An Anniversary Thought

Today marks four years since I originally started this blog.

Four years of successes and four years of failures, all shared vulnerably and with the hope of connecting with others who are enduring the same lifelong journey toward health and wellness with me.

For the first three years of the blog, I was consistent: I posted several times per week, often daily, providing insight into the diets I’d tried, the recipes I’d created, and the emotional roller coaster that is an eating disorder.

And, during those first three years, something magical happened: in sharing my inner thoughts and secrets with the world, I was somehow freed from the pain (for the most part) of the eating disorder. By making it public, it lessened its power over me. For the first time in my adult life, I managed to gain some semblance of control over my eating (and obsessive thoughts about food), even hitting my goal weight in June 2014 and maintaining it for almost six months.

But, around the end of year three, I started to slip.

I posted less and less. And, as the time between updates grew longer, my relationship with my body and nutrition began to regress.

I watched my weight slowly climb up on the scale, and over and over again I tried to convince myself that I would take back control “this Monday,” always excusing each binge as my last fling with food.

My posts grew more sporadic, and I found myself spending hours at the gym, trying desperately to counteract the more frequent binge eating I was experiencing. I was logging 40-50 miles per week running, not to mention the time spent on the elliptical, stairmaster, and other random cardio, while watching my weight increase and my clothing get tighter.

As my good friend Fitz always tells me, “You cannot out exercise a bad diet.”

For me, this wasn’t a bad diet. My eating disorder was back, the demons had returned, only now it had manifested into exercise-bulimia instead of the more common purging through laxatives, diuretics, or vomiting. Regardless, I was punishing myself. I was losing the battle against my body.

I randomly posted on here, more out of guilt for my silence than genuine concern for my body, and I could tell I was losing my readership. Worse, I was no longer believing anything I had to say, because I felt like I had lost any validity or right to talk about health – considering I’d stopped carrying about mine.

Last night, while out on a date night with my husband, Fitz forced me to wake up.

After reading a message I’d posted earlier in the afternoon in a Facebook Support Group she hosts about my heavy workouts (and my overeating, which I tried to playfully minimize), she messaged me on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 9.13.43 PM

I don’t think she realizes it now, and I’m not 100% sure I fully grasp it, but I think having her call me out (with nothing but love in her heart) might have saved my life.

I was spiraling, and fast. I had recently purchased boxes (yes, that’s plural: boxES) of laxatives and diuretics. It was only weeks (or days?) until I started to purge in every way I knew how. And, let me tell you: taking tons of diuretics and laxatives while overexercising your body is probably one of the most dangerous things you can do. I know it logically, but, looking back at how I was feeling even 24 hours ago, I honestly don’t think I was very far away from trying it, trying anything, to make the guilt of the binges go away.

Her message, though, reminded me that there are people who SEE ME, people who CARE, and people who expect me to take care of myself. Not for the benefit of others – not so that I can be a role model or an inspiration – but so that I can be the healthiest, happiest version of myself.

I owe Fitz so much for throwing me a life ring, because I see now I was drowning. Which, looking back at it, I don’t know how or why I didn’t see it. I don’t know how I let my ED sneak back up on me so quickly, and how it managed to spiral so fast. In less than a year, I erased nearly three years of success.

Well, I’m viewing this as my second chance. My second chance to regain control of my life: not of my diet, but of my life. My relationship with food, my relationship with my body, all of it. Fitz gave me a second chance, and I’m not going to waste it.

Expect to be hearing a lot more from me in the coming days, but let today be the first good day of many to come:

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

P.S. It’s good to be back.

Office Weight Loss!

Starting this Monday, August 15th, my office is starting a weight loss challenge. Normally, I’d be excited to participate (the more motivation, the better!), but this year is different: they’ve asked me to host/lead the challenge.

Wait, what?

After years of experimenting with diets and developing a consistent gym routine, somehow along the way I became an expert, of sorts. Most people in my office refer to me with questions about nutrition, fitness, and health-related concerns and, without consciously trying, I realized I’ve developed quite a passion for helping others on their journey to good health.

When my colleague asked me to lead the Weight Loss Challenge, she jokingly referred to me as the Jillian Michaels of the office. Not in the “damn, you’re a hard ass” sort of way, but more the “you’re an expert and we know you’ll push us” way.

I’ll admit it: I’m flattered.

