Sorry for the prolonged absence and lack of new writing here - I've been so busy beating myself up for not being perfect that I just haven't had the time to sit down and write.
I wish I were kidding about that; I'm not.
Fourteen months ago, I weighed 18 pounds less than I do and had 7% lower body fat. For the second half of 2014, I pretty easily maintained my weight within 10 pounds of my lowest point and my body fat was about 3% higher. All the while, I beat myself up for having gained that weight and fat, constantly sniping in my head about how weak I was and how I just needed to get it together.
Then, in a few weeks - literally, less than a month - earlier this year, I had some serious binge eating episodes, the likes of which I hadn't seen since I'd started eating carefully and exercising daily, and I put on another 15 pounds on top of the 10 I'd already gained; suddenly, I was 25 pounds heavier. The trigger for this self-destructive behavior was my contracting stomach flu just four days before the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, a race I'd been training for since before Christmas: all of my hard work had been for nothing and the gorgeous finisher medal I'd been dreaming of on every single one of my mostly miserable training runs evaporated into thin air.
The anger and frustration I felt after that loss of dietary control was sharp and fierce. Once I'd stopped the binge eating, I buckled down with only one purpose: to get back down to that lowest weight as quickly as possible. I cut out all foods containing flour (no baked goods), all starchy vegetables (no potatoes, no corn, no peas), and any food containing more than 20 grams of sugar (my favorite Greek yogurt). And I clung to that routine, faithfully and strictly, for weeks without wavering, only to find that I'd lost about a pound in all that time, with all of that sacrifice.
I consulted a nutritionist to find out what I was doing wrong that the weight wouldn't come off. She asked me a bunch of questions about how and what I ate, then told me that it sounded like I was doing the right things and that perhaps it was environmental toxins that were keeping me from dropping weight. So I changed my toothpaste, my laundry detergent, and my vitamins. Still the scale kept showing me weights and body fat percentages that decreased by a minuscule amount each week, if at all. To say that I was frustrated would be a massive understatement.
As someone who has been known to "treat" my depression by making poor food choices, I'll admit that I resorted to that behavior once or twice in the last few months, so I'm sure that's part of what's going on. It's also true that I lost a tremendous amount of weight less than two years ago, so it's possible my body is just confused about what the heck it's supposed to do at this point - I know I am.
I was marinating about all of this - perhaps obsessing about it would be more accurate - as TCB and I strolled around my favorite indoor shopping center this weekend. I was in the middle of beating myself up again about all of the gorgeous clothes in my closet that I can't wear because they're too small and the need for me to "get serious" about losing the weight again before it gets cold here because I won't allow myself to buy all new cold weather clothes, too (I made a substantial investment in new summer clothes because things I wore this time last year don't fit right now and I swore I wouldn't do it again) when the strangest thought hit me: what if you didn't lose any weight ever again? I sucked in my breath, unprepared for the way my whole body seemed to seize up at the thought. But I kept going.
- I stopped focusing on the scale and only worried about my blood sugar?
- I accepted my body for the strength and stamina it has, instead of obsessing about the fat in my upper abdomen?
- I unclenched everything for a while, stopped trying to fit into unforgiving high fashion clothes and instead focused on being comfortable (not frumpy, just comfortable)?
- I ate foods that make me feel good and are good for my blood sugar, in reasonable amounts, without worrying about the calories and macronutrient content?
- I stopped apologizing to everyone around me for having regained some weight and instead just accepted their compliments about how I look and how my transformation has inspired them to take better care of themselves, too?
Could I do that and be OK? Can I change the habits of a lifetime and just allow myself to be OK as I am for a little while?