Saturday, February 20, 2010
About three weeks ago, I decided to try the South Beach eating plan. I'm one of those people who - after 40 years of dieting had totally given up on diets and - until now - I'd always figured South Beach was just another fad, but a good friend is having a lot of success following it so I decided - for a change - to forgo contempt prior to investigation. To begin, I read "The South Beach Diet," the book written by Dr. Arthur Agatston in which he lays out the eating plan and explains the health benefits behind it. Much to my dismay - it made complete sense. Dismay because I couldn't just dismiss it and move on. Instead, I decided to plunge in and give it a try.
During "Phase One" (the first 2 weeks) I followed the plan and gave up all obvious carbs - sugar, flour, fruit, potatoes, and rice, as well as the not so obvious onions and carrots. I was already fully aware that I am sugar sensitive (meaning - within a few days of eating it I turn into a human garbage disposal) and I'd given up sugar before, but I'd never tried going without all carbs. The results were surprising.
The book predicts that if the plan is followed correctly, 8-12 pounds will probably come off during Phase 1. For me, it was only 7.5 but I didn't quibble because...duh...7.5 pounds!! Plus, I'd lost 2" on my waist and 1" on my hips. This was all great but the most interesting and unexpected result of the two weeks came when I suddenly realized that the nearly constant ache in my hip joints had faded. It had been ages since I could sit cross-legged on the floor and not feel like I was 90 when I tried to stand.
After Phase 1, carbs - in moderation - are brought back into the eating plan. Our bodies need carbs for energy but the fact is, not all carbs are good for me. So, as of last week, I'm eating fruit again and looking forward to having some brown rice but - at least for now - I'm going to continue to abstain from all white food (sugar, potatoes, white rice, white flour). Right now, I don't miss them and in the long run, I'm better off without them. It's a win-win plan.
This is Day 18 and I'm doing fine. I'm working out, eating well, using Spark to track my nutrition and exercise, and I'm sitting on the floor! I haven't felt this good or this hopeful in a really long time.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I have heard from so many fellow Spark people who have read my recent blog and shared their own struggles as well as their stories of triumph. The common denominator is that we're all trying, each and every day, to do our very best...and we're doing it together. When we stumble, we get back up and get back on track. To me that is the miracle of something like Spark. The simple realization that I'm not alone. That people are more alike than they are different. That I'm not a failure. That I'm human. That change - while difficult - is not only possible, it's already happening!
We're in some scary times right now. Every where I go people are talking about fear and sharing how they're trying not to get lost in it on a daily - even an hourly - basis. For me, I know that if I let fear direct the traffic then I am headed for some very big snarls. If fear is in charge then I am choosing to live in a doom and gloom scenario. When I live there, I cannot do the things I need to do because I become paralyzed, and historically, I eat.
There's so much out there I cannot not fix or control that it's easy to get lost in fear, but since that's true I must ask myself - how will my worrying change anything? Worrying has never made anything better but it has made things feel worse. Since feeling worse is not appealing, what I can do instead of worrying is to stop, take a deep breath, and look at the multitude of things that I actually can do to help make today a good one.
Here are just a few of those things:
I can repeat my mantra - there's nothing so bad that eating over it won't make worse.
I can move my body - even just a little.
I can log my food - even if I've gone over my calorie range. By logging everything I eat, I take responsibility for my choices. I behave like a grownup and not like an addict.
I can reach out to someone else who might need a little motivation or even just a smile.
I can be respectful of every person who crosses my path today including people who may not seem to "deserve" my respect. I don't have to invite them home for lunch but if I am cordial and respectful, I will know that I have done my best to be a person who I would like to hang out with.
I can admit that I can't do this alone and throughout the day, I can ask for help. I am so blessed in the world to know that I am not alone.
None of us are, not really.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
This morning, when I checked my email, I found that yesterday two different Spark friends visited my page to ask why I was AWOL and whether I was okay. If I'd checked my email last night, I wonder if I'd be writing a different blog this morning, but their genuine concern is giving me the courage to write the blog I have to write today.
Last night, after almost two months of sticking to an eating and exercise program that has brought me weight loss, toning, and enormous relief, I took a detour that returned me to familiar and frightening territory.
Yesterday had been a good day. In fact, in so many respects it had been an exceptional day. It started with a gathering of very good friends, moved on to me signing a new and exciting contract for work I love to do, and ended with a well-received performance of the show Iím currently doing. But after the show I came home and instead of going to bed, I turned on the television and stayed up most of the night watching bad movies and eating two days worth of calories.
There are lots of reasons. None are excuses, but all are pieces of the puzzle that I want to understand so I might be able to better protect myself in the future.
- Not enough sleep for almost a week.
- Long drives to and from a stressful visit with my increasingly confused mother.
- This new contract comes right when I thought I would be taking a break.
- This new contract means my plans to visit my friend with cancer and my sons at their schools have to be put on hold.
- I didnít get any exercise yesterday.
And, perhaps most important of allÖ
Over the past week, I've fallen almost completely out of touch with my Spark community.
Iíve been logging my food and exercise every day but since last Sunday, Iíve barely posted, emailed, read, or commented on a single blog. I have been busy but the truth is, I forgot that connecting with all of you is a gift to myself. I allowed it to become more of a chore.
