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.

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My Body Answered Back

Well my friends, my body answered back. The interesting part is that she found a voice from outside of me! I was fully intending on writing a letter response but the gal who coached and trained Chelle, my nutritionist, wrote this to me. Interesting how life works, isn’t it? When the student is ready, the teacher appears. So I thank you, Tabitha, and so does my body. Thank you for caring enough to take the time to craft this reply, and to share this knowledge on behalf of my body. And now for your reading pleasure, I share with you this excellent treasure…hey! I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it! Lol.

Dear BGitB,

This is your body. I have heard your message loud and clear. While your words sting and hurt, I can understand why you have spewed them forth. Now it is my turn to spew forth words.

First things first, I am on your side. As you already know, change is difficult and that goes double for me. You have to understand that I can’t change on the outside until I get things in order on the inside. Rest assured that with your continued hard work, I have begun to change. Eventually the changes I am making in my deep innermost layers will start to migrate outwards for the entire world to witness. Even though you can’t see them, they are there. I am working to the best of my ability directly proportional to the work that you make me do and the fuel that you feed me to do it. The main point is…what YOU do (workouts and eating) affects me, affects how I change and in turn affects the long term goal that you have set for the both of us. I also dream of the day when we can reach that goal, but we have to do this together. It is not you against me or vice versa. We are a team! We are inseparable! Through good and bad, success and failure, triumph and struggle. This pity party is over! It is time to move past it and start working together again. With that in mind, here is what I need that will help me help you. You ready? Ok, let’s go:

1) I like to be pushed, and pushed hard! -Every time we workout it has to be beyond our comfort zone. We have to jump a little bit outside of our box every time. For example, It is not enough to just complete 12 reps of an exercise. If we are aiming for 12, get there and can keep going…we need to keep going. Because if you can do 12 with good form then you can probably do 13….and so on…maybe up to 15, maybe to 18, maybe even to 22.5! The point is we don’t just stop at a number we stop when we get to our limit and we cannot do even one more rep with good safe form. Maybe we have to increase the weight. You have the control to challenge me. Do not step away from this challenge and do not be afraid of it. It is what I really really need to push past the times when I feel like there is no reason to change. Which brings me to my next tip.

2) Change things up! I am a very adaptable machine. I thrive on adapting to stress. Meaning, if you throw stress at me I am going to adapt to it so that the next time you apply the same stress I am going to be ready to handle it. Let me give you a secret…if you continue to change things up and present new challenges I have to continue to adapt. I have no choice. I have to change to deal with that new stress.

3) Don’t trust that stupid scale! – I get such a bad rap because of that stupid machine. It makes me look lazy and like I am not doing anything. Don’t get on it. Smash it. Throw it out. It does not tell even a FRACTION of the story of what is going on inside here. You have heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, I have a new one for you “Don’t judge fitness journey by a number on a scale”. You don’t know how much muscle I can or can’t build in a month. If I have been inactive for a long time and there are muscles that I need to build to get those workouts done, you are darn tootin’ that I am going to build it! (1lb, 5lbs, 10lbs) If I need it I need it! And once that muscle is built it will work in both our favors to burn off more calories when we are NOT in the gym. Instead, I want you to focus on how your clothes fit, measurements, personal bests, and photographs. Why use one silly stinking number to tell a whole story when there are so many other resources to paint a clearer picture? I am begging you to use them to our advantage.

4) Clean eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment – As you can see my favorite letter in the alphabet is the letter “C”. I must have your word as your bond that you will adhere to all of these “C” words. When you “Blip”, I “Blip”. You admitted in your letter to me that you may not have been 100% committed to our journey together. But, YOU have to be. I need you to be. WE need you to be. OUR GOAL needs you to be. If it helps, write these “C” words down and post them all over the place. I mean EVERYWHERE! Whenever you feel like you are going to stray off the path, try to remember just one of them and repeat it over and over to yourself. Technically all you have to do is remember the letter “C”. You have to make it your favorite letter too! Our goals and our dreams depend on it.

