Last summer, after faithfully logging my calories (most of the time) and exercising regularly (most of the time) for about six months, I was pretty damn happy with my results. I looked pretty good, I felt pretty good, and while I wasn’t as lean as I’d been a few years back, I knew that being that lean took a lot of work and dedication, and that the benefits of being leaner weren’t really all that great. Wearing a size smaller didn’t make me feel any better, physically or emotionally. I still saw just as many flaws and problem areas when I looked in the mirror. I still had to scoop cat shit out of the cat box. I still had to pay my bills every month. The sky wasn’t any bluer and the clouds were no fluffier. The only difference was that the tag inside my jeans – that no one saw but me – was a smaller number.
So, rather than continue to push towards a goal that really didn’t matter, I gave up. I don’t mean that I got so burnt out by logging and exercising that I said, “Fuck it,” became a couch potato, and ate a bag of Butterfingers a day. I just eased back a bit. I stopped logging my food. After doing it off and on for five years, I should have a pretty decent idea of what to eat. I stopped weighing and measuring myself. I ran a little less, especially after I bunged up my Achilles and had to rest for a few weeks. But the biggest thing I gave up was pressure on myself.
So, about 8-9 months later, what’s the result of giving up? This.
I’m closer to my “goal body” now than I was when I was trying so hard to get there.
I’m still not even sure I want to be as lean as the 2012 pic again. But I’m taking an attitude of “if it happens, it happens.” I’m not going to push myself too hard, I’m not going to weigh and log every bite of food that goes in my mouth, I’m not going to weigh and measure myself. I’m not going to give up chocolate and cookies and other goodies. I’m just going to continue to eat mostly whole foods and move my body in ways that feel good.
Alrighty. Here’s my progress photos from the first of the year. Not a huge amount of change, but not really expecting much in just four weeks, and only lifting three of the last four weeks. And especially since I had birthday cake for breakfast four of the last seven days.
When I was actively blogging last time, I was more than a bit obsessive. I’m an over-tracker. I’d log my weight and every bite I ate, track my exercise on Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, Fitocracy and a spreadsheet on my computer, plus a few running challenges on MFP, as well as taking measurements, progress photos and calculating my body fat percentage. My results were great. I looked fantastic. I felt great. Mostly. But in retrospect… it was fucking nuts.
Now, I haven’t logged my food since sometime in July. I get on the scale once in a while, but I don’t record my weight. I will take measurements at some point in the future, but that will be before sewing so I make the right size dress or costume. I still use Runkeeper… at least until my phone crashes and I lose my date (I broke my good phone and I’m using a dinosaur until I’m eligible for an upgrade). I just started using Fitocracy again to keep track of my lifts. I pop into MFP once in a while, but I rarely post. I will take progress photo, because I find them the most motivating.
Overall, I’m ok with how I look. I wouldn’t mind being a little leaner and more defined, but I’m not going to drive myself bonkers trying to achieve it. If it happens while I’m doing activities I enjoy and eating well (which is mostly nutrient dense foods in a good balance, with some yummy treats), wonderful. If it doesn’t, I’m still doing activities I enjoy and eating well.
There is no after. That’s what I’ve learned. The only “after” will be once I’m dead. Until then, it’s all just during.
This photo shows the last five years of my life at different weights and sizes. There’s times I’ve had more motivation. Times I had less. Times I felt fantastic. Times I hurt. Times I weighed less. Times I weighed more. Times I didn’t give a flying fuck. Times I cared too much.
In other words: Life happened.
Honestly, I loved how I looked and felt in November 2012, and I’m working towards looking and feeling that way again. But sometimes, it’s just not a priority. And that’s okay. If I were a personal trainer or a fitness model, then it would be a higher priority. But I’m not. And I’m perfectly content where I am. My life does not improve in any major way if my body fat percentage is a little lower, if I can run a little faster, if I can lift a little heavier, if I wear a smaller clothing style. It really just doesn’t matter if I’m fairly fit or super fit.
Some in the fitness industry would like to call someone like me a failure, because I’m not constantly improving or even trying to. Say I’m just making excuses or I’m not focused or determined enough. Screw ’em. I don’t say they’re failures if they can’t, won’t or don’t do other things I do. I’ve never said, “I re-tiled my kitchen floor, repaired my broken dryer, dishwasher and stove, and installed drywall by myself… what’s YOUR excuse?” How ridiculous would that be?! I love to read, I’ve tamed feral cats and literally taught an old dog new tricks, I’m a pretty damn good artist and an obsessive bargain hunter… if someone else doesn’t do those things, does that make them failures, unfocused or not determined? No. That means they have other interests. And so do I. And so do you.