It’s All In Your Head.

Time for a bit of an update.  Two and a half months since surgery, and I’m doing pretty well.  Still working out the details, like chewing more thoroughly and slowing down my meals.  I’m still doing my 15 minutes of stretching exercises at work each morning, with few exceptions (we’ve been doing it in an area undergoing renovation, and now the carpet, cubicles and cabinets are in and we’re losing our spot).  I feel better, I look better, and I move better.  Baby steps, but I’m committed.

Went to my friend’s birthday party this weekend and enjoyed mingling with the family; this is a great, big, loving clan, and being in their midst reminds me of home; I feel like burrowing in that familial warmth.  Big families are awesome; when the house is full, every nook and cranny has a smile and a hug.  I miss my family like that.

Chatted with my friend Amy, who has been very successful in losing weight with a diet routine and exercise.  She looks great, and she’s rightfully proud of her success in maintaining that loss over several months.  We talked about the mental aspect of making changes and making them last.  I was glad to hear that she related strongly to a couple of my more recent posts regarding my transition from obesity to health.  The things she mentioned caused me some reflection.

Self sabotage – I am guilty, guilty, guilty.  I am trying to change my mindset that says if I fall off the wagon, I’m a loser who failed again and I should just give it up.  Do you tell yourself the same things?  As a battle-scarred veteran of too many diets for too many years, do you find yourself falling into a preordained pattern?  You find a new diet or program because your friend is doing it or your sister is doing it or a celebrity is doing it, or maybe you saw it on Pinterest or Facebook.  You buy the book, watch the video, go to the website and read the testimonials.  You get all excited and shop for what you need, tossing out the half-eaten Cheese Nips and leftover pizza from the fridge.

You do pretty well for awhile, high on enthusiasm, but then the old habits and thought patterns come creeping back.  You find yourself thinking all day about what you want to eat that night.  You are distracted by cravings for food you know you should not eat, and when you give in, too easily, you immediately shame yourself:

Stupid.  Lazy.  Fat.  Disgusting.  Hopeless.  Loser.  Failure.  Quitter.

You tell yourself to give up.  It’s just like all the other times.  It’s no use.  It’s too hard.  You always do this.  Why even bother?  You will always be fat and dumpy.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why let one misstep end the journey?  I have had to learn how to forgive myself for these small mistakes and keep going.  Do you remember the old Family Circus comics?  The ones where one of the kids will take a meandering path from point A to point B?  I love that cartoon.

That is a good visual of how my brain works and how I do things, but it is especially relevant to my progress on a diet.  Sometimes sideways is my only progress, and sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back.  But it’s important not to stop.  Don’t give up.

More things I’ve learned:

  • It’s okay to leave food on your plate.  I am no longer a member of the Clean Plate Club.  (my family had a song that went with it — not sure if other folks did, too. ;-))
  • It’s okay to not take that food home from the restaurant, especially if you’re not going to eat it or give it to your dog.  Why waste the room in the fridge to throw it away in a week and a half?
  • If I say I shouldn’t eat something, I should actually NOT eat it, instead of just saying it as I put it in my mouth.
  • It’s okay to remove the strings from the celery, because it makes it easier to eat.
  • It’s okay to not drink coffee anymore, even if it is kinda weird for me.
  • It’s okay to be picky!!  (I have never been picky, but I am learning how to be.)
  • Mr. Stuck and I should always share our entree, not order separately.  That is a waste of money and food.  Duh.
  • It’s okay to eat the protein first; in fact, it’s a good idea.  I load my salad up with chicken or tuna or ham and add cottage cheese; I use much less lettuce and much less dressing, but I still add broccoli, cukes, and tomatoes.  I’m even trying things like garbanzo beans.  Yum!
  • I’m still working on cooking small amounts, but I can always share extra portions with my neighbors.  Recently made a huge pot of Tuscan potato/sausage/kale soup, and gave most of it away.  It was a win-win: I satisfied my craving, and none went to waste!
  • I can allow myself treats, because if I deny myself, I want it more.  We all know that reverse psychology ploy.  I can allow myself a bite of something and then I don’t have to binge on it in secret or in the car on the way home.
  • Habits can be insidious — they can be so deeply subconscious that you don’t realize what you’re doing until you’ve done it.  I got myself so hooked on McDonald’s sweet tea (cut with unsweetened) in the summertime that it was automatic for me to stop there on my way home. And sometimes, it was too easy to order a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich to go with it, especially if I thought I was hungry.
    After I started my nutritionist appointments, I stopped doing that.  But I noticed that when I’d hit that leg of the highway, I would be thinking about the tea and the cheeseburger.  I’d find my brain negotiating with itself on whether I should stop or continue past.  I have to deliberately focus on something else, to redirect my thoughts into something productive.  I would feel victorious if I didn’t stop.
  • It’s okay to go up a little or stay the same on the scale once in awhile.  We’ll have those days.  Maybe stop weighing yourself so much and look at how you feel and how your clothing fits.  Use a different gauge for your success.  The term Non-Scale Victory (NSV) is meant for just that.  Getting to where my wedding set fit my finger again was an NSV.  Fitting into the jeans I was sure I wouldn’t — that’s also an NSV.
  • It’s okay to struggle.  I’m human, and so are you.  We make mistakes, we screw up, we give up, and we sabotage ourselves.  We have to really work at staying the course, but that’s okay.  It’s okay to stumble, but make sure you get back up.

I haven’t smiled this much in a long time.  So many people have taken the time to tell me how happy they are for me and Mr. Stuck, how much better we look and must feel, and how we are radiant these days.  Who wouldn’t smile upon hearing that?  I am so grateful for the love and support that is coming in from all of my family and friends.  It means so much and encourages me to stay strong.

Thank you.

image credit lovelornpoets, Bil Keane