Monday, January 14, 2013
My blog entry on Saturday included the admission that I didn’t diet in the past because I didn’t feel I had to. In spite of my weight gain, my body image was fine.
Case in point: When at a family gathering my aunt remarked to my mother that ooh, Eileen got fat, I responded while gesturing around the room, “compared to whom?”
Still, there was one feature of mine that I always wanted to change – my hair color. Naturally a dark brunette like my mother’s side of the family, I wanted to know if “blondes have more fun” as the commercials said. I started dying my hair at age 15. I couldn’t easily be a blonde, but I went as light as I could with do-it-yourself home products. Did my mother object? No, she was dying her hair too. So was her sister and her daughter, my cousin. We were all “Moongold” women. We were a matched family set.
I went natural for awhile around age 40 just to see what I would look like, including the gray hair, more of which was popping up every day. Finally, my mother had enough. “Dye your hair,” she said. “What will people think if I have a gray haired daughter? They’ll know I dye MY hair.” Well, of course they would, Mom. You’re 65 and your hair hasn’t changed in 50 years.
You see, there was a time when women all claimed their hair was natural. “Only her hairdresser knows for sure” was another Clairol commercial. In our case not even a hairdresser knew for sure since we did it ourselves.
Back in the day coloring your hair was like getting some “body work” done now. It was just polite to believe whatever the remade person said.
I was 45 when my oldest daughter got married and I dyed my hair as Mom wanted. I’ve continued ever since. Fortunately, grey hair is much easier to turn blonde. After 50 years, I’ve finally reached my original goal, but whenever a form requests that I specify hair color, I’m tempted to answer “Nice and Easy #106”
Now we’ve come full circle. My daughter must decide if she wants to turn grey when her mother isn’t showing any. Her sister doesn’t have that dilemma. She started her hair dye ritual at age 15 too and never quit.
Society has expectations of how a woman should look and we can’t help but be affected by some of it. As long as it doesn’t negatively impact your life, go for it. If you prefer to defy convention, that’s OK too. Do what you have to do to keep physically and mentally healthy and happy.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
As my status says, I have new motivation to increase my distance running.
As I wrote last Sunday, I discovered a beautiful running trail 25 miles away from me.
I haven’t run a race longer than a 5K since my retirement 5 years ago since my rural roads don’t lend themselves to distance training. My definition of “long run” changed accordingly.
Yesterday morning I set off to channel my former self, the woman who used to reserve Saturdays for a long run. The day began beautifully.
It was 42* when I left the house. Arriving at the trail 50 minutes later (country roads and city streets!) it was warmer. Hmm, maybe my long shirt, vest and tights are too much?
There was a shelter house by the parking lot. (good)
The bathrooms were locked (bad)
There was a portapotty (good). It stunk. (Of course, it did)
Now, which way to run. According to the marker, I was at mile 21.8.
I went left and ½ mile later the trail ended at a city street with an arrow pointing to the rest of the trail. I guess the trail consists of segments.
I retraced my steps and went the other direction.
Very nice scenery along the river and markers every tenth of a mile. (Good).
Oops, I’m running very slowly (Bad?) Not really, this is exploratory and it’s supposed to be a LSR (long, slow run).
Lots of people are on the trail – runners, walkers, bikers, families with kids and dogs (all on leashes!). The trail is wide with lots of passing room. All bikers use their bells and faster runners announce “passing on the left” (Very Good & Safe). I’m very happy!
It’s getting much warmer (bad) so I slip out of my vest and leave it zipped around my waist. In ½ mile, I realize that I put my glasses in the pocket and now they’re NOT there (VERY BAD). Aside from the cost, I need them to drive home.
I retrace my steps, walking VERY slowly and squinting to search the ground.
On a whim I ask a couple coming towards me if they saw a pair of glasses on the trail.
YES! They found them in the middle of the trail and put them safely on a manhole cover at the edge of the grass. (VERY GOOD)
I kept walking. There were about a dozen manhole covers along the way.
Finally I saw my glasses shining in the sun, not broken or even scratched. (VERY GOOD).
Back to running. I’m wearing my glasses this time even though they keep slipping down my nose in the heat. I run/walk back to the car. The heat and stress of losing my glasses have taken a toll. Finally, a 1 mile walk to cool down.
I’m very hungry and reach for the energy bars I keep in my car. There are none left! (Bad)
People at the shelter house are having a cookout. It’s January but must be nearly 70*.
