Category Archives: Finding Happiness

me vs. me

Some days my brain conspires against me in ways I don’t quite understand. Yesterday, the massive heat wave that has been hovering over the midwest offered a slight reprieve. It was 80 glorious degrees and I never thought I’d say it, but 80 degrees is downright pleasant when your body is fighting to acclimate to 100+.

I decided to celebrate by going for a run outside on a trail near my parents’ house. I haven’t been on this trail in a few years because, well, I’ve never been much of a runner in the first place. Also, they found a body not far from the trail a couple of years back and my mother tried to convince me to never run on a trail (or visit a forest preserve) ever again (always the fear monger, that one is). Judging by how busy the trail was yesterday with bikers, walkers, and joggers, I’m going to venture to say the trail itself isn’t that unsafe.

I digress. My body has really accustomed itself to the treadmill and now I’m fighting to break the habit by introducing more challenging landscapes. To my delight, I handled it with the gracefulness of a gazelle (not really, but bear with me). I was able to crank out over 3 miles and it felt great. I felt like I was running on a cloud. This was my first time running outside that I didn’t feel like a giant failure. I vowed to repeat this today. That didn’t happen for two reasons (or three, depending on how you look at it):

1: I went for a walk during my lunch break and the flats I was wearing totally deceived me and cut up my heels very painfully, making it difficult to walk in shoes

2: it started to rain during my commute home, even though weather.com CLEARLY stated that there was only a 10% chance of showers, and…

3(ish): after the first drop of rain, I gave myself the permission to skip my run even though I knew the rain would pass.I do this a lot…grant myself permission I don’t deserve. And then that is usually followed by eating more than I know I should because I get into this mindset that it doesn’t matter anyway (which is a bad mindset to have).

I guess the only point I have to convey today is that I’m still here and I’m still struggling, but I’m owning up to my failures and keeping on track the best I can. I’ve been so sleepy and lethargic lately–moreso than usual–so it’s been incredibly easy to cut myself slack even when I know I don’t deserve it. I’m trying to find a motivating factor that I can use as a weapon against myself when sitting on the couch and eating cookies sounds better than putting forth effort to be a better and brighter me. I haven’t really found it yet, but I’m searching.

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weight loss challenge update

I recently wrote about the weight loss challenge my boyfriend and I are doing together. We took a hint from The Biggest Loser and decided a more fair measurement would be percentage weight lost rather than weight in pounds. Unsurprisingly, he won last week (but only by 0.2%!) and this meant he was able to dole out a week-long punishment to me. He said it was difficult to find a punishment because I’m (usually) so healthy, but he zeroed in on my one weakness aside from sweets (which, let’s be honest, he’s probably saving for next time): coffee.

The punishment: No coffee on days I don’t work out. Obviously, the end goal here is to make me work out every day this week so I can have my precious coffee. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I start each and every work day with a 22 oz humungous travel mug full o’ joe. I have this vision in my head that me without coffee = trainwreck. It’s probably much more psychological and much less based in fact, but I don’t chance it! I have never, since starting my professional life, forgotten my coffee in the morning. I actually set my coffee pot the night before and have it on a 6:30 am timer. This saves me money and calories I’d otherwise be spending at the Starbucks in my office building. I don’t think I’m really addicted to caffeine, per se…but how would I know, seeing as I haven’t gone a day without it in years? I think it’s more that I’ve always consumed coffee is a treat. It’s a warm, soothing beverage I like to enjoy and on particularly bad days in the past, I’d treat myself with an afternoon Starbucks. Coffee is a little reward I allow myself each day, much the same as people reward themselves with a few squares of dark chocolate, or a cookie, or an after work drink.

So, I didn’t work out Saturday or Sunday (big surprise). I didn’t even work out yesterday (it was Memorial Day, after all!) but he surprised me with a soy latte anyway and chalked it up to a “holiday treat” (can you see why we’ve had trouble losing weight in the past?) Today, I dragged my butt to the gym and suffered through my first workout in two weeks. The flaw in the system is that I consume my coffee in the morning but don’t work out until the afternoon. In theory, I could easily have my coffee and just decide not to exercise after work–but that wouldn’t be fair.

