Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Struggling with Weight

I can hear "Cry me a river" already.  Bear with me.

Normally, my weight tends to fluctuate between 140 and 145 pounds.  I've been roughly that weight since high school.  The few times I've been significantly outside that, once I had a 105-degree fever (and dropped seven pounds in four days), or I had just started new medication that caused me to lose my appetite (and dropped to 135 pounds), or amazingly enough, when I rode my bike to Alaska, I gained about 10 pounds, and very little of it was muscle.  Texas 4,000 has an unfortunate history of its members getting fat.

Me, after riding 4,000+ miles and gaining 10 pounds.
In the interest of being a lighter, more competitive runner, I'd like to drop to a "race weight."  135 pounds is my goal.  And while that may seem too small, most good college-level cross country runners are 4-5 inches taller than me, and yet lighter than my target weight.  I certainly don't consider myself fat, but I do have something to lose.

For the last several months, I've generally been just under 140 pounds.  The lightest I got to was 137, just before I ran the San Francisco Marathon.  At the time of this writing, I'm back up to 139.  At one point, I was up to 141.  Four pounds might not seem like much, but go pour yourself a full glass of water.  That is one pound.  Now hold three more of them.  That is four pounds.  Imagine you could either run up a hill while carrying those, or while not carrying anything.  Think it would make a difference?

If the races I did weren't all over the ridiculous hills of California, I might not care so much.  But, well, my races are in the hills.  And I don't want to change that, because I like the challenge, I like the variety, I like the scenery, I like the lower-key races, and they're fun!  I'd just like it to be a little easier.

No, I'm not going to pretend that losing 3-4 pounds is as hard as dropping 30 pounds and getting in the best shape you've been in 20 years.  Nor am I going to pretend that weighing an extra four pounds hampers my lifestyle or is a greater difficulty than carrying around the equivalent of two Thanksgiving turkeys at all times.  But when you're already at a low weight, those last few pounds are tough pounds.  Your body doesn't burn much energy naturally to maintain a smaller body, so you have to eat even less.  It gets to the point that I eat little enough that I'm worried I'm simply not getting enough of all my food groups.  And that's even considering that I have to eat a little extra to keep up with all the training I do.  And if I undershoot by too much, I won't have any energy to keep up with my training.  It's a delicate balance.

Throw in the fact that I work somewhere that provides three restaurant-quality hot meals a day for free, along with fully-stocked break rooms with shelves full of snacks, and even has free beer and wine at least once a week (usually twice), and it's hard to stay away from temptations.