Sunday, March 18, 2012
TUFFMUFFIN, aka DH, comments humourously on my "Best Dressed" blog with respect to my "success" in inveigling friends to make clothing donations to me. He points out that people give me their clothes when their own weight has increased, such that their clothes no longer fit 'em. And he advises, sagely, "The secret therefore is to make friends with those not inclined to Sparkpeople ways."
He's kidding. I don't deliberately focus in on making friends with those who are gaining weight. Surreptitiously feed 'em up!! No matter how enticing their wardrobes might be!!
However, he made me think.
Why have I been so unsuccessful in "recruiting" friends to join SparkPeople? Which would have meant that they could have kept their clothes and worn them themselves?
I don't know.
Until TUFFMUFFIN himself signed up a couple weeks ago (AND he's already lost 3 pounds!!) I had influenced not one person -- not one at all -- to become active on SparkPeople.
Let me hasten to say right away: this wouldn't be information I'd offer up. I don't proselytize, "Let me tell you about SparkPeople." Kinda delicate: hard to interpret any other way than, "I think you need to lose weight". And: most people absolutely don't want to hear that. Not at all. So it's generally a topic I don't broach. (I quickly learned when I was looking for new "homes" for my own size 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10 clothes, as I was downsizing . . . . expensive clothes, in many instances . . . . that there were not going to be any takers. There is apparently no tactful way of offering up clothes "that I'm now too thin for" . . . that corresponds to offering up clothes "that I am now too fat for". So I finally took mountains of them to the thrift store . . . . ).
A few of those who knew me when I was 230 have asked how I lost the weight. But that was more than a decade ago. Old friends have got used to me at my current size, and the majority of more recent friends and acquaintances have never known me fat.
But, quite a number of recent acquaintances have asked me about how I stay (relatively) thin. People at the gym, for example. Or work colleagues. Or clients. Or just casual friends.
When asked, I have mentioned Spark People. Probably at least 100 separate times, maybe more. But (before TUFFMUFFIN signed up, and he really doesn't need to lose much weight, if any -- a couple more pounds at most) only ONE person was interested. That would be my totally wonderful hairdresser, who has cut my hair for over 25 years. And yeah, he does use the site . . . but only the nutrition tracker. Nothing else.
My sister tried it. Did not like it. Waaaaay too complicated. Overwhelming. Weight loss shouldn't require so much effort. My daughter tried it. Ditto. And same with everyone else to whom I've mentioned SparkPeople. They've maybe been kinda shamefaced, reporting back, but they've been definite. Unanimous. "It's not for me."
How come? SparkPeople offers an amazing range of services. And information. And supports. And incentives. The nutrition and fitness trackers, the weight tracker, recipes, the meal planners, the exercise videos, the teams, the points, the goodies, the friends . . . . You can use as much or as little as you choose, of all that's on offer. So what's not to like?
I don't know.
I like it. Obviously. I've been here almost three years!
SparkPeople is not nearly as "in your face" as fatloser.com. Or even Judith S. Beck's "Diet Solution". Or Susan Estrich's "Making the Case for Yourself". But although SparkPeople may be kinder and gentler: people I know don't sign up.
And then, in addition to those who say they're desperate to lose weight and never sign up at all, I'm also still struck by the number of people who "fade away" on SparkPeople. Some of whom have apparently not lost any weight. But just given up. Some of whom have lost weight and so think maybe they don't "need" SparkPeople any more. Not realizing that maintaining is even tougher than losing. (Some of these "former losers" do return, having left and regained, for a further shot of support. Which is inevitably given once again, unstintingly and unquestioningly.)
Weight loss is not easy. Weight loss maintenance is even more difficult. And probably the right question to ask would be, "Why is Spark People so successful in helping people lose weight and keep it off", rather than "Why don't more people sign up?"
Gotta say, however, that I still wonder. Being fat is no fun: unhealthy, uncomfortable, unsightly. And if that sounds harsh, I don't mean it that way . . . . heaven knows I've lived it. Live in fear of reliving it!
I'm thinking: would some kind of preliminary screening questionnaire help? To assist people in signing up for just those services initially that are going to work best for them? So that they don't get overwhelmed? So it seems less complicated? For example, the nutrition tracker is key for me. I'm not a very good "team" person, or "challenge" person . . . but there are people here for whom that's the heart of the Spark program. And others for whom the running is the big thing. Or the message boards. It probably depends upon time available and personality.
Obesity is an epidemic. SparkPeople is free. It works. Why oh why don't more people make use of this amazing SparkPeople resource?
Has there been any research done correlating those who are most active in various areas with those who self-report most success in weight loss or maintenance?
Any thought about a "graduated introduction" to SparkPeople services? Maybe earn eligibility for beyond-basic services by earning points . . . for example, log in 30 days and you get the meal planner, log in 60 days and you get the exercise planner?
