What I'm proud of
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I eat because I'm hungry
I eat to nourish myself
I eat because it tastes so good!
No food is off limits. All food is savoured and enjoyed. I eat what and when I want. It's so simple, because finally -- FINALLY! -- the negative voices in my head are quiet and I have other, better ways of finding solace when I'm blue.
Here's what I'm proud of:
I've tracked my food and exercise every day since I started on Spark. I've stayed within my calorie range most days. In two months, I've gone over my calorie range 6 times, but even then, exercise left me with a calorie deficit on every day but one. That was the fondue day -- so worth it! There's no way anyone could exercise enough to account for all that chocolate and cheese. But I paced myself, was more moderate than I would have been in the past. And I looked at the long haul instead of freaking out about one day of indulgence.
I love the idea of only making lifestyle changes that I would be willing to keep for the rest of my life; that way, I don't do anything drastic or panicky or weird.
A couple of ideas keep me going. One is from a book called "Changing for Good" by Prochanska et al. He wrote: "good habits travel in packs." Soooooooo true! And the reverse is true too. Crappy habits tend to multiply, and it's all related to how actions make us feel about ourselves. I'm proud of my changes, and that is positive feedback, which spurs me to keep making changes that will make me feel good.
The other idea comes from the Motivational Interviewing counselling technique. I learned about this when I was doing some training to be a volunteer mentor. The idea is that ambivalence is a natural part of change. When we approach a crossroads, we look at the options. Staying the same always feels safer. It's natural to wonder which choice to make.
If anybody tries to push me towards one choice, my contrary nature and innate stubbornness mean I'll usually go in the other direction -- even if the way I'm being pushed is the better choice! I make the best choices when I take all pressure off and listen to my deepest truth. In Motivational Interviewing, they suggest that the counsellors 'roll with resistance' and simply ask their clients what the pros and cons of change are. The counsellor can try to gently steer the client towards positive change, but it's really up to the client to examine their options and come to their own answers about whether and why they want to change. Yeah, I've had moments of real resistance to these lifestyle changes, but I just roll with them, understand they're natural, give myself permission to relax a little. And soon enough, all the Sparky enthusiasm comes back!
The third thing that's helping is a mental technique that was instrumental in my quitting smoking 16 years ago (yay!) It comes from neuro-linguistic programming and is based on the idea that the primitive part of our brains doesn't understand anything but the present and the positive. So if we say to ourselves, "Tomorrow, I'm not going to overeat," our reptile brain hears: "I'm going to overeat." Maybe it just hears "overeat." It doesn't understand 'tomorrow' and it doesn't understand 'not.' We can reprogram our brains most effectively by choosing thoughts that are worded in a way that our more basic cognitive areas can grasp.
So when I was trying to quit smoking, I had a mantra that went like this: "I'm so glad I'm a non-smoker." Yeah, that one is hard, because there's no word for non-smoker that doesn't include 'non.' But it was present tense and it had something really positive in it ('glad'). Then I would list off all the reasons that I was glad. Note: I was doing this while I was struggling to quit and stay quit. I did it every time I had a craving, so I repeated it many, many, many times a day, and I used this technique for a long time. I needed it less and less over time, but I was probably using it occasionally even five years after I quit!
I had a big list.
I'm so glad that I'm a non-smoker because:
I want to live a long time and be healthy
it's so great to be free of addiction
I'm saving so much money
my hair and clothes smell good
my skin is staying more youthful
I'll keep on looking my age
I can exercise and my lungs feel good
I'm a positive role model for my sister and my friends who still smoke
and on and on I went…I had about a hundred. By the time I ran out of ideas, my craving would have passed.
Even now, when I see someone smoking, the thought pops into my head: I'm so glad I'm a non-smoker! Seriously effective brainwashing!
I don't like the word 'thin.' It seems paltry and weak to me. But I really like 'toned' and 'strong.' So my mantra is: "I love my toned and strong body. I'm so glad I'm a healthy weight and nourish myself with delicious food. It's amazing how good I feel when I take care of myself, because my joints are mobile, my muscles are flexible, and I'm proud of my choices." And then I can list all the other great things about losing weight and getting fit, like feeling so much more confident and sexy, being able to shop in all the stores instead of just a few, being a role model for my sister and my friends who still don't work out or eat that well…. Uh huh, there are hundreds of reasons, and tapping into them every single day keeps me motivated. And I'm proud of that.
I spent so many years being disappointed and angry with myself and then trying to numb my feelings by overeating (or other escapist behaviours). I just don't want to do that anymore! Please, anyone who reads this: celebrate your successes and treat yourself with tenderness when you're feeling fragile. It's a loving and respectful way to behave, and it's how most of us would treat other people.
Let's be kind to ourselves, starting RIGHT NOW! That is something to be proud, proud, proud of!