Sunday, January 30, 2011

A new chapter, another project.

3 months
I'm sitting here contemplating the juxtaposition of planning for a 50-mile run and a new situation in my life.  My daughter, who has been in an abusive marriage, is leaving the marriage and coming here from Dallas.  She'll be staying with us until she gets on her feet.

I mentioned my daughter once, briefly, a long time ago.  I mentioned how worried I was because she weighed 230 pounds.  She texted me on Sunday to let me know that she had weighed herself and now weighed 270 lbs.  She said that it was the first time she had weighed herself in a long time, and the shock of the number made her cry.  "I can't stop crying.  I'm a hippo, mom, how did I ever let it get this bad?"

As many probably know, there are a lot of ways that one can "let it get that bad," and they all converged on my only daughter.  She was raised by her father from age 12 to 19.  He is a simple man who doesn't waste time on high-fallutin' things like nutrition.  My daughter had gotten very big once before, around age 16, and so I had her come live with me for a year, since I'd always retained legal custody.  I didn't make her exercise, and I didn't control her eating.  It's just that we didn't have a lot of stuff around that was junk food.  We don't keep it in the house. 

Age 2
She was highly resistant to learning about nutrition.  She was not an easy teenager.  However, just living with us, that time in her teens, she lost 60 pounds in less than a year.  Then she went back to Dallas to live with her father.  

Age 3, with big
brother Sweetface
She has some sense.  She never got into drugs, and she hasn't had any children yet, so at age 23, she's one up on me already.  Her marriage right after high school was most likely based on the notion that, at 230 pounds, someone wanted to marry her, so she married, about three years ago.  It quickly deteriorated into an abusive marriage.  She tried once to move to another town, but the people she moved in with weren't incredibly reliable, and themselves became abusive, so she wound up going back to her husband to "try again".  

The stress, I would imagine, was not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  My daughter told me some time back that the area in which they lived was not the kind of place where a woman walks alone, so she drove everywhere.  That didn't help with the weight either.
Age 11: An impromptu family portrait
taken in Dallas.

I watched, from a distance, to try to ascertain when she was serious about leaving him.  I had left an abusive marriage when I was 21.  I went home to my parents temporarily to get back on my feet, and so now, is she. 

It's jarring to realize that my only daughter, who is one inch shorter than me, weighs 120 lbs more than I do.  She texted me and asked me if I would walk with her to help her lose weight.  I texted her and told her that we were going to walk a lot when she got here.  I figure that's the safest way to go until she's lost about 70 lbs.  I told her to go to a running shoe store and get her gait analyzed for some well-cushioned road shoes, and if she couldn't afford a pair, to write down their suggestions.  
2009: Me at 170 lbs, herself at 230.
Here, of course, she will walk with me, just a short distance at first, but then eventually longer.  I have no illusions of turning her into an ultra runner.  I'm just trying to help her avoid diabetes.  In a few exchanges, I realize that she has no idea how to read food labels, so I'm investigating basic-level books on nutrition.

I plan to take pictures of her progress, but I don't know if I'll post them.  Perhaps after a lot of progress has been made.   

If anyone has suggestions for making this "project" easier, I welcome them.  



  1. She wants to make the change, which is huge, I'd say. Hopefully once she sees what a difference healthy living and exercise make, she'll be even more motivated. Wishing all of you good luck. I'm so glad for her that she was able to leave such a bad situation, and I hope her strength only grows in her time with you.

  2. Besides been one tough gal on the trail, you are clearly one great mom.

    Hope you guys have a good time together again and that she finds some of your strength by osmosis now that she's an adult ;)

  3. While she's still in Dallas, tell her to go to Luke's Locker for shoes, gait analysis and maybe even some running/walking clothes. You can probably arrange to pay online or via a phone call and credit card. We have a Luke's Locker here in Houston and they're very good, very supportive.

    If you haven't done so already, reassure your daughter that serious runners are always delighted to see people like her - newbies taking the leap from couch to trail. We know it's not easy and we respect newcomers. The biggest cheers at Ironman are for the last finisher, not the first.

  4. Virtual hugs to you both.....

    Maybe the program currently talked about by John Bingham (the Penguin) on competitor's site - I believe it's just about getting out and moving for 100 days....then on to his "that I had the courage to start"

    One thing I read in The Happiness Project is to make a chart and give yourself a gold star when you keep a resolution on a day - but that might be a bit much for her to start. Maybe an even gentler approach - it's a success if she eats healthy and walks, and if she doesn't, it's a success if she notices it and tries again, knowing that seeing it is a huge step.

    In addition to anything a Weight Watchers or other similar group (maybe some are free) might have to offer her, any support groups for women transitioning out of abusive marriages in the area?

    Also, maybe it would help to give her some things to look forward to - walking a 5k, taking a class, etc. Everyone starts somewhere, and we all were beginners at everything once!

  5. I wish you the best in your upcoming adventure. I don't have any nutritional advice but I think you are doing the best thing already and that is being there for your daughter. I wish her the best and let her know that we are all behind her 100%.

  6. I agree with Christi. Her confidence will soar through the love & support you (& Sweet Baboo) are able to offer. Simply being there, accepting & helping, moving - will help greatly. Hang in there & be the good Mom you are. She may not be an ultra, but she will be a healthy woman again, simply by starting to believe in herself & her strength again.

  7. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Remind her that she's not alone in this. That it's a lifetime journey in health and fitness, that 270 is starting point. We can only start where we are. I've been to 270 (and well beyond). It's just one little baby step, one small change at a time to get this thing turned around. "No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back."

    She's got YOU! That's the greatest gift any daughter in her position could ever have.

    She will come through this stronger, lighter, healthier and with sunshine radiating from her soul. Often, we gain weight as a defense mechanism to protect against all that we cannot control. When she finds safety, acceptance, consistency and support as her new normal, she'll also find that it's safe to let the protective layers go.

    My thoughts will be with her and with you as you embark on this journey together.

  8. What a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to connect, Misty! She has already given herself so many advantages just by moving into your environment. As far as a suggestion, I've been keeping a victory journal and I am finding it helpful. I write down even the smallest things - I got my five-a-day fruits and veggies. I hydrated. I swam for 20 minutes. (Would she enjoy swimming or water aerobics?) I read a chapter in that nutrition book. I got to bed before 10pm. And so on. Best of luck to both of you!!!

  9. Wishing the best to you both. Your daughter has already taken the most important step, now all she needs is your support and knowledge. Plus she's taken the second most important step, acknowledging that sometimes Moms do know what they are talking about.

  10. Give her time and love. And continue to keep junk out of the house! If she is anything like her mother, she will emerge victorious and strong! Big hugs to you both.

  11. Hi Misty,
    This is so wonderful. My thoughts mirror many of the others, but I'd add to make it "fun" and give her lots of love and support. At this point, just moving her body is doesn't matter how far you walk; also, I'm sure any dietary changes will be an improvement for the past few years!
    Debbie J-R

  12. My oldest daughter is 5'5" and 240lbs (at 23). She too lives with her dad. I'm no 'expert' and have yet to permanently solve my weight problem, and yet, my heart bleeds for her. I wish I knew what to say or do to help her. The best I can do is help myself.

  13. (actually typo - she's 5'1")


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