Monday, May 28, 2012
Saturday is my regular weigh in day, but after the craziness that was my plateau, I swore off weighing in for two or three weeks. Truth be told, I was afraid that my weight might fluctuate again and I'd be back at my plateaued weight. Who needs that kind of stress on the way to better health?
I am still reflecting on the HBO Documentary on Obesity that I watched on youtube yesterday. In case you missed it, or don't have HBO, I provided a link to the youtube site in yesterday's blog.
There were lots of telling moments in the series, including one tearful woman who lamented that she couldn't find love because men can't get past her weight. Another man in his 70s lost the lower half of his leg to diabetes. The camera followed him to the doctor's office where the doctor examined his stump and a sore on his red, swollen remaining foot. When you saw his foot you knew that he would probably lose it as well. His wife said something like, "We were overweight, but not obese. We ate like everyone else." The couple drastically changed their diet after the diagnosis.
Another segment focused on obese children and how aggressively the food industry markets unhealthy foods to young minds. They also discussed school cafeteria food, the absence of playgrounds and grocery stores in poor neighborhoods, and innovative strategies for changing a child's environment to prevent weight gain.
Sprinkled throughout the segments were debates on the government's role in obesity, both good and bad. On one hand, they are subsidizing farmers that grow large quantities of crops that are processed into key junk food ingredients. But, farmers who grow fruits and vegetables get no government subsidies. The food industry has powerful interests in Washington D.C. and has killed numerous bills intending to change the subsidies. On the other hand, government has a role in building walkable communities that include parks, playgrounds and other amenities that encourage fitness. Most of these initiatives receive bipartisan support because they encourage people to take responsibility for their health.
What this show reinforced for me is that my weight is a byproduct of a series of small decisions I make day in and day out. Each decision seems small at the time, but together they have a cumulative effect on my health. So, if 80% or 90% of my decisions every day are good, then I will be healthier. Substituting a salad for fries, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking 10 minutes to the drugstore instead of driving, refusing that second portion of casserole, drinking a diet soda instead of regular. Baby steps day in, day out, every day. Keeping the Spark.
The weight loss process is slow, gradual and imperceptible. Like watching ice melt or paint dry, or a building under construction. It looks like nothing is happening minute by minute, but if you take time-lapse photos things really are changing.
So why WOULD I expect a drastic change day to day or week to week? It makes no sense, but I expect it anyway. If someone offered me $25 today or $50 if I wait a month, I'm the idiot that would take the $25 because I have no concept of delayed gratification. But delayed gratification is essential to weight loss success, so by hopping on and off the scale, I am destroying my ability to accept the process.
Will I be disappointed if I weigh in next week and there's little change? Hell yeah! I admit it. But I'm also missing the point. This process is building a healthier me. Eventually, one day, after weeks and months of consistent behavior, I will look back and realize my progress.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
I am rechanneling my scale obsession into getting educated. While digging around online, I saw that HBO has posted their entire documentary on Obesity. The link below is part one. I am watching part two.
Part one focuses on obesity as an international public health crisis. If you don't have time to watch this one-hour show, I urge you to bookmark the page and check it out when you can. The comment that struck me was that we are getting fat on low cost, high profit foods. In other words, people are making LOTS of money off of our poor food choices. Wow.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
This morning, I got up, drove to a park 20 minutes away and joined my meetup group to go hiking. It was a diverse group of 25 men and women; most of us appeared to be in our 40s and 50s. We were white, black, asian and latino. One young man had just retired from the marines. All of us showed up because of our interest in hiking.
The park included a marina, lake, playground, swimming hole and paved, mulch and grassy trails. Our group hiked on an uneven, rocky and sometimes muddy trail that snaked deep in the woods adjacent to a stream, through a clearing, around the lake and then back to the parking lot. The entire hike took just under two hours.
Unlike walking, you really are picking through challenging terrain. You're jumping, scrambling, and hopping around on mud, moss-covered rocks, dried creek beds and tall grassy areas. I enjoyed every second of it. Especially this one moment when we encountered a huge swarm of butterflies and were surrounded by them during the hike. That was almost magical.
