Chapter 5: Cheater Cheater Junk Food Eater

Hello – I’m back! Finals ended two weeks ago, and I’ve been catching up on life and itching to write. So here I am. Writing, whilst I get a pedicure. As part of my story, I’ve wanted to share all parts that have contributed, based on this timeline:

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I think it’s time to describe how it all began – you know, aside from childhood eating behavior, blah blah. In my more recent years, it began with George. My very first personal trainer. I had graduated from college that summer (2008) and started working at Equinox Fitness. I sold memberships there originally, and as a membership advisor, I got to try out a bunch of different trainers. One almost made me cry because he didn’t understand that my lower back could NOT support tons of sit-ups. Another, a former military member – female by the way – worked my quads so hard that it was hard to sit and pee for 3 days. There were others, and then, there was George. He and I would do running exercises together and chat while I was on the treadmill, and one day, he said some stuff that made me realize he was The One. The one to sculpt my body. He painted this picture of me looking great from head to toe, toned and beautiful. I had NEVER ever in my life felt good in a bikini. Ever. So this was tempting.

We trained twice a week. He totally challenged me (without making me cry), and he used a ton of positive reinforcement as I got stronger and leaner. Fitness became a huge part of my life, and as George changed my body, other trainers changed my diet. Two in particular introduced me to the idea of the “cheat day.” If you haven’t heard of this diet tactic, it involves eating super clean 6 days per week and then eating whatever you want on day 7. At least that’s how it was presented to me. I remember one trainer telling me she ate brownie sundaes. Big ones, with ice cream, whipped cream, and everything. I literally did NOT believe her. I double checked to make sure she didn’t mean, like, some Weight Watchers frozen sundae. Nope, she meant the real thing, because 6 days of the week she avoided things like that completely. Another trainer told me to make my cheats good – pancakes, bacon, the works. And that actually was my first cheat day! I remember it well.  On a Sunday, I went to brunch with my friend Carly after her birthday. I had white chocolate chip pancakes with syrup and bacon (bacon dipped in syrup…), whipped cream on the side, and we all shared an ice cream shake with Bailey’s in it. That night, I went to dinner with my parents and had pizza. PIZZA! With bread and olive oil to start. It felt so delicious and exciting. I felt kinda crappy and food coma-y after, but the next day began my 6 days of clean eating. A very welcome start to the week after a heavy cheat day.

I continued this cycle for months. I lost 1/2 to 1 pound per week. I weighed myself every Friday, before the weekend, during which I “cheated.” I started at 126 lbs, and my original goal weight was 118. I hit that goal, followed by 116. When I hit 114.5, I told my mom because I was so excited.

The thing is, I wasn’t TRYING to lose that much! It just kept happening! My diet was conducive to losing weight, so it just kept going. No one had taught me how to maintain, and by that point – nearly one year – I didn’t know how to eat any other way. George contributed to my eating behavior as well. He noticed when I ate salt the night before a session and called me puffy. Not in a mean way. In a personal trainer way. But it led me to avoid salt. I didn’t salt my food. I made my mom avoid added salt when we cooked as a family. I asked waiters at the Chinese restaurant to avoid salt (“Soy?” they said? “No, salt – sodium,” I replied, frustrated. My sister’s boyfriend was visiting from LA, and lord, I’m sure he thought I was nuts.). My salt thing actually got to the point where I got dizzy when stressed. I went to see my doctor about it, and he asked me if I was getting enough salt. I said, “Actually – I try to avoid it as much as I can.” He asked why. “Because my trainer told me to.” He explained that too little salt can lower blood pressure, and if I’m feeling dizzy to keep Gatorade or pretzels on hand. I said, “My trainer had said I shouldn’t eat too much sodium, but I guess I should have taken that with a grain of salt.”

I will never not be proud of that joke…

ANYWAY. My lowest weight was 111.5, in September of 2010. I weighed that much for like a minute and then started to slowly creep back up, until we get to “Life Sucking” on my timeline in early 2011, during which it shot up to around 121, and I freaked. We’ll get there.

But before you use this story as diet advice and try the cheat day to lose weight, let me me tell you why I wish I’d never tried it to begin with, and how it still affects me to this day.

In my first post, I referred to unhealthy, hyper-balanced eating behavior. Well, this is it. It was very black and white, and it did not teach me balance. It only taught me to eat in a way that was either very restrictive or totally indulgent. I carried that mentality with me until just 9 months ago when I started seeing my nutritionist, but that type of eating pattern is not sustainable. While I was able to tightly control myself several years ago while feeling okay, I have not been able do it anymore. My body began to fight back. If I try to restrict, I get hungry, feel deprived, and break my “diet” before the day ends. And so commences the cycle of overeating, feeling gross, restricting, feeling deprived, and overeating again. Not only that, but my body seems to remember still how I deprived it for so long. I still have a hard time leaving dessert left over on my plate, and I get really eager – even anxious – when I know I’m about to eat sweets (especially when I have to share dessert; “shared” is my least favorite type of dessert, especially molten chocolate cakes because they’re so small – am I right?). It’s like my mind thinks it’s the last time I’m going to eat something like that because every cheat day used to be like, “You can have this now, but no more for 6 days, so get it all in while you can!” In my eyes, this is the cheat day gone very wrong. It’s the aftermath of eating that way for almost 2 years. And it doesn’t work for me anymore.

A relationship with your body is just like any other relationship: if you continue to force it to do something it doesn’t want to do, it will give up. It will throw its hands up in the air in rebellion because you’re trying to force it to be something it’s not. That relationship is not healthy, and it’s not successful.

I get really passionate about this because I see people extreme dieting all the time – especially since I work at a gym – and it’s really hard to see because I’ve been there. It’s affected me in quite a negative way, and I literally want to tell the world my story, almost as a warning.. I feel like this post is ending on a solemn note, which wasn’t my intention. Thus, in order to end this more positively, I will tell you that I do try to listen to my body often. For instance, as I’ve mentioned, I eat dessert. Frequently. Tonight I ate a Chipwich. You know when the edges finally start to melt and the cookie gets kind of soft? 😏 Yeah…

 

 

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I hope you enjoy your next dessert as well. Cheers.

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