this in-between land of 16

From an email I sent to Val today:

I'm really struggling with the weightlifting, and something just doesn't seem right. I've had to lay off lifting a bit this month because of Atlanta trips, but I'm getting exhausted during weightlifting sessions and it's not the kind that I get a second wind and bounce back from. Something's not right, and I don't know what.

There was more said than that, but it's unimportant. Val's response was unequivocal:

You are tired. When tired, you're more likely to injure yourself. Take a week off and we'll start fresh next week.

I dunno, folks; I feel like I'm admitting defeat here, but maybe it's time I did. I've had very few good, solid workouts in the past month; most of them have been squarely in the "I toughed them out and I hope this is worth it" category, and it just hasn't been improving.

It's hard not to look at the silk dresses in my closet, those $3 and $4 rescues from Atlanta-area thrift stores, and hate myself a little because I can't wear them yet. I want the end result, and I want it now, but I'm stuck in this in-between land of 16. I'm not where I was before; I'm much stronger and healthier than I was in January, but I'm not done, and I'm doing a pretty crappy job of accepting that fact.

I know if I'm patient, and I give my body some time to rest, I'll come back ready to fight this fight again, but right now all I hear is my mind saying "Every day you're not in the gym is another day before this is over and this weight is off your body."

Secretly, I wanted to be done by January. I wanted to buy a ticket out west to help Chris with TromaDance, knowing that by the time I got out there I'd be done, and we could celebrate. But, realistically, it is not going to happen, not unless one of two miracles occur:

  1. My rate of weight loss drastically increases
  2. I suddenly don't need to lose as much weight as I think I do

Even I know that neither of those two options are likely.

It's hard not to feel one of my major goals - wearing a size 12 by dragon*con, which is the first weekend of September - slipping away. Dragon*con is 72 days away. Given that I am able to drop a dress size every five weeks only under the best of circumstances, I think it's probably time for me to accept that I'm likely to just miss my goal by the barest of margins.

Dammit. I'd really been hoping for that one, too.

Facing that fact has forced me to come to another decision: even if I don't make it to a size 12 by dragon*con, I'm still going to do the Evil Catholic Schoolgirl costume this year. I'm slowly getting more comfortable with the idea of people actually seeing me, seeing my legs, seeing pretty much anything that I previously hid under loose-fitting clothing. With that, I've also become more accepting of the idea that the choice to costume is as much about one's body as it is one's attitude about it.

Size 12 or not, I think I've earned the 'right' to costume this year. I won't embarrass myself and I won't stand out in the crowd as "that girl wearing the costume she really didn't have the body to wear," so the rest is just my learning to take a breath and say, "Screw it. I want to wear this."

For now, though, I just have to be patient - and let my body rest.

Aside: Elenita posed an interesting question in comments attached to this entry. It, and my response, are worth reading in conjunction with this entry.


Amy, goals can be beautiful things, especially when they keep us silly humans focused. But don't let focusing on the goal keep you from realizing how far you've travelled since January. You've said for a while that size 12 was the size where you'd change into costume, but you've been less vocal about why you wanted it to be a 12. Maybe there's something about a size 12 that makes it special like a 16 that I just don't understand because I'm dense. Maybe you have your own reasons for wanting a 12 that you haven't articulated. But from where I'm sitting, the selection of size 12 seems awfully arbitrary to me. It also doesn't seem to give all the hard work you've gone through nearly enough credit. Because, really, when you're in costume at *con, no one's going to look at you and somehow divine what size you're wearing. No one's going to come up to you and say, "nope, sorry. You're a size too big to be in costume." Not unless they're suicidal or looking to get their ass kicked--in which case, you can put those muscles to good use. :)

Amy, don't worry ... we'll gawk at you just as much, no matter what size your plaid skirt is ;)

Elenita - You're right. I'm not sure I have ever said why a size 12 is such a big deal for me, and maybe it would help if I did. (My mind's pretty murky; I expect it's not easy even for my friends who are skilled mind-readers.) A size 12 is the smallest size I ever remember wearing. From the photographs, I haven't been a 12 since the summer of 1990, the summer I turned 14. I have a specifically-dated photo that I found a few months back, shortly before I found the [very distinctive] pair of shorts I was wearing in the photo. Mostly it makes me sad, because I remember how much I loathed myself at that time - enough loathing to turn a bad situation into an eating disorder. I'd like to be able to look in the mirror, see myself at that size, and ... do a little forgiving, if that makes sense. See a 12 as progress, and worth celebrating, not as a celestial sign that I could never measure up to the size 2 standard that most of the women in my family fall under. Deep down, I still expect myself to look like my mother when I'm done, but that's amazingly unrealistic. My mother is 4'11" and 90-95 pounds; she's never going to see above a size 4. Me, I'm 5'1", but my bones and muscles are so much heavier that I'm unlikely ever to go below 160 pounds at my absolute lightest. For me, a 12 is a victory, and a 10 or an 8 is likely to be as low as I'll ever go. I just wish I'd known that when I was fourteen.

Even the NFL gives their guys a bye week during the season. :)

Amy, I know I almost never say aomething here. But this made me think. And I agree with everyone else -- taking a break when you are worn out is no defeat. Just because every day is a battle doesn't mean you can't withdraw to your tents for a holiday. Maybe you feel that way because you think you've already taken too many breaks, and I know that feeling too. The thing I remind myself of in those times is that if I take a break now, a regulated break, I'm far less likely to fall over from exhaustion before reaching my goal. I'm pretty sure your friends would agree with me when I say that I'd far rather you took a break, a long break even, than hurt yourself mentally or physically pushing when you should have stopped. This weight loss goal is great, and I have been cheering for you from the start. But you're you, and special, no matter how you look. It's tough to remember that when you look in the mirror (or avoid the mirror) and wonder why people don't wince when they look at you, or how your loved one can love you the way you look. Brandon always reminds me at those times (forcibly) that love should be more about the inside than the outside. And we all love your inside.

What she said; take care of yourself, so you can go back into the fight with full energy and a rested mind and body.

Amy, Thanks for the explanation; it made things clearer, and I'm sorry that you won't be able to stare this particular old demon down at *con. But trust that you'll be going after it, and beating it, soon enough. Go have a good time at *con. Demon stamping won't be any less powerful for being postponed.