I wanted to add a few more thoughts on Operation: Getting My Body Back. I think I’ve mentioned
countless a few times before that I have a very sordid history with disordered eating. I spent a decade loathing my body and tethering my happiness to the number on the scale and on the tag of my clothing. It was a dark time, and there were moments when I saw my life as a series of days stacked up like dominoes, each one looming as nothing but another 24 hours period during which I’d do little more than obsess about food.
During my year abroad in Spain I brought my weight down to 125 (a European size 4) and I was officially the skinniest I had ever been. I was also the most miserable. That year taught me an invaluable lesson–being skinny does not guarantee happiness. After that, I stopped my obsession with food, and while I did initially gain more weight than I wanted to, I eventually settled at a size I was happy with.
I spent the next ten years specifically AVOIDING dieting because I didn’t EVER want to go back to that place of severely disordered eating. I was so lucky that after my first pregnancy I was able to lose the 55 lbs I gained almost effortlessly, I assumed through breastfeeding. This postpartum experience has been different. Despite pumping 36-40 ounces a day for six months, I stayed at a steady 165lbs–a full 20lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not sure if this was due to hormones or an increased appetite. Either way, the experience was totally different than before.
I would normally not take my weight loss to the deliberate place of counting and restricting calories with a specific weight loss goal in mind (and I do want to add that I don’t expect to lose two pounds a week, I’m just following the calorie amount that MFP suggests for a two pound weight a week loss), but when I began this project I was a full 25-30 pounds over my target weight (and again, I don’t usually fixate on a number on a scale, but I know that I won’t fit into my clothes (my real goal) until I’m at that target weight). I knew that if I just focused on healthy eating I would only lose about a half pound a week, which means it would be a full year before I would be able to access my wardrobe. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I am on a very strict budget and buying clothes I’ll only use for a (hopefully) limited time just isn’t an option for me right now. For that reason I’m trying to get down to a weight where the size 10 clothes I saved (specifically for during and after pregnancy) fit, so that I can revert back to my healthy eating attitude to lose the final weight required to get back into my full wardrobe. Mostly I just really need to not be wearing my maternity clothes anymore.
I guess the short way to say it is, no, I’m not thrilled to be formally “dieting” right now–I wish I could fall back on the attitudes that got me through the last decade–but between the amount of weight I have to lose, the severe lack of clothes I have to wear and the inability to buy clothes during the interim, I’m making the choice to count calories and track exercise.
I will say that I’ve found calorie counting to be a productive exercise. I noticed that I had lost track of serving sizes and portion control during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when I basically let myself eat what I wanted, when I wanted. The sheer amount of what I’ve gotten used to eating, both in the different things I consume throughout the day, and the amount of food I consume at each sitting, will never be conducive to even maintaining a healthy weight, let alone losing slowly over a prolonged period of time. In the first three weeks of tracking my calories I was immediately reminded of how quickly it all adds up, and even now, when I’m not being as dedicated to tracking my calories, I can think back to the weeks when I was and make more educated decisions accordingly. I know that I only need to eat half a burrito in one sitting to be sated (and I have another meal ready and waiting! Bonus!), and that if I have a whole thing of fries with my In-n-Out burger I’ll have consumed 700+ calories. I’ve also been reminded that sometimes just a few bites of something is plenty satisfying, and I don’t have to finish a serving just because it’s there. These are valuable lessons, and I know I’ll carry them with me as I move from more restrictive calorie tracking to an attitude of more relaxed healthy eating.
I also think being aware of my daily steps is a valuable tool; it’s good to know there are days I can barely take 3,000 steps if I don’t do something specifically to get my butt in gear. I want a moderate level activity to be a part of most days, and having my fitbit holds me accountable to that goal. I’m learning how to incorporate movement into my daily life, making decisions I wouldn’t have made before. Like today I’m at a training so I’ll get home later than usual and it will probably be impossible to pick up Osita by the time I get home. I also have a ggmg magazine meeting in the evening so I can’t use the elliptical (I’ve been using it after Monito has gone to bed and so far it’s been quite successful! He doesn’t wake up!) so I’m going to go for a walk during the 30 minute lunch break. I never would have done that before, but knowing I won’t make my step goal today is helping me being proactive in finding opportunities (like my lunch break) to move my body.
So that is where I am on weight loss right now. I suppose I want to make this clear, both to others and to myself, because I am SO TERRIFIED of returning to a place of disordered eating. I want to make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons and in the right way. If you think I’m making an missteps, please tell me.
What is your personal history with body image and weight loss? What philosophy do you want to live by moving forward?