Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rejoicing in my limitations, blessing my reins

What the what kind of cryptic title is THAT? 

OK, today's blog really came to me a few days ago as I was having my quiet time, but I needed to really mull things over before I put my thoughts down on paper.  You know when you stumble over something that is kind of epic, and it's ramifications in your life are so great that you just want to get it right before you write it down? 

Well, the last few days have been me trying to get it right.

I still don't know if I have it right, but here goes!

The verse I read was:
Psalms 15:5-7:
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my
cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me. The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places: for my inheritance is goodly to me. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover, my reins also have corrected me even till night.
The context of this verse, when they are talking about "lines" are the boundary lines of a pasture.  It is talking as though whomever is saying it is a horse, or an oxen, or the like, who is in a pasture and who is content with the boundaries of the pasture.  In the last sentence, the horse or oxen is even grateful for the reins of instruction, the reins imposed upon it by a loving Master who is guiding it with reins.

So, what does this mean to me? 

Well, lots, actually.

How many times in my past have I been ungrateful for the body that was given to me as a gift?  This body which processes every extra calorie by turning it into fat and laying it down in my fat cells?  How many times in the past have I lamented that I can't be like so-and-so who doesn't have the physical limitations that I seem to have in what I can eat or can't eat?

What I have learned in this last 3 years, through the process of changing my wants, through the process of reading Dr. A's Habits of Health and adopting them incrementally because of all the awesome things those habits would bring INTO my life (instead of viewing it as one big deprivation/diet type thing), is that my body and the caloric limitations that exist upon it ARE my boundary lines.  They ARE the lines of my pasture.  And I needed to learn contentment, even a sense of thankfulness FOR them, not RESENT and DEPLORE them.

Whew!  What?  A grateful, peaceful, thankful heart for my physical limitations?  For this body that until I figured out how to change my mind about this process (thank you Dr. A!) was like a curse to me?  Was a source of supreme unhappiness and sorrow?

Yes.  In a word, yes.

I view this lifestyle, my new normal, my caloric limitations, my choice to live WITHIN those limitations and still have an abundant, full, happy, joyful, peaceful, fruitful life, as me living out that verse.

I am not staring at the neighboring pasture's grass, and pining for it because it looks a little greener.  No.  I have my OWN grass and it is MY grass WITHIN the boundaries of my pasture.  And I am thankful for it.  My reins of instruction are the self-discipline, the self-management so to speak, that I have HAD to develop if I wanted to live the life I desired within the limitations of my pasture boundaries.

Or, conversely, I could always continue ramming my head against the stone boundary wall, mad that I couldn't have the greener grass in the adjacent pasture.  No, I chose not to do that. 

So, I thank God for my pasture.  I thank God for my grass.  I thank God for the lines of my pasture, and I will be content within them.  AND live the optimally healthy life that I choose to live. 

Whew.  I hope I got that right.  It makes sense to me, anyway! 

Rinse and Repeat!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Et tu, Frutas?

Saw a very interesting article in the August edition of National Geographic, which I do not have a subscription to but thought the cover story so intriguing that I bought a copy of the shelf at Costco yesterday.

On the cover is a cupcake.  The headline to the cover picture says "SUGAR:  Why we can't resist it"

The premise of the article is that our bodies have been designed to get by on very, very little fructose as a way that we survived 10,000 years ago.   However, with the refining of the sugar production process, and the manufacture of ever cheaper sugar which spread throughout the globe for the last 1000 years, and the fact that sugar hits our brain (always has) in the pleasure center similar to cocaine or heroine would, that it is a highly addictive substance.

So I submit to you, why in the world do we even ask the question "why am I addicted to sugar?"  It is biological.  There is no deep dark reason that we need to spend thousands of dollars on a therapy couch to try to dig up so that we THEN can do something about it.

It's a drug.  We're all addicted to some degree.  Those who practice self control and moderation who can say "no" to it have the same things going on in their brains when they eat it, but they don't allow it to dictate to THEM what their quality and length of life is allowed to be.

Those of us who end up in a situation where we need Medifast/TSFL likely got there, in part, because we had not developed the same restraint....yet.

