Out here in eastern Michigan, winter has been lingering around like a guy who just can’t take a hint. While outside my window there has been bright, beautiful spring-y sunshine for the past three days, it still practically feels like winter (this morning when I woke up it was 22 degrees). I haven’t coped well with this winter. I’ve been lethargic. I’ve been withdrawn. And I’ve gained 10 pounds!
10 pounds. It doesn’t sound like that much. Years ago I would have laughed (internally, of course) at someone who made a big deal about a measly 10 pounds. But, now, I get those women’s distress. Back when I was wearing plus sizes, 10 pounds hardly made me go up a pant size. To really do damage, I had to gain at least 15 pounds. Now 10 pounds means I’m up TWO pant sizes (thankfully, the super stretchiness of some of my skinny jeans has been forgiving but my dress pants and regular jeans sure wont forgive me).
While I begrudge going up a few pant sizes (and seeing 17- on the scale instead of 16- :( ), the worst part has been how out of control I’ve let my eating become again. For the last few months, I haven’t seemed to comprehend the word restraint. It’s like I’ve felt a need to prove why I spent about a decade weighing 240+. Like I’ve needed to prove my love of food by overconsumption. Mostly, I blame winter.
The season is undeniably beautiful (as long as there is snow on the ground), still, I loathe it. It all boils down to the fact that I hate being cold, cut off from sunlight, and surrounded by barren plant life. I was born in the middle of summer and that season is in my blood. I feel most alive when the world around me is blazing and in full bloom. I thrive on being able to augment my days with sun naps and evening strolls neither of which are going to happen during a Michigan winter.
My tolerance for cold diminishes more and more each year (and with every pound lost). I can stand it for about as long as it takes me to get from my apartment door down three flights of stairs to my car. Tragically, my poor old Cadillac’s heat barely works if it’s cooler than 35 outside so even my car rides have been freezing this winter. Therefore, if I wasn’t being paid to brave the cold and leave my apartment, I pretty much didn’t.
Months and months of being confined indoors makes me feel like a tiger I once saw at the Grand Rapids zoo. She kept restless pacing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in this torturously small enclosure. Every frustrated turn bespoke an obvious, furious need to break free. I’ve been as restless. Instead of pacing, I eat just about as incessantly.
Like I said, I’ve been coping badly.
Back in January, I was starting to really get in a panic about my eating. I was afraid I was on a slippery slope that would lead my right back to 240. Then two of my female coworkers and I lingered after work to talk about how much we all hate winter. I found out that they were having the same problem as me (well, similar at least). We’d all gained winter weight. My middle aged coworker had gained 25 pounds since Halloween. My petite, slim 19 year old coworker said she’d gained so much weight that her skinny jeans were cutting off the circulation in her legs. It felt good to know I’m not alone in my winter weight gain.
That conversation reminded me of something our culture is loath to admit: it’s natural to put on weight during winter time. The extra pounds help to keep us warm and the extra serotonin from carbs compensates for the little we’re getting from sunlight. With the poor heat in my car, I can’t say I’ve been too sad to have some extra insulation.
Even so, there is a fine line for me between normal and dysfunctional. I know that I’ve been leaning towards the dysfunctional. The more these cold months have dragged on, the worse it’s gotten.
Almost every winter I find myself in a similar place. Lent is usually the time that I re-connect with my body and with God (our relationship suffers as much in the winter as this blog has). It’s when I begin relearning restraint and get back into the habit of having a more active relationship with God as I prepare for Resurrection Sunday and spring. That didn’t happen this year. As you know. My focus was on adjusting to this new job and giving myself a professional makeover (more on that to come).
On Easter Sunday, I realized that I still need a Lenten season. Just because I missed Lent doesn’t mean I can’t have one. Starting April 1st, I began Dieting & Devotions. I’ve committed to do daily devotions (i.e. begin each day by reading from the Bible) and diet until my birthday, July 1st.
When I say diet, I mean that I’m trying to eat within the daily caloric range MyFitnessPal gives me (a great free app, by the way, that I’m liking more than Weight Watchers) and exercise more regularly again. I know, that’s not exactly a “diet.” I don’t do well when I decide that I can’t eat something. Plus ,I know that the most effective way for me to lose weight is through something that is sustainable. My definition of Dieting is being more active and intentional eating with moderation as well as making healthier food choices.
So far, so good, but it has only been 3 days. I’ll let you know how it goes.