I’ve been feeling like it would be a good idea to start focusing on some area of self-improvement that’s less trans focused. To be honest, there hasn’t been a day in the last nine months where achieving “maleness” wasn’t on my mind at least once every few hours. To be sure, my life has improved because of the switches I’ve made, but it seems unhealthy to be so obsessed with one aspect of my life, and frankly, I’m getting tired of it. Not to say I’m tired of being male- far from it, and there’s no way I’d ever go back. But sometimes, I just want a break from gender entirely.
BUT, there are few respites from that kind of personal awareness- either falling into some form of substance abuse (and I have to admit, I’ve had my share of alcohol since my birthday, which I’m now generally staying away from), or focusing my energy somewhere else entirely- doing something challenging enough and consuming enough that I have little time to focus on the things that I want a break from. Since my job hunt is continuing to go nowhere fast, and I’m almost entirely creatively constipated (I’ve been trying to partake in Scriptfrenzy, to little avail), I’ve chosen to start trying to get in shape.
It’s no coincidence that this decision came about the time my family decided to buy a Wii. About a week and a half ago, when we got Wii Fit with the balance board, etc., I decided to go on a rigorous and serious workout regime accompanied by my personal form of dieting.
Exercise tends to come out to about an hour a day, with half of it aerobics and the other half yoga and strength training. I wanted to start by getting my body fat back into an acceptable range, and then do a lot more strength training and bodybuilding to build back up, only with muscle. I’m working on a lot of cardio and endurance, and the yoga is making me almost as flexible as I was when I was 13. It feels pretty damn good- don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t work up a sweat on the Wii, because you can if you look for the right exercises and work at them long enough.
The dieting portion is turning out to be somewhat less enjoyable. I call it the “water diet,” which isn’t nearly as horrible as it sounds. You start by keeping your system constantly flushed with water, which over time can help by removing toxins. Also, I learned that much of the time, when your body is telling you that you’re hungry (especially if you’re used to eating a lot but not drinking much), it’s really just saying that it’s thirsty.
The second element is calorie content. I did a little research and found that, generally, if a woman wants to lose weight, the safe range of calorie intake is 1200-1500, and for men, it’s 1500-1800. I try to hover around 1500 a day, eating a balanced composition of all food groups. The leeway of the men’s side of things is also a lot easier, at least at first. I’m still getting used to eating smaller portions and I wind up kind of lightheaded a lot of the time, but my body just needs time to get used it. I’m not really changing WHAT I eat by too much, other than to add in more fruits and veggies, and cut out most of the soda and junk food, but I am changing how much of it I take. It’s all about portion control- I’ve learned in the last week that the serving sizes of things tends to be about half of what I pour in my bowl!
The point of this diet, in a nutshell, is to consume exactly the amount of food that I need to remain healthy and working at top performance, no more and no less, and replace the rest of what I would normally eat with water to remain hydrated, so that my body will eventually get used to processing only the calories that I need without storing a bunch of them away. I know my stomach size must be distended, because I’m used to eating probably twice as much. So over time, my stomach will hopefully physically adapt to the amount of food I’m putting in it, and shrink a little.
To be honest, though, I think I’m taking it a little too quickly here at the beginning. Last time I did this diet, I didn’t really count my calories too much, and I actually lost about 20 pounds over the course of several months, without even exercising. But that was several years ago. This time, because my body weight has settled into a higher bracket, and I’m seeming to have a harder time taking it off (probably because I’m 21 and not 16), I’ve been cracking the whip at myself pretty hard. Most of what goes into my mouth comes out of a measuring cup, and meal time becomes math time. And I’m finding a different result some of the time with drinking the water than last time.
I’m accompanying my meals with a lot of water, and by the end of it, my stomach feels full, greatly so, but sometimes I’m actually finding myself lightheaded, dizzy, and… how to put it… hungry in my head, like I actually do need more fuel as opposed to more “full”. I think I really should take it a little easier from this point, and start to listen when my body is telling me it’s hungry, especially when I’m drinking craploads of water.
All that said, I’ve been on this about 10 days, and I’ve lost 3 pounds so far, which isn’t an unhealthy rate of weight loss if you’re doing it right. I’m pretty happy with myself, since on the whole I actually feel stronger and more flexible.
I think the most positive thing about this is that it’s a form of self improvement that is gender neutral. I know that women are generally more concerned about calorie content and weight, and men are generally more concerned with being toned and having muscle definition, but everyone wants to be healthy, right? Not only that, but taking some pounds off will really help my awful knees. Furthermore, it is tied in with transition in a somewhat obscure way- I’ve heard awful stories about gender surgeons declining patients because they were too fat, and while I don’t think that’s a HUGE danger for me, I do weigh a lot more than I look like I weigh due to my muscle content and bone structure, and I’m afraid that I might fall into the category of inoperable if I don’t at least take SOME weight off.
Long story short, I’d rather be all muscle and bone and weigh the same weight I do now than weigh 30 pounds less and be a pencil-neck, but at least some of this is fat and I need rid of it.