Let me preface this with the fact that I’m actually really really really happy with the progress I’m making and that what I’m doing is a) not completely killing me and b) actually working at a rate which is STOKING my motivation vs KILLING it.
How being in the messy middle of #projectraceweight feels.
However, I’m in the *middle* of my diet, the fifth week of nine weeks to vacation, and I’m definitely growing weary. So, like an April version of Festivus, let me air my grievances about why dieting sucks.
1. “Pick a way to eat for the rest of your life to lose weight” is BULLSHIT. I’ve heard that advice so many times and do you know what? Literally following that does not work. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie debt. Mine right now, between exercise and my food intake, is approximately 750. This is the fine line of “making progress quick enough (1.5 lbs/week) to stay motivated” and “losing my shit (I’m looking at you, 1200 calorie diets)”, so it’s what I’ve picked.
Once I’m done losing weight, that debt will be ZERO. 1500 calories of food is VERY different than 2250. Yes, I have found some things out about portions (maybe I don’t quite need the VOLUME of healthy food I was eating before) and intake (sadly, my stomach DOES seem to be less bloated when I lay off the wheat at every single meal). And this sentiment may apply a little more if you’re switching over from a diet solely including McDonalds and Starbux
milkshakes coffees to eating a normal healthy diet, but if portions are generally your problem and not the types of food you’re eating? Dieting will be veeeeeeery different than the way you eat for the rest of your life.
2. Snap Kitchen. First of all, let me profess my undying love for Snap Kitchen. They make me perfectly portioned, healthy meals that I don’t have to cook. However, that perfect portion is perfect for my WEIGHT LOSS, and not what my brain thinks is appropriate for a meal (hence, why I’m in this mess to begin with). I’m used to mixing bowls full of food (mostly veggies, but still, large portions), and their little containers look so teeny!
Second of all, I like about 10 of their meals right now, and two are conditional (one has ZERO carbs which tends to not stick with me that long, and one has VERY LITTLE protein, to which I can add chicken, but it ups the calories to 550 which is more than I’m eating lately in a meal). I’m really really looking forward to when they switch around their menu (and it’s only been 19 days since they did it previously) and hoping they don’t take away some of my favorites and replace with things I don’t like as much!
As long as they keep making the almond crusted chicken tenders with turnip mash and collard greens, I’ll be alright though.
3. Eating healthy food can be expensive. While I admit freely I’m taking the easy way with Snap, it is costing me more than previously when I was batch cooking most of my food and eating meals out about 4 times a week, although there are also supplements like the multi-vitamin suitable for vegetarians which really help keeping a healthy diet. While I will maintain that it is indeed possible to eat a healthy diet on a reasonable budget and without too much fuss, I just don’t quite trust myself with portions yet, so I’m leaning on a meal service for a little while (and it helps with #8 – being lazy actually helps me because I’ll eat what’s easy at my fingertips).
For some reason my grocery budget hasn’t gone down much (because I’m still purchasing breakfasts, snacks, and a lot of vegetables for salad fixins and ingredients for one batch cooked meal per week), and Snap is costing approximately ~125$ for us for 8 meals each per week. The good news is that our going out budget has gone down, so it’s not *that* much more, but it’s definitely not cheap. The good news is that their rewards program gives you a 50$ credit when you spend 300$, so some weeks it’s actually cheaper!
4. My tendency to revert to BITCH mode. When you are restricting calories, one can be a little moody. I have secretly murdered so many people in the last four weeks… in my mind of course… but still, they are SO DEAD. However, you have to remember to apologize for the things you said when you were hungry (and that’s most of the time) and remember that it’s not your coworkers’ fault your dieting and they don’t deserve to fear your wrath just because they happened to order pizza for lunch.
I miss these days.
5. Being social is hard. Here’s another piece of advice that I find bunk for me: it’s about the company, not the food. I’m sorry, but for me, it’s about the company AND the food. When I’m in a situation where I’m dieting and there’s a bunch of delicious junk food around tempting me, I’m just not going to be either a nice person (see #4 above) and also not very present in the social experience (my mind is going to be on all the food I can’t have). It gets better over time, but I have definitely avoided some social situations in the last month where I knew there was going to be food I shouldn’t eat or drinks I shouldn’t drink and I felt my willpower and energy low (this both includes traditional social situations and also group rides with the team where there’s beer after).
