Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Variety of Topics: on Health, Size, Weight, and Running

Boy, I've been thinking a lot lately about health, food, size, weight, and other topics. So, in no particular order...

1. Weight vs. Health: I've got a few favorite blogs (listed on the right). Two that I read nearly daily are Kath Eats and Eat Live Run. They have both covered the topic of weight recently. Both are younger women with very healthy diets and very healthy, active lifestyles. At some point, both got on the scale, and discovered a weight gain of 7-10 lbs.

In Kath's case, she decided awhile back to just not get on the scale and go by "how she feels". She was shocked to see the 7 lb weight gain, but decided that she feels great, so the number doesn't really matter.

For Jenna, she recently moved from Florida to California. Working in the wine industry, she discovered our fair state put about 10 lbs on her (I gained 25 when I moved here...and it wasn't the wine or fine food. It was pizza and burritos.) She also decided that she is going to enjoy the "fuller" look that she has.

So, is that okay? It's a trick question. The honest truth is that these women are beautiful, and even with the weight gain, both are still at very healthy weights, well within the BMI guidelines. It can be difficult, however, to accept a weight gain - to go from "thin" or "ideal" (from a media standpoint) body to what I consider a "normal" body. I know I have struggled with the same thoughts in the past.

7+ years ago, I lost 57 lbs. (Weight Watchers). I leveled out at a nice 125 lbs. Then there was trying to get pregnant and gaining, losing some, actually getting pregnant, taking longer to lose the baby weight... I eventually found myself back at 125 lbs. Then a vacation put me back at 130. Since, I've been 130-132, for the most part. I have maintained this weight almost effortlessly. When I occasionally hit 135, I do take care to watch the intake of wine, chocolate, and bread. There's still this tiny voice in my head telling me that 125 would be better. And I'm almost 40. I should know to ignore this voice. My husband and friends *really* don't like 125. Sometimes they are nice about it (sometimes not). But the fact is, my face gets really gaunt at 125 - so if I want "trim" hips and thighs (and they just aren't naturally thin), then it comes at the price of my face. I start looking old. So, okay.

I really like seeing young women with great habits also having good body acceptance (the earlier the better). Those two women are gorgeous, healthy, and fit and a TOTAL inspiration to this pushing-40 mama. There is so much disordered eating out there, from obesity to anorexia, bulimia, extreme food control, that finding a person with balance is refreshing.

This brings me to ...

2. Size. I've been thinking quite a bit lately about "vanity sizing". I discovered how ridiculous it has become when shopping for clothing at a CAbi party. I found a great pair of jeans, and the consultant suggested I buy a size 6. Um, I'm not a size 6. I was a six for awhile my freshman year in college when I was 20 lbs lighter and so skinny that I was amenhorreic. I ordered the 8. I got them home, tried them on, hemmed them. Then the first day that I wore them, they "stretched" and they are too darned big.

So why do I think this is awful? Well, I'm fit. I'm 5'2.5", and 130 lbs or so. I have a very curvaceous, muscular, lower half. I'm not offended at being in the double digits, really. But at this CAbi party, I have several friends who cannot even fit into a size ZERO anymore. So, I started thinking back.

In 1988, I was 110 lbs and a size 6.
In 1992, I was 130 lbs and a size 10-12.
In 1996, I got married at 135 lbs and my wedding dress was a 10 or a 12.
In 2002, I was 182 lbs and a size 18. When I lost weight, at around 130 lbs I was a 10. At about <127 lbs, I could comfortably fit into an 8.
In 2009, I am 130 lbs and a size 6 to 10.

To me, that looks like vanity sizes have dropped by at least two sizes (from a 12 to 8) in the last 17 years. I was the same size in 1992 as I am now. I mean, I bought running shorts in a small. A SMALL. Anyone who has seen my hips KNOWS I am not a small. I have to have my family order me shirts in a small because mediums (which I wore all the time 20 years ago) will swim on me.

So this made me wonder how long this has been going on. A simple google search did not turn up much useful information. Instead, I decided to google "1940's women's dress patterns". I used to sew clothing a bit in college, and from what I remember, you had to buy a pattern about two sizes up from what you bought in the store. If you were a 10 (as I was), you'd have to buy a size 14 pattern. Maybe that means vanity sizing started long ago, but the pattern makers did not catch up.

So I found this pattern.

I picked it because I measured my waist and hips, and they about match what this pattern said. When you look at the large image of the pattern, what does it say:

Size 16!! Yep. 16. (So don't listen when people tell you that Marilyn Monroe was a 12, when they talk about "size 12 isn't fat". Marilyn's size 12 wasn't what it is today.)

3. Running

I ran a 4-mile race on Thanksgiving. I felt GREAT. I finished in 36:46, beat my old best 4-miler time by 3 minutes. I passed people. A LOT of people. One of the guys that I caught up to was an old guy. He was hunched over. I stuck with him for about a mile, and was just thinking about passing him when we hit, oh, about 3.2 miles. Then he kicked it in. He just took off! I couldn't even keep up with him. Wow!

I went home and looked him up. 75 years old. He finished 5 people ahead of me. I hope that I'm running like that when I'm 75 (well, heck, I'd like to run that pace now). Older folks who are out there running are absolutely inspiring. Heck, all runners inspire me.

Today I ran 10 miles and I think I'm going to lose a toenail. Dang half marathon.

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