When I returned home, I discovered to my horror that my body was COVERED with ticks. Ewww!! I nearly freaked out. I did a THOROUGH mirror check and scrubbed myself in the shower. Sooo, if I fall out in a couple of days, I'll know what's up.
Despite that hazard, I plan to go hiking about once or twice a month until winter returns. I had an absolute blast with the group laughing, talking, and joking around.
According to my fitness tracker, I'm supposed to be doing strength training today. I think I'll do that tomorrow or monday because I'm beat.
Onward and downward.
Friday, May 25, 2012
The last few times I've met up with my girlfriends for dinner, I've found myself almost apologizing for making healthier choices. It's become obvious to everyone that I've changed up my eating habits. In one situation, a girlfriend wondered aloud if I was getting enough food. When I responded, I almost felt like I was confessing; "I'm trying to avoid diabetes." Usually, they nod and it's done with. No big deal, right?
The question I have, is why do I feel like I need to explain anything? I don't say anything to them about what they choose to eat. Can you imagine me telling them, "Oooooh, those fries are full of transfats, I wouldn't eat those if I were you."
I'm not upset about it, but curious about this dynamic. I've been in three situations and three times, I've had to explain why my food consisted of chicken and vegetables instead of fried this or that.
I have made a concerted effort not to be obnoxious about my changing eating habits. I don't make any grand announcements about being "on" or "off" any diet. I don't bore friends or family with talk about calories and fat or working out, etc. In the past, I've been around people who do, and it's extremely boring and annoying.
Last weekend, I attended a relative's high school graduation, which was held in a building where you had to climb two flights of stairs to go into the arena. One of my family members declared, without a hint of sarcasm, that I would not need to workout that day, because going up and down two flights of stairs should count. Seriously?! It took all the discipline I had not to respond.
I don't mind spreading the Spark to people who are ready to hear about what I'm doing, but people who are observing my eating habits with a freakish curiosity, aren't ready to listen to anything I have to say.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Yesterday, I did an excellent job of sticking to my eating and exercise plan. It was truly an A+ day. I got off work in time to attend my first spinning (cycling) class. There were 10 of us, including the instructor who was lean as a piece of gristle, a woman so grotesquely thin I wondered if she were anorexic, another woman who was what Iíll call ďfit-fatĒ. She was 5í6Ē and about 240 lbs, but firm and in shape. The group was all female and ages ranged from about 23 to 50. I was the only black woman, which only mattered because I admit I was concerned about sweating my hairstyle out.
If youíve ever attended a spinning class you will already know that itís done on stationary bikes and the instructor offers you guided imagery over a din of high energy music. Thank goodness I like rock music, because the instructor was playing stuff like Guns ĎN Roses, Van Halen and Poison during the class.
The class was intense, but I kept up with the group while maintaining my own pace. By the time our 45 minutes was over, I was drenched in sweat and my hairstyle had called it quits. I wondered if I would ever return not because of the intensity and my hair, but because the dang cycle seats were so hard and uncomfortable. Also, I have to warn you that if you've ever had knee problems, this is probably not the class for you. I'm grateful that I haven't, but standing up while pedaling is tough.
As I was driving home, I felt this twinge of self-pity as my inner voice unleashed a barrage of thoughts:
Why is getting healthy such hard work?
Why am I working so hard to drop one measly pound?
Why must this take so long?
Is a workout this hard worth the effort?
How am I going to do this the rest of my life?
Why did I let my weight get to the point where I would have to work like a dog to take it off?
My conclusion is that, for me, spinning is not going to be a class I take often, because it seemed more like work than fun. I think Iíll stick to group classes like Zumba or step aerobics.
Saturday, I am slated to go hiking with a meetup group I just joined. Iím looking forward to the experience because most of my friends are older and inactive, so I don't have anyone to workout with. Iím hoping that through this group, Iíll be able to go hiking more often. Maybe by joining groups that like outdoor activities, Iíll find a way to have fun while Iím active.
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