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Book Review: Craving April 4, 2013

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As I read Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough, by physician Omar Manejwala, MD, I found myself nodding like a bobble head doll, and also reaching for my pen to underline something on pretty much every page. This is a topic I can relate to. It opens with the question, “What explains the mysterious urge to do something that has caused so much damage in the past?” In other words, haven’t I learned YET?

I read this book to see if I could learn something new for my blog readers, my Weight Watchers members, friends and family that I care about, and of course myself. And while much of the content of the book wasn’t NEW, it was certainly reaffirming and validating of many of the steps I’ve taken that have helped me (and explained how and why I’ve had setbacks).

The book opens with a definition of what craving is: a strong desire that, if unfulfilled, produces a powerful physical and mental suffering. They can range from a passing urge to an all-out, consuming addiction.  The author mentions something called “apparently irrelevant decisions” that can lead to a relapse. Then he explores why cravings matter: because they are uncomfortable, because they cause us stress, and because people who experience cravings are more likely to relapse into behavior that isn’t good for them or aligned with their goals. (nod, nod, underline, underline)

It deals with all different sorts of cravings – from alcohol to food to gambling, smoking and sex. He addresses ways in which these are universal issues, no matter what the substance or behavior.

There’s a big chunk in the book on brain science – the neurobiology of cravings, why they happen and how our brains lie to us to make us do things that we know don’t benefit us. I happen to be a total geek for brain science, especially when it relates to this topic. I find it both reassuring and encouraging – it takes it out of the realm of “I suck because I can’t get a handle on this” and sheds a light on exactly WHY it can be so hard sometimes. The studies that are cited are fascinating.

The good news about our brains leading us around, is that we can actually re-draw the map and get our brains to work in ways that are more beneficial to us. Again, this isn’t new news, but for me, obviously, it is something that I need to learn and read over and over again, and this book does so in a way that is so straightforward and nonjudgmental.

The other good news is that a lot of things that I am already doing, are the things that are proven to work. Group support is key. KEY! (yay Weight Watchers, yay online blogging community, yay friends) Writing things down (i.e. tracking, food journaling etc) is KEY. Forgiveness is key. (One of my favorite, and most startling lines in the book: “Only love can neutralize shame.”)

What can I say? It’s a good book. It’s SOLID. It’s filled with good science, which I find both illuminating and reassuring. It’s filled with concrete, positive suggestions for addressing the issues of craving. It’s also compassionate at its core. It’s like, Give yourself a break. There are reasons you do this stuff, and it’s not your fault, but it’s not helping you, so here are some good tools that can give you a way out.

It so happened that I finished reading this book while alone on my writing retreat. I’m away from home, and out of my normal routine. A little excited (vacation mode), a little anxious, a little lonely here and there. Perfect breeding ground for cravings! I could feel myself veering into potentially dangerous territory. Reading this book was like a little life jacket being thrown my way. It was a voice saying, “You know how to do this. Remember?”

Some of my favorite underlinings:

  • Cravings… are deeply personal. Comparing your cravings with what other people experience is a losing game and can only serve to undermine your success.
  • There is no such thing as a permanent craving; all cravings eventually go away, whether or not we act or act out on them.
  • The ideal time to address your cravings is when you are not actively craving.
  • Another important brain function is to lie to you.
  • Health, happiness and even longevity benefits come from being helpful to others.

It’s good stuff. Check it out! You can pre-order here.

Disclosure:

I was fortunate enough to recently receive a copy of this book for review. For the record, I often get offers to review a product for this blog. My policy (and I am up front about this) is that I will accept things to review, but unless I really like it, I probably won’t take the time to write a review. I don’t really have time for negative reviews. Unless I really, really really DON’T like something. ;-)

 

My First Colonoscopy (A Public Service Message) March 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 11:20 pm
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The Worst Part

So, let me start this post with the disclaimer that Mr. McBody performs colonoscopies for a living. That is his job. And ever since I turned the ripe old age of 50, he has been bugging me. Incessently. He says that Everyone Needs to Have A Screening when they turn 50. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I said. I put it off.  And put it off. Over and over again.

But then I remembered what happened the last time he bugged me to get tested for something. He was Worried about my Health. As it turned out, he was correct in his worry. I had pre-diabetes. Then diabetes. He kind of knows his stuff.

