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Loving and losing

16 Apr

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about my weight loss. A lot of friends and family did exactly what I asked — they told me “Yay!” — and helped me celebrate my accomplishment.

But one friend made a comment that caused me to ponder the reasons people lose or gain weight, and the reasons people decide to make those changes to their bodies. We can lose or gain for many reasons, positive and negative, and several factors might motivate us to make changes.

Later in the day, as I was writing and rewriting this post in my head, a friend said on Facebook that his wife had started a diet. A friend of theirs commented, “Tell your wife she is perfect just the way she is.”

And that set me off!

I want to propose the idea that it is possible to truly, deeply love yourself and your life, to be very happy and content, and still want to lose (or gain) weight. That decision need not come from self-loathing, a desire to conform to any real or perceived standards, or any other unhealthy attitudes toward one’s own body or food.

At times in my life, I have certainly hated my body and wished it would magically become smaller without me having to make any lifestyle changes, even though I knew that wish was ridiculous. It’s the dream of every person who has an addiction — to do whatever you want and not face any negative consequences.

Since I became an athlete and a personal trainer, I have had to confront and refine my ideas about body image, weight, health, and wellness. I know that weight loss is not always a reason for congratulations. I also have become very passionate about the fact that we feel comfortable saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” to friends and family, but when we notice someone has gained weight (and don’t lie, you notice) you don’t ask or wonder if that person is physically, spiritually, or emotionally well. We think loss is “good” and gain is “bad,” but both are usually more complex.

This time, I am working toward weight loss as part of a focus on overall wellness, but I also have a very specific and perhaps lofty goal: I want to take about 20-30 minutes off my marathon finish time. In case math isn’t your thing, that means I would need to run at least one minute per mile faster than I did at my best. A goal like mine requires attention to nutrition, sleep, stress, weight/mass, attitude, meditation (which I don’t do!), strength training, AND running. I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been running for only six years, so I have a lot of work to do!

hearthandsFor me, this weight loss is an act of self-care. I’m eating whole, real, delicious food that helps support my goals and activities. I feel strong and beautiful and capable. And I’m in love with my life, which is exactly why I believe I’m seeing improvements in my body and my training.

I believe you can love yourself and still want to change. Do you? I’d like to know.

Jonesing for a mocha

14 Mar

Today I felt like I imagine a drug addict feels when she or he wants a hit. I almost contacted my “clean eating sponsor” but I talked myself through it.

For three weeks I have been following the Whole30 plan. I have not had any refined or added sugars, no grains, no legumes, and no dairy. I have been eating a TON of vegetables and some fruits, meats (organic as much as possible), nuts, seeds, and lots of delicious fats. I eat copious amounts of colorful, whole, tasty food and I don’t let myself feel hungry or deprived. I have lost inches (I never measure, but my clothes are loose) and pounds. And the best thing is that I feel good physically and mentally!

But today was a rough day. I was exhausted. It was a busy Monday and I was feeling a lot of stress about work. I left to run an errand at about 1:00 in the afternoon, and as I walked to my car I thought, I need a coffee. I am so tired. I want a mocha. No one would know or care, and it’s not going to kill me.

I got to my car and realized I had left my keys at my desk, so I had to walk all the way back inside and out again, all the while debating about a sugary coffee drink. I really need it to get through this day. This day sucks. I have to pee. I’m so tired. Everything sucks. No one cares about me. No one answers my questions. No one wants to help me. I should just give up on this eating plan. 

I was spinning. I got in the car and drove toward the coffee shop, which was on the way to my errand destination. I started to list options: I can order a coffee and just put heavy cream in it. Fewer calories. Or maybe just a little bit of sugar. I have felt good not having dairy though. What if I felt really gross? And guilty? But no one would know unless I told my friend. She told me when she fell off the wagon. Maybe I should call her right now. 

I finally decided to drive to the store for some fruit and unsweetened coconut/almond milk, which I dumped into an Americano.

coffee-heart

The point is not that I must follow a particular eating plan or that I can have a mocha (or any food or drink, for that matter) if I want to. You’re right, one sugary coffee drink is not a big deal. The POINT is that I wanted it not for its nutritional value (of which there is little) but because I needed sugar and coffee and chocolate to help me cope with my emotions.

One of the benefits of this program is that it has helped me establish a relationship with food that makes me feel less like a junkie and more like a responsible adult who has some control in her life. Does that make any sense? If you’re an addict like I am, you know sometimes our drugs of choice are the boss of us. That’s how food can be for me, and you need food to live, so I used to face many battles daily. Now I just eat food.

I’m done with the Whole30 in a week, and now I have to figure out what will change for me. I’ve read the book, but I didn’t really understand the chapter about life after the 30 days. As you can see, allowing myself to have “whatever I want” is not simple for me, and I don’t want to slip into old patterns just because I can.

If you’ve done this before, I’d welcome your input.