Weighty Matters

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If Only There Was a Switch

My sister-in-law and I were recently chatting on the phone and I shared that I was trying this new to me food plan approach.  We talked about it for a while and I discussed what I like and don’t like about it.  The conversation then moved into exercise.  She was a dedicated spinner for a long time and combined it with a popular commercial food plan.  This resulted in significant weight loss.  More recently, she hasn’t exercised with that intensity for a while and said that she’s regained weight.

There are evenings when she knows she “should” go to the gym, she said, but she doesn’t.  “If only there was a switch that we could turn on and off,” she wished.  I know exactly how she feels.  I’ve had that same wish all of my life.  I’ll go great guns on a new plan or program and then one day it’s like someone flicked the motivation switch to the “Off” position and cut the power.  It’s not so easy to click the switch back on!

That’s why I live in fear of those moments arriving.  Sometimes I know that they’re triggered by a crisis; other times I don’t have a clue.  I think this experience led to me finally understanding that losing weight is not a matter of willpower.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve willed myself to make the good choices and told myself what I wanted to do – at least in my mind – but the juice wasn’t there to motivate me to put the desires into action.

As a result of a lifetime of previous experience, I no longer get cocky about my chances of maintaining a program, a food plan and a weight loss long term.  As determined as I can be in my heart that this time it will be different, an eating disorder is an insidious, controlling, and powerful opponent.

I honestly believe this is why 12 Step Programs advocate one day at a time.  It keeps me present in my efforts today and hopefully leads to me fostering continued self-awareness.  I work to not project into the future about the number of pounds I’ll lose, but focus on my preparations, plan and execution of same just for today.

If the only day that matters is the one that I’m in, then perhaps I no longer need to even think about the motivation switch and what happens if it shuts off.  I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and abstain from compulsive eating for today.  I only need to commit to the planned-for exercise session for today.  Then I need to honor those commitments.  One. Day. At. A. Time.

Speaking of my food plan, I have one more day to go to hit the two week mark.  I’m amazed and thrilled that I’ve abstained from processed grain and refined sugar products each day of the last two weeks.  While I have not been able to cook every recipe and eat the exact meals outlined in the book, I’ve made some of them.  On the meals where I’m not eating one of the book’s recipes, I’m following the proper percentages of protein, full fat, and carbohydrates.  I feel great about my daily efforts and adherence to the plan.  I’ve lost at least nine pounds, which is a happy bonus.

Week Three transitions me to Phase 2 which allows some whole grains and starchy veggies to make small appearances in the plan, along with honey and maple syrup.  It still recommends not eating white potatoes, white rice, or breads and other products made with white or whole wheat flour.  I’m honestly good with this still.  In keeping with what I said earlier in this post, I’m not projecting for how long I’ll be able to keep this up.  I’d like to think the answer is “for as long as I need to”.  Instead, I’m just focused and prepped for tomorrow.  That’s my “switch”.

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I have to admit that I had a little “wow” moment a couple of days ago.  I received the notification that Dr. Ludwig, the doctor who devised the Always Hungry? plan and wrote the book, left a comment on my March 1st post.  Maybe my blog popped up on his Google Alerts. Anyway, it’s nice that he stopped in and took the time to wish me well.

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Rekindling Motivation

I’m annoyed with myself.  Now that my foot is healed, I have no excuse for not getting back to exercising more often.

I’m being lazy.  That’s not acceptable.  I need to be doing much more than I am.  At the same time, I’m really scared of triggering another bout of plantar fasciitis or tearing the tissue again.  I’m also, as I mentioned, being lazy.  It’s like I lapsed into my old slothful ways when I was super heavy and just walking was a challenge.

What I miss most is my excited attitude about being able to move and be much more physically active.  When the world of movement opened up, I experienced joy in my body, in myself.  I’d like to find it again.  I know it hasn’t disappeared.  It’s merely… misplaced.  Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse, like when I swim around snorkeling for an hour or when my friend and I kayaked for a couple of hours.  I haven’t ridden my bike much, but when I do, it’s still a source of enjoyment.

