Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reprogramming Myself

There comes a time in every humor blogger's life to get serious.

It doesn't happen much, y'all, and there will still be my sassy ass commentary thrown in here and there, I promise, but this post is quite emotional for me.

I had an epiphany last night (yes, another one. I seem to be full of them lately, but they are helping me make amazing, positive life decisions.) I was on pinterest (don't we all have our epiphanies while on pinterest?), and I came across this pin with pictures of a super skinny, stick figure woman, and a curvy, vivacious woman. This pin (pictured to the right) was on a board entitled 'Healthy & Positive Body Image'... so I clicked on it.

An hour later, I had added a new board, Reprogramming Myself, and was on the verge of crying. I had spent an hour on this woman's board, clicking on articles and reading comments, repinning pictures and sayings that resonated with me, and wondering what in the hell was wrong with me.

A short time ago, I was slowly killing my body. Seriously, that's not an exaggeration. I had gained some weight while Hubby was here, and had convinced myself it needed to go... and quickly. I had started working out at the gym, and was well within a healthy exercise schedule (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, plus an hour walk at night, 3 days a week), but I had it in my head that this easy workout schedule needed to be paired with a fat-burning, weight loss diet. I started my research and convinced myself that carbs like pasta and bread were horrible demons, as well as all sugar. So, I'd wake up in the morning, have my cup of coffee (now with sugar free creamer), make a protein smoothie with fruit (because while yes, the body can process fruit as a carb, fruit was still good for you, and I knew the dangers of eliminating all carbs from your diet) for breakfast, snacked on nuts and fruit during the day, and lunch and dinner consisted of a salad, protein and some kind of cooked veggies.

A day or two in, I was bloated as hell, which, for someone like me, is problematic. See, I don't... um... pass gas in front of people. So this diet, which was making me full of it, had me in some pain, let me tell you. And my jeans, which already didn't fit because of the weight gain while Hubby was here, now absolutely did not even button.

Wtf, seriously? I'm working out every morning, doing cardio, lifting weights, eating healthy, and my 'fat clothes' don't even fit  anymore? Talk about frustrating.

After a few days of being uncomfortable, I was at work, in the middle of doing a tattoo, when I felt like I was being stabbed in the gut. I finished the guy's outline, made up some excuse of having him stretch his legs and break for a second, and ran to the bathroom, where everything I had eaten that day (my fruit smoothie, coffee, a veggie omelet, and more fruit) came out quickly and violently. I pulled myself together, finished the guy's tattoo, then ran back to the bathroom for round #2. The manager told me to head home early, so I did, where round #3 seemed to have been waiting for me when I walked through my apartment door.

Food poisoning, had to be, I convinced myself. And yet, whenever I stood up, I was on the verge of passing out and felt like someone was stabbing me in the gut. The only relief I had was sitting down or laying down.

This went on for 2 more days; not so much the violently expelling of my daily food content (though every evening I did seem to do this), but the pain. If I was standing, I was doubled over in pain. If I was sitting or laying down, I was fine. I couldn't even make it through cooking dinner for my kids one night, I was in so much pain. Our nightly walks were cut short because I felt like some demon had inhabited my stomach and was trying to make a home.

On what should have been the 4th day of this, I performed an experiment. I woke up that morning and had a bowl of oatmeal before my workout. Came home and had my smoothie, but for lunch that day, I had a sub sandwich, with whole wheat bread. For dinner that night, I had a side of whole wheat pasta with my meal. Honestly, I was scared to death of this experiment. I had brainwashed myself into thinking I would wake up the next morning and gained 5 pounds back because of the carbs. But, I had to do this, to see.

I stayed pain free all day, and the next morning, I hadn't gained any weight at all. I was extremely shocked. I had been killing myself; my pain and failure of my entire digestive track was directly linked to my diet. I added carbs back, healthy, whole wheat and whole grain carbs, yes, in moderation, and no more pain.

That little mini-epiphany was so freeing.

(I'm getting to my big epiphany, I promise. It's right around the corner.)

So, I have been eating healthy, with carbs, and enjoying not being doubled over in pain. The scale, however, didn't move at all in a week (I do a weekly weigh in, only having broken it that first day after introducing carbs to see if there was a change). I started to get very frustrated. I had a number in my head that I wanted that scale to reach, and a limited amount of time to do it in, and not losing any weight in a week wasn't going to help me get there. Sure, my daily workouts gave me energy to make it through my day, and sure I was in a much better mood overall, and sure, I didn't feel like a shapeless lazy blob anymore, but damnit, the scale said I wasn't making any progress.

I had read about plateaus, and how some people say you have to shake your routine up to get past them, and other people say that, if the plateau is near your goal weight, then that plateau occurs at your healthy body weight, even if it's not what you think your healthy body weight is. Seriously? I've been working out for 2 weeks... I can't have plateaued already. I'll just have to work harder, maybe throw in a workout before bed or something, push myself harder while I'm in the gym, restrict my eating a little bit more, something.

Fast forward to last night. I'm on pinterest, on this woman's healthy body image board, and it hits me...

I have body image perception problems. I don't need to lose weight, I need to reprogram the way I see myself, because apparently, what I saw in the mirror wasn't what everyone around me sees.

