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The Anniversary of Something

For some reason, I was flipping through a copy of my book the other day… which sounds so narcissistic and weird, BUT… I can explain!  The kiddos had pulled a copy out of my office and were reading out loud to each other from it.

I was like, “Oh no no no no. That’s for much later.”

So I grabbed it from them, and as I walked it back to the office, I flipped and landed on a page…

Wow. I was really mean.  To myself.

It’s strange, because when I wrote the book, my kiddos were so little, and I didn’t think that someday they would pick it up and read it.

Sure, I talk about the trials of parenting (I would never hide that from them anyway–not later, at least)… but what I wasn’t ready for them reading was all the self-loathing talk that was in my head for so many years.

(Which is why I am totally censorship-ing them from my own book until much later. By the time I have a teenage daughter, I am hoping I have figured all this stuff out.  And have put a redeeming book out on the market.)

As I flipped through the book (mind you, this was written FOUR YEARS AGO now), I was a little taken aback by the horrible things I said to myself…in my head.  In my book.  For everyone to read.  When the Expert and I looked something like this:

 

 

Five Years Ago: April 2011… the beginning of the tri journey.

But I am also SO thankful that I took the chance and wrote ALL those things down and let ‘er rip.  Because… I would have forgotten just how tough it all was back then–in my head.  I really would have. I would have forgotten just how hard it was to start out in a sport that was unbelievably “not for me” and unsympathetic to the larger triathlete.  I would have sat down, today, and tried to write a book about beginning in triathlon, and I would have forgotten it all.

Like just how hard my first Olympic race was.  Hard.

First Oly Tri, May 2011.

Five Years Ago: First Oly Tri, May 2011.

So I am thankful for that.

And I think now, too, that maybe all those horrible thoughts in my head (which sucked for me) are exactly what connected with women and men when they read it. Because everyone has some bad thoughts sometimes.  And some of us–all the time.

Say what you want about “wow, that Meredith Atwood is just so negative” (which, anyone who knows me knows what a line of bullshit that is)…  but sharing all the oceans of negative thoughts, I now know that I was not an island standing alone.

Many, many of us have horrific, negative, self-deprecating and shit-talking to ourselves.

As I was weight training yesterday, I had thirty-something reps of bicep curls with 30 lbs, after killing my bis and tris already… the trainer at the gym (I do group training 2x a week at Lifetime), looked at me and I said, “Wow. This is heavy!”

And he said, “I don’t want to even hear that.”

And I said, “Like I need to add more meat to my arms anyway!”

And he goes, “Girl, you have more fat jokes than anyone I have ever known.”

And I laughed.

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Strength. Yesterday.

Then I thought, Wow. I do. That’s actually really terrible…

For every comment or compliment, I do have some quick-witted, fat-canned, response.  People laugh. Because, some of them are really funny–truth.

BUT, I have used them for so many years (um, since I was 10 years old?), that I have tons of them.

Tons. (…and there’s a weight joke right there weight-ing to happen.)

So interestingly, today was an anniversary.

It’s a weird anniversary.  But it’s a big day for me.

Last year at this time, I was looking at my calendar for Ironman Lake Placid, and I had stepped on the scale that morning, and thought, “For the love of all things holy. I hate myself and this fat and I don’t know how I can possibly do another Ironman at this weight. At this level of misery.”

It wasn’t rock bottom.  But it was like the bottom, where I could see the rocks and thinking: yup, we are on a fast track to those bottom rocks.

In a weird twist of things, someone talked about their nutritionist in a group.  I messaged her immediately.  I began working with a nutritionist the following Monday.  The Monday conversation with her was interesting.  While it took us several months to dig through the emotional issues and food and alcohol ridiculousness that I had buried myself in for decades… the Monday (first call) conversation was what changed everything for me.

As I talked to her at 3:00 in the afternoon, I had already planned out my dinner at Mexican with margaritas in the classic case of: “I’ll start tomorrow.”

She said these words to me that began the process of changing things for me.

