the hamster wheel of weight loss

I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel at times. Figuratively speaking. And literally.

This blog was inspired by a conversation with my best friend that spiraled off into a million different thoughts and my brain going 100 mph.

The conversation is one we have on a regular basis. Typically after one or both of us has stepped on the scale, polished off a large pizza, missed several workouts, or worse, any combination of the three in the same day which really sends us into a downward emotional spiral. Like true friends should though, we always drag the other one down with us.

My very best friend since the first day of 7th grade gym. I was so jealous of her and you know what they say? Keep your enemies close. Then I couldn’t get rid of her. 

A few interesting useless facts before I get to the point of this blog.

We have both read, studied and researched fitness and nutrition to death over the years.

We have applied said knowledge to our own diets and workouts, so our base of knowledge has been put to the test and we are both well aware of what works for our bodies.

We are both pretty confident women who are savvy in most areas of our life.

We have both successfully balanced children, the gym, careers for many years.

We have been mutually obsessed with the scale for years.

Most people guess us lighter than our scale weight because we both lift heavy weights, so we are very well aware that the scale is a piece of &^% and should have no bearing on our self-esteem.

Why, I wondered, knowing all of this, do we STILL allow ourselves to fall into the trap of “never gonna be good enough”?

All I had to do to find the answer was take a good look around me. When I say around me, I mean in my real life, on facebook, in magazine articles, on television.

What I saw, what I see, is a society obsessed with physical appearance and world that fakes us out and plays mind games with us. I see photoshopped pictures of women older than us who have less than half the wrinkles. I see fitness models who constantly harp on how lazy we are if we can’t stick with our diet and if we were REALLY disciplined we could be ripped like her. I see un-photoshopped pictures of perfect bodied women, completely void of cellulite, stretch marks, or any physical flaws.

But then…

I run into someone and it literally takes me back how normal they look in person without photoshop. I read countless stories from fitness competitors and models about the horrors of starving themselves for a show then binging like the rest of us later. Their off season pictures, much heavier and less defined, because like the rest of us, they can’t sustain what it takes to keep their body looking like that either. I find out the perfect bodied women is young, childless, works part time therefore has the time to spend in the gym.

NONE of that makes ANY of them less, don’t mistake me. It makes them all very human and reachable, but I don’t think we realize that when we are striving to be just like them.

I lost 100 lbs in a very normal, sustainable, boring way. I exchanged unhealthy foods for better options, I worked out 3-4 times a week in the gym, I had one cheat meal every week. There was nothing extreme or crazy about my method, except that it was realistic and sustainable. Somewhere along the way, in the last few years, being normal wasn’t good enough for me anymore. Maybe I started reading too many fitness magazines, or obsessing over too many fitness models on facebook, but I wanted more. Better abs, broader shoulders, a tighter rear. I needed to be under 20% bodyfat and be in the 140’s on the scale. I have spent the last few years setting that standard for myself and being disappointed when it wasn’t met. I’ve met it a few times, but it never lasted and I got so angry with myself.

Things have changed in my life the last few years. Quite frankly, it’s the most hectic, but the best it’s ever been. Both girls are in school now, making straight A’s I might add, so with that comes backpacks filled with homework and notes to sign. They are both in pre-competitive gymnastics, which takes up another two nights every week. I am finishing college, that is another night every week. I started dating, basically, the greatest guy ever. I got really into photography and hiking and spending quality time with my daughters. These things are ALL investments in our future, positive activities that contribute to our well-being, but somewhere still, I feel like a failure when I say “gosh I just didn’t have time for the gym this week”. <——————– insert self loathing music

Then there’s the food. Goodness sakes, the food.

I psyched myself out earlier this year, started following these diets of fitness models. For awhile it was good, because I was eating tons and tons of calories on Jamie Eason’s Livefit. But I was eating so many calories that grocery shopping and prepping got really challenging. Single mom trying to afford and consume almost 200 grams of protein a day. When I stopped that program, I went back to 1500ish calories per day, which led me right into the arms of binging and overeating, my best friend for so many years. I know better than to restrict calories too much and yet I still fall under the “eat less to lose” spell in desperate moments. Desperate moments meaning, I step on the scale and find myself well into the 150’s, a number far enough away from the 140’s that I panic.

Panic.

Not over the death of a loved one, or the threat of disease, or even a sick child.

a.number.on.the.scale. How much food I ate. Missing a workout. Stop it.

I saw this video, of a fitness model crying over her inability to regain control of her eating and workouts.

Then the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, which explains what the human body does in response to being starved. Starved, in this example, being 1600 calories per day. How many of us have eaten far less trying to lose weight and then shred ourselves mentally because our body does what it’s designed to do? Frantically grasp for food! We eat too little which leads to eating too much and that is the hamster wheel I believe many of us are stuck on. Even those uber fit chicks in the pictures who take water pills and go carbless the week before a shoot. Feeling like complete crap but dangit, her body looks amazing.

http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2009/12/the-minnesota-starvation-experiment/

I am just no longer willing to beat myself up for not being able to live up to an outdated routine. Or compare myself to women who don’t have the same obligations.

I am going to eat fruits, vegetables, pasta and red meat. I’m going to do my best not to overindulge because it isn’t good for me, and I am going to be mindful of what goes in my mouth. I am going to keep up with my workouts because it makes me feel physically and mentally sound.

I’m going to indulge in my love of food, by cooking it, planning it, organizing it and rolling around in it because the challenge of food makes me happy. I like finding healthier ways to make the bad stuff and staying within a grocery budget and sometimes, just making the bad stuff as horrible as possible.

I’m going to keep lifting weights, not in an attempt to look like a fitness model, which is unattainable for me, but because it’s a passion of mine and it will help me age better. (I learned that in class last week.)

I absolutely loathe cardio most days, so I’m just going to do it enough to keep my heart and lungs healthy and that’s it. Living in the gym isn’t doable for me anymore, it isn’t my first priority. I have a goal to get there 3-4 times a week, 30-45 minutes, and that’s that.

Oh, and I’m going to step on that blasted scale every day and record the number, because I want to show you how unpredictable the scale really is. I’ll share those numbers soon, as soon as I finish mourning my current weight.

I kid.

🙂

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