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On Methods of Accountability

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Am doing some more reflection on this year’s retreat, which was as I said before, a totally different experience for me than 2013, but awesome in its own ways. One thing that happened was that DDP himself picked me up in a golf cart and we rode around with him lecturing me on nutrition. And he was right about everything. I have been putting my time in, both at the gym and on the mat, but eating right is what hasn’t stuck with me yet, and I have a lot of habits to change.

One of his recommendations was to participate in an e-mail accountability group where we submit a log of what we ate every day, for a group of others to see and comment on. He took it one step further, saying to plan in advance what I was going to eat, and anything “off program” gets put in ALL CAPS to draw my attention to it and make sure that it was a choice I was consciously making. All very good advice, and I really did agree that my choices would likely be very different when subject to the scrutiny of others.

I tried it for a bit and am still observing the group’s submissions; however, on the next edition of DDPRadio on Wednesday, if my friend September agrees to be featured again like she was last week, I would ask her to address the accountability groups, in that I think they'd be more effective and helpful if -- rather than being grouped into something like a blind study -- we arrange ourselves in groups of similarly- situated people. People who are at the same place in our fitness journey, or at least people who can relate to the same struggles. My group is full of people who allege that they eat perfectly every day. Even more than “perfect” in that September has suggested some of them aren’t even getting enough calories if they’re eating like they say – (not questioning anybody’s veracity here – and I know that one in particular is a health and wellness coach and I have no doubt that she’s eating like she says.)

And I can get some degree of help from the group in that they’ve given me ideas and taught me about products I didn’t know about before that I’d like to try. But I’ll be honest here – being “accountable” to strangers with whom I haven't established a relationship of trust and mutual respect really isn't doing anything for me. I have an accountability partnership with my friend Amanda who I do have this established relationship with. We have a facebook “group” – a secret group available to just the two of us, where we check in every single day, set goals for the week, and really, truly help each other. Entering my meals in sparkpeople, having this arrangement with Amanda, and then making submissions to the e-mail group was also starting to feel like doing things in triplicate and becoming tedious. With Amanda I can write paragraphs about my days and what caused me to do whatever – with this group, they don’t want that kind of discussion on the food thread.

Here's an example of e-mail group activity. Let's say I post to the group my breakfast I had this morning which was 3/4 c. blueberries and 1 oz. pistachios. Someone, inevitably being helpful, would say something like "watch those portion sizes, Jen! A portion of blueberries is a HALF a cup!" Or something. And I'd be like Jesus H. Christ, yes I know, I didn't say I ate a portion of blueberries. And if, anticipating this, I just put that I had blueberries and pistachios for breakfast, somebody inevitably being helpful would post, "please tell us the amounts of what you're eating so we can help!" And I'm finally like, pray tell what is a proper portion of bourbon because that's what you're making me want to have right now. It's like I GET that people are well-intentioned - it's just not the tool that's leading me to better decision making.

I'm not going to have the shared experience of being a married mom of more than one child, or of an already healthy-eating lifestyle expert. None of whom imbibe more than like September has admitted to formerly doing – like a one cocktail a week "habit." Again, my group takeaway has been about products I haven't heard of before which is fun and helpful to try new things, but I'm a single, working mom of one who lives in the only state in the union entirely comprised of the Appalachian region with limited access to organic, non-GMO, etc. We have different obstacles and main areas of focus every day. We don't watch the same TV programs for education OR entertainment. We don't read the same self-help books because we don't need the same help.

In large part the accountability partnership with Amanda – who I met along with her husband Buck at the 2013 retreat – is working for me because we share a LOT (I mean, almost like you cannot believe it, and you can't make this stuff up) life experiences. I would thrive more in an accountability group of people recovering from eating disorders, for example. And of people who struggle with alcohol just as much as we do food. Not people who aspire to be the next Stacey, Christina, Liz, etc. That ain't me, and it's not helpful to have someone pointing out where I'm falling short because in my case it's not about ignorance of calorie math, sugar, etc - it's pretty much purely about willfulness and substance abuse which requires a whole different approach to treatment. Last week’s DDPRadio show gave me a lot to think about, and I stayed focused on it a lot for the rest of the week. Arthur Boorman made the analogy of bad eating habits to other substances people abuse and why the former, being a necessity for life, isn't something you can just quit.

