A Story About Forgiving Yourself… Sort Of

This is a tough topic to bring up and I’ve decided to post my thoughts on it, raw and probably circular, on the internet.

I feel some serious frustration towards myself for letting myself become overweight. I’ve pushed healthy food professionally and personally for so many years but I didn’t commit to what I was preaching. I blamed the catering life for a while. How could I say no three cheese mac or coffee-cacao rubbed brisket?

A life-long, turbulent relationship with food and body image has brought me here. The reason I am overweight is because I have been saturated in denial about being in control of the issue.

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March 8th, 2016. Somewhere between 176-181lbs.

I know I’m not huge but I’m uncomfortable. I feel it most when I’m active but I can feel it even when I’m sedentary. My back has next to no strength to support itself and my poor hips and knees are achy.

When my brother decided to move forward with his weight loss surgery, I decided it was my turn to get serious about making some changes. So on January 6th, I started counting calories and slowly incorporating more activity into my day.

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Ow ow ow ow ow ow

Fast forward to today. I’ve lost about 9-10lbs. With the sun shining for the first time all week, I went for a run and I was slow (14 min avg pace!?!?). I was beginning to beat myself up for not being able to go longer or faster. Why didn’t I jog more? Why was this so hard? I wanted to give up halfway through the mile but I couldn’t. As a personal philosophy I don’t give up until I know the returns will be zilch.

I know this is going to be a long and slow process. I did the math- I would have to eat 1200 calories/day to lose 1lb/week to which I said, “Oh HELL no.” I love food and all of its complexities. Giving up my connection to food would be sacrificing a part of my identity (see personal Instagram tagline: Data nerd, Brooklyn biker, vegetable pusher). What I need to do is kickstart my relationship with food.  I don’t need to eat all the snacks because they’re there but if I want a donut, I should have a donut. And I should plan for that donut. I should savor that donut and all of its doughy sweetness. And then eat a giant bowl of vegetables when I’m hungry.

I’m trying to forgive myself for treating my body so badly all these years. Hundreds of days of endless drinking, mindless eating, and minimal movement that have damaged parts of me I didn’t know I had. I don’t know how to do this but I need to start somewhere. So I’ll start here, telling you about how like every other person struggling with their weight, I am mad at myself. The only way I can move forward psychologically and physically is to identify it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. Let self-love repair all that I’ve destroyed and salvage the few parts of me that are still ready to do this.

I’ll keep counting and restricting calories until I’ve reached a healthy point but I will not let anger fuel my desire to get there. To all of you sharing the same struggle, do yourself a favor and forgive yourself for failing time and time again. You’ve only lost when you’ve given up.

Also, get yourself a mantra. It helps.

Mine? Be strong, but gentle.


Taking Care of Self

Salted Caramel Cortado. A little latte for a little Shayla.

No one can disagree that we should take care of ourselves now so that we can be healthier in the future. Our gym memberships, hours practicing yoga, cooking healthy meals and annual checkups prove that. We’re living in a constant state of improvement right now so that we can live longer later. I don’t know about you but I often forget about doing things for myself that aren’t just for the long term. I forget about taking care of myself for an hour from now or for tomorrow. Mindful meditation on the present is a great start (obviously) but that doesn’t keep my kitchen clean. I’ve put together a short list of simple, semi-glaringly obvious points that may make your next hour or day a little more enjoyable.

  • Make Your Lunch at Dinner. This is my first suggestion to anyone who says they want to spend less time in the kitchen. Planning and food waste issues aside, if you’re cooking dinner, make something you can bring with you to work. You can show off your kitchen prowess and save a few bucks. Two birds, one scone, amirite?
  • One Hour. Do whatever you want with it. Ignore everyone that tells you that looking at your screen is taking away your humanity. If your humanity lies in beating that temple you’ve been dreading, by all means, be a human.
  • Give Yourself a Break. You can see it. You can smell it. Your laundry and/or your rotten veggies are taking over the apartment! Outsource a normal task from time to time like sending your laundry out or having your groceries delivered. You can spend those newly gained hours doing a fun thing and use that money that you didn’t spend buying lunch.

Honorable mentions: make your dressings, marinades and sauces ahead of time and use as you go; quick pickle your veggies that are about to go (all you need is vinegar, water and sugar); clean as you go (I tidy up for 5-10 minutes in the morning); set your coffee maker to start brewing around the time you wake up; pre-package trail mix or granola for a quick snack; make enough grains to last you a few days (leftover quinoa is great with yogurt!).

A little planning goes a long way, in my opinion.

What did I do for future Shayla? I made her a lunch and enjoyed a fancy coffee drink that I always tell myself is too expensive. Well, maybe the afternoon coffee wasn’t a great idea for 11pm Shayla…