Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking Out John Shooter

Have you ever seen Hide and Seek or The Secret Window? (Spoiler Alert if you haven't!) In both movies, the protagonist is plagued by menacing, murderous characters who spend the lion share of the movie wreaking havoc; in both movies the protagonist discovers that he has multiple personalities and has been committing murders and creating general mayhem all by himself. In other words, the protagonist is his own worst enemy.

Sound cliche to you? Well it is for a reason. While we often think we have the best intentions for ourselves, many of us are constantly committing little acts of self sabotage and looking for John Shooter to saddle with the blame. This, I believe, is my most frequently and consequentially committed offense. Whatever the root cause of my difficulty--fear of success, failure or change--I have a tendency to stand tall in my own way and then paste an acceptable label failure. I have learned to weave such a tapestry of excuses that I am frequently left feeling blameless or even victimized.

I couldn't lose weight this week because of work or the holidays or bad weather or oral surgery or an alien invasion. The truth? I didn't lose weight because of my choices. While all of those other things may have made it more difficult to make good choices, they did not make it impossible so they can't be blamed for my setbacks. The solution for me, the way out of this mess I've made of my body, must lie in reframing my world and changing my thinking. It seems to me that I have always been the sort of person who viewed all hurdles big and small as insurmountable obstacles in my path. Within seconds of learning about a bump in the road, I've brainstormed an inclusive list of all its potential repercussions and have determined that it is impossible to proceed.

I noticed this most recently with regards to my educational goals. I am unbelievably fortunate enough to work for an employer which pays for every penny of my graduate school tuition up to six credits a semester. I've taken advantage of that and have been working to earn an MS in rehabilitation counseling for the past three years. I've worked hard and sacrificed a lot of time in my evenings to make this happen. However, I've now reached the point in my program at which, starting next week, I have to begin meeting with actual living, breathing clients and putting what I've learned to use.

While this should be an incredible moment for me, I've been absolutely petrified. I've been acting like a caged animal and have actually very seriously considered quitting graduate school or taking a semester off. I'm so painfully aware of my own shortcomings that I'm terrified that I won't be able to help people or rather that I will do some serious harm. I've been absolutely paralyzed with fear, certain that after all this time and energy, I'll discover that I don't like counseling or worst of all that I'm not capable of doing it.

However, cooped up in the house yesterday because of an ice storm, I had a lot of time to think. My first instinct was to dive into the fridge to divert my attention from my problem, but I new that would only make me feel worse. I tried to set aside my fears and consider the situation logically. After a lot of reflection, I realized the following:
  1. Even if I'm not the best at counseling, I know I'll improve with a semester of supervision;
  2. With a genuine interest in helping people it's unlikely that I'll be as bad as I expect;
  3. Even discovering that I am incapable of being a competent counselor would be valuable because I would have an opportunity to rethink the direction of my life;
  4. If I run from this now, it will just become harder to face frightening situations in the future.

I know this is exceptionally long winded, and you're probably thinking, "this is a weight loss blog; what the hell does this have to do with weight loss?" so I'll get to the point. Deconstructing my problem and looking at it logically has had an incredible calming effect and has stopped me from making a huge mistake--quitting so I won't have a chance to fail. Instead, I'm now viewing something that had so completely terrified me as a challenge that, regardless of the outcome, will make me a better woman than I am today.

I know the value of this. Being able to alter the way you think and, in doing so, alter the way you feel can give you the power to change your life. Therefore, I'm resolving to shine a light on all the dark corners of my soul and to dismantle my excuses for not losing weight and living the life I want to live!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekly Weigh In: Blah

I wasn't surprised in the least when I hopped on the scale to see that I hadn't lost a blessed pound all week. Most people would enjoy a boost to their progress if they were unable to consume solid food, but I think it's obvious that I'm not most people.

The trouble is that since Wednesday, I've been either asleep on the couch or asleep in bed and I've essentially eaten whatever people brought to me without question. Apparently, Vicodin and I don't mix (I don't know how you do it, Dr. House...) and I'm glad to be back in my routine and able to trade the hard stuff for plain ibuprofen.

