onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “eating boundaries”

I got the I-just-moved-to-a-new-town-(again)-and-I’m-not-sure-if-I’m-gonna-like-it-here bluuuues!

I have had a difficult week. My husband and I have moved into our new place. Getting adjusted to a new town is difficult. This is a small town. It’s no Corpus Christi, TX. It’s no suburb of Nashville. And we have begun our new job. It is not going particularly well right now and that is stressful. I have not done my workout at all this week. For the past month I have been gaining weight with no change in my eating or exercise habits (until this week). I am frustrated and annoyed and kind of unhappy.

I have to remember that I often miss my workouts when I first get to a new place. It’s hard to get accustomed to a new home. To know where I can run. To know what time is best for me to do it. To get a new routine and to get my workout firmly set up in that routine. I think it happened when we moved to Tennessee. I know it did when we moved to Corpus Christi. But I need to figure that out this week. My workout is a priority. Not because of my weight, even though I am gaining. And not even for my health. But for my mobility and my mindset. I feel better about myself and my life when I work out. I feel better about my body, whatever its size and shape, when working out is a priority built into my day.

And I have to remember that this new job is going to be just fine. That the beginning is always bumpy. I am already doing a good job, because I am good at my job. It’s just a lot of things are not panning out. And there’s nothing to do about that except take accurate stock, and solve those problems. Solving problems is a thing I am good at. But I am vain. And proud. I would like to make it look easy. And right now I am not making it look easy. I am making it look like it takes work. Because it is taking a lot of work.

I am also afraid I am not going to like it here. I was afraid of that in Corpus Christi too. I remember crying in my new tiny kitchen when we got there. I was afraid of that in Tennessee too. Especially when I got into my first car accident when I had been there for 3 days. I cried there as well. But when a woman at the grocery store last Saturday asked me where my favorite place my husband and I had lived was, I told her it was Corpus Christi. So obviously I’m no Oracle.

And as for the weight gain, which I am taking in stride, I have to remember that I am stressed out. And that since I have had my eating under control, stress has always been a factor in my weight. I eat the way I eat, within my boundaries. And weigh what I weigh. Sometimes more. Sometimes less.

When my dad’s mom was in the hospital before she died, I lost weight like crazy. Was the skinniest I had ever been. Eating the same as before, and more because my weight was dropping so fast. When I quit smoking, I gained all of it back and then some. Even though my food quantities were cut drastically to stop the weight gain. After the smoking cessation weight gain, I decided that I was not going to try to wrangle my body into some size or shape by eating or not eating things that may or may not affect my weight. But I still don’t like it. I used to weigh 300 lbs. That will give a person some serious issues that will never quite go away. And a sudden weight gain is never any fun. And does crazy things to my head.

But I will tell you this. Two weeks ago, I made all of the lunches I needed for two weeks. Packed them and froze them. Stuck them in a cooler when I drove for 8 hours and put them right back in the freezer. And I did not have to worry about cooking all week. I didn’t have to take hours out of my busy schedule. I did not have to eat mediocre fare to get me through. I had what I needed to make a rough transition that much more bearable.

And my food is what it has always been. Delicious. And within the same boundaries that it has been for over 13 years. The lady at the grocery store yesterday said sort of shocked, “You sure have a lot of vegetables!” And I thought, yep. That’s what is saving my life. And that is another thing that helps me emotionally deal with weight gain. That my food is nourishing. So I don’t have to worry about what I ate or didn’t eat. I know what to eat. And I get to love every guilt-free bite.

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The part that’s all blessing

