Monday, December 30, 2013

"I Just Want to Eat Normally!" Do you?

Another blog today on our support site got me thinking about a Blog Post of my own for today with something she said about realizing that she had been, deep down, "Hoping that I could lose my weight and then go back and eat like a normal person."

This is a very real desire that we all have to confront at some point or other in our journey towards optimal health.  As I commented on her post, it sparked so many thoughts in me that I decided to make it a blog instead of commandeering her comment section LOL.

Well, put it this way, we don't HAVE to confront this idea, we can IGNORE what is deep down and simply ACT on that hope after "losing weight", which WILL likely cause us to gain it all back again.

Or, we can deal with it and CHANGE OUR WANTS.

Let me give you a different perspective on it.  Do you REALLY want to "eat normal"?

Firstly, doing what you've always done will get you what you've always got.  Is that the status quo you want to maintain after all your hard work?

Secondly, the idea of "normal" in this country is what has 2/3rd's of Americans being overweight and fully HALF of those overweight Americans are OBESE.  So, "normal" is overweight or obese.  Healthy weight is actually the EXCEPTION.  We are the MINORITY, those of us who are a healthy weight.

Most people who are a healthy weight remain so because their bodies naturally tend towards that.  Some of us are a healthy weight because we were FORMERLY obese or overweight and decided to make a lifestyle shift, to fight for the right to be healthy!

Since only about 5-15% of people who lose a significant amount of weight maintain their losses for two years or more, that means those of us who have done that, who ARE in the healthy weight range, are the minority of the minority (of the minority of the minority....it feels like one of those pictures of a mirror with a picture of a mirror with a picture of a mirror....I digress.....).

So tell me, do we WANT to eat NORMALLY to BE NORMAL, or do we WANT to eat EXCEPTIONALLY to be EXCEPTIONAL?

I choose EXCEPTIONAL.

Do you know who else chooses "Exceptional?"

Olympic quality and elite athletes. 
Henry Cavill a.k.a "Superman" (had to throw that in there, if you have seen any of his interviews about his work-out/eating regimen while training for and shooting the Man of Steel movie, you will see what I mean!)

Exceptional in this context means that you are comfortable with and striving towards your health goals.  You have lived the life of a "normal" American adult, and it did NOT bring you peace and joy.  In fact, quite the opposite, it brought you heartache and emotional conflict and pain such that you made a decision to NOT BE THAT WAY ANYMORE.

Our bodies are our bodies, we can't swap 'em out for bodies that DON'T store extra calories/carbs etc as fat.  Our bodies will always do that, we have not and will not change that propensity.  What we HAVE accomplished by losing the excess adipose tissue (long-term energy storage) is that we have brought our bodies back in to energy balance.  We are no longer hoarders of calories on our person.  We are also living a life, those of us who have done that, which is necessarily more active.  For me, this life I live now is infinately  more satisfying and exciting and downright FUN that the life I was living as a Class IV Super-Obese-yet-"normal"-eating individual. 

And I will eat exceptionally, and I will move exceptionally, to maintain what I have gained, which is optimal health, so that I may be able to continue living exceptionally.

Thanks Rosie for the inspiration!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy 22 Year Anniversary to Hubby and I, and Other Musings....

Today is our anniversary.  My hubby and I have been married for 22 years, and I'd like to THINK we've gained some wisdom about relationships and good living in general.

One thing I truly appreciate is that he and I are in this "health" thing TOGETHER.  We were talking just yesterday about how difficult a prospect it would be to radically change our views on health and lifestyle without the other spouse (eventually, at least) adopting the same or similar views on the importance of bringing health into one's life.

For us it is a non-negotiable.  Our son's transplant docs (kidney) told us that the BEST thing we can do to be good advocates and good caregivers for our son (who is 9 now and has had his transplant for 6 years now) is to be MODELS of HEALTH.  When he told us that, we were already adopting healthy habits and making health an integral part of our lives, and it only confirmed what we already knew, that our family was best served living in HEALTH and not in OBESITY.

You see, a transplanted kidney is a finite thing (as the rest of us is also, but a transplanted kidney even more so), and any EXTRA weight our son carries throughout his life is an added stressor to his kidney.  In other words, him being overweight could shorten the life of his kidney, and consequently, his life.

WOW.  To have it presented to us in no uncertain terms was very eye opening.  I mean, we know in GENERAL that for ALL of us, being overweight and obese can have negative impacts on our internal systems and our longevity, putting us at risk for all sorts of obesity-related diseases and co-morbidities. 

But to have this FACT displayed in such clarity with our son's situation really helped change our views on health from having an "interest" in it to being "committed" to it.

We are COMMITTED.

And our son is reaping the benefit of being a healthy weight, and having 2 parents who are a healthy weight. 

