Friday, December 26, 2014
I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Mine was lovely …lots of family and my BF and his children, all at my house for dinner. It was wonderful, if a bit overwhelming at times!
I think it will be remembered by most of us as the Christmas of the dogs….my older son’s two dogs, my youngest sister’s two dogs and my mother’s dog too. I stayed home with my mom, my younger son and a nephew to cook, while the rest of the family took the dogs to the dog park for a long afternoon workout, and a good time was had by all.
Food: I didn’t do as well as I hoped. But it wasn’t a catastrophe. Things I did right: I read my response cards in the morning to prepare. I ate sitting down, slowly and mindfully. Dinner was wonderful! We spent hours in the kitchen cooking, and I didn’t munch or taste or do the mindless eating I used to do when cooking. I give myself credit for that. I had a plan and mostly stuck to it, credit for that.
What I could have done better: said NO CHOICE and stuck to my plan to have half a piece of cherry pie, instead of the WHOLE PIECE of pecan pie I impulsively had instead. And truthfully, not a good decision, it was just too much. A smaller amount of sweets would have been fine. I will remember that. I also had a couple of other things, overall about 300 calories more than I planned. I forgot to use my strategies: reading my response cards again during the day, taking deep breaths and other relaxation techniques, and anti-craving strategies to fight that overwhelming urge to eat the pecan pie. Live and learn.
I was able to get a walk in the morning (with dogs, of course!), so that was good. Between being sick last week and Christmas and family busy-ness this week I haven’t been able to fit in much exercise. I’m looking forward to getting exercise back on track over the next few days.
I’m so happy the holiday went so well. And happy to be back on track today! Wishing all my Sparkfriends the very best!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Just in time for the holidays, I finished the Beck Diet Solution! Truthfully, I think the holidays would have looked a lot different if I hadn’t done this program for the past month and a half.
I wouldn’t be planning my meals. Instead I would be eating things I know I shouldn’t eat, with the excuse that it would be “just this once” or “it’s the holidays!”
I wouldn’t be sitting down to eat every time, eating slowly and mindfully. Instead, I would be grabbing treats on the run and noshing while I cooked. And probably would have baked those cookies, which everyone will be disappointed that I didn’t. “No crescent cookies? Oh no!" Now, don’t get me wrong, I am sure I’ll bake again in the future, but it just seemed better not to have those particular little calorie bomb triggers around this year! One year, I will be able to one or two slowly and mindfully but not now!
I wouldn’t know that hunger and cravings are NEVER emergencies. Instead, my hunger and cravings would be increasing exponentially as I ate more and more of the rich food I love.
I wouldn’t be saying “oh, well” or “NO CHOICE” when I wanted to eat something I know I shouldn’t. Instead, I would be struggling…”I really want one…” and bargaining with myself. “I’ll run an extra 30 minutes” or “I’ll cut my calories really low tomorrow…”
And finally, there is the certainty of knowing what I’ll do when I reach my goal. I’ll keep doing this. Yes, with a couple hundred more calories a day (give or take, my metabolism is sadly changed!) but basically this same program. Forever more. So there isn’t the feeling that because I’m restricting calories now, I’m missing something that I might have had later, when I’ve reached my goal. This is the plan. This is the way I need to approach food and drink if I want to be thin. And I can live with this.
I’m planning to do a “Week 6” blog but probably not until after Christmas. My mom drove down from Canada yesterday and is at my youngest sister’s house across town, waiting for me to come over to take her to Nordstrom’s.
My other sister is flying in today from Minnesota, but who knows when…these girls are not too good at communicating! Middle sister lost 80 pounds 2 years ago and is fiercely guarding her maintenance, so there will be plenty of healthy eating options at every turn for both of us when they’re at my house for dinner …well, for all of us really. But I think she and I are the ones most likely to be eating the baby carrots and hummus.
There is a lot of food dysfunction in the family, as in many families. “Food is Love” was once humorously uttered. But c’est la vie, isn’t that just the way it is? It will be fun, it will be challenging, and it too will pass quickly. So, my plan is to enjoy it, every busy and wonderful moment…
Off to walk the granddogs on this rainy morning. After that a conference call or two…. And then I am free from work until the New Year!
Happy holidays, Sparklers! Many thanks to all of you for your support and helpful advice. It is so greatly appreciated! Wishing everyone much joy and happiness!
Sunday, December 21, 2014
It was a long and challenging week but I made it through successfully and lost another pound and a half. Yes!
Work was intense and I caught a cold on the flight back from London, so basically all I had time to do was sleep, work and keep up (for the most part) with the Beck program. I made sure I took the time to keep planning my meals, using my response cards and reading the chapters (almost) daily. I don’t like to exercise when I’m not feeling well, but I made sure I held my calories down to compensate.
Also challenging was the constant storm of food and treats, starting with two days of meetings Monday and Tuesday, and continuing throughout the week with home baked treats, candies…I am sure you’ve all been facing this challenge too! It was challenging but I was – for the most part – able to resist by telling myself that I didn’t have a choice. I was ready to use my anti-craving strategies but I didn’t need to. I am keeping them ready for the coming week, however!
