October 1, 2007 at 8:17 am
There has been no 180 on my weight this month because I’m still weighing in at 180. This does not bother me since I’m glad I’ve been maintaining my loss. That’s 32 months straight with no significant gains. I also have to admit that for the past couple of months I’ve been in a maintenance frame of mind. Weight loss is nice, but now that I can buy bras in the stores (Yay, 36A!) and pants in the misses section (Double yay, size 12!), it doesn’t seem quite so urgent.
However, I also have to admit I don’t want to weigh more than 180 ever again. At the most I never want to pop back over 186, which was the point where I officially lost half my weight. If I get bigger than I am now it’s back to plus-sized jeans and ordering bras online. I’d like to have at least a 10 pound buffer area so I have time to correct course if I ever do start gaining back weight. Right now I don’t have any margin of error.
I decided to reevaluate my goals, like an annual job evaluation. It’s good to check-in with your goals at least once a year, be they weight, financial, or career. It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. I decided I’m going to try to get to 170 pounds by January 15, 2008, my three year anniversary. That’s three and a half months to lose 10 pounds, which seems reasonable. And now I’ve told you all, so I had better stick to it, right?
But I needed to decide how I was going to get there. After some debate, I started tracking what I was eating in the SparkPeople nutrition tracker a couple weeks ago. I’m not a big fan of tracking every last detail of my meals because it makes me feel like I’m stopping at the last gas station outside of Crazy Town. You’re not in Crazy Town yet, but it’s a short drive to the city limits. Do I really want to start obsessing about every gram of fat I’ve ingested in the day? So, I decided I’d just do it for two weeks so I could analyze what my diet had been like lately.
I’ve never paid much attention to the ratio of macronutrients I eat in the day (carbs/fats/proteins). It always seemed pretty damn complicated, plus when I first started out I didn’t know what half the foods I ate were made out of. Learning what were sources of fats and proteins was like learning the gender of all the nouns when I was learning Spanish. The table is feminine. Why? It just is! And cottage cheese has protein, okay? Why? It just does! There are no shortcuts. You just have to memorize it all. I prefer just to make sensible decisions and let the whole thing sort itself out naturally.
But holy cow, I’ve been eating a lot of carbs! Funny how I just kept slipping in more and more fruits and yogurts and oatmeal servings into my day. There is not anything inherently bad about carbs. They are an essential macronutrient. Yay, carbs and fat and protein! However I know when I eat a lot of carbs I start craving a lot of them, which might be part of the reason I had been eating so much in the evenings lately.
I’ve adjusted my diet somewhat, like I was restarting my computer. I’ve settled into something less carb-o-licious but still satisfying, but there were four days there when I was going pretty low-carb. I started to feel weak on the second day and I got a headache on the third day which did not go away no matter how much water I drank. When I woke up to the same throbbing in my skull on the morning of the fifth day I decided, “I’m going to have some oatmeal!” I don’t mind eating low-carb foods for a week or two, but I do mind having a freakin’ headache for more than two days. I do not want to be the girl who chooses weight-loss over good health, so oatmeal it was! Life is so much better with carbs.*
However, I did lose several pounds during those four days as my glycogen stores drained away and I have to admit it was really fun. I always tell people that slow and steady is the way to go, and I truly believe that, but there is no denying that it’s hella’ fun to see the numbers on the scale go down every day, even when you know it’s not really fat disappearing. That experience made me understand crash dieters a little bit better. It’s easy to see how extreme that kind of speedy weight loss is when you’re outside looking in, but when you’re the one actually dropping a pound a day, it’s easy to get sucked into a twisted way of thinking. No one who does something crazy thinks they’re doing something crazy, right?** You can always make up rationalizations for why it’s okay for you to be doing something that would otherwise seem questionable to an objective mind.
Anyway, I’m back to eating fruits and whole grains now and a lot of my cravings have gone away. It was pretty interesting to see how quickly my body reacted to a dietary change like that. I sometimes take it for granted that what I eat directly affects how I feel, but there’s no denying it’s true when you feel like sticking an ice pick in your brain to relieve the pressure.
There’s also no denying you need to lay off the running when you diagnose yourself with the beginnings of Achilles tendonitis. I first noticed a slight pain at the back of my left foot when I was stretching before my first 5K this month. Later in the week I noticed a slight pain when walking down the stairs. After some Googling I learned that it was probably Achilles tendonitis which “tends to occur in middle-age recreational athletes.” Middle-aged?! I’m only 26, which is only middle-aged if I die when I’m 52 and I’m hoping to keep breathing for longer than that. Then I read on and saw that “long distance runners will have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis after increasing their mileage.” Oops, yeah, that’s me. I probably should have waited longer before tackling those five mile runs. It’s hard to hold myself back when I exercise because I’ve been holding myself back all my life. I want to take it to the limit and see what my body can do! However, this tends to lead to injuries and “microtears,” so I need to figure out a balance between pushing myself and harming myself. Until I figure that out, it’s the low-impact elliptical machine in my apartment’s exercise room for me. I had never used the elliptical machine before in my life, and holy quadriceps, Batman, it’s tough! I could only do a mile the first time before I needed to stop and walk my jelly legs back upstairs to my apartment.
We’ll see how all this goes, and hopefully by the end of October I’ll be down a couple pounds. The funny thing is, now that I’m a “normal” weight I take weight loss far less personally. If my adjusted diet and exercise routine doesn’t lead to weight loss, oh well! It didn’t work. It’s not a personal failure. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means my body did not react to that regime by burning fat. That’s all. When I was morbidly obese I was scared to try any kind of diet because I was so scared I’d fail. I wanted to be thin so badly that I didn’t know if I could handle it if I really tried to do something and it didn’t work out. Now, if it doesn’t work out, I’m still pretty darn thin. Life will be okay. There’s less at risk, so I’m not as scared of a huge disappointment. And I can still eat oatmeal.
* This is not meant to be judgmental of anyone on a low-carb diet. I know the headaches etc. are supposed to go away after a while, but I was not interested in doing low-carb for life so I didn’t see any point in continuing. It’s just not something I can do, but if it works for you, kudos! Everyone needs to find what works for them.
** I am not saying low-carb dieters are crazy, I’m saying crash dieters are crazy. Doing low-carb and losing a pound a day was as close to crash dieting as I have ever come.