Weighty Matters

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Mirror Image

Several months ago I talked about having fat eyes and not being able to objectively look at myself and see my body in its actual reality.  While that’s been improving over the weeks, and I can see the weight loss in pictures and, obviously, feel it in my body, I still carry around a horrible body image in my head.  I’ve always been super critical of my own appearance and, when I was 386 pounds, I had a lot of justification for being critical.

This week, I experienced a huge, wonderful breakthrough.  I was at Zumba class in my tightish exercise shorts and a T-shirt, moving, leg-lifting, crunching and dancing for all I was worth.  Usually, I watch the instructor in front so that I properly (or as close to properly) follow the steps, and because it’s an ingrained habit of mine to avoid looking at myself in a mirror unless I absolutely, positively must.  During one of the songs I glanced at myself and nearly stopped in mid-butt wiggle.

“Oh my God, that’s me,” I thought.  “I look good!”   I glanced at the instructor to pick up the step change and then looked at myself again. Even to my non-objective eyes and horrible body image filter,  I no longer appear as a huge, lumpy, misshaped blob.  I have a waist.  While I’m not half the size I was six months ago, I’ve carved off a hell of a lot of my own mass and it shows.

Almost immediately, the old image issues attempted to rise up, but I purposely squashed them down.  Maybe it was the positive endorphins released by exercise, but I refused to pick at myself and look at the flaws.  Instead, I admired the smaller thighs, that waist indentation, and the ankles that no longer look like I have water balloons inserted under my skin.  I didn’t care that I have some swinging flab under my upper arms.  I was thrilled at the definition of bicep muscle.  Cellulite?  Schmellulite.  My legs and thighs might still be fat, but they’re powerful, by God, enough to keep me moving for 60 minutes of intense exercise.

After this realization, I could have gone another hour.  Hell, I could have flown.   I was so damned happy to see, really see, the positive changes in my body facing me from the mirror.    Even though I’d tallied up the inches and pounds that I’ve lost, the numbers alone couldn’t deliver this impact — the magic moment when I looked and really saw myself — and accepted my body for exactly what it is today, with all of its improvement.

The experience energized me and injected even more pep in my step for the remainder of the class.  There’s a popular song that’s pretty much a Zumba staple, at least they’ve played it in all of the classes I’ve taken.   I know it’s been around for awhile, but I never paid it much attention until I started going to Zumba.  Now it’s one of my favorites.  Given my big realization this week, it’s particularly appropriate.

In honor of clearing up my mirror image, I attempted to embed the video here.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, so I’ve included a link to the video on YouTube instead.  The original artists are LMFAO, but I love this version with the very sexy Ricky Martin and the cast of Glee.  Hope you enjoy it.  Hope you take a couple of moments to dance around and declare that you’re also sexy and you know it!

http://youtu.be/JcCtyMSuyHk

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No Drama Day

I don’t have a lot to write about today.  It was a fairly no drama day.  This is not to say that my life is usually filled with angst and dramatic events.  Most of the time, I’m pretty even keeled.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t run into stress sometimes, but I don’t usually go all wiggy with it.

That said, I guess there was always an undercurrent of tension and anxiety about food.  What would I eat?  Would I stay on my diet?  Would I be able to get the food I wanted when I wanted?  What would I want?  Even on days that I was following my food plan or a diet and packed a lunch for work, I’d obsess to some extent.  What if lunch time rolled around and I didn’t want the meal I’d prepped and packed?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes loathes food she usually likes.  Have you ever made, for example, a yummy salad with flavorful ingredients that are also healthy and savored every bite?  Ever make the same thing right down to the lettuce leaf but when you were about to eat it suddenly thought, “Bleck.  Garbage!”?

These days, I still get some of those conflicting food thoughts, but not nearly as frequently as in the past.

Even when I’m away from home in situations where I don’t have the ability to keep a stocked fridge and pre-plan every meal, I don’t get all twitchy.  Honestly, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, it’s fairly easy for me to find some protein to eat.  Once the protein need is met, everything else is gravy — in a matter of speaking.

Planning is important.  It begins with my weekend supermarket shopping trip.  I make sure that I have all of the meals and snacks covered on my list.  Milk for my morning protein shakes.   A few Greek yogurts, some lunch meat, and a soup or two will give me a variety of choices for lunch.  Whatever I consider making for dinner usually lasts for a couple of meals.  Fruit, some veggies.  I’m good to go.

