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[In]Flexibility

I am not a very flexible person.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I will bend over backward for the sake of others. I have a tough time telling anyone “no” when I’m asked to do something. In fact, I have such a problem with this that I will ignore phone calls from work on my off-hours because if I don’t answer, I don’t actually have to say “no” when I’m asked to come in on my day off.

I like routine. I hate it when something messes it up. Initially, I planned to say that changes in my schedule and/or routine make me “nervous.” That would be a lie. It completely freaks me out.

Lately, my morning routine has involved spending more than two hours at the gym. I start with my LIIFT4 workout of the day, hop on the treadmill for an hour, and then take a shower. This routine has been okay. I get to relax and take time, and by 8am, my step goal has been crushed.

However, it’s only been “fine” because I had the time. I went from working primarily in the afternoons to not working at all. When you don’t have to be at work before noon, it’s easy to take the time to spend two hours in the gym. It’s also easy to let the morning routine drag on and take much longer than it should (Parkinson’s Law, anyone?)

I’m working a job that requires me to be at work before 8:30 some days.

This change in my schedule caused me to panic slightly. First, it meant that I needed to figure out a breakfast I could eat on the go. No more plates of eggs, fruit, breakfast meats, and bread. Second, it put a damper on my morning routine at the gym. There are days when I don’t make it to the gym before 6am. Sometimes, it’s 100% my own fault for not preparing the night before or moving slowly. Other times, I’m unable to get into the bathroom before 5:30 because someone else is in there.

When I found out about the schedule change, my initial thought was to go to the extreme: 4am wake-up.

The problem with a 4am wake-up time is that I probably don’t get enough sleep as it is. Losing an extra hour isn’t going to benefit me in any way (especially not at the gym).

Do I need to be a bit more on top of things when it comes to not putzing around in the morning? Absolutely. Still, that only helps so much. It certainly doesn’t do me any good when my gym bag is packed, my workout clothes are laid out, and I’m up and out of bed by 5:10 only to realize that I have to wait 20 minutes before I can go to the bathroom and weigh myself.

I need to remember that my goal is not to spend two hours at the gym. My goal is to complete the LIIFT4 workouts scheduled for the week, go on four 30-minute walks, and get 8,000 daily and 70,000 weekly steps. The fact that I’ve been able to go above and beyond that goal was a blessing, but it was never my goal.

So, maybe the answer isn’t to wake up early. Perhaps the solution is to simplify my routine a bit. On days that I go into work later, sure, I can take advantage of the extra time to lift and walk on the treadmill. On days I have to be at work earlier, maybe, I’m only going to lift (unless it’s Wednesday when I’ll walk). Perhaps there will be days when I do both, but I’m only getting 30 minutes on that treadmill.

The idea of spending less time at the gym makes me nervous. I’ve been getting 80,000-90,000+ steps a week lately. I’m not sure what my step counts will look like if I’m not spending as much time on the treadmill in the morning. I feel like I may have (subconsciously) been trying to race my calories during my reverse diet. I’ve been raising that bar with my activity, hoping that, maybe, I can go just a few more weeks adding to my calorie target. So, while I’ve finally reached the point where my calories are staying put (I think), the idea of having to dial back on my activity worries me (especially since my weight is a tad higher than I’d like it to be at the moment).

Still, it may be what I need to do. Besides, it may open me up to the possibility of having more time in my mornings to get back to reading and journaling.

It doesn’t make this process any easier. I’m still mentally freaking out about everything. I’m just hoping that this will get easier once I get through the initial adjustment period. Perhaps, I’ll learn how to be a bit more flexible one day.

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Stuck

Does anyone ever feel like they’re in a constant state of taking one step forward and two steps back?

That’s how I feel sometimes.

A few months ago, I paid off several thousand dollars of credit card debt. Shortly after, I discovered that a mix-up due to some misinformation I was given has led me to owing another $1,200. Fortunately, I should be able to cover that with my tax refund, but I had plans to save that money towards something other than debt payment.

For the longest time, I racked up debt and refused to save money. Why bother? It seemed that every time I started to slowly build up my savings, something would happen. Typically, the “something” would be suddenly needing to replace all of my car tires after getting one flat. The expense would wipe out the money I had set aside (and often more).

