Archives for posts with tag: self-control

Last weekend I got a message via Twitter from @locust9 who lives in Sweden–a country where less than 10% of adults are obese:

switch out grains, only protein, no sugar. Weight will go away.”

At first, I thought, “Yes! That’s it. That’s what I need to be doing. It’s that easy. I can do that.”

A few hours later I thought, “Hell, I’ve been working at this for three fucking years. It’s not that easy. If it was, I’d be super-hero fit….”

A day later I found myself grumbling, “Who does he think he is, saying how easy it is to lose weight? What does he know, living in Sweden, the thinnest country in Europe?”

And then it hit me. He never said it was easy. Suzi Storm doesn’t say it will be easy. Weight Watchers doesn’t say it’s easy. I don’t say it’s easy. Losing weight is hard, no matter how much you have to lose.

But, when you’ve got a large amount of weight to lose, it’s even harder, because you’re also having to change habits, mindsets, and attitudes towards food that are obviously problematic. When I hit rock bottom I was fat. REALLY fat. I needed to lose about 120 pounds. Now I have about 20-30 pounds to go, and I battle a lot of the same crappy lazy behaviors I had three years ago.

Last weekend I saw friends of the family for the first time in about five years. One of them is a woman who has struggled with morbid obesity for 30 years. She’s been going to Weight Watchers for a year and has lost 40 pounds–and whined at me that it was taking too long.

“Don’t worry about how long it takes,” I said,’Just work on changing habits day by day. Start trying not to think so much about food all the time. Work on changing your thought process so the weight doesn’t come back. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

She continued whining about how hard it was (and then ate about 20 really fattening cheese & pastry rolls that were about 5 points a piece…I know because I made them). Maybe I thought, maybe she would be happier to just do what she wants: eat. She’ll die a lot sooner, but maybe she’d just be happier living a shorter life as a fat woman enjoying her food.

Is that what I want? To die at 60 because I wanted to swill wine, shovel popcorn, and chow on hot fudge and frozen yogurt? Or do I want to be one of those serene people, waking up to practice yoga at dawn, go for a quick run at lunch, lift some weights before dinner? Someone who fuels their body so it can be strong and healthy, not eating for “fun”?

Yes, that’s what I want. I’m happiest when I’m healthy. Therefore I need to be healthy. It’s that easy.

On April 16th Weight Watchers star Suzi Storm had an online melt-down. I was a little surprised at the force of her meltdown, and that it came seemingly from no-where. But as I read back through Tweets and blog posts I saw it there…the strains of snuggling up to complacency. The slipping back into comfy old habits of too much beer, comfort foods, couch sitting.

And the resulting feeling of feeling like crap.

This morning that’s where I’m at. I feel like crap. On the day before Easter (17 days ago, but who’s counting?), I celebrated a 100-pound weight loss.

This morning I’m up six pounds.

And I feel like crap. Not because of the six pounds–that just annoys me–but because I’ve been eating dirty. Giant burritos with flour tortillas and carnitas. Tortilla chips and beer. Oreos. Ice cream. Bagels with cream cheese. Wine. Blueberry tarts. Frozen yogurt. You name it, I thought about it and ate it. A jelly donut.

I’ve gotten to the gym about twice a week, with insistence that I’ll exercise at home if I don’t go to the gym…but I haven’t exercised at home.

And to top it all off, I’m not sleeping much. Oh, six hours a night maybe. But I’m tossing and turning, worrying about the future, and my children’s future, etc. And I wake up…feeling like crap.

That momentary elatedness of “I lost 100 pounds!” has evaporated. I’m left with my normal, grouchy self.

What to do? Remember all the tools I’ve used on the path to 100. Visioning. Planning. Tracking. And reminding myself that nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Really. The physical impact of eating crap and being a lazy lump is HUGE.

So–back to clean eating and exercise. I hope sleep and positive thoughts will result!

Yesterday I celebrated losing 95 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh-in. The road has been long, filled with sweat and cravings, false modesty and humiliation, pizza and pudding. The group cheered, which I thought was very sweet–there were lots of celebrations yesterday, including a 20 and 30-pound loss. Afterwards a few women asked me a battery of questions, which I thought I’d share.

1. How long has it taken you? I started Weight Watchers in June 2009, so it’s been two years, nine months.

2. Why has it taken so long? Yes, someone asked this. In these days of Biggest Loser rapid weight loss and stomach stapling, people want instant transformation. It’s taken me this long because I’m not just losing weight, I’m changing who I am. I’m no longer the fat woman who scoffs at people who exercise, I am a person who exercises. I used to love to watch cooking shows and whip up big dinners filled with butter, oil, cheese and meat. No more.

