Monday, April 16, 2012
My dad mentioned something today, and it's something that'd been nagging at the back of my mind. He commented that I've been adding a lot more to my weight loss program a lot more quickly than he expected. And he's right. My original plan was to incorporate things in very slowly--take baby steps all the way. I wanted to add one new lifestyle change, or maybe two, and then once they became habit, I could incorporate new things. It sounded perfect. Lifestyle changes, fitness, health, and weight loss--all the easy way. And the important part--it would all be sustainable.
So what happened? I started out with several baby steps. Already, that's more than I had planned. Then I kept adding more and more. "I'm not going to count calories because I think that means I won't get to eat much" became "let's count calories AND stay within the range set for me", and that was on the first day! "Drink more water" became "get at least 8 cups a day in" within a mere three days! And since then it has turned into "drink at least 12 cups a day". "Run a 5k by August 2013" became "walk a 5k first, before running it" became "ZomgLet'sDoItNow" became "ZomgLet'sDoItNowANDDoItAsFastAsHumanlyPos
sible". I'm even (only slightly) toying with the idea of getting a personal trainer. And on and on it goes. Sure, some things are still in baby step mode (I'm only taking the stairs up one flight in each building and then taking the elevator, instead of taking the stairs everywhere; I'm only eating 3 servings of fruits and veggies a day; I'm only doing some pseudo-strength training so far--3 body-weight or dumbbell exercises a day; I'm still avoiding the gym; etc). But holy crap on a stick I'm doing so much so fast!
The problem? My personality. I'm naturally driven. I'm (sometimes) an overachiever. I'm a perfectionist. When I do things, I generally give it my all. So why is that a problem? Well, when it comes to health/weight loss, I've always jumped in headfirst, gone super hardcore with calorie restrictions and intense workouts at the gym, and then burned out in 2-3 months. Those things simply aren't sustainable for the long term, especially when you're not used to them.
So what now? I feel like I've opened a pandora's box. I've awakened something in me that can't be quieted. I think it may be too late to return to my original plan. I can increase the intensity of things in my program slowly, but I can't cut back on what I'm already doing. I certainly feel driven now. Something in me feels like this time is different, like I'm going to succeed this time. It's intangible, something I can't quite describe. Perhaps what another sparker called me the other day is the right word for it: I feel determined. But I can't help but have fear. This fear nags at me quite a bit, although I often try to ignore it. I fear that what I'm doing won't be sustainable. I fear that my enthusiasm will eventually wane and I'll slowly give up. I fear, I fear, I fear.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Let me preface this by saying that I was raised on processed food. As a result, I found that 8 times out of 10, I didn't like homemade food. Make it *healthy* homemade food, and that goes up to 9 times out of 10. So something amazing happened today. I decided to have a cup of my homemade low-sodium minestrone soup to supplement my Smart Ones frozen dinner for lunch today. Since frozen dinners are known for having massive amounts of sodium in them, I fully expected it to be super tasty and to make my soup taste terribly bland in comparison. I started eating the frozen dinner first, dreading the blandness of the soup. After a bit, I took a bite of soup, and WOW it was so flavorful!! Sure enough, after having a few spoonfuls, I switched back to eating my frozen dinner and it was like eating cardboard it was so bland. I never thought I'd see the day when I actually preferred something homemade over something processed! **Dances**
Saturday, April 14, 2012
(I posted this on my regular blog -- passionlifelovehealth.blogspot.com/ -- but I opted to post it here as well to get more feedback)
I've seen a lot of people on SparkPeople post benchmark weights along with rewards that they plan on giving themselves when they hit each benchmark. I really like the idea of knowing where your benchmarks are. But I don't think it's wise to tie rewards to the scale, especially since we have so little control over our weight (considering it fluctuates regularly, both throughout the day and throughout the week). So I'm not going to tie rewards to these benchmarks, but I am curious to see what my benchmarks are. So without further ado, here are my benchmarks:
(Starting weight: 280; Pounds to lose: 140)
266 (10% to goal) -- Accomplished 3/24/2012
252 (10% of body weight lost)
245 (25% to goal)
224 (20% of body weight lost)
210 (50% to goal)
204.5 (BMI is no longer in "Obese class III -- Very severely obese")
199.9 (One-der land!)
