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(Undesperately) Seeking Balance June 30, 2009

At one of my WW staff training sessions, the leader warned us all that it was going to be potentially tricky, to balance WW work with our own health and fitness. At the time I didn’t really get what she was talking about. But it hit me last night.

After my traveling weekend, I had plans to go to an exercise class last night. I was realllly looking forward to it. But about an hour before, I got a call from a WW leader that a receptionist/weigh-in person was needed, like right away.

Of course, I could have said no. On the other hand, when one is in a new position it is a good thing to be seen as helpful and responsive. AND, I really feel that I could use as much mentoring/training as I can get. There are so many minute details involved in this job, and I think the more practice, the better. So I said sure.

This was my third training session and my second time doing weigh-ins. My mentor was great in helping me with doing a practice run-through before they opened the doors. I felt a lot more relaxed than I did the last time. I also felt very strongly how incredibly intimate this is, to see someone’s weight like that. It’s so personal. I had a bit of a flash that the little weigh-in booth is not unlike a confessional, but instead of prescribing ten Hail Marys or whatever, we hand them a fresh tracker and the chance to start a new week.

I was less nervous about the myriad little details this time, so I felt like I was able to really focus more on the people. I felt so much tenderness for these people as they performed the ritual removing of shoes, watches, belts, ANYthing before they stepped up. I think it is a really big deal, and important, that WW staff are also WW members. I SO know what they are going through. (in fact, I need to do my WI for this week, and have been procrastinating!) I kept thinking of the Buddhist loving-kindness (“metta”) prayer in my head: (may you be happy. may you be safe. may you be peaceful) But I expanded it a little bit, adding silently: may you be healthy. may you be free of shame.  I kept repeating this in my head in between members.

One woman achieved a big goal she had been striving toward for a long time. She was so happy, and I was so thrilled for her. High fives all around! It was like being a store owner whose customer wins the lottery. It was really exciting! I had four people up for various “recognitions” and I was really so glad for all of them. And for the people who gained, I tried to offer as much support and encouragement as I could. I think I did a good job, and my mentor had some really kind and complimentary words for me afterward.

When I got home, it was pretty late and I had not yet had dinner. I ate and then did not feel like exercising. It was already dark.

AH, I thought. So THIS is the balance thing they were talking about.

I watched the new show, Dance Your Ass Off, which is sort of a combination of Biggest Loser and Dance With the Stars. I am already a sucker for such shows, and this one really really impressed me. It involves a number of very overweight people who are trying to shed pounds AND compete in dance competitions.  For one, these people all had great personalities and were great dancers. Their confidence was so out there, and that put them miles ahead of the general population, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s hard to dance and show your body when you’re not feeling it’s in its optimal shape. But they were all out there – jumping and strutting and shimmying and just going wild with beautiful exuberance. I felt quite emotional while watching them. I am a terrible, self-conscious dancer who has never felt good about how I might look. I feel like I have no coordination and that I just look foolish. Recently a friend of mine had a dance party for her birthday and while I had fun, I also felt like I was the biggest klutz out there.  I only really felt comfortable dancing with my husband. At one point we had to switch partners and I think one of my partners was absolutely incredulous at how bad I was. SO… I am completely awed by the folks on this show who are so good, and they’re definitely choosing a super fun way to get into better shape. My hat is so off to them!!

Today, I am going to exercise no. matter. what.

 

Maintaining While Traveling June 29, 2009

This past weekend was a total whirl of travel. My husband and I flew to the other coast for a funeral (his father’s). There was a lot of traveling, a fair amount of socializing/eating, a high degree of emotion, and not a lot of opportunity for exercise. I didn’t exercise on Friday. (travel)  I took a 30-minute walk/run on Saturday and didn’t do anything yesterday.

My eating was OK. It was interesting – it was a combination of good and not great, and I was curious about how it would pan out, scale-wise.

I was in the South, so I had this intense desire for biscuits. We stayed in a hotel that had a free breakfast. There were biscuits. I have pretty much stayed away from most white carbs for months, but I realllllllllly wanted those biscuits. (it was a tossup between biscuits and grits, which I also love) I took a biscuit. Took a bite. It was horrible. Blech! I am proud of myself because I just ate that one bite and then pretty much decided it was SO not worth it. Hooray for mindful eating! I got some fruit instead.

Later, at the post-funeral reception, I was in a high state of emotion. There was a huge spread that had been catered. They had these little ham sandwiches made on cheese biscuits. I had one. It was really, really good – the quality of biscuit was 20x better than the breakfast one. I had a few pieces of cheese and some roasted vegetables and a deviled egg. (all good) I circled around the dessert table, which had huge plates of bite-sized delectable looking things. I circled and circled, like a giant shark. Ultimately I did not eat any desserts, but I did go back and have a second little cheese biscuit sandwich. Two people had spoken to me about having diabetes, and I think that was a helpful little aid for me.