We have organized our lives around what matters most to us.  Our health.  Our son.  Our lives even as a team, my husband and myself.

Twenty-two years.  Wow.

For 20 of those 22 years I was overweight or obese.  Class 3 and Class 4 Morbid and Super Obese for about 16 of those years.  Our new life together is beyond amazing.  Do we still have stressors and our share of "problems"?  Absolutely, but I maintain that EVERYTHING is easier at a healthy weight because my brain is not battling the obesity-driven feelings of failure and obesity-related depression that came from hauling around an extra person on my frame.  From not fitting in to any of the clothing in my closet.

Do you KNOW how many of those black extra-large landscape bags' worth of clothing I have given to Goodwill through the years?  About 25.

Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of clothing, none of which I LIKED, all of which were bought and worn simply in the hopes that they made me look a little bit "less big".  Lots of black and grey.  Lots of free-flowing fabric.  Nothing "cute" or "beautiful" or "stunning" or "flattering".  Just "less bad".  Those were my options.  And I STILL managed to stand in there crying and trying on dress after dress for special occasions, in utter denial at how big I had become.

I've been reading a book called "Ultra-Fat to Ultra-Fit" about a Neuroscientist who conducted an experiment on himself to lose weight and although he used some unconventional methods in his actual eating plan that I would never recommend, his commentary on obesity in his own life and what he observed in others (as a scientist he couldn't help but observe and take note), as well as his thoughts on "dieting" in general are profound.  Here is an excerpt from that book, taken from pages 212-214:

"On a Proper Diet:  Before I say anything else, it's important to clarify a concept that can have a fuzzy interpretation:  what it REALLY means to go on a diet.  The term has become something of a misnomer.  To most people, "going on a diet" conjures visions of a draconian, albeit temporary, state of self deprivation, where cutting back on the daily quota of treats is rewarded by a steady loss of ounces and pounds.  In a stereotypical sense, this is accurate.  But what happens after you've lost the weight?  Certainly controlling what and how much you eat is a lifelong process, rather than a temporary affair with defined start and end points.  Indeed, the conceptualization of dieting as a transient inconvenience leads to significant difficulties in the formation of a proper attitude for long-term weight management.  A more mature understanding of dieting views the process as the beginning of a permanent alteration to one of the most basic components of your lifestyle.  To make this even clearer, if you make changes for a while, you may get results, but only for a while.  To get long-lasting results, you must make accordingly long-term changes.  Viewing a change to your eating habits from a longitudinal perspective can make the decision to diet even more intimidating.  It's important not to make the process overly daunting.  Diets take time to mature; it's unlikely that you'll immediately adopt the eating habits you will practice ten years down the road.  In this light, dieting becomes a series of stepwise alterations, with each change aimed at producing a slightly healthier, leaner person.  The prominent role of a diet in daily life makes changing it one of the most challenging lifestyle alterations a person can make.  Overeating and eating badly are medically recognized as legitimate disorders.  These encompass addiction to and/or dependence on food for a sense of well-being.  Thus, when embarking on a diet, you are essentially launching a similar campaign to that of an alcoholic who decides to put down the bottle for good.  While struggles to break free of alcohol and drug addiction are well documented, the challenges of combating (over) eating habits are generally not given due consideration.  However, one can easily argue that some obstacles associated with dieting equal or exceed those related to battling alcohol and drug abuse.  The major difference between breaking an addiction to a particular substance and embarking on a diet is that it is clinically impossible to quit eating food.  To illustrate this point, let us compare hypothetically a smoker who has decided to quit and an obese person planning to lose weight.  Practically speaking, the smoker needs to reduce and eventually eliminate his cigarette consumption to achieve his goal.  The obese person must continue to eat, but eat less and/or different food in order to become thinner.  He cannot simply abstain from the substances he struggles with, he must learn to deal with them differently.  In practice, it is a simpler matter for the smoker to remove tempting substances from his life than it is for the dieter to avoid the multitude of widely available junk foods.  While other deleterious behaviors can be straightforwardly corrected by quitting, the dieter must not only excise his bad habits but must replace them with good ones.  To do this, a dieter must effect a significant psychological overhaul of his relationship with food.  This fact is increasingly recognized by scientists, if not by the commercial diet community.  Indeed, recent studies have found improved efficacy in weight-loss programs supplemented with behavior modification therapy.  Viewed in this light, dieting becomes inherently more complicated than the comparatively simple act of breaking a particular pattern of behavior, even a deeply ingrained one.  The psychological challenges faced by dieters can be illustrated again by comparing our imaginary smoker and dieter.  The smoker's goal is to stop smoking; the dieter's goal is to lose fifty pounds.  In their first acts toward their goals, the smoker goes "cold turkey," and the dieter has a bowl of steamed vegetables and goes for a walk.  The next morning, both are craving their vices: a pack of Marlboros for the former smoker and a heaping plate of bacon and eggs and pancakes for the latter.  Aside from sheer willpower (an often finite resource), what does each person have in his arsenal to help him battle his cravings?  One of the most important psychological tools for lifestyle changes is the ability to validate our actions by examining the results they produce.  This common tactic for behavioral reinforcement clearly is more effective in the case of substance addiction.  The smoker can now legitimately say, "At this moment, I have accomplished what I set out to do.  I am a non-smoker.  I have only been one for a day now, and it's still unpleasant, but I have achieved my goal."  What can the dieter say to justify his methods?  He is still on his diet, and is no doubt suffering as much as the smoker, but he is still fat.  He cannot say that he has accomplished his goal or even made significant progress towards it.  Thus a dieter faces the added challenge of staying motivated.  As is evident in my account, much of a new dieter's time is spent trying to do just that.  The bottom line here is that a diet has the potential to be one of the hardest things you can ever attempt.  Only from understanding and accepting this can the prospective dieter fully appreciate the situation, acknowledging the scope and difficulty of the challenges he faces, and commit to fixing the problem.  Succeeding must be your top priority, and must take precedence over other confounding life factors.  Though it may sound overly dramatic, when the dieter begins to equivocate, he begins to fail."

