Thursday, May 30, 2013

Target Fixation

.....Is not a myth!  Target fixation.  As per Wiki, here is the definition:

Target fixation is a process by which the brain is focused so intently on an observed object that awareness of other obstacles or hazards can diminish. Also, in an avoidance scenario, the observer can become so fixated on the target that they will forget to take the necessary action to avoid it, thus colliding with the object.

This is a common issue for motorcyclists and mountain bikers. A motorcycle or bicycle will tend to go where the rider is looking; if the rider is overly focused on an obstacle, the cycle can collide with that object simply because of the rider's focus on it, even though the rider is ostensibly trying to avoid it.
The term target fixation was used in World War II fighter-bomber pilot training to describe pilots flying into targets during a strafing or bombing run."
I've brought over a video from YouTube of this very phenomenon.  *Warning, graphic*.  The cyclists and the motorcyclist are all OK in the end.  But here you will see a motorcyclist, and you can tell by his steering that he SEES the cyclists.  He tries to AVOID the cyclists but by the very fact that he is CONCENTRATING on NOT hitting the cyclists, he HITS the CYCLISTS.

What is it that we are trying so hard to NOT HIT?  What are we focusing all our energy on NOT DOING?  What behaviors do we TRY TO AVOID?  According the the phenomenon of Target Fixation, it is these very behaviors that by our very focus on NOT doing them, we will DO them.

Why is this?  I believe it has something to do with structural tension.  Structural tension is talked about in Dr. A's Habits of Health and it is a very real useful tool, but it can also be disastrous if we are focusing on the wrong things.  You see, when we focus on something, whether it is DOING something or even NOT doing something, there is a certain amount of unresolved tension that our brains feel.  As we go about our day, our brains run a program in the background of our daily activites which seeks to resolve the unresolved tension, because if there is anything our brains are GOOD at it is SOLVING PUZZLES and working out SOLUTIONS.  We experience a similar thing when we hear PART of a song but not the whole thing, that song will be playing in our brains all day long it seems like, because there was no conclusion.  Our brains like things neatly concluded, wrapped up, and put away.  Unresolved tension, either positive or negative, necessarily seeks a solution.

Which is why commercials are so effective, by the way. 

OK back to the focusing on the negative behaviors.  If we spend all of our time focusing on NOT doing what we DON'T want to do, our brains will see that as negative tension and it will build up and build up because whether we want to do it or not we are FOCUSED on it.  And like the motorcycle into the cyclists, we will collide with that negative behavior we are trying to avoid every time. 

The solution?  Replace the negative behavior with a positive one.  Focus on the habits of health, the healthy behaviors that you WANT to do.  They will overwrite the negative behaviors, and the negative behaviors will go in to hibernation.  They won't go away forever, but they can be suppressed intentionally not by trying NOT to do them, but by developing healthy habits that you can do INSTEAD. 

So what will you do today?  What habit of health will you bring IN to your life?  Focus on THAT and you will collide (in a GOOD way!) with THAT!

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Does Tomorrow Ever Come?

Something I seem to learn time and time again is that the best of intentions do not a reputation make.  It is ACTION that speaks louder than words ever can.

Sometimes I have rested in the security of my INTENTIONS only to realize I've actually been stuck in an oscillating pattern of denial.

For example, ever try this one on yourself?  "Yeah, I know I'm up a few pounds but I can always get that off....."

It's the "Always" part that is a dead giveaway for me now.  When I start those rationalizing "Always" statements in my head is when I know I need to step back and really have a look at what I mean to do.  The actions I mean to take. 

Because this plan works SO well that it can give me a false sense of security when I start thinking "well I can ALWAYS get serious and just do it already."

Really?  How is that working out for me?  Am I ALWAYS saying that and NEVER doing it?

So really what I need to hear when I tell myself that is....

"Blah blah blah."

Because that is about the meat of the issue.

Henry Ford did say that a reputation is not built on intention.  It is built on action.  I want to be the one that proves to myself every day that I can consistently practice the habits of health.  Over and over.  Today.  Not tomorrow.  Today.  

Because last I checked, tomorrow NEVER comes.  My life has, since the day I was born, been a bunch of "todays" lined up in a neat little row.  So what am I doing TODAY to meet my goals?  What am I doing with my NEXT decision?

Rinsing and Repeating, that's what!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Changing the Paradigm. From Excess to Contentment.

We live in an amazing country, don't we?  On this Memorial Day I want to pause just a moment and remember the sacrifices that so many have made in order that we can live free and in relative safety.  This great American Experiment has resulted in an amazing country for us to live in, with amazing opportunities for all.

One of the opportunities we have is to pursue happiness.  That is really what, for me, this process of getting healthy is all about.  I am exercising my right to pursue happiness.

My own personal journey to health has taught me many things.  One is forgive yourself early and often, love yourself, and always do what is BEST for yourself in every circumstances.  It meant learning that what was BEST for me wasn't always what I necessarily WANTED to do or FELT like doing at the time.

You see, I have wrestled, for much of my life until recently, with a tendency towards excess.

And in this country it is not hard to pursue excess.  Because hey, if some is good, more is better.....RIGHT? 

