Monday, October 7, 2013

Running, Fitness, Weight

Last week, I wrote about the adjustments I've made to my running program as I begin building up my weekly mileage again after experiencing a few too many little injuries in the spring. I finished by saying that there was one more element that's part of my overall health and fitness plan.

 Outfit photo illustrating my newfound willingness to wear a belt, thanks to recent weight loss.


I've been reluctant to speak about my recent weight loss because I always worry that such posting can seem prescriptive. But I also want to give an honest picture of what it takes to stay healthy and fit, for me, and I don't want to leave the illusion that running is the only component to my staying in shape.

The reality is that over the past two or three years, the cumulative effects of menopause and my husband's retirement -- which has meant a big switch in my eating pattern during the week, now that he shops for and prepares most of our meals -- have meant that my running took on a burden that I didn't originally intend for it. Running became my way to burn up the extra calories I was enjoying, and then I felt I needed the calories because I was running significant distances. Any injury became a worry: if I took off a week or two to allow healing, would the pounds pile on? I tended to ignore more injuries than perhaps I should, because I didn't want to give up the calorie consumption.

And even as I kept up the running, I was probably a pound or two more each of the last few years, although I could pull those back if I really ate carefully for a week or so, playing a yo-yo game that we all know isn't good for our health. Also not so good for the health is that the pounds that stuck attached themselves to my middle in that unhealthy apple configuration. Finally, they might even, few as they were, have contributed to extra wear and tear on all the joints that running already stresses.

But I continued to rationalize and deny, in between increasingly frequent bouts of unhappiness when I'd catch an unflattering glimpse of myself in the mirror. This happened even more often after my mother's, then Paul's father's, illness and death in the spring, and our six weeks away in France. The scale refused to wiggle its way back as it always used to do after a vacation. I found myself rejecting garments that caught my eye because I knew instantly they wouldn't suit my shape. And I never wore belts. What bothered me most, though, was hearing how boring my constant self-castigation must sound to my husband. He's a problem-solving guy, and how he managed to stay quiet and supportive and loving through too many complaints, I'll never know.

Again with a belt. . . . 

One morning this summer, though, I found myself looking up times for the local Weight Watchers meeting. I'd read three WW success stories by other bloggers over the last year (Duchesse, Hostess, and Une Femme), and I guess I'd just been waiting until I was ready. We were two days away from a road trip to a family reunion, followed by a few days in wine country, so the timing wasn't optimal, but I went anyway, that very day, updating my ancient Lifetime Members status.  I managed to lose weight on the road trip, thanks to a constant supply of fresh fruit, my secret weapon over the past two months. The weight loss has been slow but steady, and I'm back at my original goal weight now (I'm lucky that I only had ten pounds to lose, and that I've never been more than 15 pounds above healthy weight, except during pregnancies when I'd gain a whopping 37 pounds, each time!).

According to my doctor's office, I'm an inch shorter than (I thought) I was when I set that goal, over a decade ago, and I'm thinking I will probably drop another five pounds. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm experiencing far less reflux and generally sleeping better. There's less weight to stress my running joints. And I'm soon going to be overhauling my wardrobe and wearing more belts.

What has really surprised me most is that I can run quite efficiently on the much reduced caloric intake, despite how much I thought I needed to consume for long distance training. Overall, in fact, I'm pleased with how much energy this healthier diet provides. . . And I'm so pleased -- as I know Pater is -- not to hear myself complaining about that tummy anymore.

24 comments:

  1. Another returnee to WW here. I started back in July. It has made a big difference to my energy for other things. I like being able to go to my closet and just DRESS with no drama about what can be tucked in, what can be belted or what blouse will stay closed. Complaining about it had become too big a part of my everyday.
    I think our husbands must be cut from the same, enduring and long-wearing cloth.

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    1. That's what I really enjoy as well, no more drama about adjustments that need to be made. I didn't like hearing my whine . . . and yes, sounds as if there are some real similarities between our men.

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  2. Congratulations. You look fit as a fiddle.

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  3. Congratulations! It is surprising how much better we feel when we eat better and I think it is a boost that we post menopausal gals need.
    WW has helped me regain control and walking is part of my routine now.
    Hope you stay injury free and that belted look is wonderful.

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    1. The leaner diet really does feel better, even though I occasionally crave something a bit richer. Your experience prodded me to make the change.

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  4. I'm glad you've found a comfortable groove about your weight and food and fitness and especially belts. You look smashing in these two outfits.

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  5. Life as an apple is more difficult to dress and generally less healthy. It really is the food and wine that does it. Wearing a belt is a more youthful look. Congratulations!

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    1. I've really cut the wine down -- it creeps up on one, doesn't it?!

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  6. What happened to me was, eating too much healthy food- like you, not junk. Was surprised to learn how much less I actually need to sustain myself (and not be hungry). I in fact use MyFitnessPal.com, a terrific FREE tool, not WW, which I did years ago. Have lost over 35 lbs and kept it off for 6 months.

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    1. Yes! The food I ate was generally healthy, but I had second helpings and simply ate too much. I didn't realize you'd done your entire 35 lbs with just that app as support (rather than WW which I know you've lauded in the past). It feels good, doesn't it?!

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  7. Congrats on your weight loss! I too joined WW after my dad died. I found it to be an extremely straight-forward and helpful system.

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    1. It's a good system, imho, based on lots of science, updated regularly -- just makes sense to me and gave me confidence that the weight would come off if I worked the program.

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  8. Congratulations, and you look fabulous in the belts! I was also surprised that my body seemed to adjust quite well to this regime, and that I'm never *famished*. I really think the current WW program is the best one yet.

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    1. I think so too, Sue. Especially the "free" fruits and vegetables. I've always got a piece of fruit handy and find it fairly easy to stay on track.

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  9. Applause! Very happy to hear you happy with yourself. You deserve some unfettered self-appreciation.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I like to think I deserve that as well, so it's nice to push the fetters away!

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  10. I'm always interested to hear about the journey to manage one's body shape fluctuations - especially after menopause! Good on you for making a choice that has assisted you in returning to the size at which you feel most healthy and beautiful.

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    1. Nicely put! I try to be careful about language around this issue, but it's what you stress that's important. I'm back where I feel healthiest and best-looking. Thanks!

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  11. Oh those menopausal pounds! I have 5 of them that just won't go away. I'm glad you've found success with WW. Our DIL lost 50 pounds over the past year on the program. It's so balanced. (The day she recorded her 50 pound weight loss was also the day she found out she was pregnant. Bye, bye WW until next year.)
    Feeling good about one's shape and size affects so much in life.

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    1. Good for your DIL -- she'll have got some really good food habits in place to see her through her pregnancy first baby year.

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  12. You look great in both outfits! (Do I detect a bit of swagger to go with those belts?) The reality of taking care of our body is that the benefits extend so far beyond physical accomplishment. So glad to hear the injuries are under control and your running belongs to you, again.

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    1. Busted! You caught that swagger, but it's just a little bit, right? ;-)

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