I am coming to the end of the Pink Beck book, two more days and I’m done! I’ll do a blog on the 6th week when I finish this week. And I’ve decided that I’ll do the green Beck book once we get into the New Year, to keep me on track and continue to practice the things I’ve learned.
It’s been a fairly relaxing weekend, hanging out with my boyfriend. I am hosting Christmas dinner for my family, so we shopped for Christmas dinner. He discouraged me from baking Christmas cookies, which are a huge trigger for me. I finally decorated the tree and finished up my Christmas shopping. A little cleaning and some present-wrapping this afternoon and hopefully a quiet evening.
Wishing all of my Sparkfriends happy and healthy holidays!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
I finished week 5 of Beck before I went on vacation but didn’t take the time to blog about it. And it seems to help burn the learning into my brain, so I want to go back to that before moving forward.
Week 5 is about Overcoming Challenges. The daily challenges that we never escape and the ones that pop up every once in awhile. And I even had a chance to take the travel strategy for a test drive!
Day 29: Resist Food Pushers. I really have no problem saying no to food pushers most of the time. Except when I don’t want to, and use it as an excuse to do what I want to do anyway: give in! So, recognizing that, I still need to be careful. My biggest enemy has usually been myself. And with Beck’s tools – No Choice! And Oh Well! along with a good stiff shot of Anti-Craving Strategies if it gets tough -- I am in a much better position to keep strengthening my resistance muscle. I am sure it will be tested over the next few weeks, but I am determined to stay focused.
Day 30: Stay In Control When Eating Out. As I mentioned earlier, I am a foodie. I used to be married to a chef. I met him when we worked together in a restaurant and later, we owned a restaurant together. I love good food, but I am working hard to change my definition to food with interesting flavors: spices, textures, combinations. It helps that there are more restaurants now that cater to people who prefer to eat healthy, clean food (although they are usually the pricier ones!). I am not shy about asking for what I want in a restaurant either – I spent enough time catering to others special requests when I was on the other side, and truthfully, I never minded. A good restaurant never will.
All of that being said, it is difficult to moderate. Beck helps. Some of the things she suggests I already practice: check the website and choose before I get there. Give myself some extra calories (although I will usually do that by eating less earlier in the day). Anticipate the challenges. Bread: don’t eat it. Wine: sip slowly. Don't fool myself: Oh you can have dessert just this once. Oh, it’s a special occasion. NO CHOICE!
Here's a thought that struck me in this chapter: Think how good it will feel to leave the restaurant saying, I’m so glad I didn’t overeat! And it really does. I included it in a response card and thought about it while I was on vacation last week. I didn’t overeat once and it felt great.
Day 31: Decide About Drinking. This has been an ongoing struggle for me, as I like a glass of wine, and also have been known to use alcohol to reduce stress. Alcohol figures into a few of my response cards, including one I wrote when dealing with mistakes in thinking:
I do not need to use alcohol or food to reduce stress. I will use other tactics, like deep breathing, yoga, distraction or problem solving for what is causing the stress. In the end, this will make me feel better anyway, because I'll feel stronger for having resisted the urge.
It’s also is included in my basic rules card, which says:
Drink alcohol in moderation when I go out or I'm entertaining at home, and only as part of my daily plan.
I consider this a work in progress. I’m doing well on not using it to reduce stress these days and I feel great about that. I’m also reducing the amount I drink when I’m out, and I love Beck’s suggestion to drink slowly and savor. It works!
Day 32: Prepare to Travel. I did it and it worked! See my last blog. It felt great to know I could manage multiple priorities, including de-prioritizing weight loss for a limited time, enjoying some treats while not losing the progress I’ve made. I would definitely not take this for granted in the future but it feels good to know I can do it!
Day 33: Eliminate Emotional Eating. My emotional eating and drinking happens when I’m sad, stressed or angry. My response card lists other ways to deal with negative emotions, basically using the same stress reduction techniques I’ve listed above, along with some distraction techniques. I can also indulge with positive emotions too, but it doesn’t feel urgent the way negative emotions do – as with food pushers, it feels more like an excuse to do what I want to do anyway and is much easier to control: NO CHOICE!
Day 34: Solve Problems. The best way to deal with stress and negative emotions is to solve the problem that’s causing it in the first place, whether it comes from a mistake in thinking (most common for so many of us is “I’ll never be able to get all of this done!) or from a situational problem (my boss is asking too much of me, doesn’t recognize my work, etc). Great to work through these one way or another, and great to have help in doing so. But Beck points out that won’t always be possible and that is true. And in that case, it’s back to our tried and true strategies. Oh well, NO CHOICE!