Every morning when I’m getting ready for work I decide what I’m taking to work for two snacks and lunch.  Sometime during the day, often on my drive home, I choose which of the dinner choices I’ll make that evening — unless I’m eating leftovers, in which case the decisions already been made.

Doesn’t this make it all sound incredibly easy?  That’s the fun part.  It is that easy!  All these years I’ve obsessed over my meals, creating  God knows how much stress and drama.  None of it was necessary.  Honestly, it can be rather matter of fact.

It feels great!  I’ll take a “no drama” day over the old way, anytime!

 

I guess I never realized just how much underlying stress I had about my meals until I consistently experienced its absence.

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When Faith is Stronger than Fear

A friend of mine met with a doctor today to discuss dates for weight loss surgery.  She’d felt a little panicky and wondered if I’d experienced the same.

Honestly, I don’t remember getting panicky pre-surgery, but for the months leading up to my operation and even weeks after, I sometimes worried.  Food and overeating had been my coping mechanism, comfort, and security blanket for the majority of my life.  It protected me, made emotional pain more bearable, and also gave me a place to hide.

What would I do, how would I cope if life kicked in the ass about something and I could no longer take refuge in overeating to the point of emotinal numbness?

Oh yes, I worried about that and, sometimes, I got downright scared.   When that happened, I held onto a phrase that a friend of mine often says.  “My faith is stronger  than my fear.”  Yes, I believe in a Higher Power, and I do have faith that I can turn over problems to my HP and things will work out how they’re supposed to, but I also developed faith in myself.  I knew that I made the right decision in choosing to have weight loss surgery.  I held on to faith in myself, in my ability to develop new, better, healthier ways to cope and deal with issues.

Amid all of this are a few essential truths.  Food cannot cope, comfort, or provide security.  Food is just food, without magical powers.  Overeating does not achieve anything positive.   When one buries oneself in food, one doesn’t have to look at the issues and problems.   For me, compulsive overeating is an avoidance technique that masquerades as protection.

Understanding these things made it possible for me to give up the overeating and destructive behavior with food.  It doesn’t mean that I’ll never feel the urge to overeat, but I don’t need to give into the urge.   I had, and still have, faith that I can effectively deal with issues and problems instead of avoiding them with food and overeating.   No need to panic.  No need to worry.

In the end, faith is stronger than fear and stronger than food.

 

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Exercising My Options

I don’t mean to harp on this, but this one area of change in my life is so remarkable to me that every time I experience it, I marvel.

Not the pounds lost, although I’m certainly not making light of the amazing progress.   It’s the second time in my life that I’ve lost 100 pounds, but with a major difference.  This time, I’m not going to regain those pounds. Ever.

The change I’m talking about is my willingness to exercise.  I feel like this time I am really taking this change in habit to heart, internalizing it and making it an important part of my life.    This is new for me.

A few years ago, someone opened up a Curves in town.  I joined and enjoyed the routine for about a year.  At first I regularly went three days a week.  Gradually, that slipped to “three times a week unless something comes up and then I’ll go two times”.    Eventually, I only sporadically dropped in although I continued to pay the $40 monthly fee.  The enjoyment and anticipation with which I started didn’t last long.

I know it’s only been a couple of months, but my mindset and attitude really are different.  I’m so enjoying the fact that I can freely move without gasping for air or a myriad of aches and pains, that I eagerly look forward to exercise.  There are days and situations that I would normally have used as an excuse to skip the physical activity.  Now I find a way to do something — anything — even if I’m tired or get home late.

Tonight I was supposed to go to a meeting right after work and wouldn’t have gotten home until after 6:30.  By that time, I’d be hungry and not want to postpone eating until after a workout.  When I found out around 3:00 p.m. that the meeting was postponed, my first thought was, “Hey.  I can get home and do watercise!”  No lie.  It was my first happy thought!

As soon as I arrived home, I let out Nat and Pyxi and fed them.  Then I changed into a suit, grabbed my music and slipped into the pool.  I’ve pulled about two hours of up tempo songs into a Watercise playlist.  I set the timer on my iPhone for 45 minutes and got moving.   Through a couple of Springsteen songs, a Jon Bon Jovi duet, and Adele singing about rumors, I enjoyed my own energy and the movement of my body in the water.  Starting with a bouncy song by the Glee cast and seguing into I’m a Believer, I veered from jogging, squats and leg kicks into freestyle water dancing.