OK Wow.  That was a LONG excerpt.  But I didn't want to include just snippets of it.  It really encapsulates that this has to be a lifestyle change, it really encapsulates that this is possibly the biggest and I would argue the most important challenge we obese or overweight people will have to face in our lives.

This is one reason why I include so much about what my life is right NOW.  I want you to see the stark contrast between what WAS and what IS, and that staying on plan JUST ONE DAY matters a great deal.  In fact, it is of primary importance.

I submit to you that if you stay on plan TODAY, you can be EXACTLY where you want to be EVENTUALLY.  Someday, provided you stay on plan TODAY, you will be a healthy weight and will be living the life you have always wanted.  And if you view this proess as a joy instead of a drudgery, if you view each day in a positive light of what you get to create with your health instead of one big deprivation, the likelihood of you achieving EXACTLY what you set out to achieve is high!

It is a mathematical certainty, actually!  And all it takes is staying 100% on plan TODAY.  Then tomorrow? 

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, December 23, 2013

You Can't Take a Vacation From Your Body

I can't tell you how many times I have ACTED as though I could take a mini-vacation from my body.

What does that look like? 

Well, it usually involves some sort of break from my usual schedule.  Sometimes it involves going someplace on, you guessed it, vacation.

At some point my brain would make the errant conclusion that since I wasn't at my usual place doing my usual thing, I could eat whatever appealed to me at the time because I must be on VACATION, and therefore I could ENJOY myself and usually that included OFF PLAN FOOD and DRINK.  And not only this, but somehow I would delude myself thinking that I wouldn't have to face the very real consequences of this behavior.

Problem is that my BODY did not agree with the whole "suspension of consequences" thing.

My body would continue to process those extra calories, sugar, fat, and alcohol as it always has done with extra calories, sugar, fat, and alcohol.  Namely, store it as fat.  Get bigger.  Jeans would get tighter.  Face would get puffier.  And all that could be accomplished in LESS than a week of this attitude!

LESS than a week.  ONE day of this kind of eating sets my body into that very predictable cycle of getting bigger.

Because I can't take a vacation from ME.  I take ME everywhere I go.  I take my BODY everywhere I go.  And my BODY has set limitations, and rules that I DO need to adhere to if I want to live a joyful and healthy life with no regrets.

I can't swap bodies.  I can't leave it at home, either. 

So the only alternative is to CONTINUE to make the HEALTHY CHOICES that I make every day, no matter what my context.  Whether I am at home, in another country, on Christmas Break, at a friend's house, on an airplane flying all day, in a car driving all day, at a Spa or Resort, on the Ski Hills, WHEREVER I AM, and WHEREVER MY BODY IS, I need to continue to make healthy choices. 

I need to fuel my body properly with the right kind of nutrition and hydration, all day every day, if I want to have peace and joy on my journey.

This week has been particularly hard because one of my obstacles I have had to overcome in my life has been sentimental eating.  Christmas is the biggest challenge because my Mom, who is no longer with us, used to go all out for Christmas Eve.  I'm feeling the pull, feeling the tug, having to reconcile the uncomfortable feelings and anxiety that often come when I'm beginning to focus on FOOD and not HEALTH. 

So I'm pulling myself back, and getting in to Dr. A's Habits of Health book and workbook today.  It is an exercise I do when I begin to feel I'm being tugged toward unhealthy choices.

What will YOU do this Holiday Season?  What HAVE you done?  Even if you have been off plan this week, you can start TODAY to make healthy choices again.  Are your jeans a little more snug this week than they were LAST week?  Forgive yourself, and make your next meal a Medifast Meal.

You can't leave your body behind this Holiday Season, so don't leave your Health Goals behind either!




Please contact me at stacymichellephillips@gmail.com if you would like to get started on YOUR path to optimal health!

Rock on!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

You WILL act in accordance with how you EXPECT yourself to act

"I just know I'm going to cave....I just know it's going to be SO HARD for me this weekend at the office party....I just have a feeling I'm going to eat off plan...I'm just afraid because of all the yummy things there....I just don't think I can stick to my eating plan ALL WEEKEND....It's simple during the week, but come the weekend it is SO HARD!"

Have you every uttered these words, and then SUCCEEDED through that challenge?

I haven't.  I know through my experience with achieving and maintaining optimal health that I will act EXACTLY as I EXPECT myself to act.

If I EXPECT myself to "cave", or if I EXPECT that I will "night-eat" because "well, I ALWAYS night-eat, I am a night-eater" then guess what?  I WILL ALWAYS night eat and I WILL ALWAYS be a night-eater.

We will step up or down to our expectations. 

When I began this journey the second time with TSFL I EXPECTED to achieve my healthy weight range.  I EXPECTED to keep it off.  I KNEW that I was going to intentionally develop the mindset I NEEDED in order to do exactly that.

As Epictetus says "First, say it is what you would be.  Then do what you have to do."

If you have ZERO expectations of yourself to ACTUALLY stay on plan over the weekends, you never will. 

If you already think you will fail at this because, well you have failed at every other diet you have tried, well then my friend you are setting yourself up to fulfill that prophecy.

Manage your expectations.  Don't let them just happen.  Change your expectations if they aren't serving you well.

There is so much more than "just losing a little weight" hanging in the balance here.

If you could see the difference in my life between 4 years ago and now, you would be amazed.  And anyone can achieve optimal health.  It just takes utilizing this tool, and following this plan.  And we all start somewhere.

When I started I was 272 pounds, Class IV Super-Obese and walking with a cane because my knees hurt so much.  I was as wide in circumference as I was tall, 63 inches at my widest part around my hips.  I got stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld and they had to let me through the stroller-gate with NO stroller.  I was tired all the time.  I hurt everywhere.  My chronic fatigue syndrome was flaring up every day.  My plantar fasciitis prevented me from doing much but sitting on the couch.  Not much fun for my then-5 year old son.

And then something happened.  I decided I was going to "do this one more time but this time keep it off."

It was my expectation.  Of COURSE I was going to lose the weight, of COURSE I was going to keep it off.  I expected myself to this time, because I told myself that I was not even going to START again if there was an INKLING of a chance I would gain it all back.  AGAIN.

It was too heartbreaking and devastating doing that the first time!  I lost 140 pounds only to gain 144 back in the same time it took me to lose it!  And I remember saying after hitting my goal the first time "I'll probably gain it all back now, because it seems that is what I do, if I'm not losing I'm gaining!" 

Yes.  I said that OUT LOUD to a friend back in 2007 after losing the 140 pounds the first time.  And yes.  I did gain it ALL BACK.

This time I went into the process EXPECTING NOT TO GAIN IT BACK.

And I have been maintaining 130 pounds lost and even lost a few more to get UNDER my goal of 128 over the last few months. 146 pounds lost en toto.  Never to gain it back again.

My life NOW looks and feels something like this:

I have a BMI of 22.5 and am working toward a BMI of 21 through transiton/maintenance and exercise (I am finished with Phase 1 of the program, the weight loss phase of the 5&1).  I bounce out of bed in the mornings, greeting the day with a smile.  I begin my day with a healthy fueling, usually a Medifast Meal, and a cup of coffee.  I can wear ANYTHING in my closet, and my sizes range from 2-4 in pants and skirts and dresses, and XS - S tops.  (I used to be a size 26 Women's Stretch Jeans and XXXL tops).  If it's a "running day" I'll go for a run.  If it's a "rest" day I'll rest.  I go to work (my kitchen table) with a smile, as my family gets their day going.  The words that come to mind are ENERGY.  VIBRANCY.  JOY.  Far cry from HOPELESSNESS.  DESPAIR.  BLACK HOLE that I was living in before I DECIDED to make this permanent change.

Some people may say "never say never" and to that I say it is hogwash.  I can tell you I will never be a serial killer.  I can tell you I will never join the circus.  There are some things you CAN SAY NEVER too....and SHOULD.  No offense to circus workers.  But I will NEVER gain my weight back.  There is no question mark in my head.  I am as certain of that fact as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

And that is my expectation.

What do YOU expect of yourself?  Whatever it is, you WILL achieve it.  Positive OR Negative.  It will happen. 

Rinse and Repeat.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Not About Being "Good" or "Bad" on My "Diet"

We hear it all the time, don't we?  We tell it to ourselves.  We see others telling it to themselves.  Does this sound familiar?

"I was SO GOOD on my DIET yesterday!  I didn't CHEAT one BIT!"

or

"I was SO BAD on my Diet yesterday!  I CHEATED with a few extra almonds."

The first one implies success and "good".  The second one implies failure and "bad".

What if there was another way to look at this, a way which did not tie a moral absolute to your food choices?

Because really?  Eating ON plan does NOT make you a GOOD person, no more than eating OFF plan makes you a BAD person.

I think if we could absolutely identify this and make a paradigm shift in our thinking, it would mean WORLDS of progress to our goal of attaining and maintaining optimal health!

Let me share what I have learned through the years, most of it from Dr. A, and validated in my own life through my personal experience.

For me, part of my hang-up, part of my journey (the part that saw me lose 140 pounds over 14 months and then gain it back over the next 12 months), was staying in a "diet mentality". 

This mentality was highlighted by the goal of "to lose weight", and used self-shame to keep me "on track".  Eating something deemed "off plan" was BAAAAAD and would bring feelings of frustration and shame, an overriding sense of failure to my day.  A "good" day was staying ON PLAN 100% and garning a sense of "I'm a SUCCESS!" at the end of those days.  The goal? 

"To Lose Weight".

The second time I did the plan, I actually read Dr. A's Book and began to implement the Habits of Health listed therein.  And I had a watershed moment.

My watershed moment was realizing that my choices to eat "on plan" or "off plan" had nothing to do with success, failure, being good or being bad.  It was so freeing!  I almost didn't know what to do with that information!

I realized that if I stretched out a timeline and put "Optimal Health (or, in my own words 'attaining and maintaining a healthy weight') on one end of the timeline, punctuated by Habits of Health, and I put "Where you came from" on the other end of the timeline, punctuated by Habits of Disease, that I could look at each choice in light of where it would take me on that timeline, and NOT as a moral decision of good or bad.

Ergo, eating ON PLAN was a choice I could make to MOVE TOWARDS OPTIMAL HEALTH, and eating OFF PLAN was a choice I could make to MOVE TOWARDS WHERE I CAME FROM.

Since I never want to go back to where I came from, I consistently make choices that will move me towards optimal health.  Simple as that.

And the choices I make that don't take me closer to that goal?  The choices that I make which don't support my primary goal of optimal health are few and far between now because I examine every eating or drinking decision in light of where it will take me on that time line.

You know what else I found?  I am a perpetual teen-ager at heart.  Sometimes I just LIKE being BAAAAD!  A little bit rebellious, and that was evidenced in the past by "acting out" with my food choices.  "Because if eating a snickers is wrong, baby I don't WANT to be right".  Seems as though with all the structure and responsibilities of being an adult, a wife to an amazing man, and a mother to an amazing 8 year old boy with medical special needs, well that takes structure, organization, discipline, and responsibility and sometimes I just wanted to be a little bit irresponsible and, well BAD! 

My brain would be a bonanza for someone with a psychology degree but I literally diffused the "acting out with food" by taking away all the moral associations with those choices.  Literally.  It was almost an overnight decision.  And I felt the difference immediately.

How did I do it?  How did I just all of a sudden diffuse the moral associations? 

Intentionally.  I DECIDED that if I chose to eat off plan, that I would NOT view myself as a BAD person.  That is was NOT a moral decision, and I just told myself BEFORE eating the off-plan item "Eating this makes me neither BAD nor a failure.  Eating this is a choice I make, which will either take me towards my primary goal of optimal health or farther from it.  Which is it, Sista?"

And you know what?  Taking that brief moment to STOP and CHALLENGE my behavior in a non-moral way, in a non-failure way, put it into perspective for me.  I would REALIZE that what was about to eat would NOT in fact take me closer to my goals (the goals that I said I wanted, BTW, the goals that I chose, not any goal that was foisted upon me....), and 9 times out of 10 I would put the item down and continue my day ON PLAN.

When my goal became "to attain and maintain a healthy weight" is when I feel I made great strides at breaking free from the diet mentality (which is an oscillating pattern of lose-gain-repent-repeat) and making this a lifestyle change.  And if you rolled your eyes at "lifestyle change" like I used to do, then I recommend you get a copy of Dr. A's Habits of Health and begin to thoughtfully read it (with a journal and pen nearby) because I had NO idea what a "lifestyle change" was until I saw it laid out so beautifully and understandably as in that book.