So for me, what does this mean?  That I can forget about the "why" of why I am always drawn to "yummy food", and continue developing strategies of behavior modification which allow me to live the life I determine to live.  A vibrant life of health, activity, and peace with the process.  I have had to LEARN contentment (it is learned, as I discover, it is not given or handed out on a Sunday in Sunday school, I had to learn it the hard way, intentionally, and mindfully) in adjusting my behavior to my limitations physically, NOT pining away or complaining about the fact that I HAVE these physical limitations on what type of food, how often, or in what quantity I can eat.

Let's face it, as far as I'm concerned, when Eve was in the garden, what was her temptation?  A piece of yummy fruit.  Am I going to question WHY I want the yummy fruit?  NO.  I want it.  Of course.  So did she.  And she had a choice whether to eat it or not.  She failed to "Stop Challenge and Choose" and instead substituted her own judgment for that of "the plan" LOL I love this analogy!  =)

And look where it got her? 

So let me ask you, will you choose the yummy fruit?  Or will you choose health?  Will you choose the yummy sugar that hits your brain like cocaine and gets you temporary happiness but longterm misery?  Or will you choose to create vibrant health in your life?  Because it really is up to you.  And it is up to what you DECIDE to do TODAY.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cleaning out my closet....AGAIN!

After losing 20 pounds in 2 months over May and June, I find myself back in my closet to do the big purge once again!  I want to encourage ANYONE who has been waffling on the plan trying to get that "last 10 or 20" pounds off to be in the midrange of a healthy BMI to just DO it.  It is SO worth it, and the changes I have seen in my body are downright exciting.

I have officially lost half of me now, starting at 272 I am down to 136.  And size-wise, up until a few months ago I had already given away all of my clothing that I had which was a size 26 Women's and down to about an 8, since I was comfortably in a size 4 in some things and up to a size 8 in other things (like dresses).

Well, no more.  The size 8 dresses are swimming on me, in fact I had a wardrobe malfunction at the convention when I realized that the fun and flirty print dress that had fit me like a glove in April was SO loose that it pretty much showed the entire world what color bra I was wearing!  Yes, pink.  I HATE it when that happens!  So, that dress is the first on the giveaway pile, and since losing that "last 20" I am now in to my size 2 dresses, and my size 2 jeans.  My 6's and my 8's in dresses are all going to Goodwill, and some of my size 4 jeans are just too big now.

I am still in awe of this program, and in awe of what it has allowed me to do in my own life to transform EVERYTHING, because it is NOT about "sizes" and "pounds".  It IS about lightening my burden, inside and out, and that has even extended to my house.  I am no longer a closet hoarder.  My garage is clean, we can actually park VEHICLES in there.

My closets are organized and tidy.  I don't have more dishware than I need, more tupperware containers than I need, more small kitchen appliances than I need or use!  I am achieving balance in every area of my life and it feels GOOD!  And attaining and maintaining a healthy weight was the catalyst for it ALL.

Here is the testimony of a fellow coach that I saw on my FB feed this morning, about the TSFL Convention and the "Company Store" for the logo shirts, etc.  It is truly amazing but not surprising:

In a forthcoming episode of the hit reality show, the 13-year-old gets ready to tackle the 'Pigzilla' - consisting of 3lbs of meat and a 1lb bun.
""I bought a size MEDIUM shirt. Yeah, I'm not just excited about this for me. Listen to this!!! At our Take Shape for Life National Convention, there was a TSFL store. By the end of Day 1 all of the Small and Mediums were sold out. I was fortunate enough to get a M shirt on Day 2 because I was talking to a sales associate who had just done a return. The store was full--but mostly of XL and XXL. This was the first year TSFL outsourced the store to another company. Here's what the associate told me. "We represent other weight loss companies so we thought we knew exactly what we needed. But we've never seen anything like this! We always sell out of the XXL and the XL and hardly sell any S or M. But not with this company! I guess on those other programs people aren't really losing weight, but this is proof to me that you guys are!" HOW COOL IS THAT?!!!! As someone who wore a 3X when I started this program, I was grateful to pay for my size M shirt!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Question:  How many times does it take attempting to restart this plan to get it right?  Is there ever a time where I should just realize that I'm not going to be able to do it?

