Thursday, February 16, 2012
This week has been a somewhat somber reality check in the aftermath of Valentine's Day - supposedly the most romantic day of the year.
My reality check? Fairy tales don't exist. Neither does Prince Charming, or Cinderella, or Happily Ever After.
No - nothing is wrong in my relationship. In fact, we're better than ever and had a really lovely Valentine's Day skating at the top of the city and eating gourmet cupcakes. Le sigh. I'm still very much in love with my wonderful man.
But as wonderful as he is, he is not here to save my life. He is not going to whisk me away and make all of my problems disappear. And it would be really terrible of me to demand that of him.
But the problem is that I HAVE been demanding that of him. And of other people too. I am enamoured with the romantic notion that there is some magical key to my ultimate happiness - and I don't think I'm alone in this method of thinking.
"If I just lose the weight, I will have everything I truly desire"
"If I find the perfect man, we'll get married and have babies and my life will be perfect"
"If I get the perfect job, I will never be unhappy again a day in my life"
Well - that's just not the way it works. Life, is life. And it's going to continue being life with all of its crazy ups and downs, regardless of dramatic weight loss, weddings, babies or any other big events that really only serve to sway the course temporarily before life carries on, day after day after day.
Existential much? Perhaps. But I'm finding lately that coming smack up against The Human Condition as we all share it is helping me through the worst boughts of loneliness and depression and dissatisfaction. Sometimes telling it like it is and excepting it as that is the best thing that any of us can do.
So what brought this on? As romantic as my Valentine's Day was, I had hinted at a gift that I really wanted a few weeks ago and I didn't get it. And that upset me. I had fantasized about our perfect night together, and that had included me getting this gift from him. When that didn't happen it honestly felt like my hopes and dreams were crushed...just a little. I immediately jumped to blaming him for my hurt - did he not get the hint? did he not love me as much as I love him? was he insulted that I had suggested he buy me a gift in the first place? am I not worth it? But I knew there was something that felt wrong about being mad at him for such a silly thing. And there is something wrong - but it isn't with Nikhil.
I'm not happy with my life right now. My job is sucking all the joy and energy and desire from my daily existence. I am desperately trying to find somewhere new to go, but the job market is terrible and we all know that. This is going to be a long battle. Add to that the fact that I'm not just trying to change jobs, I'm trying to start a whole new career path for myself. And one that nets me more money at the end of the month. Not an easy task. I'm also still in Plateauville, but, DUH, for obvious reasons. So it's only natural that I would seek salvation in the one thing in my life that IS going well - my man.
Imagine the pressure he must feel having to live not only his own life (and do amazingly well at it), but also be responsible for making mine better! That's so unbelievably mean of me, I'm ashamed. But can you blame me? Who doesn't want to be saved? Who doesn't want to be swept off their feet and taken away from all their worldly issues? Shrink this down to a smaller scale though and ask simply - who doesn't just want to be hugged and told it will all be better soon?
The gift that I wanted? It would have bought me maybe a week of gloating on Facebook, showing it off to all my friends, being made to feel special for a short period of time. And yes - that would have felt great. I could surely use a dose of that right now and I'm still mourning not getting it. But after those 3 days of happiness, life would come back with a vengeance. I'd still be in Plateauville, I'd still be working my sucky job, and despite a really nice gift, I'd still be in the same place with the person that I love. Changed, but only briefly.
They are right when they say you can't buy happiness. And that goes for all kinds of currencies. Money, pounds, food. No amount of any of those things is going to create the kind of change in your life that yields a true feeling of contentment.
However, they are also right when they say that we are each the masters of our own destiny. I am the only person that can control my personal fulfillment. No one else is going to get me a new job. No one else is going to live a healthier life for me. I'm in charge of doing all those things for myself. And ultimately, it's better that way anyway since I'm the one that's going to benefit from it.
