Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 281 - Out with the Old

Mood: Disappointed

Weight: 152 lbs

Today is Thursday, March 8, 2012. I've gained 2 pounds. I know exactly why: I haven't been exercising, I've skipped breakfast more often than not, & the things I've been eating are more for convenience & have very little nutritional value. I'm admitting to this because it's a sign that I'm falling back into old habits. This is not acceptable.

Not only have I fallen into the habit of not taking care of my body, I've fallen into the habit of not caring about my body.

The past few weeks I've been really distracted. I started looking for a new job. And just days ago, I gave my notice of resignation at my current job. Change is happening all around me. It's scary and unsettling. I think I've subconsciously found this time of great change to be an excuse to turn to what I'm comfortable with in other areas of my life. I've made food my comfort, and that disappoints me after all the hard work I put in initially. 

It's true that for the past few months I haven't been going at it as hard or as dedicated as I should. Even this blog has fallen off my priority list. When I come back to post, I'm ashamed at how misrepresented my reality has been. I'm embarrassed when I read my older posts and all my enthusiastic moments: "I'm motivated again! I'm going to get back on the wagon now! I'm committed to achieving my goals!" 

The voice of self-criticism speaks up again: "Yeah right, Michelle. You're a liar. A fraud. A failure."

I'm not going to let that voice get the best of me today. But I'm not going to proclaim that I'm determined to rise against it either. I'm just going to accept that I haven't been as healthy as I could be & ask myself why. That's what this blog is about, in large part, anyway. It's about finding the reasons for my habits. Healthy-living still isn't one of my habits, despite the fact that I've lost a bunch of weight. I still have the mind of a lazy, overweight child instead of that of a self-sufficient, confident adult. Unless I really take the time to find out why I am what I am, it will be difficult if not impossible to become something else.

Today I had a salad for lunch. It wasn't delicious, and it wasn't even low-calorie (560 cals with dressing). It tasted like obligation. I ate fast because I just wanted to get it over with. I didn't savor it. I didn't even like it. But I ate it all, and now I'm full, but I'm not satisfied. Why do I feel that food has to satisfy me emotionally instead of just nutritionally? 

Satisfaction, by definition:
The fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite.
Pleasure or contentment derived from such gratification.
A source or means of gratification.
Compensation for injury or loss; reparation.
The opportunity to avenge a wrong; vindication.
Assurance beyond doubt or question; complete conviction.

Am I seeking pleasure from food? If so, why? Am I attempting to use food to gratify something else? Some other loss or wrong-doing? Does it provide some kind of assurance or peace of mind I'm not getting from other means? If so, what can I do to obtain those feelings or fulfill those needs without relying on food?

The only true purpose of food is to provide nutrients to keep the body functioning. It's not supposed to solve my problems or bring me joy. So, why is good-tasting food such an exciting experience? And why do I feel ripped-off if I don't get that experience from food?

These are questions I need to start asking myself every time I eat, and even before I eat, when I'm making decisions about what to eat. Am I choosing this food because of the experience or because of the nutritional content? What's more alluring about a bowl of mac & cheese than a plate of veggies? Is it the temperature, the texture, the saltiness, the flavor? How can I recreate that experience with foods that are good for me instead of always getting it from the unhealthy ones?

I don't have all the answers yet, but hopefully by thinking about this more I can begin to identify some. 

In the meantime, here are some pictures of my weekend with my family. We had a BBQ for my Dad's birthday. Typically, we'd go out to a restaurant and order high-calorie, high-fat, tantalizingly delicious food as a "treat". Instead we grilled fresh veggies & meats on the BBQ and it was not only cheaper but also pretty good-tasting! I'm especially proud of the healthy snacks & appetizers we had instead of the usual chips & dips.

Appetizers & Finger Foods
(The garlic-stuffed olives were the best!)

Pasilla Peppers stuffed with cheese, chicken legs, & sausages.

Marinated steak & veggie kebabs.

This year, my Dad's "treat" was a healthy blood-sugar level. Both of my parents have Type 2 Diabetes, they both take insulin, and they both sleep with breathing machines. They know I want them to be around for as long as possible, and they know I love them regardless of their weight or eating habits, but I'm glad they both see for themselves the difference better food has on their health. Now I just have to remember to take my own advice! :)

Mom & Dad

Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions or substitution ideas for how to make healthy foods resemble comfort foods, please post them in the comments or on my Facebook page! If you need some ideas to get you started, check out this article with 5 Comfort Food Swaps.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 251 - A New Day Has Begun

Mood: Invigorated

Weight: 150 lbs

Pant Size: 8/10

Today is Tuesday, February 7, 2012. I didn't sleep at all last night. Sleep is a key ingredient in my recipe to health success, yet it's something I'm sometimes able to go without & still function normally (sometimes even better than when I get some sleep). What's up with that?!

This is what I look like on absolutely zero sleep, at the tail end (4pm) of a very long & busy work day!

Although I'm not proud of the fact that I couldn't quiet my mind long enough to catch a few z's last night, I'm glad I at least used the time productively. For example, I got started watching another season of The Biggest Loser. I get a lot of my inspiration from watching the stories & struggles of those on similar journeys toward better health. As I mentioned in previous posts, the workouts & nutrition plans are fantastic elements to incorporate into a lifestyle change like this, but you have little chance of sticking to those healthy habits without the inner transformation & growth that comes with setting the goal & doing everything you can to reach it. My mind is the most powerful tool I have in accomplishing anything. Recipes & workout plans are awesome, but since my weight has remained steady for the past several months, I've realized that motivation can be my best friend or my worst enemy.