I got home and curiously stepped on the scale, knowing I wasn’t going to like the number after my weekend cupcake binge. The verdict: I’m up three pounds since Friday. Ugh. But, there are factors to consider, like I normally weigh myself in the morning before eating and today I weighed myself after eating all of my meals. I’ve historically had a difficult time keeping weight off. The minute I slip up, the weight comes crashing back to my belly. It’s always belly weight, too, which is apparently the worst place to carry extra weight because of all the increased health issues, like cardiovascular disease. I envy women that pack weight onto their thighs or butts. It seems like a better location for extra poundage–me, I’ve always carried around a spare tire.

This week will be a difficult one just to break even, much less lose. We’ll see who comes out victorious on Friday!

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me vs the cupcake

Baker in Recovery recently wrote a couple of posts about mindful eating, and it got me thinking.

As it was a wonderful three-day Memorial Day weekend here in the states, my boyfriend and I (like many people) had several BBQs to make appearances at. Since now I’m an “out of the closet” vegan, I’ve been meaning to bake some cupcakes from Isa’s book to prove to my family that vegan food can be delicious. My mom has expressed her doubts (“how can you call it ‘buttercream’ if it has no butter?!”) and I wanted to show everyone that YES, vegan cupcakes can be yummy! However, I didn’t exactly succeed.

Since I’ve been trying to lose weight and everyone around me seems to be in the same boat, I opted for the “sexy low-fat vanilla cupcakes.” Of course, instead of the low-fat icing suggestion, I topped them with vegan buttercream. Let’s just say things didn’t exactly turn out. The cakes were a little too dense and tough and stuck to the cupcake tins. I knew I couldn’t convincingly present these to my vegan-cupcake-eating novices. I didn’t want this to be their first taste of vegan cupcakes. My ultimate goal is to craft them a cupcake so delicious that they’d never know the difference. The low-fat option, while I still found it to be delicious, was just not the right fit for the occasion.

Since these little monsters weren’t fit to bring to the two BBQs we were invited to, I was left with my worst nightmare: a batch of 12 cupcakes in my fridge, begging to be eaten. For the past several weeks, I’ve been incredibly good on my “diet,” though I hesitate to call it that: I haven’t even craved sweets, which is huge coming from someone who used to eat chocolate in some capacity every single day. I thought maybe I’d turned a corner–maybe, just maybe, the lure of cupcakes chilling in the fridge would be something I could ignore. I learned this weekend that that’s just not the case.

What this boils down to is something I am very ashamed of: between the two of us, my boyfriend and I, this batch of 12 was demolished within 24 hours time. We had three each the night I baked them, and three each the following day. The worst part of it was that I knew I was bad enough eating one for breakfast. Then, after he left, I stuffed two more down my throat. I knew it was wrong, and I knew I wasn’t even hungry. I’m like a junkie around sweets. I felt like a closet-eater. The shame and embarrassment encompassed me and put me in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mood. What good is it that I can diet and lose weight if the heart of the problem remains: that I just cannot be around sweets unsupervised without devouring them all in one sitting?

I even went as far as to put my entire recipe into MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories per each cupcake, hoping that would dissuade me from eating them. They were around 300 calories a pop. And no, it made no difference.

I started to think a lot about mindful eating, which we talked about at length in my yoga + book club back in January-March. I thought I learned a lot from my close reading of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, but what good is knowledge when it’s not fully realized?

I’m mad at myself and I think this probably means I won’t lose any weight this week (but I’ll still try to stave off a gain)–but the best thing I can do is jump back on the horse and try, try again. So I failed. Lots of people fail. And lots of people treat food like a drug just as I did this weekend. There’s a reason I do that–it’s to fill some emptiness I haven’t yet identified. Part of this journey to healthfulness is being able to identify the holes in my life that convince me to eat, drink, or partake in any other self-destructive behaviors. Beating myself up is something I’m good at, but that only dances around the problem. Punishment and forced misery will not make this problem go away; digging deeper will.

So maybe I’m one of those people that can’t have sweets in the house. Whatever works, I guess. Different strokes for different folks. One day, I aim to be able to have a fridge full of cupcakes without the immediate impulse to demolish them all. That day isn’t today, and that’s okay. I’ll get there.

