Weighty Matters

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Sometimes a Not Great Notion

First off, I managed to eat slowly most of the time today. I’ve been rushing around in work and life trying to get a lot accomplished in the day. When in high gear all day, it’s hard to slow down for any thing. I did the best at breakfast because I remembered to focus on eating slowly right when I picked up the spoon for the first taste of yogurt.

By the time of my mid-morning snack, I’d already had two meetings and was running behind schedule. Unfortunately, I plowed through my pistachio nuts. At lunch, I began by eating quickly but caught myself. I stopped, took a deep breath, reminded myself about slow pacing and mindfulness, and then proceeded to finish the meal much less rapidly.

I was en route to somewhere for the mid-afternoon snack but concentrated on chewing and savoring the crisp texture and juicy sweetness of the apple. Dinner time, same thing as lunch. I started out eating fast but slowed myself down, concentrated, and finished out in a much better place. I pledge to practice this skill again tomorrow!

Today at some point, I had a realization. I know that the way that I eat with the healthier choices, the reduced portions and the pace, coupled with exercise and cultivating an overall dedication to wellness and fitness all add up to a major lifestyle change.

I’ve said it before — This is about changing my life and choosing health. It’s not about dieting. I really do know these things. Just sometimes, I act like I don’t and keep behaving like what I’m doing is a diet that’s going to end some day. That is not a great notion on so many levels. I catch myself waiting, or projecting to the day that I hit goal weight and begin the transition to maintenance. It’s like I think, “Oh, be strict and perfect now and then one day you’ll be able to eat whatever you want.” For me, that is not a positive, healthy mindset.
In fact, it feels like a potential set up to screw this all up royally at some point in the future.

The realization that I sometimes still think this way — even when other parts of me are crying bull pucky at me — shows that no matter how far I go and how great I progress, relapse lurks. Goal weight will eventually be achieved and I will adjust my food plan for maintenance mode. It will not, however, be license to eat eat eat.

Healthy food choices with appropriate eating and adequate exercise and physical fitness are my life. There is no end to this journey, at least while I am alive. I guess even though I know this, I need to remind myself from time to time.

I’m happy the realization hit me and shined a light on some of my own faulty thinking. I can’t adjust, grow and improve if I don’t know that I need to in some area. Awareness and a clear picture are so helpful.

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It Isn’t a Diet. It’s My Life.

Yesterdays comments by Skye and June resonate a lot with me. Skye talks about needing to change her thinking. I know changing the way I think about myself, about my body, about my choices and, most of all, about my physical activity, has really made a difference. Unfortunately, I’m also well aware that I am not guaranteed that these changes are forever.

I could change back. The disease is that insidious. A little laziness for a couple of days and some, “I’ll make it up tomorrow” thinking could start my slide down the slippery slope of not keeping up with my fitness routines.

I absolutely already know that I’ve given myself permission to eat off of my plan too frequently lately. It’s okay once in awhile but the danger lies in grouping those once-in-awhiles so closely together that they are no longer “in a while” but every day. Like Skye, I need to again change my thinking. In this case I need to change my thinking back to where I was right after the surgery.

June, I hear you on the boredom and the just being tired of thinking about it all of the time. Oh sweet goodness do I know how that feels. Sometimes I am sick to death of thinking about calories and carbs, what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat of what I should eat. Ayyyyieeeeee! Honestly, I don’t know how to keep it fresh and interesting. I wish I could say that there’s a magic technique but if there is, I haven’t learned it yet.

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter how bored, fed up, tired or frustrated I am with the program. Regardless of the feelings, I just need to stay with the program anyway. I need to fight my own thinking when my thought patterns tell me I’m doing fine but my progress doesn’t reflect that in reality.

I watched a little more about the Super Dieters and read some other articles and commentary. The real thing that I not only need to mouth but need to grasp and hold on to — tightly with both hands — is that this isn’t really a program. What I’m doing isn’t a diet. It’s my new lifestyle. It’s my life.

It’s my life. Embracing this in my heart, mind, and body, is the key to continuing in a life of recovery versus a life of diseased eating. Understanding and living like this is my life equals acceptance.

Acceptance is always the answer. It’s right there in the Serenity Prayer — grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I can’t change the fact that I have an eating disorder. The disease is chronic. Given the opportunity, it will always mess me up. When I make bad choices with food, I’m living in disease. I can, however, manifest the courage to change what I can. Just because I have the disease doesn’t mean that I can’t be stronger than it and continue to make the good choices.

I need to accept that I’m not going to reach goal weight and be done. The clock doesn’t run out. A buzzer doesn’t sound. Nobody declares game over. Goal weight is not the end of the journey. It’s the next important, big time milestone. Goal weight means that I then transition from the “losing” part of the journey to the “maintenance” phase. That phase is forever. Just like right now, losing weight is my life. Later on, maintaining my healthy weight and physical fitness regime will be my life.

