I know that's not something that seems like much of a problem to a lot of people. In fact, I know there is someone out there that would, upon reading this, say:
- Must be nice, I WISH I had that problem, or
- Well, EAT stupid!, or most likely
- Um, please shut up
I get that. I was there, for the greater part of my adolescent and adult life.
My name is Robin, and I am a former chubby girl.
I bet that most people wouldn't have considered me chubby, but I had just enough people in my life tell me that I was a "big girl", "full figured", and "really muscular" to convince me that I belonged in the Shamu show at Sea World. And I have to tell you, now that I have lost weight, and I look back at pictures, I really did need to drop a few pounds.
When I began running, I didn't lose weight right away. After a few months of pounding pavement, I started to gradually notice a change. My pants were looser in all the right places, and I was even able to buy smaller sizes. But when I decided that I was going to take on triathlon and began cycling and swimming, the transformation I saw was so swift and immediate, I just about got whiplash every time I walked past my bedroom mirror.
As I got more into the three disciplines, my diet gradually changed. It wasn't deliberate, believe me. I wasn't on any kind of diet, but rather, I began to listen to my body during workouts. Like, hey doofus, maybe the giant cup of creamed out coffee and pancakes aren't so smart before a run. It took a few ugly episodes to realize that my body not only didn't let me down, but really performed well, when I ate wisely.
Rocket science, right?
Through trial and error, I learned what to eat before and after workouts, and began to experiment with foods. I didn't deprive myself of anything that I wanted, but I made sure that when it came to nutrition, all my i's were crossed and my t's were dotted (or something like that). There was room for ice cream, cake, pie, cookies, oh boy - now you see my weakness..., just not before or after any kind of workout.
So, I lost about 40 pounds, and I did a few races, and I found myself in a place that I never imagined. I was on a scale, and the numbers smiled back at me: 1.2.8. I didn't weigh that little in high school. I didn't weigh that little in middle school. I was skinny!
Then my husband, who loved me before and has loved me since this crazy ride began, looked at me one day, and said the absolutely positively most outrageously ridiculous thing:
I think you've lost too much weight.
It seems that when you exercise A LOT, you need to eat A LOT.
Again rocket science. Where's my PhD?
I was eating well, and eating right. I just wasn't eating enough. I was burning calories faster than I could take them in. And I was caught in this weird psychological place that only exists in a woman's mind. Somewhere on the third floor of my brain, mixed signals were zipping and zapping all over the place. One part was saying, too much weight, are you nuts? You're a size 2 now! Let's go for the big 0! Then the other part was saying, well crap. Am I making myself sick? I wanted to revel in the fact that I had gotten my body to a place that only existed in my dreams, but I had done enough training and research about training to know that if I didn't want to land flat on my face in a race, I should probably reassess why I was doing all of the training in the first place.
Now I eat more. I eat A LOT. More good stuff than bad. And I still have trouble gaining weight.
So, why am I trying to gain weight, you ask?
Because, now, I am technically about 5 pounds underweight (Ha! I find it a little funny to this day that I can actually say that). And I struggle with that third floor mental ward in my brain that tells me on one hand it's really better to be thin, and on the other hand I've come so far and I can go even farther if I feed my body and my mind.
So, poor me, I am in a perpetual state of maintaining my weight, even trying to gain a few pounds. I don't take that for granted, I have worked my back side off (literally) to get to a place where I feel comfortable in my body and I don't feel like I am looking in a funhouse mirror every time I get dressed.
It's just a different place to be, on the other side of the fence.
My advice to anyone taking their first steps on a journey of fitness, which will inevitably result in some weight loss, is:
- Don't sweat it. I mean, yes you need to sweat, but don't sweat the weighty issues. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
- EAT, dammit! Eat well, and eat often. Don't fall into that trap of thinking that you need to eat less to lose weight. If you are moving your body, especially with intense activities like running and swimming, the weight is going to leave you. But you also need to fuel those intense workouts, or you will find yourself needing to be peeled off the giant brick wall that you will most definitely hit.