I'm still not quite on solid foods. I really appreciate the suggestions people have left in the comments and am glad to have options that don't include ice cream and tomato soup. Thanks for sharing your ideas and lending support.

In the past, this would be a dangerous time for me. It takes so little to break down the healthy habits that I've established. Another time, I would probably think, "what's one more day" and put off my return to healthy eating indefinitely. As it is, sugar seems to scramble my brain cells and erase my memory. It makes it easy for me to forget how great I feel when I'm doing what's right for me. Keeping this blog won't let me forget and reading your blogs and comments won't either.

If I am to succeed, I need to be able to remember that when I slip up, I don't start over tomorrow, I start over right now. In fact, I don't need to restart. That suggests that I stopped in the first place. I just need to continue and to shake off a hiccup in an otherwise successful process. So back on track and hoping for a loss this week!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Oral Surgery Blues

I've probably mentioned before that I have braces. I got them in the summer as part of my effort to start putting myself first. I've long been self conscious about my smile and finally got the nerve up to take the plunge in June.

It actually hasn't been so bad except that it takes me a ton of time to get my teeth clean between meals. My treatment has been progressing well, so on Wednesday, it was time to get some oral surgery. My two top adult incisors never came down, so doc had to go in and make them. The woman who made my appointment convinced me I wouldn't need anesthesia. She said, "seven-year-olds get this done with Novocaine all the time!" I acquiesced.

What I didn't realize was that the bone in a seven-year-old's face is much softer and peels away from the teeth easily. However, once I hit my twenties, everything hardened up. Consequently, I laid in the chair for three hours while doc ground down my bone with a drill and said that in twenty years he'd never seen such badly impacted teeth. Awesome.

Days later, I'm still in a lot of pain. I can eat solid foods, but since I also had to have two bicuspids removed from the bottom, eating is complicated. I'm finding that tomato soup and sugar free jello cups aren't doing much to fill me up and I'm struggling to resist an ice cream binge.

I'm also on Vicodin which is making me incredibly loopy and tired so I'm cutting this short. I hope everyone has a great weekend! And just a word of advice: if you're an otherwise healthy adult getting oral surgery, spring for the anesthesia!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Post Work Out Munchies

I first decided that I really wanted to lose weight when I was about sixteen and around 80 pounds lighter than I am today. I had known I was fat since a boy told me so on the playground many moons earlier, but I had always shrugged my shoulders assuming it was out of my hands. Being a sophomore in high school changed everything. I could see prom looming before me, and knew I needed to drop some serious lbs if I didn't want to go alone.

I didn't know the first thing about diet and nutrition and wasn't really sure how to learn. My textbooks for health class just talked about the food pyramid, but I had a feeling that eating 6-11 servings of bread a day was not going to be to my advantage. I decided to start exercising because that's what all the skinny people I knew did. I was in terrible shape, but the concept of building up my fitness level escaped me. I set my alarm for 6:00 am and took off for a run. Each time I would be out of breath and weezing by the time I made half a block; I'd be on my way home after a single loop around. Regardless of how little I did, I would come home as hungry as a grizzly and set to dismantling the fridge. Needless to say, I didn't stick with it and I actually finished the summer discouraged and much heavier.

Part of the reason I got into this mess in the first place is that I have long harbored the belief that working out gives me the right to eat pie. Lately, I've been going to the gym. It's just been too cold for my usual walk. I despise the gym with every fiber of my being. I hate the treadmill, elliptical and bike. It's incredibly boring, but I've been doing it and really pushing myself. The downside is that I come back to my office absolutely ravenous. If I don't eat my lunch before I go, I don't have the energy to push myself, but if I do eat it before I go, I'm starving for the rest of the day. How am I supposed to keep the Goulets away? Any ideas on what I should eat before or after a work out? I'm open to suggestions that won't send me rummaging through the fridge.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekly Weigh In: Right on Track

I'm down another pound today which means I'm still right on track. I have to keep reminding myself that. I have to stress patience. I'm happy to be on track. If I continue on this way, I'll reach Onderland by the time I'm picking out my Halloween Costume and remembering my messy break up with Jack.

