Sunday, August 24, 2014

Knowlege is Powerful but Contentment is Key

Part of my journey has not only been LEARNING the tools I needed to attain and maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, but also LEARNING to be content within that context.

Through the Habits of Health and this program I was able to learn what the true limitations of my body were, HOW to attain a healthy weight in a healthy way, and HOW to STAY healthy for the long-term.  This was the knowledge I needed.  This was something that even with my Degree in Human Nutrition I still lacked, believe it or not! 

But LEARNING it was only the beginning.  Much of my journey into optimal health, which for me was attaining and is now maintaining a healthy BMI and a fit lifestyle involves daily practicing CONTENMENT with the lifelong process.

I KNOW, for example, that if I drink too much wine and eat too much cheese I WILL gain weight back.  My body will ALWAYS respond to the instructions that I give it.  And if those instructions equate to my consuming extra calories over and above my maintenance needs (which is individual for every person, by the way), I WILL do the scale creep.  My jeans WILL get tighter.  And tighter.  And tighter. 

I KNOW my limitations.  But knowing and doing are two different things, and even DOING can be different than DOING with CONTENTMENT as my underlying emotion.

I can DO all day long and resent it, if I allow myself to.  Then, eventually, I DO it less.  And less.  And less.  Because I resent the process, I feel deprived, and can slip into feeling sorry for myself because "I don't get to eat what other people 'get' to eat!"

When I slip into that mindset I know I need to press the "reset" button.

Why?  Because when I slip into that mindset I know I've lost a KEY strategy for lifelong health, which is CONTENTMENT with the limitations of my body.

So, when that happens I take some time and I LEARN it again.  Contentment.  As Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I find it fascinating that of all the specific examples Paul could have given, he speaks about "in need" and "to have plenty" in terms of his stomach.  Did you catch that?  He said "whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want".

Heck, we hardly know what it is in this country to be hungry.  But when I am in maintenance and "want" something that is beyond my physical limitation for caloric needs that day, I am experiencing psychological hunger anyway.  And I need to back up and say "Ok, Brain, today you are going to be content even though you feel like you are in 'need' of having that extra something something."

It isn't an easy thing, and it is something I continually need to remind myself of because THIS, right NOW, is who I want to remain. 

So I learn contentment.  Again.  Daily.  Hourly sometimes.

While I blog tonight, I just made myself a cup of herbal tea because as a friend of mine says "Stop, Think, Make a Hot Drink."

So I stopped.  I am thinking.  I made a cup of tea.  And I'm blogging.  Because, again, I have all the knowledge in the world to attain and maintain my health goals.  But without contentment it is a precarious situation.  So I retreat back to basics in the area of learning contentment.

My body will never "change" its limitations.  I will always have the propensity and the high efficiency of storing fat if I exceed my caloric needs in a day.  That is a given.  That will not change.  Ever.  But I CAN change my MIND and stop resenting that brick wall and work WITHIN the boundaries of it.

Reminds me of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I think "reasonable happiness" is a good goal to aim for in this life.  I know that it isn't possible for me to be even "reasonably happy" when I am Class IV Super-Obese.  So count me in. 


Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Can the Day Please End at 6pm?

I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I wish the day would end at 6pm and I could just wake up at 6am the next morning.  Just ditch the whole 6pm-10pm slot altogether, do a sort of "opt-out" kind of a thing.

Evenings have been hard for me, much more BEFORE I learned healthy habits but even sometimes AFTER I learned them because learning them is a PRACTICE not a piece of KNOWLEDGE.

I don't know what it is about it getting darker outside and the stresses of the day being "done" which literally flips some imaginary switch somewhere in my brain and puts me in danger of not practicing healthy habits!  But I wish the day could end at 6pm.

So, what is to be done? 

Do I just say "ta heck with it" and succumb to those ideas that pop into my head?  More often than not I choose HEALTH and can get through it.  Occasionally I DON'T choose health and the next morning I always wish I HAD.

So what are some strategies for getting through the evening? 

1)  Find something ELSE that is FUN to do besides foraging in the pantry or fridge.

2)  Find something ELSE that is RELAXING to do besides foraging in the pantry or fridge.


3)  Go to bed.

Yes.  Go to bed.  At 6pm.  Sometimes I just have to do that.  I literally have to take a shower (there is something about seeing yourself in your birthday suit in the mirror which kills any thoughts of eating off plan), get into my jammies, and go to bed.

Last night was one of those nights.  I SHOULD have done that.  I SHOULD have gone to bed.

Many times the night-time foraging pattern we have developed are simply HABITS.  They are UNHEALTHY HABITS.  There is generally nothing WRONG with us, we are not lacking willpower, self-control or anything like that, we are simply acting out of HABIT.  So what to do?  Change the habit by replacing the habit with something ELSE.  Don't change the habit by focusing all your mental energy on TRYING NOT TO DO THE HABIT.  Change the habit.

You have a cue:  6pm.
You have a middle:  Eating mindlessly for 4 hours
You have a reward:  Destressing, entertainment

So the cue will never change, whether your cue is time-sensitive (such as "6pm") or emotional (such as trouble or conflict with your kids or husband), or physical (such as just want something to chew on) you will always be presented with the CUE.  And, then, you will always be seeking the REWARD.  The reward is destressing, easing boredom, or yes, even chewing!  So what you do is change the middle.

Change the middle.  That middle thing is that unhealthy habit which is getting you where you don't want to go.  Change it up to something that will FURTHER your health goals or at best be NEUTRAL.

