Monday, February 11, 2008

A Girl's Gotta Eat

In my last post, I related the process of creating a new and improved eating plan and made a pledge to stick to it for a month, no matter what. What I didn't tell you is why that was such a big deal for me. After all, new diets are old hat to women; we're always trying the latest and greatest diet gimmick to get a bikini bod, flatter abs, or toned arms just in time for summer. But, we also know in the back of our heads that those gimmicks won't work - eating a healthy, balanced diet is boring, unsexy, and at times bland and monotonous, but that, consistent exercise, and the genetic makeup of Gisele B√ľndchen are only real way to have a rocking body. Sorry. Deal with it.

So eating healthfully is not new for me. I typically eat a very clean diet full of all-natural whole foods (and the occasional slice of pizza or frosted brownie because, after all, I am a woman). Refined sugar is no longer a staple in my life, along with processed stuff and most packaged food. I get an adrenaline rush from keeping my eating close to nature and enjoy the challenge of reading labels and finding clean, healthy products that don't taste like cardboard. It's fun for me, and while there have definitely been periods (and Saturdays) in my life when I have strayed from this philosophy, it is something I truly enjoy and am committed to for the rest of my life.

What doesn't come as easily is actually eating. As a woman with more than my share of food issues, eating enough is truly a struggle. I often feel like a hypocrite, telling others why they should eat more than I would ever consider in a day. Without going into a litany of whiny reasons of why this is the case, I'll just leave it here - eating more than 1,500 calories per day on a regular basis is an emotional hurdle that I need to get over.

I've struggled with my weight for my entire life and even after I started working out regularly, I've always had to aggressively keep the pounds at bay. Those are the cards I've been dealt, and I accepted it a long time ago. I was probably 12 or 13 when I decided to try Weight Watchers with my mom. The first night she put an ounce of cheese on my plate and told me that was a serving of dairy. I looked at that tiny wedge of cheese and thought, "are you kidding me?" But since that time, it seems I have always been on some strategy to maintain my weight. Some have been successful, others a disaster. I've learned a lot along the way.

When I started weight training around 16 years old, I knew it meant I could (and should) eat more. I read fitness magazines and listened to the muscleheads at the gym who told me to eat at least 1,600 or 1,700 calories a day. And I tried...but each time I ventured out of my comfort zone, I packed on the pounds. It just seemed like science was working against me. Finally, in my twenties, I had my metabolism tested and had the validation of seeing that it was, in fact, on the slow side. I felt relief at knowing it wasn't all me, but frustration with the realization that counting calories was going to be a full-time, permanent job.

Well, a few years have passed since then, and I'm still at square three. Sure, I'm in good shape, my cardiovascular fitness is good and I can lift heavy things. But for the amount of effort I put in, I want to see better results. To be more specific, I want to see abs. Let's just talk turkey here - I want to have a kick-ass body and I'm not afraid to say it.

And in order to get there, I am willing to consider that maybe...just maybe...I was wrong. Maybe. There is a lot of science out there, and lot of people more educated than I who insist that more food is the key to getting to success. I know they are right in theory, and I want to believe they are right for me. So, I've decided that I can sacrifice a month. For the next month, I am committing myself to eating more. At least 2,000 calories a day, to be exact. I'm prepared to end the month heavier and seriously pissed off, but I truly hope I am wrong. It will be a mental and physical challenge for me, but as I said in my last post, this isn't about being right; its about being the best I can be.

Now hand me a protein shake; I'm hungry.


EDP said...

Boy, does this one resonate. It is hard not to think of food as the enemy, but how much is enough? What is the right formula for being both healthy and, well, hot? And why do men, for the most part, not seem to have such a tortured relationship with the things they eat?

Sghoul said...

There is the difference. In the past you wanted to lose weight. Now you want to make muscle. Those are different goals. ESPECIALLY since muscle has weight to it, so you will likely gain weight, even if you don't increase in size.

So, you really want Abs huh? Those things that don't naturally occur, especially in women? This is possibly the first time I feel like society has finally gotten the better of you.

As for EDP's comment about men. We don't have as much issue about food, for the same reason we don't have issue with hair, skin, clothes, jewlery, etc. We aren't wired to care. Most guys are happy to be relatively healthy and attractive, and spend the rest of our time doing things we actually enjoy.

H F said...

This is the first time you think society has gotten the better of me? You don't know me AT ALL!!!

Sghoul said...

Maybe it's the first time it has bothered me.