So, these are good things for me to work on: Changing my thinking again and accepting that this is life. As I typed that, I had a flash of inspiration with a shift. When I start being ever loving tired of this routine and start complaining about this being my life, I need to affectionately give myself a mental head slap and say, “Hey. This is your life! This wonderful, more physically fit, able to move, able to breathe existence with all of the happiness and joy is your life!! Celebrate. You are one, lucky woman!”

You know what. I really am one lucky woman. I’m going to celebrate that with some exercise because I can! Today was supposed to be a weight training day. Instead, when I woke up I opted for the cardio walk DVD and told myself that I would do the weight training this evening. Then I got home, saw that I was over 10,000 steps already and sort of got more involved in chatting on the phone with various people and doing other things. Not doing my strength training is a poor choice. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have physically been able to do this routine, simple as it might be. I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to stay on track because, hey, this is my life!


Food Plan vs Diet

You might have noticed that I rarely call what I’m doing dieting. That’s deliberate. I hate thinking of being on a diet so I try to keep my brain trained on following a healthy food plan which, right now, is also intended to be a losing plan. But not a diet. 🙂

Why, you might ask, am I so resistant to a simple word? I admit that there are a lot of negative memories and experiences infused in that simple four letter word. When I think of a diet, I automatically think of every single extreme, desperate, or even crazy thing that I tried over the years. Many of these were medically supervised, thank God, or I could be dead.

I can’t remember if my first structured commercial diet was Weight Watchers, or if it was the fat camp that I went to when I was 11. Here’s all that I’ll say about fat camp — it knocked off the pounds and we were definitely physically active, so it wasn’t a bad experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn enough to transition the benefits to my every day life for very long.

What I remember most about Weight Watchers was Mom driving me to the weekly classes, hating the weigh-ins, and Mom also buying some of the foods. (This was long before WW had their full lines in grocery stores.) I also remember being forced to eat tuna, which I hate. I don’t like any seafood. The only way I could choke it down was if I drowned the taste in mustard. Still, Weight Watchers is not a horrible, extreme diet to follow. Even back then it was well thought out.

So, those were the least extreme diets in my life. Now let’s get to the other end of the spectrum. In college, some doctor released the first liquid protein diet. My father checked it out and I believe it was a sign of how desperate my folks were for me to get healthy that he ever greenlighted me for it. Mom took me to the first appointment. Basically, all I took into my system for months was this viscous red, godawfultasting protein liquid. Not very much of it at that. It’s a wonder I never passed out, but I lost weight. My body fed itself on its stored fat. I took the train into NYC from school every week for a check up and to get my new supply of liquid. I was deep in ketosis, had to constantly guard against bad breath, and emotionally miserable. I can’t remember how long I stayed on this diet — maybe six months? — but I never did reach goal weight. Of course, as soon as I stopped and began eating, I put the weight right back on.

Next on the extreme scale, was one that earns its ranking for weirdness and unproven methodology. A local doctor claimed that shots of human placenta would accelerate weight loss. I don’t remember now if that was before or after my Dad’s death. I know I was an adult and Mom went with me the first time for moral support. I can’t even remember what the eating guidelines were for this program. The doctor was definitely on the creepy side. I didn’t last long with this effort.

The most successful diet I went on, prior to the weight loss surgery effort and my current success, was another one that focused primarily on protein. Nine ounces of protein a day and a cup of salad a day. No starches, no fruit at all. I ate so much chicken that year, I’m surprised that I didn’t cluck upon waking. I lost 103 pounds. Because this was another extreme plan, I went to the clinic three times a week for monitoring and also attended the weekly discussion class.

Sprinkled among the years were more attempts with Weight Watchers and forays into other popular plans like Optifast and other similar ones. I was a yo-yo dieter for sure. In 1996-1997, I consulted a nutritionist and had decent success, helped by one of the popular “diet” drugs. That drug was later pulled from the market because of it possibly causing heart problems.

After that, except for a couple more Weight Watchers online attempts, I really didn’t have any big loss successes until I decided to do the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. One could say that my current food plan is pretty extreme, but it doesn’t seem crazy. I eat enough and it’s well balanced. There just isn’t much to it. Honestly, I think I eat healthier now than I have ever, and not just in terms of quantity. I really do make an effort to eat lower fat and less sugar. I don’t eat a lot of junk starches. Fast food restaurants, which were once staples in my weekly eating, are now places I drive by instead of drive-through.

It’s almost two years since I had the surgery. Two years where I have either steadily lost weight or, when I’ve plateaued, at least maintained the weight loss. This is a record for me in terms of time. It’s been a terrific confidence boost too. I grow less scared that I’ll ultimately screw up again with every day that I soldier on. I still want to lose the remaining pounds. When I do, I don’t yet know what the maintenance food plan will look like. However, I feel really strong and positive that I can incorporate this one for life.