I'm 5'5" and currently 140 pounds, a size 9/10 or 11/12 depending on the brand. There is nothing wrong with that. And yes, I have cellulite and stretch marks, but what 30-something year old doesn't? Hell, what healthy 20-something year old doesn't? If a picture shows no cellulite or stretch marks, it's been photoshopped (another eye-opener from that board I found on pinterest).

This time last year, due to stress, I was 120 pounds. My family hadn't seen me in over 6 months, and when they first laid eyes on me, all I heard was, 'Holy crap, you need to eat a cheeseburger' and 'Honey, you are skin and bones.' Sure, I was on the skinny side, I'll admit that, but I thought I looked good.

I have 1 picture from a year ago, and when I look at it now, I tear up. I was a skeleton with skin. And, for whatever reason, I thought I was amazing looking, and was trying to get back to that. What the hell is wrong with me? Why would I ever want to get back to that? I never ate, smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, never had energy, and was unhappy.

And yet now, with an ass that I've never had before that actually fills out jeans, and curvy hips, I'm exercising and dieting to lose it, to reach some number that I have set in my head as being my 'ideal weight'. What the hell? All the while, Hubby is telling me he loves my ass and my extra weight at it turns him on. But, I guess all I heard was 'Blah blah blah, extra weight means I'm fat.'

I thought back to the last few weeks, to interactions with my daughter, and started crying. 'Mom, do I have a fat stomach?' 'Mom, am I going to get fat if I eat this ice cream? Because you never eat ice cream.' 'Mom, do I need to go to the gym with you?'

She's 10. What in the hell have I done? I've allowed her to see me freaking out about my weight, when I don't have a fucking weight problem in the first place. My daughter is skinny- healthy skinny. She's athletic as hell and has the metabolism of, well, an active 10 year old. And she's beautiful- strangers tell me that (and yes, we walk away from them as quickly as possible with a 'Thanks' and an awkward 'I'm-getting-my-kid-away-from-you-in-case-you-are-a-perv' smile). Yet, because she's watching me view myself in such an unhealthy manner, she's now viewing herself that way.

I can't have it. I can't live my life by a number on a scale. I can't have the line of thinking anymore that, 'Well, I don't fit into my jeans that I did a year ago, so I need to diet and exercise to get into them'. A year ago I was probably the most unhealthiest I had ever been in my life... smoking, drinking, not eating, and extremely unhappy. Now I'm smoke free, don't drink, exercising, eating healthy, and have realized that my husband is my best friend and we're putting our family back together, which makes me the happiest woman alive. Why would I want to do anything the way I did a year ago, be anything that I was a year ago? Fuck this.

It's time to take those size 6 jeans to Goodwill. It's time to buy some clothes that fit me, that make my rockin' ass look even better (considering I've never had an ass in my life, seriously, I had that flat-ass syndrome, and jeans have always just hung off of me), that accentuate my curvy hips, that make me look, on the outside, as amazing as I feel on the inside.

Will I continue my workouts each morning after the kids go to school? Yes, I will, because I like that 30 minutes of me-time. I like the way (an easy) workout makes me feel, the energy it gives me, and I like the idea of being more healthy. But my workouts will no longer be focused on how many calories I can burn or how hard I can push myself to reach that unhealthy number on the scale.

Will I continue to eat healthy? Of course. I don't want to have to re-buy a wardrobe in a larger size in 2 months because I sat around and ate cupcakes and chips all day. Eating healthy gives me energy, too, makes me feel good. But will I have cotton candy with the kids or take them out for ice cream? Hell yes I will.

I have been cussing Hubby since he left; whenever he visits, I gain weight. I've thought, this whole time, that it was a bad thing. I'm thinking now it was a blessing, that it was the universe saying, 'Hey, hooker, you are too freaking skinny. We're sending your husband to you for a little while- eat, have fun, laugh, cook together, relax, and just be happy... that's the way we're helping you get one step closer to being yourself again. Forget the last year of your life, and start over new... with 20 pounds of healthy weight on you. We're giving you curves, now rock them.'

And I will. Oh yes, I will rock the hell out of my new curves, because they are me, they are healthy, and they teach my daughter to love her body, no matter what shape it takes. This isn't all about me; it's about her, too. If I'm happy in my body, that teaches her to have a healthy body image, and I don't want her, 20 years down the road, to be healthy, skinny, and be looking in the mirror and seeing fat rolls here and squishy thighs there, like I do. It's ridiculous.

Like my ass. Seriously, it's ridiculous, in a good way. This epiphany has made me see it in a whole new light, like, a 'holy shit, I have an ass' light. It's time to show it off... no, not by mooning people... not entirely, at least.

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  1. Powerful stuff. I'm often disgusted by the images we're fed (and we willingly gobble) about health and beauty. Yet, my brain just flipped and said "I'd love to be 140 pounds." I would. I was there once, a few years ago. I see pictures of myself now on this vacation and I'm pretty grossed out with what I see. It is time to get back to healthy me, not so-depressed-I'm-unmotivated me. This vacation is clearing my head like you wouldn't believe.

    1. I'm glad your vacation is clearing your head. Still extremely jealous over here that you are in Spain... looking at amazing things... hiking... eating actual Spanish food.

      I went to Majorca on a short trip once. Had pasta carbonara at every restaurant I stopped. I have *never* found carbonara in any American restaurant since then that compares, and I'm still on the hunt to this day. =/

      So, long story short, eat some pasta carbonara, but only if you want to be in search of a comparable dish in the states for the rest of your life, lol.