Weighty Matters

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Feeling Pretty Good

I managed to keep my inefficient worrying under control the last couple of days. I prepared as much as I could and let go of the rest. The meeting I anticipated might contain some uncomfortable conflict went smoothly. I facilitated well and received feedback that supported my self-assessment. It’s behind me now and so is any of the slight stress that I had retained.

Best of all, I did not lose sleep and I didn’t dive into food to manage the worry. That rates a double booyah as far as I’m concerned. I feel good, strong and positive. I actually said a strong, firm “no” to a sweet, sugary treat a couple of hours ago and reminded myself that I could enjoy a frozen fruit treat at home instead.

Did I tell you all about one of my Christmas gifts? One of my nephews gave me a Yonana machine. It takes frozen fruit and blends it into the consistency of frozen yogurt or frozen custard. No added sugar, other than what occurs naturally in the fruit. No fat, no junk, no nothing. After my evening commitment, I came home and thoroughly enjoyed the fruit snack with a small scattering of chopped walnuts on top. Yum.

Find that I still need to educate myself on portions. Even though it’s been almost two years since my surgery, I’m still retraining my brain. The instinct is often to prepare the same size portion as before. That would be fine if I could always trust myself to eat only a half or less of what I prepare. Even if I can only physically eat the smaller amount, if I have the rest in front of me, I’m sometimes tempted to keep going. Forcing the issue is not a good thing for many reasons. For one, eat too much and I not only feel wicked uncomfortable, but I’ll also need to throw up. Forcing larger portions too often over time could eventually stretch out the stomach pouch. If I increase my stomach capacity, I will lose the terrific tool that the smaller sleeve provides. Don’t want to go there, not one bit! Forcing the issue also doesn’t help me learn anything useful to encourage long term success.

Stopping before I serve myself helps me think it through, rather than just plopping too big a portion on my plate. “Stop before I serve” makes for a good mantra, I think. Like tonight. I had a change of plans today when a dinner date was rescheduled for Thursday. I thought about what starches I’d eaten during the day and realized that I had two plain saltine crackers with my soup at lunch. That was all. I didn’t have a lot of food in the house but thought that I could make a simple grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve learned to keep bread in the freezer so that I am not tempted to eat it frequently just because I think I’m hungry and it’s available. It takes more effort to pull a slice from the freezer, defrost it and then do something with it before eating.

While I was opening the bag to take out two slices, which would be the automatic portion in the past, I stopped and thought, “No. You don’t need that big a sandwich. Half is plenty.” That’s what I did. One slice of bread, split into two smaller pieces with some good quality cheddar, toasted in a non-stick pan coated with cooking spray.

It was delicious and satisfying. I reduced the fat, carbs and overall calories by stopping and thinking. It’s important to transfer this kind of behavior to as many food and eating situations as possible. Even when I go out to dinner, it’s good to separate the portions on my plate so that I don’t keep picking at the food in front of me and end up eating more than I want or need. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of getting a To-Go box right at the meal’s outset, although I’m sure if I try that a few times I won’t feel conspicuous — or at least won’t care if I am. In the interim, it’s easy enough to physically push some, often most, of the food to the side of the plate and focus solely on the appropriate size portion that remains. If I’m at a buffet, I need to remember that I can still sample a wide variety of dishes as long as I limit myself to dabs and not load up the spoon or stab a huge forkful.

In other things, I’ve noticed that if I do indulge in carbs a little, my body reacts. I might have mentioned this before but, honestly, after 500 plus posts I don’t always remember everything I’ve ever discussed. Back over Christmas week, I know that I ate more carbs on more days than I do in probably a month. My body reacted my putting on some water weight and bloated pounds. I almost want to call them fauxpounds. I know the math of calories. In order for me to gain five real pounds, I’d have to eat 18,000 more calories than I burn. Over a week, that would be more than 2500 calories more a day! Folks, I’d have to drink multiple milkshakes to consume that many more calories. Plus, I was also walking every day and keeping up with my 10K plus steps for calorie burn.

Even fauxpounds can be a little stubborn about giving up their grip on my body. It got to the point where getting on the scale in the morning started messing with my head. Even though I knew it was water weight, the number can upset me. I decided not to weight myself for a few days while I carefully stayed on track. This worked. I finally vanquished the fauxpounds. My body’s back to an authentic weight. I’m starting to see some additional definition (underneath the sagging skin that will only disappear with surgery) from the strength training routine with hand weights.

All in all, I feel pretty good!

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Inefficient Worrying

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.
– Corrie Ten Boom

I have no idea who Corrie Ten Boom is, but he or she has a great, interesting name. I first heard the name less than five minutes ago when I Googled inefficient worrying. I was looking for a good definition but found the quote instead.

Actually, instead of “but found…”, I should say, “and found…” because, honestly it works.

If I understand and remember it right from years ago when I heard a psychiatrist use it, inefficient worrying is that situation where the same stressed out, worrisome thoughts go around and around and around in our heads. We fret, we stew, we obsess, seemingly without respite. Sometimes the thoughts are repeated pretty much verbatim like the needle on a record getting stuck so the same place in the song plays, plays again, plays again. For you people too young to remember records that played through a needle stuck in their tracks, think of a CD with a scratch that makes the place in the song repeat. If you only download music from the internet, neither of these things is relevant but I have no appropriate comparison.

I used to get caught up in inefficient worrying all of the time. Usually, this hits if I wake up in the middle of the night. Once I start, I can’t get back to sleep. I don’t think that the timing is a coincidence. Why wouldn’t stress attack at the time of day, or night so to speak, when I can usually do nothing about the situation that’s got me worried? I also have a sneaking suspicion that the inefficient worrying likes striking in the wee hours when I’m less alert, more foggy brained and, therefore, less able to reason out the situation and reduce the stress.

I can clearly remember times when I have obsessed over something in the pre-dawn hours, the same repetitive thought going through my mind over and over and over like a hamster on a wheel. Eventually, I fall asleep and then, when I wake up, exhausted, I wonder why I’d gotten so stressed in the first place.

In the past, when hit with bouts of inefficient worrying either when asleep or jarred awake, I’d eat. Suppressing the thoughts with food calmed me down — or appeared to. Either that or it just distracted me. If I was busy eating, I couldn’t focus on the stressful situations.

A colleague at work calls it mind chatter. I’ve heard her tell soldiers to leave the mind chatter behind. In order to help them do so, she suggests tapping some physical object with our fingers and telling ourselves that we’re leaving the mind chatter in the place that we’ve tapped. It sounds simplistic, but the technique actually works.

Most of the time, I go back to the Serenity Prayer again and remind myself that there are things that I cannot change. Acceptance helps diffuse the inefficient worrying, at least to the point where it doesn’t induce insomnia. My acceptance right then is understanding that I can’t do anything about the situation right at that time (midnight, 2 a.m., four in the morning) and knowing that it’s a waste of time to worry so incessantly about what I can’t change. At the same time, I try to encourage myself with the belief that if something can be changed, I have the courage to do so.

You might wonder why this topic came up for me tonight. I’m looking at a super busy two days to start the week. I have several plates to spin and situations to manage. I practically get agida just thinking about it all. Then I stop and think, “Oh for pity’s sake, Mary. There’s nothing coming up that you can’t handle.” That’s when I realize anew that inefficient worrying is called inefficient for a reason. It accomplishes nothing useful.

So for tonight when I go to bed after publishing this post, I’m going to park the mind chatter far from the bedroom. The fear is groundless. Like I said, I might be super busy, but I can handle spinning all of the plates that need to stay on top of their respective poles.

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