In the area of STUFF:

I accumulated collections of this and that, things I could never possibly use all of, but just wanted to HAVE for some reason.  Teacups.  Depression Glass.  Fireking Jadeite dishware.  Shoes.  Dale of Norway Sweaters.  Quilts.  Coffee mugs.  Bakeware.  Cake pans.  Candy making moulds.  Cookie cutters.  Cookbooks.  If I was going to take an interest in something, I wanted ALL OF IT.  As MUCH of it as I could obtain.

Excess.  Much more than I could possibly use, much more than I could possibly need in ANY circumstance.

What I didn't realize was this attitude extended to my life situation also.  I did this with food.  I packed excess energy on my body.  I filled up my fat cells and carried the long-term energy around with me because I ate more than I needed for my immediate needs.  Being fat is a form of hoarding.  It is eating much MORE calories than I needed, setting emotional reasons aside it truly was hoarding food on my person.

Excess.  Much more than I could possibly use, much more than I could possibly need in ANY circumstance.

When I realized what I was doing to myself, because of my tendency towards excess (gluttony, really, but not limited to food), I had a realy hard look at myself and evaluated what I was going to do about it.

I determined that I would BEGIN PRACTICING CONTENTMENT.  Paul talks about contentment in Philippians 4:11 "For I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances".  WHATEVER the circumstances.  He LEARNED to be content.  That means he wasn't before, but made it a priority to learn it and practice it. 

I am well in to my journey of learning and practicing contentment.  Some days are easier than others.  But every day I have the choice to BE content in my present circumstance.  Whether that circumstance is my desire to bring my body in to energy balance and rid myself of the excess energy stores I was hoarding (fat), whether it is selling all but my 6 favorite teacups on Ebay, whether it is giving all but 2 of my quilts to Goodwill, WHATEVER the circumstance, I am learning to be content with what I have, and to only accumulate what I NEED. 

This includes food.  I stopped hoarding food in my house, and I stopped hoarding calories in my fat cells.  Letting it all go.  Letting that desire for excess ANYTHING just go away by practicing contentment has been one of the greatest gifts I can give myself.  Simplifying my plan, simplifying my life, all of that has lifted such a heavy burden, both on my physical person (fat), AND in my possessions (our garage is CLEAN and UNCLUTTERED!) is such a peaceful feeling.

I also noticed it in the area of weight loss.  I was not bothered when I had "only" lost half a pound or 1 pound in a week because I was not frantic to accumulate SUCCESS.  I was CONTENT to let the process that I had committed myself to over the long haul really work itself out by me being diligent and doing the work.  So whether I lose 4 pounds in a week or 1/4 of a pound, I am practicing contentment. 

So this Memorial Day, will you begin practicing contentment?  Will you put down the burden of that urgency to accumulate, be it food, pounds, weight losses, success, WHATEVER it is, and practice contentment?

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Weekend! Happy Holiday Saturday Weekend!

Today is a day to celebrate because it is a HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!

How will you celebrate?  I'll tell you how I will NOT celebrate:

I will NOT celebrate by thinking I can "relax" my eating plan and take a vacation from my body.

I will NOT celebrate by sabotaging myself TODAY to take the pressure off Monday.  How THAT would look if I chose to do it would be that SINCE I knew I was going to be celebrating Memorial Day with friends and family at a BBQ, I was anticipating that stressful situation (because I chose to make it stressful and all about what I could "eat" or not instead of focusing on the social aspect) I decided to be "bad" on my "diet" TODAY so that I could then just say "well I'm already off, I might as well ride this tide and start over on Tuesday".

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever pre-sabotaged yourself so that you could really cut loose "guilt free" on the occasion you wanted to?

Say you have a Birthday tomorrow, would you go off plan today so that you could relieve the tension of "having" to stay on your "diet" on your Birthday?

I used to do that ALL THE TIME, when health was NOT my primary concern.  When the scale, and the number it read wasn't even my primary concern.  I recognize that I used to get that attitude when all I was really worried about was NOT GAINING WEIGHT.

I had to really dig down deep and make a decision towards OPTIMAL HEALTH when I decided that my journey wasn't simply going to be about NOT GAINING WEIGHT. 

What is your goal?  Do you enter your weekend thinking "as long as I can maintain this week I'm happy".  Really?  That is GREAT thinking if you are in maintenance, but are you in maintenance?  If not, then the most appropriate thing to do in order to continue to move towards what you SAID you wanted is to make a plan for the weekend and stay on your plan.

I know all about "but it's hard on the weekends I'm so unstructured, whereas I'm structured with my schedule during the week and so it is easy."

Well I ask you, who is in charge of your schedule on the weekends?  YOU!  You can fix that whole "unstructured/unscheduled" thing in 5 minutes on a Friday evening by taking out a piece of paper and creating a loose structure for your weekend.  Either that, or just get comfortable having your Program running in the background, as the wallpaper so to speak of your weekend, so that structured OR unstructured there is one constant, and that is your eating plan.  Your purposeful, intentional eating plan, the one that you said you wanted to do in order to get where you want to go.

There is a great little feature on your cell-phone called an "Alarm" which you can even set JUST for Saturdays and Sundays to repeat.

