No Excuses? Bah!

Have you ever posted a negative comment on a blog site? (I don’t mean a political site, newspaper, or other types of public so-called “blogs”.)

I have done so twice recently. One was in response to a nutritionist-to-be who was using her “personal” blog to shill for food companies. Giving outrageously positive reviews for sugar-laden products without divulging if she had a conflict of interest or mentioning the downside of such products. This is not unlike physicians who promote drugs for Big Pharma on talk circuits (we call them conferences or grand rounds), but at least ethics dictate that doctors reveal any financial or other gains they have tied to any product they discuss.

The other negative comment was in response to an article posted titled “Excusitis” – no doubt meant to be motivating, a tough love approach. Maybe this can be just what some people need – although not many. Who needs to be told to just “do it” unless they are ready to do whatever it is and have plenty of resources to move ahead? I called bullshit on this article (not using that term).

When we pressure ourselves, or worse when others pressure us, to change what does any reasonable, independent thinking adult do? We dig in our heels and become resistant. Admit it. The more you thought about how much you needed to lose X number of pounds, the harder it became to get started. The more you hear about insurance companies threatening to cut off benefits for being too fat, the harder it is to lose weight. You get discouraged. The more airlines that throw fat people off of planes, the angrier you get. The more you see fat men starring in movie roles while emaciated actresses are the ones representing women… Really motivating, uh?

BUT, if we begin to believe that our current behavior(s)  is not leading to some important future goal, we just might become motivated to make a change.

I want to provide an alternative to the “no excuses” mantra for those who are trying to start a behavior change or who are having trouble maintaining one. Because I won’t drag this post on, if you want to read more about motivating yourself  or even help others to get motivated early in the process of change, please follow along in the next post.

gary larson cartoon

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Gifts on Valentine’s Day

Why is it hard to get rid of clothes when you (make that I) lose weight? I’m  not that frugal, so it isn’t the, “Oh my gawd look at the waste!” aspect. I’m not a hoarder – really, honestly, OK, so I have a few textbooks that are 30 years old… I am not keeping any clothes around in anticipation of a regain.

There is nothing I would like more than to see a woman with fewer resources wearing some of my beautiful suits. So, why the heck am I dawdling getting rid of the poundage of clothes in my closets? Yes, closets – plural.

Lazy, perhaps. Overwhelmed at the prospect of cataloging several hefty bags of clothes for a tax deduction, yeah. But deep down, I’m having trouble letting go of my fat. My body image still is nebulous. Viewing pics of me at my fattest (and I will NOT post them here), I can’t believe that’s me. Viewing pics of me in 1992 at a size 6, I can’t believe that is my body. Looking at my sagging skin, I just want to scream it away. I can’t accept that my arms look like my great-grandmother’s or my thighs resemble an elephant, even as some muscle starts to show through. (Hmm, both of those are very strong images…) Do I want to be fat again and smooth out the wrinkles and sags? NO. I wouldn’t mind be 20 years younger though 😉

Rather than continuing to perseverate about the clothes, my fat, this strange sadness when I look in my closets – I am celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a gift to myself and to large women who shop at Goodwill by finishing the task;  emptying my closets;screw the cataloging; putting on some happy music. (Live radio from the Big Island for our upcoming vacation) And, some private writing about these reactions to changes in my body.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Emerging From a Fog

Since last I wrote, or visited the blogging community, or stayed on plan… Well, no excuses. My father’s visit was wonderful but distracting and challenging food-wise. He is a feeder – for real. Despite knowing my food plan and decades of yo-yo’ing, he would put candy (home-made fudge) on my desk, buy ice cream (ICE CREAM!) and continually offer me crap. I found that when we would go out to eat, I could easily stay within my food plan, but at home my stimulus control was gone. His presence just made it worse. We negotiated about putting candy in his bedroom, having him buy ice cream in small cups and hiding it in the freezer where I wouldn’t see it. But our joint grief over Mom (just 4 months fresh), and his need to conjure her through his cooking rituals made it impossible to tell him not to cook. I found the fudge and his midnight snacks irresistible. I wanted to strangle him.

