Wanna spend your birthday in a neck brace, excruciating pain, muscles spasming too badly to pick up your baby? A former version of myself would’ve said, “Ugh, that sounds dreadful!” But it wasn’t so bad. There I was, in bed most of the day stacked on pillows because it was too painful to hold my head up unsupported, feeling dreadfully behind on work, worried how many days of the gym I’ll miss, and wishing I could get out and enjoy my “day of all days”. Yet, miraculously I felt happy.
This is quite a feat for me. I’m notorious for looking at what’s all wrong, instead of what’s right. If I wasn’t perfect then I was terrible. And I love my birthday! It’s my time – even more so than New Years Day – for reflecting, forecasting, getting all excited for the year to come….and this year? My fabulous self didn’t even shower, let alone start scheming how damn awesome I’m gonna be this year. However…..I’m feeling super lucky that despite a less than fabulous day, I’m feeling OK. I still feel I’m in post-baby-body limbo, but as of late I’ve been on top of my working out, eating well more consistently than I have in a year, and even been semi-successful with getting more sleep. Most recently, I’ve helped my mom (with whom I have a very difficult relationship) through a tough time in her life and while this has triggered most all of my stuff, I’ve really (for once) dealt with in stride. That is a huge miracle. I also recently watched a clip of myself on a TV show that aired this month. When it filmed I was breastfeeding and had chest galore which coupled with the post baby weight gain I still hadn’t shaken. And, well….I looked like a puffier version of myself to say the least. I saw it, had the insecurity and disgust that was expected well up in me, but in about 7 seconds I said, “It’s OK, you’ll get back in shape and breastfeeding Lola was simply awesome.” That was it. The whole thing lasted just a moment and I was back in a good place. Miracle. The time I’ve invested in getting comfy in my skin, despite my body not being perfect, is finally taking effect. Still seeing a little post-baby flab around my belly button is not ideal, but I am able to appreciate those oblique lines that are coming back in nicely and not lose my s#@! over the work still to be done. My workouts these days are so fun, such a stress release and nothing about them feels demeaning or like I deserve another pushup cuz “I’m just so fat.” I’ve realized lately that my practice of being grateful for what I have, vs. stressed and anxious about what I want, have finally become less of a yearning and more of who I am. I finally feel like I can be happy where I am, while working towards more of what I want. But…… While I’m in perhaps the best mental state I’ve been in – maybe ever – AND I’m finally “fine” with my body as is….will I ever get there? Will I ever buckle down and do what it takes (and for me it takes a lot, I’ve hardly won the metabolic jackpot) to get really lean? To get into kick ass shape? I have to ask myself, does it really matters to me….enough to actually do it? Well I think it does. I do want to be better, leaner and commit wholeheartedly to that work again. Last time I committed to leaning up I spent 14 miserable months, stressing, hating myself, nearly ruining my relationship, and exhausting my willpower and my adrenals. If I do it again, I can’t do it like that. I’ve tried. I make it about 3 days. I swear off wine, sugar, take my carbs way down and the following things always happen: Instantly I feel the restriction and deprivation well up inside me. I start thinking ridiculous things like, “What if Joe and I are on vacation and I want to have a margarita? I mean I have to live my life!” Joe and I do not have a tropical vacation booked any time soon, so perhaps this is not really something I need to worry about today. There will be more glasses of wine in my future, and even another piece of dark chocolate. Those things are not going anywhere. I can forgo them temporarily. (I breath a sigh of relief.) Within in the hour of starting my new perfect eating plan I am filled with defeat. “This will never work, my metabolism stinks and I’m never going to look like I want to, may as well not stress out trying.” Just because what I’ve done before didn’t produce the desired results doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I learned a lot the last time (each time actually) I tried very hard to lean up. I overtrained, I wasn’t sleeping, was beyond stressed out and I wasn’t paying attention to my clues: appetite, cravings and energy. My body was screaming that several things I was doing weren’t working for me, but I ignored them and just thought “well I’ll try harder”. I’d feel frustrated and then head off for a second or third workout that day, come home and measure out my ½ cup of sweet potato. Feel sad. Rinse and repeat. This is so unfair!!! Like most of the women I work with, my bad diet is better than many people’s great diet so the adjustments I need to make are slight, but they take out a lot of freedom for me. I have to be quite strict to get leaner than I am now. It’s not fair. But it is what it is. Within a week of being back on my wagon, I am filled with angst, misery and get the “it’s not fairs”. My friend and