It sucks - not getting what you want. And it sucks when you REALLY realize that no one else can be responsible for your happiness but you. Because it's then that you know that it's a long road ahead and it's going to be a lot of hard work. And that sucks too. But the rewards reaped are going to be a bigger payoff. I've felt that and I know that, I just have to keep reminding myself of that. It doesn't make it any easier, but just because there aren't Princes and Castles and Fairytale Endings, doesn't mean there aren't Silver Linings.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
The novel is on my list of "must reads," but this isn't a blog about a book.
I'm terrified of being hungry. There - I said it. I'm STUCK right now because I can't bear the thought of being hungry. The thought of being hungry scares me so much, I binge eat in anticipation of maybe, possibly, ever being hungry at some point in the future. When I was over 300 pounds, I couldn't possibly even imagine trying to lose weight because that would most certainly involve being hungry. And I CAN'T be hungry. Being hungry triggers the worst possible feelings and reactions and instincts deep down inside me. Every trait that I have that makes me "all-consuming" is triggered by my hunger. And I have come to understand that if ever someone speaks poorly of me, it is usually because they have witnessed a behaviour that is the product of my hunger. Being hungry is a bad, bad thing for me, and I do everything in my power to make sure it never happens to me. And unfortunately for my weight loss project, that includes the physical consumption of A LOT of food.
But we're talking about two different kinds of hunger here. Otherwise - I'd still weight over 300 pounds. Somehow, in April of 2009, I got over the fear of physical hunger and managed to lose 100 pounds. Thinking back on that year I can't remember ever being physically hungry. I wasn't in pain. I wasn't depriving myself. In fact, I was being fed plenty. I lost over 100 pounds eating over 2200 calories a day. That's a lot! I am living proof that you don't have to starve yourself to lose weight.
So what the heck am I so scared about lately?
I always knew that my weight loss journey was going to have 2 chapters. I had a pretty even 200 pounds to lose that I figured would happen in two 100-pound increments. Getting to the first hundred was the first hurdle and I galloped over that line with what I look back on now as a blaze of glory. But I have just recently realized that what was supposed to be two equally weighted chapters has become, over the course of the last year, three. I am not ready for the final chapter yet. And my fear is telling me that fair and square. I am not yet mentally ready to lose another 100 pounds. And that sucks. Because like the scale, you can't will the brain to move quickly. Chapter 2 is about taking time, and work, and love and faith to move that mountain of mass in my head. I don't doubt that it will happen for me. Just not as quickly as I wanted it to. This isn't going to be a clean fight for me. And why I ever expected it to be, I don't know. This has been a dirty duel since day one (and day one was a LONG time before April 15, 2009).
So right now, I'm fighting the fear. The fear is the unknown factor. Because the known factors are actually fairly simple. I am at a point where I need to reduce my daily calorie intake to approximately 1550 calories a day. When I do that, and stick to that plan, the scale responds accordingly with a loss. So I know the math works. But what doesn't quite work yet is my mental willingness to stick to that number. Even though I have proved through a number of days of eating at that level that I WILL NOT be physically hungry, my emotional hunger is taking over. I'm using my running as an excuse to overindulge. It feels good, so I continue to do it. Heck - Hal Higdon tells me I can eat PopTarts? Best believe I'm gonna go get me some PopTarts!
I can tell that I'm in the midst of a down and dirty mental battle with my brain when I start instilling ridiculous "Game Rules" on myself. The post-it on the box of PopTarts that says "Only if you run 5+ miles," the note on the container of ice cream in the freezer that says "Only to be eaten when Nikhil is present" because I know I won't binge in front of him, the constant talking with myself all day long about how many calories I consume and when I can consume them - "If you wait until you go home, you can have a latte on the way." I'm so obsessed with consumption, I'm actually consuming myself! I've been playing the game for long enough now that I know the rules inside and out and therefore, I also know how to get around them. But in playing the game I'm not actually listening to myself. I talk to myself daily about numbers - numbers on the scale, numbers on the tape measure, numbers attached to the foods I'm eating - but I'm NOT talking to myself about my feelings which is not allowing myself to know when I'm really, physically hungry. My life, and my health, and my happiness is NOT a game. So I need to stop playing for a bit and listen. I need to stop making deals and bartering with myself, trying to "win" when all I'm doing is ensuring that a different part of me is going to "lose." And that's the part of me that is so scared right now and hanging on for dear life. She's not going to let go and give up the ghost when she's so threatened.
