I’m on a plane heading west. Planes are for me the opportunity to completely unplug and be with myself. It’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve journaled and my weight loss has slowed to really just maintaining. And I’m beating myself up. I haven’t wanted to admit that I’ve allowed myself too many grey areas. Too many times when I’ve colored outside the lines. I’m so close to being where I want to be weight wise, and I feel I’m losing sight of the prize. In my brain I can come up with lots of reasons for this occurring:
I’m super busy with work.
I’ve been unwilling to set rules for bedtime, i.e before midnight.
My Hashimoto’s makes it tougher to get to goal.
I’ve stopped journaling.
In general I’m feeling depleted, so it’s OK to have a little extra in the evening. My way to come down from all of the things spinning in my head.
Old rumblings of how I always handled stress emerge.
I’m upset I won’t be reaching my ultimate goal before my birthday coming up in just 11 days. That one upset releases a lot of judgment and berating thoughts in my brain. Up until this point I’ve tried to keep things positive as my weight loss slowed. But I know why it has slowed and the thought of being super strict with myself and getting very clear about what I am committed to began to feel like another chore. So, there it is: The Bad News. I’m off track. I’m pissed at myself. And I stand before you admitting I don’t have all the answers. It’s not been a seamless journey.
So it is time to turn it back around. Those thoughts about how doing this plan and making it a priority is more energy than I have to give? Complete and utter BS. I’m calling BS on myself here and now. Because, as I look back over these last couple of months, I have felt more stress wiggling around in the grey muck than just getting this done already. There is a little good news: I haven’t gained. I’ve fluctuated around but it never got so bad that I abandoned me or my plan.
But back to the BS: Not being on point has tapped more energy than staying consistent. Relaxing into making it OK to eat those extra nuts at night or just have a taste of that gelato have brought me more stress. Sliding into loosening the reigns has had the opposite effect. And the times when I’m telling myself I deserve to take a break are the moments when I have the most angst. Because I know when I break the luminous lines, it’s not a relief, it’s actually even more stressful. There is chaos. Surrendering and staying clear brought peace.
My days around food are automatic. Breakfast. Check. Lunch. Check. I have the same thing almost every day and I’m not bored. It gives me comfort and frees up my brain to be creative, to do my work and to feel taken care of. But Dinner? That has been the time when throughout this journey, the lines get shaky. Often I get home late, and I want to slide into oblivion.
The old thoughts of how I need my downtime so I’ll stay up late and catch up on emails and feel like I have me time is actually causing me to feel more depleted. I’ve resisted setting up a strict rule for bedtime. I identify as a night owl. That’s what I do. I’ve been a stubborn owl.
Maybe this isn’t surprising for you. But for some reason it feels like a breakthrough because of how it’s reframing my perspective. If I’m depleted doesn’t it make logical sense that staying up late is counterintuitive? That taking care of myself doesn’t end after 5pm? That my success so far is in fact a testament to me proving I can carve out time to do what’s important for my goal and it actually makes me more productive, not less?
Why is this evening period so tricky for me to fix? The old habits are in the distance wanting to take hold because there’s an opening, because I haven’t filled the gap with new habits. I’ve cracked open the door. I got a little cocky. I got a little too lax. And in my effort to just “chill” a little more, I created more stress and fatigue, not less.
It’s not the first time I’ve had this realization. This is not an epiphany. But it is a reminder that vigilance takes less energy than mucking around the in-between.
To prove it, I decided to measure how much time it takes me to set up my first two meals of the day and while I’m doing it, to notice how much is automatic. I prepare everything in the morning so it was easy to time:
Measure out and heat up the pre-made steel cut oats and with banana
Add hemp hearts and milk. Sit and eat or make it to-go.
Measure out and make my salad and pack in a to-go container.
Fill water bottle with seltzer and lime.
Put coffee in to-go mug.
Off to work.
Total time: 15 minutes. So, for 2 meals prepped and ready to go, it’s 15 min.
Here’s what happens at night:
Look in refrigerator.
See what’s been pre-made (I do some prep on weekends).
Pour a glass of seltzer.
Feeling hungry and annoyed, I route around in the frig for what I feel like eating.
Add in feeling annoyed that no one made dinner, like it’s their fault.
Finally decide and measure out and put together.
Total time: 20-30 minutes.
In my effort to “chill” about having dinner ready because I don’t want to take more time out of my day actually costs me MORE time than had I just planned ahead and set the meal up in the morning with my other meals. If you add up that average of 25 minutes over 5 weekdays, it’s a little over 2 hours that I could use on the weekend to prep a full weeks worth of dinners and probably have it done in less time. The effect would be far less stressful and become more automatic. I should know this by now right?? Isn’t this what I preach??
It is. But I just didn’t wanna. Why? Because I tell myself I’m tired of having to think about it. I resent having to think about any of this at all. Really?! Aren’t you spending more psychic energy each and every weeknight and then it causes you to do things like “have a little extra?” Or get into the “I deserve it” frame of mind that will inevitably lead to tasting or indulging in something that afterwards will lead to more soul-sucking brain farts and disappointments because I feel like crap?! Hello?! Making any sense to you?!
This NEVER happens at the other two meals. This is not an A-ha moment. It’s a “Duh” moment. I don’t have to think about the other two meals, plain and simple. I don’t put any big emphasis on them at all. I prepare. I thoroughly enjoy. I’m done. Nighttime used to be a free-for-all when it came to food. I wouldn’t eat all day, then would feast from sundown ’til bedtime. So these phantom habits are making some noise.
And that, my fellow BadAsses, is why I know I have to call BS on all of the justifications about how I shouldn’t be so strict about the evening meal. Because my brain and my body just don’t do well with it. I wish it did. But it doesn’t. It tosses me down the rabbit hole and I experience more mental and physical anguish than the time it would take me to just prep the damn dinner already.
I wish we could all eat what we wanted when we wanted it without consequence. I wish we were all 10 years younger too. But I’m me. I know the actions that have gotten me obese and depressed. And I know the actions that have gotten me 85 pounds down and done.
As I write this from 30,000 feet, thoughts snap into focus: I remember how out of control and physically debilitated I was when I allowed sugar and flour to be in my life. I remember the blood work that indicated I’d be headed for all sorts of crap, if I hadn’t radically changed my eating. I remember the brain fog, and the ADD medication I used to take just to keep my focus. I remember the feeling of seeing myself in photographs at over 200 lbs. I remember my kids’ worried faces over my depression and health issues. I remember how dead I felt in a body that felt alien and disconnected from who I was inside. I remember feeling incredibly old for my age. I remember going up more than one flight of stairs, stopping just to grab more air. I remember all of it. And even in my grey moments, there is a knowing. A red light flashing. This is a wake up call. And I’m grateful to put it out into the light and heed the warning. Sticking with this plan works for me. This way of eating makes me feel alive. It takes away my food obsession. It doesn’t weigh me down or distract me. This is the path. And I must surrender, re-commit, and trust what works.