Clean Eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment

I am extremely grateful to find myself in a most clear, determined, and single-minded space after a week laden with emotional turmoil (as well as a little bit of humor.) As I continue this journey, which in my mind began three years ago, I am surprised and delighted with how much more quickly I can get through “the muck” back into a neutral or even positive mental place. Back when I was at my largest, it could days or even weeks of staying stuck, wallowing in my despair, anguish, anger, or resentment. I’d done a lot of work internally before I was ready to accept the help of a nutritionist and though my external results have been frustratingly slow (in my mind, at least), the deep roots of new coping skills and healthy tools I’ve cultivated continue to serve me well as I chip, chip, chip away at my own personal face of Mount Rushmore. Dang I wish I had some stinking dynamite!

Another reason I’ve been able to switch so quickly out of overwhelm and sadness, I believe, has been the support I am now able to receive from “my team.” No one officially signed up to be on my “team” – it’s just my own idea of people who are helping me get to where I want to go. This includes, of course, first and foremost, my awesome nutritionist, Chelle, owner of Recipe For Fitness, who wrote an amazing response to my Dear Body Letter. Seriously, go read Chelle’s blog post! I totally believe she’s got my back and that she’ll stick it out with me until I’m done. She’s the “coach” of my team….maybe I should get her a whistle! 🙂

My “team” also includes, Ivan, he’d be the artistic director (hee hee), as well as my new trainer, Allison, who is so much better than my previous gal. I finally feel like I have a trainer who actually cares about me and my progress, and I appreciate it so much, especially with all the crap I’ve had to go through with trainers recently! Plus she, herself, trains as a MMA fighter, has 12 years of personal training experience, and is generally just a pretty awesome person.

And beyond that, I also consider you readers as part of my team. You encourage me and inspire me to keep going, even when the going gets tough. Fitocracy, a social media platform that is kinda like Facebook for people into fitness, is another resource I’ve used that is a postitive, encouraging outlet – you can find me under “loveablestef” if you ever decide to join.

Finally, many times I have people supporting me and encouraging me that I don’t even know! Like Tabitha – I’ve never met her, but she took the time to write me a powerful letter which helped me move forward, and from the feedback I’ve received, I’m not the only one she helped.

I must admit, however, that even though I understand and believe what Tabitha/my body had to say, I am still in slight resistance to certain portions of it. Rather than considering this a bad thing, I think having a little resistance is good, because it means I’m on the edge pushing against a limitation. Soon enough things will shift and I will have grown. If I had absolutely no resistance, then I’d already be done with the portion of “the work” she suggests and wouldn’t be any challenge! But, yeah, that’s not the case.

For instance, I still have a hard time swallowing the idea that my body is on my side. I’ve lived for 27 years considering my body to be a problem. It has never been a beautiful body in my eyes and it is frustratingly stubborn. It is limited in many ways and can’t do all the things I want or expect it to do. I experience it as being untrustworthy and I think of it as something that is sub-par and needs to be fixed but that it is so messed up that it’s a lost cause. Confusingly, it is also an ally in many regards, the most important of which are that it allows me to dance and to walk in this world, and sometimes it surprises me doing things beyond my expectations. Clearly my relationship with my body isn’t 100% in alignment, but I have faith that it can be.

I am also frustrated with the idea my body put forth about having to get internal affairs in order before seeing outward change. I feel like, egad! Haven’t I already done somuch?! I have been working at it for three years to get internal affairs in order but still I wait, wait, wait for the outside to match with the inside (yeah, it’s a little victim-y, I know. I’ll get over it). I am dumbfounded time and again at how very different my internal image of who I am and how I see myself in a fit, healthy body, and the reality of my current obese body are. It is beyond words the amount of internal work I’ve done and annoying that there is still more to go! Plus it is just plain incongruent with the external state of affairs. Like, last week I was eating my fish, brown rice, and asparagus, all portioned and measured, cooked clean after 90 minutes of ballet and I’m thinking to myself, “A person who eats this dinner doesn’t have a body like mine.” But I do.