Answer:  As many as it TAKES, and NO!  NEVER GIVE UP!

That is what I learned in what I term "The Lost Years" of 2008-2010.

You see, I had just gained ALL my weight back.  Yes, ALL of it.  And four MORE pounds to add insult to injury.  I weighed 272 pounds, after having weighed 128 at my goal the year before.  I was as large as I had ever been in my entire life.  I was as demoralized as I had ever been in my entire life.  And I still clung to hope.  I ordered "Medifast"..... again.  I tried to restart.  One day.  Fall down.  Day one again.  Fall down.  Half a day.  Fall down.  A third of a day.  Fall down.  Two days.  Fall down. 

Do you see a pattern here?  No, it is not the pattern of FAILURE.  It is the pattern of PERSEVERANCE.

You see 20 failed attempt to get back on plan.  At the time, I did too.  That is how I chose to look at it, but I kept trying.  I kept at it.  I may have had a Mis-Take 99 times, but on the 100th time it TOOK.

And I ran with it.  And I went a week!  Then I faltered.  Then I got up the next day and began the day ON PLAN.  Then I went two weeks.  Then I faltered.  Then I got up the next day and began the day ON PLAN. 

How did I finally line up enough on plan days to see steady losses?  To begin gaining momentum in my plan?  I read Dr. A's Habits of Health.  I started incorporating them into my life.  I stopped focusing on my failures and instead focused on the beautiful wonderful things that I could create, that I could bring IN to my life as a RESULT of this process.  I stopped hating myself.  I started believing that if I just did what was written in the plan, the Quick Start Guide, if I just stopped substituting my OWN judgment for that of the experts who wrote this plan, that I would achieve similar results as all those successful people who had done this before me.

And I did.  And it worked.  And the perseverance paid OFF.

So if you are on your 98th restart, I have 4 very important words for you:





Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Q: "How long did it take you?" A: "The rest of my life!"

This is my new answer to that question. 

Seriously.  When I tell people I lost 135 pounds, the first thing they want to know is "how long did it take you?" 

Frankly I'm kinda sick of answering that question BECAUSE it puts the focus on the wrong thing as far as I'm concerned.   It doesn't matter how long it took me to physically lose the weight.  I did it.  It is done.  Never to come back again.

And THAT is really the most important thing.  THAT is the rest of my life.  I am committed to this process, and when I signed up to attain and maintain a healthy weight, in other words to create and maintain optimal health and even ultra health in my life, I was not signing up "For X diet for YZ amount of time."

That was not my mindset.  I had an "I'm going to attain and maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life" mindset, so it didn't "take me" a certain "number of months" which is what I know they are looking for in terms of an answer.  It is taking me the REST OF MY LIFE.

And that is AWESOME to me, because I LOVE the process and I LOVE being optimally healthy.  I loved GETTING healthy and I love STAYING healthy. 

What people really want to know when they are asking that question "How long did it take you" is "How many months am I gonna have to NOT have what I WANT to have in order to GET this weight OFF?"

And that smacks of a deprivation mentality.  And I'm not going to water those seeds by satisfying your curiousity.  Suffice it to say that it will take me the rest of my life to reach my goal, because my goal is attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.  So I'm not "done".  I'm never "done".  I'll be "done" when I'm dead and I have no body to take care of anymore.

And if that bursts your bubble, if that discourages you or makes your heart sink because I gave that type of an answer then I have some very heartfelt advice for you because I want to see EVERYONE adopt that mindset!  Focus your attention NOT on what you'll have to GIVE UP AND FOR HOW LONG.  Focus your attention on WHAT AWESOME THINGS YOU WILL BE BRINGING INTO YOUR LIFE AS A RESULT OF THIS AMAZING TRANSFORMATIONAL PROCESS. 

