Portion Control, Your Sassy Half Friend

I recently stood in the chip aisle at target debating between buying a family size bag of Cheetos and the smaller, but still a horrible decision size bag of Cheetos. To set the scene further: I also had a bag of peanut m&ms in my hands. On this particular

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

day in the Target chip aisle I was suffering form the worst and most off-balance hormones that I have experienced in recent memory. I’d wept multiple times for silly reasons. I’d become raging angry at a mosquito. And I’d been starving for 4 days. By that I mean, to my core insatiable hungry. For 4 days. Nothing could fill that gaping maw. It went to my bones, back through generations, a hormonal hunger not seen in eons. No matter how much protein I ate or water I drank I was starving. Which led me to the Target chip aisle. Which led to hormonal gorge fest 2015.

Good news: the hormones are leveling out and I am not hungry (like that any way) anymore. Bad news: I could still easily eat all that food again right now if it was in front of me. Because no matter how healthy I do eat (and enjoy eating), there’s nothing like a freaking Dorito. For that reason, I never buy junk food. Ever. Because I can, as has been previously stated, annihilate a bag of chips, cookies, pretzels, etc. without a second thought. No kidding, the higher order thinking in my brain shuts down and I inhale. I can’t even indulge in it even once in a while because of Portion Control.

Eff that guy, right? He’s there for you, kind of, like “oooh, great job you ate a super food salad and everything was perfectly measured. I’m so proud of you. See? This is how you get a thigh gap!” and you’re forlornly staring into your salad all, “But I don’t want a thigh gap…” and then! When you do find yourself elbow deep in a Doritos bag he’s the one who reminds you “At least you didn’t want a thigh gap” . Thanks so very much. I had no idea that one handful was 9,000 calories. Buzz. Kill.

Portion Control and I go way, way back. I’m pretty sure we’ve been locked in a struggle that predates the Jurassic Era. I’m sure there is some far removed Nancy ancestor whose one job in the community was to count the berries that the women and children had to fight off a saber tooth for. And while she was counting berries she was murmuring some early human version of “one for me, one for you”. Nancy ancestor passed on two genetic traits, I’m sure, one of them being a complicated relationship with food and the other being a hot head. These two traits have only become more concentrated through the generations. I can dominate both a bag of Doritos and my enemies in the Thunderdome.

Oh, yeah.Here’s an example: we went to a grill out at the beginning of summer. At one point during dinner I realized I was standing in front of the Doritos, preventing even the children from eating them. Is that not a thing? Does no other adult do this? No?

One of the kids said, “You’re eating a lot of Doritos.”

To which I said, “Yes.”

He said, “You must be stressed.”

I said, “What are you a therapist?” No, I didn’t, but I did think: “Listen kid, when you grow up, someday you too can shamelessly emotionally eat in front of an 8-year-old.”

Not a few weeks later, we went out to dinner with several couples and I noticed all the gals had only eaten half of their burgers. I asked my friend, “Why aren’t you finishing your burger? It’s delicious.”

She said, “I’m full.”

To which I replied, “Well, I am too but that’s not stopping me from achieving my dreams!”

While eating what the experts say is “the right amount of food” (pshhhhh!) has become less of a struggle the older I’ve become, it’s not easy! Sometimes during periods of stress or hormones it’s like a horror movie. I feel like there’s another presence here. It’s in my house. I notice that the bread has mysteriously moved closer to the front of the fridge. The buttery popcorn that I forgot about falls out of the pantry. A small secret candy bar appears from behind a bag of rice. I hear whispers. Maybe from the attic? Nope. Definitely in the kitchen. The disembodied voice is saying, “eat the pie”. It whispers to me for 30 minutes, a roundelay of “if we don’t have pie just eat some bread or that can of icing you forgot about”. It leaves a trail of cinnamon crumbs to the refrigerator. Am I insane? Do I need a doctor? A priest to rid me of these demons? Now I’m stressed. I’ll have this piece of pie to manage my anxieties.

And then as soon as the fork is down Portion Control starts tsk-ing and saying “You know that’s going directly to your thighs right?”