colleague Jill Coleman about this very thing – it will be exactly as miserable as I decide it will be. I have a choice to be happy this round, or miserable. May not be fair, but it is my choice. I’ve made it 3-4 days of doing great! I can see more definition and I start to feel like pretty hot stuff. My endorphins are churning after a great workout and as the end of a day of clean eating approaches I think, “I can have a few chips and guacamole before our dinner, I am ordering salad with chicken after all and I’ve been SOOOO good -I deserve a treat!” And just like that, my hormones that were starting to get in line get off kilter a bit. Oh and did I mention, those chips came with a huge side order of guilt. “Um waitress, I don’t think I ordered that”. But like any good girl who’s loathed her physique, I eat it up! Now I’m back feeling defeated, sad and miserable. Now that I’ve arrived back at “this will never work, I mean I couldn’t make it a week!” I remember diets gone by. When I tried so hard to lean up before we released Ultimate You, I caused damage to my psyche that I’ve never fully recovered from. The idea of being that strict with myself and sad about it makes me almost nauseous. But I have to remember, if it’s something I want, if it’s something I complain about daily, I’m obligated to make that happen for myself. I don’t however, have to do it the way I did it before – I can do it better! Since I know probably 90% of what I need to do with my diet to get the results I want (10% is left for stuff I still need to learn based on my symptoms and progress), the rest is a head game. Last time I tried this I punished myself, felt terrible about my body and hated the process. Truth be told, at my leanest I was exhausted and miserable – and someone called me fat anyway. So what are ya gonna do?
I’ve been reading and working through the FireStarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte (damn genius that woman!) and I’ve decided to go for it again. But this time I’m going to focus on how I want to feel, not just on the restriction of the plan, what I’m missing or even the end result. Last time I felt deprived, fat and sad. This time I what I want to feel is ease, strength and love. Now that would be a miracle. Here’s my plan: (and please note this is MY plan, feel free to take anything here that’s useful but we each have our own unique metabolism that makes someone else’s plan a good place to start but tweak and adjust to get results for yourself): Going Paleo (my metabolism responds best to a very low carb diet, I have insulin resistance and PCOS). I will do low sugar/high fiber fruit 1-2 times per day and if my sleep starts to be affected by the low carb diet as my training picks up I will add starches at dinner (sweet potato or pumpkin). I’m already completely gluten free and only rarely eat dairy or other grains. I will use low carb protein bars only as an absolute last resort – I do much better on real food snacks like hard boiled eggs or turkey and few veggies or an apple. But sometimes these mean avoiding a bloodsugar meltdown and bad choices later. Gotta do what works and plan for not perfect scenarios. I will sleep! I am making this a top priority this month. Wish me luck, my baby may not be on board with this plan. No sugar and no booze. Eat more regular meals/snacks throughout the day. I’ve noticed on my busy days taking care of Lola I don’t eat enough during the day and end up eating too much at dinner and feeling munchy all evening. Or I come home from 12 hours of patients and I’m nauseous on the train from having not eating enough – makes making sensible dinner choices a feat! Need more supportive eating throughout the day, instead of relying on willpower. (Which by the way, research shows us willpower is non-existent when you’re fatigued, so don’t bank on it at the end of a long day.) I will allow myself 1 square of dark chocolate if I feel I’m a danger to myself or others. I will try to utilize the cocoa drink from Ultimate You twice daily to ward off cravings as well as some branch chain amino acids. Just knowing this is an option though makes me relax. I will keep up with my foam rolling so I am not repeatedly injured. I will even do more yoga. There I said it! I acknowledge that this is a terrible time to try this. I have writing obligations out the whazoo, a growing patient load, a baby and my neck has me laid up and not working out. But I also acknowledge that THERE WILL NEVER BE A GOOD TIME. Life doesn’t stop and start for my dreams, if I want them to come true I have to find ways to do it even when nothing seems to support me. And I know this to be true when it comes to eating clean and exercising consistently: if you can do it on a terrible day, you can do it any day! I will feel strong, at ease and happy while I do this. This is about happiness, feeling great and my success. This is decidedly not about feeling bad, deprivation or punishment. I am committed to this for 4 weeks. At which point I will check in with myself and see how I’m FEELING and decide my next step. I’m gonna do it, and I’m going to feel good doing it. I’ll be blogging about it here and I hope that sharing my journey inspires, enlightens, and humors some of you out there. Here’s to a miracle!