Monday, March 28, 2016

Occasionally... Fat (Adventures in Dieting)

"I feel that you need to know... Your good friend, Miranda Hobbes, has just taken a piece of cake out of the garbage and eaten it. You will probably need this information when you check me into the Betty Crocker Clinic" 
-- Miranda, Sex and the City

For the record, I have a love-hate affair with food. I love it, but I kind of hate how much I love it. When we were growing up, all of my social interactions centered on food. My parents didn't have much when I was growing up so anytime they had a little extra, we were "treated" with food. Whether it was Friday night (payday) pizza, or a Hershey bar surprise from my dad... we celebrated everything with food! I distinctly remember the day that my mother had my brother... because that was the same day that my sister and I were allowed to have our own happy meals (we usually shared). Seriously? The birth of one of my favorite people is memorable because of... a happy meal! (I even remember the "toy" - a toothbrush, of all things. Ha!)

Anyway, it should come as no surprise to anyone that my love-hate affair with food has led to a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. I was fairly average most of my childhood until my senior year, when I decided to try the Freshman 15 out a little early. Strangely, I lost 30 pounds my first semester in college (mostly due to a combination of the absence of my mother's delicious New Mexican cooking and good ol' college poverty). When I took a nutrition class the next semester, a slight obsession with food began.

Between my the fall of my first year of college and the fall of my second, I lost just over forty pounds. I was easily the smallest I had ever been... and quite enjoyed it too! I was also very active - I ran twice a day, and went to the gym at least an hour every other day. Unfortunately, I didn't learn what I should have from that nutrition class: I learned that dieting is calories in vs calories out, and that to lose a pound you had to consume 1,500 calories less. What I didn't learn or comprehend, however, was that these were net calories. I restricted my diet again and again until I was down to roughly 900 calories a day - a feat that I was stupidly proud of, despite my workout routine and full time job. I should have known that working out more means that I should eat more, but I was careless (and obsessive). It took fainting on a treadmill to give me a wakeup call, but I still didn't learn. 

Since that fateful fall on the treadmill, I haven't quite figured out the whole diet thing. I had several ups and downs throughout my twenties, and went into a full-fledged free fall after 28. My weight ballooned after having to do steroid therapy for my pneumonia, and I never quite seemed to get rid of it. Add two more years of steroid therapy after that, and you have where I was about a year ago - fluffy, tired, and constantly sick.

For the last year and a half, I've been on a much better trend. I workout more often, and I definitely trend toward more healthy choices overall. Well, I was trending that way... In November, I really started ramping up my runs in preparation for my half marathon. As any runner will tell you, running is a terrible way to lose weight. You're hungry... ALL - THE - TIME! The weight on the scale didn't move much, however, and I was ok with that. I kept telling myself that as long as I wasn't gaining weight that it would be ok, and I could get back on track once I started tapering.

Well, we're now at the end of March, and guess what? I'm sooooo off track. I haven't ran much, I'm not working out as much, but I'm still eating like I did during the height of my half marathon training! And my sweet tooth has gone insane! Saturday was a bit of a wakeup call. We went out for a pancakes after my 5k race, then I had a strawberry and kale grilled chicken salad for lunch, we treated ourselves to an afternoon cupcake, and I had a giant burrito for dinner. Oh, and did I mention that I at about 3 cups of popcorn? By 9pm, I felt bloated and exhausted. Why was I eating so much? And how can I make it stop?

My friend told me today that his diet was horrible this weekend. Friends - my Saturday glutton-fest made his cheeseburger and fries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner look nearly healthy by comparison! I know that this is wrong, so I'm going to actively work to stop it. Despite my younger mistakes, I have done a TON of research on healthy diet and nutrition since then. I know what I should and shouldn't eat, and I know that I can control it. I went and bought much healthier groceries tonight after work, and I'm going to endeavor to stick to what I purchased this week (except for lunch... I have too many plans to take my lunch to work, but I can pick healthier options!). Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to stick to a modified diet and slowly go back to healthier eating. I know I can't go to an all-or-nothing strategy, so I'm just sticking to small changes this week. Let's hope this works. 

Onward and upward!


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