GIRLS CAN LIFT

A Dainty Diary of Lifting


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Post-meet write up: Gratitude edition

I did my meet. Here’s the summary: I didn’t make weight, which wasn’t a suprise. I went 6/9 and set no PRs. In fact, I missed weights I’ve hit more than once in the gym. As my last lift of the day, I missed a 380lb deadlift and then I had to go sit in the car and cry for a few minutes alone. And as much as I know that a big deadlift can leave me with a feeling of exploding happiness, missing that lift on Saturday left me with an extreme emotion at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was supposed to walk out of this meet, feeling prepared to tackle provincial championships in 6 weeks and instead, I walked out feeling so let down that I might never do a meet again.

There is a part of me that feels like a spoiled brat: the friend who lifted with me kept saying, “But you won GOLD in your weight class. You were at the bottom of your weight class and dominated. You even dominated the weight class above.” But I don’t even think that medal registered on my radar. Winning wasn’t my goal. My goal was to step off the platform, knowing that I put up the best numbers I am capable of, and I don’t feel like I came anywhere close to accomplishing that. I am way overdue for a deadlift PR. I haven’t set a deadlift PR since February 2013. February 2013. I was 23 the last time I set a deadlift PR, for crying out loud!

But before I went to the meet, I resolved to do my post meet analysis with an attitude of gratitude. This is actually an outlook of Thanksliving that I am trying to cultivate in general, after one of my yoga instructors said something that really resonated with me: People who practice gratitude are happier; they understand how to fill up their lives with what they have, instead of seeking to fill the holes with something external that might not even exist.

This outlook was like a revelation for me.There are all of these holes in my life that constantly leave me feeling inadequate: I am never strong enough or skinny enough or smart enough or confident enough or sociable enough or brave enough or rich enough or fashionable enough. And I’ve spent so much time feeling lost and unsatisfied and trying to find something that will make me stronger, skinnier, smarter, more confident, more brave, richer and more fashionable. And yet, a solution remains elusive: I am still me.

Lifting is definitely one of the areas where I struggle to feel satisfied: I can never enjoy how strong I am without wanting to be stronger and skinnier.So what if I made a deliberate attempt to accept that even if I’ve had better lifting days in the gym, today’s meet was good enough, just as it happened? And I do have lots of reasons to be grateful:

  • The powerlifting community is incredibly supportive. It’s a miracle that I made it on to the platform at all, given that I didn’t even own a proper-fitting singlet a week before the meet. After learning of my singlet debacle, my friend Tannis sent me two of her own singlets via XpressPost. I am incredibly grateful to her for being so helpful, as I would not have been allowed to lift without the appropriate attire – and she even let me keep the singlet that fits me the best, so I will have something to wear in the future.
  • I did a meet. I haven’t done a meet in two years, despite the fact that I’ve signed up and paid in full on at least 3 separate occasions. I have this MO of signing up and then withdrawing six weeks out because I don’t feel strong enough or consistent enough in my training. So by stepping on that platform, I was accepting that whatever I had done up to that point was good enough for now, perfect or imperfect as it may have been.
  • Accepting that I didn’t have to make weight was such a relief. I thought I would be really bummed out by having to compete at 84kg, when historically I’ve competed at 72kg. In reality, not having to worry about waterloading removed so much stress from my life and I actually felt pretty good about my weigh-in. I know that when I was a young, 23-year-old powerlifter who knew it all and felt indestructible, I thought the waterload was no big deal.Well, I was mistaken. The energy I could have invested in worrying about my salt, carb and water intake for a week was much better invested in making healthy choices consistently in the 12 weeks leading up to my meet.
  • I didn’t binge eat my way into a Powerlifting Meet Day pile of sickness. Historically, I have adopted what seems to be a prevailing attitude at powerlifting meets: 9 near-max lifts somehow justify eating loads and loads of processed crap and refined sugar. I really hate this mentality. I don’t feel good about it day-to-day and the day of a meet is not an exception. That’s just not the type of relationship I want to have with my diet, especially since that meet day is sometimes only the first step in a prolonged junk food bender that leaves every part of my body feeling abused. Instead, I was able to break the chain in this pattern of behaviour by skipping the waterload and focusing on a consistent diet leading up to the meet. I even planned meet-day food that didn’t leave me feeling gross or guilty afterwards.
  • I improved my total and my wilks score. Even if I know that I’ve had better days in the gym, my meet numbers have improved despite all of the bullshit and distraction and life that has happened in the past few years. I opened my deadlift with my third attempt from my last meet. I opened both my squat and bench higher than my third attempts from that same meet. While the cynical and ungrateful part of me feels like this accomplishment is undermined by the fact that I’ve gained a few pounds, my wilks score improved by 16 points. Even if I didn’t have a 380lb deadlift in me today, I am undeniably getting stronger.
  • I squatted through one of the longest, grindiest lifts of my life. I was a bit freaked out after I missed my second squat attempt. 303lbs just felt unbearably heavy and despite having hit 305lbs several times with confidence in the gym, I really felt like I was going to settle for a 275lb squat. Instead, I got under the bar again and pushed through. This puts a 300lb squat on the books, and even if it wasn’t a weight PR for me, this was definitely an endurance event in itself. I felt amazing after this lift, having spent such an unbelievable amount of time under tension. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.
  • I had a less-than perfect meet. They do happen but until now, they hadn’t happened to me. I’ve only done a couple of meets, after which someone commented that it was good that I had gotten some successful meets under my belt. I didn’t fully understand his words at the time, but now I do. If I had gone into my first-ever meet and put up this performance, I don’t think I would be interested in competing again. But, I know that I can have a meet where I go 9/9 and PR every lift because I’ve done it before, And just like it’s good to have the experience of a successful meet, I’m hoping that it’s good to have a less than stellar meet and learn that it’s not worth dwelling on.

My plan was to come out of this meet and start preparing for provincials in six weeks. As much as dinner after the meet felt like a gaping pit of despair where I would never do another competition again, a glass of wine has helped me to put things into perspective and be more grateful. The plan is still to stick with consistent eating and lifting, with provincials in view. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.


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PNLE week 13

I am officially one week out from my first meet in nearly two years. I can’t believe that at this time next week, it’ll be done.

I really hope that I am done, I feel some sort of relief. Because right now, I just feel like doing a meet is this constant pressure bearing down on me.

This week has been a bit insane. It’s like my body just fast-tracked right to PMS-land this week. I have been bloated and constipated and ravenous. I did that thing I do when I’m depressed, where I just randomly start weeping at my desk for no reason. I’ve found myself wide awake at 4 am on more than one occasion this week. And my weight loss has been flat out stalled for the past three weeks.

Thankfully, it’s a long weekend in Canadia. We are celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America. Actually, I’m not. I don’t have any family that live in town, so I will be foregoing the traditional turkey dinner. I did buy myself a homemade turkey dinner from the gourmet caterer down the street. It’s supposedly turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies with cranberry and gravy for two, but I’m quite certain it would feed a family of four despite any claims made on the label. Anyway, I am saving that in my freezer until next week when my meet is done and I don’t need to worry about my weight.

This morning I weighed 76.7 kg so there is absolutely no chance I am going to weigh-in under 72kg. I can’t be bothered to waterload at this point. So right now my plan is to get a Class II total at 84kg on Saturday. Then I can continue trying to make weight for provincials at the end of November, but if I don’t make it, it’ll be fine.

Seriously, I am really annoyed with my body. I feel like I am making such good food choices and not overreating. I did have my first binge eating episode in months last weekend, but it was a cake made out of squash and coconut flour and blueberries. Which is basically 1 million pounds of fiber and the health binge eating I’ve ever done. How did this happen? I tried to “experiment” with a lower carb day on my rest day. Then I baked a spiced squash loaf. It was fucking incredible after 24 hours of low carb. I love carbs.

