Monday, May 25, 2015

Breaking Free (or trying to)

Almost 6 years ago to the day, I walked into Weight Watchers because I was scared.  I was scared for my health and my future.  With each pound I lost, I was scared that I would gain it back.  Over the years, I had lost over 115 pounds.  That was 3 years ago.  Since my lowest weight, I've fluctuated but I've put on around 20 back.  I have lived my life in a way that is driven by food and fear.  I was most successful on Weight Watchers but I am totally burned out on counting.  I can't just go to a restaurant or store without meticulously worrying about what I'm going to eat.  If I'm "being good," I feel like I'm missing out, if I'm "being bad," I binge until I'm physically ill.

I am terrified of not being on a diet because I'm terrified of gaining weight.  Why is that? Perhaps I didn't feel like I had self-worth when I had 100 extra pounds.  I find people's reaction to my before and after pictures to be jarring at times.  I put myself out there in a public forum so I should be prepared to talk about my weight loss but it's funny because when people approach me face to face about the blog, I cringe.  I want it to stop immediately.  It's because I am not always a picture of perfection.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was discussing my before and after picture and like many people she couldn't hide her astonishment at the difference.  I'm used to getting "you've lost a ton of weight" or "I didn't even recognize you."  What she said was, "don't take this the wrong way but you weren't sexy then.  You're sexy now." I know her and I know she didn't mean harm but I haven't been able to shake it.  I can be sensitive but I come from an open and honest family so I have pretty thick skin when I need to but I think this bothered me so much because it's a fear that I have. I often associate self-worth with how fat I feel at the time.  I'm a college instructor with a masters degree and my whole entire idea of worthiness stems around how big my belly is at the moment.  Sometimes I feel like I wasn't a real person when I was significantly overweight.  Society certainly treated me that way.  I treated myself that way.

I ordered some self help books a few months ago on binge-eating and anxiety which are both problems I have (I'm realizing more and more that they go hand in hand) and they've been collecting dust.  I decided to pick up the book I bought, "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth because I have been more depressed about weight than ever.  Ian and I were going out the other night and I put on a dress that I typically love and I caught a glimpse in the mirror and immediately burst into tears.  I thought I looked pregnant and hideous.  Ian of course told me (as he does often) that he thinks I'm beautiful but as we can all relate, it doesn't really matter if you feel gross.  That same night another friend complimented my dress and necklace.  My immediate reaction was to call myself a disgusting cow.  The words came out before I could stop them.  I could tell she was uncomfortable because who wouldn't be?

There are lots of things that shape the image you have of yourself.  For me, I know that while I was an average sized child, I was called fat my whole life because I wasn't skinny.  Various family members and friends have made comments since I can remember.  Some have been subtle, some not so subtle.   I have been aware of my weight my entire life.  I think of food and/or how I look constantly.  I am completely imprisoned by my thoughts about weight.

Two days ago I picked up this book and opened it and spent the first several chapters sobbing.  Someone gets it.  I know there are thousands of people that can relate but her arrangement of words and in-depth knowledge has been so eye-opening for me.  We live in fear and that's why we binge or hide food.  If we are on a diet we are terrified of cheating on the diet in fear we will gain weight.  If we do cheat, we are afraid we need to stock up on food like pizza since it may take awhile to get it again which is why we eat a whole pizza.

I have decided to go diet free for awhile.  Ultimately, the goal is to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm satisfied.  This may mean I will mess up but I have to be OK with that and realize that I'm human.  This won't be an easy task.  In fact, I was totally terrified today (my first day).  She says, "The only thing stronger than fear was the desire not to live in fear for the rest of my life."  Not having structure is agonizing for me.  The same is also true for a rigid dieting system at this point.

I have written in my planner "NO CHEATING!" I have reminders about weight and exercise written all over my daily calendar. When I fail, I can see it right there in black and white.  I am not exaggerating when I say that over the past 3 years, when I've gained weight or binged, I have 100% hated who I was inside and out.  This is not a healthy pattern.

So, she encourages a few things that I'm going to try.