Anything resembling choreography was envisioned only in my head.  My dance steps were totally random, mixing the twist, the pony, a little hip hop, some hopping without the hip, and some moves I learned in Zumba.  My legs kicked, my arms waved above and below the water’s surface, my waist twisted.  I flexed and worked all of my muscles.

In mid-chorus of The Monkees, I realized that I was exercising other important muscles — the ones that work my smile.  I was having so much fun that I couldn’t stop myself from grinning and laughing.  It was great!

The happiness continued through the whole workout and beyond.  As I toweled off and changed out of my suit, I gleefully remembered that tomorrow’s Tuesday.  Zumba class!  I’m actually looking forward to it.  Trust me.  The fact that I’m looking forward to an intense, hour-long, sweat and thirst-creating exercise class is a very new, quite unfamiliar, development.

It’s an attitude that I intend to cultivate, develop and, hopefully, solidify in my psyche.

This is an important part of the process.  Leading a sedentary life accomplishes very little that’s actually good for a person.  Embracing the idea that I am now one who looks forward to, and creates opportunities to, exercise adds to my recovery and progress.  I’m not transferring my addiction; I’m trying to grow and improve.  So far, I’m succeeding.  Hopefully, I’ll still act this way six months from now.  That’s the goal, following by another six months after, then six months after that, and so on.

One of the keys to success is that I not get bored.  There will be plenty of times when I need to exercise inside my home.  (Still thinking of getting an elliptical machine when I clear out more floor space in the bedroom.  I made a dent this weekend.   If I do the same workout video day after day after day, the boredom will erode my enthusiasm and positive exercising attitude.  To avoid that, I’m stocking up on a variety of workout programs.  There’s Walk Away the Pounds Express plus a DVD with two programs on it, hosted by Valerie Bertinelli and her trainer.  The Wii Fit has numerous options.  Over the weekend I also ordered two Zumba Dance DVDs that will play on my Wii.   I have the pool outside, Zumba classes, and Tai Chi practices.  When the weather gets a little cooler this Fall, the dogs and I will resume walking the old Seven Mile Bridge some evenings.

Variety is key and right now I’m exercising all of my options!

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Clothes Encounters

For my writers group meeting yesterday, I chose to wear a cute batik-inspired purple dress.  I bought it many years ago and haven’t worn it in almost that long because it was too tight.  Now it fits me and looks lovely.  The buttons from the neck to the hem don’t gap or pull.  The waist is a little defined.  In it, I actually see the beginnings of a waist line again.  I can also see my collar bones starting to take shape which looked nice in the scoop neck.

I traded out my customer flip flops for a cute pair of wedge heeled shoes.  With every step, the absence of discomfort in my knee was evident.

While I love my casual lifestyle here in the Keys, now that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, I’m remembering how much I enjoy “dressing up” sometimes.  Slipping into a cute dress and knowing that I look good in it is a definite NSV.  Oh, I’ve worn dresses even when I was my heaviest, but rarely had the mindset that I looked good.  Instead, the most I hoped for was that I looked okay and not like a two legged cow in a shapeless mumu.  I’ve always liked colors in my clothes, instead of relying only on basic black hoping to hide underneath. Now is no exception with bright turquoise, berry, purple and red garments hanging in the closet.

It feels good to put on smaller sized clothes, chosen with an eye to flatter rather than just to fit and cover up the flaws.   I’m doing what I can to make the most of it, too.  Before, all I really cared about with my oversized, flabby boobs was for them to be comfortable during the day.  I’ve lost enough weight that the good bras I bought last week are both comfortable and adequately supportive.  Seriously, the right bra can potentially improve one’s figure a great deal.  I saw it as soon as I tried one of those bras on underneath a shirt I was considering.  All last week, instead of reaching for the thin, most comfortable bra, I wore one of my new ones under my work T-shirts and smiled at the improvement.

Even in those T-shirts, I look better than I did.  The only problem right now is that I’m between sizes.  I can’t quite fit comfortably in a regular XL because of my boobs.  Depending on the shirt, the XXLs I have either fit just a little loosely or are hanging on me like outsized sacks.  Sometimes I even need to borrow a style twist from the teen set and knot the hem of the shirt so that it fits better and more neatly.   That will do for now, but I already have three shirts hanging in my closet in the next smaller size.  Every so often, I try one on and know that it won’t be long before I give up the larger ones all together.

