Friday, March 7, 2014

The Scales

Bodyweight is always a contentious issue. Especially when it comes to purposefully changing ones weight, what some people view as healthy, others call obsessive. Ashley over at {never} homemaker recently got some serious flak for talking about weight, which inspired me to write about it.

As a lightweight rower, I have no choice—weight is part of my daily life. My results have different meanings at 125 and 135 pounds. And I have very strict weight deadlines that require me to weigh myself weekly starting months in advance. For example, I expect to weigh under 129 pounds on April 23rd and around 125.5 pounds on May 14th. Those are not loose deadlines.

In fact, the stringency of those deadlines has definitely led me to some bad habits: obsessively counting calories, over-weighing, chronic dehydration. I spent much of my first training year tracking every morsel of food and every calorie burned. In college, I often didn't drink water all afternoon, in case our coach had us weigh in at practice.

I've been working on those habits. This winter, I've focused on getting in touch with my body. I've learned my true hunger cues and also learned to respect those cues. Not surprisingly, I'm suddenly a lot faster, calmer and less prone to eating half jars of peanut butter.

Now that I'm finally coming to terms with my body, weight and eating habits, here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

==> It's okay to have a number in mind.
Ashley got a lot of crap for focusing on the 7 pounds she's gained. But I think it's okay to focus on it. She mentioned that 7 pounds can really easily turn into 70; I've talked to a lot of women in their 40s or 50s who now regret not focusing on those first 5 or 7 or 10.

==> It's also okay to have different numbers for different seasons.
Lightweight rowing automates this. I weigh 132-135 pounds in winter and 126-129 pounds in season. I eat more heartily and train heavier weights in winter; I eat more fresh fruits and veggies and do more HIIT in summer. It's part of my body's natural cycle (and I never regret have some extra insulation in winter).

==> Weight varies a lot from day to day and week to week.
My weight can change 2 pounds in a day. I clearly did not overeat by 7000 calories—chances are I ate more vegetables and drank more water. That's why I use weight ranges, not specific weights, when possible. It's also why I don't care if I've gained a pound from last week; I notice when I've gained two pounds from two weeks ago, or five pounds from five weeks ago.

==> It's not okay to weigh yourself more than once a day with any regularity.
If you do this, for any reason, please spend some time thinking about your relationship with food. There are much better ways! And there are a lot of resources to help you get in touch with your body without relying on the scale. (It's possible to maintain your current weight without weighing yourself!!!)

==> If you're eating uncontrollably, you might be hungry.
I used to go nuts with the jar of peanut butter. It was my nemesis. Apparently, I wasn't eating enough breakfast. Now, I aim for 600-800 calories for breakfast, and similarly gigantic portions for lunch and dinner. Since I'm not starving between meals, I don't feel the need to snack on inappropriate foods. (1/2c of PB is not an appropriate snack 30 minutes before a hard practice.)

What are your thoughts on weight? Do you weigh yourself to maintain your weight? Or do you go by other cues? Or do you not pay attention at all?

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1 comment:

  1. Such a great post, thank you for writing it!!! Also: You and I weigh around the same (winter and then summer). I ran a race today and definitely didn't feel in my top form, but I still PR'ed. It's interesting to see it from a more competitive, athletic perspective that you can provide. Thanks again for this viewpoint!!! And have a great weekend <3

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