1. ) Eat what you want when you're hungry and stop when you're satisfied.  The good news is, I know how to eat healthy and I like healthy foods but over the years I've restricted myself in certain areas, which has caused me to binge on things like fruits and cheese which are fine in moderation.
2.) Stop relying on the scale.  I'm going to give myself a break on the scale because it's not healthy to allow a machine to dictate your entire day.  She warns that you may gain weight the first week or two and that you may fluctuate and that while it's scary, you have to trust yourself and stop beating yourself up.  I can always tell by my clothes if I'm gaining weight.  I'm not saying I'll never weigh again but I have an unhealthy relationship with the scale right now.  When I feel that seeing a number won't send me into a reeling depression, I'll weigh then.
3.) Stop eating while standing up.  I've been diet free for one day and I've noticed myself eating standing up 4 times.  She encourages you to sit and enjoy your food, put the fork down in between bites and examine the taste.
4.) Be OK with not finishing your plate.  Many of us have grown up with the "clean your plate" mentality.  If you're satisfied, you should stop eating.  When I'm dieting I eat everything on my plate because "I counted it" and when I'm binging I eat everything because I can't stop until I'm sick.  I tried this today and I left bites at breakfast lunch and dinner.  For dinner I ate in 3 shifts. I was trying to listen to my body so I only ate when I felt hungry.  I also ate healthy all day.  She encourages eating what you want but I'm still scared.
5.) Quit beating yourself up and letting the judgments of others (or the thought of other people judging you) effect you.  I am notorious for hating myself for eating certain things. Roth argues that if you eat what you want, you'll be satisfied with a normal amount of food (like pizza) because you could always have it tomorrow too if you want it that bad.  If you say you can never have pizza, you feel the need to stock up on it so you binge on it.  I am also going to stop using exercise as a reward/punishment system.  I end up working out over 2 hours so I can feel OK about one drink or a taco or I don't exercise at all because I'm so burned out and I eat everything in the house.  I'm still going to schedule some exercise but I'm not going to force myself to run 5 miles if my body isn't up to it.

I don't know if this will work.  I'm not saying I'll never diet again but I'm going to start being easier on myself.  I want to put less pressure on myself and get rid of all the structure.  I've been on this diet roller coaster since I was a kid.  I know how to eat now and what's good for my body.  I also know leniency is important in moderation.  I have to trust myself.  It may take me awhile to get there but I have to try. I am still going to make recipes and make it my goal to trust myself and be good to my body.  Of course I will update you on all of this.  I would love to know if any of you struggle with the same things.  I highly encourage you to read this book!

I know this is a bit of a transition but despite the emotional turmoil of being someone trapped by body image, I had an amazing week.  Ian and I got the experience of a lifetime when we were allowed to pet penguins and sea otters at the Georgia Aquarium.  We had a great weekend!

Until next time y'all...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Head in the Clouds

Hey y'all.  I hope your Monday is treating you right so far.  I've become that annoying person who forgets what day it is during the summer.  I woke up thinking it was Saturday.  I've been so lazy the past couple weeks.  I have been exercising 5-6 days a week still but it's nothing like my normal regimen and I've been eating everything in sight.  I plan on getting back in the game on Thursday and then having a perfect week next week.  I am weighing on 5/30 to see what the damage of birthday month has done.  I'm ready to get back to business.  I'm going to start being more productive next week.  I have convinced myself that I have earned a little sloth time but that's over within the next couple days.  My clothes are tight, I have an extra chin and I'm lethargic all the time and I don't like it.  It's amazing what a couple weeks of yummy fattening food can do to someone.  Ian and I are headed to Atlanta this afternoon because we are making a trip to the Georgia Aquarium tomorrow to meet a penguin.  I'm so excited!

The only recipe I have to show you today is called "Eggs in the Clouds."  I saw these on Pinterest and found a recipe.  I usually shy away from anything that requires stiff peaks because I attempted to make an angel food cake one time from scratch and it was a disaster but I decided to give it another shot.  I eat a lot of eggs so I thought this would be a nice departure from my typical over medium style egg breakfast.  My only mistake was thinking that I could obtain stiff peaks by hand.  There were folks in my apartment that were sleeping so I tried to whisk them by hand and after several minutes of whisking to no avail, I gave up and got out the hand mixer.  Within less than a minute, I had the stiff peaks I was looking for.  At that point, you just pile up the egg whites on a cookie sheet (that is sprayed with Pam) and add the yolk you separated from the whites in the beginning to the center.  Before I added the whites to the pan, I folded in some pizza seasoning for flavor.  It didn't take long for it to brown and turn into the "Eggs in the Clouds." I wouldn't do this every morning because it adds about 10 minutes to your routine but it was nice for a change and tasted yummy.  I served it with bacon.  I would definitely recommend this recipe.

I wanted to share a new snack that I found.  These are dried coconut chips.  If you like coconut, you will love these.  They are just crunchy, thin pieces of coconut that have been toasted.  They are a nice balance of sweet and natural and the nutrition facts aren't too bad either.  Try and find these at your local grocery store (I got mine at Target) and you won't regret it!

I had a wonderful birthday week.  Thanks to everyone who made it special.

I'm sure I will have details and pics from the penguin trip next week.

Until next time...

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Little Things

Hi everyone. Monday is here again.  I have decided to postpone stepping on the scale until 5/30.  I have been a lazy bum who eats everything in sight for the past several days. Today has been a bit better and I finally went to the gym this morning but things won’t get totally back to normal until next week. This week is my birthday and I’ve planned a multitude of cheat meals which is pretty normal for me.  I’ll have a few weeks of work cut out for me when birthday week is over to get off this May weight.