I’ve got to get something to eat and they tell me about a Co-op a few minutes away.
What a surprise! It’s a huge, healthy foods/organic Co-op. (GREAT)
I found all kinds of vegetables and products I didn’t think existed around here and bought a bagful as well as some energy bars to replenish my car supply.
So I count this as a very successful day. I know this has turned out longer than a marathon report, but it was a milestone day for me - 7.2 miles total. Yeah, I even counted the distance looking for my glasses. At my age if my feet are moving forward, I’m going to count it. It’s a benchmark and something to improve on. I hope to make this a habit.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Not once from age 35 to 61 was I ever tempted by diet plans or programs or pills.
I just accepted it as normal. I was getting older, my metabolism was slowing down and hormones were to blame. I didn’t need to diet. This is what I would be in middle age. It was inevitable. Just maybe the “small” frame that I had during my college days was really a “large” frame after all. That would account for the extra weight, right?
Fortunately, my weight gain leveled off at 25 pounds, probably because I was always active and my drink of choice was water.
However, it was that very good fortune that made the 25 lbs permanent. I was already doing the EASY stuff. – moving more and giving up sugary drinks. So the pounds stayed put – mostly on my hips and thighs.
My body image was fine. I never compared myself to movie stars or models, but to the real people around me. I made peace with my pear shaped body a long time ago. I may have been gaining weight, but my family, friends and colleagues were gaining more. Besides I was still wearing a size 10 just like back in high school. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same size 10. Because of sizing creep of the fashion industry and forgiving fabrics, I could gain 25 lbs and stay the same size even though each of my measurements had expanded significantly.
I was fit and healthy and the feedback I was getting was that I was fine. I was told by everyone that I could “carry it” – the extra weight that is. In the era of “The Biggest Loser” why be concerned with a measly 25 pounds?
My ‘aha’ moment was caused by a different kind of vanity. My 5K times were getting progressively slower. I might have accepted growing hips, but not slower running times. Here I would put up a fight. That was my line in the sand. Enter tracking, portion control and SP. The rest is history.
The stories I’ve learned here are amazing and inspirational. You’ve made me aware that losing the weight isn’t the end of the journey. If I hadn’t been warned, I may have just gained the weight back and my first experience would have ended badly. I’ve learned here from your personal stories that regaining is a definite possibility and we must continue to be vigilant.
I credit SP and the teams I joined with giving me the tools and support to maintain for 3 years. Thank you all for accepting this oddball. I know my story isn’t typical, but the “new me” wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Looking back now, how could I have deluded myself for so long? Is anyone else here in in that category - a "first timer" or am I truly a minority of one?
Friday, January 11, 2013
I don’t see it as a chore. Fitness never was my problem, eating was.
So much for all those ads – just walk and lose weight. When I decided to get serious about my weight, I was already RUNNING 20 miles a week and hauling around a bunch of extra pounds while doing it. I also had to confront the attitude of “you’re so fit, you don’t have to lose weight.” I really wanted to believe that. There was one problem. I was fit 25 pounds ago, so why did I need to drag those pounds around now?
I had been active since childhood except for a brief period in high school where I succumbed to peer pressure and gave up sweaty sports in favor of sitting around trying to look pretty. While raising a young family, I walked, biked, swam, did aerobics and circuit training. I wasn’t an elite athlete by any means, but I liked being in motion. I discovered running in middle age when my daughter joined her HS cross country team.
Sadly, as the saying goes, you can’t out-train a bad diet. I also learned that exercise can’t make up for consuming huge quantities of healthy food either.
I like the fitness tracker and use it every day for actual workouts. I don’t record steps or other activities of daily life. In my head I have another measure that’s equally helpful to me..
I have to run one 10 minute mile to burn off one chocolate chip cookie. It takes 3 of those miles for a cup of ice cream. If I walk at my 15 min/mile pace I need to put in more time.
Exactly how much more? That ice cream and cookie requires 40 min of running or 90 min of walking to balance it out.
Fortunately, even at age 65, I still like exercise, just about all kinds - outdoors or in the gym. Even the treadmill and stationary bikes are OK in bad weather up to an hour anyway.
However, I’m realistic about what it will do for me. As I wrote yesterday, I love nutrition tracking. It’s a good thing too because only by keeping the nutrition and exercise in balance will I keep moving in the right direction with my life.
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