Happy Friday, friends! I have a long update for you this week. I just have a lot of feelings. And I hate to say it, but none of them are very happy-go-lucky today.
Honesty time. I’ve been struggling a little emotionally this week. If you’ve been around here a while, you know that, while I’m on a general path of trying to lose some weight, I try not to let it really run my life—and certainly not letting it run my emotions. Would I like to be about 30 pounds slimmer? Sure. Am I going to be a depressed puddle of self-pity if I don’t ever drop it? Nope. I have a great life. I’m loved. I’m happy. I’m healthy. And I’m not going to let 30 extra pounds cloud my views on all of that goodness. It seems like a really small problem to have in the grand scheme of everything in my life (and everything that’s happening out in the world).
That all being said, I’d be lying if I said carrying some extra pounds doesn’t ever affect me. It does. It’s emotionally difficult when I’m hiking up a big hill, and I have to stop every few minutes because I’m carrying more weight than my knees, heart and lungs are designed to carry. It’s emotionally difficult to be visually assaulted everyday with images of the “ideal” woman’s body (which looks nothing like mine). It’s emotionally difficult to step on the scale, see the same range of numbers for years, and wonder why I can’t just get my act together and drop the weight. It’s emotionally difficult to see people who are my same weight talking about how “disgusting” they are (even though I realize logically how totally fruitless it is to compare myself to others). It’s emotionally difficult to see daily news reports about how I’m part of the “obesity epidemic” that’s ruining this country’s health (even though, I know that I’m healthy, even with the extra pounds).
I would love to be able to permanently turn off that switch that ties my emotions to my weight (and I have been able to flip that switch to “off” a lot more frequently that I ever used to be able to). Sometimes it feels like I’m in this really strange gray area. I’m not entirely happy with my body and weight, but I’m also not entirely unhappy with it either. Which means that I’ve lost that unbridled desire to lose weight that comes with not liking what you see in the mirror. I don’t have enough emotional connection to my weight loss goals to really be devoted to them, but I’m also not to the point where I’m ready to abandon my goals. So I’m stuck in a place where weight loss isn’t a priority in my life, but it still weighs heavily on my mind (ha! pun intended). I feel like I need to step to one side or the other. I either decide this is really what I want, and commit to weight loss or just accept that this is what it is.
Anywho, this week, I found myself on the fence about weight loss. I’d wake up in the morning and think, “Hey, I’m really going to commit today. I’m going to track my food and get on the treadmill and be the healthiest I can be.” And then by noon, I’d be like, “Meh. I don’t really care. I like chocolate.” Usually, I say it was because I’m being lazy, but, in general, I’m trying to be less self-deprecating. And the truth is, I’m not a lazy person. So I’m going to have to dig up a better excuse than that…
I had a bit of a food revelation this week. You’re going to laugh when I tell you this, because it’s a total “duh!” moment, but here goes—I eat better, more well-rounded meals on days when I shoot my WIAW pictures. Duh! Of course I’m going to be better about my eating when someone is watching—even if I’m doing it subconsciously. But I think it’s about more than just living up to people’s expectations. I think some of it has to do with the actual plating of food, too. On non-WIAW days, I’m much more of a food grabber. I get hungry, I go and grab a handful of tortilla chips or I grab a yogurt or I grab an apple. I tend not to make actual meals. But on WIAW days, I put things together on a plate. I make them look nice and balanced. I’m eating mindfully.
And while I have no desire to photograph every single thing I eat for you guys (and my god, that would be a snoozefest for you guys to read), I think I need to incorporate that mindset into everyday. I need to plate my meals like I’m going to take a photo of them. I need to think in terms of meals and not mindless snacking. I need to take a break in my day and actually craft myself food instead of just grabbing a handful of something so I can keep on working. I’m short-changing my health and pleasure by relegating food to something along the lines of having to get gas for my car—a necessary but annoying chore.
One of my favorite (and most relevant to my life) books is The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. If you haven’t read it, it’s a memoir about a city girl who meets a country boy, they fall in love and end up starting up a big farm in the country. One of the more poignant points in the book for me is where she talks about how busy they are and how it affects their mealtimes. So busy plowing and weeding and chopping and doing work all day long, that they got in this habit of not enjoying real meals together. They’d pop in a frozen pizza or fill up on a bag of chips, just to get some calories in their bodies so they could hush their grumbling tummies long enough to fall asleep.