Mentally, I'm back in 2009, before the change. In many ways I have come SO far. In many ways I have made amazing movement to something more positive. But I think the fear that I am feeling now is attached to my core issue, and the closer I get to that issue, the tighter I hang on to my old habits. SOMETHING happened in 2009 that allowed me to let go. Something happened that made me trust and through practice convinced me that my worst fears of being hungry weren't going to come true. So I'm continuing to put in the work right now to find that something again. Because right now, I'm too hungry not to be fed and I'm sitting at an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet called "Life" - And I'm fighting with all my might the temptation to try a little bit of everything.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
So I think most of us would either have to be living under a rock or never signing into SparkPeople to not know about the release of both the SparkPeople Cookbook and Coach Nicole's new 28-Day Bootcamp DVD.
In a very smart marketing campaign, selected bloggers and team leaders were all sent the new DVD for free and asked to post an honest review of the product by, well, today. I love living to the deadline!
So here's what I HONESTLY think - It's Great!
I do love getting stuff for free, but more than that, I think that this is actually a DVD I'm going to use and enjoy more than once. And thank goodness I have something better to look at now while I'm toning by buttocks than Tony Little in a tight jumpsuit. No jokes kids - Tony Little Target Training was the first series of workout videos I ever purchased (on VHS no less) and they still get rotation every so often when I feel like my cardio alone isn't cutting the bacon anymore. But I've been in need of something new for a while, and this fits the bill nicely. I mean, let's face it - Tony Little is, well, annoying. Coach Nicole - definitely not annoying. You kinda want to hate her when she's making you sweat, but she's honestly too cute to hate, especially in these videos. And her workout assistants are cute too!
So to give you the rundown - there's a 28-Day Calendar program that you can follow to a T, or you have the option to play the video segments separately and go at your own pace. Either is totally acceptable. I was a little confused at first because when I got the DVD in the mail, I loaded it onto my laptop instead of into my regular DVD player and it skipped the main title menu and went straight into the workouts. But after backing it up a bit and reading through the different menus, I found the 28-Day routine right at the top of the list. I really like the calendar program because you can select a specific day and it will automatically play through all the videos associated with that day. No guessing games, remembering or stopping and starting the DVD required. Just plug & play and get ready to sweat.
The videos on their own are simple. As an avid fan of a pretty hardcore Zumba class, this is NOT that kind of workout. I am still a little disappointed that I can't seem to find an at-home workout that works me as hard as my Zumba class, but then again, I think that's just the nature of the fitness class beast (there is higher impact in numbers!) These routines and the overall look and feel of the video remind me of a Weight Watcher's cardio dance video I got for free the last time I signed up with them. Simple dance moves, easy to follow, gets your heart rate up - but I could easily have carried on a conversation or even sang along to a song while doing the workouts and it's a fairly minimal calorie burn. It does get tougher, however, when you start layering the videos together. So for people who want to pack a harder punch, you have to spend the time and do the full routine, and you WILL feel it after that.
There are some cool extras that I enjoy including a couple of workouts from other fitness experts. There are also a couple of great recipes in the booklet that comes with the DVD. There's an online component to accompany the DVD - a place to ask questions, get feedback and comment on your progress, which is cool. After my initial confusion about the location of the 28-Day Program on the DVD, the website is actually where I went to get help (and found what I was looking for).
Overall, I think this is a really great solution for people who want a ready-made plan to follow without having to think too much about it. Kind of like Spark's food plans, it's a great tool and resource when you don't have a lot of time or need additional instruction. For me, because I do so many other cardio activities, the video will be used mostly for the added strength component when I need it, but I don't know if I'll ever end up doing the full 28-Day routine since I have no plans to forgo or stop all of my other activities for any length of time. But it's always nice to have the option! The 28-Day Plan has built-in rest or cross-training days, so maybe if I REALLY want to bust out a month of FULL activity I could follow this plan and squeeze in my running, swimming, biking and Zumba too. Phew! Makes me tired just thinking about it. And rest days are important. Remember that!
So now to the nitty gritty: Target has these DVDs exclusively, so you'll want to go there to pick one up. You get 250 SparkPoints for buying it and a $3 off coupon if you go to www.sparkpeople.com/28daybootcamp . Us lovely folk who got one for free...no SparkPoints. Trust me - I tried. Hehe. But definitely take advantage of the $3 coupon while you can. It's not a pricey investment and it's a good resource to have laying around, especially for when the snows of winter start coming and trap us all in our caves of warm slumber and comfort food.
And of course - "I received this DVD for free from SparkPeople and did not receive any form of payment for my review."
Monday, January 23, 2012
This doesn't count as my blog this week, but for any of the rest of you who also play all of these songs regularly on your running/workout mix, this is SO COOL!!!
This is the first I've heard of it, but apparently this guy does one of these every year. The video for this one is also on YouTube and it's fantastic.
Definitely a new one to download and "add to the mix"!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I'm a big believer that the weight on our bodies is a direct representation of the weight between our ears. That gelatinous mass of grey matter floating around up there weighs a heck of a lot more than 3 pounds the last time I checked. 3 pounds. That's it. The total amount of actual mass that stands in the way of you losing any more weight, the source of the saboteur, and the only player you really need on your team to win the game.
I will be the first to say that none of these are proven methods of breaking through a plateau, but what I do know is that committing to these behaviours WILL make you feel better about yourself, and according to the most recent issue of Newsweek, might actually help to expand that dense grey matter in areas proven to make you smarter!
I'm as as guilty as anyone in needing to practice what I preach. But I've been frustrated for too long now and it's time for a change. So I'm making a promise to myself to forget about the scale for a little while and instead focus on these behaviours to make positive changes in myself that can only help contribute to eventual positive changes on the scale.
#1: Get Rid of the Extra Weight
Um, duh? That's what I'm trying to do - but the whole reason I'm here is because the weight isn't coming off. Right? Nope. Not THAT weight - remember, we're not talking about the scale for a little while here. I'm talking about the THINGS that are weighing you down. It's the new year. Have you filed all your 2010 paperwork away yet? What about a good, thorough closet cleaning? Had a couple of potluck parties this year and inherited a bunch of extra mismatched tupperware? Get rid of it. Clean out the pantry. Take down the Christmas tree. Systematically clean up your life. What about your desk at work? Dusty, dingy, in need of a good spring cleaning? Why wait until spring? Do it NOW and feel lighter tomorrow. Seriously. Don't hold off on doing the tasks that will make you walk a little easier through life. The longer you put off a cleaning project, the worse it seems to get. If you make a promise to take care of it a couple of different things will happen. You will feel like you crossed a big thing off your list. You will feel like you accomplished something. You will feel GREAT about your new state of cleanliness. And you might actually have fun doing it. And bonus - if it's a task that actually involves physical activity, you might gain some activity points for it and - gasp - lose some actual pounds. How about that!
I live in a very small 2 bedroom apartment with NO closets. A year ago I spent some time packing up a cabinet of pretty dishes that I got as wedding gifts years ago but that I never used and were just taking up space and collecting dust. By paring down my life to just the essentials that I used every day, I made room for some other things in that cabinet, I prolonged the life of those pretty dishes by packing them away for "someday" and I gave my future self a present that I can open and enjoy all over again when I have a bigger place and more plans for dinner parties that involve pretty dishes.
Since then, though, that spare room (which is supposed to be my office but I would pay anyone good money to actually FIND my desk) has been piled high with 10 different sizes of old clothing, paperwork dating back to 2009, half-finished vacation scrapbooks, old cell phones, etc. etc. etc. I could seriously be on an episode of Hoarders if anyone saw that room. It has now become a BIG project and it's weighing me down. So I'm going to make a promise to get rid of that weight. I'm done carrying it around and I know I'll feel better when it's done. Not to mention, I need my office back!
#2: Cry About It
No one likes a cry baby, I know, but guess what? I don't think most of us are. In fact, I'm going to assume that if any of you are like me, you DON'T cry. You're the one that is always seen as a person of great strength. Someone who can handle it all. Someone that all your friends come to for advice, to talk about their problems, as a shoulder to cry on. You're a great comfort to everyone around you because YOU are a rock. Am I getting close?
Problem with all of the above is that being a rock also gives you soft, fleshy shoulders. It's not a wonder your friends like crying on yours. It's more comfortable than crying on a skinny, boney person's shoulder. And when we take on the problems of others, it only serves to make us cushier. Because, at least where I'm concerned, when I'm upset about things, I eat. Eating feels good. Eating masks the pain.
Something that I have heard come out of the mouth of almost every contestant on The Biggest Loser is when they look back at their before pictures. They say "I was so sad," "there is so much pain behind my eyes," "eating stopped the hurt." I see it in my own before pictures too. Fat people are NOT happy. Despite the adjectives that are used to describe the Santa Claus-like figure - jolly, roly-poly, fat & happy - being overweight involves being in a lot of pain. But we seem to negate those feelings of pain in ourselves because being vulnerable and in pain doesn't always make you a popular person. The world has enough issues - no one needs to listen to me gripe. But that's where we're wrong.
Would you turn away a friend who just lost their job? How about someone whose father just passed away? Of course not. In many cases, our pain is just as deep as these emotional wounds (and quite possibly caused by one or a series of traumatic events like this in the first place). So why try to go through that alone? We need each other here to empathize over the amount of pain we all feel about being obese. In short - it sucks. So own the SUCK. As long as you're making a point to do something about it, we all deserve the right to bitch about how much losing weight BITES THE BIG ONE sometimes. And even more we deserve to be upset about the reasons we got fat in the first place.
My goal here, besides losing approximately 200 pounds start to finish, is to overcome my need to be fat. Yes - I NEED to be fat. Right now anyway. My fat is the wall (both physical and mental) between me and my feelings. My habit is not to FEEL my pain, my habit is to eat my pain. Instead of embracing the SUCK, I keep myself fat so that I can be that strong, jolly person that everyone has come to know. The one who doesn't have any problems of her own. The one that is so great at taking on and solving issues for everyone else. The one who doesn't cry. But in reality I'm in a lot of pain. I have a great boyfriend, but I'm lonely a lot of the time. I have a good job, but I never have any money. I'm trying everything I know how to do, but the weight isn't coming off anymore. And sometimes all the pressure to be wonderful is just too much to handle.
So cry about it. Let it out. Be sad. Be upset. Own your tears. I remember a couple of months ago I had a particularly tough day, I wanted to sit on the couch and fill myself with enough junk food to sink a small ship and to bury all my feelings of angst and frustration in that one feeling that seems to make it all better - Full. But instead I searched Netflix for a yoga dvd, lit a candle, and pressed play. I was determined to do something good for myself even though I felt like a fraud for even thinking I could rectify the latest series of food binging. And then something magical happened. As I started to relax into the stretches and got out of my head a bit (I was negatively calling myself stupid for even thinking that 30 minutes of stretching could help anything) and actually started listening to the instructor, my mind cleared and I started to cry. I continued the yoga, but just let the tears come and let myself feel the pain from my day. I felt my loneliness and anger and overall sadness. I cried for about 10 minutes, then finished the dvd, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. The next morning I had lost 2 pounds.