3. How many pounds per week did you lose? According to my Weight Watchers e-Tools chart, I’ve lost an average of .7 pounds per week. But really, there’s nothing average about my weight loss. Some weeks I had big losses. There were periods in the first year when I’d have three big losses and then a gain, then three healthy losses and a gain, etc.  You’ll see in my weight loss chart that in 2011 from May 2010 to June 2011 I “Mastered the Art of Maintaining”. That means, over that year, I had a net loss of 2.8 pounds. But I kept going to meetings–I didn’t want to gain the weight back.

Weight Loss Chart

4. Do you exercise? I didn’t when I started. At 267 pounds I was just too out of shape physically and mentally to do much. I remember trying to learn swing dancing with my husband, but I was so out of shape that I gave up.  So what was the turning point? I got a pedometer and beginning walking CD by Debbie Rocker. 20 minutes of this optimistic woman in my ears. The first day that I tried it it was 85 degrees in August 2009 and when I was done I collapsed on the couch, thinking I would never be able to get into shape. But I kept at it, walking more after Debbie was done, adding weights, walk/jogging, and by Thanksgiving 2009 I completed my first 5k.

Now I try to get to the gym five times a week where I do cardio and weight training, with a goal of becoming a strong, fit woman. And I love how my body feels as I get stronger.

5. Is your family fat? Your husband? My husband is overweight right now. I pulled him down the unhealthy path–when we met years ago he ran daily (and I scoffed at him). But he’s on his own journey and I think he’ll be celebrating being fit and healthy by the end of 2012. My kids are in the normal weight zone, as are my parents. Family history and long-term effects of childhood issues are a different post altogether.

6. What do you eat daily? Can you send me your meal plan? I won’t send you a meal plan, because I don’t have one. These days I’m trying to eat six small meals a day, pairing protein with carbohydrates. A sample day might be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
10am: Handful of carrots and 10 almonds
1pm: Beef & barley soup
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Salad: 3 oz Skinless chicken breast, LOTS of spinach & arugula salad mix, 1/2 C brown rice, 1/2 bell pepper–sliced,  1 tomato quartered, 1/2 C steamed brocolli, handful of baby carrots, sliced purple onion. Dressing: fresh lemon juice & 1 tsp olive oil. I might have a little heel of bread with this to soak up the dressing.
9:30pm: 1/2 Cup dark chocolate pudding from Fresh & Easy

But, a sample day could also easily be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Four slices of pizza plus the piece my four-year old handed me, saying, “Here Mommy, can you finish this please?”
8pm: a bowl of ice cream, a candy cane, a handful of chocolate chips, and a stale cookie

7. Do you have special tools that you use? No. Yes. Sort of.

E-Tools. When I signed up for Weight Watchers’ E-Tools in July 2009 I geeked out on tracking, and it really helped. That first year I was a tracking fool. I used the recipe builder and activity tracker and participated on the 100+ Pounds to Lose message board a lot. Now I do my best to track daily, but if I’m honest, I’m at about a 30% success rate.

Polar heart rate monitor watch. This helps me track my activity, calories burned, and if I’m getting my heart rate in the zone I want it.

Good running shoes & an Enell sport bra.If you’re large-busted, the Enell sport bra is a god-send!

Trainer. Okay, Trainer Paul isn’t a *thing* but definitely joining the gym and signing up for a trainer has helped a lot.

Food scale. My $20 food scale was one of my best purchases. Weighing my food keeps me honest.

Other gadgets: I’ve tried all sorts of gadgets on my phone. The PointsPlus calculator from Weight Watchers is good. I have an Android so most of the other WW apps don’t work well on it. I’ve downloaded Loseit! but it’s just a tracking app so I decided to stick with e-Tools. Trainer Paul showed me the 6 Pack Abs Promise so I’ve downloaded it and will try it out today.

Books: Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean series really jump-started me out of maintenance in June 2011.

8. What big changes have you made? Since June 2009 I’ve made a few changes, including:

I don’t stop at Burger King for breakfast.
I have black coffee instead of a venti non-fat, no-whip caramel mocha.
I bring my lunch about 90% of the time and when I don’t, I look for the healthy options on the menu.
When I go to parties, I *do* bring something healthy that I’d like to eat.
I’ve really cut back on drinking.
I exercise. Sometimes I hate it, but most of the time once I start doing it I enjoy it.
I don’t shop in the fat womens’ stores anymore. No more Macy Women. No more Lane Bryant. I went from a 24 to a 14. At a 38C, Victoria’s Secret can sell me bras again.
I do still get french fries, but a small instead of a large, and I balance out the rest of the day.

