TGT mast head

As I write my post for today, it is with extreme appreciation for the gifts I have been given and the opportunities I share them with others. I drove to Wellsboro, PA today to speak with a group of MOPS moms about self-confidence before heading into the office.

I know. You’re thinking You?

I was thinking that, too. Me, Lori, speaking on the topic of confidence and indecision, and suggesting ways to push back the procrastination that keeps us in bondage to the same old failed systems day after day, after miserable day.

I shared with the ladies about my Three Goals Thursday experiment.

There were about fifty women in attendance, ranging from young moms to seniors. They were a fun group!

I loved the opportunity I was given today to speak on such an important subject to women. Many were able to relate to what I shared. One asked me if I counsel others? :/

I told her I don’t, but I listen well.

Another gave me a hug and said she has made her own list of likes and dislikes this year, her first venture into teaching people how to treat her—a favorite habit of mine. She shared how hard it is to change, but how much satisfaction she is finding in learning what she likes and what she doesn’t like, and how to effectively communicate all that to the important people in her world. I shared with her my understanding that in the beginning there is a lot of blow-back when we change. Folks who have always known us want us to behave the way we always have with them, but we can’t anymore. It’s hard on them and hard on us, but change is so worth it!

I could go on and on about how exciting today’s time with those Moms Of PreschoolerS (MOPS meeting), was for me, but I have a set of goals to talk about and some new goals to set for this week so I guess I best get to it.

MY THREE TEENY, TINY GOALS FOR LAST WEEK

1 Continue exercising in the morning, 16-18 minutes in duration each day.

2 Add to my morning routine 5 minutes of bike time in the evening. I’m keeping this purposefully teeny, tiny, so I know I can actually do it with all the sore muscles lately.

3 Take a 3-pronged approach to food accountability this week. What that means is that I will count calories one day, meal plan one day, and count sugar intake one day this week. I will not do these all on the same day, but will dedicate 3 days to better planning; an homage to my 3 Goals Thursday initiative.

HOW DID I DO?

First off, I think I offended someone this week by being sugar-starved me. SUGAR IS MOST CERTAINLY A MOOD-ALTERING DRUG!  What I shared with this other was raw, unfiltered, frustration with the dieting process and my part in it. I hope I wasn’t mean when I shared, I don’t think I was, but the frustration was easy to recognize in what I said.  Sometimes I think people don’t understand how hard it is for some body types to shed the pounds. Lots of folks know how addictive sugar is, but if they aren’t addicted themselves I’m not sure they understand how it alters brain chemistry. How hard it makes it to kick that habit.  Maybe they do, and I just whine a lot.  It’s possible!  This week my last nerve was struck and I reacted.  Not the best of strategies, and as I said, it did knock me off my game with my goals, so I’m hoping not to do that again.

What was it momma taught us: If you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all?  Lesson learned.

MY PROGRESS REPORT

Goal No. 1: FAIL.   Big Fail. On Sunday I quit the exercising that has been causing me so much pain. I could not do it anymore. Sooo, from Sunday until today, I have not done my morning exercises. I feel bad about that, emotionally, but my body feels so much relief. I am on the hunt for a new type of exercise that I can do that won’t hurt so much, but in the meantime I will count Goal No. 1 as a fail this week. Boo!

Goal No. 2 SUCCESS!  I exerciseD on the bike each night this week, and once or twice in the morning. I kept my sessions short, but got my five minutes in each day.  Yay!

Goal No. 3 AWESOME! I frankly can’t believe I did as well as I did on Goal No. 3, but I did really well!  Yay, me! I also discovered that it doesn’t take much sugar to exceed your sugar allowance when your calorie count is low. Not much at all! My meal planning day went better than expected, and on the day I counted calories, 1553 of them buggers went in my pie hole and down the shoot. Not too shabby. I feel good about the completion of this goal.

THREE NEW TEENY TINY GOALS

This week I am going to set my goals around FUN ways of being active without hurting myself. I am also going to do some exploring, re: exercise options.

