Back to Weight Loss, Okay, Sarah?

There has been recent brain declouding regarding my weight loss journey, past and future, and I’d like to share it here. This may be mostly for my own benefit, but hopefully the words I write here explaining the declouding will help others as they work through all of the head stuff that plays such a major part in this weight loss thing.

Right now, I’ve got the living healthy thing down. I know what good food is, I love exercise, and I can recognize that my body feels better when I treat it well. I’ve kind of enjoyed mentally adjusting to the weight range I’ve been hovering in since September (185ish)– I can shop for clothes in normal stores, I am in better athletic shape than probably 65% of twenty-somethings, I don’t stand out as a fat person (even though in my head I still think I do, but that’s another discussion), don’t have to check the weight-limit on chairs, and can easily fit in single seats on the subway. For the first time in my life, my weight doesn’t define my day to day actions. It’s pretty cool. And it’s a big mental switch. It’s been fine that the weight loss has been slow — there’s no rush in this. I’ve got my whole life to live here.

But I still definitely have at least 30 unnecessary pounds on this body of mine, and it would seem that, through numerous Sarah Brain Explorations over the past few weeks, I have finally figured out the next mental switch to start getting them off. Of course I’ll get to sharing that mental switch, but first let’s backstory into my brain, shall we? Glorious.

I realized recently that when I was actively losing weight, I always had a single, solid reason to be doing so.

Reason #1
When I first started to lose weight (this time, not back when I was a scale addict in college), it was so that I could look at the way I treated my body and be proud. I realized that I was making myself miserable by treating my body miserably, and that it was in my power to place myself in a better situation. I wanted to be proud of the Sarah I was. As I started to incorporate the necessary life changes, I quickly grew to be proud of how I was living my life. I wasn’t lying about what I ate, and my garbage can (and the garbage can in the park next to my apartment) no longer contained well-hidden empty cartons of ice cream or empty junk food wrappers. I felt in control of myself, and I was proud of how I was living. So that kept me going for a while.

Reason #2
I could see and feel the results of this change in lifestyle. It was great that the pounds were coming off, but it was more exciting that I was just feeling great. Just feeling so great and really being able to feel healthy and feel good and recognize those feelings as new, great, exciting ones kept me motivated to keep on losing weight and being healthy and all of that stuff. So that kept me going for a while.

Reason #3
When that feeling stopped being so new and exciting, I started to run (well, couch to 5k), and it was that exciting new feeling of building myself up into a runner that kept me motivated to keep up with all of the weight loss stuff. I made good food choices because I needed to fuel myself for the workouts I was going to have so that my body felt as strong as possible. I got totally and completely hooked on running, built myself into an athlete that I am proud of (I’m not arrogant, I just worked hard to become a runner and I’m proud). I focused on running & athleticism, not weight loss. It was great. I didn’t care what the scale said, as long as my miles got more and more comfortable. This mindset took me from basically from November of 2009 until, well. Last week. It needed to be re-evaluated, because look:
That’s my weight chart from Oct of 09 until now, and that 9/24/10 date is around the time when I started being an awesome distance-type runner and focusing on that a ton (that massive spike? Mmm, thanksgiving). Clearly if I was to continue the weight loss thing and get int a healthy weight range, this reason of wanting to build myself into a runner needed to be adapted a bit more–I am a runner. I started to really be a runner around that 9/24/10 date.

I’ve become a better runner, but I have not become  a smaller Sarah. That, combined with the difficulties I’ve been having with running right now because my left leg is a brat, has inspired the recent re-evaluation of my Mental Place.

Reason #4
Running is going to be easier and more fun when I weigh less.

That’s it.

That’s all I need, I think.

I love this sport. I can’t imagine loving it more. But I will. Because running with 30 fewer pounds attached to my body will be amazing.

Yes, I have been playing around with sneakers, stretches, ice, heat, you name it, in order to figure out this leg pain thing. I’m working on it. I think I’m going to get vibrams soon.  I’m backing off the running for a little bit and am planning 1 or 2 runs a week instead of 4 or 6, which is fine, because I freaking love bike riding. I’m not planning on another long run until I’m about 10 pounds less than I am today– I want to see what that feels like. I’m so freaking curious to see what that feels like. I’m not sure that this will be the solution to this problem I’m having with my leg, but I don’t think it can hurt.

