Last week, as the nation dipped below the symbolic 8% unemployment threshold, I crossed my own longtime statistical barrier, the 160 line.
My body has repeatedly resisted that 160-pound barrier and it did this time, too. It plateaued for a week in the current weight-loss project before giving in. It is as if going below that line means becoming someone else, and the body and subconscious are telling me to think twice before I go there. 160 is where I was for my two children’s weddings. I carried my infant granddaughter around at 160: it is my grandma weight. I biked a century at 160. 160 and above is my retirement weight, my aging elder weight. I was prepared to let this weight carry me through the rest of my life.
Who will I become as I continue on this apparently successful campaign? Weight loss is less about appearance than it was in the past for me, more about health and energy. I’d gone well above 160 and was feeling it. I realized the time had come to do something about it.
Already I have a lot more energy than I did a month ago. That begs the question, what can I do with all this energy? I can’t just slack off, sit back, and laze through my retirement years. I’m going to have to start acting like a younger person. This is not an unqualified bonus. With energy comes responsibility as well as possibility. The excuses fall away. I can no longer give the evenings over to TV and reading simply because I am tired. I am not so tired any more.
I don’t think the answer is to program more activities into my life. That is the mode of a younger person who isn’t aware of her energy supply—you just feel like doing things and so you do. I am aware that energy is a great gift because I have been without it. I am aware that health is a great gift because I went through my own health crisis a year ago. So I am looking for worthy ways to spend these precious commodities.
My current diet, the Weight Watchers daily point system, is a metaphor for that. You can eat anything you want but if you eat junk you have to sacrifice good food in order to stay within your points quota. The system is rigged toward healthy food. You quickly discover that junk points are far less satisfying than real-food points. Junk points take you way over the quota before they satisfy your appetite and then you feel bad afterward, physically and emotionally. You want to spend those points wisely, on food that tastes good, is good for you, and makes you feel good after you eat it. Faced with a tempting carby-fatty snack you ask yourself, is it worth spending points on that? Maybe it is, for a bite or two, and then you find it isn’t as satisfying as you imagined.
I am considering what to do with a slimmer body, how to spend these bonus energy points. I shall have to behave a little differently, dress a little differently, plan my days and projects more expansively. I am enjoying the changes already happening and looking forward to more. My body is telling me, you won’t be the same.