Expecting more from myself.

The past few years as I’ve gotten older and heavier, I’ve expected less of myself. I’d begun to coast. I was into energy conservation since my extra weight seemed to tire me out more than in previous years. So I would pick my spots when to ‘exert’.

I don’t especially like to exercise for the sake of exercise – if I’m going to move, I’d prefer that I get something done while I’m at it. Instead of walking just to walk, I’d rather work in the garden. Instead of lifting weights, I’d rather dig soil. And when I wasn’t working either outside or inside, or playing my sport (that’s fun, not exercise), I had the mindset of wanting to conserve energy so when I did want to do something, there would be enough gas in the tank.

And so it’s been. But I think I need to expect more of myself. I’ve already lost about 40 pounds (with about that much to still go) and feel so much better, mobile, flexible, and so forth. So why not assume I also have more stamina too? No need to conserve energy when doing more will give me even more.

So now I’m going to expect more of myself in terms of doing things. No more energy rationing. Whether it’s housework or yard work, or having physical fun, I’m simply going to move more and do more.

Posted by jansan on January 17th, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Theme of the day – no snacking.

I’m not following a specific diet to lose weight, but rather I’m eating low cal foods with lots of fruits and vegetables and reduced animal products and refined carbs. My cue for eating is not the clock, but true physical hunger. I also keep a food journal and write down everything that I eat, even the morsels, in hopes of eliminating mindless eating.

Over the past year and a half, this has been successful in terms of moderate weight loss (about 40 pounds). But it tends to be hit or miss. Right now, with about 40 pounds left to go, I’d like to up the rate of loss somewhat. Or at least become more consistent with it.

While a major benefit of losing it slowly (about 2.5 pounds/month) is that eating more healthy has become a way of life, not a reduction diet that will end. There will not be a return to old eating habits – this is it. I now prefer the ‘new way’ of eating. In years past with the ‘old way’, my weight would tend to creep up slowly, so that in a year, I could gain 10 pounds without bingeing. Over the years, that adds up. Most of that was mindless eating, or eating past full cuz ‘it’s good’, which I am prone to do.

But I am tired of ‘working on weight loss’ and I’d like to be living in a smaller body already. As a start, I’d love to drop the next 10 pounds relatively quickly early this year, and get into a faster wl groove. For me that would be about a pound per week. And to do that, I’m going to have to be even more mindful of the little things. Of doing more exercise/incidental movement, and, in general, eating less. Trust me, I’m not starving myself but there are concessions to less comfort that I can make to lose faster, hopefully without too much pain. The low hanging fruit, so to speak.

Today’s ‘low hanging fruit’ is to not snack between meals. If I am truly, physically hungry and heading into significant discomfort, I’ll eat. But if I’m that hungry, it needs to be ‘a meal’ or distinct eating event, such as a bowl of soup or something else hot and planned.

So the theme for this week is no walk-by, or mindless snacking. If I am ‘that hungry’, eat something, but do it with full awareness of what’s happening.

Next week – no late night eating. 🙂

Posted by jansan on January 14th, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Rebooting… again and again and again

It’s another morning after a day of mildly erratic eating yesterday. It was nothing too bad, no real over-eating, or any really horrible food, but the timing was all catty-whampus. Basically it did not conform to what I mentally think an ideal day of eating to lose weight ‘should be’, or have the uniformity or symmetry that I want a wl day to have.

I guess that’s the reality – that each day will be different and can be broken down into many parts, and many may not be ideal (whatever that is). That every eating event -meal or snack or accidental food encounter – can be different, and each will have its own challenges and have to be navigated individually and as well as I can. Sometimes I’ll eat more than my mental ideal, or when I’m not really hungry, or the wrong food, but hopefully most of the time I won’t.

But no matter what happens, any day has not been ‘ruined’. I’ll have the chance to re-start over and over again. Every minute of every day brings a new start, …or continuation.

This is not a sprint on a straight, indoor track, it’s an endurance event over uneven, unmapped terrain.

Posted by jansan on January 11th, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Accepting reality

On the drive home today, I realized that to get to the weight that would be healthiest, I will have to be hungrier than I like. Most likely forever. I hope I get used to it, but if not, well, there really is no acceptible alternative.

I’ve never been one of those people who go on a diet and ‘the weight just melted off’. You’ve got to be kidding! When I’ve lost weight, with very few exceptions, I’ve had to kick and claw my way down the scale. And over the years, I’ve ended up gaining most of that weight back because I would revert to previous, ‘more pleasant’ ways of eating and living.

Part of the reason for that is the simple fact I have not accepted the reality of what it takes to remain at a much lower, more healthy weight. I’ve always been active, but I’ve never liked exercise for the sake of exercise. Give me a sport, or a fun or satisfying indoor or outdoor activity or work, and I can go for hours. That preference won’t change, but I will need to ‘up’ my activity level. As I’ve gotten more active with the first 40 lost, I’m hoping the next 40 will bring another boost in energy.