I thought "yeah, I've made a lifestyle change, dieting IS my lifestyle LOL" and I'll tell you right now, that previous diet mentality was all about deprivation and bondage to some system. 

A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is all about HOPE, FREEDOM to live the life I WANT to live, and choosing Habits of Health because it is a JOY to do so. 

A diet mentality is all about what I CAN'T have. 

A lifestyle change is all about what I am choosing to create with this process.  All the good things I am bringing in to my life as a result of my decision to get healthy.

And that's a wrap!

Friday, December 13, 2013

As You Are Now...So Shall You Be

How you manage yourself today, how you stay on plan or don't stay on plan, this is how you will BE in 3-6 months.

So many times prior to FINALLY changing my mind about my health I would say "well, just this little thing, just this once, I'll do better tomorrow."

There is NO tomorrow.  There IS only today.  And how you manage yourself, TODAY, whether it is in your spending decisions or your eating decisions, is THE NUMBER ONE determiner of where you will be next year at this time.

Are you still making excuses in the break room when the treats are brought in?  Then next year you will likely be as big or BIGGER than you are TODAY.  NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENTIONS ARE.

Intentions DON'T count.  Actions do.

"But I didn't MEAN to stay fat all year...."

Yes, but how did you ACT all year? 

"But I didn't MEAN to be in so much consumer debt from last year to this year....."

Yes, but how did you SPEND all year?

For me, spending and weight management have been the most challenging issues of personal growth I have had to tackle in my adult life.  For me, the issues surrounding BOTH are similar, they stemmed from a lack of impulse control.  Wanting what was in front of me REGARDLESS of how it would effect my body or my pocketbook.

Why do we do that? 

Many times those of us who struggle with spending and/or weight have a very SHORT TERM view of things.  We really only analyze things according to how they will make us feel RIGHT NOW.  TODAY.  We don't give too much thought to consequences.  For me, I kinda felt like a perpetual teenager.  Live NOW!  Do what I WANT!

Only I found that my WANTS didn't go beyond NOW.  And I ended up 272 pounds and in massive credit card debt, and not much to show for it.  Stuff.  Just stuff.  Stuff on my outsides (from the spending) and stuff on my insides (fat). 

Both were symptoms of the idea of EXCESS.  Of ACCUMULATING more than I NEEDED.  Another word for it would be HOARDING. 

I hoarded things, and I hoarded calories.  That is a conclusion I came to as I began to lose the weight, and simultaneously began giving things to Goodwill on a MASSIVE scale to de-clutter my outward environment.

I began to see the big WEIGHT that I had willingly placed on my outsides and my insides with this mentality, and I began to see the freedom that could be had with shedding both.

There is a book I love to read every once in awhile called "The Simpler Life" by Deborah DeFord.  Here is a paragraph/exerpt I wanted to share:

"Practice the art of composting.  Inevitably as we live more intentionally, we discover habits and attitudes that don't belong in a life simply lived.  We cling to them because they're familiar and therefore comfortable or because we are lazy and don't want to exert the energy required to change them.  Or, conversely, we grab them by the neck and enact murder, full of indignation and self-criticism.  Personally, I prefer to consider old, outdated thoughts and actions along an organic model.  They've had their day, for better or worse, and now they're like a garden's stubble.  We can plow them under and allow them to decompose without rancor.  In that way they come to enrich the living material of our present and future."

I love this.  I need this.  I moved away from those habits of disease, both the inward AND the outward manifestations of those habits of disease clearly present on my person and my surroundings, and I plowed them under.  They had their day.  They served the purpose of experience.  Who I USED to be is now fueling, in a way, who I am with clear intention.

I don't despise the old me, I don't hate her or wish she had never existed, she was ME!  I was HER!  I have simply changed, and I have shed those habits that did not serve me anymore, didn't serve my happiness, my contentment, or my inner peace.  And boy has it made all the difference.

Remember that what you do TODAY will determine the direction you head, in BOTH the areas of health AND finances. 

As you are NOW, so shall you BE.  If you practice habits of health, and healthy spending TODAY, then your outside situation (both your body and your financial situation) will reflect that over time.

Conversely, if you practice habits of disease and overspend today also, over time your body and your financial situation will reflect that inner reality.

Which do you prefer?  Start TODAY.  =)

Rinse and Repeat!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Confessions of a Former Food Addict

Can I just tell you how ecstatic I am to report this?

I am PROOF that a food addict can, with adopting habits of health incrementally, over time, CHANGE.

It was a long road.  I dare not say I have "arrived" because I have my WHOLE life ahead of me to continue pursuing health, and there is no expiration date or "end" to that, well, until there is.  =)

In years past, the baking of the annual Christmas goodies was always a tenuous activity, fraught with peril.  I would feel anxious leading up to the day of baking, and then anxious all day long, trying so hard to keep my fingers out of the dough and all that sugary chocolaty marshmallowey (I thought at the time) goodness.

