Besides when I was postpartum with Luke, I don’t talk about weight here very much. Weight is a sticky subject; a place where you need to tread carefully so as not to offend others. I might offend someone today. Let me just apologize ahead of time because there’s only one way I know how to talk about this and that’s candidly.
I was chatting with my father-in-law on New Year’s Eve. He was telling me how he doesn’t believe in setting resolutions for himself and how they are basically the same for everyone: losing weight, etc. I mentioned that losing weight wasn’t on my list of resolutions. His response caused me to pause.
You’re lucky you don’t have to worry about that.
Hmmm. I’ve thought about it a lot since then. Is it true? Am I just lucky that I’ve more or less maintained the same weight, with the exception of pregnancy and the months following the birth of my children, since I was about 16?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s far from the truth. There’s a lot more than luck going on for me to maintain my weight.
So what is it? What’s my big secret? Does it have to do with dieting or restriction or starving myself? Nope.
It has to do with awareness.
I was talking with a woman in her 40s once and she said, “Somewhere between 30 and 40 I gained 35 pounds. I don’t know how it happened.” Huh? What do you mean you don’t know how it happened? 35 pounds doesn’t just sneak up and settle in your body without you knowing it–does it?
Actually, it can happen that way. As we get older, life gets busier and busier. Kids, their activities, and work responsibilities are all things that pull us away from an active lifestyle and towards less healthy convenience foods that can contribute to weight gain.
And here’s the thing. It starts small. Gaining 35 pounds in 10 years is less than 5 pounds a year. Gaining 3-4 pounds a year doesn’t sound like a big deal. It probably doesn’t feel like a big deal, at first, either. Until one day you look back at a picture and wonder what the heck happened to that skinny girl you once knew.
So yes, awareness of my weight helps me keep it in a healthy range. Please note that awareness does not equal obsession. I don’t obsess about my weight or what I eat. I maintain a healthy lifestyle and know that choices have consequences.
I know my everyday choices can have a big impact in the long term. I choose to indulge sometimes and when I do I try to balance it out with less caloric or less sugary choices. I know that choosing to indulge too often can result in gaining weight. So I try not to. I know that over time, not exercising regularly causes me to gain weight. I try to not let that happen.
I pay attention to how my clothes fit. Those jeans in the picture up there? They are my “skinny jeans” that only fit when I’m at my thinnest. They are about 6 years old and even when they fit I don’t wear them that much, but I will keep them as long as I can because they are a great barometer.
Every so often, I step on the scale. If I notice my weight is going up, I check it a little more often to see if it’s real weight gain or just a natural fluctuation.
Awareness is the first part of the equation in how I keep myself from getting fat. But it’s not the whole picture. First I’m aware. Next comes action. Awareness is the easy part. Action isn’t so easy.
I was prompted to write this post because this winter I have gained some weight. About 5 pounds. Without awareness, I would probably not even realize it. I’m pretty sure most people around me haven’t noticed. Without awareness, that 5 pounds would probably have turned to 10 pounds by this summer.
Here’s the thing. I’m not unhappy with my body right now. My pants are a little tighter, but they still fit. I know in the long term, I don’t want to gain any more weight. So I’m taking action.
I’m not dieting. I’m just paying more attention to what I’m eating. I’m looking at my portion sizes, eating frequency, wine consumption, sugar consumption, the amount of carbs I’m eating–all the things that could contribute to me gaining weight.
Another thing I’m focusing on is my intensity in workouts. When I need to lose a few pounds, I know I can’t do it without working out harder. I’ve gotten to know my body over the years and how it responds to changes. For me, workout’s have to be hard and intense for me to lose weight.
The point? I’m doing something about it. I’m not just letting it go. I’m determined to maintain my weight over the long term, so I am committed to working hard to lose a few pounds and not gain anymore. It has nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with willpower and hard work.
I’ve earned my body. I will continue to earn it and honor it as long as I am physically able.
So there it is. The two reasons I don’t get fat are pretty simple: awareness and action.
I’d love to have a conversation with you about this. I know weight it a sensitive subject and I sincerely hope this post doesn’t come across the wrong way. I’ve heard “you’re so lucky” more times than I can count and I really wanted to express how much hard work it is to maintain weight.