Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When Humans Molt

I've had a few questions and conversations about how my body has responded to my return to the life of a recreational athlete.  The best analogy I can come up with is that it is simultaneously molting like a snake and rearranging itself like a Mr. Potato Head.

What I think I never realized was how much chronic edema I was carrying.  Whether it was proper hydration or interstitial waste, it is gone, like somebody opened the drain spigot on a water cooler.  I have my abs back.  My biceps back.  My cheek and collar bones back.  My back back.  Finally I look like somebody who is really fit.  Ironic, really.

Of course what I did realize I was carrying was muscle.  Some of that is gone (who needs quads when you're riding only 2 hours a week) and some of it has relocated due to my increase in swimming (hello, serratus anteriors and lats).  I have entire drawers of clothing that now fit properly after years of just (or not) fitting.  About six weeks ago I swam in my tri speed suit and it fit like it had been purchased for a completely different person.  It kinda had been.

The combination is a 10 pound drop in weight since October 2013.  I am now sitting comfortably at my former race weight (and still dropping very slowly) when before I would have had to stretch to reach it.

And this despite the single most offered piece of advice over the last six months: be careful about your appetite continuing to match your former activity level.  Honestly, to quote the warden in Shawshank Redemption, my appetite has up and vanished like a fart in the wind.  If I didn't need to support so much swimming, I don't think I could be bothered to eat real meals.  I often eat whatever food provides the most calories in the least bulk, which amounts to a lot of avocados. Also a lot of BBQ and fudge as I try to squeeze in the last few "typical Austin activities" before I leave.

Let's be honest: what I was doing before wasn't close to healthy.  The edema alone is indicative of that, but also some thyroid markers I won't go into but are being expressed somewhat through the weight loss.  And neither really is living on avocado, BBQ, fudge, and swim practices, but my body now is a heck of a lot closer to the one I was supposed to have from birth than any version of it from the last six or seven years.

I'm admittedly interested to see the havoc to be wreaked on it by civilian and grad school life.   

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