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risk

I have a dear friend who is vacationing in Hawaii. Today she willingly jumped out of a plane and floated to safety to the island of Kauai. Skydiving never interested me until today. Her pictures are beautiful. It may only be a minute of freefall followed by five minutes of floating, but I have to imagine that the adrenaline rush makes it all so worth it.

Skydiving is something my boyfriend has been talking about for quite some time. Did you know you have to weigh under 200 lbs? You can weigh up to 240, but most skydiving locations will charge an additional price per pound over 200–usually $2 per pound. My boyfriend is currently over 200, but I think he has a brand new motivation for his weight loss journey.

While she took a risk by jumping out of a plane today, I took a risk by chopping off some hair. I’ve been bored with my hairstyle and now I have a shorter ‘do. An inverted bob! Just call me Victoria Beckham. Now too short to pull back into a ponytail, I envision a hot summer–and very hot workouts. Sometimes I don’t always think things through. It was nice to see all the hair on the salon floor: I feel lighter.

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a master’s in…nutrition?

It’s no secret that I’m not thrilled with my “career,” if you can call it that. I graduated with an arguably archaic degree (English/Publishing Studies) in a bad economic time in the American job market (2010). Since that time, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life and where I want to end up. The Chicago suburbs aren’t doing it for me. I envy people that have the money and skillset to uproot their lives to live in more desirable locations. Doctors, lawyers, and professors–and anyone with similarly competitive careers–have little comparative difficulty relocating if they so desire. Me? I work in advertising sales support. Previously, I worked as a writer/editor for a publishing company that was, and still is, teetering on inevitable closure. I don’t have a large, nor desirable, skillset, which makes job-hunting exceptionally difficult. I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing…but what is it that I want to do?

If I find something related to my current job, I can take advantage of a $4,000-per-year tuition reimbursement. For this reason, I humored the idea of obtaining an MBA for a while. I did some research and looked into a few programs. It seemed like the next logical step, but my heart’s not in it. I don’t aspire to be somebody’s business manager. Financially speaking, if I opted for that route, I could eventually climb the corporate ladder, but my boss’s job isn’t the job I see myself with. If that’s not my eventual goal, then I’ve decided I must be wasting my time. Working for a healthcare company has gotten me interested in the field, though. Not doing what I’m doing now, of course, but the healthcare field is burgeoning. It’s a good, safe place to be. Of course, I’m not going to be a doctor. I faint at the slightest sight of blood. But with healthcare career options bouncing around in my head, and my recent lifestyle change to a vegan diet, I’ve been led down a path that sounds interesting, fulfilling, and promising–and very, very challenging: nutrition.

I’m currently looking at an MS program in nutrition. It’s an online degree at a state school. It seemed feasible until I saw the pre-reqs: organic chemistry, calculus, microbiology, and more. Shit. My math/science requirements for my BA looked like this: basic biology, basic physics, basic math, fin. In order to even qualify for a degree in nutrition, I’d have to first satisfy the prerequisite courses. This not only means time, but it also means money. Besides which, it means a complete assault on the brain. I know very little about math and science, and I have no doubt that if I were truly committed, that I could surely learn–but while holding down a full-time job which requires an hour commute in each direction each day, could I possibly find the time to stay on top of my schoolwork, my job, and not completely upset my natural rhythm of life? I don’t know. And it’s discouraging, because I think I might have found something I could really enjoy.

One school nearby (private=big bucks) offers a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in nutrition. This sounds even more ideal, but again, the time and cost outweigh my desire to embark on the change. The amount of student loans I’d have to take out…and the complete uncertainty of whether or not I’d a) finish the degree or b) find meaningful work in the field completely frightens me away from even trying.

I daydream sometimes of quitting my job, packing up, and just driving. Figuring it out when I get there. This is a fantasy that has no roots in reality. I couldn’t possibly do that. I don’t have the funds saved. I don’t have the wherewithal.

I guess what I’m asking is: how did you happen upon your choice of career, the place you decided to settle? Was it an easy decision or a decision rife with strife? These are big-girl decisions I have to make on my own, and it’s terrifying. I don’t want to wake up in 20 years still here, still with this job, wondering “what if?”

