Happy Side Effects and Learning Curves

When I started running last July I weighed somewhere around 176 pounds.
I weighed myself yesterday morning and I am at 161.5.
That’s roughly 15 pounds in 29 weeks.
1/2 pound per week.
The ‘slow and steady’ kind that guarantees permanent results.
Which is a good thing.
But weight loss wasn’t why I started running.
Pretty ironic for a woman who’s been “on a diet” since 1979 (funny, that’s about a year after I last ran voluntarily).
For the record: I am 5′ 4″. 

No, I started running, as stated on my About page here, for a couple different reasons.
Yes, there was that “my husband was a runner and I think he misses it ” thing.
But more than that was the whole
faux Nike ad from What Women Want.  I wanted to feel that way when and from running. I wanted that love affair with “The Road”.  And slowly but surely, that has become more than just a tear-jerking scene in a Helen Hunt movie for me. I have come to love “The Road” and love that unconditional acceptance from “The Road” no matter how long it’s been since the last time I met with it/her.

And along with that has come what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss!

Ahhh weight loss. Let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?

This time last year I was edging dangerously close to hitting the 200 pound mark for the second time in my life, and neither of those resulted in a bouncing baby anybody.
My blood pressure had been ‘borderline high’ (130/80) for a good four years, my cholesterol numbers have stayed below 300, but the ‘good’ cholesterol was a little on the low side and the ‘bad’ cholesterol was a little on the high side. (My personal jury is still out on that good/bad cholesterol thing, but I err on the side of caution and take the doctor’s word for it.)
I got winded walking up a flight of more than five stairs; my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back hurt far more often than there was ever any reason for them to. I wasn’t in “bad” health, nothing life-limiting, but still not as good as it could have been.
I was, in short, The Average, Low-End-of-Obesity, Out-of-Shape, American.

Fast-forward to today.
Yes, I’m losing weight.
And for the first time in thirty-four years I don’t have a Goal Weight.
That amazing, amorphously specific, all-consuming, unattainabe Number.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I thought I had one.
Wanna know what it was?
One Hundred Thirty-Five Pounds.
I am, as previously stated, 5’4″ tall and depending on which “Ideal Weight Chart” you choose to believe in my “Healthy Weight” is anywhere between 105 and 150 pounds. And I have made the trip from one end to the other of that spectrum – including a lot of swings way off that higher end – numerous times.

The truth is that I have no clue what a healthy weight is for me.
Not a truly healthy one.
And certainly not a healthy, slender one.

I know how to get skinny.
I have “attained” that particular “goal” by: starving myself; abusing diet pills (the old-school, early 80s, over-the-counter kind); abusing laxatives (that’s a hard one to put in writing); by fad-dieting (name one since 1979 and I’ve probably at least played at it); and by calorie restriction combined with over-exercise.

I know how to work-my-butt-off-out then go home and sabotage my own efforts with not just what I shoved in my face but how much of it I shoved in there.

I know how to over eat healthy.
It doesn’t matter how whole the grains are, how lean the meat is, how fresh the vegetables are, or how high the fiber is if you eat two or three times as much of something as is necessary or healthy.

What I don’t know is this: I have absolutely no idea what a healthy weight is on my body with the combination of eating a reasonable, healthy diet and consistently exercising.
None.
I don’t know if “That Number” is 135 pounds, 145 pounds, or 125 pounds.

I have never known my body in a truly balanced, healthy state.
Okay, that’s not true.
When I was eight, nine, ten years old I knew my body in that state.
Because when I was about eight years old my mother went through what my family called her “Health Food Kick”. She started reading Adelle Davis’ books and eliminated all processed food from our diet. And at that age I was playing outside – physically active – more hours of the day than I was sitting in front of a television. In school we had actual Physical Education Class, and Recess. You remember Recess don’t you? (And not the adorably quirky Disney Cartoon.)

The only other time in my life that I was intentionally, all-around healthy was when I was pregnant with my son.
I was diligent about what I ate. I was conscious of sodium consumption because I was determined that I was not going to develop edema which my Ob/Gyn was nearly obsessive about. Having suffered two previous miscarriages I was (as we Southerners are wont to say) dead-set and by-god determined to bring a healthy child into the world so I ate healthy like it was my job.
I wasn’t “working out” per se, but I was in college which had me moving from class to class in different buildings, and my workstudy job entailed giving campus tours which was a lot of walking!

But past that I honestly have no clue what my body being nourished and moved and functioning as a truly healthy, living entity looks or feels like. This is the Learning Curve from this post’s title. Learning what exactly a truly healthy body feels – and yes looks – like for me.
What is its size?
What is its shape?
What does it feel like?
And yeah, a little bit of me wants to learn what That Healthy – Truly Healthy – Number is.

What I do know is this: My body – given a healthy diet and consistent exercise – will let me know what its healthy weight is.

I am that incredible combination of excited and terrified to find out what THAT number is!

3 thoughts on “Happy Side Effects and Learning Curves

  1. I can’t believe how much you are speaking for me! It’s just amazing.
    I so agree with you that I don’t know where my body should be and what a healthy weight is.
    I too have been dieting (but since 1968!) Actually, I gave up on dieting about 10 years ago but am still not accepting of my body. Let me know when you have “arrived”. I would like to know how it feels.
    Sally

    • Sally,
      Thank YOU for sharing your experience here.
      And Lady, I give you my word that when I reach that point of knowing that I have come close to “arrived” you will be the first to know!
      Again, thank you for your comment. And for giving me the inspiration to keep doing what I’m doing!

Thanks for your encouragement!

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