I’m also in resistance to my body’s message to push and push hard. It’s not because I won’t or don’t push hard already, it’s because I’m sick of hearing it and I’m sick of having to dig down deep just to make it through Latin class with Inna or Mountain climbers with Allison, or planks on a ball with Chelle, or doing the stairstepper with asthma and my heart rate at 175 and me wanting to quit, having to talk myself into each and every step. I admit that here and there I am finally, finally, noticing small changes in the ability to do more. But again, I think it is good to be a little in resistance because it means I’m butting up against my limits and my job is to notice them and burst beyond them. Trust me, it is not in my nature to not push! If my trainer has a weight too low or I don’t feel like I’m being challenged enough I speak up! Usually, though, it’s the other edge I experience – the one where I’m being challenged beyond my perceived capacity – the place where I panic and get emotional and have to fight. I don’t enjoy that fight but again, discovering (finally, after hearing about it for so long) how to channel and transmute my negative feelings into pushing myself, has been a step forward. It may still suck at times, like when I was on my last set of mountain climber burpee thingies and Allison was like, “Go at your own pace. We can modify if you need to,” And I was like, “No!” and got I emotional, angry, teary-eyed, and grunted and groaned but I banged those bitches out, using that emotional angst instead of letting it defeat me. And there have even been moments when I’ve been up for more, that internally a desire to push myself a bit harder when working out on my own bubbled up from somewhere. Again, progress, but not the tangible, visual kind I want to see with a smaller butt, gut, and bat wings, with muscle definition and tone, seeing the definition of muscle working under the skin.

I am also in resistance to the idea that I shouldn’t use the scale. This is because I absolutely, as part of my goals, want and need to be lighter. If that means at some point I lose some muscle, so be it. To be the dancer I want to become I must be smaller, more compact, lean, and weigh significantly less. Period. I cannot stand the idea of living the rest of my life obese, over 200 pounds! Yes, I’m open to the possibility that I will look fantastic at a higher weight than most my competitors who weigh like 110 pounds, but I’m not willing to weigh over 200 pounds. This shit needs to come off. Anyways, for the sake of sanity and also to see a more complete picture, not just the one told by the scale, I’m considering getting some measurements in a Bod Pod, the gold standard for body composition testing.

As for the rest of the letter from my body, I’m totally on board with it. As you can see from the title of my post, especially for the days leading up to Galaxy, (and beyond I hope) I’m in RockStar mode. I am a clean-eating, ready-for-challenge, changing, consistent, and committed woman. This is how I am showing up in my life right now, ready to demolish this portion of the journey set before me. Like no kidding. Because I am hungry, starving, ravenous, for dramatic, transformational change in my body. I have been for a while. I’m so ready for new clothes, ones that I actually like! There is no going back and I still want more, so very much more.

To that end, I’ve made a little sign for myself that I’m hanging above my work computer so I will be staring at it for 8 hours a day to continually reinforce my committment. I have to say, however, that the decision has already strongly been made in my mind. Chelle created a new plan with lower calories and I’m following it to the letter. We also renegotiated a work out plan with cardio and weights. I’ve already been hungrier than before but thanks to the internal work I’ve already done, I’m able to weather it well. On other plans, more geared toward cultivating a healthy lifestyle, I felt over-full or would get hungry maybe once or twice near time to the next meal time. This time around, I get hungry 5 or 6 times before the next time to eat, most especially earlier in the day, but I have the skills to handle it. I can tolerate a few signals from my body where three years ago I would never even allow myself to get hungry, and if I did it was binge time. It may not be completely comfortable to experience a little hunger but I don’t care! I’m committed. And it’s a normal physiological function. I have 17 days now in which to make as much a change as possible before I step onto the ballroom again. I would rather accept the pain of discipline now than suffer the pain of regret at Galaxy, and I know that being in integrity with this plan will give me the best chance of feeling like I am awesome when it’s time to dance.

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Already I’ve had these little victories like yesterday I went to visit a friend and stayed longer than I anticipated so I was quite late for dinner and really hungry. But did I grab the first most convenient thing? No! I grabbed a cucumber, a totally free food on my plan, quickly cut some slices, and nibbled on them as I prepared my dinner. To me that was proving to myself just how very committed I am. No straying from the plan even when things don’t go perfectly. No excuses!

