I’ve been a little AWOL lately, as I’ve spent the past three weeks moving. Complicating matters was the fact that my boyfriend was out of the country for much of those last three weeks. He’s back now, though, and we’ve gotten all our stuff from one place to another. The new apartment cuts my commute in more than half, and there’s a gym with a pool onsite, so this is all good news, but it’s also been extremely stressful and it won’t be over until the last box is unpacked (so trust me, it’s far from over).
I stuck to my training schedule despite work and moving up until the final week. During the entire week in which the move happened, I barely made it to the gym and had no time or resources to make my own food. I managed to make reasonable choices most of the time, and it’s not like moving is a sedentary activity. I’ll call all that loading and hauling of boxes strength training, but obviously the whole time I was boxing up our possessions, I would have liked to have been doing boxing of an entirely different sort.
In the midst of all of this has been a gigantic metabolism spike. Every so often, on the order of once every few months or so, I’ve been hitting these phases where my metabolism and my eating fall out of sync, and all I want to do is eat. I guess burning 500-1000 calories a day through exercise is bound to make the machine want more fuel. And the first couple of times it happened, I listened to my body. Body would say “OMG, I’m starving, MOAR FOOD NOW” and I’d be all, “okay,” and we’d get some additional food in us. But this time, my body’s started asking for more and I’m telling it no. “Body,” I say, “we’ve gotta get our weight down. I’m not starving you, but we can’t just ratchet up the calories this time just because you’re burning a whole bunch more of them.” Eventually, I think, body will back down and mind will win. It works on those days when I’d rather stay in bed than go do bag drills, so it should also work with food.
I hesitate to talk too much about what I eat and why, because I don’t want anybody to see me as a model for how they should be eating when they’re not a boxer trying to make weight, and I don’t want anybody thinking I believe this is how THEY should eat whether or not they ARE a boxer trying to make weight. If you personally are hungry, freakin’ eat something. Usually that’s your body expressing a very specific and vital need. Cutting weight is a miserable thing and the more I work at it, the more I don’t wish it on anybody and the more appalled it makes me that mainstream society would have women do this for no other reason than to look good.
As I started to increase my physical activity, I had to change how I ate, in part to keep up with my metabolism spikes and in part to improve performance. I’ve gone from three squares to grazing, with the odd exception for meals out. On weekdays, I’m now eating small amounts of food (e.g. half a sandwich, a yogurt, a handful of raw veggies, cheese and crackers) between 6 and 7 times every day, with slightly more in the morning (recommended by my trainer) and evening (the opposite of what’s recommended by my trainer but I promise, there’s a good reason for it). At our house, we often refer to the Taco Bell ads with “fourth meal,” but we also have a fifth meal and a sixth meal and so on, because every three hours or so, the machine wants more fuel. It’s worst at the end of the work day. Mid-commute, my system decides to behave as though it’s running on total fumes, even if I’ve nommed on something immediately before getting on the train. I don’t know if I’m hypoglycemic or what, but early evenings for me are basically a wave of constant raging hunger that shuts out things like basic critical thinking skills and emotional control – as a matter of course, not just when my metabolism kicks up. When my metabolism kicks up, you don’t even want to know.
For the week and a half prior to Moving Week, with nobody else in the house to be fed normal-people food, I ate basically the same thing for dinner every night and usually for lunch as well – grilled chicken, goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and assorted vegetables on a giant bed of mixed greens with light balsamic dressing. It tastes awesome, and I think it’s the thing that finally got me out of the 160s, but six days later the early evening hunger beast was having none of it, so I rebelled and ordered pad thai. And the next morning, after a week and a half of what felt like plateauing, I finally had a really productive training session in which I felt like I actually learned something important and put it into practice. I’m not saying correlation implies causation here, but I am saying that conceding one small battle to my metabolism might have led to a little uneasy detente that in turn got me past my training plateau.
Which boils down to this: even if you’re not always going to let it have its way, you still have to listen to what your body is telling you. If the body says “no more chicken and salad,” sometimes you’ve got to tell it to suck up and deal, and sometimes you’ve got to give it something other than chicken and salad.
Now that we’re more or less settling into a new routine, I’m getting back on my chicken and salad at least 5 days a week, eating yogurt, fruit, and veggies between meals and incorporating other things moderately on the weekends. I’m about three pounds from where my trainer wanted me by the end of the month, so it seems doable. I’m not entirely happy about having to lose weight, and I’m pretty sure I can’t go on eating chicken and salad indefinitely, but being lighter will help my fighting. It’s becoming clearer to me that I wouldn’t do this for any other reason, though. If this sport that I love and would do anything for is barely worth it, then nothing else – no big fancy event, no slinky dress, no arbitrary standard – seems like it’d be remotely worth it.