Finding balance

This doesn’t sit well with me.

I’ve felt what it’s like to care, and felt what it’s like to not. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and about how we’re supposed to have “balance” in our lives, how we’re supposed to play on both sides of the fence, in order to lead “a well rounded life.” How this is what all these girls out there are being told, “it’s all about balance,” well…

I’m calling bullshit. Right now. This moment. Bullshit.

To lose weight, to see results, you have to be perfect, 110% of the time. Playing on both sides of the fence may maintain you, but if you really want to lose weight, once and for all, you can’t cheat, not even a little bit, not even at all.

[Via One Twenty Five]

I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be. I’m also not a fan of fences. That probably has something to do with being a Chicana in the Borderlands.

Nevertheless, I strive for balance. It reminds of my Grandpa Bartolo’s advice to my aunts; roughly, eat whatever you like, but don’t fear the broom (read: work).

I didn’t start off this way when I decided I wanted to lose weight and joined Weight Watchers two years ago. Initially, I followed the plan closely. I tracked everything I ate in a food diary. I planned my meals and snacks ahead of time and carried contingency snacks for unplanned events. I counted everything, looked at every single nutrition label, measured my food, watched my serving sizes and made sure I stayed within my allotted points. I attended a meeting once a week. My efforts paid off. Jeans fit looser. The pounds came off and the receptionist gave me star stickers after each successful weigh-in.

However, even as I saw the results, I disliked the process and what it was doing to my attitude. I thought about food all the time. How many points is a tortilla? How much will it set me back? How long will I have to work out to make up for that slice of cheese?

I became a bit anxious when I ate a great home cooked meal at my mom’s or another relative’s and worried about going out of town for a meeting because I wouldn’t be in complete control.

On the flip side, some of the habits I picked up are good for my health, wallet and general well-being. I learned to cook and ate out much less. I stopped skipping breakfast. I began eating more of the fruits and vegetables I grew up loving. I gave up alcohol for Lent, which took away the feeling that I was restricting myself for a diet. I’ve enjoy giving up something for Lent and have given up alcohol before. I started working out and returned to running (well, jogging).

By the summer, I stopped trying to be perfect. I let up on tracking everything I ate or even tasted. My anxiety subsided, but I still worried about straying too far from the plan. For example, when Lori said she wanted to bake my a birthday cake, I told her not to since it was too hot to bake that day. Secretly, I didn’t want the calories from the cake. I occasionally gained weight at my weekly weigh-in. Although I wasn’t happy, I never beat myself up. As the days shortened and students returned to campus, I was barely tracking. At the end of the year my weight loss slowed down and plateaued temporarily. I was a few pounds from goal weight.

I got to my goal after a year and some weeks of working hard to find that balance. I maintained my weight loss, at least for a few months.

Recently, I’ve gained some of it back. Not much, but enough that a couple of dresses are rather snug at the bust and one pair of pants barely closes. When I weighed myself after two months of avoiding the scale (I told myself I’d go by how my jeans felt), I was surprised at the number. I was disappointed; those extra pounds are holding me back from running faster and I’d like those dresses and pants to fit like they used to.

I know I could go back to writing everything down, measuring and restricting, but that will be tough as I train for the marathon. Running, especially the long runs, gives me a voracious appetite (you try burning 1500+ calories in a workout session). Instead, I’ll concentrate on eating foods that I enjoy and that will provide good fuel as I train.

In my first draft of this piece, I arrogantly claimed that I’d found my balance. I’m still working on it.


2 thoughts on “Finding balance

  1. César says:

    I think I’ve mentioned to you before about how I struggled with my balance after losing all my weight. I was 205 lbs at 15 and by 17, for some reason it came off. This prompted me to find something I loved and always wanted to do: run. But as I got into my twenties I realized that I if I bought a shirt or jeans, I’d always go three or four sizes to big for me. I never saw myself as wearing 29/30 jeans, or medium/small shirts. I was a little guy. Most people don’t believe when I tell them I was overweight for the first half of my life. Balance was the struggle, is the struggle because our minds have to catch up with how the body actually… physically is and how one truly feels. It can be nerve-wrecking when you gain a few pounds back and all of a sudden this fear takes over. But I’ve learned over the years that in those moments I have to remember the discipline I’ve learned as a runner, as a confident, strong minded person that I am more than that fear of losing balance. We’re strong. You’ve shown it, we’ve all seen it. A few pounds is ok. I gained 25 lbs during grad school because I stopped running and my balance was out of wack for two years. As soon as I was done with grad school, I was determined to feel the way I used to, to return to my balance. And sure enough within the last four months, I’m just about back to an ideal weight. My goal now is to get back to my ideal running weight. I riff here, but if you’re like me, Cindy, you crave control and details are important to you. Learn how to control that control (huh? ha) and just as you felt that balance, you will feel have it again. I know.

  2. what to say? it is hard. i haven’t found the balance yet either. i struggle with the weight, and yet am proud of the changes i’ve made. i love how i feel after running and yet still hate the tracking of it. i am glad you are willing to share your struggles…makes mine easier.
    i love you for it.

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