Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Peace and Sustainability

When I started training for my first half marathon last year, I expected to lose weight very quickly and easily.  What I did not anticipate was the crazy amount of food that I would be eating to keep myself from being uncomfortably hungry within an hour or two of my previous meal.  When it seems that everyone around you is on a diet while you're increasing your daily calorie in-take, it is hard not to get a bit of a complex.  I felt like everyone was judging me for how much I was eating.  I was judging me on how much I was eating.  I lost 40 pounds after graduating from college and with the exception of the 10 pounds I put on after my ACL surgery, I have maintained the same size for many years now.  I really struggled last spring because I thought I wasn't doing what I was supposed to, that I wasn't a real runner, that I was getting fat.  I started weighing myself every week just to make sure I wasn't gaining weight because of how much I was eating.   I was running three days a week, lifting at the gym once or twice a week, swimming once most weeks and going for a long walk with my mom and dog every Sunday; I was happy doing those things and I had plenty of time to do all the other things I wanted.  When I was stretching or resting in between foam-rolling sets, I was on Instagram looking at running hashtags that featured "clean" dinners, ripped abs, hours at the gym, lost pounds and "cheat" meals.  I've never lived that way and don't want to live that way, but when I compared myself to those people, I started to get really down.  I started to question the three times in the past week that I'd enjoyed some Graeter's ice cream, the 1/2 bag of Hershey kisses I'd eaten in the last three days, the gravy I gleefully drenched my dinner in, the calzone I had for lunch, the tater-tots I had for dinner, the butter I make sure melts into every nook and cranny of my English Muffins, the cheese I consume like a baby drinks milk and the fact that I was using real peanut butter instead of PB2

I once took a gym-selfie, during a break in doing planks, in an attempt to understand the appeal of them.
I still don't get it.

After breaking down about feeling "fat," which was COMPLETELY crazy, I realized I needed to step back.  I needed to come to peace with my body and figure out how I really wanted to live my life.  I stopped looking at all those running hashtags on Instagram and I kept eating how I was eating.  I stopped listening when people commented how much I was eating and relished those moments when people pointed out just how much work my body was doing and that if I was hungry it was because I really did need those calories.  I had to remind myself that I was stronger, faster, and fitter than I'd ever been.  I had to decide that I don't want to spend the rest of my life eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice for lunch and dinner and egg whites or low-fat anything for breakfast.  I had to remind myself that I am healthy and whole and happy and that making and eating the kind of food that I do is part of what makes me happy.  I had to forget all the guilt that my health-nut ex-boyfriend made me feel about eating some of my favorite things (like every white condiment) on a regular basis. 

Don't be hatin' on my buffalo-bleu cheese mac just b/c you're jealous!
I don't want to be a slave to the gym or to my diet.  Would it be cool to have a 6-pack?  Yeah, but I don't want to put that kind of pressure on myself to maintain that. Sure, I could work really hard and eat "clean"and cut a lot of fat and sugar out of my life, but I don't want to.  I completely changed the way I look at food when I lost those 40 pounds years ago so that I could figure out how to eat the things I like and be a size that I'm happy with.  I'm happy being 150.  I'm happy eating butter, cheese, ice cream, cookies and full-fat plain yogurt.  I'm happy knowing that weeks I'm busy and I only have time to squeeze in two runs and some strength training at home that my body won't explode.  I'm happy knowing that I'm fit and healthy and that I get to slather my quesadilla in sour cream.  I'm happy snacking on fruit and popcorn instead of chips.  I'm happy with my training schedule.  I'm at peace with my body because it is capable of many grand things and even though I could run faster if I lost 5 or 10 pounds, I don't think I could stay there in the long haul and I would lose the peace that I have with my body.

Donuts make people happy.  Happy people are more active. Active people are more healthy.
(kinda, if you follow my logic)

I'm trying to make habits and decisions now about food and exercise that I can carry with me through the rest of my life, including if I'm blessed with a family one day.  I know that I will have a lot less time, but a big part of that peace is that I'm mentally okay with working out less and that I don't feel bad about myself when I gain a pound one week because I ate 4 dozen cookies (it's happened) or 5 pounds when I went on vacation (it was New Orleans).  I have to be at peace with the decisions that I make and they have to be sustainable when I have a family to feed or friends to go to dinner with.  I don't really believe in "cheat" meals because I think that every meal should not just nourish your body, but your soul as well.  If you're looking to talk to me about this, you'll find posted up next to the snack table at the next party, shoving my face full of buffalo chicken dip and the Doritos my host left unattended.  

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