A Lower-Stakes Slump

… and I can’t even blame it on Royal Wedding withdrawal. Though that’s not helping.

For the last few days I have been slumping HARD y’all. Eating crap, not logging enough hours of sleep, not hydrating, feeling junky and filling my body with junk in an unhealthy cycle. Granted, this used to be a lot worse when alcohol was in the mix; but it’s still no bueno and I need to get a handle on it.

I weigh in tomorrow and I will have gained weight, I’m sure. I have about two months until I fly back to London for my MBA class reunion and I want to feel just as fab, if not better, than I felt for my high school reunion a few weeks ago. Starting tomorrow (fresh week, fresh points) I am re-committing to staying within my points until my reunion. I’m also going to start reading The Food Therapist by Shira Lenchewski, hoping that this book will help me get to the root of my eating issues.

Help me, Shira!

I’m frustrated. Because at this point, I have tools. I have knowledge and awareness that I did not have before starting Weight Watchers last year. I have also conquered my alcohol cravings, a feat which I believed impossible until I achieved it. But now sugar has assumed the role previously played by alcohol in the rom-mom-com that is my life. And I know I have to dig deeper.

Willpower is a finite resource. My willpower is running out routinely right now – just like all those days I would wake up and promise myself I wouldn’t drink, only to open a bottle of wine during witching hour desperation. Every day I wake up and start tracking my points, determined to stay within my daily and weekly limits. But by the afternoon, my cravings take control and there I am, scouring my pantry for anything chocolate-y enough to appease. This doesn’t happen every day, but it happened too many days this week (and this month, and this spring) and here I am on Sunday afternoon, feeling bloated and exhausted and sugar-hungover and weak.

I was able to ditch my dependence on alcohol by educating myself and using the tools that Annie Grace gives us through This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment. So many of these tools seem applicable to food cravings as well – yet I find myself balking at the commitment to using them in that way. I could make a list of non-negotiables (e.g. “I will not enter my pantry between 1 and 5pm” or “I won’t eat chocolate alone”) but, frankly, that just seems silly. And the stakes aren’t nearly as high. I’m not going to crash my car if I drive under the influence of chocolate.

This is not an emergency situation. While I’d like to lose a little more weight, I am still hovering within a few pounds of my original goal. Right now I’m just a girl, looking at a bar of chocolate, trying not to put it in my shopping cart. But just as I hit the wall with my relationship with alcohol, so too have I reached that point with sugar. Something has to change. I am tired of overeating sweets and feeling like I have no control over my cravings. It’s time to put in the work.

So this week I will start reading The Food Therapist. I’ll write about it too, because writing gives structure to my soul-searching. I will also get more sleep, continue to slay my exercise goals (the one thing I nailed this past week!), and give myself grace. I deserve to feel my best and not beat myself up if I stumble along the way. It’s time to turn this slump right-side up.

March Madness and Moving Day

Four weeks of craziness and I feel like my bones are made of cement. It is time for a change. My points reset tomorrow and so will my brain. Back to tracking, back to being alcohol-free, back to kickboxing and my beloved Peloton. Back on track or bust!

I am trying not to be too hard on myself, to accept the reality of these last four weeks, to accept that some of it has been in my control and some out of my control, to learn from it, and to MOVE THE F ON. Seeing as I am currently too tired to move much at all, I am taking some time now to collect and reflect. Keep what is important, ditch what is not.

Tomorrow is (mental) moving day.

I will keep the lessons that will serve me well as I move forward. Having alcohol as an option is too much of a willpower- and energy-suck right now, so it needs to not be an option for me for awhile. Again. Did I fail at moderation? No. But neither did I thrive. When we were in London, I drank a glass of wine with dinner the first few nights, and by the end of the week I was up to two glasses and felt like I could not let a night of vacation pass without it. Last Tuesday, when our power finally came back on, we returned to our 43-degree house and I immediately opened a bottle of Sauv B that had naturally chilled in a kitchen cabinet and drank the whole damn thing.

I am not panicking. I have more faith in myself than that. But I also know that I need all the energy and mental clarity and willpower I can get right now and removing alcohol from the zillions of choices I expend energy making on a daily basis will help a lot with that. So, it goes. Again. And I’m a lot less sad about it this time.