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weight loss challenge

I’ve been writing quite frequently about my desire to get in shape, and just recently, have started actually succeeding in that plan. The problem was that my boyfriend also needs to follow suit, but getting him motivated is like pulling teeth. I thought if I started cooking healthy (vegan) food and working out almost daily, he’d see my happiness/excitement/drive and join in. That wasn’t the case. He spoke often about wanting to join in, but just never did. He’s a man of a thousand excuses (a lot like how I used to be, and sometimes still am) so I concocted a sneaky plan to get him enthused about healthy living.

He’s a very competitive guy. He does well when reality is transformed into some sort of game with tangible punishments and rewards. He also loves watching The Biggest Loser, which I can do without just because it’s two freaking hours, who has the time? In short, I decided to combine these things to create a “game”-like scenario to get him motivated. For others, this might not work. I strongly believe that anyone embarking on a life change like losing weight should have that a-ha! epiphanic moment where they realize that they need to change, and the reasons for change come from within. I think he’s honestly already had that moment but didn’t have the drive to execute the changes he realizes he needs to make. Our “game” is as much a social experiment to me as it is a (potentially) life-altering change for him. Only time will tell if this will work, but so far, so good!

The Game:

Fridays are our “weigh-in” days. We weigh ourselves in the morning and then calculate our percentage lost since the previous week. This is all honor-system, guys. I’m not sharing with anyone how much I weigh, even him, but we trust each other not to cheat. Whoever loses the bigger percentage for the week has “won” the week and gets to dole out one “healthy” punishment to the loser for the next week. That’s the punishment side. The reward side comes from monthly meetings. Whoever wins the most weeks by the end of the month gets to decide on a fun activity to participate in (being active here is key)–we haven’t gotten this far yet, but suggestions I presented to him when I explained the rules were: going to the zoo on a Saturday (major walking going on there), going downstate to one of the national parks for a day of hiking, even going bowling would count!

I was telling one of my friends and she thought it was a really weird idea. It is, and I honestly don’t care at all about it, but it helps him and I know that. If competition is what he needs to succeed, then bring it on. It also gives us a reason to do at least one fun, active thing per month. We tend to really get stuck in our routines and we don’t really do much together when we have days off because we’re either a) tired or b) hellbent on saving money. This, though, will hopefully bring us closer together.

I won the first week and my punishment was based upon his severe addiction to diet coke. He’s tried to quit before and I’ve told him not to bring it over so he’s not tempted, but he does anyway. It’s bad. So my punishment to him for this week was: no diet coke at all, but one 12 oz diet coke can be earned per day by going on a 30+ minute walk with me. You better believe that we went for a walk yesterday. 😉 And today he’s golfing 9 holes, so I told him that counts, too.

At the rate I’m going, I should be at my first goal weight in 20 weeks. That seems like a long ways away, but as long as I keep inching toward the goal, I think the time will cruise on by. Cheers to my new life!

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progress

I’m happy to report that my weight loss goals are (finally) on track. Vegan-me has lost 8 pounds, meaning vegan-me is now at my previously heaviest weight ever. Congratulations are not in order for that accomplishment, but what it means is that the ball is finally rolling. I’ve started to seriously track my food intake using My Fitness Pal and it has really, really helped. I thought I had a pretty good handle on things before but I’m finding now that I was just eating too much. Mostly my diet was healthy before, but too much of a good thing can still be bad. I haven’t wanted to eat my own hand yet so it seems that my body is adjusting nicely to the change. When I don’t work out, I tend to go over my calories by about 200–which is about what I burn when I work out–so clearly the solution is to keep working out. D’oy. It’s not realistic that I will get 30 minutes of cardio in every single day, but my goal still remains to work out more often than not. I aim for at least four days a week, usually taking the weekends off–but now that it’s summertime, I hope to get some exercise-that-doesn’t-feel-like-exercise in on the weekends. Leisurely walks. Trips to the zoo or downtown Chicago. Just something to keep my body moving.

