Ennui

Boy, oh, boy blogworld… have I got a revelation for you.

I am bored to tears with my “diet”. I’m content enoughwith –and often even excited about–the workouts/training plan, but the diet and calorie counting and tracking is boring me to salty-freakin’-mascara-running tears.

I don’t know what it is. Is it because I’ve been doing this since January 2007? Is it some sense of entitlement that is making me quite frustrated when I see people smaller than me eating more than me and exercising as much as me lose way more weight? I’m getting kinda bitter. I don’t watch The Biggest Loser anymore because I don’t find it inspirational and I want to slap all of them silly for thinking that a few months with Jillian and Bob will cure them of their obesity and the personal issues that got them to that point. People tell me I look like I’ve lost more weight and the response on the tip of my barely contained tongue is “I’ve actually chubbed out 5lbs in the past 3 months, yo! Get a new eyeglasses prescription.”

What’s particularly yucky-feeling about these well-meaning compliments is that when I was in my 10 year phase of getting constantly fatter, my grandmother would often tell me “Oh! You look like you’re losing weight!”–and often it was after I had just spent another $40 on a larger size of Lane Bryant jeans.

I’m feeling bitter about this gain too. In some ways, I’m stronger physically than I was this time last year. I’m running! For miles at a clip. Why isn’t the weight coming off?

It’s because mentally I’m not on my game. I’m eyeballing lunch & dinner portions, not logging snacks (or even meals for that matter), I’m estimating calories, and I’m assuming I’ve got it down. I don’t. I’m still using caffeine. And, yes, I mean it when I say “using.” Like a junkie. Every morning (almost).

I’m so OVER this regimen. I’m feeling entitled & as if I want to be “normal.” Normal to me means being able to eat intuitively without gaining weight. It means not having to overanalyze what I’m eating and whether it’s too many carbs, not enough protein or too high in sugars (whether they’re natural or not). Cognitively, I understand that most people who desire weight loss can’t do this. But I fear that even when I get to maintenance phase–IF I get to maintenance–I’ll still need to have a critical eye and organized log when it comes to food consumption.

I love organization and I’m all for buying a new, pretty notebook or updating my Sharpie pen collection, but even an office supply whore like myself needs a break sometime.

I absolutely hate PCOS/metabolic syndrome/my body for doing this to me. I have the same frustration with this disease that I had back in March when I was going back and forth for bloodwork and to the endocrinologist to see if I had a thyroid or cortisol problem.

There were two little “a-ha” moments for me in the past 24 hours. One was this comment by a new reader, Miss A. She wrote about her relationship with the scale and encouraged me to stay the hell off it except on weigh in day.

Here’s my take on the scale–you may have read my posts on other blogs about this:

It is a measurement tool not unlike a thermometer. It provides a measurement, but not a diagnosis. My self-worth is NOT measured by the scale (thank you Operation Beautiful), but my weight and my progress towards a healthy weight is.

That’s healthy.

What’s not healthy is that lately, I’ve looking at the scale as my sole measurement. I’ve been lazy and not looking at other measurements, like food logging and tracking thanks to my ennui and resentment towards the need to maintain those habits.

I don’t know that it’s a fair comparison, but I think I can start to understand the feelings of those who need to rely on medicine to treat mental illness. You want to feel as if you’re “normal”–whether it’s that you can maintain a stable mood/emotional state without medication or maintain a stable weight without dieting or consistently tracking food intake and exercise output. You start to resent your dependance on that which keeps you healthy.

It plain old sucks.  

Going back to the thermometer analogy, if I had a fever, I wouldn’t automatically diagnose myself. I’d look at other signs. Sore throat? Swollen glands? Stuffy nose? Cough? Body aches? Perhaps I’d get bloodwork done to assess other measurements of health.

What I’m missing out on this diet are those other measurements. What am I eating in terms of quality and quantity? How do I feel after I eat a meal? Or at the end of the day? Am I sleeping well?

The other A-ha moment was Brittany’s Women’s Day Slim Down post in which she talked about binge-ing. (Is she not so freakin’ brave for that video blog? And, on a superficial note, isn’t her hair totally awesome!? I love that girl–every time we talk she makes me think and reassess my own behavior. And she’s convinced me to read Geneen Roth’s “Women, Food & God” after Thanksgiving.)

I’ve binged in the past, and I don’t think I’m doing that now–in fact, I HATE that feeling of being slightly too full, which I can get from eating normal serving sizes of heavier foods, like a 1/2 cup (measured dry) serving of oatmeal or a 2oz (measured dry) serving of pasta. But I do sneak snacks. I’ll eat a couple pretzels as I’m prepping dinner or have a few Trader Joe’s Ginger Cats with my tea in the evening. I don’t track them. I don’t even calculate them in my mental daily food log. As a result, I’m most likely in a calorie range that results in maintenance or gains.

