When was the last time you decided to make a life change with diet and/or exercise but you said “I’ll start tomorrow”? And how many times did tomorrow never come? Maybe you have a stronger willpower than I, but I can honestly say that my “tomorrow” life changes have numbered in the thousands so far and I’ve only been on this planet for 23 years. Especially where diet is concerned, we usually arrive at the conclusion that we need to change after scarfing down something greasy or fatty or chocolately, but by that time we’re too far gone–so we postpone ’til tomorrow, because that seems like the reasonable thing to do. We want to start with a clean slate. It’s logical, right?
Something interesting happened yesterday. Let me preface this by saying that I never weigh myself. I know it’s just a number and what matters more is overall health and happiness. If you change your diet for the better and your clothes start to fit looser, that means you’re succeeding in weight loss. Why fret about that number? It will inevitably jump up a pound or two or jump down a pound or two depending on the day. It’s nothing to obsess over. But we do–and I decided to stop obsessing over it. When I moved back to my parents’ after college, I brought my scale with me but it sat on the bathroom floor collecting dust. When I moved out, I left it there. Aside from my most recent doctor visit last year (which taught me enough about the fact that I was starting to pack pounds back on after my 25-pound weight loss), I haven’t weighed myself once. I haven’t even had the urge to.
In my yoga + book club, we talked about scales. My instructor urged us to put the scale away for the week. I thought, this is an easy challenge for me considering I don’t even own a scale! But then, just like telling a child they can’t have candy, I wanted it. I wanted my scale back. I wanted to assign a number to myself. And to be quite honest, I was a little curious! It’s been over a month since I changed over to a vegan diet and I did think maybe my clothes felt a little looser, so I wanted to know–is my number less than it was a year ago?
So when I was at my parents’ this weekend, I picked up my trusty old scale, brought it home with me, and prepared to see “the number.” What happened was this: I have a number in my mind of when I was my heaviest, the number that prompted me to go on Weight Watchers and lose 25 pounds. That number is gross. That number embarrasses me. And yesterday, when I weighed myself, not only was I at that number…I was at that number +8.
A month ago, this would have been devastating. I might have cried. I might have ordered a pizza and binged because what does it matter anymore? But weirdly, I was unfazed. It is not a healthy number by any means. I know that I am overweight. I know that my BMI is higher than the normal range. I know that I need to change. But instead of worrying, or crying, or screaming, or turning to the comfort food in the kitchen, I very calmly stepped off the scale and said, okay! Time to change.
I was so proud of my calm demeanor that I went to yoga and bragged about it to my classmates. We’re reading Women Food and God and we’re all battling with food in our different ways. I sabotage myself with food. I eat when I’m not hungry. I feel guilty all the time. For me, a person who has those feelings laying dormant at all times, to feel comfortable with the number I saw and not have the urge to either a) binge or b) crash diet, is a huge deal. A classmate even said so to me. I’m content.
I had one of the best yoga practices thus far last night. I was completely at peace, the practice was challenging, my body was slightly sore this morning. And then I resolved to do something else I’ve been meaning to but never do: go to the freakin’ gym! One of the perks of my workplace is free membership to the gym downstairs. This was a selling point to me when I was interviewing for the job. A year ago, during my interview process, I thought damn! I’ll have no excuse! I can work out every day for FREE! And I did, for about a month. And then I fell off that wagon just like every time before.
So last night, I carefully packed my gym bag and psyched myself up. I haven’t exercised in nearly a year. That’s not to say that I haven’t gone for walks here and there, but my lifestyle has been largely sedentary. That needs to change. I packed my gym bag and set it by the door so I would see it and not forget it on my way out. I told myself that I am not allowed ANY excuses (because let me tell you, I am the queen of excuses). When I woke up this morning, the excuses were already formulating in my head. From I’m too tired to something as ridiculous as having to carry my purse, coffee AND gym bag down my apartment stairs and to the car in heels is too much of a pain. Yes, I was hearing myself. That is one of the absolute worst excuses I’ve ever heard in my life! I blame my half-awake mind for that one. The important thing is, I did grab the gym bag. I made it down the stairs. I dragged it into the office with me. And after work, I headed to the gym. My church.
I used to love working out, to be honest. I hate to run but I do love the repetitive routine of (other) cardio. It’s a time to listen to music, to be with yourself, to focus on your breathing. The fact that I haven’t made an effort to get my ass to the FREE gym for the past year is embarrassing. There is no excuse for it. No amount of “I’m too tired”s or “I don’t have time”s is acceptable. It takes 30 minutes. I’m actually angry at myself for that fact taking so long to sink into my stubborn little brain.
Today, I also tracked my calories. Not in a crazy-diet way, but just in a curious way. I should be paying attention to my caloric intake and I should be making sure I’m getting enough protein, fruits, veggies. Veganism can be precarious. You have to take responsibility for your diet. After tracking my diet for the day, I’m seeing something else interesting: I am completely full on 1,000 calories. I actually forced down a snack of peanut butter toast and almond milk because, as much as I want to lose weight, I know that 1,000 calories a day won’t be sustainable. I’ll drop weight fast and gain it all back, story of my life. When veganism is done properly, you almost have to fight to meet your body’s caloric needs. Veggies and fruits are so low in calories. You have to make an effort some days to get what your body needs. For instance, today I only had 3 servings of grains. Aren’t you supposed to have 6-12? You have to think about these things!
The point of all of this, I suppose, is teaching yourself to respect your body. When you see a number on the scale, don’t panic. Just resolve to make changes that will make you healthier and happier. I don’t have a number in mind that I want to be–I just know that I want to feel better and have more energy. Eating right and working out is the foundation of that. I am now going to focus on nourishing my body. It needs it!
As an addendum: I can tell already that I’m going to be sore tomorrow. I’m glad I have volunteering after work so I can give my muscles a day to relax before hitting the gym again Wednesday. 🙂 Consider this an “aha!” moment. I’ve never felt more content with the idea of change and I’ve never been so okay with a life in flux. I’m going to get healthy because I need to. Goodbye, sweet Theo bars. (but not completely, of course–deprivation is an evil in its own right!)