196 (30% of body weight lost)
178.9 (BMI is no longer in "Obese class II -- Severely obese")
175 (75% to goal)
168 (40% of body weight lost)
153.3 (BMI is no longer in "Obese class I -- Moderately obese")
140 (GOAL and 50% of body weight lost!)
*note* To reach a "normal" BMI and get out of the "overweight" category, I would have to drop to 127.7. I may end up doing that, but I recall being healthy in high school when I weighed in the 140s. Once I get to my goal weight, I will see how I look and feel and then decide whether I have room to drop some more weight.
Now, with all that being said, I still like the idea of rewarding yourself for goals hit. So these are the goals that I'm going to tie rewards to:
30 consecutive days of any of my daily goals
180 consecutive days of any of my daily goals
365 consecutive days of any of my daily goals
Right now, those daily goals include:
--Walking a minimum number of steps each day (current goal is 5,500, but it increases regularly)
--Doing a minimum number of body-weight or dumbbell exercises a day (current goal is 3, but it increases regularly)
--Eating a minimum number of fruits and veggies a day (current goal is 3, but it also increases)
--Drinking a minimum amount of water a day (current goal is 12 cups, and this may increase)
--Staying within my calorie range each day (current range is 1,830 - 2,180, but this decreases as I lose weight)
So far, I've hit 30 consecutive days of 3 of those goals, so I'm overdue on some rewards! Here are the rewards I've come up with so far (for each goal hit, I get to choose one reward from its respective category):
*30 consecutive days:
---Spend some time painting, without worrying about making something special or spectacular
---Spend $5 on anything I want (that's not food)
*180 consecutive days:
---Spend a day at the Great Lakes Science Center
---Visit the Cleveland Museum of Art
---Spend an evening at a comedy club
---Spend $40 on anything I want (that's not food)
*365 consecutive days:
---Spend a day at Cedar Point
---Spend $100 on anything I want (that's not food)
I'll add more reward options as I think of them. What do you guys think? Is this a reasonable goal system? Do you have any suggestions for tweaking it? Or do you think weight loss and health should be its own reward?
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Metaphorically speaking, that is. That's a reference to this quote: "Saying, 'Oh, I've already ruined my good eating today; I'll just eat crap' is like saying, 'Oh, I dropped my phone on the floor; I'll just smash it 'til it breaks.' " Yesterday, I fell into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. It all started when we had a student worker appreciation lunch at work--my boss and coworker were urging me to have some of the pizza, and I obliged for fear of offending my boss, who had bought it for us. But I was super hungry--it was lunchtime, after all--so I had two pieces instead of one. I didn't even want pizza, and here I was eating two pieces of it.
I figured the damage would end there, and I would make good choices for the rest of the day. At that point, I had decided to pick up my phone, brush it off, and move on. Enter dinner time. My fiance gets off work at 7pm, and on the days that I have to train for the 5k, we walk right after he gets off work and then go home and eat dinner. But I had been cooking a batch of soup to last the week, and it was just getting finished when he got home. The combination of being hungry and wanting to eat the soup while it's fresh led us to eat before we walked. That was a huge mistake. I felt too full to walk after eating--I feared getting a cramp, and just felt miserable in general. Add to that the fact that I had been on my feet cooking all evening, and so my feet were killing me any time I was on them. I was in no mood to walk at that point, but knew I needed to do it. My fiance had had a super rough day at work and was so tired he kept falling asleep while we were talking after dinner. He decided not to go walking with me. Ordinarily that would be fine, and I would go walking on my own. But with my feet hurting and my stomach stuffed, that was all it took for me to decide not to go too. Although I rationalized it, reminding myself that I had a 5-week training program but a whole 7 weeks to train, I had picked up the hammer.
