If you're a close follower of this blog, you may have noticed that weeks 35 and 36 are missing. I promise I was not being lazy and I wasn't trying to hide anything. I was practicing a new habit. For two weeks I had to do a "fitness media fast". This meant I was not allowed to read or watch any diet or fitness related media such as blogs, magazines, TV shows, informercials (is anyone as addicted to informercials for workout programs and dumb exercise gear as I am?), websites (include the Precision Nutrition website articles) message boards (we were allowed limited time on our team message board), or even write in my own blog.
During those two weeks, I broke the rules once. I saw that my idol Krista Scott-Dixon (AKA Mistress Krista) had written a new rant on her Stumptuous website Thoughts on 40. I have always idolized Krista in part because she had such an amazing fit body but also because she always seemed to have it together. She has always gone after what she wants in life and never seemed to worry about money or what other people will think of her. She also seems so comfortable with her body. She seemed to have no issues about her appearance or her fitness level. She knew she was doing the best she could do and was okay with that.
So what were Krista's thoughts on turning 40. (Why 40? Does starting a new decade automatically bring you wisdom and perspective? There is a whole other blog post in that.) She made some statements that really made me think about why I do this.
Talking about your workouts, your body fat, your weight, and/or your food intake is very, very boring. Put the fucking iPhone away and have an actual unmediated experience with a meal. Nobody gives a shit if you’ve gained 3 lbs, what your Fran time is, whether you knocked a few minutes off your 5K, or whether you’re currently off grains. Mention it only if it’s crucial — like, if you have a peanut you’ll die, or explaining to your physiotherapist how you busted up your knee — and shut the fuck up about it otherwise. I apologize to all my friends for 2007-2010, during which I was deep in crazy exercise-compulsive/food-obsessive town and considered my diet/body fat/general neuroses an acceptable conversation topic for about 3 years straight.
Also, the world does not need more articles by bourgeois educated white women whining about they’ve “come to terms with” their thighs. Jesus Christ people, there are bigger fucking problems in the world. Pull your head out of your privileged arse, toss your skinny jeans, and go help someone who actually has problems. Part of your social privilege blinders is thinking that everyone needs your public display of self-loathing narcissism. (And yeah, I can take this just as much as I dish it out. As Part of The Problem and the One Percent, I vow to never produce such an article. Every time I even think of writing that article, I will go and volunteer at a soup kitchen.)
Why have I turned Shipwrecked & Comatose, a blog normally dedicated to my strange humor, my political passions, my day-to-day activities, and my nonsensical observations, into a part-time health and fitness blog, dedicated to the narcissistic pursuit of telling the world how much I lost or gained and how upset I am about it? I said my main goal was to be accountable to everyone I know. If anyone who read this blog knows that I'm trying to transform my body, I will be more embarrassed if I fall off the wagon.
I'm not really sure how many people care about my fat loss journey. The people who really do care would know about it regardless of whether or not I wrote about it. They should be the only people who count. I don't know who really reads these blogs. I post links to it on FB every time I make a new post (every time I make a Lean Eating post anyway). I do get occasional "likes" on the posts. I also receive emails and Facebook PMs about certain posts from friends that I had no idea were following this. What do they hope to take away from this blog when they read it? Are they reading it as sympathetic friends who want to cheer me on? Are they willing to make me accountable to them? Are they secretly hoping to see me fail?
I started to think long and hard about the kinds of inspiration I do hope people take away from this blog. Perhaps I should be clearer about it in the future, but I do like to think that these messages are being conveyed in some small way as this blog has progressed during the year.
First I hope that anyone reading this who is also looking to transform his or her body will come to understand that it's a slow process and far from linear. There will be weeks when you feel you are doing everything right and yet no signs of progress are evident. There will be weeks when you eat everything you know you're not supposed to (vacations are notorious for that) and gain a few pounds and an inch or three of bloat. That's life and life is about so much more than trying to make over what your body looks like. If you keep going, and keep going consistently (not perfectly, just consistently), you will make progress. The more you put into changing your nutrition and exercise habits, the more you will get out of them, but if you do too much, you may not be able to stick with it. Be willing to accept that sustainable change doesn't happy quickly. If you think you're too impatient and that you are not willing to lose only two or three pounds a month, think back to the time you joined Weight Watchers/Jenny Craig/Skinny Bitch/Fad Diet Du Jour and lost 20 pounds in 3 months. Did you keep it off? Could you sustain the lifestyle?
I hope that readers understand that body image issues are a part of all of us (or most of us normal folks). I may never get over my body image issues. I could get down to my "dream weight" of 100 pounds (Hey, I'm under 5' tall. That is not an unhealthy weight for my size) and have a fitness model figure and I'm sure I would find something to complain about. Look I'm 43, even if I have great weight and muscle definition, my body will still show the effects of aging. I am very proud that my butt is still firm and rides high. I'm not sure how much longer that is going to last. I am very frustrated that I am not really losing any volume in my boobs. The key here is I don't let my body image get in the way of life. Even if I know I may never like how I look, I am not going to let that stop me from trying to eat well and exercise regularly.
That brings me to my next point. Exercise is a huge body image booster. Learn to focus on how well your body performs and what it is capable of doing. Do you think you're unathletic or a klutz and that there is no way you are capable of impressing yourself with your abilities? Congratulations. You're a regular member of the human race. Just as you need to make slow, steady, non-linear progress in eating habits, you will need to do the same thing with exercise. Be willing to fall down, screw up, and make a fool of yourself, and struggle to do just one rep. If you stick with it, you will be so proud when you make just a bit of progress. I still can't do a pullup unassisted, but I work on that goal a little all of the time with assist bands and boxes. One day I know I will do one, just one, unassisted and while it may not look impressive to the meatheads at the gym, I know I will have accomplished something. I was not born able to tap dance. I have spent 15 years working on that skill and it's still not all that impressive. It's better than it was 15 years ago though, and I had fun working on it. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.
Lastly, I hope readers understand there is no perfect diet. I get a little twitchy when someone announces her new eating program, particularly if the diet in question is meant to eliminate something (meat, grains, fruit, etc.). We need to focus more on what we do eat than what we don't. Are you eating fresh, whole, unprocessed foods? Do the foods have labels? Does much of your food come in bags, boxes or cans? If it does, then maybe it's time to consider adding more fresh food to your diet. The other half of eating well is listen to your body. Don't just assume certain foods will have a negative effect on your body. Pay attention and see if that's really the case. How do you feel after eating wheat or beans or bananas or milk? Then there is the issue of quantity. Stop obsessing about calorie counts and weighing and measuring everything. Instead pay attention to your body's hunger cues, Eat slowly. Put your fork down between bites and chew thoroughly. You can start by making your portion sizes around the size of your palm for protein, your fist for vegetables, and as many fruits or grains that can fit in your cupped hand. If you eat slowly and pay attention to your hunger cues, your body will tell you if that's too much or not enough. How much you need may very well depend on your activity level and your body's specific nutritional needs.
Narcissistic as it is, I will keep these posts going until the end of the program. In the end I don't know if anyone gets anything out of it, or if they care that much what my progress is, but I enjoy doing it, so I will.
Speaking of narcissism, I am down a bit again. I can say again that I am the lightest I have been since I started this program. I am halfway to goal pound wise. Sadly I am only down a fraction of a perfect in bodyfat. My current measurement is 21.8% down from 22%. I need to really re-evaluation some things in these last three months.