Here are my goals for this coming week…

1 Call the Y and the BW in my area to check on swimming options.

2 Plan meals 2 x this week, and count calories 2 days this week. Try to eat enough less that I am hungry before I get to the next week.

3 Talk to a professional about putting together a workable plan for losing 10 lbs before summer.

These are admittedly small goals for this week, but that’s the point of TGT.  It’s all about setting goals small enough that they are easily achievable and can be easily completed. Keeping those fingers crossed and doing my part to make sure they get done this week.

Do you regularly eat so little that you’re famished by the time you get to your next meal? How do you do that?!

Father’s Day Weekend & MRI Results

000birthay cakeWe had a birthday celebration for a three-year-old at my house this week. Twenty plus folks ate hot dogs and sloppy joes, macaroni salad, a fresh veggie platter and fruit kabobs. We had cake for dessert, but also more fruit and plenty of iced unsweetened tea and pink lemonade, the babe’s favorite. The party kinda eclipsed Father’s Day, so I’m thinking I will need to plan a do-over for Father’s Day for hubs this coming weekend. We’ll see how that plays out.

It was good to get everyone together for the day on Saturday, but I was deeply disappointed in the weather man who told us it was going to be sunny and warm when we woke up to cloudy and cold instead. Burrrr, it was seriously windy and cold up on that hill we call home in NEPA. Sunday was great, but Saturday, not so much.

We all found a spot in the house on Saturday, although even now I’m not sure how.  Our house is not that big, but when kids are around the floor works as good as a chair, so we did okay.  I told someone this morning that having twenty people loose in my house for the day, four of them being under age 6 and one not a year old yet, would have sent me into panic mode in my twenties. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed over the years. I tried to roll with the punches, talk to as many people as I could and make sure others had what they needed during the time we were together, and that was good enough. My problem area over the weekend, of course, was the sugar.

Usually, I make sure that I have plenty of sugar substitutes on hand for our weekends with the kiddos. We eat well when they are visiting and we eat raw most of the time, but special occasions call for special foods and macaroni salad was requested by some family members, so I made a big bowl. I don’t eat pasta these days, but I did have a dab of Mac Salad on Saturday. It’s not a binge food for me, so I thought it would be okay and it was.  I don’t fantasize about when I can get my next fix of pasta.  I choose not to eat it because it simply is not worth the calorie load it carries.  When I was finished eating the macaroni salad I didn’t feel like I wanted to go back for more, but the sugar was another matter. I did feel pulled to indulge in sugary foods during the party. I guess maybe that tendency will never completely disappear for me. I’m a sugar addict, and if I am going to slip or slide with my food plan, that is where it is going to happen—next to the cake or cookie tray.

Today, I am back on the clean eating wagon. I brought my pretty green water jug to work with me today (thanks, mom), and I’m drinking tons and tons of water in an attempt to flush my system. For lunch, I kept it raw and clean with some protein on the side. I will watch what I put in my mouth very carefully over the next few days and will be drinking lots of spring water. I’ll be trying to limit my coffee intake, and even the amount of tea I’m drinking. Clear and clean will be the path forward. I know this will help my body to adjust after a weekend of company, cake, and celebratory life.

The good news: I am not beating myself over this indulgent weekend with family. That’s HUGE, because the food police are severe and take all the fun out of life, and no one wants to live under their heavy heel. Me, included.

In other news: I got a call from my doctor’s office on Friday. He wants to refer me to a back surgeon after the MRI test results came in. I’m going slowly on this one—weighing my options regarding this recommendation. I don’t want surgery and if I can find a way around it, I will. I had the MRI done to determine how much exercise and what type I could do relatively safely, without injuring myself more. I’m investigating spinal decompression therapy, since it worked wonderfully for several family members and friends I know. If I can find a spinal center who offers this type of therapy through my insurance that is the route I will take. For now, I will research the physicians my doctor recommends and make an appointment to consult with one of them. What fun!

Did you have a good Father’s Day celebration with family and friends? Was food a problem for you on that day? What did you serve at your party that helped you steer away from the sugar or other food types that are problems for you?