So, it’s time to pull on my big girl panties and stop the pout. (Besides, being down 13 pounds in 2010 is better than maintaining or gaining.) Going into the holidays with this kind of entitlement is NOT going to do me any favors. I already told Evan we aren’t baking until after Thanksgiving. And what we bake will be gifted to others, minus the occasional single-serving quality control test we may have to do in-house. I’m avoiding the dessert section at the dining hall again and will stick to fruit if I need to calm my sweet tooth. I’ve started bringing back Jello as a sweet treat at home. And the logging returns. TODAY. Admittedly, all of these promises are half-hearted and done with a bit of resignation. I’m hoping the motto “fake it til you make it” works in this instance.  

The biggest challenge is that I can change my behavior but I can’t figure out WHY this is happening? WHY am I bored? WHY am I consistently needing to drug myself once a week in order to sleep through the night? A colleague asked me what’s eating me–is it work? personal stuff? still mourning my grandfather? I don’t know and I don’t know how to figure it out. I’ll take suggestions though.

Anyone want to be my Lucy?

Please issue spankings if I don’t regularly start reporting my food intake and how well I stuck to plan each day. And tell me what you do when you find yourself bored to death by “dieting.”

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9 responses to “Ennui

  1. Why do you continue to think of it as dieting? This is how you need to eat to reach the goal YOU set for yourself. As far as that intuitive eating thing, good luck with that because for me that never happened. I have to be cognizant of everything I put in my mouth. It’s just how it is. Does that mean I never stray from the straight and narrow? lolol Many, many times but it’s kind of like life- a give and take. You are very harsh on yourself. You should be rejoicing that you are healthy, you look fabulous(shhh, be quiet), you have the most gorgeous hair, you have a man that loves you and a family that supports every little thing you do, a job that is fulfilling,money in the bank and you are fit enough to be running in the Turkey Day Trot! Let’s focus on the positive. Scale be damned!

    You, my friend, do tend to be a little bit of a control freak with your lists and calculations and schedules. I’m not sure how you would do without these tools. You have a lot on your plate and have had many life changing events happen in the last months. Even good things,like Evan moving in, can be unreasonably stressful. And the not sleeping is more then just a pain in the neck. Change up your bedtime routine. No tea. No tv. How about some Swiss Miss and music? Sprinkle lavender on your pillow. Form a mental picture in your mind as you drift off of a place you would like to be. Read poetry. You need to sleep!

    Do you have an atta’ girl file? A place to put all those good evaluations, letters from students, awards and recognitions? Get it out and revel in each small accomplishment cause you’ve come a long way, baby.

    As you are well aware, there is no magic bullet that will solve all of your issues. But who wants to be normal anyway when you can be extraordinary, which you are!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you,Evan and the whole clan!! I want video of the road race!!!

  2. you are wayyy to hard on yourself. and it sounds to me like you don’t trust yourself (judging by the fact that you want to go back to stringent measurements). hell, i don’t trust myself either. but i sure as hell know i don’t want to be on a diet.

    becoming obsessed with counting calories and portion sizes is i guess what helps people lose weight but it also makes us crazy. like really friggen nuts. i hate looking at food someone else is eating and knowing exactly how many calories are in it and judging them for it.

    i think you need some time to relax and just listen to yourself and your body. does your body really want to be following a plan? on the same note, does your body really want onion rings? i try to remind myself that daily- just because i can try and eat intuitively, doesn’t mean i should be unconscious of what’s healthy and what’s not. we can push really hard and sometimes we get places, and sometimes life just gives us the middle finger and pushes right back.

    thanks for the hair compliment. haha i was looking pretty frazzled in the video though! i have complete confidence that whatever decision you make about journaling or being stricter of being looser will be the best decision for you. i’m always here to talk and i can’t wait to discuss the book with you after thanksgiving!!

  3. I’m not sure if I should be your Lucy, because I have been feeling much the same way. I have been feeling really upset and frustrated that I quit smoking easily and have not started back up in 3 months (which I thought would be the hardest thing in the world for me to do) and yet I can’t seem to lose the weight I need to for the lap band surgery (which is the thing I really want). I keep/kept spinning my wheels. And so I put myself on a new, portion-controlled weekday plan of eating frozen dinners each night so that my calories and portions would be under control. And it’s working. I’m seeing progress, albeit slowly. But it’s better than two steps forward, 3 steps back. The point is, I shook things up.

    So perhaps you should let yourself eat intuitively, with some norms, until Jan 1. Like only you can only have an indulgence if you’ve worked out that day, or something like that. That way you get to break free from the tracking for a month and a half, but you don’t go “hog wild” (pun intended) and gain all 13 of those pounds back.

    And if you feel like you are more than just bored/frustrated/bitter about the weight loss and the issues are more of a general malease, maybe you should talk to someone about it.

