Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Advice!

Today I include the following web address (cut and paste) to a short (10 minute) YouTube video by Tony Robbins:

One of the quotes in this video is "People are rewarded in public for what they have practiced for years in private."  He says that no matter what the goal, the successful people, the people who achieve their goals, didn't achieve it all at once but had a series of rituals that they put in place which they practiced every day in order to achieve that goal in bite size chunks.  This is so true!

One of my "rituals" which I call "habits" is: ALWAYS having a Medifast Meal for breakfast and only ONE small cup of coffee with cream with that breakfast. If I have a second cup of coffee, it is black. The second habit I have is that I immediately follow breakfast and coffee by filling up my 36 oz water bottle with water and 1 strawberry lemonade calorie-burn flavor infuser, and I DRINK it.

My third morning habit which in the last few months I had gotten OUT of the habit of doing (but reinstituted yesterday) is getting my shoes on and getting out the door for a minimum 3 mile run immediately AFTER my first water.

"Seemingly small, Incremental improvements practiced daily over time produce stunning results." - Robin Sharma

This morning as I was watching the video I realized that we even have habits during the holidays!  One of my habits around the holidays when I was morbidly obese (even though I was "always" on a "diet") was to begin eating OFF my plan up to even a WEEK before the actual holiday!  Whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, my Birthday, Valentines Day, whatever, I would consciously eat stuff I wasn't "supposed" to eat so as to relieve the "pressure" of deprivation I was "feeling" leading up to the Holiday.  That way, by the time the Holiday came, I could eat whatever I wanted on that day and not "feel" like a failure....because I was already off plan for the you see the twisted reasoning here?  I threw myself under the bus in ADVANCE so that I could NOT FEEL BAD on the DAY of the actual Holiday!  Meanwhile, I was actually FEELING horrible already because that is what sugar and lots of excess simple carbs DOES to me, it causes all sorts of low-grade inflammation in me and DEFINITELY was not taking me in the direction I SAID I wanted to go, which was TOWARDS HEALTH.

My habit NOW is to remain ON my eating plan both BEFORE the Holiday and even ON the Holiday, because I am really nurturing my long-term goals AND taking care of my health by remaining on plan!

I did a little research on the National Weight Control Registry on people who have lost 33% or more of their original body weight and maintained for a period greater than 3 years and this is what I found.  There are 3 common behaviors of such people. 

1)  They exercise up to 1 hour at least 5 days a week
2)  They monitor their weight frequently
3)  They are "monotonous" eaters, meaning that they don't deviate WHAT and HOW they eat between weekdays, weekends, or even holidays!

So I am constantly reinforcing my "habits" of eating in this way.  My threshold for what "constitutes" a reason to "eat of plan" has gone WAY up from my previous concepts when I was morbidly obese.  I don't consider "Thanksgiving" a "reason" to go off my eating plan.  I don't consider "Hey, it's the WEEKEND!" a "reason to go off my eating plan.  I can still consider these things special occasions, but I don't "reward" myself with "off-plan food" in my observance of these special occasions.

So, what rituals or habits are YOU developing in your journey to health?  Will you begin to change what you DO THIS Thanksgiving?  Are you willing to change your habits of eating "off plan" on the "Holidays?" 

To BE different we must DO differently.  "I've never EATEN on-plan on a Holiday" may be a good indicator that it is time to CHANGE.  Time to DO differently.  So you can BE different and achieve optimal health!

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Truths From Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1 Movie

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”- Finnick Odair

I went to the movies last night, Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part One.  I was a little worried that I'd be the oldest person in a dark theater full of screaming adolescents who, to me at my age, look to be about 7 years old, but surprisingly there was a good mix of ages represented.  

Likely it is due to the appeal of the movie, which is broad in scale.  I have enjoyed the first two Hunger Games movies in the series and I was not disappointed last night.

The quote that grabbed me the most was made by Finnick Odair, who is, along with Katniss Everdeen, a "Victor-veteran-from-the-Hunger-Games-turned-rebel-freedom-fighter."  

