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I should probably explain that I am seriously conflicted about the alternating feelings I have between wanting to scream to the world “OMG, I LOST 10 LBS!” (hey, see what I did there?) and understanding that the urge to do that is mired in patriarchal and fat shaming baggage.

I think I need to go back and read this essay without my snark-goggles.

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I suppose the fact that I haven’t been writing over here is a good sign, in that I’m feeling less conflicted about food and my body and my ability to build a healthy lifestyle that is not obsessed with absolutely under no circumstances baking a cake if I really really want cake. (I really wanted cake Monday. So I baked one. It’s yummy and almost half of it is still in the pan on the kitchen counter. But I digress.)

I am trying to develop a love affair with exercise – as I’ve mentioned before, I do feel so much better and more relaxed and I’m sure I am more pleasant to be around when I get up in the morning and even spend 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. The catch is getting my ass out of be early enough to make it happen.

So, I’ve started making my default for my alarm 5:30 instead of 6:30. Not getting up to exercise is now the conscious exception, rather than affirmatively setting the alarm back an hour. Getting up with time to do this for myself is my new rule. It’s not perfect. The other night when I got caught up in a book and read until after midnight finishing it (Heir to Sevenwaters, I love Juliet Marrillier), I figured I needed at least a little more than 5 hours of sleep.

For the most part it works. And I feel better, and my clothes fit better, and I feel more toned and stronger. I am a nicer person. Really. Seriously. Why don’t you believe me? I am completely serious though – even though I’m operating on less sleep, I am less snappy and more able to just roll with things, just ask my kid. And I’m trying not to let the fact that I’ve also lost some “extra” lbs be too much of an incentive, but it does get me down below a particular psychological barrier as well.

And therein lies some conflict, because philosophically, I still find myself watching the scale and still looking at clothes in my closet and thinking if I could just lose 2515 lbs, I could maybe fit into these things again. And then I think, you know, if just upping a couple of days of exercise is enough to take off some of this weight and stored fat, then maybe there’s a different point besides just size acceptance here – I’m not dieting. I’m barely trying to eat healthier – although I have been eating a lot more organic and less processed food, including more fruits and veggies.

So maybe it all makes a difference together and maybe the only thing that is really important is that I am happy. To the extent that I feel better, it is not because I suddenly discovered that I’d “lost weight”- I felt better before that because I was taking better care of myself. And I like myself. I liked myself three weeks ago and I like myself now and I will like myself whether I keep exercising or not.

The scale does not define me, but neither does avoiding it. I have to find my own way.

I had to skip my regular yoga class on Friday ’cause the kid was sick and I wanted to get home right after work.  That class is an “all levels” class – the idea being that, well, pretty much anyone can take it, from absolute beginners to people who have actually been doing yoga regularly for years.  I am usually toward the advanced middle of that class.  One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about taking a class that is designed to challenge even the most advanced yoginis (all the students are women in this particular class), is that everyone’s body has things that it can do easily, and things that are more difficult.  So, while I might be doing the most advanced pose in Warrior 1 variations with no problem, I may not be able to do a modified Downward Dog/Table variation designed to work the wrists and lower arms.  And I can’t do a particularly good Lotus or Crane without some serious manipulation.  OTOH, the very sweet woman who is taking her first class ever can plop down into a perfect lotus and sit forever with no strain. 

But, I digress.  Since I missed that class and really needed to get my stretch on, I went to a level 2 class on Sunday.  I was a little worried before I went – after all, while my instructor for my all level class agreed that a level 2 was appropriate for me, I’d never taken one and I was feeling stiff and sore and really NEEDED a good class.  Unfortunately, that one was definitely an eh. It was too structured and I didn’t feel like it worked my whole body.  It definitely did *something* because I’m stiff as all get out now, but I am desperately looking forward to Friday when I can go back to my regular class.  I have one more class that I can make up and I guess I’ll look at one of the early morning one.  Ack!

