Saturday, March 30, 2013

You Don't Have To Be Perfect After All.

   At the end of my last post, I had to ask if I would blow off the 30 day fat release project because of a trio of organic blueberry waffles, among other foods.  Here I am with another post, so it looks like the experiment is still on.

     A few posts back, I wrote about my experience with a diet that was relatively low carb during the week, with a massive cheat day on the weekend.  I took a stab at this eating style when I was at what I'll call my lowest "modern" (i.e. post baby/age 40) weight of 117.  It was a mess, and I put 10 pounds back on so fast it made my head spin.  That bad experience made me suspect that I couldn't indulge in sugar or flour at all- ever.  At that point, I began to wonder if the food addict label was one I would have to wear for the rest of my life.  (Pardon the drama please.)  As matter of fact, in 2010 I went 10 months without a single bite of sugar or white flour.  I lost weight, but in some ways I was even more obsessed with food when I was abstinent.

     And yet... There was something about abstinence from sugar and flour that made me feel strong, whole, and healthy.

     The question I have to ask now is, what is the happy, sensible, rational medium that lets me live the life I want to live?  I want to invite you to ask yourself the same question.  On the one hand, occasional overeating of sweets does push my morning fasting blood sugar up over 100 according to my glucose meter, and that's not a great thing.  On the other hand, if is lovely to be able to share a dessert with my husband every once in a while, and I know that my son finds it reassuring when he sees me have a bite of chocolate without going into a tailspin over ruining my diet.

     What is the answer?  And why does weight matter so much?  Why does weight have so much weight when a modern woman assesses her current state of life affairs?  Why is it that even though my BMI is a very healthy 23.7 this voice in my head still whispers, go lower, get leaner?  I have come to realize that I am being driven by fashion, status, and the media.

     My diet and exercise plan is like this massive photoshop/airbrushing program that I'm trying to do on my real life body.  Just last week, I was listening to a podcast and  heard the male host, who is a trainer, ask the male guest (another trainer) how a woman can get to 16% body fat.

16%!

According to the World Health Organization at Body Fat percentage below 18.5% is underweight, and below 17% ovulation is suppressed in women.  And yet, trainers are casually asking other trainers how women can get to 16% as if that was not only reasonable, but desirable!

     I have begun to realize that it may be the very irrational nature of my weight goal that is driving my obsession.  Now I know that scales and hand held devices that measure body fat percentage are notoriously inaccurate, but the one at Gordon Studio gave me a reading of 19.5% this week.  Honestly, I never dreamed I would want to go below 20%, especially at the age of 48.

     Could it be that my cravings last week were  the result of my new low body fat %- and not the caused by my weak will and poor judgement?  An even more important question is this.  How much misery, self recrimination, and dieting is being driven by the desire to reach a level of lean-ness that is so severe that it impairs fertility in women?

     Lately, I've been telling myself that I have to get leaner for my clients.  I have to be a role model for them.  The rational grown up part of me asks,

     "If that's the case, why are your classes so crowded that you're nearly doubling the size of your dance floor this weekend?"

     What I realize is that I am literally living in the space between Health and Fashion, and I need to make a decision about what to do now.

     What if my need to eat perfectly is driven by a vain desire to look perfect, even if looking perfect would make me unwell by any reasonable medical standard?

     Still... what if all the musings above are just rationalizations to give me free reign to eat all I want at the Easter buffet on Sunday?  The current state of affairs is this, over the past week or so, I haven't been eating "perfectly" but I have released fat anyway.  That makes sense when you consider that I'm teaching nine fitness classes a week.  So here is my plan, because I do still think it's good to have a plan when it comes to eating.  Today, I will enjoy a healthy menu that leaves out the sweets, grains, nut butters, and other foods I tend to over indulge in.  On Sunday at brunch I will eat slowly, mindfully, and with an eye to delighting the senses.  In other words, I will eat the way my naturally slender husband and son do.

     Then on Monday it's back to TT, Zumba, and an everyday menu that leaves the sweets out.  If I can manage this without triggering cravings and food obsession... what a breakthrough that will be.  I promise to let you know what happens with all the honesty I can muster.