Friday, February 4, 2011

Can We Discuss Weight?

I never talk specifically about weight here, I prefer to keep the focus on the more nebulous term “health”, but I’m going there today. I’m really opening up to y’all for discussion, so don’t hate. This is a sensitive subject for any woman, and would like some insight from my wise readers.

Considering my eyes are open, I’m smiling, and don’t look like death warmed over, this would have to be one of the better race pictures I’ve had in a while ever. But I didn’t notice any of that stuff the first time I saw it. Instead, like most women, my eyes were drawn right to my thighs.


Before you X out of this post in disgust, I'm not fishing here. Yes, I know I’m not huge. But I’m also not one of those whippet-thin distance runners you normally see.

Which makes me think about running performance.

Since having Emily, I’m about 7 pounds above the number that I used to consider the very upper limit of my “acceptable weight range”. You know, that number that makes you think OMG I need to throw out those Thin Mints already when you see it on the scale. All through my teens and twenties I stayed under that number. Through running, I was able to maintain my weight within a pretty narrow range and still get away with eating pop-tarts as an afternoon snack.

I eat much better now than I did even a couple years ago….. about 90% of my diet consists of whole, clean foods prepared at home. Even with my mileage slashed in half, I’ve been able to maintain this higher weight with little effort. My stomach no longer feels like a bottomless pit. Sure my old clothes are a little more snug, but I can still fit in most of them.

But isn’t lighter always faster and more efficient? Well my race times are actually dropping, which makes an argument against that. But maybe it’s just the better quality foods and hill running I’ve been doing. I can’t help but wonder if I’d be a little faster by shaving off a few more pounds.

I’m reading the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald for the second time. The first time I sort of skimmed through, but this time  I’m reading more in depth and thinking about how I can apply it.

Would losing a few more lbs help me get closer to the sub 20 min 5k I’m after? Or would it have the opposite effect by making me weaker and injury prone?

We’re talking about going from a BMI of 20.1 to the 19.2-19.6 range on my 5’2” frame. That’s still within the healthy range. I’m not looking to starve myself.

Hmm, anyone have any experience/thoughts on this? How do you determine the best weight for yourself?

Now after all that rambling, I know you have a question for me too. You ask, Where can I get a sweet pair of shiny blue running tights like yours Blondie? Sorry folks they’re probably off the market. They’re Reebok tights I’ve have since the beginning of High school (that would be circa 1995). They’re still in great condition, and so comfy I just can’t let them go yet :)

11 comments:

  1. I read Racing Weight over Christmas and thought it was a great book.

    I wish I had an answer to you question, but I am struggling with the same thing right now! My weight it definitely on the high end of even what most sources say is healthy, at least BMI-wise. I have to raise an eyebrow to that because I really don't think I look like someone who is borderline overweight, and I can still fit in to my size 26 jeans, sooo....yeah. I'm not sure it's as cut-and-dry as looking at BMI data. At least not or me.

    One of the things that Fitzgerald encourages is a trial-and-error approach to finding your optimal competitive weight. I like that, but it's also frustrating because it can take a looooong time to drop those few pounds, and then to hinge your judgment on one or two races...that's not many data points, and there are so many other factors that come in to play with your performance.

    That said, in my highly unqualified opinion, I don't think dropping a couple of pounds is going to make you too weak to perform...so if you think it might help, give it a shot! But for someone who is already as lean as you are, I fear that it might take a tremendous effort to get there, and you might be setting yourself up for frustration.

    Umm...I think that's it. I'm curious to see what others have to say!

    And you totally look like a bouncy tigger runner in that pic :)

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  2. cracking up a the spandex comment! I'd like to read that book. I have no idea what is ideal but can tell you I feel best when I feel like i'm not carrying extra around. I am where I think I should be now. we will see this spring!

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  3. I think you can only make the call on your ideal weight and comfort level. I see nothing wrong with making some tweaks to see if you can best your personal record, just not at the expense of your health.

    (That being said I have put my weight out there and lord knows I have zero room to truly advise on anyone's health journey! You know yourself best mama.)

