Weathering the self-drought

At my last weight and measure check-in, I was 36 pounds lighter than when I started working with a health coach back in January.

That was three weeks ago.

Since then, I have hit a three week slump. Ok, not a slump, but a plateau (because everything sounds less alarming in French). I knew that eventually my weight-loss would slow down – at least for short periods of time. I had prepared for this. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it any less frustrating when it actually happened. Unraveling half a lifetime of insecurities when it comes to my weight does happen in three months, in theory. In practice, I am still wrestling with some of my old experiences and habits.

All-or-nothing mentality. Historically speaking, I am an expert at kicking off a diet and sticking to it. That is, until I make one mistake. Then it is back to a steady stream of Netflix and Taco Bell, or the “fuck it diet” or “plan F” until I hate myself, or feel disgusting enough, or inspired enough to start again. Looking back, it seems obvious that I was doomed to failure each and every time. Healthy people do not have all-or-nothing mentalities; healthy people live a healthy lifestyle. They value movement, and whole foods, and self-care, and the occasional slice of pizza – because healthy people are balanced people. All-or-nothing is the antithesis of balance.

When the needle on the scale stopped moving, I could feel the familiar pangs of my all-or-nothing past knocking at my psyche – trying to seep in and derail me. I have the tools to silence this now, but I still need to stay humble to the process. Because just when I think I am unstoppable and have this all figured out, she checks in to see if it is finally time for me to stop this healthy living nonsense and go back to the comfort of fatness.

Negative self-talk. When I started running back in 2016, I enjoyed an initial boost of weight loss (about 28lbs). After the third month, the pace of my weight loss started to slow, despite of the fact that i was still running Mon-Fri. Although there were many positives that came from the miles I logged, none were ultimately as important to me as getting a handle on my weight. burritoEventually, like the rest of the things I had tried, the effort no longer matched the results and I went back to the F-plan – probably just in time for the second season of Narcos. Nothing pairs better with a tyrannical, power-hungry, bad hombre than a bean burrito, amiright?

By the time I hit two weeks without a change in the scale, I started to hear a familiar voice. What if you don’t ever lose another pound? What if this is just like the running? How humiliating for you! Especially after you were so convinced that this was finally the answer.  And you shouted it from the highest mountain top!  You even purchased some Facebook ads, to reach beyond your own circle. How fraudulent. What will Jennifer think? She believed in you, and you are letting her down.

This all sounds pretty depressing, but let me explain why it’s actually good news. I have struggled with that inner voice for most of my life. There have been stretches of time when I hear her a lot, and stretches of time when she seems to have disappeared. What makes this different from any other period of my life is that at no time have I even considered throwing in the towel. My F-plan days are over. I am fully awakened and there is no turning back. I know how the sausage gets made.

In the past, I could hide behind excuses – only I did not know they were excuses. I truly believed that because I have a thyroid condition (Hashimotos) I was doomed to fatness – and it was not my fault.

Poor, Holly. She works so hard, but the cards are stacked against her through no fault of her own.

In the past, I would have folded under my own entitlement issues. I believed that I deserved the food.  I deserved a treat because I worked so hard, or because something bad happened, or because something great happened, or because the Sharks were in the playoffs, or because it was Arbor day!

The difference between then and now, is that my knee-jerk reaction now is to figure out why and then push harder. This time instead of folding, I got online and scheduled more time at Soul Cycle. This time instead of saying “fuck-it” I hunkered down and counted calories, meal by meal. This time instead of filling my anxiety with crappy foods and self loathing, I filled my body with whole foods, and self-love.

And it worked. I weighed myself one week later and was down another two pounds. Two significant pounds. Significant because they were hard earned pounds. They were eff-you pounds, because that’s what I was saying to the negative inner voice inside of me. Not this time, lady.  Never again, in factor because something great happened, or because the Sharks were in the playoffs, or because it was Arbor Day

The two pounds were also significant because I realized that I am only one pound away from my pre–baby weight.  I am almost thinner than I was before I had children. I am also two pounds away from being 40 pounds less than I was four months ago. If I can manage another two before the end of April, I will have lost 40 pounds in four months. I have never lost 40 pounds in my entire life!

Holly 2

November 2016                                                                        April 2017

I still have a long road ahead of me, and there will be more plateaus in my future. But next time I will be more prepared. Next time, I can put that voice to bed earlier because I know that if I just stay in my lane and keep working what I now know, my body will eventually follow.

An open letter to a mighty good man.

Craig (my husband) is a good man. He is supporting me in my weight-loss goals in the best possible way – he is doing it with me. In fact, he is so committed to our health goals, he has lost 20lbs since January!  That is not the only reason Craig is such a good man. Here are just a couple of the reasons why I love him so much:

It is the little things. Craig shows me how much he loves me every single day. He makes me coffee every morning. He would never dream of starting to eat a meal until I am sitting beside him. He has a reminder on his phone every Sunday to make sure I have enough of a charge on my car Monday morning. He holds my hand proudly wherever we go, and walks on the traffic facing side of the street to make sure that I am safe. I am his best friend, the person he loves most out of everyone in the entire world, and he is my biggest fan. As if that wasn’t reason enough to follow him to the end of the earth, he didn’t even roll an eye when I asked if he would include some feminine products in his haul from the drug store, last week.  Because he is a very good man.


