Sunday, June 01, 2008

Multiple Choice Title

I'm not sure what to title this post:

Summer Resolution? After and Before? Possibilities?
Poor Timing? The Mid-Life Challenge? Entropy?

I'm also not so sure I want to put it up - partly because if I fail it will be obvious, whereas if I tell no one, no one will know if I fail - partly because I would rather put up only flattering pictures of myself - partly because this might sound a bit vain - and partly because I don't know if I want to be this vulnerable.

- but, I'm throwing caution to the wind, and here goes.
Here are pictures of me from 2001 when I last did any serious running - ran about 3 miles every day and competed in a 10K:

Here are pictures taken today after my first little jog/walk in recent memory:

From elementary school through my mid-thirties I was an athlete. I LOVED exercise of pretty much any kind and exercised pretty much every day for decades, sometimes running as far as 10 miles. For some reason unknown to me after age 35 I stopped exercising, and at this point no form of exercise whatsoever sounds at all appealing. Also, my eating habits, which were abysmal to begin with (just ask my high school track coach who used to confront me at lunch while I was eating my candy bars!!) have totally deteriorated to the point where if no one else is around, I might have a bowl of cereal in the morning and then eat ONLY chocolate for the rest of the day - LOTS of chocolate - REALLY - I am not making that up. Chocolate is truly THE BASE of my food pyramid (and in the best of all possible worlds it should be able to be!!). As you can imagine neither of these things has been of benefit either to my looks or my health.

As to looks, I've had people ask me if I'm pregnant. (WHY do people ask that question? If the answer is "yes," they've taken away the woman's privilege of announcing it on her time frame - or perhaps it was unplanned and painful to talk about. If the answer is "no," then they've told the woman she looks fat. No matter what the answer, the outcome is likely to be reasonably catastrophic. The question, "Are you pregnant?" is the fastest way I know of to ruin someone's day and to put one's entire foot in one's mouth in only 3 words --but I digress.)

As to health, I used to be able to run 10 miles quite comfortably; one of the pictures above was taken after a 10-kilometer race in 2001 that felt really good; now I'd be lucky to be able to run 10 feet. My doctor has just begun to express concern about my cholesterol levels. Also, I can't imagine having gained 60 pounds is a healthy thing (by all rights I should have gained a lot more - perhaps my former athleticism prevented this from being worse).

Today is June 1. That sounds like a good day to begin a resolution. I'm afraid I'm a little slow on the uptake as most people make dieting and exercise resolutions BEFORE swimsuit season (oh well . . .). So, here's the deal. I'm not going to do anything drastic - no special diets or fitness trainer or fasting or crazy exercise plan - and I'm certainly not thinking I'll make up for 7 years in 3 months. I'm just going to try for the next 3 months to make somewhat better choices in eating and to get at least a little bit of exercise every single day and see what can happen for a 42-year old woman who has totally let herself go for 7 years. Can she get it back? Results of the experiment will be posted on September 1, regardless of outcome.

Against me are:
a 7-year-long momentum in the wrong direction
my abiding and deep-seated passion for chocolate

my abhorrence of vegetables (& growing distaste for fruit)
(& the fact that I find meat mildly to strongly repulsive)
my age
an utter lack of desire to exercise

For me are:
my history as an athlete

( . . . um, what else is for me?)

2 family members training (for other reasons)
posting this makes the world my accountability group!!

Well, there's also the fact that all the things in my closet that I like but cannot now wear took a LONG time to accumulate (because I HATE shopping), and I don't want to buy new clothes that fit (because I HATE shopping). I'm also sick of rotating through the same 4 outfits that fit me. If I could take off even 25 pounds I'd have a totally renewed wardrobe - WITHOUT SHOPPING! That's a pretty good incentive ( . . . oh . . . but chocolate gives such immediate and tremendously satisfying pleasure . . . this is going to be hard!).


Anonymous said...

You go girl!!! Ditch the big tank top you have on in the current picture and you'd loss 10 lbs. instantly!

I'm with you! As long as you don't give up chocolate! Chocolate is my friend too!

Since I'm "allergic" to exercise. Yes it's true. I know this for each time I try exercising I end up wheezing, gasping for breath and my eyes water...all the warning signs of an allergic reaction right? I now have to settle for just a dish of some kind of chocolate ice cream each night after dinner instead of all the other junk food I crave but can't work know because of my allergic condition and all.

