It isn’t just the Boy Scouts who need to be prepared. To achieve weight loss success then we must be prepared mentally and emotionally, as well as making preparations for our meals and exercise.
This doesn’t mean you can never have spontaneity in your life, but in the beginning of your journey being spontaneous can be a challenge and impediment for weight loss success. Often being spontaneous and “in the moment” means that we fall back on old habits and do things without thinking because they feel good at that time. That is not the way to make new healthy habits and develop a pattern that will lead to your weight loss success.
It takes time to change habits. Deepak Chopra in his 21 Day Meditation Challenge* says it takes 21 days, hence the length of his program. Other researchers claim it takes 6 weeks or even longer. Your weight loss journey may require longer because not only are we dealing with habits, many of which we have embraced our entire lives, but we may also be dealing with addictions—or physical dependencies because what we eat and do affects our body and brain chemistry.
My experience is that by starting with discipline and then easing up later, which is often touted as THE solution, works for some people and is disastrous for others. This method is basically going on a diet, something that you stop at some point. By now you realize that doesn’t work for me and I do not believe that is the path to weight loss success for most of us who have struggled with our weight for a long time.
Diets don’t work. I prefer setting up a plan that I can live with, pretty much forever. Sure, things get tweaked now and then, but the basic plan is always there. It is like an outline that I can build on depending on the season—both what is IN season at the market, and what the season is in terms of activities and events that I’ll be experiencing, including holidays.
The outline format lets me know that my basic HEALTH is addressed. This is the most important part of weight loss success. Being healthy requires that we are able to maintain a healthy weight, not yo-yo diet our way around the scale.
*The 21 Day Meditation Challenge is over, but if you are interested, visit the Chopra Center site (no affiliate link) for more information about the Chopra Center and how you can use meditation in your life.
Mental and emotional preparation is essential to ensure your success on this weight loss journey. With it you will succeed. Without it, even the best meal plan and fitness trainer cannot save you. Know that there will be emotions that will come up and you will want to turn to food as a result. This is the biggest “habit” that we need to break.
Because the emotional triggers come in so many guises, it is impossible to predict when the trigger will rear its ugly head with 100% accuracy. Sometimes we will sail through an experience that in the past would have sent us diving straight into the ice cream carton. Other times we struggle to maintain our resolve. This is one of the reasons permanent weight loss is such a challenge; it is why after months, and even years, of being clean and sober alcoholics fall off the wagon, smokers light up, and drug addicts end up in rehab yet again. This is why those of us who use food as our drug of choice struggle with the scale. It is not a one-time-and-you-are-done situation for most of us…this is a lifetime journey.
No matter what your drug is, you can ONLY be rid of the demon by preparing yourself mentally and emotionally. You have to give yourself some options on how to behave differently than you have in the past. Once you have the choices available to you then you can consciously act in your best interests.
Having someone you can talk to when stuff comes up really helps. Don’t try to keep it all inside and tough it out alone. There is a reason 12 step programs like AA and NA include a “sponsor”…it works for many people in a variety of situations beyond these successful groups. It can really help to have someone who has “been there, done that” to help get you through the dips and valleys that we all have in life.
Unlike in AA and NA, your confidante doesn’t have to have been through their own weight loss journey—unless that is important to you. You can have a buddy who is naturally thin. The only requirement in choosing your support person(s) is he/she must not be actively a food addict and they must know that using food to medicate is an unacceptable course for you. They must not encourage you to substitute one addiction for another unhealthy choice, such as drinking, smoking, or drug use. Choose someone who truly loves you and wants you to be the best, most healthy you possible.
When selecting your support person it is YOUR job to prepare them for what you will require of them and to allow them to give you their own boundaries, too.
While some organizations, like AA and NA, want you to have one sponsor, I believe in the team approach. Having an entire team supporting your weight loss journey can make a big difference in getting through a variety of challenges.
For example, if you have young kids it might be helpful to have a member of your support team who also has kids of a similar age, or at least has had children. Kids provide several challenges when it comes to your weight loss journey that someone without children might not understand. You have to deal with their schedules, their food likes and dislikes, illnesses, etc.
If you don’t exercise regularly now, then I encourage you to have at least 1 workout buddy on your team. We often will do things if we are accountable to someone else, when it would be easy to bail out otherwise. Consider having several different workout buddies. You may choose to exercise as one group, or you may have different workout partners for different days of the week or different types of activities.
