Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

1. Bad angles. You know how you bend over to stretch your hamstrings? In Yoga this is a pose called "down dog". If you're over 40, do not look back at your thighs. It's tempting...they're right in front of you...just look away.

2. Miles for September: I ran 100 miles in September!! That's lower than it should be, but higher than it's ever been. Most of the miles, I'll have you know, have been very hilly. This will continue to increase. Oh, yes, it will.

3. Calories for September: on average, I kept it under 2000 a day. On non-workout days, it was around 1200, and higher on workout days.

4. Weight. Still holding steady at 175 pounds, give or take a pound, despite tracking my calories and exercising regularly. This has been my weight now for about ten months.

5. Fad Diets. I remember when I used to scoff at fad diets, back when it was easy for me to maintain my weight. "How can anyone fall for that?" I wondered. But now, I know. I know. I'm not buying into them. But I understand.

6. Grades. I've passed my midterms, so far, and gotten good grades on my papers. I feel pretty darn smart these days! I like writing papers, actually. I like laying out my argument, or thesis, and researching the information that supports it. My research professor even asked me to explain how I do my literature reviews to the class. I was awkward, and a couple of the girls in the back rolled their eyes at each other, crossed their arms, and sighed deeply in feigned patience.
Yeah, go ahead beeyotches. see if I ever help you with your grant applications.

7. Oilcloth. I have a pretty oilcloth tablecloth. It wasn't expensive, but it makes me happy to see it. It's sunny yellow with fruit on it. It's completely ridiculous.
And yet: happy.

8. Speed. Sorta. I ran a very hilly 4 miles in my neighborhood the other day - including a long, 1-mile uphill - and kept it under a 12-minute mile average. For me that's pretty darned good! Lookout, world: WHOOOSH!
(Yeah, I know. Speed kills. I'll take my chances.)

9. Clean Car. It's finally cool enough so I want to go clean out my car, which looks like a homeless person has been living in it. Or a graduate student. Either way.
Tomorrow: I clean the carpets, divesting them of their spilled lattes and Gatorade.

10. Rituals. Every now and then, when I have some calories left to the day, I sit down with a small amount of dark chocolate, wheat thins, and some hummus or reduced-fat brie. Rounding out this experience is a small glass of a sweetish white wine. I sit with this plate and this glass of wine on the sofa, look out onto the hills, and feel very, very good about my life. I remind myself of all I have to be thankful for, and what a good person I am.

11. Exercise. I may be currently an unemployed bum, but I'm a bum with a gym membership and access to running trails. I'm staying (mostly) with my training plan each week. In addition to the running, I'm doing yoga, swimming, and I try a new and different class at the gym each week.

12. Frustration. There is something medically wrong with me.
  • In 2005, at 194 pounds, I joined weight watchers, and dropped 30 pounds in one spring, just by watching my calories and portions. Then I started exercising, and lost five more.
  • Throughout 2006 and 2007, my activity level increased steadily, and my weight stayed steady, a bit heavier in winter, fluxuating between 155 and 165.
  • Then in 2008, I did 7 marathons and an Ironman. I gained 10 pounds. After I injured my leg, I gained another 10 pounds.
  • Throughout 2009, my activity has increased, and in September, I ran One hundred freaking miles. My calories are tracked on The Daily Plate as those of a 150-pound sedentary woman.
Does it seem unreasonable to anyone but me that I have to run 100 miles a month (in addition to occasional cycling, aerobics, yoga, et cetera) and eat like a woman weighing far less just to maintain my weight? Well, it does to me.

But when I talk to people about it, I get suggestions that I'm feeling sorry for myself or that I look fine. I know they mean well. I know they care about me. But it's not an answer. I hate feeling vain for worrying about what I believe is a medical problem.

Well, I don't feel fine. I've never exercised at this weight before and it's awfully hard on my feet. It's hard on my knees. My hips hurt.
Most importantly, it's not who I am. I was not a heavy child, or a heavy adolescent, or a heavy young adult. I wasn't tiny or bony. I was healthy. This is something that has come upon me in the past couple years.

It came on my mother, too, who was also a slender child, adolescent, and young adult.

Look at it another way: If you knew someone who, despite being apparently healthy, started losing weight until they were 25 pounds below the ideal weight for their frame size, and they were unable to put it back on despite very reasonable efforts, wouldn't that be worth getting concerned about? Why should this be any different?


13. NO MORE WHINING. I'm headed back to the doctor. I want answers, not platitudes.



  1. Look into 'estrogen dominance' - something about perimenopause, progesterone crapping out. Estrogen encourages the body to hold on to fat. Could be a bunch of crap or it could be.....true? Who knows! Good luck though.

  2. I have the same problem with weight. I train like a crazy man most of the year and still must carefully watch what I eat and can easily put on pounds.

    I have chalked it up to a slowing metabolism from getting old.

    But what do I know.

  3. hey, get outta my mind! or outta my body! same story here.

    I have determined that in my case it's probably a combination of Very Bad Genes and Girls' Hormones Gone Wild. I lost 30 pounds five years ago because of an inner-ear infection, then started running long distances. I toed the line at my first marathon at 155 in 2004 - five years and five marathons later I'm 20 pounds heavier while keeping pretty similar calorie counts to yours. I, too, ran 100 miles in a month and GAINED two pounds. I just went off all artificial hormones and am trying to see if that's going to help any. My (idiot) doctor once suggested that I might be eating in the middle of the night without realizing it.

    I'll be interested to see if you get any insights. good luck!

