Since I’ve lost many pounds over the past few years and am thrilled by purchasing smaller pants, I work hard on maintaining my weight. Unfortunately, I tend to gain a few here and there, but if I ever get more than 3 pounds over my current weight, then I diligently count calories and try to increase my daily exercise. I don’t think it’s really too high of a price to pay to be healthy and slim-like.
Having said all that, I am fully aware of how much I annoy my friends (particularly my co-workers) and my family with all of my incessant questions–”Well, if I just eat one of the gummy bears, how many calories is that?” I irritate myself sometimes, too! But most of the time, I think my actions are ok. A little obsessive, but not too bad? And then last week, I had a doctor’s appointment. To me, having a doctor’s appointment also means visiting my local bakery or natural food store that sells gluten-free whoopie pies. (I know, I know. I’m talking about counting calories then eating whoopie pies. I have contradictions of the body, folks. Not always a contradiction of my heart, but often my head.) So I stopped by the natural foods store, picked out a few gluten-free goodies and a bag of dried, sugared papaya. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s just like the photo here, but the papaya chunks I had were cut into long spears. It’s delicious and deadly. You can easily fool yourself into thinking you’re eating something healthy but essentially you’re eating a big bag of candy. BUT, I knew that and really didn’t care. I was ready for a treat.
With goodies in hand, I started to head to work, but made a quick pit stop at Tim Horton’s for a medium coffee–a double, double. (That’s 2 sugars and 2 creams. And I mean cream. Not skim milk, not 2% milk, but CREAM.)
So I headed to work with my papaya, my small but delightful gluten-free whoopie pie and my favorite coffee. I had no intention of consuming everything on my 40 minute drive, mind you, but I wanted just a little bit of everything. After a sugary spear of “fruit”, half a pastry and a few sips of coffee, I had this feeling of euphoria wash over me. I felt like I was on vacation at a beach resort with the sun shining down on me and the ocean breeze gently touching my face. I felt relaxed and….quiet. Satisfied. Content.
Then I arrived at work and did my thing. You know, helped people? (Which is also quite exhausting at times.) But I still had a bit of that inner peace I had felt earlier…until I looked up the calories of all of that orange evil I consumed (nearly 800 calories worth). I ended the day a bit annoyed with myself, but the next day I was ready to “buckle down.” I counted those calories and worked my butt off on the elliptical machine. And the day after that I counted calories again and walked and lifted weights. But….why? Yes, I want to keep myself in check and not gain any weight. That was and still is my reasoning. But my weight was fine. In fact, for me, it was perfect. So I had one morning of eating anything I wanted. Big deal! ONE morning. Not even an entire day. And yet….it was pure bliss.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this leash I’ve kept myself on? It’s starting to feel like a noose.
So, Friday night I tried to “let my hair down.” I hung out with some of my dearest friends, and only checked the calories once on what we were eating….ok, twice. But that was all! I still ate and drank anything and everything I wanted. On Saturday morning I went for a run. A really good one. And the rest of the day I, again, ate anything I wanted. I did look at some of the calorie counts, but didn’t really care. It felt ok, though. I didn’t eat with abandon, but I didn’t worry either.
Sunday was a slightly different story. I started my day with what I intended to be a 45-minute elliptical workout, but ended with a 24-minute one. My machine broke for the 2nd time in about a year. The bolt that helps move one of the “feet” snapped. I was immediately pissed. Hunted the entire house for the extra bolt to no avail. Frustrated, I got on my treadmill and just walked for 36 minutes. I didn’t feel like running but I wanted to do something. And once I was finished, I went upstairs and started writing down what little I ate that morning and how many calories I had just burned. I was still angry at my machine and by then, angry at my husband for not knowing where he placed the extra bolt and at myself for not asking him about the extra bolt a year ago. And when I get angry, I just want to eat. And because I want to rein in any of that emotional eating I often do, I felt the need to write down every little calorie I put into my mouth.
Thankfully, this little bout of angry calorie counting, aka “craziness”, only lasted until mid-afternoon. By that time I had finally given up on finding the damn bolt and resigned myself to using the treadmill for the next week….and had made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies to appease my need to bake and my need for comfort food. I think it worked.
You know, I promised to try and love myself this year. To try and be happy with the woman I’ve become. But I think in doing that, I have to experiment with what *does* make me happy. Being a calorie-counting food Nazi? Doesn’t really fill me with joy. Eating gluten-free whoopie pies? Blissful. The thought of being fat again? Terrifying.
I’m still looking for that balance between heaven and horror, but I’m willing to keep searching. To keep trying new things and attempt to leave some old habits behind. I can’t promise I’ll completely give up my calorie counting, but I’ll at least try to not do it every day. This is a year of new beginnings, which includes lots of baby steps….and perhaps a bit less of that orange evil.