn’t deal with the situation any more.  I was driving Shaun crazy, I was driving myself crazy and I was miserable.  I became very adept at ripping myself apart on a daily (if not hourly basis) and was a very unhappy person.  In mid-February I made an appointment with a psychologist that specialized in eating disorders.  She diagnosed me with disordered eating.  I had all of the elements of being anorexic except for my overweight BMI.  In my mind I even failed  at having an eating disorder.  I also started working with a RD who promptly added about 1,000 calories a day to my diet and re-introduced me to eating more than lean protein, vegetables and black coffee. 

The good news is I stopped gaining weight.  The bad news is I still am unable to loose weight.  For for the past two months my weight (which is still way too high) has plateaued.  I recently sought the advice of a different RD and an endocrinologist and have gone through more testing to determine whether a hormone inbalance is playing role in my weight loss difficulties. 

I have been working hard over the last four months to be able to accept myself the way am I, but I still struggle with it.  I feel like society judges fat people and judges them to be slow, lazy and lacking in self control.  That is not me.  I am a person who is struggling.  I am person who is afraid that I am too fat to race and compete, especially at a course as hilly as Ironman Mont Tremblant.  I am hoping that new tests will find something wrong with me — some inbalance or syndrome or disease that can explain what I have gone through and why my body has betrayed me.  Until then I am trying to make sure I eat enough, trying to be positive about my body and my training and trying to take things one day at a time. 

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

2 Comments

TRIHARDCHIK · June 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm

This is the first time I’ve read your blog, so I really don’t know anything about you other than what is here. I don’t know how old you are, which will really affect what I have to say. I’m 58 yrs old, post menopausal, and have completed over 60 triathlons, EVERY distance. For the past 5 years I have struggled with my weight, working out 15 hours/week and trying to eat “right”. I fell off my bike in August, broke 3 ribs, messed up my knee. I also suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, and some of the meds I take make it really hard to control my weight. Several months ago, I re-hired my nutritionist who helped me 6 yrs ago, and also a personal trainer. I have TOTALLY changed my diet and exercise program. I have eliminated gluten, eat only organic soy and dairy, no preservatives, added sugar, and I eat organic whenever possible. My trainer has limited me to 10 hours of exercise per week, and I have found that when I stick to that schedule, and eat until I am satisfied and control my hunger, I CAN LOSE WEIGHT. I have lost 21 lbs since January, which may not sound like a lot, but it is coming off! I have about 10 more to go, and I will get there, slow but sure—-if I follow the plan.

I would suggest to talk to your nutritionist and/or hire a personal trainer you can trust. What we have been told for yours about diet and exercise is soooo wrong for most people, particularly if you’re over 40.

Good luck and hang in there. You DO NOT have to settle for a body that is overweight.

Replay the 80's for fun! · June 6, 2013 at 2:23 am

Oh Kelly! First of all, big hug! If you can afford to, definitely go with a Nutritionist that works with your blood type. A friend of mine was struggling and lost weight since working with this Nutritionist.

Me, I’m fighting the menopausal battle and Radiculopathy which stems from my L4 and L5. But, you know me, I compete and don’t care about the time, just finishing and keep exercising is my goal.

Oh, make sure you drink out of BPA free bottles as well. There is a link to weight gain drinking from BPA water bottles. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/bpa-chemical-hormone-obesity-diabetes_n_1276996.html

See you soon and good luck!

Denise

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