If your cue is 6pm and you want the reward of relaxation or stress-relief, here are some examples of what could be your new MIDDLE:
Hot bath
Hot shower
Lighting a candle and drinking a cup of tea
Reading some fiction

If your cue is coming home from work and you want the reward of chewing:
Save a crunchy Medifast Meal for your last meal
Chew some gum
Have a Medifast Snack of Popcorn or Sea Salt Chips (1 bag only LOL)

If your cue is conflict with your teenager and you want the reward of escaping for some entertainment:
Go see a movie
Go for a walk
Call a friend
Write a letter
Read some fiction

You see?  There are lots of things you can do for your MIDDLE which don't involve abandoning your health goals.  Now, I'm going to print this off and post it on my refrigerator door AND my pantry door AND my bathroom mirror AND I'm going to tattoo it on the backs of my hands.

Just kidding.  Not that last bit.

Tonight?  I WILL do one of the new MIDDLES.  Because I got goals.  Big ones.  And the biggest one is maintaining the healthy weight I have worked so hard to earn.

Now maintenance is a funny thing, and my eating plan IN maintenance has to be as mindful as it was in the 5&1.  But I know when I'm deviating from my maintenance plan and I know when to tighten things up.

Today?  Tighten it up.

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School!

Today I returned to school!  Yay me!  LOL

It is funny how at 44 years old I forgot how the back-to-school jitters feel, but I experienced them fully yesterday at our Orientation mixer and again today at our Graduate School Orientation!

As I looked around the room at the 80-or-so Graduate Students in the room I realized something.  I realized that THEY probably felt like ME and that, really, no one is immune to the back-to-school jitters!

We are all just people!  And there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING to be afraid of, or nervous about.

Sure this is a "status" change for me, in that I now have a bonifide Arizona State University Student ID card (AGAIN LOL!), and I am embarking on "the next challenge" for me which deals with my personal growth.  But I can HANDLE this!  I can DO this!  I will succeed and I will accomplish what I have set out to do, because I have made the decision to DO it.

It is much like our health journey.  We see something we want to accomplish and we MOVE TOWARD it.  We CREATE what we want!  Seemingly out of thin air.

But it isn't out of thin air, it is rooted in our deepest-held dreams and our deepest-held priorities and is simply an extension of who we are and who we WANT to be.

You see, I didn't enter this Master's Program because I felt like I NEEDED to.  I didn't enter this Master's Program because I thought I HAD to.  I wasn't ESCAPING something NEGATIVE that was in my life and trying to move AWAY from something that was UNCOMFORTABLE or causing me emotional PAIN AND CONFLICT. 

I entered this Master's Program because I want to continue to organize my life around what matters most to me. 

The Master's Program is a Master of Science in Obesity Prevention and Management.  I have a passion in this area, because I lived for SO long in the chains of Clinical Morbid Obesity and I saw that the life I was living in that condition was SO FAR REMOVED from the life I WANTED to live, the live I so DESIRED to live but the life that had SO FAR eluded me living 20+ years as a morbidly obese adult. 

In that creating optimal health in my life was borne out of a desire to bring AWESOME things INTO my life as a result of getting healthy, so embarking on my journey to obtain my Master's degree is borne out of a desire to CONTINUE becoming the person I want to be. 
I am she, I am continuing to BECOME her even more every day.
I have all the tools I need in Take Shape For Life, Master's degree or no, to live IN health and help others do the same.  The MS after my name isn't a necessary component for me, but I am taking this opportunity to immerse myself even more in a local community where I can make a difference.  Where I can make connections with like-minded people and show THEM what works, because let's face it, the Academic world and Health Professionals need hope too!  They have been stuck in the world of statistics and a "problem solving" orientation which, frankly, hasn't translated to real-world results in the long-term.  I intend to show them things CAN be different for anyone who makes a fundamental decision for health.  It will be a lesson in time-management to balance my full-time career with my classes.  But I can do it.

Here's the thing I want everyone, including myself to remember.  And I need to remind myself of this almost daily.  THERE will be times I don't feel capable. THERE will be times I feel like Eeyore, and get down on myself, and view things through an Eeyore filter.  I'm not immune to it.  The same fears of inadequacy and the same questions of "do I really have what it takes to create optimal health in my life" still do seep in on occasion.  It is at those times I have two choices.  I can BELIEVE those thoughts, and focus on the difficulties of accomplishing my dreams, and reap the consequences of giving up, OR I can press forward in confidence that the part of me which has the bulldog-never-give-up tenacity CAN do whatever I set my mind on doing.  The only questions that are really pertinent are:

Is it physically possible to do?


Am I willing to do what it takes to make it a reality for ME?


So, dear friends, I will be embarking on this journey in FAITH, because I don't have to believe in myself 100% of the time, I only have to believe in myself ENOUGH to show up, do the work, and give it my best.

And those moments where my faith in myself of my abilities waver I just know enough about myself to know NOT TO MAKE ANY decisions or changes in course when I'm in the Eeyore Mindset. 

I hope that makes sense.  I don't have everything about everything figured out but I DO know that about myself, that the decisions I make that are rooted in hope and optimism and the actions I take based on those decisions are things that move me TOWARD my goals.  The decisions I make in an Eeyore mentality don't.  THOSE decisions, if I act on them, move me to a place I don't want to be, move me farther from my health goals and my life goals.

So when you hear Eeyore, send him home. 

I choose to be a Tigger.