I ran across this article at JCFitness today and it really echoes how I've been feeling lately.
Having worked hard to get into reasonable shape, I struggle from time to time at maintaining my losses and was rather bummed out about not being able to keep up the physique I'd built for myself in the spring, where I was my leanest and most muscular in my life. At first I moped...then I wondered if it was actually possible (or even desirable) to maintain what I thought was my ideal body. And I'm not sure if it is.
The thing is, at my ubermostest (yes that's a word, I'm calling it) I was running on 4 hours of sleep a night, over-caffeinated and on a very restrictive diet. But not restricted necessarily for weight loss - simply was so stupidly busy that I had to plan out all of my meals and had little or no times for snacks or dessert or my beloved beer. So, of course I was lean...and mean. And proud of it...I knew I looked good and it was one small part of my life that I could manage and feel confident about as I slaved away and tried not to go too crazy.
When I finally finished my thesis and defended I suddenly had all this time...and all this time to cook. And I love to cook. I almost went to chef training instead of biochemistry and for me there is nothing more relaxing than cooking or baking elaborate foods and then enjoying them with others along with some delicious craft beer or wine. My diet has changed - I eat low sodium, low sugar and low processed foods now, and generally eat quite healthy, but there is a lot more opportunity to live "normally" again...and I like it. I'm seeking a balance between fitness and health and happiness.
For me...a lot of it is coming to terms with the fact that I can eat well and clean and workout regularly but still may not attain the superlean me I thought I wanted. It might come and go in phases, but, ultimately I just don't want to be miserable, tired and cold all the time in the pursuit of a perfect ass. Yes, I need to do some work on my posterior and I'm just back to my pre "hooray lets eat everything to celebrate being done school" phase, but I don't want to be super restrictive anymore, unless the scale starts to creep up and I need to check in. I want to find a way to live life apart from obsession with food and calories and pounds and hydration and *insert fitness obssession here*...because this is long term. This is the me for the rest of my life. I'd rather go up and down ~5 Lbs and be healthy and strong than be ultra ripped like the host Lisa-Marie on Bodyrock.tv. For one I *know* I'm not genetically built to be that physique (I'm long waisted and lean with pear shaped hips). I'm just curvy. I like being curvy. I can be healthy and still have some meat on me...turns out I don't like the look of superlean physiques after all. I'm one of those lucky people whose abs show through because I'm lean in the waist, but still jiggle all over in my butt, and the way I lived and ate to have a perfect butt...well...yes, I liked the way my bum looked in a short skirt, but really...life is more than that. My husband loves me and always has and I receive compliments often on how I look thin and healthy. That should be enough. I am striving so that it WILL be enough.
Guess what I'm trying to say is what the article ended up saying. Being below 10% bodyfat isn't all it's cracked up to be. Yes...you will look hawt...and it may not be maintainable. This is the long haul be your best and enjoy the ride sort of life...not "if I'm skinny everything will be perfect" life. I am tired of feeling like I'm giving up just because I want to have a more moderate life. I want the workout endorphins. I still want to push myself...but because of how *good* it feels. Not out of guilt or shame.
Restricting my life for 2 and a half years to work full time while in grad school has showed me many things: I know I can multitask, I'm stubborn (mostly in a good way!), my needs are important, saying no is OK, and most important of all - my health and well being are important and do not equal a number.
Right nowI want nothing more than to spend time with my loved ones and enjoy this wonderful ride called life. :)