Friday, July 12, 2013
Whenever I think about my current situation - overweight, some minor health issues - I realize that they are symptoms of something bigger. I didn't NOT know that I would be fat if I ate too much and moved to little, it just wasn't foremost in my decision making. That's why I can't really rely just on information to help me make the change to a leaner lifestyle; I always had the information. Like Dorothy always had the ruby slippers, I could always go home, theoretically, to a healthy body. But unlike Dorothy, I KNOW how to use the information to get thinner. I just don't put it into action.
As a special ed teacher, I know and believe that when a goal is not being reached, you break it down into smaller and smaller goals until you can move forward and reach the first goal. I have a food addiction. Overeating is a large part of my coping strategies when I have emotional responses to stress - and who doesn't have stress? I certainly have my share. Eating and sleeping has soothed me since I was a small child; I don't enjoy running or moving very much, so I didn't miss activity in my life. I like to think about stuff - rewarding, but not very taxing for my body. Since I like to think so much, I over-think. This can make me even more tired - and then I go to sleep again and rest.
I needed a way to stop this pattern. But, how do you confront an emotional pattern you have lived since childhood? In some manner, it worked for me for 48 years.
I broke it into a child's game. I know how tough a hold a behavioral addiction has on my mind and body; it's real, although it's not the same as a chemical dependency, thank goodness. It's not something that goes away just by rational thinking, because when those physical symptoms come calling, they propel me toward my behavior pattern and I have failed at every attempt I've ever made to change. So, I reduced the thought that I needed to access in the moment; I am taking baby-baby steps, playing the children's game "Red light, green light, 1,2,3."
While I'm trying to make the leap to a new behavior pattern, I need a drastically different behavior, but I need something I am able to do. I decided that I would label all my favorite "binge" foods as Red-light foods. It doesn't matter if I'm home or out, I can't eat them. Right now. Until I start to make changes, I will avoid the red-light foods. That includes things my mind labels as irresistible - milk chocolate, milk shakes, Chinese food, steak, chunks of cheese, butter, and cheesecake. These guys are absolutely out of my diet for now because when they are available, I eat them until they are gone. I may vow I won't, but when I have a weak moment, I haven't had any success at resisting them in the past. So, they are off the table for the present time - Red light. Don't move.
Green light foods, on the contrary, include watermelon and grapes and strawberries and oatmeal, sugar (I can't stand more than a teaspoon in coffee or tea, so it's safe) skim milk, seltzer, sliced turkey, tomato and lettuce, cucumbers, bananas, water, etc. All things healthy can be consumed with abandon, because - I won't. I eat until I'm feeling full-ish, and I can stop with no problem.
When I feel a need to overeat, I have a glass of water and then I eat as much of the green-light foods as I feel necessary. I pay attention to how I feel while I eat, kind of like an experiment. I want to see how I feel as I eat, and when I will lose the desire to eat. If I accidentally overeat healthy food, well, it's still too many calories, but it's nothing like what it would be if I ate a big chunk of Italian bread slathered with 1/4 inch of butter, or a quarter pound of cheddar, or three slices of cheesecake.
The game mentality is simple to remember. Green means "go" so I feel comfortable that I'm not depriving myself when I feel anxious and want to eat - there's no emotional conflict that inspires drama and more eating and sleeping. And now, I don't need to sleep as much. No long naps in most afternoons. Most importantly, I feel great that I've avoided the red-light. This is the small success I alluded to earlier when I said that I had to break the steps up so much that I was able to achieve a goal.
Being successful without any conflict inside makes me believe I can do it again. I'm heading into another green-light day today, and I know I can do it. If I mess up with my "yellow" light foods, I will adjust. I have no emotional attachment to them, after all. But avoiding the red-light foods for now has given me strength to do better, to add small exercise goals, to move at a pace - admitted, glacial, compared to most of you guys - but one that I can achieve and use to create new, better ways of living that I will be able to repeat, over and over again, until my routines area healthy. I have hope, first in a long time, that real change is coming. And those red-light foods will be welcome sometime after I achieve my weight loss goal, when their power is gone in my mind and they turn into 'just foods" again.
Red light, green light, 1,2,3 - time to play!
Monday, March 04, 2013
Isn't it odd what stays left over in our mind from childhood? I can remember when I was growing up, even though money was always tight, we had a certain number of bananas in our house. And, we loved them because they were very sweet,and quite easy to peel and eat - much less chewing than, say, an apple. The poor apples always lingered around until the next grocery trip, while the bananas went fast - usually in the first day or two!
And, that was my problem. I loved bananas, but I felt very greedy if I had more than one, so I avoided them. I ate the apples. Then I ate the leftover meatballs, or the cheese Grandma got from President Reagan (that's what they told us) or whatever else was available. I was bored, eating made me feel good, and I had avoided overeating the precious bananas!
Later on, I joined a very popular weight loss group, and the leader reinforced my banana guilt when she told me, "You're eating a banana? They're the worst for weight loss! If you eat a small apple you have less calories, more fiber - don't eat those bananas!"
The guilt kept me away from bananas. Sure, I can afford to keep bananas in the house these days. Sure, I eat a variety of other fruit, too - I think a banana a day is a nice treat, but I don't want to eat six of them. So, why the banana problem?