I don’t beat myself up for days where the fat girl comes back, and doesn’t exercise and eats everything in her path. Instead, I try to figure out why I’m sabotaging my efforts.

How did I lose 95 pounds?

I joined Weight Watchers
I started exercising
I kept at it.

Someone in the locker room at my In-Shape gym convinced me to go to the spin class this morning at 8:15. I agreed because I’ve been curious about spinning, but have you seen those crazy people in there? They are covered in sweat. Their faces are contorted. They stand up on their bikes and their little legs whir around like blender blades. They are bicycle maniacs.

And this morning I joined them. Just the warm-up alone kicked my ass. Do you know you’re supposed to squat above the seat and pedal at the same time? And then stand up and “jog”. And then sit on the hardest seat ever, spinning your legs and keeping your “watts up.”

It got to a point when I couldn’t go any further. Done. Spent. Wanted to walk out the door. But I didn’t. You know why? Not because I knew I was working towards a goal. Not because it was going to make me healthier. Not because I didn’t want to do the “walk of shame”. The only reason I didn’t stop and walk out the door was because there were about ten people who got turned away because the class was full. How selfish would it have been to take a bike that a real athlete wanted?

I wanted to quit. Instead of quitting, I modified. Instead of standing, I sat. Instead of squatting, I sat. I pedaled hard. I pedaled harder. I sweat. And sweat some more. And I argued with myself. A lot.

“Boy, I thought I was getting into shape. Guess not.”

“This sucks.”

“I can’t do this.”

“I hate this.”

“I’m the only one struggling.”

“They’re all laughing at me.”

“The teacher must think I’m a loser.”

“I’m a loser.”

But I finished. Later I asked the teacher if it would get easier if I kept at it. She said, “It never gets easier. Why would you want it to? You’ll always ramp it up, keep working at it.” And she told me it was okay to modify–that everyone does.

Guess I’ll see how much farther I can get next Saturday.

As I drove over to the gym this afternoon I realized I hadn’t been there in 10 days. All of a sudden doubt crept in. I was scared.

Ten days. Would I have the same strength as before? The stamina? Oh, god. What about the willpower? If I didn’t have strength and stamina, I wasn’t sure I was going to have the willpower to keep going. In fact, I was sure I wouldn’t. I could see myself pooping out of the treadmill early. Doing on one set of reps for my resistance/weight training instead of three. And basically, screwing up a perfectly good workout day.

Instead, I went to one of the classes. It was only 30 minutes. R.I.P.P.E.D. Express. It was a quick jolt of bouncy cardio (during which I just jogged and did high knees for most of the “Zumba” type dance moves) followed by 25 minutes of biceps, triceps, shoulders, squats and planking. I didn’t hate it.

What I did hate was the really horrible music. MC Hammer was the deciding track–I would have stayed for the second 30 minutes of “Abs and Assets” but I just couldn’t stand the loud, awful music. I grabbed my own tunes and hit the treadmill.

30 minutes of The Living End, Alkaline Trio, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes–with a little bit of 60s lounge cha cha music mixed in for fun–and I had a good transition back to the gym.

Yes, I did say cha cha music. I’m sure someone would hate my music too.

Super-Action Hero Training Tip: When you’ve fallen off the horse, try a class to get back on it. Find one you don’t have to sign up for multiples and just have fun trying something new.

 

I need to learn why my will power and self-control suddenly turn off at about 10am Thanksgiving morning and doesn’t turn back on until January 2.

Yesterday we went for a nice little 80-minute walk with the kids. Then we came home and watched Elf, accompanied by popcorn and homemade cookies.

I need to learn not to bake cookies. Like pizza they are a red-light food. I can’t hold back. I’m worse than my four-year old. At least he stops when he’s full. Why is it about the obese brain that fatties keep going until our stomachs are stretched and over-filled?

While pizza and cookies are red light foods, I think December must be the red-light month. All I’ve wanted to do all month is eat, drink and eat some more. Tree-trimming party at my mother-in-laws? Must have comfort food. First holiday movie? Must have holiday treats. Holiday shopping hell? Must have take-out since we’re too tired to cook.

Of course, I know this is all wrong. I know it’s all just food–fuel–nutrition. And there’s no need for it to be bountiful or fat-filled or sugar-powered. Rationally, away from the kitchen, I know this.

Why can’t I have the self-control I practice having when it’s really the time I need it?