A few weeks ago, I promised you a post that would get real about where I am with my body image right now. This is that post.
As I mentioned on Monday, I’m in a state of confusion about what to do regarding my somewhat uncooperative body. Over the last two years, I’ve slowly gained weight — and during the last two months, it’s accelerated to the point that I’m getting a little nervous about my wardrobe. (A girl’s gotta be able to wear cute outfits!) I wanted to share all of this with you because (1) it’s not cool for me to keep complaining without offering more information, and (2) maybe some of you are having similar issues and it will help to know you’re not alone. I like to be able to give you answers, but right now, I only have questions.
I’m hoping that my appointment next Monday with Dr. Sebring (PaleoFX presenter, specializes in anti-aging and metabolic issues) will at least provide some direction, if not definitive answers. At this point, it seems like all of the advice I find contradicts the other well-reasoned advice I find…
– eat more calories / eat less calories
– track your food / just listen to your body
– low carb for weight loss / moderate carb for weight loss
– train harder / go easier
– try intermittent fasting / if you have any stress, do not try intermittent fasting
… and on and on like that.
So I’m turning to a professional to see if between blood work, his clinical experience, and his paleo philosophy, we can cook up an n=1 experiment that makes sense because my self-experimentation is failing pretty miserably.
Before we jump into the fray, there are a few things you should know:
1. I am not being hard on myself.
In fact, I’m treating myself better now than I ever have before (since I adopted a new philosophy in 2011). I eat when I’m hungry (which, as a lifelong dieter, I didn’t always do.) I sleep when I’m tired (which, as a lifelong over-achiever, I didn’t always do). I workout with commitment but not abandonment of good sense (which, as a CrossFit admirer, I didn’t always do). Everything you’re about to read should be absorbed with this context: I love my body for all it can do, and I want it to be as strong, healthy, and sexy as possible.
2. I have a history.
For new readers, you might not know that this blog began in 2008 when I was new to CrossFit. I’d joined a CrossFit bootcamp to fight the good fight against the ravages of turning 40, and that was just one step in a continuum that included Weight Watchers, the Zone, Roller Derby, step aerobics, and running. I’ll skip all the interim details and give you the stats: I started my odyssey at 5’4″ and 192.5 pounds. When I reached my goal weight — just a few months before a thyroid nodule required the removal of my thyroid — I tipped the scales at 145 pounds of fury. I felt the best I’ve ever felt in my life: energetic, confident, fierce. Food wasn’t the enemy; working out was fun. I felt so strongly that I was finally becoming my true self. Then I had my thyroid removed, and my new-found, healthy body started to disappear. My self-experimentation began, and since my thyroidectomy, I’ve never felt as good again. (Here’s more on my weight loss adventures.)
3. I want to lose weight.
I know that statement is considered un-PC in many (CrossFit, paleo) circles. I guess I’m supposed to say I want to “lean out,” or “improve my body comp,” or even the somewhat more accepted “look good naked.” I’m old school: I want to lose weight. That doesn’t mean I’m going to step on the scale — another behavior I’ve jettisoned in the interests of treating myself well — but I want my clothes to fit and look good. I worked hard to learn to love my body and to reach a healthy, fit weight, and I’m not ashamed that there is some vanity driving my goals. I suppose there’s a good argument to be made that if I’m healthy, the size on the tag inside my jeans shouldn’t matter. I agree; I don’t give a damn what the number is on the tag — but I want the jeans to fit. Right now, they’re stretching the bounds of “fit” and “girlfriend, go up a size.”
So here’s the deal:
In November, I embarked on The Healing Experiment to see if dialing down my high-intensity workouts, managing my stress, and adding more carbs to my diet would counteract the slow weight gain I’d been experiencing. There have been some very positive outcomes from my experiment:
1. I love yoga and meditation.
If you read my yoga and meditation posts in order from oldest to newest, you’ll see that I was a vehement skeptic. I went to my first yoga class figuratively kicking and screaming — now I can’t imagine my life without my crazy-groovy Kundalini classes or the Saturday morning laugh-fest that is Hatha Star. There is no doubt that my guided meditation recordings have helped me relax and focus while I’m doing them, and have taught me tools I can use in the moment when I’m about to spaz out. Breathing properly is just about the greatest thing ever.
2. Taking a break from high-intensity was a relief.
Once I’d gotten over the obstinance of not wanting to give up CrossFit, I had to admit to myself that I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Writing Well Fed while holding down a full-time job and doing all of the usual life stuff — training, cooking, socializing — wore me out. But as long as I was on the treadmill of life, I couldn’t admit it to myself. A wise friend told me that I shouldn’t return to high-intensity workouts until I could no longer tolerate not doing them. That time only arrived a few weeks ago — and it feels good to be moving hard and fast again, although only once or twice a week now, instead of four or five.
3. The 12-hour eating window and “no snack” policy are kickass.
My first few days of my new “no snacking” rule, I was pretty aggro. I even said to Dave, “I feel like someone put me on a diet.” But a very interesting, awesome thing happened after about three days of no snacks: my appetite decreased. BLAM! Just like that, I was no longer looking at the clock to see when I could eat my snack — and once I got used to eating dinner early like a penny-pincher enjoying an Early Bird Special, chowing down on dinner at least three hours before bedtime was no big deal either. These are two habits that I’m going to keep.
4. Gaining a little weight is not the end of the world.
I have a great life. I’m in love with my husband, and that man is not only easy on the eyes, he’s smart, funny, supportive, and talented. Plus, there’s my loving family and Smudge and all of you. We published a cookbook of which we’re immensely proud, and I left my full-time job to work in support of our business. I am all optimism and excitement about life right now. So no, being a few pounds over my personal ideal is hardly a tragedy. But it is a troubling annoyance. And frustrating as all get out. And I want to fix it.
Here’s my thing…
I can remember how good I felt a few years ago when I had my lightest, fittest body. I could knock out a 5k like a walk in the park. I bounced out of bed in the morning and went like gangbusters until bedtime, without a glitch. I had zero stress when it was time to get dressed because everything in my closet fit, and I liked the way I looked in all of it.
Last week before a special event, I tried on and discarded four dresses, on the brink of tears (that threatened to smear my carefully applied eye liner), before I settled on the one dress that made me feel the least unattractive. I don’t like what that experience does to my psyche.
When I say, “I want to lose weight.” all of the above is rolled into that statement. I want to grab outfits from my closet with abandon. I want to run around the lake without thinking about it too hard. [vanity alert] I want to see the lines of muscle in my shoulders and feel my jeans sit loosely on my hips. I want to feel like the best version of me — and I refuse to think that there’s anything wrong with those desires.
I love my body for all it can do, and I want to dress it up and show it off.
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