Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making a change

I've debated posting this for some time. I'm afraid to be labeled a "traitor" to the body love cause. But I think it's important to make a declaration, and that maybe it's good to address the elephant (pun intended) in the room.

A few weeks ago I slipped on the MRT stairs. I played it for laughs, but the fact that the people who helped me called me "tita" hurt. I'm only 32! Maybe it's vanity, but being called auntie, even in the respectful, totally non-hurtful way that the concerned good Samaritans did, made me feel bad. But it also made me think.

The thing is that I've got a happy threshold for fatness -- it's still big to many, possibly unacceptable to some -- but it's a size I'm comfortable with. At the happy threshold I am overweight and buy plus sizes but I can still play football and run and wear the clothes in my closet and even don a swimsuit and strut.

Right now, I'm about 25 pounds north of that threshold. And I'm not happy about it.
Left, mid 2012, right smack in the "happy threshold;" right, last Sunday.

It's not just that I've had to retire three pairs of pants that I loved but can't fit into, or that my pencil skirts zip up right under my boobs instead of my waist. It's how I can barely run up and down a football field and how I haven't worn heels in a long time because my feet can barely support my own weight. It's how my skin has been blotchy and dull and how I look in the mirror and know, and have to admit, that no, this isn't body love anymore. The truth is that I've let go. I am unhealthy.

I haven't been to yoga class since April. Weeks pass between football games. I haven't ran since leaving BGC. Though I prepare healthy baon with brown rice and veggies for work, that happens like thrice a week. The rest of the time, I eat mindlessly. Indulgently, even.

The last time this happened was 2009. A few months of mindful eating through calorie counting helped me get back to fighting form. Then I got pregnant, lost the baby weight effortlessly through breastfeeding, got careless (or swamped and exhausted), and now at I'm at an all-time high.

I've been calorie counting for the past three months but nothing has changed. I did some research and found that course-correcting after age 30 is extremely difficult. All those years not lifting weights because strength training sucks? Bit me in the ass because the loss of lean muscle mass makes the metabolism go slower, which sucks because the lower the metabolism the less calories needed, which means as I get older I need to consume fewer calories to maintain the same weight.

And it can't be an either/or proposition anymore. I can't just eat less and exercise when I feel like it, or eat whatever and exercise a lot. I've got to do it both now.

For a while I was tempted to do a fad diet, like the Cohen. But a friend sent me the program she's on and it reminded me so much of when I was on the South Beach Diet from 2004-2007: so many restrictions, so much time committed to just cooking and buying and measuring food (instead of, I don't know, blogging or reading or spending time with my kids), and that feeling of hopelessness that I can never eat out or enjoy normal things like lunch-outs and office birthday meriendas. Besides, I remember the lank hair and gray pallor and the fainting spells and the abnormally high cholesterol I had on South Beach, and how the weight piled back when I finally went off it, and I thought, "I'm not doing that again."

So the goal now is to do it right. No tricks, no fads, no gimmicks. Instead of doing a trendy diet, I created my own healthy meal plan. The goal is to have complex carbs, veggies or fruits and lean protein in every meal. I made a chart and a menu and put it on my fridge so I won't run out of ideas. I downloaded the Skimble workout app  and made a commitment to wake up an hour earlier each day and exercise at least three times a week, with the goal of moving that up to five.

I also started reading Jillian Michaels' Slim For Life book, which I browsed in Fully Booked.  I know, the title rubbed me the wrong way too (why not  'health for life?') but it's actually a great read. There are no shortcuts, gimmicks or too-good-to-be-true mumbo jumbo. The stuff I've read so far makes sense and actually seems doable. Take this:
"...the point is to eat with common sense and balance. And you don't need to make yourself miserable because a diet says you can never have a sandwich again. As long as you eat quality food and make sure to get a good balance of healthy protein, fats and carbs every day, you'll be fine."
(Emphasis mine.) She even stresses that we need good fats like olive oil and salmon and that 20% of our diet should come from this for the health of our skin, hair and nails -- no wonder I looked like a Zombie on the virtually carb and fat-free South Beach!

So this is what I'm doing right now. Today was day one, and I'm feeling good.  I'm not after being thin or skinny; all I want is to feel healthy again, to be happy and comfortable in my skin, to do the things I love -- and if that means wearing heels and rocking my red jeans, however shallow that is, so be it.

I'm sorry if this post is so long and me-focused; I'm sorry to bring up dieting and weight loss after declaring myself free of that tyranny. But I hope that healthy eating and exercising can co-exist, and not compete, with body love. I also wish you the best in your body love and acceptance journey, and wherever you are in that path, I hope you will understand why I needed to do this "reset."

Whatever you feel about this, please do wish me luck as I try and make a change!


Deepa said...

Don't feel beholden to a cause, even if it is a worthy one like body acceptance. Do what's best for you and what makes you happy! And don't feel that making a change negates body love: taking care of your body with good food and exercise is a wonderful form of showing it some love. Good luck Iggy! *waving pompoms*

Katrina said...

thanks Deepa! #affirmations

lornadahl said...

Way to go! I don't think you need to apologize for this move. It's your body and you're the best judge what's best for you. When you slipped, it's your body's way of saying you need to be more conscious of it, I think.

Actually, I feel the same way. I don't wanna be skinny but I don't wanna remain in this sedentary lifestyle. I miss yoga and boxing!

I wish you all the best in this lifestyle change. If you've heard of juicing, I'll be happy to email you recipes. ;)

Katrina said...

Thank you Lorna for the encouragement!

I guess putting this out here is also a way of self-policing. Coming from a very disordered background of dieting, I want to be accountable to the community (o diba, movement na ito) so that I remain focused on my well being and not the pounds. :)

Sure, send me some juicing recipes! My biggest challenge is really having balanced breakfasts and meriendas, so I think juicing would be a great solution there. :)

lornadahl said...

Oh, yes! Movement talaga! ;)

Green smoothie recipes sent! Enjoy!


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