Someone gave me a half-dozen gummy bears today and nom-nom-nom. Yup, I ate them up faster than you can say, “Hey, are you sure you want to eat those?” And as I was happily munching the last one I realized that they actually don’t taste very good. In fact, the flavour is kind of weird and their texture gross. It made me wonder just how often I eat things:
- I think I like, yet haven’t really paid enough attention to know if I do or don’t; or
- I used to like and don’t any longer but haven’t paid attention; or even
- I like only because other people have said they were good but haven’t really paid any attention so I don’t really know if I enjoy them all that much.
Ah, so there’s a theme here: paying attention to what I eat and actually tasting it. What a novel idea.
I was on the phone with my younger sister Sharon a couple of weeks ago, and we were discussing her weight loss process. She has lost over 40 pounds in a bit over a year, and I couldn’t be more proud of her! I was worried about her for a few years, just as she was about me, I’m sure. I thought I would ask her some questions about what she did to lose weight, and see how it compares to what I did. There are similarities and differences. This is Part 1 of our conversation.
Jenn: When did you decide to change your lifestyle to a healthier one, and why?
Sharon: I joined Weight Watchers on February 23, 2011. A month earlier, before I made the decision to join Weight Watchers, I started things off by quitting diet pop (a habit I had for over 20 years :O) and quit eating McDonalds at the same time. Then one day, not long after, I was lying on the couch and it took me a few rocks to even sit up. I knew then that I had to make some serious changes. I also had high cholesterol. I thought to myself that by June I could do this; four months. I thought about how quickly four months flies by and that I could either be fit in four months or trying to roll off of the couch in four months. I chose to make a change. Following you on your weight loss journey was a huge inspiration to me as well and helped convince me that I would be able to do this and succeed.
[Jenn: What she said about 4 months was exactly what I said to myself when I decided to lose weight. I tried Weight Watchers, but it wasn’t my thing, I generally do everything better alone, but as I said in a previous post, people need to do what works for them – it’s all abut YOU.]
J: What about your lifestyle is different than it was before?
S: I haven’t touched Diet Pepsi or McDonalds since January 2011. I measured my portions until it became ingrained in me, so now it is habit. I exercise 3-4 times/week, and I know so much more about nutrition. I learned that you don’t have to change your lifestyle completely. I still eat pizza, hamburgers or whatever else I feel like eating that maybe aren’t the BEST choices, but it’s my treat once or twice a week and that’s fine by me. I still have a drink with my friends and go out to dinner, only I make healthier choices. If I do overdo it by eating an extra piece of pizza, I make sure to throw in an extra hour of exercise during the week to balance things out. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just pace yourself and exercise. If you go off track always remember that tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh. Don’t ever beat yourself up for going off track; pick up the pieces and move on.
[Jenn: Moderation worked for her, I actually gave up all junk completely until I hit goal, then started to integrate less healthy food in, in moderation. Maintenance for me though is moderation, not zero tolerance. So that we have in common.]
J: How’s the weight loss/living healthier thing going?
S: It’s been a bit over a year now since I started this journey and I had peaked at 10 lbs to my goal. It has taken me 9 months to lose five of the 10 lbs but I persevered! Trying new exercise techniques and shaking things up a bit has kept it interesting for me. I’ve gone to spin classes, walked on the indoor walking track we have here in our community, walked on the beautiful trails we have outside, bought a treadmill (I got teased about it being a clothes rack for over a year but it probably turned out to be my best investment ever), teamed up with great friends who had similar, if not exact same goals as me and whom are still my support group to this day and are doing awesome. And within two months my cholesterol was within normal limits, so that rocked.
[Jenn: YAY she likes spin!! 😀 I too plateaued for almost a year after I hit goal, then my body let a bunch more weight go for seemingly no reason. :S Shaking it up is key, I agree. I need to shake things up more… And the cholesterol thing is HUGE, given our family’s propensity for dropping dead of massive heart failure with little warning. That was a worry of mine also.]
It’s really motivating for me to hear Sharon’s successes and her perspective, I’ll continue this next week, when we discuss what she thinks about this whole healthy living thing. Tune in!
