Friday, March 26, 2010
Today illustrated to me just how far Iíve come in the short span of about a month. I attended an all-day training with breakfast and lunch included. I ate breakfast before I arrived so I had a cup of decaf and walked past the muffins and danishes without a second thought. At least until I sat down and realized how uncharacteristic that was of me, or at least of the old me. Lunch consisted of make-it-yourself sandwiches, potato salad or coleslaw, potato chips, cookies, and soda, sweetened tea, or water. The old me would have had a tuna salad sandwich, potato salad, a cookie or two and the sweetened tea. But! The new me had ice water and a ham and cheese sandwich sans mayo. The old me would have felt deprived to be eating just a sandwich; the new me actually considered taking one of the cookies, but remembered that a sandwich would be perfectly filling, and it was. I didnít feel deprived at all. The training ended at 2pm. As I left the conference room, coffee and cookies were just outside the door. I just kept walking because I wasnít hungry. It was a decision that was made without any real thought.
I really believe that Iím not eating as much because I CAN eat more if I want. Iím ALLOWED! Iím being kind to myself and, in exchange, I can CHOOSE to eat healthfully and not feel deprived. Tonight I had a smaller dinner, so I treated myself to a frozen banana, 4 frozen strawberries, a splash of almond milk, a dash of vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of stevia all blended up until it was like a frozen ice-creamy treat. I squirted a little whipped cream on top and enjoyed every bite.
I know that I will have tough days in the future and during those days I may not make the best decisions about what I eat. But my relationship with food today demonstrates a huge change, and for that reason it is so amazing to me. I cannot remember a time when I didnít eat the cookie or feel deprived for not having eaten the cookie. I know my relationship to food is moving in a whole new direction, because I donít recognize myself. The new me truly is a new me.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
This week marks the fourth week in a row that Iíve exercised five or six days a week. I notice greater flexibility and strength. My husband told me that Iím looking more toned. All good. Whatís even better is I donít think about exercising; I just do it. I have time set aside each day to exercise, so I put on my work-out clothes and go. Iím noticing that as exercise time approaches each day, my body is almost craving to exercise. What a change from a month ago!
After I was laid off from my job, I thought Iíd use the extra time to get exercising and get into shape. Not feeling motivated in pretty much every area of my life, I seldom made it to the gym and each time seemed like such an effort. For about 10 months I think I went to the gym maybe once or twice a month if that. But then something changed.
I still donít know what exactly happened a month ago when I just started exercising daily. I do know, though, that this is the easiest time Iíve ever had to lose weight and get in shape. Iíve got a long way to go yet, of course, but it seems like less effort is required. I'm doing more, but struggling less. I'm no longer trying to do; I'm just doing.
So whatís different? My mental outlook. I am, for the first time probably in my life, not fighting myself. Iím not beating myself up. Iím not constantly on my case about what I ďshouldĒ be doing or what Iím doing wrong or what I can and canít eat. For the first time in my life Iím being kind to myself on a consistent and continuous basis. Iím finally taking care of myself properly. Maybe before I cared so much that I had to do everything perfectly that Iíd end up giving myself mental whippings. Now, I still care, but at the same time I could not care less. And it seems to be working.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
On NBC News tonight, a story aired about a recent studyís conclusion that, statistically, more mature women who are overweight or obese donít lose weight by increasing exercise alone and actually need to increase activity or they will experience weight gain. Apparently, this finding did not apply to younger women or more mature women who were more fit. The conclusion was that a calorie-limiting diet was needed to lose weight, but exercise was also important for weight loss and other positive health benefits. (I think Iím remembering this correctly). This seems to indicate some kind of difference in metabolism between younger, thinner women and older, heavier women.