3 Food Triggers that used to stall my progress

Last night I was thinking about food triggers. Food triggers are those things in life that make me susceptible to compulsive overeating. They are those events or stimuli that create a sensation of hunger for me–and not the good kind of hunger, or real hunger, or the if-I-don’t-eat-right-now-I-will-swoon, I-swear-it hunger. In my experience, food triggers send me running toward the food for comfort of another color and not simply the cessation of a grumbling tummy.  They are evil and they kept me in bondage for many years, but with the help of others I took action against them. What follows is a list of my top three food triggers and how I learned to move them off my plate and into the garbage can of life.

1. Emotions. Emotional upset is the biggest trigger I have for compulsive eating. When I am angry, threatened, moody, disappointed, anxious, and uncertain of my situation or self, I want to eat. I don’t know why.  I don’t know when this habit got started, and I can’t link the behavior to any single event or person in my life, but I know that emotional upset is a real indicator that I need to watch what I’m eating, push away from the table, stay out of the kitchen, stay off the scales, and drive a route that doesn’t go past the fast food joints for at least 12 hours.  Yeah, a good 12 hours!

Today, when I feel angry, lonely, tired, distraught, disappointed, threatened, or defeated I make sure I am far from tempting foods.  As soon as I recognize what is happening, I begin an inner dialogue.  I talk to my self and I talk with God. I remind myself that I’m stronger than I think I am, and that more food/food when it is not appropriate to eat, will not solve this problem. Facing the problem, will solve the problem, or at least begin to see a solution found. In these tense moments when I am feeling overwhelmed by old behaviors, I fall back to my training.  I text someone. I ask for support.  If the situation is particularly vexing for me, I talk through it with a friend, someone who knows what this stuff does to me.  I have also learned how to be content with things such as they are. If I owe an apology to someone and shame or embarrassment are what I’m feeling as a result, I work to make amends quickly and sincerely, but since most of my emotional angst is driven by choices others make, I have had to learn how to be content with my life as it is, and let them figure out theirs, as they will, in their time.  It’s hard, but I get a lot of practice, so I’m feeling more confident in my abilities to avoid the food trigger that is emotions these days than ever before in my life.

2. Additives. Salt, sugar, and fat are the biggest contributors to overeating in our world today, and for me and many others, go hand in hand with an inability to determine proper portion size without outside assistance.  We Americans eat portions that are truly meant to feed three people, instead of one, and we do it all the time, day in, and day out.  Is it any wonder we are struggling with our health? Salt, sugar, and fat are used to perfection by food chemists to keep me coming back again and again, and again. The concept of using salt, sugar, and fat to keep me eating isn’t new. Remember the commercial for Lay’s potato chips that was on TV in the 70’s  telling us, “I bet you can’t eat just one!” We couldn’t eat just one.  And the reason why we never could, was that food chemists at Frito Lay were covering their chips with all three of these additives: salt (and lots of it), sugar (yes, it’s in there), and fat (lots and lots of fat, both inside and outside each chip).  I struggle, and it was their fault, right?  Well, maybe not all their fault…

I handle the trigger that is food additives these days by first realizing that the food industry is working against my health with these powerful and addictive substances. I don’t think they mean to kill me, but they do mean to sell me more chips, and that is killing me.  Knowing this, I choose to not eat as many of the kinds of foods that contain these additives as I used to eat. I am not entirely free of their influence in my life and some days I eat more of them than I would like, but I also make sure that I eat lots of fresh, raw fruits, and veggies–more than I ever did before. Less salt, sugar, and fat means fewer calories, and less cravings. My body craves what my body eats.  It’s true.  If you had told me ten years ago that I would crave salad greens, I would have said you were batty, and yet, here I am craving them. Amazing!

3. Victories and Failures. This final food trigger is going to sound nutty to some, but its true of me. When I experience the highs and lows that happen in life, common things that every one goes through, the toll on my food sanity is affected. When I strive to do something out of the ordinary and it works–it is a successful venture–I want to celebrate with food. I want to throw myself a party. I want to offer myself a food reward. I want to eat, eat, eat.

