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Not this Time

Every year about this time, my weight goes up and my fitness level takes a precipitous turn downward.  You see, I have this seasonal job in which the big kahuna event of the year occurs in mid-July. So usually around mid-to-late May, I start cutting back on workouts. I tell my trainer I am too busy to make appointments, and until this year, I never worked out unless I was with him. I was seeing him twice a week, so in May I’d cut back to once, and in June, I’d stop altogether. I’d be massively stressed, working long hours, with no endorphins. The stress eating would ratchet up. Then during the event itself in July, I would eat like there’s no tomorrow. Most people attending this event are horrified at the carb-laden, institutional food (think high school cafeteria) but for me, it kept me literally grounded so I didn’t spin off into space. Sloppy Joes, mac and cheese, pizza: BRING IT ON. Then I would eat for a week or two after the event, and by the end of summer I would be a total walrus.  I’d slink back to my trainer in September, overweight and embarrassed, and we’d start at square one. Again.

Well, it’s June. My event is about five weeks away and I am determined that this is not going to happen. Not this year.

I HAVE A PLAN.

First, I’ve decided to switch to some evening workouts. I have not worked out in the evening very much since.. when? Since I was single? Twenty-five years ago? It’s really hard to wrench oneself out of the house when there are little kid betimes, bath, story and the like. But my kids can bathe themselves now, and they go to bed later than I do. Normally I see my trainer on Wednesday afternoons, which means leaving my work in mid-afternoon. During most of the year this is fine – it’s a part-time job, but in June it just doesn’t work. But instead of cancelling Monday workouts, I am switching to 6pm kickboxing class! YEAH!!!!!! (thanks for all the votes, kickboxing people!)

I’m going to continue to work out every day if possible, either running, going to a classs, going to the gym, SOMETHING. Even when I am AT MY EVENT. I am going to continue to eat as mindfully as possible, ESPECIALLY at the event. (we have switched locations and I am happy to report that the new place has a big giant salad and soup bar, and fresh fruit, and definitely healthier fare) I am not going to get into this summer stress-and-fatness cycle again.

I am excited!

And tonight I’m going to cardio kickboxing class. I didn’t have time to exercise today because I had to take various family members to medical appointments today. Normally if I do not get a workout before afternoon, it just isn’t gonna happen. But I realize I feel really bad if I do not workout now. My friend A just called and said she would come with me!  Yeah! (I put an announcement on Facebook and invited everyone I know to come with me and I think she is the only taker)

Another plus-side to exercising in the evening is that it will hopefully keep me from overeating at dinner. I’m just having a tiny pre-workout snack, and then leftovers when I get home.

Can I say it again? I am excited! I’m changing a pattern I’ve had for the last five years, which I always felt was inevitable. Well guess what? It’s not!

Feeling Healthily Competitive? Join Me In This Challenge!

Wow. The FabFatties have done it again – they’ve set up a HUGE challenge for the next two weeks. It involves doing many, many great things to boost one’s health.  I was so excited when I saw this because truly, that is what has done it for me these past months, doing LOTS of different things, all which benefit my health and weight loss efforts.  One of the ways to win points in this challenge is to recruit others to do it too, so that is what I am doing right now – I am asking all of my readers to join me!! Come on, come on, I get a whopping 25 points for every recruit!!

These are the things that we are being challenged to do: (the intials afterward are my own abbreviations for the challenge, which I’ve used in my handy-dandy Challenge Worksheet –if you join up I will email you one!)

*Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily- 5 points (F/V)
*Drink 8 glasses of water a day- 8 points (8W)
*Exercise- 1 point per minute (EX)
*Do a random good deed- 5 points (GD)
*Stop drinking soda pop for a day- 1 point (NS)
*Actually read someone else’s blog post and leave a comment- 1 point (RB)
* Answer Fab Fatties random bonus questions about us- 5 points (FF)-Bonus questions will be posted daily on our blog.
* Recommend 2 fabulous friends from twitter and tell us why we should follow them- 2 points (TW)
* Eat a healthy breakfast-1 point (HB)
* Lose weight- 1 point per pound (LW)
* Keep a food journal for the day- 5 points per day (FJ)
* Take a walk during your lunch break- 5 points (WK)
* Have a friend join this challenge- 25 points per friend-make sure your friend tells us you recruited them! (RF)

So as I said, I’ve made up a handy-dandy tracking worksheet so you can track all of your points each day. I am gunning to do EVERY SINGLE challenge point, every day. (except maybe the lose-weight one, not sure I can (or should) do that every day.)

