Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love thyself? Prove it

I've been putting off this post for a bit because I've been lazy and I don't want to do the research it really deserves.  I haven't suddenly grown some extra motivation, but I have figured out a way to write it without scouring the 'net for peer reviewed studies, so here we are.

I didn't spend a whole lot of time reading women's magazines before, and I still don't.  Nevertheless, I do remember an underlying theme of "Love yourself".  Mostly, I remember it being used as an excuse to splurge on eyeshadow and ice cream.  Occasionally, in my little world under a rock, I'd notice a refrain of something along the lines of "accept yourself for who you are.  Love who you are now, not who you want to be." And so on.  Now I freely admit that I wasn't doing anything like due diligence on those articles.  I rarely read them, and I wasn't striving for information retention when I did.  But I've decided that, aggressively uninformed as I am, I'm going to vehemently disagree with them anyway as an excuse to stand on my own soapbox.  See kids?  This is called politics.  It is in this country, anyway.

I never bought into the whole "love yourself" movement.  I thought it sounded dippy.  (Also, I tried and it never worked.  I still hated my tummy flab).  But now I've had time to think about it more and I realize that not only does it sound dippy, it sounds idealistic and uninformed as well.

If you love something or someone, you want it to be happy.  You want what's best for it.  You don't want it to come to any harm.  And specifically, if it's a someone and not a something, you'll go out of your way to protect it.

You don't destroy it.  You don't intentionally harm it.  In fact, you abhor the very notion of any of these things. 

So what is the logic in saying, "Love yourself.  Have some ice cream"?  How is that loving yourself?  Why not "Love yourself.  Have some spinach"?

The reason I'm harping on this, by the way, is that I noticed recently that I finally am much happier with myself, and I'm pretty sure it's due to the fact that I'm taking much better care of myself than I ever have before.  And it occurs to me that almost every time I try to justify ice cream/fried something/bacon grease with the "because you're worth it" reasoning, I feel worse after eating it than I did beforehand.  It's like I know I'm bullshitting myself and it wrecks the enjoyment of the food.

Moral of the story: treat yourself like you love yourself, and you might notice that you actually do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Ode to a Mediocre Burger

Last Saturday started fairly normally for me.  I woke up around 8 (yes, a.m.  Weird, huh?), grabbed breakfast at the local coffee shop, went to the beach for a breakfast picnic, and then headed down to my weekly hour of pain, punishment, and torture, all in the name of exercise.  I came home, grabbed a reasonable lunch (omelet, salad, apple) and then headed out to the local park to enjoy some very gorgeous weather. 

Later that night, I went out to dinner at a restaurant I'd never been to before.  There was a perfectly reasonable chicken dish that was fairly safe, calorie-wise, and I could have had it.  But there was also a burger, and as soon as I saw the menu entry I knew that it would fix everything that was wrong with me.  I was desperate for lots of protein, a few carbs, and no messing about with calories.  I got the burger (with veggies instead of fries, because I really didn't want fries) and a glass of wine. 

The burger arrived.  It was huge.  It sat on my plate like a smug challenge, daring me to break my diet.  I could see the future.  It involved me spending dinner in an all-out war of mastication against my food, in which I was doomed to a) wreck my diet for the day and b) end up feeling more stuffed than a sausage. 

But who am I to turn down a challenge?  I dove in head first and demolished that hamburger.  There was nothing left when I was done.  My victory was sweet and total.  And I didn't feel overly stuffed.  I felt full, but not overfull.  I was shocked.  I felt great.  Warm, fuzzy, and content.  Most importantly, I didn't feel guilty.  I didn't regret what I'd done.  I knew it had been exactly the right thing.  And then I went next door to the movie theater, had another glass of wine, and saw Alice In Wonderland.

I'm not one to look for life lessons in a piece of food, but I got one anyway.  That burger was big, but in my non-calorie counting days I would have eaten it without a second thought.  The burger was good, but nothing special.  But it was exactly what I needed, and when I was finished I felt like I'd done something really special for myself.  When I tried to pin down what that was all about, I eventually realized it was because of the choices I'd made.  I consciously chose something that was outside the boundaries of my normal eating patterns, knowing full well why I wouldn't normally eat it and how much it would push me over my daily limit.  I did it anyway.  It wasn't an "I'm sick of this diet" decision, it was a "I know this isn't what I should do every day, but I also know how many miles I'll have to run to burn it off, and I'm willing to do that" decision.

I used to have to consciously decide to eat healthy.  If I was out at a restaurant I would have to remind myself that maybe cream sauce wasn't necessary, or maybe I didn't need an appetizer.  But that was only if I remembered to think about it.  By contrast, now I automatically evaluate what I'm eating and make healthy choices without really putting much thought into it.  That decision to eat a burger was a conscious decision, and one I didn't take lightly.  And when I made that decision, I felt more in control of my life than I have in the past year. 

Engineers are awesome

Why do I love engineers?  Because they do things like this.  The Hacker's Diet is my weight management bible.  I'm not saying it will work for everyone, and I'm not proselytizing.  However, I will sing its praises because it works for me and because it has equations for calculating daily trend.  Unless you are gaining weight at a rate of multiple pounds per day, your weight will fluctuate up and down from day to day.  What you care about is the trend of your weight.  Does it go up or down or stay the same?  Using trend equations and a handy google spreadsheet, I can see the general direction of my weight.  And it makes me feel better.  Check it out:

The blue line is my weight from daily readings, and the red line is the trend line.  Suddenly those fluctuations don't matter nearly so much, because as long as they're below the trend line, they're still pulling it down.  Hooray!

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm doing this thing

Yes. Yet another weight loss blog. I need to be held accountable to someone, and the anonymous internet sounds like a good start.

Today I weighed in at 157.6. I have a goal of either 145 or looking dead sexy in a bathing suit, and I'll take which ever comes first. I've been told by my trainer that 145 may not be in the cards at all, but if I stay at 155 and alter my body composition instead, I'll be happy with that.

I've been embracing change lately, which was the motivation for starting this little body maintenance project. I switched teams at work. I moved. I got rid of a lot of stuff. And now I'm trying to get rid of my layer of padding and go from unassuming and cushy to sleek and dangerous. Like going from a Volvo to a Ferrari. I wouldn't mind be ogled by the Top Gear lads either.

The biggest lesson that I've managed to accidentally drill into my own head so far, after a grand total of 2 weeks, is quality over quantity. My "master plan" is to count calories, and suddenly I care a lot more about what those calories are spent on. I've always eaten a lot of veggies because I live a fairly active lifestyle. But if I wanted cake, I'd have that too. Now I can't do that. I have to choose between the veggies and the cake, and I choose veggies every time. I need the vitamins. I need the fiber. I need to avoid the sugar crash.

That last bit, about the sugar crash, is why I'll also choose bacon over rice. I've managed to accidentally start my own super-low carb diet, simply because protein keeps me much fuller. If I can't just eat whenever I want, I need to choose things that will keep me full. Those things turn out to be protein, fiber, and fat. And definitely not carbs.

When I was growing up, I used to get what I now know is postural hypotension. If I spent time reclining and then got up suddenly, my vision would go black. It disappeared years ago, but within a week of calorie reduction, it has come back with a vengeance. Not gradually, but all at once. I find it funny, but also sort of alarming, which is why I have a doctor's appointment next week.