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  4. I am on the chubby side (literally, my BMI is about 26.5) so I understand where you're coming from. I am not *really* a running, but spent years playing contact sports (rugby) before starting to do distance running. My weight has gone up and down a little bit while running (15 lb range) but I'm not really all that much slower now than 15 lbs ago. I am, however, training a heck of a lot less.

    I know some athletes who are SHOCKINGLY fast for their size (and this is clearly not you, since you are in my eyes "runner whippet thin") and they train. A lot.

    Personally, I would look at your training before focusing on your weight. If you are eating well and training well, it might just be your new post-partum normal, where your body is happy.

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  5. I think BMI is kind of deceptive because of musclature. A "skinny fat" person can have the same BMI as a muscular one but the muscular one would probably perform much better in athletic events. I would almost want to look at body fat percentage instead of BMI except that it is so difficult to calculate accurately.

    My take on it: I tend to run better when I weigh a bit more, provided that the "extra" bit is muscle. Granted, I'm not exactly setting land speed records with my runs.

    Interesting topic though! Very brave of you to put it out there.

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  6. Can a non-runner chime in on the weight debate? Okay good. :)

    To sort of answer your question "how do you determine the best weight for yourself?"...

    I hope to be healthy and happy with where I am physically. I am concerned about my heart and all of my organs and would like to stay at a weight that is good for my height and size. I would never want to jeopardize my health to try and reach a certain number on the scale... I actually stay away from scales and I just try and eat healthy, workout once in a while, and I'll know when my clothes don't fit if I am getting out of hand or not. I guess that works for me.

    It sounds like you're doing something right if your race times are dropping! :)

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  7. I agree with the comments about looking at training before weight, and also that BMI isn't always the full story. For example, you look like your legs have a lot of muscle, muscle is heavier than fat...you get where I'm headed. And, I also agree that it might be a LOT of work to drop any weight when you're already so small.

    On the other hand, I considered trying to drop some weight myself while training for my marathon. In the future, I probably will try to get just a bit lighter. My BMI is currently 19.2. I still have pudge on my thighs and my post-baby belly. It's a risk to even mention losing weight to people when your BMI is already low, but when you're talking about it for running performance purposes and looking at other runners in comparison, it does make sense. You could always try losing just a little if you can, and seeing how you feel. I've been underweight in the past and my running and energy level suffered because of it, so it's a fine line.

    Very interesting post. Let us know what you decide to do!

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  8. Ah, love you guys. Glad you could understand where I'm coming from with this (as related to performance). I'm definitely not the pursuit of Victoria Beckam's figure! Looks like y'all agree it might be worth experimenting with.

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  9. Ah, love you guys. Glad you could understand where I'm coming from with this (as related to performance). I'm definitely not the pursuit of Victoria Beckam's figure! Looks like y'all agree it might be worth experimenting with.

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  10. I agree with the comments about looking at training before weight, and also that BMI isn't always the full story. For example, you look like your legs have a lot of muscle, muscle is heavier than fat...you get where I'm headed. And, I also agree that it might be a LOT of work to drop any weight when you're already so small.

    On the other hand, I considered trying to drop some weight myself while training for my marathon. In the future, I probably will try to get just a bit lighter. My BMI is currently 19.2. I still have pudge on my thighs and my post-baby belly. It's a risk to even mention losing weight to people when your BMI is already low, but when you're talking about it for running performance purposes and looking at other runners in comparison, it does make sense. You could always try losing just a little if you can, and seeing how you feel. I've been underweight in the past and my running and energy level suffered because of it, so it's a fine line.

    Very interesting post. Let us know what you decide to do!

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  11. Can a non-runner chime in on the weight debate? Okay good. :)

    To sort of answer your question "how do you determine the best weight for yourself?"...

    I hope to be healthy and happy with where I am physically. I am concerned about my heart and all of my organs and would like to stay at a weight that is good for my height and size. I would never want to jeopardize my health to try and reach a certain number on the scale... I actually stay away from scales and I just try and eat healthy, workout once in a while, and I'll know when my clothes don't fit if I am getting out of hand or not. I guess that works for me.

    It sounds like you're doing something right if your race times are dropping! :)

    ReplyDelete