And yes, I could also see the good in that. It’s far better to wipe out my savings account than it would be to get a flat tire and have no savings at all. So, perhaps the fact that these financial emergencies came up when I was better equipped to handle them was a blessing.

It still sucks though.

Now, despite this minor setback with this debt, I am doing fairly well financially. I have a decent chunk of change in savings right now thanks to the most recent stimulus. I’m managing to put aside a little extra every time I get paid. For the first time in my adult life, despite only making about $175 a week, I’m not completely living paycheck to paycheck. The money I get from SNAP benefits helps, of course, but even without that, I have enough money to put gas in my car and buy food (with money left over for other expenses. Am I absolutely thriving? No. I’m still waiting on news about my appeal to Unemployment about my benefits (long story short, they were cut off even though, according to the data on the website, they shouldn’t have been; at my current job, I should still be entitled to those benefits). Do I particularly need the benefits? No. I’m managing without them. However, that extra $300 a week would be nice to put towards saving towards my dream home. (I want a tiny house).

It’s not just finances though. I’ve been struggling with finding a balance with my workouts. Nothing I do ever feels like it’s enough, yet I find myself feeling completely burned out by nothing. I’ve made a few changes to my routine which I think helps, but that nagging feeling that I should do more hasn’t gone away.

I’m also about a month-and-a-half into my reverse diet. It’s been wonderful in terms of me learning to break up with some of my old food rules. I’m enjoying foods I used to restrict because I was afraid I would binge on them. I definitely have a long way to go in breaking up with my food rules, but I’m still proud of the progress I’m making.

But I’m also having some body image struggles. I’m used to having the gratification of watching the number on the scale go down, but I’m not getting that anymore. Part of me loves the food freedom eating more is giving me, but there’s another part of me that wants to go back to restricting for the sake of seeing the scale go down again.

The thing I’m struggling with most, in this moment, is feeling like I’m always sabotaging myself. I have a habit of mentally celebrating a personal victory in the realm of my mental health- only to turn around and do the thing I was celebrating not doing before.

Sometimes, it really feels like I’ve made zero progress when it comes to managing my mental illnesses. True, the social anxiety has been less of an issue lately, but the lack of socializing due to the pandemic may be playing a factor there.

I haven’t seen a counselor in months. My work schedule is just too sporadic. Since I don’t have any consistency in my schedule (the days and hours I work each week change and I don’t have advance notice of my schedule), it makes scheduling the time for my mental health challenging. I knew this was a possibility when I started working; I turned down this particular job because the job was unable to accommodate my counseling appointments last year.

I probably should see one though. I don’t necessarily believe it helped any when I was seeing someone (I went through three counselors in the last year because they kept going on maternity leave). Plus, I also wonder if I should get some more evaluations done in regards to figuring out everything that’s wrong with me and exploring other treatment options. I already know I have Avoidant Personality Disorder, Mild Recurrent Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, and General Anxiety Disorder. I was also told that I may have an unspecified trauma disorder and ADHD, but both of those require more testing to confirm or rule out.

There’s also a chance that some of my issues may be hormonal. Whether it’s something like PMDD (thankfully, without physical symptoms beyond being ravenous every few months) or simply just hormones exacerbating my existing mental illness symptoms, I’m not sure. But there’s something going on there.

I don’t know what any of this means. I can’t exactly afford to quit my job for the sake of therapy even if it does help. However, I’m also not keen on the idea of going back on medication to try to manage my symptoms. (Oh and the fact that I work with my mom which makes taking time off work for personal reasons nearly impossible; if I worked elsewhere, I’d be able to take time off and she wouldn’t know).

I just know that I feel completely stuck right now.

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Throwback Thursday: Happy Magic Marker [June 18, 2013]

I have a habit of finding television shows and watching them through from beginning to end. I’ve done it with The Golden Girls/The Golden Palace (many, many times), Pokemon, Boy Meets World, and more. My current obsession is The Facts of Life.

There’s one scene in particular that Nick at Nite used in its old advertisements for the show. It comes from a season one episode where several of the girls are going on diets to lose a few extra pounds. One of the girls, Cindy, asks Natalie if she would join the others in dieting to become “pencil-thin.” Natalie refuses: “Who wants to be a skinny pencil? I’d rather be a happy magic marker.”