So apart from the squash loaf incident, I am eating well rounded meals – protein and veggies and a cupped handful of “smart carbs”. I have eaten so much spinach this week! I keep telling myself that if I eat like this for another 9 months, it would be physically impossible to stay fat – but I feel like my body is determined to prove me wrong on that count. Actually, I reached out to my coach this week because I felt frustrated. She told me I was not allowed to be annoyed because I’ve lost ~26lb since the start of the program. Then she asked me “On a scale of 1-10, how much do you believe that you can and will make the changes you desire?”

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this.

Belief that I can diet my way down to a weight that I consider “not fat”: 6/10

Belief that I can achieve that weight and feel comfortable in my own skin, more sociable and confident: 4/10

Belief that I can achieve that weight and maintain it for longer than 2 weeks: 2/10

I actually haven’t responded to my coach because those answers are depressing and I don’t really know how to deal with fixing my personality. Like, my brain just kind of shuts down when I try to think past of those things. At this point, even if I am not dropping weight, trying to eat healthy and hit the gym regularly seems way more manageable.

So, hitting the gym and eating healthy seems like a good way to spend my long weekend. I finished up my actual training for the meet. Yesterday I squatted up to 305 for two singles. The second rep felt really solid and I am leaning towards trying 313 for my third attempt. Today I did my last heavy bench and deadlift sets. I managed to pull 335×4 which was a huge and pleasant surprise. I had failed to pull 335×3 at least twice before, so this was a great way to end off my training and I am going to crush 380. I will go in tomorrow and work up to my openers on squat and bench, and then do a few reps of squat and bench at 50% on Wednesday, just so that I don’t forget how to lift.

I also tried on my singlet this morning. The singlet I own was bordering on being too small two years ago when I weighed 10lbs less. Despite the fact that I am in denial, it did not fit. It gave me great cleavage! But it was painfully tight in the butt and thighs and shoulders. So… Monday is a holiday and I travel on Friday. I ordered a new singlet via express shipping and then I sent out a Facebook SOS. Thank god for my powerlifting friends of similar shape and size who helped me come up with a back up plan so that I do not need to lift in my birthday suit.

After lifting and sorting out my singlet situation, I tackled some meal prep today. I am primarily grateful for Thanksgiving weekend because it means that I have three days to batch cook and freeze some meals. This afternoon I made a hippie stew  of lentils, quinoa and kale, and a harissa carrot soup. Tomorrow I am planning on making zucchini oatmeal and a cottage pie. I also need to figure out what I’m packing as PNLE-friendly meels for my meet next weekend.

Holy crap. I still can’t believe I’ll be doing a meet next week.


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PNLE week 12

So…. about 5 seconds after thinking that I might be able to make weight for my meet on October 18th, I apparently hit a weight loss plateau. Go figure.

I’ve lost less than 1lb in the past 2 weeks, which is kind of a bummer. But on the other hand, I feel like this is temporary. I might feel different if I continue losing weight at this pace, but for now I feel like my head is in a good space. I am making consistently good food choices. I am not overeating. I feel like even if I’m not seeing results right as this minute, I will see results in the long term because of the choices that I am making now. I don’t feel like I have in the past, where I’m running myself into the ground and getting nowhere.

Also: I discovered melt-in your mouth peppered salmon jerky this week. So that’s a great protein source to have on hand, buy that’s a huge sodium injection in my diet. I’m convinced that my weight didn’t move because I’m carrying around 10lbs of salt and water weight.

Since I’ve given up on making weight and I know I won’t hit my overly ambitious meet goals, I am at a point where there are no expectations… and it feels good. Like I can focus on the stuff that I am doing really well, without worrying about everything that is not happening right this instant.

For example: I am not going to squat 315lbs in two weeks time, but I will probably have a better handle on that in November. And in the meantime: I fit into all of my size 10 pants again, despite the fact that I’m 10lbs heavier than the last time I managed to squeeze myself into them. If my options are a 3 plate squat or walking around naked, then I stand by my decision.

