Settle in for this one. You’re going to either laugh, wince or … well, this is really a laugh-or-wince post. On we go!
Do you all remember in my Mr. Miyagi post I referred to myself as Thicc Allison and said I’m looking like a Campbell’s soup can? That’s not an exaggeration. It turns out roughly four to six weeks of eating everything will not be kind to a young-ish woman’s figure.
And I mean eating everything. The following is an illustrative but not exhaustive list of how I’ve been eating from my birthday up until this past weekend I stayed with Grandma.
1.) Cupcakes, cookies, macarons in honor of my birthday.
2.) Chick-fil-A indiscriminately. My workplace is within walking distance of CFA, and I figure if there’s physical activity involved to get there, then I’ve earned my sandwich and sauce, right?
3.) Macaroni and cheese in droves.
4.) More Chick-fil-A.
5.) Fast food from all the errands and driving time back and forth when Grandpa was in the hospital.
6.) Bourbon balls and hot cocoa for breakfast on Christmas.
8.) Chick-fil-A two days in a row. The sad part is that I wasn’t even hungry for Chick-fil-A either day.
9.) Getting chips, cookies and donuts from the cafeteria at work.
10.) Fast food weekend. Friday night was a frozen pizza and single serve piece of cake, Saturday was Taco Bell with Grandma, and Sunday was McDonald’s.
I woke up this past Monday morning looking like I was five months pregnant. Miraculously my most forgiving pair of pants fit me and nothing spills over the side in them. However, my stretchy-waisted pajamas aren’t so forgiving. Neither are sweaters and underwear. My workout clothes, which are all made with that moisture-wicking material, keep clinging to places on me they usually don’t cling.
It also doesn’t help matters that my body’s proportions aren’t designed to carry extra weight. You know how women typically gain weight in their hips and thighs first, because of how fat distribution in our bodies is designed to work? I’m short with a short torso, and because sometimes the universe is kind of a jerk, any excess body weight shows up in my sides and midsection. I hate it too – just standing there I can feel the skin from my love handles getting pushed up, and when there’s not a lot of space for love handles to travel up, you look and feel like a Campbell’s soup can. Pinched skin in the waist whether you’re standing or sitting sucks, period.
So you’re all probably wondering why I’m sharing these specific details online, or why I’m even bringing up this topic at all. Weight gain in January is hardly surprising or unique. However, this time around has felt different.
Part of it has to do with being very conscious of why I was eating so much. There’s two reasons: grief and being lazy. I was stressed and grieving my grandpa, and the only things that were bringing me relief when I was with Grandma were eating and playing “Animal Crossing.” That’s where the hot cocoa and bourbon balls for breakfast came in. As well as the bag of Cheetos Mom and I found in the pantry. My line between self-soothing and self-destruction is a fine one, and I’ve always been a comfort eater with a sweet tooth. The only difference is that I have to make an effort to be active and burn off calories as an adult in a way I didn’t have to as a kid.
And, if I’m being real with myself, being lazy and the illusion of convenience is an incredible pull. Why would I take time to meal prep and pack my lunch when I could walk to Chick-fil-A, then grab a coffee at Winan’s across the street? On errand days when I’m already out and about, why not go through the drive thru? This week sucked and I want a sweet. I could have one of the many fruit cups in the fridge at home, but I’m already here at the grocery store and Giant Eagle has some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted (they do, by the way.)
Comfort eating, laziness and bad habits are one hell of a well to climb out of. And it always works out where you never realize you even fell in until you’re damn near drowning.
Aside from being uncomfortable in my clothes and looking like Winnie the Pooh, I eventually realized the way I was eating is not helping my energy levels – at work and especially not at the gym. Skipping weight training and stretching was showing up in the form of a stiff, painful back, and treadmill runs that should be simple were sucking all the strength out of me. I knew if I was serious about getting in shape again for my spring races, I had to completely turn myself around.
