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Life is Rich: Beck Day 40

Friday, March 11, 2011

Beck's important advice on Day 40 is to enrich your life now. Not to wait until you're slim, not to assume you're not worthy of the good times until you've lost the weight. But to make your life worth living in the present.

I'm reminded of lawyer Susan Estrich's wise counsel in her remarkable book on weight loss, "Making the Case for Yourself", which is to begin by dumping the granny panties. Buy yourself some pretty underthings right away -- you deserve satin and lace. It's uplifting! (Yup: literally quite often as well as figuratively, all puns intended!!)

On a more serious note, consider JANEWATKINS's recent and thought provoking blog, "Dying is part of living", in which she poignantly speaks to the attitude of her sister-in-law during her end stage of cancer treatment; here is the link:


This blog reminds me -- and it's number one on my Advantage Response Card list -- that my primary motivation for weight loss maintenance is reducing the chances of recurrence of breast cancer given my history -- the type of estrogen rich tumour which thrives in fat-tissue environment.

What's on Beck's list of "enrichment activities" for right now? When I review the list, I'm reassured that yes, I'm squeezing all the juice possible out of my life right here and right now.

Travelling: Done plenty, will do more.

Buying new, more fashionable clothes: Guilty as charged, need no encouragement here (and thrift store works very nicely too).

Taking up a hobby: Gardening, my renewed interest in cross country skiing which has made this past winter my best in decades.

Signing up for a class: Just enrolled in a mediation course which will begin next month.

Improving your work situation: Mine may be stressful but it's very good, with supportive colleagues -- and we're in a process of continuous improvement procedurally and substantively.

Looking for a new job: I love the new jobs which roll in the door with each new client-- no two cases are ever the same.

Dating: DH is fulfilling that role very nicely, thank you!

Joining a group, club or team: I'm active at my Y and my golf club, and really enjoy my collaborative team members professionally.

Going to the beach: Yes, regularly in the summer, and love living so close to great beaches.

Making social plans with new people: Regularly, including a business lunch today, a planned get-together with a "cancer support" team which has been helping a colleague very soon.

Volunteering: Doing that.

So check, check and check.

How about just noticing the abundant pleasures of the natural world all around us? Not on Beck's list: but there are birds, flowers, sunsets, dogs, little kids and so much more. The world brims over with mentions. Mentions of joy.

How about participating in Spark People? Also not on Beck's list -- but it's a key source of resources, friendships, support and fun in my life. For which I thank you all continually. And most sincerely. .

Should you enrich your life now? Find things other than eating which are fun to do? Which you cannot do while simultaneously eating? Which are more fun to do if you haven't engaged in a lot of excess eating?

Yes yes yes.

Thanks, Judith S., for helping me notice: My life is rich. I am continuously seeking out opportunities to keep it that way. And to enrich it further.

Gonna keep on doing that. More consciously. More deliberately.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMB2048 3/12/2011 11:06AM

    I love her list of how to enrich your life. I need to re-examine those things for myself.

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FREELADY 3/11/2011 11:06PM

    GREAT blog!

About not waiting until I've lost the weight, not thinking that THEN I'll be "worth it" . . . Last year after this item I decided to go ahead and get the new hairstyle I'd put off "until I'm thin." It gave me such a boost. It really made me feel, "Hey, I'm worth it!"

Thanks for sharing!

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/11/2011 10:00PM

Awesome reflection Ellen and so uplifting. Thank you.

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SLENDERELLA61 3/11/2011 7:20PM

    Your life is rich! Celebrate! Celebrate! Thanks for another great blog, Ellen. I love what you said about the abundant pleasures of the natural world. You are right. Although my absolute favorite thing is to share those natural abundant pleasures with my daughter and granddaughters! My life is rich, too. We are blessed!! -Marsha

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CRYSTALJEM 3/11/2011 11:05AM

    Awesome! Thanks for the reminder of just how wonderful this very simple moment is. May you find the joy each moment holds. Namaste.

