Once upon a time I liked to party…a lot. I remember taking this infamous quiz on Okcupid, and one of the questions was “Which is more appealing? A life of accomplishment or a life of leisure?” My answer then was most definitely a life of leisure. To my 20-year-old self, the perfect world would have had me sitting on the throne as the Queen of Party Town. I was young, you know? When you first start partying it all seems so exciting. Nothing is more thrilling than socializing, drinking, dancing and being at the center of it all.
But you pay a price for that kind of lifestyle. Aside from a number of embarrassing memories, countless nights puking my brains out, and a pervading sense of emptiness, I was getting kind of flabby.
I should mention that somewhere in between all this inebriation I started going to the gym. Treadmills and elliptical machines in the day time and vodka and beer at night. Initially I had lost about 5 pounds, but all the drinking and late-night trips to Denny’s counteracted my efforts in the gym. Eventually I gained the weight back and more, despite doing cardio for 45 minutes, 5 days a week. This went on for a while.
Right after my 22nd birthday I’d had enough. I wanted to lose weight (but not necessarily be healthy.) What I found by searching online seemed simple enough. Count calories. I remember the first day of counting calories and logging them into an online journal. My goal was 1400 calories. I was starving by the end of that first day and drank two diet cokes to try to quell my appetite. But I made it. And every day after that for quite some time I only ate 1400-1500 calories. I was still working out, doing cardio harder than ever before. (Still partying too, although not quite as much.) After the first week I lost 4 pounds. After a few months I had managed to lose about 22 pounds–a pretty drastic change for someone who is only 5’3” and wasn’t super heavy to begin with.
The good: I lost weight and I was beginning to curb the amount of partying I did.
The bad: People were worried about me. I was 106 pounds but I still didn’t like the way I looked (I felt like I was flabby and “skinny-fat.”) I didn’t have the healthiest diet. I’d eat a lot of fat-free diet food. I didn’t really have a concept of what clean eating was. I just ate as little as I could stand. Not to mention my self esteem was non-existent.
I’ll be honest. It feels awesome to lose weight when that’s your goal. But as you can see, the bad really outweighed the good. I was probably on the verge of having an eating disorder. I’ve never been diagnosed or anything, but I was extremely neurotic about what I ate. I was obsessed with food and being thin. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, but food HAUNTED me, gave me anxiety, made me want to hide from the world. I would damn near have a panic attack if I knew I had a social obligation where there would be food. I also binged hardcore. Like, I’m talking about scooping heaps and heaps of potato salad into my mouth with MY HAND while I was in someone’s car. So, at the insistence of my personal trainer I started going to therapy. I don’t really know how much it helped. Those were generally dark days for me. But on the bright side, this is when I started getting into weight lifting and learning more about health, fitness and nutrition. I realized that I needed more muscle to get that tightness and “tone” I was looking for. I also realized that my crap-ass diet wasn’t going to cut it anymore. By the time I felt like I was ready to stop going to therapy, I’d amassed quite a bit of knowledge about food and exercise.
Fast forward a couple of years and I have a much healthier, balanced view of things. My foray into weight loss, diet and exercise was originally fueled by vanity, but these days I’m a little more concerned about feeling good and being strong. When it comes to food, I just try to be sensible. I’m not perfect by any means, but on the whole I’m satisfied with my dietary routine as it serves me well. (I rarely get sick, I have lots of energy, and my poops make me proud.) When it comes to working out, I love to try new things and do so often. But lifting weights–heavy weights–is the main staple of my routine.
Partying doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it used to. I do still enjoy socializing and drinking in moderation, but it takes a lot out of me. Waking up early and being productive sounds a lot better than staying in bed till 1 p.m. because I feel too crappy to get up. Do I still over-drink? Sometimes. Do I still get loud and rowdy? Sometimes. But it’s not a habit anymore. So to 20-year-old Allie, sorry. This 26-year-old Allie is a little too busy doing the accomplishment thing.