GET a copy of Dr. A's Habits of Health.  READ it.  Nothing of my mindset is anything I came up with out of the blue myself one day sitting on a rock doing yoga.  Now, don't get me wrong I love me some good yoga.  But I did NOT re-invent a wheel that had already been invented and is just waiting for you to read it and employ the principles.  Learn and practice the Habits of Health.  Not the Dealbreakers of Dieting.  I hated THAT book, THAT book (no it really doesn't exist but maybe I should write it) kept me fat and unhappy for 35 years.  It was all about what I COULDN'T have and what I COULDN'T do.  And who I COULDN'T be, no matter how much I tried.

I much prefer the Habits of Health book (which DOES exist!) and I much prefer adopting those Habits of Health so that this journey in this body can be joyful and vibrant, not holding me back from doing anything I desire to do, and not being an excuse for me to check out of life and living.

I choose health!  For the REST of my LIFE!  How about you?

Rinse and Repeat!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Blog! Letters from the Beach

I've been MIA for a few days due to excruciatingly slow and intermittent internet service at our Beach Apartment, so I apologize!  =)

One thing that vacations always reinforce with my thinking is that every day we make a choice.  And not even every day, sometimes it is every CHOICE we make a choice.

Will this lead me closer to my goal of optimal health or farther from it?

And it is not a moral decision.

So there is no shame attached to the decision.

So often in my life I have associated eating or drinking "off-plan" items with shame, guilt, and failure.

I am continually learning to let that go, and just see it for what it is, an objective decision.

Mindlessness, however, DOES remain the enemy.  Vigilance IS necessary in order to stay focused on our goals.  Because I can never take a vacation from my body, it will always process extra calories as fat.  I will ALWAYS expand, my jeans will ALWAYS get tighter if I make a series of decisions over a few days which DON'T take me towards optimal health.

So yes, no guilt, but very real consequences. 

During this vacation season, never cease evaluating your decisions.  I wear my "Stop!  Challenge!  Choose!" bracelet everywhere I go, it is a constant reminder of what I am trying to achieve in my life.

And I will continue to achieve it, day by day, choice by choice.

Rinse and repeat!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Did Our Bodies Betray Us or Did We Betray Our Bodies?

Having been a Morbidly-Super Obese individual for most of my adult life, I am very familiar with the sentiment "I hate my body!"

For years and years I lived with the misunderstanding that my body had somehow betrayed me, that it had kept me a prisoner and somehow had a mind of it's own, that it was the enemy and I was in battle with it.

Now I understand that quite the opposite is true.  My body has always done exactly what I told it to do.  Exactly.  Every time.  My body was beautifully designed and created to store extra calories in times of plenty, and use that stored energy in times of want.  It has dutifully carried out every single instruction I gave it, in the manner in which I gave it, as soon as I gave it, much like a willing and eager soldier standing vigilantly at the ready.

I was just giving it the wrong instructions.  I was mismanaging my powerful soldier, giving conflicting messages, telling it one thing then despising it for doing the very thing I told it to do.

The hard fact is that I betrayed my BODY, not the other way around.

I created the conditions for years and years of giving my body a surplus calories pretty much every single day.  Calories it did not need, calories it had no choice but to process and lay down as long-term stored energy, namely FAT.  Those were the instructions I gave my poor body for years upon years upon years.

In recent years, having the knowledge, the tools, and the "why" (reason), I have been giving my body an alternate set of instructions, namely a calorie DEFICIT daily, so that it could gradually use that long-term energy storage (FAT) up a little bit every day until I achieved a healthy BMI, a healthy weight.

Yes, my body has done everything I have ever asked it to do.

And it will continue to do so.  My body will never process extra calories in a different way OTHER THAN storing it in long-term energy cells called fat cells.  So, then, my goal is to continue learning how to manage this diligent little soldier of mine, this advocate, this gift of my body, who will always do what I tell it to do.

No, we aren't born with an instruction manual for our bodies.  We get to figure that one out on our own.  In my life, with my body, Take Shape For Life has been the vital instruction manual and I am following it.  Do I always issue perfect instructions?  No.  When I issue instructions that are NOT in accordance with my primary goal (to attain and maintain optimal health), will my body still carry out my flawed instructions?  Yes.  Because it will do what I tell it to do every time.

