Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fruit Loop

Let me start out by saying thank you to everyone who read and commented yesterday. Sharing a burden always seems to lessen it somehow, don't you think?

Now I want to get real with you. Strip off the layers, down and dirty real. So here it is. I used to be a complete fruit loop about food and exercise. And before I get bombarded by people assuring me that I couldn’t have been that much of a nut job since I’m not overweight, I’m going to give you a glimpse of crazy. Just a glimpse. I think it is best not to overwhelm you with all the details right now since we’re just getting to know one another, so we’re just going to scratch the surface of my particular flavor of crazy today.

Keep in mind that during much of my life I was an athlete and a personal trainer so I felt it was my JOB to look good and, for appearances sake, look like I was living a lifestyle that people wanted to emulate. Sure, I said all the right things about how you just need to exercise portion control and moderation and all those annoying “buzz” words you tell people when they are trying to lose weight. And then I would go home, grab a spoon and a pint of ice cream and eat the entire thing in one sitting. For a long time I was convinced that a pint was actually a single serving, hence no need for a separate bowl. Turns out there are FOUR servings in a pint. Who knew?

Of course, I couldn’t bear to gain weight because that might mean I wouldn’t be as good of an athlete or that my clients wouldn’t listen to my advice or, even worse, that I wouldn’t be able to get new clients so I would run … a lot. I have the degenerative knee and decrepit old spine to prove it. And if we’re being really honest, the obsessive exercising started long before I became a trainer. In my early 20’s I remember my best friend (who will remain nameless - but you know who are!) and I eating some french fries one day and being so flipped out about it that we immediately ran around Burke Lake … four times. That’s over 16 miles of penance. And, as I’ve learned, that is not necessarily normal or healthy.

When I think back to those years of my life I realize how much of my time and emotional energy was wasted focusing, obsessing really, about what I ate, how much I ate and when and what I would do to burn off the calories. I don’t think I ever really exercised for fun … I was either training for an event or race, which I felt gave me permission to eat with reckless abandon, or I was running or going to the gym for the singular purpose of weight-loss. It was definitely all-consuming and what I was, or was not, eating and how much I was exercising occupied my thoughts most minutes of most days.

I can look back now with some clarity and see how empty and pointless all that worrying and obsessing was. And how I lacked the balance and perspective to truly be happy. I was either restricting calories to lose that elusive last 5lbs or I was literally running my body into the ground to compensate for the food I ate. It illustrates how we’ve come to equate being thin, or thinner, with being happy. I’m definitely not saying that we should just be “fat and happy” and eat ding-dongs all day. That’s not healthy either. What I am saying is that we need to stop waiting to be happy until we find that “magic” number on the scale, because it doesn’t exist. And we need to start focusing on actually being healthy, rather than only appearing so.

I’m learning that when we make food choices that promote wellness we have the physical and emotional energy necessary to live a much fuller, richer life. It’s hard to feel positive and excited when you are physically tired, lethargic and generally unmotivated. Processed junk food, refined carbohydrates, soda, fast food and large quantities of animal protein really bog down our system and our body wastes precious energy trying to process and eliminate these types of food. Processed foods, aside from being highly addictive in nature, also wreak havoc on our blood sugar, causing swooping highs and lows in our energy levels.

So, in the name of better health, increased energy and an overall more positive outlook on life, we are going to start exploring ways to tweak our diets and include exercise to achieve better health and set a positive example for the next generation.

Take a deep breath and tune in tomorrow to learn who your new BEST FRIEND is in your quest for better health and weight loss.


  1. Great post. Thanks Erin!

  2. Erin this journey has been a long time coming for me. I am so glad that you are here to walk with me. It's not as overwhelming when you have someone holding your hand and leading the way. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for this post. Balance.. that's a big goal of mine. As Jennifer said, it's nice to have someone - or a lot of someones - holding your hand along the way.

  4. I am excited for this. At least today I am. I am a carb junkie, and since I got clean and sober and then quit smoking, I feel myself getting a little too obsessed with the food I am eating. It doesn't make me eat any better, it just makes me realize how terribly I eat. Then I feel guilty and I eat some more gummy bears. It's a viscous little cycle I would like to break. Thank you Erin!
    XoXo Susie.

  5. I have always found myself obsessing about food as well. If I try and eat healthier I feel like I obsess so much that all I do is think about food and that makes me even hungrier and want the bad stuff even more. I know what is good to eat and what is not, but for some reason I can't control my desire to want the bad stuff. I control every other area of my life except what I eat. Funny. I mean I feel like I can't even be trusted to go grocery shopping for my family b/c I feel like a kid in a candy store sometimes. I'll start out in the produce section buying all the healthy foods my body needs, but as I go through the aisles (even though I have a list to stick to and I know the outer aisles are the ones I should stick to) I find the junk food calling my name. I'll pick up a box of 100 calorie snacks and tell myself it's a healthy snack, when I know it really isn't. I need to learn control. I hope I can find it one day.

