Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My Sapphire Sisters are doing this exercise with me and it's been wonderful reading some of their discoveries and learning how some of them are going about this activity. We are all so different and we respond to different things. Turns out my inner child likes stickers! If I have an 'on plan' day (which does not equal being perfect all day long, it just means sticking to my plan for this week) I get a sticker on the calendar. The Mrs. had me thinking about stickers long ago, she's a sticker girl, too, for her exercise plan. Turns out I like it!
For those who are not Sapphires,though, I thought I'd post some more information about this that we are all working on. It contains several scenarios that give examples of how to approach change.
And yes, you CAN be in more than one place at a time. Many of us slip from action to relapse to contemplation back to action and so on. The goal is to stay in action, at least spend more time there than we do in the other stages…but it’s a process. Obviously this isn't for everyone. I do know some people on SP who made a decision to change and have never had a moment of relapse since, who have been able to stay on plan every single day. And that is what we're all hoping for, but for those of us who feel like we're sort of floating along this can be a good first step out of the pond. I know it's already helped me a LOT, and I'm already feeling the emotional benefit from knowing I am making positive changes. Take what you like, leave the rest!
You want to stop eating chocolate. First, you break that down before you approach the action step.
You have 2 ways to look at that:
1. If you eat chocolate daily you can ask yourself "am I willing to give it up one (or two) days of the week? or
2. If you really think it will be difficult to do that you ask "am I willing to give up chocolate after (or before) 6 pm?
The point is to break it into a small step. Just one step. Then when you determine what you want to agree to, you set a begin date.
Beginning Monday I will not eat any chocolate after 6 p.m. at night. For every day I am successful I will put a sticker or star or whatever on the calendar day. My goal is to give chocolate up 2 nights this week. (If you are a visual person, have an actual calendar and stickers or a happy face or whatever. The computer does not satisfy our need for visual reinforcement, but a calendar or paper with shiny stickers on it will.)
After a week of this someone you will be accountable to (a person, the team) will check back with you and you will report how that week went.
"I gave up chocolate two days this week and it went pretty good. I didn't really miss it."
Then the next step is "can you give it up one extra day?(or two) and so on...
And you will then do that for a couple weeks.
The easiest way to look at this is something like quitting smoking. If someone can't quit they might be willing to give up 2 cigarettes a day. Then maybe a couple more. If they start with "I will never smoke another one" they tend to get overwhelmed. You can also add things you discovered during planning like, with chocolate, researching on SP and discovering that chocolate over 70% has some really good health benefits and how about if you exchanged 1 ounce of that for one of your current chocolates per day.
You want to give up drinking soda.
Take a look at how often in a week you are drinking soda. Let's just begin there for the first week or so.
Here is an example of how to look at this:
I am drinking soda every other day, so about 3-4 times a week.
My goal is to not drink soda.
I am willing to give up soda ONE of those days and I will replace it with flavored water.
I will keep a daily record that I can see and on the days I do not have a soda I will put a sticker on that day. My goal right now is to only have 2 days without a sticker.
You keep this up for a couple weeks. Then you sit down and decide if you can give up 1 more day of soda. And do that for a couple weeks.
Maybe you will need to stay at 1 or 2 a week for awhile. That's okay. This is YOUR process, you control it, you decide.
When you are comfortable with where you are, you look at the next thing you want to change/add and do the same. Maybe switch flavored water with plain water. Or coffee with water.
I want to exercise regularly.
Right now I either exercise all the time or days and days go by. I have no real pattern to it.
My goal is to exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes.
Because things are crazy, I am going to start with 2 days a week. I am making it my goal for the first 3 weeks of the challenge to exercise at least 2 days a week. If I do more, fine, but my goal is 2 days.
You will work with someone/the team to be accountable. At the end of the week you will be able to say “I did exercise 2 days this week! It was okay and I am going to keep my goal that for the next week.”
Then, when you feel good there, you can add 1 day. And so on.
Sometimes when we are in action for a long time (I have been exercising 4 days a week for a year but stopped doing it a month ago) this process can help us get right back to action, because we recognize where we are, we recognize we can CHANGE where we are, and that hopelessness goes away.
The purpose of this is to understand this is a process. If you told us all you wanted to go out and do a 5k walk today we would cheer you even if you came in last place! Because you did it. That same thing can apply to this. Have you made ANY PROGRESS in your goals? if you did, it's total WIN, not a failure.
This is to help us overcome the 'relapse' mentality, which is demoralizing and defeating and we ALL go there.
