Weighty Matters

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Skewed Food Perspective

My two week Lean-Green-Clean period is complete.  All in all, I did really well.  My body feels so much better inside — in a way that is more about better quality food going in and less to do with the nine pounds that I lost.  Mentally and emotionally, sticking the program provided a much needed boost.  The two weeks demonstrated to me that I can, indeed, manage my food and eating in healthy ways.  Certainly much healthier than I’d been doing.

I’m so pleased with the results that I’m continuing on, but with, perhaps a little less strictness.  Not much, but the occasional carb or small chocolate treat — also occasionally and not in great quantities.

This is a potential slippery slope because I have a very skewed perspective when it comes to food.  Part of it comes from not ever being able to totally free myself from the diet mentality.  I’ve had it drummed into me so often, and self-drummed it, that carbs are bad.  Awful bad.  The baddest of bad.  So, even when I eat something like half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel – it feels like a cheat.  I went to Miami today to see my Phillies play the Marlins.  This was a terrific treat for me to see a ball game in person and spend time with friends.  I had an all beef hot dog at the ballpark for lunch.  Okay, a hot dog isn’t the cleanest food, but can’t I cut myself a break and not feel guilty?

When I get into that diseased thinking, it’s dangerous.  It quite often  leads to self-disgust and a “well I f#*#ed up today anyway.  I might as well keep going” reaction.  So a simple eating of something that really wasn’t bad or damaging can turn into a binge.

As I continue on my program, I need to be very aware of the mental aspect of my relationship with food.  I need to be able to separate behaviors into their proper descriptions.  Eating half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel is not the same thing as plowing my way through a bag of potato chips.  A small serving of chocolate does not equate to a pint of ice cream.

Two successful weeks when I’d been struggling for a while have produced much needed clarity.  I’d like to build on this even more moving forward.

How’s everybody else doing?

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Reforming the Fitness Habit

I’ve heard from a lot of different sources that it takes 21 days of consistent repetition to form a new habit.  That might be, but then it takes days 22 to forever, to keep that habit going.  Among other things, I realized that I haven’t been as physically active as I was about six months ago.

No, I haven’t gone all sluggish and slothful, but I’m simply not quite as diligent.  If I’m going to ride my bike for several miles in the morning, I want it to be at least semi-light out, so I fell out of that routine when the days reached the point that it was still more dark at 6 a.m.  Then I was tired in the morning and didn’t bound out of bed with good energy.  I dawdled longer in my morning routine which then cut the amount of time I had for a walk with the pups.

After work It was easy for me to convince myself that I was sooo tired that the dogs and I could settle for a shorter walk than the nice half hour-45 minutes.  This kind of lazy thinking makes me the most upset.  Those shorter walks not only don’t do me as much good, but I’m shortchanging the dogs on the physical and mental stimulation that they need!

So, it doesn’t matter that I was super enthusiastic and consistent for a few years with my devotion to exercise.  When you let yourself get out of the habit, it’s easy to keep sliding down and cutting back.

Not good.  Not good at all.  I’m adjusting my attitude on this again too.  It all starts with the mental dedication.  When the side of me that wants to be lazy comes up with excuses, the rest of me gives it a, “Shut up and put on your walking shoes” look.  The wind eased way down yesterday afternoon so I jumped on my bike for a 7 mile ride.

The dogs get two walks a day with one of them being longer.  Sometimes with my schedule, it might be a challenge to get those walks in but all three of us need them so I just need to be more creative with my scheduling.

One of the cool things about all this is that more exercise doesn’t make me more tired.  Being physical actually kindles more energy.  Since I increased my activity the week that I was away on the cruise, I’ve felt better with more pep in my step.

Because my mindset has been a bit screwed up, I probably don’t have full objectivity about this whole thing.  Honestly, I’m sure that I haven’t gotten as lazy as I think.  The fall back behavior for me when I’m not doing all that I think I should is to then turn around and blame myself, deciding that I’m doing even worse.  Hellish diseased thinking, that!

Whatever the case, I like being back on an acceptable course.  It’s better for me all around.

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Fooling My Brain

Very often I think that I’m hungry, am positive that if I don’t have a particular food right that very second, I will starve.  Yes, that’s overdramatized, but sometimes it’s close to how I feel.  It’s brain or head hunger, of course.  I’m not actually in danger of starvation.  My brain wants what it wants when it wants it and convinces my body to go along.

