Part Three: the Dreaded “E” Word
July 7, 2016
It was only at this point that I began to realize that I needed to exercise this physical body. The idea of exercise seemed humiliating and painful when I was heavy. When I was thin, I decided it would be OK for people to see me sweat. I still didn’t really want it to be seen, though. Better to run on the treadmill of my apartment complex workout room only when no one was in there (I literally would leave if the room wasn’t empty at first).
I got used to running on the treadmill, averaging five miles per hour, and when winter broke I turned to the park down the road and taught myself to run outside. It felt like flying. I got hooked on the endorphin rush, and cranky when I couldn’t have it. I worked up to three miles, a few times a week. The longest I ever ran was six miles. But it made me hungry. I gained some weight back, because I had trained my body to become more efficient — to conserve calories for my running. I ran anyway, for a while, until well-meaning friends who were more versed in fitness than I could hope to be, kept telling me that running really isn’t great for you, and directed me to some internet HIIT videos.
So I tried to switch to the HIIT home workouts for a while (6 pack abs in 6 minutes a day!), but they were terribly boring. I stopped exercising altogether for a few months. I mitigated my weight gain by doing quarterly cleanses, but I felt more out of shape than before I ever took up running (and was definitely heavier, though still only a size 6, but even that is a bit too much on my petite frame).
And then, I kept hearing about boxing classes. And one morning I dragged a good friend (who is not normally an early riser) to a boxing fitness club with me, and the warm up alone would have been the best workout I’d ever had. It felt great to get my aggressions out. I joined that day.
As with running, the workouts made me hungry. When my body started to change shape, I wasn’t sure at first I liked the changes. But I stuck with it, and started to see definition all over my body, and after less than a year, I was hired to teach fitness classes there. I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing, but I smiled and cheered and was encouraging, and I did that for a while.
And then I changed jobs. And I told myself I had no time. And I stopped working out altogether. And I ate to comfort myself. And my size 6’s were tight. I did a Master Cleanse just to get back down to the high end of my self-declared “acceptable” weight range. I got a roommate who embodies perfect love and acceptance and non-judgement, who’s vegan and who I can listen and relate to my food issues without any criticism. And I’d love to say that I learned to emulate her, and I remained vegan as well, and I still cleansed my body periodically, but mostly for the emotional benefit, because I finally had a body that I loved and accepted, and a workout routine that I enjoyed and stuck with (I’m doing jujutsu once a week now, maybe that will be the thing that I make “stick”). But this is the place where my story pauses, for this moment, and where I write this. So who’s to say what’s to come?
I am. I am the author of my own story, and the only one who can choose what “happens to me” from here. It’s true for all of us I suppose. Perhaps I’ve finally dug deeply enough to stop self-sabotaging.
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My Journey Part Two: I Shrink
July 2, 2016
I lost 20 lbs from my 9-months-pregnant weight, and hovered right around there for about five or six years.
And then I got sick and tired.
It wasn’t people’s comments that did it. And it wasn’t the fact that I saw myself in a photo, holding my baby son, no less, and thought, that’s weird, I thought this was the one that I was in. And then seeing my face, pale and miserable and FAT. And it wasn’t the constant exhaustion. It was none of those things. I became ready. I don’t know what the ultimate trigger was, I just became ready to make changes in myself. I never “related” to the “fat me.” I never felt like the outside of my body matched who I felt like I was on the inside. Never in my life.
The divorce helped. Not because I was stressed to my limit, or because I was working two jobs (though those things were true, and were factors). I was dumped by a boyfriend who only wanted to hang out at my house and get pizza, so some amount of weight started to come off pretty easily when that stopped. (I’d been separated from my spouse for over a year before I started seeing this guy, but we hadn’t gotten around to filing the paperwork yet, which was an idiot move.)
I bought grey dress slacks at Target to wear to see my lawyer for the first time. Size 10, and they fit beautifully. It was the first time in a long while (maybe ever?) that I liked the way an article of clothing looked on me. I wore them again when we went to court, and they hung so loosely on my body that I wondered if they’d stay up. I kept them for awhile because I’d loved them on myself and I didn’t trust my body not to gain the weight back, but I never wore them again, and I eventually donated them.
I had been attending a spiritual group. Weight didn’t start melting off right away, but it bears mentioning, because I came to better understand the void that I was trying to fill with food, and I began learning to nourish myself in other ways. To take care of myself in other ways.
And at my new job, my second job, a coworker was also direct-selling shakes and supplements. I did some three-month challenge where I replaced two meals a day with a shake (sometimes adding fruit, yogurt, cocoa powder, or other mix-ins). It helped me become very conscious of what else I was putting into my body the rest of the time. I had stopped eating any meat other than seafood (I cut out seafood a year or so after that, and 3 or 4 years after that point I would stop eating animal products altogether).
I got down to a size 4 or 6 when a good friend told me about the Master Cleanse. He had read all about it, and prepared me the signature lemonade drink to try — it was delicious, and curbed my appetite nicely. He began his first cleanse, and I bought the book. I had been looking to try some form of a cleanse program anyway, and I trust this friend to always find the best version of anything he ever does or tries. So after he spent a few days on his cleanse and reported how well he felt, I began a cleanse as well. (I’ve done maybe 10 or 11 Master Cleanses, total, at this time.)
I continued being very vigilant with what and how much I ate for a while, and began doing cleanses quarterly. I got down to a size two, but never looked or felt unhealthy — I retained my curves. I’m shortish and small-framed. But I began to receive attention that I wasn’t thrilled with. I didn’t lose weight for the attention, and it made me uncomfortable.
(I’ll conclude this next time I post.)