Both of these characters fall into the category of "reluctant heroes" in that they didn't get to CHOOSE the challenges they are facing, but rise in the midst of those challenges to face them head on and to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, in order to attain the freedom they desire from the clutches of the oppressive Capital.

In one scene, Katniss and Finnick have an exchange where Katniss is asking Finnick how he manages to go on amidst the despair of knowing that the love of his life is still in the grips of President Snow, the evil dictator of the Capital.  In his answer, he says to her that "it takes ten times as long to put yourself back together is it does to fall apart."  

This struck a chord with me, as on my health journey it takes constant vigilant effort to continue to make wise decisions and to maintain what I have worked so hard to create with my health.  I know the truth of these words, in that if a few poor decisions begin to snowball I can rapidly tumble down a hill and undo very quickly the progress I have made, and it takes ten times more effort to pull myself back from the brink than it would have had I not chosen to go over the brink in the first place.  

It is never too late to become the person we "might have" been, however, and I am not afraid of a little hard work and dedication.  What I am committed to improving is my actions.  I feel sometimes like a reluctant hero - to myself.

I didn't choose my body, I didn't choose my genes, and I know that I will always put on excess weight again if I live "beyond my means" as regards food.  Excess intake and excess calories and decreased activity will ALWAYS result in weight gain for me, and this, again, is not something I chose but it IS the only body I have and I can either honor its limitations and live the healthy life I want to live DESPITE those challenges, OR I can tumble down the hill and kiss my health goodbye.  

Katniss is driven by the love she has for  her family and the love she has for Peeta (who is also in the custody of the evil Capital) to do what needs to be done, to rise to the challenges of the situation, and to fight for what she believes in even though at times she is not quite sure herself what is so special about her in particular which has thrust her into the position of "heroine."  

Katniss didn't choose her circumstances but she does choose how to respond.  

I didn't choose to have the body that I have, but I DO decide what to do with it.  I DO decide which direction my life is going and what ACTIONS I will take to achieve the purpose I am called to.  I am choosing freedom in the midst of my circumstances, because I make the decision what to do next as regards my health.  And I will fight for what I have accomplished, I will not back down.  If temporary setbacks come I will continue to ACT in a manner which will move me forward in my health. 

FACT:  I have lost 150 pounds.  FACT: I have maintained a healthy BMI for 2 years.  FACT:  I am closer to the top end of the "healthy" BMI and feel my best when I am about 15 pounds lighter than I am today.  FACT:  I will move forward today in continuing to create the health I desire in my life.  

Rinse and Repeat!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stress Eating and How I Can Respond

On this journey I have made many realizations about myself and the relationship I have with food.  I know that while on one hand I've developed many healthy habits and my life has benefited greatly from them, the UNhealthy habits never go away, they just go dormant in the back of my brain.

The reason this is important to understand is that the journey will always have its ups and downs, and if I begin practicing unhealthy behaviors again those unhealthy habits will pop up full force and be strong DEmovitators for me.

Stress eating is one area where I still struggle.  I was reminded of this in the last few days, when my son's nephrologist asked us to repeat the labs we had taken a week before, because his white blood cell count had come back dangerously low.

After 6 years of relative smooth sailing post-transplant (kidney) this was the first time we had seen this happen, and it threw me into an emotional tailspin.

I'm being completely honest here, and totally transparent, because I think it helps me sort out my own tendencies and I always want to be "real" with anyone who reads this blog.  Suffice it to say there were a few gummi-bears harmed in the last 24 hours.

Now, I have two choices this morning as I massage my sore neck (too much sugar, causes instant inflammation in my body).  I can throw up my hands and say, in despair, "I can never change!  See?  This proves it!"  OR I can get right back to my healthy habits which I have spent the last 4 years cultivating and developing.  I choose to make the decision (mindfully) in favor of my health (and sanity!).  I choose health.