Set your alarms to go off every 3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.  This is your "eat and drink" alarm.  When you wake up, first thing, drink 8 ounces of water, and then every time the alarm goes off (should be 6 times), eat a Medifast Meal (or your Lean and green) and drink 16 ounces of water.  Then drink 8 more ounces of water at bedtime and you are good to go!

There!  Now you are "structured". 

Do you see what you are really saying when you are saying "but it's so hard when I'm not structured like during the week"?  You are saying that you have no intrinsic motivation to do this plan.  You are saying that you can do this only when you don't have to think about it, only when you are so distracted by other things that yummy food thoughts can't enter your brain.  You are saying that you lack the foresight and the planning capabilities to take care of yourself over the weekend, that you are simply responding in an undisciplined and spontaneous way to things that happen TO YOU over the weekend. 

You are letting life happen to YOU instead of YOU happening on LIFE.

Is this you?  Are you letting life happen to YOU? 

I know that for much of my adult life I allowed life to happen to ME.  This made me a victim.  A victim of my own making. 

Do you wake up on Monday mornings (or on this Holiday weekend, Tuesday morning) and feel like you were a victim of the weekend?  Then STOP IT!  Honestly, stop being a victim.  Be a victor instead.  Schedule your weekend.  Schedule your meals.  Do a little bit of planning and preparation so that you don't allow yourself to be tossed around like a boat with no sail on a choppy sea, with no direction. 

Maintain.  Your.  Course.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

To BE or not to BE.....


I am free to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever quantity I want.  Thing is, I WANT only that which will allow me to attain and maintain a healthy weight.

I am free to find my true potential in every area of my life.  The extra weight kept me a prisoner to the "hope" and the "desire" and the "longing" to "lose weight" and so I never had room for any other dreams in my mind.  Getting healthy opened up ALL of my dream potential!  I now dream of running the Paris Marathon.  I now dream of getting my Masters and then my Ph.D in Nutrition with an emphasis on Obesity Science.  I now dream of being a public speaker nationwide to tell people they don't have to be held captive by their fat suit any longer, they are FREE to choose the better life.  And it IS a better life, in my estimation.  Everything is easier and less stressful now that I'm not an overweight or obese individual.  Do I still have problems and stress?  Yes, but they aren't compounded by my inability to move around, to breathe fully, to sleep well, or to make a good first impression.  So, yeah, better! 

I am free to be the best ME I can be.  And I can't put a dollar figure on that, so when people tell me "but the food is expensive" I don't even know what to say anymore.  Being fat is expensive too.  It will cost you EVERYTHING you have, it will take attention away from your family, it will make your vacations less fun because you can't go horseback riding.  You can't go swimming in the ocean.  You can't jet-ski.  You can't paraglide.  You can't hike, bike, or do the limbo.  You aren't FREE to do ANY of those things, and I remember always being the one covered from head to toe with a cover-up and a hat, sitting under the umbrella with a good book (which was never so good) and a margarita while everyone else was playing volleyball or building sand castles.

And I will never be that person anymore.  She wasn't me.  I wasn't her.  I never felt comfortable in my fat suit, it was as if I was screaming from inside "wait, this is wrong...this isn't me!  I'm in here!"

It felt so foreign to have my chest resting on my steering wheel whenever I drove anyplace.  I felt so invisible walking around airports or school campuses or shopping malls because no one, and I do mean NO ONE wanted to make eye contact with me or smile at me.  Be careful, oooooh be careful not to step in any designer women's clothes stores because I'll catch the scornful look of the sales lady as she thinks "there's nothing in HERE for YOU".

Yes it is a cruel world for the obese individual.  I remember well.  Because I WAS a morbidly Class 4 SUPER obese individual for most of my adult life.

I remember getting married at a svelte 122 pounds.  I had yo-yo'd with my weight for high school and college, getting a handle on it, then gaining a few, then getting a handle on it, then gaining a few.

Then I got married, and somehow proceeded to gain 10 pounds a year for 10 years.

Don't ask me why.  I don't have an answer for you.  I've never succumbed to the therapy chair to try to unravel the mysteries of why I did that to myself.  I have never felt the need, I knew I wasn't an abused child in any way, just a shy one.  I knew that I used food for comfort, entertainment, stress release, and to feel loved.  Thing is, that food never truly gave any of that back to me.  Do you know what it gave back to me?  Heartache.  Remorse.  Shame.  Sickness.  Plantar Fasciitis.  A sore back.  Snoring.  Sleeplessness.  Guilt.  Feelings of inadequacy.  Obesity-related Depression.  Doesn't sound like the things that a friend gives you, does it?  Unless it is a co-dependent relationship. 

When I decided to CHANGE that relationship I had with food is when the tide turned for me.  Or rather, I TURNED THE TIDE for MYSELF.  You see, hope is NOT a strategy.  Hope is the underlying mechanism to cause us to develop a strategy, but we must take that step and then implement that strategy in order for our hope to be realized.  But not just any strategy, the strategy that WORKS, the strategy that will yeild results.