I will keep the fond memories of our wonderful London trip and travel adventures at Great Wolf Lodge and in NYC during our four-day power outage. Bringing our kids to London for the first time; walking them past our old house; seeing the thrill on their faces as they walked into Hamley’s, boarded their first double-decker bus, and ascended in the London Eye are memories my husband and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.

I will keep – but try not to torture myself with – the memory of how I feel right now. Drained. Bloated. Disappointed. Gross. Exhausted to my core. Some of this is due to stressful circumstances that were out of my control. We had no power for four days, five counting our 12-hour bonus (ha) outage yesterday. International travel is awesome but tiring. The jet lag/strep throat/head cold combo was a hat trick of heinousness that took about two weeks for me and my kids to overcome.

But I am also partly responsible for how I feel right now. I have burdened my body with booze and junk food. I have allowed my cravings to win out. I have stayed up too late. I have reopened my book of excuses and used them liberally to justify my actions in the moment.

This ends tomorrow. And a new chapter of this journey begins. I am starting Annie Grace’s 30-day Alcohol Experiment and I’m going to start reading The Food Therapist which I hope will help with my out-of-control cravings.

This is going to be a big week. My son is turning four, my dad and stepmom arrive to stay for five days (which is about three days too long), and we have my son’s birthday party on St. Patrick’s Day. (Oh, and I’ll be PMSing. Apologies if that’s TMI.)

The 2017 me would never have the guts to go alcohol-free starting on a week like the one I have ahead of me. The 2018 me is admittedly a bit daunted, but mostly excited by the thought of how damn proud I am going to feel a week from today.

Damn. Proud. I can do this.

Barf. Literally.

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I drank a bottle of wine last night.

WTF?!

After all the progress I’ve made?! WHY would I do that to myself?! I promised myself I would never drink a bottle of wine in one night again. I committed to not drinking wine at home for the month of March. And yet I did! I drank an entire bottle of wine at home last night. UGH!!!

… This is not actually my inner monologue. For once, I am not beating myself up about drinking too much. Instead of surrendering to my usual guilt spiral, and perhaps because I have not been drunk since December, I am reflecting on my behavior in a much more objective – and less damning, and less damaging – way.

This is fairly remarkable for me, as I am a frequent passenger on the guilt train. One of the reasons I so desperately signed up for Dry January is that I was in a heinous cycle of waking every morning if not fully hungover, at least puffy, groggy and stale; committing to not drinking that day; then feeling frayed by the time the witching hour rolled around and pouring myself a glass of wine anyway, which would inevitably become three or four glasses (if not more) by the time I went to bed in a haze; and start all over again the next morning. I knew I needed a clean break from this cycle and that is what I achieved.

I conquered Dry January and felt on top of the world. Yet I was not ready to say goodbye to wine forever. So over the last five weeks I have been attempting moderation: drinking when I am out at night or on vacation, and not drinking at home.

The freedom I felt during Dry January has evaporated. To drink or not to drink is now a choice again. And making this choice takes energy. Willpower. And willpower is a finite resource.

So last night, when our power finally came back on after four long days, I was out of willpower. I wanted tortilla chips and wine and I didn’t even try to fight these unhealthy urges – despite simultaneously composing yesterday’s post about how empowering my first year on Weight Watchers had been.

I copped to the chips and chocolate in yesterday’s post, but I left out the wine. Why did I do that? I’ll be totally honest: I didn’t want my Connect friends to think less of me. Because opening that bottle made ME think a little less of me.

And at the same time, I was curious to revisit my old ways. So I allowed myself to surrender to old habits, slugging back the Sauvignon Blanc while feeding my kids dinner, and finishing the bottle a couple of hours later. My husband and I had a delightfully normal night of eating dinner on the couch while watching “Fixer Upper.” I didn’t get sloppy. But I didn’t necessarily enjoy my buzz either.

We went to bed. And a few hours later, half-asleep, I made my way to the bathroom and I threw up.

I FREAKING THREW UP.

I threw up from drinking an amount of wine which, by the time I reached the end of 2017, was what I’d imbibe on any given evening. Yikes.

I woke up feeling predictably gross this morning, and perversely grateful that I got sick overnight because at least I was able to purge some of the junk from my system. I have felt nasty and eaten tons of crap all day as my family and I weather cabin fever during yet another snow storm.

