Losing weight as a consequence of becoming a runner is no great surprise. It's the stuff of women's magazines everywhere. That doesn't mean, however, that when it happens to you, you are familiar with the effects this will have.
At first it's great. Of course it is. Lots of people are doing a double-take, saying you're half the size you were when they last saw you, how your face looks different. You feel invincible, like you might actually be the slimmest person the world has ever seen. How is this possible? I'm so slim! I'm amazing! Then something fairly ordinary happens, like you get your period. As everyone knows, you retain water at this time, you feel flabby and podgy, regardless of what actual size you are. Your perception becomes skewed. You look in the mirror and think, was there ever as fat a person in the world as me? Because you lost all your weight a little while ago, the surprised compliments about how great you look have slowed. You feel it's because you are no longer slim and lithe and beautiful. You feel sad.
This epic swings-and-roundabouts thing goes on for months until you can move past it and accept that what will be will be. You just need to run and that's more important than how you look. The running will sort it out. Just chill. This preoccupation with your weight was a curveball you weren't expecting.
Your clothes won't fit. Again, sounds great, right? You'll need to buy all new clothes! Waaaaaait a minute, how rich are you? For how long is the weight loss going to go on? Are you really going to invest in a whole new wardrobe when there's no guarantee how long it'll fit you for? You go for the essentials. Have any of you ever walked around in jeans that are too big? There's a flappy noise, isn't there? In the crotch area, where there's too much material? It's pretty weird to walk around with flappy crotch noises every time you step. That needs dealing with. Get some new jeans. Go for it (but be ready for the flappy noises within a few weeks as you continue to run and lose weight).
What should you do with your top half? Fellow running ladies, our boobs are turning into pecs, aren't they? If we put on a strong sports bra, we're almost flat-chested, aren't we? Ah well. Life goes on.
See what I mean?
The pre-running bras we own are now half-empty. The underwire is digging into us, the straps are constantly falling down. It's a breast-themed nightmare! Once you've got the bra situation sorted, you have to decide whether you're comfortable living with the loose-top look because what's the point in buying new ones until your body's finished doing what it's doing and settled into its new look?
You are cold now, much colder than you've ever been before. In fact, you've never suffered in the cold. You are a naturally warm person, it's who you are. Except that it's not who you are anymore. Integral parts of who you are are changing - you never get cold, you have thunder thighs, you are lazy (to the extent that my online username for most social media is 'lazylauramaisey'). Yet you do get cold, your thighs are more streamlined, you are not really lazy. What to do about this? I chose to ignore it and ended up for two months during biting cold winter days with terrible, painful chilblains on my toes and fingers. Totally mind-boggling. Less body fat means less protection.
One thing that is still happening months down the line is that I'm genuinely preoccupied with my reflection in mirrors. I am fascinated in the way that biological mysteries fascinate me. People with an extra arm or who don't have a stomach or odd stuff like that really interests me, I want to know how it happens. It's the same thing with my reflection. I'm mesmerised, like 'How did this happen? Who is that in the mirror? My body has never looked like this. Look at it. Just look at it. It's so different. Did I really do this?' When my stomach looks muscular or my arms are lacking the bingo wings that have been there since forever, I just stare. I want to say to people, "Look at this! I made this! I made it look like that!"
I'm hoping this wears off soon. It makes me feel a bit like a self-obsessed wierdo and is also genuinely starting to delay me leaving for work etc.
Another one for the plus side, though, is that I feel stronger and better than I've ever done, so I guess the empty bras, flappy crotch and chilblains are worth it.