Cruise Control in a Demolition Derby

I was feeling great. My path felt clear, unobstructed. I was feeling liberated from my destructive behaviors. I was finding it easy and rewarding to follow my meal plan, I was enjoying my daily walks. I had shifted into cruise control.

I have only been back on this path since the start of the new year. This isn’t shifting into cruise control on an open highway – it’s cruise control in a demolition derby. 

A demolition derby isn’t a comfortable, safe, modern vehicle gliding across a freshly paved multi-lane interstate. It’s a junker with a punctured radiator plucked from a wrecking yard, grinding on three flat tires through mud, pounded on all sides from by junkers and flying debris. Just surviving it requires unwavering focus and determination. 

Over the weekend, I took a few hits to the core trauma. Rather than keeping my eye on the situation, rather than acknowledge I was on a dubious foundation and on a course full of potential hazards, I checked out by switching to auto pilot. I didn’t deal with my emotions or the behaviors resulting from them. I disregarded them, dismissed them as “water under the bridge.” Then I shifted, spending (wasting) my clarity walks on sort of irrelevant but feel-good topics. Unaddressed, the painful feelings arising from my negative core beliefs stewed beneath it all. That culminated in a nearly two-pound weight gain this week. 

Sometimes I think that eating is the only unproductive, unhealthy coping mechanism in which I engage but it isn’t. Distraction is definitely one of my coping mechanisms. By immersing myself in distracting thoughts and activities, I can conveniently ignore – and cease working on – my problems. Working on my issues is painful and my distractions, whether that be outfitting my bike with artistic decorations for the Spring or driving across the greater South Bay searching for Cotton Candy Manic Panic to dye my hair, feels like it gets me out of feeling that pain. That is an illusion, though. The pain is still very much there, still very much impacting my emotional, physical and mental health. 

It may sound strange, but I am grateful for my weight gain this week. It has jarred me awake, gotten me back in the present – back in the derby, my hands on the wheel, my eyes peeled for the hits that could be coming my way. 

Next Level Me

Don’t you just love a New Year? A fresh start, a new beginning, a time when it feels like the future is ripe with possibility and we have the opportunity to leave everything we don’t want behind. Intellectually, we all know that every waking minute of every day offers this – there is no reason to wait for a New Year or a birthday or a Monday or whatever arbitrary starting line we designate. But I love the magic and promise of a New Year and this year is no different. 

In mid-December I discovered a new-to-me podcast: Bad Bitches Losing Weight with Melissa Ronda. I began binge-listening, furiously taking notes, and thinking, “damn, this woman totally gets me.” I’m sure the podcast will feature in future entries, but I wanted to talk about one episode in particular today. “WWNLMD?!?” The title is a play on the WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bumper sticker phenomenon and the acronym stands for “What Would Next Level Me Do?!” The episode talks about getting a clear picture of what the evolved version of yourself looks like, how she thinks and acts, how she shows up, what she will and won’t tolerate and then checking in with yourself when the need arises, asking yourself what would next level me do in this situation? For instance, maybe you want to eat something counterproductive to your goals, you ask “would next level me eat this?” 

Over the next few weeks, I did a lot of contemplation and journaling defining the next level version of myself. I was all-in. I could see her in my mind’s eye: I knew what she looked like, how she did hair, what she wore, what she listened to, how she would act in situations. I got a crystal-fucking-clear picture of wo I wanted to be. As a New Year’s Resolution, I created a list of 13 defining qualities of next level me (fully anticipating this list will grow and evolve over time). On January 1, I hung my nifty, designy “Next Level Me” sheet on the refrigerator and, at first, I was on it. Bam-bam-bam, check-check-check, checking off these qualities and focusing on being this version of myself. Of course, over the following weeks I started slowly taking my foot off the gas and emotionally detaching from wanting the things on the list. This is kind of crazy, right? Why would I not want this? These are really awesome qualities on this list. Why grow complacent about those desires? Why would they stop feeling less important than having king cake and chocolate parfaits? At first, I didn’t really realize how much I had detached from the wants on this list and when I did finally realize I had detached, I didn’t really ask myself why.

