Monday, September 12, 2011
When I eat something that isn't conducive to my weight loss, I feel like I am rebelling.
"Rebelling against what?"
"I don't know."
There was the door. There was the opening where the red flag went up. "I don't know" is code for "I'm afraid to find out".
As I listened to the caller on the Jillian Michaels' show, the caller who is not me, who does not live my life, but who is saying words that I could faithfully echo about my own weight loss--as she talked and as I listened, a sad, deep pain came into my stomach.
I feel like my heart is trying to crawl under my diaphragm, to nestle into the tissue of my back and seek cover between the shoulder blades. I feel my throat expand and fill with absolutely nothing at all. I feel my head worry, the brow furrowing and an inchoate headache prickling to life.
These are my words. When I eat, I feel like I am rebelling. Against whose rules?
My answer is different from hers. My answer is "Society's rules."
I'm sick of there being two boxes. Healthy and Junk. Sometimes weird things get put into those boxes; sometimes a low-calorie highly processed treat is "healthy" and a high-fat, high-starch or high-sugar whole food becomes junk. Skinny is healthy. Fat is junk. Today I'm being healthy. Today I'm being junk.
My response is "Today I am being healthy, but I'm still going to drink beer." or "Today I'm going to feel like junk, but I'm going to burn 700 calories at MMA for emotional reasons, not physical." And detrimentally: "Healthy people can still eat junk"
Yes, they can. But healthy people eat junk only sparingly. I eat it as proof that I can. I eat it for validation and to tell myself, "Look, you can have this! That means you aren't fat anymore (and never will be)" I still have that fake idea in my head that skinny is healthy. That if I could weight 150lbs but eat whatever I wanted, I'd rather have that than be a strong, healthy 185 lbs.
Why do I want to lose weight? Because I want to be skinny.
That can't be my reason any more.
I have some other reasons (good ones): I want to have a strong core so that I can experiment with other physical activities. I want to see how strong my body can be. I want to live yoga. I want to jump high. I want to know that I can scale that fence or outrun that guy if I'm in a bad situation. I want to love vegetables like they are my own children. I want to respect what goes into my body.
I do want to be skinny, but that can't be my reason any more.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Life throws curve balls. I "fell off the wagon" in a few ways this weekend. I had bananas, dates and sweet potatoes (I don't care, they are whole, good foods!!) And... A big bowl of moosetracks and cherry swirl with whipped cream.
I can explain. I ate as much as I needed (they gave me a huge amount, I did not eat it all) and you know what? Ice cream has a purpose. It's a sweet little reminder that life can be simple and lovely. Without excess, it is a beautiful, classic American treat. Good for skinned knees, bruised egos and exhausted psyches (in moderation).
I'd also like to speak up against this Sugar is Legal Heroin business and labeling refined sugar as a toxin. It's not. It can be extremely dangerous but so can alcohol and yet I still enjoy a pleasant drink now and then.
"All or nothing" is too dire. I love sugar, but I've been taking it for granted and numbed myself to its niceties. That's why I am taking this challenge: to appreciate a luxury.
And Saturday, I needed that luxury. You see, martial arts has introduced me to my body as part of my real identity. My body not only reflects but informs who I am. I am surprised by and delightfully thrilled by the sensation of OWNING this body and BEING this body.
This is a foreign and difficult concept for Americans. Further difficult is understanding the walls we build between our mind, emotions, bodies, other people and The World.
Say what you want about Jillian Michaels but she knew what she was doing. Physical exhaustion is a direct way to temporarily remove some of those barriers. And Sunday, when I sparred for nine excrutiating rounds, I lost all inhibitions.
I came out of that class annhiliated and enlightened. I, and other students who had previously been trading jabs with me, wept. We hugged and cried. "You will feel strong emotions well up while fighting. Don't put them away, let them go and use them while you fight." Said my instructor before we hugged.
Like a movie, it was raining outside during my existential crisis. Buckets of rain so heavy my sandals and contacts nearly floated off. And when I turned down the ally towards my home, everything burst forth. I wept hysterically and fully. I shook and shuddered and laughed, soaked in the rain.
After all that, all you feel is hollow, because you have previously felt only raw, wordless emotion.