This is a skill I have developed, one that I have practiced over the last 4 years because let's face it, as Dr. A says in his book "Dr. A's Habits of Health" it is not that ONE hamburger that will kill us.  It is having that ONE hamburger EVERY DAY.  I am not in the habit of eating gummi bears OR hamburgers daily.  I dropped the "all-or-nothing" mentality years ago, which is why I've been able to maintain my weight within a healthy BMI for some time now.

These last few months I have been focusing more on his chapter in his book discussing STRESS because I think that STRESS MANAGEMENT is a HUGE area that I can improve upon.

Stress can cause a whole CASCADE of neuroendocrine responses in the body which FAVOR fat deposition and chronic inflammation.  I know that 7 years ago, when I GAINED back the 140 pounds I had recently LOST (during the time of my son's kidney transplant) stress played a BIG part in that, not only in what I was choosing to eat (stress-eating) but also in how that food was processed by my body (all went to fat!).

I choose to NOT repeat that process.

So, today is about refocusing on what matters most to me.  And that does NOT include gummi-bears.  It DOES include taking some time to relax, meditate, pray, and take care of my family and myself.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Moment I Knew?

Sometimes I get the question "When did it really click for you?  Was there a moment that you simply KNEW that you HAD TO LOSE WEIGHT?"

It's difficult to answer that question in an elevator LOL.  I don't have an "elevator story" for that because it's a pretty complex journey that I've had, and YES I've had a MOMENT of decision.  I've had many MOMENTS of decision which didn't pan out into action, and at some point the cumulation of those MOMENTS became so unbearable that the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of TAKING ACTION.  In fact, I did a short video clip some years ago which was featured in the Huffington Post on one such "moment" of decision.

That "moment" was one of those epic moments of decision for me, but I have had many "moments" since.

The moment I got stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld on my son's Make-A-Wish Trip.
The moment I saw that I couldn't ride the carousel because there was a 250 pound weight limit.
The moment I needed a seatbelt extender on the flight from Orlando to Phoenix MID FLIGHT...I hadn't needed one when I got ON the plane, but after using the restroom and coming back to my seat I couldn't get it fastened so I had to ask for a seatbelt extender.  I was literally expanding by the minute!
The moment our son's Nephrologist told us the best thing we could do as advocates for our son was to "model health."
The moment someone asked if my son was my grandson.
The moment my size 26 women's plus-size stretch jeans from Walmart were too tight to zip.
And the moments continued.

And I finally TOOK ACTION.

Gradually as I continued on my journey my focus CHANGED, in that at some point along the way I embraced the paradigm shift of "creating optimal health" in my life (as opposed to "weight loss") and I began to learn the Habits of Health that would be my vehicle (thank you Take Shape For Life and Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen for creating that tool and allowing me to be a part of it!).

But total transformation of the mind and body doesn't rest on "a moment" or "a decision" made some time ago.  Yes I CHOSE HEALTH way back when and put ACTION to my decision.  But the truth of the matter is that every morning I need to RE-CHOSE HEALTH with the same commitment of action.

Every.  Morning.

The mornings I DON'T re-chose health I struggle.  If that turns in to TWO mornings in a row, I struggle more.  If that stretches into a WEEK of not re-choosing health I start to feel it in my jeans which begin to get a little tighter.  If that stretches into a MONTH of not re-choosing health I can be up 10-15 pounds.

So it is VITAL that EVERY morning I RE-CHOSE to BE a fit and healthy woman.  After the choice, I follow it up with action.  I ACT in a manner which is congruent with my decision and with my goals.

I was thinking of that word "Act" a few days ago.  Sometimes it feels like I'm a character in a movie, and that I'm "acting" like the person I want to be.  Sometimes I don't FEEL the motivation, I don't FEEL like being true to my eating plan.  Hence, "Acting".  But then it hit me, that to ACT like a fit and healthy woman can also mean not that I'm an ACTOR but that I'm an ACTION-ER.  This means that I take the ACTIONS necessary to achieve my goals no matter how I happen to FEEL that day.

