It had been a bad day so I gave in to emotional eating and sat down with a big box of . . . strawberries. Had it really come to this? I had given in to the temptation of stress eating, but couldn’t even muster up the nerve to go for ice cream. Instead I chose strawberries, and not even the kind covered in chocolate!
Maybe that’s the upside of taking on a 24-day cleanse. My body has actually learned to want healthy foods and respond negatively to “treats.” One night getting stuck at Dairy Queen proved that fudge-covered ice cream + fudge-filled brownie = 12-hour migraine headache! That five minutes of sweet pleasure was so not worth it! Despite this lesson, it was super hard at first. One day I was so sick of salads and sweet potatoes that everything I heard the gym instructor say sounded like food.
“I want you to lunge full court.” Oh, plunge pulled pork! I can do that.
“Now bear crawl.” A bear claw? Awesome way to follow up pulled pork!
Perhaps the hardest part of all this is that I naively expected to be back in my old jeans within 24 days. (Surely one brownie Sunday was not to blame for this?) I felt like a failure after hearing some women had lost close to 20 pounds on the same cleanse. And Pinterest Porn full of baby mama bounce backs did not help my self-esteem one bit.
What happened to me? I had always been the skinny girl (sometimes even too skinny), bounding back from any weight gain until now. At 33, I am dreading my final weigh-in since I am reduced to wearing leggings and yoga pants after refusing to buy bigger clothes. My baby is almost four months old, so I find myself feeling desperate at times. I keep setting a new date to have lost the weight, and shed a tear every time I think of possibly cutting out cheese as a last resort.
But after watching a little show called Fit to Fat to Fit I learn that it isn’t always easy for everyone. Just maybe I’m lucky to have gotten away with it for 33 years and through two childbirths. I can finally empathize with others whom I considered “undedicated” in the past. Sometimes we can do everything in our power and still not see results as fast as we desire. There are so many struggles to losing baby weight, or any weight for that matter.
• Stress: My cup runneth over at the moment. I am currently in the transition of job changes and my family life at the moment could be a Lifetime movie. I’ve learned to not be surprised by anything, but that still doesn’t make things any easier. Even with trusting in God, it can be hard to not feel helpless and overwhelmed at times by circumstances beyond our control.
• Lack of Sleep: I tend to stay up late to work and write or watch something other than Disney Junior with my husband. Then when I do lie down my mind is so full that it takes me a while to fall asleep. After that it is all up to my baby girl to decide when she wants her morning bottle. According to my Fitbit, this totals an average of five and a half hours of sleep a night.
Some well-meaning people have suggested that I nap during the day. “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” But who has time to nap with laundry, work, etc.? Plus, if you know my three-year-old, then you know he never stops during the day. Try napping with a little boy running rogue around the house.
• Money: Let’s face it, being healthy costs money. I would love to continue some of the supplements used during my cleanse phase, but simply can’t afford to do so. With my freelance contracts changing, medical bills from having our baby (thanks Obama!), and everyday living expenses, I find it hard to justify spending anything extra.
Gym memberships cost money as well as workout DVDs or basic home fitness equipment. I have studied a lot of exercises that can be done anywhere using only body weight, which helps some. (I will be glad to show anyone interested.) Even less costly gyms mean an additional expense.
Food is not cheap either. A simple trip to the grocery store shows the difference in buying a bag of Cheetos or a bag of carrots. The Cheetos also have a much longer shelf life. In the same sense, it’s much cheaper to buy a Big Mac than a plate of grilled shrimp and veggies.
• Inconvenience: Piggybacking off of the Big Mac verses shrimp and veggies analogy, Big Macs are also much more accessible. There are golden arches on every corner, and not many health food restaurants have drive-throughs. Also, as someone who almost lost a leg eating and driving, I would not recommend using a fork in the car. Forking a salad takes much more coordination than stuffing your face full of fries.
A good example would be one night when we were running low on groceries. (Remember those carrots expire quicker than Cheetos.) I was stuck with “cheating” or going out and buying something, whether that be from a restaurant or from the store. I chose a restaurant as buying groceries and then preparing them would lead to me eating dinner around 9 p.m.!
Exercise is not convenient to a lot of people either. Most of us have busy schedules, and the more family members the harder it is to juggle everything. When I was young and single I worked out all the time. Now I have my husband’s schedule and my kids to consider. I can only imagine how hectic it will be once my kids are older and involved in their own activities.
• Bad Timing: I find it easy to keep packs of 100 calories almonds or a banana with me for when I get stuck someplace during snack time, but meal times seem much harder. I don’t want to carry tupperware full of salad around in my SUV in case I get stuck someplace during meal times. Times like this lead to choices like the Dairy Queen equation, or running to buy food last minute because I ran out of healthy choices at home.
Meal prep and planning are great. I like to cook a bunch of healthy meat like chicken or shrimp on Sundays, along with sweet potatoes. But you’re probably not going to take that with you to the ballpark or church, or anywhere else you don’t have access to a microwave.
• Food Boredom: Prepping food for the week gives you a sense of accomplishment, like you can conquer the world one kale salad at a time. But by lunchtime Wednesday you’re stabbing your chicken and broccoli with a vengeance, eyeing that box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts across the hall in your office conference room. No matter how you flavor your veggies, eating the same thing day after day after day is so boring!
Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by healthy food choices on a daily basis from nearby restaurants, food delivery services, or personal chefs. Then that probably means you’re not a middle-class Alabamian who lives in a world overcome by BBQ and covered dishes. Bless your heart.
• Social Life: Finally, living healthy can wreak havoc on your social life. I am fortunate to have friends who like to workout with me and others in my life who aspire to eat healthy. We encourage one another. Anything in life is easier when done together.
But here in the South everything revolves around food, and we seem to find a way to fry anything and make even the healthiest of vegetables fattening. In my younger years I would sometimes skimp on social events for fear I would eat something wrong. That is a sad way to do life.
You can still go to the party or restaurant or family gathering. It just takes some getting used to when choosing from the foods available. These situations usually don’t present ideal eating options, but at the same time you are not forced to eat everything.
I know I don’t have the metabolism I did at 17, 25, or even 29 after having my first baby. It still makes me nervous to weigh in tomorrow and take my measurements. (Especially since I still can’t quite squeeze in my Buckle jeans.) But I know I’ve made improvements. I have not drank a Diet Mountain Dew, or any soft drink, in almost two months! This is something I would have never thought possible. If I can stay off aspartame and binge on strawberries rather than ice cream, then I call that good progress . . . whether I cut back on cheese or not.