I wrote recently about how there have been gradual and slow changes in my approach to my body that I’ve noticed recently…like the fact that I don’t really judge photos of myself harshly anymore. I also have noticed that I don’t look in the mirror and have my first thought be something about the weight I’ve gained in the last few years. I often have the first thought be more like, “Noice!”
(Not a typo. It’s a Brooklyn 99 reference.)
These are all subtle and gradual changes due to consistent reprogramming on my part. I’ve been slowly trying to – reboot my brain, so to speak – simply force myself to STOP thinking the shitty things when they pop into my head and then make a deliberate attempt to say something nice. “Nice boobs, Kim!” tends to be my default because…well…when it’s not summer time and I’m not dealing with boob sweat…I’m a big fan of my boobs.
Sidenote: My kid came home recently and said, “One of my friends found something you wrote on the internet about boob sweat,” to which I explained that I’ve been writing on the internet for a long time and almost ALL of it references boob sweat at some point.
ANYWAY! The reprogramming has worked and now I often think the good thoughts FIRST. I just realized I am happy with who is looking back at me in the mirror most days. It was gradual, it wasn’t any one lightning bolt moments but it’s a wonderful and welcome change.
This week I’ve been noticing the subtle changes in my approach to food. Changes I’ve been trying to make for 10+ years, and suddenly I’m like, “Wait. I did it! When did that happen?”
I’ve ALWAYS been a “good day” v/s “bad day” eater. I’m either good all day…sticking to my eating plan and exercising OR I falter once and throw the entire day out the window. And often those “bad days” turn into bad weeks and bad months.
I’ve written about this before, but let me describe to you what that actually looks like. Let’s say I’m doing morning grocery shopping and I get hungry so I detour by the bakery and pick up 3 donuts before I leave. NOT JUST ONE, because if I’ve decided to eat a donut then I’ve decided this is going to be a “bad day” and I’m not going to waste it on just one donut.
Then for lunch I will hit a fast-food drive-thru. Maybe Chicken Finger Platters from Zaxby’s (My favorite even, if I was not eating meat. My vegetarianism was weak against my binge-eating habits.) or simply two large fries from McDonalds. Then I buy my own pint of ice cream to eat before everyone gets home from school, some chips and dip to snack on and then throw away so no one knows, we will do pizza for dinner and then round out the night with several beers.
And that’s an unplanned bad day. Sometimes, if I’ve had several bad days in a row and set aside a “do-over day” to be an upcoming Monday, then I’ll PLAN a bad day where I’ll START with breakfast at McDonalds where I’ll get the sausage gravy biscuit AND a sausage McGriddle…FOR MY FIRST BREAKFAST. And then you can imagine what it is from there. Binge-eating at it’s worse with 5,000 calorie days and often painful digestive response nights.
My first notice that things have changed is when it hit me recently…I’ve not had any “bad days” in a while. No days where I sought out specific foods because I’ve written off all healthy decisions for a day. I can’t remember the last time I said anything to myself about a day being ruined and so I must go straight to Burger King for a milkshake. No binge days in recent memory. The few times I’ve been able to meet that goal in the past is when I’ve been actively trying to lose weight and train for ultra-marathons. But even then, those successful periods were always short-lived because I was only successful in avoid “bad days” by classifying everything else as “good days.”
NOW. It’s not that I haven’t had any of the foods I might have on those days, but I might get ONE item and then the next meal is normal and fine. I don’t delineate anymore between a “good day” and a “bad day” – they’re all just…days. I’ll buy ONE Cadbury Creme Egg instead of the 4-pack. I’ll get ONE cookie at the bakery instead of a box. I’ll get fries for lunch but then salad for dinner. And the key part about it? I’m not spending any time actually THINKING about these decisions. I’ll just say, “We’re eating Mexican and I’m getting bean dip!” and then later that night I turn down dessert because I’m not in the mood. Which…if I allowed myself to have bean dip for dinner then it’s obviously a “bad day” and therefor, DESSERT WOULD BE A MANDATORY REQUIREMENT.
This stark new reality was no more obvious than yesterday when I was at the grocery store and wanted a donut. So…I simply got a donut and then the rest of the day ate fine. I didn’t even grab pizza at Donnie’s work event which is one of my favorite things to add on a “bad day” because I would never normally eat it because I don’t always like pizza.
I ate a donut, just to eat a donut, and then I moved on with my life without categorizing the day in any way.
I’m also thinking more about HEALTH and less about my body weight lately. I’m trying to salt my food less and drink less Diet Coke. But I’m also enjoying the periodic Oreos after dinner…EVEN IF I DIDN’T RUN THAT DAY.
It’s just so amazing to finally be at the point I’ve been trying to be at FOR ALMOST A DECADE. If I scroll through my archives I bet I’d find no less than 50 entries about how I wished I could get rid of the “good day” and “bad day” labels as it relates to food and exercise. I have tried to rid my brain of those responses for SO LONG I can’t even remember the last time I had a donut and didn’t justify it with running or didn’t follow it up with drive-tru french fries.
And just like with the body image changes, I wish I could point to ONE THING or ONE DAY where everything changed. Instead, it’s just been a gradual approach to reprogramming. I allow myself to have that ONE THING I might be wanting but talk myself out of the second and third because I’m not depriving myself in some sort of attempt to lose weight. Since I’m not longer obsessing about what my body SHOULD look like, food has lost a lot of it’s power.
I mean – I REALLY LIKE CADBURY CREME EGGS. I’m not going to deprive myself of them an entire Easter season! But I’m also not going to run more to justify them. I’m going to run because it’s good for my heart and I’m only going to have the Cadbury Creme Eggs periodically instead of every day that I’ve declared “bad” as an appetizer to an assortment of other foods that are not-so-great for my body.
I’ve tried mindful eating, I’ve tried rebooting mid-day. I’ve tried to NOT logging calories and miles and I’ve tried TO log calories and miles. I’ve tried tapping and positive-talk podcasts. I’ve tried loving myself. I’ve tried hating myself. I’ve tried everything over the past 10 years to break the cycle of “good day” v/s “bad day” living and NOTHING worked.
Until I stopped caring about all of it. Until I started FIRST reprogramming how I looked at and talked about my body. Until I started basically slapping myself every time I thought about weight or calories or miles. Until I stopped approaching each mealtime thinking about the previous mealtime. Sometimes I actually forget what I had for breakfast, which has never been the case before because each meal decision in my day had SUCH a huge influence on what I ate and what I ran and how I looked at nutrition and exercise the rest of my day. “I had a reasonable breakfast so I get a reasonable lunch because I ran this morning and I don’t want to waste that.”
Now it’s just, “Oh! Lunch time! What do we have today…” without ever stressing about whether this is an on-track day or off-track day or weighing in whether I ran or not.
It’s not been easy, obviously. And at least 99% of the success has to do with an improved mental health situation. I’m one of those people that believe healthier decisions are EASIER if your mental health is good, and NOT one of those people who believes everyone’s depression cure simply requires going for a run. Whatever the recipe that gave me this change, I’m here and I’m praying I stay here for the rest of my life because it’s a very liberating feeling to eat a donut and then not have it haunt me the rest of the day like some sort of bad decision devil hounding me on my shoulder to eat more donuts or more chips or more pizza.
It’s nice to have a donut without baggage for once.
This is also good because my internet career and my personal brand has been built on boob sweat AND a love of donuts. And while I could do without the boob sweat, I’d like to never have to live without donuts.