He did not think there was anything wrong with me, but he has come home more times than I can count, to tell of people who came in, had their screen, in which Stuff Was Found. And either it was a great thing, because it was found Early, or it was an awful thing, because it was found Late. So many cautionary tales.

I was NOT looking forward to this (can ya tell?). But finally I bent to spousal pressure as well as good old common sense. I made an appointment with a lady doctor in his same practice. Whom I like and trust.

I was dreading this. (Oh, did I already say that? Silly me). I had had my share of Drinking Unpleasant Drinks for many a glucose tolerance test. On at least one occasion I drank it too fast (trying to get it over with) and ended up throwing up, and much sadness and despair ensued, because of course, I had to start all over again.

He came home with a freaking GALLON of stuff. As well as a smaller bottle, and some other good things to get me “clean as a whistle.” (do not read on if you are squeamish, or averse to TMI, because I’m gonna go there, albeit in language that is as coded as possible)

The first night (Sunday) I began to Prepare. Which meant drinking the first small bottle. This was not so bad because my Method (believe me, Method is KEY to this process) was to eat small amounts of Very Salty Food, and then guzzle the drink. It was both salty and sweet. I put it in a big glass of ice. I downed it. Subsequently, my hands and feet became SO VERY COLD I could barely feel them. I think this had to do with all of the blood rushing posthaste to my gut, thus leaving my poor extremities without a drop of circulation. It was shivery, but I went to bed with 3 pairs of socks and a couple of quilts. I managed.

Monday – the big DAY OF PREP (also known as a holiday, or President’s Day, to the rest of you. I hope you enjoyed it!!). I was to eat nothing but Clear Liquids all day. For those who do not know, clear liquids include chicken buillion, Jello, popsicles (NOT the fruit kind), and soda or tea or water. 

Mr. McBody had had his own colonoscopy a year or two before. He said that the Method he liked the best, was to take a sip of the Vile Stuff, and then follow it with a “chaser” of Crystal Light lemonade. I tried this Method for about one glass, or 8 ounces worth. It took me the better part of two hours.

He shook his head in utter dismay. “You have about 30 more of those glasses to go,” he said. I cried. He was exaggerating of course, but the truth was I had barely made a dent in the enormous gallon jug. The vile stuff, for those of you who are curious, is called “GoLightly” (hahahah) and tastes like thickened salt water. With an aftertaste I can’t even describe, it is so horrible.

I finished the 2nd glass. It was after noon. I was beginning to feel incredibly desperate. He informed me that the output of my body was supposed to look like “pee.” Believe me, it looked nothing remotely like that. 

I decided to attempt my own Method. I mixed the Vile Stuff with its own Crystal Light. Rendering it very sweet and salty and icky. But better than Just Salty. I chased it, not with more liquid (which I could not bear) but with a heaping spoonful of orange flavored Jello. Suddenly I was very, very grateful to the makers of Jello. (or, I think it is, Jell-O)

In this manner I managed to get down about 80% of the ENTIRE GINORMOUS JUG. But it took until about 2am to do so. Meanwhile, our dear Junior was calling frantically from across town. HER tummy was upset. VERY upset. (was she having sympathy pain? Or…?) 

It turned out that she had a gastrointestinal virus, coincidentally. Dear Mr. McBody, who has more tolerance of gastrointestinal distress than any human I know (thus his calling and profession) drove down there and offered her comfort in her many hours of distress. Between the two of us, what a pair.

I entered the Surgery Center at around 9:00am.  Everyone was extremely kind to me. All I remembered is the nurses repeating, “Your biggest job in here is to pass gas when it is done.” I was like, Huh?

Then I woke up. There was a terrible, awful, no-good pain right around my midsection. All around me, on other side of the curtain walls, people were merrily farting away. One guy was like, “I’m so good at this!” BRRRRRRPPPPPP. He was in pig heaven. But I was having trouble producing more than tiny little toots, and thus there was a ton of gas or air or whatever in my transverse colon, and it hurt like the DEVIL. I cried. My husband came in and said that this complication happens in about one out of a thousand people. It made me feel Special, and not in a good way.

Finally, I farted enough of the air out and I felt better. Mr. McBody took me out for a nice brunch since I felt like I hadn’t eaten anything solid or proper in a MONTH (it had only been about 36 hours). Then I went home to bed.