It’s summer time and one way to make a quick lunch is to stuff your favorite ingredients inside a giant piece of lettuce.  The lettuce is light and almost no calories and provides a light alternative for bread.  I made these tasty treats super quickly.  They are BLT roll ups. I don’t like tomatoes so I used sun dried instead.  All I did was add a bit of light mayo, bacon and sun dried tomatoes and rolled them up.  They were a low cal, slow carb friendly treat.

Eating at fast food places is difficult (especially when you are doing without carbs).  You may already know this but there are two places that have options for you. The first is Chick-Fil-A.  They have grilled chicken nuggets which are delicious, low in calories.  You also have the option to get fruit as a side if you want a combo.  Also, Bojangles has roasted chicken bites that you can get with green beans.  Of course, it comes with a biscuit that you’ll have to toss or give your boyfriend but it’s a nice option for a quick dinner.  It’s especially convenient for me because there’s one right by my house.

Finally, I went 3 or 4 days with no physical activity which is unusual for me and always eliminates my motivation.  I decided to start a 30 day challenge that I’ll do in addition to my regular workouts.  It’s only a few minutes out of my day and hopefully it will be a nice small goal to motivate me.  Some other folks I know in a Facebook group are also doing it and that always helps too.  I’m going to be exercising all week but I plan to go even harder next week.

I didn’t go to Atlanta this past weekend as planned because my friend Cassandra’s father passed away.  As my mother said, Cass is more than a friend, she’s family so I’m heartbroken for her and ask that you send good vibes to her and her family during this difficult time.  They are experiencing some financial difficulties so if anyone has any interest in helping out, please let me know.  Other than that, thank you for any thoughts and prayers that you can provide.  This will be a tough road ahead for all of them. 

My penguin trip will be the 19th now so that will be a fun time to look forward to!

Have a good week!

Until next time...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Variety Hour

Hey y'all! I want to give an early Mother's Day shout out.  Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there and a special Happy Mother's Day to my mom! Thanks for all you do.  I don't have a great transition so I will just get right to it. I decided not to weigh this weekend.  There was too much going on and I didn't feel like being disappointed.  I ate too much this weekend of course but I exercised like crazy.  I may not weigh the next week or two and just see where I'm at the last week in May but I'm not sure.  I had a great time celebrating a number of things this past weekend and this week will be no different.  Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and this weekend I'm headed to Atlanta to go to the aquarium to meet a penguin! Also, Mother's Day is Sunday night.  THEN, the next week is my birthday.  What I'm saying is, my plan is to be good a majority of the time but weight loss is out of the question over the next couple of weeks.  I'm having a good day so far.  I ran 5 miles and had a salad for lunch but I'm making no promises.  We will just see where I'm at around the end of May.  This month is always hard and I'm fine with that because it's such a fun month.

The first recipe this week was delicious and fancy (for me) and it gave me an opportunity to cook in my new cast iron skillet.  It's Balsamic Pork Chops with vegetables.  I like this because it has a bit of a rustic feel to it.  You chop the potatoes (they were for Ian) and onions in big chunks so it doesn't take long.  I microwaved the potatoes a few minutes prior to baking them to ensure they were done.  All you do is create a balsamic sauce that includes balsamic vinegar, tomato paste and some spices and pour some over the vegetables while they bake and then some over the whole dish when it's done.  You get the skillet nice and hot and sear the pork chops on either side then set them on a plate.  You then pile the veggies in and bake them for awhile, then add the pork towards the end.  I ate all the mushrooms and onions and Ian ate the potatoes (I also served his with bread and mach & cheese.  I served mine with wine)  When it's done you top with parsley.  I would have liked some of the pork to be a bit more tender but overall the dish had great flavor and was pretty easy to make.

The next recipe is perfect for a healthy summer lunch.  I microwaved some asparagus then added spices to it and let it broil for a few minutes to get crispy.  While that was going on, I mixed together the low fat olive oil and vinegar dressing I have with dijon mustard to make a sauce.  I peeled a couple leftover Easter eggs (I made this several weeks ago) and heated up some bacon.  When the asparagus was done I added it to a plate, poured on the dressing, crumbled the bacon and added the eggs.  It had a lot of flavor because of the dressing and the protein made for a filling dish.  This was simple and fast and I would most definitely make it again.

Finally, I had a craving for a burger and had quite a few calories left so I threw together a bread-less hamburger/hot dog meal.  I used one turkey patty, one burger patty, bacon and a fried egg to make a giant double burger wrapped in lettuce.  I also made a hot dog with a lettuce bun.  Finally, I cut up a cucumber to resemble a fry shape and called them "cucumber fries."  I was reaching here but when all was said and done I had a huge plate of food and satisfied my need for a burger.

I hope you all have a great week. I'm sure I will have lots to report next week!

Until next time...