"Hoping" you will lose weight while simultaneously acting in a manner in which you don't stay on plan makes as much sense as "hoping" you'll win the lottery but failing to buy your ticket.  It is the WRONG strategy to realize the hope that you have, therefore your hope will NEVER materialize if you don't buy that ticket.  Same thing with the Medifast 5&1 Plan.  You can "hope" all day that you will "lose weight this week" but then head off to Auntie Ethel and Uncle Joe's BBQ where Ethel has made her world-famous award-winning blue-ribbon Lemon Meringue Pie, and  you can spend all 3 hours you are there dancing circles around that pie, thinking about that pie, longing for a piece of that pie, then creating so much tension around that pie that you absolutely MUST have a SLIVER in order that your brain will cease TORMENTING you about that PIE!

 I CAN control what I put in my mouth for 24 hours.  And that's all I need to do.  That is my part.  To have a plan, and to execute that plan TODAY.  Just today.  I am FREE to take my health in whatever direction I want to.  But to do NOTHING or to give this plan half of the attention it deserves, to take bites licks and tastes thereby rendering the plan powerless to effect a real change in my life is NOT a strategy which will ultimately lead to long-term success.

And the "I lost weight anyway!" sentiment?  Great.  I'm happy for you.  I'm happy that you momentarily validated a strategy that will fail.  No, I'm not really, but if you believe the lie you are telling yourself that you can continue to do a version of the plan and have long term success, I just need to pipe in and be a voice of reason for you to tell you "nope, won't happen".  Because you are treating this as a diet still.  And diets fail.  You are sneaking things and hoping you will "get away with it" by "at least I'm no gaining weight" or "I still lost 1/4 pound this week so it must be OK".  Good luck with that.

I want everyone to succeed!  But you've been doing this "your way" all your life, and where has it ultimately gotten you?  Are you ready to submit to THE plan and be FREE to choose optimal health?

Are you ready?

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Do People Try to Justify Every Reason Why They Can't Get Healthy?

I've noticed a curious phenomenon as I've been on my journey to Optimal (and soon, eventually, Ultra) Health. 

When I see people I haven't seen in a long while, they immediately (after the 'hey how are ya doing' formalities) begin to give me reasons why this or that or the other diet they just tried didn't work, or why they don't have time to exercise, or why they think they will just always be overweight, or why what I did utilizing Take Shape For Life just wouldn't work for them because such and so and the other thing and this and that.

It is like I am a priest and they are at confession.  And I'm no priest!  I have often been puzzled at this behavior, to either give me 10,000 reasons why they could never do what I did, or to tell me that the WAY I did it isn't sustainable and surely I'll gain the weight back, you know, because it was one of "those" diets. 

I was reading a book called "From Ultra Fat to Ultra Fit" and the man who wrote it had some interesting observations about this very thing.  He had lost over 100 pounds, and realized that some people want to justify their own inaction by minimizing yours.  Others want to excuse their choice to not do anything about their own obesity by giving you the million ways they have tried in the past and why they failed.  When someone is not willing to make a difficult change, the next best thing to do is to convince yourself and others that you tried your best to do so.

When someone is confronted by the presence of a person who has appeared to control or conquer a problem that they themselves have failed to deal with, they will likely employ one of these two methods.  Minimizing the effort it took you to accomplish it, or justify their past failed attempts at losing weight.  

"Oh I could never do that...." - OK then, never do it.
"Well it CAN'T be safe, not eating like that..." - Well I do eat, and 20,000 Physicians since 1980 disagree with you
"But don't you think starving yourself all the time is bad for you?" - I'm not starving myself, I'm utilizing a clinically proven, safe and effective method of portion controlled meal replacements, and let me tell you I'm pretty sure being massively overweight is a heck of  a lot more dangerous than just about any type of diet.
I just want to say that I am happier now than I have ever been in my entire, obese life.  I want this for everyone. 

But not everyone wants it for themselves.  The confusion that must come over my face when someone asks me how I did it, I BEGIN to tell them, only to be met by a diatribe about how they could never isn't safe can't afford tried in the past couldn't eat processed I'm afraid of loose skin I can't give up my fried chicken jumble of words that come out of their mouth as I'm trying to decipher if they actually WANT an honest answer to their question or they just WANT to feel better about themselves.

I'm a quick study, though, and I change the subject pretty quickly if I realize they don't REALLY want to know.  LOL.

So meanwhile I journey on, on my journey to optimal health.  I am not competing with anyone, the only person I want to be better than is the person I was yesterday. 

If you tell me you can't do it, I'll agree with you.  If you tell me you can do it, I'll agree with you too!  The challenge is that when we are obese, we absolutely have blinders on to the state of our own health.  Because if we truly saw what a ticking time bomb we are when our BMI is 40+ (mine was 47+), I'm telling you we would stop playing games with ourselves. 

I am going to talk straight because I appreciated it when people talked straight to me in that state at that time (thank you Mom, Dad, and Hubby for the intervention even when you knew I'd get mad and feel hurt).

If you are obese.  If your BMI is in the obese range of 30+, you have NOT arrived  at health yet.  If you believe that this coming holiday you may just indulge in a little something' something because you've "done so good these last few days/weeks" and you are still obese, I am begging you, BEGGING you to take a good, hard, honest look at your health and to continue on this path, continue on this journey, make the hard choices that you need to make because YOU ARE WORTH IT.  You are worth every "no thank you" you need to say this next Monday, this next summer.  Get healthy.  Please.  Your family needs you, they NEED you to step up and be the best version of yourself possible.  And the best version of yourself wants to emerge, too.  If you will just let it.

