Sunday, February 10, 2013
Well, to preview the conclusion here, I have decided that there is definitely not!! Yes, I too am disappointed with this revelation, but I am hoping that this perspective can help me come up with better coping strategies for my addiction to food.
I spent yet another recent night reflecting on how I find myself with constant deja vu when it comes to my yo-yo weight struggles. How many times have I stepped on the scale dreading to see the number after months away - realizing that I have again damaged my health and lost sight of my goals? Too many!
But, when I joined spark, I truly deeply fully committedly believed that THIS TIME WAS DIFFERENT!! And, in many ways, it really was. I was speaking with some friends recently who are running focus groups on people's experiences with various diet and nutrition regimens. As an Alum of Weight Watcher, Diabetic Association Exchanges, SlimFast, LA Weightloss and many others, I felt that I had some expertise to offer. Sparkpeople in my mind stands far ahead of all the other because they share one fundamental flaw...In their effort to make their programs "simple" and "foolproof", they don't really teach you anything about nutrition. (Now, for those weightwatchers lovers out there, I do believe that they bring a huge amount of value to many people when supplemented with proper information about nutrition. But, with points alone, it is too easy to game the system if you are not committed to really learning about taking care of yourself and only committed to fitting into your high school jeans by the reunion, etc). It was on sparkpeople that I even learned that carbs and fat and protein were called macro-nutrients and that depending on your metabolism different ratios will be more ideal. It was on sparkpeople that I learned to actually like veggies. It was because of sparkpeople that I learned to enjoy running and High Intensity Training. None of things ever happened for me on any other program.
Here I am with 20 more pounds on my body than my lowest spark weight (also lowest weight in life). There was a time when I thought that I was truly cured of my food addiction. I hadn't really tracked for months and was still losing weight. I thought that I had learned to eat intuitively. I could estimate the number of calories in almost anything just with my eyeballs or just one bite. The most amazing part was that I was truly enjoying everything that I ate. I ate out every day. Never felt deprived. My cholesterol and all my vitals had improved dramatically. I worked 10 hour days and still ran my first half marathon. I was on top of the world. I was proving that you could have it all.
So what happened? I recognize now that I was never cured. What I had was a tightly-wound support system and comfortable environment that helped me stay on track and supported my success. I ate at the same healthy restaurant for breakfast and lunch most days. Because I ate out all the time (tis the life of a manhattan-ite), I had shed the celebratory mystique and learned how to order off of any menu (ahem, stick with non-fried fish, even fried fish if you have to). My gym was in my building. My husband and I were living together and could keep each other accountable and work out together. I was actively involved on sparkpeople with teams, challenges, and blogs. I had my favorite running paths mapped out to a tee ad loved the familiar rolling (read...deathly) hills of central park or the twinkle of the river in riverside park.
It is no accident that my weight gain coincided with my move and grad school. When I was uprooted from this network, I found that I had not actually internalized these elements of my healthy lifestyle. My husband and I are now living long-distance. No gym in my building. There are no restaurants nearby and the ones even remotely close are not healthy. Oh, so now eating out has become celebratory again (why did I have that cake and ice cream last night?!!!). I have not connected with the running paths around here. I stopped being active on sparkpeople (mistake!!). All of the external factors that had been keeping me on the straight and narrow are gone or rather I didn't invest the time to cultivate them here.
Alas, I was never cured. And there probably is no cure. Instead we must internalize the lessons that we get on spark and through our journeys. We must come up with the internal will to make the right choices even when my environment makes it harder. I need to rebuild the support network around my healthy lifestyle - gym buddies, running groups, cooking at home, remembering that it is just a meal - not a once in a lifetime event.
I must envision and make an environment that is conducive to my success. What are key elements in your support system - things that you couldn't go without?