Friday, May 03, 2013
My old habits are definitely not going gently into that good night. They're raging, all right. It didn't take long at all for them to take back over my life again without me even really noticing it.
I guess the two things that caused it to happen were 1) a major disruption of my normal routine (I went out of town for a long weekend last weekend to visit my mom), and 2) forgetting the reasons that were motivating me to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Because I was out of town, I wasn't blogging, and that made it a lot harder for me to keep my motivation strong. I wasn't even that "bad" out of town -- while I wasn't explicitly watching what I ate, I was conscious about eating more fruits and veggies and even did fun active stuff like kayaking and walking and biking.
It was actually this week -- when I got back home -- when the old habits took back over. Like, when I got home, instead of jumping back into my healthy routines that I had going before my trip, I jumped back into my old unhealthy routines automatically instead, without even realizing it. I guess that really proves how powerful a hold the old habits have on me.
The good news is I feel like I'm slowly waking up again and starting to remember the reasons why I don't want to live the rest of my life eating half a delivery pizza in one sitting for dinner.
The other good news is that I don't at all feel like I'm starting from scratch again. My Old Habits might still be a very strong force in my life (which is understandable considering how long I allowed them to have free reign over my life in recent years), but my new healthy habits are still around and available too. All the insights and everything from the previous several weeks of healthy living are still available again to me.
So that's good!
I think the trick is just going to be the reconnecting with my motivation. I never did write down that list of "Reasons I Want/Need to Change." I was just keeping the reasons alive in my head and I thought that was enough. But I really ought to write them down so that they're formalized, and so that they're available to me whenever they fall out of my head. Maybe keep them in several places... like a printout in my purse, and a note file on my iPhone, etc.
So I'm going to do that today. Will do it in a separate blog entry, though, so that it's easier for me to reference and find later when I need it.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I had this SUPER strong craving for a piece of cafeteria pizza today, shortly after I'd finished the lunch I'd brought from home. It was almost all-consuming. It was like this giant neon flashing sign in my brain. A terrifyingly powerful siren song tempting me to my own death. Haha. I mean, I haven't banned pizza from my life entirely or anything, but I'm trying to commit to not eating when I'm not physically hungry, and I definitely wasn't hungry at the time because I'd just finished lunch.
Anyway, I staved it off by forcing myself to read a few SparkPeople articles, and going through some questions in my head about the craving, and that killed the time before my next meeting well enough. And by the time my meeting ended I'd forgotten all about it. So, crisis averted. Yay.
But it sucked at the time! And so, for next time, I came up with this worksheet that's pretty much the questions I asked myself in my head earlier, with a few more. Next time I get a crazy strong craving that's taking over my life, I'll force myself to write out the answers. Hopefully will start to see patterns emerging that I can then conquer. (For example... realized my breakfast and lunch today weren't high in protein, so maybe that's part of why I was jonesing for the pizza still. I'll try to be better about eating more protein early in the day and see if that helps.)
I won't fill it out all the time or anything... but hoping it will be a good tool to have in my toolkit next time I need it. So, here's the worksheet/questions:
When Craving Attack: A Worksheet
1) What am I craving right now?
2) What type of food is it? (e.g., sweet, salty, fatty, carb-y, protein, etc.)
3) How physically hungry am I right now? (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being ďso full Iím sickĒ and 5 being ďneither hungry or not hungryĒ)
4) What time is it, and whatís going on in my head/heart/life? (i.e., stress? tired? feeling emotional, or not, about something?)
5) What else have I eaten today (and maybe yesterday if relevant)? Am I below targets on protein, salt, fat, etc...? How would eating this food impact the rest of my nutrition for the day?
6) How would I feel afterwards if I ate what Iím craving? Physically? Emotionally?
7) How would I feel afterwards if I _didnít_ eat it? (e.g, deprived/sad, or proud of myself for resisting?)
8) Is it worth it? If so, eat it!