“Oh, I don’t really emotionally eat; it’s not something I do. I just happen to really love the taste of food, that’s all.” This falls into the realm of ‘stupid lies I’ve told myself and others about me,’ also known as denial. It’s the ‘I only have a couple of beers a day to relax!’ kind of alcoholic denial. And it’s bullshit.
Yes, I emotionally eat. It’s an issue I’m only just starting to really come to terms with. I’m not talking about binge eating. I’m talking about the ‘couple of beers a day’ kind of emotional eating, where I think that because I only sometimes eat a bit more than I need to that it’s okay. Even though sometimes all I can think about is food.
Sometimes food is barely an issue; merely the background music of a fun get-together. In other social situations though, I park my ass as close to or as far away from the food as possible depending on whether I’m trying to eat it or avoid it. Much of the rest of the event is not a lovely evening with friends or family; it’s a struggle to not succumb. Sometimes I have the stubborn willpower of a fucking tank and leave exhausted but triumphant. Sometimes not, regardless of whether I’m hungry; even if I’m full. Yes there are some helpful tools out there, including reminding myself ‘it’s not part of the plan’ (read the Beck Diet Solution) and remembering that food is fuel. That’s absolutely true. But at the very core – at the root of it – that root is going to have to eventually be weeded out if I want to fully live life and stop letting food rule me.
I started reading “Women, Food & God” recently (again). So far, it’s pretty clear that actually feeling my feelings is on my self-discovery “to do” list. Fuck! In the book, Geneen Roth claims that “… being with feelings is not the same as drowning in them”. Easy to say; hard to believe. I also recently started talking to a life coach about, well, life. She sent me a link to an audio file here. Apparently thoughts cause feelings; change our thoughts, change our feelings. Question what I’m thinking and feeling. Eat when I’m hungry, feel when I’m not.
So, my look of concentration next time someone sees me at a friendly gathering may be trying to figure out what I’m feeling (or why the hell I’m there) rather than on eating or not eating. And maybe that by admitting it to myself (and others), it helps release the stronghold it can have.
As I mentioned last week, my shoulder is pretty screwed – last week I couldn’t even raise my arms to wash my hair. This has wreaked havoc on my workouts, and my diet has correspondingly gone to hell. Lesson #463: I can’t eat like I’m working out a lot if I’m not actually working out a lot. Also, cinnamon rolls taste better when I’m inactive. Who knew.
I can’t spin for a while because I can’t hold the handlebars, so I have come to the realization that the time has come once again for me to meet my Nemesis.
For anyone who missed it, I effing hate running. Hate it. It bores the living crap out of me. I’ll bike for hours. Or rollerskate. Ice skate. Hike. Climb stuff. Throw stuff. Lift stuff. Punch/kick stuff. Running is really about the only physical thing I sincerely hate to do. (Aside from swimming, but that’s a fear of drowning thing, I’ll explain another day.)
Actually that’s not completely true; I used to run track, the 100M and 200M, and I loved it – sprinting has speed and power, my two favorite things. But 200M, that’s as far as I’d run. I couldn’t run 400M because I got bored and unenthused around 300M and didn’t care if I won or not. That’s after about 45 seconds of running. Yep, I get bored REALLY easily.
But I can’t bike right now. I can’t climb, or throw or punch or lift anything. I can’t rollerskate because if I fall (which is HIGHLY likely, me being me) my injured left arm will be of no help to me, then or for a long time afterward. I’ve held off for as long as I can, but I’m staring bikini season in the eye in three months-ish, and I have no choice.
I have to effing run. And oh, I don’t wanna.
But, if there is one thing I’ve learned through the weight loss thing, it’s to suck it up. Do I want to eat vegetables? Not all the time, no, but I do anyway. Do I want to get up at 7am Saturday morning and spin? Not really, but I often have done it. Do I want to get on an effing treadmill, or go out in the cold to the park trail and effing run? No. No I do not. But I’m going to.
Because the only thing I hate more than running is looking at myself after a month of relative inactivity and being afraid I’m going back to 220. Of losing what I have worked so hard for.
I am actually going to look to see if I can find some sprint interval training or something. I’d rather run super hard and fast for short periods repeatedly than the same pace for half an hour or an hour. I am going to try to make running into something I will hate less. If anyone has some info on interval training with sprints/running and if it can work for me for cardio, I’d love to read it. Because sitting around doing nothing has officially become even more boring than running.