  6. Erin, I think this is exactly what I need. I LOVE to exercise, spinning and yoga are my favorites, but I am a sugar addict. I LOVE chocolate as much as exercise! So I have found that regular exercise has helped me control my weight but since Thanksgiving I have gained close to 20 pounds!!! It seems between the holidays and company, every time I turn around lately one of my kids is home sick or I am volunteering at their school and the first thing to go is my gym time!
    So I have made a resolution this year to start incorporating more fruits and veggies ie healthy foods, into my diet. I have two girls ages 5 & 7 and I want to be able to set a good example for them so they are not like me- a year away from 40 and struggling with my weight AGAIN! So I hope you can help me--help ALL of us!

  7. I just typed a long post, then couldn't figure out how to post it, and now it's GONE!! aargh.

    I'm Kelly, friends with Erin for, what, at least the last 12 years. And have spent most of my adult life obsessing about what I put in my mouth, and the number on the scale. Like Erin, every time I ate a pint of Ben and Jerry's (the oatmeal cookie cinnamon flavor is THE BEST, as I discovered while pregnant!!) or a bowl of mac 'n cheese, I would think about how much I would have to run or NOT eat the next day to make up for that.

    It shouldn't be like this. I also shouldn't have to still lose 15-20 lbs, despite doing Pilates 2x week, and running 2x per week. But more than that, I also shouldn't be beating myself about my weight and my body and the size of my jeans. I have a 2 year old daughter, and she does NOT need to hear, "I'm fat, I need to diet, my ass is HUGE in these jeans."

    I'm an 8-9 on that fitness/health scale about 90% of the time. The rest of the time, I'm a 2. But I decided recently that I need to STOP beating myself up about my weight and what I eat. I need to accept my body and my weight, and appreciate all of the things it can do. And I need to find a way to be an 8-9 100% of the time.

    My excuse is that I'm "too busy." I'm too busy being a mom, wife, lawyer, daughter and friend. I don't have time to pack my lunch every day, AND my daughter's lunch, AND figure out what to make the entire family for dinner. But you know what? I think I'd be a better mom, wife, lawyer, daughter and friend if I decided I am not "too busy" to take care of me.

    So here's to making the conscious effort to take care of myself, and be an 8-9 ALL OF THE TIME. And stop obsessing about my weight. And when I do indulge, to just ENJOY it, and enjoy life.

    thanks Erin. Love the blog. Can't wait for more!!

  8. me too. im a sugar addict. like, for real.
    i think when i quit drinking i started substituting sugar for the happens a lot, that's why you see lots of people at aa meetings with mountain dews. actually, you guys probably don't attend aa meeting often. anyway, susie can back me up on that one.

    i eat so much sugar that every time i get a physical, the dr becomes alarmed that there seems to be sugar in my urine. craig started calling me "Sweet Pee" after my last appt.

    i really would like to be healthier. i have a lot to do during this little life and i'd like to live long enough and strong enough to get it all done.

    thanks erin.

  9. Anonymous, you brought up a good point. I wrote yesterday that I'm a 10 with the exception of when I have my chocolate and salty-snack binges! So, I would have to say I'm a 2 some of the time also. LOL

    Erin, I can relate to your post quite a bit. I eat a pretty healthy diet (minus the above "infractions") and exercise regularly. But, when I do go on these binges, my first thought is how awful I feel, how many calories of crap what that?!, when am I exercising next?, etc. I fully believe that it's healthy to have not so healthy foods every now and then and that moderation is key. But, it's almost like I eat super healthy for several days and then I feel it's my "right" to have something not-so-good for you because I'd been so good up until that point, but then I go way over the top!

    I have always had a huge appetite (a certain Monkee would be able to tell you about our taco eating contest in high school in which I won with eating a whopping 8 tacos!), so I sometimes find it hard to stop putting things in my mouth. On my good days, I fill myself up with fruits, veggies, beans, etc. with the hopes that I'll get full before craving chocolate or some other snack...but then an hour later I'm DYING for sugar! Oh well, if you can help me with that, I will think you are the coolest woman out there.
    Enough of my rambling...

  10. I can completely relate to Anonymous at 8:58 - my grocery store shopping trips sound a lot like yours. I start out with a list of best intentions and feel empowered as I buy produce...but then I hit the "100 calorie" snack section and it's all downhill from there. It's much better when my husband does the shopping because he can actually stick to the list. My sister swears by Peapod so that you aren't tempted to make impulse buys.

  11. Erin-
    Funny I have run around Burke Lake many times also. We must have lived near by each other and had the same feeling about food and exercise. Though I think my situation was much worse then yours. I think I will struggle with this issue for the rest of my life. I have come a long way sister but if I was going to be honest here, I am not there quit yet. I wont bore you with my saga story and gory details about how I got to this sad, hurtful, frustrating, exhauting place I am in. I will look forward to your blogs to find the strength and knowledge to kick this to the curb once and for all. Yours truly....Me!!!

  12. Erin,
    You have whetted my appetite (so to speak)--looking forward to more!

  13. Ladies, thank you all for your comments. I very much want this to be a community where you all can feel free to share your struggles and lean on each other.

    We're going to start slow I think ... by gradually including some more nutritious choices into our diets. We're not going to talk about eliminating anything at first b/c we want to keep the goal in mind: TO STAY BALANCED. And it's too easy to go off the deep end and try to change everything all at once, only to find that doesn't work, leaving us more frustrated than before.

    So, we will add good things and give ourselves BIG pats on the back when we do. We will not be hard on ourselves for the things we feel we could be doing better. We will focus only on the positives and move forward from there. How does that sound?