Day 35: Prepare to Weigh In. Actually, I weighed in that day, as is my habit on Friday, and my weight was exactly the same as it had been the week before. While disappointing, it was a meaningful data point. I told myself not to be discouraged and use it as an excuse to give up as I headed off on vacation. Instead, I reminded myself that even though I didn't lose that week, the program was in fact working, and I gave myself credit for 5 weeks of hard work. I reminded myself that i didn't want to lose all the progress I'd made, and that I could have a great time and enjoy myself on vacation without overindulging and overeating. Which did prove to be the case.
One other thing I picked up somewhere during this week was that yes, this does take time. And why shouldn’t it? Learning takes time and energy, and that’s what this is. Learning to think and act differently instead of continuing to do the same things while expecting different results. And I am becoming more and more comfortable with this. It just makes sense.
Thanks to everyone reading my blogs and giving me your insights and encouragement. It means a lot to me and really makes a difference!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
At midnight last night I got back from an amazing week-long trip to London. What a fantastic journey! My BF had invited me to come along on his business trip, so we had a great weekend together and then 5 days of museums, sightseeing and shopping on my own. Together we saw a mind-blowing Rembrandt exhibit, some really interesting art at the Tate Modern and a Christmas concert at a beautiful old church, St. Martin in the Fields. And on my own, I saw lots more Impressionist and Renaissance art, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s cathedral and of course shopping (although with the prices, I didn’t spend much!). We ate well, and yes, had a few glasses of wine and some good English beers, too.
And guess what?
I lost a pound and a half!
This was absolutely amazing to me. Yes, I had prepared for the trip, using the Beck chapter “Prepare to Travel” to make a strategy. But while I stuck with it fairly well, there were definitely some lapses. And I deliberately took a relaxed approach, because I wanted to enjoy the trip and not stress out about weight. So, as much fun as I had, I was not looking forward to getting on the scale this morning.
Imagine my surprise when the scale showed that I had lost 1.5 pounds!
I feel great about this and am giving myself a lot of credit for making a strategy that worked for me, and sticking with it, for the most part!. This was my strategy:
1. I will continue to plan my meals, at least in general terms and caloric consumption, keeping in mind that I won't always know what's available.
I planned my meals in general terms every day except the last, focusing more on calorie targets and types of food, rather than exact meals. I also updated as I went, tracking on Spark. That way, if I chose to go over a bit at lunch, I could scale back at dinner. Most deviation was due to extra glass of wine or beer.
2. I will allow myself to go over my caloric limit by a few hundred calories, but still burning more calories than I consume.
I wanted to be able to enjoy and not feel deprived. I am a self-declared foodie, and I enjoy variety and trying new things, so this was really important to me. At the same time, I wanted to be moderate, which is a tough balance to strike. My concern was that once I got started, I wouldn’t want to, and couldn’t stop. One thing I did was mostly stay away from sweets, a big trigger for me. Also very rich food. I’m really trying to retrain myself to focus on flavor instead of richness (cream sauces, etc). My BF is helpful with this. He has a tactful way of helping me focus on my goals when I express a desire or craving. Since I do attribute some of my weight gain over the past year to “date eating” (without blaming him) it's been essential to let him in on my strategies (and yes, WATERMELLEN, I appreciated your blog on Keeping Pace!)
3. I will increase my aerobic exercise (walking especially!) And continue strength training.
This was key. I actually only went running once…there was just so much to see and it just felt too time-consuming. And I ended up not going to the gym at all, even though there was one available. Instead, I walked and took the Tube everywhere – and loved it! So much to see! I tried to estimate mileage but I’m pretty sure I was off by a long shot, since my caloric deficit according to my tracking was maybe 1700 calories for the week.
4. I will enjoy new tastes and food experiences within reason!
There was so much temptation! So many things I wanted to try! But a lot of traditional English and European food is pretty fattening: meat pies, fish and chips, pastries, etc. I wanted to treat myself but not go overboard. So I tried to pick a few things that I really wanted and space them out throughout the week. One croissant, a piece of chocolate cake, smoked Scottish salmon. A croque monsieur… I decided I didn’t need the fish and chips or the meat pie, and it turns out I didn’t feel deprived. We didn’t eat in pubs much, and we had a few meals at nice restaurants, simple but good. Lovely broiled cod with fresh veg sides. Breakfasts were pretty simple, yogurt or poached eggs or egg white omelet with toast. (and ok, one Eggs Benedict!). Was I perfect? No. Did I always stay within my calorie limit or consume only the things I had planned to consume? No. But overall, my strategy was appropriate to my needs, and my resistance muscle was in pretty good shape – must be all that practice over the previous 5 weeks!
In total, it felt great to know that I could make a plan and stick with it, but still allow myself some flexibility. To deprioritize weight loss for a limited time, without going overboard and erasing all my great progress. And most important, knowing I would go back to my program at the end of the week.
I attribute this to learning and internalizing the Beck strategies. Planning, preparing, focusing on my goals,
So, I’m back. And back to Beck. I’ll be catching up on blogging – I still haven’t covered week 5. And I am looking forward to week 6, looking forward to learning more and knowing the Beck Solution really works!
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