Thinking of all this earlier today got me thinking about my measurements.  I haven’t redone them since early February and was curious to see how those numbers have also changed.  More than the weight loss affects my body shape and size.  The increased exercise has an impact too.  Eventually, I’ll also have to deal with pounds of sagging skin, but for right now, the reductions of inches are pretty cool and there isn’t a part of my body that hasn’t changed.

I’m pretty sure the numbers I’m about to share are pretty accurate.  It’s harder to measure yourself than it was when my friend helped back in early February, but I’m not going to be too picky.  Here goes:

  • Waist – down 5 inches.
  • Neck – down 2 inches
  • Bicep – down 2.75 inches
  • Forearm – down 2.5 inches
  • Chest – down 5 inches
  • Hips – down 8 inches
  • Thigh – down 6 inches
  • Calf – down 2.5 inches

No wonder I’m wearing significantly smaller sizes and clothes that were once snug are now baggy.  It will be interesting to see how many more inches melt off by the end of the year!

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Word of the Day – Wheeee!

Okay, that should be Wiiiii, as in the Wii Fit Plus.  I’ve had mine for a few years but tonight was the first time I’ve used it.

I didn’t know when I bought the Fit Plus stuff for my Wii system that the weight limit on the balance board was “only” 330 pounds.  The inability to use that component sort of took the fun out of the whole thing for me.  I like the Sport stuff with tennis and bowling, but playing too much wears out my arm and doesn’t actually provide aerobic or strength training.   Besides which, those games are more fun in competition with other players, unless you’re playing a 6 year old or 10 year old who will usually clean your clock.  (At least that’s what happened the very first time I played against my friend’s kids.  You’ve never really been humiliated until a 6 year old trash talks you when she wins.)

A few months ago when I’d lost some weight, I brought out the Wii Fit components again, hoping for some leeway, but the balance board would have none of it.  While its cute little image on the screen didn’t exactly say, “Get off of me, you cow!  You’re too heavy.  You’ll crush my delicate electronics.  Owwww!  Owwww!  Owwwww!” that’s how I felt when its subtle message flashed on the screen and exclaimed its weight limit.

So, I put the equipment away and went about the business of losing weight and gradually adding in more activity and exercise.

Today I got up at still dark o’clock to drive the 2:45 hours to Ft. Lauderdale for a romance writers group meeting.  (The awesome Tami Hoag was the guest speaker!)  After lunch, I turned around and drove home.  I was exhausted  and needed a little chill out time after I played with and fed the dogs.  After about an hour, I started to fidget.  I’d last exercised Thursday when I did aerobics and dancing in the pool.  Tonight storms are threatening, so it wasn’t safe for me to go into the water or go for a walk.  I debated between my DVDs for Walk Away the Pounds Express or Valerie Bertinelli’s exercise routine.

Suddenly, the Wii whatziwhoosit that holds the disks caught my eye.  Hmmm.  I am well under the maximum weight limit so there really was no reason not to finally give it a shot.  Have any of you tried this system?   Once you input your height and age, you stand on the board and it weighs you, gives you your body mass index, and checks your balance.  This gives you a starting point.  You can then put in an initial goal.  I entered that I want to lose another 20 pounds in three months.  Actually I want to lose 20 pounds in two months, but the system “tactfully” informed me that experts recommend a more gradual weight loss.  I decided to conform to the machine for now, knowing that I can change my goal as I go along or just impress it with my more advanced progress.

With that taken care of, I set up my Mii (The little computer image that represents me.) and progressed to training mode.  I thought for my first foray into Wii fitness, I’d try the aerobic offerings.   First up, hula hooping.  For this, one stands on the balance board and circles the hips while watching one’s Mii hula hooping on the television.  I can’t spin a hula hoop around for love nor money in real life.  I don’t seen to get the motion right, but my little Mii looked like a pro.  The faster I moved my hips around, the higher the hoop spun on my her body.

Periodically, two other Miis who don’t look like me, throw another hula hoop which I’m supposed to help my Mii pick up by leaning and reaching.  Let’s just say that I need a little more practice coordinating that maneuver and leave it at that, okay?  I’ll get better, but without a pre-pubescent child around to demonstrate, I have to engage in a little trial and error.  At least my Mii doesn’t look at the worse for wear from getting virtually bonked in the head on the screen.