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SUCHAHOOT 3/11/2011 9:53AM

    What a wonderful blog! You have inspired me to look as my life, what I am doing now and what I would like to do differently. You seem to be on a wonderfl track. Thank you!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/11/2011 9:26AM

    What an inspiring blog! You are so right; there is so much we can doand notice right this minute to improve our moods and lives. You've turned your bout with cancer into a positive that's fundamentally improved your life on every level. That's amazing and exciting. "Squeezing all the juice possible out of my life" -- what a wonderful thing to be able to say!

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NANCY- 3/11/2011 9:17AM

    Life is so exciting, if we just open our eyes. What a wonderful way to live life!

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Keeping Up With Exercise: Beck Day 39

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not a problem.

I'm at 249 minutes of cardio this week already conservatively estimated from cross country skiing and gym sessions on the elliptical (plus two vigorous ST workouts).

I'm a life-long exerciser, going well back to my teen years. I've changed up the times I exercise to accommodate changing life circumstances. And when medical issues have intervened, I've got right back to working out again as soon as health permitted.

I don't particularly expect to want to go and exercise -- in advance -- ever. Getting out of bed at 5 am to go to the gym -- is not appealing. But I do know that exercise always makes me feel better after I've done it: the old "after acquired motivation" -- actually quite similar to the after acquired motivation for weight loss.

Exercise is important for mood, fitness, toning. But it frankly doesn't help me much with weight loss or weight loss maintenance. I have to work way too hard to burn even a few calories. This morning, 400 calories on the elliptical took 34 minutes at level 8 because my RPMs were only about 51: and I realized afterwards that I've caught my DH"s flu (achy, sore throat, low energy).

So be it. The predicted rain is turning my cross country ski dreams to slush. And I'm not likely to get to the gym tomorrow or maybe even on the weekend, if the flu runs its predictable course as well. But in the long run, I know: exercise is not my issue.

It's all about food.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOHAL52 3/11/2011 2:05AM

    Head to bed!! Chicken soup, a good book. You will burn plenty of calories being sick--time to rest dear friend!!!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/10/2011 7:25PM

    Great that you are dedicated to exercise!! It is so good for you. Your years of good habits has made you far healthier than you would have been without it. It's good that you recognize that food is your issue. But give yourself a great deal of credit for those wonderful exercise habits!!

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/10/2011 5:38PM

    Hope you feel better soon.

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CHANLSURFR 3/10/2011 12:17PM

    Level 8? Man, I'm still working on Level 1 and trying to get past my excuses to go farther. Maybe I need to take lessons from you on going up the levels.

Sorry to hear you caught the flu. Try a warm towel over your eyes to help open you up. Put hot (not scalding) damp towel over your eyes. When cool, wipe the corners of your eyes with the corners of the towel. Repeat as necessary. Not great for getting rid of the flu, but will help ease the symptoms of the pressure around your head around your eyes. And gargle with warm salt water for a sore throat. These home remedies have usually made colds and flu a little more tolerable until it has run its course.

Hope you feel better soon.

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JHADZHIA 3/10/2011 12:00PM

    So sorry you caught the flu :( The wacky weather catches us again! There is actually the risk of freezing rain here tonight!! Won't that make a skating rink out of our trails, sidewalks and streets..
I have always loved to exercise too and had long recoveries after surgeries, but got right back on the wagon. But it is frustrating doing a lot of working out and getting small results, as what happened with me before I finally did lose all the excess weight. It is the food. You really ARE what you eat..
Hope you feel better soon,

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PHEBESS 3/10/2011 11:53AM

    Yeah, for some of us the activity level is not an issue, it truly is the food. Ah well, at least when we're chubby we're still healthy!

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Dealing With a Plateau: Beck Day 38

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I am sitting at 149.5 -- a "short" plateau -- and cannot seem to make the scales move downwards.

Beck says that expecting the scales "should" go down steadily, week after week, is bound to lead to disappointment. "It is more realistic" to anticipate that I will hit a plateau -- short term or longer lived.

What can I do?

1. Keep doing what I'm doing and see if the scales move down.
2. Reduce daily calorie intake by 200 calories and see if I lose half a pound a week;
3. Increase exercise by 15 to 20 minutes a day.
4. Call this my goal weight and move into maintenance.

What is to be avoided: a reaction that a plateau is "unfair".

OK. I would not be unhappy to stay at this weight: my clothes are fitting well (black leather pencil skirt yesterday, totally comfortable!!).