I've felt so incredibly strong these last few weeks. Which is one of the great things about having a blog. If I didn't constantly pour out my life to the Internet, I would never remember that things haven't been all roses. I feel this great today because I've pushed through some incredibly strong cravings and I've worked really hard to forge healthier habits. I've had the same temptations that I battled all year last year, but this time I'm finding ways to overcome.

I've completely avoided eating out this year, but my sister and I promised to take my grandmother out for her seventieth birthday. We let her choose out of any restaraunt in the area and she decided on her favorite Chinese buffett. Grand. In the past, trips to Chinese would mean plates of golden fried chicken smothered in sweet and sour sause, mounds of pork fried rice and vegetable lo mein and at least a dozen crispy cheese wonton. I thought it would be my undoing, especially since it was the night before my weigh in. However, I felt determined to succeed. I took just enough to taste of the things I love on a plate and then filled another with delicious fruit. I felt satisfied because I got the chance to have a bite of my favorites, but really successful because I didn't pig out.

February through May will be really hectic for me. I have my fulltime job (or at least I hope I still will), classes, and at least eight hours a week of supervised counseling practice (which means I'm almost done with my degree, YIPPEE!). I can either struggle during that time and lose and gain the same five pounds over and over or come out much closer to my goal. There will ALWAYS be obstacles. I don't live on The Ranch with Jillian and Bob. I need to make sound choices in the real world no matter what's going on in my life. It really is a struggle for my life and I know it's worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fake it Till You Make It

Sometimes when I read a success story or a weight loss blog or talk to a person who's dropped six dress sizes I'm so driven to lose weight that I feel like I have super powers. Who's that on the treadmill? Is it superwoman? Is it an Olympic athlete? No, it's just me. Able to resist cake no matter how many times it's offered. Able to get off the couch even when there's something great on TV. Able to cook a nutritious dinner instead of ordering pizza.

I don't have many days like that and so I shouldn't be surprised that yesterday was definitely not a super hero day. It's been cold enough here to freeze the...well, you get it--it's been cold! I didn't even want to get out of bed. I didn't want to eat my egg whites and turkey sausage for breakfast; I wanted a donut or two (or eighteen). Once I got to work, part of me was convinced that the chocolate cake across the hall would help me make it through the day. I thought, "if I have just a small piece, I'll be motivated to continue my diet." I wasn't able to work out on lunch like I usually do and when I got home I thought about just taking the day off from exercise. In fact, I was pretty married to the idea. I had planned to bake flounder, but I had this great coupon for pizza that was set to expire. It's like I was meant to have pizza last night.

All day long, I kept reminding myself how much I wanted this. I kept visualizing the moment I'll step on the scale and see 199 flashing up as if blowing kisses. I tried to engage in positive self talk, but I just couldn't make my heart listen to what my mind has known forever. I kept thinking things like, "but I've failed so many times before. Why should I think this time will be different? I'm going to be losing and gaining the same five pounds forever. This is so out of my control." In a nut shell, I was incredibly and apparently irreversibly unmotivated.

But while this kind of negative vibe would normally send me diving in front of the TV with a tub of ice cream, a voice in my head kept saying, "while you may not remember it right now, you want and need to succeed at this more than anything else in the world." So I quit complaining and ate my eggs and ignored the chocolate cake. I baked the fish and rode my exercise bike. I did it sans motivation and I hated every single second of it.

Do you know what I discovered when I woke up this morning? The world continued to turn without cake and pizza and hours on the couch and it seemed like a decidedly brighter place. I discovered that by winning the moment yesterday, I generated my very own motivation for today. I did. Me. I created that spark for which I usually look to other people. I have to say that it feels pretty damn good.

Here's to a day of continued strength! Here' to being your own super hero!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mary Lou's Weigh

When the folks at Mary Lou's Weigh asked me to check out their weight loss platform, I clicked on over to their site and was instantly struck by how Seinfeldesque it seemed. Initially, I thought a scale that doesn't weigh you is a lot like a show about nothing, but I'm always up for something new, so I was glad to give it a try. Here's the low down.

