Stick around here for a few minutes, and you’ll probably pick up on the fact that I dropped almost 20 pounds last year. Yeah, that’s right, you goal-oriented hotshots. I didn’t quite make it. Why?
I was smart enough to quit.
When I started on my adventure to do more than just think about exercise in February of last year, I honestly and truly didn’t have a weight goal in mind. Given my personality and the culture of weight loss in America, I knew that I didn’t want my goal to be tied to a number on a scale or a clothing tag. I wanted to feel better in my own body, period.
I must admit that I had no idea how much weight I “should” lose. I knew my backside was too big and my midsection muffin top was increasingly obvious, but I was completely clueless about what it would take to shrink them.
I was also afraid I would fail. What if I sweated and strained and the weight wouldn’t come off, which was the story of some women I talked to? What if my body simply wouldn’t unload the excess cargo, no matter how many hands were on deck? What if, at almost 40, this is what my body had decided to be?
My mission, then, was a coward’s: get in at least two cardio workouts lasting 30 minutes long and two strength workouts a week. That’s it. No specific outcomes or benchmarks. I expected to sit back, see some results and be serene and content with my progress. Yes, I was going to be Zen Mama, at peace with her flesh.
Like my five-year-old son waiting for cookies out of the oven (Oooh, bad analogy!), I checked my weight daily, especially during those weeks when I was training for a race or I felt skinny. Initially, I was rewarded. The first five or six pounds came off in a rush, like they were just waiting for me to do something more than breathing and spending time on the Internet.
And then, nothing. For weeks.
I was keeping up with my workouts, pounding the trails, sneaking in exercise when I could, and my weight mysteriously remained the same. I asked my husband, “Is my butt smaller?” (Men, take note: always say yes. It’s just safer.) I asked him to put on his exercise science major hat and give it to me straight: what the @%$& was going on?!
The answers left me cold, but I continued anyway. My legs and abs were getting toned, my running times were going from the “glacial” category to “pokey,” I was having a blast riding on my new road bike, and I was feeling stronger. I had lost 10-ish pounds, and I was content with that.
Then my friend and her husband started talking. He was in terrific shape from training for cyclocross season, and was winning races in his age group. She had lost about 20 pounds and was going for 30 by the end of last year. Well, who was I to stand around and watch these two pass me by? It was time to get my game on!
For the last three months of the year, I was focused. I was diligent about my workouts, careful about what I ate, and I made sure that the weight I’d lost was NOT going back on, even if I was in the throes of the holidays! I peeled off another 8 pounds–even through Christmas–and then . . .
It was me and the last two pounds. (Cue suspenseful music.)
One day, just before New Year’s, I stood on the scale and stared at the same damn number. I was edgy. I had that gnawing feeling in my stomach from days of not eating quite enough. I could feel a low hum of a headache, like when a caffeine buzz has gone just a little too far. This was not working.
Right there and then, I realized that this goal had put me at war with my body. I had gone from having a lot of fun getting in shape, especially biking, and traded it for a contest where I saw my body as something to be conquered or beaten into submission. As a woman who’s spent too many years not feeling nice enough, smart enough, pretty enough or happy enough, I knew this was not a place I wanted to be.
So I quit.
I’m happy to report that a month later, I’m still only a pound or two from the 20-pound loss mark, and I’m really OK with it. I’m feeling great, having a lot of fun doing all sorts of outdoor activities with my kids that would have wiped me out a year ago. Now I only check the scale once a week, just to see if how I’m feeling in my body connects relates with the number on the scale.
It’s a much happier place to live. And you know, I’m all about the bliss.