Tuesday Thoughts

Loving this quick article about being happy with gaining weight. Not about scale progress, about mental progress.

This Buzzfeed article on Instagram Food vs. Real Food is perfect. Love it.

I don’t think any dessert could be any more perfect than these s’mores cakelettes. Now in my bookmarks bar.

Obsessed with this song lately. The lyrics are perfection.

Two words. Pumpkin. Push-pops.

 

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The Biggest Loser Controversy

 

I don’t watch The Biggest Loser. I think it’s my own experience that pushes me away from the uncomfortable feelings that all the people on the show have. I understand the pain while running on the treadmill and the heart racing that occurs when you step on a scale in front of other people. I get that at that moment the biggest concern is losing the weight and nothing, nothing, seems too be “too much.”

Despite my avoidance of the TV show, I stumbled upon all the controversy surrounding this seasons winner Rachel Frederickson and her new 105 pound body. In the last few days I have seen countless articles and Tweets surrounding her weight loss. She’s too thin, she lost too much weight, what did they make her do? Her BMI lists her as underweight, etc.

The only thing I haven’t seen is “how has this affected her health?”

Weight is a measurement. Unlike most other ways of quantification, the number on the scale often dictates how people live their lives. The number becomes the sole focus in a plethora of so many things that are more important.

People forget that muscle is denser than fat, that women retain water at different times during the month, that BMI is often not an indicator of how much you exercise or how many vegetables you put in your mouth.

While I would agree that Frederickson might be a little small for her height, I am way less concerned about that finishing number–I’m concerned for her health.

Going from 260 pounds to 105 in the season of The Biggest Loser is unhealthy. It’s a radical change: it’s great she was able to accomplish such a big feat but the body is not meant to undergo that type of stress.

The people on that show exercise for 4 hours a day according to an article from Time Magazine in 2009. Jillian Michaels even says “Not only is it not possible, it’s not safe” when the journalist says it’s not realistic for normal people to do that.

I don’t know what the people on the show eat but I’m positive they do not eat enough to sustain all that exercise in order to lose so much weight so fast.

The point is The Biggest Loser may help people shed weight but it ultimately takes unhealthy people (or maybe not even…maybe just overweight) and subjects them to an unhealthy environment where they learn tricks of the trade that are impossible to incorporate into real life.

I wish Frederickson the best with her new body and hope that she can continue to feel happy with herself but I fear for her health, as well as her teammates, as they venture back into a world away from the Biggest Loser ranch and attempt to live.

If You Met Me Today…

When Myspace was a thing, I was always into posting surveys about myself. My favorites were the A-Z list of random facts. 

I see people do “10 Things About Me” or “Random Facts” posts all the time which got me thinking about something I never really thought about. 

As we get older, the things people know about us gets to be less and less. Think about it. When you talk to someone, you connect on or tell them what you’re doing now. All the important things of before get left behind.

So, I’m starting a new thought process meme: If You Met Me Today, You’d Never Know–Five things about yourself that people in your past might know, but no one you met today would. 

If you met me today, you’d never know, 

1. I play(ed) the violin.
2. I have a degree in journalism (and did a minor in music). 
3. Half of my schooling was spent at art schools.
4. I used to be overweight.
5. I’m in a sorority. 

 

Your turn! 

Thoughtful Thursday: Disordered Eating

I didn’t feel like posting yesterday but I realized sometime in the morning that it was a semi-important day in my life. Two years ago yesterday, I stepped on a scale in front of 50 people after a grueling 15 minute workout and vowed never to see that number again. I was sweating not only from jumping jacks, push ups and mountain climbers but from the realization that I was 230 pounds. That that number was being seen, and written down, by coaches and the people standing near me. From that day forward, I changed my life.

Beofre:After

(2011 and the other day)

It’s funny–well, not really, but during those eight weeks, I was more relaxed about food than I have ever been in the last 2 years. I knew how much to eat, what to eat and fueled my body for the intense workouts at 5:30 a.m. every day. It’s afterwards that got me.

