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.
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.