Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Healthiest Version of Myself

I need to buy a new pair of jeans. I'm the kind of person who hangs onto clothing for as long as possible because 1) it's better for the budget 2) it's better for the environment and 3) I don't really enjoy shopping.

But my jeans have a hole in them, so it's time to invest in a new pair. I'm at a crossroads, though, because I'm not sure what size to get. The jeans with a hole are my pre-pregnancy jeans. I couldn't fit into them for a long, long time after Henry was born, so I bought a pair that was two sizes bigger, so I had something to wear while my body adjusted.

Eventually, those larger jeans started getting loose and I could finally squeeze into my original jeans. Then, the holidays hit, the stress of trying to sell our house and move to a new city hit, my 65-000-word book deadline hit, and traveling for two weeks with a 10 month-old hit. Suddenly I couldn't comfortably squeeze into my original jeans any more.

I'm back to wearing the two-sizes-bigger jeans (with a belt). Clearly, I'm currently at the size in-between the original and the post-partum jeans. Yes, I could buy that size for my new pair of jeans, but I don't want to. I want to get back to my normal size--the size I am when I'm eating a healthy amount.

The thing is, this post isn't even about my jean size. My jean size is a mere symptom of something larger. When I'm stressed or bored or sad or scared, I turn to food for comfort. When I eat unhealthy foods or quantities, then I feel even worse physically. Once I'm eating unhealthy things in unhealthy quantities, I feel defeated and convince myself that I might as well continue doing it since I already started.

I understand why I feel stressed and uncertain right now. 2012 is the year of making dreams happen. It's scary. The ground is shifting and I'm trying to secure my footing.

I forgive myself for feeling the way I do; I can't control that. But I can control my response to those feelings. I can remind myself of my healthy intentions and re-commit to them:
  1. I am the kind of person who avoids drinking unnecessary calories. I save caloric drinks for special occasions and instead drink water on a daily basis (and lots of it!).
  2. I avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners and instead opt for whole foods.
  3. I eat three smaller meals throughout the day and two healthy snacks. When I eat my snacks, I prepare a small serving--I don't eat something straight out of the bag.
  4. I avoid tempting (but disgusting) foods that pop up in social situations all the time (e.g., grocery store birthday cake, chips, candy, etc.).
  5. I routinely avoid fried foods and instead opt for salads or fruit as my sides when we go out to eat (and make an exception no more than once a week). I limit my intake of unhealthy restaurant food, such as chips and bread before the meal.
  6. I try to eat dessert only once or twice a week, and when I eat it, I eat a small portion, intentionally savoring each bite.
  7. I take Henry and Hoss for an hour-long walk at least five times a week.
  8. I go on one 3-mile jog and one 6-mile jog by myself every week.
  9. I go to yoga once a week.
I just started running again for the first time in almost two years. I stopped running when I got pregnant, and I haven't started up again since the birth (since my midwife said it was hard on the joints for women who breastfeed). I'll need to work my way back up to six miles.

I need to find a new place to do yoga in Austin. I just changed my Groupon city, so hopefully I'll come across a good deal.

I need to get back into the routine of healthy eating (e.g., green smoothie for breakfast, protein bar for morning snack, cheese stick and fruit for afternoon snack), so that I'm giving my body what it needs to sustain itself. My hope is that the routine of eating healthy foods and exercising becomes the thing that comforts me, rather than junk food.

As part of making healthy eating and exercising a habit, I need to schedule it in. When we move to Austin (literally any day now) and we have new schedules, I need to figure out when to fit in grocery shopping every week, running, walking, and yoga.

In terms of accountability, I'm going to use Joe's Goals to track my progress. (Robyn suggested it in the Feeding the Soil health and wellness forum.) Or I might just record it on my calendar. Either way, I want to have a tangible place to track how well I'm doing on my intentions.

As Stephen Covey says, "Accountability breeds responsibility." I want to have a healthy relationship with food. I want to make time for preparing good food and exercising. I want to be my healthiest version of myself.

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NY Kindred said...

