On May 31st, I splurged on the top shelf red wine at Armitage Produce—10 vs 5 bucks. And as the evening waned, I pawed through the bag of “for my students” goodies for some Little Debbie Nutty Buddy Bars.* I even tried to savor instead of snarf them.
Per my therapist’s orders, during the month of June, I am going to. . . I want to say try, but ugh I need to be more ambitious. For the next 30 days, I am going to:
exercise a lot more
eat a lot better? less? more strategically?
write it all down
I have gained almost 25 pounds since last spring, after having lost almost that much in the previous two and a half years. This 19% relatively rapid increase is a puzzle and is starting to become a concern because the chart keeps trending up. It’s a big shift for my 5′ 1″ inches.
Many variables might be at play. Perimenopause. Having been depressed. Being back on an anti-depressant. Working mostly from home.
And. . . perhaps. . .my dietary choices and activity levels. The truth is that I have been lazy with exercise and lax with portions, sweets, and wine. Last year, stabilizing my mood was the paramount health concern. Mission mostly accomplished, which is why we are reluctant to mess around with the medication. My annual physical is next week, so maybe that will yield more insights.
It’s aggravating to keep gaining weight even as I have eased back into running (but not enough to blame increased muscle on the scale–the waistbands don’t lie). Maybe what they say about age and metabolism is true and I simply need to adjust accordingly, not only in terms of behavior, but also outlook. If I have to accept a new baseline weight and build a new wardrobe, I can do that, though I am embarrassed to say it will be emotionally challenging. More on that another day.
In the meantime, I am going to (not try to) focus on the variables that are very much in my control: what I eat and how much I move. I don’t do well with restrictive rules, so instead of cutting booze, I am cutting wine. Instead of avoiding all sweets, I will stick with anything homemade and maybe the occasional square of dark chocolate. I am not going to freak out about diet, but am tracking via My Fitness Pal (under Velo_chicago). It’s amazing how quickly calories add up. And with that, I guess I should go for a run. Wahhhhh!
*It was a three hour class, so I always brought power bars and sweet treats. Next semester, perhaps I should lean more towards fruit.
Last summer, I lost 20 pounds in less than 20 minutes, and have kept it off without changing my diet or exercise habits. Read on to see if my free, easy, transformative system might work for you. Or just click on the flow-chart.
I have disliked my short, sturdy body as long as I can remember. Like so many other people of completely healthy weight, I have wasted more time than I care to admit moping in front of mirrors, sucking in, and berating myself for not fitting into clothes I wore in high school.
When thin, I wanted to be skinny. When trim, I mourned the loss of thin. Now, softer and rounder with middle-ish age, I want to shrink back to trim. I’ve “ballooned” from a size 4 to 8 in twenty years, feeling fat all along. I attribute about 93% of those ridiculous, unfounded feelings to screwed up cultural norms,* and 7% to being 5′ 1″. (Minor fluctuations in weight really do make a difference in how I look and feel, and they affect my athletic endeavors, such as they are.)
When I furtively buy magazines that promise dropping three dress sizes in three weeks, I always start at the back for inspiring stories of weight loss. It’s not so much their strategies that interest me; at the core, most are versions of calories in and out. I don’t need a magazine to tell me to cut down on sweets and ramp up the strength training. What intrigues me is that they often pinpoint a moment—big or small—that sparked a sustained transformation. I saw myself in a friend’s wedding picture. I got out of breath chasing my kids around. My dad died young of a heart attack.
My Catalyzing Moment happened this August, while on a muggy, 12 mile run with friends, during our annual takeover of Gary, Indiana’s Miller Beach. The overgrown limestone trail, once a railroad, was flanked by wildflowers, scrubby trees, and a slow river clotted with beaver dams. It was a welcome change from Chicago’s hard sidewalks and loud streets, but also a melancholy echo of Gary’s proud industrial past. Our lungs burned and legs churned in sync as we chased the ghosts of the Iron Horses that built both cities. I felt strong, and full of gratitude for the companionship and scenery.
Then, a familiar refrain interrupted. “I am fat, ugly, and a failure.” The words pounded with our footfalls, and I feared the moment would be lost in a squall of negativity. But something amazing happened. Other inner voices pushed back.
One wailed: “Why? Why are you *still* buzzing in my ear???!!!! Pleeeease leave me alone!”
One cursed with anger: “For fuck’s sake! Right now?! In this beautiful place with these beautiful people??! Shut up and get out!”
But the best voice was firm and logical: “I am not fat, I am fit. I am not ugly, I am loved. I am not a failure, I am alive.” Somehow that mantra melted 20 pounds of heavy thoughts by the time we wrapped up the run.
I had tried before to stop obsessing about my weight, but ever since that afternoon, that mantra–fit, not fat–has kept the body-hating thoughts at bay. “Oh well, who cares” I declare when catching a reflection of three rolls of belly-smush while leaning over my handlebars. “Not the end of the world” I shrug when a favorite skirt won’t zip. “Behold these curves!” I whistle when donning a body-hugging dress I would never have worn before I started ignoring my “extra” 20 pounds.
Because, should I really call them extra? Does a 42 year old need to weigh the same as she did 20 years ago? Should someone with bi-polar disorder stop taking life-saving medication that contributes a bit to the chub? Should someone concerned about social justice waste time concerned with just looks? I eat well, can run over an hour, and can bicycle all day. I am not overweight, have never been. I am currently a little pudgier than I would like, but until I am ready to take sustained, healthy action to get leaner and stronger, I refuse to waste time and mind worrying about my m(ass). According to a recent survey, 41 of my friends unanimously agree. ****
Sure, I would like to slim down. It would help running performance, and I am not ready to give up the size 6 jeans that are my favorite, hard to find, shade of brick red. It would also be irresponsible to ignore the tight correlation to date between increasing years and numbers on the scale. Halting, let alone reversing, the trend is only going to get tougher. And I have a wicked sweet tooth that can attack a pan of brownies in a day–one small “just one more” piece at a time. Regardless of weight, that’s just not healthy. But I am not doing anything about it today. Soon, but not today.
I just checked the mirror. The sweater and other layers make me feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. “At least I am warm!” And my butt looks cute, too. Fit, not fat.
*Borrowing from my friend, Jessica: “Part of the struggle is that we have competing feelings. On the one hand we want to conform to a certain body ideal, so pervasive in media and culture. No matter how media savvy we are, and no matter how much we reject it intellectually, this ideal exerts a powerful influence, right? And on the other hand, we feel that it’s lame and shallow to care about this. We resent caring about it. We *know* that it doesn’t matter, and yet it matters. That’s some cognitive dissonance.”
**Our is meant here in the collective sense. That’s my friend Scott, not my hubby. But this gives me a chance to plug his wife’s awesome blog. Clare Fauke is my favorite contemporary blogger.
***I feel weird about all these “look at meeeeee photos.” But since this is a post about body image, I hope folks understand.
****I also asked the even sillier question: Do you think I am fat? I thought 100% would say no, but three stinkers said yes. I stick my tongue out at them and say: