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still here - mind over matter in reverse

Sunday, November 02, 2014

This was originally written as a message to a friend, but I'm editing a little bit to make it make sense for this space.

I haven't gone anywhere - have been entering my nutrition and exercise in the database daily as always. But I'm newly motivated, and was inspired by the friend I wrote this message to. As I mentioned in this space before, I re-enrolled in a weight management program underwritten by my insurance, that offers a discounted gym membership and sessions with a personal trainer, dietician / nutritionist and behavior counselor. Four to five years ago I participated in it for a year with lackluster results, and at the time it was a one-time member benefit. Then in the last couple years, they expanded it to allow those of us who didn't succeed the first time around to try again.

I'm approaching it differently this time. Last time, it was like . . . I have so many friends who are real fitness freaks. They run marathons and stuff (even when I am in good shape, I will not be a runner -- it's just never been my exercise of choice.) I have one friend in particular who runs not only marathons, but she does the "extreme" ones, like in the desert, in the mountains, through dinosaur tar pits, you know the drill. Anyway, last time I was like, "Yes! I'm going to be one of THOSE people!" Not necessarily a marathon runner, but I thought I could train my mindset to be a fitness freak. And still found myself struggling. (Mostly -- almost entirely, actually, with eating.) That's my downfall, and it's what everybody reminds me is the most important component of any fitness plan. (The program behavior counselor quantified it the other day as about 70% of the battle.)

What I decided to do this time around is realize and accept that that person (Jennifer the fitness freak) just doesn't exist. But I can be a healthy person. Instead of trying to change who I am, and what I want, which is not to run through the desert, instead I am just doing all the recommendations like it's my job. I'm not thinking about them or trying to make myself think differently about them. When I catch myself being analytical about them, I stop myself and just DO IT rather than trying to overthink it so much.


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.

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