Even the gym won’t help me here

Oh, how my life has changed since starting work.  Not for the better, with the exception of earning money.  Unemployment was running out, but my lifestyle wrt free unstructured time took a major hit.   By the time I get home from work, gym, socializing, other obligations, eating dinner, cleaning kitchen, (not always in that order) it’s past 10 pm, I need to relax a bit so I can go to bed, so I can get up at 5 and do it again.

And because I don’t drive most days, I can’t easily get to the gym.  I know the conventional wisdom keeps trying to say that exercise isn’t as important as food, but I can eat a whole lot more if I have enough time to exercise as much as I would like.  But I cannot.  I have New Guy who likes to spend time with me.  I have other friends who I like to spend time with, other activities I enjoy.  I had a week or two adjusting to the new food all over the place.  I ate two bags of goldfish crackers (170 cal each).  I ate a small bag of cookies, probably similar.  A small bag of cheetos, a few granola bars, a bunch of string cheese.    A few English muffins with turkey, ham, cheese.  My pants got tight, and now I don’t eat any of that anymore.  I’m not going to any extremes, just bringing lunch from now on.  There’s a Malaysian buffet nearby, not too much deep fried stuff, but I eat too much.  When I wasn’t working, I got there once a month, now that I work there, it is once a week.  Sometimes more.  I went today.  But if I eat lunch at noon, eat dinner 8:30 (my dinner tonight is salad – I am still full)  I went to the gym for two hours.  I think I’m going to go there every other week, probably once a month would be better, but that feels restrictive, which I need to be careful with.  I have to walk a fine line, I read other weight loss/maintenance blogs and know many people don’t eat much, but my metabolism is somewhat jacked.  I don’t do gym as much as I would like, but I ride 4 miles each way on bike as part of commute, walk a bunch, do what I can.   This not getting fat again is bloody inconvenient, I love the exercise, but the food planning is effort.  I can’t even imagine what a pain it would be if I counted calories, weighed stuff, or made any concession other than cooking it myself.

Sometimes I get caught in weird traps, for example, this is the first salad I’ve made at home for over a month.  I brought my salad dressing over to NG’s house when I made him dinner, left it there.  It takes just a few minutes to make dressing, why did I not do it for a month?   I don’t always make it easy for myself, and I’m trying to stop doing that.    What’s even weirder, I’m so mean to myself.  I keep telling myself that I’m such a fraud, to be dating decent looking guys who are actually nice to me.  I can make myself feel really bad and self-conscious if I don’t stop.  I subvert that mode of thinking when I notice it.  I tell him that I was fat, that my mother fucked me up, that I run depressed, exercise a lot, try hard not to be crazy about food, don’t like to clean.  But I like to cook, and I like sex, and am kinda smart, and for some guys, they’ll deal with my mess (head and apartment) for that.

Oh, and New Guy tells me he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.  What the hell does that even mean?  I understand the words, something is lost in interpretation.  Who doesn’t love sugar?  He does like it, but he doesn’t indulge.  I find this outrageous.  He explains that he would also love to smoke ciggies (me too!), drink way too much all the time (not my thing), and eat sweets, but he doesn’t.  Obviously, I somewhat understand restraint, having given up ciggies and 50 pounds, but no sweet tooth?  I am tripping on this, but I think of him when I pass by cookies and don’t eat them.  I can’t resist sugar only when drinking, which I don’t love and so should do less.

I have discovered the functionality in functional fitness.   I tried to climb the side of a waterfall, didn’t make it, but I needed every muscle I’ve gained in the gym.  I was actually sore from using my arms to pull me up, bringing my knees up to my chest to climb these boulders.  I couldn’t have done this when large, couldn’t do it without my gym habit.  So here’s a very dorky picture of me, on the rocks.  It’s hard to tell how steep it is, but you can sorta gauge by the waterfall off to the side.   I’m just happy to be somewhere that I can wear shorts.  This is the coldest summer of my life.

