One month ago today I made the conscious decision to remove dieting from my life once and for all. A big decision for me as recently I’ve come to realize that I’m a chronic dieter. I’ve been a chronic dieter for all of my adult life and sadly, for most of my teen life too.
For those who don’t know what chronic dieting is, it’s an eating disorder of sorts, that causes individuals who suffer from it to either always be dieting or, to be yo-yo-ing back and forth from dieting and living an unhealthy binging lifestyle.
The first thing I needed to do in order to train myself to stop the cycle was to stop weighing myself entirely. That was the hardest and I’m still struggling with it every day. The second thing I needed to do was to teach myself to eat healthy even though I wasn’t weighing myself. That wasn’t as difficult because I actually enjoy eating healthy now and can’t really eat unhealthy meal after unhealthy meal anymore without feeling it in my mood as well as feeling the sluggishness in my body. I guess you could say that I’m much more mindful about what food does to me now and that helps me make better choices.
Another thing I’ve done is increase my protein intake and I’ve done that for two important reasons: (1) I’m muscle building and protein is essential for building strong and healthy muscles; and (2) protein keeps me fuller longer which, during busy work days, comes in handy. I’ve also learned about the importance of complex carbohydrates for MY body type and what kinds of macronutrients I should be putting more emphasis on in my diet. All this information I’ve been learning has been exciting and eye-opening for me because it truly is not about the weight anymore. It’s about feeling good and fitting my clothes comfortably and being happy with my food decisions.
Because I don’t want to feel bad about how far I’ve come anymore. I don’t want to be beating myself up over those 15 final pounds I’ve led myself to believe makes all the difference. How much I’ve transformed in the last year and a half is amazing and should be celebrated. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself about not reaching a perceived idea of what I deemed to be an ideal weight. HEALTH ISN’T A NUMBER. It’s being able to live your life to the fullest; it’s loving yourself unconditionally; and it’s freeing yourself from anything that holds you down. HEALTH IS HAPPINESS!
I work in a care home. One of the perks of working in this particular care home is having a home-cooked meal and desert available to me every day at no cost. And when I say home-cooked I’m not exaggerating. The food is delicious and filled with flavour; the deserts made from scratch and decadent AF.
But if I want to keep on track with my current healthy lifestyle I have to limit myself from accepting these meals more times than not. And sometime that is soooooo hard to do.
This week, for instance, a ham boiled dinner was on the menu. For those who don’t know, a boiled dinner is the ULTIMATE comfort food for me. It was the meal I asked my mom to make me for my birthday every year and so it holds a very special place in my heart. I could NOT turn that meal down and even hugged our amazing cook after I had my share.
That’s not so bad. A boiled dinner, though high in salt, is actually pretty nutritious and so I wasn’t concerned about making the decision to eat it instead of my usual whole food and lean meat type of meal. But where I went wrong was this weekend when I decided to eat a tiny piece of desert. This particular desert was some sort of square clearly made with loads of butter and sweetened condensed milk and it was AMAZING! I had no regrets.
That was Friday. When Sunday rolled around some sort of orange creamy delight came about and this time I didn’t even hesitate to eat it which is a red-flag because if I’m not consciously aware of what I take in my body even just once a new cycle begins for me. And the cycle that began after consuming that piece of cake was daunting. So much so that I wasn’t able to fight what came after.
Binge Fest 2019, to the most ultimate degree, started immediately after I got home last night. I ate two Pillsbury Pizza Pops. After that, I made a full box of KD and ate that. As if that wasn’t enough, I found a bag of croutons (my Kryptonite when chips aren’t in my cupboard) and ate the whole bag!!
Needless to say, Sugar consumption, especially of the highly refined variety, makes me CRAVE carbs. And when I crave carbs I become a MONSTER that can’t stop eating!
So why does this happen??
According to Mbgfood (mindbodygreen.com) craving carbohydrates almost always means our body is searching for a serotonin boost. Seeing, smelling, and even thinking about indulging in certain foods triggers the release of the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter, dopamine, in your body, which has been stored in memories as past pleasure. What does that mean exactly? Well, basically, what we ate as kids and associated with happiness will be what we crave when we are emotionally drained and in need of a “happy boost.”
But my issue isn’t just about searching for happiness. It’s about the chain of events that occurs the minute I get one taste of refined sugars in my system. It seems that sugar gives me a boost of dopamine and that high is what has me searching for more like a junkie searching for her next fix.
For those who don’t know, Sugar is a carbohydrate too. 100 grams of refined sugar equals 100 grams of carbohydrates. So it’s safe to say that whether it’s a sweet desert, or a large serving of pasta, the results are the same. We want more!