Speaking of being naked! I may end up lifting naked at my meet in two weeks! I ordered a singlet from the Glamlet website 6 weeks ago. I am super disappointed, because it never arrived and the owner of the site has been pretty much non-responsive to my inquiries. So I’m out $100 and counting on the fact that I’m going to fit into my singlet… which was a bit too small two years ago, when I actually managed to make weight.

Basically I’m going to start my own sport, and it is going to be nudist powerlifting. Pretty much guaranteed to be an awesome meet even if I bomb.


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Week 10 in review

I don’t even know what to think about this week. Partially I am just too tired to think about anything.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping . I have no issues falling asleep, but then every morning this week, I’ve found myself wide awake at 4 am and unable to fall back asleep. And I’m pretty sure my iron levels are currently in the gutter. Between those two factors, it’s been all I can do to avoid having a mid-afternoon nap all week… and I clearly failed at that on Tuesday, when I fell asleep on my yoga mat before class.

I did yoga three times this week and I’m considering becoming a full-time member. At first the vibe of the studio near me kind of bothered me – it’s all upper class white women who are 90lbs and quite clearly look down down on lululemon. Actually, that aspect still kind of bothers me. But having gone a few times, I’ve noticed that my hips are feeling great and when I feel anxious, I know I will go to yoga and deal with it.

And since I can work myself into an instant anxiety attack a dozen times a day just by thinking about how much I need to go to the dentist, I am considering taking up residence at the yoga studio.

I did notice that my hips felt great while squatting. I’ve intentionally chosen “Yoga for Runner” and the “Hip Opening flow” to work on my mobility issues, and that seems to be working. However, lifting was crap overall, which is unsurprising. When I feel rundown before I even walk into the gym, it’s hard to crush my workouts. I was supposed to squat 295 for a set of 3 yesterday. Five weeks ago I was pissed off because I squatted 295×3 when I wanted 5. Yesterday I got three singles and that was good enough. There’s probably a lesson to be learned in there.

On the plus side, I did force myself to do intervals a couple of times. I have seriously been slacking on my cardio in general, and then I didn’t lose any weight this week (less than 1lb). I feel like I’m not making any progress, and consistent cardio would probably help with the weight loss, which i’ve obviously made my priority at the moment.

I could also go for a head check-up. I don’t know why I don’t feel like I’m progressing. I had to take my 2-month progress picture for PNLE this week. Exhibit A: Unofficial gym selfie progress pictures.

There is quite clearly progress there, regardless of how I feel. Seeing that I am objectively succeeding on my body transformation is making it a bit easier to deal with the strength loss.

But since I just feel like I’ve been sucking at the gym and feeling kind of down, I did reach out to my PNLE coach and I had a good dialogue with her this week. Initially she suggested that I should try increasing my carb intake. Although I have not consciously been restricting my carbs, I was surprised by how scary this prospect sounded. It’s like I have a mental block where quite simply, “more carbs = bad”. I even tried to rationalize to her what a bad idea this was: I sit at a desk all day! I don’t do cardio! I am so inactive! And had the follow-up realization that no matter how I perceive myself, if I go to the gym 4x week, I cannot truthfully say that I am inactive.

Anyway, much to my relief she then looked at my progress to-date and revised her suggestion. Apparently losing 21lbs in 8 weeks is not generally conducive to high-energy levels. So she suggested generally eating more protein and carbs post workout. (So my relief was somewhat short lived.)

I am not sure how successful I’ve been with that recommendation. I am trying to consciously eat a serving of carbs before and after my workouts. I don’t don’t why this suddenly became so difficult. I get home and I make a meal of chicken and veg and then I go, “Oh shit! There are no carbs and I can’t be bothered to make rice.” And mostly I just want to skip the carbs, but that has left me with a case of the post-deadlift flu at least once this week, so I made a pumpkin and oat loaf just to have on hand…. And I lost less than 1lb this week, so maybe that’s somehow a success? I don’t even know.

Sometimes I feel like I try to eat to 80% full, but I have an appetite of 800%.