I want to run for the rest of my life. I don’t care about losing weight, really. I don’t care what the scale has to tell me. I don’t care what size my pants are. I just want to freaking run. And I want to love it. And it will be easier when I weigh less. So I want to weigh less.

I mean, yes. It would be cool to be skinny. But I can’t even imagine what that’s like. It’s much easier to imagine this running stuff.

And it would seem that this new focus is working–when I got on the scale this morning, I saw the lowest number ever (178), which officially classifies me as merely overweight, and no longer obese, for the first time since I’ve been potty trained, probably. That’s cool stuff.

So how am I planning to move forward with these 30 pounds (or whatever they end up being)? I’ll tell you. Well. I’ll tell myself, and you can eavesdrop. I feel like writing a letter.

Dear Sarah:
Listen to your body. It will tell you when it’s hungry. Feed it the good stuff so it works as well as it can. And give it some cake, ice cream, and gin & tonics, too, when you so desire, but just remember that everything you eat or drink is something that you’re asking your wonderful body to process. So respect it, okay?

Also remember how you wrote about the benefits of low-impact exercise a few weeks ago? Get that exercise in and get those calories burned without risk of injury by biking more and running less. Do moderately-intense exercise that keeps your heart rate in the fat-burning zone, rather than the OMG CARDIO MY HEART IS GOING TO EXPLODE THIS FEELS FANTASTIC zone.  You’re strong and you have a good cardio base– burn the fat, please. You don’t have to spend every hour exercising, you know. Be a normal human.

Ooh, and the clothes will only get cuter, too. You can indulge a bit (but only a tiny bit) on clothes that make you feel good as you keep getting littler. Just be smart about it and remember that cardigans are better for different sized Sarahs than button-up shirts are. Please stop wearing those stupid khakis that fall off your ass–you look like a tool. I mean it.

And, Sarah? Please don’t be so stubborn. Don’t rush this. Don’t do anything to lose these 30 or whatever pounds that you don’t intend to do every day for the rest of your life. And don’t give the scale power, okay? It will show you progress if you do all of this stuff, but it won’t necessarily show you progress the week you “deserve” it. Take the time to enjoy this process. And keep imagining how wonderful it is going to feel to run when you weigh less.

xoxo (really–I adore you and am so grateful for what you’ve done for yourself),
Sarah

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9 Comments to “Back to Weight Loss, Okay, Sarah?”

  1. Sarah,

    I love you!

  2. You’re awesome! 🙂 ❤

  3. How did you get to be so smart and articulate? You are AMAZING!! Hope we can run a race together some time!

  4. You are awsome. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Hi Sarah – FANTASTIC post! I love your honesty and the weigh you so eloquently put into words what so many people, especially women, face each day.

    Re”I want to run for the rest of my life. I don’t care about losing weight, really. I don’t care what the scale has to tell me. I don’t care what size my pants are. I just want to freaking run. And I want to love it. And it will be easier when I weigh less. So I want to weigh less.” this is EXACTLY how I feel – I adore running, it is my drug of choice and I feel like a part of me is missing when I don’t do it.

    Re the whole better runner but not smaller Sarah thing. I found that too when I was going to the gym & doing a lot of cycling – I was 80kg which is 176pound and despite doing hard training 5 days per week (RPM, weights, running) and up to 20 hours of exercise (easily done when you head out for a 3 hour cycle) I had only lost about 2kg which I put back on as soon as my training regime reduced. I found this shocking and highly annoying – so much so that I gave it all up and now I’m about 10kg/20 pounds heavier.

    Looking back it came done to the age old energy in/energy out ratio. I found that while my habits were a lot better while doing all that exercise (they kind of have to be as eating rubbish made me feel ill) I was clearly consuming the same energy that I was burning off. So in order to lose weight I had to eat less or eat smarter. I was also not eating regularly enough – e.g. leaving gaps between meals for up to 4 or more hours which meant that I no doubt ate more at the times I did eat. This kind of habit actually makes your body store fat more easily as it holds onto the lard because it thinks it is about to be hit with a famine. The general rule of thumb is to eat frequently – I have heard the whole 6 meals a day thing but for me, when I was at my fittest, healthiest and smallest I just ate frequently to contentment.

