Ob. Disclaimer: I absolutely support anyone's right to live in their body as they choose, at any size they find comfortable. This is entirely about me, and my efforts to reclaim my health and strength after half a decade of abusing and neglecting my poor body.
Well, I'm wearing a pair of jeans that, based on the brand and cut, must date back to 1987 or so.
They're Chic, size 14 tall, and in high school they would have been baggy on me. Now, they fit loosely except for the waist, which is a bit snug--but then, that happened when I was sixteen, too, though the jeans were size 11 then. This is because eighties jeans were cut to fit absolutely nobody except a young Brooke Shields. They do, however, still make my ass look fantastic, a characteristic generally not shared by modern lower-rise jeans, which make nobody's ass look good. Not mine, not yours. Possibly Jessica Simpson's.
But they do let one bend at the middle without pinching one's ribcage on the waistband, which I suppose is a win.
I guess that means I am officially back in my high school clothes, generously speaking. As I also have a black bat-winged sheath dress from Chico's that I loved in high school, and have been hanging on to for sentimental reasons. I might dust it off for an eighties party later this year. If only I had some slouchy elf boots.
I suspect I will save the jeans for eighties nights at goth clubs. I think I still have one pair of slouchy socks hoarded away somewhere... ;-)
This is all prelude to saying that I'm hovering somewhere around 187, and have been for about a month now with the usual ups and downs--but I'm obviously building muscle, because I seem to be shrinking. At one point a month or so ago I noticed I had obliques, there under the slack middle-aged tummy. This week, I noticed the top set of ab muscles. Also, my thighs are no longer getting in my way during most of yoga--that stopped after scott_lynch and I walked somewhere around 40 miles in three days of NYC. I can do Hero's Pose and Lightning Pose without cheating now, and my body doesn't actually interfere with my ability to do a lunge anymore.
It's still getting in the way of twists, and my biceps interfere with Eagle Pose, but that's not new. I'm a solid girl.
I can also wear most of my beloved old corp-goth work clothes again, justifying my hoarding tendencies. Two suits are a bit tight, but they were always on the skinny end of the rack. I had to move the buttons back on a green suit I love, that I had expanded a bit when I was gaining weight. It's a size 12.
I am facing the surprising possibility of shrinking out of my wardrobe again. In any case, look for a much better-dressed Bear at conventions this summer, since I love these clothes and don't have a dayjob to wear them to anymore.
Curiously, I'm about 17 pounds heavier than the last time I fit in these clothes, which tells us about the power of rock-climbing. Muscle is heavy!
My current weight goal is somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 pounds. Which should make the same size, roughly, as when I was in high school and weighed 150-ish. I was on track and field then, and at my most muscular before now, but I'm pretty sure my upper body now dwarfs what I had then. (Shoulders! They're awesome!) Also, um. Boobs. Some cup sizes have come to roost since then. Ahem.
So I'm less than thirty pounds from my goal, which is very pleasant. My body is behaving as it should; everything physical is so much easier than it was in 2004, when I couldn't walk a half-mile without agonizing pain (now I can run five 12-minute miles back to back); and I'm enjoying the reduction in back and joint pain and the ability to sleep comfortably on my side or back again without feeling like my own belly is crushing me.
I seem to be part of a coterie of SFF writers and fans on the "get healthy the old-fashioned way; move more and eat less crap" bandwagon, which pleases me. (personally, I have been following the efforts of Scalzi, Doctorow, Lynch, Sykes, Downum, Silverstein, Connolly, Buckell, and I'm sure a few others whose names are eluding me because it's time for lunch.) It pleases me because I'd like to see a lot of these people around for a damned long time.
I'm also noticing changes in appetite, which tell me my body is adapting to its new lower caloric demands. Two whole pieces of fruit is too much to eat with lunch now; I am contented with half of each (plus some protein and vegetables and brown carbs, of course). (I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, about ten servings most days; I've finally figured out how to reach my RDA minimum of potassium, and it goes like this: a cup of fortified cereal in the morning (Special K protein plus, since I can't find Total Protein around here anymore), half an orange, a small banana, eight ounces of green coconut water, and half a sweet potato. Some strawberries or mango don't hurt either, or some beans.))
For those who are curious about how I did it (my doctor was, and she laughed out loud when I said, "Counting calories, restricting sweets and saturated fat, and getting off my ass!" She then replied, "So doing all the boring shit we tell people to do, huh?"), here's my plan, fondly called The Discipline:
It's a refined version of the Hacker Diet, which relies on good old thermodynamics to make things happen. I'm keeping my caloric intake around 1700-1900 calories a day, exercising for about an hour a day on average, drinking lots of water and not too much caffeine, avoiding refined carbs (mostly: I get 100-200 calories of "treat" a day, which could be a glass of wine or a beer, or a brownie, or... PRO TIP: Guinness is lower in calories than most "lite" beers, and tastes a fuckload better. Now you know.), eating roughly twice as many vegetables as the FDA suggests, and trying to keep my protein intake around 20% and my fat intake around 25%--and also trying to keep my protein intake above 100g a day without too much reliance on red meat, or meat at all. (I do use protein supplements--whey and soy, mostly.) I eat a lot of high-protein dairy (skyr!) and I try to limit myself to 100-200 calories a day from refined sugar, which is roughly 20-40 grams. Or, well, half a can of non-diet Coke.
Managing sodium intake is a killer. But I'm working on it.
Sleeping eight hours a night also pisses me off, but it seems to be necessary. I got six last night, and noticed the difference on my run this morning--I kept having to walk up hills I normally cruise up in second or third gear.
I also exercise six days a week--usually two days of climbing (with a little yoga); three days of running; one day of yoga. I also try to get in some vigorous outdoor time when possible--kayaking, hiking, walking the dog. Walking to the store. Picking up my jump rope for five minutes on an otherwise sedentary day.
As I said, one of the most successful weeks of the Discipline recently was when Scott and I were on Manhattan, eating every goddamned thing in sight. But we also made a point of walking two-thirds the length of the island at least once (Riverside to Chinatown, with side trips), and we walked as much as time permitted, otherwise. I know it sounds like my fitness routine is crushing, and seven or eight years ago, it would have crushed me. (Hell, I had the pleasant experience recently of putting in a Rodney Yee video that, in 2006, I could do maybe fifteen minutes of, and having the full hour workout be only just pleasantly challenging.)
But remember, when I started out, I weighed 285-290 pounds and could not walk a half mile. One good habit builds on another, it turns out--and I find myself drinking more green and herbal tea because black tea doesn't taste good after the first mug, and I find myself not hungry for seconds unless the food is exceptionally good, and even then not always. There's not actually a lot of privation; I just want more of what's healthy for me.
It's okay if I have a measured ounce of cheese on my beans and rice, instead of as much as I can fit in the bowl. It still tastes just as good! Better, since it's as easy to afford small quantities of really delicious food as it is large quantities of sort of icky food. And far more satisfying.
Which is so different from all my old pathological ways of dealing with food and drink that it's a little croggling.
Most of this, of course, is just basic health maintenance stuff, and not too hard once you get the hang of it. And it's not like I don't give myself days off: I will in fact have two or three drinks on a night out, for example. I'm fully planning on onion rings after archery tonight when I get dinner with the Thursday Night Shooters.
Just... not too damned often. And budget for it.
It's not the extremes that set one's level of health; it's the baseline.