Now, Natalie’s character was known for being overweight (later on, they had to dress Mindy Cohn in baggy clothes because she lost weight due to a new love of dancing; it was their way of compromising the situation).

However, I don’t feel like that comment was the character advertising that she wanted to stay fat.

Pencils are thin, dull instruments of writing. I cannot recall the last time I used a pencil. It was probably for a Scantron test in school. That’s all I ever use pencils: for filling in test bubbles.

Sure, they do have “fat” pencils, but those are generally reserved for young children who are just learning to write. I find it interesting that they were comparing thin people with pencils. After all, isn’t the general view on weight that a little baby fat is acceptable on a young child?

A young child uses fatter pencils, but grows up to use skinny ones.
A young child has a little bit of baby fat, but is expected to grow out of it and be thin as a teenager/adult.

The thing is, when people hear that line from The Facts of Life, they seem to come to one conclusion:

Pencils= thin
Markers= fat.

There’s a significant flaw in that thought process, however. Have you been down the Crayola aisle at the store lately? Markers come in all sizes. Thin and thick. Some markers are short, and others that are tall. Some markers have points meant for drawing and coloring, while others simply have little stamps on the end. Some markers are seemingly useless, but a new color will appear when you color over another marker. There are even markers that will only show their true colors if you use them on particular paper and wait a moment.

How is that such a bad thing? All of the markers have the same purpose: to make art. Some might be better for simple coloring on scrap paper, some might be better suited for decorating a t-shirt, and there are even some that only show their true colors among the company of certain other markers or using special paper.

That’s not much unlike us. We all have a calling to do something, but different people shine in different areas. Some of us don’t really shine unless we are in a certain environment, or with the right people, and that’s okay.

We come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. We all have a different purpose and work best in different environments. Meanwhile, the media is trying to get us to conform to some bizarre concept of “beauty” where we are all walking skeletons. Talents and personalities do not matter as long as you fit the image. When taking a scantron test, it doesn’t matter what color your pencil is- just as long as it’s a number 2 pencil [Why is it called the number 2? Who uses any other kind?] It’s just like putting a different color dress on each member group of identical, size 00 fashion models. It means nothing.

Why be like a boring, skinny pencil that’s best used for a generic “one-size-fits-all” test when you have the option of being a happy magic maker?

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Uncertainty and Changing Plans

I’ve been second-guessing my decision to track SmartPoints.

I know. It’s been two weeks. Actually, it’s been less than two weeks.

Yet, I’m having some doubts.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not second-guessing my decision to step away from calorie counting and track points/bites. I am absolutely 100% committed to that decision. Admittedly, letting go of some of that control is hard, but it is worth it. I would rather have a little uncertainty over the exact number of calories consumed if it means not needing to pull out my food scale or tracker as often.

However, I’m not sure that I went back into the right plan.

I love SmartPoints. While I think there are good things to say about all of the SmartPoints plans, Green has always been my happy place. It’s a very livable plan for me.

So, why would I give that up?

Unfortunately, as much as I love Green, the plan isn’t without its flaws. The biggest drawback is that even with the smaller list of zero-point foods (compared to Blue and Purple), there isn’t much of a correlation between points and calories. 30 SmartPoints of chicken and 30 SmartPoints of cake have a very different calorie count.

I don’t plan on being in weight loss mode very long. Eventually, I’m going to take another break. I’m not sure when that’s going to be. I’m also not sure how I’m going to do it. I understand that reverse dieting involves gradually increasing my daily calories week by week until I hit maintenance. I’m just unsure if I’ll be mentally ready to count calories by the time I’m prepared to switch.

Trying to gradually increase my daily SmartPoints is likely to have mixed results simply because the calories don’t line up with the points.

They do with PointsPlus.

The closer correlation between PointsPlus and calories isn’t the only reason I’m considering a switch. Protein is another factor. When I weigh my food out in grams, it’s difficult for me to “see” portion sizes. Since protein lowers the SmartPoints value, I can easily overeat something like chicken breast. On PointsPlus, most lean protein follows a 1 point per ounce guideline. If I have a 12pp portion of chicken, I should probably cut it in half.