Since last year, I have been intensely working on MY own journey, discovering MY "why", becoming the person I have always wanted to be.

I am still becoming her.  But I like her a LOT!  And she honestly couldn't care one whit about bites licks or tastes of ANYTHING that she baked today.  It doesn't even appeal to me.  I am not saying this just to SAY it, it is ABSOLUTELY 100% true that THIS FOOD IS NOT MY FOOD ANYMORE.

But sugar has lost it's hold on me.  Gone.  I pray never to return. 

You see, every day I make the choice to pursue health.  And eating Chocolate Fudge or Fleur De Sel Caramel Pumpkin Fudge, or Christmas Wreath Cookies don't appeal to me any more.  I love giving it away, and I don't feel bad giving it to other people because NOT EVERYONE has a food addiction like I did.  Many fit and healthy people are ambivalent and pretty responsible when confronted with a plate of fudge.  They can have a piece or no.

Do you notice that?  Fit and healthy people, when they go to parties with Christmas Cookies and Fudge and all sorts of fattening treats don't go GAGA over the tables.  Their eyes don't get super-wide, and they could have some or not, it depends on how they feel, and how they WANT to feel later on.

Fit and healthy people act in this manner.

Do you notice how overweight and obese people act when they see the same table?  Eyes wide, mouth watering, instant thoughts of deprivation if they are on a latest "diet", putting on their martyr face and then saying "well perhaps just one piece, I can always start again tomorrow, after all it is Christmas".

I used to be that person.  I am not her anymore.  I don't look down on the way I used to be, I rejoice that I am not like that anymore.  But it didn't happen by accident.   How did it happen?

#1 - Over time. 

You MUST be patient with the process.  It didn't come on overnight, nor were our habits of disease that got us here formed overnight.

#2 - With intentionality.

The first time I did the plan (the time in 06/07 when I lost 140 pounds on "Medifast" and gained it all back in 08) I just "did" the "plan".  I was not intentional about developing habits of health (as per Dr. A) and I never WILLFULLY took my focus off food.  I remained food-centric, which is the LAST thing a food addict needs to be.  The second time in 2010?  WAY different.  I was INTENTIONAL about my focus.

#3 - With purpose and direction

Every day I woke up and said "Am I going to move CLOSER to my health goals today, or farther FROM them".  Notice I didn't wake up and say "Am I going to deprive myself of all the yummy food today and stay on my eating plan, or aren't I?"  Again, HEALTH oriented NOT FOOD oriented.

#4 - With grace

I forgave myself when I would slip and do something I had not planned or intended.  I made my NEXT meal a Medifast one and did NOT look back or beat myself up.

#5 - With compassion

I understand the limitations of my body, and I attempted to respect and honor those in my journey.  Rare were the times I would throw myself under the bus by eating BLATANTLY off plan sugared up food or drink. 

I hope this helps ANYONE this holiday season.  Act like a fit and healthy person and eventually you will become one.  Act like a food addict who is on a diet, and you will remain one.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tiny, Like YOU!

Well that was a first.  I know for a fact I have never once been called "Tiny!"

Until now that is! 

4 years ago where I am now was only a dream, but it was a dream that was ATTAINABLE because I set a STRATEGY in motion that INCLUDED "Today".

Yes, 4 years ago was my first real "Today" with Take Shape For Life.  It was August 1st, 2010.  I was 272 pounds, walked with a cane, had plantar fasciitis and became winded when walking from my kitchen table to the car in the driveway.  I was OVER 50% Body Fat (I have a hand-held body-fat analyzer) and was OVER 47 on the BMI chart which clinically classified me as "Class IV Super-Obese" which is WORSE than "Class III Morbidly-Obese".  Whoever came up with those classifications I'd like to have a discussion with them by the way.  I don't think MORBID should be considered LESS serious than SUPER.  Just sayin'.  I digress.

Today I re-discovered an old book I bought in August of 2010, (picture attached) which has a record of my daily weights near the end of August of that year.  The book is has the Eiffel Tower on the front and says "Paris" on it, because it was THAT MONTH when the idea of someday participating in the Paris Marathon entered my mind.  I began to make that dream a reality one day at a time.

Fast-forward 4 years.  I've lost 144 pounds, I've kept a majority of that off for over 2 years, I am a healthy BMI and am living the life I ENVISIONED for myself 4 years ago.  This didn't happen by accident.

I didn't just think "I have to lose some weight NOW, I feel like a big fatty fat tub!"  NO.  I didn't think that.  I wasn't hard on myself, I was KIND to myself.  I didn't DEVALUE myself, I VALUED myself.  I valued myself enough to realize that I was a WORTH THE EFFORT it was going to take to CREATE THE LIFE that I wanted.