Either way, I start a new habit on Monday and lo and behold: it’s eat “Smart carbs”. So I will keep practicing this one. Last round, my coach was paleo and I had time relating to her carb habits. This round my coach said, “I keep bread on hand. It’s pretty delicious! It’s just not Wonderbread.” Which I feel is a more suitable and sustainable approach for me. I ordered 25lbs of rolled oats through my co-op this week, so I really don’t think I’m giving up grains any time soon. Hopefully they’re just what I need to recover my strength (but not the weight I’ve lost!!!)


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Week in review

4 weeks from today, I will be competing in my first meet in almost 2 years.

I know I said I didn’t care about the meet, that I was feeling totally apathetic. But then this week I got into the gym and I failed work sets of bench, squat, OHP and deadlift. Hell, I failed a 185lb warm-up set on deadlift this afternoon and laughed because I was otherwise speechless. And I cried at the gym yesterday when I failed my squats. I was supposed to squat 290×3. 290 was my 5RM a month ago! And instead I got one measly rep, which led to ugly-crying in front of the two ultimate frisbee douchebros that I absolutely can not stand, followed by an all encompassing rage for everything. It’s been a long time since I cried at the gym. Guess I do care about the meet a little bit after all.

But… this morning was my weekly weigh-in. I lost 4.9lbs this week. So I really have no reason to be angry.

Just like I was surprised that I failed weights I’ve hit comfortably before, I was a bit shocked by the weight loss. I’ve been eating 4 meals a day, and I often think that I’ve eaten more to more than 80% full. Oh, and I’m supposed to be eating 5 fist-sized servings of vegetables every day for PNLE and I feel like I have just consumed an ungodly volume of food this week. Like, I wasn’t keeping track or anything, but I would estimate that I was only eating ~3 servings per day before this habit.

On the one hand: this is great. I don’t feel like I’m eating at a deficit at all and I’m losing weight. Isn’t that what every female dieter dreams of? And having lost 21lbs in the past 7 weeks, I just feel better walking around. I fit into my work clothes again! My “perfectly fitting” jeans are getting saggy in the bum and crotch and thighs. I fit into my medium lever belt, after I had to go out and buy a large. I’ve also noticed that my blood sugar is more stable – I don’t have that mid-afternoon slump that I always thought was genetic. And since my weekly update wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my digestive issues, everything is functioning super smoothly which I love, love, love after having so many issues in the past.

And on the other hand: if weight loss is my priority, that’s fine. But dropping 5lbs in a week is pretty strong evidence that I haven’t eaten to support to my lifting, so I can’t even bring myself to be disappointed in my body. I went back and looked at my diet this week: by increasing the amount of vegetables I’ve been eating, some of my dense carb sources seem to have fallen off. Basically, I’ve been having a handful of berries at breakfast and all other carbs have come from a serving of oats pre-workout and beans (or lentils) that were actually my protein source.Normally my diet looks more like: an english muffin at breakfast, potatoes at lunch, oats pre-workout and rice at supper. Therefore I strongly suspect that this week’s weight loss was induced by my body going into shock over carb withdrawal.

Like, I said: energy levels have been fine, I don’t feel deprived and it’s okay if I want weight loss to be my priority. I’m more than 2 months into PNLE and my compliance (or “consistency”, as they call it) is still at 100%. I feel like I have a ton of flexibility to eat whatever I want, but I’m still making good food choices. I am awesome. I’m going to continue eating like this, and as a result, I’ve thrown my goals for my meet out the window. I am probably not going to set a 10lb squat PR without injuring myself. And I know I said that it would be okay if I competed at 84kg, but to be honest, I wasn’t very good at heading that counsel. I want to compete at 72 and now it might actually happen. New goal: improve my wilks from 2 years ago.

In other news, my trip up North totally screwed my hips. I had hip tightness, bordering on pain in my right hip all week and I could not get my left glute to fire. After coming back from that extended break, I was totally pain free and now I’m back to my old “grinding / popping / painful” routine. Or at least I was until yesterday. While squatting yesterday, my left hip made a loud popping sound and visibly shifted. It felt glorious, and today has been pain free. However, on Tuesday when I was walking to work and freaking out about how uncomfortable my hip had gotten, I decided to join hot yoga to try and manage my hip while I’m preparing for the meet.

