It was my birthday recently.
I’m a BIG believer in birthdays. I read an article once where it said you should stop caring about birthdays at age 12. I think that’s total crap. I think you should ALWAYS care about birthdays–your own and others’. I think birthdays should be special days, with fun treats and all sorts of goodness. Normally, my birthday would include some variation during the day of: French toast, sushi, wine, cake, ice cream, wine, some more ice cream…you get it. Lots of loveliness and good wishes from friends and family, wrapped in a gooey center of comfort food.
But my birthday this year was a little different, and less French toasty. In early May, I stepped on the scale and had a major meltdown. Despite working my tail off in the gym, and following with limited exceptions the diet that is religious to most CrossFitters, the paleo eating plan, I was not seeing what I wanted on the scale. Not even close. I mean, seeing a number that I told my trainer Rob that he would have to waterboard out of me before I admitted it. I was devastated. Frustrated, and devastated. I knew I had been losing inches, because I’d been tracking that for 2 months, but there still comes a time that you want the scale to move. If you only have 10 pounds to lose, maybe the scale wouldn’t move, but when (ahem) you have many, many more than 10 to lose, the scale should be going somewhere.
I let myself have a pity party for a day, which I know my husband found particularly fun, and then I had a come to Jesus meeting with my want-to-be-fit self. I was still doing a couple of cheat-y things on paleo. I still used dairy (I thought sparingly, but I was probably eating and drinking way more dairy than I’d thought, and the dairy in my usual three cups of coffee per morning was probably more than enough.) Also, I was still enjoying my quite beloved fermented grapes grown in the the Napa Valley region of California. True paleo eating does not have any room for dairy, and advocates for minimal alcohol (many true paleo eaters don’t drink or do so extremely sparingly.)
I really love cream in my coffee in the morning (I know whereof Carly Simon comes when she sings “clouds in my coffee”); I really love cheese; I really love wine. I love all those things, but more than anything, I really, desperately want to be fit and no longer overweight. So at the beginning of May, on a Monday morning, I started my month-long experiment. No dairy. No alcohol. Trying as many days as possible to have a protein shake for lunch instead of a plate of food. More vegetables. Did I mention no dairy and no alcohol?
And I said I was doing this without being a cheater. I knew I had a birthday coming, I knew I had a couple of work trips where wine is usually an integral part of the evening events, and I was NOT going to cheat. I did make sure that rumors didn’t start–one night with friends during Memorial Day weekend, drink orders were taken, and I said out loud so everyone heard: “I don’t need anything and NO I AM NOT PREGNANT.”
And this experiment is how I found myself on my birthday sans French toast (actually, with no carbs other than veggies), drinking no wine, and getting no cake. And I felt awesome. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel like I was missing out. And it was an epiphany for me–I’m not deprived because I am not getting to do “fun” things with food and drink–I’m depriving myself by overdoing all those things, and not being the size I want or having optimum health to make me spend every day being BETTER.
It’s June now, and I was shocked at how well I upheld my pledge. I did slip ONE time but it was very thoughtfully–when we spent Memorial Day afternoon doing one of the hardest workouts in all of CrossFit in honor of a fallen Navy Seal, the gym celebrated with post-workout beer. It was awesome because it was well and truly earned.