somebody loves your body

Thanks Pete Holmes.

 

Definitely worth the watch. I promise.

If it’s not… if you aren’t moved at least a little afterwards, tell me, and I’ll give you $5 for your time.

((sidenote, I just watched it again, for the fourth time (just to make sure it was still good) and it was just as good as the first time. seriously.))

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mindset

I wrote this piece about “eating crap“. And it was based on an e-mail my best friend G had sent. Wouldn’t you know it, another good high school friend, B commented on it. Here’s what she had to say:

What helped me in the end when I was an overweight (and miserable) teenager were 3 things. First, (and hardest) is stop being miserable. I thought I was ugly and nasty and therefore unworthy of everything, so all I wanted to do was curl up in front of the TV with a box of cookies and a half gallon of ice-cream and a tray of rum buns and eat until I felt sick. (My parents were threatening to lock up the cupboard and the fridge, because every treat they bought would disappear into my belly within 48 hours). I had to banish these thoughts from my head and convince myself that I looked fine, and who cares if I don’t look like a Vogue cover, I still have a right to have fun and enjoy my life and have friends. Hiding and sulking was a waste of my youth!
Second, (I tell my patients this) is to find an activity that you enjoy. Not everyone can run, or swim, or play soccer. I’m not much of a fan of reps at the gym. I liked to ride my bike, and take long, brisk walks listening to music, and take dance lessons. There has to be something that you like, and if you like it you won’t just quit it after 2-3 days.
In my case, the third thing, better eating habits, became much easier after the first two. Of course I still eat pizza sometimes, and cake, and drink beer (I am incapable of adhering to strict rules) but I rarely have an urge to really overdo it, whereas when I was 16 I felt like it was absolutely beyond my control. Now my stomach is no longer this gaping bottomless pit of despair. My body usually tells me when to stop, and I listen.

Let me start by telling you that B is a physician. And I bet she’s an awesome one. (I have not gone to her in a doctoring capacity, HOWEVER, I have watched her journey to become a physician and have been impressed with her commitment. And her patients love her. Or she lies about it on Facebook. I’m pretty sure they love her. B is a good person, and I’ve known her for more than half my life.) So I think a lot of what she has to say is dead on. Even if she wasn’t a physician, it would be dead on.

Change your mindset. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Here’s the thing, I’ve always thought I was beautiful. I very rarely had times where I thought about how fat I was, or how ugly I might be. (Not that ugly and fat are partners, but in our society they so very often are.) I look back now and see an awkward teenager who could have stood to lose a few pounds, but who was almost always smiling and had a great group of friends. I was on the swim team! That meant 3-4 times a week I was hanging out, in a swimsuit, with lots of my classmates. I didn’t have body issues. I couldn’t. There wasn’t time. The few times I remember being embarrassed, or uncomfortable, were when I had to get a specific piece of clothing (band uniform, concert dress, swimsuit) and it didn’t come in my size. Or I had to go to the women’s store to get it. Or it had to be special ordered. Or I had to squeeze into the largest size and be uncomfortable for a few hours (I did this every week for the two years I was in Marching Band, and then for another two years when I was on the Color Guard/Flag Squad).

((As an aside, you’d think that the two things that would come in larger sizes on a regular basis would be band uniforms and color guard outfits. Not to be stereotypical, BUT, we were the nerds. The outcasts. The fatter kids who didn’t make it onto the football team or the cheerleading squad. And maybe it was our choice to be the nerds/outcasts… but, come on! Look at us! Make those uniforms bigger! They make Star Wars shirts up to 6XL, right? Because they know… The people who want them are the ones who spend their weekends sitting and playing WoW, or XBox, or marathon watching Star Wars/Star Trek. They aren’t out there running marathons (maybe a few of them are… but still.) They don’t make “go vegan” shirts in 6XL. You’d be lucky to find them in XL. See my point?))

This is a long way to go to say, I didn’t have to change my mindset, much. I was happy with my body. I was unhappy with my knees. I was unhappy with how limited my mobility had truly become. What had to change was my fear of not wanting to change.

The night before my surgery I had a huge heart to heart with my (other, from college) best friend G. (I know it’s confusing, but high school best friend G is a boy. College best friend G is a girl). She was telling me how proud of me she had always been, because I didn’t have body issues. I was something of a teacher for her, about how to love your body, at any size or shape. And she asked a very important, startling question, “What if you don’t love your body after the surgery?”

 

((pause for dramatic effect))

 

I hadn’t even thought about that until she brought it up.

For two reasons, I think.