I also made a point to steer clear of my husband’s Fantasy Football draft party. We had over 20 men at our house, eating pizza, drinking beer and other hard libations and I didn’t even want to be around it so I volunteered to housesit for my in-laws. Truth be told, I wasn’t even tempted with the debauchery before me! In years past this would have been as irresistible as a siren’s call and laced with a dose of guilt, remorse, and recovery the following day. And I was even more pleased with my decision when I saw how annihilated my husband and his buds were the next morning.

In addition, I’ve already talked about how I’m going to handle an upcomming trip with my husband. We have a kitchen where we are staying so first priority the morning after we arrive will be to get groceries and cook! I’ll bring my breakfast along with me. He knows I’m not going to bend at this time with the eating, even though we will be around many restaurants and bars. It won’t be like this forever, but for now this is the way it has to be.

So now I guess the biggest struggle isn’t the eating, or even the exercise since I’m clear on what I’m accountable for with that, but rather the biggest battle is waiting patiently and having faith that this change I’m seeking in my body will actually happen. I still don’t entirely trust that it is possible for me to have a gorgeous body, one that I love and would be proud to show off. I still feel like I will be pudgy and that I am not ever really going to be lean. But I do believe it can be better and I know I will not to back. The only path is to push forward. I wish it were happening faster, oh God do I ever! But since I have no fairy godmother to instantly transform my adipose into thin air, I’ll have to burn it off myself.

Dear Food

Ok, perhaps its a bit lazy of me, but I haven’t written a new post just yet.  I have lots to share….I went shopping with Katie and I went out social dancing.  I want to give both vignettes the attention they deserve, but it is late, and I am tired, and have a lesson at 10am tomorrow.

So instead of staying up until 1am writing something new, I thought I’d share something else.  It is a letter I wrote to food, and the letter food wrote back to me.  You see, part of this blog is about my weight loss journey.  A person doesn’t get to be my size if they don’t have an issue with food.  I’m still sussing things out.  In any case, here is an exercise I did a few months back.  I feel that it is apropos to share now because it has been a challenging week emotionally for me and it has been easy to fall back into old patterns.  Food can be so soothing for me and relieve feelings of shame and low self-esteem, feelings I’d rather not feel.  But in the end, it isn’t a very effective coping mechanism to go binge.  So, acknowledging that I’ve slipped a little, yet with compassionate self-discipline I’m getting right back on the horse, I am sharing this aspect of my world.

Dear Food,

I have such mixed feelings about you.

On the one hand, you are glorious.  You are delicious and decadent.  You may require special preparation and can be served with love.  You can be simple and rustic or elaborate and esoteric.  You are changeable and ever-present in any way I wish.  You are abundantly available, everywhere I look….and I think you are killing me.

Aren’t you supposed to sustain my life?  You, like me, come from something living.  I gnash and crush you in my mouth and incorporate you into my very bones.  But you were once a chicken nibbling corn, a fish swimming along when suddenly you were trapped in a net.  You were the deer frolicking in the woods that my dad killed with his shotgun.  You were alive, vital beings, and now you are reduced to pounds of adipose that weigh me down.  Your life has been transferred into mine, yet for what good cause?

I consume you voraciously, ravenously, unthinkingly, and disrespectfully.  I forget in the instant in which I “shovel you in” the months you labored to grow under the sun, the flowers you put forth to be pollinated by bees, the workers who picked you ripe and ready, the work needed to pack you so you wouldn’t bruise.  I find you delivered safely and calling to me from my supermarket shelf.

Food, as much as I ingest you every single day of my life, I am completely disconnected from you.   Not only in acknowledging your source and the herculean efforts required to bring you to my lips, but also in the process of eating you, I forget who you are, your purpose, your role.

I have damaged our relationship and you are paying me back in dividends.  I have abused you shamefully.  You are so easy to abuse.  Sugary sweet, or crunchy hard, or silky soft, you can metamorphose into anything I desire.

I can never get enough of you food.  Sometimes I feel like I could eat the entire world and still have room for more.  My stomach is ever-expanding to devour you until there is nothing left.

