On fad diets, disordered eating

If it wasn’t already apparent, I have problems with disordered eating. I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder, or at least that’s what my therapist says, and I think that in some ways there is a difference. I have never been anorectic, unless you count the few months in high school where I ate a small bag of plain popcorn, Diet Coke, and a reduced-fat Oreo for lunch, and challenged myself to eat fewer calories than the day before. That clearly didn’t last long. I’ve never binged and purged, though YOU KNOW I’ve thought to myself that it’d make my life a hell of a lot easier if I could. And at the other end, I don’t think I’ve ever really had problems with binge eating. Now, I think just about everyone has a pig-out once in a while, but not full-on EAT ALL THE THINGS on a regular basis.

No, what I struggle with is more…portion sizes (and again, this is not EAT THE WHOLE CAKE, but maybe having a piece or two that maybe are just a little bigger than they should)…peer pressure (c’mon, just have ONE drink!)…the tendency to crave all the wrong things at all the wrong times (super tired? how about something crispy and fried or creamy and frozen?)…and mindfulness (I’ll just have a few crackers…whoops there goes the whole box, and I’m still hungry).

From what I understand, these are common disordered eating habits, and in combination has sort of brought me where I am now.

But I have to admit, too, that I have been extremely vulnerable to faddish diets. And as someone who is fairly intelligent, this makes me ashamed.

  • Growing up, when I first started counting calories, it was all about low-fat and keeping to a percentage of calories-from-fat. If there was a day where I had extra calories and needed to reduce the fat percentage, we’d drink a can of full-calorie soda. (Facepalm.)
  • In college, I got on the Atkins train and lost about 20#. I became obsessed with the 25-carb-per-day onboarding period, and just never moved past it. This turned into me eating basically bacon, diet soda, cheese, and tubs of Cool Whip (oh, and those Atkins shakes), because, uh, carbs.
  • After that, I said FUCK ALL DIETS and gained about 90#. Not because I was eating TONS, but because I didn’t keep track of what I was eating, wasn’t making the best choices all the time, and ate just a bit more than I should. (It adds up.)
  • Then in grad school, Weight Watchers happened. And I have to say that this is NOT a fad diet; HOWEVER, I do still disagree with a lot of the foods that they peddle. Nonfat dairy products, super-processed frozen meals, and ALL THE GRAINS being a few of them.
  • Then, to get a few more pounds off, I meticulously counted points with the Wendie Plan, and then began carb cycling.
  • Then it was all Paleo all the time. Which is totally cool and fine, especially since, you know, ALLERGIES, but I came away from that with a still-nasty case of orthorexia and judgmentalia, in which you obsess over the cleanliness, pasturedness, and organicness of your food, and then harshly judge yourself and others when this is not abided by.
  • And now? Let me get to that.

So, as I may have mentioned before, as part of BFF’s TDP, I am now back to counting calories. And he has been very conscious in his pushing of CALORIES ONLY, until I get back into a healthy routine of exercise and eating. Because, as my food tracker will show, I eat super clean about 80% of the time. The other 20% is Pizza Friday, maybe an ice cream, and possibly popcorn or gluten-free pasta during the week. And all this, aside from Pizza Friday, is balanced with lean proteins and vegetables (so gluten-free pasta nights isn’t just pasta–it’s pasta that’s been weighed out, and then eaten with copious amounts of broccoli and a few ounces of chicken breast). Because, in reality, if I don’t have these little luxuries, how am I supposed to, really, continue on?

So here I am, just chugging along. Running three times a week, light weights three times a week, and tracking like a mofo, even on Pizza Fridays. And I’m feeling pretty good about myself and my effort, even though the scale isn’t showing leaps and bounds of awesomeness.

And then I start getting bombarded. Not personally, but it seems like all of a sudden everywhere I look online, everyone is talking about Flexible Dieting and the wonders of #IIFYM (if it fits your macros). The idea being, if you eat tuna and brown rice, and it has 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat, your body doesn’t know the same as a cheeseburger, which might also have 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat. So if you have a set amount of macronutrient goals for optimum performance, why wouldn’t you eat that cheeseburger? It fits your macros!

