David and I like to joke that we enable each other. Jokes that are more like uncomfortable truths. You know the kind.
We look to each other for validation of our poor choices.
If David complains that he is too tired or cranky or [insert excuse here] to cook and eat the healthy dinner we’ve shopped for and planned, I’m on the phone dialing up delivery before he can even pause for breath. Or if I’m having a terrible day, David is ready with a pint of ice cream and a box of mac and cheese to cheer me up. It’s gotten to the point where these things aren’t even occasional indulgences anymore. We are just full-on making terrible choices and telling each other it’s ok.
We’ve been aware of this pattern for a while now (long enough to try to turn it into a joke, after all) but being aware of a problem is a far cry from solving it.
But before I get into that, I want to take you guys on a quick photo journey.
Once upon a time I was a healthy, thin, active person. My average weight was between 165 and 170 which is the middle of the healthy bracket for my height, at 5’10. I wasn’t fit, by any means, but I was up and moving pretty constantly.
Here’s a picture of David a year or two before we met:
In our hey days we were pretty damn good looking people (horrible photos aside. This is only JUST when digital cameras were becoming a thing. Most of my photos from this time were still prints!)
That’s not how we looked when we met each other, though.
I went through some personal crap, and came out the other side about 40 pounds heavier. Which is where I was when I met David. Not my best. But not really AWFUL, either. I knew I had weight to lose, but I didn’t worry too much about it. I’d gone up a clothes size, but I wasn’t “plus-sized” (yet) so I told myself it was fine. I’d bounce back. But… I didn’t.
When I met him, David was in better shape than I was, but far from his physical peak (former hockey player and cross country runner, he’d put on a few pounds after he stopped those activities while still eating the same amount of food).
We were pudgy, but happy. Happy enough to ignore the unpleasant changes in our bodies. And of course, we had never seen the hotter, slimmer versions of one another. We still liked what we DID see. So nothing to worry about.
This is a picture of us taken about a month after we met. Excuse David’s ridiculous face–I think he was mid-sentence! (I’m only using photos other people have taken of us for this blog post. It’s too easy to get deceptive angles when taking a long-arm photo of yourself. I should know. I’m a pro at that kind of stuff. Since I hated having my picture taken, even then, there aren’t many to choose from! Excuse the poor quality of most of them!) New Year’s Eve–2008:
I weighed roughly 208lbs in that picture, perhaps a little less (which is what I weigh right now! Stupid honeymoon weight gain!).
We’d been dating almost two years when we moved to Minnesota. The latter six months had been stressful..and we both put on some more weight. This is us in October of 2009.
I’m probably pushing about 220lbs in this photo, which was taking about a month after we moved. We were unemployed, staying with family, and pretty stressed out and depressed. Although we quickly got jobs and moved down to the cities in an apartment of our own, the weight gain increased…
This photo was taken in the summer of 2010. This is possibly the heaviest we’ve ever been, respectively. I can only guess that I was over 230lbs by quite a bit, but I can’t tell you for sure, because I NEVER weighed myself at this point in time. I was in major, major denial.
Both David and I feel ill when we look at this photo. How they hell did we get here? Although intellectually we know that it was a slow, slow processes that crept up on us because of a steady stream of terrible choices, it really felt like we just woke up one day and were fat. Like, really fat.
Even seeing these pictures didn’t push us into gear, though. Oh, we dropped a handful of pounds without really trying. A smidge. An ounce or two.
This is a few months later, Thanksgiving of 2010.
For most of 2011 things stagnated. We had made the commitment to eating completely local and organic in 2010 (and are still going strong with that, woo hoo!) but since they make organic local butter and cream, that wasn’t going to help us out too much without some added effort on our part. I started taking a weekly yoga class through work, and David started commuting on his bike, so we slimmed down a bit. A teeny bit. Here’s us in May 2011:
Incidentally, when a relative posted that set of photos on facebook I cried for a week. I HATED the way I looked in them. And that wasn’t even the biggest I’d ever been! Was it enough to really motivate me yet? Well…no.
I didn’t really start to get my act together until March 2012. When I bought Body Revolution and started this blog. And changes started to happen…
(These two photos taken by the ridiculously talented Kate Sommers of http://www.kngsommers.com/)
(Wedding photos taken by family and friends. You’d better believe I’ll be sharing the professionals when they come in!)
We have made such great progress, but still have a long way to go. After the wedding, David and I fell off track. We stopped counting calories and eating well. We stopped working out (truth be told, I stopped working out back in July, when pre-wedding stress just totally consumed me). We started making really poor choices all the time, and we started to enable each other to continue making those choices.
Outlook: not good.
We both put on a few pounds. Nothing earth shattering. I weighed 201lbs on my wedding day, and this past Monday I weighed in at 209lbs (after avoiding the scale entirely for a month). The scale is definitely going in the wrong direction. And I started to panic. I mean, really panic. I don’t ever want to go back to where I was at my worst. I am already feeling lethargic and heavy from no exercise, I have less energy, I’m feeling bloated and moody because I’m eating crap all the time. And I know where this gets me. And I so do not want to go there.
I struggled along on my own for a few days, trying to get back into the swing of things. And it was hard. In fact, it was impossible. I was getting nowhere. David and I had been mentioning, in an off-hand, falsely nonchalant way that we wanted to get back into our good habits. So I decided to force us to put our money where our mouths are.
I whipped up The Enabler Pact, showed it to David, and then when we finished laughing, we signed that damn thing and got to work.
The Enabler Pact reads as follows:
THE ENABLER PACT
WE, Team Van Sant, the undersigned, do hereby pledge to enable the hell out of one another in making healthful, sustainable choices for our bodies and minds, with the goal of increasing the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of ourselves, both as individuals, and as a family.
WE vow to uphold that pledge with the following words and actions:
- Vocal encouragement and celebrations of success. We will be one another’s cheerleaders and biggest supporters in our quest for health. We will be proud of one another. We will honor each other’s requests to be shown this support in ways that are most beneficial to the recipient.
- We will keep each other accountable. We will share thoughts about our plans and progress to the degree to which we feel comfortable doing so, and will be attentive and compassionate listeners as well. We do this not to nag, or to pass judgment, but because we care deeply about one another and want to be successful.
- There are no punishments. There is no failure. We aim to make the best choices in the moment, with the long term goal of living a long, active, and healthy life side by side. We wish to focus on ALL aspects of health, not just food and exercise, but mental and emotional health, too. Sometimes, this might require taking a step back, or taking a break. This is not failure. This is reality. We will give ourselves the space to make these choices. We will allow ourselves to indulge. And then, we will let it go and move on.
WE understand that success will manifest differently for each of us. For that reason, we will declare some individual goals, with the knowledge that this is a constant and evolving endeavor, and that these goals are fluid and will most likely change over time.
David’s Goals: 1. Count Calories. 2. Yoga 2x per week. 3. Get 7 hours of sleep per night
Kelly’s Goals: 1. Count Calories. 2. Exercise 5x per week. 3. Get weight down to 175lbs before getting pregnant.
WE enter into this pact freely, knowing that we are bangarang inside and out.
Silly? Absolutely. Does it work? Too soon to tell. But I have to say, I’m counting all my calories, and devising workout plans–two things I haven’t done in months. And it’s great to know that my husband(!!!) has my back.
I am so ready to rock this.