I must say, I’m feeling pretty good. This is going much better than my previous forays with dietary restrictions, like counting calories or not eating meat. Looking back, I’m sure I had my reasons for attempting such feats, but I find myself scratching my head, thinking of something along the lines of “Well, what the hell was I trying to do that for? And why in that way? And for what reason?”
See, I’m no stranger to diets. I may not be the type of person to immediately switch to the newest fad diet, but I am susceptible to things that seem to resonate with whatever I feel at that point in time. Take my very brief period as a lacto-ovo vegetarian as an example. I had started cutting meat out of my diet the summer before I went to college for no other reason than not wanting to hurt any more animals, trying to reduce the impact I had on the planet. However, if you know my folks like I know my folks, you’ll come to realize that this was probably the worst timing ever. Why? Because summer is the season for barbeques and my folks love them some barbequed meat.
Come to think of it, they’d probably approve of the fact that I’m eating meat again. I’m not sure; I haven’t seen them in (seemingly) ages and I doubt they know what I’ve been up to for the past few years.
But yes, summertime was indeed the time for family reunions and long summer days sitting outside beneath the shade, a cooler on one side of the porch and a grill on the other. Everyone’s plates were laden with mayonnaise-slathered salads, spicy, homemade salsas, and the obligatory chunk of carne asada. Me? I had the salad and the salsa, because those were okay enough. But rather than crown my plate with a side of beef, I had a rather large piece of nopal, cactus, that my aunt had taken the spines off of in a hurry once she discovered my predicament. This nondescript little plant was then charbroiled on the same grill that had had those lovely cuts of meat not two minutes before, much to my cousins’ amusement. “Hey, aren’t you a vegetarian? You sure you can eat that now that it’s touched animal fat or whatever?” they snickered.
Yeah, my cousins are kind of assholes. But whose aren’t?
After that, the summer passed by in a flash and it was time for my first year of college. I was only a few months in as a lacto-ovo vegetarian (milk and eggs were okay, but no meat) when I discovered that I was getting these headaches that weren’t going away with painkillers. So, being the persistent type, I continued for a bit longer. It was getting to the point where “splitting headaches” were a thing when I went to the UC for lunch and happened to walk by the Exhibition station. It was here that people could order things like steaks or chicken breasts and the specials could be something wonderful like Philly cheesesteaks with french fries or that rare steak and lobster special that come once in a blue moon. I took a whiff…and that’s when I said “Fuck the environment, I need some meat!”
Don’t get me wrong; I’m hardly the type to desire to one day drive a Hummer, an original model, or see the world burn so that I can continue to drive around relatively cheaply. For one, I can hardly drive at all, as I don’t have my license and there is my notable aversion to driving when it’s much faster to just walk to where I need to go. And then there’s the fact that Hummers are decidedly ugly things, their lines chunky and blocky, their intended audience being the sort to want to look as though they have business offroad that requires the equivalent of a fucking tank when, really, they’ll just be driving up and down the smoother curves of the highway. It’s too much and I just happen to dislike excess in vehicles. Personally, I’d rather like a functional, four-door vehicle of some sort, nothing too showy, if a bit small, to keep neat and tidy.
And now I’m getting distracted; if anything, it’ll be another year or so before I’m on the road, what with graduate school and everything. But after my vegetarian phase, I just ate whatever I wanted and, naturally, my weight just ballooned upwards. I had been losing a little bit as a vegetarian, but that was more of a fringe benefit than my main goal; any losses that had been made were probably wiped out in that first couple months after returning to being an omnivore. I didn’t like it. I was pretty big to begin with and, clearly, I was only getting bigger, but I didn’t really do anything about it until the end of my sophomore year. It was around the same time that I bought an iPod touch and promptly discovered that there were these apps that counted calories. I tried a few and then discarded all save one, My Fitness Pal.
All throughout that summer, I got serious. Little by little, I began to build up my willpower, saying “no” to my mother and her calorie-laden foods, declining my sisters’ offers of fast food and other things that didn’t seem to have quite the same effect on them that they had on me, depriving myself for the sake of myself. It honestly felt as though I were playing a video game; having calories left over at the end of the day was my victory condition. This continued for about a year and, yes, I did lose weight…to a certain point. While I did drop down from 286 pounds to 216 by just watching what I ate and stressing out during the semester, I never did get around to establishing some kind of workout routine. I think there was a time that I was eating the bare minimum and yet the scale wasn’t budging. I was getting any thinner because I had hit my plateau. Despite my losses (or are they gains?), it didn’t seem like I was ever going to get below 215 pounds. That feeling of going nowhere sucks. It made me feel like I sucked.
And then, it happened. One sunk paddleboat later, I was left without an iPod. I’m kind of glad that it happened, but I was devastated when it did. Without my handy dandy device, I couldn’t keep track of my calories efficiently and I let myself go. Sure, I lost a bit of my progress, but that then forced me to look for a way to do this, to lose weight and accept myself, properly. And find it I did.
Flash forward to now: I’m at 209, somewhere that I’d never thought I would’ve been able to reach just a few months ago, and I’m still going. What have I been doing? Eating things that aren’t processed, waking up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to strength train using my bodyweight, and just feeling good. I’m not saying “OMG, y’all should go Paleo, like, right NOW!”, but yeah. This is what I’ve been doing and it’s been working for me, so I’m going to keep on going. It’s worth a shot, at least.