Speaking of early morning, I was supposed to get up by 5:30 this morning and actually use the bike – hoping, in part, that it would work some of the kinks out, especially in my legs – alas, I set the time, but neglected to turn the alarm on.  So, tomorrow it is, I suppose.  I’m feeling that urge in my body for exercise, after a mostly lazy weekend (that whole sick kid thing).  Hopefully I can get on a T/T bike in the mornings, F yoga at night kick with some pick up stuff in between and the occasional turn on the Fit.  Hopefully.  I really do feel tons better when I’m getting some sort of exercise a few times a week.

In the meantime, I appear to be losing something – my pants feel like they are falling off today.  It is hard to break out of the feeling that this is an accomplishment worth celebrating.  And, I suppose that on one hand it is – I am getting smaller not because I am dieting and depriving myself (says the woman who has been eating cupcakes and baklava all morning), but because I am mostly trying to eat more healthy food and I am trying to work out because it actually feels good – or at least better than not doing so.  New jeans in a size 10/12 and baggy work pants are a bonus.  One that I’ve used as a measure of self worth for a long time.  And maybe that’s the real issue.  I am not a better person because I lost 5 lbs or 1/4 of an inch from my waistline.  And it is sort of sick and twisted that I feel so damn good about it.

Since my posts here at at I’m Just Not Impressed last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what not-dieting and not feeling guilty really means.

First, I feel like I need to acknowledge that I am coming at this from a position of relative privilege.  I am not obese.  Truly, I am barely overweight.  Realistically, most people are not going to look at me and say “OMG, that woman is fat.”  I suspect that fully dressed in my work clothes and heels, very few people would even look at me and think that I need to loose a few pounds.  Part of how I see myself is body image dysphoria and I know that – and part of that dysphoria – and this is also where some of the privilege comes in – is that I tend to think of myself as a thin person, so I see myself in pictures  or naked in a mirror and think, do I really look like that?  To the extent that there is any validity to BMI or weight charts, I fall into the overweight category, but by 10-20 lbs. 

I am likewise privileged in that I know, in the recesses of my mind, that if I did deny myself that cookie or that scoop of mashed potatoes and ate mostly salad for a while and exercised 40 minutes a day five days a week, the pounds would drop off and I’d be that skinny person I see in the mirror.  And hell, when I put it like that, it sounds almost easy, doesn’t it?  I was almost 20 lbs lighter two years ago (which was still 10 lbs more than what I thought of as my ideal weight at the time).  Then I went on medication that packed those 20 lbs on.

I do need to exercise more.  I just do.  It’s not a matter of losing weight, it’s a matter of feeling less pain in my shoulders and joints and feeling stronger and more capable and being able to swing my son over my shoulders and run around and play with him like a maniac.  And hell, being able to actually touch my toes with locked knees for the first time in my entire life, even when I was 21 and weighed 128 lbs. 

I also need to eat better – not in a self denial way, but in a less saturated fat more fruits and veggies because my cholesterol is on the edge of being too high and I eat like crap.  Food I don’t even really like, like McDonald’s kind of crap because I am busy and don’t feel like cooking.  And again, I feel better when I eat better food.  Garbage in, garbage out, ya know?

Not giving into the guilt though – it’s amazing how that works.  Because if I have a cookie or a piece of chocolate or a mocha latte, I’m not “being bad” anymore.  So I can eat just one, because whatever it is that I would have beaten myself up over just a month ago is no big hairy deal.  I haven’t ruined my diet.  None of this in for a penny, in for a pound crap.  I can eat just one Hershey’s kiss and not feel like I need to eat the whole wee bag that theoretically is in the car as an after-school treat for the kidlet (who also needs to eat less McDonald’s and more fruit).  I don’t need to binge and overindulge, because there is no baggage associated with putting this stuff in my mouth anymore.

