Eat, Pray, Eat

I have spent years being useless at following through with fitness and diet plans unless those plans are to sit on my ass binge-watching TV while compulsively eating something yummy. When I announced on my blog and Facebook that I was going to work out every day from now until I go back to work on August 10th, friends and strangers encouraged a more moderate approach. It seems like a fair suggestion, but I can’t figure out a moderate approach to fanaticism.

My favorite binge foods are ice cream, cheese and crackers, and gummy candy. This menu was appropriate when I was on bedrest with my pregnancies if by “appropriate,” I mean “ill-advised, but let’s look the other way.” That was six years ago. With that fetus safely in first grade, I’ve had to have some honest conversations with myself.

What do I want to look like? My body will reflect the way I feed it. Do I want to look like I eat ice cream, cheese and crackers, and continents of Sour Patch Kids? Nope. I want to look like this:


But I don’t have this body type at all. I’m sure Jennifer Garner, who recently lost over 200 pounds in the form of Ben Affleck, is a typical small-boned miniature person like all actors are. I can reach for a more realistic goal if I find a different role model.

Like myself. Just not my current size. I know it wasn’t that long ago I said I was satisfied with my body and shape and I’d stop trying to be something I’m not. That I understood and accepted I don’t look like Sydney Bristow and the body I was born with isn’t too shabby anyway. Well, I say a lot of shit I don’t mean. Sure, I mean it at the time. Or I really want to mean it.

It’s a rollercoaster and it always has been.

Six months ago, Hell, four months ago, my plan to work out seven days a week would have been ridiculous. My unrealistic, extreme plans always fail because the star of that show is always me. I’m ever gung-ho to start an eating plan until it comes time to eat the food I don’t like (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) and forgo the ones I do (yummy things). In mid-March 2015, though, I started taking spinning classes and I’ve kept that up for 18 weeks now. I’m stronger and my cardiovascular fitness is impressive (a resting heartrate that went from 84 BPM to 67 BPM), but my size hasn’t changed. I move more easily and with less discomfort from my chronic back pain. My body is the same size, but it doesn’t jiggle.

Why isn’t it enough? What is this need to be “thin”?

I spent a week from Monday to Friday eating no sugar, no flour or bread products, and nothing fried. Corn tortillas took center stage as my favorite “grain product.” I like to eat the same meal over and over which some diet plans say is perfect, and others say is treason. Meal planning bores me. I like very few things (I’m a vegetarian who dislikes vegetables). In order to use up the ingredients I buy before they go bad, I have to repeat meals. The week was mostly corn tortillas with black beans, eggs or egg whites, a little cheese, salsa, and greens. When I was 30, I would’ve dropped 6-8 pounds eating like that for five days. At my current mid-forties age, I can’t seem to make that scale budge.

Going forward, now that I’m not in my twenties or thirties, I need to stop looking for fast weight loss diets and focus on long-term sustainable lifestyle changes that will show results gradually but permanently.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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13 Responses to Eat, Pray, Eat

  1. The metabolic change that I’m experiencing is scary! I recently had a milestone birthday, and over the past year it seems like if I eat a piece of pizza, my hips hold onto it for 6 months. So frustrating!

  2. Amy says:

    I got knocked up on my honeymoon and the change from being at my best (wedding) weight to gaining a pound a week has been demoralizing, to say the least. I, too, said I would work out every day of my summer break but that did not happen (like, not even once). I’m trying to be forgiving of my body, especially since I’ve had complications, but it’s tough! I’m really looking forward to kicking this girl out of my uterus and getting back in shape.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      Congratulations!!! And a girl, too? I’m tickled! Tickled pink, you might even say. Do me a favor, though, Amy. Enjoy your pregnancy. My OB/Gyn patted me on the arm when I cried about my 40 pound weight gain (with 10 weeks to go) and said, “Don’t let it keep you from enjoying your pregnancy.” I know that you’ll still have the body image yuckies and feel huge sometimes, but having a baby in your womb is one of the greatest privileges of all time. (Kanye: OF ALL TIME!). And you’ll get back in shape, you wait and see. Again, congrats and thanks for sharing it!

    • Meghan2 says:

      Congrats to Amy!!!!!

  3. Summer says:

    Impressive to say the least! 18 weeks! Keep up the good work.

