It was one of those dinners that, even years later, I remember clearly. I was at Applebee's with my good friend, and we were enjoying a girl date. We laughed and chatted freely, without our partners to stunt the conversation. And we ate.
But it wasn't this all-you-can-eat celebration. Not at all. We were both finding success with Weight Watchers and had selected Applebee's because of its lighter fare options and listing of Points. My meal was good, as was hers - which I knew because we split them down the middle to share.
I was happy with it ... until a server walked past with a tray full of burgers and onion rings.
"Don't you wish you could eat normal like that?" I asked, salivating at the sight of the greasy goodness.
"No," she replied pointedly.
Her answer surprised me. As with any weight loss journey, it comes with ups and downs with food and we had both had our fair share. I was certain that she would be able to relate to my jealousy.
She had already made a connection, though - one that I hadn't yet accepted. Eating a 1,200+ calorie dinner is not normal. Stuffing your belly to sickness is not normal. The people eating those meals were not normal. (Sorry for the judgy McJudgerson there. It was an accurate observation.) She was not jealous of the food because she knew eating like that was not conducive to how she wanted to live.
As years have passed, I've had fleeting moments of that jealousy. I drool at the sight of nachos at the hockey game when I'm sharing a bowl of frozen yogurt three ways. I want to hate Mark when he gets the mac and cheese at Panera, and I have my black bean soup. The feeling is usually quelled when I remember an important thing: I choose to eat this way. I could choose to eat those things. I eat the way I do because I expect certain things out of myself and my body. And, bottom line, I like the way my food tastes.
Come on, the black bean soup at Panera is the best.
I was surprised, though, this week when this feeling surfaced at the gym. I was on the treadmill (of course) completing the hill workout on tap from Train Like a Mother. Hills are tough - there's no way around it - and I was bumping up the speed as I was running late. Sweat was dripping into my eye, and I was flinging it across the room during ill attempts to wipe my brow. I was powering through but, waking up early and with a niggle in my throat, I was tired.
A woman stepped onto the treadmill and punched her workout. The belt sped up and she broke out into a run. Being the competitive person I am, I looked at her settings to see whether I was going to be coerced into going faster.
But I wasn't.
She was running without an incline and at a pace that would be far more manageable than what I was doing. As I looked at those numbers on the display, I nearly longed to run at that pace. To just trot along. It would feel so much better than the way my run was feeling in that moment.
In that moment. I would feel more relaxed running at that pace, it was true, but I wouldn't feel better. I would feel unhappy if I gave up on a workout. Pride has swelled when I leave the gym and mark off a workout on the plan. I wouldn't be happy not pushing myself - even if it seems easier not to.
I wouldn't happy being "normal" and that's my choice.