I also can’t forget that I stopped tracking SmartPoints in June for a reason. On both PointsPlus and SmartPoints, most of what I eat is the same points. Now, there are some differences, of course, but they balance out. My chicken is a point lower on SmartPoints, but the teaspoon of ghee is a point higher. Unless I have a day where I have some extra sweet treats, things even out. I don’t eat sweets every day. Over a week, I get more points on SmartPoints than PointsPlus. So, the fact that the points for most of my meals balance out is relatively significant.

It sounds like I’ve made up my mind. I haven’t. I feel like I should stick it out a little longer before I switch plans again. After all, I like what I’m doing now. Is this just “the grass is always greener” syndrome? Am I doing this because I’m frustrated that the scale hasn’t shown much movement over the past two weeks, and I think a new plan will kickstart my weight loss?

The latter is definitely a factor in my thought process, but I know that cannot be why I decide to switch plans. Chasing after the plan that gives the quickest results doesn’t work.

That’s why, despite wanting a plan where points and calories are more aligned, I’m not looking at trying the old Points plan. I know that’s not a sustainable plan for me.

At the end of the day, I just need to make a decision. If I decide to switch to PointsPlus tomorrow and am completely miserable, I can always switch back after the week. My goal is to stay in my daily and weekly points. Switching plans doesn’t change that.

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I Quit WW

Well, I think my title says it all.

Shortest blog post ever?

In all seriousness, this isn’t just about me stepping away from SmartPoints. I talked about that decision before. This is about me stepping away from WW officially.

January 2021 (a date we are all desperately clinging to right now!) will be my 12th anniversary of joining WW. Now, I wasn’t always a consistent, paying member of WW. I’ve left and come back and left again over and over and over.

This feels a little different. Perhaps because when I rejoined in December 2018, I actually stuck to it until only a couple weeks ago. I didn’t always follow the current plan (or any plan) during that time. Still, I was consistent in weighing in (save for the Whole 35), attending meetings (“workshops”), and trying to be a part of the community (kinda) for over 550 days before I canceled my membership.

However, I think this feels different because I canceled for a different reason than I have in the past.

In the past, I’ve canceled because of life changes (like starting college on campus or a new job), finances, or simply because it felt like a waste to pay when I wasn’t losing weight because I wasn’t following the plan or because I was dealing with medication side-effects.

This time, I canceled to let go of a dream I’ve had for over 11 years.

Lifetime Membership.

On WW, if you hit your goal weight (within your healthy BMI range unless you have a doctor’s note for a higher weight goal) and maintain it for 6 weeks (within 2 pounds), you can achieve something called “Lifetime” status. As long as you weigh in no more than 2 pounds over your goal weight, you get free WW. 

Even with switching to PointsPlus, I was still holding onto this idea of getting Lifetime. I love the WW meetings. There’s a reason I went to 2-3 a week pre-COVID and 6 a week when WW went virtual. Getting Lifetime and going for free just makes financial sense- especially after all the time and money I’ve invested into WW over the years.

However, a few weeks ago, I was doing some serious reflection over how COVID has changed things for me and my weight loss journey, and I realized that I really love weighing in at home. The idea of switching things up and going from weighing in at home in the same outfit I wore to weigh in at WW every single week to weighing in wearing shoes and a mask just overwhelmed me. Now, if WW would allow me to continue with home weigh-ins indefinitely, things would be different, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to be the case (based on a conversation I had with 24/7 chat about reaching Lifetime from home).

It made me realize that I don’t want to be a slave to the scale. Right now, if I have a rough week food-wise, I don’t care if I have a gain on the scale. PMS, special events, a change in a workout routine, illness, family issues. It doesn’t phase me. It’s just weight.

But what if my monthly weigh in to determine whether or not I have to pay happens to fall during the worst part of PMS? What about the fact that lifetime members need to weigh in at the beginning of the month? That makes the first weigh-in of the new year a challenge for everyone, but I’m also dealing with a late-June Birthday, which means it could impact my July weigh-in. Right now, seeing a gain on the scale at the beginning of July doesn’t phase me. It’s pretty normal for me.