1. I’ve always loved my body, as she so eloquently put it earlier. I couldn’t imagine not loving the skin I’m in.

2. I honestly didn’t think the surgery would make any difference. I know, I know. Startling. But I really didn’t. I figured I would just be fat for the rest of my life. I would have the surgery, fail at it, and move on. Checked that item off the list. Resigned to a life of fatness forever. I didn’t tell anyone this. It wasn’t that I was ashamed. It was that I didn’t want to hear all the platitudes. “You’ll be great!” “My sister had that surgery and she lost 1,033 pounds!” “It’ll be easy!”

Most importantly,

IT.

WAS.

NOT.

EASY.

It still isn’t. Every day is a battle to make the right choices. To not overeat, no matter how delicious. To exercise. To drink enough. To find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Here’s the twist. I was successful. Beyond anything I could have hoped for.

I have slowed down in the last few months. I’m doing great at maintaining! I think it’s for lots of reasons, but they are all good reasons. Most importantly, I’m not gaining, and I’m happy. I’m within 50 pounds of my goal weight (and really, it’s more like 35-40, thanks to all this stupid skin).

And, I’ll be running a 5K this weekend. That’s what took a mindset change. Learning/teaching myself how to run. Sticking to a plan to be successful. I realized it was much easier to be a successful runner after having lived through surgery. I had to follow set rules. A set plan for eating, drinking, medicating (in the early days, and still now with my supplements). Those same requirements translated right into a plan for running and weight training.

This is what works for me. If you’re a fan of plans, then plan. If you’re not, then make sure you only have good choices in your fridge/pantry/house/life. If you know you can’t control yourself around BBQ potato chips (ohmygodyes), don’t have them in the house. Have cucumbers and BBQ flavored hummus. I can’t be trusted with ice cream, so we don’t have it in the house. If I want something sweet, I have a piece of fruit. If I want something creamy, I have a cup of coffee or yogurt.

Know your weaknesses. And fight them. Every day. And the battle will get easier. I no longer have to eat every single bag of BBQ potato chips I see. I crave them, sure. But I don’t give in, and it’s a lot easier now than it was 2 months ago.

Maybe I did have to change my mindset. But it was my eating mindset, not my self-image mindset.

 

Which mindset do you need to change?


For the record, my reward for finishing the race on Saturday? A Krispy Kreme donut and a week off from training. F@ck yea.

 

eating crap

After the last post where I talked about how I had fallen off the weight loss and exercising wagon, my best high school friend G (not to be confused with my best college friend G) wrote me an amazing e-mail. I asked G if I could use the e-mail in my next post. G, very kindly, said yes.

From G:

One of the most interesting things I have learned from your blog is your relationship with food, which is very different to mine. At first it was very hard to wrap my head around it, but slowly I began to get it.

I used to not understand smokers. I was like, why don’t you just stop. Since I have never had an addiction, I couldn’t get it. Then someone explained to me how difficult it was. I still don’t get it 100%, or at least I can’t find an equivalent in my own body, but I understand their explanations.

Like smoking, alcohol or drugs, food addictions can be very powerful. I never thought of myself as someone with a food addiction. I love food. I still do (though I am realizing that I don’t enjoy eating as much as I used to. But that’s another post.)
The thing that makes smoking SO terrible though, is the additives the companies add to the cigarettes. (As an aside, cigarettes are bad by themselves. No question about that. HOWEVER, the additives that are added make them a ton more addictive and dangerous.) This is much like food, for what it is worth. A soda is delicious, when it is made with sugar and natural flavorings. Sarsaparilla, when it is made with the actual root and real sugar is so delicious. And not habit forming. Name brand cola, made with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup, has been proven to be addicting. Since HFCS isn’t really sugar, your body demands more of it to conquer those sugar cravings that we all get from time to time. Just as when you eat a sugar-free cookie or candy to curb that sweet tooth and it only gets worse (because your body wants some sugar, real honest to goodness sugar, and you give it chemicals instead), when you give your body HFCS you aren’t helping it. It is, honestly, the single biggest contributor to the obesity epidemic in our country. In my opinion, the second contributor is technology. Video games, iPads, TV, YouTube and the parents that let their kids use them ALL THE TIME, instead of going outside and riding bikes. But, again, that’s another post.
So, if you eat food that has crap injected into it, you’re only making the addiction worse. Just as with any other addicting substance.
When was the last time someone told you they had a real problem with carrots? Or beets? Or spinach? Never, right? (Except me. I do have a problem with beets. I LOVE them. It can be dangerous when they are in season.) The good stuff, the really good stuff, doesn’t perpetuate it’s own addicting behavior. That’s where the emotional and psychological shit starts to happen. And that’s where we are when we talk about folks with addictions. I’m not talking about someone who drinks soda because their body demands it, demands the chemistry like it’s meth.
I’m talking about the person who numbs their feelings with ice cream or crackers, or wine and tequila, or heroin and cocaine. Because they don’t want to deal with it. They are escaping.

