Sunday, June 26, 2011
Changed my weight tracker to 140.5. Up from 138 where it's been (faithfully checked daily because that's what works for me in maintenance) for weeks and weeks.
But today it WAS 140.5. And so I changed it.
I hate to see that middle number 4.
I know, I know. Not a big deal. Probably temporary.
I haven't been exceeding my calorie count. Have been permitting myself 1500 or 1600 calories a day, however. Within my "range" but probably too much for my metabolism.
And: I did have a serving of salted cashews and almonds yesterday. So there might be some "water weight" lurking in there. Nuts good (in moderation); salted nuts not so good.
Today: Will review my Beck cards. *pause: doing that right now* Done.
Where have I been a bit sloppy?
Pretracking nutrition: gotta do this every day, the day before. (Haven't put in today's nutrition yet: will do this immediately after posting my blog). And I will measure portion sizes rather than relying upon the "eyeball method".
Exercise: work has been uber stressful, and I haven't been getting to the gym as much as I need to. Even though the gym (and golf) are excellent means of combating stress. Went to the gym yesterday. I'm playing golf today. And tomorrow.
Eating standing up. There's been a tiny bit of that creeping back in . . . vegetables while preparing salads, a berry or two. Trivial from a calorie count perspective, NOT trivial from a "strengthening the resistance muscle" perspective. No more eating standing up. None. No choice. This is a huge slippery slope for me.
So: I will continue to pretrack diligently: exercise, nutrition.
And measure my portion sizes accurately.
Because: ignoring small weight gains is what got me up to 230 pounds in 2001.
Eternal vigilance is what I require. Beck and SP can help me maintain that.
I want to see a middle number 3 again. Yeah.
When it happens, I will post it!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Today's Toronto Globe and Mail has a great article on how motivation works in the brain, at the level of actual neuro activity in the various structures of the brain. I've provided the link, above, in case you want to read the whole thing. And it's a fascinating story, given that motivation is something that concerns so many of us. However, it's not exactly your "easy read", so here's the condensed version related to the weight loss experience (at least, so far as I'm I'm able to understand it myself).
Essentially, the neuroscience researcher Mark Fenske has discovered that positive motivation arises when the "reward" centres of the brain win out over the "loss" centres of the brain.
In other words, in deciding whether to pursue any particular goal -- including weight loss-- the brain performs a kind of cost/benefit analysis. The motivation story is about an internal battle between various centres of the brain.
We decide to accomplish a goal, such as losing weight. Then our brain considers: How rewarding would it be to accomplish the goal? Some areas of the brain evaluate the rewards (for weight loss, better health, better appearance . . . all the reasons we have to lose weight) -- and a positive evaluation of the rewards associated with a particular goal will result at least initially in motivation. We're gung ho!! We're roaring off all speed ahead to lose a pound a day!! Yay!!
And quickly lose momentum. Because the brain's motivation centres are continually dealing with backtalk from other brain areas. No one likes to be unsuccessful, or to pay more to achieve something than it is worth to him or her.
So these "backtalk" or demotivation brain centres ask other questions designed to protect us from the sting of failure. How likely is it that I will be unable to accomplish the goal? These negative and anxiety-stimulating brain centres evaluate the risks I won't be successful (how many times have I tried in the past and not stuck with the program, or lost weight only to regain it again? and how difficult was it to lose that weight in the first place?)
If these risk and loss factors seem very large, then the brain decides to submit to demotivation rather than experience defeat. The brain determines, for example, that weight loss would require too much effort getting out of bed to exercise, it would require too many sacrifices of delicious foods in social situations, and that in any case I won't be able to keep it up. The result? Giving up. Regaining the weight loss in that first flush of enthusiasm. And probably a few more pounds.
Do it. Don't do it. Do it. Don't do it. When it comes to motivation, or its opposite demotivation, apparently that's what happening inside our brains all of the time. A measurable brain battle of conflicting neuroactivities.
So: how can we strengthen the motivation centres of the brain and weaken the demotivation centres?
This brain battle doesn't need to be an unconscious one.
We can choose quite deliberately to focus on the positive brain signals.
We can deliberately choose to pay greater attention to the positive "do it" signals.
We can deliberately choose to pay less attention to the negative "don't do it" signals.
After all, because I had failed to lose weight up until age 50 did not mean that I was destined never to lose weight. I did lose 80 pounds between 2001 and 2002. I have kept it off, and since January I have lost about 10 pounds more and kept it off. I now weigh more than 90 pounds less than I did in 2002. But: I was yoyoing, fluctuating.
