One day, as we charged up a mountain, I asked Sarah if she would run if it didn't make her fit -- that is, if her body never changed no matter how much she ran. At the time, I was desperately trying to lose the twenty pounds that I had put on since leaving the U.S. (a common occurrence for exchange students, no matter the country), and running seemed like the most direct path to my goal. Sarah hadn't gained any weight, as far as I could see, and I credited her devotion to running (versus my having participated in no exercise, whatsoever, in the first months in Chile) as responsible for her slender figure.
Her response to my question was "I probably wouldn't run just for the view."
With that, I knew that she was also running to stay thin.
Since then, I have asked this question to myself: Would I exercise if I didn't believe that it would change my body in some way? Right now, I am asking myself that question about cycling, as after almost two months of very hard effort on the bike my body seems pretty much the same as it did before. I weigh the same that I did in November, I have the same trouble getting into my favorite jeans, and I still feel guilty when I decide whether or not to have dessert.
Let me make it clear that my intention, upon starting this cycling program, was not to lose weight. I had plenty of other reasons to ride my bike, such as feeling freer and more alive; controlling my stress; meeting new people; getting outdoors; and just plain liking the feel of my body on the bike. But, despite these good reasons, a little voice in the back of my head still says:
"Yes, but wouldn't it have been nice if you had lost some weight, too?"
This is exactly the problem.
Does this little voice bother you, too?
I find myself reading cycling columns about weight-loss and diet during training, trying to see what I'm doing "wrong" here. The other voice in my head, usually the stronger one, says:
"Just keep riding and doing what you like to do. Don't worry about how you look. Worry about how you feel."
Even though this voice is immensely more sensible than the other voice, sometimes the smaller voice is more obvious to me; it's like the way you can always pick out the piccolo in an orchestra, while the tuba tends to blend into the background.
How do you make sure that you hear the tuba instead of the piccolo?