So consistency is key, and me learning how to be a good manager of myself, of my body.  Giving consistent instructions to my body is what I am learning.  Day by day.

If a few days go by where my instructions include extra calories, yes, that will show up on the scale for me every time.  And there is no need to "hate" my body or "wish" things were different.  No need at all, because it won't change anything and it isn't an accurate picture of who is actually in charge.  WE are in charge, not our bodies.  OUR cravings, OUR actions, OUR intake, OUR decisions. 

So what will I do TODAY to instruct my body?  I will eat 5 Medifast Meals and 1 Lean and Green with the appropriate amount of healthy fats added.  I will drink 90 ounces of water.  And I will go about the business of living life to the fullest while doing these things.  And my little soldier will silently and in the background dutifully carry out my instructions.  To.  The.  Letter.

Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, July 5, 2013

What is the deal?

Afraid?  Scared?  Worried?  Unsure?  Hope you succeed but petrified you won't?

Stay on plan TODAY.

Overwhelmed?  Discouraged?  Sad?  Angry?  Disheartened? 

Stay on plan TODAY.

As you stay on plan TODAY and only TODAY, several things will happen.  Your body will, because of a physiologically engineered calorie deficit, release some of your stored fat and use it for energy.

This happens whether you are "feelin' it" or not, whether you "feel LIKE it" or not, whether you are thrilled with the process, mad at the process, mad at your Mother-in-Law, disappointed at your job, "totally in to the program", reading Dr. A's Habits of Health, going to the gym or NOT.

It will happen because it is a mathematical certainty that if you remain on plan today, 100% on plan with no modifications or tweaks, you will burn MORE fuel than you have consumed.  Of course if you are in the first three days, that fuel may be your glycogen stores as you get IN to the fat burning state.  But, regardless, you are burning more than you are consuming.  FACT.

Behavior modification is all about DOING.  It is the DOING no matter what you are FEELING.  That being said, you CAN made it much, much easier on yourself by changing your MIND about this process, early on, so that it is not as great of a struggle with yourself.

How do you do this?  Well, I did it by making myself accountable to my Health Coach, and reading and implementing the principles found in Dr. A's Habits of Health.  I do it DAILY by continuing to implement these habits into my life.  Am I perfect?  Define perfect.  I dare you LOL.

What I can tell you is that I am not in the HABIT of eating off plan.

Are you in the HABIT of eating off-plan?  If so, your outsides will always reflect that fact.  Even if you end up losing the weight, if you do not feel like it is necessary to adopt HABITS of health, then you will likely be part of the 85% of people who do not maintain their weight loss.

I was, that first time, back in 06/07.  I had no idea WHAT the Habits of Health even WERE at the time.  I did not adopt them, out of ignorance, and I gained all my weight back in 08. 

So when I began this journey again in 2010 I had to decide what was going to be different this time.  I decided EVERYTHING would be different.  I decided I would be different.  Everything WAS different and I WAS different because I made it so.  Not because of chance, outside circumstances, pressures of life, anything like that.  I've been through an accident and surgery this year.  And yet I've maintained. 

Because I adopted the Habits of Health, and am in the HABIT of being ON PLAN.  Whether that plan is the 5&1 Phase for weight loss, the Transition Plan, or my Maintenance Plan, I have developed the HABIT of remaining ON PLAN, it has become so ingrained in my routine that it is NOT a struggle. 

When does it BECOME a struggle?  When I consciously MAKE it so by choosing to deviate from my routine, from my habits of health, and CHOOSE to entertain the thoughts of yummy food.  When I THEN make the conscious CHOICE to go wherever I need to GO to BUY the yummy food.  To make the non-habitual choice to actually PURCHASE it, bring it HOME, and EAT it.  These are conscious, NON-habitual decisions I make. 

If I make a habit out of doing THAT, then yes I WILL gain all my weight back plus more.  Because we can ALWAYS be bigger, and our bodies, if we have been overweight or obese, will ALWAYS seek to store extra calories we consume as fat. 