But keep it simple to start. Would that help?
Friday, March 16, 2012
OK, not on any famous list or anything. Not even close.
But: the charming young woman who sells me my newspapers most mornings at my local convenience store (and who is herself quite the fashionista) told me today that the staff there talks about their regular customers all the time.
Who's pleasant (and who's not).
Who smiles (and who doesn't).
And who's best dressed!
She told me: there was no debate about that. It's me!! "Different outfit every day, always so put together. Stylish . . . " She went on and on in this vein. But I was too embarrassed to take it in . . .
So I just laughed. Thanked her but laughed. Told her I don't spend much money on clothes. It's old old stuff I have had forever. Or stuff from the discount store deep sale rack. Or stuff from liquidation stores. Or stuff from thrift stores. Or stuff that girlfriends have given me. FREE. That's my favourite price point of all. Free.
Today's outfit? Cheap cheap cheap cheap.
Camel cuffed pants, ($8, discount sale rack, at least 8 years ago). Cuffed pants in size 6-8 tend to migrate to the deep discount rack because a lot of women would have to have them shortened to wear them: I just wait for them to go on sale!! And then further on sale!!
Quilted camel double breasted jacket, leopard print lining. (High end designer type item, buttons different ways, really like this one: $20, discount sale rack, again at least 5 years old).
Silky white tie blouse. Old old old. (Free)
Camel lace stockings. Old old old. (Free)
Patent camel T-strap peep toes, high heeled. ($12, sale rack)
A camel leather "harness" type belt with gold hardware. ($5, discount sale rack)
A gold chain. (Free, gift)
Leopard print hat. (Taupe, camel, black: $5, sale rack)
Taupe crinkle raincoat. (At least 20 years old and bought on sale then -- but classic high end)
Taupe leather handbag. (Liquidation: $40, well-known brand: retails for at least $200)
Taupe leather gloves (Free, gift)
Amazing . . . today there were no thrift items. But total cost? Less than $100 excluding the coat . . . price of which I cannot remember, but heaven knows it's "depreciated" to nothing over its lifetime! Still in good shape though.
So what's the most expensive item I "wear"??
Hair cut: get it trimmed every 6 weeks at a top end salon. And then it requires very little attention beyond daily shampoo/blow dry. Maybe a few hot rollers while I put on minimal makeup. We wear our hair all day every day, so a good haircut is a good investment I think. (But: no colour, streaks or otherwise).
By far the most expensive item: the $50,000 body!! (Joke, of course). Based on the entirely notional value of all the time I spend at the gym when I could be and should be working and billing!! Exercise costs me a ton of bucks!!
But time at the gym means I work smarter when I am at work.
Time at the gym also makes everything I wear fit better. Makes me feel better, carry myself better. And it's the reason I can "get away" with all those cheap/thrift/hand-me-down clothes!!
So yeah. Worth it.
"Best dressed"? The compliment was much appreciated. Although it's beyond hilarious.
Still, let's be candid. A little shot of vanity never hurts to keep the motivation high!!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Thinking back, it was after I'd read Susan Estrich's life-changing book, "Making the Case for Yourself" (about which I've blogged before . . . ): that was when I changed my first "core belief" from "I can eat whatever I want" to "I don't do doughnuts". A modest beginning!
At that point in 2000, I weighted 230 pounds. I'd just completed a long long project. And my DH and I found ourselves, hungry, at a doughnut shop. Where we'd just stopped for coffee. But decided we'd also have a doughnut. He (not overweight) thought maybe he'd like to have two doughnuts. And persuaded me I'd like to have two doughnuts also (not that it took much persuading). And then it turned out that there was a special on, such that six doughnuts would actually cost less than four doughnuts bought individually.
So yeah: we bought six doughnuts. And I ate three doughnuts.
And then we went to a bookstore, and there in the remainder bin (for $5, less than the cost of the doughnuts, as I recall) was Susan Estrich's amazing book.
Which I, filled with self loathing ("How can I have achieved what I've just achieved, when I have absolutely no self-discipline at all about weight control?????"), went home and devoured. Almost as fast as my three doughnuts.
Susan Estrich, a very prominent lawyer and law professor and political mover-and-shaker, had had her battles with doughnuts too, it turned out.
And Susan Estrich, in peeling off the weight and getting down to a size six, had decided that she "didn't do doughnuts".
Without really believing it, that was the point I also decided (and contrary to all the evidence) that I didn't do doughnuts either. I adopted that as my first new core belief (even though doughnuts by definition don't have a core, actually).
"I don't do doughnuts", I decided. (Although I just had: three of 'em).
And having adopted this new core belief, the action followed: I did stop doing doughnuts. Even though my office is next door to a very famous doughnut chain.
I don't do doughnuts. Ever. Don't even like doughnuts any more: greasy rancid yucky stuff.
