Monday, March 21, 2016

Fit Girl Turned Freak

It has come to my attention that fitness and health are not only my passion but have moved toward a kind of obsession.

Don't mistake what I'm saying here. I am no fitness perfectionist. I don't stay within or under my calories probably like 4/7 days of the week. Weekends are hard. I go out. I eat dessert. And popcorn at the theater. And overall just indulge too much. In fact I'd say that days with maintenance or deficit calories are actually pretty rare. Hence, a five pound gain in recent months.

Where I've realized I have an obsession is with tracking. I have tracked my food every day for almost 13 months now. It doesn't take up too much time or brain power anymore because I'm so familiar with foods and calorie counts and macros.

My obsession has been made worse since getting the FitBit Charge HR. Having a more accurate calorie burn has been a disservice to me. According to my handy little device, I can eat way more than the amount I initially set out to consume (about 1500 calories at a 35% carb, 35% fat, and 30% protein breakdown), and still be in a 500 calorie deficit at the end of the day. But using this, I'm not seeing any results. It's been counterproductive because it just makes me feel like I can and should eat more at the end of the day.

It's turned into a situation where I feel like "I'm OK to eat this because I offset some of it with my workout." And then on the occasion that I don't work out, I feel awful and guilty about any "bad" food I eat. I shouldn't feel that way. Food is food. My body will process it whether I exercised or not. I won't gain weight from a burger. And it's not like I eat like that all the time, or skip workouts, like, ever. And logically I know all of this, yet I still felt like a total psychopath on Thursday.

So given my meltdown on Thursday, which you can read about over here, I have decided to take a five day hiatus from my FitBit. I wore it yesterday and last night to sleep. I'll wear it to sleep every night. But I'll take it off in the morning. And I'll put it back on on Saturday for my long run.

I also activated a month long break from Pact app, which I highly recommend, by the way. Getting paid to do what I do anyway is pretty awesome. I've cashed out once before already. And since then I've accumulated another $53. I just don't need to feel the pressure of exercising 5 days, food logging 4 days, and taking a picture of 8 fruits or veggies. Because what happens after I logged 4 days of food? I don't have to log the other three. What happens after I posted 8 veggies/fruits? I don't need to eat any more that week. Seriously. That's what I've turned into. A fit fanatic checklist person who goes crazy unhealthy when she's met all her quotas.

So I wanted to document day 1 without my FitBit. I picked a heck of a day to not let my FitBit tell me how many calories I've burned. I got up at 5:30 AM to do a cardio workout from 22 Minute Hard Corps. I had a super productive day at work. I ran 6 miles when I got home--very slowly, mind you. It was hard today. I got home and did the 22 Minute Hard Corps Core 1 workout (only 9 minutes, thankfully). And I did the 5 minute fit test for day 1. So we're looking at 96 minutes of activity and probably at least a 750 calorie burn in today's extra activities alone, in addition to the 1700 or so that I burn in normal daily existence.

It's been rough. I can't lie.

During morning cardio, all I wanted was to check my heart rate during those disgusting burpees.

During my run, all I wanted was to feel that rewarding little sensation on my wrist notifying me that I hit 10,000 steps.

After my core workout and fit test, all I wanted was to see my calorie burn.

I had to remind myself every so often that whether it's being "tracked" or not, I am still exercising. My heart rate is still up. I've still hit 10,000 steps. I'm still burning a lot of calories. I don't need to know exactly how many. It's not the end of the world.

So here I sit, having consumed about 1500 calories today. After having my Shakeology, I don't feel hungry. Mostly tired. Because 5:30 a.m. is gross. I'm proud of the work I did today, tracked or not. It still counts. And I still enjoyed myself, in a sick "I love pushing myself to the limit" kind of way.

And I'm still going to have a couple of the sugar cookies I made last night, because I imagine my calorie burn is pretty high today. But man, I have stuck with that nutrition today.

I just need a break. I need to just feel things out. Listen to my body. Track my food without giving myself permission to go crazy because my FitBit says I can. I just need to exist. Have healthy eating and exercise habits because it's important, and remember that it is also important to live. I need to remember that the world does not revolve around steps, heart rates, and calorie deficits.

Life goes on.

Saturday's long run and regular activity


Amanda Jean said...

I've actually read several stories of this happening with FitBit users. I'm glad you are doing something for your mental wellbeing bc I know how hard and what a slippery slope obsession with fitness can be.

Cindy said...

I can relate to this. After I had my first child, I discovered MyFitnessPal which totally changed my life. Portion sizes and calorie contents finally clicked to me and I logged, exercised, and ate obsessively for the next 2.5 years, all through my next pregnancy. Then I suddenly got burned out. I just had another baby and was taking it easy. It's been nice to not worry so much about how many calories are in everything, or if I have enough calories left over to be "allowed" a treat at the end of the day. But with this freedom, I have seriously struggled to rediscover my fitness mojo. 2 years later and I haven't lost my baby weight. Don't think I will at this least not yet.

I guess my point in all this is to find a balance. Take a break from the obsessive logging for awhile. Listen to your body. Calories are not evil. But don't stray too far from all the good habits you've established. It's really hard to come back!