What I learned was that I had 3 benign polyps inside me. They were all removed. Then I felt gratitude to him for bugging me. Because polyps that are not removed, often grow into Bad Things, and then it is Too Late, and even worse things happen than having to drink icky Salt water. Those polyps are gone now.

I have to do this again in two years. (rather than the 10 years it would be had there been no polyps at all) I am stocking up on Crystal Light and Jell-O, and maybe I will take some classes at Farting School. 

All in all, I am grateful. I am glad to have had this Unfun test which I am quite sure prevented me from having even worse things take place.

SO: public service announcement. If you are 50 or close to it, GO GET A COLONOSCOPY. And: stock up on the Jell-O. You’ll thank me. 

That is all.

OH and PS. I have mysteriously dropped some previously stuck-on poundage since the Procedure. I wonder if this might have something to do with being Clean As A Whistle. In any case, I’m not complaining. 

 

100 Pounds Gone!!!!!!! August 12, 2012

Go Henry!!!

Summertime is usually a kind of sparsely-populated time around Weight Watchers. A lot of people are traveling, on vacation, or just not in the mood. Maybe they’re out earning lots of activity points. But at any rate, it’s not usually one of our busiest seasons. But this year, for whatever reason, my Wednesday night meeting is hopping. Last week was a huge one. I had over a dozen “celebrations” (where people are recognized for milestone weight losses, from 5 lbs on up) and the most fantastic one was Henry, who celebrated his 100 lb (actually 103 lbs) loss. (and counting)

Henry joined about a year and a half ago. At first he just charged out of the gate with huge losses every week. Then things started slowing down. Then he hit a plateau. And his weight went up a bit. And up. It went up and down. But through it all, he never stopped coming. Even when things were not going the way he wanted, he smiled and said, “Well, I’m here.” He came to meetings no matter if the scale told him good news or not.

A few months ago, we had a “Success Stories Live” event, in which we profiled several really successful members from our local group. One of Henry’s relatives was featured. At that night, he came up to me and said, “I’m going to be one of those people up there” (being featured) next year. And I saw that look of absolute determination in his face. From that night on, he just dove back into the program one hundred percent. It has been amazing to watch. Once he decided, it was pretty much all but done.

I could not be more overjoyed for him and his family. He first joined because his baby son had some medical issues. He wanted to be there to be a good role model, to provide for his family and to prevent health issues in himself. He is doing that all in such an amazing way. Add this to the face that Henry WORKS IN AN ICE CREAM STORE and also is a cake baker. Whaaa? Yes.  He is a professional baker who works in an ice cream store and he just lost 100 pounds.

(side note: he actually baked the delicious wedding cake for my triathlon buddy Lily’s wedding this weekend!!!!)

It is so inspiring to have Henry sitting in our meeting room, which is one reason I think the meeting is busting at the seams, especially for a summertime meeting. We have had to bring out extra chairs the past couple of weeks, which is great. The energy is high and the contagion of his success is spreading.

Every year, Weight Watchers staff have a special event with awards and recognitions and stuff. There is a special award for leaders who have had members who have lost 100 lbs or more during the previous year. I have never gotten that award. It’s really only a small handful of leaders who do. I have looked around at those leaders and thought, those members have really stuck with it. It’s a huge milestone and it takes so much dedication and commitment. I’ve had people come in with the goal of losing 100 lbs, but at some point they have drifted off.  Henry is the first person I’ve had who has hung in there through many ups and downs. I am fully confident that he will reach his final goal this year. I’m so happy for him and proud of any part I may have played in his achieving it.

Truly one of the highlights of my Weight Watchers career.

 

 

Vote! For Me, Please! October 7, 2011

Image by Chris Olson via Flickr

I woke up to the most wonderful news today – that SHAPE magazine has nominated FoodFoodBodyBody for one of their Favorite Weight-Loss Blogs of 2011! How awesome is that! VERY VERY AWESOME! The other awesomeness is that I have been nominated in the company of some of my favorite and most inspiring friends. What an honor! I’m ecstatic.

I also love what SHAPE said about us:

Losing weight is hard, even under the best of circumstances…That’s why we love these 20 blogs. Each of the bloggers nominated in the weight-loss category is honest, funny and emphasizes the importance of health over weighing a certain number. They inspired us, and we hope they’ll inspire you, too!”

I can’t even being to express how happy that made me! Yay!

So please, if you are so inclined, go vote for me HERE. Thank you so much, SHAPE!