I fell into a spell of carbohydrate and calorie fear recently. Even though I never tracked my food after those eight weeks, I counted carbs in the back of my head and did my best to restrict them. For a while, I wasn’t afraid. I knew what to do to continue losing weight and to not gain and I did it. I ate healthy, I exercised–I knew the ropes. I had a sustainable lifestyle and could eat as I pleased.

More recently though, somewhere near my switch to a Paleo lifestyle/a little before, I developed this intense fright of food. Fruit was bad, grains were bad, carbohydrates that didn’t come from vegetables were bad, dairy, also bad. Sugar, worst. I spiraled deep down into a Paleo hole where I tried to listen to my body and failed.

I tracked my food for the first time a few weeks ago and discovered I was eating somewhere near 800/900 calories a day with very little carbohydrates and too much protein and fat. It’s no wonder I didn’t always feel 100%, my weight loss and muscle development plateaued and my hormones got all out of whack. Who knows what other bodily signals I’ve ignored.

To just maintain my weight, I should be eating over 2000 calories a day. For the amount of activity I do everyday, I could eat even more.

I unintentionally gave myself an eating disorder and was starving.

This realization came to me the other day when I really wanted oatmeal for breakfast but wouldn’t eat a whole serving because it would use up my carbs. The next day I wanted a smoothie, but, bananas, they have so much sugar. I then realized that even before becoming Paleo I never ate bread and rarely ate other grains because I was nervous about using up all my carbs. I had to mentally prepare before eating something like ice cream or anything I didn’t normally consume and attempt to avoid the overwhelming guilt that accompanied the meal.

I’ve decided to stop being Paleo, to try and eat normally and to rid myself of the fear of food. I preach health and balance yet I’m the worst offender. This needs to stop.

A few weeks back I decided my primary fitness goal for the next year is to build muscle and get strong. To do this, I would need to eat. A lot.

So far, it’s been both simple and difficult. Eating things I’ve cut out in the past has proved to be hard. I bought bread and cereal for the first time in months the other day, ate a yogurt with peanut butter (something I used to have every single day for breakfast) and have tried to be more relaxed. I have been writing everything down, tedious, but apparently necessary. I’m currently trying to revamp my metabolism which is a slow process but something that will be worth it in the end.

Two years later, I’m 89.5 pounds lighter, a million times stronger and have a tiny bit more confidence.  For the next year, I can only hope the latter two grow even more.

A Day of Eating

When I haven’t seen people in a long time, they always say “wow, you must  really changed your eating and portions!” After I take away the small insult of that comment, I always answer them back with how I actually eat more now than I ever did, but how it has changed and definitely for the better.

I realized how much food really does fuel my body when I came back from my spring break cruise two weeks ago. After consuming foods I’m not so used to eating, I felt puffy from salt, sluggish and tired. I was definitely not myself.

Food is fuel. The body needs premium. 

My [Typical] Day of Eating:

Breakfast:

One glass of water

1 plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon, coconut and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon or so of homemade granola.

1/2 a grapefruit

1 cup of tea or coffee

Snack if needed:

Piece of fruit

Lunch:

1 medium-sized salad. Usually includes a hard boiled egg, spinach and veggies as well as a little cheese.

Apple with peanut butter or banana

Snack:

Orange and maybe some almonds 

Dinner:

Some type of protein (chicken, steak, turkey burger…)

2/3 of the plate filled with some kind of vegetable.

Extra:

I usually have some kind of chocolate at some point during the day. I love chocolate.

I’ve also realized that while I eat often (sometimes I eat more than 2 snacks…), I don’t think I’m eating enough actual food. Any suggestions at keeping relatively low-carb but adding in a few extra calories? 

 

My Weight Loss Journey (Part 2)

Since that last day of the program, I’ve chopped off another 53 pounds and the part I am most proud of is that I did it on my own, without trainers and without people checking on my food. I have continued losing weight without being on a “diet” or hiring a personal trainer.

