On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's not about the scale

Oh, it's not, Tracy?

Then why do you have that little meter to the side, tracking your weight loss?

It's not about my weight for me. I can honestly say that. It's about feeling good, having my clothes fit me (the clothes that I've spent years lovingly acquiring - I am that superficial); it's about looking at myself in the mirror and being confident that I'm the best person I can be. When I look in the mirror now, I'm unhappy. When I exercise and when I'm fit, I'm happier. Typically - but not always - this happiness has coincided with a lower weight. That said, I ran my marathon PR when I was roughly 20lbs heavier than when I ran my first marathon.

Objective measures are what we have in society, for better or for worse. I want to get fit, so I'm going to go out and exercise. I want to measure my improved fitness, I'm going to use quantitative measurements to do this. (Personally, I've chosen to do Weight Watchers in conjunction with exercising regularly.)

When my doctor wants a quick synopsis of my health, she uses my weight. I can't get off my rat-poison coumadin pills until I'm no longer classified as "overweight," being as "overweight" is a risk-factor for blood clotting. My doctor has my best interests at heart and will neither let me be at high-risk nor flout accepted medical practice. And I really, really want to stop taking coumadin.

And then, of course, there's science. I want to run a sub-30 minute 5k (and eventually, eventually, I want to set a new PR and finally break 25 minutes). If I'm carrying around 10 or 20 or 30 extra pounds, it's going to be harder to do this.

It's not about the scale. It's about me. If I can achieve these goals (happiness, health, fast running times) without making my weight loss "goal," I'm a better person for it and I'll throw out my scale.

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