I’ve been finding it helpful to sit down on a semi-regular basis and document what’s been happening in my Lean Eating journey. I am not sure it’s terribly interesting for anyone else and it’s by no means a requirement of the program, but writing has always been a great way for me to parse everything that I’m dealing with. And it’s funny, because on the one hand I feel like nothing is ever happening on my program, and on the other hand, I feel like I am experiencing a dramatic and fundamental shift in my relationship with food. And that’s a big freakin’ deal.
This week, I’ve been focusing on eating protein with every meal. After being a powerlifter for a couple of years, knowing what foods are protein-dense and incorporating them into meals has actually been incredibly easy. I felt like I was having a great week in terms of progress, but then when I had my measurement day this morning, I felt a bit disappointed. Again, I feel like things move so slowly on this program! I know that’s what I signed up for but sometimes I start to feel very impatient.
I stopped and asked me why I’ve been feeling so good about this week if there wasn’t a change on the scale. It actually has nothing to do with my weight, and only a little to do with my eating habits, which have generally been on track. I found out early this week that I would be moving on November 1st. I have no idea where I’ll be moving to. My job future is a little uncertain at the moment, which complicates the decision. But I helped someone move last week and she had a lot of stuff.
Now that I’m faced with the prospect of my own move, I’ve made it my goal to unload at least one of my own possessions every day. I’ve been throwing away stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day since my last move. I sold my breadmaker because I don’t even really eat bread anymore. In short, I am simplifying my life and learning to live with less. It’s a huge weight off my back, regardless of whether the scale disagrees.
It’s interesting: I’ve told a few people about my endeavor to ditch as many of my belongings as possible and all of them have acted as though this is some sort of sacrifice. It isn’t. It feels great. All of that junk was just taking up a ton of unnecessary space in my life and now I don’t have to carry it with me when I move. While I could probably pen a lengthy diatribe on the subject of how our society equates material possessions with the illusions of success and happiness, the reactions I’ve received this week have also made me realize something else: Simple and easy are not the same thing, and I’m often guilty of confounding the two.
It’s simple to live with less, but it’s not necessarily easy to give it all up.
It was simple to admit that my eating habits were disordered, but never easy to fix them.
The idea of eating less is very simple, but man, it’s really easy to overeat.
You know what else seemed really simple? Almost too simple? The second phase of Lean Eating workouts. I looked at the prescribed regimen, scoffed to myself and waltzed to the gym. I was thinking to myself, “This program really is designed for exercise n00bs.” Ha. It was not easy. In fact, it was very difficult.
After collapsing into a puddle of sweat on the floor after about an hour, I had DOMS in my triceps for 5 days. I couldn’t even get my sports bra off the next time I went to the gym. I was dreading my workout by the time I got to the gym on Friday because I knew exactly what was waiting for me: a very simple workout.
I’ve been able to complete my workouts, no matter how brutal they seem. Maybe when I lost interest in lifting a few months ago, it was because I was doing lengthy, complicated and demanding workouts every time I went into the gym. That’s really not necessary, and just like simplifying my life is bringing me immense satisfaction, so are simpler workouts.
I had a further realization yesterday: when I started trying to listen to only my internal hunger cues and ignoring all of the external noise, I felt totally overwhelmed. It’s a simple idea that lean individuals eat when they are truly hungry. They don’t necessarily eat everything on their plate. They don’t snack just because everyone else is eating chips around them. But in my case, I’d never listened to those signals and I didn’t even know what they sounded like.
Then yesterday at coffee, my boss remarked, “I noticed Andy didn’t have a muffin or a cookie at our team meeting this morning. He’s so health-conscious! And you, too! What was that about?” Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed that we were the only ones skipping out on free doughnuts. I’d poured myself a cup of coffee, looked at the doughnuts and asked myself if I was hungry. When I wasn’t hungry, I walked away without giving the matter another thought. And that’s exactly what I told my boss later in the day, “I’d already eaten breakfast. I wasn’t hungry.” 6 weeks ago, that entire scenario was rather unfathomable to me: normally I’d just eat the cookie and call it a cheat because free cookies are always irresistibly delicious.
And this evening? I’m going for tacos with a friend. We go out together on a regular basis and I sent her an e-mail this week saying we were not only overdue for dinner, but that for the first time in my life I wasn’t on a crazy restrictive diet. I am going out to eat and feeling so calm. Normally I stress out for days in advance, worried that I will overeat and blow my progress for the week. All of a sudden, I know that I can eat just like I do at home: eat mindfully, enjoy the food I do eat and stop when my body says it’s full – not when it says it’s overfull.
So maybe I’m making progress towards happiness in my life, but not all of that progress can be measured by the scale.