Friday, June 17, 2011

Big Fat Goalie

First of all, let me start off by stating right up front that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with hockey. Or soccer. Or Lacrosse. Or whatever other type of brutal sports out there that have goalies. I’ve just always liked the phrase “Big Fat Goalie.” So I’m using it as this post’s title. So sue me.

OK. Moving on.

I don’t like goals. Type A personalities tend to have “goals,” and along with those goals, they all drag around these goal-related plans and lists that they tend to obsess over and dramatize about wherever they go. It’s weird to me. WAAAAAY too much hassle.

Another thing I’ve noticed about these type of goal-oriented people is that they all have routines. Boring, utterly predictable routines that they follow day in and day out. And God help the person, animal, or natural disaster that interferes with their routines. Personally, I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. The only concrete plans I tend to make for my life seem to revolve around my refrigerator. I do have a fairly simple routine that I follow, however. Get home from work. Microwave something. Settle back into my chair. Push the button on the remote, and proceed to completely engross myself in the latest car-wreck-waiting-to-happen on Jersey Shore.

But I suppose I should make some goals for myself. “Everyone says” that goals lead to success.

There’s probably some truth to this.

But I find that it’s not the “defining your goals” that tends to lead to success. Rather, I think it’s the single-minded obsession that one applies to achieving the goal that you’ve defined that results in success.

When I was a senior in high school, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I was a little chubby at the time, but absolutely nowhere near the “chubby” that I am today. Back in the day, it was just "baby fat" making like the spare tire wrapped around my middle.

OK. OK. It wasn’t really baby fat. I was a chubbo back then because I liked to pork out on snacks from the pantry when my mom wasn’t looking (but that’s an entirely separate topic in and of itself—better saved for another day).

Anyway, the point is, I had a few extra pounds to lose. I had never had a boyfriend in high school because I’d never felt good about myself and totally lacked confidence around guys. I was 18 and I’d never been kissed. And it was bugging me. A lot. I grew up in a small town with limited “options” as far as guys went, and I was determined that college was going to be different for me.

So. I set out to lose the weight. I went at it with a dogged determination. Without even really realizing what I was doing, I implemented all the “tools of success” that we’ve all heard about a million times.

I had found this little article in a magazine at the school library about the effects just one hour of exercise a day can have on your body in the course of eight weeks. There were pictures of this girl’s body each week, and you could literally see the fat melting away off of her as time went on. I remember, every time I got the urge to totally blow my diet, I’d whip out that little article that I stole and look at those pictures…it reminded me that, if I just stuck with it, if I just didn’t give up this time, I would be that girl. So I whipped that little stolen article out a lot. A LOT.

I also, unconsciously, developed several set routines that I didn’t deviate from. I clung to them like saran-wrap on jelly. The first routine involved what I ate. Almost every day breakfast and lunch was variably the same for me. Some sort of oatmeal and/or toast for breakfast. Fruit for lunch. After school, before I did anything else, I’d change into workout clothes and go running. I’d get home and be starving, so I’d have some v8 juice and more fruit while my mom was getting supper ready. For supper, I’d eat whatever my mom cooked, but I was very strict about my portions. Lots of fruit and veggies. A smaller portion of meat. And a very small portion of the starchy-item like potatoes or bread. I’d eat until I wasn’t hungry anymore—not until I was full. Any sort of condiment was in very small amounts. I never measured how much peanut butter or butter I’d spread on my toast, for example, but it was just a very thin layer on the top (I said goodbye to the half inch slab of peanut butter I used to slather on my bread. It was a sad goodbye.).

I wasn’t trying to go “low fat” or “low carb” or even “low calorie.” I was just trying to give my body the minimum amount of food that it needed to keep me going, keep me smart, keep me running. No more. No less. If someone cracked open a bag of oreos I’d have one. One oreo that is. Not one bag of oreos. If my family had pizza, I’d have some. One slice. Not one pizza. I absolutely said “no” to chips and crackers of any kind (because I knew that I couldn’t trust myself around them. My resolve was fragile at this point, and I wouldn’t be able to regain it if I let Doritos cross my lips.).

I exercised every day. I wasn’t a fiend about it, though. When I was running, I told myself that if I felt like walking, I could walk. If there was a day that I absolutely didn’t feel like running at all, that was fine. I’d walk the entire time. I tried to get in at least 45 minutes each day, but if one day I only got in 25 minutes, hey, at least that was 25 minutes. And eventually I developed a habit. It felt weird if I didn’t exercise. My body had learned to crave it (It was still craving the Doritos, but hey, now it was craving running too…progress!).

And as I watched the scale drop, as I felt my pants get bigger, as I discovered I had collarbones for the first time ever, I got excited. I no longer had to whip out my little stolen article and look at it quite so much. The “validation” for why I was doing what I was doing, why I was sticking to my guns so-to-speak was evident to me each and every time I looked in that mirror.

Then my routine switched. I went off to college. And I floundered. I hadn’t made any sort of strategy for continuing on the way I’d been. I remember the free ice cream bar in the college dining facility to be my downfall. I gained 25 lbs my freshman year of college. Not the freshman 15. The freshman 25. It wasn’t pretty.

Skip ahead a little bit, and I find myself in basic training. I had to run a lot and drop some of that 25 lbs just to get to basic training. You know how you see those movies about Army or Marine basic training, where the drill sergeant is in your face making your life a living hell? Well…it’s not quite how it is in the movies. In a lot of ways, it’s worse. But hey, I lost weight. And I built a helluva lot of muscle. With only 5 minutes to eat per meal, you really can’t help it.

It was during this brief period of time that I first realized what it meant to view food as fuel. Seriously. We only got 5 minutes to eat at each meal, so you couldn’t very well take your time to “enjoy” what you were eating. I figured out extremely quickly that I had to get the most “bang for my buck” out of those 5 minutes that I possibly could.

Whatever source of protein the chow hall was serving got immediately shoved into my mouth. That was my number one priority—-protein. I knew--as hard as those drill sergeants were working us—that I needed to stuff as much protein into my body as possible to carry me through to the next meal. So that was my first priority.

My second priority was calcium. I remember scarfing yogurt and even drinking milk (which I've never really liked unless it's a deep, dark brown...from a chocolate cow...), just to make sure I was getting the calcium I needed for my bones that were getting slammed around left and right every day.

If I had any time left over after stuffing my face with meat and dairy, I’d reach for fruit. I knew I needed fruit and vegetables for the vitamins and minerals they could provide me with. But since I was focusing on getting the most fuel efficiency I could from every limited bite, I went for the fruit. You can chew an entire banana a lot faster than you can chew an entire carrot, and the banana’s going to provide you with more energy in the long run.

And you should have seen the pounds fall off. I have never been so happy with my body in my entire life as I was when I was eating and exercising like this. I was fit. I wasn’t flabby. I had muscles, but I didn’t look like a shemale. I rocked. And I rocked it.

Honestly? That’s my ultimate “goal.” To get back into that kind of shape, that kind of mindset. Where food was fuel, and I used just enough of it to get me to the next “fuel stop.”

So I guess now my next step is to design a plan for myself on how I’m going to reach that goal. Within the plan I’m going to have to implement a couple of die-hard routines. I’ve resigned myself to it. No more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. Time to pretend I’m a Type A personality instead of very, very Type B.

And so it begins.

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