Even though I posted last week with 3 things I planned to do to get back to the grind, I fell short. I didn't walk 30 minutes a day. I didn't eat a healthy breakfast every morning. And I sure as hell didn't work out with anyone else, or even try to set something up with regard to exercise. The reason, again, was that I seemed to just like to hear myself talk. There was no motivation behind the words.

Today I  reclaimed my motivation.

After several hours of The Biggest Loser, I put on my workout gear & jogged 2 miles in 30 minutes. It wasn't much, but it was something. I just went around the neighborhood, while it was still dark out. Thin puddles of last night's rain lingering on sidewalks. Mostly quiet, with the occasional sound of a car traveling carefully into another day or the train swelling past in a noticeable rush. My destination: awaken the heart rate!

It felt great to get fresh air. I paid very close attention to my breathing & my pace to make sure not to wear myself out too soon. I probably looked like a snail to most people, but it felt like a reasonable speed considering I'm a bit out of practice & didn't want to overdo it. I can count the number of times I've worked out since the year began... It's less than I care to admit.

I even made breakfast (2 eggs, a glass of milk), before getting showered & ready for work. It might not seem like much to most people, but eating breakfast is something I am usually too lazy to do... and I usually pay for it later in the day! But all that matters each day IS today. And today I feel good about at least starting on a healthy note.

The day continues with a promise to get more "for-me" stuff done tonight. It's nice remembering what it feels like to put my needs before any other plans or anyone else's agenda. It's important, and having the willpower to follow through with it on a daily basis is the new challenge I'm faced with.

Forget my little lists of "things I'm going to do better"... My one & only matter of business is to FIND A REASON TO BE HEALTH-MOTIVATED EVERY SINGLE DAY. Motivated to do something, anything (even after I've reached my weight loss goals) so that I will find myself in a completely new & invigorating state of mind & body. Today is just the beginning...

My motivation for the week: Learn how to take what is rightfully mine. In this case, my health, ENERGY, & confidence! An idea I saw Bob Harper emphasize on a recent episode of The Biggest Loser. I wish he was my trainer/friend!!!

Milestone alert: I have gone from a size 16 to a size 8 pants size. I wish I would have kept a pair of my old pants to show the difference! It feels good to be in the single digits, but I'm still holding on to a couple of size 12 & 14 pants because I can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe for work (the pants I did toss/donate were jeans & are cheaper & more fun to replace). I'm happy about the progress, & am trying to remind myself that numbers are meaningless if the attitude doesn't change with it! Time for confidence & dedication! I've done a lot, but I can always do more! 

Here's to never running out of ways to do more. Thanks for reading! <3

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 243 - Picking Up The Pace

"When we die, no one remembers us for what we weighed. 
Our weight isn't etched into our headstones."
-- Stephanie Klein

Mood: Thankful

Weight: 150 lbs

Today is Monday, January 30, 2012. In the 7 weeks since my last post, not much has changed. Working out hasn't been a priority for me. I shouldn't make excuses, but I think the weather had something to do with it. I tend to be a homebody during cold months, and this winter was no exception. When I get home from work I would rather curl up in bed & watch a few episodes of Mad Men than put on my workout gear & go outside in the chilly temperatures (even though CA temps aren't terrible... it's difficult to tell myself that after a long, stressful day at the office).

Instead of blaming the weather or social obligations for my lack of motivation, I'm going to buck up & take responsibility for plainly forgetting to care about & for myself again. I haven't made myself a priority lately, and even though the consequences haven't been negative, they have been steadily weighing on my  mind.

I recognize my tendency to put time with others ahead of taking care of myself. My needs & goals have taken a back seat to these various distractions again, but today I'm re-committing myself to once again take better care of myself & reach the goals I set almost 8 months ago when I started on this journey.

One way I'm going to re-commit myself is to get back on a regular exercise routine. I will start by walking at least 30 minutes every day this week. If I can't drag myself out of bed in the morning, I'm going to set an alarm to remind me to get it done in the evening. I'll set a higher goal next week (maybe increase the duration of my walks, or combine jogging with walking for the same amount of time).

I'm also going to commit to one workout each week with at least one other person. Last week, I went for a run/workout with my neighbors. It was good to have the company. It pushes me to work harder & keep up the intensity level. It's also good for a little bit of distraction. Sometimes when I walk/run/workout by myself, I get bored/distracted/tired too quickly. But when I find myself in the position to keep up with others, I get a slight boost that entices me to go beyond my usual mental limitations. Maybe it's my need to impress others. Maybe I just don't want to be "the slow, out of shape one". Wherever the motivation comes from, it seems to have a good effect on my workouts. I was sore for 3 days after that one workout. 

Another healthy habit I'm going to reinstate is to eat a healthy breakfast every day. 

Even though I'm disappointed that I haven't been maintaining 100% of the healthy habits I learned early on in this project, I'm still maintaining my weight by remembering & practicing everything I learned about portion-control, listening to my body when it wants or doesn't want food, and taking time to enjoy the outdoors whenever possible. These 3 things have saved me from gaining any of the unwanted pounds back when my workouts stopped, but they won't be enough to help me reach my goal of losing another 25 lbs. 

So, onward I go. I need words of encouragement right now. I need to believe that I can & will accomplish my goals. I need reminders of why I wanted this for myself in the first place -- not just to lose weight, but to be a healthier, happier person inside & out. If you have a minute or two, please comment here or on my Facebook page. 

And thank you, as always, for being a part of this with me. <3