I was going to tell you about my eats today but honestly they sucked, aside from dinner. I had work all day down at the casino, and ended up eating a pretzel and granola bar for lunch. After a pretty okay run this evening, I ate some meatballs with asparagus and I just finished some vegan banana ice cream with pumpkin pie spice, Cool Whip, and 3 crushed amaretti cookies. Like eating fall in a bowl, I tell you.
I’ve had questions over the past few days about how much I eat in relation to my activity level. I eat a lot of low-calorie, whole, voluminous foods. This isn’t because I don’t want to gain weight. These are the foods I naturally crave from years of healthy living. If you gave me the choice between a giant tub of chocolate ice cream and a crisp Fuji apple, I’m going to pick the fruit. (Unless it’s Ben and Jerry’s Brownie Batter…in which case I will eat the entire tub and go back for seconds)
As a new runner and yogini, I am hungry all the time. The best I can do is get it to be a gentle gnawing in my stomach, but I try to feed it before it turns into a full-blown hunger monster. Today, unfortunately, with all the running around at work I didn’t get to eat my lunch as soon as I would’ve liked and it felt like my stomach was going to start eating itself! I’ve never experienced this kind of hunger before (and I eat a LOT).
My dad’s trainer told me that constant hunger as an athlete means your metabolism is through the roof, which makes me happy but I miss that full feeling you get after a big meal. I’m constantly eating to fuel my metabolism, to the point where sometimes I’ll feel like I’m stuffing my face all day. I wish I didn’t sound like I don’t enjoy this, because I seriously do. There are huge perks to being able to eat whatever you want and not gain a pound! But honestly, they talk about Runner’s Hunger? They were not lying. It is a beast!
Unfortunately, due to my stomach problems, sometimes I get so ill I can’t eat as much as I’d really like. There are times where I’ll go to bed very hungry but I can’t eat anything because my stomach will instantly stage a rebellion. Those times, thankfully, are getting much less frequent. And I’ve learned to pinpoint which foods will get my tummy tied up in knots (mostly heavy starches and certain types of dairy). These days, I’m hungry all the time but I’m trying to listen to my body and feed it when it needs to be fed. I’m also trying to drink more water, as dehydration can disguise itself as hunger.
I’ve realized over the past few months that there are no ‘wrong’ foods or ‘right’ foods. For example, I went from eating dessert all the time, every day (we’re talking pints of Ben and Jerry’s a day) to not eating dessert at all, to eating too much of it again, to being terrified of it and subsequently bingeing on it. Over the past few months I’ve learned that a little bit every day is best, so I’ve tried to maintain a happy eating medium by feeding my body what it wants in moderation, so I don’t go berserk and inhale half the kitchen. This means, yes, chocolate on most days (I prefer more than 70% cacao but I’m weird like that), ice cream on other days, fruit crisps and Cool Whip. The difference now, in this new ‘maintenance’ phase of my body transformation, is that I know to stop when I’ve had enough; to eat only what really pleases me. When I went down to Mohegan with my parents and was presented with that cornucopia of dessert options, I must admit I panicked for a second. Too many options, and if I overloaded, I’d be stuffed and sick the next day. But I took my time, looked around, and ultimately chose the desserts I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I savored every delicious bite, and knew I wouldn’t be sick the next day because I was careful.
That didn’t happen last weekend, but sometimes you have slip-ups! I’m only human, after all. Besides, it introduced me to the Brie S’more, and that’s a match made in heaven, am I right?
It also helps me that the things I usually crave are healthy, good-for-you foods. Again, I don’t eat berries, Greek yogurt, tofu, tempeh, apples, broccoli, kale, etc., because it’ll help me stay at this weight. I eat it because I honestly love that food and I can’t see myself ever going back to the way I used to eat, which, thanks to blogging and journal-keeping, I can recall with perfect clarity:
Milk shakes and burgers
Fried food, especially French fries and chicken tenders
Toblerones, Lindt white chocolate bars, giant university cafe muffins, lots of Starbucks Frappucinos
And lots, and lots, and lots of Milano cookies.
Now I still love those foods, I just eat them differently. I look at life differently. And the other thing that I feel helps me manage my weight loss this time around? Unlike when I weighed 158, I honestly adore my body. Not because I weigh a certain number (I haven’t weighed myself in weeks!). I appreciate every little thing it does for me. I even love the distended tummy I get when I have a colitis attack, because it means my body is working hard to rid itself of things it doesn’t want. That, in turn, teaches me what I shouldn’t be putting into my system.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the divine love you possess towards yourself. I don’t mean narcissism, but a true respect and devotion to what makes you work at your best. I quote my best friend who sent me a gorgeous email when I asked her what I should do about a friend who was filled with self-loathing. She said to me words to the effect of, “Think about everything your body does for you. You should respect it.” She learned this attitude after years of doing yoga, and I’ve just started to come around to this notion after only doing yoga continously for three months (but honestly, if you do it twice a week the results are unbelievable).
Yoga teaches you to honor yourself, which is a sacred truth connected to the third chakra (located at your solar plexus). According to my UCONN movement teacher, an expert in chakras, the element of this chakra is fire, and is the seat of your emotions and personal power. It teaches us to face our negative thoughts and feelings, but also to let them go. “Think of your emotions as clouds,” she said. “Look at them, face them, and allow them to float on by.” It is the chakra that allows for transformation through positive use of your emotions. If out of balance, you can become swept up in a vortex of your negative emotions and feelings. For a few months, that was me. Now, slowly, I am righting my course.
The past few weeks have been fun but very tiring. I seem to rely more and more on coffee. I’ve trained myself to not want to stay in bed past 6:15, which to all of my college friends must seem totally insane, as I used to be able to roll out of bed at noon! My body is telling me it needs more sleep but unfortunately that isn’t possible right at this moment. I’ve promised myself that Saturday will be my day of much-needed rest and recuperation. Until then, I’ve just gotta push on!
Speaking of sleep, my eyes are closing. Good night!