I fear that my body will never look the way I want it to, but that shouldn’t stop me from aiming for the stars with this healthy new life. I’ve done some damage to my body by years of bad eating and inactivity that cannot be undone without the help of plastic surgery, which is out of the question, so I don’t think I’ll ever be proud to call this body mine, even if I hit my goal weight. But what I should be happy about when (not if!) that day comes is that I will be a healthier, happier, more vibrant me. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

I didn’t work out all week until today and I found my muscles becoming antsy. I’ve never experienced that feeling before, but my legs were aching to move. My brain didn’t want to go to the gym but my body definitely did. I had a decent run/walk on the treadmill and now my legs are happily spent. This is good, this feeling. The feeling of wanting to be active is something I’ve never really experienced. I didn’t play sports as a kid and I dreaded gym class. I always identified as more artsy-fartsy than sporty, and I think that’s the difference between me and several other adults that aim to lose weight. Others are aiming to reacquaint themselves with an active life, whereas I’m starting from scratch and building from the ground up. After a few months of reluctantly dragging my ass to the gym, I’m starting to get into a groove. I’m starting to enjoy it. This is huge for someone like me. If I can enjoy exercise, I have faith and certainty that anyone can.

PS, lettuce wraps are my new favorite thing. Such a healthy alternative to tacos, burritos, wraps, or what-have-you. The possibilities are endless! Start wrapping your food in lettuce! Crisp, fresh, delicious lettuce. My personal fave is romaine.

PPS, how can you not be happy listening to this song?

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getting back on track

I’m adjusting back into my normal routine and I’m not happy about it. Waking up at 5:45 am without the promise of a flight to San Francisco or a trip to Yosemite on the other end of things is just not fun. I arrived at work to a full inbox of 226 messages and I’m happy to report that it only took me an hour and a half to catch back up with my work life. My coworker handled all the urgent fires that came my way for the past week and for that, I owe her big! It’s bittersweet to be back home. I missed my kitties while I was vacationing but now I miss the bay, the sea, walking everywhere, getting a taste of city life…I truly hate living in the suburbs. I secretly wish my office would move to the city so it would make financial sense for me to move as well. Oh, woe. I love the city and I love the country but I do hate the ‘burbs. They’re sleepy and safe but lacking in the adventure department big time.

Being back means the bane of my existence: my sedentary commuter lifestyle. I am so inactive at home. I have nowhere to go and no excuse to get a good walk in anywhere. After work today, I threw myself a little pity party and skipped the gym and came home to enjoy a beer instead. This is a vice of mine. I’ve really got to find a happy medium. I’m too young to feel this old. I found a new gray hair in San Francisco and realized that time is ticking. I don’t want to wake up in ten years never having done any of the things I wanted to do. So, this means I’m currently in the throes of planning another trip–a long weekend around my birthday in July to visit friends who moved to Philly this past year. Flights into NYC are much cheaper than Philadelphia so we’ll meet them there, do a day in New York, and then take the bus to Philly for two or three days. It will be wonderful, and very cheap compared to our San Francisco trip. It gives me something wonderful to look forward to. It seems we all need plans to look forward to in order to get through the humdrum waiting game that most of our lives tend to be. These past two years since I’ve graduated have slipped by in record speed. My life is not very spontaneous. I sleep, wake, work, and sleep again. I’m lucky to have found an interest in cooking since adopting my vegan lifestyle, so that keeps things interesting on those days that I need a mini adventure. I’m hungry for more though. I want to be the interesting person I know I can be. I’d like to take up a new, creative hobby–knitting, perhaps? (With vegan yarn, of course.) Any suggestions are welcome. I used to consider myself artsy but lately the well has run dry.

I gained two pounds on vacation so I’m jumping back into my healthy eating/working out regimen tomorrow. I needed a couple of days to readjust before re-embarking on my journey. This means there should be new food pics and new recipes soon, with any luck. I have a list of veggies I want to try (chard comes to mind–I’ve never had it!) This will mean more frequent updates. And I should really look at registering for a 5k so I have a true goal to work toward on that front.

Did you ever take a trip that changed your life?

What were you like at age 24 (or if you’re younger than me–how do you hope to be at age 24)?

