I battle with my weight.
I don't write about it much here, except when it comes into play with my Athena status. But I don't really write about it a lot.
But I think about it all the time.
I think about it when I dress in the morning and struggle with which pants will fit, I think about it when I do my ritual morning weigh-in at the office to keep an eye on the numbers, I think about it when I put my swim suit on, when I look at race photos, and athletic catalogs. I think about it when I put on my cycling shorts and when I look in the mirror after taking them off. When I pick what shirt to squeeze into and what tights to wear for the run. When I look in the mirror and see pictures of myself.
I think about it all the time. And it's not often positive.
I have always been a large woman. Big breasts, a double chin, and belly that belies my childless status. I have curvy hips and a round face. I always look like a chubby girl who carries and dresses it well.
And all of the social and psychological implications aside, its made racing and training harder for me. If you're a woman around 130 pounds, I want you to consider grabbing a 40 pound weight next time you go out for a run. Just pick it up, maybe put it in a backpack, and then do your long run or tackle some hills.
Being a large athlete is hard.
In the past, I've paid attention to my eating habits. I like whole foods and to cook, so I eat healthy meals. I have a strong, above-normal metabolism. I don't ever pig out on anything -- there's no binging. And yet I carry around more than I should.
And I'm tired of it.
I'm really tired of it.
This weekend, we got pictures from the family meet-up, where Mighty M's family met mine. It was a great time -- lots of laughter and easy conversation. And picture taking! Imagine two proud papas with their families in tow. Lots of photos.
And I was devastated again to hate the way I look in them. I saw the thick neck and double chins. The swollen looking visage and the layering outfit to conceal the ill fitting jeans.
I tired of these experiences. I'm so tired of worrying about fitting into my training gear, and how my weight is impacting my times. I'm sick and tired of it.
It impacts me more than I'd like to admit. Last week I turned down the possibility of sponsorship by a major brand name because it was possible that they would not have clothes that fit me. I had been sponsored by them before and the kits didn't fit. The bra was tiny, the running shorts were an impossibility, and the shimmel was a joke. The cycling top was horribly tight and, as a result, horribly scratchy. So I decided against sponsorship again this year. Because of my size.
And there are so many times when I sit on the stair landing in our living room, talking to Mighty M about it. How it feels when people at the gym assume I'm just starting to learn how to run because I'm heavy, talking down to me with condescending advice. How demoralizing it is to train hours upon hours each week for months and realize no benefit except being better able to carry the excess weight across the finish line. How I feel less attractive to him as a woman and as a future wife. How it leads me to frequently ask why he loves me or burst into tears when trying to dress for social events.
To date, I've been relatively silent about weight and training and (especially) the psychological wake of trying to accommodate one with the omnipresence of the other. I've been the well mannered Athena who makes it appear that she's perfectly happy with her status. But I'm not.
This year I've been working my ass off, more so than ever before. I'm more committed. I've dedicated many more resources towards my performance. And I really, really care.
Last night I logged onto the registrant list for a big race I'm doing later in the spring. The Athena field has started to fill up and, according to Athlinks, I have some very serious competition. I saw me not hitting my goals (of placing in the regional series) as a possibility. For the first time. And I know that there's something holding me back. My training is on track. I'm already realizing great improvements. I'm working very hard and changing things. But there's a limiter there.
With all of this on my mind these past weeks, I started taking steps towards change. Tentative steps. I've never actually dieted before. I've always avoided that classification, label. It always seemed desperate to me, all rolled up in a ball of expectations and media and socialized image. My weight has fluctuated, but not because of started or finished "diets." I have had periods of skinny jeans, but they were fueled by a diet of vodka, depression, and couscous. I have healthy weight periods, too, that came during my 20s. And I've had long periods of inactivity and great weight gain. Throughout, I've never "dieted." And I don't plan to now.
But clearly...no matter how resentful it makes me feel...training alone will not make me a trim athlete. For many it will. Mighty M is starting a running plan this week to trim down for the wedding. He'll hit his goal in under two months and continue to eat crap along the way. It's just the cards he was dealt. Mine are not the same cards.
So, two weeks ago, I dragged myself nervously into the gym and got my metabolic rate checked and did a three-point calliper body composition test. And I talked to my coach about the process and the results. And I started to be more careful about calorie content each day and hitting the goals outlined by the results of these tests.
And I gained two pounds.
I know that I want to lose weight. I know I want that loss to be in terms of fat, not muscle. I know I want to continue to train properly and be fueled effectively. I know I want to remove weight as my limiter.
And now I'm beginning to realize that this will not come from just wishing it so. And resenting that I cannot just train and "be careful" about what I eat will not be the key. Something else needs to step in. I need to apply what I know already works for me, and retool it for this particular problem.
So. There you have it. I'm no longer just fine with being my weight, and I'm going to do something concerted about it. It simply has to happen. I refuse to relinquish hard-earned performance improvements to the fact that I am carrying around remnants of my old life. I have no room for its impact any more. I have no tolerance for it being a part of my life any more. It has to go.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I battle with my weight.