Good luck!

Heidi said...

Thank you for the encouragement!

(Sadly there's a lot more going on than the tank. If you click on and enlarge the pictures - which I do NOT recommend you do - you can see I no longer have a jaw-line. My neck just turns into a head at some point!)

I've been questioning whether or not I should have put up this post - seemed like something to keep to myself - have actually been a bit nervous about it since posting. On the other hand, perhaps making such a public announcement will cause me to stick with it! (How many times in the past few years have I made this resolution and not kept it?)

I do know what you mean about those allergies. I have the same sort of allergic response when I get within 5 yards of a vegetable!! (I'd actually kind of like to be a vegetarian, but I find my allergy to be rather an impediment to that pursuit.)

Thanks again for the encouragement and good wishes! :-)

Dan said...

Hey Heidi, I'll go running with you when I visit! Also, my former work-mates in Baltimore have roped me into running a half marathon in October. Come and run with me!

Amy said...

I hear ya! I have about 60-70 pounds to loose to get down to my skinny weight. Aging, having babies, life all gets in the way of those skinny jeans. But I too am trying just to make healthy choices each day. Bad habits are so much harder to break then the good ones!

Heidi said...

Dan! Does this mean you are stopping by CA as you return to the states?

You've certainly provided me with a challenge! I guess I'd better work beyond my current 10 foot maximum running distance!

I know what you're saying, Amy! That's why one of my potential titles was "entropy!" :-)

Dan said...

Yes, I'm coming to California on July 30!!! I've got 4 hours in LA to go through customs and immigration and get from Malaysian Airlines to Continental. Shall we meet?

Heidi said...

It sounds like you WILL be running!

I'm afraid they probably wouldn't let me past security :-(

Anonymous said...

Oh Heidi, I hear you on this one!!! At least with the "how did I get so big?" and chocolate is my main food staple. Why am I heavier now than when I was 9 months pregnant? I used to be the skinny girl and didn't think anything of wearing sleeveless shirts. Now, after seeing pictures of the heavier reality, I think I better wear sleeves.

I joined Weight Watchers about 3 years ago and got down to "Goal" Weight for about 3 months. Then life happened and I haven't been to Goal since.

But you can do this! And you are inspiring me also!


nethe said...

Dear Heidi!

As a biologist with a few human physiology courses on my resumé, I am able to give you a little bit of an encouragement. You have set your self realistic goals. An easy, ascending trend in activity level! Great!

Now listen:

If you have only gained 60 pounds in 7 years, it must mean that your biochemistry is still in excellent condition all things considered. It means that with everything you have done -or not done- your metabolism has not yet given up, and is still almost keeping pace! Having such a metabolism must surely be a gift! Appreciate it! Most other metabolisms would have stored and stored the excess energy, taking the lack of exercise as an order to stop the fuel burners. If that had happened to you, no matter how little you would eat, your metabolism would still have found a way to store it and not burn it up. Yours seems to have faith still, that there is no impending famine to store up for, and that there will again come a day where it´s burning capacity will be needed regularly, -as in the good old days.

Isn't is fantastic to have such a faithful mechanism inside you, which has kept faith even when you have concentrated on other important things in life?

I know that you want to do this for your self, and I can only say that inside you is something powerful, that will quickly regulate it self to accommodate all your needs! just you wait and see, Heidi! it might take a month for this long-lost friend of yours to actually believe that the good days are returning, but then it will do everything in it´s power to boost your appetite for exercise -and food! Prepare to get really-really hungry! -And don't be surprised if one day you feel something inside you compel you to grab for a carrot, even when the chocolate bar is RIGHT THERE!!!
Then you know who to thank:
The BURNING POWER inside you!

Heidi said...

Oh, Nethe! Thank you SO MUCH for the encouragement (backed up by science!). I sure hope you are right!

I do think you are, as by rights I should weigh about 300 pounds given my lack of exercise and horrid eating habits! I think all the excercise I did early in life and for most of my life has remained a benefit even after I left it behind.

Excercise sure was easier to quit doing than it is to restart!!

I'd always had a passion for it. I don't know where that went or why it went away!