In order to sign up, you must email the FabFatties here,  on or before 12:00 a.m. MST Thursday May 28th 2009. You must send them your name, Twitter name if applicable, and your blog or website URL (if applicable; it’s not necessary). Also, tell them that Foodie McBody sent you!!!!! So I can get credit! 🙂

And LET ME KNOW (in comments on this post) if you are doing it. Also send ME your email address if you want the unofficial FabFatties Challenge Tracking Worksheet! It will help you keep track of all the amazing things you are doing for your health.

Here’s to some HEALTHY COMPETITION! Let the challenge begin!!!!!!!!!

The Café Didn’t Change; I Did

I work on a street that, for better and for worse, is lined with dozens of great restaurants, cafes and shops. I hardly ever bring my lunch to work because… well, because I am lazy. And it’s so easy to find great food just steps away from my office.

The closest place to my office is a very Zen-ish tea shop. I love their teas but in the past have hated their food. My co-worker and I have agreed that their food was “really bad.” But what it is, is very simple, unadorned, and HEALTHY food. It used to bore us to tears. Their soups are all based on some kind of vegetable broth. Their sandwiches seemed just… meh.  We would walk way out of our way to go to other places on the street, which when I think about it now, have soups that are filled with cream or cheese, and really decadent sandwiches.

Recently I was in a total rush for time and didn’t have time to be walking all over the place for food. I went to the tea shop and ordered a chicken salad sandwich.  I wasn’t expecting much. Now normally a chicken salad sandwich is pretty rich – gloppy with mayo, etc. But this sandwich was so different. First, it’s on very dense whole grain bread. Then, the chicken itself is dressed with probably 1/2 teaspoon of mayo, total, and some herbs. And it has about pound (okay, I exaggerate!) of dark leafy greens, and also has some sliced almonds and grapes thrown in.

It’s good. It’s sooooooo good.  And I am amazed at how delicious and clean and yummy and healthy this sandwich is. Months ago, I would have sneered and called it “bad food” because I was so used to eating food that was super rich and dense with fat. Now, I see their tomato lentil soup and I think how good that sounds. I call the other cafe and when they tell me about their super cheesy chowder, it just feels like… too much.

Neither place has changed their menu at all. But I have.

And now I’m so glad that my favorite lunch spot is only about 100 feet from my desk. 🙂

On the Road

Sorry I haven’t posted a more upbeat post since my last downer. I’m doing a lot beter now! I’ve been traveling with my daughter’s crew team – they are at their regional championships this weekend and I am in charge of all travel details: hotels, dinners for 300, etc! so I’ve been a busy bee.

I’ve been really so busy that I forgot my blood testing kit. I am hoping that I’m OK but I feel good and I just have to trust that I’m not going out of control. I have to say it’s kind of a relief to be without the thing for a few days and to let myself feel a little “normal.” Of course, I don’t have a scale either and it is really nice to have an escape from the numbers for a little while. I contemplated going to a WW meeting while here – my normal meeting day is Saturday- but I think I will wait till I’m home on Monday.

Did I tell y’all I went to that WW leader recruitment meeting last week? It was interesting. I think I’m gonna go for it. I love and miss teaching (I’ve been teaching writing since 1994 but recently have not been teaching so much and I miss it). I have a formal interview with the regional director of WW on Tuesday. I’ve been thinking a lot about how teaching writing and teaching healthy living/weight loss are similar, or could be, or here is my pitch about why I think I’d be a goood WW leader!  So many people say they’ve “always wanted to write” but don’t believe they can.  Same with weight loss/healthy lifestyle, right?  Well I know I’ve been very capable of breaking things down for beginning writers, to help them feel excited and successful very soon. I am really good at validating peoples’ positive efforts and for showing them what they are doing right. I think so many of these same things are important in weight loss. So I hope it works out. We shall see.

I’ve been running a bit along the lake where the races are being held. Both yesterday and today I noticed that the first 10 minutes or so of a run are killer. I am full of pain – my groin, my feet, my shin, and I’m out of breath. It pretty much feels awful. And then BAM, after I hit the 11th minute or so, ALL of my pains just VANISH, my breathing is easy, and the running truly feels effortless. I feel like I could go on forever. Yesterday I ran about 35 minutes, and today around 25, and walked a bunch. Both times the same thing happened.

Anyway, busy times around here. Tonight, Chevy’s is catering dinner at our race site for 300. I am not worried about it at all, in fact I am excited about it. Things have really changed.

Over the River and Up the Mountain

I have always had this very vivid image of my weight-loss efforts over the years. I recently tried to draw it but the drawing looked so bad I will have to stick with a verbal description. (can’t draw with a trackpad to save my life!!)