Insanity, right? Here she was, working 16 hour days to provide healthy, delicious, fresh food for her CSA subscribers, when she wasn’t even enjoying any of it herself. That’s kinda how I feel like I’ve been. Obviously, I don’t have a 500 acre farm to maintain (I can’t even imagine), but I’m such a lover of food that it’s part of my career. I write about it. I photograph it. And yet, somehow, it feels so inauthentic recently, because I’m so overwhelmed with the pressures of life and work (which, admittedly, is a very good problem to have in this economy) that I’m not taking time to enjoy the most simple of human pleasures—eating good food. It’s just another way that I’m putting myself low on the priority list. It’s another way I’m not taking care of myself.
Kristin and her husband ended up making a pact that, no matter how late or how tired they were, they were going to make their dinnertime each night a priority. And with that decision, she suddenly became so connected to her work. So connected to the food she was producing and the manual labor she was doing, that her whole mindset was transformed. Even when she was exhausted at 9pm and had to fire up the stove, something about the act of creating meals with her husband helped soothe her soul and rejuvenate her for another day of work.
I’m not saying I’m going to get some religious experience if I decide to whip up a salad for lunch instead of just grabbing a handful of tortilla chips (yesterday’s lunch, by the way). But I am saying that I think the ritual of cooking and eating has a lot more to it than just filling our bodies with needed calories and nutrients. And I think maybe I’ve forgotten that recently.
How to improve next week: Give my meals meal-time. Which means: no eating at my desk, plating everything (even snacks!) and eating mindfully. Bonus points for pre-planning my days eats and tracking them.
We started off this week with another glorious hike in the hills of Southern Indiana.
I’m on a mission to single-handedly dispel the myth that Indiana is flat and boring. If you think that, you’ve never been South of Indianapolis. Look at these hills! My legs and lungs were certainly feeling the hike up ’em. But the view at the top was totally worth it. Plus, we randomly found a geocache, which was fun!
Unfortunately, other than that intense hike, I haven’t done a lot of movement this week. The weather has been pretty cold, and I’ve been pretty tethered to the computer. Which doesn’t excuse it, it only explains it. Daily, I do get out and walk the fluffy puppy a few times, but I know it’s not enough (for either of us, really)
How to improve next week: I’d like to really focus on walking this week. Get back to basics. When I first started losing weight, my only activity was walking. It was so simple, but so effective. Starting today, I’d like to hit 75,000 steps before my next accountability update in a week. That’s a touch over the recommended 10,000 a day. Puppyface is going to love this challenge!
I’m really struggling this week with dealing with the heaping load of self-imposed guilt I drop on my head every time I take a minute for myself. This past weekend, I took two straight days and didn’t work. I didn’t do any of my freelance projects. I didn’t write. I didn’t develop a recipe. I didn’t blog. And, at first, it felt amazing, but by the time Sunday afternoon came around, I was crippled with guilt. If there are any other folks out there that work for themselves, I’d love some insight into this. Is this normal? I’m pretty much living in fear that if I don’t put 100% of myself into making money every waking second, I’m going to fail. I’m going to miss an important opportunity. I’m going to not make enough money. I’m going to bankrupt us because I took an afternoon off to read magazines and paint my toenails.
Obviously, when I write it out, that sounds totally absurd. And if you had a peek at our financial situation, you would know it’s even more insane. We’re fine, we won’t be buying any yachts anytime soon, but we’re fine. And the truth of the matter is, if I do keep up at this pace, we’re not going to be fine. Because one day, I’m going to explode into little bits of overworked Cass confetti. And then, I will have failed. Failed a lot of people, but most importantly, failed myself. I’ve got to learn to take care of myself. I’ve got to learn balance. I’ve got to figure this out.
There is something nagging in me that is telling me that if I figure out the key to this whole self-care thing, everything else with my health will fall into place. This issue is bigger than not carving out a few minutes to relax. It’s about not having the mindset of putting myself as a priority, and that relates to food, fitness, relationships, career, everything! And I’m sure that relates to some deep-seated notion that I’m not “good enough” to deserve that kind of healthy balance. Although I don’t consciously feel like I mentally abuse myself in that way, maybe I do. Maybe there is more to the story than just being a workaholic.
Work in progress, I am one. Stay tuned.
How to improve next week: Do two items on my self-care list everyday. Stop working by 8pm each night. Take one day completely off from work this week.
No weight this week! I think I’m going to take a litte bit of a break from the scale and instead focus on the building blocks of a healthy life. Focus on eating well, moving my body and taking care of my emotions and then rejoin the charge to see a change in the scale. The number on the scale doesn’t really tend to effect my emotions all that much, but what it does always do is effect my priorities. Instead of thinking about food and activity in terms of what it does for my health I start to think of it in terms of what it can do for the number on the scale, and that’s not a habit I want to form. I think weight is one of many great ways to keep a tally on your overall health, but I may be focusing a little too much on it right now. I’ll check back in with Mr. Scale in a few weeks.