Photographed by Rockie Nolan
Last month, I found myself being chased through the woods, filled with panic and rage. It was 8 a.m. on a chilly fall morning, and clearly, the end of my life. If I didn't collapse from exhaustion, surely this guy would find another way to finish me. Behind me, the trainer bellowed another threat: "Four more minutes!" That's when I stopped and turned to face him. No more minutes, buddy. I was done.
The trainer dropped his pace and suggested I cool down with some squats. Our Spartan Warrior Workout wasn't finished. I took it a step further and just sat down on the ground. Done.
I am not a Spartan Warrior. I've probably never been in what most of us would call "good shape." Fitness was never a daily routine for me, and weight was always an issue. There were fleeting moments of diet-and-fitness euphoria where I found myself at a weight both reasonable to me and to most women's magazines. But those were the times when my life revolved around yogurt and the elliptical machine. It's a lot easier to be a crazy workout monster when things like friends, family, and career advancement take a back seat. I'd jump off the scale, filled with glee at my latest weight loss, and turn to celebrate the good news with NO ONE. I high-fived myself in the mirror once. It was weird.
These days, my life is absolutely full. It's full of wonderful things, like my job. I'm honestly psyched on the subway as I make my way to work every day to write about pickle juice and period-fear for you guys. Then there's my boyfriend, who's actually a lot more fun to hang out with than the elliptical. Not to mention my friends, and the whole social life that takes up time I'd otherwise be spending doing mirror-fives. These are good things, and I'll never compromise on them again.
That said, I'm pretty sick of being fat. Even writing that word, I feel an actual chill. I want to delete it and write something less...true. But, there it is. I'm one of the many women who grew up on diets. Starting around the time I learned to speak and ask for what I wanted, I was programmed on "good" and "bad" foods, and "good" and "bad" bodies (which made you a "good" or "bad" person). Some of it came from good intentions, but regardless, I was on my first hardcore diet by 11. Since then I've managed my disordered eating with brief periods of obsessive dieting and fitness regimens. In between, I revert back to my usual: emotional eating, sporadic exercise, and high-intensity shame and self-loathing. It is a BLAST, you guys!
When that workout last month kicked my ass like never before, I was ready to sign my soul over to Weight Watchers if they could make me drop 50 pounds, preferably by the weekend. Forget my job and relationships. Nothing mattered but the diet that would save me. Then I caught my breath and realized that this cycle wasn't working. And I remembered: I'm done.
I'm through with the Next Big Diet and the buzz I get when I lose those first five pounds. I'm finished with starting a new workout regime I hate every second of, because it's not a real workout unless I hate it. I'm done referring to my best friend's wedding as a "cheat day." Come on.
Photographed by Rockie Nolan
What I need is to start myself from scratch. It's not a fresh start — I'm done with those, too. We all have a history and pretending otherwise is as silly as believing a new diet will make you a new you. The current me is pretty great. She just needs to get her sh*t together. Starting here, I'm going to learn, finally, what it means to get in shape and stay in shape, like a normal person, with a life. And occasionally, a bagel, if I want one.
I've decided to bring you along with me (you can have a bagel, too), as I navigate and get healthy, and probably freak out a little. I'll be working with Intuitive Eating specialists and exercise pros to learn how to deprogram my diet-addled brain and figure out what reasonable fitness is. I'll report back to you twice a month with an in-depth take on those challenges so many of us face: diet cycles, food myths, gym phobia, and all those delicious feelings we're ingesting.
I'll also be sharing my personal progress in this column — but don't expect to see me standing in one pant-leg of my giant jeans anytime soon. There will be no BS here, and no half-my-size nonsense. I'm not going to lose 80 pounds by eating bacon, and I'm not going to throw myself a cake-free party when I go down a dress size. I'll just have one slice of cake, instead of three. I'm going to do this for real, because I'm done with all the myths, the juggling, and the nonsense I've lived on for so long. I'm ready to begin something new.
Check back here every other Monday for an update, and if you're a fan of gym-selfies and guilt-free brownies (that's a normal brownie that you don't feel bad about), then follow #antidietproject on Instagram and Twitter!