Stop playing games with your program, stop playing games with yourself.  Don't beat yourself or feel bad that you've been on and off the path more times than you can count in the last few months, just get ON the path NOW.  Make that decision.  You can turn this all around in ONE HEARTBEAT.  So what will it be?  Are YOU rationalizing as you read this why you've failed to stay on plan for whatever reason and how this is so HAAAAARRRRDDDD?  Are you thinking "Yes, but I'm not YOU."  No, you aren't.  You are YOU.

And if you WERE me, you would realize that you were of mediocre ability.  But guess what?  As George Allen said, "People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit.  Most men succeed because they are determined to."

Follow that with St. Francis of Assisi, "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

True 'dat!

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are We Dealing With Our Addictions or Not?

People ask me "what can you possibly learn about eating right on a portion-controlled meal replacement plan?"

The biggest thing in me that has changed is that I used to make everything about food.  I'd wake up in the morning and wonder, excitedly, "oooooh, what can I eat this morning that will be yummy?"

Then I'd get bored and think "ooooooh, what I can eat for entertainment that will be yummy?" 

Then I'd get stressed and think "ooooooh, what can I eat for comfort that will be yummy?"

Then I'd get sad and think "oooooh, what can I eat to cheer me up that will be yummy?"

TSFL and working through the Habits of Health taught me (the SECOND time I lost the weight) that food is not supposed to be used to pacify my emotions.  Food is not supposed to be used for entertainment, for comfort, for loneliness, to cheer me up, to calm me down, or any of that.

It was THAT improper place I had given food in MY life which led to me weighing over 270 pounds to begin with.  And if I went through my entire program without UNLEARNING that, then I would have the same overall results as I had always had in the past, which is, gaining all of it back.

I decided that to BE different I had to DO differently.  So I set about on a quest to detach emotionally from food.  I grieved.  Sure I did.  I went through the 5 stages of grief:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression until I finally hit Acceptance.

What did I accept?  I accepted that my body was never going to process extra calories/carbs etc in ANY other way than to store them as fat.  Again and again.  And I could not change that fact, so I accepted that fact and began learning my individual limitations while practicing contentment.

I am at a place in my life where I have accepted my "boundaries".  I actually rejoice somewhat in the simplicity of it all.  And I also know when I am coming perilously close to jumping over my boundary fence and enjoying grass that isn't my own.....

I'll tell you what my warning signs are that I'm working myself OUT of acceptance and contentnment and BACK IN to holding food and flavor up as Idols.

When I'm more concerned with making something yummy nummy oh-so-good at the expense of the best possible nutrition/plan for me that day.  When I start salivating over the possibilities for my Medifast brownie.....ooooohhh, I could put a few extra chocolate chips in there, and then spread cream cheese and splenda over the top.....oooooohhhh....that sounds so good.......

Once I start making decisions based on how GOOOOOD something is going to taste, once I start sacrificing simplicity for flavor I reawaken certain appetities and passions that I have purposefully allowed to lay dormant.  Once I do that I begin to feel the familiar pull of what I call "fat-brain".

When I develop "fat-brain" I am in food-seeking mode.  Every once in awhile I sense "fat-brain" coming on, let's say if I'm looking at food pictures on pinterest and then have a sudden urge to go to the store and get some ingredients to make something.....

If I act on that desire, that urge, I am feeding that urge.  It will get stronger.  I will go down that road.  And I know where that road leads.  Back to my fat pants.  Back to my size 26 Women's Stretch "Just My Size" Jeans.  And I prefer the size 2 White House Black Market jeans I just pulled on yesterday.  Yes indeed, I do.

So what do I do?  I keep it simple.  I keep it clean.  I don't go searching for cheesy-tomatoey-yummy lean and greens.  I don't need them.  Do you know why?  Because I have chosen NOT to fill some emotional need for comfort food with food.  I have chosen to break that addiction, to use food for fuel. 

Does it make life boring?  Heck no!  I want to use entertainment for entertainment.  I want to use actual human comfort for comfort.  I want to use relaxation techniques for stress.  I feel like my life and its possibilities have been expanded, not limited. 

So what do YOU use for entertainment?  For comfort?  For relaxation?  If it involves making a yummy nummy cream cheese laced choc chip enhanced brownie to fill that need, or getting a taste explosion of a cheesy-tomatoey lean and green TO FILL THAT NEED, then I recommend you re-examine how you are treating food.  You may be losing (some) weight, but are you dealing with your addiction? 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Are We Afraid To Succeed?

What if we really accomplished what we set out to accomplish as regards our health?  I mean really did?  Come with me on a little journey in your imagination.  Let's suspend everything you have done in the past in this area.  Let's pretend that we cannot look back. 

Let's dream a little bit. 

Let's talk about that hope and dream that you have, the one that has thus far eluded you, to finally FINALLY have victory in the area of your weight?

CAN YOU IMAGINE what that would be like?  To wake up in the morning NOT feeling bad about what you ate yesterday?  To go in to your closet KNOWING that everything in there makes you look fantastic, and you don't just have to try on 10 things to find the item that a)fits and b)makes you look "less large"?  With tears involved?