She said, “Start now.  Right now. At the next meal.  And be nice to yourself.  Feed yourself nicely.  Treat yourself kindly.”

And she might as well have slapped me across the face.

It floored me.

Why didn’t I know those words?  Why didn’t I, a person who had been supposedly “inspiring” people in this sport for X years, know that I was supposed to eat and treat myself kindly?

Well, of course, I knew.  Of course.  Everyone “knows” that.

But there is a difference between knowing… and knowing, knowing.

But I didn’t know how to start. Where to start.  When to start. And that day, the process was revealed to me.

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The “how” and “where” to start avoiding the rock bottom crash was this. And these are the things I tell myself now.

  • How:  You start. Right now. You DO, and you do not think. You are nice to yourself. You say nice things in your head until you stop saying mean things out of your mouth. You focus on what you are, not what your body looks like. You wear clean clothes and bathe, and go to the dentist, for the love.  You don’t treat yourself like a trash can. You start to slowly care for yourself a little better, and then you keep doing that. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
  • Where:  You start with eating kindly. Again, your body is not a trash can. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
  • When: Right now. And every day.  And when you fail, you do better immediately. Not “tomorrow.”  Not “Monday.”  Like, next snack or meal.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I have a long way to go in all areas, but man… it’s light years away from April of last year.  (I mean, I still have more fat jokes than ANY ONE.  So I am still not doing this 10000% percent. Work in progress.)

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Last weekend: soccer game with my best girl.

But I know this:  I am 20 pounds lighter from this time last year.  I am losing actual fat each month at the rate of about 1-3 pounds, sometimes more, sometimes less.  I have dropped two clothing sizes.  My resting metabolic rate has skyrocketed from a slow and puttering 1350 calories a day to …a purring little machine revving around 1944.

And isn’t that just special? Of course.  But that’s secondary on the list of the good things.

It’s actually not even what motivates me every day.

The part that hit me today… is that I don’t talk to myself the same way I did last year.  That I wake up each day differently because each DAY and each WORKOUT is NOT about how I look or what I weigh.  It’s about being the best version of me. A wife and mom that my family is proud of. Working to be healthy. Happy. Sane.

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Last weekend: Women for Tri Event at Atlanta Tri Club

I don’t sabotage myself – like at all – anymore. I may dig into a ice cream, but it’s not the deep-down, dark and ugly sabotage… it’s just a thing I did (um… because ice cream is delicious; hello.)  …but then I don’t do it next meal. Or next day. Or if I do, I move on from it.  It’s not a pattern that repeats and where I flog myself.

I don’t drink.  At all.  For me, it wasn’t a good thing. After years of being the “life of the party” (a/k/a – the one who drank more than EVERYONE else in the room), I decided it wasn’t working.  So I figured out how to cut it out.  Today is Day 132 of sobriety.

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This morning: Lifetime Fitness

I feel good. Generally, I wake up and I feel good. I don’t wake up hating myself. I don’t go through the day pinching my fat, or thinking about what I am going to drink after work to numb all the tired and stress.

I focus about feeling good tomorrow at my daughter’s soccer game, and my son’s baseball game. So I can pick them up from the bus stop every day and feel happy to see them–because I am–happy. Because Mommy feels healthy.  Happy.

I think about what I am eating to fuel.  So my body can function. So my tibia stress fracture can heal. So I can get back to running ASAP.

I think differently.  am different.  Our whole family is different, too.

And that is why I am celebrating today.

Because it’s the anniversary of meeting someone who has made a difference.

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Last Weekend: Atlanta Tri Club

It’s the one-year anniversary of an amazing process—the mysterious process where at the end of the day, I am nice to myself–not just lip service, but in my actions, too.

And that’s really my only goal for the rest of this season:  keep on doing just these things.  Stay the course.  Don’t look back, and don’t go back either.

