My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups and Downs Part 3
In my last post, I left off with my recovery from a bad relationship with food and my elimination of steady state cardio. It was something I knew I needed to do for a long time, but it didn’t make it easy. While it was difficult mentally, it was made a bit easier by the fact that I almost effortlessly lost 10lbs in the first 2 months of putting focus on weight training, doing very little cardio, and eating foods I wanted to eat without feeling guilt.
Slowly but surely, my goals started to change towards getting stronger and the emphasis on “losing weight” was dwindling.
Throughout the rest of 2013 and into 2014, I started to really remember why I got into this in the first place and started to remember my roots. I was taught how to lift weights first and foremost, and that was what I loved most.
I continued counting calories throughout all of these years. At some point, I switched from Sparkpeople over to My Fitness Pal, but I’m 99% sure that there isn’t a day in the last 9 years that my food isn’t tracked somewhere. Impressive? maybe. Scary? Definitely. It’s a sign that my relationship with food could still be improved.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve been really comfortable with my body and even though I’m not the lean bikini-competitor girl I once was, I’ve actually grown to love the body I do have, added body fat and all.
But still, there is a part of me that has wanted redemption. A part of me that wants to say a giant FUCK YOU to my eating disorder and to show it that I’m better than that, stronger than that, and can get lean WITHOUT losing my mind. It’s a me vs. me that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but also haven’t given up on.
I’ve tried a few times and have seen some success, but ultimately have failed. I’m actually not embarrassed to admit that, it just shows that I still have work to do when it comes to my relationship with food and my mindset.
I’ve worked with great coaches (Sohee and Erik) that have each taught me some valuable lessons, but ultimately, a coach can’t do the work for you. I’m a personal trainer and know this first-hand. I can’t make my clients take action, work hard, show up, etc. I can only guide them. The coaches I’ve had helped me as best as they could and I did see results and made progress with each of them. BUT, there has always been a fear in me that by heading down the road to fat loss, that I’ll end up in the same position I was in back in 2009. It’s, what I believe, has subconsciously held me back and made me self-sabotage my efforts.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about it over the last few months as I’ve tried to figure myself out and this is what I do know:
-I’ve been able to maintain my weight more or less for the last few years at a weight/look that I am comfortable with
-I’ve been able to lose fat, but haven’t really been able to keep it off (that’s the self-sabotage)
-I’ve gotten stronger and have continued to kick ass in the gym
-I’ve been paying entirely too much attention to what I eat
Did that last one make your head turn? Every article you read asks that you pay attention to what you eat. But this is what has really been striking me as of late. I’ve been tracking my food intake for 9 years and while that can be a great tool for some, I realize that I also have ZERO clue about what my body needs WITHOUT looking to see how much protein/carbs/fat/calories I’ve had for the day. I don’t pay attention to hunger cues very much other than when I’m hungry, I check to see how much i can eat without going over my numbers.
I’ve come to the realization that by tracking everything I put in my body, I’ve become completely obsessive. I could probably tell you how many calories are in almost any serving of food you present to me. I know HOW to eat, yet I rely on calculators. Exclusively.
I think tracking was a great thing for me for a long time, and in the future it may be a great tool for me again, but for now? I think it’s time for me to break up with My Fitness Pal.
I think I need to take a leap of faith and start learning to eat based on my hunger cues and what my body needs, as opposed to choosing to eat based on what the numbers are telling me. This may sound counterintuitive to some, but I believe it is a necessary step in my journey.
There is a good chance that in doing this, I’ll gain weight initially because I won’t really know how much I’m eating. At the same time, I do believe that over time, I’ve been doing this long enough (and know how to properly put meals together to fuel my training) that I think it will benefit me in the long run. I think it will be the key to me putting all this shit behind me FOR GOOD.
It’s a giant unknown, but is something I’ve pondered a lot in the recent months. It’s scary and that may sound silly to some, but it’s been my security blanket for 9 years. I think it’s time to pay attention to my body, and not my data.
It was a good run My Fitness Pal…and Spark People? Thank you for your help over the years, but it’s time. It’s time for me to give up the trackers for a while. Maybe I’ll be back to them, but for the next few months, they’ve gotta go.
*I appreciate all of you that read through all 3 parts of this. It was a lot and definitely wasn’t easy to write. It’s a tough subject for me, but at the same time, if I can help even one person, it’s worth it. I believe going through that is part of what makes me a great personal trainer and coach to others. I’ve been there, I understand the struggle, and I’ve (mostly) gotten away from it. I’m not perfect, I haven’t solved everything, but I’ve been through quite a bit and have helped others in their journey as well. Please feel free to reach out to me (or someone) if you need help. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on this post.