I know from checking the calorie burn read out on the elliptical that at 150 it takes me a full 2 minutes longer to burn 400 calories at level 8 RPM 60 than it did when I was, say, 10 pounds heavier. And two minutes is a long time.

It's a perverse reality that the more I succeed in losing weight, the less I can eat and the more I have to exercise to maintain the weight loss. Which is, of course, the complete reverse of the usual tendency to believe that once I've lost weight, I can return to my former pattern: peanut butter in generous tablespoonfuls standing up, with a multi-ounce chaser of full fat cheddar cheese.

I get this. Intellectually/cognitively. And will have to work on it, emotionally/physically.

Plateaus are normal. And if I want to take my weight lower -- say to 145 -- I'm going to have to eat less. Not just now, but permanently. And exercise more.

Yesterday's cross country ski after work was another delight -- deep blue shadows and bright red reeds, chickadees and Canada geese calling, the steady kick and glide and whoosh of wax working perfectly!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 3/9/2011 4:49PM

    What have you decided - maintenance or going lower? What are the emotional and health benefits of either decision? Sometimes our bodies make the decision for us, what is yours saying to you?

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SLENDERELLA61 3/9/2011 2:50PM

    You have the total grasp on the reality of calories in vs. calories earned. With that knowledge you will make wise decisions, including the choice of a goal weight that you can maintain in that tight maintenance range you want.

I understand totally what you are saying about understanding intellectually, but not emotionally. You know I've been fighting a battle that intellectually I understand completely, but I'm still fighting! Oh, well.

One more thing, I bet if you keep doing exactly what you've been doing these last couple weeks that you will go down another pound or so. Sometimes the scale just gets stuck. I hope that is the option you choose.

Take care. You are continuing to do a great job with Beck!!

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JHADZHIA 3/9/2011 11:30AM

    The fitter you are, the more you have to work at burning the same number of calories. I was not happy with this and didn't think I should need to spend long hours maintaining my weight. I actually increased my eating calorie range and decreased my exercise and still stayed the same weight. I put in the Spark Fitness Tracker that I would do one hour of exercise every day, and then the Nutrition Tracker showed I could eat up to 1960 calories a day, normal.. The weight of course is set so the starting weight is the finishing weight. After all there is a big difference from wanting to lose weight then from maintaining it. I discovered if I scrimped on calories I kept losing, which I can't afford to do with RA as my Dr. would actually prefer me to be heavier so I don't lose bone weight..
But I find it difficult to stay under calories even with healthy choices, as soon as I add that grain and fiber which I had cut back on to stay low. But I am trying for a well rounded diet. There is no way to get the 5 servings of grain and still stay under calories.. I get 2 or 3 a day maximum.
If you can be happy wearing that kind of a skirt, it sounds like you must be close or at happy weight!
Good luck with what ever you decide!

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PHEBESS 3/9/2011 10:57AM


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BD3269PM 3/9/2011 8:00AM

    You are doing great! Keep up that good work. Have you tried measurements. Even if the scale is not showing an improvement your measurements probably are. Don't get discouraged and stay healthy! emoticon

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Reduce Stress: Beck Day 37

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Once again, Beck gives us a real cognitive workout, synthesizing previous steps in her program.

People overeat because they are stressed: therefore, reducing stress is an essential element of weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

How to do it? Predictably, Beck treats stress as "problem" to be solved. So once again we need to revisit our priorities: we have to make time for dieting and exercise activities. I cannot permit myself to wallow in the pressures of work. And we need to identify the thinking error at issue in any instance of stress(Day 26), then apply the seven questions technique (Day 27) either to reduce the stress or to conclude that the problem is one incapable of resolution which must be accepted.

Beck believes that stress is primarily related to the thinking error of dysfunctional rules: and in particular the "shoulds" applied to ourselves ("I should be absolutely perfect at my job; I should not ever make any errors; I should win every time; I should stay late every evening to work on files and assist clients . . . "). In addition we apply "shoulds" to others: "My clients should be more appreciative; my kids should be more independent and better launched; my work colleagues should be more helpful . . . ". It's easy to see how dysfunctional rules for myself translate into insuperable burdens for others; after all, if I'm perfect everyone else should be too!! Right . . .