I work my ass off, literally, at least five times a week. Bootcamp at the gym, spinning, running–I do it all. In September 2012, I completed my first 20k (12.4 miles). I didn’t think I could do it but I told myself I would, and I did. Exercising went from something I didn’t understand to something I have a good grasp on. I used to hate running and now, I love it. I could never picture myself on a spin bike but it’s one of my favorite workouts to do.

I try not to make food an issue. If I want something, I eat it. Plain and simple. I don’t believe in deprivation. That’s not to say I don’t watch what I eat. I eat tons of vegetables, protein and I try not to eat too many carbohydrates. That means I eat a salad over a sandwich at lunchtime and have a sweet potato instead of a white potato at dinner. That doesn’t mean I don’t dunk mini graham crackers in my coffee every morning though. My diet (as in, my food intake, not a diet) consists of things that are good for my body instead of things that aren’t.

When I started this journey, I thought the hardest part would be the exercising and losing the weight but it turns out that the hardest part is seeing myself. For essentially my whole life, I saw myself as the fat one and I can’t shake that view. Last semester, for the first time in my entire life, I shared clothes with my roommates and they ft. We’re the same size but I can’t see it and I really, truly, can’t. I don’t quite understand why but no matter how much time I spend in the mirror, my mind still sees me as twice my size. It’s something I’m working on–something that when shaken I hope will give me more confidence and finally let me feel good about myself.

I truly believe that my body is my temple. I was relatively healthy when I was overweight and it carried me. It brought me through the hard times, it ached and screamed during workouts but kept me going. My legs ran 12.4 miles at once and continue to run many miles every week. My arms can lift weights, boxes, anything and me, during pushups, mountain climbers and planks. My stomach deserves good food and thanks me for it. My head produces less headaches.

There are still definitely things I want to work on on my body but I am not so concerned with how much weight I lose from now on. I want to work on my abs and my thighs–things that have been severely affected by having so much extra weight for so long. My biggest goal though is to realize who I am and I’m hoping that it will come a lot easier as I get more used to me, now, and farther away from what I used to be.

My Weight Loss Journey (Part 1)

I love magazines. Simple, declarative sentence, yes, but I can’t think of any truer words. Magazines have been my thing since childhood. Strangely, I never considered journalism as a career until I became a journalism major, but that’s a long story. The point is, I won’t spend $4 on breakfast but I will spend it on a new Cosmo (or Glamour, Self, People…i’ll stop now).

Last night, as I sifted through one of my newest magazines for the first time, I took the time to stop and read one of the articles written by a woman who lost 50 pounds. I also read through a celebrity interview that spoke about weight and listened to the new Jessica Simpson Weight Watchers commercial in the background.

As I sat there, my mind started reeling. One of the reasons I started my own weight loss journey was to stop hiding behind the facade of an overweight person. I was very simply, done. In the past year though, that wall has stayed up. I’ve kept everything secretive for the sake of keeping my own embarrassment of originally being overweight to a minimum. As I watch these other people tell their stories of strength, I want to show mine. I am proud of myself but I feel that I can’t show it.

So, i’m taking the wall down. It’s my turn. Right now.

At age 20, I weighed 231 pounds. That number has probably come out of my mouth once because as soon as I saw it, I wanted to forget the image of it flashing quickly on the scale screen.

As a child, I was scrawny and frail. Ear, nose and throat problems early-on left me with not enough breath to eat well. When they were fixed at age 4 and 30-ish pounds though, I soon became a normal size child. I didn’t become big until 9 or 10 but honestly, I don’t even remember. I just know I continued growing and my clothes became baggier and more adult. As my friends shopped in the trendy juniors section, I was forced into the woman’s section, picking through clothes that were cute enough to get by.

As a teen, I always told myself that my weight didn’t bother me. As my friends had their first kisses, boyfriends and girlfriends and experiences, I convinced myself that I didn’t care. I would wait until someone liked me for me instead of my body. When friends would go to the mall to hang out, I was busy. Walking into store after store where nothing would fit was embarrassing and awkward, not to mention depressing.

