Well, it’s like clockwork – the temperatures take a nosedive and my body instantly begins adding in a couple of extra pounds to keep itself from freezing to death. It’s kind of fascinating, really. Like cats shedding and thinning out their fur in the summer. Or trees dropping their leaves in the fall. It’s marvelous how the body just knows. Well, marvelous except for the fact that it means I’ll be carrying a couple of extra pounds until the adjustment period ends.
At some point, in a month or so, the body will figure out that, oh wait, it’s not going to die of cold, that things will continue more or less as normal, and it’s okay to drop off that extra layer of insulation. Then all the miles will begin to have their affect again.
I’ve always heard that every body has a weight that it just kind of likes to be at. It never seems to mind so much when you increase your weight, but if you ever try to drop below that weight, alarm bells begin to go off for your metabolism. My body’s idea of baseline weight seems to be roughly 170 pounds, and that includes an extra layer around my stomach that I’ve never totally been able to eliminate.
The reason I originally started running was just for general heath and, well, not so much weight loss as just weight control. Therefore, I’ve always kept track of my status with a little scale in my bathroom. At least once every week or two I hop on after a run to see what it tells me.
Back in 2005, when I started keeping serious records, I was running steadily, but averaging just 5 or 6 miles a week. Then, for no good reason, I didn’t really run at all for 6 weeks around the holidays. I put on a pair of jeans over Christmas that I hadn’t worn in a couple of months, only to discover that they were tight and uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe I had put on the pounds so quickly. It scared me enough that I finally committed myself to a more regular, regimented running schedule.
In both of the next two years I upped my weekly mileage. In ’06 I averaged 20 mile weeks and 88 mile months. In ’07 that went up again to 33 mile weeks and 142 mile months. I saw the results on the scale: For both years, my weight hovered around 166-167. Over the summer of ’07, I was down to 163-164 – the result of those 35 to 40 mile weeks and the summer heat. Burning an extra 4,000+ calories will go a long way toward winning the battle of the bulge.
This last year was a little different, though. I have been doing a few more miles – my months have basically averaged 166 and the weeks 38 – but, somehow, I have not been able to keep the weight off. Early in the year (partly aided by the winter weight gain), the scale moved back up to 170 and has stayed there ever since.
At first I thought maybe the extra miles and harder workouts were simply building my muscle mass. I’m still not sure that isn’t true, but there’s also no doubt that the waist line of all my “skinny” pants got just a weeee bit snugger, too. So, I guess that my body caught up and figured out how to process all the mileage. So, it was finally able to push itself back up to that 170 lbs mark.
Allow me to emphatically state that I am not obsessed with my weight. Really, I’m not. I mean, I’d like to see it steady and under control – that is why the running thing got started – but mostly I’ve been thinking about it lately (and blogging about it) because it’s just so interesting to see it fluctuate over time and to pick out the variables that affect it. (But I know this must still resemble the transcript of a post-lunch chat between the Olsen Twins. Oh, well. See, Girls? Guys think about things like this, too.)
I’m not sure I can continue to up my mileage every year to stay in front of the increase and keep myself below that 170 threshold. Perhaps it’s a matter of doing more cross training so that the muscles have to exert their energy in different ways. Maybe that would confuse my fat cells again to where they won’t be able to multiply at will so much. Maybe it’s time to buy some clip pedals for my bike. Or maybe it’s just finally time to choose a slightly more responsible diet!