So I’ve been baby stepping myself back to normal. I’m proud of myself for taking the first baby step of meal prepping my lunches for work over the past week and a half. In the warmer months I love to munch on sliced cucumber and orange bell peppers, so I decided to start packing those to have alongside my keto Greek yogurt parfait.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it took me this long to start making parfaits. I love Greek yogurt and eat it daily for the protein and calcium. I also love blueberries, but half of the time whenever I’d pack them I’d forget to eat them or go downstairs to buy an afternoon snack from down there. Three years ago my ex and I took a road trip to Virginia to see his college best friend and CBF’s wife. The four of us went out to breakfast at some cute little bistro in The Fan District where I had a yogurt bowl that had various fruits and I think either granola or muesli sprinkled on top. It wasn’t heavy but it stuck with me through a day of walking around. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and I’m thinking to myself, Why don’t you mix the berries and yogurt together and eat them both in one shot?
So I got my vanilla keto Greek yogurt. I decided to add raspberries and sliced strawberries to my fruit bowl and blend the three together. Plop the berries first in a yogurt container, yogurt in the middle and peanut butter granola on top. Voila – a parfait that sticks with me.
Lunch dessert is cubed Swiss cheese. I love dairy and I’ve accepted they’ll be wearing parkas in Hell before I give up my cheese, yogurt or ice cream. WebMD – when it’s not scaring readers into thinking they’re dying over having a rash or some sniffles during flu and cold season – says that Swiss contains sufficient amounts of protein to help build muscle mass, can lower blood pressure and promote bone health, in addition to being lower in fat compared to other cheeses. So six to eight cubes is all it takes to satisfy me.
I’ve also re-introduced oolong tea into my diet. Oolong tea can help control diabetes and promotes both metabolism and weight management. I drink it for those reasons, but mainly because oolong reminds me of the tea in my favorite Chinese restaurant from home. Nostalgia is a powerful trigger, indeed.
I’m definitely a work in progress and I’ve got a way to go before my diet is completely cleaned up where I want to be. I still enjoy candies, which I’m slowly weaning myself off of until I can eat them in moderation a few times a week, and the desire to hit up Chick-fil-A is never ending. Aside from wanting to improve/enhance my running performance and feeling comfortable in my skin, I realize there’s another motivation for wanting to get and keep my eating habits and weight under control: defiance.
I’m now 30, which is young but definitely not a kid anymore. I feel tired, and for the first time I’ve been feeling hormonal depending on where I’m at in my cycle. I know my body is changing and aging, which is a fact of life I accept. Getting older and having a long life is a privilege and I’m not going to look down on that.
However, while I am getting older, I am not an “old lady.” I don’t have that defeatist mentality about life or my body. You all know what the defeatists say – they’re old, they have kids, they had a kid, they have responsibilities, and therefore significant weight gain, aches, pains and misery are just an inevitable part of the package that usually tends to hit between the ages of 30 and 35. These are also the same folks who cannot wait for any opportunity to tell a 20-something woman without children to “just wait” until she hits 30 or has a baby and then her body will go to hell in a handbasket, she’ll be a hot mess and probably need a wine habit or medication to get out of bed in the morning.
(Me note: this is not a condemnation of people who are battling mental illnesses/disorders and following a treatment plan with their doctors, or the people who absolutely need medication to survive. I’m all for people seeking medical intervention and saving themselves. However, I do think our society pushes pills way too freely to mask symptoms instead of working on a cure.)
I’m not willing to accept poor health or a lower quality of life for myself. I want and expect better of me, and it drives me crazy when I hear so many women in my age range act like anyone older than 25 is doomed so you might as well give up, let all parts of yourself go and then wait to die.
Ultimately, battling the love handles I’ve sprouted and getting my eating under control is not about vanity or even running per se. It’s about setting a standard for Future Allison to be proud of and subtly, giving a middle finger to every defeatist and “waiter” who acts like women have zero agency over their lives and bodies. One day it will be about modeling to younger women that if you’re willing to put forth the effort, you can be healthy and feel good in your skin no matter when. But for today, it’s about showing up for me and being better than expected.
So my friends, I hope you all enjoyed today’s post. May you go forth in power and perseverance.
Yours in writing and running,