    The other thing about running vs weight loss is to what extent your heart is working. I would totally recommend getting a heart rate monitor if you don’t already have one so as to gage effort – e.g. anaerobic vs aerobic. If you are running at a fairly leisurely place & not changing it up enough with say speed & hill work then that could also explain why your weight-loss efforts have hit a plato.

    Of course I say this as an armchair expert these days. 🙂

    P.s hope the leg pain is better – have the vibrams helped? Also have you checked out that link I gave you re strengthening the Tibialis Posterior? Also, since you’re so focussed on running better, stronger & faster I would highly recommend you check our the training advice by the legendary Arthur Lydiard – see http://www.lydiardfoundation.org/pdfs/OSAKALECTURE.pdf

    Good luck & keep us posted!!!

    • Thank you for continuing to send good training advice my way! I really appreciate it.

      I do have (and love) a heart rate monitor. Super cool stuff.

      Right now i’m trying to figure out the right combination of strength and cardio work–it’s been a very dramatic (and somewhat depressing) change from being able to run 5-6 times a week, pain free, to having to rebuild myself as a runner with the vibrams. it’s amazing how much head-stuff can get caught up with workouts we base our healthiness around. I don’t know. I don’t think running, alone, is great for weight loss –other things need to be incorporated. At least from my experience. But I’m still learning/reading/researching all of this. Lazily.

      the old energy in/energy out ratio makes sense, but i have such a hard time following it–sometimes I just think it would be easier if food didn’t taste good & I was a robot. hah. Can you tell that I’m coming off a food-and-drink heavy weekend and am feeling particularly self-pitying? 🙂

      Anyway. I really adore your comments and I’m delighted that you found my blog. Now I will check out Arthur Lydiard’s stuff!

  6. Thanks – so sorry, I know it’s a little unsolicited….but that’s me!

    So know what you mean about the head stuff – definitely something I relate to these days. My own blog is mainly social commentary about NZ issues, but I have also shared some of my own story with gaining weight & also training….feel free to have a nose…I probably come across as a know-it-all, but I can totally relate to the mind battle that’s for sure! 🙂

    Re the weight loss from training…..I think if you were to run super fast for super long periods of time you would of course become super skinning in next to no time, but I’m not a fan of this! It’s just no sustainable unless you’re a professional athlete….and even they can put on weight post career.

    Totally agree with incorporating strength training esp if you haven’t always been an athlete – bones need to be support by strong supple muscles which exercises obviously help with.

    Yep totally know what you mean re food…..I do mostly see it as fuel, but I am just so lazy these days, have picked up some really bad habits and always seem to reach for the easiest….which is often higher GI & calories!

    Aah just like I wish I money would grow on trees I wish that I could eat lots & whatever I like and be a lean mean machine of a runner…..hard work sucks! But its worth it….I’m pleased I found your blog too (via runstreet via freshly pressed) as you’re a great motivator! 🙂

    • are you kidding?– I love the unsolicited nature of your comments!!!

      And i’ve definitely enjoyed reading your NZ social commentary. You definitely don’t come across as a know it all! And you’ve also inspired quite a lot of running form research/reading over here. It’s like I can’t fill my head with enough of this stuff! Sigh. I love it.

      Yeah, this money on trees thing… let’s get it going. Perhaps the multi-contiential approach that you and I could kickstart is what’s necessary. Today at work, I decided that desks (school, work –most of us have probably spent at least 30 hours a week sitting at a desk for most of our lives) are the reason I’m fat.

  7. Aww shucks that’s very kind…and the feeling is very mutual! I’m the same re reading about running – I have to say though I have never taken the time to read the entire Lydiard training manual….the oxygen calculations make my brain freeze! But I have read & been told enough of the bare basics to have a general idea and what I do know has always worked for me – even when I put on weight.

    Totally agree re desks & weight….I reckon the computer age has a lot to answer for (as I sit here typing)! But typing has its upside – I wish I had had a blog to record how I felt about running before I gave it up a few years ago – I reckon that would have stopped the excuses & kept complacency at a distance as life/monotony can suck the passion out of you so easily! But at least I have an outlet & can read about like minded people now – none of my close friends get why I want to get back to cycling 100km every other weekend or running 20kms on our local off-road trails. I have to talk in crafty or shopping terms for them to get it! 🙂

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