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What's Different This Summer? What's the Same?

Monday, June 24, 2013

For a long time I've thought about writing this blog - the promptings of inspiration have been there but not the actual inspiration - so I've just allowed the thoughts to float around. And though I still don't feel inspired to write - I do want to get these thoughts down before they fade away because this summer is really different.

A year ago I finally broke through that 160 lb barrier that had held me in its grasp for more than a year. It felt great. It put me within target range of my old weight goal of 150 lbs. Clothes were fitting better. People were complimenting me on how I looked. Not too tall, not too short, a little chunky and squishy but well proportioned. And for a 59 year old woman, living in the rural (think FAT) south, I didn't look too bad.

One year later there is a physical difference. I've been at or below my goal weight for almost 4 months. Now, when I am naked and standing with my arms at my sides, they don't brush against my hip fat. I feel muscle and bone when I stroke my hand down the length of my thigh. My arms, thanks to a year of lifting weights, have a pretty definition to them. Interestingly enough, people seldom notice it anymore, yet the look and feel of me is really different this summer. It's fun too - this difference.

So what's not different?

1. For a long time the goal was to reach 150 lbs. Now, I'm not sure I want to stay at the goal weight I selected. I'm not 5'6" any more - I'm a full inch shorter - diagnosed with osteopenia. There's still a fairly substantial roll of fat in my lap when I sit down. It disappears when I stand up but it doesn't seem to be doing anything for me - it's not as if it were cushioning a joint or something. And since there are some pretty strong ab muscles beneath the layer - I am wondering if it's something I ought to dispense with. That means I'm still thinking 'Weight Loss'.

2. Also, I am not really sure how to LIVE at a maintenance weight. I suspect that I'll be tracking what I eat for the rest of my life. I've always thought of that as a "diet activity" - even though, yeah, yeah, I know the mantra ... "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle"

Well, okay. But. Tracking still FEELS like a diet. So - where else in my life do I track and does that feel 'restrictive' ... like a diet? I track my money - and that just feels like real life. I track the moment I write a check. Always. And once a month I do a full look-over of our financial situation. I LOVE knowing about my money - how much there is - how long it would take to plan for a big purchase - How many options I have with my cash. Even if I've overindulged and need to rein in the spending, knowing I can do it - that it's only going to take some little tweaks, makes it exciting. Doing the money math is absolutely fun for me.

I also write down a to-do list at the end of each work day. I call it my Charles Schwab List. It doesn't feel like some burdensome work-diet. It just feels like being a good steward of my job. Each week I have 40 hours to make my work world absolutely wonderful. And if I do that most of the time, I can also let it slide a little - take things easy, take a day off to go have lunch with a friend. By keeping things written down I know I'm doing my part. It doesn't mean I can prevent every bad thing from happening at work. After all, I live and function in a world full of Other People. but it does mean that when Stuff Happens, I don't have to add guilt and shame to my plate of difficulties. Tracking at work keeps me safe.

So yeah. Tracking my food is NOT something I'm going to stop doing, probably ever.


Can I be okay with this? Can this feel like part of a normal life? Hmm. I think so.

Even though I can see the value of weekly meal planning, I've always resisted it because it doesn't take into consideration the unexpected - like sudden invitations or particiularly hard days at work that sap all my desire to cook at all. Making a week's worth of plans that I then don't follow just depresses me. BUT I can plan for a day. I've begun to track my whole day early in the morning. I usually know exactly what I'm going to have for breakfast so I can be specific with that. If lunch is going to be in a restaurant I allow a certain number of 'points' or calories. That lets me know what's left for dinner so that I can either shop for what I need for dinner or select from what's in the pantry.

So - yeah. Tracking this way is almost exactly like my Charles Schwab Things To Do list at work.

Ah well. I have meandered all around my current status long enough. It is sufficient to say that this summer Some Things are Different and Some Things are TheSame.

