Thursday, December 01, 2011
My employer, along with our insurance provider, gives access to a great program called "Take Charge, Live Well." One of the features of this program is an annual health-risk assessment which I make sure I do when it's offered. It asks a bunch of questions regarding lifestyle and physical health (including cholesterol levels, weight, sleep habits, average diet, and so on) and then not only paints a picture of your current health but also suggests ways in which it can be changed.
For me, weight has always been the focus, but this year stress jumped to the front burner as a concern. Long work hours, a long commute, volunteer work, and single parenting had me so stressed that I dreaded waking up. I just wanted to sleep the days away and give up some responsibility. I wasn't eating right, relying on fast food several nights a week in order to get my daughter fed, bathed, and in bed no more than two hours after arriving home. I rarely shopped for groceries, tending to run in and grab what I needed for a couple days, and I obviously didn't plan my meals. My house was a wreck; after my long days I just wanted to sit and relax in the evening...so, obviously, exercise didn't happen, either. And because I needed my alone time to decompress, I'd stay up far too late in order to enjoy some peace and quiet before my day started all over again. I also have a boyfriend and wanted to make time for him, so weekends were typically spent with him and his son as I tried desperately to inject some fun in my life.
After taking the health risk assessment I saw that something had to give. Over the course of the past 12 months my health went from a score of 76 (which is at the top of the good range) to the low 60s, almost poor. Stress was clearly at the root of all my health issues: poor diet, no exercise, poor sleep habits, dissatisfaction with my life. You name it, stress was causing it.
I bring this up because today SparkPeople is featuring a new calendar, 31 Days to Healthier Holidays. It focuses on healthy eating, rather than stress management, but it's still worthwhile to look at it and utilize it as a tool for stress relief. Here's the thing: stress is circular. Stress causes us to not eat well, to lose sleep, to become angry...and all of these things lead to more stress. They only way to combat it is to stop the cycle and, really, this can be done at any point on the circle. Change the stressor and you reduce the stress, which then changes other stressors. I'm getting a handle on my eating as one of my stress-reducers. My other tactic was to eliminate my volunteer work at my daughter's school. It pained me to walk away from that commitment but I realized that it was the primary reason I was miserable...not the work, but the commitment itself.
I've chosen to continue my work schedule as it stands, so four days per week I'll be at work for 9 hours. The fifth day - for my schedule that will be Friday - I'll work a half day, giving me time to do housework, meal planning, grocery shopping, and my other chores. This way my evenings can be spent relaxing without the stress of knowing that work at home is piling up.
I'm continuing to try to look at this process as a lifestyle change rather than a weight loss program. With luck, my weight will decrease as I change these other aspects of my life (stress is a known cause of weight gain, as well). But if I don't lose weight, or if it comes off slowly, I'll still have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm happy and well-balanced through and through.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
As part of my push to do this right I've decided I need to be accountable. Ultimately I'm only accountable to myself, of course. But I believe that, this time, I need to be accountable to others around me, and I need to be vocal about it. I need to talk about what I'm doing, why I want to do it, why it's important, and why I deserve it. So today I committed to journaling my weight loss efforts for my employer's quarterly health and wellness newsletter.
This terrifies me, literally. But I read something the other day that resonated with me: given all of your options, with all other things being equal, choose the most difficult. For me, eating right is easy. Exercising is less easy but I can get in a groove and fall in love with working out. Putting myself out there, exposing myself - even my successes - is really, really scary. I can do it here on SP since we all have common goals and because I'm still anonymous here. Doing it in real life, with people I see several days a week and who might judge me...I'm petrified. But that's in part due to the shame I feel over my body's size. Despite knowing that there's no reason to feel ashamed, I do, and I feel worthless, too. By making my struggles public, by sharing my hard work, I'm saying, "Yeah, I'm fat. And I deserve better than to feel this way, and so does my body, and I want all of you to look at me and hear me and know that I know I'm worth this."
I have a month to prepare myself for the next newsletter article, but I'm starting my program now. I'm starting by eating right, and then I'll add exercise to the mix. I'm doing this because, for me, getting a handle on my eating is easier, and I need that small success. By January I'll have my plan in place and I'll be ready to share it with my coworkers. And I'll add 70 people to my support network. Who couldn't use more support?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I've regained my weight. Again. And recently I found myself hating my body. Again. Then, the other day, I came across a blog via Facebook that's called "This Is Not a Diet. It's My Life." And it clicked. This is my life. How do I want to live it? How do I want to feel each day? Do I want to hate my body, or be angry with myself for not keeping the weight off? Do I want to turn to food when I'm down, only to feel worse after turning to food? Do I want to feel ashamed of my body, or to twist away from my boyfriend when he touches me so we won't feel the parts that lob over or jiggle or stick out? Obviously, the answer to all of these is "no." So how do I stop? I just...stop. I stop doing the things that make me miserable. I stop doing the things I can't live with or that I'd tell someone I care about to stop doing. I just stop. So today, I'm stopping. I'll backtrack, no doubt, since I have many, may years of hating my body rather than loving it. But I will stop. And I'll begin living my life as I want to go on. Starting now.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I've been challenged lately to stick with my fitness program. My motivation has been non-existent, and that negative voice in my head is trying to undermine me. I'm working on pulling through, but it's been really, really tough.
This happens every time I get on a fitness program, by the way. I'll start off gangbusters, and then I just peter out. Then I start thinking about what a loser I am, how I can't do anything right, yada yada yada. And I regain the weight I lost. The end.
This time, though, something is different. Oh, I'm still struggling. I had chips and salsa and Oreo cookies for dinner last night. But each morning I'm waking up and still feeling as though I'm on my program. I still eat my same healthy breakfast and my same healthy lunch. When weather permits, I'm still going out and taking walks. And that voice? It's still fairly quiet.
It occurred to me as I fell into this familiar pattern of losing my motivation that I had a choice: I could let myself fail again or I could fight. I could stop following my program or I could try my best to muddle through. And it also occurred to me that if I can just get work through it this time and get to the other side, these challenging spells will never get the best of me again.
So I'm fighting with all my might to work through it. I haven't lost a pound in weeks; in fact, I've gained a couple. But I'm still fighting. And because I'm still fighting, I'm already a winner. My fight won't ever be over, but my opponent will never have the same strength over me. And (to continue this metaphor) the next time the fight won't be so hard, because I'll know that I've already beat it once. I'll never lose again.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
It's been days since I felt really motivated. I've battled low self-esteem, nighttime eating, laziness and sluggishness...you name it. Once I fall off the wagon it's tough to get back on, and lately I've felt like the wagon left me behind.
Yesterday, though, the sun was shining, both literally and metaphorically. I had a fantastic day - I even got off my behind and worked out! - and today promises to be more of the same.
I don't know what changed, though I'm pretty sure a good part of it is hormonal. Mid-cycle I tend to have more energy and a more positive outlook. But I also think I'm just fed-up. When the sun is shining and the air is fresh and light, I want to feel light right along with it. I get the urge to spring-clean my mind and body.
I'm also feeling positive about my slow progress. Any other time I would have lost considerably more weight by now. I started back on Spark People on February 21 and I've lost 9.8 pounds since then. But the thing is, by losing slowly, I know I'm more likely to keep it off. And I also know I'll have more opportunities to learn and grow if this process is slow and steady. Sure, it would be great to lose the weight quickly, but I'm cool with this.
Finally, I'm thrilled that, despite my lack of motivation, I'm still here. I'm still logging on every single day, reading blog posts, writing some of my own posts, and generally being active on SP. I'm not giving up, and now I know I WON'T give up.
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