slow and steady wins the race

(If you prefer to avoid discussions of weight and fitness, skip this post.)

According to the scale at my gym, I’ve lost 21 lbs since I decided that the slow, decade-long upward creep of my weight was not a good thing, and probably shouldn’t continue unchecked.

It’s taken me twenty-one months to achieve that result — nearly two years. This is not the kind of progress that will get anybody’s attention if you advertise it on TV. On the other hand, it’s sustainable. Not constant; Christmas always reverses the trend a bit, and so does Girl Scout cookie season. But my goal here was to change my life in ways that would allow me to still enjoy the things I like, instead of having to cut them out entirely. Because you know what? Short of me developing a sudden and deathly allergy to chocolate, there is no world in which I’m swearing off Thin Mints for life. Any plan for my body predicated on such a ban is doomed to fail.

Which is why nothing I’ve done in the last two years could be called a “diet.” We’ve got growing mountains of evidence that such an approach is often unsuccessful, or even counter-productive, and I know I couldn’t make it stick even if I wanted to. The closest I come is telling myself that I only get to eat two Tagalongs a day, not half a box in a sitting. (I still eat the whole box. I just take my time.) And as I’ve gotten more willing to cook, I’m finding tasty recipes that are also healthier — but when asked what comfort food I wanted after my wrist surgery, it was grilled cheese sandwiches, yo. I’m not completely denying myself the things I like.

What I have done is walk.

Lots and lots of walking. “Buy a Fitbit and make a daily goal on Habitica for ten thousand steps a day” walking. “Hmmm, it’s 11:30 and five more minutes will get me to fourteen thousand for today” walking. “Run those errands on foot if it isn’t raining” walking. “Put a treadmill under my desk and walk on it while I’m dealing with email and reading random things online” walking. There are some pretty unfortunate correlations between sitting on your butt all day and decreased life expectancy; spending more of my time in motion is a goal in its own right, quite apart from the effect it’s had on my weight. I also do karate, and I was doing some weight-lifting before the wrist problems made me swear off that for a bit, but mostly? I walk. Miles every day, but it doesn’t have to be all at once to have an effect. And while walking/running as a dedicated activity works for some people, I’m more likely to get it done if it’s integrated with other things I’m doing — hence the errands and the email and all the rest.

Like I said. Sustainable. It means my results are slower, but nearly two years on, they’re still going. And that makes me quite happy.

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