Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weighty Issues

Oh, the follies of youth: A time when so many of us think that aging and its inherent physical afflictions will never touch us -- or, if we do acknowledge its eventuality, we manage to fool ourselves into thinking that getting older is something that happens a long way down the line.

Well, let me tell you something. It happens practically overnight.

In my younger years, I was one of those who could pretty much eat and drink whatever she liked and still maintain a very svelte figure. Exercise? During the 80s when Jane Fonda-style aerobics were in vogue, I gave that a go a few times, but it was more about wearing those adorable leg warmers, shimmery Lycra leotards and headbands (ha!) than about actually sweating (God forbid!).

Reaching back even further into my childhood, I suppose I was a normal, active kid. I was always riding a bicycle or dribbling a basketball or running around the neighborhood with the other naughty kids on my block. I was never much for participating in team sports, although I did briefly play on a girls' softball team. I stood in the outfield and prayed without ceasing for the person at bat to hit that ball anywhere but towards me. I didn't like playing the game, but I desperately wanted to fit in with the other girls on the field. I was also one of those kids who brought notes from home, as an avoidance technique when the P.E. teacher had us running laps around the backstops during recess. Yeah, you remember the type -- "But I can't run! My asthma is acting up again!"

Fast forward to my 30s (well, that didn't take long! I told you -- it sneaks up and bites you right in the big ol' butt), when I found myself weighing much more than I ever thought I would. Years of engaging in junk food orgies really takes its toll. As a New Year resolution, I joined a gym and began walking, both on the treadmill and outdoors. Combined with a restricted and highly regimented diet, I quickly began to lose weight and was thrilled at the way I felt so very in control of my body. I began walking in 5K events, and one morning when I showed up to participate in our annual Cowtown 10K, I arrived at the starting line late. Instead of entering with the group of walkers where I belonged, I inadvertently fell into line among a group of hardcore Marines who were running the route, and in order to avoid being completely trampled to death, I ran too. Amazingly, I loved how it felt to run, and thus began a lengthy love affair with the sport of running that endured until my knees finally called it quits. During this time, I also took up hiking, and my strong legs took me to some spectacularly beautiful, remote locations, as Dad and I made numerous father/daughter treks to the backcountry regions of the southwest.

Somewhere along the way, I met Rocky, who was a personal trainer at the time of our meeting. Under his tutelage, I went from being a skinny, stringy runner to a muscled and sculpted athlete (at least as much of an athlete as I've ever been), and I reveled in having a taut, toned, able body.

What is it they say about how falling in love makes people happy ... and fat? Folks, it really happens! Rocky and I both grew lazy and hedonistic when it came to food and drink, and the pounds quickly crept back up. And up. And up.

While I didn't quite hit my highest weight, I came very close, and after my gallbladder surgery last year, I decided that enough was enough. This weight simply had to come off, and most importantly, I had to keep it off. That is still my goal, and my daily focus is to eat nutritious foods (I am predominantly vegan, although I must confess that cheese is my bitch; or maybe I'm actually cheese's bitch ... at any rate, I'm still hooked) and exercise as many days during the week as I possibly can. Within the past year, I've dropped around 25 pounds, and while I am happy to have achieved that success, I'd still really like to shed about 10 more. And the last 5 or 10 can be so stubborn!

So ... I write these words to remind myself of where I've been in my relationship to diet and exercise, and how I have been able to reach my goals when I set them concretely and pursued them diligently. I'll endeavor to keep up these healthy habits that I've once again revisited, and maintain a vision of my body in peak performance as a reminder of what I want to achieve. I'll also try my level-headed best not to judge myself too harshly. I'll be 47 years old this year, and will never look exactly as I did in my 30s. While that's sometimes a rather bitter pill to swallow, I'm going to try my damnedest to make peace with that fact.

I'm just going to be the best me that I can be now. And that's a worthy goal. Right?


  1. I can identify with you, Jen. I've struggled all my life with weight and probably have been on more diets than Oprah. I did the liquid diet like her, and lost a lot of weight, but it came back. It is so insidious, sneaking up behind you when you aren't looking...and that's where a lot of mine is - behind me! One of my problems is that I don't see myself as fat, except in pictures. Sort of the opposite of the anorexic gals who see themselves as fat. Isn't that weird? That's probably one reason why I avoid photographs at all costs. My hubby and I were in great shape when we met, but we've both gained a lot since then. Me more than him.

  2. Kudos Jen ... I have also started thinking healthy, got lazy and gained weight and after all my hard work to get it off .. 47 ? HA HA ... I just celebrated 60!

  3. That is a very worthy goal, Jen. I need to lose about 5-6 lbs. In my youth it used to be real easy. Now it seems impossible. !! I hate to tell you this, it get harder as you get older....Hey, Ohio Mom, we're the same age recently ! Trouble is, I can't even believe it... how did this happen??
    Good luck, Jen.

  4. Thanks for the motivation man! As you know, I too have always (should I rephrase that as PREVIOUSLY) been one who could eat/drink whatever and not gain an ounce. I was really quite blessed until hitting the Big 4-0, and it's been like downhill ever since! I have only GAINED like 25 lbs. since I've turned 40, LOST 20 lbs., only to gain half of it BACK! It's not just diet OR exercise anymore - it's BOTH! I DO think the vegan diet is healthier and people on it tend to be thinner/fitter, but man - I DO love my red meat AND cheese! What to do?!

  5. Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement! I truly believe that it gets increasingly difficult to get the weight off and KEEP it off as we age. And I tell ya - it's just not fair!

    HippieChick - I don't think I'll EVER forget when you and I went to some hole-in-the-wall dance club way back in our barely post-high school days, and encountered an inebriated young man who just kept looking back and forth between you and me and uttering over and over, "Skinny blondes, man ... skinny blondes." And yeah - we really USED to be just that, didn't we?

  6. Hi~
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!!
    I feel your pain!! I have always been the type of person who has to watch everything I put in my mouth!! And haven't been watching it too closely over the I am right there with you!!
    Good luck with your goals!

  7. Wow! What a great post. I applaud your resolve to keep in shape. Sad to say, I have not. Diabetes, stress and age have taken their toll on me, but they have not defeated me yet. I'm still trying and will keep trying to the best of my ability. I will remain undefeated! xxoo

  8. wowee! first of all... OMG you look like a model those days! not to say you dun look good now... you still do (evident in the holiday photos last post) and fact is... we cannot be too thin at our age. you still look pretty tone and tough :)) second...yes! more difficult as we get older... i've just started going back to the gym last week and my body is aching like crazy! crap... i use to dance and go for classes everyday in my twenties and not feel a thing! and now, my pelvic is acting up on me. feels worst when i sit still... so i'm still going back to the gym tonight. :)
    hehehe... so we're gonna start on this fitness journey again? together? you there, i here :)

  9. "Those were the days my friend, I thought they'd never end!"

  10. You do not look even close to 47. You are beautiful through and through. I am so proud of you and your weight loss. I had lost weight too, but am know putting it back on again, since my last surgery.

    You inspire me.

  11. Congratulations on your weight loss! I can SOOO relate to this post!! I have had to realize in the past weeks that it's time for me to take charge of my appetite instead of it taking charge of me. I have yet to figure out how this will be done since my appetite seems to have a voice all it's own inside my head! Not to mention my love of baking..sigh!
    Have a great week!


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