Later on, we went down the street to a restaurant. I had a mojito (are you getting the idea that this is my beverage of this summer?). Then we ordered dinner and I had this amazing chilled pea soup with yogurt and shrimp. Awesome. Also an appetizer plate of grilled asparagus. And a glass of wine.

So that was my weekend, food wise. I woke up this morning to a dream in which all these athletes were there, and everyone was exercising except me. My running buddy M was running really fast and I was having trouble keeping up with her. I was wearing a muumuu. HA.

I was nervous when I got on the scale this morning but it was pretty much where it was when I left last week. So I maintained! This is good! I do feel like I need to exercise in a very big way, but I have to take kids to day camp this morning, and then take myself to work. This evening, then. For sure.

OK, I think this was probably the most boring post I have written yet. But it was an interesting challenge for me -my first week as a maintainer. Trying to balance it all with traveling, being off schedule, out of my environment, in a state of high emotion.  I am recalling that for the last two times that I went away for weekends, I ended up gaining around 2 lbs each time. So, I am pretty much claiming it as a victory.

 

Be Mindful, and Don’t Suffer June 25, 2009

At least once a week I go someplace where I run into someone I haven’t seen in a few months or more. Since Before. And very often they will say, “HOW did you do this?!?” It’s hard to sum it up in a few words, because it truly is a long story, but I think my “elevator pitch” (code for how to pitch a book, or business proposal to an agent or funder in the time it takes to ride an elevator) would be “By being mindful, and not suffering.”

I know, it’s very Buddhist, right? But truly I think this is what has made All the Difference this time. I started attending a meditation class very soon after my pre-diabetes diagnosis. And the idea of being mindful- of paying attention – made a huge impact on my whole weight loss journey. I decided to really pay attention to everything  – to what I truly wanted to eat, and if eating was what I wanted at all, and how much to eat, and everything. It has been absolutely invaluable.

I loved that this week, in my WW mentoring session, the leader spoke a LOT about “being mindful.” I don’t know if he’s a Buddhist or not, but he did bring it up about 20 times during the meeting, and people were nodding and really getting it. I loved that.

Another big concept in Buddhism is that of Suffering.  I know that I have suffered mightily because of my weight and food issues, throughout my life. I suffered when I felt I was depriving myself of food I wanted, but I also suffered when I ate things for the Wrong Reasons (ie for comfort or distraction). I suffered from guilt and remorse, shame and self hatred. There was a LOT of suffering going on.

It’s been shocking for me to notice that this New Way has involved very little suffering, and I know that if I feel like I am suffering, it’s going to come back and bite me BIG time. So it’s important for me to never, ever sigh dramatically and say, “I guess I should eat THIS (salad?) instead of THAT.” Because if I feel deprived in ANY WAY, shape or form, I’m going to overeat. Every single time. I have to find something that makes me HAPPY and satisfied, as well as being a good choice.  Salad is a good example. Sometimes I really crave and love and feel like eating salad. But often, if it’s a cold day or whatever, I want HOT FOOD.  Before, it would be a choice between two kinds of suffering: I’d have a cold salad and feel all deprived, OR I’d have .. I dunno, a huge plate of lasagne or fried chicken and THEN I’d suffer because I’d feel overstuffed, guilty and remorseful. And fat.

So the key is to really be MINDFUL and say, OK, I don’t want salad. (“Then don’t eat salad!”) I want hot food. OK, what kind of hot food will satisfy and yet not make me feel remorseful? Often it is SOUP. I have come to looooooooove soup very much. Because there are so many delicious kinds of soup and EVEN soup that is a bit rich (some cream in it, or meat) a cup of soup can go a very long way. There is a wonderful French food takeout place near my work that has two kinds of amazing soup every day. Usually that will be all I want for lunch, and it probably has WAY fewer calories than a salad with blue cheese, nuts, dressing, avocadoes etc etc.

I have had to build up my repertoire of foods that I both love and feel good about eating. This has taken some time and practice but now I feel like I have wonderful choices.

I still always have half-and-half in my coffee, because I have tried many alternatives (black coffee, skim milk in coffee, nonfat half and half) and they ALL make me suffer. I want my half-and-half. But I have made other changes that allow that to be okay. (more exercise, soup for lunch, etc)

So that’s my short answer for How I Did It (and how I intend to keep Doing It): Be mindful and don’t suffer.

Over and out.

