First, a side comment.... I realized when I went to enter my swimming today that I had completely forgotten to enter my fitness minutes for Pennsic. Oops! Though in truth it's a very crude and rough estimate.... how in the world does one record activities like putting up pavilions, digging holes, pounding stakes, fetching ice, moving a truckload of fire wood, providing water to thirsty fighters, and so forth? Not to mention that I didn't exactly have a watch to log how many minutes I spent walking around the site--so it's a very, very crude estimate. Still I was rather flabbergasted when my very crude estimate was almost 3000 fitness minutes for 2 weeks, and almost 15,000 (!) calories burned. And most of that activity was merely walking... just lots and lots and lots of walking (I first injured my hip, in fact at Pennsic--doing nothing more strenuous then walking. Hours and hours and hours of walking, often while carrying a basket.) No wonder I felt exhausted, sore, and my hip like a softball had been stuffed into the joint by the end of the war.
Wow. Just wow.
What I actually came here to write about were some thoughts I had that were inspired by the Sparks blog "Poll: Why Do You Really Want to Lose Weight?"
I've been struggling since mid summer with feeling frustrated and increasingly discouraged with my lack of progress. It is demoralizing, to say the least, when you are a person who barely scraps an average of a half pound loss a week (if I'm lucky) and then to gain 10 lbs in 2-3 weeks, and for no reason I can understand .
But when I read the blog, It got me thinking about what it is we really want. And I realized, no, I don't actually want to lose weight.
Weight is nothing more than the effect of gravity on the body; that's what the scale measures. If I were to stand on a scale on the moon, I'd have "lost" weight but it would be meaningless because it would reflect the moon's lower gravity and nothing to do with my body.
I would like to say that I don't care what the scale says, though that wouldn't be completely true as I do care, more than I should. But while my doctor berated me because of that number (still need to find a new doctor, by the way), the number by itself isn't all that important.
What does matter?
I am vain enough to want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I want a visible waist, a flat stomach, attractive arms and legs. I don't want to be bony, or even "skinny" but I am vain enough to want to look young, fit, and yes, sexy. I want to be able to wear smaller sizes (there I said it); I want to be able to go shopping for exercise clothes--or any other kind of clothing, for that matter--and not feel like a bloated giant (seriously, people! I'm not that large--I'm pretty much average for an American, actually, so why is it so hard to find cute exercise clothes that fits? Hard enough finding regular clothing I like, but exercise clothes are especially bad) That's not my driving force, but it's there and I'd be lying to myself if I said otherwise.
I want to be healthy. That means I need to shed the access fat my body carries--especially the padding around my middle. I want to be healthy on the inside--to keep my cholesterol at healthy levels, to bring my blood pressure down a little bit (it's not high so it can't drop a lot, but still a little lower would be good), I would like a lower resting heart rate because that means my heart is strong and healthy, and I want my blood sugar to be stable. I want to avoid the health problems associated with obesity like heart disease and diabetes. It also means I want to be strong and flexible and to have an effective cardiovascular system. I want my immune system to be strong, to sleep well and feel like I'm full of energy.
But if I'm honest with myself, my number one guiding force is that I want to be free of pain. I have lived with chronic pain for years now--my hip, my hands, and my headaches. I'm so tired of having to make decisions based on pain. I'm tired of deciding whether or not I will do something--whether it's something like picking up a new arts and craft project (crochet, perhaps, or bobbin lace) based on whether or not my hands are physically up to the task, or something like fencing or a March of Dimes walk or even going to a museum based on whether or not my hip will let me. I didn't fence in some of the fencing battles at Pennsic not because I didn't want to but because my body wouldn't let me do it. I have skipped a number of fencing practices because my hip hurt. I haven't danced much in years... I loved dancing, and it's how my husband and I met, and now I very rarely dance.
I want to fully live my life, not passively watch it go by. I want to be able to say when someone asks me if I want to go on a bike trip or canoing or whatever "yes, that sounds like a great time" without having to weigh whether or not my body can do it.
I want to be without pain.
Getting the extra weight off will help, at least with my hip--the extra weight didn't cause the joint pain (it can't have, since it came as a result of the injury) but it's not helping matters any. But ultimately, what I really need to do is rebuild muscles I've lost--a slow and usually painful process--even more painful than most people because strength training--especially involving the hip--hurts. I need to build up my cardiovascular fitness as well, a slow process, and sometimes painful as well, especially when I push myself too hard. But more critically, it's a frustrating one as I've had so many set backs it's hard to see sometimes that I'm making any progress at all (though I am! I saw 10 laps today! Probably my last chance to swim this summer, and I pushed my record back not by 1 but by 2 laps). I need to stretch to increase flexibility, to loosen the tight muscles that aggravate my hip and hand problems (and headaches, I'm sure). I need to better deal with stress, and it's associated muscle tension (and headaches). Perhaps I can better manage my allergies.
That's what keeps me going, because I'm not willing to continue on as I have.
I haven't lost hardly any weight--I seem to keep gaining back overnight those same 10 pounds that it then takes me months to lose again. But I *am* stronger, and fitter, and healthier. And I know, even though at the moment it seems hard to believe because my hip is still hurting from Pennsic, that even that has gotten better and that if I continue to workout, despite the pain, and push myself, I may some day still conquer this.
With or without the scale's cooperation.