You have to remember that this journey is 90% mental! You control me. I don’t control you. Take ownership of that control and continue to do everything you can…EVERYTHING YOU CAN to leave NOTHING ON THE TABLE! I believe in you and I hope that you still believe in me. Together we are a team. We have to stay that way. Without you, I don’t exist, and without me, you don’t either. I am here for you no matter what, and I will work with you as a team. It is not going to be easy, nothing worthwhile ever is. However, with your mind power and heart added to my physical power and ability we can move mountains! WE have to believe that…our goal depends on it!

Love always,

Your Body

How Are You Doing, RockStar?

So since I’m on this mission to transform my body and shed a ton of weight and all, I decided that I might expand the blogs I follow to include those that resonate with me about the weight release process, besides having my usual favorites about dancing.  I think it is important to surround myself with as much support as I can get and I have been so supported in ways I never would have imagined through my blog.

One blog about this process that really resonated with me is called Unbearable Weight, maybe not partly because the authoress is about as wordy as I am (with my 2000 word posts and all lol).  Today she wrote this awesome post that really inspired me.  And it made me think that even though this blog here is about my dancing life, I can’t really separate that out from the rest of my life, and plus I’ve been letting you all in on my health goals and progress (or lack thereof at times), so I thought that since it has been a full week on my new Clean Eating personalized nutrition plan that you might be wondering how it went. I guess Chelle, my nutritionist was wondering the same thing so even though we are meeting in person tomorrow, she sent me an email asking, “How are you doing, RockStar?”

I’m lazy and don’t want to type it all out again (lol) so here was my reply because it pretty much sums up the week:

Hi Chelle,

I’m doing well.  I feel pretty good about how things went this week. I was adherent to the plan and for my cheat meal all I did was eat what I normally would have for the day but had 2 glasses of wine and made that terra pana chocolate dessert you had on your blog.

The only hiccups this week were that my eyes skipped the page and I ate the afternoon snack and dinner for Thursday on Wednesday so I just ate the snack and dinner for Wednesday on Thursday. I hope that is okay to do as I didn’t know if each day is specially planned or if meals are interchangeable across days (though you did say it was okay to switch the order of meals in a day like if I am working out and don’t want to have dinner beforehand but rather do the evening snack instead.) This would be nice to know because there was one night where I wished I had a different dinner and wanted to switch it out but did not because I wanted to be as close to the plan as possible. Having a plan, however, overall, is really working for me.

The other hiccup wasn’t really anything but simply that because I had done my cheat meal Saturday (arbitrarily because I didn’t have a social event planned that I knew of) I was faced with the situation of Cinco de Mayo. We had no plans but took my niece to Build-a-Bear. On the way home I got a call from my brother and they were going to do margaritas and Mexican food with another family and we were invited. Luckily Ty and I had taken separate cars so I just left when the food arrived – which is probably better even if it had been a cheat day because Mexican food and Margaritas are a train wreck waiting to happen. But still, I never considered handling impromptu opportunities. It would have been much harder if I had been trapped there and had to stay.

The last hiccup (as of the time of writing this email) is that I set my alarm wrong this morning. I just happened to wake up at like 7:40 and I had to be at the gym at 8am to work out with my trainer. There wasn’t time to make my omelet (when I had planned to wake up at 7am and have plenty of time to make it and eat) so I grabbed that NoGii bar and had it on the run for breakfast. I wake up hungry now so wanted to eat and couldn’t eat afterwards since I was heading directly to my dance lesson. I did pack my morning snack and lunch so was good to go for that. After my workout I ate the apple and went to my dance lesson. About 3/4ths the way through, after starting strong, I just lost all energy. Toward the last 20 minutes (it was a double lesson so an hour and a half total) I was feeling really irritated and tired. I ate the cheesestick quickly when I realized how tough everything seemed to be getting and afterwards ate the chicken mini loaf. But I feel like my blood sugar might have gotten low and it was tough – my energy was gone, I felt totally drained and I was really feeling crabby/irritated. What snacks can I eat on days I know I will be pushing it hard, that will fuel me properly? Things like the cheese and chicken mini loaf take a bit longer to hit the bloodstream, I would think, because they are mostly protein and fat. And I still have more dancing to do tonight at 8pm.