Protection for my mysterious lady-parts

He is open to doing the hard work that makes us better. When Craig and I first met (online), I was scared that he was too good looking for me.  I know, typing that kind of hurts my heart – but it’s true. I liked him soooo much, and that brought up some insecurities for me – so I had my best friend secretly stalk him at a sports bar where he was watching a Sharks playoff game. I share that story because I am sure that there have been friends who have wondered how we ever got together, given that he is a good looking guy and I am overweight. Maybe that is uncomfortable for you to read – or you may have the knee-jerk reaction to think that it’s preposterous because you know and love me, and think that I am beautiful (I am). Going through this process has really opened me up to my owning my story.  Even the hard parts.  Especially the hard parts. The truth is that broken people find broken people – and there was something in each of us that was a little broken when we met. In no way does this concept minimize the great marriage we have. In fact, we have found that the more we expose our most personal experiences and challenges, the deeper our connection grows. We are each others safest space – and we are both committed to healing our broken parts.

He makes time for me. I don’t mean that he carves out a slice of his precious time to hang out with me; I mean that he is stepping up the housework, so that I can make time for ME! Working with a health coach, and taking better care of myself has exposed some inequality in how we have historically split the household responsibilities. While we did not go from point a to point b without any friction, Craig has been incredibly open to being supportive and finding true balance. It is absolutely possible to achieve what I’ve achieved thus far without the support of my spouse, but it would be SO MUCH HARDER. I am truly grateful to have a partner who is open to change and sees the bigger picture.  Because the changes that he is helping me make will mean more time together, and more time with our family – and that is the most precious gift.

So thank you to Craig for being the best partner I could ever hope for.

I love you.


Inches and Champions

dadI am sure that my health coach (Jennifer Joffe) would agree that being highly coach-able is something that I come by honestly. My father [John McDowell] played for the Green Bay Packers under legendary coach Vince Lombardi. Over the years, my dad has recounted many fascinating stories from his football career – but I have always been particularly drawn to the ones about his coaches. So when I was thinking about what to title this post, I was suddenly struck by one of Lombardi’s most famous quotes:


“Inches make Champions” – Vince Lombardi

For those of you who read my previous blog post about my obsession with the scale, you may have wondered what the outcome of weigh-in day was. I am happy to report that I was another 3lbs down bringing the grand [wacka wacka] total to 261lbs. Of course, I was happy with the loss – but the absolute whopper of a statistic came from my measurements.

I have never really cared about measurements. In fact, I placed such little weight [wacka wacka] on the inches, that I didn’t even bother to measure myself back in January when I first started this adventure. Boy, do I regret that now. It had been one month since my last tale of the tape, and I was down a shocking 11.25 inches! It really put the weight-loss into perspective for me. Until that moment, I was only thinking of myself as weighing less, and not necessarily as taking up less space. The weight-loss is great, of course – but it keeps me focused on the number, not what that number means or how it is applicable.

Here is what taking up less space means to me:

  • It means never having to ninja my way into the drivers seat of my car via my trunk – or squeeze myself into the 12 inch space between my open door and my seat like a human kidney stone.
  • It means watching the musical Hamilton in San Francisco with hundreds of coworkers and focusing solely on enjoying the performance, and holding hands with my husband – which is a far cry from back in November, when I was at that same theater watching The Lion King and sitting uncomfortably sideways just to fit.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most notably, it means wearing a seat-belt when I fly the friendly skies. When I was at my heaviest, I flew from San Francisco to Minneapolis to meet my father who was being inducted into the hall of fame at his high school for football. I boarded the flight, sat down, and tried to buckle my seat-belt – only it would not buckle. Like, not even close. Like, not even within six inches. The flight was packed and I was too humiliated to ask for an extender, so I left it unbuckled. I flew across the country without a seat-belt because I was ashamed. I am a wife, a mother of two young children, a daughter, a grand-daughter, and a hard-working employee – and none of these reasons were more important to me than my utter shame at that moment. Looking back, it breaks my damned heart, and brings tears to my eyes. Because ultimately, that is how little I loved myself.

You are only your next meal, or your next walk, or your next inner thought away from making a choice supports your vitality.

I suspect that there will be a few people reading this post who can relate to some of the scenarios above. Know that you are not alone. You are also only your next meal, or your next walk, or your next inner thought away from making a choice supports your vitality. And a choice that demonstrates self-love over self-loathe.

Undoubtedly, this is a little heavier [wacka wacka] than my usual posts. But it is when I dive into the hard, truly own my situation, and share the heavy, that I am both mentally and physically lighter. Inch by inch.


Self portrait – 4.9.17