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Part One: The Skinniest “Fat Kid” Manifests the Weight
June 28, 2016
I thought I’d share some today with you about my exercise journey. I played rec league soccer for 9 years as a kid, and I was never super skinny, but I was never heavy either. Other people thought I was slim. I hated my stomach from the time I remember, so much so that I wouldn’t let my parents use that word.
At 16 I got a job at Wendy’s. We would walk by the fryer hundreds of times a day and grab chicken nuggets, french fries, or just make a burger right there on the line to slam on when the right managers were around. I went from a size 4 to a size 10 before even noticing what was happening. I had no idea what my body looked like.
My senior year, I took a class called “total fitness.” We did calisthenics for 45 minutes or so every day. I’m glad I did it, because otherwise I would have had no idea about what exercises to even do, but it was pretty boring. We did get to work out to Metallica though. The coach asked me at the end of the semester how much weight I’d lost. I didn’t know. He said he could tell I’d lost a lot. (This man had to be 300 lbs and had a reputation for hitting on the girls in all his classes.) To be honest, I hated my body more after the class than before, because it made me more aware of my body, and made me realize that push ups and leg lifts weren’t going to undo all the chicken nuggets.
In college, there was a gym room in the guys’ dorm right next to my dorm. About halfway through the year, I realized how much I hated being the fattest roommate, and walking all over campus wasn’t going to work off the cafeteria food (which I didn’t think I ate TOO much of), so I finally started going to the gym there. I didn’t do much. Probably just ran on the treadmill or the eliptical. But it was enough that I started to feel a lot better about my body; it started to have some kind of shape again.
And then I got pregnant and gained something like 60 pounds.
And I breastfed, and that would allegedly help the weight come off, but it just made me hungrier and angrier and more depressed.
(I’ll pick this up again where I left off.)
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June 23, 2016
The following books will give you a great frame of reference for forming your own opinions and establishing your own relationship with carbohydrates, as well as with food in general. It’s helpful to get a perspective that’s beyond the standard pop-culture low-carb, high-protein myths and stereotypes. It’s worth nothing that these books offer often-conflicting perspectives on food; don’t shy away from this. Read them all, and go with what resonates best with you, in the stage of your life that you’re in right now. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means, but these are some I’ve personally read, and I know that if you start at the top of this list, it will get you off to a wonderful start.
The Yoga of Eating – should be required reading for anyone with a body (that’s you). Offers a unique perspective on eating, and went a long way toward helping me heal my relationship with food. Stresses balance and eating in a way that makes sense to you, above any specific “diet.” A very non-judgmental perspective.
The 80-10-10 Diet – encourages a raw vegan diet, specifically one that is low in fat and high in carbs. Plenty of scientific evidence is included to back up this stance, although there is some controversy about the soundness of some of the arguments used.
12 Steps to Raw Food – elaborates on the addictive nature of cooked food. Emphasizes a raw diet for health reasons, and trusts that the carbohydrate-to-fat ratio will work itself out as one adjusts to an all raw food diet. Uses personal experience for a down-to-earth, “real” vibe.
Wheat Belly – cardiologist author goes into almost too much detail on the biology of wheat chromosomes and their effect in your body. Takes the stance that one should avoid all high glycemic index foods, but that wheat is unique in its devastating effects, from your brain to your bowels, and everywhere in between.
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June 18, 2016
Welcome to the Care and Feeding of your Pet Body. In this first post, we’re going to talk about the easiest ways to keep track of your food intake in general.
Most people believe they eat healthy food in reasonable amounts. On the BBC show “You Are What You Eat,” the host starts each episode by showing overweight people the amount of food they consume in a week, and without exception, they are shocked. It’s all too easy to forget about a handful of crackers or a bag of chips or three granola bars. Or you may recall that you had “pizza,” but conveniently forget that you personally ate “three quarters of an entire large pizza.”
I’m equally guilty of doing all this, and the easiest way I’ve found to keep myself honest is to write down every bite. I don’t do this every day, but anytime I’m trying a new “food lifestyle” (because I DON’T “diet”) or anytime I just feel like my food habits have gotten away from me or become a bit out of control, this is what I do. Awareness is key! We can’t change what we won’t face or acknowledge.
Some people like to use an app on their phone to do this– myfitnesspal works GREAT for this. If you’re really just starting out, this is what I recommend. You enter whatever you just ate, enter the quantity, and most of the time, the app’s other users have done the work for you, and the nutrition info is already entered into their database. There are tons of restaurant dishes in their system as well. If you ate half of a dish, or 1/3, or 3/4, myfitnesspal will do the math for you. If it’s a recipe you make often, you can enter the data manually and save it for every future time you eat that food. You can log exercise too, and the app will tell you whether you’re at a calorie deficit or excess for the day. You can enter your height, weight, age, and goals, and myfitnesspal does the rest. I’m not super big on just counting calories for the day (more on this in future posts), but it helps to give you an idea. You can even connect with your friends on there to help you stay motivated!
Of course, entering all this data every time you eat or workout gets a little tedious after a while. Once you have a decent idea of what your food intake for the day is, and where you want it to be, and the nutrition info for certain foods, etc., you can just as easily get a good idea of how much you are consuming by writing it down. Whether you do this in a note taking app in your phone or with plain old pen and paper makes little difference, and really just comes down to personal preference, and how likely you are to keep up with it. Every time I do this, two things happen: I’m always surprised by the sheer volume of food I’ve been eating; and I tend to eat less, because if I’m not hungry and just wanting to snack for pleasure, knowing that I have to write it down (even though no one else will see it besides me) sometimes makes me stop and think just long enough to realize I really don’t need that extra half dozen cookies. 😉
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Stay tuned for our next post!