How balanced should you be?

by Christine on June 14th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

So here’s what I’m thinking this morning, and maybe it’s my overly-obsessive, calorie-counting mind that is over-thinking things a little bit.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t eat crap food or overindulge. I understand that optimal, healthy food choices and reasonable portion sizes are the ideal thing to strive for. But let’s face it, even the strongest-willed person can cave every now and then; 100% saintly eating just isn’t reasonable.

Well, on Sunday night we had friends come over to the house. I am always really excited to have guests because it means I can cook foods that I normally don’t (because hubby doesn’t eat it). I made bratwurst (what a treat!), hamburgers, fresh salad, homemade salad dressing, and pasta salad. Our friends brought over chocolate cake and rice krispy treats.   I had 1 bratwurst–no bun of course–and some fresh salad.  Until evening. Then I dove into that chocolate cake, pretty much head-first, like a baby attacking his first birthday cake. It’s weird because I normally don’t even like chocolate cake. But it was there, and I was PMSing, and I did some damage.

Let me tell you, it didn’t feel good. I felt sick to my stomach from the sugar. The taste wasn’t even all that great. And afterwards I started playing head games with myself:

How do I fix this mishap?

There’s three ways to go about this. First, there’s the balanced reaction. In order to balance a huge caloric mishap, shouldn’t you need to go to extreme measures in cutting your calories the next day or two in order to make up for the indulgence?  I mean, really restrict your calories until you’ve reset yourself to “ground zero?”  If your cake indulgence was, say 1400 calories, then cut 467 calories out of your diet for the next three days.  For me, since my Calorie Setpoint is somewhere around 800 calories, that would leave me 333 calories per day, for three days, to consume. That’s way extreme. But it IS balanced.

The next reaction is similar to the first: Burn those extra calories at the gym. In the end, the goal is the same as the first reaction: you’re balancing your calories. Except with this method you’re choosing to burn it with exercise instead of through food and diet.  If I exert myself with high-intensity interval training (read about that here), I can burn 700 calories per gym outing for two days to burn those extra cake-calories off.

But then there’s the third reaction: just go back to your normal eating. Eat nice balanced meals, at your Optimal Calorie Threshold, and basically just pretend that the OOPS never happened.

Which method do you take to counter-act your Oops? What is the correct answer?

I can tell you that, as an Eating Disordered person, I gravitate to the first method. I know I can control my food intake, and I can starve for as long as I need to in order to reset my calorie bank to equilibrium (read that story here).  It is drastic, and on the positive side it can balance you out in a day or two. On the other hand, this method theoretically screws up your metabolism.

I then gravitate to the second option.  Exercise. Punnish yourself. Beat yourself up. Sweat until you hurt and want to scream and teach yourself that having a weak will and eating that cake just isn’t worth the pain and suffering at the gym.  Yeah, it’s sadistic but haven’t we all done this, many times, in the past?  The benefit is that exercise is great for you, it boosts your metabolism. The downfall is that it can take longer to reset your calorie bank to zero (especially if you’re only burning 200-300 calories at a single gym outing) and you can really beat yourself up mentally with this method. At least, I know I can. I’m actually more likely to indulge in that cake when I’m done with the gym because, after 2 hours of telling myself how weak-willed, stupid, ugly, fat, and horrible I am, I need to console my bleeding heart with more chocolate cake.  It’s a viscious cycle, at least for me.

But then there’s the last method: Move forwards as normal and pretend the slip-up never happened. The benefit is that your mental health doesn’t take a beating, there’s no need for punishment.  The downside is that it may take a very long time for those chocolate cake calories to be reset, and you may not have the chance to learn from past mistakes.

All my life, I’ve been a drastic-action-taker. I have starved and exercised myself into exhaustion after dumb eating choices, and it just made me fatter and fatter and fatter.  One of the things that changed with the lap band surgery is that I stopped punnishing myself for indulging every now and then and I took the last method: I just move forwards, doing whatever I was doing normally, and pretended that the mishaps never happened.

And I lost weight.

It’s still hard for me, this big mental change of pace. After eating that cake on Sunday, I still wanted to starve myself silly the next day. Instead, I am carefully choosing a normal, healthy choice of meals in order to move forwards. Yesterday, in my “punishment day” I ate a perfectly normal amount of calories for me, and chose healthy options all day. Today will be the same.  But I’m on watch for myself, to make sure I don’t start slipping into extreme reactions.

My brain doesn’t believe that this will work, but the last 2 years (losing 100+ pounds, reaching my goal weight) tells me that it will. Hmmm.

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Still searching for the right balance

by Christine on April 28th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

It’s been a weird week for me.  I’m going through some emotional crap (most of which I bring on myself, I think), I’m swamped at work and trying to keep myself carefully on schedule, I’ve got a boatload of things to do at home after our vacation, etc. It seems like I’m stressing about everything, all the time. I wonder sometimes if I should consider anti-anxiety medication because it’s really hard for me to take a step back, breathe, and take daily life one stride at a time. I feel compulsive about planning ahead, anticipating the worst, making everything just as perfect/smooth/easy as can be, etc. I seem to be getting worse about this compulsion as time goes by.

In the end, I’m just trying to achieve balance in my life. That’s my New Years Resolution, after all. Balance between work and play, balance in love, balance with money, and certainly balance with my weight.

Weight maintenance is not easy, let me tell you that! I’m still hanging in steady at 127.0 (my “goal” weight is 125) almost five months after reaching my goal weight. That’s a steady two-pounds-higher than my goal. Not bad…still within range…but every day I get up, stand on the scale, and feel my skin crawl with dread, worrying that the numbers will go up-up-up.

My eating choices are not really the best, and I know that. I have one day when I eat like crap (lots of bread, chocolate, alcohol) and then I’ll have two days where I eat well (healthy protein, salad, less carbs). I know my portion sizes are okay, and I suppose that’s what’s keeping me within my weight range.  However, I fret constantly about my food choices and how that affects my weight.

Why is it so damn hard to cut out the crappy foods? I mean, I know that breads, chocolate, and alcohol are not smart to eat every day, so why do I continue to set myself up for that? I set ground rules for myself, saying that I’m not going to eat them at all. Or I might say I’ll allow myself to eat them twice a week.  But no; even small concessions are not enough!  My body wants to have these bad foods all the time. Where is my self-control? Why can’t reason and rational thought win the war against crappy food? What is it about ourselves that set us up for sabotage?

I suppose two things might help with my issues (the food issues and the stressing out problem I have): a keen sense of self-awareness and just taking everything one day and one moment at a time.  I think that will help to “center” me a little bit—ground me, so to speak–and help me try to find some of that balance that I’m seeking in my life.

How do you find balance in your life?

How do you overcome stressful thoughts and constant anxiety?

How do you maintain a healthy weight without becoming overwrought with worry over it?

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