Year in Review (Pt III)
Friday, August 21, 2009
My goal had been to reach 145 by the end of April. 145 was what I'd always considered my "ideal" weight. Some charts and tables would say that my 5'6" small frame would make my ideal weight in the mid-130s, but I hadn't weighed 135 since high school. That just seemed ridiculously skinny. I didn't want to be skinny. During my previous fitness kick, in my late 20s and early 30s, I had dropped to just under 140 and I looked too thin. I felt that 140-145 was a healthy weight for me, especially if I was at that weight with a little more lean muscle mass.
I didn't quite make that weight by my April 30th target. I weighed in right around 147, but that felt good enough to me, and I promised my wife that I'd switch to "maintenance" and not embark on another phase of trying to slim down anymore. May was a strange month though, because after 4 months of regular calorie deficits and having a goal weight to work toward, I suddenly felt adrift. To me, "maintaining" wasn't a goal and I need something to keep me energized. Amazingly, I also found it hard to adjust my calorie intake upward. I had habituated myself to eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, totaling around 1800 calories. I thought I was going to like the "indulgence" of being able to eat more, but it created worry in my mind. I felt like I was giving back all the hard gains I'd made over the weeks and months.
I just wasn't comfortable with that stage, and I sought something I could track or set as a goal. I'd pretty much abandoned the WiiFit too, having maxed out all the scores and found all the treasures. And now that my weight had stabilized, I wasn't motivated by trying to get that trend line to continue it's downward slope. And it was about this time that my wife pointed me to SparkPeople.com to see if I liked it.
I didn't at first. I found it cluttered, trying to be too many things with too many resources. All I cared about was replacing my notebook with an online food tracker, and even that wasn't as convenient, initially, as my manual paper-based method. SP grew on me though and the diet log became easier to use as my personal preferences were established and I didn't have to search so much to fill out my daily log. Plus, I became fascinated by the blogging of others, and the articles...and, oh yeah, the SparkPoints.
My first month on SparkPeople, I switched back into fat loss mode, just because it was when I was happiest. I decided I wanted to make that push to get to under 145 lbs. and I also paid greater attention to my body fat composition. By now, I was suffering from plateau-itis. The earlier gains of January through April were not so easy to come by. The weight didn't fall off like it had. I wasn't able to improve my time/speed performances each time out as I had before. June was a time of mental transition for me. I had to stop thinking like I was still getting in shape. I was "in shape" now, and if I wanted to improve, my focus, attitude and expectations had to change.
Pretty much what transpired since is catalogued here in my SP blogging, as I sought to track body fat percentage rather than weight, and then shifted from that to athletic performance improvements vice body measurements and cosmetics. And, of course, I'm currently in the midst of a half marathon training plan.
I'm at a very confident place again, mentally, and feel as though I'm pretty much right about the same place, physically, that I was when I was 28-30. That's not totally true since it's a fact of life that joints and such are subject to the reality of entropy, and I simply don't recover from the stresses or injuries with the same speed as I once did. But I do feel that my fitness approach is more mature than it was in 1988-1991. For one thing, my cholesterol is better now than it was even then. My diet is more sound. My approach to exercise is more rounded, and I'm more cautious of injury than I was back then (when I was more inclined to throw caution to the wind and skip the "boring" stuff like warmups or try to over extend myself).
I'm pretty confident that my fitness focus is here to stay. If I slip, it'll be because of factors beyond my control, like an illness. But I can't see myself slipping back into old eating and sedentary habits. Had I lost weight quickly, then I'd be more skeptical of the long term nature of my fitness commitment, but this has been a long (and fun) journey that I don't think is over...or will ever be over.
Right now, I've got some pipe dream goals, like that sub-20 minute 5K. I'm within only 2 minutes of it now, but I'm realizing how grand that 2-minute difference is right now and that it won't be like the progress of going from 24:00 to 22:00. Same thing with this half marathon. I can't even comprehend running a full marathon. But who knows? By next spring, with a 2nd (Carlsbad Half) and 3rd (La Jolla Half) under my belt...and possible a sprint triathlon (Showdown at Sundown), maybe I will be running close to a 20 minute 5K and maybe I'll be seriously considering and preparing for the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon, and I'll be looking back at this timeframe the way I'm looking back at my January-April memories now.
I hope so. I don't ever want to go to sleep on my fitness again. Living is just more fun when you're moving.
"Keep Moving Forward"
~ Walt Disney (and from "Meet the Robinsons")