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my big fat vegan weekend

I spent the majority of last week feeling angry and confused about why the numbers on my scale haven’t budged. I even, in all my craziness, thought that my apartment’s sloping floors were to blame. I took my scale from my bathroom tile to my bedroom hardwood and tried there. Same number. I jumped on the scale in the gym locker room pre-workout. Same number. All of this is strange to me because my boyfriend says I look like I’ve lost weight. My coworker says the same. Even if I was losing fat and inches and not weight, my clothes would be fitting differently…but they’re not. It’s as if I am living the exact same lifestyle I was before (eating lots of sweets, eating lots of cheese, and not working out at all). It’s frustrating because I’m not. My boyfriend sees the breakfasts and lunches I pack myself for my work day. I eat healthier than anyone he knows, he says. I’m not perfect the rest of the time. I do still eat the occasional sweet, but I refuse to give that up. That would be deprivation. I will not succumb to a lifetime of no chocolate. That isn’t fair to me, my body, or my brain.

The conclusions I’ve drawn are these:

  1. I’m not eating as healthy as I think I am. When I was a freshman in college, I had gained about 15 pounds (what a stereotype). I went to the women’s services clinic to refill my pill prescription and when the doctor asked if I had any questions, I said yes: I keep gaining weight and I don’t know why. I told her I thought it was because of the pill. She had me try a low-dose pill that made no change to my weight but screwed my cycle up completely. When I returned a month later to be put back on the original pill, I sat with her for maybe 10 minutes, nearly in tears, telling her how much I hate my body and how I don’t know what to do. She asked if I was exercising regularly. I said a few times a week–not as much as I could–but I lived in the farthest dorm on campus and I always walked to class, I never took the bus. She said that should be making a difference. Her ultimate suggestion was this: maybe you’re not eating quite as healthy as you think you are. Make a food journal, she said. And once you start tracking your food intake, seek a nutritionist’s advice. I never did make that food journal, I never saw a nutritionist, and I went on to gain another 20 pounds by my senior year. But that idea always stays with me: maybe what I think is healthy isn’t as healthy as I thought. This is where food tracking comes in. This is why Weight Watchers worked for me my senior year of college and I dropped 25 pounds in no time at all. This is why I’m trying to track my calories now on MyFitnessPal. I’ve learned that this is a necessary part in my losing weight, but unlike my senior year in college, the weight isn’t coming off as rapidly. In fact, it isn’t coming off at all. Which brings me to…
  2. The conditions of my first weight loss success are not aligned with my current conditions. When I lost weight on Weight Watchers, I really don’t think of it as a healthy weight loss. It worked, yes, but what I was eating was abominable. Let me paint the picture for you: I was a full-time student and I worked two part-time jobs, one of which being a retail job selling chocolate. I was incredibly busy which resulted in very quickly eating all of my meals, which were mostly processed TV dinners. I can’t think of more than twice that year that I cooked. We ate out a lot, like when my boyfriend would visit, and I heated up more Lean Cuisines than I can even count during the week. Not to mention the fact that I saved all my points for beer. I figured out the point count of the chocolates at work and I knew how many I could have that would be the equivalent point count of dinner. I knew the point count of McDonald’s egg McMuffins and hash browns for those days I was hung over but had to be at work at 9. I was incredibly irresponsible and I subsisted on the absolute worst diet you can imagine…and I lost weight. The reason for this, I can only conclude, was that I was much more active than I thought I was. I exercised sometimes, but not regularly, but the main difference is that: 1) I worked at least 20 hours a week in a retail setting where I spent the entire time standing. Standing burns more calories than sitting. and 2) my other job was on campus, so I was walking to class and/or work every day of the week. The walk to and from class or work was 15 minutes each way. Sometimes I made that trip twice, sometimes three times. I was burning calories just because I was busy, basically. Now my life is that of a sedentary deskjob worker. Now I have to find ways to schedule cardio in order to burn calories, and the calories I’m burning in those workouts aren’t even close to the calories I burned when I lost weight in college–and at that time, I wasn’t even trying.

