I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been letting my brain’s pleasure center overpower my brain’s logical thinking center.
The things that make me sick, tired and over weight are the same things that make me feel stuck, depressed and stranded. When I eat better and when I move more, I feel much better in every regard. My skin is clearer, my sleep is better, and my energy is higher. I feel "cleaner." When I eat poorly and am sedentary, I feel tired, unmotivated, and just plain "blah."
But there are not easy fixes or magic quick answers. Just as I'm learning about many things in my work life and in relationships, it is the longer-term, day to day consistency that is what pays off. And so it is for my health. I can't afford to let myself continue to be trapped in the lies that try to pull me down. I have got to take the time each day to eat nutritious food, whether that means buying it or making it. I've got to take the time to walk and stretch my muscles and work my heart. I've got to take time to continue learning about nutrition so that I stay motivated, and I need to record my struggles and my progress each day.
It is the last day of March already, and I am yet to have a full good day getting back to eating properly. And, I've gained 10 lbs in the past week and a half since feeling so sick. I'm sure some of it is fluid retention from having higher ratios of refined carbs. And some of it is paying the price for the first couple of days of eating poorly and thinking it didn't impact me...it really did, it just took a few days to catch up with me.
So far this morning, by 8:30am, I've had two doughnuts and an ice cream bar. How quickly we can fall away from the things that are best for us! Frustrated, but ready to start over again for real.
Well, the good intentions... As I've been hovering around the 20 lbs lost mark, my appetite has suddenly dramatically increased this week. Part of it has to do, I'm sure, with finally getting over pneumonia and feeling like eating again. But part of it is a cycle. Eat something salty or sugary, and my body craves more salt and more sugar. For months, passing ice cream in the grocery store has not been a temptation at all. I picture allergies to the milk in it, and clogged arteries from the cream. But today, for some reason, I bought a small container and thought I'll just taste it. And that taste turned into eating 3 servings worth. Kathy made Easter sugar cookies, and just a nibble turned into eating a bunch. And those are really bad: cream cheese in the batter and shortening in the icing. Anyway, as the pounds start to inch upward again, I am re-committing to staying full of clean foods so that I can get rid of the cravings that start to intrude.
One concept I've been using lately is something shared with me by my son that is a principle from addiction treatment. It is called "Fast-forward the fantasy." The concept is that when we are tempted to indulge in something that we know is not good for us, the draw to it can be extremely powerful. During those moments of temptation, we seem to only think about the physical pleasure we will receive if we indulge. Our minds quickly supply all the rationalization we may need: "you can start over tomorrow," "just once won't hurt," or "you deserve it because life has been so ... (Fill in the blank...stressful, empty, etc." But, rather than giving in to the temptation, one can instead fast-forward in time past the point of indulging in whatever it is that we are trying to overcome. Often, after a moment of pleasure comes reality -- guilt, regret, emptiness, helplessness, frustration, and a literal feeling of "coming down" off of whatever artificial high the addiction has produced. The trick behind fast forwarding the fantasy is to think about and even try to experience in advance those feelings that will come if you do decide to indulge. They are much less alluring than the feelings that lead one to indulge in the first place. For me, this has been really helpful in the areas of salty foods and sugary foods. Sugary foods make me week and give me acid reflux. Instead of imagining the sugar-high produced after eating them, if I instead think of the feeling of physical weakness and the acidic feeling in my stomach, I find that the temptation loses much of its allure. Likewise, if I think of salty foods as drying up my body of the moisture it needs and raising my blood pressure, the trade off hardly seems worth it. I hope to continue assembling tools like this to fight the addictions I face relating to food, and I'm grateful to my son for sharing these ideas with me.
Frustrated with myself this morning. Weighed in at 252 lbs, and I understand there will be ups and downs in my weight based on a number of factors, but I have not done things to help myself this past week very much. I, once again, ate food right before bed last night, and once again was too liberal about what constitutes "yellow" food and how much to eat.
I had steak, more than I planned on eating, for dinner. It was high in sodium and is clearly a yellow food, but I kept on eating it rather than only eating the amount on my plate. I also ate lemon blueberry pancakes that Bekah got out for lunch. And I even put maple syrup on them, which is either a yellow or a red food, and yet I kept eating them. And then Kathy made Strawberry bread and I nibbled at that, with the nibbles turning into eating pieces of it. So, overall, I had a day of eating much more yellow food and probably some red, rather than making it to the 80% green target.
The lack of fresh vegetables, especially greens, in my diet this past week is really telling. I feel less hydrated and more like eating starchy foods. I also have done poorly at planning out what to eat in advance, compared with other weeks. I will get both of these back on track this week and pair them with exercise. My goal is to walk at least 5,000 steps per day each day this week and to do at least one exercise routine through an app each evening this week.
Today, I weighed in in the 250s, a target I've been looking forward to for a while. When I'm in the 260s and 270s, my clothes don't fit well, my blood pressure is strained, I have low energy, I don't like the way I look, and some movements are difficult, such as bending to get things on the ground. In the 250s, I feel like I start to take an edge off of the super-high weight. Even still, it won't be until 243 that I hit the 10% weight lost target and feel more able to do things like work out. But moving into a different set of 10s on the scale feels encouraging.
I don't know how many times I've lost weight and told myself "I will never allow myself to weigh in the 270s again, or the 260s, etc." only to end up there once again once I quite trying and quit caring. Putting the pounds on happens so quickly. I remember being down to 220 lbs right when we were about to move to Colorado. I made a trip here (we owned the house already) to get some work done in a concentrated period of time, and I remember stepping on the scale and hitting the 220 mark. I had been doing personal training in Arizona for some time, and I reached the point of losing more than 50 lbs. But I felt like I was starving...I eating a low carb diet, mostly meats and vegetables. Before I left Colorado to head back home, I went to the store and bought a box of chocolates and ate the whole thing. Then I went to The Black Eyed Pea restaurant and ate a huge meal of stuff that was fried. It was like I had held my breath as long as I could tolerate and was finally letting go and returning to my old eating habits. And I did...the cravings and the old habits returned with a vengeance and I put the pounds back on 5 at a time for the next few months, finding myself right back where I had started.
It's not like I was unaware of what was happening--I knew the talk about changing your lifestyle forever rather than going on a deprivation diet. But the truth was I didn't want to have a life where I was deprived of what I wanted, so I was holding on until I lost enough weight, so I could then return to my old ways. The problem was, returning was like surrendering to nearly-uncontrollable cravings. I remember being in church and having an immense craving to leave right then and go buy two or three bags of candy and down them all at once. It didn't make much sense at all, but I remember the feeling being so powerful it nearly consumed me.