 

Who Wants a DirectLife monitor? November 26, 2010

These people do! The entries for the DirectLife activity monitor giveaway have begun to roll in, and I will be posting/linking to them here. So excited!

I would love to have a DirectLife monitor because it sounds like a tool that truly would help me get healthy. This year I had a wake up call. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Number one thing I need to do is manage the diabetes by diet and exercise. I have lost 35 pounds since June. But I still have a long ways to go. You may ask what makes me think I will be successful this time. Well in August my son, who is 11, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Along with this he also has epilepsy, tourette syndrome, and learning disabilties. So my wake up call is I need to be on this earth as long as I can so that I can assist him into adulthood. I am 52 years old, and I have to make a change. My son needs me. So, please consider me for a DirectLife monitor —Cindy

  • Emily sent me an email entry, and I’m posting it here.

I was in my best physical shape during high school (last century), and one reason is because I was on sports teams where I had a coach who motivated me daily, whether it was through threats of extra laps in the pool, or encouraging me through charting the progress of my race times.  After going to college, I thought I could be my own coach.  But the older I get, the more realistic I am, and realize things are much harder on my own, whereas with others, even the seemingly impossible is doable (like cleaning my garage, or getting through graduate school).

I’m thankful for the community and the coaching I already receive from my WW group and leader (Susan/Foodie!), as it’s helped me commit to sticking to the road to health no matter how long and winding that road is.  What with all the detours I’ve taken already, I know one thing that will help me stay on course all the more is the DirectLife Activity Monitor.  As a graduate student, I’m on a limited (translation: non-existent) budget, and so visiting a personal trainer at a gym isn’t something I can even consider.  I’ve experienced some success with a pedometer in the past, but what really excites me is that I can wear this while swimming (!!!).  Also, a year’s worth of coaching is something I sorely need, because there’s no fudging here and there, since someone else is looking at my numbers and holding me accountable in a way I know I can’t trust myself to do!  With the Activity Monitor, I hope to work towards my goals, starting with running a mile without stopping, and working towards completing a women’s triathlon before I’m 35.

Lastly, in what may come across as an attempt at shameless flattery, but doesn’t make it less true, if Susan uses a DirectLife Activity Monitor, loves it and recommends it, then I want to try it too!  Seriously, I’ve been inspired by her commitment to health, and come away from every WW meeting and blog entry challenged and excited to continue on this road, and the activity monitor is something I wanted to try, but due to my aforementioned budget (or lack thereof!), I I know I can’t on my own.  So, when I read about the giveaway, I promptly crossed my fingers and thought, “This is my chance!”

Colleen wrote in an email:

1-I’m a fitness instructor.  It would be so cool to wear it and report on my progress to the members I teach at the YMCA here in Eugene, OR.

2-I “removed” 70lbs using WW and now have come back to the program after being gone for 1.5 yrs.  I have tried various ways to track my food and activity, but when you teach aerobics and Pilates for a living, it is really hard to calculate what is your daily “job” activity points vs. what is your actual above and beyond activity points.  By that I mean, on some days I teach and am more energetic or sub for another teacher.  On those days I think I burn more calories.  On other days, I teach but don’t sub for anyone, so is it really a workout since it’s my job?  Should I be burning more calories doing something in addition to teaching?  The body is smart and I think it knows what it’s doing.  I always have trouble tracking activity points, therefore deciding whether I should eat them.  By working out a baseline with the monitor, I would be able to set some goals to increase or change my activity.

3-Health and wellness are my passion.  I am always spending money on shoes, trainings (which run from $100-$500), clothes, books, etc.  It would be awesome to get something for free that I would use to better my personal  health, but that I could share with others (well not let them borrow it or anything!) but talk about it, let them see how it works, etc.  It is such a great price point compared to the bodybugg that I think people could and would purchase one if they knew what it could do for them.

4-If I don’t win, I’ll still luv ya on twitter! J  Thanks for keeping us updated on Twitter about the new plan.  Your enthusiasm is contagious! — Colleen

 

Wow. These are all so compelling! I am not sure how I am going to choose.

 

DirectLife Activity Monitor GIVEAWAY! (including coaching!) November 22, 2010

So you know I am pretty much in love with my DirectLife activity monitor as well as the awesome individual coaching I receive from Coach Jen. She has encouraged me, nudged me, checked up on me, and helped me to keep up with my activity goals. And I know that it has made a huge difference in my health and weight-maintenance life.