By the end of my senior year, I had plateaued on Weight Watchers. In April I decided to give up meat and return to the vegetarian diet I had followed since my freshman year of high school until Thanksgiving of my freshman year of college. I vowed to start eating better when I moved home. I thought giving up meat again would give me the push I needed to get past the plateau I’d been at for months. I also gave up Weight Watchers because I felt like a slave to the program. I thought I had learned enough about calories and fats to continue my weight loss on my own. Slowly, without my even realizing it, I started to put the weight back on. I was at about a 10 pound weight gain when I left my first post-grad job, and one of the major perks of my new job (my current job) was free access to the office gym. I thought, this is fantastic! I will never have an excuse again! For about a month, I went to the gym religiously after work. And then work started to stress me out and I returned to my old ways of skipping the gym and comforting myself with food. Now I’m at the weight I started at, the heaviest weight of my life that prompted me to go on Weight Watchers in the first place…+5. This was one of my first and main reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. As a vegetarian, I wasn’t all that healthy. I didn’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as I should and I ate a lot (a lot) of cheese. I really thought that cutting all that out would make a huge difference. I thought my body would be startled into submission.

It wasn’t.

And that’s when I decided to start training for this 5k. Now it’s been 6 or 7 weeks and I’ve only lost 3 pounds. I lost those 3 pounds in the first week, which shows me that what I’m doing is not working. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this on the internet. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I can possibly do to remedy this short of quitting my job and working out 8 hours a day. I have at least 45 pounds to lose to be put back in a healthy BMI range. I know the BMI equation is archaic but I know that I’m 45 pounds away from being at a healthy weight. I would take a 35 pound weight loss. I would accept fighting with those last 10 pounds for the rest of my life. It seems impossible to me, though. I know the answer is adding activity into my day that doesn’t feel like organized cardio. I know I should try to take walks outside on my breaks at work. I know I should try to take walks on weekends or after work. To be honest, when I get home after my workout on weeknights, I am utterly exhausted. The idea of going outside and walking for an hour is absolutely unappealing to me. I want to shower, eat dinner, and relax on the couch. It doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to repair the damage I’ve done to my body.

My cause is further complicated by the fact that my boyfriend also needs to lose weight but we both feed off each other’s addictions. I never watched TV before I met him but he loves TV, so we sit and watch every night and snack. When he’s munching on chips, I get instant jealousy. I want chips. We go grocery shopping together and I pick up my produce, my whole grains, and he sneaks a case of diet coke into the cart or a bag of chips or some cookies. I want to be at a place where I can have a bag of chips in my house and not want to sit on the kitchen floor and eat the entire bag. I want to be able to have junkfood in moderation. Moderation is the spice of life. I know myself well enough to know that if I told myself that I can have absolutely no, ZERO, chips, cookies, sweets, anything–that I will break. I will cave. and I will binge.

We watched Forks Over Knives last month and we both had a renewed interest in trying harder. My renewed interest lasted longer than his. Yesterday, I added a few other documentaries to our Netflix queue to try to get both of us re-interested. Last night, we watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. Such an inspiring story. And now our interest is renewed, yet again. He has to work today so we packed him a healthy breakfast and lunch and called it “Day 1.” We need to do this together. As an omnivore, he doesn’t have many food choices when he’s here. He picks around veggies when I cook and opts for the grains, the meat substitutes, the potatoes. I, on the other hand, find my tastes are changing. I made oatmeal yesterday morning but didn’t have any fresh fruit to put in it. I found myself aching for strawberries and blueberries. The same with dinner: we made seitan with red potatoes and broccoli. There was definitely not enough broccoli to go around. I found myself wanting it so badly–I would have been fine if my plate had been half full of broccoli. I just love fruits and veggies. He doesn’t have that habit ingrained in his eating.

We watched a P90X infomercial Friday night (while drinking beer on the couch, of course) and I realized what that program offers compared to what I’m doing. My workouts are routine. I run on the treadmill or work out on the elliptical and I do the same 3 or 4 weight training exercises. I don’t have variety. The “muscle confusion” Tony Horton talks about is something my body hasn’t experienced. When I do try something new and my muscles are confused, it takes my body over 2 days to adjust from the soreness. I can’t take 2 days off every time I try something new. That’s 2 days wasted. I’m knocking on 24’s door but I feel like my body is 50 years old. Part of this, I have to wonder, might be genetics. I do not come from an active family. I sometimes wonder if my food addiction has genetic bearings. My father comforts himself with food. He has type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases he hasn’t even divulged to me. But he doesn’t make a change. He doesn’t think he has the willpower. I have to wonder if I’m a product of that…whether it be hereditary or environmental, I grew up watching him and I’ve absorbed his habits. I’m trying to combat that but I’m stuck once again. I feel angry every single day while I’m on the way to the gym that I even have to carve time out of my schedule to exercise. I curse myself for not living in a pedestrian-friendly location. I live in the suburbs and here, people don’t walk or bike anywhere unless they can’t afford a car. That is crazy! One of the perks of living in the apartment I do is that I am in walking distance of all of my town’s restaurants, bars, shops, etc. I could go for walks, go window shopping, make a whole morning out of it on the weekend, but I don’t!

