Thursday, August 28, 2008

On The Level?

Part of what therapy has taught me is that I settle into ruts quite well. I hang on to things or routines long past the point they're useful. I've become bogged down in two different ruts recently: Intuitive Eating and Exercise.

Chapter 14 of Intuitive Eating is titled: Honor Your Health--Gentle Nutrition. I've given a few half-hearted attempts at progressing to this chapter, but up until now I've continually sabotaged myself. I do eat intuitively probably 95% of the time. But, I'm also eating most things full fat...because I can. The danger there is that I'm missing the moderation part of the equation.

I've noticed I've been putting a little more oil in my stir fries. A little more butter on my toast. A little more of this. An extra mouthful or two here and there. And without regular exercise this has added up over the recent weeks. The difference is that I haven't freaked out about it. I now understand what Alaskaboy means when he says, “Oops, I've put on a few extra pounds, time to make some smarter choices for a bit.”

Those extra bits I've been shoving in my gob were in response to an earlier suggestion I could now start making those better choices. “But that's DIETING!” Is what my subconscious has been screaming at me, so I've been a little heavier handed than usual when dishing up. When my mother suggested other lower fat sources of calcium than cheese, I pouted and told her point blank, “Both my body and I want the cheese.” But you know what? She was right. The book was right. Alaskaboy was right. And I was scared.

My days of swanning about in my personal candy store are over. Growing up means not only emotionally but also in regards to personal responsibility. During my most recent bout of PMS I drank more milk than usual, had fat free vanilla yoghurt on my granola, plus still having cheese, just not as much of it as usual. I also varied the kinds of cheese I had. And you know what? My world didn't end. I was still emotionally and physically satisfied, but I'd made a few little healthier choices that still allowed me the calcium I was craving. Not only cheese. That was just my go to feel good drug of choice.

Some more examples of smarter choices, yet still intuitive eating. Yesterday's breakfast was an egg sandwich with kewpie mayonnaise and a tomato lettuce salad with rice vinegar. Lunch was granola with yoghurt and hadn't tided me over as long as I thought it would, so I was a bit peckish before doing aerobics that afternoon. Instead of having tuna smooshed with mayo and lemon juice on crackers, I smooshed the tuna with a smidge of Ranch dressing and a touch more lemon juice than usual, and ate it with celery sticks. Knowing I'd had mayo and carbs for breakfast and that dinner would be Indian food, I went for the lower carb options for both lunch and snack.

And just like that I realised I could lose the weight I'd recently put on—without deprivation. Not dieting. Moderation. Responsible and mature eating. But not always. There'll be childike eating and emotional eating. That's what Alaskaboy meant. You've let the reins out for a bit, now pull 'em in a little tighter for a little while. Just not TOO tight, which WOULD be dieting.

My exercise rut was even easier to overcome. Yesterday during aerobics I was struggling. Really struggling. All I could think of was how hot I was, how badly I was performing and how soon I could stop without feeling like a total failure. Now, logically I knew why I was struggling; the room was 5-8F/3-5C warmer than I've been working out in; I was still in the latter stages of my period; I was sleep deprived; and I'd gained those excess pounds of fat. Emotionally all I was doing was beating myself up.

All of a sudden I thought to myself. Wait a minute! Last year, when you were down to a weight you were happy with, and you were exercising regularly and at a level that made you feel strong and competent, if you felt like this you thought it was fantastic! If you were tired, you modified or slowed down and kept going. If you were slightly sore it meant you were improving your fitness and building strength. What's so different about now?

I'd just finished telling Alaskaboy that I was almost at the end of my rope and I'd have to stop soon. But when I had that thought I knew it meant LSED was winning and I was piking out! So, I modified. And I sat out a few of the weight reps. But I continued. And I went another 20 mins until I knew I really had reached my stopping point, without overexercising either. Afterwards when I told him what had happened, he was so proud of me. But I was even prouder of myself.

Little changes. A little more productive effort there, a little less of something else there, plus a whole lot of awareness everywhere equals balance. And that's what I've been avoiding. Taken it to the next level. Making choices. Being aware. Consciously looking after myself. Now I've got both feet firmly planted on that next step up, and you know what, the view isn't as scary as I thought it would be. The pendulum has swung through both extremes, now I'm ready to try some balance. And no I won't be getting out my spirit level and looking to place that little bubble squarely in the precise center of balanced. That's not true balance, that's really perfectionist/diet thinking.

Oh! Wanted to add this. Reading a post today about exercise recovery, I went back and looked at my various training schedules over the last few years. It helped me realise why sometimes I could exercise regularly for months on end, and other times why I burnt out in a few days/weeks. It had nothing to do with my basic fitness level, but with how little recovery I was getting. Hear that LSED? If we plan some more recovery days, we can get fitter easier. No more weeks of busting my tits followed by weeks of nothing. HahaHA. I win!

2 Nibbles:

kathrynoh said...

I'm with you - I reckon low fat options are great if you don't notice the change. I actually prefer some stuff low fat (can't even drink regular milk any more), but other stuff like cheese - it has to be the real thing. Oh and definitely the kewpie mayo - no low fat option comes close!

cmae said...

GREAT post!! I love the analogy of the spirit level and perfectionist thinking! We even have to strike a balance with trying to strike a balance!