Friday, December 23, 2011
Here I am again. I was devoted to SparkPeople for more than a year but I began getting obsessed with it: seeing calories, not food; obsessing over SparkPoints; taking every chance I could to add another tenth of a mile to the tracker. So I weaned myself off of it, up to the point of deleting my account entirely (goodbye, 16,000 points!).
For a few months I rolled along just fine. I exercised at least an hour every day and I rarely ate junk food so I was able to maintain with little effort. Then the stress of unemployment and a very difficult semester crept up, and there went my commitment to fitness and my ability to eat healthfully. Before long, a few extra pounds became a dozen, and all my pants have gotten snug.
It's been really hard to come back here. Just admitting that I need help, again, was probably the hardest part. But I can either pretend that I don't notice how terrible it feels to be dehydrated, not eating well, and not exercising; or I can say NO! and come back to the community that I know has the power to keep me on the right path. I'm not familiar with Overeaters Anonymous but SparkPeople seems to be similar in that a key aspect of the "program" is that it is for LIFE. So here I am at another weekly meeting: "Hi everyone, my name is An, and I have difficulty making good choices for my health."
The good news is that I still know the fundamentals of what keeps me healthy. The bad news is that I know now how easy it is for these notions, which seem straightforward enough, to fall apart under stress and time crunches. I am unemployed but somewhat busy with EMS duties and an internship, so I hope that I can use this time now to set up a program that is sustainable through full-time employment and/or graduate school. (I have an MA but I hope to continue with a PhD program this fall; I should know by April.) Here's some of what got me through last time, any suggestions or constructive criticism is welcome:
- Record Everything! Every day! Even if I am at a party or away from the computer - knowing that I will have to guesstimate and record every single thing that passes my lips keeps me honest and healthy. Nothing leads faster to a binge than my decision to "not record today".
- Drink water! And then some more! The more water I drink the more water I want to drink, even if it's just refrigerated tap water. And calorie-free options like herbal teas and seltzers make it fun.
- A lot of exercise is good - but - any exercise is best! Don't give up if you can't do what you planned to do. I LOVE running, dancing, and other intense activity, but if the gym cancels Zumba I want to sulk instead of doing something else. I must remember, a walk around the block is always better than nothing!
- Change the quantity, not the quality, of food! A tiny amount of butter or a small slice of fresh mozzarella may be the same calories as gobs of margarine or a handful of nonfat cheese, but they will always taste better and not feel like a diet. Similarly:
- Make your indulgences count! If you fall for any bit of junk food - vending machine candy! donuts wrapped in plastic! - then you'll always feel awful "breaking" your diet. But if you stay away from everyday temptations, then very special foods like Aunt Elke's once-a-year Christmas cookies or Uncle Bob's special shrimp salad become a fun and satisfying treat.
- Don't be afraid to talk! Our society is very shy about people talking about diet and exercise, because it makes others feel guilty or uncomfortable. But perhaps it's uncomfortable because no one talks about it! You don't have to (and really shouldn't) discuss calories, of course, but just talking about how much you love exercise or a nutritious meal can begin a lifelong conversation about health!
So, my wedding is on September 22 of the coming year. I dearly hope to have lost the majority of weight before fittings begin in July. I don't want to limit what I can do, but I really don't see myself being able to lose more than 22 pounds between now and then, particularly as I really want to increase my exercise. My kinsman wants to run a 5K, then 10K, then half-marathon. I've done several 5Ks before and I believe that I could run a 10K too, but a half-marathon is - whoa! That'll keep me busy for sure.
My fiancee measured me for the baseline numbers and I hope to take "before" pictures tomorrow or the next day. So I hope to be successful - and long-term - with this attempt. And most of all, to be an 11-stone (154-pound) bride!