Conversely, when I strive to do something out of the ordinary and I fail, I want to drown my sorrows in food. Especially, I want to eat salt, sugar, and fat! I want to pig out on ice cream, and potato chips, and creamy dips, sauces, and candy. I want to sooth myself with food, tell myself that I deserve this because that didn’t work out. Assure myself that though victory has eluded me, my favorite fatty foods can be found anywhere, and any number of people will be willing to provide them to me for a price. At that moment, money is no object. The object is to eat with abandon, and think nothing of what I am doing to punish myself, my body, my future, and my family.

These days, I recognize that highs and lows of life are a trigger for me, and I mitigate the damage I can do with food during those times by reporting my food to another person, keeping a journal of what I eat, making sure that I’m not including food in the event (if possible, harder to do at the holidays), and reminding myself, again, that food will not make this victory or defeat anything other than a hit or a miss. The event has passed. Food will not have an effect on it–at all! In trying to separate my eating behaviors from my event planning/performances, I have been able to win and lose more graciously, and without chip dip on my chin.

I know that lots of people have food triggers that make getting fit any healthy a challenge.  I would appreciate it if you would share yours with me, so that I can grow through your experiences too.

Do you have food triggers you have mastered? What are they, and how did you do it?

Magic Wands and other fantasies

wand

Before I finally seriously addressed my weight problem and food addictions, I had waited around for years for “the inspiration” to start to over take me.  I expected that when the “urge” to succeed did finally kick in, I would work that diet like a gang buster and see immediate and gratifying change.  I imagined myself being whittled down to nothing.  It would all happen when my magic wand appeared.

It wasn’t only a magic wand I fantasized about when it came to weight loss, though. Oh, no.  I also imagined a magical elevator, an elevator that was constantly going up and down through the days of my life.  As of yet, it had not stopped at my floor, but when it did, oh, boy, things were going to be different.  I would finally have that bit of wisdom/strength/intuition/willpower (insert your own “whatever” here), I thought I was missing in my last endeavor to lose weight and keep it off, and this time, it would be different. 

Sadly, my elevator never came. Nor did my magic wand.

Eventually, I became involved with a group of people who said, “The weight didn’t come on over night, and it isn’t going to leave that way either.  This is going to take time.” 

Time?

I didn’t want losing all that weight to take time.  How long, I wondered? What do they mean, I wondered?  Is time all it will take, I wondered?

Time was not all it took. 

Losing weight also meant I would have to surrender to a plan of eating that ran counter to my previous eating habits.  It took concentration and conversation with others who had seen long-term success and knew what it looked and felt like.  It took belief in the concept that long-term weight loss could be had by anyone determined enough to pursue it, and it took repetition.

I had to learn through trial and error that success is spelled R-E-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N. 

What finally worked for me, was doing the things that had previously brought success, but doing them over and over, and over again. 

Once I realized that this or that strategy worked, I repeated it, and it worked again.  After a string of experiments I learned what I had been missing in all those other failed attempts to sustain weight loss–the determination to do once more what had worked before. 

If nothing changes, nothing changes, and the only form of permanence we can attain in this life comes through repetition. I believe these statements to be true.

I didn’t find relief from food obsession at fast food restaurants, buffets, or high-end coffee shops.  I found it in calculated research, applied science, and doing the same things again and again, and yet again.

Some routines pay big benefits.  Find out which ones, and make them a part of your weight loss strategy.  The plan works, if you work it.

graphic: saucysocialmedia.com

Finish Line Friday

Today is Friday and the end to another busy week.  My coworker has been away vacationing this week, so all the things that I usually have help with at the office, I have had to handle alone.  That’s made for FIVE-DAYS OF CHAOS, with break-neck pacing in what is usually a quiet and serene environment.  My eating has been okay, but not what I would wish it to be, not by a long shot.  I wish that I didn’t feel the urge to eat things that are not good for me.  I wish I hated high fat, fried and soft serve foods.  I wish that food was  not an issue for me, but it is.  It always is. If only I could find a magic wand under some rocks and claim it as my own.  But alas, MAGIC WANDS DON’T EXIST, and easy solutions to food addiction don’t either, so I am left with workable plans and organized support systems to get me through all the food madness.

