Tuesday, October 23, 2012
When I was trying to figure out how to lose weight, I needed to make it complicated enough to be worthy of my attention. I mean, how could I possibly have a problem with something that is simple, so it MUST be really complicated, right? There wasn't much nutrition info back then, but I counted each food to the calorie, as best as I could with measuring cups and spoons. And I wrote it down and graphed it. Today it's possible to count 100 nutrients on a daily basis, and for me it would feel great.....for awhile. It would give me the illusion of control over SOMETHING. In reality, keeping it simple was what won the day, that day and the days in the decades since. The Old Old Old WW Plan gave you a template for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then they switched to exchanges where we got so many of each exchange every day. It's very simple. It is hard to say No to myself, but not hard to understand the Program. I was desperate to think it was complicated in order to vindicate my inability to stick to something. In reality, the Plan itself was simple. I was, and still am, the hard part.
Friday, October 05, 2012
I hear stories of how people lose weight or maintain loss, and they always involve the details: how many calories or nutritional differentials or exercise. That is WHAT they do, not HOW they do it. I can tell you WHAT I do, but how DO I do it?
I live my life like everyone else, but there is an undercurrent of thought, a second, constant, background line that is made up of my Rules. These are rules I made for myself long ago, primarily so that every food encounter wouldn't become a debate with myself. (Can I eat this? Why can't I eat this? Maybe if I give up dessert on Friday or walk a few more miles?) I always lose debates with myself. I'm not the best debater in the world, and when I am on both sides of the debate, I am doomed.
So to avoid the debate I have rules. They aren't universal, but they were handed to me when I started losing weight and I have incorporated them into my bones. I don't eat between meals. I don't eat junk food. I seldom eat dessert. I rarely eat in restaurants. I would never tell others that these rules are the "key" to successful weight loss or maintenance but they work for me.
And I don't think it's the rules themselves, but the fact that I have them, I follow them, and they are so ingrained in my sub-conscious that I don't have to think about them anymore. Over the years and the decades they have served me well.
There are people who enjoy seeing every instance in their lives as an opportunity for choice, but that way of living would exhaust me. I have enough choices to deal with (need a new doctor, how do I fix my plumbing) that I don't have the emotional energy or confidence to make every food opportunity into a choice. Most are pre-chosen as "No". Most of the rest are "If I have to think about it the answer is No."
I pre-plan my food so that I make my appropriate choices before any longing enters the equation. It's hard enough to buy a house or a car or a dress without emotion bungling up my decision making process. Food choices present themselves far more often in today's life, and at the most inopportune times. Like when I am tired or bored or just want something pleasant to happen. Having rules to help me pre-choose is almost sub-conscious by now. It's taken years of practice to have a reliable sub-conscious, and I can articulate that sub-conscious as my Rules.
People who are desperate about weight jump at any plan that promises they can have anything they want "within reason". For me, reason works for a week or a month or a year, but the day will come when emotion wins. I rely on my Rules. And the weight has stayed off for a very long time.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
We have all read stories of women who continue to live with abusive husbands. They come back from another visit from the emergency room, he says he'll change, they believe it.....until the next inevitable time. And those of us watching all wonder "Why doesn't she just leave?" And she will tell us that she LOOOOVVVVES him and just knows he loves her and won't hurt her again. It's never intentional. And it always happens again. And she stays for more. And we observers are astounded that she doesn't see what we see.
Yet some people treat their food the same way. The food beats us up, leaves us sick and unhealthy, yet we stay because we just LOOVVE it so much! We swear it will be different the next time, and it never is. We can't swear out a warrant on pizza. There are no government services to protect us from Big Macs. We have to find the courage (and it takes courage in any of these situations) to just leave, find a safe place, surround ourselves with safe foods, and safe people (like Spark) that can protect us from something that is hurting us every day.
I am able to stay at goal because I still see certain foods as evil, as dangerous, and I avoid them because they are a threat to my health, my goal, and everything I want to be. I know there are people who say that if you forbid yourself something you will crave it more. That isn't any safer with certain foods than it is with an abusive spouse. Love isn't enough to make it safe. I had to make a clean break with Reeses, then find the life that came next. And a wonderful life it is!
Cheetos won't break my jaw, but is obesity any better? Or safer? It isn't as immediate, but the danger is surely there. And I avoid it for my own safety.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
There has been a lot of wonderful discussion on the At Goal and Maintaining + Transitioning to Maintenance Board, as we try to figure out what maintaining really is. The keeping weight off part is pretty obvious, but the attitudes are very different and not discussed often enough.
I remember years ago when I decided to have a facelift. I went to interview several surgeons. One of them asked me why I wanted it done. He said that if my answer had been to get others to like me more, or to get my husband to love me more, he wouldn't have done it. Anything you do for the sole purpose of eliciting a certain response from another person will never work out the way you think. I know people who buy expensive cars so that people will look up to them (they won't) or put in a dream kitchen to impress the neighbors (it won't) are doomed to serial disappointment.
Most of us started the weight loss process to just lose the stupid weight. Which is fine. But along the way we got a lot of appreciation for something obvious to others, even if their assumptions of how we did it were wrong. We all love positive attention. But if we lost the weight thinking that we would finally live a life with no problems (and that's what any long term, hard fought goal looks like waaaay in the future), and a life of constant adulation, we are doomed to disappointment.
When I first started in WW I was told that I would learn patience; I would learn discipline and know it wouldn't kill me; I would learn that there is life without Reeses. And even though I was busy weighing and measuring and writing things down, and drinking that milk and eating that fish, and going to meetings even though there might be something better to do, I was learning all those things below my radar.
And I learned to have faith in myself. I learned that if I listen to people who know more than I do and listened to them (remember that ago old lament "If only I knew then what I know now?") I would be able to handle life as it came at me, rather than thinking that a certain weight would make me immune to life's challenges.
There are people who keep getting advanced degrees in order to avoid going out into the big, unfamiliar world. We don't have that choice: we CAN"T keep losing weight. We MUST make the transition to doing all the work without all the outside applause. But we have a group right here on Spark to hash it all out with.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and check us out.
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