It's been a while since I've last posted anything here on Vocal. That's because I felt somewhat uninspired. Don't get me wrong, the past three or four weeks have been really good, generally speaking. I've fallen into a routine of waking up, doing my skincare routine, taking my medications and supplements, eating breakfast, meal prepping food for the next day, making my bed, and getting dressed for the day. Next, I go on the treadmill for 45 minutes, on a typical day. And then, it's time to do my breathing exercises and physio stretches before lunchtime rolls around. Afterwards, it's more stretches, more meal prepping (this time, usually food for my mom and dad), and letting the afternoon take me where it will. I love this routine! It's just that the predictability that comes with it has left me without anything new or fresh to talk about on this platform. That is—until now!
Lately, with my moderate-intensity cardio, physio stretches, and minimal strength-training exercises, I've been eating anywhere from 2050 to 2300 calories a day. It's been a lot of carbs, a lot of protein, and a lot of fat. I can't complain. My body feels well-fed and cared for, because when I'm hungry, I eat. That leads me to today's topic.
As I write this, it's nighttime on April 16th. Today followed the above description to a T. I did my cardio, breathing exercises, physio stretches, and ate my typical three meals. Breakfast was a batch of strawberry cheesecake protein pancakes topped with a vanilla almond butter protein drizzle. Lunch was two scrambled eggs + a bowl of pineapple oatmeal topped with extra pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, more protein drizzle, hemp hearts, unsweetened shredded coconut, and roasted, salted pepitas + a chocolate chip cookie dough Quest protein bar. My afternoon snack was a hot coconut oil drink. Supper was a salad of spinach, spartan apple, walnuts, and yellow mustard + green cabbage, red cabbage, tuna, onion, garlic, celery, white mushrooms, coconut oil, cashews, pepitas, and spices + three brown rice cakes topped with mashed avocado, salt, pepper, and hemp hearts. All of that brought me to 2050 calories.
At this point, I was still feeling a little peckish. I considered my options. A banana? Nah. Frozen berries? No. Yoso coconut yogurt? Yum, but also no. Chocolate milk and cookies Ben and Jerry's moo-phoria ice cream? Yes, please! I had bought this ice cream nearly a month earlier, but had been holding off on eating it because it contained gluten, and I didn't want to set my stomach off. Something about this night in particular, though, just felt right. And so, I grabbed myself a spoon and dug in.
Originally, I had just planned on eating the recommended 1/2 cup serving and saving the rest for later. However, as I started to make a dent in the pint, I kept justifying another spoonful. After a quarter of the pint, I wanted to eat more. After half of the pint, I wanted to eat more. And after three quarters of the pint, I still wanted to eat more. And so, I followed that desire, polishing off the entire 600 calorie pint as a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous dessert in one sitting.
Coming from a background of disordered eating, there was a time in my life where this situation would have driven me insane. I would have panicked and thought to myself, "What have I done? Why did I eat an extra 600 calories? I didn't need all of that. I already consumed 2050 calories. That's plenty." From there, my thoughts would have spiralled out of control even more, and I would have found myself thinking, "I'm such a failure. I'm going to end up gaining weight and getting fat, now. Tomorrow, I'm going to eat super clean; I'm going to eat less; I'm going to restrict. And I'm going to work out like crazy." This mindset, however, is so far from healthy, and it is so far from accurate, too.
Admittedly, on a day-to-day basis, I probably don't need 2650 calories. With the amount of activity that I do, 2200 or 2300 tends to be plenty. That said, there are times when our bodies require a bit more energy. Lack of sleep, stress, injury, illness, and menstruation are just a few factors which may signal your body to increase its caloric needs. Additionally, extra physical activity—be it standing for longer than usual, going for a short walk, or even stretching—takes extra energy. You might overlook it, but our bodies really do a lot on a daily basis.
This brings me to my point. It's okay to treat yourself. Whether you want to have a "cheat day" once a week, or if you would rather "splurge" a little whenever you're in social situations, it's okay. As a matter of fact, I find it disheartening that we feel the need to label a calorie-dense meal a "cheat meal." Doing so represents calories as bad altogether which is so very wrong. Calories are merely a measurement of energy, and guess what, we need energy to survive. Thus, it makes no sense to condemn the foods that we eat, nor does it make sense to vilify the very act of eating.
Your life means so much more than how you look. What's more important is how you feel. Do you feel full, satiated, and satisfied? Or do you feel drained, empty, and hungry? If the second adjectives resonate with you, consider reflecting on your relationship with food. Evaluate whether your food is showing up for you. If you're fueling your body with an adequate amount of energy, you will feel happy, healthy, and vibrant; not dull, weak, and weighed down.
At the end of the day, you were born to live life to the fullest. With that goal in mind, I don't see beating myself up over a pint of ice cream as constructive. What is constructive? Caring more about respecting my body, listening to my cravings, and enjoying the odd (or regular) treat. Screw "low carb," "low fat," "low calorie" diets. Align, be mindful, and be kind to yourself. You're worth far more than your diet.