But you know what? Ain’t got time or energy to beat myself up. Instead, I am choosing to reflect and learn from my experience. And here’s what I learned:

Dry January helped my body reset its tolerance for alcohol and break from habitual drinking. And it made me feel like a million bucks. Drinking in front of my kids makes me feel like a loser. And consuming an entire bottle of wine now makes me sick. Good to know!

I really, really wish I hadn’t wanted to open that bottle last night. The last four days of not being able to stay in our house, coming on the heels of three routine-less weeks of travel, snow days, and illnesses, were the whipped cream and cherry on top of a big ol’ cortisol sundae. I was vibrating with stress by the time the power came back on last night. And the only thing I could think of to help me chillax was wine.

These were exceptional circumstances, and I’m disappointed that I resorted to old habits. Throwing up last night and feeling like crap today have been effective reminders of why I broke those habits in the first place. All I can hope is to continue this process of self-reflection, to continue to evolve, with grace and without judgement. Perhaps next time I’ll be strong enough to not open that bottle.

Who’s Got the Power? My First Year on Weight Watchers

Today is my one-year Weight Watchers anniversary.

Am I at my goal weight? No.

I am at my original goal weight, and that is ok. Because this past year has been about so much more than that.

My original goal weight has become my new “I feel puffy and need to get back on track” weight. That’s where I am today. And after three weeks of craziness (international travel with two young kids, a family case of strep throat, then head colds, and currently on day five of a power outage), I am ok with that.

I am more than ok. Because I have something that I didn’t have a year ago, when I set out on this journey. I have faith in myself. I believe in myself. I know exactly what I am doing and I know that I will get back to where I want to be.

Right now I am stress-eating. We have been out of our house for four days and out of our routine for three weeks. While I have managed to spend some of that time on the wagon, I’ve also allowed myself to give into my go-to cravings: tortilla chips, Nutella, and chocolate. I wish I were stronger. I wish I didn’t resort to junk food as a “reward” in times of stress. Because, of course, putting this crapola into my body is not a reward. It’s a burden. A moment of pleasure that instantly weighs me down mentally and physically. And that weight lasts a lot longer than the fleeting pleasure.

But I do it anyway. And I accept that. For now.

Because I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve run two marathons in my life. This is my third.

When I joined WW a year ago, I was desperate. My eating and drinking were out of control. I was squeezing into my clothes. I had little energy and patience. Working out felt like a hopeless chore. I needed some structure and someone else’s rules to follow because I wasn’t sticking to my own.

WW has opened a door to an existence that I didn’t believe was possible. I used to think my old weight was just the way my body was going to be after having two kids. I used to think it was fine to eat whatever I want because nothing would ever change. I used to think I would never be able to control my alcohol cravings. I felt disgusting. And, finally, fed up.

I didn’t know what else to do. So I joined WW. I stepped through that door. And while I have not yet arrived at my ultimate destination, I left the first 20lbs behind. Confidently over the threshold, I closed the door and flipped the deadbolt. I will never see those 20lbs again. The next five are hanging on for dear life, and the five after that still feel somewhat out of reach. But this is a journey. This is a marathon. I haven’t crossed the finish line, but I haven’t hit the wall either. I’m still going strong.

One year in. I wish I could have posted dramatic before and after photos, but I wasn’t up to it today. So I got a pedicure. I’d show it to you, but I forgot to shave my toes and my left big toenail is still growing back after a nasty incident with a pair of pointy-toe flats.

But under these Converse All-Stars, beneath my socks, my toenails are painted a fierce, sassy and confident shade of neon watermelon.

And under my stress-eating-induced bloat, beneath my sweatshirt and leggings, I am a fierce, sassy and confident person and mama and athlete and writer and warrior and wife.

I’ve been writing this post throughout the day. Between grocery trips and school runs and karate classes, amidst not knowing when or if our electricity would be restored before the next storm hits in a matter of hours.

And guess what? The power – finally! – came on.

We have power.

I have power.

THAT is what I have taken away from my first year on Weight Watchers. I. Have. Power.

And I take responsibility. For the good decisions and the bad. I alone have the power to learn from these decisions. And I am. I am learning so much about myself and I am becoming a better person and mom and wife every day.

Because every day leads me closer to the me I want to be. She has eluded me over the years. And at times I have almost lost her.

But not this time. Not ever again, I hope.