Dammit.

Eating and food really shouldn’t be this complicated. But sometimes it is. See, right here would be a good place for me to put a positive affirmation quote and say something about how all this has taught me a valuable lesson and now I have it all figured out. Oh, no. Not true. I just personified Portion Control as a sassy half-friend. I have nothing figured out. What I do know though is that most of my friends have this same complicated relationship with food and portion control and I’d rather be eating than afraid to eat. You know, we are all (probably) just doing the best we can to be healthy and not give ourselves stomach cancer from eating too much Red Dye #88. That’s not too, shabby really.

I also figure, if you can find the humor in something difficult it makes it a more manageable load to bear. It’s easy to get pissed ahang-in-theret yourself when you fall off the wagon, don’t see the results you want, eat a bag of Cheetos, etc. Hey, it’s life. These things happen. I say this because as a near professional level negative self talker, it’s just the truth. It’s ok. Portion Control might be laughing at how clumsily you slipped off the wagon and brained yourself on the way down, but, it’s going to be fine if you decide to let it be. Laugh at it, dust yourself off, and climb back up. And give Portion Control a good swift kick in the shins once you’re up there. It will feel really great to watch that guy suffer a little bit.

Damn. That did pretty much end as a motivational poster, didn’t it?

Exercise? I Thought You Said Extra Fries

Uhg. I saw a picture on pinterest the other day that said “Exercise? I thought you said extra fries.” If that ain’t the truth I don’t know what is. If I wasn’t meant to eat salt and potatoes then why the hell are they so delicious? The greatest invention of the modern age was Red Robin’s bottomless fries. Now, I’ve only ever been there once because if I went back that would be my grave. I would eat those fries until I died. I just love food. And by food I do mean all food. I know the popular and right thing is to say I love whole organic farm to table foods blessed by the pope and Dali Lama. Well, I do love those foods. I also love and can annihilate a bag of Doritos before you can say “But think of your heart!”

The other day my friend texted me the picture below and said “I finally understand why you work out so much”. Uh, yeah. Because one fry becomes the whole bottomless bowl. One Dorito becomes the whole bag. Hey, kids, here’s a math problem for you: How many bowls of bottomless fries can Ms. Nancy eat? The answer is obesity because America.

everything is on fire

Diets are the worst. But when your pants don’t fit– that’s also kind of the worst. Last year I lost upwards of 25 lbs and felt awesome. And then I went back to work. Have you ever heard  that roughly 25% of being a teacher is resisting the horrible food that shows up out of nowhere multiple times a week? Yeah, I hadn’t either. But there it is, the teacher’s lounge inexplicably packed with doughnuts and muffins. Randomly. On a Tuesday. When you least expect it. Had I known there would be treats I would have picked up my cheeto chain mail or my +1 muffin defense shield. Or you know, avoided the teacher’s lounge. If that’s not bad enough, then let’s not forget when kids bring you whole homemade apple pies. Yes. I received a whole pie in May.

The question for a teacher who receives a whole home made apple pie then becomes: Do I eat this pie because it’s f*cking May and I need something, some sort of metaphorical arm floatie to get me through the deep end that is the last three weeks of school? Or do I munch on an apple and get a cramp and drown in this train wreck pool metaphor because obviously PIE ALWAYS WINS.

Fun fact: I ate most of a whole pie in May!

You’d think pies and doughnuts and my love of the sweet, sweet nectar of life, potatoes, would surely have unraveled my weight loss from last year. Despite how much this post makes it seem like I have zero self control (False. I have at least 10% self control) I didn’t gain much weight back. Which, you know what? I’ll count that as a win because I had to go to work everyday where doughnuts were just handed out for free all willy nilly! I mean, who just brings free food to people who work with kids all day? Are you insane? Are you trying to kill me? Have you no respect for emotional eaters? We teach 12-year-olds. It’s lucky that we don’t all walk around with a flask and a side satchel full of cheetos and those mini chocolate covered doughnuts.