6. Loss of spontaneity. Look, I’m about as bad at this as they come. When someone asks me, “hey, do you want to go grab a drink?” my answer typically is something like, “sure, does three Saturdays from now from 3-6pm work?” However, it gets even WORSE because I have to consider my food intake as well. Even if I’m free to grab that drink, I have to make sure I am able and willing to spend the calories on it. If you’re inviting me for dinner and drinks out, forgetaboutit. I kind of get one or the other nowadays.
And food TIMING is a huge deal. While I’ve actually been pretty fine with my workouts vs fuel intake right now, it’s because I’m very careful to fuel AROUND the workouts, instead of doing that thing where I eat 2-3 hours later and thus the hunger monster has grown to epic proportions and needs to be satiated with mixing bowls worth of food. This makes #5 really hard because if you don’t want to hang out right after my workout, I’m very unlikely to have calories for doing anything food or drink related.
Non-dieting me: this looks like a great afternoon. Dieting me: a whole lot of anxiety about how to navigate this situation while not tanking my calorie balance.
7. Situations getting in the way of letting my laziness work for me. I freaking love efficiency. In a vacuum, if everyone in the world would leave me alone in my little bubble, I would tend to make reasonably good choices if only due to laziness. If the option is eat chicken and vegetables already prepared and easily reheated at home or drag myself out for what I really want, chicken and vegetables will win every time. I am the poster child for out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not in my house or easily within reach, I’ll find something that is before I arse myself with getting it. So, I try to avoid bringing anything that’s not something I want to consume on the regular into my house.
But then we’ll have get togethers and I just can’t politely pass up homemade dessert or your famous bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers and of course I’ll take some of that home (my deep freezer is full of this stuff, which actually helps take care of the “out of sight” part of it, but not always). My husband tends to throw a few things in the cart on grocery days that I wouldn’t and then I end up eating some stale hatch chili oreos (actually better than you think) because they are there. I have the random snack shelf with a bunch of crap that is left over from parties or things we wanted to try or gifts or freebies (current things there: super stale pretzels, crushed mint oreo thins, a mixed baggie of starbursts and atomic warheads, jelly beans, three year old kale chips and pork rinds) and are still there taunting me and occasionally I’ll give in and instantly regret it because it’s not what I want, but it’s right there (laziness).
8. Dieting takes up a good portion of your give-a-crap. I will fully admit that I have given up on some things because my give-a-crap tank is a little lower these days. I’ve skipped training, I’ve ditched errands or things on my to do list, and even probably been a little less productive at work at times because some of my give-a-crap is being siphoned into NOT EATING THE DAMN CAKE. Eating healthy food is a huge boost to your mood, energy, and drive. Restricting portions to have a deficit sucks all that dry.
9. 3-5 is very different than 5-7. Both of the nutritionists that I’ve worked with have mentioned this hunger scale. Basically 1 is – I will LITERALLY DIE if I don’t eat soon and 10 is – I will LITERALLY DIE if I eat anything else right now. Three is solid, healthy hunger, five is not hungry but not full, and seven is that nice, full feeling you get after a big meal and feel satisfied. Typically, people (i.e. me when training and not dieting) stick between about 5-7, and generally eat when they are no longer full and experience that feeling as “hungry” (or they just eat when it’s time to eat whether they’re hungry or not). When you are dieting, you should stick between 3-5 – eating just until you aren’t hungry anymore (which can take up to 20 minutes to process if you’re doing it right) and waiting until you feel genuine hunger to eat. This feels a lot different and can really throw you for a loop until you get used to not feeling full.
#sorrynotsorry, but I’d consider committing a litany of crimes for a calorie-free version of this meal right now.
10. Social media is the worst. On Instagram, I follow some people that post pictures of delicious foods, like macaroon ice cream sandwiches. On Facebook, my lovely friends will post buzzfeed recipes for stuff like Cheesy Bacon Monkey Bread. Again, I know it’s not other people’s faults that I am on a diet and they’re not, but it has not stopped me from throwing some mental daggers at certain internet handles that are making me drool with pictures of foods that cost my entire daily calorie intake or more.
While things absolutely CAN taste better than skinny feels (and Desano’s Pizza is one of them), but for a short time, I can forget about being a spontaneous, happy, carefree person to make that calorie deficit needed to achieve #projectraceweight before I go back to riding my bike all over town and drinking beer and eating pizza after. Until then, please ignore my mood, and be kind when I have to politely decline your invitation to sit and drink water while we hang out at a brewery, because my other option is not eating all day and you don’t want to see THAT monster either.