I’m not saying that this is the WRONG way to think about food, though I will say that fundamentally I think there is a problem in thinking that you should eat cheeseburgers over brown rice and fish. HOWEVER, I AM saying that I feel I am being assaulted on a daily basis. The same people posting ridiculous before-and-after photos of a thin version of themselves versus a thin and jacked version of themselves a month later, after counting their macros. And keep in mind, these are THE VERY SAME PEOPLE who, just a year or two ago, were preaching Paleo/Zone and/or intermittent fasting as the one-size-fits-all miracle solution.

And I’m thinking to myself, Am I doing something wrong? This person who has NO weight to lose lost 4# in a week, and I’m obese and have lost 1.5# in a MONTH.

And then I start thinking, Do I need to start counting my macros meticulously?

This is about the point where BFF has smacked me upside the head and reminded me that yes, this IIFYM IS JUST ANOTHER FAD DIET. And do not get sucked in!

But to be honest, it absolutely kills me every time I see something about IIFYM and results. It kills me. It makes me anxious. It’s a SUPER trigger. It even hurts my feelings and makes me feel crappy about myself. I can’t explain it, but if you’ve ever felt like this, you’d know.

The other piece, too, is that the people who preach IIFYM/IF/PZ are notoriously people who have absolutely no idea what it means to be obese. They have never been in a situation where they have 100+# to lose. And they probably never will, god willing. They are people who have always been slim and active, and really just want a six-pack. They will never get it. Ever. Sorry if you are one of those people, because sometimes I think you just can’t help it.

So no, I will not be counting my macros right now. I won’t be intermittently fasting, and I won’t be on a meticulous Paleo/Zone diet. Because right now, I need something that is both livable and will not make me feel guilty or like shit about myself whenever I eat something non-organic.

Thank you for sharing your success, but please leave me alone.

</rant>

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Just don’t stop

I’m not even sure how long it’s been, but it kind of feels like it’s been a month. Yeah, that sounds about right. Okay, it’s been pretty close to a month of the BFF’s now-dubbed Torture Death Plan (TDP), and I am still alive. Though I do have this nasty thing on my heel from Sunday’s Torture Death Run (TDR):

Blisterious. Ick.
Blisterious. Ick.

I’ve tracked every single thing that goes in my mouth, and have been vigilant with the exercise plan that we’ve put in place. And no, I do not yet love or even LIKE running, and I doubt I ever will.

I am told that I look noticeably different. Though I’ve dropped about 1.5#, so not a whole lot there. But I feel good that I have a nice little routine, and even though I HATE running, I like that this time around I am better controlling my breathing, and can run at least 2.7 miles without stopping. Just don’t stop. That’s the mantra of BFF.

That being said, not all runs are the same, and the TDRs in the hills of Greenwich are exactly that–torture, and you feel like you will actually die. The first mile of the run is all uphill. Then steeply downhill. Then small uphill. Then the way back is just awful because it’s steeply uphill, followed by a mile of downhill, which still sucks because it’s the final mile. Oh, and this goes without saying, but I’m luck to run half of it.

BFF’s goals were essentially threefold: (1) Slim down. (2) At the end of the month, be able to run the entire first hill-and-a-half without stopping. (3) At the end of the summer, be able to run at least the 3-mile TDR without stopping, but preferably the 5-mile TDR.

I told him he was out of his mind.

But a week ago, I ran to the top of the first hill without stopping.

And a few days ago, I ran to the top of the first hill without stopping. Then stopped briefly. Then ran to the top of the (very steep) half-hill without stopping.

Winded.

Miserable.

Blistery (new shoes).

But I did it.

Why is it that everything I do that is exercise-related have to be such a mental game for me? Obviously, there are the aches and pains and blisters and side stitches, but once you move beyond that, why is it that it’s so hard to just keep going? To just not stop?

