So there I was, sitting at the kitchen table on the fifth Sunday of Lent, staring at a loaf of garlic bread I'm (temporarily) not permitted to eat, which my Pops prepared not only with culinary expertise, but "a whole lotta Extra Special Love," as he likes to call it. While closing my eyes and taking a deep breath would seem a likely way to battle temptation, (or anything else, really. Breathing: the multi-tasking, multi-curing action) I knew it would only make my situation worse: by breathing in deep I'd merely breath the scent of garlic bread in deep.
Nary one slice of bread has passed over my lips since Ash Wednesday, and for the most part, life without bread is surprisingly manageable. It's only when bread is directly in my line of vision that the cravings are at their most intense (well, duh). Out of sight, out of mind is the method that seems to work best for me -- this is how my first conscious attempt at a diet was successful. The only thing in my fridge were bottled water, yogurt, and pre-made salad mixes. So shedding 10 pounds in 2 months was as easy as pie.
Yet, apparently, a lot more was happening than my overwhelming craving Sunday night. A whole other world (that's probably much more organized than the one in which we live) is secretly at work: the scent of garlic and wheat hitting my senses full blast started the internal motors (vroom vroom), which started chemicals flowing, which then warmed up my (slow as molasses) metabolism.
I wish I could say this biological process was helping achieve the overall goal, but it was with an abject nod of the head that I responded to the nurse announcing my weight after stepping off the scale last week. Same number as my last visit to the doctor. I acknowledge, maybe even champion my steadfast resolve, but I'd feel a lot better if I could just see some results already.
Giving up bread was supposed to jump start my weight loss, or so I thought. My clothes are still tight, but my stomach looks (slightly) smaller. Is it just a trick of the light (or worse, my slowly disintegrating sanity)? And while my thighs have lost inches, why hasn't my waste? Why did my favorite skirt from last year fit terribly Saturday morning only to fit suitably Sunday night (after the aforementioned bread-less feast)? And here's my biggest gripe: why, after gaining 10 pounds in the holiday season of 2008, was I able to shed it in five weeks one month later, but now I can't shed 1 pound in four months?
I would give anything (namely: my excess belly fat) to turn back the clock, when I was as thin as my physiological destiny will probably ever permit. Why, oh why, can't I get back there? Did I doom myself with my 5 day per week, 80% heart rate exercise regimen? Okay, so I'm not exercising as much now as I was then, but I'm not sendentary, either. I'm at the gym 3-4 days per week, doing both cardio and strength training. I work in Brooklyn, where a car is useless. Everytime I leave the office I use the stairs. I never consume more than 1600 calories in a day. So what gives?
That's what I asked a personal trainer friend, and after several novel-length E-mail exchanges, I've discovered losing weight is way more complicated than I thought. Though I do eat healthy, there's more I could (and should) be aware of. It's way more complex than being cognizant of what you eat (though that's the important first step), it's understanding how food is processed and how all other outside factors are affecting you at any given day at any given time. I thought the Plan was to be the project to end all projects, with all my note taking and highlighting and bookmarking. With a surprise move in the final inning, Healthy Eating has inched into the number one spot, that tricky bugger. Because learning to eat healthy is friggin' rocket science, people.
There is so much information out there, and much of it contradicts itself (uhh, thanks). Chatting with nutricionists and personal trainers who very sweetly and very patiently explain this stuff (reminds me of that episode of The Office when Michael asks Oscar about accounting: "Why don't you explain this to me like I'm an eight-year old.") is helpful, but it also leads to more questions. It may actually be easier to procure a degree in rocket science at this point (is that a real degree, by the by? Can you really major in Rocket Science?). And I'm a simple girl, I want one plus one to equal two. As difficult as it may be, you gotta appreciate Math, because at the end of the day there's always an answer.
But, with a resigned sigh, I'll continue on this journey with the same steely resolve that I apply toward rediscovering myself (Project Make Better). Life without bread is a way more complicated endeavor than I originally anticipated, but an interesting and worthwhile learning experience at the same time.
But if I can't fit into my size 2s by the time summer rolls around, I just may throw a chair through a window.