by Kate Richlin-Zack
I got off track last week.
I’ve been so good about sticking to my diet and counting all my “macros” (carbs, fat, protein) and planning my meals and then one afternoon, I just had to shove as much food as I possibly could into my face. I wasn’t even hungry, which makes it even more disappointing. Maybe I was back to my old self-destructive eat-the-pain-away habits, but how can I even THINK about using that excuse to justify my behavior when there is no pain to eat away in the first place? My life is awesome, so what the hell am I upset about?
Great question and the short answer is: change is hard… really hard.
Let me first explain that when it comes to my diet for the next couple months, I’m allowed to eat anything I want. Yes. Anything. My only limitations are the amount of protein, carbs, and fat (“macronutrients”) I can consume on a given day. Right now my diet is pretty consistent with the paleo diet – lean meats, lots of vegetables, limited dairy, and complex carbohydrates like whole fruits, plain oatmeal, and yams. If I wanted to, I could fulfill my daily carb quota with Fruit Roll-Ups, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and french fries but I don’t for two reasons:
- Junk food makes me crave more junk food which only makes sticking to a diet that much harder. This probably explains why I can eat an entire box of cookies in one sitting and then want more cookies an hour later. Nom nom nom.
- I can have a more yams than Fruit Roll-Ups and still consume approximately the same amount of protein, carbs, and fat.
Here’s the math (don’t worry, I did it for you…)
- 3 oz of yams has 1.3 g protein, 23.5 g carbs, and less than 0.1 g of fat
- 1 oz of Fruit Roll-Ups has 0 g protein, 24.3 g of carbs, and 2 g of fat
3 oz is more than 1 oz… More is better. The end.
Since I have no willpower when it comes to cravings and I like to eat in mass quantities, I’m sticking with healthy foods. My body is apparently a big fan of healthy foods because when I stick with my diet, despite being sleep deprived or overwhelmed (work, competition prep, and blogging in addition to, you know, LIFE), I have the ability to power through fatigue and self doubt and just get it done, whatever “it” happens to be. Recently there was a lot going on and I had to deal with some unavoidable deviations from my routine but I stuck with my diet and still got to the gym six out of seven days like I’m supposed to without fail despite having to travel for work and go out for dinner with coworkers. And there was no gym in the hotel either. How did I pull this off? Planning. I brought most of my food with me, was very careful about what I ordered at the restaurant, and rearranged my workout schedule so that my rest day (the day where I’m required to lounge around in my pajamas instead of going to the gym) fell on my travel day. I even managed to stay up late to finish a presentation. So proud of myself!
But after my cheat meal, the one meal each week where I can eat whatever I want and not think about protein, carbs, or fat and just shovel food into my face until I’m actually full, everything came crashing down. Or at least it felt like it did. I woke up the next morning feeling awful. Actually, awful isn’t even the right word. I don’t know if there is a right word. I didn’t have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Three cups of coffee each with a shot of espresso were ineffectual. I cried a lot. It was a mess. I was a mess.
I questioned every decision I’ve ever made, big and small, and was convinced I’d made the wrong one in each instance. I sat staring out the window feeling completely lost and wondering why I even decided to do this competition in the first place. I’m making my life much more difficult than it has to be. It’s not like my life depends on this competition. I don’t have to win. No one is making me do this. This isn’t life or death. In fact, no one will care one way or the other if I stick with this crazy plan and strut my stuff in April or not. It DOESN’T MATTER. So maybe I’m working my ass for nothing?
You’d think this would have been some kind of an epiphany for me. Here’s the moment when I throw in the towel and say, “fuck it” as I waltz my burgeoning six pack down to the vending machine for some Pop Tarts because that’s way more fun than weighing out exactly 4 oz of apple (which, by the way, isn’t even a full apple).
I easily could have just given up. But I didn’t, and that was the epiphany. That is a change. And change can be overwhelming and scary which is usually the point at which I cry and inhale a tray of cupcakes.
Despite feeling like absolute crap and knowing how easily I could just give up and go back to my old habits, I didn’t. I still cried, but there were no cupcakes. Instead I stuck with the plan. I ate my 99% fat free turkey burger and 3 oz of green beans instead of a Snicker’s bar. I went to the gym instead of going home and lounging on my couch. I stuck to the plan even though I didn’t want to and didn’t have to because I’d only be letting myself down if gave up.
This is hard. As my trainers and coaches reminded me, if it were easy, everyone would be a figure competitor. I can assure you, this is not easy. But I set out on this journey to prove to myself that nothing is impossible. In fact, the progress I’ve made so far in preparing for this competition has inspired me to start looking at other goals and dreams that seem impossible and come up with a plan to accomplish them rather than continue to dream about them. I refuse to look back on this experience with regrets. I refuse to look back on any aspect of my life with regrets. So when I stumble or hit obstacles along the way or start to doubt myself, the only thing I can do, the only thing anyone can do, is just keep going. I committed to this for no one but me and I know I will not forgive myself if I just give up. So I’m sticking with it because it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing.
“The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack and runs every other Tues at 10:30AM on Kate-book.com. She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 50lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.