So this is my reality – I’m fat, on the right trail, feel good/better in many ways, but still have a lot to go. I often tell people one of the first steps in dealing with a life trial is acceptance. So now it’s my turn. To accept what I consider the unpleasant aspects of losing more weight and keeping it off.

1. I have to eat less than I really want.
2. I’ll have to eat more vegetables and less fats and refined carbs. I simply can no longer eat as much of the ‘junk’ that my lizard brain seems to prefer.
3. I must move even more throughout the day.
4. Keep a food journal. Ack. Otherwise, too much mindless eating.
5. It’s not going to be easy.

I’ve been working on doing most of these for the past year and have made good progress. But I don’t think I’ve fully accepted that these changes need to be permanent.

I’ve always had a high level of resistence about doing things that are good for me. The ‘shoulds’. Yet who am I really hurting when I don’t? Me. Time to accept the reality of permanent weight loss.

5. It’s not going to be easy.

edit to add # 6. I dont have to be perfect.

Posted by jansan on January 6th, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Embracing Hunger…

…not starvation, not deprivation, not emotional need, but the good, healthy, clean feeling of physical hunger that we encounter several times every day.

I grew up in a home where any feeling of hunger was greeted with almost horror – and us kids were fed immediately. In fact, we were fed even before we got hungry to prevent that awful state. This was never said outloud, but it was true. For as long as I can remember, the automatic question of ‘Are you hungry?’ was asked upon entering the front door of my parents – even into adulthood and overweight. It was not ‘How was your day?’ Afterall, hunger was bad, and food could solve anything.

As a result, I never experienced much of the real joy of eating when physical hunger was allowed to mellow and mature. Meals and food were pleasant events to be sure, but as a friend’s thin mom used to say, ‘Hunger is the best sauce’. I missed that lesson.

For me dieting to lose weight always involved a high state of intellectual, emotional, and physical deprivation because I had not realized I needed to not only accept, but make friends with the feeling of physical hunger. In fact, I never even realized there was a difference between true hunger and just wanting to eat, not to mention eating to mask emotions. They all felt the same to me.

Fortunately over the years I’ve been able to sort that out, mostly, but it’s been slow going learning to make friends with the actual physical feeling of hunger. To realize what it feels like in my body, that it’s a good thing, and that it’s healthy to let it develop. And to come to realize that I won’t lose weight unless I experience it fairly frequently, and that it’s not that bad, or painful. I’m not talking about getting ravenous, but the good, healthy feeling of daily, generic hunger. It’s a reflection that my body is working, that it’s getting close to time to eat, but that ‘I am not there yet’, …until I am.

Right now I’m sitting with my hunger and it’s not that uncomfortable. I could pleasantly eat right now, but will wait a bit longer. At this stage of physical hunger, I can easily distract myself for another hour or so. Not only will the food taste better when I do eat, but feeling this way – hungry – is what will allow my body to use its stores of fat.

That’s how it works. No pain, no gain. Or in this case, no ‘pain’, no loss.

Hunger. It’s a good thing. 🙂

Posted by jansan on January 4th, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

The Joys of Hot Cocoa

Years ago I read of an old lady who when asked what she would have done differently in life replied “I wish I would have drunk more champagne.” Well, I certainly can appreciate that sentiment, but I probably might have said ‘hot cocoa’. But that is no longer true.

For years I denied myself that pleasure. I was allergic to milk, and, well, no matter how good it tasted, a cup of hot cocoa seemed too high in empty calories. Fortunately with today’s proliferation of alternate ‘milks’, the allergy aspect is gone, and cocoa powder itself is both now considered healthy (anti-oxidants) and not all that high in calories.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been trying various brands of plain, unsweetened cocoa powders. The local groceries are pretty much limited to a few bland common ones, so I’ve explored online and found a good number of other more rich, tasty brands, mostly purchased through Amazon.

I now have my own personalized mix of various really good, full-flavored cocoa powders and dry sweetener (I use Splenda), a dash of salt and cinnamon. And when I want a cup, I mix it with half ‘light’ almond milk, and half spring water, and heat in the microwave. It is absolutely ambrosial to me.

It satisfies several ‘dieting’ needs – chocolate of course, the feeling of having ‘dessert’, a warm beverage, fullness, and probably more. When I drink my cocoa, even though most would think it quite spartan, I feel as if I am really being treated. It is the opposite of deprivation. Opulence. Decadence. And just plain yummy. 🙂

Posted by jansan on January 2nd, 2013 under Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Efficiency is over-rated

Over the years I’ve always prided myself on efficiency and spending less energy while accomplishing things. Carrying 3 things on one trip to the other side of the house instead of 3 separate, ‘needless’ trips. It seemed fun to pre-plan and doing it had become second nature. Alas I hadn’t realized in persuit of one goal, I was sabotaging another – weight loss and better health.