But I'm not worried, I'm not unsure, I'm not afraid, because those sentiments would indicate that I'm worried I can't trust MYSELF.

Because I would be the one making those choices.  And I have learned through this process that I am solely responsible for my choices, and secondly that I can be trusted with.....myself.

Can you be trusted with yourself?  If you don't think you can be, then work on that.  How do you work on that? 

Stay on plan....TODAY.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Power of Habit

I just downloaded this book to my Kindle, and it is fascinating.  It reaffirms everything I have been DOING in the last 3 years to radically transform my life, to make a permanent and LASTING change.

Here is a teaser, a few paragraphs of the prologue.  It hooked  me:

She was the scientists' favorite participant. 
   Lisa Allen, according to her file, was thirty-four years old, had started smoking and drinking when she was sixteen, and had struggled with obesity for most of her life  At one point, in her mid-twenties, collection agencies were hounding her to recover $10,000 in debts.  An old resume listed her longest job as lasting less than a year.
   The woman in front of the researchers today, however, was lean and vibrant, with the toned legs of a runner.  She looked a decade younger than the photos in her chart and like she could out-exercise anyone in the room.  According to the most recent report in her file, Lisa had no outstanding debts, didn't drink, and was in her thirty-ninth month at a graphic design firm.
   "How long since your last cigarette?" one of the physicians asked, starting down the list of questions Lisa answered every time she came to this laboratory outside Bethesda, Maryland.
   "Almost four years," she said, "and I've lost sixty pounds and run a marathon since then."  She'd also started a master's degree and bought a home.  It had been an eventful stretch.
    The scientists in the room included neurologists, psychologists, geneticists, and a sociaologist.  For the past three years, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, they had poked and prodded Lisa and more than two dozen other former smokers, chronic overeaters, problem drinkers, obsessive shoppers, and people with other destructive habits.  All of the participants had one thing in common:  They had remade their lives in relatively short periods of time.  The researchers wanted to understand how.  So they measured subjects' vital signs, installed video cameras inside their homes to watch their daily routines, sequenced portions of their DNA, and with technologies that allowed them to peer people's skulls in real time, watched as blood and electrical impulses flowed through their brains while they were eposed to temptations such as cigarette smoke and lavish meals.  The researchers' goal was to figure out how habits work on a neurological level - and what it took to make them change.
   "I know you've told this story a dozen times," the doctor said to Lisa, "but some of my colleagues have only heard it secondhand.  Would you mind describing again how you gave up cigarettes?"
    "Sure," Lisa said.  "It started in Cairo."  The vacation had been something of a rash decision, she explained.  A few months earlier, her husband had come home from work and announced that he was leaving her because he was in love with another woman.  It took Lisa a while to process the betrayal and absorb the fact that she was actually getting a divorce.  There was a period of mourning, then a period of obsessively spying on him, following his new girlfriend around town, calling her after midnight and hanging up.  Then there was the evening Lisa showed up at the girlfriend's house, drunk, pounding on her door and screaming that she was going to burn the condo down.
   "It wasn't a great time for me," Lisa said.  "I had always wanted to see the pyramids, and my credit cards weren't maxed out yet, so..."
    On her first morning in Cairo, Lisa woke at dawn to the sound sof the call to prayer from a nearby  mosque.  It was pitch black inside her hotel room.  Half blind and jet-lagged, she reached for a cigarette.