I was the fat friend. The quiet one that always hung in the background. The one that shied away from pictures. The one that got talked to instead of with. The teacher’s pet. And while I am relatively quiet and I do put a lot of effort into school, I wonder how this would have been different if I had been thin instead. I grew up fast because I didn’t feel like a “normal” teenager.

I fell into a cycle of depression from high school to my second year of college, and while a lot of it was not body related, much of it was. I hated every ounce of me yet I didn’t know how to fix it. On Sundays, when my family would have dinner, I would often break down, crying hysterically, because I was just so sad about how I looked. Every other day though, I continued to tell myself it was fine.

I tried going to the gym on my own but saw little success. I didn’t know what to do and how to do it. I attempted running but I didn’t know how and the weight made it hard. The first time I went on a run, I just about made it halfway around the block before I had to take a breather.

Food, fortunately, wasn’t a big problem for me. I ate three meals a day and while they could have been healthier, they weren’t terrible.

During my sophomore year in college, my aunt did a program at a local gym that mimicked “The Biggest Loser.” She had success, she had fun and most of all, it taught her what to do. We talked about it, and she convinced me quickly.

In September 2011, I went to the program “casting call.” Because of classes, there was only one group I could be a part of. The one that met at 5:30 AM. I was hesitant but met with the trainers anyway. They asked me what I was looking for and I told them, very honestly, I just wanted to buy clothes from regular stores and that I was going to be 21 and just wanted to feel it.

A few days later, I received the call that 5:30 a.m. workouts would be starting in 2 weeks and that I should probably start preparing. I don’t think I was ever so excited or nervous.

The Sunday we began for orientation, I threw on my team t-shirt and while the other teams sat and talked about what to expect, we had a 15-minute workout. I could barely do a push up. Everything was difficult. I had never been so sore or tired and at that point, I realized where I was. Or at least I thought I did. After the workout, it was weigh-in time. My 2 trainers stood on either side of the scale and a man with a clipboard in front. Three people looking at the number I knew would be scary.

From that moment on, I knew I would never see that number again and made a vow to myself that once numbers go down, any number above it can never be seen again. I told myself I would win the competition. I needed to.

For the 8 weeks of the program, I was dedicated, determined and convinced myself I needed to be stronger than everyone else because I was so young. Monday through Friday my alarm would go off at 4:45 a.m. and I would throw on my sneakers, grab a banana and begin the 20-minute trek to the gym.

You don’t realize how many ways to exercise there are until they get thrown at you for an hour. High knees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks. Suicides, jumping and bouncing on medicine balls until your legs feel like they’re going to fall off.

The workouts were tough but as they got harder, they also got easier. Week after week, I found myself stronger and more motivated. The same goes for the weekly weigh-in. The first week, I was shaking as I stood in line to get on the scale. What if I didn’t lose any weight? What if all that work only equaled a pound? Less? Luckily, the work paid off and five pounds melted from the scale. The next week? Another four.

When I awoke each morning to the sunrise, I was proud of what I was doing. It felt good to know that even at school, with everyone around, I could make the choices I needed.

The program was a secret to everyone around me except my roommates and I was good with that. I didn’t want to have to explain it. Luckily, when you see people everyday, it takes longer for them to recognize weight loss. I didn’t want to have to tell people the number, the reason or anything else.

The final week of the program culminated with a challenge. Stationary bike riding, running and swimming as a team and then, the final weigh-in. I stepped on that scale almost as nervous as I was the first day. The number quickly flashed and I calculated my total: 27 pounds.

Everything in the world was achievable at this point. I had told myself I would succeed and I did–I could do anything. Through those eight weeks I learned not only how to properly exercise and eat but also a lot about my own motivation, determination and what I wanted. I had started the journey and it could only continue from that point on.

At my 21st birthday party, I put on a belted, striped dress and felt good for the first time ever. I felt confident, calm and wasn’t worried that people were looking at what I was eating or me, in general.