I’ve become a big believer in ‘incidental exercise’ – the movement involved in just living. Of standing, and less sitting, of walking in the house or yard just to accomplish one little thing. Every little bit of movement helps.

But it’s more than trying to move more. It’s doing things of interest, or at least that bring satisfaction. The dishes washed, the trash taken out, a craft project done.. And the more I do that can distract me, the less I think of food or that I might be wanting to eat.

Surprisingly I’ve been finding doing more of this rather mentally freeing. That has been an unexpected bonus, perhaps a reduction in perfectionism, or thinking I ‘should’ be doing something. I am getting much more done in the name of ‘incidental exercise’.

Posted by jansan on January 2nd, 2013 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Breakfast… ?

I’ve heard for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But is that actually true? I’m not sure it is for everyone.

When I was young, the first thing I would do upon rising is head to the kitchen to see what was in the frig to eat. Often I would stand there and consume a large amount of left overs before I knew what I was even doing. And immediately the eating day was ‘ruined’. It was a mindless, destructive habit that was not connected to physical hunger or need at all.

I made a rule that said I couldn’t eat anything for the first 30 minutes after getting up. It took awhile to impliment, but it eventually did. Now, years later, I rarely even think of eating upon rising. Over that time I’ve also learned to listen to my body (alla Geneen Roth, Intuitive Eating, etc.) to tell me when I am hungry. But the old theme of how important breakfast is held on.

Sometimes these old cliches are never questioned. I don’t live the hard, working farm life my ancestors did. I don’t get up early to milk the cows, feed the chickens, till the fields… Maybe I don’t need to eat the same way they did. Maybe they shouldn’t have eaten the way they did either, since the old photos of these hard-working farm women showed women of great bulk.

Is breakfast still the most important meal of the day? Was it ever? I don’t know. But I doubt everyone is the same. There is also a great deal of money to be made selling cereal, milk, eggs and bacon to every family, so maybe it’s worth questioning if everyone does indeed do better eating first thing in the morning. When I have observed myself, I find that eating oatmeal – that highly touted ‘stick to your ribs’ breakfast – makes me hungry sooner than something with more protein.

So I’ve decided to forget that old cliche and be more mindful of breakfast, real hunger, hunger later in the day, and whatever else happens. So for now, the plan is to eat only when my body says it’s time to eat, be that earlier or later in the morning, and see what happens.

Posted by jansan on December 29th, 2012 under Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Taking the Long Way

For me it always boils down to ‘eat less’ or ‘stay fat’. Unless I’m really focused, I’ve tended to crumble towards the end of the day and eat extra food. I no longer binge, and by ‘crumble’, I mean just eat more food when what I need is to just go to sleep or do something interesting. My resolve seems to blur. In part, it’s because of the layout of the house – the easy path to everywhere is through the kitchen. And hence past the refrigerator and cupboards and food distractions.

There is another path, and it only requires maybe an additional 12 feet, plus 2 steps. A few years ago, I put a light ribbon across one of the kitchen doors to remind myself to always walk ‘the long way’. Maybe that’s something to think about doing again. Hadn’t thought of that till writing this. That would accomplish two things – a wee bit of extra incidental exercise, and not going through the kitchen as much. The kitchen becomes a specific destination rather than a constant source of food reminders.

Maybe putting it head high so I can duck under it easily for anything urgent. I just want a reminder to walk the long way. If that doesn’t work, I can try something else.

Posted by jansan on December 28th, 2012 under Uncategorized | Comment now »

Becoming a food camel

It’s been a long journey, with today being the next new day. The first day in fact of the next, and hopefully last wl stage of my ‘eating career’. There of course will be more ups and downs, but along the way I’ve learned tremendous amount about myself and why I overate and so forth. But all the history isn’t that important to me anymore. It’s time to get on with the last act. A book once said that all the reading, thinking, talking or hoping in the world won’t make you eat less. Even Nike says to just do it. So that is the plan – to become a food camel. To eat less, to go longer between eatings, and to lose the rest of this extra weight.

About 16 months ago I started eating a new way. Far more fruits, veggies, while reducing the amount of starches and animal products. The purists would be vegan, or at least vegetarian, but I cannot do that. But I’ve done well and lost about 40 pounds in that time without much pain. But I still want to lose about that much more. My current mini goal was to make it through the holidays without gaining and arriving at Jan 1 at a nice, even weight. A nice round number. And I pretty much have.

So the plan is to continue eating lots of fruits and veggies, lean soups and salads, and very little meat and dairy. Nothing is forbidden, but moderation is the key. I’ll eat when I am physically hungry, stop close to satiation, move/exercise often, be physically inefficient, and to eat as little as possible without feeling deprived. I would love to lose a pound a week, but doubt I’ll be able to do that. 40 pounds in a year would be immensely satisfying. That should be do-able.

So it’s time to put all I’ve learned and want to do into action. It’s my year and I want to enjoy it.

Posted by jansan on December 27th, 2012 under Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

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