I don’t think I know anybody in real life who wants to gain weight. I mean, I’ve heard stories. Tall tales on the internet and whatnot, but let’s be honest, most of us are either trying to lose or just hang on to what we’ve got by whatever means necessary.
I’ve been in that “hanging on” group for years now, and looking back at it, I think I got a little smug. Maintaining my weight was easy. Not that I wasn’t paying attention to it, I was. But it just wasn’t hard for me to drop the pound or two I would gain occasionally. So karma (or, far more likely, peri-menopause hormones) decided to throw me a little smackdown recently in the form of five extra pounds.
Boom. Take that!
And I’m not talking about the five pounds I carry around after Thanksgiving dinner or the three pounds I gain and lose every month or even the pound and a half I can put on and take off during the course of one day (or sometimes one hour – what the hell?).
No, this is five actual pounds.
They came on slowly. A little bit here… a little bit there.
All told, it took me over a year to gain them, but gain them I did.
My new weight still fluctuates, so every once in a while, I’ll go down a pound and think, “Oh, look, I’m losing weight!” But then it comes back. Silly me. Those five pounds are mine now.
And here’s where the story gets REALLY crazy: I don’t mind.
You might think, what with me being a fitness professional and all, that I would be freaking out over a weight gain. I mean, I literally have to stay fit for a living! But I’m starting to think that maybe my five little friends have been more of a blessing than a curse.
This is what I’ve learned since they came into my life:
1. I needed new jeans anyway.
Do you have a favorite pair of jeans? Of course you do. Mine were perfect in every way – the right color, the right number on the size label, pockets you could fit a phone into if you needed to, and they fit my butt like they were made for me. I could count on putting them on and feeling confident and sexy all day (until they stretched out a little too much, but that was okay, too, because I knew they’d wash right up and be perfect again). Until the day they weren’t perfect anymore, which was a very sad day.
I actually ignored it for as long as I could. I mean, t e c h n i c a l l y, I could still totally zip them up. It was more that the bottom hems seemed a little too short now and I started putting off washing them because they were a LOT more wearable when they were stretched out.
But, yeah. They didn’t fit.
So, shopping I went! And you know what I discovered? Styles have apparently changed since I bought that perfect pair of jeans. Which is pretty surprising since I just picked those babies up in… 2009?
No, that couldn’t be right.
I thought about it, and I vividly remembered going to Macy’s and trying on a million pairs because I always have to because of my weird butt and I didn’t like the Not Your Daughter’s Jeans brand because hello I’m not that old and then I found these and after I bought them I was super excited and I went home and took a selfie for Myspace.
Yes. I bought my current favorite pair of jeans when my oldest son – who will be going off to college this year – was in the fifth grade.
The frugal side of my brain is really happy that I got my money’s worth out of those jeans, but the rest of me is like, “Oh, girlfriend, good thing they don’t fit anymore.”
2. I will never, ever gain weight in my boobs.
I know some people do, but “some people” are not me. And I don’t really have a lot more to say about this point except the obvious: you are not in charge of where your body gains or loses weight. You’re just not, so get over it.
Doing crunches is not going to lose that belly fat and endless lunges won’t erase cellulite. Your body at a healthy weight might never look like a supermodel – I know mine sure doesn’t! – but the key word in that sentence is “healthy,” not “supermodel.”
All you can do is eat right and exercise daily and your body will shake itself out to look like it’s going to look. And speaking of looks…
3. My butt looks really good right now.
I know, right? Like how does that even work? I’ve never gained weight and looked better, but I will tell you that I – don’t judge – look at my butt pretty often and the proof is right there behind me. (And before you start thinking that I am that vain, let me explain. I am that vain, but also, I film my own workouts, so there exists a ton of edited footage of me turning on the camera, then walking away from it to where I actually do the workout in my living room. That’s all butt, baby.)
I have had saddlebags for as long as I can remember. At least since I was a teenager, which is the first time I can remember holding up the little eyebrow mirror to see my rear view in the bathroom mirror and thinking, “What the hell is going on back there?”
Flab is what was going on back there.
Have I ever mentioned that I was a chubby teenager? I was. Hormones and lack of exercise hit me pretty hard when I was fifteen and my weight has yo-yoed about thirty pounds back and forth at least a dozen times since then.
But even at my thinnest, there was always a little something extra to grab onto back there, like a handle. So imagine my surprise when I trotted out to the three-way mirror on my recent jeans-shopping excursion and noticed a certain smoothness. And upon further examination, I decided that my butt was actually higher and rounder than ever. Higher! And rounder!
Well, first of all, that explains why my jeans weren’t fitting. Rounder butt equals bigger jeans. That’s simple math. But, wait a second. Higher and rounder isn’t the same as simply bigger. Bigger comes from fat; higher and rounder comes from muscle.
You guys! I put on muscle!
I know you don’t eat and breathe fitness the way I do, so let me just cut to the chase here and tell you why that is super exciting.
Gaining muscle isn’t easy for a woman. Biologically speaking, we’re just not set up for muscle mass the way men are. Still, there’s a window of time when you’re pretty capable of gains with hard work, but that window is behind me by a good ten years.
Gaining muscle for a middle-aged woman? That’s like a fitness miracle!
4. I’m running faster than I have in years, and with less effort.
Speaking of fitness miracles, this is the one I’ve been longing for. And this, Killer B, is the cornerstone of everything I believe about being healthy and getting fit: Of course you’re going to notice the way your body looks, but revel in the things that your body can DO.
Whatever you’ve found that you love, fitness-wise, be amazed and excited when you get better at it.
Marvel at the ease with which you can hold a plank or dance for hours or squat deeper.
Looking good in a bikini is a nice little perk of eating right and exercising, but your body was meant for more. YOU are meant for better things.
And here’s my advice on that front: make sure that your fitness program includes some measure of progress that doesn’t include the scale. I’ve got several Workout and Running Guides to choose from that include just enough challenge to motivate you and enough repetition to help you see that you’re moving forward.
Which leads me to what I suppose could be a fifth thing I learned, but I already knew this one: don’t let the scale get you down.
It’s a number, plain and simple. It’s ONE measure of your health and fitness, but honestly not the most important one. Measuring progress will make you so much happier than measuring your thighs.
YOU get to decide what’s important to you, so why not choose something like having a stronger butt or running faster?
Cheers to your good health my friend,
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