QUIT: Treating My Body Like Poo

[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end.  I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]

 

A couple weekends ago, I found myself doing some fall pants shopping.  Not because I didn’t have enough decent fall pants already, but because the pants I had no longer fit me.

That’s right.  I was buying fat pants.  They were only a size bigger, mind you, but it was enough.  That was when I realized that things needed to change.

 

Another Embarrassing Story About Pants

Bear in mind that I’m a petite little nothing with conservative upper-body proportions (like the way I classily phrased that?), so every extra pound around my middle area sticks out (literally) very clearly.  I’m not so insecure as to feel less worthy as a person because of a few more pounds; moreso it’s my craziness that gets to me.  You see, when I glance in the mirror and see the new protrusion, I’m immediately seized with the panicked thought that maybe my birth control has failed and I’m about to have the child I never wanted.  I know this is completely ridiculous, but as the husband and I are up to about 5 million and 2 reasons why we never want to have kids, you can see how this might disturb me.  (I’m crazy.  I know.)

Bear in mind also that I am a rampant frugality junkie, so a wanton waste of perfectly good pants—only to buy basically the same pants, just the next size up—makes my soul howl.

At first I tried being all clever about my increasing waistline and just letting that top, unbuttonable button slide.  You can cover up a lot with this season’s fortunately long tunic tops,  so no one was any the wiser (although I did feel inherently wrong knowing what I’d done).  But after a while, even that wasn’t enough.  Things just weren’t comfortable anymore.  Sitting was not something I looked forward to.  Something more had to be done.

I actually (and this was when I realized I’d hit rock bottom) did a Google search for those as-seen-on-TV pant waist extender thingies, thinking I could prolong the life of my otherwise-serviceable pants that way.  (They’re surprisingly inexpensive, but is the money saved by extending the life of my pants worth the tradeoff of my dignity in owning a set of waist extender thingies?)  [Cordelia postscript later on: I did in fact buy the pant waist extender thingies.  I figured I could retain my dignity as I am actively working on being healthier.  They’re not that bad.  Thank god for the aforementioned tunic tops.]

In the end, I realized that something even more drastic needed to be done.  These were all ways of working around the symptoms of a much bigger problem.  The fact of the matter is that I’ve been treating my body like utter poo for a long time now, and it’s finally starting to catch up with me.

 

Something to “Aack!” About

This isn’t just another girl-hating-her-body-image rant.  The real issue here (in addition to lunatic imaginary pregnancy scares) is that lately, I just haven’t been feeling “on.”  I’ve always been a high-energy, jittery type of person, but lately I’ve been hauling myself through the days by the sheer grace of caffeine and motivational thinking.  I feel lethargic.  I feel weighted down.  I feel draggy.

Maybe it’s because my nearly-30 (gasp!) metabolism is finally catching up with me.  Maybe it’s because I spend 8 hours a day sedentary in front of a computer, then several more hours at night doing my writing/freelancing.  Maybe it’s all that, combined with years of truly crappy eating habits (ding! ding!).  Whatever the causes, I’m forced to admit that just choosing low-fat ice cream or eating one less slice of pizza is no longer enough to get my equilibrium back.

I need to start eating like an adult.

This would be a little sad but for another unexpected change has come over me lately:  I actually want to start eating like an adult.

 

It’s Not Just My Husband (Sorry, Husband)

For several years now, I’ve been following what I call the “American diner-style” diet.  I follow this diet because:

a)      My husband is the cook in our house, and he has the palate of a very picky two-year-old, which results in a rotating menu of chicken fingers, hamburgers, pizza, and grilled cheese.

b)      It’s a hassle to cook two completely separate meals-for-one each night; and

c)      Up until now, I’ve been able to get away with it.

But lately, things they are a-changing.  I no longer feel happily full and treated after a delicious crappy meal.  I feel tired, bloated, and vaguely resentful.  When we go grocery shopping,  I find myself gravitating towards the organic aisle and gazing longingly at stalks of asparagus as that little mister thing lightly sprays them in dew.  You don’t want to take me to a restaurant with a salad bar, because it won’t be pretty.  I will clean that sucker out.  Don’t think I won’t.