I think, intuitively, my focus had shifted. Instead of spending my afternoon “clarity walks” (I’ll touch base on what a clarity walk is another post) having these detailed conversations with myself about “next level me”, I had started deep-diving into my emotional issues. The conversations with myself were really difficult but liberating ones about core trauma and core beliefs, about my relationship with food and how it was defined by those traumas and beliefs. As I was having these conversations, the desires to partake in behaviors that didn’t serve me subsided – I stopped being tempted by things in the house like cookies or cupcakes. It wasn’t about strengthening resolve or will-power, I simply stopped needing to eat to soothe emotions. This feels like a very clear, very strong indicator that I was right to trust my intuition on shifting focus, that this work is healing my heart. As I work through all this, I think – and I am theorizing here – this is going to allow me to circle back to the “Next Level Me” list in a more sustainable way. It is as if something in me knew I wasn’t fully ready for that list until I cleared some clutter, some stumbling blocks out of the way. 

As I tackle these emotional issues, I think the best route forward is to look at the list more deeply. When I first discovered I had strayed from the list, my solution was, “well, maybe I should journal about each item on the list and define it more clearly.” I don’t think that’s what I need to do – I think I know the definition of each item on the list, I had a very clear picture of it when I put it on the list. The best path forward is to journal on why I put each item on the list. There has to be a reason, a damned good reason. I don’t have to define “clean eating” for myself, it’s not a new or confusing concept. But why is “clean eating” so important to the vision I have of the best version of my future self… so important that it’s the first item on the list? Why is leaving my comfort zone and handling my shit so important? This is something worth some seriously peeling back of the onion. That next level version of myself is not at the bottom of a list, she’s at the end of a long, arduous road of introspection, understanding, accountability and work.

Exploring My Relationship With Food

Why do I eat things that are bad for me, things that don’t support my efforts? Why do I eat so much? So often? What triggers me to switch to a sort of auto-pilot state of frenzied consumption, in which my conscious self truly doesn’t wish to participate?

I think everyone can agree that eating can be a corporeally pleasurable experience. A bite of something that tastes good is physically gratifying. Even anticipating that bite can cause physical reactions of salivation and tummy grumbling. That is universal. It’s a given. What happens when you live a predominantly unpleasurable existence, when you live with depression and anxiety? 

Depression has been a near-constant for most of my life. I had my first thoughts of self-harm and suicide at age 12. I have experienced depression in levels varying from disinterest and disengagement to debilitating apathy and suicidal fantasies. At some point (a very early point, I imagine), I subconsciously learned that the pleasurable sensation of eating something gave me a few moments of alleviation from the constant sadness or nothingness. Sure, the enjoyment only lasted as long as the food lasted but it was relief, a brief time of feeling pleasure; a brief time of not feeling pain. 

In writing this, I caught myself wanting to label the feeling “happiness” or “comfort” but happiness and comfort are soul-deep emotions. Food doesn’t and can’t provide those. It can only provide the pleasurable sensation we are physiologically hardwired to experience when eating calorie-dense foods. It is easy to mistake that sensation for happiness or comfort when you don’t know or remember what those things actually feel like. I truly believe that’s what happened with me, that I began to associate those experiences of something tasty on my tongue with happiness, emotional satisfaction, and comfort. My life had little actual happiness in it for many years – party due to my external circumstances and the trauma I was experiencing/had experienced and partly due to my as-yet-undiagnosed and untreated bipolar depression.

I began to associate those experiences of something tasty on my tongue with happiness, emotional satisfaction, and comfort.

I liken it to taking pain medicine for an injury. Pain medicine doesn’t mend the injury, it only provides temporary relief from the pain of that injury. The injury is still there. The injury could even be exacerbated by the use of pain medicine if the injury is compounded by further activity during the alleviation of pain. Food doesn’t cure depression, it only engages the mind elsewhere for brief respites. The effects of eating, particularly overeating or eating unhealthy foods, can actually compound the depression by adding excess weight to the body, in my case leading to morbid obesity.

