Why I’m Doing Body For Life

I know there are various reasons that people are unhappy with their bodies–skewed relationships with food, emotional ties to eating, post-pregnancy weight, and even rare cases of illness.

Personally, I reached my high weight of 158 lbs or so in 1996 through sheer stubbornness and laziness.

I used to believe that thin people were athletes, genetically-blessed, or rich enough to have a personal trainer (who somehow made them slender without any actual exercise) and a plastic surgeon to fix any other flaws with the flick of a liposuction vaccuum switch, just because I had not been one of the thin girls since 2nd grade. Between 3rd grade and age 21 when I joined the Army, I was always on the upper end of normal or the lower end of overweight. I was a 9/10 retail size and 12 pattern size throughout high school, and in college I inched up to 11/12 retail in pants and sometimes 14 in patterns. Big deal, most of you are probably thinking, but it kind of was a big deal in my mind, because the “standard” for Asian girls was to be about 5’2″ and 90-105 lbs. I, on the other hand, was 5’6″ and 145-152 lbs. There was also the example of my younger sister, who was my height but consistently 20 lbs lighter to sort of reinforce the idea that some folks were just naturally thin. After all, she and I lived in the same house, had the same parents, and ate the same foods; neither of us ever participated in school sports. So why was she a size 4/6 when I was a 10/12?

The luck of the draw, I thought, a bit resentfully truth be told. There are two distinct body types on my father’s side of the family. (My mother’s side is universally thin without effort–though not necessarily toned–until about age 50.) About 80% of my father’s side seems to have smaller bones and lean faces and builds. The remaining 20% have medium bone structures, rounder faces, bigger appetites (and less self-control around tasty food) and a predisposition to put on weight. No one is obese, but that 20% of the family could easily stand to lose 20 lbs each. That would be one uncle, one aunt, two younger cousins (one male, one female), and well, me.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m not one of the lucky majority in my family. For years I was just resigned and mildly bitter that I seemed to be the only one of my generation who didn’t lose her baby fat between middle school and high school. Because math, English, art, science, and just about every other skill or subject I tried always came so easily to me, I expected the same to hold true of my body. I realize now that I thought I deserved to be thin without effort (stubborn/spoiled?), and wasn’t willing to get out there and educate myself about nutrition, change my eating habits, or start exercising (lazy) when my sister and cousins were thin without even trying. As if a fit body were a family birthright, eh? And because most of my family was effortlessly thin, I jumped to the conclusion that ALL slender people were the same way.

Thank goodness for my stint in the Army, or I’d still be clinging to that idiotic belief. In those 4 years of enlisted service, I finally had the physique I had always wanted, but it didn’t get issued to me with my uniform and boots. Yes, I could and would be fit and strong, but I was one of those folks who would *always* have to work for it. In order to have the body I wanted, I would have to maintain it by working out for the rest of my life. Once I accepted this fact instead of sulking about it (while disliking my puffy image in every changing room mirror and wishing I looked better in off-the-rack clothes), things became a lot easier. When I got out of the army and started getting squishy again, I just started looking around for the best integrated exercise and nutrition system and found BFL.

I’m loving it so far, and don’t think I will ever go back to my old ways again.

Now all I have to do is convince my family and peers to give it a try, too.

Bloodmobile Reject

I tried to donate blood today at the monthly office Bloodmobile visit, and was told that I was too low in iron to qualify for the first time since August 1996. The last time this happened to me, I was a month into US Army basic training. Because I was technically overweight by Army standards (5’6″ and 148 lbs), I had been trying to cut back on red meat when I made my meal choices. I’d pretty much only had chicken, turkey, and fish for 4 weeks, and I was working out 2 hours a day (real PT) and on my feet and moving for the remaining hours. When I had a chance to bring red meat back into my diet at my permanent duty station and later as a civilian, I didn’t have any problems passing the floating blood drop test when donating blood. I was fine two months ago when I last donated, but that was before I began BFL on May 31.

My question is: Could the BFL fitness and nutrition regimen be affecting my iron levels the same way now? I am not working as hard as I was in basic training, but I AM exercising significantly more than I was for the past 2 years as a civvie. Also, I’ve been having mostly chicken and fish for the past 2 weeks instead of red meat. I have been eating a lot of spinach, however, and my multivitamin is supposed to provide 100% of my daily iron needs (though I’ve read that only 2-24% of non-meat based iron sources are absorbed).

I’m sure it’s just a combination of recent circumstances: drastically-increased physical activity which results in more nutrients like iron being sweated out before they are absorbed, just getting through that time of the month a week and a half ago (right when I stopped having red meat), residual blood loss from my LEEP last week, and the change in my diet.

80% of female athletes show some degree of iron deficiency according to this article: http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/2002/09_02/sep02news.htm
Women in general are at higher risk of being anemic just because they consume fewer calories, less red meat, and have to recover more iron due to the losses experienced through menstruation.

I am kind of bummed about being dissed by the Bloodmobile, but I don’t think I am too deficient yet. I think my blood is just a bit diluted right now thanks to all of the things that have been happening in the past 2 weeks. I am, however, going to work the red meat back into my BFL eating plan at least 3 days a week to try to raise my iron levels to normal again.

Has anyone else had this sort of problem? (I know that most people don’t have a convenient way to check iron levels, but I thought I would bring up my experiences.)

Maggie the Bloodmobile Reject 😛