But, you might say, doesn’t the fact that you keep nattering on about this suggest that perhaps you are not as comfortable with the idea as you say you are?  And I will totally grant that it is constant work.  It is, in a way, diet vigilance of a different type, this idea of not judging myself (and, not-so- incidentally, other women[1]) for what I put on my plate and in my mouth.  It is a sad commentary on the state of the world that it feels almost radical to suggest that “being good” has nothing to do with self denial and that food is not a reward or punishment.  (How many times have any of us said when picking at bowl of lettuce, “well, I was really bad yesterday”?)   I still think about what I eat – nutritious meals and a balanced diet don’t mysteriously appear three times a day anymore now than they did a few weeks ago.  But I find myself approaching things differently.  I find myself listening more to my body about the food it needs than my mind about the comfort it desires. 

[1] I want to say, for the record, that this absolutely includes those of you who I know are committed to weight loss through a variety of means.

I keep trying to convince myself that this is not about the numbers on the scale.  Today is a good example of this.

I used the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes Tuesday night and I used the wii for 40 minutes last night – if I can keep focused on it, the bike is a better pure cardio workout – I’ll ride at a moderate to hard pace for approximately 43 minutes – the time it takes to watch a DVD of an “hour” long tv show.  Only allowing myself to watch these shows – starting with current shows like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy that I’d missed out on when they started and now things like Buffy and HBO series that we don’t get like Deadwood and Carnavale – while I exercise was a great motivator when I was just getting started and still is sometimes.

The thing about the Wii, though, is that it gives me more variety and I tend to be highly focused on whatever I’m doing while I’m doing it.  So, I work in fits and starts but that 6 minutes I spend hula hooping is an intense 6 minutes.  The 6 minutes I’m boxing is an intense 6 minutes.  The 5 minutes I’m stepping is an intense 5 minutes. 

I’m not loving the Wii yoga so much – part of that is the limitations of the space in our family room – there’s a drop ceiling, so upward stretching involves popping a tile and working around the support beams and there’s not as much floor space as I’d like.  But I think most of it is just how much I love doing “real yoga”.  I absolutely loved the class I took last Friday and am estatic that I have 10 more.  I’ve registered for that particular class, so now I get to end the work week with almost an hour and a half of yoga that is for all levels, so I can make it as intense or as relaxing as I want/need on that particular day.  The class was super small last week, between the weather and the long weekend, and we all got lots of individual attention, pose correction and adjustment, etc.  Afterwards the instructor mentioned that my body seemed very open and it was clear that I had a lot of experience doing yoga.  My immediate response was to say not really -which is true on one level.  Then again, I’ve been doing yoga off and on for 10 years.  10 years?!?!  How does that happen?

Anyway, I am really looking forward to class again tomorrow.  And I find myself fitting modified stretches and poses into my everyday life more.  I feel more relaxed and less tense and more powerful.  This is something that I notice whenever I start exercizing with any regularity – I start to feel straighter and stronger and healthier.   Also, while the scale is actually up a few pounds from last week’s weigh-in, my pants are looser and my body feels smoother and firmer.

So, maybe it doesn’t matter so much what it says on the scale.  My pants are loose and my back is straight and I look damn good.

I tend not to be online much during the weekends, which throws my food tracking for a loop.  Which is interesting, since weekends tend to be both an opportunity for horrid overeating as well as an exercize in actually eating when I’m hungry, as opposed to when I have opportunities at my desk at work.

Friday I don’t really remember what I ate – probably toast and cheese and coffee for breakfast.  I’m pretty sure I had a lean cuisine for lunch with some chocolate in there.  Dinner was…hell, I have no clue at this point.  Oh yeah – we went out to a nearby Taqueria and I had two tamales, beans, rice, chips, salsa and sangria.  And a few bites of my son’s chocolate cake.  Not the world’s best for you meal, but good and with relatively controlled portion sizes.