If you like to eat out, enlist a health conscious foodie to be on your team. She can help you select restaurants, meals, how to request special preparation of food, etc.
Your team should be custom built for you. There is no restriction on the size of the team and there is no magic number of team members that will work for everyone. The best team probably won’t be just 1 person any more than a pit crew at the Indy 500 could be. Every person on the team has a job and they are clear on what their role is. By each person focusing on their individual role, you are like the race car, getting attention from all different angles, but all are gearing you for the same goal—to win the journey!
During the team selection process it is vital that you clearly convey your needs—let Sue know she is in charge of “tires” and Bob is responsible for the “oil,” etc. It may help to let the team meet together and get to know one another, but it isn’t necessary and isn’t always practical or even possible. Some of your best support team members may live across the country or even the world. This is actually AWESOME because you can have a “virtual” pit crew made up of the best people for the job no matter where they live.
Pick the right crew for the job. It makes sense that when choosing your crew you have to select people with the right abilities and skills to do the job. If Marty has an injured shoulder, then he won’t be able to clean the windshield, right? You have many friends and family members who love you and want to help you succeed. Realize that they will help the most when they are at their best. Feel free to use as many people for your pit crew as you want…you can have lots of workout buddies and lots of people to talk to when you are faced with challenges or just need to be able to vent rather than eat.
Be clear about their role. Do you want someone to listen quietly while you rant and get things off your chest? Or do you want someone to offer suggestions on how to fix something that you bring up? You may need both, both are valuable friends / jobs to fill, but if your crew member thinks you want solutions and you just want to rant, you will both be frustrated. Remember, your crew cannot read your mind—let them know what you expect of them. It may be overall in the role or in a specific situation.
Group expectations. Sometimes when we are part of a group we can go overboard talking about our community project in front of other people. For some people this won’t be a problem, but it is a good idea to set some ground rules with the team or you may find that you are subject to full disclosure on some matters that you thought were personal and just in the group. Everyone on the team should agree to the ground rules—what is kept in confidence and what is public, what happens if you aren’t sure if this is public knowledge, how is the group informed what is private information, is it ok for group members to discuss you and your journey in your absence—including your successes and challenges? There is no right or wrong answer here…it is all what YOU want. It should go without saying that any team member who is not comfortable with the ground rules should not be part of the crew.
Crew rights. Give your pit crew time to share their feelings and concerns with you, too, and to set their boundaries as well. It may turn out that some people won’t be a good fit right now because of something that is going on in their lives. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to support you, but we all must take care of ourselves first, something that many of us with weight challenges are just learning to do. It is better to figure out now if someone is unavailable or already overcommitted.
Often a team member’s boundaries will be easy for you to live with and support—but you have to know them in order to accommodate them…you can’t read their minds any better than they can read yours.
Some examples of boundaries may include times of the day they are available for phone calls, budgetary or time considerations (for working out, going out for meals or coffee, activities), physical abilities or preferences, and even topics of conversation that some people may not feel comfortable talking about.
For example, if one of your challenges is late night binge eating, then don’t rely on someone who has to get up at 5am to help you through the urge. Rather than calling your early-to-bed-early-to-rise sister-in-law for that one (no matter how helpful she is at other times) have a nightowl on speed dial for those occasions.
While this is a team, the ultimate success of this weight loss journey is up to you. You get the big pay off, the recognition, the health benefits…and you do the heavy lifting along the way.
You must prepare a list of reasons WHY you want to have this success. Write down the positive reasons you are on this journey. Don’t make it a litany of reason that you are here at this weight—that is all in the past. Sure you can learn from the past, but this is the time to let it go! Share your big whys with your team so they can help you remember what the big picture is. Your reasons why you are on this journey have to be bigger than the urge to eat will be!
Another assignment for you is to create a list of alternative activities. This is things you can do when you feel the urge to eat. Share this list with your team as well. They can help you to remember the things that give you pleasure. Include ways to reward yourself that don’t include food, things you would like to do when you are feeling bored or when you are lonely.
A good list will include a wide variety of things, some will take just a couple minutes, others may be hours or even days long. It can even include things that you don’t do currently but would like to learn how to do…for example maybe you always wanted to learn to knit…it is something that will keep your hands busy out of the cookie jar. Some activities on your list will cost money, but many of them will be free—or very low cost. Don’t put things on the list that you know you realistically cannot do, like fly to Paris for the weekend!