The other thing I noticed is just like I struggled accepting that 2000 calories daily wasn’t too much to still lose weight, I’m fearful about the cheat meal. I am so focused on my goals, and want to transform so badly, I am afraid to lose any progress. I think I made a nice choice this week with my cheat meal and enjoyed it because it was planned out and because I wasn’t stuffed or feeling guilty or anything like that. However, this week I have two social occasions to choose from – my mother-in-law’s birthday (she wants to go out to dinner) or dinner with my family for Mother’s day. I can’t do both and am choosing to opt out of dinner Wed. night altogether. It is just too stressful and I feel like it is the most nurturing/supportive choice for me. Luckily my husband understands, and I think Debbie gets it but that she is probably disappointed, and that Ty’s dad will be disapproving. I’d much rather take the opportunity to prepare more meals and maybe get an extra cardio session in at the gym so that is what I’m going to do. Then Sunday since it is at home (not a restaurant) I can enjoy the cheat meal and have more control about what I eat. But navigating no social occasions, impromptu occasions, and too many social occasions is challenging. I know this won’t be like this forever, but right now I feel like I need to do whatever it is I need to do to stay on track.

The day-to-day eating is easy. It is even easier since I work from home. I made sure to take more than one meal with me when I went out to the mall with my friend on Saturday and with my husband and niece on Sunday so I could be sure I could buy myself enough time in case we met for longer than 3 hours – which happened both times. So I feel good about staying on schedule regardless of leaving the house or whatever was going on. I ate my celery sticks and peanut butter walking around Fashion Square lol. But leaving the house does take a little more prep.

I guess the only other thing is that I objectively think I did really well this week. You called me a RockStar and I’ve been honest and didn’t cheat or anything. I logged all my food, did all my prep, and basically did what I was supposed to do on the plan as best I could, eyes skipping the page and my alarm not going off notwithstanding, and even in those situations I think I handled them well. As you saw, I’m even down below 240 pounds where I had been hovering around for like 3 weeks. And yet, still, inside of me, I feel like it is somehow not enough. That I should be doing more. That I could always be doing more…and my mind is running, running, thinking… “maybe more cardio, or more weights, or eating less carbs (yeah right! Look what happened on my lesson today – I need those suckers!), or what is that HIIT thing I keep hearing about….and on and on and on.” I’m not exactly sure what to do with this feeling like I should/could be doing more. I’m hungry for change, can you tell?

Even so, last night was the first night I kind of wished I was not on this plan and felt bummed about what my dinner was going to be but it was a fleeting thought and I stuck to it anyways because it feels so much better to be in integrity than to give in and give up. I’ve made progress this week, which is excellent. I guess I am just very eager for the day when my jeans are falling off because they are too big. I am longing for the day when I am proud of my body. I am longing for the day when it is finally my turn to have the before and after picture. I want to transform my body and be bona fide skinny/thin. I want to see if I can actually do it because I never have felt that way ever in my life. I want to see what is possible. I totally get that it is going to take time – that 8 pounds in a month would be excellent and that with as much as I have to lose that it is going to take a while to see a difference, that big difference I’m looking for. And, well, the change can’t happen quickly enough. I have my next dance competition in 16 days. Every little bit of weight I can get off between now and then will help, and I want to show an even more dramatic change for the next competition in July.

In summary: What worked, what didn’t, what next?

What worked?

Me. I worked the plan. I found a substitute for my morning coffee. I responded to situations as they came up and made good decisions. I planned and prepped and packed. Me subbing fresh veggies for steamed veggies, making the tzatiki to replace the cream cheese. Consistency. Logging my food. My committment.

What didn’t?

My alarm clock lol. Still, I recovered making a good choice for breakfast (I think). My eyeballs getting frisky for the next day on the plan. Getting what felt like hypoglycemia during my double lesson. The feeling that I’m not enough. Cauliflower (lesson learned, though).

What next?

I’m not sure. You are the expert! Continue on the same plan or tweak it?

So there you go! The full update. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning.

-Stef