I believe I will always struggle with that question, just as I will always struggle with food, with my weight, etc., etc. But it’s always a little easier when you have someone in your ear, telling you Just don’t stop.

Toeing a line between excuse and reality

It’s been exactly one week since I started BFF’s plan. Well…I guess almost a week. Last Friday, I was super pumped up with some music I found on Spotify that I got home and decided to go for a run. Not the best run in the world, but a run nonetheless. And then Saturday was when the real ass-kicking began.

I have vigilantly weighed, measured, and tracked what has gone in my mouth, while continuing to exercise (and not increasing calories by whatever FitBit/MyFitnessPal told me I burned). Then my schedule was thus:

Saturday – 2-mile run with BFF

Sunday – 4(ish)-mile run with BFF

Monday – Couldn’t move, so rest day

Tuesday – Short morning strength session

Wednesday – Short morning strength session + evening Vinyasa (super challenging)

Thursday – Short morning strength session

Friday (today) – rest day + cheat meal

Friday is also my traditional weigh-in day. After all the effort put in this week, I was anxious to hop on the scale. I woke up, emptied out (ahem), and hopped on. And…

What…?

Up 0.6#.

I was both shocked and not at all surprised. I mean, what has been my pattern recently, anyway? Exert effort, body works doubletime to shut it off. What it FEELS like is that I’ve just messed around so long with diet and exercise that now just everything is out of whack and nothing wants to work. The level of frustration just exploded.

And then I had what is most likely my final WW coaching call (I ended up canceling/nonrenewing, effective next week). And while Coach LG was very nice and helpful, her reaction to the weight gain was more of “What could be happening?” than going for “What did you do wrong?”

Which is fine. Which is what they’re supposed to do. But I also feel like the “What could be happening?” question just kind of gives you something to blame the gain on that is not yourself.

For example, last week, I had a tough week and was up 1.5#. I was/am super constipated (TMI, sorry). Coach LG’s suggestion? Well, it’s clearly the constipation, and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Okay!

This week?

Well, you have been exercising a lot more than your body is used to. Your muscles are probably holding on to a lot of water right now. And it’s nearing that time of the month. And you’re still constipated. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’m sure this is a fluke.

Okay!

But I gotta wonder…does this method totally take all responsibility off me? This week, I tend to agree. I’ve been sore beyond belief and I’ve been drinking a ton of water. And my PMS is in full swing (sorry, The Boy). But if you gain and gain and gain…it can’t always be water weight or PMS.

Really, this method toes the line between reality and excuse.

What is reality?

Well…

  • Even double doses of magnesium isn’t helping my….daily rhythm.
  • My period’s due to start in about 4 days.
  • I have worked out hard 3/7 days, and done strength circuits 3/7 days.
  • I have craved salt.
  • I have tracked food, and stayed within budget, but of course can always measure more carefully.
  • This is the first week since March that I have eaten dinner every night.
  • I had four meals out this week: 2 dinners (Saturday + Sunday) and 2 lunches (Tuesday and Wednesday), plus some soft serve on Saturday, though tracked to the best of my ability.
  • I have not slept well on most nights.

And that’s the god-honest truth. What’s most important right now is being honest with myself. I have even sent nutrition screenshots to BFF to keep me on track.

I hope these are not excuses, and I hope that I AM being honest with myself. But who knows…maybe my muscles ARE being shocked and holding on to a crapton of water. We shall see.

In the mean time, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in fads. Facebook is hard. A few years ago everyone was preaching the virtues of intermittent fasting. And now–surprise, surprise–those same people are preaching the virtues of flexible dieting (i.e., If It Fits Your Macros). These sorts of people and philosophies make me SUPER uncomfortable and self-conscious. Like I’m doing something EXTREMELY wrong, and THIS IS THE ANSWER. I really don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole; while macros are important, I’m not interested in obsessively hitting each goal exactly.

The goal here is to live life, be healthy, look hot, and not obsess/encourage further eating disorders.

Triggers, man.

DK OUT.