Even after all of the prep I did last week for this week, there is still so much to do. Plus the drive to the home office from my house in the Chicago suburbs is more than twice as long a commute as the last job I was on. So unless I am going to run at 4:30 in the morning (spoiler alert! I’m not!) I am going to have to jog after work. Which, if you have not already heard me complain about, I hate. I am tired after work. Waaaaah! And then while we are home, my husband has been asked to do a 1 day job in Milwaukee, and I may have to go get our taxes done by myself! Did I mention Waaaaaah! yet?
Having my food taken care of is the blessing and the curse of all of this. Just a little curse. The curse part is that I have to do all of the stuff myself. Perhaps someday I will be rich enough to pay someone to do all of this stuff for me. The shopping. The cooking. Washing the Tupperware to pack up my food. Though I weigh almost all of my food (with a very few exceptions, and all sorts of rules around when I don’t have to) and I do have a commitment to weigh all of my food for myself. No matter how rich I get, it will still be my own responsibility to know my portions exactly. Also, my husband and I are doing pretty well financially, but not get-Kate-a-personal-chef-well. Though Powerball is up to $750 Million….
But the blessing is that when I do this stuff, I don’t have to eat compulsively. I talk a lot about all of the great stuff I get from having my eating under control that is only peripherally related to eating. Like being a good worker, or having self-respect. Or having great relationships. But one thing that I get every day, whether I screwed up at work, or I have a good bout of “imposter syndrome,” or I have had a fight with my husband, is that I am not eating compulsively. I am not a slave to food. I love my meals and they end, and I move on with my life.
The truth is, I owe at least 4 people calls and emails. (Hi Mom! Hi Dad! I have not forgotten you!) And I had to write this blog. And I had to cook and prep for the rest of the day, and tie up some loose ends for work tomorrow. But one thing I didn’t have to do was eat something I didn’t want to eat, but couldn’t stop myself from eating. And that part is all blessing. 

Stretching, strength, and grace (ish)

I have had a pretty intense week, all focused around my job. Some things needed to get done. Things that were (are) “above my pay grade,” as they say. But there was nobody else there to do them. So I got them done. I had to ask for a lot of help, and ask a lot of questions, and there was a pretty steep learning curve, but the work got done. And I learned a lot. 

When I compare who I am as an employee, and as a worker in general, since I got my eating under control, to when I was growing up eating compulsively, the difference is stark. I would say that the biggest change in my life is not my body, or even my relationships, and those are entirely made new. I would say the biggest change in myself is as a worker. 
In the food, I was a liar, a cheater, and a thief. Which is some serious sinning. But it all stemmed from the fact that I was easily overwhelmed, plus terrified of failure and judgment to the point of paralysis, and rash-decision-making. In the food I was engulfed in a sugar fog that impaired my thinking, and temporarily numbed any feelings of guilt. 
In the food I was fighting for survival, but just barely, because I didn’t have any life skills or the ability to be sober long enough to learn some. I was getting by, minute to minute, waiting to either be rescued by someone who wasn’t me, or to eat enough chocolate cake that it didn’t matter anymore that I was drowning. Or both. Usually both.
In getting my food under control I became honest. I became a good worker, and a person of integrity. I started worrying less about how I might fail, and caring more about how I might help. 
In getting my food under control, I learned how to be strong and graceful (or at least graceful-ish). The way one learns to be strong and graceful is to get stuck in a bad situation, and to get ourselves out. In having my food taken care of, and having a clear head, I learned how to ask for help, how to take direction, how to take baby steps, how to figure out the right questions to ask, how to do the best I can, and then let the chips fall where they may.
In the end, that work thing I did that was “above my pay grade” helped us nail down our next job assignment. And that means we have to wind down here, pack up our apartment, and move on to the next town and the next job. 
That is par for the course in this way of life. And after almost 6 years of it, the husband and I are pretty good at it. It can be a little stressful. And I do enjoy it when we get to a place and we can settle in for the time being.  But by the time we leave, we will have been here about a year. And that is usually enough time to be done with a place. 
I am excited to move on. And grateful that I helped make it happen by stretching myself. And that I have the skills to do so with strength and grace(ish)fullness.

I, personally, can’t be starved out of my shackles.

Low carb diets are, of course, all over the news and advertising that is meant to look like news. I see all sorts of things on social media, especially since my blog is an eating disorder blog, about food, and weight, and weight loss. 