When I had my success in 2010 I had two things working in my favor.

1.     My healthy diet and consistent moderate-to-vigorous exercise regimen altered my brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and dopamine, physically relieving my depression symptoms.

2.     The process of losing weight was a pleasurable experience. It made me actually happy to have support, to weigh-in and see progress, to shop for new clothes and see my body transformed in an exciting and gratifying way.

The urge to relieve sadness with food was gone during this time, making it easy to adhere to healthy meal plans and remain motivated to exercise. Then my world got turned upside down. My weight loss stalled when I reached the limits of what my current efforts could achieve. I lost my job and I lost my support system, leaving me feeling alone and insecure about my future. Depression and anxiety returned and, because I never addressed the emotional or psychological issues behind my previous behavior, I had no healthy coping mechanisms and I resumed using food to provide momentary relief from my mental health disorder. 

I feel like there are now two important tasks for me to begin work on. The first is to begin to identify pleasurable activities I can use to interrupt bouts of depression and disinterest. So far, I have considered jigsaw puzzles, online games, adult coloring books, physical activity, playing piano, window shopping, spa baths and mani-pedis.  The second task is to continue to explore the evolution of my relationship with food because there is more much still to be unpacked. For instance, the subconscious process of briefly alleviating depression by eating eventually became habit, a ritualized compulsion regardless of the level of depression or anxiety I was experiencing and that is something to explore and understand. Nevertheless, I feel like this was a significant realization today. It makes sense, it rings true, and that gives me hope of overcoming it. 

A Return to Blogging

From the beginning of my journey, I have been focused on my weight. I talked a good game about self-care, about fitness, about motivation, about all sorts of things but every ounce of my drive was measured in pounds on a bathroom scale. Turns out, this may not be the best way to go about this. 

I took time off from blogging – about 19 months – and I made the decision to do that for a number of reasons. The first reason was that I felt obligated to generate content on a regular basis, which put me in a position of trying to write when I had nothing meaningful to say. I read some of those posts now and have to refrain from rolling my eyes as a few range from pretentious to banal. The second reason I stepped away was a nagging case of imposter syndrome. Who am I to dole out weight loss advice when I have never actually reached my weight loss goals, when I struggle as much as I do? I felt like a fraud, like I was all self-righteous talk without the results to back that up. The third reason I stopped blogging was that this blog really doesn’t have a large readership and it often felt like I was screaming into the void. Seriously, my own family didn’t even read this. 

Why on earth would I come back now? Most simply put, things have changed. 

I have started, for the first time in my journey, to really start digging deep into my emotional issues. I recognize that this is not a weight loss journey but a transformative journey of body and soul. I recognize that, until they are addressed, the issues driving my behavior will continue to reemerge and hinder my progress. It isn’t enough to want to lose weight. My weight was never my problem, it was a symptom of my problems. I wear my trauma on my body, like an anchor tethering me to my past. 

I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking to myself aloud, a lot of journaling trying to learn about the roots of my behaviors. I have been examining my core traumas, looking back in time to identify when coping mechanisms were adopted and patterns emerged. Looking inward doesn’t feel like enough. I feel the need to engage in the cathartic practice of writing my discoveries down. This is the deep dive. The peeling of the onion. The unpacking of baggage. I am the cartographer of the roadmap of my life. I write when I have something to say. I write with brutal, painful, potentially embarrassing candor without any hope or expectation of inspiring anyone. Finally, I write for an audience of one: myself. 

New Year’s Resolution

Where to begin…

I have about a hundred thoughts swirling in my head regarding what I wanted to write about today. Do I talk about my holiday self-sabotage? Do I talk about my New Year’s resolution and my current mindset? I guess I want to talk about it all as it is all related. I guess I don’t really want to talk about any of it – I just want to get to work and DO IT.