Here's an article about rural obesity that contains NO surprises for someone who actually lives there:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I like your analogy. Tracking makes you accountable.
    1733 days ago
    I live in rural Oregon and used to live in rural Virginia. In both areas, I was the "thin one" in a sea of overweight people. Except after I moved here, I definitely wasn't so thin anymore. It's just that others were even bigger than I was. I can't even mention being on a diet here for fear of insulting someone! So I've learned to be cautious how I phrase things. It's about comparing ourselves to our own internal standards, our younger selves or our ideal selves. We're not judging them.

    If you keep on doing what you are doing, reflecting, working out, being honest with yourself and not letting the stress get to you, you will keep losing and maybe some people will be asking for your secret. And wouldn't that be great, to help provide a little motivation and inspiration to turn around someone who is ready to leave behind an unhealthy lifestyle now?

    BTW - I got shorter, too. Bummer, huh? Being taller makes us look skinnier! But lifting weights increases bone mass, so we know what to do!

    Have a great week!
    1733 days ago
    Good for you. Well done. emoticon
    1733 days ago
    This is my first time reading your blog and your spirit just speaks right through it. I think you are right on track and like you said, the roll on your tummy isn't helping anything so why not lose it? I think maintenance is going to be so much harder than losing and so I understand the desire to continue with the behaviors that helped you lose. I think now, you have a little more freedom to enjoy a glass of wine or share a desert.

    And in the rural south, you are stick thin for their standards! I am suprised no one has strapped you down and force biscuits and gravy down your throat!
    1733 days ago
    Thanks for the link to the article. Very good points about rural obesity. I'm on a task force here for chronic disease prevention, and we're working on the triple threat of lack of exercise, obesity, and tobacco use.

    It seems we country folks have lost the hard physical labor component of the past but gained the widespread consumption of processed foods and soda. Lots of work ahead to make the changes needed.
    1733 days ago
    That article certainly rings true here - the closest CSA is 45 minutes away in a land where farms are everywhere.....they just produce so few produce items - mainly corn and'd think produce prices and availability would be cheap and easy in the country!
    1733 days ago
  • KANOE10
    That was a great blog. My summer is different also. After a year of lifting weights my arms and legs are more sculpted and I finally am not embarrassed to wear sleeveless shirts. I also have loose skin over my stomach which I fear will not come off, despite my abdominal muscle workouts.

    I agree with you, tracking is going to continue throughout maintenance for me. Planning meals ahead is also going to continue.

    You have done a great job of maintaining your loss for 4 months! Way to go.

    I live in a rural town in the Northwest. We also have problems with obesity!

    1733 days ago
  • JLITT62
    I've got that stomach roll when I sit, too & it drives me freakin' nuts! Some of it is because yeah, I still need to lose 5 lbs (depending on the week) & some of it I'm guessing is because the skin is all stretched out from those extra 35 lbsthat are gone & older skin isn't as elastic.

    I suspect I'll always have it, altho if I lost 10 lbs maybe it wouldn't be so noticeable, but I really doubt that's gonna happen.

    As to tracking, I'm with you - I think I'll always need to do it & frankly that doesn't really bother me much. If that's the price to maintain my weight I'm totally willing to pay it.
    1733 days ago
  • EMILY0724
    I could have written this blog! Almost EVERYTHING you said describes me. However, I have yet to get below 160 . I hover between 163 and 161. My goal weight is the same. I have that belly roll. I live in the South (near Memphis). on and on.

    thanks for putting my thoughts into words!! I've often wondered what I will do when I reach my goal weight. I'll probably keep tracking, too. It's so ingrained in me now that it feels totally wrong to not track!

    Best wishes and many blessings to you!


    Where in the South do you live?
    1733 days ago
    You make some great points. We do a lot of tracking of different things in our lives and never give it a second thought. But, tracking food seems like such a burden, so unnatural. Hmm! I've stopped tracking (again) and definitely need to get back to it. I'm getting way too fluffy and lazy!! Thanks for the insights! It seems I need a change of mindset--tracking food is something I just do!
    1733 days ago
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