To the hollow-eyed woman who is beginning to feel her Self extend beyond the grey cells, a bowl of ice cream is welcome medication.
The other day I woke up with my left eye glued shut, gritty, and sensitive. When I finally washed off the crusty stuff and pried it open, I couldn't find any debris and my eye was bloodshot.
The optometrist informs me that my eye dried out while sleeping, sticking to my eye lid. When I began to open my eyes in the morning (around 4-5 am) I tore the cornea. Yuck.
I'll save you the gross details, but the past few days have been BAD. And I've mostly been stuck at home trying to get work done in the pitch black. We don't really have sugar in the house...but we have processed crackers and we have candied pineapple slices. And honey.
And boy did I want to just make a sandwich out of all that nonsense.
But I didn't. I didn't make the BEST food decisions (lots of carb-comforts, not as much veg as I need) but I stopped myself a few times saying, "You are halfway through this challenge. You took last week easy, time to beef it up again."
So I'm renewing my vows. What my body needs right now is optimum health: that means veggies up the wazoo, quinoa for breakfast, and adding beans to more meals. I've had my treats, now I need to heal.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Today I am supposed to take my BMI and an estimate of my body fat to determine if I need to lose any weight whilst quieting my sugar tooth. Here are my (hilarious) results:
BMI of 24.2 which is on the high end of the Normal range. This means I can afford to slim down, but it would all be for vanity reasons.
For my body fat percentage, I used a calculator (www.healthstatus.com) which requires measurements of the wrists, neck, thigh etc. Then they spit out a few algorithms to tell you different possible fat percentages (choose your favorite!) and what the range for your gender should be.
Average body fat for US females is 32% with the "ideal" being 22% (what does THAT mean?!?!); athlethic females are between 15-20%, anyone under 10% should be checked for an eating disorder.
So where do I score??
According to the US Army algorithm I am at 33.29%, slightly above average.
According to the US Marine algorithm I am at 29.96%, below average and more fit.
According to the US Navy algorithm I am at 28.74% ( )
AND according to the YMCA algorithm I am at 41.15% (obese)
So... that's not especially informative.
Let's just throw the YMCA out the window and say I am below average, which is good, but above athletic. (Stupid YMCA!)
I wonder if there is a way to reverse these calculators to find out what your general measurements would have to look like for certain body fat percentages. There are parts of me that aren't getting any skinnier (my neck, wrists, forearm) and parts that probably won't lose much more at all (thighs, high waist). My waist around my navel is "large" in that my belly sags, droops, hangs, and folds in a most unsexy way (get with the program, stomach, I'm a drop-dead sexpot here!)
I wanted to write about the strange places I've noticed weight loss. One is the inexplicable paradox of the protuberant hip bones even though I have slim hips and a sagging stomach. When I try to do the bow pose in yoga:
it hurts because my "illiac crests" (hip bones) dig into the ground.
Also (prepare for TMI about the hoochie-cooch!) I've noticed that the embarrassing bump *down there* has been slimming down. This is nice because I don't want a female package, nor do I want to DRAW THE EYE to my no-no spot. I am surprised that I can even lose weight there, but I welcome anything that makes certain skirts and slacks more appealing (and I feel less frumpy in my work out clothes, too!)
My sternum is sticking out, too. I'm finding bones all over the place! And even when I don't lose weight (or even inches) I am sure that my body is moving fat stores around and making me look different.
What I mean to say is, these measurements for body fat percentage are bunkum. I have gangly arms and a long torso, a big belly but strong thighs and broad shoulders. I don't fit any molds, I don't adhere to any standards, and whether the Y thinks I am obese or the Navy thinks I'm hot stuff doesn't matter. What matters is this: I can move. I can live. I am, right now, alive.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Day 5 was bad.
I'm not talking migraine, shaking withdrawls, binging bad. I'm talking flu bad. Whatever illness I had, it stopped me from even drinking water without projectile consequences.
As a result, I am eating healthy today, but sparingly, and paying no heed to the "do's and don'ts" of this diet. My multi-grain toast this morning was made with sugar. My whole-wheat pasta for lunch has grains (ooohh! So bad!! *sarcasm*)
Wednesday will be my re-evaluation of the plan where I decide what to keep and what to chuck. I already know what I am going to say.