Luckily, though, I didn’t descend into flask/ doughnut satchel and since getting back on the logging food wagon (Blech. Nobody wants to know how many calories are in a vegan cookie. It’s vegan. Obviously it’s made from plants, the sweat of protesting feminists, and free range macrobiotic chocolate. See nutritional information: zero calories, your daily intake of the strength of a thousand men) three weeks ago my skinny shorts are not only fitting comfortably but loose. The download said

Take that, pie, you sucker!

I’m sorry I said that. Never leave me.

Anyway, my healthy eating/body transformation (oh my god sorry. Body and transformation should never be used together in a sentence.) isn’t over. I’ve wrangled myself some new goals that started on Friday. Let’s rehash it together, shall we?

Dumb bells, check. Yoga mat, check. Dog who thinks  jumping around and swinging shit means play time, check. Begin lifting, not so ba- Oh, Christ I should have started with 5 lb weights. Have I torn my arm off? No. Arm is still attached. Am I sure? Yes, ok, arm is still there. Move on to core work. Small tiny crunch and then yelling to husband in the next room, “If this is what it takes to stay in shape then I DON’T WANT IT.” Continue to exercise/weep intermittently. Try some squat roll back jump up thing, discover that even though I’ve been standing since I was wee I can’t seem to get off the floor. Anger. Punch the floor. How many reps of angry Nancy am I supposed to do? None? Damn it. Husband tries to calm me down, succeeds in demonstrating squat roll back jump up thing which of course only makes me more angry because I AM NOT A TURTLE SO WHY CAN’T I GET OFF MY BACK.

True Life: Fries. All of them. … I never did get off my back with that exercise but the others were marginally more successful. I think I already see a difference. Or, the overworked muscles have been spasming so much that I’ve given myself muscle definition by way of pure undiluted pain. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have a six pack soon (snort) like all those gals on youtube and pinterest who do one thousand squats while smiling and not sweating. If I smile during a work out look again because it’s probably a grimace used to swallow a sob because no matter how much I work out it is never a breeze. But I guess pushing yourself is how you get all those nicely defined muscles. Maybe after that you get the smiling and not sweating? I don’t know how MollyFitness (TM) and Holly Squatsalot are so ripped, and keep a clean house, and even have children, but damn do they seem able to easily crush a can with their abs while applying makeup, smiling, and not sweating. I try really hard not to compare myself to people who have already achieved maximum sweatless fitness. Hell, I try not to compare myself to anybody because I do actually like who I am and what I look like. So I’m not going to. Instead, this will be my mentality: You can always set new goals, which is where I’m at this summer.

Last year I proved to myself that I could change the way I ate. This past school year, despite eating one too many pies, I proved to myself that I can keep the weight off. I also showed myself that if the weight comes back on, even just a bit, all I have to do is realign and get back to what works. It took me until this month to fully realize that, but sometimes you’ve got to live it, you know? Jesus. Sorry. The pinterest quote is really strong with me today.

Last summer I posted a list of things I wanted to achieve before I went back to work. I checked many of those things off so I’m going to do the same again this year. Here goes:

  • Lose those last lbs
  • Tone up with weights, hiit workouts
  • Continue healthy eating
  • blog more about life, food, workouts
  • read at least 12 more books
  • work on the house
  • take time to express gratitude
  • proofread more because half of this list is not properly capitalized

So, before I put up a motivational quote, I’m going to go work out.

The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

An update on The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

This Summer: It’s been great. I’ve watched a lot of movies. I’ve spent lots of time cuddling and playing with the Beans. I’ve exercised just about 6 days a week. I’ve tried out lots of healthy new recipes that we both really enjoy. And! I’ve lost somewhere in the range of 15-20 lbs since late March.

Left -- in March. Right--- Last Week. A new haircut, too!

Left — in March. Right— Last Week. A new haircut, too!

 Yesterday I had my yearly health assessment for my insurance. I’ve lost 6.5 inches around my waist, although it’s probably more since I was doing a great imitation of a roller coaster with my poundage. I still have a little ways to go, but not much. For the first time in a three years ALL my clothes fit. Actually, many of them are bordering on too big now and I’d like to thank strength training and lean muscle for that one. I feel good. I want to eat healthy food. I don’t even want pizza. I know. Somebody slap me back to my senses! No, don’t, because I’d like to relish in this moment for a bit. This is pretty much the first time in my life where eating and exercising are a balanced part of my life.