I gave myself permission to indulge over the holidays – hopefully with moderation. Given that I regained 13.6 pounds between November 27 and yesterday, it’s safe to say moderation went the wayside. Initially, I was still meal planning and prepping and keeping within my nutritional goals during the week, indulging on the weekends. I skipped the gym for the last two weeks of November, went back for the first week of December then didn’t go again until New Year’s Eve. Eventually, I started hitting the Christmas cookies hard in the evenings and didn’t bother planning, prepping or logging anything. I knew I had regained weight but I wasn’t expecting to have gained quite so much. Given my behavior, I should have expected it. That said, I was surprisingly un-upset by it. I see it simply just a starting point, the beginning of the next part of my weight loss story (I hope).

You see, I made an official New Year’s Resolution to reach my goal weight in 2019. If you follow my Instagram account, you would know that I have been building up a head of steam for weeks, preparing to tackle this resolution on January 1. I treated myself to a new meal-prep perfect lunchbox, new gym clothes and shoes, and a fancy new pair of earbuds. I worked with my friend Karol to come up with SMART (Specific-Measurable-Ambitious-Realistic-Time Bound) Goal Worksheets for setting up all the short-term goals that will get me to my end goal.  I have been furiously pinning great fitspo images on my Pinterest board and compiling a new Spotify workout playlist. I set up the camera tripod in the kitchen, marking the kitchen floor with blue masking tape, so that I can take my progress photos and, hopefully one day, create a time-lapse video of my transformation.

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So here I am. January 1, 2019 and I weigh 211.1 pounds. My first SMART Goal of the year is to lose 11.3 pounds by Saturday, February 9 (get back to Onderland in just over five weeks). I have 56.2 total pounds to lose in order to reach my ultimate goal and I would love to do it by August 1. I plan to stay accountable, stay honest and make my health and weight loss a priority. I plan to keep the lessons learned over the holidays (all that junk food really, ultimately, wasn’t worth it) at the forefront of my mind and make healthier, more productive decisions. I plan to eat healthy, clean, unprocessed and nutritious foods as much as possible. I plan to give 100% of my effort, energy and dedication to my workouts. No more excuses, no more backslides, no more pity parties… that’s how I’ll reach my goal. Time to lace up those Nikes, tighten up my ponytail and take ownership of 2019. This will be my year.

Gearing Up for Success

While I am enjoying the holidays (and enjoying the holiday treats a little too much), my mind has already jumped ahead to the New Year. I have big plans for next year. I have made lots of resolutions to lose weight in the past, but they’ve all been vague, ill-equipped and unsuccessful.  This year, all of that changes as 2019 will be the year I reach my goals. As January nears, I have been preparing to tackle my goals.

Mentally, I have been scouring the internet for meal planning recipe ideas and fitness inspiration, I have been building a new and ever-evolving workout playlist on Spotify, and I have been talking to my friend about setting up a goal sheet and vision boards to both chart my plan for success and motivate me. Today, I asked myself if there are any physical items I need to literally gear up for success. These would be the items that help me in the kitchen and in the gym, that help to minimize or alleviate the excuses I make for not sticking to my plans or inspire me to work harder and stay more dedicated.

I grapple quite a bit with buying gear. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to “reward” myself before reaching goals. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really deserve it. Mostly; however, I feel like gear is superfluous – that I can make-do with things I already have, however imperfect they may be. After all, I lost over 100 pounds wearing hand-me-down gym pants and using a beat-up old iPod. Maybe some things are redundant, but I also have to acknowledge the shot-to-the-arm that new gear and a financial investment in my success can provide. I have to make my health a priority, I have to view my quest to reach my goals a worthy and important venture. I have decided that, with the help of my $250 Visa Gift Card Thanksgiving bonus (I was sitting on this bonus with the hopes of finding the perfect way to spend it) I am excited to stock up on the tools that will inspire me and make my life easier.

mealprep

From meal prep containers and a new insulated lunchbox to new wireless headphones, a progress journal, workout wear and possibly some new gym shoes, I am researching items that will make this journey easier and more streamlined while refreshing my attitude and giving me a sense of the importance and value of my success. I am so excited for this new year, so excited to put in the work, track my progress and make 2019 MY year to reach my goals. Stocking up on some great gear is going to be a fun and rewarding step in the process.