Let's SAY that you could have ANY LIFE YOU WANTED.  Not someone ELSE'S life, but YOURS.  What would that look like?  What kind of person would you be?  What would YOU look like, outside AND inside?  What kind of person would you like to be, and still be YOU?  Imagine it!

Think on it for some good solid time.  WHAT IF all of this Medifast/TSFL stuff actually could deliver you THAT person, provided you took the initiative and followed the simple program?

Some of us are afraid that in order to commit to this kind of transformation we have to become "all about ourselves" and they think that perhaps others might think them selfish.  Let me ask you a real honest-to-goodness question.  Doesn't being fat make us all about ourselves also?  But in a way that makes us feel horrible?  I mean how many decisions do we make in the course of the day that is impacted in one way or the other because we are hyper-aware of our size?  I know when I was morbidly obese I was truly all about myself but in a negative "I hate the way I feel all the time" way.  I couldn't (read wouldn't) play with my boy on the floor.  I couldn't (read wouldn't) go swimming with him.  I agonized over what to wear that day.  I wouldn't go places where I might run in to people I knew because they might see I'd gained all my weight back

And that dream of finally attaining and maintaining a healthy weight hogged up all of my dream power.  It dominated my desires.  It was the one thing that had eluded me my entire life, and therefore I not only felt like a failure, but I spent all my creative energy trying to make it so, feeling like I was running on a hamster-wheel.

Once I got ON THE PATH to optimal health, USING THE SYSTEM that had been proven, and stopped DEVIATING FROM THAT SYSTEM in any way, that is when I began to ACTUALLY ACHEIVE what I had been dreaming about for so long.

And guess what happened?  My creative dream energy began to work on OTHER GOALS that I have for my life.  I began to BECOME that person I had always wanted to be. 

And I found out that taking care of myself physically, by eating right and exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, doesn't take a whole lot of time!  I am actually MORE available emotionally AND physically to my family than I ever was as a Class IV Morbidly Obese individual.  I love what I'm creating with my life!

Do you?  Do you know who you want to be?  Do you know how EXCITING it is to figure that out and then work TOWARDS it?  Or are you still stuck on the hamster wheel of "I can't believe I blew it again today...or last night...or on Saturday...."

If you KEEP "blowing it" time after time then I got news for ya.  You EXPECT to blow it.  If you didn't EXPECT to blow it, you wouldn't blow it.  We always get exactly what we expect our of ourselves
You expect to NOT succeed.  For some reason, you order your day or your life in such a way so that you CAN feel guilt and shame and self-loathing and I SO want to put my arms around you and tell you that you can CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS about yourself in ONE HEARTBEAT.  In ONE DECISION.  Right.  Now.
You can BE the you that you've always WANTED to be, instead of the you that, thus far, you have EXPECTED to be.

My question is, will you?  5&1.  No exceptions.  Day in.  Day out.  Are you ready to transform?  Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why I Ditched the "Lose-Gain-Repent-Repeat" Cycle....And Something Someone Said to Me Today!

So those two topics of my title are actually related, because the one (what someone said to me today) made me think about the other (why I decided to stop the Lose-Gain-Repent-Repeat Cycle).

I was at Queen Creek Olive Mill today, buying their fabulous "Bacon Olive Oil" which I love to use for a little flavor on my salads sometimes.  I was approached by an employee who asked if I was finding everything alright, and we struck up a conversation.  We were near to Wine section, so naturally she asked me if I was looking for any Wine in particular.  I told her "Actually, if you had asked me that a few weeks ago (when I was maintaining) I would have taken you up on the offer of suggesting something for me, but I'm in training now (which is true!) so right now I choose not to have red wine."

And that is true, as I began with a personal trainer last week and also lowered my goal AFTER MORE THAN A  YEAR of maintaining at a slightly higher weight than where I ultimately want to be....I lost 130 pounds, but I want to lose a total of 150 by the end of this process, so I'm back on the 5&1 (lost 6 pounds my first week....YAY!).

Anyway, she asked me what I was training for so I told her all of the above and showed her my before picture after she told me "Wow, you don't look like someone who has ever been heavy before!"  EXACTLY why I keep my before picture with me, by the way, because often times people have to see it to believe it.

And we began discussing healthy lifestyles, and choices, and she asked me why I was able to make the lifestyle shift necessary to keep the weight off.  I told her that part of it was I was tired of feeling ashamed.

I had been a yo-yo dieter all of my life UNTIL I found Take Shape For Life.    Yup!  I had.  And I was always in some part of the LOSE-GAIN-REPENT-REPEAT cycle until I decided I didn't want to feel horrible about myself anymore.  "But didn't you feel great about yourself when you were in the LOSING phase?"

The answer is NO!  I felt an adrenaline-high on days that I lost weight.  I felt devastated on days that I stayed the same while being 100% on plan.  I felt devastated AND ashamed on days that I had to reap the consequences of an off-plan episode.  It was an absolute emotional roller coaster of which I still didn't feel very in control of, and I ABSOLUTELY didn't trust myself that "once I got off this thing" I'd be able to keep the weight off.