I am going to focus on night time eating. I am an all or nothing person so my head goes to “I want to stop night time eating, and exercise every day, and stop having any sugar and…..so on and so on.” But that is part of what defeats me, too much. Slow is okay. Slow is a beginning.
One step at a time. We can do this!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I am not very good at balance. When I first got here I had spent many years never putting myself first, or even second. In a busy family of 5 I was usually in 5th place when it came to giving myself any attention.
When I came to SP my boys were mostly grown and it was easier to carve out some 'me' time. I'm a busy person, though. I have a family here at home, I work more than full time, I volunteer on occasion, I'm back taking college classes, I have a mother close by that needs help and I have at least a teeny bit of a social life. So finding 'time' is difficult.
I managed quite nicely when I first got to SP, but it was really to the detriment of other things, like my job. I think it was the case of the pendulum swinging the other direction- everything became about me, me, me. I lost well that first year, though, and haven't since, so there has to be a correlation. The focus went back to work and now other things are suffering: my school, my weight loss efforts, my family life.
I often daydream and wonder what it would be like to just have nothing facing me every day but my own schedule. No work. No kids. Just get up...do whatever I want...exercise all day if I feel like it. Not that I would do that, mind you, but I wonder how different it would be if that was the only thing I had to think about. Maybe that is what retirement is like?
But I'm not retirement age yet. And I need to continue to push myself to find ways to put 'me' first. I have learned from my failures if that is any consolation. I know without any hesitation that if I do not go work out first thing in the morning, I won't go. Oh I'll PLAN on going. I'll say "I'll go at lunch and do it", or "I'll take my lunch later in the afternoon and go then." But work pulls me here and there and I never do leave to go anywhere once I'm there. I also do not carve out time when I am first off work. "I'll go there right after work and THEN go home." No, I won't. By the time work is over home is calling (literally...calling me on the phone and saying 'when will you be home?') and I will drive right past the gym. So morning it is...and that means losing a little sleep to get there. I know sleep is important, too. In fact SP had an article last week about not losing weight being tired to poor sleep habits.
I will just have to figure out how to go to sleep a little earlier...get to the gym... and then move on to a busy day. Balance. No one else is going to figure this one out for me.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Ten weeks ago as part of my Summer Challenge I was to write myself a letter to read at the end of it. I had forgotten about this, actually. Ten weeks is a long time when life is batting you around.
It hasn't been a good summer. Work, which is something I usually love, was difficult for awhile. I'm still recovering from that. My DH was laid off and we are dealing with the usual financial issues. My dear brother in law died. Still, reflection is a good thing and I'm going to copy my letter to myself here, and then look at how I feel things turned out:
Ten weeks ago you were just beginning to feel hopeful again. Life issues had been pushing you towards a new commitment to your health, and you were determined to go back to what worked for you before: staying in range, logging your food and exercising. It's pretty simple, really, when you break it down.
You know by now that whatever results you had from the 10 week challenge: you earned.
It is my sincere hope that you earned a loss, that you are feeling lighter, that you were feeling more energized. We know you can choose your path.
I hope you have learned to relax a little more, get a good nights sleep, enjoy the lovely weather and walk outside every chance you got. I hope you learned to love yourself a little more, right where you are.
Finally, you are going to post here a photo of yourself that is a close up, and you are going to look at that photo and not immediately say how old you think you look! You are going to look at this photo, your new profile pic, and tell yourself that you are looking at a strong and capable woman who loves deeply and loves with action and is learning to apply those things to herself.
Now go give yourself a hug!
(End of Letter)
Okay, so here are the positives for the summer:
I finished up a barrage of medical testing and can comfortably if not always happily LIVE with the results. The living part is the good part of this, btw...even with some discomfort and pain I am still able to live. I'll take it.
Some of the medical results were actually positive! My diabetes is totally in control, my heart is strong and I'm free of blockages or clots or tumors. I'll take it.
I AM ending this challenge with a loss. And that is the first time that has happened in a long time. I'm currently at -8.5 for 9 weeks and...I'll take it. It has been a long time since I felt I was moving in the right direction. I am tracking. I am feeling that my new lifestyle is more a habit than an effort. I have adjusted to having celiac's and that isn't a food issue as it was in the beginning. Small additions to my activity are becoming second nature to me. I feel it important that I exercise "with purpose" and by that I always mean I went to the gym...but I am catching myself adding steps, stairs, the long way around almost all the time. Those are very positive changes.
So all in all, difficult summer aside, I am happy with where I stand today. Did I meet ALL my goals? No. Did I bat 1,000...get to the finish line first...get 100% on the test? No. But I DID make some pretty good progress, I'm still IN the game, and the finish line isn't going anywhere so I can still get there. I'll take it.
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