Weighty Matters

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Gold, Goaled & Golden Arches

Some days I’m strong on my food plan and exercise in spite of food thoughts and compulsion assailing me. Those are good days when I can hold onto my resilience and determination even when my disease urges me to eat on impulse. Really good days are ones when I don’t even feel the compulsion of my eating disorder but just go through the day eating as I planned and what I prepared. I’ve had a few really good days lately. I never take these for granted. They are infrequent and precious. It is a lot less stressful to not have to do battle with the disease, even for a day.

My mindset’s been good. I’ve held to my determination to not belittle or denigrate my own efforts. If a negative, or even a slightly-less-than-positive thought tries to creep into my consciousness, I cancel it. I’ve even said it out loud. Cancel! Silly as it sounds, it works.

I know as I’ve lost weight I’ve talked about getting into smaller size clothing or, especially in the beginning, taking clothes to a seamstress for alterations. I soon need to get some other belongings sized down. My jewelry has all become too big. A pinkie ring that at one time had to be cut off before wrist surgery is too big for me to wear. I’ve had it slip off my finger when I reached into my handbag for something. I tried wearing a ring guard for awhile but the guard annoyed me. So, the ring is off of my hand and in my jewelry box.

My other pinkie ring has also gotten too big but I’ve been able to move it over to the next finger and wear it there instead. For the time being, anyway. I noticed yesterday that it’s close to becoming too big to wear at all. I have another valuable ring that I still love to wear but it keeps sliding all over my ring finger. For now, when I wear it I slip it onto my index finger. It’s kind of a cool look, to be honest. I might just continue to do that.

My necklaces used to be the perfect length but now I’ve lost enough inches around my neck that they hit longer than I like. Thinking of all these things, I realize that sooner or later I need to go for gold alterations! I’m not complaining. This is an excellent problem to experience! Unlike clothes, gold can earn me money, particularly at the current price per ounce. When I finally take everything into a jeweler to be shortened or sized down, I’ll be able to sell back whatever is removed. At the very least it will pay for the work. Best case scenario, it will pay for the work and I’ll get a few bucks spending money. Like I said, not a bad problem!

The Olympic Ice Dancing finals are on television tonight while I write this post. I already know the outcome so I’m not experiencing anxiety-by-proxy for the athletes. I can relax and enjoy the performances and programs without fretting that some team will fall or make other heart-wrenching errors. I don’t know about the other sports, but it seems like most of the figure skaters start when they’re kids. I marvel that this dogged determination to pursue sports excellence not only begins so young but also stays with them for so many years.

I had multiple dream jobs in mind by the time I was 11. I can’t imagine sticking with one of them for most of my life. These skaters set their goals early and committed their lives to achieving them, no matter what. Hours upon hours upon days, weeks, months and years of practice, hard work, sacrifice of other activities all to become the best that they can possibly be.

It’s inspiring. If they can commit their entire lives to their gold goal, surely I can stay committed to achieving my goal weight and then maintaining for the rest of my life.

Finally, as my day of gold and goaled thoughts comes to an end, I need to say that I groan every time a commercial for McDonald’s comes on during the Olympics broadcast. As you can imagine, this means I groan a lot. I don’t mean to be hypocritical because, Lord knows, I used to be a regular customer of the golden arches drive through. In my worst days of overeating, I’d go through the drive-thru and order two sodas, hoping the staff member would assume I was ordering food for two people. With the exception of a yogurt and fruit parfait that I had last month, I haven’t eaten from McD’s in more than a year. My stomach can’t handle it and foods that I once loved hold no appeal anymore.

That said, for some reason, I find it distasteful to see the ad that has athletes playfully biting the medals as if to judge the quality of the metal and then see people biting into chicken nuggets. They look for all the world as if they think the questionable chicken is the gold standard for edible food. Eat fast food or don’t, it’s a personal choice, but let’s not fool ourselves that the food items on the menu are healthy and good for us. The majority aren’t.

