Repost: Holiday Eating, Hold the Guilt

** This is a reposting of an old post from almost exactly 1 year ago. Why am I re-posting this? Because I think it’s a good reminder as we catapult into the holiday season. And truthfully, I could re-write another version of the same article, but I would much rather work on some original, helpful content than re-word something just to get something posted.**

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: Nov. 13, 2013

As I was sitting here, sipping some tea to warm up, I was struggling to come with something to write about. I don’t plan my posts, or rather, I rarely plan my posts – not because it’s not helpful (I’ve tried it, it really is helpful) but because I’m a ridiculous planner in all other aspects of my life. I live by spreadsheets and my google calendar so having a space that allows me to NOT plan out my life is actually quite nice. Anyways, back to the whole tea sipping tea…I checked out some articles I had bookmarked earlier to see if anything sparked my writing interest. Nothing really, just a whole lot of learning. If I’m not working, writing, squatting, or eating – I’m reading absolutely everything I can.

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[according to the internet it's pumpkin season or more accurately, pumpkin pie season]

While combing the internet for ideas, I couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of “healthy holiday”  “guilt-free/skinny recipes” “reduce your calories during the holidays” articles. I drafted a post about some tips for navigating the holidays when you don’t feel like falling face first into a tray of less-than-stellar cookies but truth be told, I pretty much said all I needed to say last year. As I continued combing through articles from around the web, I just grew more irritated. These articles were nothing more than words dedicated to making people, and mostly women, feel “guilty” for enjoying some pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Words like “calorie reduction”, “guilt-free”, “skinny, “avoid regret” – I mean, you’d think that eating mashed potatoes (with OMGbutter and cream!) was tantamount to turning into a stark-raving lunatic who drowns puppies and kittens while kicking over a kid’s bicycle. Everything was aimed at reducing calories and increasing guilt.

Well, if eating pie makes you a morally devoid heathen than I will proudly raise that flag and wave it high. And I will do so without guilt.

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[yeah, that cake is full of sugar and everything delicious. no guilt to be found.]

It’s assumed that when the “holiday season” rolls around – people turn into cookie-crazed zombies who can do nothing but shove all the cookies in their face. If you’re having trouble with kicking sugar, the holidays can be tough simply because of how frequently sugar is around. But I promise, you’re greater person than your cookie cravings. In the words of Jill Coleman – “ritualize your indulgences, don’t habitualize them”. Savor all of those once a year treats and I mean, really savor them. Enjoy them. Don’t become a slave to them. And most of all, do not get into the eat a cookie-feel guilty-feel bad-give up-eat more cookies-rinse-and-repeat cycle. Guilt has no place on your plate or in your brain.

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[yup, I'll have my 14oz steak along with some pie, please.]

So, as much as I wanted to craft a post with 10 tips for staying on track during the holidays or something like that, I couldn’t do it. I don’t have any quick fixes or super amazing groundbreaking tips because frankly, my eating strategy doesn’t change during the holidays. I eat things that make me feel good, support my goals, and have a positive impact on my gym performance. I also eat sugar and chips and heaven forbid, carbs – yeah, with butter and cream and bacon. I also make decisions that don’t support my goals – I’m looking at you wine & cider last night before my 5AM alarm – and when I feel less than stellar the next day, I do so without feeling guilty. When the holidays do roll around, I’m going to eat the things I like AND continue to eat how I normally eat. To me, it’s really that simple – the holidays are just days when we get to eat a special meal and spend time with family. I will continue to eat what works for me, train hard, and not feel an ounce of “guilt” about anything I eat.  Figure out what works for you, embrace it, and treat the holidays like any other time of the year (just with better treats!). After all, pie is best served with whipped cream, not guilt.

Day in the Life #5

First off, thanks to everyone for the great comments on last week’s post. Second off, you all really like day in the life posts so, here’s another one for you!

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5am: alarm goes off, wake up, make coffee, take out my dog, get dressed, eat some oatmeal + protein powder + peanut butter

 

5:30am: drive to the gym

 

5:45-6am: warm up, stretch, accessorize (knee wraps, wrist wraps, all that fun stuff)

 

6:00-7:15am: Train

 

Power cleans 5×3 @ 44kg

Strict press 5×5 @ 60#

Back squat 3×5 @ 185# (grind of my life)

 

7:30am: Get home, quickly change, do my makeup, make protein shake, grab 2 cups of cereal

 

8:00am: Get to work, chug said shake, munch on cereal

 

8:00-1:00pm: Work

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1:30pm: Husband picks me up from work, we run errands to buy equipment for the food truck, then stop at Chipotle for lunch

 

2:30pm: Get home, eat Chipotle (chicken, white rice, no beans, veggies, salsas).

 

3:00-6:00pm: I work doing the books for the food truck, writing, organizing food truck stuff, scheduling food truck, answering emails

 

6:30pm: Eat a random mix of things in the fridge like brussel sprouts, green beans, and chicken.

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7:00-8:30pm: Do some CSCS studying with a few apps on my phone.

 

8:30pm: Eat some sweet potato, canned pumpkin, and peanut butter

 

9:00pm: Start getting ready for the next day.

10:00pm: Get ready for bed and attempt to sleep!

Women & Body Image

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for a blog reader, buddy, and former Strongman camp participant (HI KELLY!!!!!!) for a panel presentation that she was giving on body image. Beyond being incredibly flattered, I also found the questions to be very interesting and thought provoking so I thought I would share some of the questions and my answers. (Note: I’ve added or edited a few items just to make things a bit more clear).

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Approximately how much weight have you “lost?”