Would I rather have a cup of fresh raspberries? Or an ooey gooey chocolate dipped doughnut? A chocolate walnut cruller? A cinnamon cake doughnut?
Raspberries, every time. And now: I really believe that's so!
From that first changed core belief (very simple) a whole cascade of other core belief changes followed. And the weight dropped. From 230 to 155 and then (with Spark People, with Judith S. Beck, with fatloser.com) further down to my current 140.
I didn't know what to call this process until I did the fatloser.com 21 day program. And I'm always having to renew my commitment to these new core beliefs, change 'em up and keep on persuading myself by changing my thinking. But there it is.
I don't do doughnuts.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Fatloser tells me (this was the day 19 lesson) that I probably have a whole lot of "core beliefs" about dieting. And that many of them might not even be conscious beliefs.
Here are a few typical and unconscious core beliefs about weight loss and dieting, according to Steve Siebold, the "mental toughness coach" on fatloser.com:
1. Dieting is painful.
2. Dieting is short term for weight loss, and then I can stop.
3. I can lose weight without focused dieting (without tracking . . . just "cutting back" is enough).
4. Diets don't work anyhow.
5. I'll be unhappy if I can't eat what I want when I want (and I shouldn't be unhappy. That would be unfair).
6. Dieting means I'll have to deny myself all my favourite foods (and that wouldn't be fair either. Other people can eat whatever they want . . . and I should be able to also).
7. Dieting will mean I can't eat in restaurants. (And I like eating in restaurants).
8. Dieting is too much work (and I don't want to do the work).
9. Dieting requires extreme discipline (and I shouldn't have to be self-disciplined).
10. The pleasure of being "fit" (or slim) is not worth the pain of dieting.
Any of these familiar once they're dragged out into the light of consciousness? They sure were, for me.
Siebold suggests that we quite deliberately adopt a new set of core beliefs to replace those old unconscious beliefs. Here are his suggestions:
1. Dieting is pleasurable because it makes me feel successful, energetic and in control of my body.
2. Dieting is long term, like sticking to a budget, and and that's good because it will keep me on track and successful.
3. Focusing on my diet (tracking, 100% compliance) means I'll be successful.
4. Diets work perfectly every time, so long as I follow the diet.
5. I can be happy (much happier) choosing foods that make me feel fit and healthy.
6. I can develop new favourite foods that make me feel fit and healthy.
7. I can prepare to eat in restaurants by deciding what I'll eat in advance that is in compliance with my diet.
8. Being fat is too much work because it weighs me down all day long and makes me feel miserable.
9. Dieting is only a light discipline but it has disproportionately high rewards: I'll feel great and look great and get big compliments!
10. The pleasure of fitness is worth any price I have to pay because without my health I have nothing.
Siebold tells us that these are, in fact, the core beliefs of people who are fit rather than fat. How does he know? He's interviewed over 500 fit people, and these 10 beliefs came up over and over again.
What if I just don't believe those new "beliefs?" No problem. I don't have to believe them, I just have to tell myself that I believe them. I just have to be smart enough to copy the beliefs that already work for people who are already fit and not fat. If I copy those beliefs, then the appropriate actions will follow. The results I want. Fitness not fatness. Because these are the beliefs I need to believe in order to be successful at weight loss. Changing the belief changes the action. It might feel kinda phony at first to tell myself I believe what I don't yet believe, but persistent repetition of the new core beliefs will make them mine.
I'm never going to live long enough to learn everything I need to know, but that's OK. Because I can just copy the beliefs of successful people, leverage their knowledge and borrow their experience. If I do that, I'll become successful too. At weight loss . . . and at other stuff as well.
What an intriguing idea: I don't have to believe my beliefs. At first. But these beliefs will become my beliefs. Through practice and persistence. The actions that follow. And the results then follow the actions.
I took off 80 pounds in 2001. From 230 to 150. With a few blips, I've kept them off . . . and lost 10 more. Consistently at 140 (and still would like to be a few pounds lighter, about 138).
What Siebold made me realize is: I HAVE changed my core beliefs.
1. Dieting actually is pleasurable. (Almost always: although I grumble occasionally!)
2. It's permanent.
3. I'm pretty consistently 100% compliant. Hardly ever over my calorie range.
4. This is working for me.
5. I'm happy to eat healthily (and hate the "food hangover" feeling of high fat or salty foods).
6. I now prefer (genuinely) vegetables and fruits in salads and soups, lean protein, healthy fats. (Don't ask me about potato chips, however).
7. Had lunch at a restaurant yesterday: decided in advance it would be salad and chose a great one: grilled veggies with a little goat cheese and Parmesan crisps. Mmmmmm. Black coffee. No bread, no butter. No cream soup to start. Just half a teaspoon of DH's pecan pie. Enough? Yes it was. Delicious, in fact. While the others at the table ate quite differently. No problem: they don't have my metabolism.