I want to share some of my current obsessions, urges, cravings and temptation. I do this, in part, hoping that in HONESTLY ADMITTING THAT I STRUGGLE with these things, someone reading this will offer a suggestion, share a strategy, impart something that will help me turn my back on harmful food choices and move on to other, more healthy substances.

One of my BIGGEST STUMBLING BLOCKS with regards to food/drink, is coffee.  Iced coffee to be exact.  I have been able to avoid it while at home and in the office, but when I am out, when I am surfing the web for writing material, when I am composing an essay or penning a poem, yeah, coffee calls to me.  What do I do to turn down the volume?  I can drink tea, but it doesn’t evoke the same feeling in me as a good mug or cup of cold, either hot or iced.  

I do not any longer drink sodas.  I do drink a lot of water, pure spring water, in bottles.

My second food problem is cheap ice cream.  I LOVE A SOFT SERVE CONE off the dollar menu at McD’s or BK.   I have rationalized eating these for a while now, because they are single servings, single flavored and inexpensive.  I have not found them to raise my blood sugar levels, and I have found they satisfy and are better for me than a candy bar or donut.  Am I right?  Are they better?  Are they a good stopgap for more dangerous foods, or am I just fooling myself and substituting bad for bad, food-wise?  What do I need to know about these foods that I don’t know now?  How bad for me are they?  How addictive?

Lately, I’ve felt lazy when it comes to food and moving.  What can I do to change things up, rev my imagination again, stay the course?

Are there certain go-to foods you allow yourself in order to divert your attention from more harmful foods?  How do you change direction when you realize you’ve veered off course?  What encourages you to eat right, when the wrong foods are so easily available?

Doctoring my drinks

So, today I revisited an old and bad habit: ICED COFFEE. Iced Coffee wouldn’t be such a bad thing for me if it weren’t for the fact that I have to (as my gramps would say), “doctor it” before drinking. I doctor my coffee with flavorings, liquid sugar and cream, oh lovely cream. I know that this type of indulgence does not support my current goal of losing weight and growing more fit, and still I find myself draw to it, and therein lies the problem.

Normal eaters are drawn to food on occasion. They might be “tempted” to eat something they wouldn’t normally eat on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s (can you say Champaign), or at an outdoor Bar-B-Que. They are not tempted to ruin their health or make themselves SICK OVER WRONG FOOD CHOICES, though, and that’s what separates them from me. I am willing to be sick on occasion. Sadly, on too many occasions.  I am.

This morning it was raining as I headed out for the commute to my day job. You’d think that rain would not be an enticement for me to stop on the way to work and get a glass of Iced Coffee. You would think that Iced Coffee would be a drink reserved for a hot day, a muggy day, a swelting-102-degree-in-the-shade day, but you would be wrong.

For the Sugar Addict, ANY AND EVERY OCCASION IS A REASON TO INDULGE.

We think about food all the time. We plan what we will find in the grocery store, then fantasize about what we will make with it. We may calculate how many calories are in it, or give ourselves a good talking to about the necessity to leave it at the grocer’s and move along, but THAT DOES NOT STOP US from bringing this substance home, making it into a delish desert (or not), and eating it. Diet be damned, we will have that thing. This is the difference between us and all those normal eaters out there.

The good news: I only drank half of my SMALL Iced Coffee before coming to my senses and throwing the rest down the drain.  That’s progress, right?

By mid-morning, I had remembered that just because sugar comes in liquid form DOES NOT NEGATE MY NEED TO EAT HEALTHY today.

So, down it goes and up I stand once more, on my own two feet, DOING WHATEVER I CAN TO FIGHT THIS DISEASE, and making better choices, one day at a time.

Do you ever indulge in foods that are not good for you? Once you’ve taken that first bite, sip, drizzle, lick, how long does it take you to rethink your position? What do you do to stop yourself from sabotaging your recovery?