aking appetite suppressant medication brings out the ugly side of eating for me. I don't feel hungry at all, even if I haven't eaten. So I have to make myself eat. But it seems to mask the normal feeling of what my body needs.
I had meals at two different restaurants today
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.
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.
Today is Super Tuesday, when a bunch of states conduct their primary elections / caucuses to decide who will be the nation's presidential nomination from each political party. I stayed focused on work for much of the day, leading up until the results started coming in from the participating states, at which time I became distracted. I ate relatively-good food all day until the evening. I notice that if can give my mind a distraction from eating and almond milk -- not the best breakfast in the world, but ok in moderation. But as I went to eat, I pulled up the news and placed the cereal box next to me on the table. I got lost in reading different news articles and did not attend to how I felt about what I was eating or, especially, how much I was eating.
Noticed a bit of progress today. I went to the grocery store late in the evening, after skipping lunch, and was very hungry. Not a good decision usually, as it probably wasn't today. But here are a few things I noticed:
- I was mentally kind of looking for an excuse to eat junk ... "I deserve it after a long day and it wouldn't be so bad because I've hardly had much to eat today"
- I was in a setting where "no one would know." In the past, this has involved me purchasing junk and eating it before going home
- I am in a habit of buying things at the store to consume on the drive home, whether healthy or less healthy
But, as I wandered the store, deciding what to buy, my cravings were not for the high-sugar, highly-processed or high-sodium items. I wasn't tempted for ice cream, chips, candy or crackers, but more for granola, health-food peanut butter with dark chocolate, juice, etc. In some ways I thought this was a good sign that my tasks and desires are changing when it comes to food. There have been times in the past where the cycle of buying and eating junk food at grocery and convenience food stores led me to consuming 1,000 - 3,000 calories all just off that one shopping experience, consumed entirely by the time I got home. Not this time...my indulgence led me to some all-fruit Popsicles, a bunch of frozen no-sugar-added fruits I can blend into smoothies, and a huge bottle of water.
You know, I have to remind myself that when I started the clean eating changes back on 12/28/15, I made note that I was not going to get too excited about weight loss progress (pounds coming off), nor was I going to get too worried about lack of weight loss progress, as long as I was eating clean.
I have to keep that in mind right now because after an exhilarating week last week where I dropped a pound a day, I seem now to have stabilized right around the 260 - 262 range, going up a few pounds from when I broke into the 250s. I have to admit that it is difficult not to panic...I mean, I'm eating steamed Brussel's Sprouts for dinner and passing up the meat and dairy based foods, but then seeing the scale either not move down at all or move up by a pound or too...it just doesn't feel right.
Today was a busy day and I wasn't as focused as I'd like to be on health. Sat at a desk the whole day and didn't get many steps in. I am becoming more aware of how stress and pressure influence my physical health. Besides raising my blood pressure and triggering cravings for junk, stress leads to me feeling like there is so much that has to get done, I can't possibly take a break from it to do something enjoyable or that is good for my health, such as a short nap, a walk in the neighborhood, or some other form of meditation, stretching or exercise. It also keeps me constantly feeling like I don't have time or attention for other people and that I am helplessly behind in everything I'm doing. And that leads me to feel like not even starting into the things I need to work on, which makes the whole thing worse.
The truth is, even if I'm busy, the urgency and stress I am feeling are largely self-driven. As examples:
Spent forever yesterday trying to get this blog to automatically generate an excerpt from a post, if none exists. Right now, I've got to go into the post settings and either type or copy/paste from the original post in order for it to show up as an excerpt in a feed from the blog. That is a minor pain, but I should not have spent 3+ hours trying to figure it out. Kept thinking I was close to getting it, only to find out I was wrong. Anyway, back to posting excerpts manually for now.
Sometimes I'm that way with food as well. I spend way too much time obsessing over tiny parts of food, like whether something has 1 g of sugar added, when there is a much larger picture to attend to. After all, avoiding that 1g of sugar today and then a month from now downing 300mg of sugar by binging puts the 1g today in perspective. But, I have a hard time being moderate sometimes. I like to go all out for something, get exhausted and then collapse and give up. I say I like to, but that isn't accurate. It actually makes me angry with myself when I do that, but it is a pattern I've repeated over and over.