Of Picnics And Plateaus

Before I got married, my work colleagues threw me a party. One of the gifts was an insulated picnic backpack, which we never used until years later, after we adopted Chuck. Our first Memorial Day with Chuck, Dave suggested we have a picnic by the Potomac. The first picnic consisted of a very long walk to the picnic site, Dave’s homemade goopy brownies, and lots of Rolling Thunder.

Since 2005, the Memorial Day weekend picnic has been a tradition.

Dave’s picnic idea was brilliant. You see, I have a problem. I’m very good at planning, but I’m not so good at being in the moment. Several years ago I remember laughing out loud while watching an episode of “Inside the Actors Studio.” I think Ed Harris was talking about what it was like to work with Marcia Gay Harden in “Pollock” and he said that she was a great actress because “she was present.” That seemed like the stupidest thing I’d ever heard, of course she was present, how else could she have been in the movie? But now I sort of know what he meant.

This annual picnic is one of the few times I can think of when I just let myself be in the moment and relax–be present, if you will. We hang out on blankets, eat Dave’s delicious food, drink celebratory fizzy beverage, look at the water, watch Chuck eating his special treat, and coo over how adorable he is. For once, my mind isn’t somewhere else. I’m not watching the clock, wondering how long this is taking, worrying about my to do list and what I’m not doing because I’m doing this, or planning what I should do later.

The feeling I have during the picnic is glorious and I have to figure out how to feel this way more than a few hours per year.

Dave is a kick ass picnic provider. It’s one of our “cheat” occasions, when we don’t really worry about what we eat even though we both want to lose weight. This year, the menu consisted of:  lemon rosemary lamb with tzatziki, grilled zucchini, and Mediterranean orzo salad with feta vinaigrette (not pictured: sparkling lemonade, my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a frozen Kong for Chuck).

Here is this year’s portrait of my special little family.

Since part of the tradition is taking pictures, this means we have pictures of us around the same time every year. Given the title of this post, you may see where I’m going.

I’ll start with the good news, a set of before and after pictures. On the left is my not so glamorous before (this photo makes me cringe) at my highest adult weight ever. On the right is my glamour shot from this year.

I know these shots aren’t set up the same, but there are almost always differences in before and after pictures that aren’t related to actual weight changes. Have you ever noticed how miserable the person looks in their before photo? The before never involves good hair or a smile, while the after photo involves both. At least some of the difference is attitude.

I wasn’t at all pleased with the way I looked on the left. I threw my hair back and put on a hoodie to cover myself even though it was hot. And I gave Dave a stupid look assuming I’d just delete the picture.

In the after, I’m much happier with how I look. I bothered to do my hair and wear something a little more photo-ready. And I smiled and posed in a not totally hunched over trying to hide myself way.

But there’s also a 15 pound difference. Trust me.

So what’s the bad news? The picture on the left was taken three years ago. I lost the 15 pounds between 2008 and 2009. Since August 2009, my weight has stayed stubbornly the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled I’ve kept the weight off for two years. But I wasn’t done. I have been actively trying to lose a little more the whole time. Since August 2009, I trained for and completed: two 5Ks, a 10K, two 10-milers, and a half marathon. While I can’t prove causality, the amount of exercise I do points to my problem being diet. Fuck.

In the weeks before Easter, Dave and I tried eating based at least loosely on the Primal Blueprint. We didn’t follow it religiously (for example, we didn’t give up dairy), but it was still a pretty drastic change, particularly the no added sugar thing. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I lost about 3 pounds pretty quickly.

But then Easter happened. I planned on having a free for all over Easter for about a week, but the Easter chocolate joyride lasted a full month, courtesy of my miscalculating how much chocolate we could consume during my Mom’s visit and my Mom bringing more than we had requested. By the time the carnage was over, those 3 pounds were back and it was time to plan the Memorial Day picnic. I made cookies and had a cookie every day for a week until they were gone.

I have a special occasion problem. And there’s a special occasion ALL. THE. TIME.

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, my birthday in August, Dave’s birthday in September, our anniversary in October, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mom’s visiting, I’m on vacation, I had a tough day at work, I had a good day, it’s a full moon on Tuesday.

I don’t want to live in a world in which I can never have another cupcake, but it’s way too easy for me to justify a treat.  There has to be a happy medium somewhere and I need to find it. Because it’s crazy to run the distances I have run over the past two years only to support a cupcake habit.

How often do you justify treats?

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10 Responses to “Of Picnics And Plateaus”

  1. Roxanne
    Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    I justify treats way too often, and that’s why my exercising isn’t making the impact I want it to.

    But congratulations to you. I know you’re frustrated at this plateau, but you look incredible. And that smile on your face shows how much happier you are with yourself. Way to go!

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Thanks, I actually am pretty darn pleased with myself, but I would like to whittle off just a touch more. I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile. Like since the plateau was an 18 month plateau instead of a 2 year plateau!

  2. curlygeek04
    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Awesome picture, you look great! Maybe your plateau is telling you something else, that you’re at the right weight? Personally, I don’t find exercise changes my weight much either way. I understand the science of burning calories and all, but I think I’m one of those eat-more-when-I-work-out kind of people.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks. You make a very reasonable argument that I’m sure I’ll employ to justify a milkshake the next time we go out for burgers. But I can’t help wanting to try to lose just a little more weight. It’s lucky that I do like running, but it is frustrating to train for long races and not lose an ounce. But I also justify eating more after a long run.

  3. Erica M
    Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I agree with curlygeek04, although I can empathize with your wanting to lose “just a few more”. Plateaus are tricky: what if this is as good as it gets OR can I push myself a little further? My answer always depends on how I feel that day, so my life is a little rollercoaster-y.

    Followed you here from trdc.

  4. Katie
    Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Good for you! You look amazing just as you are. I justify treats way too often. I have very unhealthy habits, and while I want to change that, I rarely gather up the motivation to do anything about it.

  5. Kisatrtle
    Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    I dont think you can go wrong with a treat. Love the pics

  6. Elise
    Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    I love the before and after shots. You look fantastic! I just wandered over here from Red Dress Club, so I don’t know much about you. But I wanted to tell you what worked for me. I’ve been doing WeightWatchers for over three years. I lost almost 100 pounds the first year. I stopped the program and gained some back, but I’m back on track now. Anyway, what I love about it—it isn’t a crash diet and it’s all about balance, so treats are allowed. Wow, I sound like an infomercial… Sorry! I just really like it and feel like there’s considerable freedom in it. I hope you find the thing that helps you feel happy/stay happy in your body.

  7. Anastasia
    Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    I wish I could get rid of the 15 lbs. I did the Primal Blueprint for a little while. I took full advantage of my cheat day let me tell you. I love how the before pictures are always no make up, messed up hair, pale skin and bad lighting and the after, is professional make up and hair, smiles, good lighting and tan. Oh marketing.

    I agree about the need to be present. It’s hard to remember some times.


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