Then a wondrous event occurred over the week of Thanksgiving. Our entire immediate family, one of Sue’s sisters, and Mom’s best friend and her husband gathered at our home for almost an entire week. That time was a warm cloud of love filling the house.  We cooked, ate, played games, sat around fires outside and inside, laughed, told jokes, remembered Mom – and my eating sweets was totally out of control.

Amazing how one year of new habits can be easily overthrown. I am beginning to believe there is a carbohydrate addiction…

My skinny Father now is back in Dallas, exactly 1 pound heavier. Although I “only” gained 4 pounds over the 2+ months, I have felt completely out of control with food and sleep; my mood is low (OK, grief-holidays, I get it); and I have been searching for help. Sue is completely off her food plan also and could care less.

In desperation, I joined Weight Watchers last week after reading about the new points plan based on scientific evidence with more emphasis on protein and fiber. WW is a huge change for me, but I’m trying this for 2 reasons. 1.) I want to get away from the severely restricted foods we have used the past year, and WW seems to have a lot of tools that will help me to (OMG) cook. 2.) I need more social support. I hate groups, but I want to try in-person as well as on-line WW. The monetary commitment is a pain but adds another incentive.

For now, it’s back to daily monitoring of food, walking to resume the modicum of fitness that I had, reconnecting with my blogging buddies, and going back to all of those behaviors around food that I so neatly laid out almost one year ago.

family picture

Thanksgiving Family Portrait

One Year Of Gratitude

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my journey to a thinner and better me. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy (complicated by a bile leak) kick started a life style change:  nothing like being ill for several weeks, looking at the 3 Milk Dud-sized gallstones – probably brought on by repeated large weight losses and regains, and finally really seeing my body to put me into action mode.

Twelve months later and 85-pounds less fat, I wish my goal was in closer reach. But… the past year has been full of many blessings (there’s a word that doesn’t appear often in my writing).

  • I am grateful for the understanding, encouragement, hand-holding, morale boosting, food hiding management, and unconditional love from my family, especially Susan.
  • I am lucky to have stumbled into supportive online weight loss and life-style change communities.
  • I am indebted to my blogging friends and colleagues who provide daily support, knowledge, skills, and inspiration via their writing on blogs, commenting here, and responding to my comments.
  • I am forever thankful for the final 10-months of my mother’s life — even though I didn’t realize those would be her last ones with us.

I am a happy woman.

red dragonfly

Update on (Drowning) Gym Rat

Eleven months and 85 pounds into my weight loss journey, I feel pretty comfortable that I have mastered techniques and behaviors around eating that will keep me going to my final goal weight and even into maintenance. Now that I am embarking on a similar path to changing physical activity, I am hitting a wall. I have an exercise plan developed with a personal trainer (that I might need to modify given the amount of knee swelling after the first workout); got my workout music on the iTouch; picked aquatic classes for my level of fitness; after experimenting with the so-called non-weight bearing elliptical (ha!) decided that the treadmill and recumbent bike will be my cardio machines of choice; even have a schedule – OK, a kinda schedule. But, I am not following through. What the heck is going on? Why can’t I apply the same internal motivation to change around eating to exercise?

I looked at a post from January to help answer my question (partially). I used a model of behavior change called the Stages of Change (proven to show how people change successfully on their own or with help) and applied techniques that matched the Stage (action) that I was in to changing how I ate.

Now I’m going to do the same thing with physical activity and see if I can’t generate some more internal motivation and confidence to stick with my exercise plan. First, the behaviors that I want to accomplish have to be very specific. So here they are (don’t laugh, I’m starting out slowly because of my damn knee and to make these initial goals achievable):

  • Exercise in some form 6 days a week
  • Aquatics class M,W,F – if the aquatics class I chose doesn’t work out, there are 3 others to select from
  • Gym workout T,Th,Sat or 60 minutes of outdoor walking or 60 minutes on home recumbent bike or 60 minutes of walking/bike
  • Check off activities on trainer’s worksheet in the gym

OK, there it is in writing. I can do that. I can. I think.

