The Time Food Broke Up with Me

It’s been about a month, since my last day at work. The 4 weeks that have passed have been a bit surreal and a little all over the map. During my first week, I was sick. The second week, as if in an effort to make up for lost time, I kept busy just about everyday. Last week a funk set in, which has piggy-backed its way into this week as well.

I feel off and out of sorts.  I can’t pinpoint where this feeling stems from.  One area that I am struggling with currently is my appetite, or lack thereof.  I’ve always had a really healthy appetite.  I would easily go through a hearty breakfast, and be ready for lunch when the time came.  I so looked forward to my dinners.  I’m a big fan of routine, and as such I had fallen into the habit of eating more or less, the same thing for each meal everyday.  I’d like to think because the little things count, I was more than okay with my redundant meals.  They brought me happiness.   Any chance I had at going out for dinner was a big deal and an event that I would look forward to with great gusto.

Ask me about that time I went out for sushi, and went a little trigger happy with the iPad order.

I’ve always been an emotional eater.  I eat when I’m happy and I eat when I’m sad.  I eat when I’m stressed.  I’ve never been a mindless eater though.  And I’ve never been someone without an appetite.  Until now.

I know this may seem like I am making a bigger deal out of something than is warranted.  Over the last four and a half months, over a very gradual period, certain reference points of mine have begun disappearing.  I’ve referenced some of them already in previous posts, but the one I am currently very aware of and slightly sensitive to, is my lack of appetite.  For so long I have identified a large part of who I am with food.  Food and I haven’t always been on the best of terms, but in more recent years, I have come to develop a joy in and appreciation for food.  That joy and appreciation appear to have left me, temporarily or permanently-I guess I’ll find out eventually.

In a recent conversation I had with Ian, he mentioned the very real possibility that my lack of appetite is attributable, in part, to my change in routine when it comes to health and fitness.  I used to be an avid runner.  On days where I couldn’t or didn’t want to run, I would log an hour on my spin bike.  I would walk.  I would hike.  I might do some yoga.  The one consistent element in all of these options was that I would do whatever the activity was for an hour.  No less, with the chance of maybe more, but never under 60 minutes.  All of my go-to activities were cardio based as well, and while the aforementioned list may sound like it had great variety, it was in fact a small and limited list, and one that I rarely branched out of.

Food, in part, for me has been a reward or something to look forward to once I had completed my 60 minutes of cardio. Those jokes you see every so often, about how the real reason runners run is so that they can eat more. Yeah. That’s me.

One of the things I consciously chose to change when I finished work was my approach to health and fitness.  A stickler for routine and the familiar, I found I was no longer getting the results I wanted from my various workouts.  The beautiful runner’s high and take-on-the-world attitude I would normally get after a good run stopped.  I was also getting tremendously bored.  With all of them.

I’ve begun a new-to-me series of workouts, and while I turn into a sprinkler of sweat by the end, I still don’t get that same high or joie de vivre feeling that I used to after a good workout.  Part of that, or maybe a significant element of that is the fact that this current workout plan I am on is not made up of 60 minutes of cardio-it is rather usually around 40 minutes, and incorporates some strength training.  It is also not made up of 60 minutes of cardio that is familiar and comfortable to me.

I’m very much out of my comfort zone in so many areas of my life right now, and I sometimes wonder if me, Olivia, doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.  Perhaps the lack of appetite is a response or a reflex to that.  For the longest time I have identified who I am as a person with external elements: I am a runner.  I am someone who loves food.  I am someone who maybe didn’t push their limits, but made sure to stay within them, for comfort’s sake.  I am someone who likes routine.  I am someone who likes predictability.  I am someone who likes the safe and known.  I am someone who likes certainty.

Over the last four and a half months, all of these markers for who I am have either gone, or lessened.  I believe that as a result of not taking better care of myself over the last decade, I haven’t allowed for any new habits or markers to take shape.  I’ve been holding on with such desperation to the former identifiers, in the tornado that has been my life over these last 3 years, that I didn’t leave any room for new ones.  I also didn’t welcome any new ones.

This really is a period of transition.

I now have an abundance of time to start building and creating new markers.  I also have great 20/20 hindsight vision and am more aware now that not only is it okay to swap some of those markers out for new and different ones, it might just be a very good thing.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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