Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Which I am Shrinking But Not Diminished

I lost eight pounds this past weekend.  All my health-conscious friends, on hearing that, want to tell me how unhealthy it is.  It's become a festival reality for me, though.  Last April, I lost fourteen.  There have been some fluctuations, but that weight seems to have stayed off; I expect this weekend's eight to stay gone too.  The pants that were tight (but not uncomfortably so) last Wednesday are close to needing a belt today.

What am I doing?  My festival schedule is such:  I arrive Wednesday night and begin moving.  From Thursday morning to Sunday morning, I'm expected to cover 24 hours as a Chief Guardian, but the reality for all the Chiefs is that we end up working more like 40, because there's the person who finds his way into your camp with questions, there's the daily meetings, there's the training sessions, there's the emergency call that needs all hands to answer it, there's the situation you happen to be walking by and step in to address.  Because we have recently instituted changes that allow the Chiefs to patrol instead of being required to stay at our administrative hub, for these last two festivals I've been mostly standing or walking when I'm on duty.  I can expect to be in some form of motion for a solid twelve hours a day, not counting trips through the merchants' area for my own shopping, walks to visit friends' camps, or dancing around the fire at night after I'm off duty.

I'll let that sink in for a moment:  For three and a half days, I spend a minimum of half my time walking.  Not half my waking time.  Half my time (though, I do only sleep 2-5 hours a night at festival).

My fitness tracker tells me that walking, even at a slow pace, burns about 200 calories an hour.  Since I shift back and forth between a brisk 'walk with purpose' and standing in one place for 20 minutes to talk through something with someone, that seems a reasonable compromise.  That means that in walking alone I'm burning some 2400 calories a day.  I simply can't eat fast enough to keep up with that, let alone when I put in a couple hours of dancing, or a recreational walk around the back 40 to look at the stars without a radio.  It's no wonder I am losing weight.

The off-season habits are also part of it.  I've kept up regular workouts between festivals, which haven't caused much in the way of strict weight loss, but have building lean muscle and improving my cardiovascular efficiency.  So, when I ask more of my body for several days, it delivers, and it pulls extra-hard from my stored resources to do it.  Someday, I may run out of fat reserves I can healthily blow through, but for now I just keep a belt handy and buy pants more often.

I do, by the way, eat at festival.  I joke about not having time for food, but I actually eat more calories per day there than I do at home.  When I realised that I tended to be too busy to think about food, I asked a couple of friends if they would make sure to hurl tiny sammiches, veggies, hummus, figs, and apples in my direction throughout the day, and bring me meat on a stick if I wasn't in camp for dinner.  Most of my food at festival is meat, veggies, and bread eaten while walking, but I get about 2500 calories a day (as opposed to my usual 1600-1800).

This post is not actually about *weight loss*, though the weight loss is a convenient indicator of what this post is about.  What I'm talking about here is an example of what I talked about in my last entry.  I ask a lot of my body for about ten days a year.  I ask it to be better, stronger, faster, and sturdier than I do all the rest of the year.  I ask it to carry me through a lot of hard work and unplanned activity.  I couldn't ask this of my enemy.  I have to ask it of my ally, and I've been steadily making sure I give it the tools to do what I ask: resources and training.

And what, you may ask, am I getting besides the ability to finish a festival without being utterly exhausted and destroyed?  I'm getting fitter, not just skinnier (skinny is kind of irrelevant to me).  I am becoming a Fierce and Formidable Badass Badger, because I am building a body that can healthily do what I ask of it, regardless of its actual weight and shape, and that gives me a confidence and a strength that have nothing to do with my dress size.

I love us all.

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