Sunday, April 7, 2013

Not You, Not Lazy, Not Crazy

It's funny how the exact same experience can teach you something entirely different when you do it a second time.  When I did The Ultimate Reset last summer I found it immensely rewarding, and I lost 14 pounds, but I pretty much immediately went back to my old ways.  Yeah, I had a couple of new recipes under my belt, but the first non-reset day I went out to eat, and overdid it, and within probably a month I had gained back every ounce and then some.

This time around I found it much easier, probably because I knew what to expect and none of the recipes were new to me.  But I also learned several new lessons, and they stuck with me this time.

I learned that hunger doesn't have to be scary.  I learned that my body does not process carbs properly.  I learned that a meal without meat doesn't have to feel like deprivation.  I learned that sugar is my enemy, not just in what it does to the number on the scale but in how it makes me feel.

I also learned that I was filling a hole with food.  And when I didn't have enough food at my disposal to fill the hole I tried to fill it with things.  And when I stopped trying to do that I started trying to fill it with experiences.  I haven't quite learned how to just be comfortable with the hole, but I'm not trying to plaster it over with mashed potatoes, purses or facials any more either.

I lost 15 pounds in three weeks this time around.  A pound more than the last time.  But this time I learned that there is less pleasure in a big loss if you're sure you're going to put it all right back on again, which I was.  I was terrified!

So I found a therapist, who really didn't work out.  She taught me some tricks, but tricks isn't what I wanted.  I wanted to learn why I stop at Burger King on the way home from a dinner date, or why I spend an entire evening making trips to the kitchen every 10 minutes or why I can't go to a party, have ONE glass of wine and a small plate of food and be done with it.  Her answer to everything was "just take Lean Cuisine with you".  I wanted to find out how to eat like a normal person and she tried to make me even less normal.

Coincidentally, at just about the same time, I also reconnected with a dear friend who knows everything there is to know about eating disorders, because she's had one her whole adult life.  She has been a greater help than the therapist and she doesn't even charge me $75 per hour.  She keeps me accountable and she understands what it's like to be ashamed of your body and what you put in it.  And I can tell her exactly what I ate and she won't judge me, but she will help me figure out how to do better next time.

In the ten weeks since finishing The Reset I've lost eleven pounds.  Those eleven little pounds carry triple the pride and sense of accomplishment of the previous 15...because my own decisions made them happen, and because by ten weeks out after the last Reset I had undone all of the hard work and un-learned all of the lessons.

It helps that for about eight of those weeks (before I hurt my foot) I was going to the gym.  Even now I'm tempted to say "only" 2 or 3 times a week.  Which brings me to what was a pretty big decision for me.

I quit Beachbody.

I got to the point where I felt like a failure because I was "only" working out, at the time, FIVE times a week,.  In spite of all of my new found habits, my hard work, gained muscle tone and yes a little lost weight I didn't have that before and after bikini picture to show for it so it all meant nothing.  I didn't WANT to inflict pain on myself on a daily basis to get the kind of success my peers had.  I just wanted to be healthy, and that didn't feel like success.

There is a "no pain no gain" mentality that permeates the coach culture.  The motivational sayings posted all over Facebook, the "thinspiration" photographs of sculpted abs.  The "Whether you think you can or you think you can you're right" and "You can have success or you can have excuses but you can't have both" and the "The only thing standing between you and your goals is the bullshit story you tell yourself" attitude.  The proud status updates of people who just "shredded" their legs, or "destroyed" their upper body. The attitude that if you want it bad enough you will bleed for it if necessary.  I bought in to all of it.  So when I had pain, I pushed through it.  I told myself to quit my fucking whining, cowgirl up and matter what.   I lifted until I couldn't any more.

When my doctor told me I couldn't lift for six weeks I was crushed.  I felt like I was finally making progress and I had been kicked back to the bottom of the ladder.

In an effort not to start gaining weight I joined a gym.  I met with a personal trainer who showed me which exercises I could do without hurting my shoulders.  And for the first time someone took some time to talk to me about my abs.

When I was 19 I was cut open hip to hip because I had a cyst on my ovary.  Then when I was 30 I had The Boy.  I gained 50 lbs, stretching the heck out of my stomach, and I had a c-section to boot.  Ever since I haven't been able to do a single crunch, much less a sit up.  I can't do the hundred, I can't plank.  I just...can't.

I've left exercises classes in tears.  I've cried right through Beachbody workouts.  I've told myself over and over again that the problem is just that I'm not trying hard enough.

My personal trainer took time to work with me, rather than just saying "try harder".  She showed me several exercises, and asked me where I felt each one.  My answer was always "In my back".  Finally she said "I'm stumped.  I recommend you talk to a physical therapist"

Since I was already getting weekly physical therapy for a foot injury I asked my PT about my stomach.  She had me lay back, she poked at my stomach a bit and said " have diastasis recti.  The last thing you should be doing is crunches or planking.  You're making it worse every time you try"

Who knew...I'm not lazy and I'm not crazy.

Now I have a whole new set of exercises which should help close the gaping hole in my stomach muscles and help strengthen them.  BUT I also have orders from my PT to NEVER try to do crunches again.  She says she wouldn't recommend them to ANY client over 40.

So one day when one of the coaches who actually has a few certifications under his belt posted something about how a workout should cause discomfort but not pain, and my first reaction was to want to reply "Really?  Someone should tell the rest of the company!!", it occurred to me that I might not be in the right mindset to be selling these products.

Will I ever go back?  Maybe.  The products are good.  I still swear by Shakeology and the workouts are great when done within reason.  I'd love to coach MY WAY, sensibly catering to people my age.  The "KILL that workout no matter what" mentality may be perfect for twenty-somethings but for those of us pushing 50 it can be dangerous.

But nobody wants to buy fitness products from the chubby chick.  I can go back in six months if I want.  If I keep up the way I have been I may actually have that before/after picture by then...though it will be MY kind of before/after.  No bikini.

Since I'm still using Shakeology, and since my most recent weight-loss success was sparked by The Ultimate Reset, I will have no qualms about crediting my success to the company when I finally have that side-by-side photo.

One of my favorite coaches has a saying.  Be you, but make it about them.  I liked that.  Be you.  It flies in the face of "Find someone who has what you want and do what they do".  It says that you can have success YOUR WAY.   Because I'm not you.  And as it turns out I'm not lazy and I'm not crazy.

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