1) staying away from refined sugars is what this 30 challenge is about, I'm not changing that!
2) I'll keep away from sweeteners (even natural ones like honey or stevia) because I am retraining my palate, not just my body.
3) Grains are coming back, but with the condition that they are whole grains and not prepared with sugar. This means if I want bread, I have to bake it myself and use applesauce or something else to activate the yeast.
4) I'm adding in a "cheat" day, but I'd like another term for this (any suggestions!??!) because it won't allow sweet foods at all. Cheat day will let me have breads prepared with sugar (but they must be savory breads, cinnamon raisin is okay, cinnamon sugar is not!) and go to a restaurant with friends so long as I am careful (dressing on the side, no dessert unless it is fruit or cheese, etc.) This is not a binge day, this is not a free-for-all day. This is a day to obsess a little less about my restrictions.
I like having some restrictions because it has really taught me to appreciate parts of my diet. For example, I really want to make my own breads now and let my hands feel the belly of the bread rather than just chew some hollow processed (even if it is whole wheat) bread slices. I want the emotional connection and the pride.
I'm going to still keep away from the fruits (watermelon, tangerines) and vegetables (boiled carrots, sweet and regular potatoes) that are forbidden from the diet, with the condition that I can add them in next week or the week after. I'm not missing them too much right now.
This diet is only working because when I look at the cute new cupcakery down the street or sigh over the dazzling array of beers at a local brewery I can say, "One day" rather than "Never."
"One day" is getting me through :)
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Today's featured article on Spark is all about this: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrit
I'm on the 30-day plan by Dr. Scott Olson, but I am modifying it weekly. Every week, I can look at my struggles and which ones were for the better and which ones were not. I can look at my goals and made modifications as necessary. But for the first week, I have to apply 100% to Dr. Olson's plan. His plan is: no added sugars, no sweeteners (even natural), no grains (even whole grains), and some specific fruits/vegetables are verboten: bananas, sweet potatoes, parsnips, watermelon.
Why am I doing this?
Mainly to break my sugar tooth. To retrain my tastebuds and require significantly less sugar to achieve that high. But there are more subtle and pressing reasons as well:
I'm cheap with my food, I'm apathetic with my cooking, and I've lost that special spark I used to have in the kitchen. I'm burnt out. Putting some restrictions on my diet means I have to be creative (no more "Eat from a can" recipes). I'm also making a conscious effort to be "zen" to my kitchen. This means cleaning up as I go along, having fun with presentation, and treating the food like it is something precious (which it is, and which I forget too easily).
What have I learned these past four days? Well, the sugar thing hasn't actually been the hardest part. The grain has. Initially I thought, "[Bleep] this! I'm not giving up whole grains!" but then I thought, "Try it for a week. It's just seven days. See what it feels like to go without."
I'm not gluten-free and I never will be. I have no problems with bread, in fact I love it too much. But I've been bad about my bread. Even my whole-grain breads have been just another commodity to me. I need to find the love again.
While I feel this deprivation, I am paying attention to how often Bread is my first response. After a few breakfasts of eggs (omelet, frittata, fried eggs with tomato) I felt despondent: what the hell can I have for breakfast that isn't grain? I am getting TIRED of these eggs!! (Smoothies are not a satisfactory breakfast, thank you.)
I had to get creative. I've got a no-grain "bread" baking in the oven right now. And judging by the first taste, it is weird. (Zucchini, flaxmeal, almond meal, eggs) But I'm still trying.
Yesterday I realized "I can't have crackers for a MONTH?!" and I felt depressed until I remembered cucumbers, squash and carrots. I served myself tuna salad on cucumber slices and felt much, much better.
I went out this morning and had to buy groceries just so I could have breakfast. It's work, but it is a kind of attention and dedication that I have been neglecting in my food preparation, and I feel I am becoming a better cook and eater because of it.
Next Wednesday I will ask myself if I want to introduce whole grains back into my diet (but still no bread, which is usually prepared with sugar, unless I make the bread). Having that option has allowed me to say "Not yet" to temptation, which is a lot better than "No."
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