Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Lamb Conundrum

So here I am telling you that I am doing great.  That I couldn't be happier.  That I no longer abide by food rules, get anxiety about unhealthy meals, or feel guilty after I eat indulgent treats.

But in all honesty, the past couple of days have been rough and I am trying to understand if I should try to understand why, or if I should focus on the next moment.

Friday morning I felt good and was up early, so I went on an easy jog and walked to and from work.  But Friday was supposed to be a rest day... not a big deal, right?  I am afraid that the feeling of "getting ahead" with an extra workout opened the door for some ugly thoughts later that day.

Then later on Friday night, Travis and I decided to roast a rack of lamb to have with our favorite wine.  Yum! I was excited, I love lamb...

But then I got a glance at the number of calories on the packaging.  And the excitement immediately drained and I felt the heat and tension start to rise up my neck.  My mind started calculating ways to limit the amount of lamb I would eat.

I could make tons of vegetables, and only have a small piece of lamb.  I could not have wine with dinner.  I could workout really hard on Saturday.  I didn't need more than a few bites of lamb... 

I became anxious and I couldn't laugh at my goofball-boyfriend's jokes.  I couldn't chat about our Machu Picchu trip and how excited I was.  I could only think about the fact that I shouldn't be eating dinners like this.  That I could save so many calories if I just had a salad.

These are the thoughts that used to consume me and they are the ones I thought were normal.  I thought these thoughts were keeping me healthy.  But they weren't.  Maybe they were keeping me thin, but they were also keeping me miserable.

It is actually quite the conundrum.

But it helps to use some logic to remind myself I am better than this...

1)  Science says (i.e. my dietitian) that a meal like that is not going to cause me to gain weight.  I would need to eat an excess of 3500 in a week to gain 1 pound.  And the meal I was going to consume was probably 750 calories tops.

2)  My body says that I like fat and I need calories.  When I didn't eat enough, my metabolism slowed to a snail's pace, and I am trying to get it back in line.

3)  My body also says that fat keeps me full and everything will balance out in the end.  Meaning I probably won't have fat cravings later in the weekend because I will have satisfied that need.

4)  My head says that this meal is keeping me alive.  I am so lucky to be able to be nourished by such delicacies like a beautiful rack of lamb.

5) My head does not say, but should say, so I am telling it to say, that even if I do gain weight from this meal or more meals like this, that it's OK, because it means that I still need to gain more to reach my set point.  I am incredibly healthy, and gaining more weight will not make me any less so.

I am more than a number on the scale.

6) My heart says that this meal is a big part of this special moment I get to share with Travis, and I am grateful for every meal and every memory we make together.

So I ate more than I planned.  I ate until I was satisfied.  I drank the wine.

And I even went out to another decadent dinner the next night.  It was uncomfortable.  But it was also lovely.

These thoughts pop in from time to time, and I can't seem to understand why, knowing what I know now.

But I am OK.  I am better than OK.

And I am hoping these thoughts continue to get less and less frequent.

They will.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bring on the Adventure

In just one week, Travis and I are headed to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  We booked the trip about six months ago, so it is hard to believe it is already time to go.  We will spend a day in Lima before heading to Cusco to acclimate to the elevation. Then we will begin the four day hike to Machu Picchu.  We have most of our gear, aside from a few toiletries, odds and ends and snacks, which we plan get this weekend.

I am a pretty nervous traveler, and I feel like I haven't done nearly enough research - it just snuck up on me!  I used to be an event planner but had to change careers because I realized I couldn't predict things that may go wrong, and I lost way too much sleep over it. 

I thought I hit the jackpot when I realized that the Peruvian Consulate is located in my office building - one of the benefits of living in the heart of our nation's capital? 

But then Travis told me that I can't wander in there like it's AAA. After consulting with a friend who works in international affairs, I learned that the consulate does much more important things than providing maps and travel tips to future tourists...

So overall, I am very excited, but a little anxious and paranoid that I may get sick or hurt or something in the next week before the trip.

One thing I am happy about is my state of mind before I leave, aside from the small worries of course.  This time last year, I don't think I would have made it through the hike (knock on wood, because I haven't made it yet).  I wasn't fueling myself enough to be able to function at a high altitude.  And with my moods the way they were, I would never have lasted after the slightest discomfort.  I would have had anxiety about the food we might be provided and I would have wanted to control every single thing that happened. 

But when you travel, you have to let go.  You can't control the weather or the snafus.  This will be a really great test of how far I have come in my attempt to "let go" of a lot of negativity and self doubt.

I think I can get through what ever comes my way next week.  I am strong enough now to hike for four days straight because I have been building muscle and eating enough.  I know that I am more connected to my body than I have ever been.  So I am going to go on this trip and just enjoy every minute.

But in the meantime, to get rid of some of the jitters, I plan to drink wine....

And of course also focus on how awesome it will feel to make it here -

Anyone else feel like they are never prepared enough when they travel?

Any tips for truly relaxing on vacation?

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Tonight I decided it was time to stop secretly hoping that I would someday fit back into the small sizes I wore just a few months ago.  I have already cleaned out my closet once before, when I first decided to stop strictly counting calories and exercising excessively.  But these clothes were my "bigger" small clothes, and now they don't fit either.  I shed a tear when I tried on the first dress that was nowhere close to zipping.  But it got easier as I started pulling out one pair of pants after the other and the stack grew.

Part of me was holding off on doing this task because maybe, just maybe I would naturally get thinner again and maybe they would just happen to fit again.  But I know these are the types of thoughts that are going to make this process a lot harder and a lot worse for me in the long run.

So today is the day.