There is a particular doctor on Twitter that makes my blood pressure spike. I don’t follow him, because I think he is a bully, and I don’t need that kind of energy in my life if I can avoid it, but I see him come up a lot. My experience of him is that he bad-mouths low-carb diets as a fad, and then plays the victim when people defend their own low-carb lifestyles.
He makes me *feel* like everyone in the medical and nutrition field did when I was fat and couldn’t stop eating. He makes me feel like if I were “good enough” I could eat one slice of whole grain bread and the whites of two boiled eggs, and feel satisfied in at least my own self-righteousness, if not in my actual belly. I prefer feeling satisfied in my belly.
His most recent Twitter complaint was that he had a diabetic patient get off their meds by eating 1000 calories a day, instead of low-carb, and he claimed that people (no doubt low carb activists) said that was “wrong.” His point was that different things work for different people. 
Perhaps that is true. But I think this particular example is troubling.
I, for one, am glad that 1000 calories a day did not work for me. (Yes, I tried that many, many years ago, and was more obsessed with food than I ever had been fat. And certainly crazier. Definitely more miserable.) And I have to ask as well, how sustainable is 1000 calories a day? Can this person do that for the rest of their lives? Hell, even another six months? And can it really be considered a success if they cannot keep it up?
I’m not saying this person can’t. Perhaps they can. But my guess is that in order to do that, they will have to change more about their life than just what they eat. They would have to transform their thinking about food and comfort and joy. They would have to learn how to eat solely for the purpose of fueling their body. They would have to eat to live. I have respect for that. No desire for it, but much respect. And I believe very deeply that there are not many of those people in the world.
I do not eat to live. If I did, I’m sure it would be easier on me. I live to eat. I love to eat. I relish and savor. And I don’t want to eat half a grapefruit and some water with lemon for breakfast. I want an egg and some bacon, and a giant apple and coffee with whole milk. This doctor would, doubtless, find much to criticize in my food choices. Processed meats and lots of fats. Veggies sometimes deep fried and often sautéed. Lots of butter! Full-fat dairy. And artificial flavors and sweeteners! “Healthy?” No! Do I care? Not even a little!
I also want to be clear, as I said in my post last week. I don’t do what I do for my health, though I am healthier than I have ever been before. I do it for vanity. And sanity. And clarity. Mainly, I do it because I was a slave to food, specifically sugar and carbohydrates, and now I am not. And there is no way a boneless, skinless chicken breast and 3 slices of tomato was ever going to loosen those shackles. But homemade full-fat frozen yogurt? A girl can practically fly!

My new kind of vanity

It is my experience that when we talk about the “whys” of making life changes, we have a go-to reason. Health. 

We want our loved ones to quit smoking for their health. We want them to eat right for their health. We want them to exercise for their health.
Maybe health is a good reason for some people, but I promise you, those people aren’t addicts. There is a saying that I love. “You can’t scare an addict.” 
I was well on my way to being a diabetic when I was eating compulsively. That is not the reason I stopped eating compulsively. I smoked a pack a day for about 17 years. I knew that it was bad for me. That is not why I quit.
Every good decision I ever made for my life and my health was made in the name of vanity. And the longer I have my eating under control, the more my concept of vanity changes. 
For example, for many many years, I would not leave the house without makeup. I had very strong feelings about what I looked like and how I wanted to project myself. But one day about 8 years ago, I left the house without it and got more attention than I usually did. That changed my views on my own vanity. Now, I almost never wear makeup. That is its own kind of vanity. I am vain about my natural beauty. 
When I quit smoking, it was because I was looking to be in a relationship, and the guys that I was interested in weren’t interested in dating a smoker. I wanted to look like I had my shit together, so I got my shit together and quit smoking.
I am currently obsessed with my hair. When I stopped using traditional shampoo and started using cleansing conditioner, I discovered that my hair, which I had always thought was straight, is naturally wavy. I have started a new hair care regime that is, quite frankly, kind of a pain in the ass. But I love my naturally wavy hair. So I make the time.
When I was eating compulsively, I had lots of structures in place to project a specific me to the world. A lot of artifices to fit in. (Which is saying something, since I have always been at least a little on the fringe. Though some of those choices, I would realize once the food was taken care of, were artifices too…) 
When I got my eating under control, I started to break down many of the structures I had put up, and I stepped into the real me. Who was both not as weird, and much much weirder, than the me I had been projecting.
In putting strict boundaries around my eating, and abstaining from simple sugar and carbs, I find that I am continually becoming more and more myself. And that is beautiful. But not always what I thought it would be. 
For one thing, I am not skinny. Even with all of the rules and restrictions I have around food, and my regular exercise. And that one has sometimes been hard to let go of. But this body that I am in is really me. Not starving on a diet, not binging into oblivion. Just eating real, nutritious food, three times a day in specific portions.
And, like with the vanity of quitting makeup, there is a kind of vanity in loving my not-so-skinny body. Really, that is my new vanity. I am vain about the real me. The me in a real body with my real hair and my real face. And I grew into that vanity by getting my eating under control. By not covering myself up with fat, or paint, or artifices. Though I do still love a hot dress. I expect that will never change, but who knows. I’m open.