9) If itís not worth it... what steps can I take instead to get my mind off the craving, and/or satisfy it in a healthier way, and/or treat the issues from #4 without food?
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
One of my biggest mental obstacles that I've been mulling over lately is the plain, sad fact that I've done all this before. I've lost weight before. In fact, I've lost these _same exact pounds_ before. It really makes the process a lot less glamorous.
I'm sure a lot of people here on SparkPeople can relate. Me, I successfully lost around 40 pounds during one long, motivated summer 7 years ago or so. (Ahhh... has it really been 7 years?) I was in grad school on summer break. Wasn't teaching at the time, and the only class I was taking was a really really fun intensive language class. I had all this free time to cook, read about health and nutrition, self reflect, and exercise. I went vegan for the summer, which let me cut down on a lot of calories while going way up on the number of veggies and legumes and fruit that I ate. I drank lots of water. I learned to love green tea. It wasn't like my early weight loss efforts as an angsty teen (like my infamous "Swedish Fish and Diet Coke" diet in high school) -- I was healthy. I felt amazing! And the weight just fell off me.
I maintained most of that loss for a long time, too. I remember reading statistics that almost everyone who loses weight gains it back within 5 years. (Seriously, the number of articles out there about this phenomenon are freaking depressing.) I remember thinking, "Not me! I've escaped the trap!"
But I spoke too soon... and low and behold, around the 5 year mark, I started gaining weight again, and now here I am again -- I started a few weeks ago at a higher weight than my original weight loss start weight back in the day.
Maybe it took my brain 5 years to forget everything I'd been through during my first major weight loss. 5 years to completely, irrevocably forget all my good habits and adopt a bunch of fun, bad habits without even really realizing it.
At any rate, it happened. And so here I am. I weigh myself once a week, and yes, I'm seeing some nice reasonable progress. But I can't stop myself from thinking, "I've lost that pound before." And then I let that thought take away a lot of the fun about it from me. Is it really "progress" if you've progressed that progress before?
That's the negative thought pattern. So... how to get past it? Well, there's a few things I can do, right?
1) Instead of beating myself up about my past experiences and dredging up all these feelings of failure, I can use them to my advantage. Learn from my experiences. I can think about what things really worked well for me last time I lost weight, and apply some of them again. I can think about what things didn't work -- either at that time, or in the years following. I'm 7 years smarter than I was back then, and maybe that means that this time, I'll be 7 more times successful.
2) Try to break out of the weight loss-weight regain cycle completely this time. If most people on a diet eventually regain the weight, then maybe the key is not thinking of myself as "on a diet" at all. I've read some people on here write the equivalent of, "I'm not going to make any changes that I can't sustain indefinitely," and I like that idea a lot. For example, last time, the vegan diet was a great way to force myself to learn how to cook more interesting, flavorful meals with vegetables and discover new ingredients like tempeh and nutritional yeast and whatnot. But I knew at the time I wasn't going to be a vegan forever. Ditto with going to the gym 5 times a week... with a full time job now and a personal life, that's just never going to be something I'm going to want to do for the rest of my life. And so, the changes I made then were all good for me at the time, but not sustainable in the long run. This time, I'm really trying to focus on the question, "How do you want to eat for the rest of your life?"
3) Try to catch myself in the act whenever those, "Ugh, I've lost this pound before" unhappy thoughts come up, and practice actively replacing them with a better thought. I'm just not sure what at the moment. Maybe just something like, "That's just a number. The REAL progress I'm making is getting closer every day to being healthy for the rest of my life."
Or else, "Yes, in some ways I've been down this road before. But this time my destination's different. Even better." Or I don't know. Maybe it's not the same road at all. Maybe it's not even a road. Maybe a road is a stupid metaphor!
And maybe the more times I force myself to think that thought, the sooner it will be until I completely believe it. It's soooo hard not to get all caught up in the numbers in this process.
But if I want this time to be different, then it's got to be different. And it's up to me and this pretty little head of mine to make the difference. So here goes.