I did the hula hooping exercise several times and each time I managed to spin more times!  Improvement — yay!  The system keeps count of the number of minutes.  Each exercise has a “Mets” ranking.  Your weight times the Mets times minutes gives you an approximate number of calories burned.  Don’t worry about doing math while working out.  The system tracks that for you too.

After the hula hooping, I checked out the step exercises.  The balance board is your step and you follow the rhythm set by a stage full of Miis.  After following the routine of the basic step exercise — up, down, up, down, side side etc etc — and sometimes screwing up, I watched the system tally my performance.  Cheeky little bugger told me how many times I was perfect, how often I was “merely” Ok and how frequently I missed the steps.  Pffffft.  I did that for a few times until I at least got through the routine with no misses.  I can work on moving more “Oks” into the Perfect category and boosting my score.  Finally, I checked out the free step.  Allegedly you can do this for ten minutes while watching something else on TV and listening to the rhythm kept for you by the Wii system.  I have to figure that out with my configuration of Wii to television, etc.

When finished, I was up to 25 minutes of exercise and had worked up a sweat.  My heart beat had increased and I knew that I actually was getting some cardio benefit from hula hooping and stepping.  Aiming for 30 minutes, I checked out the Basic Run exercise.  I do not run.  I haven’t even tried to run in . . . oh hell, I don’t even remember how many years.  Since I wasn’t going to run any risk of someone other than my dogs seeing me, I figured I’d give it a shot for the two minute exercise.

For this exercise you run through what looks like a rural town or a big park.  You’re supposed to keep an even pace of running in place while on the television your Mii is eating up road as she runs around following another Mii.  The objective is to not pass the lead Mii.  If you speed up too much the system reminds you to slow down.  If you slow down too much it might tell you to shift ass and pick up your pace, but I don’t know for sure.  I never dropped my pace slow enough to incur a warning.

I actually surprised myself by jogging in place for the full two minutes.  I’m not ready to test myself with a ten minute run, but I was ridiculously pleased that I succeeded for that short amount of time.

To finish out my half hour I returned to the hula hoop, circling my hips like a champ while still getting bonked in the head by those extra hoops.  Oh well, it’s not like the system deducted points for lack of style.

When all was said and done, I felt pretty darned pleased with myself.  I would have high-fived myself, that is to say my Mii, but slapping a television screen just doesn’t bring the same satisfaction.  I’ll just have to be happy with being able to work out this way at all, knowing that I’ve added another tool to my exercise tool kit.  I have more things to investigate with my Wii — like the strength training or Yoga.  I’m also going to go online and see if there are some extra activities that I can add.

This system has some great benefits.  It provides a nice variety to keep me from getting bored and I can do it inside regardless of what the weather’s doing outside!

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Commentating the Eating Olympics

I’ve watched the coverage of the Olympic Games pretty much every night.  The athletes are amazing.  Their bodies are sculpted, honed, and toned with precious little body fat.  (Excepting the weight lifters and some of the wrestlers, I guess.)  I can only guess how many hours a day they spend practicing their chosen sport and putting in extra effort developing those efficient, strong bodies.

I prefer to watch some sports over others.  I could watch swimming or gymnastics forever, but to be honest, it’s a little difficult for me to get excited about the triple jump.  As the games go on night after night, I wonder if the announcers grow weary of commentating the events.  How hard is it to maintain enthusiasm, excitement and originality when you’re reporting on the 12th of 13 nearly identical archery shots?  How do you foster excitement in your viewing audience over Greco-Roman wrestling when you know that 98% of your viewers don’t know the difference between G-R wrestling and the WWF, except that the athletes in the Olympics don’t have glitter capes, masks or a tendency to throw their opponents against the ropes?

I was thinking about this again tonight and then started to amuse myself by announcing on my own weight loss effort.  I played both partners in the conversation.  It sounded a bit like the announcers that report on the gymnastics competition.

“Mary, we know her objective is to eat 60 to 80 grams of protein a day.  Frankly, can she hit that mark with the eating routine she has planned?”

“Well, Mary, she is a bariatric patient.  On the surface, her degree of difficulty overall is a bit low with the added advantage of having the surgery, but let’s not forget this important point…”

(Mary One’s ears perk up about an important point.)