I never considered myself an addict, because when shit got real, I didn’t turn to food.

I honestly believed that lie, to my core.
I joked that my two best friends were Ben and Jerry. And truly believed that I didn’t have a problem.
I’ve always found some solace in a delicious piece of chocolate or a bowl of ice cream. But, only 3 times in my life have I sat down and eaten an entire pint of ice cream in a desire to escape. Mostly I use food to celebrate. A nice dinner out as a reward for making it through a week. A brownie or cupcake to celebrate landing a big client. A tasty coffee beverage because I made it through 6 weeks of going to the gym without failing.
I’m probably not a food addict. But I know I have a weird relationship with food. Made only weirder by surgery.

I think my relationship with food is very different, and perhaps too much to another extreme. If I find out some type of food is bad for me, I just stop eating it. Psychologically, I just can’t stomach (no pun intended) eating it. Tasting good doesn’t come into play. I don’t really crave foods that I stop eating, and giving up a specific dish or ingredient has never been an issue for me. My grandmother used to ask me “don’t you crave sweets?” and she might as well have been asking me “don’t you crave writing with a blue pen instead of a black pen?” I just didn’t get it. Over the past few years, in my quest to eat healthy foods, I have “given up” dozens of different foods and to me it’s like changing socks or like changing the dial on the radio. This actually can be bad. A few months ago I began to eat meat again because I think I had cut out SO MANY things that I wasn’t eating properly. I was hungry and tired ALL the time. I’ve been on a meat frenzy the last couple of months, and my energy levels are back to normal.

Let’s get back to “eating crap.”
I love carbs. I love bread and pasta, cookies and cakes, sugar and frosting and ice cream. Oh god how I love them.

I know they are so bad for me. Especially the processed ones. So, instead of having an Oreo, I have a Back To Nature sandwich cookie. Almost all organic ingredients, real sugar, no trans fats. It’s good for you, right?

Nope. It’s a better choice than an Oreo, but it is still not as good as an apple. Or some nuts. Or a glass of water. Or listening to your feelings and trying to decipher why it is you want a cookie.

If I want a cake, I’m going to make it from scratch. That’s just who I am. I’ll use local organic butter, free-range eggs, organic flour, the purest chocolate from Fair-Trade certified makers. It will be amazing. And it will still be bad for me.

It took a long time to realize that even though I was making awesome choices about what was in my food (I haven’t had HFCS, to my knowledge, in almost 3 years), if I was choosing crap food (ice cream, cookies, pasta, frosting) I was still making a crap choice. And that’s where I began to think like G. I started realizing I had to just stop eating those foods that were bad for me. Period.

But the thing is, I can hear them calling to me. I know how good they taste in my mouth. I know that I feel so good when I eat them. I hear the cupcakes from Sticky Fingers bakery (vegan baked goods) calling to me when I’m grocery shopping.
“But Kyla! We’re good for you! We love you! We want you to eat us and be happy!”

Oh, cupcakes, I love you too. I want to be with you. But, honestly, we’re bad for each other. If I eat you, then you cease to exist. And I feel gross later, both intestinal and emotionally. And I won’t lose these last 50 pounds.
So I’m breaking up with you. I’ve got a new love, and it’s apples with cheese. It’s cucumbers and hummus. It’s strawberries with cream. It’s water, and plenty of it. I know there’s someone out there for you, cupcake, it’s just not me.

It’s easy to sit here and type the conversation with the cupcake. It’s easy to say I’m going to avoid them from now on. What’s hard is having the conversation EVERY TIME. And staying strong EVERY TIME.

Am I never going to have those sweets I love?

Of course not.

I had a delicious beignet and homemade cookie just last week for my birthday. They were amazing. And they were the only crap food I had all week. And I still lost a pound. Because I stopped at one indulgence. And I didn’t let it bump me off the wagon. I got up the next morning, went for a run, ate my good foods all day, and then did the same thing every day since.

Sure, I’ll stumble. But what will make it different this time is getting back up and making a conscious effort to not stumble again.

Making better choices every chance I get.