Because I have the power now.

British Granola and a Big Ol’ Lightbulb

DOH. I just calculated the smart points for this glorious granola that I ate first thing every morning while in London (so good we brought a bag home!). A bowl of this plus milk basically equals a FULL DAY of smart points – and then we would go out for breakfast!

I’m starting to realize the depth of the disservice I did to myself by not tracking while I was in London. Even though I have been on Weight Watchers for almost a year I still have seen taking a break from tracking as a sort of treat. I thought “letting myself off the hook” was fun. What I’m realizing now is that tracking itself is a gift. The awareness and accountability that tracking provides is so much more beneficial than “treating” myself to being off the wagon.

Lightbulb!

Why has it taken me so long to realize and accept this?! UGH!

And then I remind myself that this is a journey. A marathon, not a sprint. A path that only I can navigate. So I once again kick that little judgmental little devil to the curb and continue on my way.

Home Again

We are back from an incredible week in London and I am in bed with a nasty virus. Grateful that it’s nothing worse – though I haven’t been bedridden like this in months – and that today is Sunday so my hubs can take the kids while I rest up.

But UGH.

I’ve been putting crap into my body for two weeks now, between my pre-vacay salt-and-sugar extravaganza and then eating whatever I wanted while in London. And while I’m sure this illness is not entirely due to my being off the wagon, I’m guilting myself about it anyway. Maybe if I hadn’t eaten so poorly, maybe if I hadn’t had wine, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten sick and I’d be able to be productive today instead of feeling like a puffy zombie.

I know I need to cut myself a break and focus on the positives. We had an incredible week in one of my favorite cities on the planet. My husband and I were able to provide a fun, eye-opening, enriching travel experience for our kiddos while reliving some of our fondest memories of the years we spent living in London. It was truly wonderful.

And this Weight Watchers journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Habits don’t change overnight. And weight gain doesn’t mean failure. Track it and move on.

Move on. Move past this guilt because it’s not helping me in any way. And learn. I’m learning there are certain foods I just can’t have in my house. That doesn’t make me weak, it makes me aware. I’m learning that allowing myself to eat whatever I want doesn’t feel like a treat anymore, it just messes with my body and weighs me down with guilt and disappointment.

I don’t want to look back on this trip and feel guilt. I want to look back on this trip and remember it for the amazing, special week that it was. I hope that as I get past this illness I will do just that.

And the next time we travel, I will remember that travel is not a ticket to a bottomless buffet. My one-year Weight Watchers anniversary is approaching. I have been fueling my body with healthier choices for almost a year. Naughty foods have a more negative impact on me now. A good lesson to learn, even if I learned it the hard way this time around. I believe I will make better choices from now on.

So, when I look back on our London trip, I hope I remember, above all, the joy on my son’s face when he rode his first double decker bus; the pride with which my daughter used her first digital camera to capture our adventures; the happiness we all felt being together in a wonderful place.

Time to get back on track.

 

Hello from London

… where, on a bus tour today, I learned the origin of the term “off the wagon” – which is appropriate considering how I’ve been eating since we’ve been here.

While my kids and our familial jetlag have not allowed too much time for reflection, I have definitely noticed that my eating and drinking habits have changed. And that is such a profound relief. Yes, I am “off the wagon” right now. I am not tracking, and I’m eating all my favorite British foods. I’m drinking wine with dinner too. I will gain weight while I’m here. But I’m already looking forward to getting back “on the wagon” when we get home (as much as I don’t want this wonderful trip to end!). I need vegetables. And I need to be back in a country where Nutella comes in plastic, not glass, and doesn’t taste good enough to spend points on it.

I wish I didn’t want to drink wine with dinner. But I’m reminding myself that drinking a glass of wine with dinner while on vacation is a far cry from drinking a bottle a night at home. We are staying in an apartment here and I have not bought any wine to keep in the fridge – that, too, is progress from our last vacation over the summer where I had an ever-present bottle in our hotel rooms for the necessary night-cap. Or three.

So, I’m not where I want to be in terms of having self-control with my favorite junk food. And I’m not where I want to be with alcohol. But there was a time not so long ago where I couldn’t even imagine being where I am now. Limiting myself to one glass of wine. Not having fish and chips every day just because I can. I simply didn’t believe in myself. And now I do. And that is progress.