 

“I Wish My Doctor Would Make Me Lose Weight”

Filed under: diabetes,health,weight loss — Susan @ 12:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,

No, I didn’t say that.  But a friend of mine did, when we got together recently. We were WW buddies for a long time, many years ago and on and off.  We both started together fifteen years ago, and we’ve seen each other during many ups and downs.   She recently saw her doctor, who was thrilled at her low blood pressure, her stellar cholesterol and triglyceride levels and her perfectly normal blood sugar.  She’s also at a weight that’s very high for her, but her doctor wasn’t concerned and said only, “Lose weight if you want to, but you’re perfectly healthy.” My friend felt really disappointed at not being admonished to lose weight, and feels like she doesn’t feel motivated the way I do, because for me, it’s much more of a health mandate.

So. Should she just relax and not worry about losing weight? But she’s not happy at her weight. Is it difficult for her to lose weight, and harder to find motivation, if it’s not about being healthy? Personally, I feel like being healthy=being fit and being able to move about easily without a thought: climbing stairs, going on hikes, taking walks wherever without a second thought, etc etc. Not to mention more challenging things like sports, boating, etc.

It also makes me really believe that getting diagnosed with diabetes was a true gift to me. Because it DID wake me up, big time, and made me motivated like nothing else has. But I’ve heard that 75% of diabetics are NOT compliant and do NOT lose weight even when it’s recommended. I guess it takes different things for different people.

At this point I feel like I would never, ever, ever go Back to where I was. Now that I am here, I realize that I am truly a happier person when I am feeling healthy and fit and not constantly wrestling with food issues.  Someone commented not too long ago that everything is not solved when we lose weight, and I agree with that. BUT. I truly am overall in a much happier place than I used to be. It used to be that if I had a happy moment, it was a BIG DEAL. They might come once a week or even once a month sometimes. But now, I honestly can say that I feel happy for the large part of every day. I get totally giddy when I hear my favorite songs on the radio (current super happy song: “Strange Overtones” by David Byrne, it cracks me up NO END), I am filled with happy endorphins when I work out, I love my friends and my family. I have a great and meaningful job. It’s all very, very good.

Would I be in this place right now if I hadn’t been scared into it by diabetes? I do not know.

 

The Other Side of the Scale June 23, 2009

Filed under: diet,emotions,weight — Susan @ 12:23 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I had my first mentoring session at the New Job this weekend. It was so interesting. Pretty much all I did was Observe, but tonight I will begin weighing people in for the first time! (I have to admit I am slightly nervous about this) It’s a big deal, folks!

I went to a center where I don’t normally go, and was mentored by a leader and receptionist who are new to me. They were both really impressive, especially in their handling of people on the scale.

You know it makes such a huge difference when you step up there, and the number is UP, and the weighing person makes a funny noise or groans a little, or just has a regretful look on their face. It’s like a zinger of shame. It feels bad. Sometimes it makes you want to take a running leap off the scale, out the door, and into the nearest ice-cream shop.

Neither of these women did anything like that. They were warm, concerned, kind, matter-of-fact. They didn’t respond with great hoopla over losses, just kind of a restrained “good work!” kind of thing, and they absolutely did not break stride at all if there was a gain. I really did feel as if the members felt cared for. They were both excellent role models.

It was also a meeting with not a huge number of people, and they were able to give everyone their undivided time and attention. The meeting where I normally go can often be a mob scene, and the staff people there often appear rushed and overwhelmed.

Overall, it was another positive experience, and I am looking forward to more.

After I left that meeting, I went to my “home” meeting and.. ta-da!!!!!! MADE MY GOAL WEIGHT. I was happy. I got the little star bling for my keychain, and the booklet about maintenance, and a nice round of applause. I have to say that I am feeling a mixture of excitement, nervousness, apprehension and curiosity about this whole Maintaining thing. We’ll see how it goes, shall we?

 

The Ghosts of Old Triggers June 21, 2009

At this point I am not feeling very triggered by old foods anymore, although I feel there are “phantom triggers” lurking around old spots where I used to binge/overeat/comfort eat. They sometimes call out to me in these faint little voices.

Yesterday I was at this mall and kind of stressed out because I went into Sephora, the huge makeup store. I am SO NOT a “makeup” kind of person but the day before I was at a different mall and on a whim, I got myself made up at another makeup place.  The next morning morning I realized I did not own any makeup remover of any kind, and realizing I’d have to go BUY some annoyed me and stressed me out.  So I went to Sephora to buy said makeup remover and the whole place – with its million products, just freaked me out and made me feel ugly (unless I buy at least 100 products).  So when I left, I headed over to the cupcake store across the way. This place has offered me a lot of solace in the past. I didn’t go in. I just stood and looked in the window. I remembered how I’d go in there and get a cupcake or a huge, warm snickerdoodle cookie.

Jokingly, I Twittered “Talk me down!” and amazingly, it worked. As soon as I put it out there that I wanted a cupcake, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t imagine then typing, “Sorry too late!” and admitting to the whole Twittersphere (800 followers!) that I’d succumbed. It helped me keep walking, and go into the bookstore. I got an iced coffee. I felt better.

