I had a couple of bad weekends. Well, what I mean is I had two good weekends–saw friends who live in Portland where I ate several slices of an incredible chocolate cake (by slowly picking at it, a slice here, a sliver there) and went to a Memorial Day weekend barbecue at another friend’s place–where I ate–and drank–badly. So badly I wouldn’t even weigh-in three Mondays ago, like I always do, because I didn’t want to hate myself. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. Perhaps work-out-until-I-wanted-to-vomit myself would be better. (I blame the Catholic guilt ingrained in me like a tick, probably a chubby one.) And when I weighed-in the Monday before last, well, it went something like this.
In between the cursing and the screaming (Sometimes I just don’t know how to talk to myself.), I said something to Jaime that I’m still thinking about days later: “If I want to be where I want to be, I basically need to stop eating all the food I love, stop hanging out with our friends, and stop drinking.”
All of a sudden, I was back where I was in 2003 when I was so desperate to get under 200 lbs. I lived on a diet of protein shakes, turkey breast sandwiches and chicken breast and did things with Preparation-H I’m embarrassed of (but have written about anyway).
Besides lifting weights and running my ass off until my nipples bleed–a strange correlation, I know–I have progressively changed the way I eat over the last year by simple but somewhat restrictive means. Mornings begin with chia seeds soaked in a half-water, half-juice mixture, a large cup of coffee and a banana. On work-out days, I then eat a post-exercise protein bar (Oh Yeah!–yes, that’s the name of my bar of choice.), and on rest days, it’s cereal or sometimes eggs and sausage or bacon. Lunch is mostly leftovers or a sandwich, sometimes take-out teriyaki and brown rice, almost always paired with a pile of lettuce, which is always eaten by hand. (I don’t enjoy lettuce, so I eat it with my hands because, my favorite foods, pizza, french fries and cupcakes, are finger foods, and I like to pretend the mixed greens are really something far tastier–and unhealthier.) Sometimes I’ll have a lunch date and really try to make healthy choices, and that’s when I face my biggest challenge. Going out to eat for me is kind of like an alcoholic at happy hour–I’m ready to have a good time and don’t know when to say “when.” Food goes from sustenance to celebration, and I’m the last one standing drunk on cake when everyone else is full. Dinner, if at home, is pretty standard: a protein (Since we found out Jaime was pregnant, we’ve switched to grass-fed, organic beef, which is even healthier–more on this later!); a starch; and a vegetable, a portion that has increased in size, too. Again, when we go out, I try to keep it healthy, but sometimes portion control is my Skeletor.
In Portland, I threw down at the dinner table. I love the city (It’s where young people go to retire, after all.) and hadn’t seen these friends in awhile. It was Rapture Weekend, so I knew I had some sinning to do before The End. And the following weekend was a three-day weekend. We were at a barbecue with good food and good beer.
I have more excuses, but I’m already boring myself.
That’s all I’m really doing though: making excuses. When I first lost 140 lbs., I could count all the foods I ate on my two hands, (Okay–maybe I’d need a few toes.) and nothing could stop me from going to the gym. I didn’t make excuses, though I’ll admit–I did become obsessed. And I wasn’t exactly happy either. Without moderation, I was a robot, and beating myself up only made me a sad one.
After hurting myself working-out and putting 80 lbs. back on, I vowed I’d be more sensible about exercising and dieting. I started slow–walking and stretching–and eventually progressed to lifting and now training for the 5K. Not counting my eight-pound weight gain from three days in Portland I’ve dropped 50 lbs., down to 230, yet recently I’ve noticed my sensibility diminishing, and not just the one time I cursed myself out.
As I’ve cut the number of calories I consume, eating has been different, but I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing. I’m simply trying to redefine my relationship with food (Again!); it’s when the relationship veers into old habits that I lose my sensibility, becoming a food tornado that eats everything in sight.
When I pass mirrors, I linger longer, too, first checking my posture, then my face, my stomach. Sometimes I think, “Am I really losing weight?” or “Does this shirt look any different on me than it did six months ago?” “People tell me I look like I’ve lost weight, but have I?” The part of my brain that says, “Yes, dummy– You’ve already lost 50 lbs” is muzzled.
Being sensible doesn’t mean obsession. I can go out to eat with friends and not out eat everyone collectively. I can look in the mirror to see if I have anything stuck in my teeth without critically analyzing the body fat percentage of my face. Sometimes I forget and let my desires bitchslap my needs. Being aware of it means the number on the scale isn’t in control but I am, and I have the ability to choose what I’m going to eat and whether or not I do squats at the gym or do squat on the couch.
So this weekend, after a night of drinking and eating, yet moderately, and staying up way past my bedtime, I forced myself to hit the gym the next day and sweat off my sins, Rapture or not. When I weighed-in, I was back where I started before Portland, before the chocolate cake, before my tantrum. I thought it was going to be one of those run-’til-I-feel-like-vomiting-and-then-run-some-more days, but it was just a normal work-out.
A good one, too.