Over the years, this has changed, but from my heaviest weight to today, I’ve lost approximately 45lbs. Truthfully, I never weighed myself at my heaviest weight so I’m guesstimating.

 

Describe how you feel about your body now, at this moment.

At this moment, I feel content with my body. Are there things I want to change? Certainly. But that change is motivated by making my body an even greater version of what it already is rather than trying to fit a societal mold or deprive my body into submission.

When/in what contexts do you currently feel most aware of your body and its size?

I feel most aware of my body and it’s size when I’m outside of my “bubble” – I’m surrounded most of the time by fellow athletes, both male and female, most of whom I train with. Anytime I’m around a group of women outside of my usual context, I feel acutely aware of my body – I’m aware that I take up space and that I do so by choice. My shoulders and legs are often bigger than everyone else’s (some men included) in a room and I’m perfectly fine with that. For example, my training partner and I were getting pedicures one day and while we were discussing nutritional strategies for gaining muscle and squatting 200lbs, the ladies around us were talking about their desire to shrink and how much deprivation they could induce to get that “bikini body” they so desired. The general rhetoric that surrounds women’s bodies is one of struggle and warfare – women are expected to dislike their body, they are expected to view their body as bits and parts that never measure up, there is the expectation that you, as a woman, should be constantly critical of your body. Those highly gendered social scripts run deep and it’s not something I’m acutely aware of until I’m confronted with the dissonance between my own thoughts and attitudes about women and body image and conventional expectations.  My body’s size and composition aren’t something that I think about until I’m faced with a situation where I’m the biggest person in the room (ahem, like walking into any
hip coffee shop).

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Describe how you felt about your body at your lightest weight.

I’m currently the lightest weight I have been in my adult life and at this point, I feel very happy with my body. Prior to this time period, I had been close to my current weight at other points in my life but wasn’t very happy with my body – I was trying to restrict and cardio myself into something that I thought I should desire to be.  Turns out, I really didn’t want that.

Describe how you felt about your body at your heaviest weight.

I was at my heaviest weight when I was deep into my relationship with my now husband – I was happy in that respect and somewhat miserable in other respects (over worked, over stressed). I was also extraordinarily sick at the time (osteopenia, ulcers, undiagnosed severe gluten intolerance, foot fracture due to my poor health) and felt like my body was a failure. I was 21 years old and could barely go to work because I was so ill – my body felt like something that was trapping me and something that was holding my life back. In addition to my poor health, I was very mad at my body for not cooperating with what I wanted it to do
- why wouldn’t it lose weight? Why wouldn’t it look like the body of people I looked up to?Why did nothing ever work? It was a pretty miserable feeling.

 

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When/in what contexts did you feel most aware of your body and its size?

I felt very aware of my body’s size, at my heaviest weight, in social situations and in medical situations. Doctors would say “well lose weight” as if it would solve all of my problems – they would suggest things like “eat 800 calories a day and go jog for 3 hours” as a solution (p.s. that is not a solution – that’s a death sentence).

 

How have your friends and family responded to your weight at each of these three stages—current, lightest, and heaviest?

I’m very lucky in that I’ve been surrounded by very supportive individuals.My friends and families have always been supportive of me and my endeavours (health related and otherwise) in every context, regardless of my body size.

 

If a family member or friend has asked or were to ask you how you lost your weight, what did or would you say?

I’ve lost weight (and regained and lost again) in several different ways. If a family member or friend were to ask how I lost weight I would say that I focused on eating enough  (compared to not eating enough in the past), lifting heavy weights, and most of all, by being consistent. I’m constantly acquiring knowledge about the incredibly complicated physiological science of it all. Eating the right amount of food for whatever goal someone has important. Understanding why certain things impact your body a certain way is important.

I am not “on” or “off” the wagon. I just aim to be consistent. I also would emphasize the importance of not overly restricting food changes, not labeling foods as “good” or “bad”,
and coming to the realization that you can eat some ice cream and still like yourself. Making changes to your body doesn’t mean you have to hate your body – it doesn’t mean war or fighting against it. It means being smart and making sustainable changes.

 

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If a family member or friend has asked or were to ask you why you lost your weight, what did or would you say?

This answer has changed over time and different periods of my weight
loss. I initially would have said it was because I wanted to look better because society told me I had to. Then it would be because I wanted to feel better. Now it’s because I want to improve my performance and competitiveness as an athlete.

 

Describe how you have changed your body and its weight.

Systematic experimentation, observation, and adjustment. I went from a place of being either fully “on” a diet to fully “off” a diet to just having a focus on consistency. I’ve made changes to my diet, noted the effect those changes had and kept what worked and threw out what didn’t work. I’ve focused on building muscle and strength rather than shrinking myself into oblivion. I’ve learned to not stress so much about everything. I’ve found the value of moderation instead of extremes. I’ve embraced taking up space.

It’s interesting, there is this weird disconnect and discomfort between being an advocate for women taking up space while simultaneously trying to get smaller. It’s like you’re not supposed to really care about weight and scales and things like that but in reality, if you compete in a sport with weight classes (I do), it becomes important. I think the fundamental difference between my attempts to change my body years ago and now is the mentality of the effort. Instead of viewing something like losing weight as an all out battle of willpower and something that I have to white knuckle myself through, I view as just something that gets done when I implement a certain strategy. There is no feeling of “you’re a bad person” when I see a number on the scale. That number is a data point and it tells me where I’m going. I make changes or I stick with whatever I’m doing based on whatever goal I’m working towards. Being at peace with your body and not expending every molecule of mental energy towards hating it makes everything a whole lot easier. I’ve rejected the social scripts that dictate what women are supposed to look like and how they are expected to feel about their bodies. And I think THAT is pretty damn important.