I’ve fallen into that trap more often in recent weeks.  It either happens with specific foods or with the quantity of food.  I’m not eating huge binge amounts.  Thank goodness, the restricted stomach prevents that intake.  However, I could eat a reasonable portion, wait a while, decide that I must have more and then squeeze in additional foods.

I honestly could demolish a package of cookies that way, one cookie at a time spread out over an afternoon and evening.  Mental hunger is powerful.

Determination not to give into mental hunger must be even more powerful.  Those of you old enough to remember the Reagan Administration will recall Mrs. Reagan’s campaign of “Just Say No” to drug usage.  In this case, I must just say no to my own brain cravings.

Often, I take to joshing around with my brain.  Instead of scolding myself when the food thoughts attempt a coup, I give myself a mental nudge along the lines of, “Oh come on.  Don’t be silly.  You don’t really need that (fill in the inappropriate food).”  It helps.  It makes the whole process less difficult than if I argued with myself or made myself a victim of my eating disorder.  I have to walk away from dramatic internal monologues.

This morning while preparing lunch to bring to work, I realized that I was out of nuts.  I like to bring nuts for a mid-morning snack.  For a few moments I started to get a little, well, nutty about it.  Thankfully, I stopped, did an eye-roll at myself and got a grip.  For months, I satisfied the mid-morning hunger with a single, low fat cheese stick – of which I had several in the fridge.  I plopped one in my lunch bag.  Problem solved.

I fooled my brain.  Serenity returned.  I’ve continued through the day so far without food or eating difficulties.  The cheese stick was fine mid-morning.  My lunch was the perfect, healthy, appropriate meal.  I just enjoyed a small apple for the mid-afternoon snack.  I’m meeting a friend for dinner out and already know what I’m ordering.  Likewise, I know what’s in the house for my reasonable evening snack.  It’s all good.

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The Fear Remains

Will I ever lose my fear that small deviations screw up my food and fitness efforts?  Am I that wired into the mindset that perfection is the necessary goal and anything less equals failure?

I spent yesterday, a Sunday, doing things around the house.   Sunday, the daily exercise routines with the program call for the Yoga Fix.  Instead of Yoga, I did Tai Chi.  I also walked the dogs and cleaned the pool.  Between that and other things, I was still physically active.

I did not eat junk, but I didn’t eat on the same time schedule that I use weekdays when I’m at work.   As part of my dinner, I ate some potato.  It’s on my plan, but because, overall, the day felt a little wonky program-wise, I started emotionally obsessing over whether I’d “blown it”.

Once I start down that path, I really need to work to put on the brakes because my motivation and determination start to crumble under the pressure of negative thoughts.  Negative thoughts as in:

“You blew it again.”

“Yousuck.”

“Whybother? You already blew it.”

“Might as well go pig out on something.”

“Get a cupcake it won’t do any more damage since you already blew it.”

“You’re destined to fail.”

My diseased thinking is absolutely rotten to me.  If I heard someone talking to a friend like this, I’d give them a blistering talking to — a verbal bitch slap into next week.  Thankfully, I did not give in to its suggestions that I go pig out on cupcakes or something else that would have made the situation even worse.

Even so, I woke up all annoyed with myself, walked to the scale like a condemned prisoner doing the green mile, and saw that I’d lost another half a pound.

My disease-oriented brain was, once more, dead wrong.   I wasn’t perfect and rigid on my plan, but I didn’t damage myself.  This is not a case of a narrowly missed close call.  I was still healthy in my eating and didn’t overeat.  THAT’s the lesson I need to learn, the distinction I need to make.  Progress not perfection.   Healthy eating does not have to be rigid.  It just needs to be . . . healthy.

The perfection poison is destructive in the long run.  It effectively manipulates my emotions and my mindset.  Ultimately, it can undermine my effort instead of bolstering it and shoring up my foundations.  Today I’m focused on diffusing its power.

I’m going back to Booyah in my attitude.   Even though I’m still doing things around the house, I’ll stick to my eating schedule.  This will help me to avoid the negative thinking.  I have yummy, fresh food to enjoy and I will savor it.  I have some projects to do around the house and I’m looking forward to completing them.  I already took the dogs out for a walk and will do today’s cardio routine a little later this afternoon before I get ready to go to a friend’s house for a barbeque/birthday celebration.

I may not be perfect, but I won’t give into fear either.  I got this!

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