When I wrote "Fat Shame On Me", I was in a foul mood. I was pissed at myself. I was mad at my body and even more so at my mind. Only someone who has fought the battle of the bulge knows how it feels to be so tied up in that sticky web of feelings: so much anger at yourself, sadness about what a deep hole you've dug, embarrassment about the fact that unlike a smoker or drinker, your bad habits are on display for the world to see:
Step right up, folks, and take a gander at my Fat Suit! Yep, my once fit body is now encased in five year's worth of financial stress, relationship angst and parenting insanity. All those days I decided getting to the gym or out for a walk sounded like too much work? Behold my belly fat. The two or five tubs of artichoke dip from Costco that just happened to fall in the cart, along with the 500 oz. bag of pita chips? Let the wonder of my behemoth butt sink in.
Okay, I know. Harsh, right? But that's how I was feeling after stepping on the scale that night. I did a lot of moaning, even more weeping, and had some intense conversations with friends who have been down this path.
And then, I did something about it.
I made an appointment for a physical. I needed someone else to see what I was seeing, both on the scale and in the flesh. I needed numbers and advice and reassurance that it's not too late to do something to change. I needed a follow-up appointment so there's a date in the future that I can look forward to. I needed someone to hold me accountable.
I got all of that. Plus some.
Since I wrote that post, exactly three weeks ago, I've made efforts big and small. I've decided to become kinder to myself, to show my body the same consideration I show my children and my friends. I LOVE YOU, NO MATTER WHAT. I saw this quote making the rounds on facebook and instagram:
I decided that the fight I was having with my body was a lot like the ages-long fight I've been in with my ex-husband. My body, like my ex, could do no right. It was oafish and lame and despicable. It wasn't worthy of my time nor was it worthy of my love.
I'm not saying I love my ex-husband. What I'm saying is that I no longer hate him. And once that hate lifted, I noticed his existence was no longer like a rock in my shoe. I wasn't reminded of him every time I took a step. Even though he truly done me wrong, I decided to mentally forgive him so I could mentally move on.
My body deserves that, too. In fact, since I am stuck with this body, I think it deserves even more forgiveness, more grace and way more love than my ex-husband does. Bodies don't leave, you know. They tend to stick around.
For the past three weeks, I've been working hard. Walter (my dog) and I have been out every single day, for our beloved long walks. Between 3 and 5 miles at a time, these walks have done wonders for both of us. He no longer has the "I give up" look about him, and I am feeling the mental and physical benefits. I consider these walks the warm-up I need to get me ready to face the gym again. Yes, I am one of those people who are worried that I'm too fat to go to the gym (they've never seen overweight people at the YMCA, ya know).
(On this note: can we break away from the fat talk to discuss music? I need some song suggestions! Let me know your favorite workout music. It doesn't have to be fast paced or anything, believe it or not I get just as much out of a Natalie Merchant song as I do some of my favorite Public Enemy tunes. Hit me up, people. I have something like 400 songs in iTunes and I still find myself hitting "NEXT" all the time.)
The exercising part, while requiring boat-loads of motivation, is nowhere near the mental struggle that is THE EATING PART. I did decide to cut way, way back on the carby, starchy comfort foods that are my kryptonite. This is really hard, people, because not only am I a descendant of hearty, potato and beer loving Irish people, I live in a land that is cold and gray for six months out of the year. This is Minnesota, and it's February. We crave things like hash browns and Beef Stroganoff with wide noodles and bowls of pasta dripping with pesto. It's the time of year when I want to fill a bathtub with my famous mashed potatoes (secret ingredients: cream cheese and love), put on a scuba mask and eat my way through it.
So it's more protein, less carbs. I still need my vanilla granola on my yogurt, but when I make baked potatoes with dinner I make one less and instead roast up a ton of cauliflower or Brussels sprouts or butternut squash (yeah I'm sure one of those is a starch but BABY STEPS okay?). I am trying to keep grilled chicken on hand to chop up into salads, and have discovered that a bowl full of scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, spinach and extra sharp Vermont cheddar is just as good for dinner as it is for breakfast.
One of my awesome readers passed on some incredible Paleo information and has a blog of her own, Our Paleo Playbook, which I have been perusing in my spare time.
I've tried to stay off the scale because I know that those numbers can be a-holes. My weight can fluctuate 5 pounds from morning to night so those daily weigh-ins aren't the best motivators. What I have been doing is a weekly weight check, not unlike the days of Weight Watchers. I've even been taking pictures of the numbers, not for any sort of public flogging, but to let myself see some tangible proof that what I'm doing is having at least some effect. To give myself a timeline of sorts, to look at when I'm really struggling.
As of this morning, three weeks after that fateful wake-up moment in my bathroom and a little over a week after sitting in my doctor's office and facing my BMI...
There are 9 pounds less of me. It's not a Biggest Loser moment, there were no gasps from the audience and no trainer behind me pumping their fists in the air, but I did smile a little. And then, I looked in the big bathroom mirror and told that woman who was looking back at me two things.
"I'm proud of you" and
"I'm glad we're friends."