These geographic reminders are everywhere. It’s kind of sad that no matter where I am in about a 20 mile radius, I can point out a place where in the past, I would have beelined for a specific food to use for comfort or stress-reliever. But of course they would increase my stress over 200% because of the immediate guilt and disgust I’d feel right after. It’s taken me a long time to truly understand on a deep level, how the thing that SEEMED to be comforting would produce the polar opposite sensation.

When I was driving home, I passed a Jack in the Box. I remember the many years I used to teach at night at the nearby University. I’d rush to class without dinner, because I’d be prepping until the last second. The class would get me all jacked up on adrenaline. When I got out at 10pm, I’d be starving, exhausted and amped up.  I started going to Jack in the Box because it was on my route home, it was easy and it was also one of the few places open that late. I’d go to the drive through. At first I’d get Teriyaki chicken bowl. That was sorta healthy although wayyyy too much rice and gloppy teriyaki sauce. But then one night the bacon-cheddar-potato wedges caught my eye and that was that. I started ordering them (760 calories, 53g of fat) as a SIDE to my chicken teriyaki bowl (585 calories, 1461g of sodium!!).

This happened pretty much every week. For years.

Sigh.

When I pass JIB now, I feel sad remembering that. Really sad. Of course what was really going on was that I was hungry (duh) and anxious, wondering if the class had gone well, and overstimulated and all sorts of things. It would have been so much better to make sure I ate before class. To talk to my friend/colleague about class, or write it down. But I just didn’t have those internal resources or any awareness that there was another way of doing things. I just kept driving through, feeling icky and guilty, and the pounds packed on, and well, it’s not hard to see how.

I see these places all around me, and it’s kind of crazy the way a visual image of those foods will just float up like a transparent photograph, when I pass by. They don’t hold the same kind of charge, and I don’t REALLY feel the same pull, but it’s a sad kind of nostalgia as well as regret.

 

Running Up That Hill June 20, 2009

Had another NSV (nonscale victory) today.  For the longest time (5+ years, ever sinc we have lived here) one of my biggest nemeses has been this HILL around the corner from my house. That hill lies between our home and this beautiful regional park where I love to walk/run. But the problem is that the HILL is extremely steep. And since it comes at the very beginning of my workout, I am often winded, stiff, and in pain as I do the worst part of my workout first. It used to make me so cranky and distraught that I would avoid working out altogether, because by the time I got to the top of the hill I would be in such a bad mood that basically the stress hormone in my body (cortisol) negated any endorphins I might enjoy.

That hill was seriously psyching me out. I used to tell my trainer, “If I could ONLY get to the point where that hill doesn’t kill me….” But after 3 years of training, the hill was still kicking my butt. Not one time went by when I didn’t have to stop halfway up, lean over with hands on knees, gasp, pant and swear a bit. It really felt bad. I wanted to be able to make it up the hill without feeling like I was dying halfway.

Sometime in February, I made a deal with myself that I would not put myself through the Agony of the hill, because I knew I was avoiding walking in the park because I hated the hill so much. I told myself it was OK to DRIVE the stupid 1/4 mile to the parking lot, get out and walk or run from there. So that I wouldn’t get myself all distraught by doing the hill first.

Well, so guess what happened today? You can guess! THE HILL DID NOT KILL ME! Sure, I was breathing harder than normal, but I kept up my fast rate, I didn’t stop, and I didn’t feel like utter crap by the time I got to the top. It was just what I had always hoped for.

Today, I told myself I was going to “take it easy” because I’d been doing very hard workouts this week. I ran three times, did a few killer gym workouts, and did 1000x hops on the spin bike. My arms were screaming from the many pushups and crab walks I did.  I didn’t want to skip exercise altogether so I told myself, just walk in the park. It’ll be a … walk in the park! (LOL) I set off with my music and chugged up the hill. YAY.

I ran into a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a few months. She was running. She stopped and said many nice, shocked statements about my size and state of fitness. That was nice. (although I realize I am not exactly graceful at accepting compliments yet. I guess the appropriate response is probably a simple ‘thank you’)

I continued on. One of my “running songs” came on (“Heat Wave” by Linda Ronstadt) I couldn’t help it. I started running. I just ran until the song was over, then resumed walking. Then another “running song” came on (“Don’t Fear the Reaper” which is one of my favorites ever). I ran again. This happened 3 or 4 times and at one point, I was at this very steep hill (much like the one near my house) out on the trail. Normally I feel pretty macho if I just WALK fast up that thing. But I kept running. I was like, HOLY CRAP I AM RUNNING UP A HILL.

Remember that old Kate Bush song, “Running Up That Hill?” I used to love that song. Anyway, some of the lyrics go

“If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.”
And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh…

And EVERY TIME I heard that song, I’d sort of sigh a little bit and think, *I* could never run up ANY freaking hill.

But look at me now.

 

 
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