8. Love feeling lean all day long, moving easily and lightly through life.
9. Love the compliments! "Those pants look fantastic on you" (yesterday). Vanity, I know . . . but I'm less than honest if I don't admit that it's great to look as good as possible.
10. Got my third year all clear mammo results back last week and I'm anticipating a good check-in at the oncology clinic on Monday. My health is worth this, yes it is. Not that freedom from recurrence is ever guaranteed or that recurrence, if it happens, would be "my fault". But, I know that I'm doing everything I can with healthy diet and exercise . . . and that's all I can do. So: not panicking. Not worrying. And that's a good thing too.
Fatloser.com helped me realize what I already knew. What I've already learned. But without being conscious of it.
Fatloser.com is a stellar program. And once again, I recommend it.
Yeah, Day 20 was terrific too . . . and I'm sorry that tomorrow it's all over. But: I've made notes. And I may try some of the other Steve Siebold resources. Because what he's offering (free, mostly) is pretty valuable . . . or at least I'm thinking so.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
A number of us here at SparkPeople are trying fatloser.com . . . with varying degrees of pleasure!
I'm a fan. Really.
Fatloser is about mental toughness, and it's bigger than losing weight . . . it's about controlling our thinking by monitoring our moods and emotions to effect change in every area of our lives.
Steve Siebold pulls no punches. He says that if I'm fat, it's my fault. But that although there is a big price to pay for becoming "fit", I also pay a huge price (a bigger price) if I'm fat. So I've got to expect to experience pain, doubt and turbulence . . . work through the "season of pain" . . . grow up and fix the problem. Diets are "linear", he says: do the work, get the result you want. End of story.
For me, this 21 day free fatloser program is as valuable as Susan Estrich's "Making the Case for Yourself", Judith S. Beck's "Diet Solution" (I've blogged about both of these) and even SparkPeople itself. The fatloser site has a whole range of other resources . . . some free, some not . . . but there is no hard sell.
He's essentially focusing on the most debilitating addiction of all . . . addiction to the approval of other people. Being a "people pleaser" is something we learn as children, and it leads many to a place of "fear and scarcity" where the consolations of excess food become problematic. What's the solution? We have to use our logical minds to make decisions, and our emotional minds as cheerleaders to sustain the motivation to carry out those decisions. Regardless of whether other people approve or not.
And many of us know: there is huge social pressure to eat unhealthily. Especially in a society where 66% are overweight or obese right now, 75% will be by 2020, and 90% by 2032.
The weight loss industry in North America generates some $68B a year in profits by persuading people that they need to buy special products or coaching or supportive services to lose weight. There is no profit to be made in telling people that they can do it themselves. But people do have within themselves the willpower to do it for themselves. At no cost. Make a decision, develop the mental toughness to stick to it: that's Siebold's prescription and he spells out just how to do it. And Siebold's own fatloser program is now FREE, although he used to sell it for close to $500 a person.
Overeating, Siebold says, is not an addiction. Obesity is not a disease. We don't need medical attention to deal with this issue. (He does make an exception for the tiny fraction of the population with an eating or psychological disorder). But most of us just need the mental toughness to stick with a diet. Eating too much high calorie food just because it tastes good is . . . a bad habit. A tough habit to break. But: not more than that. Hmmmm. Siebold even says that if I'm a bit hungry when I'm ready for bed, that would be an indication that I'm sticking to my diet. And I need to think about it that way.
This makes sense to me. And made me consider: the mental toughness I learn from fatloser.com has to be useful in so many other areas of life.
So: how can it be that most people drop out of fatloser at about day 4 or 5? That's what he says at day 17. Which really astonished me.
Although: I'm betting that quite a few of those who make it past day 5 will pack it in at day 13. Day 13 is when he talks about the topic (THAT topic) which is pretty much NEVER discussed in weight loss venues . . . which would include SparkPeople. So I won't either. Even though Siebold is absolutely persuasive about how important it is. Matter-of-factly. But inevitably it's an approach that a whole lot of folks just might find . . . um yeah. . . . a little bit excessively candid?
Not me. I made it past day 5. And day 13. I'm definitely sticking it out for the last four days, and I'll be sorry when it's over . . . I'm hoping to take a couple hours and review all of the videos sequentially when I'm done. It's my understanding that the emails will all self-destruct shortly thereafter: and fair enough. It's quite a gift to provide this program at no cost even for a "limited time only"!!
Sure, I can see fatloser could be kinda in your face for some people, even for a lot of people . . . but it's so evident that Siebold had no intention of offending. He is simply trying to explain, to set out, with clarity and forcefulness, an approach to weight loss and to life itself which he has found infinitely useful. And valuable.
We can take it! We're tough enough. He's sure of that.
I can. It's great stuff. And: I do recommend it.
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