I am in the action stage for exercising. I need to remind myself of why I am doing this. These new behaviors are very important to me. I want to reclaim my self (body) as an active person, believe life long physical activity is crucial to successful weight loss maintenance and health, and know once I get started that I will feel so much better about my body and reap emotional benefit. I am, however, not so confident that I can carry out this routine even though I just said that I could. Building my self-confidence (not the same as an ego boost) is important now and for the long-term. I worry about my knee flaring up; I reflect back on past failed efforts to exercise; I wonder what to do when family and vacations get in the way (walk maybe?); I know that the very recent death of my mother and my raw grief reaction are probably impacting my ability to act. I need more confidence. So here are things that should help:

  • I have set realistic goals and know that I can modify the goals as needed based on how my body reacts (not on how my brain does)
  • Seek positive support for efforts – spouse, family, close friends, fellow bloggers. All negativity will be booted out the door. My spouse has not been as supportive with the gym. “Why do you need to spend the money? Why can’t you just walk?” Negotiations in progress.
  • Reward myself for small changes – something I didn’t do with my dietary changes. So I’m going to have to think about this. What can I give myself for staying 100% on track for one week?
  • Continue reading/watching the successful exercise experiences of others like myself. “Hey, if she can do it, so can I!”

Those of you who have been successful in becoming a regular exerciser, feel free to let me know how you did it. I’m open to any suggestions on the how to do – not necessarily the what to do. Really, I’m drowning here.

Sarah Harford's "To Save a Drowning Rat"

Vacation Mode /Off

After 9 days away from home (what a grand trip!) and another 5 at home with neither of us working, I now have to face my not-so-daily routine while the spousal-type goes back to her demanding work. The good news, eating becomes more structured. The bad news, I really enjoyed having zero demands except those placed on us by the pets and our own expectation of not being totally worthless to the rest of the world — adios until next vacation.

Here is my reflection so far of how eating out and at home in a less structure manner went during that time:

  • Travel days were the most difficult. While protein bars might work for many folks, they are triggering to my “sweet lobe”. I did resort to using the new Cliffs Builders Bars, which have a higher protein:carb but still experienced cravings that had me throwing bars across the room in our hotel one night.
  • An unexpected long travel day (13 hours instead of 5) left us “stranded” with only airport food. Really poor choices in most airports when trying to keep low calories and balanced protein/carb/fat. That day I totally blew it – probably more from stress of trying to get home and dealing with the airline than lack of appropriate food. God knows I have enough fat stores to let me fast for 13 hours!
  • Eating in NYC without going to restaurants is completely doable, and we did it this time. Our focus this trip was culture and movement. By selecting a hotel in a wonderful neighborhood near a well-known market and having a kitchenette, we were able to choose wisely. I did get one bagel with nova lox and cream cheese – but only one! We shared a piece of cheese cake, but only one. Fruit, low-fat cheese, deli meats, salads made up most of our meals and presented nicely on our hotel room plates.
  • Writing (even a couple of brief blog entries) was a good distraction and zapped me out of some mindless eating one night, even though what I was eating was healthy. Mindless eating remains a major hurdle for me.
  • Walking! We walked everywhere; the subway was our only form of local transportation in NYC besides the limo to and from the airport; my knee was not that much a problem — what’s a little Tylenol and ice pack every night? My favorite walk was a 2-mile stroll from Brooklyn across the bridge back into Manhattan with hundreds of other tourists and locals on their lunch-time runs and bike rides.  I consider eating tied to my eating routine, so it fits here.
  • Once home but still on vacation, we were both reluctant to eat in our usual routine, and for the first 3 days I munched around on almonds, yogurt, salads, but at off hours. This felt a bit out of control. I also did not keep track of my intake – very much out control. Two days ago I snapped back into sleeping and eating in my usual pattern, monitoring my food, and reconnecting on blogs. Routines are VERY IMPORTANT – make that structure.
  • I lost one pound.

I’m still trying to figure out what all of this means for my next trip coming up in June when I have to spend time with my family for 2 weeks during my father’s surgery, recuperation, and caring for my mom and him. Just anticipating that visit makes me cringe because of the perceived threat to my weight loss and eating pattern. Planning ahead…

Times Square candy store

Candy everywhere!

Huge m&m on times square screen
Chocolate follows me to Broadway!