Why is it so hard to be healthy (I mean skinny)?

Since graduation, each year, I find myself a little unhappier with my body than the year before. This year, I have found better success with trying to control my weight. Each time, though, I seem to eventually fall right back off the proverbial horse. Is the upward climb inevitable?

For context, I am the opposite of what would be considered waif-like. Since high school, I’ve been in the over-weight category according to my body mass index, although I often straddle the line between healthy and over-weight. And that’s part of the problem. I’ve been tracking my weight somewhat obsessively for over four years, trying to slim down to this ideal number that I don’t think I can make (and I’ve recently realized it’s not a number I want to hit anymore).

Before we get into this, I want to throw in a quick caveat. There are people who have achieved huge feats of weight changes. People who have managed to gain weight after dealing with anorexia, and others who have lots significant weight to better manage health-related issues. I am not one of those people. I am one of those girls who scrolls through Instagram, obsessively looking at before and after transformation, while also drooling over pictures of delectable, unhealthy food. I am one of those girls who, while talking with friends, will say “ugh, I just want to lose 20 pounds so I can be skinny like you”. I’m not proud of it, but I often can’t help it. One of my resolutions for 2016 was to change the way I feel about my body. There are good days, and there are bad days.

Here it is. Even though I don’t like the number on the screen, I’m happier now than I’ve been for a while . How I treat it is still a work in progress, physically as well as mentally.

myfitnesspal

How did it all go wrong?

In my last year of undergrad, I downloaded MyFitnessPal with the goal of losing 15 pounds and reaching 135 pounds. The body mass index told me this was a healthy weight for my height (I’m talking middle of the green, not borderline to underweight). Of course, the first thing that happened was that my weight spiked up because that always seems to happen whenever I try dieting. Eventually, I settled back down. There was even one glorious day where I weighed in at 143 pounds. I probably hadn’t eaten yet that day and/or just taken a giant dump (let’s be honest here, it makes a difference). I was eating moderately healthy, but, more importantly, I was extremely active that year. I easily spent 10 hours a week at dance practice that year (if not more).

In grad school, my lifestyle completely changed. I spent so much time at school, I often ate 2 out of 3 meals out, if not more. Due to an increased workload, my previously active lifestyle dropped down to almost nothing. Before grad school, I hated bacon and disliked beer. Those things quickly changed. It was like the freshman 15 all over again.

Free food is dangerous.

On my first day of work, my manager gave me a tour of the office, introducing me to coworkers, where to find IT, and, most importantly, where the kitchen snacks were kept. I am a sucker for free food. The idea that I could just go grab a bag of chips anytime was so tempting to me that eventually, that’s exactly what I did. I held off for a month or two until I felt more comfortable around others, but one snack a day became two, and two became three. 170 pounds became the norm for me for a short period of time, which made me feel terrible. I hadn’t been that heavy since my first year of college, where I was introduced to a buffet-style meal plan and no strict mother peering over my shoulder.

Eventually, I got tired of the snacks, and even started taking dance lessons again. The big drop in Year 2 of working? That was my first round of Whole30, which was life changing. I also starting using my lunch breaks to do Kayla Itsines’ BBG workout. I lost 8 pounds in 30 days. The weight stayed off for a while but eventually climbed back up as I got lazy and complacent.

What changed?

Since doing Whole30 last year, I’ve been paying much more attention to the things I put in my body. I saw a recent spike in weight this year after moving up to NYC, but I’m partially attributing that to access to novel restaurants. The other part? Living with a significant other is rough when you both like to go out on food adventures. He’s completely on board, though, with developing a healthy eating lifestyle.

My new goal? 150 pounds, give or take a few. I know this is a reachable number, and it’s one I can reach through clean eating and staying moderately active. The healthy habits I plan to live by? Here are a few:

  1. Budget, budget, budget! The money I spend on going out to eat has a direct correlation with increased poundage and overall bloat.
  2. Avoid dairy like the plague. For my birthday last year, I was gifted a genetic test (she’s a nurse, it was an awesome gift!), and discovered that I’m lactose sensitive/intolerant. I’ve never been able to stomach straight milk (seriously, I puke afterwards), but I eat plenty of ice cream and cheese (really, so much cheese). When I’m successful at cutting out dairy, I definitely feel like my body runs more smoothly… and then I’ll go off on a cheese-eating bender and then my body pays the price. Usually in the form of massive gas and terrible breakouts.
  3. Guzzle those greens. My mom used to tell me to eat a pound of vegetables a day. I always found that sort of silly, but her point was that a giant salad really isn’t that much food, no matter how large it looks. Have you ever bought a bag of spinach from the store? Sauté that entire bag, and it’ll shrivel away into nothing. The water content in vegetables can be very misleading.
  4. Remove all junk food from the house. If you can’t see it, you can’t eat it. I’m relying on my laziness here to actually work in my favor. Imagine this: it’s late at night, and the cravings hit, hard. Do you bother putting on clothes, walking out, and getting a snack? Hell no. Water and straight to bed. Related: never grocery shop on an empty stomach.
  5. Meal prep! Thankfully I have healthy lunch options near work, but prep my meals is healthier and significantly cheaper. I’m getting better over time at creating exciting dishes that I don’t immediately get bored of.
  6. Regularly weigh myself. This tip is a little controversial, but a critical one for me. I may not have done this the right way when I first set out to lose weight, but the scale plays an important role in managing my body. I don’t like getting a surprise number when I go to the doctors, especially since I like to indulge in food. Weighing myself consistently helps me keep a handle on my body. I typically hop on the scale in the evenings, always after I’ve had dinner and lots of water to drink.

Maybe by the end of the year, I’ll have reached my goal. If not, it’s not big deal, as long as I’m eating better overall. Thigh gaps are overrated, anyway.