I call it the River. For as long as I can remember (at least in my adult life) I have been on one side of the river, or the other. One side (I’ll call it The Banks of Unconscious Eating!) is where I defiantly stayed for long periods of my life. When I was on that side, I’d eat whatever, whenever and how much I felt like. Often very high caloric, fat and carb-y foods. (think: macaroni and cheese in huge quantities) I’d exercise fairly minimally. I’d thumb my nose at “dieters” and think they were super anal control freaks. I’d feel disdain for people who were “obsessed with exercise.” And, I’d be (surprise?) overweight and fairly unhappy. But really believing that I was “free” because I was not being oppressed by counting calories, depriving myself or flogging myself to exercise. You get the picture. During the periods when I was on that side of the river, I’d look at the Other side and feel anxiety, anger, fear, disgust, whatever.  I was firmly entrenched.

At other times in my life, I’d be on the Dieting side of the river. On that side, I felt fairly rigid, usually counted calories or points, was fairly tense. I exercised whether I liked it or not. I steeled myself with “willpower.” I lost weight, but it was exhausting and I could never ever get to my actual goal weight and never maintain it for very long. I was (maybe) happier but also very tense. And when I was on THIS side of the river, I felt disgust and fear and shame about the OTHER side. (ie, “you fat slob,” I never want to be like you again!!)

Sometimes I’d thrash back and forth from one side to the other, in the space of days.  Often I’d be on the dieting side for 4-5 days of a week, then after my Weight Watchers weigh-in day, I’d fling myself to the “unconscious” side by giving myself a “treat” day.

The truly remarkable thing about this time around is that I feel like I’m not even near the river anymore. I feel like I’ve gone from a short period on the Dieting Side, where I was very anxious (see January posts) but somehow I kept going, away from the river. I crossed a field. I got to the foot of a mountain. I feel like I am miles away and above where I’ve ever been before.

Even though I feel like that Unconscious side is so far away, when I look down it from here, I don’t feel disgusted or afraid of going there anymore. I feel a lot of compassion and love for all the suffering that happened when I was over there. It makes me sad. And I don’t feel tense OR self-righteous or anything about where I am now. It’s easy to be here. I have these small moments (like longing for carrot cake when I was in Trader Joe’s) but they sort of pass, like clouds. (do you see the influence of my meditation class kicking in?) As my meditation teacher says, “You can notice the train going by. You don’t have to hop on that train and let it take you for a ride.”  (okay, HOW many metaphors am I going to use in this post??)

I truly feel like I am geographically, physically, emotionally, in a place where I have never, ever been before. It’s not without its challenges at ALL, but I feel like I’ve moved far away from the banks of that river where I was always feeling battered, conflicted, cold, wet.

The “Eat Without Guilt” Process

I’ve referred to Dinneen Diette and her “Eat Without Guilt” approach before, but was never really able to articulate what her approach was exactly, or why it worked. She just wrote this article for her newsletter which pretty much sums it up. This is exactly what my problem was before, and exactly how it ended up changing, and pretty much exactly how I’ve experienced that past several months.  I’m sharing her article here because I really did not think, back in January, that any of this was possible. (my comments in red!) When she said that she ate brie and croissants, I felt like she had to be lying, but now… I get it. Thank you, Dinneen!

How a Shift Towards Food Can Create a Shift on the Scale
by Dinneen Diette

A few years ago I had a major shift in the way I thought about food and eating, and it has improved my health and waistline ever since.

In a snapshot, this is how I used to view food:

I associated unhealthy food with pleasure and healthy foods with pain. Yes!! Totally!!

You see, when I was eating healthy food, the whole time I’d be wishing I could be eating a hamburger and fries instead. I’d be thinking about how tasty and juicy it would be, and how THAT was what I wanted, not the salad. Exactly. Salad felt like the “healthy” but less wonderful choice.

And then I’d want some ice cream, and not some fruit for dessert. Yup!!

The Reward Factor

Think about it.  Often we ‘reward’ ourselves with something like chocolate or ice cream when we’ve ‘been good’ or ‘deserved a break’ where the salad feels like a punishment.  We think “I have to eat this salad to stay thin” and anything remotely guilty becomes something that’s a reward for being good.

We often learn this as children.  Remember your parents saying you could have the cake after you finished your dinner?  Or if you were quiet in the store Mom said she’d buy you a treat or take you to a burger place or to the ice cream shop? Not only do I remember this (over and over and over) as a child, I am also guilty of doing this as a parent. I’m sorry, girls. REALLY.

So even at a young age we learned that these foods were treats and something we got if we were “good.”

The Stress Factor

When I got older, after a busy day at work I’d come come tired and stressed and would reward myself with junk food, comfort food or a treat.  It was almost like a medication, I used it to make myself feel good.  Is this sounding familiar to anybody??

