Fat as Hell…

and not going to take it anymore!

Success or Failure?

I guess it entirely depends on your perspective.

One of the few things I remember from the basic level psychology class that I took in high school, is an exercise in which we (the students) conducted interviews with people who had supposedly just been involved with a traumatic event (a traffic accident, I believe). At the beginning of the assignment, we were led to believe that each participant had experienced a *different* event and, as such, we treated each recounting of that event as being independent of all the other interviews. It wasn’t until after were finished, of course, that we were told that each person we interviewed had actually witnessed the *same* event. Then we were asked to account for all the variations in the stories and to consider how we might have *heard* their accounts differently if, in our own minds, we’d linked them all together.

Even though I’m sure it’s standard fare in most low level psychology courses, this activity sticks with me, even today, as being the harbinger of some important lessons: In some ways, perception is just as important as reality and, depending on the lenses through which something is viewed, individual perspectives on a certain event can be as varied as the people themselves. And what’s more, even the same person can look at one thing differently as factors in their own life begin to change. Time, maturity and life experience can alter our view on just about everything.

I bring this up because I’m feeling entirely stoked about my ability to control my food intake today. In comparison to recent days, I had a really, really good day food wise. Here’s the proof:

Meal Food | Drink Calories
lunch tuna salad made with light mayo and lemon juice 250
celery stalks 25
4 cracker breads + 2 light laughing cow cheese wedges 150
1/3 dark chocolate bar 80
Sub-total 505
dinner grilled chicken breast (approx 4 oz) 130
raw veggies (mostly raw carrots and cauliflower 50
ranch dressing (made with light mayo and skim milk) 250
Sub-total 430
drinks non-fat/sugar free latte (x 2) 200
Sub-total 200
bad, bad snack chocolate cake (this may be a bit of an overestimate 600
but I cannot find nutrtional facts for it anywhere). :(
Sub-total 600
Total 1,735

It’s important to note that “normally” — if I were posting this over at the Food Confessional (which I plan to start doing again beginning Sunday) — I’d be fairly embarrassed by the ginormous calorie total, (particularly in the decadent chocolate cake that hypnotized and had its way with me later in the evening). Normally, I would scold myself for going over my calories (I usually attempt to stay between 1200 & 1500) and, as punishment, would stay up late into the night devising a plan of attack for the following day, to combat my obvious dietary slip up.

But tonight is different. Tonight, I’m thrilled by my 1800 calorie fest. I’m buoyed by what feels like yet another step towards being “officially” back in the saddle. In fact, I feel so good about how I did today that I decided to write about it here (and ad nauseum). In fact, here’s all the reasons why tonight this food diary entry feels like a huge success:

  • I woke up craving veggies this morning, so I cut up some celery and fixed myself some lunch before heading for work, something I haven’t done, well… pretty much all summer.
  • I chose the SUGAR FREE and NONFAT latte options instead of the full fat white chocolate mochas of day’s past. Further, I went with a smaller size. Go me!
  • I resisted the temptation to eat the *entire* chocolate bar and only nibbled on 1/3 of the total. (I think I should consider going into training to become a ninja because, clearly, I have a will of steel!)
  • My husband made some “Rice-a-Roni” (the San Francisco Treat) for dinner tonight, but as you can see, I again resisted.
  • Yes, I ate a big giant piece of cake later on (am currently rethinking the whole ninja thing) but had I *not* eaten it, I’d have totally been under my ideal caloric intake for the day. That’s right, remove one thing and I would have been under. I definitely couldn’t have said that yesterday. Or the day before. Or the day before that. <repeat>
  • None of this food was consumed in bed, under cover of darkness, or in the far stretches of a nearly empty parking lot.
  • Um… hello! I counted my calories today! I counted my calories *and* I posted them. I’m like my own hero!

It’s funny, but when you’ve spent the last few days (weeks) recovering from a fall that felt like slipping off the ledge of a very tall building, tripping over one tiny chocolate cake shaped crack in the pavement just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

Seriously, isn’t it amazing how a little shift in perspective can change your entire outlook on things. Believe me, there have been plenty of days in the past, and there will likely be a few more in the future, in which I would have been full of apologies and excuses when reflecting on a day like today. But tonight I celebrate it as the success it is.

So… what’s next?