  4. Try “intermittent fasting.”

      • Mrs Odie says:

        It reminds me of Nicole Marie Story’s cray-cray blog, which is why I sardonically replied thus.

        I see the logic behind this, but I am not the “fasting” type. I get high from restricting and it’s a huge ED trigger for me. I wish I were the intermittent fasting type.

  5. penny says:

    It’s what you eat. I’m a relentlessly unfunny and boring person who takes myself and life too seriously and who has never in my life known where the party was and never ordered anything but a cheeseburger in a bar, but you should still believe me (and feel free to punctuate this sentence). I only respond to good faith questions such as yours in kind, and you’ve volunteered that you don’t want to feel the way you feel in the morning right now while dressing your body. You’re also the first person I’ve ever found who also (like me) prefers chewy corn syrup candy-aisle over Belgian chocolate.

    Eileen Fisher or somehow reducing energy intake will both work, and exercise won’t, directly. Exercise magically sustains option 2 in the way you describe by elevating mood, well-being, overall control of the situation, but not by itself in raising metabolism or burning energy sufficiently to lose weight. I think you’re smart to be wary about your history, and if overthinking it triggers issues, maybe just focus on health and vitality, and let the skinny girl in your head be on her way. If you are super careful (maybe even getting a therapist on board), my own experience is that controlling blood sugar cravings can help. The restricted-window approach is effective (, unless it’s not because it stimulates unhealthy reactions that undermine the whole idea of well-being.

    I really also want to affirm exercise as the source of so much goodness that I suspect indirectly helps manage weight and anything else that troubles a body through some mysterious feedback. It won’t, though, keep an ordinary person slim through calorie management alone, and it bothers me when it’s sold as a direct method for weight loss, because it makes people feel discouraged about the benefits of exercise because they’re using the wrong metric. I walk up a hill every day. I try to break it up when I can. This works better for me than 12-mile endurance hikes and marathons that I used to regularly do, strictly in terms of managing weight, because it’s easier to manage my diet with this mid-way approach. I still like endurance and distance, but not for weight control, and you can make the walking feel fanatical by giving yourself crazy weekly step goals and tracking them with a device. I just track minutes.

    I think you’re really on your own personal right track by questioning your self-curated aspirational image cue (and don’t mess with that modifier in some obvious way, either :). Behavioral science backs this up, and it might be worth the effort to locate visual cues that affirm (my favorite word, I already know) and trigger self-acceptance of the body you have when you’re exercising and healthy, but not stressing sufficiently over food to drop weight. I know pasting photos on your fridge sounds lame, but it’s not. And you need new ones to refresh the vision board effect, too. You’re a writer in your heart, and maybe you’re conflating writer/artist with thin. Reframe the body you’re dressing in the morning as the form that houses your intellect and wit and heart instead of the body that isn’t Sidney Bristow’s (sp). Find images of beautiful writers and artists who have bodies like yours, and who appeal to you through some combination of styling and accomplishment and attitude. You’re right that the Dove campaign is Darwin-denying moralizing, but you shouldn’t have to compete with yourself to love your own body, and the standards are sensitive to cultural norms, so push where there’s give.

    Swedish Fish for me.

    Best of luck to you.

  6. penny says:

    Something about the combination of how you presented your situation and this article have made me change my views on the Dove campaign. I’m going to write about it. I’m probably going to need Swedish Fish.

    Either way, I’ll let you know.

  7. penny says:

    This girl. It is the distorted and increasingly pervasive standards of normal that are used to sell stuff, and the Dove campaign may have been pandering, but still a net gain over having no alternatives to the desirable = thin model. I’m barely on social media, and I can imagine the effect of the media she mentions. Preferences for symmetry and youth may be adaptive, but thin is purely cultural.
    View at

  8. Linda Chechopoulos says:

    Check out the book Intuitive Eating. Makes more sense than anything else out there. You’d be surprised how much less food you really need to feel satisfied. It’s not a diet. It’s a liberation that when earnestly integrated into your life will turn your relationship with food around. You will not be deprived and you will not be hungry. You will no longer torture yourself with diets, restrictions, measurements, etc. It’s the most emotionally healthy approach to nutrition that I’ve come across-but you need to stay honest with yourself and to be willing to slow down, reflect, and walk away from the food when satisfied.

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