I am not thin…

Hiking in Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Okay, I said it. Sure, I’m not overweight or fat or even close to either. But I’m no longer a woman who falls within the “thin” size range. Words that better describe me now are curvy, athletic, or my favorite, well-proportioned. Most of my life I was thin then I just wasn’t. Okay, it wasn’t that simple, but it sure seems that way to me. And while I do love myself and accept myself as I am – this isn’t a pity party or a “poor Addie” blog post – I do still feel the pull and desire to try to do something about my extra pounds and bulk.

Because really, that’s the difference here. I’m not upset by the number I see on the scale. Nope, I’m more annoyed by the extra fat around my middle. I’m not a fan of these two little fat lumps that have formed, and now protrude ever so slightly, below my breasts. I’m definitely bothered at the number of rolls I see in my stomach when I am seated. Those are the things that have gotten me to want to make a change. If I were free of lumps and cellulite and still weighed what I currently weigh, I’d be fine with it. Truly. I long ago learned that the number on the scale matters far less than how my body actually looks.

If I stop to pinpoint how all this extra weight got on me, I can attribute it directly to two things: 1) working in a highly stressful office sitting on my butt for six years and 2) aging, plain and simple. Back in early 2007 as I started working in an office, for the first time in my life really, I weighed in the low 120s. I had worked in restaurants for years and was used of spending 10-12 hours per day on my feet, constantly moving around. I’ve also been someone who works out (in various forms and incarnations) since about the year 2000 so exercise and fitness have been a part of my life for a long time. But now, despite what I thought was a moderate diet and regular exercise, I weigh almost 170 pounds. (Yes, really.)

Obviously, I didn’t get here in a day or a week or even a year. Eventually, over time, the stress of work and sitting for too many hours a day for nearly six years correlated in a perfect storm with me moving from my 20s to my 30s. Many women have told me their bodies shift in composition when they hit their 50s. Well, I personally experienced a huge shift when I entered my 30s. Essentially, my body fundamentally changed shape in the last 5 years or so. For instance, I have a “butt” now. Granted, it’s probably one of my best assets, but I never really had a shapely bottom before the last few years. Also, I started holding weight around my middle much more than in the past. My abs and stomach have always been trouble spots for me, but it really just intensified to an uncomfortable level.

I’m telling you all this today because I have finally figured out what I want to do to try to remedy this. I am taking action to produce positive and meaningful results. I’ve been working out steadily in a gym for the past year and have seen some progress. It’s not been as much as I’d liked, but I was plagued with knee and shoulder injuries from January to early April. That was a huge set back for me. I’d lost over 10 pounds and then gained it all back in that time period. I’m actually right at the same weight as I was a year ago when I started this particular journey into being more fit. Which is a little frustrating, but I am dealing with it and learning from it.

While I feel like I’ve got a good start on exercise, I realized earlier this week that I needed to get serious about my diet. Not that I am “on a diet,” but diet as in “what I eat.” While Jeremy and I do eat relatively healthy overall, I realized that I eat quite a bit of carbs. I can have bread or something starchy with every meal if I’m not careful. I have a small sweet tooth that I’ve been more prone to indulging lately. When I am honest with myself, I really see how much sugar I am consuming everyday via carbohydrates, sugary things, and dairy products. But my resistance to making a change was that I didn’t want to have to give up anything outright. I didn’t want to have to make sacrifices that I wasn’t sure I could stick to in the long-term.

As I’ve said, I think I might have figured it out. I am now limiting myself to one carb food item per day, no more. I am categorizing starches, starchy vegetables, and anything sweetened as a carb. I am also limiting dairy to one serving per day, with a preference that the dairy be something like cheese or yogurt, if needed at all. I like the calcium dairy provides, but I realize it contains sugar, too. My third and final thing is limiting alcohol to one drink per day (or less), but I can have up to two if I have skipped my carb for the day. I’m toying with allowing drinks to “stack up” during a single week when I have days with no drinking. I’ve not tested that yet, but it’s an idea. I’m moving into being an even more moderate drinker anyway so this dovetails nicely into that goal.

Finally, what I feel is the key to making this all work is that I am going to do this new way of eating as a test for 90 days. Like I said, I’ve weighed myself and taken measurements so I know where I’m starting. I am also keeping a food journal that helps me track what I’ve been eating and drinking. I think when I get honest in that realm, I will see what’s really going on. I’m going to keep my workout at the same intensity level for the next 90 days so I can try to do a clean test with the food intake. I’m going to track my data and results and use them to make an informed decision about how I want to proceed long-term. If I see progress in three months, I will likely continue on as a pretty permanent way of living. If I don’t see that it makes a big difference, I’ll just have to decide what I’m going to do then. Out the gate, I feel more comfortable approaching this as a test versus a new way of living. A test is finite in scope and duration. It feels doable right now.

In the end, I feel good about my choices and my new path, and I have a feeling this will be successful. By successful I mean that I can do it and stick to it. The main reason is because I don’t have to “give up” anything outright. If I want my carb on a certain day to be a single-serving bag of peanut butter M&Ms, then that’s my choice. I can have a carb for dinner every night if I chose to do so, as long as I’ve abstained for the rest of the day. I feel like this is a solution that could work for me. It will definitely push me toward healthier eating and toward a diet filled with mainly protein and vegetables, which I really like the idea of.

Overall, I’m actually really excited by this. It’s a big change for me and one that I wanted to somehow share with the world so I brought it to you here on this blog. While I plan to mainly use this blog for more “business-related purposes,” I feel that it’s important that I can talk about myself and my personal struggles and successes here, alongside the professional triumphs and challenges. I’ll certainly provide an update in 90 days as to how successful I’ve been.

What about you? Do you have an area where you struggle personally that you’ve either come to terms with or made an action plan for recently? Let me know in the comments below!