These are all very un-subtle ways that my body has clearly been screaming at me that things need to change.  I can no longer eat junk all day long and get away with it thanks to a high-strung personality and an active young metabolism.  I need to start taking better care of myself.  And I think I’ve finally hit that point where I will, because I actually want to.

I’m tired of feeling tired and sluggish all the time.  I have way too much I want to do with my days.

 

There Will Be Some Changes Around Here (Because I Can’t Afford Any More Pants)

Here is how I will be implementing my Eat Like an Adult (or “No More Fat Pants,” if you prefer) campaign:

  1. No more stupid snacking.  Cookies and fundraiser candy bars are out; nuts, fruit, and protein bars are in.
  2. No more stupid lunching.  Gone are leftover pizza and Fluffernutter sandwiches (so cheap, though!).  Salads are the new order of the day.  Big, honking salads loaded with all the fresh veggies my body has been fantasizing about in the grocery store.
  3.  Careful with the carbs.  Oh, how I love me my carbs!  I’ve been known to eat ravioli-covered pizza (thank you, Great Northern) and a macaroni-covered patty melt (no thank you, Denny’s recent “cheese lover’s” menu—yummy, but with an “oh god, kill me now” after-feeling).  I’ve heard that Paula Dean once made a lasagna sandwich—I would be all over that bitch.  (The sandwich, not Paula Dean.)  But this love affair must stop.  I’ll allow myself a tryst now and then, but that’s all.  I’ve got to diversify.
  4. Careful with the portions.  When I studied in England for a semester, I was fascinated by the fact that I could finish an entire entrée at whatever restaurant I went to—I was a machine!  Same thing in France, in Ireland, in Scotland…This was simply because American food portions are REDONKULUS.  That’s right, I used that word, and I put it in caps, it’s that true.  If you’re serving entrees that could easily feed a family of four, something is amiss with your sense of proportion.  Accordingly, I need to learn to stop eating not when I hit the “oh god, kill me now” point, but when I hit the “ah, that was nice” point.
  5. These guys could clearly use more exercise, too.

    More fresh, less packaged and processed.  Convenience foods are both full of preservatives and much pricier than buying fresh, natural food and making things yourself.  This means I’m going to have to learn to cook more (something I’ll have to do anyway with our new two-menu system), but it will be worth it health-wise and budget-wise.

  6. Start moving around more, you slug.  It’s tough after a hard day’s work to come home and immediately heading back out again to take the dogs for a walk.  But just eating better won’t be enough.  I need to start getting off my tail and moving around more, even if it’s only making separate trips downstairs to the copy machine for each project instead of waiting till I have a bunch and only going downstairs once.  Every little bit counts.

 

Hey, All You Healthy People!

What suggestions do you have for treating your body better?  What recipes, blogs, tricks do you follow?  Seriously, I’d love some suggestions, because I can use all the help I can get on this one…

Image: Tiffany / Flickr

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  • Deena McClusky

    Two suggestions come to mind in reading this post. Number one, beware the crazy misters on produce as I read that they are purely a marketing ploy and actually cause the produce to mold more quickly. Second, in converting to salads beware of salad dressings which tend to either be insanely high in calories and fat, or filled with a bunch of scary chemical ingredients that will make you feel bad.

    • Good call on the dressing.  I’ve been opting for “light” store bought, but I’m sure I could make something much healthier (and less expensive) with olive oil, seasoning, etc.

      • Here! Here! for the homemade dressings! Also, less than an official “serving” – currently *2 Tablespoons*, which is really quite a lot of dressing…

        I don’t know about misters making veggies mold faster, but they do add useless “water weight” to to whatever you’re buying, so that’s a thing to watch out for, too.

  • Jennifer Michaels

    This post really hit home with me.  After I switched jobs a couple of years ago, I stopped doing as much physical labor, and I saw the pounds coming back.  I also can’t fit into any of my fall-wear.  I have two big problems: lack of activity outside of work and house-cleaning; and I’m in love with pasta.  I love every kind of pasta with and without sauce.  What can I say, it’s my weakness.

    • Oh, I so hear you on that.  I could (and have) eaten bowl after bowl of pasta.  Especially now that the weather’s getting colder and I’m craving warm comfort foods.

