Now, when I say I am writing down everything I eat. I do mean everything. There are entries in my food journal that say 'one raisen' or 'one small tortilla chip with salsa'. Maybe this seems a little excessive to you, but the reason is that I want to be able to hold myself accountable. In any battle, accountability seems key. Think of it this way -- when you are driving, are you more likely to drive the speed limit if there is a police officer following you? That's what I thought. My food journal is my police officer. I want to keep an accurate account of what I am putting in my body. But, more than that, I'll be darned if I have to write down the words 'Triple Chocoholic Blizzard'. Putting into words what I put into my body makes me have to think about each bite I take. I will not cheat with my entries -- I'm not being graded, after all -- because I refuse to cheat myself.
A page from my food journal.
I am also keeping a record of the exercise I give my body. I am making a point to get at least some exercise each and every day. Yesterday my exercise consisted of carrying my 20 pound screaming toddler through the mall, followed by a short evening walk. But it was exercise nonetheless. Today it was 10 minutes on the elliptical machine, followed by 60 minutes of instructing Yoga. Even if the exercise is quick, I will do something each day. I refuse to thwart my efforts by being lazy. Believe me, there are days that I have a deep-seeded hatred of exercise. On those days, I would rather stay indoors (or maybe even be bitten by 100 mosquitoes) than trudge through a workout. That being said, I always feel better after being active. Exercising boosts my mood, my energy levels, and my self-esteem. After I work out, I feel strong, empowered, and beautiful. I can walk into the mirrored studio where I teach worrying about my love-handles, hoping that no one will show up so I can go back home. I instruct my Yogis for an hour and leave feeling amazing and energized. The results on the scale are just and added bonus.
I will warn you about scales though, they can be manipulative little jerks. While they indicate how much your body weighs, they cannot measure your self-worth. Can I say that again please? The number on your scale has nothing to do with how amazing you are. Your scale cannot take into account how much muscle you have gained, how much fat you have lost, your 'time of the month', your sodium intake, etc. I can sometimes put too much emphasis on the number on the scale (believe me, I felt a surge of new confidence today after I weighed)... but really, it's just a number. The days when the number has gone down are great, right? But what about the other days? When the number has stayed right at that plateau you have been fighting to step off of, or when your a tad bloated and the number has risen a little? Those days are awful. And that's because we allow the scale to tell us how we should feel about ourselves. Stop it! You are worth more than your weight, your jeans size, and the circumference of your thighs.
At the beginning of each of my Yoga classes, I tell my students 'know your limitations, and respect your body'. Respect your body. We forget that our bodies are gifts that we have been given to live in while residing on this green earth. We forget to take care of it. To love it. To respect it. We feel like we have so much riding on how much we weigh that we abuse our bodies. We make fun of the parts we hate, we don't give ourselves the nourishment that we deserve (and need), we mask our feelings with the punishment of stuffing our bodies full of brownies and french fries. Respect your body.
Think about it...
This is why I'm on this journey. This is why I am fighting this battle. I'm trying to find that ever-elusive balance. I don't want to be a slave to food or to be ruled by a scale. I want to show my body respect and love by filling it with nourishing food and giving it the exercise it needs. I want to be strong and healthy and happy. I want to love my body for what it is, and not hate it for what it isn't. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I have no desire to be skinny. I want to be healthy. I don't want to continue to put strain on my heart by carrying extra weight in my mid-section. I want arms that have enough muscle to be able to playfully throw my son in the air (and catch him, of course) 'again' and 'again' and 'again'. I don't need to be a model, I don't need to be a body-builder, but I do need to be healthy.
Be healthy. Respect your body. And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.