Apparently I HAVE changed.
My husband Chris is someone who is slim and stays that way. His weight varies little whether he’s active or not, and seemingly irrespective of what he eats. So when I started my fitness journey in 2005, some of what I dealt with wasn’t part of his experience and was difficult for him to understand. There were times when it felt like he was sabotaging my efforts, and other times when he said and did things I felt were unhelpful. That said, he also genuinely tried to be supportive when he better understood what I was trying to do. And he wholeheartedly agreed to my going to a trainer, which was no small amount of money. So here I am, nearly seven years after I started and significantly smaller than I was at the beginning of our marriage in 1994. Here’s what Chris has to say.
What is your ‘take-away’ from my fitness journey?
It really rubbed off on me. I became more concerned about my own fitness. For example, despite not being a runner, I did the Sun Run a few years after you, and I started rollerblading more. I became more concerned about my overall health despite my thinner appearance. Research shows your peer group impacts your lifestyle; I understand that trying to change yourself is harder when you’re hanging out with people who are still part of the old lifestyle, which in many ways I was. Although I wasn’t fat, I was out of shape (a skinny fat person) and suspect I had more dangerous visceral fat than I would have thought. So I started getting fitter as I saw you getting fitter.
What would you say was the biggest surprise as I worked towards my fitness goals?
The main thing I was impressed, astounded, confused, blown away by was your willpower and stick-to-itiveness. Getting up at some ungodly hour in the middle of winter to go running was astounding. There was obviously a fire that was lit in you and I wasn’t quite sure what the fire was or where it came from. It was actually a bit baffling, but at the same time great! Wouldn’t it be great if I could get that amount of steely determination in some areas of my life!
If you had anything to say to other partners/supporters of someone on a fitness journey, what would it be?
To be honest, I wasn’t always as encouraging as I could have been. Right from the outset it would have been good for me to be 100% on board. So, be supportive of the person and do things that help them achieve their goals. Don’t bring fattening foods around the house. Don’t say things like, “Come on! I’m having a doughnut; you can have one too.” Not tempting her would have been better. And here’s a shameless plug: “for your abs, ten minutes of all out laughter is equal to 20 minutes on a rowing machine.”[Chris is a laughter yoga leader and I can attest, he does indeed have great abs!]
So in a nutshell, his advice boils down to “do everything you can to be helpful and supportive, and laugh a lot!”
The hardest & longest battle in transforming your body is between your long-term goal & instant gratification.
If you’re not happy with the current state of your health, instant gratification is winning. We’re addicted to instant gratification, most everything in our lives and the trends of technology are racing to better serve this need.
“Instant gratification takes too long” – Carrie Fisher. Sadly, a lot of people agree with that statement. Worse, they make life choices based on that statement.
Recently a new client reminded me of an excellent way to stop the self-sabatoging behaviour and stop feeding the voracious instant gratification monkey on her back. Its the reality check, wake-up call & slap in the face all in one.
The ‘before’ photo.
When my clients take that before photo in a two-piece bathing suit its a shock to the system. What you see in that photo is NOT what you see in the mirror. Its unfiltered, bluntly honest and unforgiving. This is the negative experience that drives people to change. The key is not forgetting it.
My client had a weakness for Starbucks pastries & sweets. Her solution? She keeps her ‘before’ photo in her wallet. Before she gives in to the immediate need for something sweet, she looks at the photo, gets the negative impact from it and chooses her long-term goal instead. Simple and effective, every time. This would be even easier by keeping the picture in your iPhone or Blackberry!
Another client of mine had a similar weakness for cupcakes. She took the photo & put it in her purse. On a weak day she walked into a bakery and while in line tried to fight the urge. She pulled out the photo and looked at her ‘before’ photo, then looked at the cupcakes. She made a startling discovery. Both her body in the photo and the cupcake were the same shape! She told me when she realized she was turning herself into a giant cupcake she decided this time the change was going to be for real. I’m a firm believer that negative experiences shape our decisions and choices far more than motivation and inspiration ever could. This is what just THREE MONTHS of carrying your ‘before’ photo with you can do!
One more thing my clients have learned over the years? Instant gratification goes straight to your thighs.