When I was a kid/teenager, I never routinely exercised.  When I was 16ish, my family changed our eating habits and I lost 40+ lbs in the course of a year. It was great, but it all came back on with college stress and life changes. By the time I was a sophomore, I knew I had to do something. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. During a nutrition and health class required by my major, I realized the thing I had to change was the plod/sedentary pudge I had become. I started working out at the university’s high tech gym. Back then it took me 45 minutes to run 3 miles. And that was after working up to three miles. But I haven’t stopped working out since. Now, I have pretty awesome endurance. I love, love, love the mindlessness of cardio and regularly do an hour to an hour and a half of it. But even with all the exercise, when life got stressful about 3 years ago, a lot of the weight came back. Not all, thanks to massive amounts of cardio, but enough that I’ve been slowly yo-yoing back down for three years.

This year sucked. And all the weight I lost last year came back. I see now that I was on auto-pilot. I knew what I needed to do to lose and then maintain a healthy weight, but it was hard, and I didn’t care, and when I cared too much I became discouraged and if you’ve ever been discouraged you know that feeling tastes a lot like a box of cheeze-its. Which is where my hand would find itself on particularly bad days/weeks.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

This summer I told myself we would do better. We owed it to ourselves. I really owed it to me (ok, pinterest quote, settle down). I wanted to actually reap the benefits of all the work I put into my workout. I also want to live for a long time but not as a sedentary cheeze-it pudge. So I stuck to my commitment and I’m glad I didn’t give up.

These are some of the things that really helped/ are helping to keep me going:

  • The Lose It! App – you can log everything you eat. Need to scan a bar code? No problem. Do most of your own cooking? Cool, you can input recipes and see how much you’re actually eating.
  • The South Beach Diet (but the vegetarian recipes, because animals)- This is the lifestyle change my family made when I was in high school. The hubs and I choose the best sounding/ my favorite old recipes. It’s simple, delicious, and healthy food.
  • Limiting carbs-  I love carbs. If I could hug every potato in the world, I totally would.  If you told me I could never have bread again, I’d punch you right in the mouth. But I hold these carbs so dear that I can actually eat a whole loaf of healthy bread by myself. And still have room for potatoes and pizza. So, I’ve tried to limit those favorite carbs. And it’s been pretty ok!
  • Vegan recipes- In the name of limiting carbs I had to find alternatives to those things that I love, those starchy, starchy things. I stumbled on vegan recipes like this one, and this one, and this one. While not all of those are a replacement for the love of my life, starch (Just kidding, Chris! I love you the most! Especially if you are cradling a potato!), it doesn’t matter because the food is so. damn. delicious.
  • Moderation- I can still have beer. I can still eat bread. I just can’t do these things every day. BUT THIS IS AMERICA! I SHOULD HAVE ALL THE BEER AND POTATO CHIPS I WANT. Yes, but, you turn into a catatonic salt and vinegar dipped in beer infused version of yourself, Nancy, and you don’t like that aftermath. I allow myself a “cheat day” or an occasional not as healthy treat during the week. It can’t be every day, but if we are at a friend’s house and they have pie? I am probably going to still have a small slice. And so help me if I ever have to give up beer. I can’t! But if I limit myself to 1-2 beers once a week, it’s a treat and not a part of my unbalanced diet.
  • Exercise- I already worked out a lot. I just wasn’t getting any benefit because I wasn’t paying attention to my diet because apathetic Nancy was apathetic. Even on the days that I don’t run for 8 hours, I can see/feel the difference it makes because I’ve finally balanced eating and exercise in a way that works for me.
  • Chris-  He signed on to eat better. He encourages me when I feel like a pudge (and makes sure to tell me I am emphatically not a pudge). He started exercising too. He lets me try all sorts of crazy/new vegan and vegetarian recipes. The hubs is pretty much the best person ever and this would have been many cheeze-it boxes harder if he wasn’t so helpful.