The Chore Factor

But this is a problem.  If you associate unhealthy foods with pleasure and healthy foods with pain, then eating right will always be difficult.  Mentally, you’re telling yourself that eating healthy food is a burden or chore, so what do you expect?  Eventually you will lose the battle as we all want to feel good. (emphasis mine)

The Pleasure Principle

When I lived in France, I saw how they took such pleasure in all foods.  Eating foods, even healthy ones, became something that I enjoyed, instead of dreading.

And there wasn’t a focus on good foods or bad foods.  They do eat a lot of healthy foods, but they look at them as something that nourishes and does the body good.  Things like sweets and desserts were looked upon as something to be enjoyed for a special occasion, like a dinner with friends.  Not something to be used to soothe. (again, my emphasis. What a concept!!!!!)

They don’t use food so much for comfort either.  It’s nourishment and something that gives us energy and vitality.

Shifting My Mindset Towards Food

So I slowly shifted my mindset.  The way I eat now is:

All foods are okay, but healthy foods make me FEEL better in the long-run.

I get pleasure out of all foods, even healthy ones.  And I don’t look at any food as punishment or pain anymore.

You see, once I started eating better and healthier foods, I started to feel better.  I remember one day I went to have a burger and fries (I wanted a taste of home!).  Though in the moment I felt good, afterwards I felt stuffed and uncomfortable.  Then all afternoon I was tired and not effective in getting any work done.  I just wanted to sit in front of the TV and do nothing.

And this would happen over and over.  I started to notice how these once pleasurable foods were making me feel like crap. I never noticed this BEFORE because I was *always* eating unhealthy foods, so I always felt like crap! and that felt normal.

So I slowly started to eat better and started to see that the healthy foods WERE actually making me feel better! AMAZING!!!

Same With Exercise

Just like exercise.  When you first start, it becomes such a drag. I can’t even describe how painful and dreaded exercise was – for YEARS – even when I had a trainer! It was soooo hard for me. Like you “have to” get out there and walk.  But then every week you find you can walk longer, then faster, and before you know it you start looking forward to the exercise (yes, that DOES happen). And that has finally, finally happened for me, too! Yay for endorphins!!! You find your body feeling better and enjoying it.  Often when people start to exercise regularly, they wonder why they didn’t do it earlier. The key word there is “regularly.” I don’t think I did it often enough to get any benefits before, just the aches of it.

Ditto for Food

Same with food.  The more I ate better, the better I felt.  So I started to gravitate towards the healthier foods as I knew it would give me energy and that extra boost to get through the day.  No longer did I have those afternoon crashes.  And I was so much more productive at work that I found myself having more free time.  YES!   YES! YES!! (well, I don’t know about the “free time” part…)

There’s Room for All

Now this doesn’t mean I never eat unhealthy foods.  I have found there’s a place for all foods in life.  It’s about how much and how often I eat them.  This is what I love about this approach. It is so… pleasurable and unpunishing and unjudgmental. As I know that healthier foods will make me feel better, I naturally turn to them more often. Yes!

So instead of using food to make you feel better, use it as a way to get energy and you’ll see dramatic changes in your health and waistline (and the scale!) over time.

Change your mindset, and you’ll start to see a shift….everywhere.  You said it, Dinneen. Thank you so so much.

© 2009, Dinneen Diette.  All Rights Reserved.

—————
Dinneen Diette is founder of  Eat Without Guilt.com, a speaker, and contributor to various online health & wellness magazines, newsletters and websites. She helps and guides you to attain the dream of a slimmer, sexier and healthier you! To receive her easy tips, action steps, how-to articles and Special Report for FREE, visit www.EatWithoutGuilt.com.

Beautiful Guiltfree Dinner

I soooo enjoyed my dinner last night.  We had company over – my husband’s cousin and her hubby – they are wonderful people, and I was really looking forward to hanging out with them. I decided to make our family favorite teriyaki/wasabi salmon, this asparagus and brown/wild rice salad someone pointed out to me on Twitter (I love Twitter! It’s like a recipe box at your fingertips!), a big mache salad with avocados and feta, and a lemon tart with real whipped cream. YAY. Oh, and they brought some amazing wine they’d procured during their weeklong trip through Napa.

I didn’t worry about the points or calories of any of these items. I had had a good run/walk in the morning. I had gone to Weight Watchers and had lost 2.6 lbs since last week. I knew that everything I was eating was super healthy (except maybe the lemon tart!).

I enjoyed every single bite of my dinner. I didn’t overeat, I didn’t obsess over “going over” (which, had I counted, I probably did) I know that today I’m doing another Couch to 5k AND I’m going to be rowing in a “parent row” for my daughter’s crew team. THAT should be interesting!! And I’m going to resume my regular good eating today. It’s all good.

Is it possible that I’ll gain weight from this one dinner, at the end of this week? Somehow I really don’t think so.

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