Age 5: healthy weight
So, I've been running and doing other exercise for the past six months. Actual running has been involved for a little over five of those months. Reliable sources have led me to believe that if a person sticks with something for six months, chances are good that she will stick with it for much longer, possibly even the rest of her life. That's cool, reliable sources, but I'm hedging my bets by paying for races that require training. I've also added running with friends to the equation like an extra layer of protection. Better safe than sorry, I say.

Anyway, the real point of this post is that, as I run and do Pilates and practice yoga and lift weights, I'm getting thinner. Because I didn't weigh myself at the start and have only weighed myself twice since (most recently on Labor Day weekend), I don't know how many pounds I've dropped. I do know that pants that were embarrassingly tight in July are now comically huge on me. Form-fitting clothes, which I would have avoided as recently as September, feel good and look flattering today.

Not only has my body gotten smaller, it's become less jiggly. When I walk or run, I can feel muscles flexing and relaxing instead of an extra layer of insulation wobbling. (It could be just a dream but, if it is, it is a good dream.) Bones that used to be entirely hidden by extra flesh are now peeking through, promising to become even more prominent (in a healthy, not a disgusting, way) as I keep up the good work. Muscles that once needed much coaxing to appear hard and toned, now look flexed and ready to go when I'm just sitting or standing around.

There have been so many other benefits, too. My balance is much better - I don't spend half an hour after waking each morning trying not to trip over myself as my muscles get used to this whole moving thing all over again. My lungs don't scream from walking up one flight of stairs. My body is actually tired at the end of the day and, as a result, I sleep soundly and wake refreshed.

But, let me tell you a secret, for all its wonders, my changing body is a little scary, too.

I've been a "large" woman my whole life. I've seen pictures of a five-year-old me, in which I'm a healthy size, but I can't remember what that felt like. There were a couple times in high school and one time between college and grad school that I lost substantial amounts of weight. Most of those occasions involved either very little exercise at all or a staggeringly limited array of exercises (30-60 minutes on an elliptical every weekday for eight months and nothing else). Diet helps shed pounds but you can be thin and still jiggly. The elliptical helped somewhat with the jiggle but I'm surprised I kept up with it as long as I did since it was SO BORING.

After 25 years identifying as the fat girl, no matter how slender I become, she will always be a part of me. I know how to be the fat girl. In very many ways, it's comfortable to be her. This new, thinner, decreasingly-jiggly body is a strange land for me. Judging by the clothes I'm wearing, I'm about to enter territory I've never traversed, having mostly stayed around the borders of the land of Healthy Weight. It's going to take some time to understand the ways of the people here and become fully assimilated.

I will continue to question whether that size medium actually fits or if I should try to cover up the lump that just won't go away with something a little baggier.

I will be surprised when I see someone who weighs 150 pounds pack away half a pizza.

I will be self-conscious about (while, at the same time, proud of) the stretch marks that will remain on my arms, stomach, and thighs, no matter how much weight I lose.

And I will notice every bump or lump or bulge that might mean it's all coming back - maybe not forever but for a long time to come - because it always seems to happen slowly, when you're not paying attention.

I'll get there. Staying there, taking up permanent residence is the scary part.

They're Everywhere

You know how when you get a new car, you start noticing that EVERYONE has the same car you do? Well, since I began running, I've started noticing that runners are EVERYWHERE. I see them in the morning as I walk in to work, in the afternoon as I'm leaving work, along the road as I drive. Where I never see them is in my neighborhood where I run.


I think I'm jonesing for a running buddy. Any slow pokes out there in Baltimore want to jog with me once or twice a week?

Go Away! (Wait! No! I Don't Mean You.)

This morning, I was contemplating whether I should do some yoga. Almost immediately, what I'd like to call the Gollum-part of my brain began questioning why I would want to do something so silly. After all, yoga makes me hot and sweaty, sometimes I look silly or fall over while I'm doing it, and it fatigues my muscles.

For most of my life, I've identified as "non-athletic" and let myself off the hook for most non-required physical activity. And, as we all know, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. The longer I rested, the more reasons/excuses/justifications the Gollum-part gave me for continuing to do so.

But now, even though I know that I enjoy moving my body, that Gollum-part, full of reasons, excuses, and justifications, still makes a valiant effort to derail me from every workout. With the advent of my adult-onset athleticism, it has even added a few new lines to its repertoire.

"You ate so well today, you don't need to exercise, too."

"You ran 6 miles last night. Sure, yoga will stretch out your sore muscles and strength training will help you run faster next time but YOU RAN 6 MILES LAST NIGHT."

"Look how far you've come. Isn't the point you've reached good enough? Why don't you just take it easy? Forever."

Etc. Etc. Ad Nauseum. It's nasty little voice tries to soothe me into complacency.

As I listened to this script playing in my mind today, I felt disgusted that I was still listening to the Gollum-part. Then, confused by how my mind continues to fight something I know every bit of me enjoys. Finally, I made a decision.

From now on, as often as I remember, when the Gollum-part speaks up, I'm going to respond, "SHUT UP! You don't speak for me. I'm going to see what my body can do today. It might be a little. It might be a lot. But it's going to be something. Go away and NEVER come back!"

And, some day, just like in the Lord of the Rings, the Gollum-part WILL go away. Only, in my world, he'll never come back.

It's an imperfect metaphor. So sue me.