Way back when I first started thinking about getting my health in better order, I weighed myself, took measurements, even wrote down my BMI from an online calculator. At that time I thought for sure I was ready to track food, exercise, be better about the whole diet and exercise thing.
But I wasn’t. I failed miserably. I got really upset about my inability to make any progress and then I got depressed about the whole process and I felt like a miserable failure. It was only when I started working with J, reading, and speaking openly to close friends about the struggle that I realized goals and goal setting in this realm was not going to work for me. Intellectually I understand the concept of goals and the value they bring for getting shit done; emotionally they destroy me when body fails to cooperate and perform in line with the averages.
Even now I struggle with the devices and things in my life that are measures of progress, and I am so much better managing my expectations and not letting them rule my life or impact my frame of mind. But I’m working with a doctor to work on improving my eating habits and nutrition, and one of the things he recommends is a daily weigh in and a weekly average reporting. While I remain completely undelighted about the daily visit with the scale, the more I do it the less wigged I get about it. Maybe he suggests it so we all get a little desensitized to the messages the magic numbers bring to our psyches.
I still have the paper with the weight and measurements from over a year ago. I use it as my starting point, where I felt finally mostly ready to get moving along with improving my overall health. After this morning’s visit with the scale, I did my weekly average and realized … I have officially lost 10% of my starting body weight.
So then I had to take measurements again, and yep, I’m smaller all over EXCEPT my upper arms. *laugh* My biceps are actually the same as they were when I started, but I am not a small person anyway and I am 100% confident the proportion between muscle and fat in that area has flip-flopped in a year. It is nice to know I can honestly say to the pal who commented so unkindly about my “enormous” arms that no, they are not bigger.
This is a Very Big Deal to me. It has taken more than a year and hundreds of hours of exercise and a zigging-zagging journey with nutrition. The time involved matters less than the actual progress itself, because I am starting to really understand that my body and its internal workings pay zero attention to the averages quoted for weight loss and other external measurements. Clothes fit differently. I am off diabetes control medications. I am thriving emotionally and mentally as well as physically. It may take another year or longer to lose the next 10%, and the process of learning to accept that reality is an ongoing one. Patience in this area is a continuing battle, but one I’m winning majority of the time.
What is my most important takeaway from this milestone is that it’s simply another waypoint on the rest of my life journey. I do not get to reach some ideal weight and then stop all the hard work and effort that got me there. My assessment and understanding of this process is that body will eventually reach its happiest happy place and settle there, and if I want to change that, I will have to make some additional adjustments to the exercise and the nutrition.
I never know how to feel about that idea. I am just as susceptible as anyone to diet and fitness industries and the associated marketing machines. But I am choosing to feel good about my efforts, about how much time in the gym every day, every week, the quality and quantity of food choices I am making. It is an imprecise and imperfect type of science I am practicing, but balance is so important to me. Even doing things I absolutely hate (looking at you, walking lunges), I get something from it besides potential for improving the shape of my ass (although I admit that is a great motivator). Today they were not as hard as they were earlier in the week. My focus was not on “OMG, I hate these so much!” so much as the form and keeping upper body still and in place to prevent falling over sideways. And they got done, and I was so happy to set those dumbbells down and know I was done with that for another day.
Such is the lesson I have learned from keeping a consistent schedule with the exercise. I do it because it is good and benefits me, and unfortunately there is no end date in my future when I can stop or even greatly lighten up. Mind has processed this fact and accepted that we are now gym people; we must exercise forever to stay healthy, have any hope for staying off the diabetes drugs. Same situation exists with nutrition. There is no end date for when I do not have to watch my portions and types of food I eat; there is no future where I get to eat as much bread and pasta and junk food and sugar as I want and still maintain even my current level of health.
I am not minimizing this milestone in the slightest. It is a Very Big F**king Deal to me. However, rather than going out and celebrating, I was working through List of the Day at the gym this morning, then met a client to exchange paperwork all sweaty and gross, and working on work-work. I have chicken salad on seed crackers and strawberries for lunch rather than something celebratory like deep dish pizza with a bottle of coke. Most of my celebratory glitter-bombing is going on here in the blog.
The milestones are going to happen for me; anymore I have no doubts. But as I stated, they are merely waypoints in my life, like births and deaths, engagements and marriages. J will be on vacation for a week next month and so there will be no sessions that week, but I will still be at the gym, practicing on my own with List of the day for 2 additional days. I will go on vacation in September and miss several days at the gym, probably use my mini bands and/or the hotel gym to keep me from going through exercise withdrawal. Vacations happen and then life returns to normal, just as it always has. Only the exercise, the diet, the things I am learning and incorporating into my life are habits for the rest of my life, my not-so-new-anymore normal.
There was a recent report about the contestants on the Biggest Loser, and how so many of them had gained a lot weight back after the show ended. While I am sure none of them intended that to happen, I am extremely cognizant of how easy it would be to relax and backslide. In my mind, this is the cautionary tale that reminds me of all I absolutely do not want to allow that to happen to me. Injuries and other events that could sideline me may happen, and I will have to learn to cope with that if and when it does befall me. What’s different right now – I am confident I can and will recover and get back to a regularly scheduled exercise and eating programs.
Because I am not the same person I was a year ago. I was pretty good then, but I am so much better now. I have always wanted to look bad and see my life as one of continuous improvements in bunches of tiny little ways, and sometimes the progress is more impactful, more measurable that others. Like this first 10% of body weight.
Very occasionally the external measurements of progress are not so bad. Like today. Today I can truly appreciate that I went through the trauma drama of measurements last year. And today a bunch of little successes piled up to something bigger.
The first 10% is behind me. We be slaying dragons over here; onward to the next lair.