This past fall I did something very stupid.
I felt like I ate too much, so I started seeing if I could — in frugality terms — get by on less.
I found it to be very easy, and I also found myself becoming lighter. I’ve told myself in the past that “if I don’t eat it, I don’t have to work it off.” While I think this is a healthy attitude, generally-speaking, what is not healthy is what I did next. I started to not really eat at all, if I could help it.
I wasn’t prepared for the fallout.
I felt stupid, but looked awesome. My mental capacity left me open to being incapable of handling mental blows to my self-esteem. Logic started escaping me. I had no energy.
But I was easily lured into this trap I’d dug for myself as my body got smaller and smaller. My clothes started looking like tents on my shrinking frame. Peers were telling me that I looked great.
So, this is how supermodels and the like do it, I told myself. It’s not so hard. I can definitely get by on less — or nothing at all, if I means I look like this and people tell me how great I look. But, I felt so awful inside.
Cue the many times that things happened within work and personal life that just seemed unreasonably hard. Cue the times my husband asked me if I had eaten anything while he was away on his business trip. Cue not being able to finish any meal unless it was absolutely tiny. Cue living mostly off coffee. Cue constantly wondering what the point of life is — and not for the first time in my life to have that thought. Cue worrying about what might be happening to my internal organs due to dehydration — are my kidneys okay?, etc.
Cue my telling my doctor that I needed to be referred to a therapist to talk about self-esteem and depression. That I refused to go on medicines for this anymore because they made me feel awful in the past.
Eventually after some counseling — mostly what I gleaned through reading David Burns’s Feeling Good — I did indeed develop more self-esteem than I had going into what I now see as personal crisis. I knew I needed to re-write my inner valuation of myself. Yes, I did deserve to eat. Yes, I did deserve to feel good about myself. It’s not selfish to want to live. Wow, that sounds so horrible as I write it out, but that’s where I’ve been.
As I buffeted myself on living out a much healthier vantage point, I turned back to food. I thankfully did not go buckwild, because my life has lots of photographic evidence keeping me from really letting myself go again. I say that tongue-in-cheek because the periods of my life when I’ve been the heaviest were generally the happiest times of my life! Weird…
Anyway, I started actually eating food again, actually liking life again, and definitely am feeling better, even though I’ve gained 9 pounds. While I know I’m technically still a small person, I still don’t feel comfortable at this weight, which is most likely just in my head. I right now weigh exactly what I weighed when I was in 7th grade through high school, what I weighed when I graduated college, and only a few pounds more than what I weighed on my wedding day.
Ughhhh, I hate that I obsess over this, but were you to find my diary, you’d see this is a life-long obsession with me. I vowed at an early age (12 or so) to be healthy and never be overweight because I saw what obesity does to people I love. I feel that obesity runs in my family on both sides, plus I knew overweight teachers and even fellow classmates. I just wasn’t going to be “that person,” dangit!
I really want to share some joy around what I’ve been doing to change, not drag you down a dark hole of my weight issues that leads only to massive self-pity and self-loathing.
Two Thursdays ago, I was in early morning Bible Study with the 8th grade girls and their senior leaders. One of the seniors had a smoothie. She said that her mom had put the family on a diet that is supposed to combat cancer (they’ve had some family issues with cancer, sadly, so I know this helps them feel good). I thought back to the time two years ago when I went nutso with fresh fruits and veggies and hula hooping and how great I had felt when I was eating that way. With my 9 pound weight gain, I have developed again what Josef and I affectionately call my “big middle.” Because my body is mostly legs (I’m 5’2″ and my hips are at 3′), my torso is really short. Any time I gain weight, it mostly gathers in my mid-section, which unfortunately makes me look like I am carrying a baby when in fact I am not. Don’t worry, Josef doesn’t harp on me about this, but it helps to have a sense of humor about my body rather than a sense of remorse over not having been born with a longer torso to balance things out better!
My smoothies have been really, really basic but really awesome. I’d thought about taking a multi-vitamin last fall but hated how enormous and dry the tablet was, so I decided to put the multi-vitamin in my smoothy. I don’t put any dairy products, ice, or water into my smoothy. I work off of a list of enticing options so my smoothy is different every day — as in, I don’t get bored since it tastes different every day.
Here’s the list that I draw from. I use maybe 6 ingredients, max, across the lists, but I always have some combination of the items below, and always have the multi-vitamin and juice. I try to avoid the canned fruit in favor of fresh.
Fresh: apple, banana, orange, tomato, carrot, ginger root, peach, pear, red bell pepper, nectarine
Canned: any fruit that comes in its own juice – no heavy syrup.
Frozen: organic fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and even rhubarb.
Juice: anything with no sugar added. I’ve been using a cup max of Northland’s dark fruit juices.
Multi-vitamin: Centrum’s Ultra Women’s
Nuts: raw natural almonds
I make 32 oz. in my blender and take it work in my Nalgene bottle. It takes me a few hours to finish it because it’s thick.
Ever since I started this diet, I have had so much more energy, mental capacity, patience, and I am actually breathing better. My vision has also improved. I don’t feel like drinking alcohol, and I don’t really feel like I need coffee either. The coffee I drink is to get warm at work (I don’t drink it at home), but otherwise, I don’t need it. I haven’t craved sodas, either. I am trying to figure out who this new girl is because I don’t really recognize her!
So, I’ve been a goody-goody the last week-and-a-half, eating these amazing smoothies that have, seriously, y’all, given me so much energy that I can’t sit still.
I. Have. To. Run.
It occurred to me last week that I wanted to go running. I didn’t have a specific goal in mind, except to just move it, move it.
I will tell you that in the past, I would rather have done ANYTHING besides run. In soccer conditioning and before all soccer practices, we were to run 2 miles, and I never finished before we were supposed to, so I rarely made it to the 6th lap before our coach called us in to start the drills. I did run junior and senior year of college to lose weight (dating Josef made me happy so I got rather chubby that year!), but I never really liked it. I’ve tried running at other times, but I also have issues with breathing, side cramps, knee pain, even pain in my shoulders from swinging my arms around.
I casually, because I have all this exess energy now, went running in our school gym. Knowing my past history with pain/annoyance when I run, I figured it’d be a massive failure.
However, turns out? I’m *kinda* good at it. I haven’t had ANY running cramps and can easily run 30 minutes. I may even be able to run more. I ran in our very hilly neighborhood yesterday because I didn’t run on Saturday but I needed to exercise. I thought I physically was incapable of running in our ‘hood, but I proved myself wrong! Also, I had a horrible time in yoga class prior to changing my diet, and this last week? Yoga class was nothing short of awesome!
Again, who is this girl???? I don’t have a specific goal with my running, but I definitely have to do it as I have way too much energy if I don’t go run.
I am feeling SO good, so happy, so full. And I can run! It’s an awesome feeling and I wanted to write about it in case this helps someone else.
Oh, and in terms of the rest of my diet, I eat a smallish lunch and a balanced dinner. I do crave chocolate after my runs, so I congratulate myself with it if I can talk myself into eating it. So far that hasn’t been an issue. 🙂 I am hoping I can keep up this momentum and stay healthy and keep exercising, and stray far from thinking poorly about myself because that only makes every area of my life hard to deal with.