Again, and again, and again.

One day I made a command decision that I wanted a healthy life, a healthy me, INCLUDING healthy emotions.  Any hope of that kind of life could ONLY be attained if I, in essence, DIED TO SELF (my acting out on my urges to eat off plan, yummy chocolate and yummy wine, or whatever else looked yummy at the time) and WORKED A PLAN that WORKED.  Every day.  All day.  No exceptions.  No "hey you've got to live a little!".....EXACTLY.  Not only do I want to live a LITTLE, I want to live ALOT! 

But the eating of fattening sugar-laden foods doesn't equate "living a little" to me like it did when I was in my "diet mentality".  Well, I should take that back.  Food DID equate to living a little.  A little.  Living just a little bit.  Being numb and ashamed and sad about myself the rest of the time.  That is not living a life I envisioned for myself.

And how do I feel now?  I feel amazing!  I don't let guilt or shame even be in my vocabulary because I don't live that way anymore.  I have made health a priority and I can't wait to see those of you who are striving for the same thing to absolutely transform your lives, starting with opening up that next Medifast Meal on time and on schedule.  Really, the transformation ACTION is the 5&1 Plan.  It is the PLAN that does all the physical work for us, the heavy lifting if you will.  It is OUR challenge to adhere to the plan.  And if we stay with a "diet" mentality, it will be like white-knuckling it all the way "to goal" just to be left with no actual life changes having happened.

So choose wisely everyone!  With Mother's Day on Sunday, please be good to yourselves.  Have a plan to stay ON PLAN and don't buy the line that an all-you-can-eat brunch equals love.

Get on the path of 100% adherence.
Stay on that path.
Incrementally add the Habits of Health (as discussed in the book Dr. A's Habits of Health)
in to your life incrementally, and MASTER them.
Do the work.Reap the rewards.

If you are willing to be honest with yourself, change your focus to HEALTH instead of "just to lose weight!" then my kind of success can be yours.  Then do the work.

And a last note on the "not looking like I'd ever been heavy" statement, that is a true testament to the Medifast 5&1 Plan and it's protein sparing qualities, it is the BEST thing out there and I know because I lost a combined 270 pounds using it -anyone who knows my story knows that I lost 140 pounds in 06-07 and gained it all back in 08.....and I posted a picture below (EDIT NOTE*The attachment feature is giving me an error message, I will get it up as soon as I can) as an attachment of what I look like TODAY....emphasis on the arms...this is the shirt the lady I was talking to saw me in today and I just have to say THANK YOU MEDIFAST and THANK YOU TAKE SHAPE FOR LIFE.  And ultimately, thank you ME for deciding to do the work, stay the course, and change my life instead of waiting for someone else to change it for me.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Layering upon Layering of Healthy Habits....Until the easier path IS that of health

I often get the question "But does it EVER get any EASIER?"

And here is my answer.  It is ALWAYS going to be pretty difficult to hold your breath under water.  Some people can hold their breath longer than others. 

The answer?  Become a fish. 

Eating in any other way BUT in a healthy way has become as foreign to me as being a fish out of water. 

The "water" in this analogy is the way my body has processed and always WILL process "junk".  It stores it as fat.  So does it make any sense to me to go through the process of attaining a healthy weight, only to say "but will I ever be able to eat a cupcake again?"

My answer now is I don't want the cupcake.

I just lost about 3/4's of you, I know I did but let me explain.

I have spent the last 2 years of my life dedicated to incrementally adopting Habits of Health into my life.  Seemingly small improvements, repeated daily, which have had stunning results.  And this discipline, this intentionality by which I have conducted my journey has paid off in a way that I never could have imagined when I began the process. 

For me, now, the easier path IS the healthy path.  I have been intentional to form NEW ruts in the road, and my tires PREFER to follow the NEW ruts that I have developed intentionally over time which ARE habits of health.

I can tell you from my heart as I sit here at sunset in Gilbert Arizona on my front lawn having just enjoyed an amazing salad for my "green" that I am at peace and I am content with this process. 

I really wish this for all of you, and you can ALL have it.  How?

By adopting the Habits of Health into your own lives, one at a time, bit by bit.  By repeating those seemingly small, incremental improvements day after day, week after week, and reaping the benefit of stunning results.  You CAN do this!

I was reading an exerpt today from a book by Sue Monk Kidd called "All things are possible" and I noticed that I had read this exerpt before, and even put a date next to it.  The date was March 2009.  I remember that in 2009 I was morbidly class IV Super Obese, having gained the 140 pounds I had recently lost back again, plus 4 more pesky pounds to boot.  I felt hopeless.  I felt powerless to effect a real lasting change in my life.  And then I read these words, and they must have impacted me greatly because I don't usually mark up my books.  Here is that exerpt:

"One summer day I walked alone along Horseshoe Beach in Bermuda where great rocky boulders dot the shoreline, and I came upon a most unusual rock towering at the water's edge.  There was a hole right through the center, so large that the rock resembled a hoop.  How peculiar, I thought.  However did it get that way?  I watched the water as it splashed upon the rock- wave after wave, spilling through the opening like a fountain.  And then I understood.  Water had worn the hold through the rock.  Water!  I knelt down to dip my  hand into the surf, amazed that something as yielding and pliable as water could penetrate something as hard and unyielding as stone.  What mystery and magic! 
Yet, as I saw the waves return again and again, I understood that it was not the water but the persistence of the sea that had made a way through the impossible.  Arising, I continued on my walk, and I began to think of how easily I have sometimes given up on problems or dreams that seemed just to hard, too impenetrable.  And there on the lonely beach it seemed that God had just reaffirmed to me one of life's most important truths.  it IS possible, with persistence, to make a way through barriers.  Persistent prayer.  Persistent love.  Persistent hope.  PERSISTENT EFFORT.  The mystery and magic of overcoming very often lie in the simple art of keeping at it.