You only wear one pair of jeans? If you aren't working yet, can't you just wear yoga pants down south? That really sounds nice, looking at all this dirty snow.

I would be more concerned about work clothes, which should fit better than jeans anyway. I HATE shopping for work clothes, ugh. I try to pretend like it doesn't, but you appearance really matters at work. Hair, nails, tailoring, other women notice all of it.

Julia said...

Making time for exercising is really difficult for me with a baby (mine is 4 months old). I would love to get back into running, even if it is just 1x a week, but since that is something I can't do with the baby it is hard to figure out how to fit it in. My partner will watch the baby for a few hours on a daily basis, but I need that time to work on my dissertation and hate to use it for exercising!

Jennie said...

You are not alone in the struggle to maintain healthy habits when you're under stress. Food is the first thing I turn to also! I just had an idea that might be helpful, if time and budget allow for it. Try to purchase or prepare a couple weeks worth of healthy snacks (and maybe a couple meals, if they'll keep) so that you don't resort to unhealthy food during the move. It will probably be one of the more stressful days you have coming up, and having snacks prepared already will make it easier to maintain your healthy eating goals. Good luck!

Ms. Beltran said...

Hi, Sara - So glad to hear that Austin is becoming a reality for you. I continue to read your blog for fun and inspiration. I just welcomed my second daughter 12 days ago and your posts on motherhood have made me smile and remember how fast everything goes. I wish you all the best in Austin and hope that someday I will be able to give you a hug in person. Your belief in living your best "wild and precious" life is powerful. Best wishes!!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, All! Thanks for your comments!

Yes, Julia, I have the same dilemma. When it's Matt's turn to take Henry for three hours on a Saturday, the last thing I want to do it run.

@ NY Kindred: Yep, I pretty much only have one pair of jeans at a time. Luckily with the professional stuff, I don't have to wear it every day right now, so I'm able to pull together a couple things that fit (including one pair of maternity pants--shhhh!).

Congratulations, Yolanda!

That's a good idea, Jennie!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add that after my second and third pregnancies, it took a good 20 months to really feel back into my own body. With my first, I lost weight pretty normally and figured with breastfeeding the trend would continue. When it didn't with my second,I was frustrated. With my third, I had a very healthy pregnancy and postpartum with a good amount of exercise. None of it affected my pant size like I thought it might. I think the thing that changed this time is that I was more accepting of it and normally felt alright with where I was at in the process. At 20 months postpartum, my prepregnancy jeans are fitting just fine again, but it took some time to get here. I also do extended breastfeeding.
Anyway, buy the pants that fit. You will feel so much better about yourself wearing clothing that fits. You will have the resources available to obtain another smaller size when the time is right. I guarantee it. Sara

Kelsey said...

I agree that it’s best to buy pants that fit the size you are now. This is what Stacy and Clinton always say on What Not to Wear (LOVE that show!). You’ll look good in a size that fits well and probably feel better about yourself rather than wearing something a bit too small. I think you are doing great being so close to your pre-pregnancy weight less than a year after Henry was born! And I bet you’ll be able to get into a more predictable exercise routine after moving to Austin, I know you are busy! Maybe you can find a walking/jogging buddy, it would be motivating and keep you accountable! I try to pre-cook a lot on Sundays – chop veggies for snacks, make a big bean soup, roast some broccoli, etc. that helps us have healthy defaults during the week.

Anonymous said...

If you have a smart phone, the Habit Factor app is amazing. Even if you don't, they have a great book and even a worksheet on their website ( I think it's right up your alley.

Kelsey said...

P.S. Do you track your food? I know so many people that have improved their diet through tracking, even if you just do it for a couple of weeks. My Fitness Pal is a great app and I've used the Lose It app before.

Kelly said...

Great post! I too struggle with emotional eating. I've been reading and re-reading Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth, which is an amazing exploration of how looking at the reasons why we eat (when we're not hungry) or make bad food choices can help us grow spiritually and emotionally. Powerful stuff.
Thanks for sharing your intentions - I'm going to borrow most of them! :)

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