I chalk this up under my “big accomplishments” list. The last time I did hot yoga, I passed out in half moon pose and caused a huge scene. So I was too embarrassed (and freaked out) to go back. Luckily I’ve got through a couple of classes at this new place and I’ve managed to remain conscious. I did get a condescending “If this is too difficult, you can go into child’s pose” from one of the instructors, though.  I’m signed up for a tune-up class tomorrow. It’s the class I’ve been waiting for all week, with a focus on recovery. Unfortunately it falls during the same timeslot as the Pats home-opener. They had better win without my viewership. I’ve had enough of failure this week.


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10 weeks out / Difficult – difficult

I’ve spent the past 3 days trying to draft a blog post to explain why I’m not feeling excited about my upcoming meet. I’m 4 weeks out, and when I think about the meet, I just feel an overwhelming sense of apathy. I want to pull my usual modus operandi which is to withdraw ~3 weeks before a scheduled meet. I’ve been sinking money into meets for the past two years and yet I haven’t actually participated in one. I just seem to hit this hump where I realize I might not hit my overly ambitious goals and give up.

I tried to make a list outlining all of the reasons I’m feeling this sense of ennui. I was convinced it was a pretty good list and I even had 2000 words of justification laid out for all to see.

Then I weighed myself this morning and I saw a very optimistic number on the scale. Briefly, I was convinced that I might actually make it down to 72kg in time for my meet in 4 weeks. Even though I’m back to doubting possibility, I looked at my list of excuses in a new light and I realized that they all boil down to: “I might fail.”

That’s a pretty shitty reason to avoid doing a meet. Yes, the possibility exists that I might fail really, really hard. And I might be disappointed and angry and embarrassed. But I would get over it. Not to mention that there’s always the possibility that I might actually succeed. In fact, that seems pretty likely given the fact that I’ve done successful meets in the past.

I started thinking back to some of my PNLE lessons. I think I should feel excited about doing a meet. Except, I’m trying to act less on the noise in my life. Instead of doing things because I should do them, I am trying to rely on noticing and naming how things actually are. Objectively, there is no reaI reason to feel excited. Instead, I can simply recognize that I’m not feeling totally psyched up about competing, but there is no reason for me to act on that feeling.

I keep thinking back to the concept of difficult-difficult. Going to the gym and even going through the motions to prepare for a meet is my “difficult-easy”. It makes me feel like I’m doing something. Actually showing up to participate in the meet seems to be a lot harder for me. Why? Because putting myself out there is terrifying. I might fail.

This is actually a big deal. I avoid social situations because I might fail. Being anti-social is my difficult-easy. It’s lonely, but there is zero risk that anyone will reject me for being terribly uninteresting and fat. See also: my dating life. I am lonely but again, too afraid of being rejected. See also: nonexistent applications to grad school. Because I would really like to go, but what if I don’t get in? What if I’m not smart enough? And if we’re being completely honest, losing weight is difficult-difficult because I self-sabotage time and time again – and I tell myself it doesn’t matter because I was bound to fail anyway.

Self-confidence? Apparently I have none. (Which is actually nothing new. A guy I was seeing once told me I was “just fine, except I had no self-confidence” and the intervening years don’t seem to have countered that ringing endorsement.)

The task of finding my self-assurance seems a little insurmountable at the moment, so where else can I start? Well, in explaining difficult-difficult, PNLE uses the analogy of shoveling snow: If you’re just shoveling for the sake of moving snow around, that’s difficult-easy. It’s hard work but it achieves no real purpose and allows you to avoid doing more productive tasks. So how can I shovel a clear path through the snow and do what is actually difficult-difficult for me?

The answer is obvious: I said I would do North Bay in 4 weeks. I said I would lift at Provincials in order to qualify for Nationals. And I said I would go to Nationals. That’s a full year of powerlifting to correspond with my nutritional journey on PNLE. And if stepping on to the platform is difficult-difficult for me, then just getting there will be good enough.