While my own weight fluctuates between 125 lbs and 145 lbs depending on my eating habits, I’ve managed to stay between a size 4 to 6 (down from a 22) for almost four years and I’ve kept my overall fitness – my health and strength – at a very high level, even when my “love chub” is a bit higher than I like.

As a result of this consistency and perseverance, many people now look to me for guidance and inspiration, which is mind-blowing to me. The student has become the teacher? I feel like I’m still learning, but others feel I’ve learned enough to help them on their way, and that’s a very humbling and rewarding feeling.

To help motivate and lead the weight loss contest, I’m looking to develop a “double prize” program:

  • We’re going to have an INDIVIDUAL contest, which looks just at individual weight loss percentage. (Not pounds, but overall body weight percentage, to be fair.)
  • We’re also going to have a TEAM contest, which will match up three people and encourage them to motivate one another to lose weight.

I’m working to figure out additional challenges/contests for the TEAM participants, as I want this to be more than just about a number on a scale: I’d love for this to be about seeing your body grow stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.

Does anyone have ideas for office-friendly contests or challenges I can introduce for a team?

I would love any and all feedback! Thank you for reading and bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Trying Something New

Well, as much as I was ENJOYING the Dine N Ditch meal plan service, they unfortunately closed up shop just a few weeks in. Not a permanent close (I hope), but they needed to relocate their kitchen, hire new staff, and take a step back from the service for a few weeks to restructure the entire business model.

I was doing exceptionally well on the meal plans, dropping almost 10 lbs in my first four weeks, but after the deliveries ended and I was left to my own devices …well, you can imagine what happened.

Today’s weight: back up to 141.2.

Yikes. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago I hit my all-time low of 123.4, and now I can barely get (and stay) in the 130s anymore.

I know it has been a combination of factors: stress, overeating, and, shockingly, overexercising.

For those of you who have followed the blog a long time, you know I’m a cardio-junkie and, as my weight started to slowly climb at the beginning of 2015, I started to seriously step up my cardio, hitting more than 3 or 4 hours on some days.

Well, as I’ve learned, you not only can’t out-exercise a bad diet (or, in my case, a healthy diet, but in MASS quantities), over-exercising can actually sabotage weight loss by making your body freak out and think you’re fighting for your life on a daily basis. Hence my weight creeping up and up, even when my diet was in check. Yeaaaaaah, that fucking sucks, if you don’t mind me being frank. Ugh.

So, with less than 5 weeks until my 32nd birthday, I am trying to switch things up and break out of my rut.

For the next 34 (well, basically 33, since it’s 11:35 pm EST as I write this) days, I am going to drastically reduce my cardio (think 10-30 minutes per day, versus my usual 90+) and look to integrate substantially more strength training, yoga, and stretching. My body has been in a perpetual state of stress for over a year as I pummeled it with intense bouts of cardio, so now I’m going to try to give those slow-twitch muscles a bit of a break and focus on building lean muscle mass.

In addition, I’m attempting to modify my diet slightly, increasing my fat in take and leaning more toward a Ketogenic plan. Not full Keto – which involves like 70% of your calories from fat – but definitely hoping that incorporating more healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil, will help with satiety and appetite control.

Yesterday was a rough start, only because I have absolutely no will power when it comes to nuts, so my “single handful” of almonds before bed turned into half of a can, but today’s been better:

Calories: 1,611
Carbs (total, not net): 72g (about 17% of my daily calories)
Protein: 136g (about 33% of my daily calories)
Fat: 93g (about 50% of my daily calories)

I prepped all of my food for the next two days (salmon and green beans, chicken and broccoli, shrimp and sauteed cauliflower, etc), so hoping that having quick, easy to grab meals will help me stay on track. I’m aiming for 1,350 calories per day, but happy as long as I stay under 1,700, as I am exercising pretty consistently.

Fingers crossed I can reset my system and get back into the 130s before I hit 32. I feel like it’s only getting harder with age, so I need to really get control of my weight now before it becomes an impossibility, you know?

Any advice, suggestions, or feedback is always welcome.

Bon appetite, my friends!

~ Tori

P.S. The photo is totally my dinner tomorrow night: shrimp sauteed with basil, garlic, coconut oil over a bed of chopped cauliflower and orange pepper. Much noms. Many yums. So delicious.