Well, for starters, tomorrow I’ll do a little bit better than I did today.  I probably won’t be perfect, but I’ll be better.  In fact, I’ve already got my lunch packed. It would appear I’m on a roll. :)

Oh! And speaking of things to be proud of, I have to say that I got all choked up earlier when I saw that BikiniMe had nominated me for this “blog award.” Sadly, I don’t have a prepared acceptance speech, but that won’t stop me from thanking the academy (of one). Muchas Gracias, Chica! I think I’m supposed to nominate some more people at this point, but I’ve never been very good at following the rules, so instead I’ll just say that if any of you feel like you’d like to make someone’s day by sending them a little virtual gold medal, go right ahead. Consider yourself nominated.

As for me, well… I’ve got a lot to celebrate tonight and I think I’ll do so by getting a good night’s sleep. :)

August 15, 2008 Posted by | losing weight, motivation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Good Enough

Listen to this…

Perfectionism may seem like a desirable trait, but to boost your health, aim for “just enough.” “Trying to do everything right promotes an all-or-nothing attitude,” says Martin Binks, PhD, a psychologist at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC. So if you can’t do something perfectly (i.e., work out an hour a day), you don’t do anything at all (i.e., watch TV instead).

And this…

A better mindset: Believe that every little bit counts. “It’s small changes that are most effective,” Binks says. So forget perfect!

Gosh. This really hits home for me. Though I would never label myself as a perfectionist, I can definitely remember numerous instances wherein my attitude has fallen into the “all-or-nothing” category. Although it seems silly, I frequently find myself thinking things like, “well, it’s too late to exercise for a full hour, so what’s the point?” or “If I’m not going to walk my full 3 mile route, then why bother walking at all?”

I’m telling you, this kind of stuff is hard to admit, because frankly, it sounds like the rantings of a complete lunatic, but if I’m going to be completely honest then I have to tell you that I also play these kinds of games with food. Let’s say, for example, that on my way to work I inexplicably find myself at Starbucks sucking down an iced venti no whip white mocha (which happens more frequently than I care to admit)… often, later in the day, I will use that slip up as an excuse to NOT make the right choices AGAIN: “Well, I already drank about 500 calories this morning, so I might as well eat this brownie, right?” I fall into the “all-or-nothing” mentality, adopting a “what’s the point?” attitude as though one (albeit big) slip-up has ruined the entire day.

And here’s the thing, that kind of defeatism is not only unhealthy, but it’s also really, really stupid.

And what’s more, I realize it’s just an excuse, an easy way for me to bargain my way out of having to exercise or eat right at all, but man, I don’t think I really realized how much I did that until I read this article in which the authors outline what they call the Good Enough Guide to Healthy Living. In each category they identify the “gold standard,” or the things that we would all do every day in a perfect world… but then they go onto to discuss what they term “good enough” goals *and* the significant health benefits that can result from even making small changes in your life.

The exercise one was a biggie for me, but there’s something to be learned, I feel, from their suggestions in all of the categories.

That said, I think part of my problem lately has been that I started expecting way too much of myself. I had a few kick-ass months, ate right, exercised frequently and took off more weight than I ever thought possible, but it was wrong to expect that kind of performance, and thus those kinds of results, from myself all of the time. Even though I didn’t see it at the time, it’s clear to me now that I set my goals a little too high and when I found myself in a position where I couldn’t achieve them, I just threw my hands up in the air and said “why bother?”

*sigh*

You know, so many of my favorite weight-loss bloggers have been quiet lately, and I have to tell you that I’m worried that they too are adrift in a high calorie, low self-esteem sea. To that end, a long time ago, Krissie wrote a post that I’ve actually quoted several times now. In it she said…

I am a new person most of the time. And that’s good enough. I’m never going to be perfect. But I can be healthy repeatedly, and let that crowd out my mistakes.

I know she gets tired of me quoting her all of the time, but I think there’s a lot of wisdom in those words. Furthermore, I think that if we all cut ourselves a little slack now and then, we’d probably all be far better off.

So… however I go about getting back in the swing of things *this* time, I know one thing for sure. I’m going to really, really try to not allow myself to fall into the trap of “all-or-nothing.” Like Krissie, I too am a new person *most* of the time. And, I bet if you think about it, you are too. None of us are going to be perfect all of the time. But we *can* do the right thing repeatedly. And the thing I’m starting to realize is… that really *is* good enough.

June 15, 2008 Posted by | health, losing weight, motivation | , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Pedometer Challenge: Days 5 & 6

Ok. As Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace would say, “let’s do the numbers….”

The last couple of days have been busy, but good. The number of steps I’ve been getting at work each day seems to be dwindling a bit, but that’s just meant that I’ve had to move my ass a little more in the evenings to make up the difference. Of course, I say that so flippantly, as though heading out after dinner in search of 6,000+ more steps is no big deal. (Especially on a Thursday when you’re just plain tired and want nothing more than to go to bed by 7:00pm and cement, once and for all, your status as a senior citizen).

