It’s been far too long since I posted an update on my fitness. There’s a perfectly good reason for that. I’m embarrassed by it.
I stepped on the scale last Sunday (about six days ago). 240 pounds spun up on the dial, and stared back at me as I leaned forward, looking over my belly to read the numbers and count the dash marks. The red indicator dash aligned squarely at 240.
This is precisely fifteen pounds less than I have weighed at my heaviest ever – a weight I carried during my first year of college.
I stand at about 5’9″ tall. This, according to all scales and charts, puts me in a spot that is not one I ever wanted to be in again. I am, official, obese. I know, I know…charts and scales are not the end-all-be-all of a measurement of health. I get that. I also get, however, how I’ve been feeling over the past few months.
When I left Caleb’s house, just over a year ago, I was hovering around 170 pounds. I was on a very, very restricted diet (because I couldn’t afford to buy food – I had no job), and spent my days sleeping or running to deal with the anxiety of the situation I was living in. As soon as I had a job, though, I also signed up for the gym at work, and for a bit of time, it was exactly what I needed. I hit the gym every other day during the week, and went running as often as I could. I also moved into a new home, where nutrition and food to eat was readily available. For the first month or so, I ate anything I could. As long as I was going to the gym, I kept my weight at a manageable level, but more importantly, my clothes fit better than ever.
I met Ray shortly after moving and settling into this new life, and at first, he met me right as I was transitioning into this new life, new home, and new job. He was attracted to my activity level. Back then, he was also hitting the gym a couple of times a week, and had a decent yoga routine that he loved. Neither of us were what you’d call athletic, but we were making the effort.
Sometime over the summer, and for reasons I still don’t know, we both focused more on eating well and camping and staying in with each other, rather than being as active as we had been. For him, his workload increased a lot – working two restaurant jobs during the summer here in Portland means you’re always at work. For my part, I simply sat behind the wheel and drove my bus, but continued to eat as though food was a precious commodity. Then, I stopped going to the gym, as my schedule shifted from a structured Monday through Friday routine to one that was more all-over-the-map. Instead of one garage, I began to work out of all of the garages in the metro area. Some days I worked ten hours and had zero time/energy to get to the gym. Other days, I just wanted to sleep. On days off, Ray and I spent our time grabbing bites to eat, camping, and the occasional hike – but nothing too strenuous.
Through all of last year, the weight crept on. Slowly, but over time, my waist expanded. My work uniform grew tight. I needed larger shorts. My strength was waning. Headaches. Neck and muscle soreness and stiffness. When I did try to go running, five miles seemed like a monster goal, when only a few months prior I was doing seven to ten miles per run regularly. I simply didn’t have the energy or drive. In fits and spurts, I’ve tried and tried to restart the engine of me and keep striving to my Fit By 40 goal. Instead, I reached for a slice of pizza, another peanut butter sandwich, a nap, a glass of whiskey – anything I could to feed this weird craving of always being hungry. For his part, Ray never said anything to me about it. He saw me getting pudgier, but as he was also growing softer – I coined the term “love pudge” to explain what was going on – we both agreed many times that something needed to change.
That all came to a head last Sunday, and it’s when I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.
I’ve gone paleolithic – mostly.
I have done diet research for quite some time now. I even bought the book “It Starts With Food.” I have read countless articles about this kind of change in my approach to food, and while it all sounded great on paper, when the rubber met the road, I still found myself using cream in my coffee, along with lumps and lumps of sugar.
I still found myself reaching for bread and peanut butter when I needed a snack.
I still snacked constantly when I wasn’t sleeping.
I was still raiding the fridge upon coming home every damn time, no matter what time of day it was.
I still felt hungry. I still felt run down. I still felt more weight going on my bones.
So, I hit a reset button. I’ve started by doing the basics: no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no processed anything. So far, as of tonight (Saturday), it’s been nearly one week on this diet change. So far, so good. In fact, I weighed myself yesterday, and much to my glee, I found I’d lost five pounds during my first week of this new approach to food. After some further research, I learned that 5-10 pounds lost during the first week or two is not unheard of because, it turns out, eating a lot of carbohydrates also means retaining quite a bit of water.
After just one week, I already have noticed that my hunger cravings have changed. I only feel hungry after going far too long between actual meals. I’m not feeling a crazed buzz after a meal, followed by a hard crash in a few hours. I feel more balanced. I feel like my moods are leveling off too. Not putting sugar and milk in my coffee means I’m actually sipping my go-juice slowly, and thus not spiking my caffeine levels as high/low as before.
As far as actual meals go, my housemate (who does all of the food purchasing in our living situation), has done a really great job of keeping veggies and fruits stocked. There’s plenty of the protein I need to eat available, and he’s always open to suggestions for food purchases. I’ve had to turn down a delicious pasta dish, and instead opted for a massive salad with tuna on it. Tonight, I said ‘no, thank you’ to pizza – something I truly loved – and had baked chicken and a garden salad. Getting food that’s on the meal plan at convenience stores is next to impossible, so I am learning to pack better when I do head out the door. I am, however, fortunate to be in Portland, Oregon, where the food options are plentiful, and every kind of dietary need can be easily filled, as long as I know where to look.
I know Ray is already annoyed with all of my chatter about how I’m feeling, but he’s being super supportive just the same. Today, our conversation turned to actually going to the gym together and getting back on that fitness horse together, something I’m very happy to do.
I had a glass of wine with dinner on Friday night, which is not on the food list. Truth be told, it was a decent red Malbec, and while I am used to having more than just one glass, it was all I needed. Today, I countered that indulgence with a decent walk with Ray in the morning, and a lot of healthy foods all day long. I’m not ever going to be militant about this – that kind of exactness is not in my nature – but I am going to make a real effort at this. I need it. I need the balance, the feeling of health, and to take advantage of my ability to move and be active for as long as possible.
This is a change, but I think, in time, it can just be what I eat, and not some sort of freakish experiment. Perhaps this, in a way, is an extension of learning the power of the word ‘no’ and taking control over my life again. Perhaps this, in a way, is me being even more of an adult.