And when I say it’s “working” for me, I mean I have consistently lost weight at a healthy rate each week since Amanda and I started our little plan, first having set long-term goals to reach by next year’s retreat and then breaking them down into smaller, achievable goals per week. It’s keeping me focused every single day.


Shadowing Stacey - Keep Private Things Private?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I really thought when about a month ago I "came out" regarding my disordered eating, that it would be a pivotal moment in which everything I needed motivationally would culminate and I'd start being one of the super success stories you read about. For some reason, it seems to have had the opposite effect, and I've participated in some weird rebelliousness - rebelling against . . . myself? I don't know.

I'd set a major goal basically for all year long, then all summer long, then all month long, and I find myself now just weeks away from retreat in worse - not better and not the same - shape I was in after leaving the last one. I always say "but I can't beat myself up over it" type things and kind of dismiss them and move on, but I think it might be time to start beating myself up or something because what I'm doing isn't working.

It's not like going public was really going public. My body tells my story. I obviously consume more calories than my body effectively metabolizes, so I'm a walking billboard for overconsumption. I love working out and I exercise like an absolute beast, and then those burned calories get filled right back up. I guess the coming out part was that I don't do it joyfully or ignorantly - I can't include willfully there because I'l be honest - I don't understand the disorder, but I do know that what we consume and what we expend is a matter of choice-making. I've read the opposite as well in that it qualifies as an addiction the same way as other addictions / compulsive behavior, especially since the junk food is basically treated with what amounts to pharmaceutical level drug-sugar content. But that sounds like a cop out to me.

So hopefully you'll be glad to know that I got the contact info for a local counselor and am setting up an appointment to begin working on the inside the way Stacey recommends at the beginning - that if I don't address whatever is going on, I won't be able to fix the behavior issue that has resulted in a dangerous BMI level of extra body fat. Until then, what I'm doing on my own is trying maintain awareness of what I'm doing. My next weigh in is a few days away, and I've already consumed enough extra calories this week, in spite of my workout regimin, to gain 1.5 pounds. Using the sparkpeople database and calculation tools, I've always been able to accurately predict what the scale's going to say at next weigh in.

Stacey's method involved "getting [herself] on solid psychological ground so [she] could face [her] demons and get to the root . . . of what was driving [her] to overeat." So I'm going to explore getting to that ground and facing my demons, although I'm more than a little terrified of what I'm going to find there.


Shadowing Stacey - Results Not Typical

Sunday, June 08, 2014

I really thought "coming out" about things such as disordered eating and depression would spearhead a new beginning or fresh start for me in my weight loss journey. As Dr. Phil says, "You can't fix what you don't acknowledge." I don't know if I've just reverted the past few weeks into my old self-sabotage patterns or what, but I do know, especially with retreat less than one month away now (for me - I don't know who else is going the first week!) it's time to make good on the promises I keep making myself.

I appreciate the newer promotional material I'm seeing going around about the retreat - that it's for people of all fitness levels, and not to worry about where you are on the ddpyoga spectrum. I know they've said that all along, but it seems like a light bulb went off for someone somewhere to make sure that message is getting across loud and clear. And I'm hearing and appreciating it.

Not much news going on in working on things - more adult friendships have gone by the wayside as I'm learning is just a sad part of our grow-older life as we grow older, change, and fully recognize our boundaries (or get set in our ways.)

Am making Chef Bill's amazing crab cakes from last year's retreat today -- they've actually become what my dad requests for his birthday each year now - they're that good, if they're birthday request food. :) And onward farther into Clean Comfort in the upcoming week.


Shadowing Stacey - Introduction Part II

Monday, May 19, 2014

I compulsively overeat.

Again, I don't have a "story" per se that can't be summed up in that sentence. I compulsively overeat, and I did so as recently as 1:00 a.m. today. I haven't plumbed the psychological depths that Stacey recommends getting out of the way first, so maybe I have a story and just don't know it, but this qualifies me to be one of the ones she talks about in her book's dedication - although it hasn't been a lifelong cycle, it has been for a significant portion of my adulthood.

After gaining weight during the sedentary period known as law school, I actually developed a full-on eating disorder (bulimia) during my marriage. I compulsively binged and purged in private. What I didn't know before I started, was that purging process came with a follow-up feeling, I guess maybe adrenaline coursing through your body or something, that felt euphoric, and that keeps you going. I've never done any hard drugs that came with that kind of high, but I would bet it feels the same way. I'd accomplish a lot during the highs - painting the house, doing furniture projects, got some of my best work done -- and then I'd crash and the cycle would start again when I was once again in private.