Well, the DirectLife folks are pleased that I’m pleased. And they have offered a free activity monitor including a year’s worth of individual coaching to one of my lucky blog readers!!

This is, hands down, the best giveaway I have ever had the opportunity to participate in. It’s HUGE, people! You think a box of ice cream is cool? Well, how about a year of Coach Jen (or one of her colleagues) and the best little piece of jewelry you can own???

Here’s how it will work. This prize is worth so very much more than a random comment. It’s going to take a little effort. This is what you need to do to be considered for this awesome prize.

  • Follow DirectLife (@directlife) on Twitter, and tell them, “I want to win an activity monitor from @foodiemcbody because…” (finish in 140 characters)
  • Visit the DirectLife website and determine if you think it really is a good fit for you. I don’t want to gift this item to anyone who is going to put it in their sock drawer and forget about it.
  • Then you have TWO ways to convince ME. You can record a 2-minute video, or if you are camera shy, write a 250-word blog post on WHY you think a DirectLife activity monitor with coaching will improve your health and life, and why we should choose you. Things you might include: Have you ever tried an activity gadget before? Why do you want this one? How do you intend to reach your daily activity goals?
  • Link to this post on your blog and/or your Facebook page.
  • Post a link to your video or your blog post in a comment HERE. If you do not have a blog, you can email your 250-word statement to foodiemcbody AT hot mail dot com.
  • ANYONE IN THE WORLD is eligible to win this prize! No geographical restrictions! How cool is that.
  • Deadline: Monday, December 6th, 2010 at midnight PST. I will review all entries after I get back from Las Vegas.
 

Guest Post: Terre asks “What’s YOUR Goal?” August 29, 2010

I’m thrilled that Terre Pruitt, awesome Nia teacher, has agreed to guest-post for me this week!

So what is YOUR goal?  I had a goal, I met it but I wanted more.  Then I kept aging and my “additional goal” kept slipping further away.  See my original goal was to get/stay/be healthy.  Then I decided I wanted to look like a super model.  Yeah, I know.  You don’t even have to know me or see me to know that is ridiculous.  Number one, who really wants to be THAT thin?  And I will never be that tall.  And really, honestly, right?  “C’uz that’s what we do here on Foodie McBody’s blog — is be honest, most people can’t achieve that state of thin.  It is a certain body type that can be a supermodel.  I am NOT that type.  I am of the shorter stockier version.  I started on my “health” kick rather late in life too.  I mean, certainly not too late to be healthy and fit . . . . never to late for that . . . but too late to not have gotten the sag here and the stretch mark there, ya know?  No swim suit runway modeling in my future.

My model goal kind of got me off track.  I started just giving up a bit because I know I could never be like that so why bother, right?  Wrong.  I think they work really hard at being that thin.  I don’t think that most people are supposed to be as thin as our models and celebrities so they have to work really hard.  It is hard work.  I want to enjoy my life and I CAN by eating sensibly, exercising, and being healthy.  Health is so important.

I once knew a woman who said to me one day as we saw someone scootering by, “That’s my goal.  I wanna scooter.” What?  Huh?  Uh . . .   My goal–really, my goal when I started this was to get healthy to stave off having to medicate.  At the time I started working out and eating better,  I knew too many people that were going on the hypertension drugs.  I don’t like to take medication.  Then on top of the medication they had side effects.  See, to me the less you have to take the less side effects you have.  So my goal is to stay off the meds and out of the scooter as long as possible.

Recently I got off balance (heartburn) but all my other tests came out good.  Average.  I think there is room for improvement, but I am basically healthy.  High five!  That is such an important thing.  Often time when getting healthy or staying healthy is the goal some of the others things follow suit.  Some of the other goals might be losing weight, having more energy, feeling better.  It is amazing.  I need to remember that my true goal is being healthy and concentrate on that more and not let the other stuff get in my way.  So what is YOUR goal?  What are you doing to achieve it?  Are you keeping on track and not getting side tracked like I did?  Health is one of our greatest assets.

Terre Pruitt is a Nia Teacher and a certified personal trainer.  When not teaching Nia she is sharing her passion for it on her blog and her website.  She “met” Foodie on Twitter, so she can be found there too@HelpYouWell

 

 
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