What it is and how it works

Mary Lou's Weigh is a weight loss product endorsed by 80's Olympic gymnast, Mary Lou Retton. The program centers around a weight loss platform which is meant to forever replace the bathroom scale in your life. The platform won't tell you what you weigh. Rather, it records a starting weight in its memory and then reports how much you've lost or gained from that starting weight. It's meant to be used daily and in conjunction with a tips booklet and the Mary Lou's Weigh website. The platform reports progress and celebrates and encourages in the bubbly voice of Mary Lou Retton herself.

The Positive

  • I wasn't sure how I felt about the concept of never knowing exactly how much I weigh. It's not as if I feel entirely consumed with the numbers on the scale, but I find the awful truth to be the best motivator. However, I've know a lot of people who really wanted to lose weight but never had the courage to step on the scale. Those numbers can be daunting, especially if it's been a while. Without a way to quantify progress, it can be difficult to know if you're efforts are producing good results. You can certainly use the fit of your clothes or improved fitness as benchmarks, but knowing exactly how well you've done can be very reaffirming. Also, I've noticed that it can sometimes take a pretty significant gain before I notice it in my clothes. I'd rather not chance it. This product provides an opportunity to measure success even if you're not quite ready to know your weight.

  • I found the product to be very user friendly. It can store information for two users. I tapped the left button and waited to be prompted to step on. In a few moments some fairly cheesy music played and informed me that my starting weight had been recorded. Easy. All I had to do was tap that button, weight to be prompted and get on every morning. As a plus, the volume is adjustable so if you'd rather Mary Lou didn't announce your progress to the entire house, you can turn it down.

  • The literature that comes with the platform provides a quick read with good solid tips and motivation which can help people get ramped up to start making healthy changes. It also comes with a DVD to provide additional help.

  • I believe that some people may feel inspired by Mary Lou Retton and may find her messages motivating and helpful. I was too young when she won gold to remember much about her now, but I understand that she was a symbol of perseverance and achievement for many. Even if you don't know who she is or identify with her past, her tone is positive and upbeat. Therefore, this gets slotted under the positives.

The Negative

  • On the flip side of the to know or not to know debate, you might argue that if you're not ready to face that number on the scale, you're not ready to change your life. I talked to women in my office and a number of them said that it would be too easy to deny their weight issues if they didn't have to know precisely how much they weighed. Others thought this would be freeing and wonderful. I'm interested in hearing what other people think, so weigh in (pun intended) in the comments if you'd like.

  • The platform automatically sets losing ten pounds as the same first goal for everyone. I feel like that's a mistake. People who lose weight slowly and require gratification to stay on track may get discouraged and give up because even ten pounds seems unattainable. Others may not actually need to lose ten pounds. This is a minor issue, though, since most people would probably set independent goals.

  • Only two people can use the platform. That's not an issue for me, but it's a negative nonetheless. Additionally, because it only reports results audibly, it won't be useful for the hearing impaired.

  • While I placed the fact that the scale reports progress in Mary Lou Retton's voice as a positive, I also need to be fair and balanced and place it in the negative. Some people that I talked to said that they'd take the bridge if they had to listen to Mary Lou's perkiness every morning and they were irritated by the prospect of someone as petite as she is overseeing their weight loss, even if it is only virtually. So if your kind of grouchy or if perkiness makes you want to drive a fork into your eye, then this product isn't for you.

  • While the website offers recipes, the platform doesn't really come with any nutrition plan. Therefore, it's only one tool in a weight loss toolbox. It could be a much more comprehensive product if it provided nutritional information on weight loss and not just a way to measure it after the fact.

Overall, this seems like an interesting approach to weight loss. I can see that it could be very helpful and I appreciate that it doesn't pretend to be for everyone. In the end, I went back to my scale. I felt the need to know the number, not just to measure my success but also because I post specific relevant stats here on my blog. Don't let my experience be your final word, though. If you're interested you can click on over to the Mary Lou's Weigh website and check out a complete product description as well as some success stories and videos featuring the product.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekly Weigh In: Down 1 pound

This week, I'm at 239 pounds. Down 1 pound. It's an inauspicious start to my New Year, but it's squarely in line with my goals so I have no room to complain.

