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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.

Another way to “lose weight” without having to diet or exercise. All you have to do is to spend a few hours in the cold, right? Well, maybe. The study is only in men, and the effects are not lasting, but you can lose 10 lbs a year by sitting around chilly.

The first thing I thought when I heard about this was “gee, I wonder how long until some brilliant snake oil salesperson starts charging people $500 an hour to sit in their skivvies in a 50 degree room?” Or “weight loss weekends” at fancy spas with long sits in the cold, a colonic and a juice cleanse?

Honestly, the only thing that really surprises me is that a quick google doesn’t show this cropping up yet.

Now, obviously (I hope), if this news can honestly help people, then great. But frankly, it sounds like one more way to guilt allegedly obese people into “bettering themselves” by doing everything possibly available to lose any weight they can at what will likely be considerable expense. Because thin = health. Except that it doesn’t. Eating nutritious food and moving your body is how you get healthy. Not by wearing pants in single digit sizes (hell, if that were enough, we could all just shop at Chicos and be done with it). Oh, yeah, there’s that expense again.

Also, I find it extremely interesting that this was the article linked on the front page of WaPo as “related” to the brown fat article. Hm. Exercise? What an idea.  Can I get mine with a healthy dose of body acceptance, please?

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.

The world in which I’m supposed to feel bad for making Toll House cookies with my 5 year old on a snow day (and eating almost as much dough as we bake) is not a world I want to live in.

I’d been planning to keep this blog at least quasi anonymous, even though I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the traffic comes from folks I already know and who know who I am and have probably even met me, even briefly, in person.

But anyway.  The other public blog I write is mostly political and social ranting and raving.  The election was fun and I’ve had varying steam.  I just intended to write a long ranty post about gendered eating,inspired by this post by Liss over at Shakesville.  Instead, I just wrote a personal screed about fat acceptance and how I refuse to feel guilty about food.

I think part of that is not being completely anonymous anymore.

I refuse to keep tracking my food here.  It drives me nuts and triggers all sorts of guilt and it really doesn’t help me.  All of the positive mental benefits I get from exercise is completely undone by obsessing over the food issue.

So I won’t.  I’m going to keep blogging about exercise and eating and all the philosophical stuff over here.  But I’m not tracking my food anymore.  And I’m not going to hide.  Not anymore.

 

So, that food thing?  Clearly going marvelously well, eh?

One thing I noticed when I was doing really well at tracking at The Daily Platethis time last year is that once I get in the mindset of putting my words where my mouth’s been, I tend to make somewhat “better” choices simply by virtue of knowing that I have to admit that I had McDonald’s again for dinner last night.  I’m sort of seeing that again now.

Interestingly, I’m also noticing that I’ve been in a piss poor mood ever since I’ve tried to hold myself semi-publicly accountable for my food choices.  As I used to say in middle school – coincidence or special sauce?  It may well be coincidence, actually, but the timing just occurred to me.

Anyway, food for the week (insofar as I can recall):

Monday – breakfast is lost to me, but definitely included coffee and may just not have otherwise existed, which I tend to be really bad about.  Lunch was Chinese takeout, playing the “I’m having vegetables, so that justifies the garlic chicken” card.  Dinner was…pizza.  Almost an entire frozen one.  And three peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  I also recall that I was feeling miserable and went to bed at around 7:30, waking only to read to the kidlet in bed.

Tuesday – I’m pretty sure I had a packet of plain oatmeal with a mini-moo and some honey, plus the ubiquitous coffee and milk.  I know I should be eating more fruits and veggies.  We need to go to the grocery store.  Lunch was catered by a wonderful Lebanese place, so I had chicken and pita and rice and grape leaves and hummus and a spinach samosa like thing and Lebanese salad.  And a piece of baklava for dessert.  And a coke.  I ate a lot of food, but it filled me up totally and I was truly not even that hungry when it came time for leftovers for dinner.  I also exercised Tuesday night.

Wednesday – coffee (surprise!) and mini-blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Way too much toffee that a coworker brought in throughout the day.  A salad and flat-bread with ham, tomatoes, leeks and cheese for lunch.  A McDonald’s Big & Tasty with cheese, a wee cheeseburger that was mistakenly in the kidlet’s happy meal, a small handful of fries and half a hard cider for dinner.  No urge for dessert.  Not feeling particularly well.  I wonder why?

Today, Thursday – A packet of raisin walnut oatmeal for breakfast with the ever present morning coffee.  Two cookies that a different coworker brought in as a snack.  Sweet and Sour Chicken Lean Cuisine for lunch.  That’s it so far.  Dinner will be supplied by my father and will likely include homemade mac and cheese and some sort of meat and broccoli.  And wine.  And maybe Scotch.

Oh, and I’ve been keeping up with drinking at least one Sigg of water over the course of the day, usually two or more.

As I type this all out, I am trying hard not to fall into the “I was good/I was bad” trap.  I was feeding myself.  I need at least 1200 calories a day to survive without feeling that I’m deeply depriving myself.  I’m sure that I could, in fact, function just fine for a while on 1000 a day, but the extra 200 fends off headaches and resentment.  Guilting myself about enjoying a frozen pizza is not going to help me feel better in any sense.  Being a good person is not defined by whether I decide to finish up this entry, make myself a cup of tea and help myself to another cookie.  It’s just not.  Even if I never lose another pound, even if I never wear a size 10 again, let alone an 8, the measure of my hips is not the measure of my self worth.

You know what does help me feel better though – the exercise, the water and the fruits and veggies.  That is a measure, not of my worth or my value, but of my health.

I mentioned in my last post – in which I was tracking yesterday’s food – that I don’t like doing it.

I don’t like doing it because I’m sick to death of the “guilt” that women especially, but to some degree most people I know, experience around food.  I find eating extremely pleasurable.  I love eating really good food.  Hell, I love eating crap food most of the time.  I love those wee high calorie cheeseburgers from McDonalds and I love my dad’s mashed potatoes and I love my own baking and I love my husband’s spaghetti and I love Taco Bell almost any hour of the day.  I’m big on “comfort food”.  I’m not so in love with salad.

I’m tracking for a few weeks (I hope) in part because I want to look at what I’m eating to help myself make better choices – in the sense of getting more fruits and veggies, more whole grains.  But I do not want to deny myself the pleasures of food.  Eating is not a bad thing.  There is nothing shameful about enjoying a cheeseburger and onion rings or a brownie or a scoop of ice cream or a beer.

I want to make sure I remember that, because the worse I feel about the food I eat, the more I eat.  I can train myself to see the veggies in the forest of carbs, but I cannot train myself not to enjoy decadence.  I can just control how often I do so and how much I indulge.

So, a list of things to remember:
1. There is nothing bad/naughty/disgusting about enjoying food.
2. I feel better when I eat better and do not over indulge.
3. I enjoy food more when I take charge of choosing and creating it.
4. I feel better physically when I exercisee regularly.
5. Exercise does not have to be a chore.
6. Food /=guilt.

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.