The Numbers Game

We humans seem to love numbers.  They are a tangible way to measure progress or failure or fortune, just about everything.   Individually, we value ourselves by our weight, the size of our clothing, our height, our waist measurement and things like our net worth, etc.   These increments help us determine if we are being successful or failing.  But really do any of these numbers really, in the big scheme of life, matter?

The past eight months, I have struggled with an unknown and painful medical issue that just recently resolved itself, at least for the time being.  I saw every type of doctor I could think of and was getting ready to move onto voodoo and witch doctors.  I was getting desperate.  Pain kept me up half the night, lying in the fetal position on the living room carpet with pain so sharp I wanted to just do surgery on myself. Give me that steak knife, I can’t take it anymore! (Seriously, I had a moment where that sounded feasible).  On top of chronic pain and sleep deprivation, I was finding certain foods made my pain worse and slowly became dairy and gluten-free because it seemed to kind of help.  Not a lot, but again, I was trying everything.

Being dairy and gluten-free is a big challenge.  Basically it’s meat, potatoes, veggies (but I had to be careful with anything fibrous) and fruit.  Gluten-free food substitutes are passable usually but half the time is gritty and taste of dirt.  I had moments, where I just gave up eating because I was so dismayed.  Other days, I would watch the number on the scale go down and think oh well there is one positive.  At least I’m lighter, I can ride my bike further and faster.   I was trying to look on the bright side.

Then my issue resolved itself, suddenly.  As the pain disappeared immediately, a week later I tried a piece of dry toast.  Food wasn’t seeming to trigger anything now.  Nothing.  I got more brave.  A whole sandwich with not just one but two pieces of bread.  No side effects.  Hmmmm.  My daughter made rice krispy treats.  I devoured several of them.  Mmmmm.  Eventually I got brave and tried a small bit of vanilla soft serve.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  Nothing.  No pain.  I wasn’t doubled over almost crying.  So I didn’t really have food intolerances.  These foods just make me a bit gassy and that was irritating my medical issue, just that simple.

Holy smokes!  I wasn’t intolerant or I might be a little but it wasn’t causing me pain.  It was if I was let out of food prison.  My middle daughter and I ordered a small pizza and cheesy breadsticks to eat on the beach at the lake we like to visit.  We spread out the blanket and put the two small boxes between us.  I hadn’t eaten “real” pizza in months.  My fingers were almost shaking when I opened the box.  Angel song surrounded us as did the greedy seagulls who realized we had food.  My first bite of cheesy goodness was like heaven.  I closed my eyes, listening to the waves gently break on the shoreline and the gulls squawking angrily at us for not sharing our bounty.  When did pizza ever taste so good as today?  I couldn’t remember when.

Last night, my husband and I were working on our house trying to get it ready to sell, I offered to order pizza and he had become so used to my narrow diet that he looked at me funny.  I assured him I could actually eat pizza from anywhere now.  Not just gluten-free crust from Dominos the next town over.  I ordered from a local place and added a half-order of nachos because I saw them on the menu and they sounded wonderful.  Anxiously I waited for our dog to go batshit crazy signaling the food had arrived.  I completely ignored the pizza and dug into the nachos.  They were the best nachos in the world.  Well, probably not but to me, at that moment, after not being able to eat them for months, they tasted amazing.  I’m not even a big nacho fan.  I rarely ordered them anyway but not being able to have them had made them a delicacy.

As I sat in my recliner after showering off the dust and dirt from our project (and probably some nacho cheese I missed from dinner), I thought why have I spent so many years worrying about my weight, what I put in my mouth or how much I work out?  Why have I joined gyms that I don’t go to, tried to follow the latest diet or exercise fad just to be ‘thin’.  Why not enjoy the food I truly want?  Granted I don’t want to eat nothing but junk because it makes me feel horrible.  I want to be healthy but not enjoying nachos once in awhile isn’t worth it to me.  I want to enjoy what I eat like I have been these past few weeks after a long hiatus from dairy and gluten.

I have found some different ways to eat that I actually like. I won’t reintroduce dairy like I used to eat it because I found my seasonal allergies have disappeared for the most part.  Candy like Twizzlers that I couldn’t have because of gluten, when I tried them again, I realized I don’t really like them that much.  If nothing else, this whole experience has made me realize that life is too short to deprive yourself for the sake of a number whether it be the scale or clothing.  That I like to eat better, more fruits and veggies and way less processed foods.  This showed me how much processed foods I really ate even though I would tell you that I avoided them.  That I had grown extremely lazy about cooking and how bad fast food really tastes.

Today I pulled the scale out from under my bathroom vanity and put it in a bag to be donated.  I’m on it most days, the number fluctuating up and down but never really making me happy and usually making me feel bad.  I won’t suddenly blow up into a parade float if I give this away.  I have to just trust the way the clothes fit.  Because as I showed last year, my weight barely budged with all the cycling I did but my body size shrunk greatly.  I’m also retiring my measurements spreadsheet.  I’m going to save it off onto my external hard drive and make it less accessible.  I’m not keeping clothing too small or too big.  If it doesn’t fit, I will donate or toss it.

Life is too short for the numbers game, I’m gonna eat nachos and enjoy every last greasy, cheesy, crunchy bite.

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