So that’s all really. It’s been a summer of loss and Netflix. I’d call that a success. I hope if you’re trying to push through your own healthy hurdle that you are seeing positive changes, too. If not, keep going. Avoid the cheeze-it aisle. You can do it (ok, motivational kitten poster, nobody takes you seriously)… (but really, you can do it.)

Machine Gun Nancy Go!

It’s my first official day of summer.

 Summer!

For the last 6 or so summers I have had a part time job. I worked retail for 5 years and had a fabulous closet to show for it. Last summer, tired of spending most of my money on my wardrobe and dealing with people who treated me like an idiot instead of the fashion fabulous educated gal that I am, I took a job coaching a summer swim team.

Now THAT was a terrible idea. It was horribly stressful, too much work for the pay, and you know what? As much as I love kids (hello, teacher!), I really needed a break from them. We’re getting ready to buy a house this fall and I tossed around the idea of working that retail job again to get us an extra grand or two, but the husband said give yourself a break, you crazy, lady. (Actually, he said much nicer things, but I think the crazy part can be inferred.)

So, I’m giving myself a break but I have a whole list of things that I want to accomplish over these next two months.

  • Packing the nonessentials for the Big House Buy 2014
  • Walking the dog every morning and evening
  • Working out a money-saving, waist reducing meal plan
  • Cleaning/maintaining the house
  • Doing a few DIY projects… maybe
  • Reading, reading, reading (and going to the public library for the first time in 2 years to fuel my book habit)
  • Working out at least 6 times a week

I got up this morning at my normal time, made coffee, tooled around the internet, took the dog for an hour long walk, had more coffee, made a healthy breakfast, started laundry, and it’s not even 9:30 yet. I’m feeling pretty good so far and more like myself than I have in awhile. I kind of forgot what it was like to take a breath and not really have anything going on. I really want to take time this summer to be productive and unstressed.

A huge part of that will be eating right and exercising. I love working out. I love it because it makes me feel

After Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode -- in which I work out like a crazy lady for 90 minutes 5-6 days a week.

Prone on the floor after Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode — in which I work out like a crazy lady for 90 minutes 5-6 days a week.

strong, good about myself, and because I work out like I’ll never see gym equipment again, it lets me eat what I want. The problem with that mentality is when I am tired and stressed from a bitch ass year and I don’t want to work out AND I want to eat all of the cupcakes to bury my feelings in deep inside sugar and sprinkles. When I’m in my Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode– or you know, my really intense work out mode– or, you know, how I imagine myself as I’m working out, which is a heroine of a Japanese Manga in which I definitely have a  machine gun/sword and an attitude and will definitely save the world from the evil ninjas/ robots/demons/ whatever–  I work out like clockwork and I can eat whatever the hell I want. But when I’m in this mode, I don’t want all of the cupcakes because I feel good, want to work out, want to maintain, and thus: healthy. Stressed out Nancy eats all the cupcakes, thinks, “well, I work out hard… most daysish… I can have cupcakes for breakfast” and then feels like a mass of sad flesh later. I don’t like feeling like that and I refuse to 1) let myself feel that way again 2) sit around when I can get back into my routine.

We’re in a wedding at the end of the month and there is a dress that I need to comfortably fit in all day long. I will not be sad, sorry, sack of flesh bridesmatron. I will also not focus on my health just to look good for that day. My goal is to maintain my skinny shorts circumference through the summer and fall, and winter, and right back into shorts season.

So, my real goal this summer is to find constants and reboot myself. Life is good and I am lucky to have the one that I do.  I’m grateful that I have a job that allows me time to take a breath every year and a spouse who tells me that if I want to, I should just go and workout and read a book already. I’m hoping that by writing all this down, I’m solidifying what I do and do not want my summer to be. I won’t always have the luxury of two months of free time and since I need it so badly right now, I want to make sure I don’t waste it.

Happy June 2nd, I’m gong to go jump on the elliptical.