Two things about that. 

Firstly, I VALUED MYSELF.  I forgave myself and my body and I made ME my ally instead of my nemesis. 

Secondly, I began to envision WHAT I COULD CREATE with the process of getting healthy. 

This journal proves that.  It is a small testimony to the power of a dream.

What is YOUR dream of being healthy?  And do YOU value yourself?

If we hate ourselves, we won't want to do kind things for ourselves or take care of ourselves. 

I'll tell you what, you are stuck with YOU!  So get to know you, get to LIKE you, because you will still be YOU at "goal".  So which YOU do you want to be?  Choose and begin acting like it.

Back in August 2010 I began to ACT like a fit and healthy person.  I made the same CHOICES that a fit and healthy person would consistenly make, on a DAILY basis.  Eventually my outsides caught up with my insides.

What are YOUR insides like?  Is your OUTSIDE a reflection of who you ARE inside? 

If I ALLOWED myself to continue that kind of self-talk, that kind of self-talk that told me I was a big fatty fat tub, THAT would be ALWAYS be how I would ACT because it is ALL I would EXPECT of myself.  And my outsides would ALWAYS reflect those thoughts, and I would have stayed 272 pounds class IV Super Obese.

Change inside.  Change your self-talk.  Change your mind.  Change your strategy.  Find a dream.  Love yourself.

Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

No Substitute for Doing the Work

Wishing things were different, HOPING things will be different, LONGING for things to be different....

Nothing changes if nothing changes.  All the hope and wishing and longing in the WORLD will not MAKE IT SO.

What will?  Doing the work.  Day in.  Day out.  When you feel like it, and ESPECIALLY when you DON'T feel like it.  When you have an abundance of resolve, AND when you have NONE.

Especially when you have none.

It is what you do in THESE times which define whether or not you will be successful at attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

Do the work.  Get the results.

Don't do the work?  Then don't be disappointed with the results you DIDN'T get with the work you DIDN'T do.

I know it doesn't sound especially motivational.  I know it doesn't give you chills to read this.  Maybe it actually puts a damper on your day.

Sorry.  Today I'm all about truth.  Today I will tell you EXACTLY how I achieved success in losing 144 pounds and EXACTLY how I know I will be keeping it off.

Because I'm not afraid of a little hard work.

Are you?  If you are asking "what does she mean by 'hard work', I thought this plan was supposed to be simple!"

It is simple.  It is NOT easy.  The "hard work" I'm talking about is making it your BUSINESS to remain ON PLAN TODAY.  On THE plan, not YOUR plan. 

Now, if you have been in the habit of doing that anyway, then it DOES sound easy AND simple!  If you have NOT been in the habit of doing things you are probably thinking "there has to be another way, because I can't seem to do that!  I can't seem to even spend one full day on THE plan!"

Well, get to a place where you ARE spending one full day on THE plan.  I got no tricks for you there.  THAT is the hard work.  Staying on plan TODAY.

Or, you if you AREN'T in the habit of staying on plan for a whole day, you will likely go a few months attempting this, find out you have turned it into a quasi-maintenance plan, and ditch it altogether, only to go looking for something you don't have to quite work so hard at.

I've got some news for you, THIS PLAN is the SIMPLEST thing out there, so if you can't do THIS PLAN I can't think of a solution for you.  At all.  Your best bet is to wake up tomorrow morning and commit to staying on THE PLAN.  Expect it of yourself, and you might just surprise yourself at what you actually CAN accomplish!

So, there are your choices if you'd like to be successful at attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

Ya gotta buckle down and DO THE WORK.

And this isn't JUST a lesson for weight loss and getting healthy.  It really applies to ALL goals.  Today I had 8 miles on my marathon training schedule.  Eight daunting miles.  I cringed just thinking about it as I was getting my shoes on.  Could I REALLY run 8 miles today?  Me?  Was there another solution?  Could I build my endurance for the long 26.2 mile run in April just by hoping or wishing or longing for it?  I realized as I DID get my shoes on and got OUT the door, that A) I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for, as it turns out I ran 10.3 miles today when I checked my GPS, and B) no, there is no substitute for doing the work and logging the miles.  The ONLY reason I was able to run over 10 miles TODAY is because LAST Sunday I ran 7 miles, then I ran 3 miles two days later, 5 miles two days later, then 3 miles the next day, took a day off and then TODAY rolled around.  I have been DOING the WORK.  And guess what, I am TRUSTING the training program that I committed to.  I am layering miles upon miles and my body is keeping up!

It is the same with the plan.  There is JOY in the journey, and part of the lesson IS the journey.  Do the work.

Rinse and Repeat!