I consider myself to be a fairly health conscious person. I try to eat salads, avoid really fatty foods and drink lots of water. I probably exercise more than the average person, yet I am not a fanatic about it. Since the Boy and I started dating, I have gained five pounds. I blame most of it on the food and drinks we had on our trip to Savannah, which I am convinced I am still working off at the gym.
It seems like every few years my body hits a metabolism slump. Even though I generally try to do the same things, it becomes more challenging to lose weight. It used to be that when I gained a few pounds, I could just stop eating sweets and work out a few extra times each week and they would magically disappear. Each subsequent shift in my metabolism has caused me to work a little bit harder, but the weight loss was always attainable.
This time I am finding that it's really a struggle to shed these unwelcome five pounds. They have been around since the holidays and they are starting to settle in for the long haul. Out of sheer desperation, I have turned to a new work out strategy. Running.
I really hate running. This strong aversion to the sport can be traced back to my high school days. My mom wanted all of her children to be "well rounded" so we could get scholarships to college. When we were in high school, she declared that we all needed to pick a sport to participate in. I was completely uncoordinated and had no chance at any sport that involved competitive try outs. My only option was to join the cross country team. It required no special skills; just a pair of Nike running shoes and you were good to go.
The cross country team was an interesting group of people. There were the hard core runners with sleek physiques and sculptured legs. Then there were the middle of the pack runners who were athletic, but didn't necessarily have a runner's body. And then there were the rest of us.
They say that after you have been running for a long time you may experience a runners high. This is the point where your arms and legs move in perfect synchronicity and the air flows freely through your lungs. It is often described as a state of euphoria, where it feels like you could run forever.
In the two years that I ran cross country in high school, I never experienced that feeling. I experienced shin splints, blisters and a variety of other ailments. The best thing about my running career was that it ended. And I went on to college where extra curricular activities of the athletic variety were no longer required.
Here I am 20 years later and I find myself running again. It all started a few weeks ago. The spring weather was at its peak and I was out for a walk in my neighborhood. As I stood at the stoplight and crossed the street, suddenly walking did not seem fast enough. I was thinking about my five pounds and I knew what I had to do. So I started running. For about the first 100 yards I felt empowered and free. It wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered.
Then I got to the second block. My chest hurt and I could not breathe. Even with all of my trips to the gym, I have never been too aggressive with my cardio work outs. I had to stop and walk. That night I continued the walking/running for almost an hour. I got back the house and collapsed on my couch.
The next day my thighs were aching. I woke up in the morning and thought "what the heck did I do to myself?" But I knew that I had to persevere. That night I forced myself to go on another run/walk. Although it was dominated by the walking, I still managed to keep going.
It has been a few weeks now, and I am getting used to running. It's funny because I am much more self conscious when I am out running, as compared to when I am walking. Anyone can walk gracefully down the street. But running involves lots of bouncing, sweating and heavy breathing. I feel ridiculous.
And I am also acutely aware of cars and people passing by me. I don't want anyone to see me stop running, so I am always waiting for the last car to pass or trying to reach to the next stop sign or traffic light before I start walking again.
It is especially hard when I see another runner coming at me face to face on the sidewalk. I know they are a ways away and I don't want to stop short, so I try to play it cool and keep running until we pass by each other. Then I can stop and walk. It occurred to me that maybe all of the runners are doing the same thing. Next time, I should turn around after we pass each other to see if the other person stops too.
Last weekend, I complained to the Boy that I was frustrated with my five pounds and that all of my attempts at working out didn't seem to move the numbers on the scale in the right direction. "Maybe you are just converting fat to muscle and that's why you haven't lost any weight yet," he said.
Nice try, but I am pretty sure that is not the case. Bonus points to the Boy for finding a way to put a positive spin on my current body image crisis. But I really wanted to come up with a new approach. Something to step up my game and win the war against these stubborn five pounds.
So far I have managed to come up with two options. First, I could break up with the Boy. After all, he is the main contributor to the offending five pounds. Feeding me all of those decadent meals and encouraging me to sleep in on Saturday mornings, rather than going to the gym. But that's not really a desirable option. I would miss hanging out with the Boy. Plus, I would probably just end up meeting someone else down the road and blaming him for my five pounds. It's a vicious cycle.
The second option is to keep the Boy, but give up alcohol. While I am not a huge drinker, I have no doubt that the two or three glasses of wine I consume in a weekend are the glue that is holding these five pounds to my body. But that's not really going to work either. The wine makes me happy and it is a key component of my unwinding on Friday nights with the Boy.
Maybe I should give in and embrace my five extra pounds as a symbol of my adulthood. Just like the cute little crows feet that have appeared around my eyes recently. But something is different about the five pounds. While it would take some sort of surgical intervention to reverse the natural signs of aging, the five pounds is something I can control - or should be able to anyway.
It's not just the five extra pounds, it is the potential for more to come if I don't find a way to kick start my metabolism. I guess my only choice is to keep on running, unless I want to be sitting here in another month writing a blog called "Ten Pounds."