Post your lists anywhere that you might need to refer to them. This includes your support team contact info, your big WHY list, and your alternative activities. Have a copy in the car, in your purse, on the frig, at your desk, in your iPhone…make it EASY to reach out for help. You still have to make the decision to reach out, but at least you won’t have to search for help, it will be right at hand.]]>
Food can be a big challenge while on the weight loss journey, obviously. After all, we have to eat to survive. We can’t give up food cold turkey like a smoker, alcoholic, or drug user. That’s an excuse I have used over and over, and I am sure you have heard it, if you have not used it yourself.
It really got me to wondering though, are we addicted to all food, or to certain kinds of food?
I have experimented with a variety of diets: no sugar, no “white stuff”, no simple carbs, only fruit, vegetarian, only meat, liquid only liquids. While some people are only tempted by specific types of food, by experimenting this way I was able to determine that I will stuff my emotions down with ANY food if my favorites are not around or are currently off limits. Like an alcoholic who drinks rubbing alcohol because there is no booze in the house, I have eaten things in massive quantities that I don’t even like! That gave me the Aha! that mindset is the most important part of the journey, not limiting foods.
That doesn’t mean we should fill the house with chocolate ice cream and Doritos. This isn’t about proving you are above temptation—especially not in the beginning. All of us can be above temptation for some period of time. Sometimes that timeframe may be for months, at other times it may only be moments.
It is essential to recognize that while you are changing your life, rather than going on a “diet,” you most likely will be able to have your favorite foods at some point in the future. When that time comes, you will probably be shocked and pleased to discover you cannot eat the quantity you used to. Even more amazing will be the discovery that some of the foods that have been your favorites will no longer even taste that good. Your body and mind are in the process of cleaning house. Some of the junk you are tossing out is okay in small doses. Other items you may find that you don’t want to have even small amounts around the house—kind of like having a small bomb in the basement!
When you are preparing for this change in your eating plan, classically you go through the cupboards and the refrigerator and toss out any “white stuff”—that would be sugar and flour and anything containing either of those ingredients. Not everyone is up to this emotionally and it can be especially difficult if you live with other people who do not want to go on this journey with you.
Most of us don’t want to through away food, but it is a good idea to get rid of any ‘trigger foods. ’ Trigger foods are the things that you just cannot have in the house without eating them—and once you start, you feel like you can’t stop as long as there is anything in the house. Some people’s trigger foods are salty items, like chips or even peanuts. Other people can’t resist creamy foods, breads, or sweets. The worst trigger foods can send me on such a binge that I won’t stop eating until I am sick—long past enjoyment, and long past eating foods I really love. This is what I mean when I say I am a food addict!
Again, this is not forever. As hard as it is to believe, I can actually have chocolate in the house and not eat it. I never thought I would be able to say that!
Unopened packages can be given to local banks if you can’t bear to toss them out. Place anything else that you can’t toss in a sealed container to be stored out of sight. Sometimes this works, because there is some truth to the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Then keep the stuff REALLY out of sight, maybe out of the house entirely like with one of your support team members.
Keep in mind, if you absolutely want it, you can have it. After all, you could just go out and buy more, right? It isn’t about trying to fool other people into thinking you aren’t eating something. It isn’t about having them police you about the food you eat. It isn’t about depriving yourself either. This is about giving yourself time to think rather than grabbing something as a knee-jerk reaction. This time gives you the opportunity to make conscious food choices and puts you in control.
Most people don’t live alone, and if you share your home with others who do not want to change their eating habits then you might not be able to get rid of everything that is a temptation for you. In that case, put things on shelves that make it harder for you to see or find the food. I put treats on the top shelf of my pantry behind staples, or I put them in the basement inside a plastic bin or a cooler. It makes it an effort to get to the treat, again a delay tactic that gives your rational brain time to kick in. Yes, it makes it harder for other people in the house to get the foods too, but get their support if possible. Talk to them about ways that they can still have their foods available that won’t be so difficult for you to handle.
Finally, label any food storage containers with messages that remind you why you are on this journey. This is one more opportunity for your mind to decide it does not want to eat that food after all.