PS, have a great and healthy weekend, all! ❤

Youch

Now that I think about it, nobody ever said that change was easy.

It wasn’t easy not going to Crossfit, and it certainly isn’t easy coming back into regular exercise. And it’s even worse when you’re PMSing.

Oh god. No, this post can’t go there. (Kinda did though, sorry.)

So by now you all know that I am getting married, and the wedding countdown is on like Donkey Kong. My BFF has thus decided that it would be his duty to get me back on track and look smokin’ for wedding and beyond.

(Does this make me that person whose sole goal is to lose weight for her wedding? Hope not.)

But what I mean to say is, I’m closing out now an entire week of getting my ass kicked.

First thing’s first: We have to deal with the elephant in the room. Say what you might, but I have felt very disparaged by Weight Watchers these days. I have returned twice now, in earnest, and have been unable to lose any weight. Maybe a half pound a month. Maybe. I have a feeling that all the shit I’ve done to my body over the last four years or so has taken its toll, and that WW just has, for all intents and purposes, stopped working. And if something’s not working…why keep doing it?

BFF was the one to put it to me bluntly, though it was really only a matter of admitting it myself. So what then? Calorie counting? MyFitnessPal? Oh god. Okay. I promised him I’d follow whatever programming he’d give me for 30 days, so we will return here then.

But aside from a new way of keeping a food diary (which I am obviously still skeptical of, but we’ll see), there’s now a no-excuses exercise regimen.

His theory being that LAST TIME around, I just plain-old didn’t get enough cardio. The HIIT that Crossfit offers is great. Springs are great! But even the burner workouts just didn’t happen enough and didn’t provide the cardio conditioning needed to continue losing weight. Case in point: A few years ago, when I was able to push myself below 200#, the only way I got there was when I added running into my workout regimen. The other problem was that certain movements have caused me injury over and over again. We know where my problem areas are, and now we need to create a program around it, in a way that will minimize the risk of further injury. My neck, back, and shoulders (especially) are an extremely problematic and vulnerable area. So we’re not in any rush to do burpees. We will be engaging in very controlled, very modified push-ups, and other (light) weight-bearing, strength-oriented exercises. This was another area that really smacked my ego down, but for the better ultimately. My upper-body strength has always been ridiculously awful, and I’ve just always pushed through, trying to jerk more than 100#, which is light weight for a lot of people, but heavy as fuck for me, and it’s just ended in injury. It’s been humbling lifting 3# and 5# this week in a beginning attempt to build my shoulder/arm/upper body strength in a slow and lasting way. (The other thing I want to note is that I recently read an article about some of the dangers of Crossfit exercise. I’m not bashing Crossfit, because it’s something I used to love, but we should be aware of some of the risks undertaken when programming isn’t deliberate. The combination of high-repetition barbell/heavy movements with bodyweight or gymnastics movements encourages poor form and fatigue, two things we are actively now trying to avoid…hence the lack of burpees at the moment. Slow and deliberate!)

Point being, more cardio, less super heavy, more conscious movements and eating.

Oh yeah, and accountability. Because it’s been awfully easy for me to say screw it at 4 p.m. because I’m too tired.

We have a deal. Weights three days a week. One cardio day by myself. Saturday and Sunday are owned by him.

And after a week of doing this…I want to die.

We are working on running. And it is well-documented that I hate running, despite its efficacy. So what does BFF do? BFF decides that we are going to go running for like 3 miles (though Fitbit said it was closer to 5….) in the hilly terrain of Greenwich. OH MY GOD. Talk about painful. Up and down up and down…uphill both ways. Come Monday, I couldn’t walk.

I think I will always hate running no matter what, but my hope is that going with him will make it bearable at least. Because I will say, having someone at my side, pacing my stride and by breath is so much better than by myself. Also…I’m much more apt to turn around by myself, but there is absolutely no turning around with him. He doesn’t let me.

Let’s revisit at the end of his 30 days.

