It happened last weekend. I pulled my fresh, amazing, world’s best cinnamon rolls out of the oven, plopped them on the counter, and drizzled a light vanilla icing over them. Then I picked one up, burnt my fingers, and took a bite anyway. So. Good. Then I took another bite, finished the roll, and grabbed another. I ate three (3!) cinnamon rolls that afternoon before heading back to my office to do a little work. It occurred to me as I started applying words to paper that I had overcome the tendency toward immense shame and guilt that plagued me two years ago. A great sense of relief washed over me.
At this moment, I realized I had achieved the exact mindset I had set out to find when two years and 78lbs ago, I jumped on an exercise bike and switched to whole wheat. I didn’t want to lose weight out of some need to compete with someone, which is saying something (“competitive” is a very polite word for what I am, from time to time). I jumped on that bike because when I looked in the mirror, I realized I looked unhealthy. I looked sick. And I felt sick, too. My body ached, I had heartburn, I couldn’t climb stairs without wheezing, my face was red: I just wasn’t doing well. I have all sorts of hypotheses about why I allowed myself to become so unhealthy, but suffice it to say, a good dose of stress, depression, and a thyroid condition probably all played a role.
So I jumped on that bike, determined to find a lifestyle that would allow me to treat myself, but be healthy, to feel and look like I gave a damn about my body and what happened to it. The truth was, I had to develop that lifestyle from the ground up. I had no clue, really, what foods were and were not healthy, and in a pit of hormone- and life-induced depression, I couldn’t claim that I honestly did care what happened to my body. But I knew I should care, so I started building.
I began small: switched to whole wheat, weighed and tracked every bit of food, tried to exercise at least three times a week. After that, I began to consider organic versus non-organic produce, and what types of fat I should consume – coconut, olive, and grapeseed oil played starring roles. Then I started to make treats just that: treats, not everyday fare.
Incredibly, I began to taste food differently. I enjoyed every bite. I looked forward to treats and took immense pleasure in consuming them, whereas before I had just indifferently stuffed my face with them. With this greater sense of control, this sense that I was growing a garden of health and succeeding, my mood improved. I started to look alive. And yes, I started to lose weight, but that was never my sole goal.
Fast forward two years, and I stuffed three cinnamon rolls into my mouth – the first treat I’d had in a few weeks – and then sauntered back to my desk free of guilt and shame, but happy from having enjoyed the hell out of those cinnamon rolls. I felt sated. I didn’t need to eat the whole pan (not that three rolls is a paltry number, by any means). I had eaten until my enjoyment started to wane, and that was enough.
I don’t know when exactly I arrived at this state of mind. I only know that I’m glad to be here and ready to stay for the long-term.
**Oh, if you want my amazing, awesome, world’s best cinnamon roll recipe, I’m not going to hold out on you.**