Green-Eyed Monster

I am jealous person and a terrible frenemy. I am not proud of myself. It has always been important to me to lift up other people, to support them in their efforts and encourage them. A friend of mine has been on an extremely successful weight loss journey this year and, as I have watched her progress and applauded her success, deep down I have been troubled. I am feeling envious and thinking spiteful thoughts. This negativity is not only uncharacteristic of me, it is shameful. Wanting to understand the root of my jealousy – I know it lies 100% within me and has absolutely nothing to do with my friend – I have been doing a good deal of soul searching. Over the last few months I have been paying attention to my thoughts and emotions, making mental notes of the things which trigger my strongest negative reactions, and believe I am understanding my own feelings of jealousy better.

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Most of the people currently in my life – my boyfriend, my coworkers, all the people I see on a regular basis – never knew me at 290 pounds. The people who did know me at that size have all adjusted to the way I look now, having not seen me at my largest in many years. I still have quite a bit of weight to lose but that change won’t be as dramatic as the changes my friend is seeing. It won’t be as dramatic as when I dropped from 290 to 180 pounds in 2010. The days of people being truly astonished by my progress are mostly over. People may still occasionally comment on my weight loss but I’m no longer going from morbidly obese to healthy. Furthermore, my nearly constant ups and downs over and my struggle to reach my goal has left me with the feeling that nobody (least of all myself) has much confidence in my ability to truly succeed. As a result, I feel like my weight loss journey is yesterday’s news.

In the early days of my weight loss, it was such a thrill to hear people comment on my transformation. My metamorphosis was remarkable, garnering a lot of positive attention. I didn’t want or want to need accolades or validation from other people but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to fantasizing about it long before I actually started losing weight. I imagine that’s common – envisioning people’s ecstatic and awestruck reactions, being showered with praise and adulation. When it happens, it feels amazing. It is almost addictive and, while I didn’t realize it until now, I grew to need it. Watching my friend get all of that positive (and well-deserved) attention, reading the comments on her social media posts expressing awe at the change and congratulations on her success, I am seething with jealousy.

I will never have that again and I have realized, through my friend’s success, just how much I will miss it. It is painful, hurting my heart in a way I never could have anticipated. In so many ways, my weight loss journey has defined me for the past eight years – it was the single greatest personal accomplishment of my life. Now it feels like no big deal. Watching my friend experience all those amazing firsts, earn the supportive praise, I have realized just how important those things were to my positive attitude and determination to keep going.

I have had my heyday. I have had my attention, my accolades, my awe and congratulations. That part of my journey is behind me. I have to make peace with that and I can not allow it to bring out the worst in me, to make me someone I never wanted to be – a bitter, envious and catty person. I have to find my positive attitude and my determination elsewhere. Deep down, I want my friend to experience the happiness she is no doubt feeling now. I know what that happiness feels like and I would want that for anyone who has had to be made to feel subhuman because they wore their pain and trauma on the outside, in the form of fat, for all the world to judge and criticize. I would be ashamed of my jealousy if I didn’t take the time to understand it. Having insight into its source; however, I realize I need to be gentle with myself and understanding. As much as I wish I didn’t feel this way, I have to own these feelings, see them for what they are and be accountable. I also realize the need to encourage myself, to recognize the changes I am making and celebrate them even if I am celebrating alone. This is another phase of my journey, possibly a quieter and more personal one, and that’s ok.

My Own Inner-Demon

Everything was going great. I’d been able to get consistent and dedicated with my diet and exercise routine. I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I am back in Onderland. People have been noticing. Coworkers have commented on my progress, friends and family have congratulated me on my success. I have had to buy smaller clothes and even I, my own worst critic, have noticed the physical changes in my body as I sat on the couch marveling aloud and my “skinny calves.” It has been exciting, rewarding and encouraging. It has made me feel strong, healthy and proud. So why in the hell have I started to sabotage myself?

sabotage

This isn’t new a new phenomenon. I have squared up against this enemy twice and twice been defeated by it – once in 2010 and again in 2013. Each time I came within 30 pounds of my goal weight then, without any seeming provocation or reason, I started sabotaging my success by gradually neglecting meal planning and workouts and falling back into binge eating behavior. Both times I would regain more than 40 pounds.