If you do end up eating some food that you had hidden away, do not berate yourself over it. Instead, make it a fully conscious decision and celebrate the food—really savor it.
OK, you’ve dealt with mindset and preparing what will go into your mouth. Now it is time to prepare to MOVE! Sometimes the idea of moving and exercising keeps us from getting up and doing it.
The longer we resist moving, the easier it is to stay sedentary. When we get up and start moving we have broken that inertia and it becomes easier to keep moving. As you drop excess fat and gain strength on this journey, it will be increasingly easier to move.
Experiment with different times of the day to see what works best for you. Some people I know like to exercise right before bed because it tires them out and keeps them from eating late at night. This doesn’t work for me because I actually get energized by exercising and late workouts disrupt my sleep. I like exercising first thing in the morning because then I know it is done!
I also like having short sessions during the day. Sitting all day has been shown to lead to lots of health issues even among people who exercise regularly.
Make it easy to move your body. The more things you have to do in order to exercise the less likely you will be to do it!
I have comfortable shoes readily available so I can go up and down the stairs or around the block on a whim. I also have a gym bag ready so I can grab it and go.
If you can’t wear tennis to work then keep a pair stashed with socks so you can take frequent walking breaks.
Be creative. Try different ways to move your body. I’m not talking about climbing mountains or running marathons. It could be playing at the park, tossing a ball, playing Frisbee, or chair dancing.
Develop a routine. That will help ensure that you do move. I don’t mean you have to do the same thing every day—far from that! I mean that you should have a routine that you move, and that you do it at a certain time of the day. Don’t just leave it to when you have time or when you feel like it. Most likely you never will.
Make an appointment with yourself. Make commitments with workout buddies. It is harder to justify skipping a workout if you know your friend has gotten up to meet you there!
Get some fresh air on a regular basis. Even if you usually exercise at the gym there is a fantastic benefit to fresh air and sunshine. Make it a point to get out at least 1 time a week. Take advantage of the longer days and moderate temperatures now that it is getting to be spring time.
Water is essential for your mind and body when on a weight loss journey, both to stay sharp and to be energized. We all need water—most of us need much more water than we take in. If you are tired or “fuzzy” it could be a simple lack of water.
Find a bottle that works for you. Does it fit in your hand or on your belt or in your bag? Can you easily fill it, grab it, and carry it while you are walking. Water bottles come in so many different shapes and sizes that you should be able to find something that fits your hands and the way you like to exercise.
When you are selecting water bottles, keep in mind that you will need to wash them. I encourage you to have BPA free bottles. And never leave your water bottle in the sun, especially in the car.
While most water in the US is safe to drink, I filter mine. I drink a LOT of water and the chlorine that is used to purify our drinking water and other chemicals that municipalities add to our water can actually make my stomach upset. I have been using Brita filters for years. I have a large pitcher available at all times so I never have an excuse to not drink water. It is cheaper than buying bottled water at the store and is better for the environment.]]>
I have never been big on making New Year’s resolutions because they are too much like diets…things that tend to be short-term, quickly broken, and leave us feeling worse about ourselves than before. Instead of celebrating our weight loss success, we tend to feel like complete failures.
With that in mind, and at the risk of sounding like I have given up the I Refuse to Diet mantra, I am making 12 weight loss resolutions for 2012 (it seemed like a good number.) Following these resolutions will result in a healthier, and hopefully, happier year—something we can all agree would be a good thing, no matter how wonderful 2011was for you.
Following my normal format, I have divided these resolutions into three categories, with the primary focus being on Mindset—how we can change our thinking in order to drop excess fat and improve our health.
I also have made resolutions for Motion, or how I move my body to improve my health, to increase my stamina, to tone my muscles, and to drop excess fat.
Finally, I have resolutions regarding what goes into my Mouth. I know far too many people who can eat lots of food and do not need to watch every morsel to believe that it is strictly what we put in our mouths that can make us pack on the extra pounds. However, I also know that in order to have optimum health it is important that we pay attention to what we eat. It isn’t as simple as it was 100 years ago when everything was organic by default and food was pretty much all ‘from scratch.’
If this sounds like a lot, it is…but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Feel free to borrow my resolutions, to modify them to fit your lifestyle, to discard any that sound totally unreasonable (but if any do, think about them before you just toss them aside.) The bottom line is that in order to have weight loss success we must each develop a lifestyle, including our mindset, moving our bodies, and what we put in our mouths, that fits within our budget and the time, and interests, we have! There is no one solution that works for every person—that is precisely why diets do not work.