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The Why of Motivation

After my morning bike ride (17 miles – a personal best. Booyah! I was shooting for 20 but, frankly, I needed to pee. There’s always next weekend.) I sat out on the porch in the gorgeous weather with a cup of tea and read the Sunday paper. (Bonus, two manatees swam by while I was sitting there.) Parade had an interview with Pastor Rick Warren who spearheaded a weight loss and fitness effort in his congregation using something he created in consultation with experts (Dr. Oz) and called the Daniel Plan. (He’s written a book about it but I don’t actually know the deets.) The article was interesting and the story of the congregation supporting each other is inspiring. Something Warren said in the interview really struck me. I’m paraphrasing, but basically he said that why we want something is the key to how long we sustain the effort.

I often wonder why I’m sustaining a successful effort now, longer than I ever had, when I ultimately failed numerous times before in my life. Oh sure, I often achieved significant weight loss but never got all the way to goal weight and never kept it off.

Perhaps I’m putting the cart before the horse. I haven’t actually reached goal weight and once I do, only time will tell if I maintain the loss. However, I feel more confident than I ever have in my life that I will succeed in both of these goals. In the meantime, I can look at where I am today — one year and ten months after weight loss surgery with a weight loss of 175 pounds. I have never lost this much or sustained an effort this long before. Why is this time different? What was the “Why” of my motivation?

I go back to the lightning bolt “aha” moment I had in the summer of 2011. For months I’d told myself that I was resigned to being super obese for the rest of my life, regardless of how short a period of time that “rest” turned out to be. Then in that big moment of clarity, I said to myself, “I do not want to be disabled by the time I’m 60.” My goal was to lose weight, and use weight loss surgery to help me achieve it. The “why”, the motivation was to enable myself, to become healthy, and to live a better life as long as possible.

What made this different than all of the times before? Well, that depends on which time before. I think when I was a kid my motivation was so others would stop picking on me, so boys would like me. I’m sure that even when I was older my prime motivation remained to make myself more attractive.

As an adult between, say 30 to 40, I’d talk about wanting to get to a healthy weight. Why wasn’t that enough? Looking back and pondering this from my current perspective, I believe that at that time, I wasn’t yet experiencing the true negative impact on my health. I knew I was risking high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, clogged arteries, stroke, early death. However, I wasn’t yet on medication for any of these things. I hadn’t experienced the health scares. I also was still mobile. The horrible, eventual future as still sort of abstract.

Flash forward to 2011. I was so overweight that I was hampered by it in countless ways. I was on medication for high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I couldn’t walk without breathing hard and needed to help pull myself up stairs, gasping. My knee could have given out on me at any time. Nothing abstract about it. When I couldn’t haul myself up the ladder of my boat, it all came together that my eventual future had arrived.

So the goal of losing weight gained a more powerful, concrete motivation — so that I would not be disabled, but enabled, so that I would be fit and healthy with a chance at a good, longer life. That’s the “why” in my motivation and the reason that I have sustained the effort this long and am heading full sail into the future until I reach my goal and beyond. The goal will change once I get to whatever number/size my doctor and I eventually agree on. Once I achieve my “goal weight”, my goal will be to make the choices that maintain the weight loss and fitness levels. The motivation will remain the same that has served me so well thus far — to live my best, most enabled life.

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Setting Goals, Earning Rewards

I set short term goals before the weekend ended. Along with pledging to wake up each day and choose to live the day in recovery and adhere to my food plan, I also set workout goals. I changed my wake up time on my clock radio to 6:00 a.m. from 6:45, determined to get up and do at least 45 minutes of exercise each morning before work. I also promised myself that I would rack up a minimum of 10,000 steps each day on my Fitbit. In addition to this, I’m mindful of the need to stay hydrated. I’m aiming for 100 ounces of fluids (water or green tea) per day.

