Yesterday, a photo popped up on Facebook, as a memory from a year ago. Looking at the photo, I realized just how much of a change I’ve made since November, 2015. Working on myself has been a continual process for years. I’ve had my ups and downs, but to see where I was a year ago compared to where I am now was surprising. It’s not just the outside that’s changed but the inside as well. My wants, needs, and method of reaching personal goals has evolved. It’s been a good reminder that who I was, am and will be are all different people, within the same body.
At first, I wasn’t going to use the photo from last year and the one that I took on Sunday during my run as a Transformation Tuesday example. This was originally meant to be a post about my battle with Bulimia and how I’ve adopted a Flexible Dieting lifestyle, aka, IIFYM. I’ll get to those topics in a second. Looking at the photos side by side, they really speak volumes. They show that small changes over time, add up. They represent that the more I accepted myself and loved myself for flaws and strengths, I gained so much more. Not just tighter muscles, smaller clothes, but an appreciation of me.
A few weeks ago, I was going through my closet and tried on a sequined dress that I hadn’t been able to wear. It had been hanging in the back, with a neon sign above it that reminded me it hadn’t fit in a long time. I wore it once, it was a clearance find almost 4 years ago and that was the end of the dress. Every once in a while I would try it on, it wouldn’t fit and it would return home. I wanted to give it a try again, and lo and behold, the dress fit!
When I posted the photo as my Transformation Tuesday, I mentioned that I have a history with bulimia and how I’ve begun a flexible dieting approach. In the past I’ve used Weight Watchers to shed unwanted pounds. It was a great tool after my divorce and really got me on a good track. But having a history of bulimia and knowing my triggers, food has a delicate relationship with my mind. A few people mentioned that they would like to hear more about that journey and I’ve been meaning to discuss it.
Let me say this, before I go any further. If you knew my family, my mother or the situation that I grew up in, please do not pass judgement. Each family goes through life, the way they know how. Was my childhood an easy one? No. If you continue reading and think that you had no idea that life was rough, I was treated a certain way, etc. or that it changes how you perceived my mother, it happened and I’ve dealt with it.
Bulimia started when I was around 14, it was the reaction to family issues that had come to a whole new low and I didn’t know how to cope. From the time I was born to when I left home, life was a roller coaster. It was never easy and I suffered emotional, psychological and physical abuse. We were very much a solid picture of happiness on the outside and when we closed the doors at night, it was a different story.
When my experience with Bulimia first started, I thought it was a tool to lose weight, I was mistaken. I remember at one point, when I broke down and told my ex husband about it, I described it as, “Being able to control what goes in and out of my body, because I wasn’t able to control anything else in my life”. By that point, I was 19 years old and not as active with the disease as I had been. My yo yo dieting was taught to me by my mother, she was a professional at it. This was passed down to me, along with body shaming and low self esteem from an extremely early age – in kindergarten, I was promised a certain bathing suit, IF I could lose weight to fit in it. When she found out what I was doing and confronted me, her response was that I was doing it wrong. You don’t eat and purge, you purge and starve yourself. So that solidified the fact that what should have been a loving support system was non existent. Something I knew, but a cry for help like this was answered with more shame and degradation. Looking back, I am fully aware that I was given inadequate tools for coping, I had to learn to heal myself. My parents were not capable of nurturing me emotionally, providing unconditional love and in many ways parenting. Being parents to your parents is not something a child should have to take on, but that is a post for another day. Using bulimia to handle what life and my family threw at me, while being a depressed child wore me down. I took boxes of laxatives a week, to the point my body almost could sense the reaction when I popped the blister seal on Correctol. Constant cramping, running to the bathroom with diarrhea, being afraid to eat because of how it will react, never do I wish that on anyone.
It is a long road and in all honesty, there are times when emotionally I’m a train wreck and my mind wanders to those old habits, purging had been both mental and physical for me. Do I take a box of laxatives, now? No. I find another way to get through it. I am certain that my digestive issues are partly due to genetics and to the damage I caused myself.
Learning how to appreciate food, as fuel for exercise and also enjoy it, has been marathon and not a sprint. There are times that I can go with the flow and others, that doesn’t happen. When big life changes happen or things are difficult for me, I look to exercise to work out the inner dialogue and process what’s going on. Many tears have been shed on a run, an extra rep or higher weight has been achieved in the weight room. At the same time, I need to be very careful of how much I’m doing and watch my internal dialogue very closely. It becomes a slippery slope of anxiety, depression and feelings of not being good enough.
The end of August rolled around and I found myself either eating not enough or a bit too large of a portion. These weren’t entirely unhealthy choices, but I knew I needed to get myself back on track or else the wheels were going to fall off the bus and quickly. This is when I started to look at Flexible Dieting for how it could benefit me and lose a couple of unwanted pounds. It wasn’t restricting, it provided a target for macros – protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each one of these macro nutrients plays a key role in nutrition. For more information on how macros stack up, check this out. On IIFYM they have several calculators to use, depending on what information you need to know. When I initially calculated my macro needs, I didn’t weigh myself. Odd I know. First of all, I didn’t own a scale, or the enemy as I used to refer to it as. I ball parked what my weight was, in order to get started. Really? I was afraid of getting on the scale after being anti scale for so long, relying on how my clothes fit and how I felt. This was a better gauge for me, less pressure than a number, however, for this, I needed to know. The concept sounded doable and in a way gave me something to work on, in a healthy way without focusing so much on it. The calculator that I used, put together my weight, with my goal and my exercise level to determine the numbers. It gives you your macro break down by gram as well as the overall calorie target. The objective is to eat a well balanced diet through the day and stay in an all over calorie deficit if the goal is to lose weight. I downloaded My Macros+ , ordered a food scale from Amazon and got down to business. So far, I haven’t hit all the numbers spot on in a day, which is ok. I’ve been under carbs, over protein, have eaten all of my fat or not. It’s a balance and good learning lesson for me. I can work in my Chia Flax Peanut Butter from Trader Joe’s and still be on track, just not eating more than needed. Also, being a creature of habit when I food prep for the week each Sunday, I find myself eating pretty much the same thing. I’ve become a bit more creative – tuna with mustard and cauliflower rice is a good afternoon snack with a bang for my macro buck.
IIFYM keeps me accountable to myself for myself. It’s learning and listening to my body, not beating it up for something it has had no control over. And yes, I’ve measured out that peanut butter and eaten one tablespoon at the end of the day, savoring every last morsel!
The program also helps me shift the idea of replacing the calories I’ve burned. This has been a huge benefit, as it helps keep me from punishing myself for eating something or feeling as if I have to burn off a particular meal/food. Food shouldn’t be a reward or a punishment in any form, that’s my two cents.
I’ve tracked for 63 days, feel stronger than ever and am at my lowest weight, while achieving it in the healthiest way. My new problem, if it’s a problem, is that everything in my closet either fits or is too big. Gone are the days of dreading what to wear because nothing fit, in a not so good way.
If you’re a IIFYM person, give me your tips and tricks! What do you love? What satisfies your protein intake? How do you manage splurges?