Anyway, so I'm the compulsive eater - dieter cycle person Stacey refers to -- I wasn't even able to get through the book dedication without tears. And I'm still working on the Greek-inspired sandwiches, so I haven't started anything but reading the story parts at the beginning of Clean Comfort before starting the recipes.

Okay, again, let's talk about food. I don't like red meat. Never have - as a McDonald's child, I was a filet-o-fish gal and never a hamburger gal. But when a friend gifted me a Kindle so I could get Stacey's book, I agreed to make whatever's in it, enough for both of us, to share. And he likes steak, so hence the steak sandwiches.

It's weird, though, since I never buy steaks, it took some time pouring over the meat cases at the store to find the right kind. And somehow, driving home, even though there were something like a dozen grocery bags in the car, I could smell like a Bloodhound that there was red meat in the car.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JNFRDAWN 5/19/2014 4:05PM


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HAWKTHREE 5/19/2014 3:25PM


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Shadowing Stacey -- Introduction

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This will probably be all over the place because my thoughts aren't organized yet - I'll come back and edit at some point. But if you're reading this, chances are, Stacey Morris has been a big inspiration to you. She certainly has been for me. Of course, Arthur's ubiquitous viral video was my first introduction to ddpyoga, and I watched with tears streaming down my face and thought, like probably many of you did, "if he can do it, I can do it." I bought my system, and then explored some other people's stories, including Stacey Morris's.

I can't say I share her or anyone else's stories or even relate to all their experiences. It was one of my common themes at last year's retreat - I don't have a story. I wasn't overweight as a youth or young adult. I was an athlete and didn't have to watch what I ate at all (or so I thought - oh how I wish I'd developed healthy eating habits then along with all the exercise.) My weight problem began in late adulthood when life came to a screeching halt during law school and I was as inactive as I've ever been in my life. Continuing with the eating (sweets were never my problem - I'm a savory, breads and pasta and cheese gal) I gained a quick thirty or so pounds as a 1L and the scale kept climbing as the time went on. I remember having an absolute panic attack when I realized my weight started with a "2" instead of a "1."

Fast forward to being miserable and depressed with my chosen profession (and marriage) and the weight just came and stayed. I never have explored the psychological reasons, but have now found myself with a "weight problem" for the latter part of my adult life -- now going on more than a decade for sure.

About three years ago, with a then five year old and realizing I was heading toward a future of being one of those people who walks with a cane for no good reason other than my body's inability to support its own weight, I finally decided to do something about it. I joined an insurance-underwritten weight management program, using a gym and personal trainer, and had mild success. Then I found the cardio exercise I absolutely loved - Zumba fitness, which I still do several times a week (and have a secret, not-yet-said-out-loud goal of attaining my certification.)

BUT because of my unwillingness (I won't say inability because I know I can do it) to dramatically change my awful eating habits, while some weight came off, it was slow going and would basically park itself on the scale for weeks and months at a time.

Then I saw Arthur's video and discovered the missing piece of my workout component -- ddpyoga, and after purchasing the system I became very serious about the eating program as well. And I dropped 30 pounds prior to last summer's retreat.

I simplified what I call Phase I of the eating program for myself into the four rules of no white sugar, no white flour, nothing processed, and no alcohol. (That last one really got me.) But thirty pounds came off and I was feeling stronger and better than ever, although I still have a long way to go, that's how I knew I'd keep feeling better and better if I kept it up.

I saw Stacey's video and began reading her blog. Again, not able to relate to all of her experiences, I certainly could some. I had another "if she can do it, I can do it" moment, because at her highest weight she had a good hundredish pounds on my highest weight. And although I'm back to slow progress (albeit on the cusp of a breakthrough - I can feel it in part thanks to Stacey's inspiration) I haven't given up. But I have a feeling if I had reached Stacey's lowest point, I would have. That's why she inspires me so much.

I remember, as heavy as I got, refusing to ever get to the point where I'd have to request a seatbelt extender on a plane. At my highest weight, I would suck in as hard as I could and use every ounce of will to clasp the buckle together. Furious because of flying out of West Virginia, notoriously and consistently ranked one of the most obese states in the nation, I'd see these big men with their giant bellies not seeming to struggle, and realized I was probably not seeing myself very realistically.