So what’s the solution?
For me, yesterday was a lesson in learning to indulge in a conscious manor. Something I’m (very slowly) getting a grasp on. This video by Kerry Glassman at nutritiouslife.com has all the information and constructive pointers I need to help me make a better decision next time around. Because healthy eating isn’t a ride you get off after a while, it’s a rollercoaster that never ends and I’m completely okay with that.
I love food. No, that’s too mild of a word. I adore food, I’m obsessed with food, I’m addicted to food. There. Addicted. That’s more like it. I’m addicted to food. Once upon a time I used to find that fact difficult to confess. After all, we live in a world where it’s perfectly acceptable to be a food addict. I mean, it’s frowned upon by ‘society’ but in the real world, it’s more acceptable than being addicted to alcohol or drugs. After all, every special occasion is surrounded by the most decadent versions of food out there.
Everyone knows what kind of food I’m talking about. The rich, carb-filled, fatty, and decadent meals our mothers made us when we had a bad day; or the ones served during a family gathering hosted by our grandmothers, or that special fast food place where our dads would take us after school. The worst foods for our bodies are the most magical ones for our brains. We’re wired that way, or at least I am. That’s why I’ve decided that in order for me to maintain my new healthy lifestyle, I have to plan to eat badly.
I know what you are thinking, isn’t that kind of counter intuitive? Planning to eat badly while on a “diet” seems like setting yourself up for failure. But for me, having a day put aside where I can freely eat whatever my heart desires helps me keep on track the other 6 days of the week.
Now that I’m at a place in this weight-loss journey where it’s basically not moving forward no matter how much calorie restrictions and macro tracking I put on myself, this method of maintaining is keeping my eye on the prize. It’s discouraging getting on the scale and seeing little change. On a logical level I understand that I’m building muscle mass and the numbers on the scale might not being showing my progress but there’s a much more emotional level of illogical thinking on my part about this lack of visible progression on the scale. I feel like I am failing and that feeling makes me want to eat. A lot.
And that’s where the “bad” day rule came into place. I’ll allow my cravings to happen but only on my terms and in moderation. Not that it works all the time. I’ve had my nights where I can’t wait for that set aside day and I just go crazy eating everything I can find till I feel fulfilled. And I’m going to be completely honest, I’m rarely every regretful. Which only goes to show that I need these “breaks” from time to time. After all, it’s a known fact that most people’s problems with food are psychological and that’s definitely the case for me. But let’s save that story for another day, shall we?
August 2017 to February 2019
I’ve come a long way. I’m not 100% where I want to be but when I look at these pictures I’m reminded that I’m on an adventure that’s years in the making and there is no rushing it.
Truth of the matter is, I’m told the results stay off the longer it takes to get there. I’m hoping that’s the truth because I don’t want to go back to that version of me. And that’s not because I was considered “obese” – Hell, I’m technically still considered “overweight” right now and that’s totally insane! I wear size medium, for crying out loud! Does that make sense to anyone else out there?
In any case, the goal is to be in the zone of what is considered “healthy range” for my age and height. According to the internet that’s 145 lbs. Currently I’m 166 lbs. But that’s 166 lbs “partially toned” as apposed to 166 lbs “not toned at all.”
See the difference??
This pictures was taken on the day I joined the gym. I was the same weight I am right now. 166 lbs but you wouldn’t think so. The scale barely moves these days but I haven’t had my clothes fit any better!
When I look at these pictures I can’t get over the fact that This is me! I’m healthy, I’m fit, I’m happy, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll look like another 6 months from now.
But with all of that being said, let’s focus on my quality of life. My depression is 75% less. Like, seriously. Bipolar type 2 tends to stay in the depressed zone more often than not. Since starting my healthy lifestyle that’s completely changed. In fact, the gym is a trigger for hypomania for me. It makes me SO happy that I literally can’t come down from the high for hours! If anyone had told me that would be a fact in my life I’d laugh in their faces — Hell, I used to laugh at my psychiatrist when he’d tell me to “exercise” and “walk” to help with my depression.
Physical aspects. My pulse has regulated, my low blood sugar episodes have ceased, my GERD has almost completely disappeared, My IBS is non-existent, I no longer have weekly yeast infections (sorry for the TMI, but it’s a fact!) I have energy to get through my days. Even the long work days!
It’s a total 360 and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. This just might be the biggest hurdle I’ve ever had to overcome in my life so far. It’s a battle and it’s far from over but, damn, it’s amazing. <3