Food, you are a siren which calls to me from the depths of my mind.  Occasionally, you also call to me through my body, but that is only very rarely.  I never give you up long enough to truly feel what it would be like to be without you.  I don’t understand how I could ever really be hungry, at least for a very long time seeing as just like a hibernating bear I have hoarded you and stored you as part of my very flesh.

And yet I hunger.  Why do you never satisfy?  You tease me and you taunt me to indulge with you and you leave me bereft, feeling shamed, worthless, ugly, until I feel like I should just kill myself so I can finally stop being this thoughtless, greedy, consumer-of-all.

I am the consumer who is being consumed.

Sometimes I feel like perhaps it would be easier if I were an alcoholic, or drug addict.  I could cut you out of my life like a bad boyfriend, never to return.  But I need you to live.

And I don’t know how to live with you.  I only know how to die with you.  I only know how to kill my spirit, numb my emotions, staunch my intuition, and deny myself with you.  Will we ever be at peace?

To truly enjoy you as a friend and companion somehow seems like a sin. 

I hope we can work things out.

Love, Stef

Here is what food wrote back:

Dear Stefanie,

It’s food.  Wow.  It feels weird talking to you.  You never give me a voice.

In response to your letter, let me first say that I, too, hope we can “work things out” as you say.

I must admit I have mixed feelings about you too, dear.  It is in my nature to be abundant and bountiful.  I am happy to be of service because that is my purpose.  I am supposed to be consumed.  It is my joy and pleasure to fulfill my destiny.

However, I do become angry when you do not respect me.  As you revealed in your letter, you have some awareness of all the energy and efforts that are necessary to bring me to you.  That is to be respected and appreciated.  You are right that you are disconnected and that you have abused me, but that can be mended.

Let us start today with a clean slate.  Let us acknowledge the damage and hurt that has been done and agree to forgive it.  There is no need for you to be perfect.  Even my spectacular bounty may be marred by worms in apples, or gnats in strawberries, but they are all part of nature and part of the life cycle.  Each has their place and purpose, just so as your seeming imperfections exist for a reason.

My suggestion is that you begin to learn new coping mechanisms to deal with difficult emotions such as anger and hurt as well as work on being assertive with femininity.  You do have a right to stand up for yourself, and because you are so loving, I know you will also want to respect the rights and feelings of others at the same time.  You can do this, and you don’t need me to do it.  In fact, I can’t help you in this regard at all.

I believe that once you begin to truly honor yourself for all that you are, you will begin to be able to respect me as well and our relationship will get better.  Again, I must stress that I can be of no help in difficult emotional situations.  Of course I want to soothe you, but as you already know, to use me in this way is only an illusion and results in self-harm.  There is a better way to cope and I trust that you are on the path to finding it.

For now, practice savoring me with each bite.  Take time to see my beauty with your eyes, inhale my sweetness with your nose, and relish each morsel as it traverses each tastebud.  You are meant to enjoy me.  Please do so!

Your Friend,

Food

 

I will say that my relationship with myself and with food has improved since I wrote this letter, yet I still struggle sometimes.  It will be intersting to see what feedback the scale has for me at the end of this week.  My intention for July has not changed, yet I find myself reverting to self-sabatoging ways when facing tough emotions.  I am determined to master myself, rather than letting this master me and yet I backslide.  Although it is less than in the past, I am still not fully healed.  I do want to be very clear and say that in no way shape or form do I have any thoughts of suicide as mentioned in the letter.  I do not consider that an option whatsoever, it was just part of me venting at the time, and sometimes I really did feel that desperate.  I haven’t felt that way (thankfully) for a very long time.

I know this stuff is heavy, but I do think it is worth sharing.  I think many of us struggle with similar issues, even if it looks a little different, but we don’t talk about it.  We hide behind the facade that everything is okay, everything is great, we are all put together, 100% fine.  There was a time when I’d never divulge this kind of stuff.   But oh well.  It’s part of my journey.  So  there you go.  Take it or leave it for what it is worth.

I promise happier posts are forthcoming.  Now…off to bed!  Goodnight!