When I was in pain and then undergoing treatment, I couldn’t do Tai Chi.  Oh, I missed it for so many reasons.  I’m glad to be back in class.  Even though I spell myself a little to work my heel and myself back into the routine, whenever I do the moves, I experience contentment and peace, simple pleasure in how easily I move.  (Although I have to work on regaining my balance now that I’m adjusting to doing the moves in sneakers.)

I’ve been able to walk the dogs more regularly.  Today I did workout moves in the pool, including treading water for several minutes, doing several short laps (It’s a small pool so short laps are all I can do.)  I even worked on my triceps, abs and biceps.

I’m also making a commitment to myself — and stating it publicly on the blog — that I’m going to check out rowing classes.  Several friends have tried them and pronounced them great workouts that are fun.  They’re also low impact so my heel and knees shouldn’t be at risk.  I’m shooting for trying the first class tomorrow – provided the evening class isn’t full.  I’m going to call first thing in the morning.

In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that any movement is good movement.  More movement is even better.  I think I just need to keep pushing myself to be active and believe that doing so will rekindle the motivation and lead to me doing even more.

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Fear Is Not Good Motivation

I’ve come to understand that I cannot scare myself into losing weight or sticking to a food plan.  Being afraid of failing, of getting sick, of gaining back all of my weight, of losing the joyful life I have, heck, of dying, does not serve as great motivation.

I wish it did. If fear alone could keep me on track, I’d never veer.  Not even a millimeter off track would I step.  Unfortunately, my eating disorder doesn’t differentiate between a fear that could motivate me to stay in recovery and any other emotion-based fear.  For an emotional eater, any fear can be a trigger.

When I was a kid, occasionally out of their concern for me, my parents would try to impress on me the risk of being overweight and the potential dangerous health concerns that I faced if I didn’t diet and lose weight.  I know they hoped that being afraid of developing juvenile diabetes would get me to stop overeating, but those talks only made me want to eat more.

Right now, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and, for once, I’m trying to be rational, calm and objective about it so that I don’t overeat.  Instead, I try to spin my emotions into a more positive mindset.  It doesn’t do me any good to castigate myself and say things like, “If you mess up your food plan, you’ll gain back all of your weight; be fat and miserable.  You’ll put yourself right back on a fast track to early death or disability.”  That approach multiplies the fear and creates a mess of other negative emotions.

So, I’m really trying to focus on how I approach everything and look for the positives.  For example,when I think about preparing meals or if I’m faced with the choice whether to dive into some poor choices, it’s much healthier for me to think and say things like, “Follow your food plan and you’ll not only enjoy a delicious dinner, but you’ll be happy knowing you stuck with your program.  You’ll not only feel healthier, but you’ll be healthier.”

That’s a very simple example, but I think you get the gist.  The more I reinforce positive choices, the better.

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A Magic Motivational Switch

Over the decades, I frequently wished for a magic switch that I could flip on at will and trigger constant motivation to lose weight, exercise, live a healthier life. Any time I started out great guns on a new diet and did well, I felt like I’d flipped the switch. Unfortunately, it always eventually felt like the switch had gone down into the “Off” position and killed my motivation. I’d give up the positive efforts, regain the weight, etc. etc. etc. Soooo many times of ups and downs, losses and gains. Is it any wonder that my metabolism is probably a bit screwy?

Right now, I feel like my switch is on. It isn’t that these products I’m using for the cleanse and protein shakes have magical ingredients that trigger my success. I know it’s all about my attitude, coupled with my willingness and determination. I’m on Day Four of my 31 Day Challenge and I feel great. Physically I haven’t seen massive internal system changes or results from the cleanse (How’s that for tactful, non-graphic information.) although I’m down a couple of pounds since Sunday. The positive feelings are mental and emotional. I feel strong in my effort. I’m not white-knuckling the recovery which means that each day I’m finding it relatively easy to stay on track with the food plan. I’m not eating compulsively. I’m saying no to carbs like bread, potatoes, chips, and the like. I’m exercising. All of the last few days have transpired exactly as they should. This is how I achieved success for many, many, many months.

