Have you ever stood face-to-face with a bear? I haven’t either. I’m from the city for godsakes. But, I suspect, it would be a memorable encounter. I suspect it might have been the thing that gave birth to the term “scared shitless.”
I saw my own bear recently. Right there in the mirror. I felt scared shitless.
As a former fatty, I can’t write about food, recovery, health and fitness without being ever mindful of the inner fatty that still lurks within. And frankly, it’s lurking without rather than just within more and more each day. The love handles are filling into kettle balls lately. I had to admit, I’ve had enough of the slow creep of weight gain and waist gain.
It’s my bear. In a sense, I’ve been fighting it or fearing it my entire life. I’ve had to watch what I eat my entire life.
I’m not a fan of diets. They don’t usually build in long-lasting change even if they may strip the fat off for a bit. Suffering will do that. Abstinence helps too. But neither are generally sustainable — voluntarily that is — so the things that strip the weight off will not be around to keep it off. Predictably, the weight comes back with a fury.
But on a recent long run preparing for an upcoming half-marathon, I couldn’t get past how I just didn’t feel right. I later looked into the mirror and sure enough, I was carrying to much weight. I just don’t look trim any more.
A feeling came over me that was as strong as a tornado ripping through a Kansas farm town. I felt pissed. Betrayed (by myself). Infuriated. I worked way, way, way, way too hard to lose weight and get fit. But because I’m still fit, I lost sight of the first part. I am getting heavier, which means sooner or later the fit part will erode too.
I had to make a change.
Turns out The Bride was right there with me. She’s become something of an Insanity groupie recently, enduring 40 minutes of nastiness and enough jumping to join a Kangaroo club. She’s all in. Each morning she’s red-faced and sweaty, checking her heart rate with no idea what she’s checking despite finger dutifully pressed to her throat amid gasping breath. Each morning she jumps and twists, and jogs and kicks and pops pain killers to quiet her rebellious Achilles tendon and cusses Shawn T and then goes on to teambeachbody.com to join her fellow masochists. She is really, really into the Insanity craze.
But you know what? She still isn’t losing the belly flab either, she says (Lord knows I’d never say such a thing… these are her words!). She’s fit too. Stronger than she’s ever been. Great condition, but the weight just isn’t coming off like she wants. She doesn’t want to hear that at 47 she can’t have a beach body still.
Turns out she felt just like I do, that she was staring at the bear and pretty freaked out. My Tornado of Ire quickly became hers as well.
We decided we needed a plan. An EATING plan to be exact. Something a good deal like a… diet, God forbid.
But if there’s one thing I won’t change is this: I won’t do things to lose weight that aren’t sustainable. I won’t drink diet shakes or fast or buy Jenny Craig or count points. If I can’t live the eating plan I won’t do it. So we had to find something, some plan to better coordinate our eating and get some weight off in a way that would be sustainable.
After some hunting we found such a plan, the BuzzFeed Clean Eating Challenge. It’s not a diet as much a re-calibration of the type of eating The Bride and I strive to do all the time. It’s focus on lean proteins, absence of processed food and balanced meals fit with our goals.
The plan is wonderfully prepared with shopping list, menus, recipes, photos, printouts and everything you need to just dive in and do it. Just do it. That’s language I can live with it.
We stopped fearing and got busy with the plan. It’s day one. We are off. We’ll keep you posted here in the next two weeks to come with a honest review of this plan’s effectiveness.
Hopefully we’ll tame the bear. I’ve been at this too long to know I can’t kill it, but if I can tame it again, let it hibernate, I can recapture the balance I’ve enjoyed the past few years. That, like my bear, I can live with.