Over the past month I have been facing this foe once again – skipping the gym, veering from my meal plans, binge eating. The last time I weighed in on November 17, I had regained almost two pounds. I haven’t weighed in since feeling that further weight gain could have a dire effect on my mood and motivation. I recognized quickly that I was getting in my own way but that hasn’t stopped the behavior. I have been asking myself questions, reading online articles about self-sabotaging, talking about my frustrations. All the while, the behaviors have worsened. Two weeks without visiting the gym, eating more cookies than I can log to MyFitnessPal.

Why do I do this… Am I afraid of success? Do I feel like I don’t deserve it? Is the excess weight some kind of security blanket my subconscious mind refuses to release? Am I simply getting over-confident, cocky about my weight loss, playing it fast and loose and paying the price?

I haven’t wanted to write this blog until I had answers to my questions, explanations and analyses. Weeks have passed; however, and I have no answers. While my inner-turmoil will have to be quieted, the most important thing for me right now is to get the self-destructive behavior under control. I have to work through this but, at the same time, I can’t work through this at the expense of the progress I’ve made. So I have come up with some steps which will hopefully help me to move past this stage in my weight loss story – this stage where, historically, the journey has ended.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Even if my heart’s not in it, I will go to the gym and I will meal plan and meal prep each week. I will go through the motions and maintain the physical habit even if the mental one is lagging behind. A subpar workout is better than no workout. A cookie at the end of a healthy day is better than a cookie at the end of a binge.

Seek out motivation. Whether it’s Pinterest fitspo boards, Instagram success stories or Fearless Motivation speeches, I will take motivation from others when I can’t muster it for myself. I have to get encouraged, get inspired, get excited for this journey again.

Own it. I will be transparent and accountable for all of it. Owning this process is great when you feel strong and proud. It can be disheartening and embarrassing when you feel weak and confused. Not owning the uglier sides of this process only creates shame and hinders progress, perpetuating the self-sabotage.

Dig deep. I will delve into my heart and mind and find some answers to what may be driving this tendency to self-sabotage. This could mean journaling, doing research, talking to those closest to me or seeking out a support group. I will never truly move past this and reach my goals without knowing how to heal whatever hurt lies inside me.

Bear with me, dear readers, and I try to get out of my own way. I will have to step up to the mat and confront this old inner-demon head-on but I do so with hope and optimism. There must be a way to work through it and come out the other side fit, healthy and happy.

From Treat to Defeat

We’ve all been there, right? We’ve all be faced with a meal or a food – something indulgent, something we know isn’t in-line with the dietary and fitness goals we’ve set for ourselves – and we’ve had to decide. To partake or not. Maybe it was a birthday party with a decadent chocolate cake smothered in sugary buttercream. Perhaps was a steak dinner with the boss, a holiday meal with the family, a romantic dinner-for-two with your main squeeze. Most of us actually face these decisions on a weekly, or even daily, basis. Donuts in the break room, cookies in the cookie jar. Did you indulge or did you resist? I’ve done both and I’m proud to say that I resist about 90% of the temptations that come my way. But that other 10%… well, that’s a story unto itself. In fact, this blog is that story.

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Every week I have an opportunity to overeat when my sweetheart and I have “Date Night.” Those nights I have a chance to make choices that help me achieve my goals or choices that hinder me.  So why would I do the former? After doing exactly that for a few consecutive weeks and suffering the consequences (missed weight loss goals, nausea, lethargy, feelings of shame, guilt and despondence) I started asking myself a lot of questions, diving deep to discover my motivations and understand how I can be stronger and make more productive decisions in the future.

