Monday, August 08, 2011

Weight loss, Work, and Weddings...oh my!

(Part 1 of a 3 Part series. This time: Weight loss. Next up: Work.)

I slipped into a size four this morning.

I say slipped and not pulled, yanked, or struggled, because that’s exactly how easy it was. They came on without one iota of an issue.

Now, for those of you who’ve known me for awhile, you know that a size four is nothing too earth shattering for me. I’ve been smaller, by a lot. Working in an industry where image was almost more important than talent, I am very familiar with size zeros and working out six-plus hours a day.

The thing is…is that lifestyle wore me down. I’ve never been particularly confident in my appearance or body, and the need to constantly be thinner, taller, and hotter, built upon that shaky foundation. I began, like many women, to look at food a bit like a daily challenge. I literally remember thinking, “I can’t live with it…but can’t live without it.”

During my time as a working actress/model, I always thought I could lose another twenty pounds. I have no earthy idea, looking back, where those twenty pounds would have come from, but I had a firm vision in my head that they should be gone. Working in Canada was a bit easier, as the competition seemed to be a little more about who could do the best emotional range and a little less about who had the best boobs.

The other thing living in Toronto did, was give me more opportunity to expand my other creative outlets. I began to gain more confidence in my writing, and even go so far as to allow things I’d written to be submitted for competitions and even—God forbid—payment.

I also felt like I had accomplished a lot in the acting world. I’d done TV, movies, independent projects. I’d managed to get paid to act by reputable companies, and see a lot of my desires come to fruition. In a big way I was just plain ready to move on to something else for awhile.

In the years that followed, I went back to school, met my future husband, and finished my first full-length novel. I also managed to gain about forty pounds.

Here’s the thing, though; I was fine with it. I really feel like I had to “get fat” in order to get over a lot of my hang ups about weight, food, and what it means to be beautiful. Through the purging fire and cleansed out the other side or what have you.

And yet…

I have a wedding coming up this year. My wedding. And despite my newfound contentment with my larger form, a few things happened in quick accord that made me stop and really ask where I wanted to go from here. The first of which was my mother.

Her battles with weight definitely contributes to my own issues. I think the major difference is, she was naturally slender as a child and into her twenties. I wasn’t, so my weight/size has always been directly correlated with how much I worked out and ate. I won’t say that she never pressured me to be thinner, but it wasn’t in a mommy dearest scary way. If anything it was her own manifestations of fear projected onto me. That’s not what factored into my decision to lose some weight, though. What did, was when she told me that she was on a diet that not only required constant injections, but a daily caloric intake of only 500.

I recalled a month or two earlier, an Advanced Reader Copy of some new diet craze book showing up in the staffroom, and our subsequent discussions about dieting. Shortly thereafter, Random House held their bi-yearly bookseller preview where this same book was featured. The Dukan Diet, I was assured, was making huge waves in Europe.

I thought first of my mother. I took the book from the staffroom and started to read. A lot of what Dr. Dukan spoke about made sense to me, but the major appeal was that there was no counting involved with the overall diet. You just ate, as much as you wanted, whenever you wanted, from a given list of food. My personal interest, as they say, was peaked.

You see, my former job as a bookseller meant that my days never started or ended at the same time. I never knew exactly when my meals would be, or whether I’d be at all hungry (or practically starving) by the time they rolled around. The only other diet I’d ever been on (while I was acting) required you to eat every single four-hour period you were awake. I knew that wouldn’t work in my new situation. I needed flexibility in a diet.

But not so fast. Buzz is fine, but fad diets are called so for a reason, right? What about real people, and their real experiences? I was off to the races (er…rather, the internet) to find blogs, reviews, and just a better general understanding of who had done Dukan, and how things had turned out. I found a lot of positive stuff. (The negative seemed to be manly from people who hadn’t actually done the diet and were blasting it with their assumptions of what it was or wasn’t.) By pure luck, I stumbled upon a man with a self-proclaimed “keg stomach” who had written a funny, honest, and DAILY blog. Months were listed and the more I read about his journey with Dukan, the more I realized I wanted to do it.

I made the decision, set a start date, and phoned my mother to ask if she wanted to get off her crazy diet and try Dukan with me. She declined, but was overjoyed to hear I was taking the initiative. In the first two days I dropped five pounds. By the end of Phase One (Dukan sets out four Phases to take you from strict intake, all the way to “normal” eating) I’d lost ten pounds. After a full month, I was down almost twenty-five pounds.

My goal was to hit July first thirty pounds lighter and start Phase Three of the diet. I hit that marker before July first, and promptly stopped weighing myself. (I don’t need to be obsessed about the numbers. I hit my goal, and that’s what matters to me.) I can tell you with 100% confidence, however, that I’m actually still loosing weight.

You see, remember that whole getting married nonsense? Well, I had to get measured for my wedding dress. From the end of my weighing, until the second week of July, I’d managed to loose another inch. I can happily report that I’ve lost at least 32 pounds, at least 10 inches, and am down at least 6 clothing sizes.

The best part? I don’t have that crazy panic this time ‘round. I don’t feel like I’d look better if I could just loose another 5-10-15 lbs. I’m quite happy however the numbers fall. (Or don’t, as it may be.) And it’s so very nice to be able to walk into a store, grab a size, and know it will fit. Or better yet, dust off my old wardrobe and make it all new again.

Was it hard? No. But, I have pretty spectacular willpower. I also don’t decide to do anything unless I’m going to follow through with it. (See: career, acting and novel, ATSOU) Having said that, a diet where you can sit on the couch and eat all day (assuming the foods you eat are on “the list” and you get up at some point and walk around for 20 minutes) really isn’t difficult. Creativity really is required just so that you don’t get bored, and you HAVE to keep your pantry/fridge stocked at all times so you always have “list” food around to munch on. The only people I would outright say shouldn’t do the diet are vegans and pregnant women. (In both cases I just don’t know enough about the nutritional requirements of either to be certain you’d be getting everything you need.)

Oh, I should also mention that my own success prompted my mom to try Dukan herself. She’s currently down more than fourteen pounds. (And quite thrilled to actually be able to—you know—actually EAT something.)

Where we’ll go from here, I have no clue, but I know that I’ve got another half-year before I’m done my current Phase and I plan to stick with it. The only thing I can say to anyone looking for advice on Dukan is this: If you do it, it will work. That’s it.

Quote of the Moment:
My Cousin: "The only thing about gaining weight is-."
Ms.I: "The boobs."
My Cousin: "I KNOW! Amazing, right?"
Ms.I: "They're glorious."
Soundtrack of the Moment: USS, “N/A OK"
TV/Movie Quote: Big Bang Theory
Sheldon: You're not done with her, are you?
Leonard: Our babies will be smart and beautiful.
Sheldon: Not to mention imaginary.

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