600 foot waterfall

600 foot waterfall


13 Responses to “Even the gym won’t help me here”

  1. August 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    You’re now coming to terms with the point that derailed me when I first lost a ton of weight. When I lost it, I was in college and had time to exercise. When I graduated, I got a job where I worked two 16-hour days and had 5 days off so I could still exercise. Like you, I ate what I wanted in whatever quantity I wanted, but I was careful about what I ate – no sugar, no fried food, no red meat, no added fats, no white bread or sugary cereals. And, like you once I went to a job where I worked 5 days a week and had a boyfriend (later husband), that all started to become too hard to maintain.

    I wanted to eat as much as I wanted and I wanted to exercise to do it. I didn’t want to master the food side of it because it meant subtracting behavior I enjoyed rather than adding behavior I also enjoyed (exercising). It worked for awhile, and then it failed spectacularly.

    Yeah, it sucks counting calories and eating small amounts when I would prefer to eat more. Yeah, I hate weighing my food and spending time cooking. That being said, I feel like this is sustainable no matter what happens to me in my life (job changes, injury, etc.), and I’m not sure that I spend anymore time cooking and cleaning up afterward than I used to spend exercising 90 minutes a day 5 times a week. And I still spend about 30-60 minutes exercising nearly every day. I just have to see it as a fitness thing rather than a weight thing.

    Yeah, muscles to pull yourself up the side of a waterfall are cool, but the truth is that the use of that sort of functional power is infrequent and the food stuff is everyday. There is a balance point of having your muscles, but not necessarily exercising in the service of eating more food. You can exercise a little less, eat a little less, and be fit and strong, but you have to give up freestyle eating and eating as much as you might like. No, I don’t like it either. I really don’t.

    I wish you better luck on this path than I had. Just because I was a spectacular failure at keeping it up doesn’t mean that someone else can’t manage it. I really hope you do.

  2. August 5, 2010 at 4:23 am

    The road to self acceptance is a long, hard and sometimes treacherous one, but it can be a successful one [as you know from my blog]. Sounds like you are almost there… or there with some great questions to be answered. Meanwhile, it’s true that what goes in your mouth is more important than how much exercise you get, but exercise is still important – for the body as well as the head. Maybe you can use your lunch hour to work out?? Good to hear from you…. missed reading your blog.

  3. August 5, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Screaming Fat Girl – I think you misunderstand. I certainly can’t eat whatever and however much I want, and haven’t been able to do that along the way at all. I can do it for a meal, occasionally, especially if it’s 8+ hours, including gym, before the next one. I’m just much less restrained than most weight losing/maintaining bloggers, because I exercise my ass off, and keep my metabolism really high. I got fat because I used to overeat whole extra meals, sometimes even binge, not because I don’t eat salad every meal, weigh or count stuff, and eat full-fat cheese. I can’t eat nearly as much as I would like, have to constantly eat veggies instead of just bread and cheese, can’t indulge my sweet tooth too often, can’t overeat wildly just because things taste good, have to watch drinking, etc. I am VERY far from uninhibited eating.

    Bobbie – No lunch hour. I get a shuttle to work, am there exactly 8 hours. No lunch, no breaks. Not that I don’t sometimes take them anyway, but it’s too cold, ugly, flat to walk where I work. I’m glad you enjoy my blog.

  4. August 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    i’ve been out of work for three weeks and the idea of going back to that world is so sad. i love this freedom and unstructured life.

    eating and exercise is so easy now — it’s all on my schedule. i’m not even an exerciser, but i find time to take out my bike and walk with some weights — now that i’m unemployed.

    and i love having tons of personal time.

    i know i have to get a job but blugh, i don’t wanna!

  5. 5 RNegade
    August 6, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I’m de-lurking to let you know I enjoy your blog and your unique take on life. It was great to not worry as much about eating when I could regularly enjoy more exercise. I didn’t have to think very much about restricting my intake when I could exercise for 90 min per day (average). I mostly focused on eating satisfying and nutritious meals.