Saturday I had coffee and cranberry-almond cereal for breakfast and an early lunch of leftover pork and potatoes from Thursday in between taking the kid to TKD and cleaning the house.  I had a handful of chocolate chips while making a snack for my son and his playdate buddy.  Then we went to my dad’s for dinner – chicken with a spinach/lemon sauce, homemade oven fries, broccoli, wine and homemade banana pudding (as in the pudding itself was not from a box).  I ate way too much of the latter from a guilt-about-dessert standpoint, but no so much that I felt bloated, per se.  My stomach was actually hurting quite a bit and I feared that I might be getting ill, so I ate a little less of everything than I might have otherwise.

Sunday, the husband and I walked several blocks – uphill- to get brunch, which was a very reasonable portion of tomato-goat cheese quiche with salad and wee pieces of coffee cake on the side.  And coffee of course.  It was a true brunch in that I didn’t eat again until an early dinner of a Long John Silver’s clam dinner.  Health on a platter, that one.  And ice cream for dessert.

Even with all that, I am down to 165.5 per today’s scale.  Which is down from 176.4 the Monday after Christmas.  To be fair, a big part of that is just having scaled down a lot of eating, especially at the office.  I’m sure there was some water weight in there.  Upping my activity even marginally helps tremendously.  I am also trying, with limited success, to achieve more balance in those food choices – I was craving eggs bene when we decided to go to brunch yesterday, but I chose the quiche instead – which was just as good – probably better – and “lighter”.  I put that in quotes because honestly, I have no idea how they compare in fat and calories.  But the quiche didn’t feel heavy in the same way that the bene would have and I ate every bite of the baby lettuce salad that came with it, which is sort of the point.  It was good and it was satisfying and I asked for a dessert menu and decided not to indulge – not because indulging is bad, but because nothing seemed worth the wait and extra food.

So, suceess of a sort.

So, going to try to track my food here for a bit.  I’ve tried The Daily Plate, but end up getting derailed as soon as I actually try to cook something that’s not from a box or eat somewhere that’s not a chain restaurant.  Shockingly, they don’t have the nutritional values for my father’s prochutto mashed potatoes and I probably wouldn’t want to see them if they did.

But, I also know that if I don’t try to track this somehow, I’m going to keep on eating more than I want to, or thinking that I’m doing better than I am.  Since part of what I want to do is make better choices, here goes:

Morning:
lots-o-coffee with light egg nog
two pieces blueberry/acai berry toast with B&B and swiss cheese
two clemtines
lots of water
1 small cookie

Lunchish:
1 small 80 cal tuna salad cup
10 ritz crackers
1 stick cheese
2 squares lindt chili dark chocolate
lots of water
small liquid yogurt

Afternoon snack:
cheaters mocha – small coffee with extra water, hot chocolate mix and 2 Irish cream creamers
more water

Dinner…oh lord.  Shall we just stipulate that today was not a great day?
Three McDonalds small cheeseburgers
Large handful fries (probably less than a small)
1 hard cider
1 rice pudding cup (a couple hours later)

Ugh.

On the water tip – I got a Sigg water bottle for Christmas and have been trying to keep it full – I fill it up while I’m getting my first morning coffee and just keep at it – to the point where it might actually be giving me headaches, which baffles me.

So, yeah.  Accountability, yes.  Also, I shuold exercize, but I feel to completely exhausted.  Sigh.

This is a blog for accountability.

This is a blog for acceptance.

Like approximately, oh, 95% of the population, I want to lose weight.  Well, actually, not so much.  I want to lose inches.  I want to be in better shape.  I want to not feel run down constantly and consumed by food, rather than a consumer of food.  I want to pull on my pants without wincing at the tightness of the fit.  I want to run around with my son without feeling like I’m dying of exhaustion.

If all those things happen and the number on the scale happens to move, great.  And if I’m honest with myself, I want that number to move.  Oh how much do I.  But I also know that the number is not the important thing.  Feeling fitter and more in touch with my body and my health – those are.