Beck suggests that we can reduce stress by replacing "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" (for ourselves and others) with "It's more realistic to expect . . . ". So: it's more realistic to expect that the scales won't always move downwards. It's more realistic to expect that sometimes I will mindlessly put food in my mouth standing up. It's more realistic to expect that clients will be frightened, angry, resentful at the changes imposed upon their lives. It's more realistic to accept that adult children in this difficult economy take longer to find their feet.

I don't have perfect control over myself. I don't have perfect control over others. And others, of course, don't have perfect control over themselves.

Oh, well. Oh, well.

But mere resignation to this loss of control is not the best result either. I need to think and permit myself to experience how much more humane the world is -- for me, and for everyone around me -- when I relax my "rules" without an "all or nothing" mentality. It's not the case that I'm either perfect or need not make any effort at all. It's not the case that others are either saints or sinners. There is a middle path, and it's only by adopting the middle path that I can stay on this journey indefinitely.

So . . . clearly this is about more than weight loss. This is about uncovering the perfectionism that underlies so many persistent weight loss problems. The best IS the enemy of the good (as Voltaire told us, only in French!).

Beck is a cognitive psychologist, and so she does deal with these issues primarily inside the head. She might have also discussed how (because we are bodies) excess weight creates biophysical stresses: just carrying it around (knee/hip joints); increased likelihood of heart/diabetes/cancer issues. She might have considered the social stressors of being heavy: the snide side glances delivered to the heavy person approaching the airplane seat, or chowing down on a burger and fries at a restaurant, or loading her cart in the chips aisle at the grocery store. She might also have discussed how exercise short cuts much of this cognitive rumination: endorphins are magic -- as I discovered yet again yesterday skiing over crisp sparkly snow late in the afternoon after a very stressful day at work.

So: SHOULD Beck have expanded her analysis of stress in these ways? It's realistic to expect that she could not deal with everything in the few short pages allocated to this chapter!! And: I'm so grateful she provided me with the insights she did, provoking me to think more deeply about stress, its relationship to weight control and its relationship to thinking errors.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 3/9/2011 1:49PM

    It is amazing the role stress plays in regard to weight. Finding ways to address that stress is what I have been working on.
Love your insight.
Keep Sparking.

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CRYSTALJEM 3/9/2011 7:45AM

    Good for you on working through how stress impacts your eating. It seems for the past week or so I've been feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out. I go from wanting to eat for comfort to having no appetite at all. It's like my "spring anxiety thing".

Cheers! May food be your friend today in the best possible way.

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/8/2011 4:10PM

    What a journey you have been on. Thank you for sharing.

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FREELADY 3/8/2011 3:20PM

    Wow! Whew!

I really, really needed to hear this. You said it in a way I could receive.

What a blessing and practical uplift you have been to me today.

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SLENDERELLA61 3/8/2011 9:07AM

    Applause! Applause!! I got even more out of your summary and analysis than I did from Beck's chapter. Thank you. Thank you very much!! -Marsha

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Believe in Yourself: Beck Day 36

Monday, March 07, 2011

Official weigh in day: and it's 149.5.

Oh, well. Middle number still a 4.

Yesterday was the very best cross country ski weather this winter -- fresh sparkly snow, perfect temperature (-2C) and glorious sunshine with deep morning glory blue sky.

DH ill with flu and unable to join me -- but after the gym and a bowl of my curried chicken lentil soup (fabulous!!) I went out for a very brisk 3 km, and then played on the hill for three more runs down/cardio pumping back up. Oh my!! I'm hoping to get away from work early again this afternoon for another ski!!

Today's the beginning of week six -- the last week of this Beck trek -- and she begins by asking us to review all the progress we've made. We are to build confidence that we have lost weight and will be able to keep off excess weight because we have learned how to be successful. Here the workbook offers a Believe It Chart to check off with some 29 items on it.

Five new skills that resonate with me:

I no longer eat standing up: really really huge. That includes not nibbling on crumbs, licking spoons -- I sit down and enjoy every planned mouthful slowly, mindfully.