Keep your friends close and make your enemies friends

I was talking to a friend the other day about making friends with certain difficult or frustrating aspects of ourselves. I feel like making friends is not what we are taught. We are taught to eradicate and transform. We are taught that we should change the way we are. It is all about principle and not about practical. All about what we should be, instead of what we are.

Throughout my life, I have had to make friends with many aspects of myself. Especially aspects that made other people uncomfortable. For one example, I am very sensitive. When I was a kid, it didn’t take much to hurt me and make me cry. People in my life wanted me to stop being so sensitive. 
First of all, how do you expect a child (or a grown up, for that matter) to *stop* their feelings? Especially without any instruction for how to cope. They just wanted me to stop crying. 
Of course, there are lots of ways to stop feelings, to shut off one’s emotions, but none of them occur to me as particularly helpful, or healthy. And even if we sensitive souls could, for whose benefit would that be? It was certainly not to my benefit. It was generally to the benefit of people who enjoyed being mean or “funny” at other people’s expense. 
Look, I do understand why people who loved me wanted that for me. The world can be a cruel place. They wanted me to be happy. They did not want me to be hurt so often and so easily. But it didn’t work. It just made me feel like I was the one with the problem.
I am very comfortable with my sensitivity now. Because once I made friends with it, I could manage it. I could figure out my coping strategies. 
I don’t know if I *could* have made friends with that part of myself while I was still eating compulsively, but I certainly never did. Eating was how I tried to manage unmanageable feelings. Eating didn’t help me get through them. In fact, it was the opposite. Eating let me ignore them. But they were still there. And in ignoring them, I made them seem so concrete and indisputable. 
Once my eating was under control though, I was able to feel those unmanageable feelings, and deal with them. I was able to recognize what feelings were signals that I was unhappy with a situation or relationship, and that I wanted to change something about my life. And I was able to recognize that not every feeling was a signpost to some great truth. Sometimes I was just uncomfortable, and I could feel uncomfortable and just sit in it. 
But I could not eradicate my sensitivity. Just like I cannot eradicate my addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates. Obviously, that is another aspect of my life that I had to make friends with. I am a sugar addict, and there is no going back. There is no cake in moderation for me. There is no “just one bite.” But in making friends with that aspect of myself, I have learned to make and eat food that is delicious, and satisfying, both physically and emotionally. I have learned how to use my love of eating as a blessing. I eat 3 times a day with so much enjoyment, sometimes other people get jealous. And that’s me eating protein, fruits and vegetables.
My sensitivity is a blessing. For all of the pain and discomfort it gives me, it gives me more joy, happiness, contentment, peace, and awe. It is the source of my favorite aspects of my life. And for so many years, people wanted to squash it out of me. I am glad they didn’t get to.

Pop quiz! How committed are you?

There is a saying I heard many years ago. Do not pray for patience. Whatever you pray for, God will test you. 