What I’m hoping is that I stick with it (in the last week, I have run 4 times, done weights 3 times, and yoga once), eat cleanly but not restrictively, and to be able to actually run up some of these hills without extreme pain.

What do you think?

My boyfriend, the CrossFitter

Look! He CrossFits!
Look! He CrossFits!

Yes. You heard correctly. The Boy is CrossFitting.

I. AM. SO. PROUD.

It’s not just that he’s doing CrossFit. Because honestly, I got over the fact that he wasn’t CrossFitting early in our relationship. What I didn’t get over, though, was his stubbornness regarding doing any sort of physical activity.

When we first met, there was a really rough transition. It was long-distance, so the only time we saw each other was on the weekends. And on the weekends, we wanted to see each other, and for him that did not include working out. So, if I visited him, I had to try to work out by myself, away from CrossFit. That meant mostly running or walking on a treadmill. That, along with being as anal as possible with food, allowed me to minimize weight GAIN, and it was INCREDIBLY difficult to even maintain.

Fast-forward, and even more changes have taken place that have made it difficult or impossible to make it to the gym five-days a week, and relaxed effort at certain periods with food, and weight loss has been impossible.

But I digress.

When we first met and I was working out solo on the weekends, I constantly invited him to partake. He ALWAYS refused. One day, I persuaded him to come with me for a leisurely walk along the Chenango River, and halfway through he started a HUGE fight because he didn’t want to be on the walk. For me, this was a relaxing stroll. For him, anything that was exercise was the OPPOSITE of relaxing, and weekends are for relaxing, therefore he would not handle a walk.

After that, I laid off. Once in a while I would try to get him to go to CrossFit, and he would always refuse.

But it seems like it’s been about baby steps here. After we started shackin’ up, he started feeling better because he was eating better (i.e., I was cooking for him). I got a FitBit in the fall, and he loves gadgets, and he was super enthusiastic about playing with mine. So I got him one for Christmas, and he LOVES it.

Then, a few months later, my close friend offered The Boy the opportunity to get his feet wet with a CrossFit Bootcamp. I quietly suggested it, thinking that he’d immediately shoot it down. But he didn’t. He said he’d think about it.

And then he decided to actually DO IT.

And he’s not the fastest or the strongest, but neither was I when I started, and neither AM I even now. I have to say that I am SO PROUD of him for taking that first step and waking up at the asscrack of dawn and making his life better one day at a time.

For Valentine’s Day, I got him a 2-month membership to our CrossFit. The Boy from a year ago would have cried, screamed, and ran away. But The Boy NOW? He did a happy dance.

Maybe one day—maybe someday soon—we can cheer each other on TOGETHER doing WODs and PRing, and finding joy in each other’s health.

More life changes!

Beauty school dropout.... Nah, just a grad-school dropout. Oops!
Beauty school dropout…. Nah, just a grad-school dropout. Oops!

I already mentioned in my return post that the last year has been absolutely nuts, full of adjustments and life changes.

Well, this week comes another ridiculous life change.

I have made the choice to leave the PhD program in which I was enrolled, and begin a new job in another week. The decision isn’t sudden by a long shot. After I earned my masters in anthropology back in 2011, school essentially made me miserable. I tried in earnest to fall in love with the new department and the research I was supposed to do, but it never happened. And anyone who’s been in a PhD program or has earned a doctorate knows that if you don’t have a borderline obsession with your research, it’s torture. That, in tandem with a…ahem…heavy handed…supervisor and advisor, I was in a constant state of stress and misery.

So, I was offered a job doing something creative with bennies to boot, and I accepted! It’s a very exciting new chapter that I am so ready to begin.

But with that comes a whole host of new things. And let’s face it: Change is tough. Over the last few years, I’ve had the luxury of a fairly flexible schedule (this job is 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, with about a 45-minute commute each way), and I’ve generally had the time to cook a breakfast, go to the gym later in the morning, come home and shower and cook a lunch, and then go to class or work in the evening. That is, I’ve had a fairly stable schedule of going to the gym and doing cooking spur-of-the-moment almost every day.