Using the Judith S. Beck Advantage Response cards (from her book, The Diet Solution) was simply a method of focusing my attention on the rewards of losing weight. To adopt her language, it was a method of strengthening the resistance muscles and weakening the giving-in muscles. It was a method of learning to think like a thin person. And for now at least it does seem to have stopped the yo-yoing of that last 10 pounds on/off/on/off.
"Do it" (motivation) is winning: "don't do it" (demotivation) is losing. My brain battle was made manifest in my body: up 10 pounds, down 10 pounds, up 10 pounds, down 10 pounds.
I stopped permitting myself to dwell on fear of failure. I stopped permitting myself to focus on how hard it is to plan my nutrition and exercise.
Instead I have deliberately chosen to pay attention to the rewards of clothing that fits, feeling slim and healthy.
And I've discovered that it isn't that hard to plan nutrition and exercise, especially with the SP trackers. I've learned that sustaining the motivation to maintain weight loss has simply turned out not to be as hard as I had anticipated.
At least most days!!
The Fenske research on the brain battle of motivation reinforces my experience with Judith S. Beck and with SparkPeople.
We're here to pay attention to the centres of the brain that focus on the rewards of weight loss: better health, better appearance . . . . all of that.
On a cost/benefit analysis: yeah. It's worth it. So worth it.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Love those tubes of fresh herbs.
Nobody else in my household is really keen on fresh herbs. For me, they add flavour and vitamins and colour to my soups and salad dressings and omelettes without much in the way of additional calories. So I'm a big fan.
But when I buy a whole bunch of dill, or cilantro, then generally speaking I won't get it all used up before it's gone a bit slimy. Which has gotta be sub-optimal. Whereas a tube of fresh chopped cilantro comprises three average bunches and stays fresh to the end. And in addition, if I want, say, "Italian" then I'd have to buy a bunch of basil, and a bunch of rosemary, and a bunch of Italian parsley, and a bunch of . . . you get the idea. Which means that the tube of mixed chopped fresh herbs in whatever "ethnic" variation is also a terrific idea.
So yeah. Getting a tube of fresh chopped herbs is a huge bargain.
And this morning when I was preparing this week's pot of curried lentil soup, I added a big squirt of the fresh cilantro right at the end. Mmmm. Delicious.
As a person who looks for and raises Monarch caterpillars every summer on milkweed leaves until they spin up into their jade green chrysalises, and then ultimately hatch and fly away, I'm really not all that squeamish about the back end of caterpillars either.
Still, while making my soup this morning it did occur to me . . . and I immediately suppressed that thought. Firmly. Because I really like fresh herbs. And am not a vulgar person, not at all!!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
CMRAND54 has a wonderful blog -- link above -- about learning how to waste food. Not eating everything on your plate. Discarding part of the cheese. Setting aside the top half of the bun. Selecting only the most perfect fries, the ones that are "just right": neither too limp or too dark. Then dumping the rest because they're just not good enough to be worth the calories.
This blog reminds me of my mother, who had the same super-efficient metabolism I "enjoy" and that my daughter "enjoys" as well.
Mum was a fitness instructor in the early 50s at the local YWCA, long before fitness classes were the norm. When we went dress shopping together (mother in her girdle and bra and garter belt and nylon stockings and slip and heels and day dress and short white gloves and small hat with a veil: my sister and I in matching Mary Janes and ankle socks and slips and crisp starched hand-smocked cotton dresses), she prided herself on fitting into a size 16. The very same size, she'd tell us, as Marilyn Monroe.
Back home for supper? She did not require us to "eat everything on our plates, or no dessert". She did not entertain us with harrowing tales about the starving children in India.
She'd shake her head when my father offered her a second helping of roast beef and potatoes. Take just a sliver of her own superb home-baked apple pie. Then push aside part of that portion, and sip a cup of black coffee instead.
"Better it should go to waste than to my waist," she'd say.
Self-regulation. That is the question. And the necessity, if that's the reality of your biological legacy.
Unfair? Maybe so. But on the other hand, both my daughter and I also inherited my mother's double cheek dimples!!
Friday, June 17, 2011
Work all done: and it was a fairly tough slog.
Isn't Friday evening one of the best times of the week?
Saturday and Sunday stretch ahead. Twenty-four hours in each one! Chores, sure, they need to get done: and I wanna go to the gym, too.
But there will be time to unwind. Relax. Have fun.
Jammies, a book. No need to set the alarm.
Friday evening. Ahhhhhhh.
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