Last week was Thanksgiving and it’s the first holiday that I wasn’t eating in a deficit. First real holiday. It was the first time I wasn’t paranoid about what was going on my plate, but I still asked ahead what was on the menu. That’s how I plan and those in my life know that, so it’s not a big deal. JP and I asked what we could bring – pie. We had enough side dishes so bring dessert.
Like many who have gone through many detours on their journey, I’ve developed some sensitivities. Dairy and fatty meats are the two biggest. I can have dairy in small quantities – except goat products, I can eat as much of that as I want. Other dairy products, however, make me sick and sick Cristina isn’t a fun Cristina. I have the same issue with heavily fatty meat such as prosciutto and similar cold cuts, which I learned a few weeks ago and pork butt. These pretty much have the same effect.
Making decisions for my plate wasn’t a problem like it had been in other years. Not just because I wasn’t trying to stay in a deficit, but I think I’m in a better place with how I view my food and the bigger picture. For me, it took 52 months to get my body to a weight that was comfortable when I looked at the scale. I lost some of that comfort when I started fearing the scale was going to shift and that would mean my measurements would too. As I started reading more and reflecting on how I was physically feeling, how my clothes fit and my measurements, the power food once had has been taken away. Don’t get me wrong, some days can be difficult. But I make a plan around things I really want. If I want a cupcake, the rest of the day is built so it works – eat a little “cleaner”, a little more “whole” so I can balance my cupcake. It’s not about being allowed to have it – I’m 27 years old. Who’s going to tell me no? Myself and if I don’t then no one. So it’s about balancing the good times with good for you or better for you food.
Personally, when I think about the holiday’s nothing good comes from it. I don’t like that the times we believe we can enjoy each other need to be surrounded with food. Not just a regular dinner, but a feast to celebrate something that is meaningless today. I’m all for being thankful, I’m thankful or grateful most days, but I don’t believe we need a holiday to show it. Thanksgiving came from overseas with our ancestors and it was to celebrate the harvest. Can someone please tell me the last time a large percentage of our population was wiped out because of failing crops? Anyone? Yeah, no. I think holidays like these allow for an opportunity to enjoy special foods and I’m all for that. JP’s grandmother makes these cookies at Christmas and I swear if he doesn’t have one he’ll cry. Some things have value like that. But if you put a made-from-a-box brownie on the table, I’m going to tell to I’m not interested because I can have it any day I want it.
I think we all place a power on food and a power in things that give us good feelings like working out. I see posts online all the time of people validating why they had a piece of cake. You don’t need to validate it to anyone, but yourself. I’m a culprit of this too. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m not over 240 pounds anymore, that I’m not losing weight, that having the oatmeal raisin cookie with my latte won’t make me fat. Missing a workout because you’re exhausted won’t reverse progress. It took weeks and months to get to this point, one missed workout doesn’t ruin that. It’s a tool, not a punishment. If you talk to yourself and say “you can’t go out and do ‘x’ until you workout” then you’re going to start hating something that you once loved.
We all do this, but I also think that the more we are mindful about it the better off we are and can take away the power of these things.
So, this post. A few of my clients have develop a better relationship with food in their goals. It’s not worded exactly that way, but it comes down to how they view food and what it means to them. For some it’s about ease. Having a family impacts your goals and some times it’s about figuring out what is easiest to get a family of five fed and on with the day. This gets them thinking that making a plan is hard or will not be helpful for the many mouths that need to be fed. For some, food can be a trigger – it makes them want to consume the whole plate for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a fear – burger and fries. I have a client who ate a burger and fries the other night and enjoyed every bite and said she didn’t care that she ordered that or ate it all. She said that she felt fine the next day. That is a victory for someone who is in the process of shifting their mentality of losing weight and having “bad foods” to maintaining and figuring out how to use food as fuel. Just thinking about how content she was with her decision makes me smile because that’s mental progress and you can’t see clearly unless you hear her story.
Here are three foods that mean something to me and why.
It’s going down every Monday morning. They can be buttermilk, plain, with chocolate, with fruit – it doesn’t matter. Short stack or tall, just pass the peanut butter and the syrup. I’ve been hosting Pancake Monday for over two years now. It’s one of my favorite days of the week and it’s something that JP looks forward to now too. But why is this food important? It was the first thing I learned to make. My older sister taught me when I was 5. My mom didn’t always feed us and my sister learned how to cook pretty fast. Sometimes I got to help. Keep in mind that I’ve shared with you I don’t talk with my family because the relationships were very toxic and for me removing them was the best option, but there’s something about that memory. There were a few years i didn’t eat pancakes at all because it made sad thinking about how I don’t talk to her, but I also know that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made to continue to make myself healthy – mentally and physically.
These are actually something I’ve grown quite attached to since being on my journey. JP and I met over Labor Day weekend 2014 and the first weekend we spent full days together. We went to dinner – place we go often enough, but definitely for our yearly. We went to brunch – diners are the finest. We drank delicious wine, but more importantly we ate some of the best cupcakes. We bought four cupcakes from Sweet and by we, I mean me. I picked them up because I figured he needed to experience a part of Worcester he hadn’t before. He went to college here and lived her for four years, including an off campus apartment – but most of his explorations of food have been with me… starting at three years post-graduation. I bought four cupcakes from Sweet – our favorite jumbo cupcake place. It’s a restaurant and dessert bar. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, but the cupcakes. We split all of them. I was in the last seven weeks of competition prep at the time and I didn’t care because this kid needed to try these. Whenever we go to Sweet, JP always reminds me that it’s our place. It’s out cupcake home. He tells the story as if I seduced him with cupcakes – not the case, at all, by far. But still a good laugh.
This one is tricky because I don’t know if I would call if a trigger food, but it’s certainly the last food that I fully remember binging three years ago. I had just gotten off the phone and had some bad news – the news isn’t important, what is how I reacted. I didn’t know how to react and I found myself crying on the living room floor. I called a local pizza place and ordered my typical – cheese and extra pineapple with white sauce. I ordered an extra large, not a medium like I normally do. I called a friend and she came over to sit with me. The pizza was delivered and then she watched me eat the whole pizza, on my own, in less than 10 minutes. She dragged me to my bed and put me to bed. She got in bed with me and we laid there until we both fell asleep. The next morning we went to a local diner and talked about the news, the reaction and the next steps to handle both.
I don’t order pizza. I don’t like eating pizza at other peoples houses, but what I am capable of handling is the sold by the slice pizza house down the road. I can go up to the counter and order a slice from there 20-something options. I can get one slice and sit down at the table with it. Sometimes JP and I will each pick one we want and then one we want to share and then I’ll have one and a half slices.
It’s not that I believe I will necessarily consume a whole pizza on my own again, but it’s the memory that when I was stressed and sad and angry that I turned to that specifically. It’s not that pizza has a hold on me, but I think about how sad that Cristina was and how out of control I felt in that moment. That’s not a feeling I like and it’s not one I wish on anyone.
I believe reflecting on our thoughts and feelings and how they’re connect to things that create or diminish an action is important. It’s not just about food, but if you recognize that you sleep when your stressed, what about that makes you feel better, what about being in bed makes you feel safe?
Instead of restricting or being completely lax at the holiday with an all or nothing attitude – because trust me you’ll hate everyone account you follow on any social media platform, figure out your plan. Figure out what you want to accomplish and what will make you feel successful. Think about the memories with grandma’s special cookies – maybe you need to have one because you’ve helped her make them before. Enjoy life or least attempt too because you never know the next time you’ll get to try a peanut butter chocolate cupcake filled with peanut butter frosting and topped with Reese’s Pieces – that’s something you want to be prepared for.