(Mary Two continues)  “…. If she doesn’t execute effectively early in the day, she has no chance to make up her score later on.  She simply doesn’t have room for error — or room for extra food in the stomach — to risk not meeting her nutritional goals early in the program.”

Later on in the day, our competitor has veered away from her food plan at lunch, due to an abundance of baked goods showing up in the kitchen at work, shared by another department.  The commentators weigh in.

“Ohh, no.  A  chocolate chip cookie!  Tell me, Mary, can she recover from her slip or is that the end of her medal dream?”

“Well, Mary, overall this was a minor bobble in an otherwise strong routine.  If she can pull off the other elements of her program, she might be able to overcome any deductions.  Let’s see… here’s her final snack for the evening and. . . and . . . she stuck the finish.  Excellent!”

Like I said, I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics.  Maybe too much if I’m having sports commentary conversations in my head.   That said, I need to remember that one slip doesn’t necessarily derail the entire effort.  If I stick to my regiment and plan, I will succeed.

 

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What’s In Your Toolkit?

Skye made a valid point in comments on yesterday’s post that we need different toolkits for different parts of our lives.  She then asked what is in my toolkit for eating better.  That got me thinking.  After all, if I don’t know what tools I need, which ones I have and which ones do what job, I can’t possible expect to fix, repair and prepare.

This is a different kind of toolkit.  It not only holds actual objects, but also emotional and mental ones.  So, what tools do I need to keep in my personal toolkit to succeed with my food plan and weight loss?  Let’s start with the whole eating right thing.  First of all, I need willingness.  First thing every morning before I even get out of bed, I need to reach for the willingness to follow my plan.

Wait, that’s the second thing.  The first tool is the plan.  Every day I have a plan, so I reach for the willingness.  Check.

Next, I need to have the right foods readily accessible in my house.  Time’s a very useful tool, as in getting up early enough to eat the planned-for breakfast and pack lunch and snacks to take to work.

Another useful tool is myfitnesspal.com where I can input my food for the day and track the nutrients, then input the exercise I do in the course of the day.

Lucky for me that the toolkit expands in size, because sometimes I need a thermal bag to transport my food or a small cooler for road trips.

Back on the emotional side and mental side of my kit with willingness, I put the tools of mental strength, self-awareness, and conscious thinking.   At any given time in any place, delicious food will be present.  The look, aroma, or memory of the taste can trigger a “want” craving.   Mental strength and conscious thinking can block the trigger before I reach for the food and put it in my mouth.

Self-awareness doesn’t belong in the tool kit.  It needs its own spot on my belt so that it is always within reach.  Knowing myself, my old patterns of eating, the familiar dance with food, my weak points and my strong suits . . . This self-awareness is key to me breaking those old patterns and establishing new, healthy behaviors and choices.  If you don’t know your own problem, you can’t begin to fix it.

My history in Overeaters Anonymous taught me a lot and provided me with a number of tools that help with the emotions, the understanding of myself as a compulsive overeater, and the steps to recovery.

How have I gotten this far and not listed the big tool that started me on the road to recovery?  The surgery!  My sleeved stomach is the most powerful physical tool in my arsenal!  While I’m working out all of the emotional stuff, building up my new behavior patterns and redefining my relationship with food and eating, the restricted stomach keeps me from eating too much.

The toolkit is getting crowded, but that’s good.  There’s still plenty of room.  Exercise is another great tool for developing the new, healthier lifestyle.  The willingness tool factors in here, too.  Then there are lots of other things that I’ve gathered.  Different exercise DVDs for variety, Zumba classes, Tai Chi, the pool.  The right footwear.  All of these tools help me sustain the exercising habit, hopefully forging it in such a way that it will stick.

This blog is a tool.  I don’t know if I’d be doing as well if I hadn’t decided to explore my life and journey in this way.  Working through the process by writing and sharing works wonders for me.

People are not things, so I’m not going to say that my friends and family are tools. That would just be wrong. However, I couldn’t do this without the loving support and encouragement I receive from everyone.  All of you belong in this group too.   Each person, in his or her own way, is part of my construction crew, helping me get this new life built.

So, let me keep the curiosity going.  What are you working on in your life and what’s in your toolkit to help you succeed?

 

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The Right Tools

Upfront disclaimer:  I’m super tired tonight.  I hope I don’t ramble or leave sentences half-finished.  Have you ever been so exhausted that you couldn’t string two coherent thoughts or sentences together?  I’ve been like that a couple of times this week.

