Monday, April 15, 2013

For the love of food

I've been keeping a secret and I'm ready to let it out.

I.  Love.  Food.

Crazy, right?  Because everyone loves food (if you say no, then I think something's wrong).  I've probably been blogging about food since my intern experience at H3 last year, and it's actually helped me come to a couple realizations.  It's typical among my friends to joke about how much ice cream or chips we've gorged on over the weekend, after a night out, or during a stressful time in your life and how "fat" we are.  It's no secret that I like to eat and when I'm hungry, I ain't shy about it.  In fact, the phrase "Fat girl's gotta eat" has come from my mouth so often, I've lost count.  But in reality, food is sometimes my biggest enemy. Or maybe I should say, my thoughts about food are my biggest enemy. It's definitely a combination of culture and psychology that makes healthy living a battlefield for me. Food commercials are always on TV. Giant tacos are plastered on billboards. Food is what we use to celebrate and commiserate.  I'm finally ready to talk about it, in hopes of making a public statement and getting on track.

I love sweets and I binge eat. There, I said it. If food is around, I can't not eat it. I repress any thoughts of "eating that isn't worth it" and stuff a handful of chocolate-covered almonds in my mouth on impulse. That's the easy route. The more difficult route is thinking about why I want to binge when I'm not hungry; what emotions I'm trying to suppress; what stressful events in my life are going on that I want to cover with food.  I remember being at H3 on the grocery store tour and listening to clients' stories of how they'd eat a pint of ice cream & a bag of Doritos BEFORE dinner and thinking, "These people have a really sick mind." But I am no different.  I am guilty of mindlessly pushing food into my mouth because I'm bored; because I like the chewing action; because I'm sad. Even when I'm full, feeling sick, or the food just doesn't taste good anymore. It's hard to control. If it's readily available, I can't not eat it.

What I have learned is that one positive action fuels another (cue Nutri-Grain bar commercial). If I can manage to eat a healthy lunch, I can stave off the urge to steal a bagel from the break room.  If I can distract myself long enough to work out or take Roxy for a walk, I can stop thinking about the jar of peanut butter in the kitchen. I will take this opportunity to say that sitting at a desk for the majority of the day is a breeding ground for food thoughts. I don't think anyone "wishes" for more work, but having more to focus on (and having a job in which I were moving more often) would definitely keep my mind occupied.  Studies have shown that people who routinely eat the same or similar things manage their weight much better.  Variety is the spice of life, but variety is also the devil. I love the foods I eat and I look forward to the same breakfast every day...but going home to my parent's house is like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Things I've sworn off or haven't had in years (that's you, brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts) are suddenly looking me in the face and I can't say no. I've heard from multiple concerned parties that I'm "too restrictive", but how long can I be willy-nilly about things? If you want to make a change, you have to commit. Serious change and progress doesn't come by half-assing it.  You also have to remove the stimulus if it continues to elicit a negative response.  Do recovering alcoholics keep alcohol in their house? No. It's that simple.

So maybe I shouldn't say "I love food", because that's a pretty misleading statement. I actually hate the response it can elicit and I hate that it's a constant struggle for me. I'm ready to stop being controlled by food and do a little detoxing.  I've realized that many people in the fitness industry have very similar issues with food and exercise and I can't help but wonder if it's related to the field or if we were somehow drawn to this field in order to gain some sense of control. Doing a little research of my own regarding food, food thoughts, and food addiction supports my belief that sugar (and foods containing overly refined ingredients and incredibly processed so that nothing is in its original state) is addictive.  Yes, binge and emotional eating has a psychological aspect, but there are also physical aspects that keep you from breaking the cycle. So how does one transition to intuitive eating and really tap into the "food is fuel" mindset? My 2-part approach is a bit of detoxing with Whole Foods' 28-day Challenge and a bit of addressing the emotions and reasons behind my urge to eat.  I'll do a recap each week along with discoveries and challenges along the way.  This post is actually really helpful is changing your attitude toward food.

I think there are many people out there with unhealthy relationships with food. Maybe you're one of them & we can start this journey together :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

40-day Recap

I did it!

One of the biggest events I mentioned in my last post was the decision to run my first half marathon.  Although there were many bumps along that road, my goals going into the Clemson Bunny Run were to (1) not walk (miles 10-11 were uphill. Enough said -- I'm not even mad that I walked for a bit.) and (2) finish in 2:30 or less.  2:13 (!!!) later, I can call myself a half marathon finisher.  Crossing the finish line was a bit overwhelming, since I wanted to cry, vomit, drink beer and rip my shoes off all at the same time. I am a really big baby and notoriously cry before major events (concerts, 5Ks, cheer competitions, etc.), but I held back the tears! I'm getting better at this.  There was also a major sense of disbelief -- the furthest I had run so far was 10 miles, and it was hard for me to believe that I finished the 13.1-mile course.  I was also INCREDIBLY nervous going into the race because I was sick & out of commission 2 weeks beforehand and found out I was injured AND wearing shoes that were too small the week before.  Some combination of insane platform heels and trail running left me with a bone bruise on my ankle.  Running a half was probably not the best thing to do about it...BUT I paid $55 and set a goal so there was no way I planned to back out. (2 weeks later I'm hobbling around in a boot...a harsh reminder to listen to your body!)

Phil was a true gem during the entire race process.  He was so supportive both during my training and the night before/day of the race.  He helped me stretch (and Roxy went into attack mode thinking he was hurting me), took care of my pitifully blistered feet (which I have mercifully refrained from posting the photos of), and kept me in check when we got to the start line.  The "true gem" part really went into effect when he brought me beer and took me out for pizza after the race! I refused to wear shoes at that point and I was wearing bunny ears...and he still was seen in public with me.  Although I was exhausted & my feet were in terrible shape, that didn't prevent me from going after my next goal:  the Rock & Roll Marathon in Savannah!  8 months to add on another 13.1...

Other big events from the last post included not drinking during Lent (success!) and my sister's wedding (success!).  My sister was surprisingly laid back about the entire wedding planning process. She & my mom did mostly everything themselves so I had no real idea of what to expect. I was very nervous that my parents' house looked like a straight-up Pinterest wedding when I got home that weekend.  However, the venue was beautiful and everything came together perfectly.  I did allow myself to enjoy wedding cake and a few glasses of wine. No regrets about that :)

Overall, I enjoyed abstaining from alcohol.  Even small amounts usually make me tired and unproductive and I enjoyed waking up every morning awake and refreshed as opposed to sluggish. The hardest part was finding other ways to be social and spend my time.  Phillip and I really like to drink local beers and go to Nick's in Clemson, so it was really difficult not being able to do something that's kind of "our thing." I'm not claiming the title "teetotaler" just yet, but I also have put things in perspective and weigh the options of whether drinking whenever you feel like it or "just because" is really necessary. If you'd told me I wouldn't even drink on my 25th birthday, I would've laughed in disbelief.  But the photo below proves otherwise... Sometimes birthdays call for glow sticks, outrageous wigs, and greasy bowling alley food.

Until next time... :)