It is my experience that God, or Life, or whatever you want to call it, will always test a commitment, and give you a chance to turn back. Those of you who have been with me from the beginning may remember that the week I quit smoking I acquired a stalker. (Are you *really* committed to quitting smoking, Kate? Even in this stressful situation?) Well, I was really committed, but seriously!?!?!
I once heard a man say that the hardest time to keep his eating boundaries was when his mother died. Because it was exactly the kind of situation where nobody would blame him. You ate cake? Well, your mother just died. Who could blame you?
Last week I wrote that I only jogged 4 days instead of 5 after I slipped on the ice. And I said that I was worried that it meant that I wasn’t committed. And I declared to you that I was, and I *am* committed. So life decided to make me prove it.
I have lived in my apartment complex for about 10 months and I have been working out at 5:30am for about 9 of those months. And on Monday, there was a woman in the gym using the treadmill. Well, not just the treadmill. She was using all of the machines, and weights, like some kind of circuit. (Don’t ask me. I just jog.) But I asked and she let me have the treadmill. But then on Tuesday, there was someone else with her and it seemed like I wasn’t going to get to jog that morning, so I came back after work. (I *hate* working out after work. I am already exhausted. That jog was brutal.)
The next day I got there 20 minutes earlier, and again, she was already there. But again, she let me have the treadmill. 
I spent a lot of time being worried about my workout. All week, I stressed about it. I came up with alternate plans like going to a regular gym where I still keep a membership, in case of emergency. But I didn’t have to. I saw this lady every morning, and I still managed to get my workout done. 
My commitment to keeping boundaries around my eating has truly taught me about commitment. It has given me reference points for how to problem solve when life doesn’t go according to plan. And it has allowed me to prioritize my long game. 
I didn’t have a long game when I was eating compulsively. I lived for the comfort of the moment. If I had kept on that path, I would doubtlessly be well over 300 lbs right now. I would not be jogging. I would be in great physical discomfort much of the time, and I would numb the physical and emotional pain of that with more sugar and only exacerbate the problem. I am sure I would not be married, because I would hate myself so much that I would shut everyone out. And I would not love my life, even if there was much to love, because I would not have the confidence or pride that I have gained through my accomplishments. And I am not taking about losing weight, though I don’t diminish that as an accomplishment. I mean all of the promises I have kept to myself, all of the skills I have acquired through patience and practice and work, and all of the risks I have taken to stretch and grow out of old ideas and an old life. 
I don’t want to go back to my old habits and choices and ways. I didn’t like myself or that life. But it’s not comfortable to have to come up with an alternate plan to get my workout done. Especially when my workout is work. 
There is a famous writer’s quote, attributed to many authors, but I am going with Dorthy Parker. *I hate writing, but love having written.* I feel this way about many things in my life. Writing, certainly. But exercise is also high on that list. Anything that is work, but yields a high reward. Meal prep is right up there too. (Eating, however, is not on that list. Even without sugar and simple carbohydrates, I love eating. And having eaten. And looking forward to eating.)
But in some ways, I am glad to have had this test. It lets me prove, not just to Life, but to myself, that I honor my priorities and my promises. And let’s me know I can be trusted. Which in turn lets me know that I can strive for more. (Baby steps, mind you. But baby steps are still moving in the right direction.)

Yucky feelings and all

I have a love/hate relationship with feelings. I live for feelings. I spend all of the free time I can listening to books and reading comics and watching soap-opera-y TV shows. I am in all of those things for the feelings. If they make me so uncomfortable that I have to pause and calm down, I love that! If they make me cry, even better! (Sometimes my poor husband comes home and I am huddled under a blanket with tear streaks on my face and I have to explain that I was just reading a comic, and everything is fine…)

But when it comes to my own feelings, well, let’s just say I am not nearly as comfortable with those. Having my own feelings makes me panic. Even after 13 years of feeling my feelings, my first reaction is to freak out and shut down.

This week, I had a problem come up with my food. Part of what I do is tell someone who does what I do what I am going to eat the next day. It’s essentially making a promise. I consider it sacred. And I found out this week that I had to find someone else to make that promise to. And that was terrifying.

I understand that to you, it may not make sense why this was so scary. But it was. You will just have to trust me on that. And my first thought was to panic.

But of the many things I have learned in keeping my food under control, one important step is to take care of the most pressing problem. And another is to stop, calm down, and think over my options for the long-term problems. And to definitely not make any rash decisions.

So I called someone and made my promise for the next day. And then I went to bed and I dealt with the problem of finding a new promise-taker in the morning. By morning, the problem was not nearly so scary.

Panic and paralysis were the standard of my life before I got my eating under control. I would panic, and then I would shut down, and then I would eat myself into not caring about my problem. Which never took care of the problem causing the uncomfortable feelings, just the uncomfortable feelings themselves.

The other part of getting my feelings back is that I didn’t just get the yucky ones back. I got the panic and the hurt and the terror, sure. But I also got the joy and the love and the swooning, and the pride.

I don’t have to like my feelings. But I am now able to honor them. And that means I can be effective in my life. And that ability to live life as it is makes me like myself and love my life. Yucky feelings and all.

Clunky and graceless is OK for now

This week I celebrated my 13th anniversary of keeping boundaries around my eating. One thing I was taught early on was to set boundaries with people. Even if they were “clunky.” Even if they were graceless. Even if I sounded like a jerk. Even if I *was* a jerk.