By this point, it was after 8:00. I have to get up so early for work and classes that I aim for a bedtime of 9:00 each night. I have a routine where I always start my 3 exercises about half an hour before bedtime, and then write my blog post chronicling the day's choices when I'm done (in this blog: passionlifelovehealth.blogspot.com/ ). I crawled into bed with my laptop, feeling even more miserable than before--after all, not only do I not like feeling full, but now I had decided to skip my 5k training for the first time. I definitely did not feel like doing my 3 exercises. I decided to take a nap, with the plan of waking up around 11:00, doing my exercises and writing my blog post, and then going back to bed. I've successfully done that before on evenings where I ate a bit too late, but I think I knew somewhere in the back of my head that it just wasn't going to happen. I did wake up around 10:00 and again at 11:00, but I just rolled over, ignoring the fact that I was supposed to get up to exercise. To top it all off, I hadn't had my minimum of 12 cups of water for the day, and my plan to remedy that during my exercise time obviously failed. My phone lay smashed in pieces by my feet.
I saw this quote on facebook today, and it's perfect timing: "Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.” -Denis Waitley
Yesterday was the first time in the nearly 7 weeks that I've been doing this that I had skipped my exercise. It's unrealistic to expect perfection, though, so I think I feel okay about yesterday. I mean, yeah, it sucks that I slipped up, but I'm not going to freak out about it. Today is a new day. Unlike the phone in the metaphor above, all is not ruined. I suppose you could say that overnight my phone magically pieced itself back together again, to full working order. I'm going to make lots of calls, text many people, and use it to its fullest potential. Okay, perhaps that's taking the metaphor too far. But I'm getting back up on the horse! (Hooray mixed metaphors?)
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
One of the SparkTeams I'm a member of runs a Biggest Loser Challenge on what appears to be a regular basis. They're currently signing up for the next one, and I'm thinking about joining. I have a few hesitancies, though. I love pros and cons lists, so I'll organize my thoughts into one:
--I'm super competitive, so I like any competition
--They have challenges each week that are optional but could be fun
--I love anything that can get me more connected to the community here
--I'm super competitive. This is a con because my program is currently set up to help me lose just under a pound a week. If I join the challenge, I'll want to lose faster. If I continue with my current program, I will probably get discouraged because I won't be losing as much as many others.
--If I decide to switch up my program to lose faster, I run the risk of going too hardcore with exercise and burning out and ending up hating it (this has always happened in the past when I tried losing weight--I jumped into things super hardcore and then quickly burnt out)
--If I decide to switch up my program to lose faster, I think I will be at a greater risk of ending up with a lot of loose skin as I get smaller. I've been overweight for 10 years, so I'll probably end up with loose skin anyway. But skin is somewhat elastic, and part of me hopes that the loose skin won't be as bad if I lose more slowly.
My big fear is that going hardcore will make me burnout and give up on healthy living altogether, like it has in the past. But my fiance suggests that if I get burnt out, or even after the contest ends, I can just go back to "normal", with normal being what I'm doing now. He has a point, in that I really want these changes to become true lifestyle changes where it's how I just live. But I'm only six and a half weeks into the changes, and they don't feel like "normal" just yet. So I fear that after the contest or after burnout, I will go back to what feels like normal (an unhealthy lifestyle).
My other big fear is that not going hardcore (and thus keeping with my current program) will make me feel unsuccessful, as I lose less than my teammates and competitors. I'm already struggling with feelings of not being successful enough because I'm not losing very fast, so I really think this competition would exacerbate that.
Ultimately, I'd love to join the challenge. But these hesitancies are holding me back. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? If you think I should join, should I continue my current program or step it up a notch to lose more quickly? Why?
Thanks so much in advance for any feedback you might have!
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