A couple years ago, I started this blog along with a diet. The diet wasn’t going so well, so I let it morph into posting about happy making things. While finding joy and balance are among the many reasons I want to improve my health, the truth is that my diet failed. I started, I lost a bit of weight, the diet petered out and the weight crept back. I know I’m not unique in experiencing the yo-yo, but there is something that goes along with weight and failed diets and fitness programs that carries so much shame with it. My relationship to my body (even at times in my life when I was not heavy) has always been tinged with shame.
I have never been one of those people who can eat whatever they want and stay thin. I was a chubby (or on the verge of chubby) kid for most of my childhood. At some point around late middle school/early high school, I went on a diet. I ate weight watchers and lean cuisine, I did aerobics for what now seems like 8 hours a day, and I lost weight. I even developed the kind of body where one of the ladies I babysat for thought I was a runner. (Me? A runner? I’ve always joked that the only way you could get me to run up a hill was if there was an ice cream stand at the top!) But the point is I was fit. But I was fit with a completely distorted body image. When I look at pictures from that time, my body looks long and lean with strong, shapely legs, toned arms, and a narrow waist. What I would give to look like that now! A the time I still felt like the little fat kid. I wore long sweaters and jackets to cover my body and was so shy and insecure I could barely look at a boy. And, yet, I was thin.
I managed to maintain it for a few years, but then I went to college and it started creeping back. Then my dad had a stroke and I lost thirty pounds. I was a mess. I couldn’t eat or sleep. You’d think when he died, I would have experienced the same, but it was just the opposite. I went to grad school out of state and was miserable and ate my way through my pain. Ever since then, it’s been a struggle. I think I have tried just about every diet under the sun. I am not (and neither are most heavy people) stupid, weak or lazy. I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve eaten only protein, I’ve had shakes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and eaten a sensible dinner. I’ve been vegetarian. I’ve been vegan. I’ve counted calories. I’ve counted carbohydrates. I’ve taken pills that mess with your bowels when you eat too much fat. I’ve taken pills that mess with your heart rate and require regular testing at the doctor’s office to ensure they don’t drive your blood pressure up to high. The truth is that there are lots of diets out there that work. The problem is that most of them hard to maintain over the long haul. It’s one thing to eat only protein for a short span of time, if you only have 10-20 pounds to lose. It’s quite another (far more daunting) thing to know that the changes you need to make are of a more longer term. Like so many out there, I’ve lost and regained.
So, this year I am trying something new. I am not worrying about how much weight I have to lose over all or every change I need to make to get there. I am simply promising myself that I will focus on eating and living more healthfully and thereby lose 20 lbs by the first day of spring. I’ll worry about the rest later. Twenty pounds in 3 months is doable. I am going to start by doing a 3-day cleanse that I found on the Dr. Oz website. After that, my plan is to eat a balanced diet incorporating as many natural, whole foods as possible and eliminating as much white flour and sugar as I can. I’ll figure out what works from there and report my progress here. No one may ever read it, but putting it out into the ether will help me hold myself accountable. If anyone else reads and wants to join me, that is great we can motivate each other, but this is something I need to do for myself.
Today has been a day of preparation. I have purchased fresh berries, kale, spinach, fruit, vitamins and all that I need for the three day juice fast. Later, I will divide my fruits and veggies into ziploc bags that can be dumped into the blender for each meal. Then tomorrow, I will begin. My theory is that by the time the detox is over, I’ll be happy to eat regular, healthy foods. Until then, happy new year. Here’s to positive life changes. Even the longest journey begins with a single step.