In this way, the pedometer challenge has been such a good thing for me. I’ll tell you, on Thursday, after dinner when my number was just barely touching 4,000 steps, I’d all but decided that I was just going to chalk it off to a “bad day,” post my picture and go to bed… but there’s something about that little plastic box… staring up at you, daring you to take just one more step, and then another and another. Finally, I gave in and went for a walk, convinced that while I might only bump it up a thousand or so more steps, that at least *that* was better than nothing. But in the end I just kept walking until finally I’d topped that magic 10k number. Gosh it felt good.

This coupled with John’s recent post on the subject has gotten me thinking about inspiration. I read a lot of weight loss blogs and I see people talking about the things that inspire them. And it’s interesting to me, because (like John) I often find that I am *not* inspired by what other people find incredibly motivating. I’m not all that interested in having my body look like what the media holds up as beautiful, I don’t have a “vision board” filled with pictures of slender girls in the hopes that one day I’ll look like them. I don’t draw incredible inspiration from television shows like the Biggest Loser and I don’t read diet books filled with the inspirational stories of those who have already lost all of their weight and want to pass on their secrets to the rest of us chubbies. Sometimes those things can be interesting, but none of them make me want to jog 10 miles or gnaw on a celery stalk.

Rather, for me, I think a lot of what inspires me is the challenge of all of this. It’s important to note here that I’m *not* talking about competition. This isn’t a race and nobody gets a gold medal at the end. This is, however, a challenge — a fight — a struggle. And what’s more, it’s one in which every last one of us is the underdog. The odds are stacked against us, folks. Hundreds or thousands of people “go on diets” every day and the vast majority of them throw in the towel, or lose the weight, only to gain it back. And as strange as that may seem, in some ways, I draw a great deal of inspiration from knowing that I’m the “long shot” in all of this. I love the notion of beating the odds, of throwing a monkey wrench in the statistic, and especially of proving all those people who say it can’t be done, wrong.

Like most fat people, I was fat for a long, long, (long) time before I finally decided that it was time to do something about it. It wasn’t like I was living in a funhouse where every mirror was distorted such that, even at 300+ pounds, I always appeared willowy and svelte. No. I knew I was fat. And I wanted to lose weight, sure. But for years and years I went about my business simply not caring enough about it, or perhaps myself, to actually do something that would facilitate taking off the pounds. So what changed?

People started giving up on me.

I know I’ve told the story here before about the fateful doctor’s appointment wherein my health care professional said a) you’re going to die and b) you have start taking medication to keep from dying because c) you’ll never lose enough weight to keep from dying on your own. I can still remember going home that afternoon so pissed off. Pissed at everyone and everything: the doctor, myself, my mother (why not??) and feeling like I’d been dealt a terrible injustice. Then, to make matters worse, when I got home I told my husband about the whole story and even though he tried to be supportive, I could see that he too believed that the doctor was right… that I was too far gone.

That was the turning point for me.

That was when I knew I had to do something. And yes, a huge part of it had to do with not wanting to die, but I’m not ashamed to admit that a massive amount of my inspiration came from wanting to prove everyone wrong. How dare they give up on me??? At the time, I felt betrayed and abandoned. But now I’m so thankful that I hit that low… because if I hadn’t, I’d have never felt the need to start climbing my way back up.

My husband (and mother, by the way) are fond of telling me that I am probably the most stubborn person that they know. And perhaps stubbornness isn’t the attribute that I sometimes like to think it is… but in this case, I think my stubborn streak may deserve at least some of the credit for saving my life. I don’t know where the rest of you draw your inspiration, (though I wouldn’t mind hearing about it), but I know that for me, a great deal of my motivation comes from my desire to always do and be a bit of the unexpected.

And perhaps that’s why this pedometer challenge has been such a good thing for me. Right now, I’m so determined to get those 10,000 steps in each day that I’ll do just about anything to make it there… including move on nights when I might have otherwise decided that it was ok to take the night off. And again, it’s not about winning, per say, it’s more about wiping that smug look of my pedometer’s face when the sun’s going down and I’m only at 5,000 steps. It’s about knowing that someone in my physical condition isn’t supposed to be able to move quite this much. It’s about proving that I *can* do it… especially to those who said I couldn’t.

Anyway, here’s Friday’s number, folks. And with that I’m off to start my Saturday.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | losing weight, motivation, pedometer challenge | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments