Monday, August 3, 2009

Fitness Findings

I have spent the better part of the last 20 years raising 4 kids, tending house and holding down various jobs. Mostly it was a couch potato existence with a few stints of spelunking (caving) and a few "I've got to lose some of this weight" diet attempts. Nothing. I mean nothing up to this time in my life led me to believe I would be preparing to enter into Army Basic Training at the ripe ol' age of 40.

For the last year and a half I have tried every diet program imaginable. I have had some success, overall I have lost oh, about 35 lbs, the last 10 of which I have repeatedly lost over the past 6 months. It never stays off completely. The problem is I want it off yesterday and I get tired of eating healthy... I love food. Honestly there were times when I thought that all I had to do was look at food and I would gain weight. Truly.

The other half of the problem is that while I am a woman - I build muscle like a man. I think my dad actually cursed me when he wished I was a boy...

I have tried just about every exercise regimen available. All of which helped me to put on more weight, rather than take it off. I have repeatedly told trainer after trainer the problem and I have repeatedly been assured that "their program will help rid those pounds for good!"

HA. I am proof that you can be a super freak in the exercise department and still GAIN weight.

Now I know what you are saying... "you are building muscle (yay!) and so of course you are gaining weight! But you ARE losing inches right?" Well, sorta. My nice addition of muscle, while very exciting and great for the burning of calories... has actually forced my fat to push further out and has INCREASED my measurements in my waist and hips while simultaneously reducing the size of my neck. Nice.

There is a reason this is not good.

For those of you who don't know much about Army Standards, I will give a brief explanation of them. While the Army does have a weight chart they use (which streamlines the process for many recruits) they also allow for BMI or Body Mass Index. In my case, being female, they will measure my neck, waist and hips. This coupled with my height and weight in some crazy algebraic formula is supposed to compute my BMI. As a 40 year old female I am allowed a fat percentage of 36.

My neck measurement needs to be higher to help offset the waist and hip measurements. All my life I have had a small neck. I haven't had a tiny waist since my first child and I have never had small hips. That being said - I now measure out at 37% BMI. A mere 1% over what I need to be to ship out next week.

*insert the sound of extreme frustration here*

My fitness finding is this:

It matters not what size you are. It matters not what type of exercise you do or what diet you follow. Your body will do what it wants. It will find a way to stay at the status quo. Because that is what it is used to. I spent 20 years in more or less the same condition. My body does not want to let go. It does not want to change...

What I need to do is change its perspective. I need to convince it that it wants to be more lean, that it wants to do all those crazy obstacles at Ft Jackson and that it will enjoy it. I must convince it that this is for its own good.

Fitness is a matter of perspective... because my 22 year old daughter and I found out in kickboxing class that we were pretty much in the same shape. And she is at least 50 lbs lighter than I am.



  1. You're right about one thing, your body will do what it wants to do. It is your job and responsibility to use your mind to "outsmart" your body. You can't have one without the other. If you don't use your mind to tell your body what to do, it will never work. Trust me when I tell you that it does not ever get easy, but it truly is a mind game. In the Army, we have a saying, it goes "Mind over Matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter" What that means to me is that if you are convinced in your mind, then nothing else matters. There are regular people everyday like you and I that do out of the ordinary things. Soldiers that stay awake for days on end, Soldiers that ruck march for miles on end. These Soldiers are no different than you or I. They just have strong minds. They have convinced themselves that it just does not matter. If you work your ass off, everyday, until you can't go any further, block it out and keep going. The challenges you are putting on yourself right now are no more challenging than what you will face at Ft Jackson. Believe me, 17 years ago I lived through that experience of Basic Training at Ft Jackson, and I'm no different than most. You just have to convince yourself now that it just does not matter.

    Just one more note. Find something that inspires you. Maybe it is a picture of your family. Maybe it is something religious. Find something! Carry it with you all the time. When you are struggling, take it out and remember why it inspires you. I guarantee that that alone will get you twenty more situps, twenty more push ups or another mile down the road.

    When I went through 6 1/2 weeks away from Delora and Bella in Fort Bliss last year at the hardest military school I have ever been to, I found a penny my first day away. I was walking in to the chow hall and there it was. I picked it up, but I dropped it on acccident. It landed back on heads. I picked it up again and a dropped it again. But again, it landed on heads. When I finally got that penny in my hand and then in my pocket, I kept that thing with me for the entire time away. When the time sucked, I just looked at the penny. I don't know why it inspired me, or even what it made me think about, but it worked for me. It got me through that class and back home to my "girls". Try it, it just might work.

    Luv u sis. Hope maybe this helps. Any by the way, in the Army, it's "HOOAH", not Hoo rah like in that other branch (Nathin would laugh I think?) :-)

  2. Thanks Jon so much!
    I needed to hear those things and I will take them to heart. It is this kind of help that will see me through.
    Luv you too Bro!
    ... Nathin would laugh heartily - we have been teasing each other all along! :o)

  3. I understand exactly where you are coming from. It seems no matter what you do or how hard you try your body just seems to hold what it wants where it wants and then give only what it feels like giving at any given time.

    I can work like mad for weeks and not see a bit of difference in my weight loss, clothes might fit somewhat better but for what I put into it, it is nowhere near the amount of effort expended. You feel like saying "come on already body, give me at the very least what I put out in effort."

    I have no doubt you will make it on your body fat by next week, you have it in you to succeed, and we all do. I wish you luck and I will keep you in my prayers. Keep in touch and keep the stories and some pictures coming, I have got to see what I am going to be getting myself into next year. lol :0)


  4. Uncle had such inspiring words with experience to back it up.
    So here's a "You can do it" from your daughter to back you up. :)

  5. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/03/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  6. Yay! I'm 33 and I can report the exact same issues. I played soccer in college, and haven't had much of a problem with meeting the minimum fitness standards (although the hightened level I have to meet for consideration to Officer Candidate School has been much tougher), but the weight/measurement standard has been giving me fits! I lost 15 pounds in no time (I have 24 to lose) and then...nothing. And I can't get in based on the measurement standard for the exact same reason that you discovered.
    In the meantime, I'm running a mile in 8:20, and shaving off more time reliably every week. Sit ups- no problem. Push-ups have been more difficult, but again, I make steady progress and just meet the minimum standard as of a few weeks ago.
    For me, the key has been patience and intense focus. I worry a lot about failure, but there is not much room in an Army head for thinking that way, you know? Mostly, I am addicted to the way I feel- everything is so much easier.
    I have been writing about the lead up to my own decision in my blog, Highway Chickens, but not much about the details of my progress. I'll keep my eye on your blog, and wish you the best...good luck to us both. (Also, you may want to read the NYT article from a few weeks ago about older soldiers in basic, and how they have changed the way the Army trains.)

  7. Dela,
    It took me 2 years to drop 14lbs. I didn't workout like a crazy person I toned it down a bit actually. I had to watch what I ate and had less. Did I give up foods I love no I did not, so I wouldn't go wild with need for it.
    Then I had surgery and sat for 2 months. You know what I lost, 10 lbs, and it was some muscle yes but I lost fat too. Go figure huh. It isn't a good way to lose weight believe me I am trying to keep the lost lbs off. Just keep trying and think healthy lifestyle not diet and it can work. I still think it is awesome what you are doing, taking life by the horns! I've told all my friends at work about you and they are impressed. They also think you are crazy! Ha ha!

  8. Christina - keep in touch as much as you can. I will let you know how it goes and what you are in for! :o) Keep up the work and stay focused!

    Loo - thanks Darlin' for the encouragement! Luv U!

    David M. - That is fantastic! I may become a bit of a writer yet... :o)

    Jennifer - I worry about failure too - but my amazing recruiter is always on hand to tell me that Basic Training is so that we will NOT fail. They do everything in their power to get us through. We just need to be willing to be trained. I go in with a willing spirit and a determination to do everything to the very best of my ability, and then better. That should do it. Keep up your training and good luck!

  9. Torie - Way to go on the weight loss! I have a feeling that it will be the least of my problems soon enough! And I AM most definitely crazy!!

  10. Just found you and I will enjoy following your journey. I'm a Military Mom with three sons having served (Air Force & Army). I wish you the best and hang in there with the weight issues...Basic may just take care of that for you! Sign me, Laura, A Military Mom

  11. Laura - please thank your sons for their service. I look forward to writing lots of stories for my husband to post. Definitely come back - he is a phenomenal writer and way funnier than me! :o)
    I am hoping Basic takes care of those weight issues as well...

  12. Dela,
    I will be looking forward to your stories from basic and beyond. I can't wait to send that first "snail mail" letter out to you. Just remember you can do anything you set your mind to, nothing can stop you. :0) I will keep you in my prayers. (I sent one last email before you leave if you get the chance to read it.) Good luck, I am just soooooo excited for you. :0)

  13. You GO Girl!!
    Bad ankle or not, we know you'll do fine.

    C'mon Dave. Keep up with things.