Monday, April 22, 2013
I live in the city, but there's a tiny little garden plot in front of my house. I'm just a renter but allowed to do whatever I want with the garden. And I never used to have any interest in gardening, but I love to cook with fresh veggies/herbs and have been feeling more "domestic" these days in general, weirdly enough. (I refuse to admit it probably has to do with turning 30... but, it probably has to do with turning 30).
So I spent part of my weekend getting dirty and planting several more herbs (pineapple sage! wooo) in addition to the ones I had already, as well as several veggies... some transplants, some seeds. I've actually never planted anything with seeds before. Can't wait to see what happens there.
I don't think it's any coincidence that I started my diet/journey to health as soon as the weather started getting warmer this year. Spring is such an energizing time of year for me. I get this rush of endorphins just being outside, as if I'm coming out of hibernation. It's time to shed my old skin and grown a new one.
It's only been a couple weeks for me, but I'm happy to report that the seeds of good health that I planted (forgive me for the cheesy metaphor!) are taking root. They're still a little tenuous, but they aren't ready to go anywhere yet.
I know this because I had my first real "off day" on Saturday -- the aforementioned friend's birthday celebration. We went to this street festival with various food trucks/booths, and all the surrounding bars had drink specials. The kind of event I'd usually go crazy at. I didn't eat as badly as Old Me would have, but I ate more than I needed to, that's for sure.
And while I stuck to my personal goal of not ordering any fried food... I totally tricked myself into finding a little loophole in that goal. Apparently I'm really sneaky like that. So, I didn't ORDER that funnel cake... but I did plant the seeds (ha ha) of desire for funnel cake into my friend's head. She didn't even know there was funnel cake available until I just _happened_ oh-so-innocently to mention it to her. And then once she ordered it, I ate at least a quarter of it. But hey... I didn't ORDER it, right? Ha.
Anyway... it was just one day. And the next day, I was back on track. It was hard... the snack food and alcohol the day before had really stirred up some old unhealthy cravings in me. It would have been so easy just to continue eating whatever I wanted in the moment. So I had to really confront myself. Because "eating whatever I want" is not as simple as it sounds. First of all, who is the "I"? Is it really me who craves unhealthy fattening unnutritious food, or is it just the junk food addict who tries to take over my brain? And do I really "want" the unhealthy food, or do I just mindlessly desire it? Because I also want to have a healthier body; I also want to nourish myself with delicious wholesome foods. How can I want those things but also "want" to overeat on junk food at the same time? Which "want" is more powerful? Which is better for me, in the long run, once the immediate gratification of the moment has passed? Which is genuinely more satisfying?
As soon as I asked myself the questions, I knew the answers, of course. So I managed to say no to my mindless cravings and ate really healthily yesterday. I wasn't always happy about the fact that I had to do it, but I reminded myself that it's the hard days when your desire to change matters most. Some days, eating lots of servings of fruits/veggies and being mindful of my hunger levels is the easiest thing in the world. But when I convince myself to stick with that, even on the days when it's hard... that's when I know the changes really have started taking root.
Today's easier, but still a little bit shaky. Luckily I have lots of SparkPeople pages and blogs to catch up on, full of motivation and inspiration and all that good stuff.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Just checking in with myself. Last week my mini goals were:
- Cook 3 dinners and bring 4 lunches from home: check!
- Tell the boyfriend about the diet: check! (It went totally fine, just like I knew it would, yay.)
- Cook 3 dinners and bring 4 lunches from home.
- Stretch calves/feet at least 2x daily. (Very important for me to help heal my foot condition).
- Get 60 minutes of gentle exercise, making sure to stretch/take care of the feets.
Also, tomorrow, I'm going to a friend's birthday celebration. I know already it's going to be hard to stay within my goal calorie range... but that's ok. My goal is just to make progress compared to the Old Me. So, my goals are 1) don't order any fried food, and make sure to eat some veggies, and 2) only drink half as much as Old Me would have.
I'm slowly but surely doing really well. It's going to be good!
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