  4. Congrats on the miles in September! And I like that tablecloth.

  5. As you can see, there are many people who are in very similar situations with eating diet-style, exercising, and not losing/still gaining weight! (Also, about the same age and height!) But I agree, if you are tracking with the Daily Plate and you are still not losing, maybe there is something wrong. I hope the doctor will help you find a solution. I feel for you because I have experienced much of the same as you, except without thyroid issues and I did lose weight once I became a Daily Plate nazi. Even so, my food and exercise are such that I should be able to lose more than a pound or two every few weeks! The body is a mystery. And mine, at least, really, really wants to be's a battle of wills every day! :)

  6. And, by the way, that tablecloth would make me happy too! :)

  7. 100 miles is a great accomplishment! I'm glad you are going to go see a doc to check for medical issues. You might want to think about meeting with a nutritionist too. Honestly 1200 calories is very low, maybe you actually need to eat more on rest days because your body still needs energy to recover.

  8. LOL! Oh my god I am so with you on the yoga and looking at your thighs...when in the world did that happen!

    Seems to me the more I train the more I know trying to fuel that run, or ride....

  9. There IS something wrong and if your doc figures it out I'd like to be in on the secret. It definitely has something to do with the thyroid business. My friends are amazed at how hard I work out and how I eat and how I STILL cannot lose weight. Hang in there though because the alternative is worse. Congrats on your 100 miles!

  10. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Oh, how I feel you on this! How can fit, healthy women weigh heavier on the scale than we should? It sucks!

    I do like the oil cloth though! It's cheery. :)

  11. I've heard about the estrogen "theory" too. Might be worth checking out. You probably have already considered that maybe you are consuming too few calories, but if not, it's somethinig to look at. I wanted to drop just 5+ measly pounds not too long ago, and when I calorie restricted, it didn't work. Like you, I basically stayed the same (and hungry). But when I started to eat to feeling "full," those last pounds finally came off. I dunno. This whole dietic voodoo stuff is beyond me. Anyway, 100 miles is awesome!

  12. For the record, that opposite thing you described..happened to my Mom. At around age 59 she quit smoking and LOST weight. Didn't eat differently (just actually tasted the food), didn't up her activity level or really change anything but the smoking. She lost about 20 lbs. in a fairly short time period. She also got really hyper, stopped being able to sleep well and kinda got mean. She was finally (after 3 tests, her not believing the first one and insisting upon more after "more time passed") diagnosed with a super hyper-active thyroid. She started on the meds and instantly started gaining weight. She changed her diet, and kept gaining weight. When she halved and then quit taking the meds (only to be put back on a smaller dosage later upon returning to the doc) her weight dropped. Her weight stabilized only as her dosage has been decreased. She's made little effort to increase her activity level, but she's not a very sedentary person, just not an athlete. could be tied to that. But just wanted to let you know that your scenario has happened - on the opposite end of the thyroid issue. Her doctor made her feel like an idiot for awhile.

    Good luck, and great job on the mileage.

  13. Good luck! Good job on 100 miles. You are an inspiration.

    The weight thing. Totally me too. Exercise=fit but not thin, in fact I often gain weight when I ramp things up. When I worked with a coach and started training for a century ride-gained 20 pounds immediately. I mean, honestly! I don't eat a lot, and yes I know this to be true as I measure it, no junk, no soda, only the occasional bit of chocolate or ice cream as a treat, no white sugar, no white flour...etc.. I could write pages about my weight frustrations, but you understand so I won't. I have yet to solve this mystery, I sincerely hope you solve yours.

  14. I would love to hear what the doctor says. I, too, am very active now at 48. I tried from March until now to lose weight, and simply circled the same five pounds . . . lose them then gain them, lose them then gain them. I finally said, "Stop!" For now, I'm getting off of the WW train. Will continue to train for 2010 Ironman Canada, and see what happens.

  15. I hope the doctor figures out something. I am also just stuck at the weight I'm at and I'm doing IM training and while most people have trouble not withering away to nothing my weight holds steady. Very annoying but not quite the same as what you are experiencing.

    Another blogger (waddler 26.2) was diagnosed with some sort of metabolic disorder and working with a nutritionist was able to finally lose 24 pounds. I hope you have the same good fortune.

  16. I have the same problem. I also have low thyroid. I've been reading about cortisol lately. It's hard to separate the bunk from real science, though. Isn't that always the way! From what I understand, anyone who keeps their heart rate at an elevated level for sustained periods produces too much cortisol, which causes the body to store fat. Some call it the "chubby aerobic instructor syndrome." I read in Jillian Michaels book, "Mastering your Metabolism" that in a double blind study, when plant sterols were given to marathon runners before a race, their cortisol levels did not rise. I found a plant sterol supplement -- it's usually marketed for lowering cholesterol. Also, Benecol buttery spread has plant sterols in it. I haven't really noticed any change, but I don't really have any idea about dosage, and I haven't been religious about taking it before running.

  17. Fascinating about the estrogen dominance thing. I hadn't heard that before.

    I don't know that there's something medically wrong, necessarily, although I hope your doctor can tell you if there is.

    I think you just need to change your routine. You've been maintaining your weight for 10 months now by doing the same thing. If you want to lose more weight, you clearly need to do something different. Maybe that "something" will be medical, but I sort of doubt it.

    Discontinuing the running is probably not an option. I think you should eat more and add some weights. Maybe take a week or two off from running, then go back to it. Just experiment and see what happens. But I'll tell you one thing: eating like a 150 lb sedentary woman is not cutting it.

  18. Have you thought about talking to a nutritionist too, one that specializes in sports? 1200 calories seems really low and I wonder if maybe that is shutting your metabolism down? Definitely worth talking to your doctor and perhaps seeking additional advice on.

    Good luck finding some answers!


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