It has occurred to me in the past few months that I avoid difficult conversations. In some ways, this came as a surprise to me. I like to think of myself as a model of self-expression. And I thought I had already overcome this. Which I had. But I should not be surprised. My experience is that we all have our lessons. And we have to learn those lessons over and over, deeper and deeper.

Once I realized this, I knew that I wanted to do something about it. And I have. A little snappy. And a little pushy. But moving ahead.

Right now, I don’t know what to do about it in terms of concrete actions. There are ways to make commitments to things like this, but they are not as obvious to me as food boundaries or water drinking promises. Those are no brainers. 4 oz of meat, weighed on a scale. Three 20 oz bottles of water a day from my reusable water bottle. That’s easy. Or at least, easy to wrap my mind around. But having uncomfortable conversations occurs to me as less clear-cut.

Still, I will work at it. I want it. I want to say the things I need to say so that I don’t feel resentful, or self-pitying, or stifled. I don’t want to be “nice.” I want to be kind. I don’t want to be “likable.” I want to be authentic. I don’t want to be “good.” I want to be powerful.

When I don’t muddle my thinking with food and sugar and carbs and things that make me fuzzy, I can feel my uncomfortable feelings, and consider what I want to do about them. I am in no hurry. I can be happy for now with the baby steps I have begun to take, even if they are clunky and graceless. I can think about it a little bit longer. I am in no rush. I have all the time in the world to grow. And there will always be more growing to do.

This is me not holding my breath

When it comes to keeping my food boundaries, I am willing to go to any lengths. God, that is such a pain in the ass! 

I’m not willing to give it up, or say “not today” for even one day, or even one meal, but good lord, it can be exhausting. And it can be inconvenient.
I heard someone say the other day that before she put boundaries around her eating, she was waiting to not *want* to eat anymore. I feel like that is the myth perpetuated by society. That if you are good enough, or spiritual enough, or “conscious” enough, you won’t “want” to eat. It’s why things like “mindful eating” are talked about so often in regards to obesity.
I have nothing against mindfulness. But it’s not practical for any addict, and truthfully, for most people when it comes to food. We, as a society, put too much emphasis on what we want. The idea of “listening to my body” is hilarious to me. My body wants pizza and cake and coffee day and night and to skip my morning jog basically every morning, and never drink a sip of water. Or at least, that is what my brain tells my body I want. In a modern culture with devices we hold in our hands, while we watch devices that mount on our walls, or put devices in our ears so we can hear our very own soundtrack while we go through life in our temperature controlled pods, it may be asking a lot to expect our bodies to *feel* what what we should be doing and eating and drinking to take the best care of ourselves. I feel like in order to really be attuned to one’s body, one has to be used to squashing desire, in a way most modern people would call deprivation.
Just look at the way people deal with those who choose not to indulge. Seriously, go to a holiday party and don’t eat the sweets. Say “no thank you,” to the host’s “famous” cookies. People will act like you have given up all of your worldly possessions in favor of one robe and one bowl.
I don’t want to imply that I don’t like my modern conveniences. I love them! I listen to books and check social media, and am even writing this blog right now on my handy-dandy iPhone. I read comics and shop and look up knitting patterns on an iPad. I have an internet TV, along with myriad streaming services. I am not saying these things are bad. I love them! But so much comfort makes it harder, not easier, to wake up in the morning, drink a bottle of water, and jog two miles before I go to work. It makes it harder, not easier, to meal prep on Sunday and weigh my food portions out for the week so I can grab them and go in the morning before work.
I have boundaries because I want results. And I gave up on needing to get those results by becoming “spiritually fit” enough to want them naturally. I never “don’t want to eat.” And I don’t feel like being fat and miserable until that becomes true. I never want to get out there and run. But I do it anyway, because I love what it gives me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I think it’s unfair to tell people that they will ever “want” to do the things that make them healthy. I’m sure there are a few people on the planet for whom that is true. And I would bet they are all fitness bloggers making their money by making the rest of us feel like jerks, or meditating monks in the mountains praying for for us, because gosh do we need it!
Maybe someday I will not need boundaries and commitments to force me to do the things that give me a life I love. But I’m going to prep my meals and fill my water bottle, and wash my workout clothes in the mean time. And I’m not going to hold my breath.

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