I am hopeful that this will continue. Actually, I’m determined to make it so. Thirty-one days of this will result in strong weight loss and great health build. I know this for a fact. The challenge is for me to keep the switch on and not be tempted to flip it off when I hit an emotional challenge. There’s no magic involved. It all comes down to me making the positive choices – every time a choice is presented.

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In Training!

I am officially declaring myself in training. Today I signed up for a FoamGlow 5K event in the Miami area. It takes place at night and participants dress all in white, or in as much white as they want and take to the track. At intervals around the track, they run/walk through Foam Zones where they will be sprayed with brightly colored foam that will show up under the black lights stationed around the track. Glow in the dark fitness experience!

Honestly, it sounds like a big old pile of messy, colorful fun with a dance party after. I can’t wait! Already a group of friends have registered too so we’re participating as a team. I’m sure we’ll come up with a great team name.

This isn’t a big time race. In fact, I don’t think competitors are even timed. That doesn’t matter. I saw another friend post that she was doing this event and it immediately caught my interest. I’m setting a goal for myself to not only participate, but to also do the 5K in a faster time than I did the first one I did last January. (Or was it February?) I wanted to commit to an event and put myself into training for it. I think the motivation will do me good. In fact, this morning when the alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I was tempted to hit the snooze button and sleep a little longer, I sat up and said to myself, “Nope. You’re in training. Get going.”

I rolled out of bed, dressed, leashed Nat and Pyxi and headed out for a good 45 minute walk. We probably did close to two miles. For that distance, 45 minutes is not at all impressive. In my defense, the dogs need to stop, sniff, do their business, stop and sniff some more. It’s not like they’re power-walking with me, you know? They tend to take their time about things unless I regularly urge them along. Still, a brisk almost-two-miles on a warm, humid morning wasn’t bad.

It might sound strange, but the “in training” mindset helps. In taking inventory of my recent efforts, I’ve slacked off a little on my exercise regime. I’m getting myself back on track – by committing to actually get on to a track and walk, jog, dance through blasts of day glo foam. Hey, if it keeps me moving in the next few months when the heat will make it easy for me to be lazy, it’s a win. I think it will also help me if I’m tempted to veer off of my food plan, too. The more weight I lose, the better I’ll feel and the better I’ll be able to move.

That’s the plan anyway. In the meantime, just thinking about doing the event makes me smile. I’m sure it will be epic!

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Getting the Why

I don’t know why it is so hard sometimes to make the right choices and so much easier to make wrong ones. What complicated maze of crossed wires between our psyches, emotions and bodies redirects us from the obvious best options and leads to us taking an unhealthy course of action?

To great extent, choices are a matter of black and white. You either do this or that. Humans being humans, we lighten the black and muddle the white to create various shades of gray. In that gray we screw up sometimes. It’s like a fog obscures the issue and blankets our common sense just long enough for us to make the wrong choice.

Don’t ask me why I’m in this pensive, philosophical mood of confusion tonight. Overall I’m in a good place. I’m not perfect and I eat wrong more often than I’d like, but I’m not rolling into relapse. Honestly, I feel strong and able to balance my urges and occasional missteps with healthy choices and positive actions. I know the “what”. Tonight, I’m just caught up in the “why”.

It’s funny because I’m not usually a “why” woman. A long time ago, I decided that I didn’t need to know why I did certain things. I just needed to not do them, regardless of whether I understood my motivations or loss of motivation, depending on my actions. The bottom line is that this is still, well, the bottom line. When the choice is between a positive action or a negative one; healthy choice or unhealthy; I need to choose positive and healthy versus the alternatives. Even if I have excuses or imagine there are good reasons, that justify the opposite choices, I need to ignore those “whys” and stick to what I know is right for me.

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