Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Shocking Weight Gain

Please, bear with me to the end. The end is the important part. I'm saving the punchline for later, but let me throw out some numbers in American pounds as points of references.
  • 160.6lb - AKA 73kg weight class limit
  • 149.6lb - IUKL 68kg weight class limit, if I go to US Nationals in the Fall and want to cut down to it
  • 148lb - my natural, effortless weight for the last 5 years. I'm heavier now, on purpose.

The Why of it all.

I have said for some time now that at the top of my health and sport priorities, I am training for my sixties. I have referenced Dan John's "Training for Middle Age and Beyond" many times, including this quote, "the older person also needs to address specific hypertrophy issues". Older people don't grow (back) like younger people. I lost 15 pounds in a 5-day hospital stay. Old people with no muscle mass may lose basic movement skills forever following an atrophy like this. It's time for me to add muscle and bone while I'm still able.

For reference, I was a wasteland through my twenties and thirties. I have never had any upper body mass, save this pooch of a belly that never went away. I played soccer and tennis and rode bicycles for miles when I was young. I've always had good legs, but my shoulders still don't work right.

My last Autumn offseason, I called myself training to get bigger and stronger. I put on like 3 pounds. This offseason, I've focused on upper body muscle and lower body speed, and I'm 6lb heavier in barely 60 days. Competing in the AKA even raised my weight limit from 154lb to 160lb, so I have had every real excuse to bulk up now and trim down for competitions. This is positively serendipitous. I wake up now at 155lb, happy and strong, and looking good in my shirts.

This is where the punchline comes in.

I went a few days without a weigh-in until the scale at a doctor's appointment read "159.6". My heart stopped, and my face flushed red. All I could think of was what I had eaten and all those pants in the closet that I can't get into anymore. I fidgeted on the platform to make the number drop, but the nurse had already written it down in my Permanent Record. They always ask if you've had any weight gain in the last six months, like it's a symptom, and now they knew. I had done this to myself.

Keep in mind that I weigh 155lb straight out of bed and bathroom, not even hydrated yet. I registered this 159 at 5pm, after several meals and a whole day of liquids, in street clothes and shoes. I routinely fluctuate 4lbs over the course of a day. I can still run, do pullups, and climb, all those things that suffer when you get "heavy". I just couldn't believe the number was 159.

All the months of putting on useful muscle. Intentionally eating extra to grow up big and strong for the Senior Day Picnics in my future. After all that focused intentionality, 159 simply shocked me. The last time I was 172lb, I was a fat mess with high cholesterol, fitting shirts to my neck fat instead of my shoulders. All these years later, I'm still afraid to even approach the number, in any condition at all.

Property of Athletic Dept XXL

What I may do, for my own good, is work my way back up to 170lb on purpose. I need another photo, the Before and the After. I need to reclaim that number with a 245lb squat on my rebuilt leg and a "Property of Athletic Dept XXL" t-shirt (size Medium) hanging from my chest instead of my navel.

This isn't about vanity, not one iota of it. This is about a youth without school sports and a weight room. This is about letting myself go for twenty years. This is about installing a stairway chair because one illness left me feeble. This is about breaking a hip playing with my dog. This is about lifting the exact same barbell weights every season for five years. This is about watching my personal well-being plateau and begin an inexorable, irreversible decline into old age. Screw ALL that. I want to live.

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