At the beginning of April I started Operation Lean and Strong to focus on new fitness goals after my end-of-March goal race. I gave myself three months before my marathon training starts in July to lose weight and get toned. I didn’t do what I planned but the overall result was a huge success for me.
You can read the full story in my original post, but the gist is that I lost 35 pounds and have been maintaining that loss for the past five years. Over the past year my weight has crept up to about 10 pounds over my original goal weight, and I wasn’t happy about it. I planned to follow Weight Watchers (I’m a Lifetime Member) and focus on strength training. Instead of setting a specific goal weight, I had two other metrics for success: fit into one pair of Athleta pants that were a bit too tight and be comfortable running in shorts.
I did everything I said I was going to do in the first month and lost 3.4 pounds. I felt pretty toned and fit into my Athleta pants. I was thrilled.
After I posted my one-month check-in, I got several blog comments that really made me think. The comments were along the lines of, “You’re active and fit. Do you really need to lose more weight?”
As anyone who has ever lost weight knows, there will always be people who tell you that you don’t need to lose weight. Weight loss is so personal and everyone has opinions, so I always took those comments with a grain of salt. But this time, I really stopped to think about my reasons. The thing is, I’ve been successful with weight loss and maintenance. I know how to do it, and I know I can do it again. As May got hot and I started wearing shorts running and realized I’d met my two metrics for success, the question lingered–Do I need to lose weight? Honestly, I’d like to lose five more pounds. And I know I can do it. But do I need to?
Because here’s the other thing. We women are so hard on ourselves. We’re so critical. If a friend or blogger mentions she wants to lose weight, I respect that but think she looks great the way she is. So why can’t I think that about myself?
So in May I switched my focus to maintenance instead of weight loss but with a twist–no more Weight Watchers. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I have mixed feelings about WW. While I love the program and was successful with it, I feel it’s really geared toward those just getting started with weight loss and healthy living. And I know I’ve been using it as a crutch because I’ve been on the program so long I’m afraid to leave but really don’t need it. So in May I stopped tracking and focused on eating sensibly to try to maintain. I also stopped weighing myself. Frequent weigh-ins are one of the characteristics of those who successfully maintain a weight loss. But we all know the scale is only one piece of a much larger picture of healthy weight.
While I never weighed myself in May, I did check to make sure I could still fit into those pants, and I could.
In June, I completely fell apart. I stopped focusing on strength training and stopped trying to eat sensibly. I treated the whole month as a big party before starting 18 weeks of marathon training beginning in July. Twizzlers is one of my biggest weaknesses, so I eat it rarely–like, only when I go on vacation. In June, I bought Twizzlers at the grocery store every single week!
So, here I am again, feeling a little flabby again, wanting desperately to focus on losing weight. Same place as I was at the beginning of April. I’m still running in shorts, but my Athleta pants are a bit tight again.
What I Learned
Wait–I said the result was positive but just said I didn’t meet my goal, right? Well, something else happened–a big aha! moment. I’ve decided I’m done trying to lose weight. I’m done worrying about five stupid pounds. Instead, I’m going to stay focused on eating sensibly, being strong, and keeping active. A healthy weight will follow.
Since I already eat a plant-based diet, I really just need to eat less candy and junk food. I can do that. And because I’ll be starting marathon training and will need to continue strength training for injury prevention, I really shouldn’t have a problem. But my problems all started last year when I started running higher mileage on Hansons. I don’t believe it was from eating more carbs. In fact, I wrote a post about how I was successfully maintaining my weight while eating tons of carbs. Instead, I think I just let my focus slide when I got tired in training. When I was tired, I wasn’t planning healthy meals and started eating more junk food. It really is the junk food that does me in. Damn those Twizzlers!
So I have a real challenge ahead of me. One of my goals for this training cycle will be to not gain weight. That means I’m going to have to keep up my focus all through training, especially at the end when I get really tired and just want to flop on the couch with a bag of candy.
Also, I really need to quit Weight Watchers. I haven’t used it at all since May but am still paying for it. In fact, I was putting this post off so I could report that I quit it, but I haven’t. It’s scary to leave, but I think I just need to cut the cord.
A healthy weight should be defined differently for every person. It should make you feel good about yourself and also power all the activities you want to do. It should not be some idealized image that media promote. And while I’ve made this decision because I think it’s the best one for me, I’m also happy to make a stand in my little corner of the world in favor of body love and against the idea that everyone needs to be skinny. I hope this post inspires others to join me in loving our bodies and not being so critical on ourselves!
I’m headed to a mini vacation for the 4th of July weekend where I’ll be doing one of my favorite things–hiking in the woods with my dog and husband. Can’t wait! I’ll be back early next week with my weekly recap and June activewear highlights. Until then, have a fun and safe holiday weekend!