In a week, my schedule will be more along these lines:

4:45 a.m. Wake up
5:30 a.m. WOD
8 a.m. Leave for work
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Work
5:30–9 p.m. Second job (2–3 days per week)
9:30 p.m. Get home

I know I’m not alone. There are many of you out there who probably have similar grueling schedules. Right?

So…how do you make this schedule work for you? How do you pack food for an entire day away (often I have no idea how hungry I will be from day to day!)?

I worked full-time when I lived in Portland, but I never went to the gym, and I didn’t hold a second job. So I could get used to waking up early and having a longer commute, but I never made time to exercise or do much else than go to happy hours with friends. How do you all hold it together, budget your time, and still find time to go grocery shopping?

If I think of my life as a puzzle, when I’m sort of just replacing my school piece with a work piece, all of the other pieces have to fit into place, but maybe just in a different way than I expected.

And, of course, it’s going to take some adjustment. Hrmph.

So give me your tips! What should I prepare for? What helps you through? Comment below to let me know!

Back, but never really gone

As you may have guessed, I’m back dabbling in the blogosphere. And, as many of you have so kindly pointed out already, it’s been a very, very long time. Believe it or not, I didn’t intend to stop and even during my hiatus I regularly thought about this blog and what I was doing. But the funny thing is, if you’re not inspired and you don’t find the time to write, then you don’t.

I’m on my way back to finding inspiration. Am I there yet? I’m not sure. But I do know that I am going to make an effort to spend more time writing, because it’s therapeutic for me, and it’s something I haven’t taken time for at all recently.

Without going into gory details right now, I suppose it would be important for all of you to know that this renaissance will be a gradual one. As I mentioned yesterday, coming back to Crossfit after even a few weeks off is like reentry into the atmosphere. It’s painful and it hurts and it’s just a big change. Well, it’s kind of the same when you get back into making yourself vulnerable online. Though, if I think about it, my entire life for the past year has been a series of reentries, if you will, which was part of the reason the hiatus occurred in the first place. Major life changes, ya know? The last time I published here (before yesterday) was in February. Around that time, I met a boy and fell in love. It was a long-distance relationship, so all of my free time was sucked up. During the week I worked and did school, on the weekends we saw each other. That’s all I had time for. It was a constant struggle of learning how to make a healthy lifestyle work when I was constantly living between two cities.

Then a few months ago, we moved in together. Another big change! Loverboy got a job near me, and then I found myself navigating a no-longer-long-distance relationship, living with another person, and balancing a relationship, school, work, exercise, etc., etc., etc. A challenge indeed! A challenge I’m still working through!

Good news is, I’m still here. But I’m not the same person, certainly, and my goals and my lifestyle have changed. With that, this blog is changing.

For one, I’m not going to preach about nutrition. At least for now. If the last year or so has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes I think I know what I’m talking about, but I really don’t. I’m focusing on whole foods and healthy foods, but I’m no longer shoving anything down anyone’s throats. If I post a recipe, know it will be delicious and nutritious, and something that perhaps the vegetable hater will enjoy (Loverboy hates veg, so this is a “fun” challenge).

Also, there will be considerably less photos, at least for now. I now go to a Crossfit that does not regularly take photos, and I really like to focus on exercising over taking gym selfies, so you’ll just have to take my word for whatever over a photo. Sorry, guys!

Another thing, maybe? A new focus? A focus on being happy and healthy and knowing that these positive thoughts and words will ultimately fuel my external success and outcomes. A lot of people have also asked me where I am on my weight loss journey. Suffice it to say, I have not yet reached my 100# mark. In fact, with all the little reentries over the year, the scale tipped a little in the other direction. My emphasis is not going to be on the number of pounds being lost, but other nonscale victories as well as positive self-talk. Because that’s what I need right now.

So yes, I’m back, but in a slightly different capacity.

I hope that you can grow with me now, and bathe yourself in a positive, sparkly light, and to embark on this continuing journey, seeking happiness and health!