...But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  - Matthew 10:22"
Become a fish.  Be at home IN the water.  Again and again if you have to.  Practice contentment with the limitations your body has imposed upon you.  Practice joy.  Practice acceptance.  Do the work.  Again and again.  Again and again.  Never give up. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Even When You Don't Feel Like It?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. - James 1:8

I believe that what we believe, what we feel, and what we tell ourselves daily matters.

I believe that we need to be careful about what we are feeding our mind, and be careful that we don't become double-minded as regards our program.

What did this mean for me?

It means being intentional about what I "feed" my mind during the day, viewing this journey as a creative process of creating the life I want.  Do I watch "The Food Network" every day?  Do I spend my time on the internet looking at Pinterest "Food Porn"?  No, I don't.  Why?  Because if I do that I risk beginning to desire things of my old life.

Let's take a quick realistic glance at what that old life looked like, just for comparison:

Weight 272, wearing size 26 Women's Stretch Jeans
Walking with a cane because my knees hurt all of the time
Sore aching back, never having a good night sleep because my back hurt all of the time
Plantar fasciitis
Not being able to get up off the floor after playing with my boy by myself, requiring someone to help me or a piece of furniture to lean on
Chest touching the steering wheel
Unable to buckle the safety belt on my Volvo Wagon
BMI approaching 50
The beginnings of neuropathy in my hands and feet (numbing, tingling)
Out of breath walking out to the car in my driveway
My "comfortable" shoes weren't really that comfortable
Was wearing 4XL men's T-shirts and sweat pants with holes in them
Walked around with a scowl
My son called me "Sully" from Monster's Inc

And that was just my PHYSICAL reality.  Let's take a look at my mental reality:
Felt like a failure with a big fat "F" on my forehead
Rarely looked strangers in the eye because I knew their reaction to me would be averting their gaze anyway
Felt like I couldn't walk into a "regular" clothing store even to browse because the salespeople would be asking "what is SHE doing in here?"
Having lost and gained 140 pounds recently, I felt like I had a taste of a new life and then it all disappeared.

So that was my life at 272 pounds, with no hope.  But the day I really decided to do this plan, I began to intentionally turn it around.  I took steps to NOT be double minded (ie...."I'll start tomorrow"....or...."I can tweak this a little bit, what will it matter?"....).

I began to guard what I paid attention to, what I spent my time thinking about.  If it was food-oriented (unhealthy food that wouldn't take me closer to my goal) I took my own thoughts captive and intentionally began to think of something else.

One of my biggest "fat-brain" issues was assuming that whatever thoughts were in my mind could not be changed, that I had to continue to entertain them even take them out to their conclusion.  For example, if the words "Sprinkles Cupcakes" entered my brain from an advertisement or Pinterest, etc, my brain would begin to obsess about Sprinkles Cupcakes until I ate one, and then it would rest.

Well I decided that I was the boss of my brain, not the other way around.  And it has made all the difference.

This morning is just some musings that I was thinking about, because as I went out to QT this morning for my Unsweetened Mango Black Tea (Lipton) I took stock of what my life looks like NOW and was incredibly grateful that because of some incremental improvements, practiced DAILY, I have had stunning results.

NOW, physically:
Salespeople greet me right when I walk in the door of any clothing store
Men hold the door open for me even if I'm only half-way across the parking lot (I'm not bragging, it is just such a difference from what I was used to at 272 pounds!)
I can run 4 miles without stopping
I can do a sprint-distance triathlon
I wear size 4 jeans now, in several brands.  Levi's and White House/Black Market are my favorite
My husband can't tell the difference anymore between MY sweatshirts and my 8-year-old son's sweatshirts
I went from a 44 HH bra to a 34D
AND SO my chest doesn't rest on the steering wheel anymore
I can wear and I love everything in my closet.  If it is too big I got rid of it ages ago because I never plan on wearing things that are too big for me ever again
I think I look pretty good for being 43 years old!  I look and feel better than I did in my late 20's and 30's!

How I feel:
Can I even describe this to you?  No, not really.  Amazing.  Empowered.  Capable.  Strong.  Grateful.   Excited.  Hopeful. 

And everything in between.

So yes, it is worth it to guard your heart, and it is worth it to NOT be double minded as regards this plan, otherwise you will be back and forth, back and forth, like you were being tossed by the waves.

You choose which life you will life.  Your family doesn't, your boss doesn't, your kids don't, the Taco Bell advertisements on the television don't.  YOU do.

Rinse and repeat!