#JustKeepMovingForward

13 Comments

  • Kasey

    April 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    This put a fabulous smile on my face today! Congrats Meredith! Keep on keeping on. Btw, I finished my first IM 70.3 last weekend in nola! Still flying high, leaving me wanting more…full IM doesn’t seem all that impossible after all!

    Reply
  • Amy

    April 22, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Very cool. I read something once a long time ago that was similar. It was probably from Oprah because that was my source of motivation way back when. But it was if you tell yourself you’ll start tomorrow you’ll probably never start. So either start right now or be honest with yourself that you aren’t ready.

    Congratulations on your huge achievements. 20 pounds is huge!! And happy anniversary.

    Reply
  • Dawn

    April 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    For me, March 24, 2017 will be an anniversary of meeting someone who made a difference – you! Big congratulations for your year of forward progress. So proud and happy for you! Nice things inside my head, nice things out of my mouth is my new mantra. Thank you for this!

    Reply
  • Stephanie

    April 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Yes!!!! HUGE smile on my face from reading this too!!! I have re-read this post multiple times because this is me too. …I am still playing the crappy tapes in my head and using them to talk myself out of the tri game. .”you’re just always going to be too heavy to do this. ..you are trying to play with the cool kids. .give it up. .” Blah blah blah. I am moving forward and at least recognizing that I’m playing the tapes…I’ll keep at this and will keep visiting your site for the wonderful way you seem to have gotten into my head (creepy but you know what I mean. .). Thanks for being willing to lay it all out there !!

    Reply
  • Pam Britt

    April 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Way to go! I did SBF in January and I am still trying to put all the pieces together but making progress in the right direction. I do have a question-how did you figure your resting metabolic rate?

    Reply
    • Swim Bike Mom

      April 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      It’s a test… measurements of carbon dioxide and oxygen analysis after a person has fasted for at least 12 hours and is rested. They do it at Lifetime and many coaches can do it or tell you where to get it 🙂

      Reply
  • Steffi

    April 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    I love this post a lot. I love it for your happiness and for my feeling going in a similar direction. SBF has changed my lifestyle in a great way and I actually feel good about my body. A “good” that I haven’t felt in a long time. Like never… Keep that awesomeness coming, Mere!!

    Reply
  • Jo

    April 23, 2016 at 1:15 am

    Happy Anniversary! A friend sent me a link to your blog and a copy of your book about a month ago. Thanks to you, your book (which actually I didn’t read as negative – just real and 100% relatable), your blog I just got to my 1 week anniversary. Yes, I “knew” that I should be kind to myself. But you got me thinking “what does that actually mean?” “And how do you actually do that?”. So a week ago, I made a decision. A decision to try and finally like myself. To find some small part of every day to do something nice – even if it’s as small as savouring the flavour of butter on toast. And you know what, things are already starting to change. I have started to eat better, train better. I certainly feel better. So, congratulations on reaching 1 year. And thank you for inspiring me to achieve 1 week of a better version of me.

    Reply
  • N

    April 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Congratulations! I’m jealous. I wish I could get there too. The drinking, eating, self sabotage, ugliest, meanest self talk. But still I keep moving forward, appearing all put together on the outside. I must admit it’s hard seeing your progress in the last year..Is that awful? Only because it reminds me of what I haven’t been doing and where I could be. I’m on this journey trying to finally face 35 years of crap. Anyway, I thought today I would just say it. I’m not as strong as you. I wish I was.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Gibbs

    April 27, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    First of all, you are amazeballs. I love reading your truth. Second, if you haven’t read the book “The Untethered Soul” – you need to get your little happy fingers on Amazon right now and buy it. Stat. Life. Changer.

    Reply
  • Rachel, Scotland

    April 28, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I’m so glad I read this today. I’m doing my first ever triathlon in 10 days and while I’m excited as I have trained really hard and this time last year had never run or cycled a road bike before. I’ve now done a 10k in a respectable and I’m 4 stones lighter than when I started but I’m still scared stiff of putting on that tri suit. Not the run or the cycle but the clothing. Nuts!

    Reply

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