So, today I CHOOSE to ACT in a manner which is congruent to my decision to BE a "Fit and Healthy Woman" because that is who I want to be.  Because I didn't choose transformation once and for all and for always, I choose transformation TODAY, and tomorrow I will CHOOSE transformation again.

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Lives....

Life can be funny sometimes, y'know?  I've noticed that in my OWN life I can work myself into and out of a funk on a pretty regular basis.  The last month or two I have been living in extreme funk-ville.
In retrospect, I can laugh.  I can see the humor and the tunnel-vision, all at the same time.  Today I chose to reframe things.  You see, I'm a perfectionist.  Sometimes being a perfectionist is beneficial to me, but most days it is a hindrence rather than a help.  But I'm OK now.  I'm working through it.

Why a "Tale of Two Lives?"  Because I am the same person I was yesterday, in the same situation, with the same circumstances.  The same difficulties and stressors darkened my doorway this morning as did yesterday, but I am choosing to reframe the context and count my blessings.  

Yesterday I was feeling a bit trapped in this "post-obese" body.  Yesterday I was becoming frustrated with the limitations of always needing to be minful of my intake and my activity level.  I was paying too much attention to the "perceived bummers" that remaining a healthy and fit woman brings along with it.  You know the negative chatter "I wish I could eat this.....I wish I didn't HAVE to exercise every day...I wish I didn't have contraints on my time...I wish I could do what I WANT!"

Then it hit me again like a ton of bricks, I DO have the freedom to do exactly what I want.  So I need to be careful and guard my "wants" like a precious gift.  I need to recalibrate when that inner-brat is beginning that chatter in my brain in an attempt to make me feel incapable, unloved, and downright sorry for myself.

I have a life that I would envy.  I make my own hours, I help people bring health into their lives, my husband homeschools our darling 10-year old boy.  I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and relatively few outside "pressures."  

I only have the pressure I put on myself.  I have plenty of time to be active, to go for a run, to go for a swim, I know how to cook and to eat healthily, and my family is doing fine!  

So what it boils down to is this.  Remembering who I am and what I can do.  Remembering that I alone am responsible for what I put into my body, and I alone am responsible for how much I choose to move it around.  Remembering that this life, my life, is a gift and we all have our "stuff" we deal with but that I HAVE done this, I CAN continue doing this, and I WILL continue to remain healthy.

What does that look like today in my life?  I am on my eating plan.  And life is good.

Rinse and Repeat!   

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Am I a Dog?

I think it is an interesting scenario to ponder....

And I have done it more times than I can count....

But when I look at it this way, I never want to do it again.

What is "it"?

Rewarding myself with food.

Think about it.  How many times have we said to ourselves "I've been so good!  I deserve a little treat!"

So, we do, don't we.  We reward ourselves with that little cookie, or that little piece of such-and-so, whatever our "favorite" is, right?  A small piece of chocolate?  Some extra cheese?

And then it hit me....we do that to dogs, too, don't we!

"Oh, good doggie, Fido, here's a little treat!"

Wow.  The association I drew yesterday smacked me right between the eyes.  I will NOT treat myself like a dog ever again.

Rewarding myself with edible treats when I've been a "good girl" on my eating plan is now going to cause me to scream in my head "I am not a dog, nor will I treat myself like one!"  In fact, I may buy two small packages of doggie treats at the store next time I am there and put one in the pantry and one in the refrigerator or freezer, in prominent places, to REMIND me that dogs get rewarded with treats when they are good.  Not me.

It is 100% counter-intuitive for us to reward ourselves with little treats if we are attempting to achieve optimal health by achieving a healthy weight, and it is 100% counter-intuitive for those of us who are "post-obese" persons to do it, either!

Our bodies will always be seeking to put the extra weight back on, our bodies will always be seeking to "prepare for a famine that never comes" by storing excess calories beyond our daily needs back into our fat cells.  And this doesn't suit my purposes.

Just something I was thinking about yesterday.  Kind of humorous but also shockingly true.

Rinse and Repeat!