    Then I went from being a free lance writer and became a full-time student and part time worker, in a field that required hours of sedentary study each day. During the next four years of career changes I re-gained a lot of weight, although I never returned to my highest weight.

    Now I’m unemployed, out of school, and have lost 55 lbs this year by tracking my food. Tracking at first triggered feelings of resentment and anger. And, also, tracking triggered mistrust for my body. However, I’ve been able to work through all those unpleasant reactions.

    The exercise behaviors that worked well in the past to manage my weight are not an option for me now (age, arthritis, and several injuries have taken their toll). I still walk for an hour a day, but I don’t view walking as a weight management tool (I did it for several months without losing an ounce). Instead, walking outdoors is my time to connect with myself and with nature. It nurtures my “spirit”.

    You seem to be open to exploring different approaches to improve your life. That willingness to experiment and be flexible will carry you far! Have fun with your agile body and your youth. Enjoy!

  6. August 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    My desk job is a big factor why I am having a hard time losing a few pounds of vanity weight. I like to eat, but I also like to exercise. When I was unemployed a few years ago for a while, I lost weight because I rarely sit the way I do now. And I am not eating more when I am at work than when I am home.

  7. August 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Melissa – It’s nice for a while, gets boring eventually. I hope you try yoga, it’s good for your mind and mood, not just the body.

    RNegade – Glad you seem to have things under control. I agree with you on the walking, it’s my “me time”, when I get it. I really don’t want to track/count. I don’t think I can go there, but hopefully other alternatives will work just as effectively.

    Asithi – I walk around a bunch at work, but “exercise” less. I was absolutely eating more,well maybe not more as much as super processed, just not used to that food. But now I’m used to it, over it, not eating it. Hopefully, problem solved!

    Thanks for commenting!

  8. August 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

    When I lost weight years ago, I maintained my loss by continuing the same behaviors that got me to that point. Consistency and building healthy habits is what it takes. Do you remember that old movie, “The Big Chill?” Well now you are in the big chill real world. Will you make it? I don’t know. I hope you will. It was important for me and I made eating well and especially exercise a priority. If that meant getting up at 4 in the morning so I could make 6 AM rounds in the hospital, so it was. At least I was awake when I hit the hospital 🙂

    Sending my best!!

  9. August 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I think that the changes in your employment are having a big impact on your life. I admire you for thinking through it all. I really think Dr. J has good points in his comment. I think that you can find time to exercise and make good foods. Will it be easy? No, but you are worth the extra effort.

  10. August 18, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks Dr. J, Diane. I think I already exercise too much, it’s the food I have to learn to maneuver better. And I am, and I will. I am having a moment of resentment about how disciplined I have to be about food, but I’ll accept it, move on.

  11. August 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    You climbed partway up the side of a waterfall? That is badass!

    Since graduating from university, I thought for sure life would slow down and I’d be able to really crack down on health. But I’m still 10 lbs heavier than where I’d like to be, I’m working pretty much constantly, and I’m tired most of the time. It doesn’t leave much space, time, or energy to really FOCUS on maintaining good eating habits (which is definitely about portion size for me, too).

    I think it’s really about deciding where to cut our losses. We just CAN’T do everything. It’s lame, but I think that if we can come up with creative ways to manage it all, we can at least do the majority of what we want and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    That’s what I’m counting on, anyways.

  12. September 3, 2010 at 12:20 am

    hey!! you have a wonderful blog. thanks for sharing your weight lost progress here. keep it up and never give up. you can do it.

  13. September 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Perhaps we are sisters under the skin:
    “my mother fucked me up, that I run depressed, exercise a lot, try hard not to be crazy about food, don’t like to clean”
    Ditto to all that – & of course I’m still fat!
    I’ve been formulating a mini-essay for my son; something along the lines of “Enjoy your youth while you can!” bcz grown-up life to me seems increasing like a restrictive, treadmill-based existence as our habits & family obligations proliferate…

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