I have to be honest. Even when (won't say if) I attain the goal weights that doctors and I have set for myself, I will never be drop-dead gorgeous like Stacey is. I know from weighing it before that I would have cankles and my genetic double chin at 125 pounds. But unlike during my adolescence and youth, it's not about that anymore. It's about getting the subcutaneous (sp) fat off my body to lessen my risk of heart disease and various cancers and other harbingers of doom that being obese lead to. I'm a single mom. I'm all my little one's got, and she's going to keep me for a long time whether she likes it or not.

That said, let's talk about food. I know I can do it and it could be a forever thing if I just keep making the choices I made prior to last year's retreat that led to the 30 pound drop (where I still pretty much stand.) I didn't go gluten-free or dairy-free (yet) but was doing it in stages, and I loved the dairy substitutes we were introduced to last summer when I came home to replicate Chef Bill's chicken parmesan we had in a cooking demonstration.

So here's where I stand in summer, 2014, about a month and a half prior to this year's retreat, and where the introduction to these blog entries really start. As you know, Stacey's cookbook Clean Comfort came out earlier this year. And I wanted it badly so I could have new recipes and ideas for the clean eating I'm doing not only leading up to the retreat, but then I have two back to back work trips and my forty-second birthday, and all kinds of other things to look forward to this summer.

So I went to buy it on amazon, only to find out it was only available in a Kindle edition. Which I didn't have. Enter a very sweet man who recently purchased his own ddpyoga system, and gave me a Kindle Fire just because I said I wanted one. I was in business. Except he said offhandedly after giving it to me that I'd need a Wi Fi router in order to use it.

Hence began my quest to answer what in the hell is a wi fi router and how do I use one. The Kindle sat there for weeks until I finally got one this weekend, and labored through a phone conversation with my internet service provider's customer support (who told me I really should have called the manufacturer, but he'd go ahead and help me anyway.) So it's up and it's working.

So I go to download the book. But once again, there's something in the way. I have to update some 1-click something or other in order to make purchases from the Kindle. Which I did.


So here's where it begins. My plan in this space is to do kind of a Julie-and-Julie type work up of Stacey's book. Eating clean up until retreat and thereafter. This is going to challenge me in many ways, because although I love to cook, and as Stacey pointed out in a post just yesterday, it's meditative - I wouldn't exactly say my skills in the kitchen are all that . . . advanced.

Plus, I have a limited, unsophisticated palate. I grew up on processed foods, grilled cheese sandwiches and what have you - not caring and not developing a weight problem. I've never been an adventurous eater, and now my daughter is not, and I plan on changing that for both of us. At the retreat last year, I actually tried a few things for the first time that are probably in everybody's culinary repertoires. Calimari (didn't like it) mussels (didn't like 'em) and squid ink rissoto (freaking loved it.)

So I plan on going through Clean Comfort page by page, trying absolutely everything a la Julie Powell with the Art of French Cooking. And trying absolutely everything.

In the meantime, since I haven't been able to download the book successfully yet, I've been using Mike Mullins' recipes on his Mike at 90% page. I also went grocery shopping yesterday for the week, and this is what I'll be having for the next couple days:


(from Fitness Magazine, May 2014 issue)

1 # hanger or sirloin steak

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp plus pinch of kosher salt

1/4 tsp plus pinch black pepper

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 c. low-fat plain Greek yogurt

4 tbsp chopped dill

Make marinade with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and marinate steak.

Make tzatziki sauce by combining cucuber, yogurt and dill.

Cook steak over medium-high heat, turning every 2 minutes, 8 to 12 minutes total. Let rest and slice thinly against the grain. Serve in pita halves with tzatziki sauce.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JNFRDAWN 5/19/2014 2:39PM

    I love "different start" - and am doing the same! I should have mentioned that I copy my blog from the ddpyoga site and probably make references here to like people and situations that non ddpyoga-ites might not recognize. Check out www.staceymorris.com to have your mind blown.

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_RANDY_ 5/19/2014 9:01AM

    thanks for sharing!

a wonderful blog --- and appreciate your thoughts!

I'm trying to make a different start today --- (instead of staying 'new' start)

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