Monday, January 12, 2015

Sometimes It's Like NOT Scratching an Itch....

I have decided that resisting cravings are somewhat like NOT scratching an itch.  I conducted an experiment last night on our car trip back from Los Angeles to Phoenix, it was somewhat unintended but gave me some great insights!

I was in the back seat of our car with our awesome 10-year old son, and I had closed my eyes to rest a bit.  He noticed my eyes were closed, and said "Hey Daddy!  Mama is asleep!"  My husband said "well, don't wake her up, let her rest."

Not wanting to disappoint my son and make him think he had woken me up (he hadn't, I wasn't asleep in the first place) I wanted to keep my eyes closed for a bit and remain still.

But there was a problem.  I immediately developed an itch on my nose.

What could I do?  I couldn't scratch it, or he would see me moving/stirring/awake and be devastated that he had woken me up!  So, I sat there, eyes closed, nose itching, and DIDN'T scratch it.

It persisted.  In fact, it got stronger.  It became almost unbearable because I was doing everything I could to NOT scratch it.  I thought I was going to succumb to it, to respond to the itch, and everything in me WANTED to do that and was TELLING me to just scratch it already.

But I didn't.

Herculean self control and torture, LOL.  

Then guess what happened?  After about a minute of itching, the itch subsided on its own!  The urge to scratch it went COMPLETELY away!

Wanting to see if this was a fluke experience, I tried to repeat the phenomenon as I lay in bed last night.  My nose had begun to itch, and instead of immediately scratching it I just experienced the itch for 20-30 seconds.  It went away!  I found that if I didn't scratch it, the itch would subside over time!

I drew a parallel to my cravings for off-plan items.  At the time of the craving, it seems that the reflexive desire to answer the craving immediately is all I can think about.  But then I notice that if I DON'T respond to to craving, in about 5 minutes the desire for the item I am craving GOES AWAY!

So here is the lesson in that, BUY YOURSELF TIME away from acting on the temptation to sabotage yourself.  Dr. A calls this the "Stop.  Challenge.  Choose." method, where you literally STOP what you are doing, take 8 deep breaths or drink a glass of water, CHALLENGE whether or not what you are about to do works TOWARDS your health goals or counteracts them, then CHOOSE what is ultimately most important to you.

In the car with my son it was MOST important for me to give the appearance to my son that I was, in fact, asleep.  So I didn't respond to the craving to scratch my nose.  

What is important to you in your health journey?  What actions will you take to realize your most important goals/dreams/desires?  Sometimes it's as easy (hard) as simply NOT scratching that itch.

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Done with Being Double-Minded!

So it's a new year, and with every new year comes a sense of renewal, of new beginnings, of setting down goals which fall in line with the hopes and dreams of what I hope to accomplish during my time on this earth!  It is a time of reflecting upon the previous year, taking stock of my blessings, and looking towards the next year!

I remember when I was class IV Super-Obese (at 5'3" and 272 pounds, with a BMI of around 48) and every December 31st would be filled with the feeling (again) of failure and regret.  Regret that I had NOT achieved any real measurable improvements in my own health the previous year.  A sense of failure that I had squandered yet another year with failed diets and I translated that failure to thinking that I was hopelessly flawed, that I'd never be able to bring health into my life, so what was the point of making yet ANOTHER New Year's Resolution? 

Then came the summer of 2010.  After getting STUCK in the TURNSTILES at Disneyworld and having to be let through the stroller gate (with no stroller) I was hopelessly embarrassed.  I was mortified, actually.  I was as big as I had ever been, and I was filled with self-loathing. 

Self-loathing had actually been present in my life for most of my adult years, because I KNEW there was a healthy person inside me just WAITING to get out, but I had NO idea how to make my dream a reality. 

Having had success on a program in the past, but having gained it all back, I decided to make a fundamental decision for HEALTH.

I decided to join Take Shape For Life, get a Free Health Coach, and give it my all.

I proceeded to lose 150 pounds over about 18-20 months, and adopted Habits of Health that have really changed my life.

So why the title to this blog "Done Being Double Minded"?

Here's the thing, there isn't any such thing, I believe, as a "Permanent once-and-for-all mind shift" which will forever "cure" me of the desire to eat yummy things.  It's not like a magic wand waived over me and instantly undid the years and years of carb-addiction (white sugar is like crack for me) and the abuse I did to my body by overeating to the degree that it stored 150 extra pounds of fat that I didn't need on my petite frame. 