What I do can be tiresome. Pre-planning meals, counting calories and macronutrients, logging every ounce of water and every gram of food to pass my lips can be tedious. I start working on next week’s meal plan when I’m halfway through the week at-hand. I spend more time thinking about food now that I ever did when I was 290 pounds (and I thought about food a lot back then). Meanwhile, the people around me aren’t thinking about what they’ll have for lunch until a half hour before they eat. Because of that, this lifestyle doesn’t just feel demanding – it feels abnormal.

“Normal” is tricky. Participating in behavior viewed as normal can give a sense of inclusion, of belonging. Refusal to partake can trigger feelings of exclusion and deprivation. But “normal” is subjective and, furthermore, normal isn’t necessarily healthy. In short, “normal” is bullshit. In decades past, smoking was “normal.” Look where that got us.

For the last few weeks, I have sacrificed my goals and my healthy emotional state for the sake of feeling “normal” in a restaurant full of people mindlessly shoving forkfuls of food into their mouths. Sure, it felt good to not be thinking about calories or carbs or protein. But was it worth it? When I was sprawled on the couch with my jeans unbuttoned, complaining about my bellyache and internally lamenting my decision, was it worth it? When I think back and see, in my mind’s eye, myself mindlessly shoveling forkfuls of food into my mouth, is it worth it? That would be a hard “no.”

After a week of reflection, of asking myself questions and answering them, of owning my thoughts and emotions, I feel like I am understanding myself better. What’s more, I feel like I am discovering ways to deal with temptation in the future in healthful and productive ways. Here are my rules for coping with temptation, indulgence and over-indulgence:

Be Accountable. Come clean to someone, anyone. Talk to a trusted friend or loved one. Blog it. Write it in a diary or journal. Share it on social media. You have nothing to hide. Everyone indulges from time to time but hiding it away like a dirty secret, lying to yourself or anyone else about it has the potential of becoming more than a small treat and growing into a bad habit. Being accountable will purge yourself of the shameful feelings that come with keeping a secret. And you might be surprised and comforted to learn how many others share your thoughts and feelings.

Empower Yourself. Reframe your feelings of being deprived to feelings of being strong, determined and vigilant. Embrace this lifestyle, however different it may seem. Maybe this isn’t what other people consider “normal” but it’s awesome and commendable. Normal is often gluttonous and detrimental to good health. When someone offers you a treat, don’t think “oh poor me, I can’t have a treat.” Think, “oh poor you, you can’t resist temptation.” Own the lifestyle and let it lift you up.

MYOB.Seriously, MYOB! Normality is subjective, defying definition, so quit worrying about how other people eat, cook, shop, exercise or live. It is none of your business. Whether your slim coworker can wash down a double cheeseburger with a caramel frapp and stay slim has no bearing on your or your body. She isn’t better, luckier, or any more blessed than you. Mind your own business and mind it well.

Understand Moderation. Moderation isn’t once-per-day. Moderation isn’t even once-per-week. Moderation is once in a while. Moderation is a serving of something, not an multiple servings or an entire container. Moderation doesn’t leave you feeling overly full and miserable. Yes, you can lose weight and enjoy treats in moderation. For that to work; however, you have to get real about the definition of moderation and you have to get real about things you might not be able eat in moderation (i.e., me and roasted, salted peanuts – those little devils). If you can’t eat something without overeating it, stop eating it.

My Indulging Moment

Ice cream and burgers and chips… oh, my! When we are faced with unhealthy foods we can’t help but be tempted.

Unhealthy food isolated on white background

These are two stories – one from my friend Karol and one from myself. We’ve been dealing with occasions to indulge transforming into overindulgence and struggling to get back on track and it presented an opportunity for us to talk about our personal stories as well as examine the tricky path of navigating sticking to a meal plan in a world that invites us to veer from it daily.


Karol’s Indulging Moment

I had a moment – no it was not a snackccident – during which I ate an entire bag of Recess. It was a moment of shoveling and total chaos in my mind and self control. Yes, it still happens. Yes, it does still happen to ME, very frequently but, sometimes I do indulge. Its human right, it’s normal – right? I was not feeling deprived, as I say nothing taste better than being fit and healthy and confident feels. Then why did I indulge?