But I’m pretty sure I’d feel differently if I weighed in for the purpose of Lifetime.

So, I’ve decided to step away from WW and give myself a break from having that pressure on me to hit goal weight by a certain time. Will I ever return to WW? Honestly, I’m not sure. There is a part of me that’s considering coming back when I’m a little closer to goal so I can get Lifetime and enjoy free meetings, but seeing as part of why I left was the realization that I don’t want the scale to hold so much power over me, this might be it.

In the meantime, I’m switching things up a little. I took a week off of the scale. In fact, tomorrow will be the second Sunday I’ve skipped weighing in since March 17, 2019 (last week was the first). Since I don’t have the pressure to stay consistent with Sunday weigh-ins and scheduling weigh-in day based on the best WW meeting for me, I’ve decided to change things up and start something new on a Monday instead of Sunday.

I think my main focus for the next four weeks is going to be tracking. I’ve been pretty inconsistent at that for a while and that definitely needs to change. I decided to sign up for a few “track bets” over the next few weeks as an added “push.” I was going to commit to 4 solid weeks of tracking anyway, but if I can get some extra cash for doing it, I might as well.

I also have a virtual race I’m working on. I still have 25.9 miles to go (out of 31.9), but that shouldn’t take too long. Currently, my “rule” is that I count any outdoor walk that’s at least 1 mile. If I walk to the store and back, that counts (but the shopping or going from store to store in the shopping center does not). Eventually, I may start biking some races (but I need a bike first). I haven’t quite set a goal for when I want to complete this race, but I think I can get this one done in 2 weeks and then knock out another one by the end of this 4-week experiment. I could possibly finish my current race in about a week, but we’re looking at excessive temperatures over the next few days, so I’m not sure I’ll be up for super long walks this week. I’ve already earned two race medals since starting these virtual races in June and there are a few more I’m hoping to collect from this one site alone.

Overall, I think my theme for the next month is going to be “consistency.” Consistency with tracking, drinking my water, getting in my steps, etc. I don’t have a specific workout plan set yet (working on that one) and I’m still tweaking some goals for the diet aspect of things, but at the end of the day, my main focus is just being consistent with what I know I need to do to reach my goals.

I am also doing a little self-reflection and experimenting with some things over the next 4 weeks related to my diet/health goals, but I’m not quite ready to share those details with anyone. Chances are, I’ll decide whether or not to say anything near the end of the 4 weeks.

Tomorrow, I have some grocery shopping to do to get myself prepped for Monday. In the spirit of giving myself a fresh start, I’m charging up my Fitbit (after not wearing it for a week) and creating a brand new Fitbit account. My weight history from my fancy new Bluetooth scale is being wiped clean. Sometimes, I think I just need a fresh start, so that’s what I’m doing.

So, here’s to the end of my time with WW and the start of my month of consistency.

Let’s see how this goes.

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Sticking to what Works… Until it Doesn’t

I love the WW Green Plan. I lost a bit of weight on it back when it was the new SmartPoints plan a few years back before I put the weight back on when I went on medication to manage my mental health. When I started back on it in September, I spent time modifying the WW app to allow myself to go back to following that plan.

I lost about 30 pounds on SmartPoints.

Last Sunday, I weighed in at 0.2 pounds above what I weighed on March 1. I have been in this same weight decade since December. My only saving grace is that even with some large gains, I haven’t gone up into the higher weight decade.

Now, I haven’t been perfect, but I never have been (and never will be). Still, I’ve had more good days than bad days and that’s always been enough. Lately, however, it hasn’t been enough.

This week, I’ve been doing an experiment inspired by Brianna’s own calorie and point comparison experiment. I decided to switch to tracking on iTrackBites instead of the WW app to take advantage of the secondary metrics. Clearly, something has not been working for me and I need to figure out what it is. I figured the first step would be to look at how many calories I’m eating.

Now, this was a rough week to start an experiment between PMS hunger and eating like a jerk, but the on plan days have been very insightful.

I am still following the Wendie Plan. I do not count points for fruits, vegetables, or the oil I drizzle on my veggies before roasting or air frying (but if I make a salad dressing or something like waffles, I will count points for the oil in that). I am, however, counting calories for those things.