I have learned to arrange my environment for dieting success -- it's amazing how much less peanut butter and old cheddar cheese is being consumed in our household since I've started hiding them from myself.

I have learned to plan my eating IN ADVANCE: this is huge, it means I'm no longer debating whether I will have x to eat or not. NO CHOICE! If I had to sum up Beck in two words, it would be these two: NO CHOICE! (And lots of initial rebellion about that . . . . still struggling, of course: still struggling!!).

I have learned how to tolerate hunger: and really believe that hunger is not an emergency.

I have learned to make myself get on the scale daily: this isn't for everyone, but it works for me.

There are quite a few things I was already doing -- such as choosing a nutritious diet plan, modifying the plan in advance, monitoring what I ate (but not carefully enough, and after the fact), making time for exercise.

Areas where I've still got most work to do:

Preparing myself for what the scale will say.

Responding to a sense of unfairness.

Continuously motivating myself to do all of these things . . . only time will tell, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I will gain strength with respect to this continuous motivation -- by giving myself credit.

I am different. I have learned new cognitive skills -- by reading about them, putting them into practice, and blogging about them. (Thanks, all those of you who have dropped by to read my blogs. I appreciate your comments. And have to say, blogging has been part of the process because I do not know what I think till I see what \I say!!).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 3/8/2011 1:17AM

    Beck certainly is character building and we who have joined you on your journey via your blogs have learned so much. Thanks Ellen and I am sure many of us are there with you as you step on those scales with a silent prayer of hope that the little pointer will just stop a little less far round than the last time we weighed. Hugs.

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JOHAL52 3/8/2011 12:18AM

    WONDERFUL Blog!! Ellen you are a real inspiration!!



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SLENDERELLA61 3/7/2011 8:17PM

    Ellen, Another great blog! Your analysis skills and self awareness are very impressive. Yes, you have made great progress! I love the sitting down to eat, planning, and tolerating hunger. Actually, all 5 items you list are important, but those three I know from my own experience make so much difference.

You know exactly what you still are working on. I know you'll do it, too. I apologize for being a kind of flaky diet coach; been dealing with my own issues these last couple days and not as attentive as I meant to be. But, it is great to see, you are doing just fine! Keep up the good work!! -Marsha

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CRYSTALJEM 3/7/2011 7:56PM

    You are going through such an awesome transformation. Thank you for sharing it.

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JHADZHIA 3/7/2011 11:44AM

    So nice to see my fellow Canadian rocking this program :)
I am still stuck on that eating over the sink bachelor style thing. Is it an excuse that I have no table and chairs and my only sit down options are in front of the computer or in my big easy chair in front of the TV? Not liking to spill anything on either of those places, eating over the sink keeps it neat. I wonder what Beck would have to say with that..
My whole family has the scarf down your food and run syndrome, its the way we were brought up, always in a hurry..
At my Mom's, I have been giving into snacking as there are so many temptations here and the smells of baking and cooking are out of this world, something I am not used to as I don't do them myself..
So I guess I still have some work to do on this healthy lifestyle journey..
Here is to being successful under any circumstances in any place you may find yourself in..

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FROSTIERACES 3/7/2011 9:23AM

    "I have learned how to tolerate hunger: and really believe that hunger is not an emergency". quote by WATERMELLEN aka::sweetest intelligent beautiful Ellen resides in Canada with dog Charlie and some cool guy named Mike.

This is amazing. Just this alone speaks to millions of people's challenges with food every singe minute of the day. Cognitive skills are what a lot of people believe are the ONLY way through life. I'm one of them...as our minds are very strong. And I believe, it's our minds that heal our bodies. You're doing a lot of thinking over there in Canada my dear and......I just know in my heart this is a tough road you're on some days...yet it's new and it's leading to wonderful changes. You've found willingness to change, daily challenges to reach your goals, and the success...is right there in your hands :)

I hope you have a wonderful day!...I hope it shines bright! Thank YOU for sharing your knowledge and experiences. emoticon

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NANCY- 3/7/2011 8:05AM

    Wow! Lots of great changes!
It is amazing how those little actions add up.
I'd like to thank you for sharing your journey.... this post helped me realize all the changes I have made. Dr. Beck's book is a wonderful tool to help us make those changes.

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