   She was so disoriented that she didn't realize - until she smelled burning plastic - that she was trying to light a pen, not a Marlboro.  She had spent the past four months crying, binge eating, unable to sleep, and feeling ashamed, helpless, depressed, and angry all at once.  Lying in bed, she broke down.  "It was like this wave of sadness," she said.  "I felt like everything I had ever wanted had crumbled.  I couldn't even smoke right. 
   "And then I started thinking about my ex-husband, and how hard it would be to find another job when I got back, and how much I was going to hate it and how unhealthy I felt all the time.  I got up and knocked over a water jug and it shattered on the floor, and I started crying even harder.  I felt desperate, like I had to change something, at least one thing I could control."
   She showered and left the hotel.  As she rode through Cairo's rutted streets in a taxi and then onto the dirt roads leading to the Sphinx, the pyramids of Giza, and the vast, endless desert around them, her self-pity, for a brief moment, gave way.  She needed a goal in her life, she thought.  Something to work towards. 
    So she decided, sitting in the taxi, that she would come back to Egypt and trek through the desert. 
   It was a crazy idea, Lisa knew.  She was out of shape, overweight, with no money in the bank.  She didn't know the name of the desert she was looking at or if such a trip was possible.  None of that mattered, though.  She needed something to focus on.  Lisa decided that she would give herself one year to prepare.  And to survive such an expedition, she was certain she would have to make sacrifices.
   In particular, she would need to quit smoking.
   When Lisa finally made her way across the desert eleven months later - in an air-conditioned and motorized tour with a half-dozen other people, mind you - the caravan carried so much water, food, tents, maps, global positioning systems, and two-way radios that throwing in a carton of cigarettes wouldn't have made much of a difference.
    But in the taxi, Lisa didn't know that.  And to the scientists at the laboratory, the details of her trek weren't relevant.  Because for reasons they were just beginning to understand, that one small shift in Lisa's perception that day in Cairo - the conviction that she HAD to give up smoking to accomplish her goal - had touched off a series of changes that would ultimately radiate out to every part of her life.  Over the next six months, she would replace smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her workdays, planned for the future, and so on.  She would start running half-marathons, and then a marathon, go back to school, buy a house, and get engaged.  Eventually she was recruited into the scientists' study, and when researchers began examining images of Lisa's brain, they saw something remarkable:  One set of neurological patterns - her old habits - had been overridden by new patterns.  They could still see the neural activity of her old behaviors, but those impulses were crowded out by new urges.  As Lisa's habits changed, so had her brain. 
    It wasn't the trip to Cairo that had caused the shift, scientists were convinced, or the divorce or desert trek.  It was that Lisa had focused on changing just one habit - smoking - at first.  Everyone in the study had gone through a similar process.  By focusing on one pattern - what is known as a "keystone habit" - Lisa had taught herself how to reprogram the other routines in her life, as well. 
   "I want to show you one of your most recent scans," a researcher told Lisa near the end of her exam.  He pulled up a picture on a computer screen that showed images from inside her head.  "When you see food, these areas" - he pointed to a place near the center of her brain - " which are associated with craving and hunger, are still active.  Your brain still produces the urges that made you overeat. 
   "However, there's new activity in this area" - he pointed to the region closest to her forehead - "where we believe behavioral inhibition and self-discipline starts.  That activity has become more pronounced each time you've come in."
   Lisa was the scientists' favorite participant because her brain scans were so compelling, so useful in creating a map of where behavioral patterns - habits - reside within our minds.  "You're helping us understand how a decision becomes an automatic behavior," the doctor told her.
   Everyone in the room felt like they were on the brink of something important.  And they were.........