Please, please, please, PLEASE, hear that…diets do not work. Refuse to diet and find yourself on the path to weight loss success—permanently and with abundant health!]]>
I resolve to recognize and accept that I cannot be at my goal weight overnight
I resolve to love myself, including my body, just the way I am today and in the future
I resolve to remember that I am a good, loving person and I deserve to treat myself with love, kindness, and respect. That means if/when I am not ‘perfect’ I will cut myself some slack
I resolve to express my emotions, and to express them in as healthy a way as possible]]>
I resolve to remember the Law that states a body at rest stays at rest whereas a body in motion stays in motion. My own inertia is the obstacle!
I resolve to move outdoors at least once a week—even if it is cold out—because I enjoy the fresh air and know the change in environment brings me pleasure and health benefits
I resolve to listen to my body and adjust how and when I move it. This will help my body to heal and reach maximum health.
I resolve to HAVE FUN while I move my body and if I am not having fun to find some other way to move!]]>
I resolve to focus on being aware of WHEN I am eating, more than WHAT I am eating
I resolve to have 1-2 days a month where I intentionally splurge, eating more than I “should” and eating very unhealthy foods. By doing this I know I will prevent binges
I resolve that I can eat anything I really want, but to remember that doesn’t mean I HAVE to eat it, nor do I need to eat it daily just to prove I can
I resolve to SLOW down when I am eating and drinking. This is a life-long challenge for me, and I recognize it may not always be easy, but I know that by slowing down I will enjoy the food and the company more, and I will also have better results.]]>
This time of year we see and feel a shift in the earth and in our bodies. As Mother Nature turns her palette to the reds and golds of autumn and the hours of daylight shorten we find it a bigger challenge to fit everything into our busy schedules. We might not be willing or able to safely exercise after dark. Cool salads are less appealing. We want to eat in preparation for winter hibernation as if we were a bear.
Since we aren’t bears and we will not be shedding all those pounds while we sleep for the next couple months, it is important that we check our mindset and make sure we are not sabotaging our efforts to lose weight by misusing one of the most common tools in our weight loss arsenal. This month in Mindset I weigh in on weighing in…the pros and cons of the scale.
We also have to keep moving our bodies, even when there is limited daylight. In Motion this month we talk about keeping motivated to move and how we can measure our success in this area as well.
And this month in Mouth we talk about the abundant autumn harvest and how we can take advantage of it to maximize the precious time we do have.
Enjoy this time of year, and each and every day of your life. And extend that life and increase that pleasure by making healthier choices for your body. Do it for yourself. Do it for your health.
To the healthy, energetic, slender body you deserve! You can do it!]]>
Unlike on The Biggest Loser television show, most of us on our weight loss journey do not have somebody or “somebodies” monitoring our weigh-ins. No, the decision to weigh in or not, when, how often lies solely on our shoulders.
There are both pros and cons to weighing in on a regular basis. I have my opinions based on what has worked for me in the past. But I am also aware that we all operate different, we are motivated, inspired and depleted by different factors. With that in mind, here are some of the pros and cons that I have found regarding weighing in.
Of course the decision about weighing in must be yours. The same result on the scale, either positive or negative may drive one person to feel positive about themselves and fuel their desire to succeed. The exact same result in another person can lead to them feeling badly about themselves, their progress and their abilities.
Bottom line, what is most important is feeling good about yourself, knowing that you are taking the steps necessary to achieve your healthy weight loss goals.
It is crucial we recognize our worth outside of the number on the scale. We are so much more than any number. We have incredible value no matter what the number is—and whether it has gone up, down or stayed stagnant.
When you can hear the news from the scale as if it were delivered by a detached reporter, then the scale can be your ally and a tool that will help you on your weight loss journey.
On the other hand if you hear the news as a personal attack or you use the news as another reason to criticize and berate yourself, then there is no advantage to weighing in…and there are plenty of disadvantages.
Like most things about losing weight, the scale and the number it provides can be a great tool for our success IF our mindset is where it needs to be.
This is just one more example of why we have to work on our mindset first and foremost in order to have weight loss success. Truly, weight loss success starts with the mind, not the mouth—or the scale.]]>