I am not good at owning my feelings. But I'm going to start making a concerted effort to do it more often. And Spark is a great place to get it all out when you don't want to "burden" your other friends or family with your problems. But I challenge any of you that have a similar problem to flex those emotional muscles a bit and stop thinking of talking about your SUCK with your in-person friends and family as a burden to anyone. None of us is perfect and I doubt any of your friends expect you to be. So go cry on their shoulder for once. I will warn you though - it's not going to be comfortable. Cause their shoulders are a lot bonier than yours.
#3: Pick A Challenge You Can Learn From
The new year is rife with promises we make to ourselves to get healthier, exercise more, eat less - blah blah blah. I hate resolutions. But I do love challenges. Because challenges flex that grey matter more than promises do. And I tend to have more desire to stick to "challenges" than promises because challenges have a winning factor even when there isn't a prize. The prize is the mental feat you gain from getting through it.
Signing up for a 28-Day Bootcamp Challenge is easy enough for the person looking to start the new year off on the right foot. But so far (and this happens to me every time I do Bootcamp) the only thing I have learned from it is that I hate having to do it. I do it anyway, because I took on the challenge and I will be darned if I'm not going to get my cute button at the end. And I suppose learning that I hate 10 minute exercise videos is good knowledge to have. But I'm looking for that challenge that gives me a positive result in more ways than one.
So I took on a challenge in January to get through the entire month without eating out at a restaurant. No lunch jaunts to Potbelly's. No ordered-in pizza on a Friday night. And Saturday night date nights would need to be at home. My one exception to the rule is Starbucks in the morning - cause I have a die hard habit and because I'm making up the rules. Maybe next month I'll take on Starbucks as a challenge. Maybe.
I'm half way through the month and I have learned A LOT. I have learned that I use being able to pop across the street to grab a sandwich at lunch as an excuse not to prep for myself at home even though I DO have the time to do it when I want to. I have learned how romantic cooking in can really be on a weekend. I have learned how much money eating out every month sets me back. I have learned that preparing all meals at home takes A LOT of groceries and makes A LOT of dishes, but that my cupboards are well stocked enough that I CAN whip something up with a seemingly bare fridge. I have learned what needs to be on my "staples list" and that it's probably a good idea to keep an inventory of that list in my cupboard so I know when I need to restock. And I have an even deeper love affair with my crockpot.
This has also been a really fun challenge. I think I'm driving Nikhil nuts by saying "Nope! Can't eat out until February!" every time he suggests going out to eat. He forgets that he was the one that spurned this great idea in the first place by saying over dinner at a local Mexican restaurant on December 30th that he really wanted to focus on eating out less and when we do eat out, making a point to only order ONE entree and split it instead of gorging ourselves like we usually do costing both calories and money. So I think when I do go back to allowing myself a meal out every now and again that those are good rules to live by anyway. But I have tested myself and my culinary abilities this month and I quite like what a month of no restaurants has done for my kitchen, my wallet and my waistline.
Something else that this month has triggered is next month's challenge. Moving back to a focus on Eating Mindfully, packing breakfast, lunch and dinner most days of the week has re-instilled the habit of bringing a lot of healthy food with me wherever I go. I don't always have to eat it all, but it's available if I'm hungry. And learning to know when I'm really hungry and how much I need to eat when I am is something that I've been working on since the beginning of this journey. So for February I'm planning on going back to filling out hunger charts every day, before and after every time I eat, to learn what my eating patterns are and to understand better the relationship between food and my body.
Add to these challenges my other Fast Break Goals and I'm sure to see some positive changes in my attitude towards food and, eventually, the scale. I have faith!
So there it is. Three unconventional ways to bust through that plateau by exercising your brain instead of your body. ACT, FEEL and THINK thin. That has to count for something. If doing these things doesn't contribute directly to shrinking numbers on that silly piece of metal and plastic sitting on the bathroom floor, then it certainly will contribute to expanding that floating 3 pound mass of mushy, grey substance behind your eyes. Because I for one am not about to let 3 pounds of anything stand between me and my goals.
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