Towards the end of last year, I realized my weight had crept up another few pounds, and I hated it. My clothes were too tight, and when I went shopping to find new clothes, I didn't like how anything looked.
I had a reasonable excuse: with starting a new job, losing that job, and then finding another new job, December had been stressful. Also, I'd been sick most of November, and so my exercise routine was in shambles.
But so what if I had a good excuse? There would always be an excuse I could find, and if I didn't change something, I knew I'd add a few pounds every year and then before long, I'd be at a weight that was not healthy for me.
So, I decided to do something about it. I signed up for the "kick start" program at the YMCA that is convenient to my new job, and picked a day in January for my first meeting with the trainer.
That was all I'd planned to do. I figured I'd get my exercise routine going again, and that would stop the increase in pounds. I figured it was unlikely I'd actually lose weight, so I'd just try to stop the increase.
Then, on a bit of a whim, I downloaded a calorie counting app and decided to start using it. I can't say why I decided to download it or why I decided I should try calorie counting for awhile. But I did, and I was surprised to find myself actually losing weight. The app lets you track calories consumed and calories burned by exercise. It has a large enough database that it can provide a calorie count for most foods without me having to figure it out. If it is a packaged food, I can just scan the barcode and usually it has the calories. It can also give an estimate of calories burned if I type in "20 minute walk" or something like that.
I set myself a net calorie target that would have me lose weight. I missed the target most days, but usually not by a huge amount. The more important thing was probably that it made me aware of how many calories I was mindlessly snacking through. It made me more conscious of what I was eating, and helped me "reset" away from some of my less healthy eating habits.
A couple of weeks ago, I was down 10 pounds from my peak weight at the end of December. Of course, that peak weight was three pounds higher than what I'd been at for most of the year, but it was still a quite noticeable loss for me. My pants aren't tight anymore! I don't think anyone else noticed, or if they did, they didn't say anything, but I feel better about how I look, and I feel like I'm being healthier, which is what matters most to me.
Sadly, when I stopped using the calorie counting app, I gained a couple of pounds back. But that puts me at the weight I landed at after the 5 pounds I gained when I hit perimenopause, and I maintained that weight without much effort for several years. So maybe that is a good weight for me? Or maybe I just stopped using the app a little too soon, and needed a few more weeks for the new habits to settle in. Or maybe it was that I had a few weeks where my exercise routine got disrupted? Who knows.
Here's the thing: I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about my weight. One of the reasons I was able to stick to using that app for as long as I did was that it was pretty unobtrusive. I didn't have to calculate a lot of calorie counts and the like. But even so, I don't want to have to use it forever. I'll be pretty sad if I gain back any more of the weight I lost, but I'd be pretty sad if I couldn't have a beer or two now and then, or indulge in a decadent dessert sometimes, without figuring out how many minutes I have to run to compensate. It is hard to find the balance. I miss the days when my body just sort of took care of this for me, and I maintained my weight without thinking about it. I don't think those days are coming back, though, so I had better find a new approach.
Mr. Snarky's approach to this is just to exercise more. I like that approach in theory, but in practice... my life has too many constraints right now. For instance, I went out for my rollerblade on Friday, but had to cut it short because it was windy and that slowed me down, and I had to make it to school to pick up the kids on time. Similarly, I skipped one of my usual weight machines at the gym on Wednesday because there were two dudes taking turns on it and I finished all my other exercises and they still weren't done... and I couldn't wait, because I had to get home by a certain time. I do get exercise time in, but I almost never have unconstrained exercise time.
The constrained nature of my time bothered me for a long time, but I have decided that I just have to accept this fact about my current phase in life and work around it. It isn't going to change until my kids get older, so there is no point pouting about it. I'm better served by acknowledging it, acknowledging that I do not like it, and then figuring out how to work around the constraints to get as much of what I want as I can.
I'd like to figure out how to get more exercise in, and I have some ideas. Now that it is staying light later, there's time for more after dinner games of birdie with Petunia and walks around the neighborhood with Pumpkin. But I don't think I should count on that. I think that if I want to lose more weight, or just stabilize at the weight I've landed on now, I need to use that calorie counting app for a bit longer. I'm going to start again today.
What do you do to stay healthy as age changes how your body behaves?