So: I signed up for Provincials. I reserved a hotel room. I’m 10 weeks out. I don’t feel worried. I don’t feel excited. I just feel normal. And why should I feel any differently?


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Weekly Review: Trip to Yellowknife

I spent most of the week in Yellowknife, so it was not the greatest week for meet prep. I did manage to get in all of my workouts – Monday I got up early enough to go lift before flying, and Wednesday I did a workout in the “fitness centre” at the gym. (The workout was 80% goblet squats but whatever. It counts.) The best part was by far on Thursday morning when my “active recovery” consisted of a trail walk through the boreal forest. It was so relaxing, which was exactly what I needed.

Now that I am back, I can focus on rest and recovery, which I know have been on the back burner the past few weeks. Yesterday I had a 6 hour nap after my workout, and I still slept through the night. It’s going to be a lazy weekend and I’m looking forward to working regular hours and sleeping regular hours and just generally getting back into my routine this week.

Despite the fact that I was travelling and totally out of my routine, I really feel good about the nutritional choices that I made while I was away. When I went to Pride for 4 days in June, I came back 10lbs heavier! Mentally, I told myself I wasn’t able to deal with a repeat of that entire episode. This time, I told myself that if I ate until 80% full and had a protein every time I ate, I would consider it a success.

I wasn’t perfect: there were a couple of times where I ate to “comfortably full” instead of 80%. But I did avoid snacking between meals – the meeting was catered and there were more than enough opportunities to eat muffins and cookies and bread. I ate a reasonable meal for breakfast every day, despite the fact that it was a buffet with french toast and pancakes! I brought some Quest bars along and ate them when there wasn’t a full serving of protein being served. And I was quite happy to order fresh Arctic Char every time a menu was placed in front of me.

I will say that I am glad that my nutrition habit was protein while visiting the Arctic. Fish was always an option, but veggies and fruit were a bit harder to come by. My insides were painfully backed up after 4 days, and one of my first orders of business yesterday was to make “Detox soup” aka cabbage and lentils.

Now that it’s all said and done, I am down 3.2 lbs this week. I ate restaurant food all week, enjoyed myself and still lost weight! I am so happy I could do a victory dance in celebration.

I consider this week a huge victory, and a key example of where having a minimum really helped my attitude towards food.  Eating to 80% and eating protein at every meal was relatively easy. I still got to eat a nanaimo bar for dessert one day, and I still got to eat the tiny chocolates they leave on your pillow without feeling guilty. But being away from home didn’t mean that I just fell off the deep end and ate whatever was put in front me, just because it was there and this was a “special occasion”. Instead, I kept a level head: when faced with airplane food on Thursday evening, I tasted everything on my plate, and concluded that it was all too bland and not worth eating. I can’t even say I feel deprived about passing on airplane food.

I was even a bit shocked on Wednesday night. We walked into Old Town, ate a massive dinner at one of the local landmarks and then walked up to the Bush Pilot monument. My boss took a picture of me and back at the hotel when I looked at it, my reaction was simply “I don’t look fat.”  Just having that thought pass through my head came as a bit of a shock. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a picture of myself and had that reaction.

Of course, coming back to reality, I was confronted with my reflection in the fun house mirrors of the gym yesterday. I can’t say I felt very positively towards my body then. But I do feel like my perception of myself and the actual fact of how I look are slowly converging, which has not always been the case. I swing wildly between thinking that I look morbidly obese (because my BMI is morbidly obese) and thinking that I look quite fit (because ate salad for lunch two days in a row). But I think that as I’ve been losing weight over the past couple of months, I’ve also noticed a shift in my attitude and identity: I’ve stopped counting how long it’s been since my last binge eating episode, because I am not someone who eats well in public all week, and then scarfs down junk food all weekend long. I am a person who orders salad at a restaurant, not always fries. I am a person who finds the time to workout, even when I’m away from home. And I don’t have to do these things because I’m the fat friend who perpetually needs to lose weight, but I do them because I feel good about these choices, in the moment and afterwards too.

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