Wednesday is winding down. All three days I’ve met the goal of adhering to my food plan and staying in recovery. I’ve taken long bike rides the last three mornings, pedaling 8 miles, 10 miles and 8 1/2 miles respectively.

Cycling confused my FitBit a little, I think. I put the gadget on my shorts leg so that it counts my pedaling as steps, otherwise I don’t get credit for the exercise. However, even though it adds up the steps, although I doubt it’s 100% accurate, it doesn’t track the miles anywhere close to correctly. If it had a brain it would be puzzled as to how I logged a couple of thousand steps in less than a mile.

Tonight I forgot to move the gadget to my pant leg for Tai Chi class, so I didn’t get an accurate accounting of my steps. This meant that when I got home after class, my daily total was less than 9500 steps! This would never do! I’d set a goal, I tell you. 🙂

I could have taken the dogs for another walk. My neighborhood is safe enough to do so, even after dark. However, several of my neighbors go to bed really early. There are also a lot of other dogs in homes up and down the street. It’s nearly impossible for us to walk around without setting off a chain of barking dogs. In the interest of preserving the peaceful evening, I decided to get those last 500 or so steps at home.

There was a movie on that I wanted to watch, so instead of turning on the in-home walking program DVD, I got creative. At every commercial break, I stood up and walked around or practiced some Tai Chi moves. I even jogged around a little. I also laughed at myself in the process — but I made my 10,000 step goal! Booyah!

I have a large remaining weight loss goal. 45 pounds to go. I am not, however, saying 45 pounds by a certain date. If the last few months of slowwwww creep down the scale is any indication, my body is not making this last push easy. I don’t want to frustrate myself any longer, or risk the emotional disappointment if I say I want to lose XX number of pounds by a particular date and then don’t accomplish it. That kind of numbers game can really mess with my mind and serenity. The most important thing is not how fast I lose it, but that I lose it eventually.

I’m sticking with the daily goals — abstinent with food, 10,000 steps a day (factoring in the equivalent if it’s a bike riding day). This week, I want to get a good push going so I’m sticking with the 45 minutes of cardio for seven days in a row. I think my metabolism needs revving. The combination of goals should help. At least that’s what I hope.

Once could say that the physical benefits are reward enough and they are, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t treat myself with something extra. I like fresh cut flowers. I believe that I will reward myself with a gorgeous bouquet. As soon as my massage therapist returns from her trip, I’m scheduling another massage too. I’m working hard and deserve to treat myself well as a reward.

Are you goal-oriented? Got any that you’re working on that you’d like to share? How do you reward yourself?

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Frustrated

I’ve been absent from the blog for a few days. I didn’t realize just how many until I looked at the calendar today and the date of the last post. Yes, I’ve had the normal busy life at work and yesterday I took a great day away from everything and took a boat ride out to Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas (about 70 miles west of Key West). No phone service no high tech anything. Just miles and miles of clear, jewel-toned water and endless blue skies. I’ll share some photos later, but I wanted to get this written part of the post up while it’s on my mind.

Folks, I’m eating the way that I’m supposed to. I’m exercising the way I’m supposed to and have even ramped it up with the bike. I cannot get the scale to move down. I’m frustrated, annoyed and frustrated again. This is not a good place for me to be in emotionally. It absolutely makes me want to eat. How contrary is that?

Compulsive overeating is, indeed, a contrary disorder.

I know intellectually that I simply need to keep doing what I’m supposed to do and, eventually, the weight will drop. I know this, but often emotions are stronger than intellect. At the very least, they’re more dramatic.

So, I’ve now dumped it out here and hope to leave the emotions on the page, so to speak. I’m about to go out for an 8-10 mile bike ride and then come home and spend the day doing things around the house. I’m also going to whisper affirmations in my head and remind myself that eating inappropriately will not advance me to my goal. While I pedal, I’ll think of something delicious and healthy that I can make for dinner tonight. I need to stay on track. That’s the bottom line.

Thanks for listening reading!

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