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Vitality Challenge #4: Overwhelm

Monday, August 26, 2013

Do you find overwhelm as a reoccurring pattern in your life? How has overwhelm impacted you? What goals have you given up on because you were overwhelmed? What would happen if you used overwhelm as a sign you need to change your plan? What would happen if you truly believed that YOU are not the problem…YOUR plan is? Do you create plans that you never end up using in the long term/over plan? Have you found yourself feeling like you are “behind” on this challenge compared to other people? What would happen if you gave yourself credit for EVERY baby step you made instead of focusing on what you haven’t done? What would it look like if you eliminated overwhelm in your life? What would you get accomplished? What would happen if you adopted the mentality that SOMETHING is ALWAYS better than nothing…rather than having to do it all? Would you consider writing a “done” list instead of a to-do list like I described in the recording?


Bury or drown beneath a huge mass.
Defeat completely.
overpower – crush

Overpower? Crush? Defeat competely? Overwhelm is such a depressing word. Seriously depressing!

A while back (in October 2012), I did a “done” list, and it was depressing. It was completely and utterly depressing. I am overwhelmed by how depressing that list is and was.

In 2008: I gave up soda and slurpees (but not all caloric beverages).
In 2010: I gave up all caloric beverages aside from milk substitutes. My guilty pleasure is a cup of vanilla soy milk- which I RARELY have.
In 2012: I started packing my lunch on most days. Even if it’s an unhealthy lunch, it almost ALWAYS includes at least one or two servings of fruit/veggies.
In 2012: I started packing away a portion of my leftovers from dinners out in my lunches in order to stretch the meal a little.
Little by little, these small changes are adding up. I also gave up all artificial sweeteners, swapped regular yogurt for Greek, and whenever I have to bring food to an event, I throw together a veggie tray with homemade Greek yogurt dip (I often include some crackers though).

Ok, I know those are some pretty big changes. Suppose I got a venti caramel Frappucino with whipped cream twice a week (at one point, I was getting Frappucinos every day- usually a tall or grande when on Weight Watchers). Cutting out liquid calories removed over 50,000 calories per year in Frappucinos alone (I was drinking probably 1,000+ calories a week in Frappucinos my first round on Weight Watchers). 20130820-152738.jpg For Slurpees, I cut out 25,000-50,000 calories (or more!) per year. The calories I consumed in other soda (Mountain Dew Code Red and Orange were my favorites, but I usually opted for Sprite when eating out) probably equaled that. Then, of course, you have milkshakes, juice, the Peach Splash at Ruby Tuesday (I probably drank 2-5 or more of those every Saturday)…. Wait. Hold on a minute! I gave up Slurpees 5 years ago. That’s approximately 125,000 to 250,000 calories saved. If a pound is 3,500 calories, then that should mean a 35.7 to 71 pound weight loss. The numbers are about the same for Frappucinos and other liquid calories (though, possibly less as I only cut those out in 2011 instead of 2008.

So why am I fatter than ever?!

I’m just a tad bitter about that. This is what irritates me about my “done” list and taking small steps. Giving up liquid calories was tough in isolated moments, but it wasn’t that difficult overall. Yet, when you look at the numbers, it was a huge change.

My mom, in her oh-so-supportive (and borderline hypocritical) way, loves to twist my success with cutting out soda into something negative. When I first cut out soda in 2008, it was when Alex and I did our first attempt at South Beach. Our attempt lasted for about a day before it ended with me dancing around the kitchen with a fluffernutter (white bread, marshmallow fluff, and peanut butter)- as Alex was enjoying red velvet cake at CPK.

When we started South Beach, I knew I had to cut out my non-diet soda. I had soda at church events, when eating out, and occasionally at home. To be honest, I never really liked the Sprite I ordered when eating out (as a kid, I forced myself to drink Sprite in hopes that I would adjust to the taste. After all, that’s the Birthday party beverage of choice). Even though diet soda was still permitted, I really never liked it.

For some reason, even though I fell off South Beach within 24 hours, the no soda/Slurpee thing just stuck.

I still drank Starbucks drinks, milkshakes, juice (including Izze sodas), and other calorific beverages after removing the soda, but I decided to make removing those liquid calories a New Years Resolution beginning January 2, 2011. I actually had an escape clause in that one, however. While I was eliminating liquid calories (other than milk substitutes), I originally planned on saving them for special occasions. If I went to Starbucks with Alex, I would order an unsweetened tea because that was an every day occasion.

But in February, when I went out to Starbucks with my friend, Nikki, that was a different story. That was a case where, according to my rules, I could easily get a Frappucino. However, at that moment, I decided to order an iced tea. I made it my personal goal to go the entire year without liquid calories.

After going a year, I just wasn’t able to bring myself to break that streak. Plain and simple.

The artificial sweetener thing was a no brainer as well. I never liked diet sodas, and the only way I really ate “light” yogurts was in smoothies where the fruit masked the taste.

One night when eating at Panera, I ordered the seasonal Summer Strawberry Poppyseed salad. It’s advertised as having a “fat-free dressing,” but from the first bite, something tasted “off.” I couldn’t place my finger on it, but it was not good. Eventually, I started feeling sick to my stomach.

Looking at Camera Peach SplashThat night, after doing a little research, I realized that sucralose was one of the ingredients in the dressing (they use a Stevia-based sweetener now). At that moment, I realized that I cannot tolerate any artificial sweetener. I had mini Quaker rice cakes recently, and they tasted a little funny, but I didn’t know why. After all, I used to eat them all the time. After about 5 of them, I started feeling sick. More sucralose on the ingredients (fortunately, the big rice cakes are safe!)

So, me cutting out artificial sweeteners is like someone who develops a food allergy removing that food from his or her diet. It was a necessity.

So, I cut out soda and liquid calories in general. I cut out artificial sweetener. Both just happened. For some reason, when I cut out soda, it clicked and I was able to stick to it long term.

But if I was able to do that, then I should be able to count calories and stay in my ranges. I should be able to remove artificial dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils from my diet. I should be able to follow through on an exercise plan.

At least, that’s what my mom tells me.

And that’s what makes this so difficult. I’ve saved thousands of calories over the past 5 years by removing liquid calories from my diet. Obviously, that’s a huge deal.

When I last drank soda, I wore a size 10 in jeans. Today, I’m in a size 16-18.

So, do small changes really make a difference?

It’s so frustrating to look at a list of past successes that have not shown any tangible results when I cannot seem to stick to any diet/exercise plan lately. It adds a whole new element of disappointment in myself when I go from “I can’t stick to anything” to “I should be able to stick to this because I did that.”

It’s definitely overwhelming to look back on past success when I haven’t been able to recreate it in ways where it impacts the scale or the way my clothes fit. I often wonder if the only way to see success is to dive into a diet program head-first. Of course, that only leads to the classic binge-diet cycle, so that probably isn’t the right approach either.

But if small changes aren’t enough, and big changes are too much, then what is there left for me to do?

And this is the classic dieting cycle that has been overwhelming me for the past 7+ years.
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