So although I have lost 150 pounds, although I HAVE grown a full inch from being 5'2" to being 5'3" (it's amazing how springy the spine can be when it isn't so weighted down), although I have ditched the CANE I needed to walk with at the age of 39 because my knees hurt so badly sometimes, although I have run a full marathon, etc etc....there is still a part of my brain which seeks to destroy all that I have accomplished with my health.

The only term I can think of for that is that I am "double-minded" and sometimes my "fat-brain" exercises influence over me.

Well, MY New Year's Resolution THIS year has nothing to do with LOSING WEIGHT because I already DID that, but it has EVERYTHING to do with MAINTAINING the health I have achieved in my own life by committing to myself to move FURTHER into a healthy mindset and DITCH the double-mindedness.

I know it will be a challenge.  The duplicity of my thoughts sometimes astounds even me!  And they are MY thoughts!  And I have them, and I think "woah, where did THAT come from?" and I KNOW where that came from, it came from years and years of unhealthy habits which never went AWAY, they just lay there in my brain, DORMANT, and SLEEPING, until I WAKE them up by acting upon any of those self-destructive thoughts.

You see, as I said, there is no magic wand.  What I have achieved has been achieved intentionally and with purpose, and because of the program that I utilized allowed me to gradually develop rituals, habits, that were HEALTHY instead of UNHEALTHY.  Eventually those healthy habits became simply my routine. 

Here is an example of an unhealthy habit that I ditched along the way:  Going OFF-PLAN on the weekends. 

You know how it is, Friday rolls around and we think "Man, I've been SO GOOD all week, SO structured, and hey it's the weekend and I want to be a little impulsive, a little wild, a little crazy, and let's face it I DESERVE to have a little treat here on Friday night."

And Monday morning we wake up in a carb coma.  We wonder "what the heck happened?" and we resolve to be "good" again.  So we hold it together, get back on plan, with a militant resolve.

Then Friday comes around again, and we get a little loosey-goosey with our program.

Well, that can become a HABIT. 

It isn't BAD or GOOD, because it isn't a moral decision, it simply is a habit.  So are you wondering why it is so HARD to stay on plan over the weekend?  Simple, it may be because you have made it a habit, a routine, to NOT be on plan over the weekends.  So change it!

Yes, you CAN!  How?  Well, right now, as you are reading this blog it is Saturday morning.  Even if you deviated a little last night, commit to yourself RIGHT NOW that your NEXT decision will be an ON PLAN decision.  Then repeat.  Then repeat.  See?   You'll make it through the rest of the weekend and not wake up on Monday morning with that familiar sense of guilt, failure and regret.

Then, next Friday?  COMMIT to yourself that each decision you make through the weekend will be an ON PLAN decision.  There!  You've made it through a SECOND weekend on plan.  Get a few more weekends under your belt ON PLAN and you've just created a HEALTHY habit of being ON PLAN on the weekends!  The first weekend or two may feel foreign, strange, or hard.  Wild thoughts may bombard you every few hours or even every minute, and you will need to resist acting on those thoughts of self-sabotage.  But get a few weekends done ON PLAN and then you will find that being ON PLAN is your weekend routine!  There!  You've done it!

So for me, the double-mindedness I plan to conquer this month and this year is the double-mindedness that on one hand I see myself as a fit and healthy woman, and then BOOM out of the blue a thought will bombard me that reminds me of the OLD me, the OBESE me.  I have made a commitment to myself NOT to act in a manner that is NOT in accordance with the NEW me.  It will be hard, at first.  But then as I continue to flex that muscle I will find that it is easier, and that those thoughts of self-sabotage will come less and less often because I'm not FEEDING those thoughts with ACTIONS that will ACTUALLY sabotage me and my success so far.

This is important to me.  I am doing it.  The life I have left behind was a life that I didn't want.  It was a life that caused me great emotional and physical pain and conflict.  It was flat-out unhealthy.  I didn't want to model that for my son, my family, my community, or myself.  So I made a decision to change.  And true change, real change IS possible.  I'm living proof and I simply need to remind myself of that fact anytime I have a duplicitous thought enter my brain.  I need to combat those thoughts with the truth.  The truth is that we can ALWAYS control what goes in our mouths.  We can ALWAYS control how we choose to respond to temptations.  And seemingly small improvements, practiced daily, produce stunning results over time.

So allow for the passage of time, and let's get those resolutions ON!