Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On resolutions, or why I deleted my calorie counting app

I have been working on this since July, month before the baby came. And what with all the resolving to lose weight that people invariably did a few weeks ago (not me; more on that later), I figured it was time to actually just publish the darn thing already. I keep going back and forth on how much I want to include. I guess I'll just dump it all. Here's why I deleted my calorie counting app:

It doesn't work well for me personally
Counting calories is not very effective for me. For one, it makes me crazy. Like, I become super obsessive about it, and I have this weird thing where I don't often feel hungry (um, late pregnancy and breastfeeding excluded; I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, starving. But I'm too lazy to get up for a snack.). When you don't often feel hungry, it becomes too easy to just be hungry, and next thing you know you're far below any reasonable calorie level for sustaining life and it's too easy to say, "Hey! Look how few calories I ate today!"

But aside from the crazy-making, it's not really effective for me for actually losing weight. The times I have lost the most weight, it was because I was exercising pretty much every day. I never once considered calories. My senior year of high school I finally got around to taking my PE credit, and lo and behold lost 30+ pounds over the school year (and gained muscle) without once dieting. I had a weird, but pretty consistent food schedule--Sunny D in A hour, PE first hour, granola bar or honey nut shredded wheat in second hour, go-gurt in fourth hour, lunch sixth hour, afternoon snack after school, whatever totally non-healthy thing was for dinner--so it wasn't exactly a perfectly orchestrated balance of fat, carbs, and protein that lost me the weight. Turns out I'm just a lazy blob and consistently moving said blob reduces the size of it. Crazy.

The other times I lost a lot of weight was when I was eating just Frosted Flakes for two meals a day in the MTC (not advisable) because I hated the cafeteria food and when I was walking a lot on my mission (good) but also was on diuretics for my vertigo (not fun; can't recommend it). So really, the best weight loss episode I've ever had was just from exercisin'. There's a saying about wishing you were as skinny as you were when you thought you were fat, and I get that. My mom recently gave me a box of photos, and there were some from around the end of my senior year, and I was like "holy crap, I was skinny!" But of course I didn't think so at the time. To quote an old cartoon that I refer to frequently, "Never satisfied!" (I usually am referring to how he rotates to keep his tummy and bum warm, which is how I shower and why I hate campfires.) But let's face it, no matter how much weight you lose, it's never enough.

It makes people boring
Don't get me wrong, I know several people who have had great success using this particular app to track their calories. That's awesome, and I'm happy for them, really. However, it tends to make people black holes of fun. Fun suckers. Certain people had come to visit for Thanksgiving, and then spent the entire weekend fussing about food. You are on vacation! This is family time! I don't want to hear you fussing over how to track the two handfuls of popcorn you ate at the movies. We are about to eat a meal with a side of sweet potatoes with so much butter, sugar, and pecans that it probably should be called a cobbler and served for dessert. Sometimes it's okay to just eat.

I had a coworker who was using the app, and she would never come to lunch with us, even when the whole team was going. She would even bring in treats, but not eat them! It was kind of frustrating that she lived and died by the website and never would deviate, even for social or teambuilding events. It's not like she'd become a giantess because she ate something other than what she brought for lunch. Adjust your dinner! It's hard when a member of the morale committee won't participate in the morale-building luncheon.

And frankly, there was a brief period last year when I was trying to drop a couple pounds really quick right before the end of the year so I could get the $100 for meeting the stupid, arbitrary "healthy" BMI threshold. (Didn't make it, btw. Got pregnant instead.) I was sick of myself, having to check what I could eat at a restaurant before we could settle on where to go on date night. That sucks! Bless my husband's heart for putting up with it for those few miserable weeks. For better or worse, food is a part of society and socializing, and if you can't make them both work... them what Man does not live by bread alone--sometimes it's a baby shower cake.

What am I teaching my daughter?
Forty weeks and 180 pounds of GROWING A PERSON

This is absolutely the most important aspect for me. I read these heartbreaking stories of tiny kids with food-anxiety issues, or eating disorders or thinking they're fat or obsessing about "bad" foods, and I'm like, "Crap, one more thing to worry about screwing up my kid with. Does the whole 'that's a sometimes food' schtick mess them up, too?" Mostly I just don't want to have my second grader think she's fat. And if I'm constantly worried about losing weight, what kind of example am I setting? I want her to focus on her body being strong, not skinny. Our bodies are incredible! They can do amazing things, but if we look at it and think, "Bah, too fat" we are ignoring the "wow, so capable!" It's so easy to feel like a beached whale when pregnant, but then you're missing out on how literally marvelous it is to have a body that can grow another body inside it. I know a girl who is not particularly skinny, but is always runnin' marathons or winnin' lifting competitions. The woman can deadlift twice my weight, and that is awesome.
On New Year's resolutions
Although I don't formally make resolutions, my counterpoint to all the media about losing weight this year was to suggest resolving to accept yourself. Treat yourself with loving kindness. A good resolution is to decide not to say negative things about your body in front of your kids. A better resolution is to not say them at all, and the best is to not even think it. It's hard. But it is so...peaceful to give yourself permission to be okay with who you are, right now. It doesn't mean you can't decide to eat healthier or run a 5k this year, but it means you recognize yourself as more than a number on a scale or in a waistband. That is the least important part of who you are.