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lessons from The Titanic


This picture is a very appropriate one describing how I felt after I gained back in 2008 the 140 pounds that I had recently lost in 2006/07. 

I felt like the purpose of my life at THAT point may have been simply to serve as a warning for others.

A big, fat warning that read "DON'T EVER EVER EVER DO WHAT SHE JUST DID!!!"

I felt horrible.  Depressed.  Like a failure.  Like a cautionary tale. 

I felt like that for 2 whole years, until I got the courage to try it one more time.

I am here to tell you that no matter WHAT your situation, you don't have to settle for THIS being your story.  You can create the story you WANT to create, and you CAN be the hero or heroine of it.

I decided NOT to be the titanic.  I decided what I wanted to CREATE with this journey to health, and I created it.  =)  And you can too!

Rinse and Repeat!  One day at a time!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cruising Tips

I was responding to someone's question about tips for cruising while on Medifast/Take Shape For Life, and it dawned on me that I just needed to write a blog about it because many of us will be taking vacations such as this.  So here goes:  Tips!

Tips for your cruise (*Warning, contains references to food!):

*Buy an amazing water bottle that you love.  Carry it with you everywhere, and refill it often on the cafeteria deck, the ice/water machines are always available for guests to use any time day or night.

*Take the stairs everywhere instead of the elevator.

*After every meal, walk around the ship 3 times.  =)

*Find the Spa/Gym the first morning and hop on the scale first thing.  Every day get an idea of where you are on that scale, so you can monitor yourself and hold yourself accountable.

*Take all of your Medifast Meals so you can have 5 per day, and have 1 wonderful Lean and Green at dinner in the fancy restaurant.  They always have healthy "spa options" and will change anything up that you ask them to. 

A note on the last one, I have been on 5-6 cruises, but only one of them as a fit and healthy person (the last one).  I assumed it would be difficult heading in to my last cruise to find healthy options and to keep my health a priority, but when I got there and really looked around I realized I had developed new eyes.  Those fit and healthy things, those tools I needed, had been there ALL ALONG, even on my prior cruises, but I had never SEEN them because I wasn't LOOKING for them.

Amazingly enough, there are plenty of fit and healthy people who like to cruise, and the cruise lines know this and do provide healthy options!  You just have to be looking for them!

Do you know what I had seen previously?  Before developing a fit and healthy mindset (thanks TSFL and Dr. A!)?  I saw food.  Lots of it.  I organized my days AROUND food.  Unlimited soft-serve ice cream and endless lemonades and high-sugar cocktails BETWEEN meals, then endless breakfast buffets of waffles pancakes eggs benedict whipped cream strawberries soufles bagels toast fresh fruit yogurt fruit salad croissants sausage bacon ham hash browns scrambled eggs with catsup and you could go back with a new plate for seconds or thirds...then endless lunch buffets of pizza hamburgers indian food chinese food creamy soups ham tri tip deli meats monte cristo sandwiches cake pie ice cream sponge cakes puddings trifles jello salads hot dogs and you could go back with a new plate for seconds or thirds then dinner in the fancy restaurant where you could get 2-3 appetizers so you wouldn't have to choose, then 1-2 entrees if you want rationalizing you didn't have to eat ALL of them then death by chocolate cake and kahlua-laced coffee or irish cream with your dessert.  Then go to bed, and start over the next morning UNLESS that night was the midnight chocolate buffet.....

Just typing that paragraph brought me back to the despair I felt on those first cruises when I was morbidly obese. 

When I went on my last cruise, last year, at a healthy weight, my eyes were seeing different things.  Firstly, it was not lost on me how many "former Me's" were on the cruise.  Morbidly obese individuals carrying trays piled high with plates full of more food than could feed a family of 6.  Huffing and puffing, pausing while walking, holding the rail for support, sweating and turning red.  Legs rubbing together, feeling hot and miserable, but eating eating and always eating.

My heart broke for them, because I have BEEN THERE.  I know that when I was morbidly obese and on a cruise, my only pleasure WAS to eat because I couldn't participate in anything else, I couldn't scuba dive.  I didn't feel comfortable in the gym, nor did I really belong there at 272 pounds Class IV super-obese.  I couldn't go in the pool because of course I didn't even BRING my swimsuit, I didn't even OWN one.  The excursions always left me exhausted, even though the only excursions I COULD do were SHOPPING ones.

This last cruise, my brain saw the stairs.  My brain saw the healthy options on the menu, the options that had been there all along.  My brain was content having my 5 Medifast Meals a day and ONLY having to worry about getting 1 Lean and Green in which I knew I could always get at dinner in the restaurant.  I had heard advice that the 4&2 was a good option while on a cruise but I did not find that so, since the breakfast and lunch buffets never seemed to have good lean protein for me to have which didn't include deli-meats.  I could always get a side salad from the salad bar, and I usually did that, but my wonderful Lean and Green was always at dinner.

I remember every night of my last cruise, finishing dinner and feeling WONDERFUL!  Just satisfied from my Lean and Green, and thrilled that I was going to bed healthier than I woke up because I was on plan that day. 

Life is different when you are taking care of yourself.

Rinse and Repeat!