I’m super busy at work.  It seems like I’m busier than I’ve been in a year.  This is sort of strange considering that I also now have an assistant for the first time in more than 10 years.  I was sort of mulling this over when I left work tonight as I rushed to make three stops and still get home in time to let out the dogs, feed them, change clothes and get to Zumba.  At one moment I thought, “I’m so busy.  Thank God I’ve lost weight and have the energy to get everything accomplished.”  Then I realized that, to some extent, I’m busier because I lost weight and have more energy.

I’ve always done my job well, been efficient and productive and accomplished a lot.  However, in recent years, it was harder to do what I needed because of my awful physical condition.  Everything — even walking across the grounds to another building for a meeting — took so much energy.  Having to go up stairs made me groan.  I’d sometimes have to give myself a little mental shake for motivation.   Now there is decidedly more pep in my step.  If I need to go to another building, or if I simply want to take a break from my desk for some fresh air — and to see dolphins — I go without second thoughts or misgivings.  Having an assistant take on some projects I’d normally do while we also come up with new things, is terrific.  Between that and my improved physical condition, I’m ready to take on the world — not to mention new endeavors.

When I got home, a Zappos box awaited me on my front steps.  After I failed to find cross trainer sneakers during my weekend shopping expeditions, I went back to Zappos and located a couple of likely pairs.  I looked at both and decided I liked the Asics better so I laced them onto my feet and headed out to Zumba.

What a difference!  My other sneaks are walking shoes so the tread is more pronounced and defined.   I’d noticed in Zumba that I wasn’t able to pivot smoothly or do some of the dance steps.  The cross-trainers have a smoother tread and a little circle on the sole.  These traits made it much easier and more comfortable for me to pivot and turn.  I had a great class!

From my feet to my chest, the right tools or the right fit can work wonders.  I mentioned that I had a bra fitting done over the weekend.  I’m wearing the new bras that I bought and enjoying big improvements in comfort, support and lift.  Honestly, the right bra is a life changer – or, at least, a definite silhouette changer.   Wearing the bra made me look like I’d dropped more pounds in my mid-section and chest.  Bonus!

Later at dinner with a good friend, I employed the tool of eating slowly.  (French Dip roast beef is a really good meal to practice this technique on, by the way.)  Take a small forkful, dip it in the juice, place in mouth, chew slowly, swallow.  Repeat process.  Eating this way made a big difference.  I ate less than half of the meat, one forkful of the roll, and two small onion rings.  I packed the rest of the meat into a to-go box and pushed away the plate.

Before I log off and trundle off to bed where I’ll no doubt conk out when my head hits the pillow, let me leave with this thought.  A well-stocked tool kit contributes a lot when you’re working hard to build a better life.

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Flicking the Switch

Whenever I went on diets in the past, I usually started out like gangbusters.  I could go for days, weeks, and sometimes, months with great results.  Then one day something would happen and, as if someone had turned the ignition switch in me from on to off, my motivation would evaporate and I’d begin to struggle.  Once the struggle started, it would steadily worsen and I just couldn’t get back on track.

This pattern always puzzled me.  You’d think that each successful day would serve as a building block for the next which would lead to a solid foundation on which I could continue to build.  Unfortunately, I acted more like a car starting out a journey with a full tank, but eventually the fuel for my effort ran out and left me stuck on the side of the road.

I need to keep the switch turned on now.  This is not a trip with a beginning and an end.  I need the motivation tank to have enough fuel to motor me through each day.  To borrow from Frost,  I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

Look at the Olympic athletes.  How many lengths of the pool do you think Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin swim every day to keep in top form as they swim toward their goals, and their gold?  Maybe they wake up every morning and can’t wait to jump into the water and work.  Maybe, however, there are days when they wake up and think, “Oh God, just let me have one day when I don’t wear a bathing suit and immerse myself in chlorinated water. ”  I’m sure there are, but on those days I bet they get out of bed and go to the pool anyway.

Honestly, the solutions to a lot of the problems or previous behavior are relatively simple.  It doesn’t matter whether I want to stay on my food plan or if I feel like following it on any given day.  It only matters what I do and how I act.  After all, it isn’t possible for anyone else to flick my switch and kill my motivation.  I’m the one responsible for my behavior.

So, the takeaway message for me tonight is that even if I don’t want to stick to my plan, I’ll do it anyway.

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