  4. I so understand where you are going from. Sometimes I get so tired. I feel like weight loss is a part time job. With the planning and measuring and calculating… it makes eating that much more tiresome, but I know that I can’t trust myself without tracking, not right now anyways. I know that I will get to a point where I can eat without measuring and calculating, but I know I’m not there yet. I’m readoing years of fighting to lose weight and be healthy, and it’s going to take time to figure out what it is I need to do.
    If your getting bored with eating, try something new. Just because your losing weight doesn’t mean that you can’t be a little adventorous foodwise.
    Hang in there. It’s a tough road, but you can do it. You will find what works for you and the days will get easier.

  5. Your ability to stay focused and track like crazy despite the results we all want for you inspires me right down to my core. I have always wanted that piece if you that tracked for health’s sake and not loss.

    But we all need a break sometimes. This is a marathon, not a sprint. What can you comfortably do to give yourself some space without totally being boundary-free? Set fruit-veggie goals only and trust yourself to eat intuitively otherwise? (because, really, if you’re getting f/v, you’re gonna be pretty full.) or could you find recipes that are under 400 for each meal and then some 150 calorie snacks, knowing that whatever combo you ate during the week would result in meeting calorie goals? Or maybe even just track what you eat without recording any numbers? Sometimes the pencil is all the accountability I need.

    Motivation comes and goes. And that’s okay. In my head, I equate weight loss with money a lot. Sometimes we go bare bones and pay off debt, and sometimes we are a little less mindful with the goal of maintaining and not un-doing any of our hard work. And then we do another “let’s knock this debt out” push.

    And I don’t see why calorie counting/weight loss/ workout scheduled should be any different.

    So all this rambling. Sorry. I hope something in here sparked an idea or struck a chord for you. I’m cheering for you!!

  6. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh do I so know this frustration. My version: When I count points/calories/carbs/etc and dont see the scale move. Or I’ve gotten so tired and bored with counting whatever it is that I’m currently counting that I could punch a baby bear (ok folks, that’s a joke) and want to just entirely give up. It’s this whole “why work so hard and get no results feeling” and then I start thinking about the handful of this or the handful of that and wonder why its so much easier for other people that I want to dive face first into what ever food I can get my hands on.

    Also-I so totally get compliments and remarks about losing weight when I gain 3-5 lbs. But hey, if I lose 10 no one notices….WTF?

  7. It does suck. It just does. It’s not fair. And when you reach your goal it doesn’t get better. Sorry to say. I’ve been “at goal” for 2 1/2 years, but it’s still a struggle, like daily. But you go through ups and downs. Sounds like are just in a little dip with things. Those of us who have had to lose a lot of weight (I lost 110#) just don’t have the luxury of letting things go. They just get way out of hand too easily. I know this will be something I have to battle forever, even now that I am at a healthy weight. But I do get so mad about it sometimes. So mad at all the “naturally thin” people of the world who don’t have this struggle. But then I realize they have their own struggles. And in truth, I wouldn’t exchange my awesome life with anyone’s. The good days definitely outweigh the bad ones. Hang in there! The Roth book is on my Xmas list. Maybe it will help me figure some things out. Maybe not. Sorry, I’m being kind of a downer 😦

  8. I happened across your blog tonight and I just wanted to tell you how much I can relate to your feelings of ennui. I’ve been losing weight for almost 8 months (well, this time — I’ve been yo yo dieting for 35 years) and I think I feel like you’ve described every couple of weeks! I have only read part of your About page and this post so I don’t know your entire story, but it seems to me that you need to give yourself a break.
    I’m trying to lose weight this time in a way that I can sustain and, though I’m tracking my food for now because I have clearly proven that I don’t understand how much food I can eat, I don’t think its reasonable to expect I will do it for the rest of my life. Eventually I assume I’ll have to figure out more moderate ways to keep my food intake under control. I’m a long way from being able to focus on what happens when I’m done losing weight (I can believe that time will come about as much as I can believe in unicorns right now) so I haven’t had to give that eventuality much thought yet but I’m giving you suggestions anyway!
    Maybe you could loosen up your tracking, at least for a while. Like defining portions with certain size bowls or cups. Or allowing yourself unlimited fruits and vegetables while giving yourself loose guidelines such as 3 servings of protein and dairy and whatever. I guess I’m advocating giving yourself permission to take a break from tracking while still giving yourself a structure to keep yourself on course. Maybe you even need to have a bit of a splurge day (or two) where you have some of the things you’ve been denying yourself — but with permission — and not in infinite quantities. And maybe you could stop “sneaking snacks” and give yourself permission to have them, but work it into your overall plan? Hope you don’t mind my 2 cents (or is it 5 cents?) and I’ll enjoy reading some of your other posts.

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