It's confession time. I've always prided myself on being 100% honest (even if it wasn't exactly flattering to me) in this blog, and there is no reason for me to stop now. I've gotten crazy again lately, and seem to have forgotten that this is a way of life, not a diet or a race. I have been undereating (usually only about 800 calories a day) and overtraining (running up to 20 miles a day some days). Then on my treat days, I've been indulging a bit too much because I felt so deprived the rest of the week. In my frustration to lose this last bit of weight, I have adopted an "ends justifies the means" attitude, and it is has not been healthy at all (or for that matter, effective either!). I thought it showed my dedication that I was willing to do whatever it took and make whatever sacrifices that I needed to make. It seemed only logical that the more work and sacrifice I was willing to put in, the better results I would see.
It's the old all or nothing attitude all over again. It will always be a part of me, one that I must guard against. I have not been vigilant about it lately. I thought I could save moderation for when I "finished." But you know, it just doesn't work that way. My stubborn mind insisted that calories in/calories out would prevail and I would lose weight, as I was obviously burning many more calories than I was taking in. I mean, it's basic math, right?!? Part of my brain still insists on believing it, despite the lack of results on the scale. Because even with all that effort, all that sacrifice, I'm not losing weight. And that drives me crazy, and makes me act crazy.
When I push past the stubborn, crazy part of my brain, the rational part of me knows that I have stalled my metabolism. My body thinks it is starving, because with all that exercise and that few calories, for all intents and purposes, it is! And a body that is starving is going to hold onto every spare bit of weight that it can. I've not been being kind to my body at all. I should have been looking at food as fuel, not as the enemy. Instead of making me stronger, my extreme attitude has just made me very tired lately. My knees and hips hurt from all that running, a problem I have not had since I was 300 lbs.
I am ashamed of myself because I know better. What will it take to drive the message in my stubborn head?!? I feel like a hypocrite too because I tell others that it is about making a sustainable lifestyle change, and I haven't been doing that lately. I let myself believe that the end goal was weighing 140 lbs, when the end goal should really be about me being happy and healthy. I mean, does it really count as a victory to be 140 lbs if you mistreat your body to get to that weight? It would be better to be carrying a few extra pounds like I am right now and be doing what is right for my body.
But you know what? Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone gets off track at some point. The important part is recognizing where you've gone wrong and correcting it. After all, isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? So undereating and overtraining isn't cutting it for me. I need to switch things up, and so I've decided to try Chris Powell's carb-cycling methods. As a general rule, I don't like "diets", but this really isn't one. It focuses on clean eating, like I do anyway (when I'm not starving myself, that is), but has you alternate high and low carb days, and have one treat day. I already know that going low carb is effective for me, but I also know that I have an intense love affair with bread, and so swearing off carbs entirely is not realistic (nor healthy) for me. Alternating high and low carb days revs up your metabolism because it doesn't know what to expect.
I felt like Chris Powell was reading my mind as I read his book. He asked if I was undereating. He asked if I was overtraining. He told me that all of this combined to stall my metabolism. Honestly, I already knew I had stalled my metabolism, but it was nice to see it in writing. With his plan, you eat 5 times a day. You can count calories, but you don't have to. You just eat the right portion sizes, using your hand as a guide. On high carb days, you eat a protein and carb at every meal with no fats. On low carb days, you eat a protein and fat and vegetable at every meal, no carbs. And every day, you have a protein and carb at breakfast. I'll admit, this has proven hard for me, because of course I want to know exactly how many carbs I should be eating. As far as calorie counting goes, it is so ingrained in me now, I doubt I could stop if I wanted to.
It's been tough so far to eat so often. I feel like I'm eating so much, but really on low carb days I'm eating around 1200 calories and high carb days I'm eating 1500 calories, just like I'm supposed to. Sometimes it makes me feel panicky to eat that many calories (and yes, I know it's really not a lot!), especially since I haven't weighed in yet, but I know that is just my crazy thinking. But it also makes me feel good to know that I am finally correctly fueling my body again, no matter what that fickle scale may say.
I think I'm also going to scale back on the running, and incorporate other forms of cardio like bike riding and tennis and soccer, as well as strength training. Running is still my favorite, but I also don't really want to need a hip or knee replacement when I'm 50.
I lied to myself lately. I told myself that it didn't matter how I reached my goal, just that I reached it. But it does matter how I reach my final goal. Not just because of my health (though that is very important!), but because of my integrity. Do I really want to know that I lost nearly 200 lbs by doing it the healthy way, except at the very end because I got impatient? No, I want to finish knowing that it's not about sacrifices or depriving myself, not about driving myself crazy with counting calories and carbs and miles run. It's about living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. It matters how I finish this because it shows who I am and what I stand for.