On springtime, fitness, and why I don’t care what people think

Today is the third day in a row that I’ve opened the windows in our apartment and let it air out. It’s also the third day in a row that I could practically see the snow shrinking. Maybe that’s hyperbolic, but I just feel so much better about everything because I can see the snow in that grossly melted snow cone stage. The sun is shining, the (rather strong) wind keeps bring damp earth smells in, and I just can’t wait for outdoor runs and tans. I honestly couldn’t tell you how there is so much damp earth smell. On our property alone I think we have about one square foot of exposed ground. I’m enjoying it…

The sunshine and warmer temperatures have totally changed my mental outlook. As much as I hate dealing with changing the clocks for Daylight Savings I am finally alert enough to reap the benefits of a later sunset. Right as my afternoon slump/mope session comes around I realize that I still have several hours of real daylight. And you know what? That’s about all I need to break out of it now. Everything feels good (well, except my body specifically. More on that in a minute) and I can hear kids playing outside. I can also hear their parents walking dogs and frankly I didn’t realize how much it’s been feeling like everyone moved away for the winter. I’m one of those weird people who sits in their bed when they’re not doing stuff around the house, so I watch people out my window. Seeing all the people emerging is like saying hello to long lost friends. I have only almost yelled out the window to greet people a few times. Which is good, because I don’t actually know any of these people and I’m sure they wouldn’t enjoy the creeper upstairs yelling at them and their babies.

Anyway, over the winter and the past year I have totally let my fitness and eating habits lapse. A year ago I exercised several times a week (3 minimum), ate 5 meals a day, and ate mostly “lean clean green” with a lot of fruit and quinoa thrown in. That isn’t to say that was all I ate – I am very big on a balanced diet that allows for enjoying treats and not depriving myself of a glass of wine now and then. My workouts were my stress relief. Sweat made me feel accomplished, and whatever happened that day I knew I’d done at least one thing that made me truly feel good and strong in every way. This past year has involved a lot of life changes and stresses, and somewhere along the way those habits that made me so happy disappeared. That, mixed with moving in with my boyfriend, have totally screwed up my body. While I still eat a technically healthy diet most of the time, the treats have become more numerous and bigger. Instead of a small amount of ice cream occasionally, it’s at least once a week and about a pint every time with all the toppings and whipped cream. Instead of eating a few of the boyfriend’s fries when he has them I get my own huge order and inhale them all. That mixed with stress and now health issues (so few workouts) means I’ve gained 20lbs. Now, don’t go jumping down my throat. This isn’t a “woe is me, I’m fat now” post. I’m not fat. I’m even still within a healthy weight for my body. I still have muscle tone, I’ve only gone up maybe 2 sizes in clothes (depending on the style, let’s be real, women’s clothing is awful to keep track of sizes), and I’m easing back into my old lifestyle. I’m cool with this, it’s a thing that happened. Whatever.

It’s a slow process to regrow those habits because I’m a klutz and have to be gentle with myself. It’s also a slow process because I know that if I don’t think about this in exactly the right way I will slide back into the restrictive habits I developed in college. I always ate, but I ate for a clothing size and not for fuel. At the time I didn’t realize I felt less than good, but now I know that I feel so much better in every single way when I eat according to the Tone It Up plan. I fuel myself, I don’t starve, I eat a variety of foods, and I can run and jump and play in a way that I never could before. However, I also know that I need to not weigh myself because I start to obsess about the numbers. There was a time when I would jump on the scale several times a day, at least 5, just to “check”. So almost a year ago I stopped weighing myself. Ever. I pay attention to my body, I adjust my habits based on my exercise and how my clothes fit. It’s what works for me, it makes me happy. So when I went to the doctor yesterday to start figuring out what has me so fatigued (I think anemia or a flare up of Epstein Barr, I got blood tests this morning to see) and she not only insisted on telling me how much I weighed despite my express request that she not but also gave me a lecture about dieting and how I really need to know the number and how I need to “fix it” by going low sugar paleo (which DEFINITELY is not an eating style that works for me)… I lost it. I’m still mad, but I am calm enough to realize that perhaps she didn’t understand me when I was trying to tell her that knowing the number is damaging to me. Perhaps she didn’t realize that instead of helping me stop what could be a terrible spiral down into obesity she was actually verging on triggering a process that leads to my therapist talking to me about eating disorders. I am willing to bet she had no idea the extent of what I was trying to tell her. Either way, she was not kind in refusing to honor my request. It’s her job to tell me when she’s worried about a health thing, she’s a doctor. But seriously, that was the worst doctor’s appointment I’ve ever had (and I’ve been pinched by a speculum, so that tells you something).

Anyway, in the new light of day and springtime and warmth, I have been thinking about fitness and my habits in particular. And I’ve discovered something wonderful: I don’t care what people think of me. Sure, I’m not as lean as I was. I let my habits fall to the wayside. That’s on me. But I also sure as hell don’t care if someone thinks that I’ve gained weight and I don’t know how to handle it. You know what? I do know how to handle it. I also know that being obsessed with the “ideal weight” for your body isn’t good for you in any way. Frankly, I’m the only one who knows what works best for my body. I’m the one living in it, and I pay attention. If I was diabetic, or had some other condition that was treatable by diet change, that would be different. But for overall living, health, and weight-loss? Ya, I’m going to listen to what I need for myself, thanks. I actually have a lot of experience with healthy weight-loss. I’ve done it before. And it stuck. It’s all about the lifestyle, not the diet. Anyway…

So I’m sitting writing this, glowing with pride. Instead of setting out to sweat myself into oblivion and injury, and instead of restricting all my food…. I went home yesterday, did a quick Piyo workout, and went about my life. And today, instead of working out like mad and restricting… I ate my healthy meals and gave my fatigued body a break because I don’t know what’s wrong with me yet and I’d like to not fall asleep on a treadmill (dear lab, please give us my results so I know if I can take iron to fix this or if I’m dying). I’ve never had this kind of a reaction to criticism and weight issues before. I’m excited because of it, and thrilled that it’s spring and I’m about to get my outside runs again (once I work up to a 5k, because I don’t think I can even run a mile right now. oops).

My plan is to keep with the Piyo calendar for the rest of the 8 weeks (I’m in week 4) and add in Couch to 5k. I’m excited to get back into working out. It makes me strong, it helps my tendinitis (flute player problems, oy), and it’s the best stress relief out there.

And it’s 6pm in Boston and the sun is still shining!

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