Sugar guilt was another big problem. I loved my cup of tea with a teaspoon of sugar in the afternoon, but then I read that sugar was the devil. I shouldn't have any sugar - try tea without. Avoid milk, too. So, I drank the bitter tea, then decided I'd substitute TAB (remember that one?) and have my no-calorie sweetness. It didn't do the trick, but I could drink a lot more of it... After years of relying on diet soda for my "sweetness substitute," and then binging on it, I now have such bad heartburn every day that I consume Tums like M&Ms.
Now, there's two bad behaviors here that don't work for me. One is denying myself what I really want, instead of eating it in moderation. The other is the binge behavior. So, here's my plan.
Today, I am not going to binge eat, because I have great, healthy food that I truly like planned out for healthy intervals, and I have exercised this morning. Because of this, when I go home after work today, before I go about preparing dinner for my family, I am sitting down to my favorite detective show with a hot cup of tea, English style, with milk and sugar. And for dessert tonight, I'm eating my banana. I earned it.
Friday, January 18, 2013
I find it very hard to deal with physical pain and yet focus on good diet and health initiatives. I have migraines, bursitis in my hips, and dental issues that have just resulted in root canal - swollen face, painful teeth - again. But thank goodness, no life-threatening medical issues. Just discomfort.
I count my blessings. I do exercises for my bursitis, and the hips do actually feel a little better. Weight loss would help a lot more, but it's something. The migraines still have me stumped, but they average once or twice a week now. When they hit, they hurt a lot, but sleep helps. I have to admit, I am getting my rest. There was an infection in my jaw from a blown root canal, so I went to the dentist. It turns out, the root canals I had last Wednesday do hurt right now. Hence, 3 glasses of wine and counting - and a pain pill. Very unusual for me, a typical "cheap date" falling asleep after one glass of wine. Wine is one of my blessings today. The other is my husband, who agreed to take my 22 year old autistic son bowling without me tonight, so I can chill out here and try to not feel too awful.
Patience. I have a lot of good things going for me. I am grateful, and I long to be patient. Tomorrow I will log onto Sparkpeople again. I will track my food. I will try to exercise a little. And I will be patient with myself. It's OK that I haven't had miraculous results on Sparkpeople, even when I start to think of this as proof that I am a failure. I realize that am just on my own timetable, taking care of what I need to, and taking small steps toward a healthier life.
Patience. It gives me room to fail and get up again, deal with my small challenges, and still try for something better.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
This past weekend was a great Spark experience. I created my vision collage, keeping in mind my cheerleader, on one shoulder, and my dragon - previously described as a Jabba the Hut lookalike with clashing lipstick - on the other. It was pure fun, for lack of a better word.
I chose words and pictures that just made me happy and enthusiastic seeing them. I put them all on an optomistic, blue background. Anything that I originally looked at, that ultimately seemed a little critical or negative, (dragon-esque,) I discarded. Anyting uplifting got fit into the collage, from tiny lady bugs to a large photo of a not-perfect-figured woman doing yoga and seeming serene.
And after I was done, that energy and upbeat feeling carried over! I felt so confident in how I wanted to look at my life that I began culling through all the accumulated clutter around the house, removing things that I had just because someone else had given it to me (mom, dad) or because I was afraid that some day I would need it and I couldn't afford another one - despite hating the darn thing - and the whole house seems lighter and more likable! I even moved my desk - a drafting table - right into my bright, sunny bedroom so I could feel better working there, and clipped my vision collage to the top of it! Two hours of heavy cleaning later, I was a sweaty but upbeat mess, and not a hint of the dragon sliming around at all.
Sparkpeople, we are on a roll!
Thursday, November 08, 2012
So, it seems that even the spark baby steps are too much for me to do consistently just yet, but I'm not letting that get me down. No, 8 glasses of water per day didn't happen consistently yet, but hey, it did more days than not. And on the days I didn't make it, I still drank more water than I did in the past. I didn't get in all the exercise I planned every day, but I got it done three times, anyway. Yeah, it's only ten minutes here and there, but it's ten more than I've been doing, more days than I have been in the past. And I'm tracking daily. I forgot to finish two of the days, but I did finish five of them. I'm moving slowly in the right direction.
Last night I had a dream, and when I woke up I was still thinking about it. I was visited by my cheerleader, a vision of myself at goal weight. She was the personthat I have tried to be toward other people. My goal weight person wasn't trying on new clothes or living a life different than the one I live now; she was jogging in place and gesturing for me to come along. She was so upbeat and happy, not a care in the world. She was asking me to think about the things I like about myself - she said, "Quick, name five things you like about yourself!" I said that to many a person feeling down on themselves. I smiled at the familiarity of the exercise, and answered the question. I dreamed that I was getting up to go run with her. (AHA! Another goal for me that I wouldn't think would happen - I never was able to run for any length of time!)
When I popped out of bed today I was excited to think of her, my cheerleader vision, instead of the creepy comfort dragon I have been giving all my power to. I picture my cheerleader bopping along to music I love, jogging away, feeling awesome about the accomplishment. And I was ready to try, all over again, to achieve my sparkstreak goals. This week will be even better!
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