Weighty Matters

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Battling My Brain

on July 17, 2012

Although I’ve been on a great streak for the last six months, I still battle old habits, patterns and thought processes.  These struggles happen to some degree almost every day.  There are days when I want to retreat into old eating behaviors virtually all day long.  Granted, I really can’t binge, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to deep six the more protein/low carb/low fat/ low sugar meal choices and eat greasy fried foods and a pint of ice cream.

This is particularly scary because if I took my time over several hours, I could eventually consume a pint of ice cream.

I’m making great progress on my plan to increase my exercise.  However, while I want to exercise on some level, the part of me that grew accustomed to sloth and laziness as an super obese person would also be perfectly content to curl up in the recliner with a book and do nothing.

I have internal conversations with myself all of the time.   This happened a lot today.

Ever since successfully doing a regular Zumba class on Saturday, I said I would go to another class today.  I was looking forward to it, really!   Earlier in the afternoon, I was out with teammates on a manatee release.   When we finally got back to work we needed to isolate some of the video clips and send them to the news bureau.  I needed to select the best photos from those I’d taken and get them approved so I could help spread the news.  On a normal day I would have left work around 4:30, which would give me plenty of time to get home to let out my dogs and feed them, change into workout clothes, and arrive at Zumba in time for the 5:30 class.  Instead, I didn’t get out of work until close to 5:00 so I was rushed.

On the entire drive home I debated and made excuses in my head.  I’d never make it in time.  I’d been on my feet and rushing around a lot already.  I could swim in the pool instead.  I didn’t want to arrive late for the class, etc. etc. etc.  I pretty much talked myself into going home and staying in for the rest of the evening.   Luckily, I recognized this as a past habit of finding perfectly good excuses and rationalizations for not exercising.

I passed the Zumba place and timed how long it took me to get from there to my house.  The clock told me that I could accomplish what I needed to do and still get to class on time.  That’s exactly what I did.   When the class finished an hour later I was proud of myself.  Not only had I successfully done Zumba again, but I’d confronted an old behavior pattern and triumphed.

That set me up for the evening’s second challenge.  I’d worked out with every bit of effort and energy I could muster.  Believe me, I don’t coast in these classes!  Didn’t this mean that I deserved a reward?  Something like a bag of M&Ms or a rich, gooey Milky Way bar?

I absolutely believe it’s important to reward myself for following my food plan and exercising.  However, it’s equally important to find rewards that don’t negate the positive efforts I’ve put forth.  Again I almost had myself convnced was really craving a chocolate bar on the way home.  I made a deal with myself.  I needed to first get some protein into my body for dinner.  I decided that if I still truly wanted some chocolate for dessert I would run down to the store on the corner.

By the time I got home five minutes later and heated up a small hamburger patty, my appetite for food had diminished.  I took my time because I really needed the protein to meet my nutritional goals for the day.   I resisted the urge to break off most of the meat and share it with my dogs.  Eating slowly, I finished the patty and a small serving of vegetables.  I had no desire for anything else at that point.

A couple of hours later, I felt a twinge of “want chocolate” return.   However, I didn’t want it enough to change out of my sleepwear and go to the store.  Instead, I grabbed my jar of PB2 with Premium Chocolate — a product of dehydrated peanut powder and cocoa — and mixed up a couple of tablespoons with water for a snack.

As a comparison — 39 grams of peanut M&Ms have 200 calories, over 90 of which are fat calories.   They also have about 24 grams of carbs, over 19 grams of sugar and less than 4 grams of protein.

A two tablespoon serving of PB2 with chocolate has 45 calories, 10 of which are from fat.  There are 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar and 4 grams of protein.  It’s a great, still yummy, alternative.

If I wanted to keep score for the day, I’d give myself two marks and my brain’s old behavior patterns a big zero!  I’m pretty pleased with the results today and will do my best to build on them tomorrow and the next day, and every day after.

This doesn’t mean that, as God as my witness, I’ll never eat M&Ms again.  When I do, however, I want the treat to be a positive, conscious choice.  I don’t want to indulge because I fell back into an old pattern.  So whenever necessary, I’ll continue to battle my own brain.


3 responses to “Battling My Brain

  1. Hope says:

    I find that curling up on a recliner with a book feels just that much better after a good workout! 😀

  2. pinkpelican says:

    Good for you! I still have moments of “WANT”, moments of not feeling like doing what I need to do, etc. Some of my coping skills include things like not bringing “vice” food into the house in the first place; or making conscious choices about what I will eat for one meal in order to allow myself a treat in another meal & whether I will be exercising to give me enough balance to have a treat without torpedoing my efforts.

    Since I’m finding exercises & physical activities that I very much enjoy, I’m more likely to DO them regularly & I look forward to them, which is such a huge help.

    And then, sometimes, no matter what I’ve planned, my schedule & my meal plan gets totally derailed because of the unexpected. Usually that’s outside stimuli, rather than internal sabotage (or sometimes, it’s outside stimuli which sets of some internal sabotage). It’s a little frustrating, but again, I’m learning to cope, to think about alternatives and options so that I can exercise as much control in the face of the unexpected as possible. And I make a point of doing what I can to get promptly back on track. That way, I don’t feel guilty or angry or regretful — I’m human, things got out of whack, I made the best of it, and now because I don’t let the negative emotions get in the way, I can move forward with discipline & a plan and not fall into that negative spiral of self-recrimination.

  3. Skye says:

    Wow, good for you! That’s hard, when the brain is clamoring for chocolate or ice cream or whatever, to refrain from giving in and instead have something healthy. I’ve gotten better at not giving in and, when I do give in I don’t usually go crazy (but I did buy pudding snacks yesterday and ate most of them 😦 ). I’m so impressed at how you think it through and keep pushing and pulling yourself to keep yourself on the track you want to be on.

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