On a “good” day, I’ve been averaging about 1,831 calories per day. According to my Fitbit, my 7 day average calorie burn is about 2,160 calories. [This doesn’t include my “high” point day which would obviously skew my calorie consumption]. It’s no wonder I’m not losing weight.

I’ve looked at the numbers. Obviously, the fruit, veggies, and oil that I don’t count as points still have calories. However, even after subtracting the calories from those foods, I’m still hitting my calorie goal. I know people who, even with 0 point foods, struggle to hit their calorie goals without blowing through their points. I don’t have that problem at all.

If I spend my entire points allowance on chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. On a bundt cake? 640. That’s an average of 75 calories per point vs 21. The problem is, I eat a lot more chicken than I do cake- which is what WW wants me to do.

On PointsPlus, there’s a 10 calorie per point difference between chicken breast and cake.

Most of what I eat on a regular basis is either the same points between SmartPoints and PointsPlus or is fewer points on SmartPoints. I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods. Between daily and weekly points, I have 14 points more on SmartPoints than I do on PointsPlus. If most of my foods are the same on both plans, it means I’m easily overeating on SmartPoints. Take my work lunch for example? The protein powder I use is a point more on PointsPlus than on SmartPoints, but the 1sp fiber powder is 0pp. This means that my smoothie is going to be 9 points on either plan. However, I’m looking at 9 out of 30 points on Green and 9 out of 26 on PointsPlus (which I still think is the “yellow” plan- even if Brianna says it should be the glitter plan). That’s nearly 35% of my daily target vs 30%. Things like that can add up FAST.

One thing that confused me about when SmartPoints first came out was that, even 40+ pounds above my goal weight, I hit my minimum daily and weekly target. It just didn’t make sense. At the point where I hit my minimum of 30 dailies and 35 weeklies on SmartPoints, I was still at about 29 PointsPlus. Right now, I’m at about 26pp. Being at my minimum while I’m around 12 pounds from hitting a healthy weight range makes perfect sense. At 30+ pounds above? Not so much.

So, I’m stepping away from SmartPoints- at least for the time being. Tomorrow, I’m going to switch my tracker on iTrackBites to start tracking PointsPlus values on the Carb Concious plan. I’ll still be double tracking calories- just to keep myself in check and see what other tweaks I need to start making. Other than switching plans, nothing else will be changing. The foods I eat will probably be the same- with a few tweaks here and there. I still plan on following the Wendie Plan guidelines for PointsPlus.

I’m hoping that making a few small tweaks here and there with my diet, in addition to starting a mini fitness challenge for my Birthday (which I’ll announce at some point) in addition to finishing out Liift 4 will be enough to get the scale moving in the right direction.

Now, I will be adding one more food to my list of foods I will NOT be counting as points. Every morning, I add two scoops of unflavored collagen peptides to my water. On SmartPoints, that comes out to 0 points. On PointsPlus, however, that’s 2 points. I still plan on counting the calories for it, but since I’m taking the collagen as a supplement and not as food, I’m going to treat it like I do my vitamins or any medications and not count any points. If I find that I need to start cutting back on some things, I’ll look into counting it in the future, but for now, I’m going to see how not counting it works for me.

I’ve always struggled with “the grass is always greener” syndrome when it comes to diets. No matter how well a plan is working for me, I always look at others and go “I wonder if I should switch.” It’s taken me a long time to reach the point where I’m no longer wanting to make major changes every few weeks. I’ve been staying in my own lane. It’s been working for me, so why change?

Except, it’s clearly not working anymore, so I need to make a change.

I’m nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been on PointsPlus. I’m used to having 30 points a day that I aim to divide evenly between 3 meals. I’m not used to dividing 26 points up; 26 points don’t even divide up evenly between the meals. I’ve never had anything below 30 points on PointsPlus, so that in itself is going to be a challenge- on top of relearning the points values for foods. I’m going to have to learn how to eat with these changes: figuring out how to divide my points and learning how to enjoy the fact that I don’t have to schedule my entire week around one dessert without using it as an excuse to eat like a jerk.

It’s going to take some time to figure things out, but the best way for me to figure that out is just to get started.