After hearing this newscast, I was feeling somewhat discouraged. It seemed to confirm my suspicion that losing weight this time isnít as easy as when I was younger. But then I thought about when I first started changing my lifestyle beginning in February. At first I didnít change my diet. I started working out 45-60 minutes a day, five days a week, and focused on limiting my eating to when I was hungry as opposed to eating for non-hunger reasons. In the first two weeks I didnít lose weight. However, I also noticed that after exercising, my appetite was much stronger. Is it possible that when exercising, but not monitoring caloric intake, a person will naturally eat more to make up for the calories burned through exercise, thereby eliminating any calorie deficit that may have resulted from the additional exercise? Once I started monitoring my calories and keeping them within my daily caloric range, I started losing weight. Is it possible that those heavier, more mature women in the study just ate more, too, once they started exercising? I mean, if they were already overweight, that indicates that they probably werenít monitoring and limiting their caloric intake on a regular basis. However, perhaps leaner women are in a habit of watching what they eat and, therefore, would be less likely to make up for the additional calories burned through exercise by eating more.
Maybe Iím just thinking this way because I donít want to believe the studyís findings. But Iím hoping Iím right.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I am a master avoider. My ninja-esque skills are legendary. I am so good that I can avoid feeling negative emotions before I even know Iím experiencing any emotion at all.
I think Iíve figured out how it works: I interpret a statement, a circumstance, or a thought in a way that causes me sadness or anger or fear. Before I consciously feel the emotion, I automatically think a distracting thought and push down the feeling. This all happens so fast Iím not even aware it happened at all. Next, I begin to feel agitated. The agitation grows as long as I donít feel or understand the feeling that I am suppressing. The agitation itself is uncomfortable, so I often find that I try to distract myself with TV, computer games, books, and, oh wait, FOOD. The agitation can last for days or even longer until it slowly fades, assuming I donít overlap suppressed feelings one on top of the other. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time feeling agitated.
I came to this realization as Iíve been working on my emotional eating issues. I now know that if Iím feeling agitated thereís something more going on that I need to address. If I can consciously understand the feeling that I am suppressing and confront the issue or even just feel the authentic feeling, then the agitation goes away pretty much immediately. Unfortunately, sometimes I just hide the original issue too well and donít know what Iím suppressing. Recently, I was agitated for four days, but when I awoke on the fifth day I understood that a conversation with a friend had caused me pain that I didnít want to face. I must have dreamed the solution, because I woke up knowing what the problem was and just that understanding was enough for the agitation to leave me.
So whatís the take home?
1. A desire to eat when agitated may very likely be emotional hunger.
2. When I am feeling agitated, I need to figure out how to uncover the root issues, especially when I have trouble doing so. And at some point, I need to start allowing myself to feel the negative emotions as they come up so I can deal with them instead of avoiding them.
3. I amaze myself sometimes. Without good role models from whom I could learn effective coping strategies, I figured out a way to cope. And although my avoidance is not the healthiest coping strategy, it got me through some really rough stuff in life. I did the best I could with what I had, but now itís time to learn how to face life head on.
Hmm. Iím starting to feel agitated.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Today was glorious. The first day of spring turned out to be sunny and mildÖthe perfect day to go sailing. Lucky for me, some neighbor friends are members of a sailing club with access to sailboats in a marina that is walking distance away (2.3 miles round trip). We picked up some Subway sandwiches for lunch on the way. I noticed how my understanding of portions, calories, and making better food choices has improved immensely after only just over a week on SP. Before, I'd get a footlong tuna or ham and cheese with mayo and a soda or punch and eat it all. The sandwich I chose (turkey and ham on whole wheat, mustard, no mayo, lots of veggies) was delicious. Even with a glass of wine on the boat, lunch was calorically reasonable and very satisfying.
I love sailing. My mind becomes totally in the moment. When sailing, I am present. Iím not worried about the future or dwelling on the past. Iím feeling the wind on my face, gauging the strength and direction, adjusting the boat accordingly. Iím steering, sailing past Fort McHenry, making fine adjustments as I talk and laugh with my friends and my husband. Iím not thinking about food or my weight. Iím just living in the now.
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