Five pounds is five pounds, or is it?

This image illustrates how you can work out but not lose weight. As you gain muscle, you trim down, but you don’t necessarily weigh less.

For weeks, women in my yoga class have been telling me that I have “reduced nicely.” I have denied this saying that I have not lost any kilos. If anything, I have gained a kilo or two. My jeans are not necessarily fitting looser, and I still seem to be stuck in large Indian sizes for tops.  Daily workouts don’t seem to be reducing my weight much at all. As you can imagine, I have been fairly frustrated.

Before I was diagnosed with Addison’s, which requires me to take a daily dose of oral steroids, I was 100 lb soaking wet and could fit into a size 2 occasionally. It turns out my weight (and my perpetual tan) were symptoms of the disease. I came out of a month-long hospital stay in 2004 paler and 30 lb (13 kg) heavier than when I went in. Since then, I have struggled with my weight. At my heaviest, I was 145 lb (65 kg). At one point, I managed to get down to 130 lb (59 kg), but the stress of the move and lack of regular exercise in the months before the transition meant that my weight was back up to 140 lb (63.5 kg). And, it has stayed there.

Since I came to India, I have been going to a yoga class during the week. This class started out as three days a week of power yoga. Not to be confused with traditional yoga, power yoga uses a combination of yoga poses and exercises like crunches and push-ups to work out your entire body. Power yoga has more in common with BoomFit than peaceful breathing exercises. The first time I went, I considered not going back; it was that intense. But, the class is two buildings away from me, so I can walk to it, even in the rain.  The teacher has since added traditional yoga on alternate days, which mixes it up a bit. The great thing about the class is that we don’t use any fancy equipment. My gym kit includes a yoga mat, a volleyball, 2-lb (1-kg) hand weights, and a long resistance band. We also use an exercise ball once a week. That’s less than $50 (Rs. 2700) for equipment. The class itself costs less than $36 (Rs. 2000) a month. No gym memberships, no Nautilus equipment. Nothing fancy. I have a full gym in my building’s basement, but I don’t use it much. To augment my workouts on weekends and when I can’t make the class, I walk 5K at the park next to our building, usually a couple of times a week. It is nice to get out and walk, especially during monsoon. I have found that I like walking/running in the rain, as long as I have my umbrella. I often take Sunday off, but I try to do something active like walk to lunch with Brian instead.

So, clearly, I exercise enough to lose weight. So, why am I am not back into a size 2? Well, I think part of it is the food here; the food is good—very good. Many foreigners, especially the single-status guys, come to India and lose weight, but these people don’t have my cook. They survive on tuna fish and hakka noodles. Sevrine is a great cook, and she knows how to make fattening American dishes like meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I just need to stop telling her to. Cutting carbs, especially the Maggi noodles, would go a long way toward cutting empty calories. Our recent discovery of two excellent Italian restaurants within walking distance is not going to help this goal. So, I thought I would put it on the Internet. Maybe that will work. I have also started using the MyFitnessPal app my cousin Beef recommends.

But, the thing is that for all my complaining about my lack of weight loss, I had a major breakthrough this week. We are going to a party in a couple of weeks. It is not formal, but I still want to look nice, so I dove into my closet of dresses. That closet is much smaller than it was in Houston. When we moved, I took the opportunity to downsize my wardrobe to things I will actually wear and that actually fit. That meant that my dress collection took a bit of a hit, but there is this one dress…

Every woman has this dress. This dress is my pre-weight-gain dress. This dress is the one I wore to the Zumanity opening night party in 2004 just before my Addison’s diagnosis. This dress made the cut of dresses that did not fit because it is my goal dress. This dress is a size 2. Yes, a size 2. A few times over the last few years I have tried on this dress. Although it is black, it would not qualify as a little black dress. It has more of an A-line cut. Every time I have tried it on, it has never really fit, even when I weighed only 130 lb. But, last night, I tried it on because all the dresses we have bought here are too big, and my other dresses are too formal for the party. Much to my shock, the dress fit. At first, I thought I was imagining in it, so I showed Brian when he got home. He said not only did it fit, but it fit perfectly. Maybe I have reduced nicely after all.


4 thoughts on “Five pounds is five pounds, or is it?

  1. I agree that the actual # on the scales doesn’t matter. The way your clothes fit is a better gauge for me. I haven’t been working out but have been decreasing my intake and it isn’t working. Have got to add some cardio and some weights. The older I get the harder it is!


  2. You have no idea how much I relate to this post right now, Jean. Just started going to a boot camp last week after far too much time away from the gym. The amount of pain I’m in 1.) makes me not ever want to work out again, and 2.) tells me how much I MUST keep going back. I can’t believe I let myself get this far away from it!! Now if I could only cut back on the eating!


  3. I understand completely. Those boot camps are tough. I am not sure if they are sustainable long term, but they do give you a jump start I think. It took a couple of weeks for me to get used to the intensity and get the hang of the the workouts. But, then it became routine. I decided that I had to put myself first for fitness. My family history is not good if I don’t. The thing is that you have to find what works for you. My cousin swears by the gym, but I have never liked it. It just depends. The biggest challenge is not getting discouraged, but remembering why you do it. One blog I read said you need to think of exercise not as a way to weight but as a mood enhancer. That helps me.


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