Progress can be measured in several ways. Some of them involve numbers, charts, and standards or benchmarks while others involve accomplishments. This morning I willingly faced a measure that involved a number – percent of body fat. We had not done a bodpod since last October and I felt like it was time to check. Honestly I was not sure if there would really be any significant change and hoped there would not be a gain. There was, however, a slight increase in body fat since October. I was initially not happy but Sam reminded me that I had been through that “whole foot rehab thing” inbetween, not that I need reminding. I know that the number will decrease again now that I am basically back to a full training schedule.
This has caused me to reflect on numbers today and the messages society gives versus understanding our personal accomplishments and measures of progress. I am not trying to dismiss that fact that I still have a ways to go, by the way. I also never want to send a message that I agree with many of the negative messages society conveys about our bodies, especially to women and girls. Health is what is truly important and that takes many forms.
So I had to sit down and evaluate how far I have come and what I still need to do. As of this morning I am down 149 pounds from my highest weight. My body fat percent has decreased at least 9%, and actually more because the first bodpod we did was after I had lost 55 pounds. I had pulled out the chart of measurements that I have kept over the last two years. I have not been quite as regular in doing this as I was for the first year. My waist is 16 inches smaller than it was on June 30, 2010 and I have lost about 15 inches in my hips. I’m not writing all of this to be congratulated either.
I think the important measure that I really need to remember is how I feel and what I can do that I couldn’t do two years ago or even a year ago. I very distinctly remember the first time I reached my current weight. It was during my first year of teaching and I was in my early 20′s. I felt horrible, was not eating well, not exercising much, and remember feeling much fatter than I do now. When I look at photos from that era I feel like I look much larger than I look now. (I could be fooling myself, of course!) Now I feel good, I work hard at eating right though I am not perfect, I exercise at least 5 times a week and I don’t particularly feel fat despite what the charts tell me. I know that my body composition is different. My perspective which comes with age and experience of losing and gaining weight and the health issues I have faced also are part of this equation. Overall, I feel very positive right now.
When I think about what I can do now I am usually surprised. I have recently made some real progress on my bike and with my swim. My bike speed averages 16-19 mph instead of 9-10 now for several reasons. On Saturday I swam a total of two miles for the first time. I was looking through my training journals last night and can see how the yards have been added gradually over the past year. My run is improving very slowly and will take the most time but I know it will also improve.
My immediate physical goal is to lose another 12 pounds. That is certainable attainable and a small enough goal to reach. I have always known that if I started out thinking that I had to lose 150-200 pounds total and only thought of the overall number that I would fail. It is too overwhelming. I can achieve a smaller goal and then set the next one.
I could not do this without the amazing support that I have had and continue to have. If I start to name people then I will miss someone. My main support throughout the two years has been Sam, of course. I could not have done this without support of people like Dr. Laubenthal and Dr. Snow though. Neika, David and Krista, and John have also been important parts of my team of support. I am missing a lot of you but it isn’t because I don’t know. The people who I have named are all related in some way to my health goals and/or to triathlon training. There are things that I have done (and will do in the coming years) that I could have never imagined. All of these people have helped me in some way to achieve my current level of fitness.
Different kinds of measures
Earlier this week two other women and I settled on being a relay team at the Luray Sprint Triathlon in Luray, Virginia in August. I had planned on teaming up with Vickie Daniel Singer already. The plan was that Vickie will bike and I will swim and run. On Sunday Ann Erker Nicocelli offered to join us and do the run portion. So now I will swim, Vickie will bike and Ann will run. You may think, ok, it’s a relay team. So? It is, but as Ann put it sometimes life is poetry and things are meant to be. If you have read my blog, or even this far in this post, you know some of what I have been through over the past few years and before. I consider much of it minor in comparison to what I will write next. My dear friend Vickie is currently working through her second round of cancer. She is a strong and amazing woman and I know she is beating this. Ann overcame a brain aneurysm and became a triathlete. The link is to her story. She, too, is someone I admire for what she has overcome and for who she is now. I am honored and blessed to be on a team with them. The three of us can measure where we have been and what we can do together in a few weeks. We can measure what we have done and survived. These are measures that go well beyond any number on any chart and are truly the important ones when all is said and done.
I listened to another webinar with Dave Scott recently. At the end he was relating a story where an athlete who had actually broken a record began apologizing for not doing better. He reminded her and us that we need to recognize what we have done well. That is true in races, in a journey to healing and wellness, or in losing weight. It is realy true for everything. There are many measures along the way and we need to remember that every day and every step is part of the journey.