And so, last night, when the ďf**k-itsĒ crept back in, it was like a staph infection finding an open wound. I was too detached and too tired to stop and say no. The binge was large and varied and deeply UNSATISFYING. All I've ended up with is stomach ache, a sugar hang-over, and most importantly - a big, old dose of humility that has landed me on my ass.
So, now what do I do? The one thing I will NOT do is beat myself up about this. If I do that, I will only make this rut deeper, as I have so many times in the past. Instead, I will just climb back out and after I finish writing this blog, I will:
1) Brush my teeth.
2) Eat breakfast. Thatís hard for me to do after a binge like last night but I have to create some semblance of healthy routine and skipping meals wonít cut it.
3) Go for a walk Ė at least to the end of the block and back. Itís not my usual five miles but I need something to get my blood moving. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the end of the block so even if I just do that and turn around I will have walked 20 minutes. A Spark friend shared that trick with us.
5) Take a shower, wash my hair, and brush my teeth again.
6) Log my food and exercise. Send a few Spark messages.
7) Take a nap before tonight show.
8) Take another quick shower to wake up.
9) Eat dinner and go do the show.
10) Come home, log on to say hello and good night to all of you, and go to bed.
If I am really living this one day at a time then yesterday is over and today has just begun.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
One of my teams suggested that we post our personal goals for the remainder of 2008. I thought I'd better post them here as well so I won't forget!
Stay motivated by continuing to log onto Spark each day and connecting with others to give and seek support.
Continue tracking my food each day and know that I've stayed within my calorie range.
Do cardio at least five days a week. Do strength at least three. Add in classes and types of exercise that I currently find intimidating - like kick boxing.
Continue to get out there and knock on even more doors.
* Peace of mind
Do all of the above plus take quiet time each day for meditation and connection with HP.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I am many miles from home tonight; sitting in a hotel room near the college my son began attending today. It's an emotional time for us both. He's had a restless week - a mixture of excitement and butterflies. I've had a hectic week - making sure he's packed everything he needs, that he took care of his voter registration, and that he's finished the thank you notes I've been "urging" him to write since he graduated from high school last May.
Today was a very big day for him and for me too. He's beginning a new life and I am watching the end of a large part of mine. Yesterday, as we drove west on I-90 and he dozed in the seat next to me, I suddenly realized that this is it. After 20 years of the day-to-day details of raising kids - including feeding, cleaning, and chauffeuring, as well as snuggling, cheering, and chastening - this is the day that my job radically changes.
How do I feel? My emotions are all over the place. Mostly I'm so happy for him that I'm bursting, but for me I'm a little sad so - isn't this a perfect excuse to overeat?
Usually, the answer would be yes but like all of us here on Spark, I'm trying to form new habits - lots and lots of new habits. One of these new habits is to practice mindful eating. To stop and ask myself - BEFORE I eat - what's really going on? Why do I feel the need to eat? Do I need the food I'm about to eat or do I just want it? Trust me, I know the difference. I NEED oatmeal every morning to help lower my cholesterol - I only WANT oatmeal cookies.
Another new habit is to make decisions about food based on the role it plays in helping me reach my goals. As far back as I can remember I've had this idea that certain foods are inherently bad. Not just bad as in unhealthy, but "bad," as in, I'm a bad girl if I eat them. Any sort of dessert would fall into that category and something like fries would zoom right past bad to evil and forbidden. This is a hard idea to overcome but as long as I continue to allow certain foods to have so much power over me, I will never believe or accept that I am capable of making good decisions about what, when, or why I eat.
Last night, when I went out alone to find food for the two of us, I was very hungry - probably a little too hungry. I cruised the strip for a while and finally chose a fast food place where I knew I could get a salad for me and a burger and fries for my son. As I drove back to the hotel - alone - the smell of his fries was almost more than I could take. I wanted a fry - just one fry - SO MUCH that I almost took one, but then I stopped and asked myself, "What do you want even more than that fry?" For a couple of seconds I was hard pressed to answer. I mean the smell of hot fries is a heck of a test - but then, as I sat there looking at the bag, I remembered.
Right now, this day, I want to stop living as an addict, hiding in pantries and cars, and stealing my kid's fries. I want to live free of fear about food. I want to know that I am eating to live, not living to eat. I want to be healthy, I want to make decisions based on healthy goals, and yes, I want to lose weight. I realize it might seem extreme to think that one fry would seriously derail my goals, but there's nothing about that fry that will help me achieve those goals either so right now, this day, I will choose to abstain. There will always be fries and on another day I may choose to have them - openly and honestly - or I may not.
This is a new way of thinking for me and it is leading me to a new way of behaving that is both exciting and just a little bit scary. It's exciting because every day that I make the choice to behave differently with food is a day that I feel better and stronger - both physically and emotionally. It's scary because I don't yet trust that I will be able to make these choices again tomorrow. The good news is, I am not living in tomorrow yet, I am only living in today, and today, I am practicing new habits.
When I stopped drinking a couple dozen years ago, I discovered that the best way to establish new habits is to practice those habits, one day, one incident, one joy, and one fear at a time. In the early days, I had to remind myself, and to reach out for help from others to remind myself, many, many times a day, but every time I changed my behavior, I changed my habits around alcohol. This in turned changed my attitudes about alcohol and finally my perceptions of myself.
Each day that I change my behavior about food takes me a little closer to the day when choosing my health and my well-being over the temporary gratification of overeating, will become the habit that defines me.
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