  • I’m going to be starting a blog within the next few weeks on this VERY subject! I’ve been talking to so many people who are in the exact same situation and I’m determined to show them that it is possible to eat healthy without sacrificing taste and to exercise without it being lame, boring, or conformist. You’re off to a great start so far! Cutting the processed foods and bad carbs and fats is the first step. Just doing that will show a tremendous difference.

  • Jasmine over at TheBrokins.com has this Project Totus “plan” that’s she’s been doing, and I’ve been inspired. It would seem that we’re all looking to eat healthier and be healthier. I’m wavering about going gluten free — but I love pasta. But I know pasta might not love me like it should. I know bread might not love me like it should. I’m not necessarily overeating, but I’m eating junk most of the time. Too much drama and wah-wah-ing, but I’m glad to see that another person I read will be embarking on a similar path. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to find out that some clothing designers think size 9 means size 8, even though I always thought it meant size 10. (The joys of Goodwill shopping.)

    • Just checked out Project Totus, and I really like the idea.  I think a lot of people are looking to incorporate more healthy choices into their lives, realizing that it impacts all other parts of their lives, from their energy level to their health to how they feel about themselves.

      And I hear you on the size issues.  I try not to look at the numbers and just focus on what fits and flatters my body.  I can fit into several different sizes all within the same store, depending on the clothing brand.  Size definitely says nothing.

  • Use some of the convenience veggies- my carrot intake has shot up since I switched from laboring over cutting carrots into sticks to just getting pre-cut baby carrots. It costs a tad more, but it’s worth it for busy people. Same with pre-cut broccoli and the like! No shame in X-ing out the prep if that holds you back from eating veggies!

    • I have to say that I’m with you on this one.  My frugal side says that spending a few extra bucks for convenience is bad, bad, bad, but anything I can do right now to make eating healthier easy and more instinctual is good by me.  Maybe once I get used to the new way of thinking/eating, *then* I can start getting more ambitious.  😀

  • Mj

    Read Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink and check out the web site. Love the hara hachi bu concept – eat till 80% full (or just until not hungry). Read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (and In Defense of Food). Read Leo Babauta’s posts on weight loss, nutrition, fitness changes – small and steady, consistency is the key. Drink plenty of water – if you think you’re hungry, you might just be thirsty or tired. Go with convenience/precut veggies if it’s the difference between having them or not (also, frozen veggies and a microwave are lifesavers at lunch and dinner, as are cans/packs of salmon and tuna). Plan what you will have for lunch at work, bringing it if possible. Find something you like to eat for breakfast and stick with it. Challenge yourself – how many fruit and veggie servings can you eat every? Try things without sauces or dressings. Season your serving, not the whole pot. No second helpings. Portion control. No “family style” – plate it, put the leftovers away, sit down to eat. Slow yourself down – if your meal takes less than 20 min, your system won’t have figured out you’ve eaten enough yet so might be harder to stop. Don’t eat after some particular time at night (7p, 8p, whatever works for you) to cut down on snacking (find something else to do – knit, chew gum) and give your system time to process. And when you occasionally have a treat, don’t beat yourself up. What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.

    • Holy mackerel, that is a TON of awesome advice.  Definitely going to incorporate your tips into my strategy–thanks so much!

  • Aleta Fullenwider

    Buy a pedometer and see how many steps you take. Aim for 10k. Create a meal plan of what you will cook and eat each week. Lift weights because muscle burns more calories than fat, weight lifting has been shown to prevent osteoporosis, and muscle is sexier than fat. Find an activity that you like and do that.

    • Great tips!  I’m especially drawn to the pedometer–I’d be very curious to see how much activity I’m getting on a daily basis just going through my normal schedule.  I have a feeling it’s rather low.  :/

  • Jamie Ernst

    You can avoid cooking 2 separate one-person meals each night.  Make a family-size meal and reheat a portion of the leftovers each night.  Saves time, and it also becomes like convenience food because all you have to do after a long day is pop it in the microwave.

    • That is a fantastic idea that I will be implementing immediately!  While R is watching his endless football games on Sunday, I could easily whip up a large batch of something to last me through the week.  You are a life saver!

  • Thanks for the links!  I’m definitely keep an eye out for natural vs. processed whenever possible.