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to make small changes to my diet. I’ve subbed in no-calorie stevia for the 60-calorie tbsp of agave nectar I was putting in my coffee each morning. I’ve been bringing half a grapefruit to work (52 calories) instead of the 250-300 calorie green smoothies I was having for breakfast. At the beginning of the year, I made a non-resolution to drink only on weekends. I had been drinking at least one beer a day on weekdays and much more on weekends. Now I limit that to only Fridays and Saturdays, and usually only drink a beer or two. I have isolated myself from my social circle in order to avoid overeating and excessive drinking. These changes, still, have not made a difference.

In the end, I’m not sure where to go from here. I need change but the changes I need to make feel humungous. They feel out of reach. Maybe I’m making mountains out of mole hills but I’m feeling quite lost. How I could possibly eat 1,400 calories a day and burn 300 of them working out and still not see change is utterly baffling to me. As I age, this will only get harder. I will be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.

Are you fighting this battle? How have you overcome adversity?

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the unenjoyment of record highs in March

I know I try to make this a vegan/food/fitness blog most days, but as I have little to report on that front, bear with me.

As the Chicagoland area has been losing its shit over the unbelievably, unseasonably sunny warmth for the past week, it’s starting to lose its luster for me. I’m sort of a Debbie Downer, I guess. Was 75 degrees in March nice? Yes. For a time. Now it’s an 80 muggy degrees in my apartment, and why the hell would I turn on the A/C? It’s March, for crying out loud! This means I have to suck it up. My hair hates humidity. I hate the sticky, loathsome feeling of sweat (especially in dress pants and nice blouses…ugh). There are already mosquitoes, for christ’s sake. One of the only tolerable parts of summer, to me, is those first nice, crisp, clean 50 degree days that feel so hot after a rigid Chicago winter. Wait, what’s that? Oh yes, that’s right: the Chicago winter we all know and love failed to grace us with its presence this year. “Winter” was about one and a half snowstorms and a lot of 35 degree days. And “spring” skipped the 40s-60s entirely and jumped right into a full-fledged summer.

I should love summer. Everybody loves summer. Everyone loves driving with the windows down, backyard BBQs, getting to bring your winter workouts out into the actual sunny world for a few months. What’s not to like about outdoor concerts? Beer tastings? Baseball games? The sound of bullfrogs at night or the rumbling of a freight train when your windows are open and you’re curled up in bed pondering life’s biggest, deepest questions? And I especially should love summer because my birthday is in July. I was a summer baby. And I was born on one of (if not THE) hottest day of the year. You’d think I’d have a proclivity for things that are toasty warm. But I don’t. My disdain for summer, I think, can be mostly attributed to the self-consciousness it brought in my youth. I sweat more than the average woman (is this a fact? I have no concrete evidence except for the fact that I sweat. a lot.) and my hair turns into a big giant frizzball and who needs moisturizer when you have a constant glisten of wet sweat donning your face? Ah, summer.

I know I shouldn’t complain about the wonderful weather because it comes few and far between but I am frankly tired of it. It was a nice honeymoon but now I’m ready for two months of spring that I feel I was robbed of. And all I keep reading about is how the bugs are going to be extra buggy this year because they’re all hatching or coming out of hibernation or whatever the hell it is they do way too early. And is anybody else just a wee bit concerned about global warming? Oh, no? Just me? Well okay then. This can’t be good for the polar ice caps…just sayin’.

And this concludes this episode of Why I Should Have Been Born a Canadian.

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