I know I am doing everything right and I know I can trust my body to stop gaining weight when it is ready.  It is pretty unlikely that I am going to drop weight and the truth is, it doesn't matter, it shouldn't matter.  This is about NOT CARING about my size and JUST LIVING.  I am not saying I am 100% there yet, but I am eons further than I was a year ago and even a little further than I was a week ago...

Anyone know anyone who needs 10 pairs of size too small pants, some shorts and a few dresses?  Or any ideas for how to sell or donate?

Here is a new dress that fits just right - to remind myself that the stick figure I used to be is not nearly as cute as me now (positive self talk?)

That old me would have felt terrible about herself after a night of drinking and cake-eating at a close friend's wedding last weekend.  And would have spent an extra hour at the gym the next day.

Yes, I wore the unicorn head and Travis felt the need to cop a feel.

That old me NEVER would have baked her awesome coworker these wonderful peanut butter bars for her birthday this week, cause god forbid she lost control and had a bite...

Check out the recipe here.  There are only five ingredients and one of them is bisquick!!

The point is that it is hard to let go of the old me in some ways.  But in other ways it is so liberating and it feels awesome.  Maybe soon the memory of the old me will fade away and my brain will get to know the new me and completely accept who she is and how she looks.

Anyone else feel bad, but also strangely good, getting rid of old clothes that no longer fit?

Anyone sick of me talking in the third person?

Friday, August 1, 2014

More of Me

I think I know why it started, and when it started to get out of control.

Not the drinking...come on, I was in college in that picture!

Freshman year of college

I had always been a straight-A student, always on the dean's list.  I had always been able to measure my progress by my grades, and I always knew where I stood among others.  After college, in the working world I felt lost.  I no longer had cheerleading, gymnastics, music, or anything to really set my mind toward or measure my progress by.

No more Halloween parties for me to make the best costumes....

Yes that is a Samsung flip phone in my bra.

But my body?  That was something I could "improve", track, control...

I was on my own in a new city, I was vulnerable to the body-obsessed, billion-dollar weight loss industry disguised within every magazine I read and the television I watched.  So I set my mind to making my body "perfect", I knew I could do anything if I worked hard enough.

But as I lost weight, I slowly lost my mind.  I was sad and anxious.  I lost my confidence, my ability to focus on any thing or anyone other than myself, my spirit, my laugh, my love for life.

A year ago today I was far lower than any goal weight I had, and way smaller than my body was ever meant to be.  Sometimes I was so proud of how much I'd lost, and I felt so thin and svelte.  But inside, I was in a dark place.  Getting anxiety over every calorie I consumed, and constantly striving for any extra time to workout is exhausting.  As my body shrunk, it felt like everything else was going with it.

It was a year ago that I decided I needed to change.  I missed the old carefree Lindsay who didn't count every calorie and obsess over every bite of food and minute at the gym.  Who didn't ignore her hunger and wasn't so temperamental that she would break down over spilled milk.  Who loved chocolate ice cream and slept in on the weekends.  Who knew balance and trusted her body to just be.  Not to mention this all seriously conflicted with my love of dining out, wine, and cooking elaborate new recipes at home.

The one who would actually eat that sandwich without guilt

I broke up with the scale a few months after that first realization as a small step toward escaping the obsession.  I was tired of relying on an inanimate object to tell me how I was "measuring up in the world." 

Then I found a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and body image.  After one session she told me that I meet the criteria for the diagnosis of Eating Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified), which isn't necessarily anorexia, but means that you have an f***ed up relationship with food and exercise and your body - which was all true, though I wasn't ready to admit it.  A lot of people count calories, diet, weigh themselves, and exercise every day to have a good figure.

I still meet with her regularly and still have a hard time admitting that I warrant an official diagnosis, but sometimes I can now say that I am in recovery without cringing.  Only because I can see how much stronger and happier I have become, and how different I am since that day in December when I walked meekly into her office and cried my eyes out about how much I hated myself.

I was the straight-A student, never got into trouble, never had anything negative happen to throw me off course.  How did I end up here?  Is what I kept asking myself.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I got there.  I had to stop comparing myself to others who think its okay to live their entire lives like this in order to look the way society tells them to.  That just isn't me and that is not a life I want to live.

 Same dress, more curves

Slowly, with her help and then the help of a dietitian, I learned to trust my body.  I learned to let go.  To enjoy food, life, friends.  To use exersice to feel healthy and strong.  To not beat myself up for having a margarita instead of a vodka soda.  To listen to my cravings and nourish my body.

As I fueled myself and rested my legs, I felt my heart grow, and my spirit start to fill me back up.  My skin began to glow again, my moods stabilized, my face became fuller and happy.

Mom and me after shopping for new clothes.

Today I weighed myself for the first time in about 8 months.  I don't know what I expected to see and I don't know what I thought I would gain (other than some lbs - ha), and I still don't know how I feel about the number I saw.  It is actually just about what I expected, but it was weird seeing it and hard and confusing.  If I had known I would be the weight I am now when I first decided to turn things around, that meek girl who walked into therapy would have ran the other way.  But that girl was so blinded by her obsession.  My perception was way off about what healthy means.

This girl today would never go back.


Though I am still working on a lot, I have come a long way and I am proud of myself.  But I will be putting the scale away for a while again now.  I have to stay focused on what is important, which is how I feel.

So for anyone who is wondering if it can get better, it can.  You don't have to look a certain way or be super thin to have a problem.  When something isn't right, you kind of know, even if it is hard to admit. Life shouldn't be that hard, food doesn't have to be the enemy, and exercise doesn't have to make you hurt.  I recommend reading the book Almost Anorexic if you think you or someone you love may have disordered thoughts or behaviors around food and/or exercise. 

It isn't easy, but learning to love yourself is a long journey, and sometimes you just have to take one step in the right direction each day. What's the worst that can happen?