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.


  1. nutritional labels can be the best (for people learning about nutrition) and the worst (for those too fixated on numbers). if you know it'll upset you, DON'T LOOK!!!! though it is super tempting and easier said than done.

    i also have some anxieties about food as well and experience ALL of those things you mentioned. however, for me personally, if i start worrying about my weight and calories, everything just goes downhill. i.e. i start thinking about what foods i will eat or try to stay away from, whatever foods i DO decide to eat are a lot more precious if you will so i try to think hard about what i REALLY want to eat and what the splurge will be. but the end result is me spending ALL my brain power thinking about food ALL THE TIME!!!! so that leads to me eating even when i'm not hungry, because if a cheeseburger is on my mind all the time, i want to eat the damn thing!!!
    even this week when i'm not necessarily trying to think about what i can or can't eat, i was just thinking about what i wanted to eat for my birthday, i ended up eating a whole lot more than i would have if i had just followed my hunger now, i try to not think too hard about weight or's not easy all the time, but i just try to think of the repercussions if i do end up thinking about it too much..

    1. Totally understand, and when I think so hard about it, I end up getting stressed out and start trying to plan everything and then it becomes all-consuming. Then when I overeat, or eat the "wrong" thing, I feel super guilty and it becomes this endless cycle. You are so right though, I think its best to not look at the calories at all. Because even though I don't count calories anymore, I obviously still am not past the point of getting anxiety when I know a food has a high number. I hope someday I get there.
      Was it just your birthday?!! Happy belated. If there is any day to overeat, it is definitely your birthday, so I hope you don't feel bad about it :)

    2. thank you! my bday is not until next fri but that'll be in the start of my med school pediatrics rotation craziness, so we are celebrating this wknd instead as a joint celebration of my birthday and finishing up with the miserable surgery rotation slash being done with 33 hour calls forever!

      i think part of being ok with high calories food is trusting your body- and i think that your stomach/brain is probably relatively reliable about that! i think for a lot of people, after eating a super heavy or big meal, they crave for lighter foods the meal after that.

    3. Yes, trust is a big thing I am working on, I think I get better and better with it over time - but it is not easy. Enjoy your celebrations, sounds like you deserve it!

  2. I've been dealing with a lot of feelings like this lately as well. I gained a good 10 lbs training for my half marathon (mostly muscle) and never really lost it...I look back at pictures of myself from a year ago and marvel at how skinny I was.

    I've been eating out more lately and indulging a lot in general because I'm in a new relationship (funny how that always seems to happen!), but while I do try to stay mindful about how much I eat, and try to balance it with exercise, I also think that some of our best experiences that we have are those where we can gather around a huge meal and enjoy moments with our loved ones, like you mentioned. It's definitely a struggle and some days are better than others, but know you're not the only one dealing with these feelings!

    1. Hi Katie, it is reassuring knowing I am not alone, but I am sorry you worry about this stuff too, because it is such a waste of energy. These feelings seem to be more prevalent when you feel like you've gained weight. But when you do a lot of cardio, your body holds on to water, so that could be another reason (at least that is what my dietician told me). I have seen you lately on your blog and you look awesome for what it's worth :)
      I am trying to focus on how I feel versus my weight or size.

      I totally relate on the relationship thing - when I used to live alone, I didn't eat nearly as decadently, or drink as much wine, or get as much ice cream. But our meals together are so special, we fill each other in on our day and chat about our friends and upcoming events - it is nice to share those moments over a delicious meal, and the last feelings we should have are guilt and regret. Let's try to focus on how lucky we are to have great men and great food :)