I spent a lot of time staying with my parents in the last two weeks. It was wonderful to have so much time together, but it also really made me grateful for my own space and my independent life. I found it very hard to stay focused on my nutrition and fitness goals in their house. These are the people I grew up with, the ones who helped me forge the habits I'm trying to change today, the ones that routinely eat cake and ice cream for dinner. Fruit and vegetables are never worked into the meal and all activities are sedentary. It was very difficult to resist all the temptations and to work in activity.

I found that I needed to make a huge effort to be more conscious of what I was eating. It's hard enough when the person/people that you live with isn't/aren't on the same page; it's even worse when they aren't even in the same book. To further complicate things, I celebrated my birthday last week. I'd asked my sister to only purchase enough cake to feed our small gathering, but she bought a half a sheet cake covered in mounds of dairy whip icing. I don't think she was deliberately trying to sabotage me, but it made life harder having one of my favorite indulgences around for days.

To make matters worse, I was unable to use the Internet most of the time so I was cut off from my only source of support. It was hard not being able to check in on my favorite bloggers.

With all that going on, I'm thrilled to be down 1 pound and on my way to fulfilling my goals. Thanks to all who stopped by and shared words of encouragement and support.

P.S. Laura, you talked about hating the scale; i'll be discussing an alternative tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Awww! I love that new year smell. Shiny and new. Full of possibilities. Awesome!

I had a wonderful holiday but I unfortunately packed on a ton of holiday fluff. I jumped on the scale on New Years Day and discovered that I had gained a whopping 9.5 pounds. My first reaction was denial. I got off the scale and got back on. The smug little read out still said 240.0 lbs. I got off again and moved the scale. 240.0 lbs. I got off and took off my earrings and glasses. 240.0lbs.

Next, I entered the rage stage. First I became furious with my scale. Seriously, this is the first time it ever produced consistent data. Usually, a sneeze will change it by a half a pound, but in the fresh light of the New Year, my scale must have resolved to be more honest with me. I thought I could threaten it or intimidate it with curses, but it blinked those same numbers up at me without hesitation. Realizing that it was ridiculous to scream at a plastic box filled with batteries and microchips, I became enraged with my body. "9.5 pounds in like 2.5 weeks?!!! Are you shitting me?! How long would it take you to lose that much weight? AGES. The answer is AGES. But you're all to accommodating when a couple of cookies want to take up residence on my hips!! Stupid body!"

But I wasn't nearly as angry with my body and scale as I was with my family for wanting me to bake all those cookies or those bloody evil elves for bringing me good things to eat. I wanted to swing those little bastards by their tiny pointed shoes. But the truth is, I realized I can't blame other people for my actions. I think I would feel put out if the people in my life treated me different around the holidays just because I'm trying to lose weight. And what about those elves? They were just being nice. When I got the box of chocolates, it didn't say eat immediately upon opening or this box with self destruct. Instead, it provided me with nutrition information advising me of an appropriate serving size. I was the one who chose to shovel all the holiday treats in my mouth. I made the bad choices.

Then, I have to say that I felt like absolute crap. I trudged around in sweats thinking the whole world was going to point at my expanding ass. I also felt like a failure. Being 240 pounds means that I only lost a total of 6 pounds all year in 2008. I feel like I talk constantly about losing weight. I set goals and talk about the work I need to do to reach them, but then I just don't do it. I felt like a wind bag and a hypocrite.

I have reached the acceptance stage. I do talk about my weight loss goals a lot, but I never said I was perfect or even close to it. In fact, I would imagine that anyone who reads my blog expects me to skin my knees a lot on this journey. What is so beautiful about the weight loss blogging community is that while so many of you have enjoyed wonderful success, I have never once felt judged for my imperfections. Instead, I feel supported in a way that I never felt possible. Thank you to everyone who checked in to see if I fell off the face of the earth. You are all so wonderful and inspiring and it's a bright spot in my life to know that you care!

So, I'm back. I feel clear headed and actually sick of cookies for the first time in my entire life. I also feel more sure of myself and more motivated than I ever have. Sometimes, I need a fresh start. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2009 will bring.

My goal for this year is modest. I want to lose 52 pounds. 1 pound per week. I will weigh in every Sunday morning and post my results on Monday. I have no doubt that I can do it. Good luck in the New Year!