I meal prep, I prepare every week, count my calories, macros, carbs, you name it. I am aware of all calories that go in, and out, of my body.

But, on this occasion, I threw discipline to the wind. I was invited to a sit-down dinner – a five-course meal, beginning with a cheeseboard to die for. Then we were on to courses two, three and four. The meal ended with a delicious chocolate desert. I felt had to eat it or someone might ask, “why are you not eating? Go ahead you been working so hard on you.”

The internal struggle is so hard for me. I did not not eat all of every meal – I wasn’t about shoveling it all down – but I felt unstoppable in the moment, all the while knowing this is not healthy for me physically or mentally.

It is true, we condition ourselves to feel this way, and when that moment comes when we feel we have been “deprived” we dig in. I finished it off with a praline later on that night, why not right? Yeah, NOOOOO!

I did not count my calories, did not log into to my Fitness pal. I almost blocked it out of my mind but, my body knows better. I took the next day off the gym, I needed to rest but I felt so bloated and yucky from my meal that I did get up and go to the gym, even if for a few minutes.

I picked myelf up and realized this is not ME and for me, I cannot indulge this way. I have to be accountable for me and it is so easy to turn and slip to a fall and to stay down and grovel and eat and not exercise, but, for me, I can’t do that.

I went grocery shopping the next night and it felt good to prepare myself for the week, now onto mentally preparing and being more mindful of the slip and to be selective when I indulge and yes, account for it in every way.

That is how I move on. Thinking back to the night, I realize had not done this in a long time and, as a result, I felt entitled. I wanted to be a part of the celebration, I did indulge but now back to ME – to my lifestyle of healthy eating, exercise and water and positive self talk, my winning combination.


Jody’s Indulging Moment

Every Saturday night is Date Night Dinner. Each week my boyfriend treats me to a delicious restaurant dinner, and an equally delicious reprieve from cooking. On some occasions I have checked menus online before we went to the restaurant, pre-selected what I would order based on my meal plan so that I can keep to my goals even on weekends or I made sure to eat light throughout the day to accommodate a larger meal and dinnertime. Other occasions… not so much. The last few Saturdays I have treated it simply as an indulgence – what many call a “cheat meal” (although am not a fan of that term). I have stuffed myself with scallion pancakes, fried pot stickers, buffalo “chicken” sandwiches with fries and all manner of yummy high-calorie foods with reckless abandon. Oh, and let’s not forget the desserts. I have paid the price for my carelessness. Immediately after the meals, I have felt lethargic and nauseated, overly stuffed and uncomfortable. I have also felt the pangs of guilt and shame, which are far longer lasting and more damaging to my progress. These meals have cost me my weight loss goals for weeks but, worse, they have chipped away at my discipline and left me on the brink of depression. The latter can and has led to going off my meal plan midweek and skipping workouts at the gym. After these past few weeks, I have felt like a failure, felt weak and frustrated with myself.

In the throes of the aftermath of these indulgence meals, sad and bloated, I promise myself I won’t do it again. I tell myself I never want to feel this way again. And, yet, I do it over and over. Why? Why sabotage myself? Why succumb to something I know is bad for me both physically and mentally? I grapple with this a lot and I always come back to the same thing… because it feels “normal.” It is what normal people do on date night. It is how normal people eat, how normal people relax at the end of a week. Normal people doing normal things in a normal world from which I feel very cut off at times. Participating in the rituals, however damaging, give me a sense of participating in everyday life, a life to which I sometimes feel entitled – and feel cheated out of.

As I have sorted through these feelings, I resolved to write this blog. It is a catharsis; a purging of the thoughts and feelings I have held in and no longer want to carry because they weigh down my spirit. I am fighting every day to stick to my meal plan (admittedly with varying degrees of success); I am working out daily. I am focusing on being disciplined even when my hurting heart may not entirely be in it. This is it – this is me in the wake of indulgence becoming overindulgence, overindulgence becoming habit. This is me fighting to get back on track and asking myself how I can break this cycle.