Life does not stand still. I’ve learned this the hard way over the past 44 years. Many times I have wanted life to pause for me until I was ‘ready’ for whatever had come my way. I’ve wanted to rewind the good times and fast forward through the bad ones. I’ve often wished I could edit and delete parts of my life the way I can a blog post. But as Cinderella says….”A dream is a wish your heart makes.” And while your heart may wish for many things that WILL come true….getting life to stand still for you is NOT going to be one of them.
Life will, however, do this to you if you insist upon standing in place.
I’ve been trying to stand still in this journey for far too long. Believing the lie that you can “pause” this. And that it will wait for you to start ‘feeling in the mood’ again. But the truth is this. I have a life threatening eating disorder. I used to weigh 417 pounds and I actually had surgery in 2011 because I was so desperate that it was going to kill me that I paid someone out of my own pocket to remove 85% of my stomach because I couldn’t stop eating.
I paid them to remove over half of my stomach. And even THEN I still struggle. So do you think it’s realistic for me to think that I can just “pause” this issue. That I can just put it down on a shelf somewhere and ‘revisit’ it later. I’ve gained back over 100 pounds, ok??? Even AFTER surgery. I mean sure it’s been over 5 years and I’ve maintained a 150 pound loss. But still…that’s not the point. The point is THIS. It is slowly coming back on. And not so slowly anymore.
Because for me this isn’t something I can ignore. It’s not something that will just ‘handle itself’. This is my “thing”. I don’t know what your “thing” is. But this is mine. We all have one. I have a friend who likes purses. She buys too many of them. She can’t stop. She sees a purse and she buys it. It drives her husband crazy. I’ve got another friend who smokes and can’t stop. Even when the doctor told her she had to. So we all have a ‘thing’. If you don’t, congratulations. But my ‘thing’ is food. And if I’m not actively managing that—then it’s managing me.
I’m either in control or I’m not. I’m either gaining or losing. But what I am not ever going to be doing is just standing still. To believe that is a pipe dream. It’s what many of us do when we get just so damn tired of having to deal with it!!! I want to be NORMAL. Don’t you?? I want to be that person who can go buy a pie and eat one piece and come back in 3 days and still see it there. I want to be that person who can buy Oreos and eat three then still find them in the cabinet next week.
BUT I’M NOT HER
AND I NEVER WILL BE
The fact that I keep trying so freaking hard to become that person is tragic. Because I am actively participating in my own demise simply because I cannot accept that the change produced in me will always be temporary if not cautiously watched and managed forever. I’m looking for a cure when all I will ever really find is a daily reprieve. A momentary delay. A temporary pass that depends solely on my ability to never forget that I can’t stop standing guard. Once good habits are put in place, it feels automatic. Not like a chore. But if I ever forget that my peace from this craziness is dependent on executing those habits then I’m just like that guy by the river. Kicked in the ass by a kangaroo face first in a pool of water gasping for air.
The problem I’ve experienced, though, is the desire. Passion. Motivation. And I’ve been unable to regain the level of momentum I once had regarding weight loss. I keep trying to get it back. The same level of motivation. But the fire seems to die out as soon as I light it.
“More flint!!” I scream as I keep trying to get the small flame to grow bigger. But the wind is stronger than my flame. Easily blowing it out almost from the start.
What I’m going through has little to do with head knowledge. I don’t need more information on the science of food. I don’t need to read another book about nutrition. Like many people, my problem is mental. Psychological. It’s not some lack of understanding regarding how I should eat. Many people can approach their weight issues like a math problem. Stripped of emotion and boiled down to a formula.
Oh to be them!
My issue with food has always been 80% mental and 20% physical. But I will not deny the 20% that is physical must be dealt with.
Once I understood how addictive sugar was, I had cracked a code that was critical to my success. Sugar (especially the chemically altered laboratory produced kind we have now) is as addictive as any drug. If you don’t know this then you are at a disadvantage. You need that knowledge. Or you won’t stand a chance. But once you know it then something else comes into play. And that’s the mental side of things. The psychology behind addiction. Because if you know it’s addictive to you then going back to it has more to do with something psychological than anything else.
And that my friends is no simple formula to crack.
I have what you’d call an addictive personality. A lot of people do. Odds are if you struggle with overeating, alcohol, smoking or any other behavior that requires self-regulation and control—then you might have an addictive personality. Even if it’s just ever so slight. Many people are high functioning addictive personalities. They may do one or two things excessively but they manage to control it just enough that they can still get by. It perhaps causes them problems here and there but it’s not life threatening. Only when it becomes intrusive to their daily life and begins causing self destruction does it suddenly get termed an ‘addiction’.
I know a lot of people in heavy debt who wouldn’t view themselves as addicted to shopping. I know a lot of people who overeat who wouldn’t consider themselves as having some level of food addiction. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. It’s really not for me to judge. But when it comes to myself, I know. And there’s no doubt that I have a personality well suited to extremes.
So what I know is this. I should avoid sugar. If I don’t, I will light an entirely new kind of fire within me. And this one needs no extra flint. The wind is not strong enough to put it out. And once lit, it spreads like wildfire. For me that flame is sugar. And once ingested, a hunger switch flips inside my body that is not ever easily put to rest. I’ve been struggling more than necessary to lose weight for the last few years almost exclusively because I’m eating/drinking sugar that I shouldn’t be. No where near to the level that I did at over 400 pounds. Not in a binge eating escapade and not even every day. But in a haphazard manner? An unconscious grabbing without thinking? A reintroduction of bad habits and food/drink items that I know trigger me?
YES YES YES
And if THAT could get under control, everything else would fall into place so much more quickly.
But have I been able to do it yet? NO. And while I’ve gone cold turkey in the past, I haven’t had a ton of luck with it lately. But instead of giving up, I’m going to keep trying. Keep inching along. Knowing that cold turkey sugar detox IS the quickest way to get out of that hell but having failed miserably at it multiple times–something is better than nothing.
I’ve recently adopted THIS mentality:
The same is true of exercise. I could technically do so much more but my motivation has been so lacking that I’ve done nothing at all for far too long. And now we’ve come to this past month. Where having had zero success in the area of getting myself to exercise, I decided to set the bar low. SO LOW I could literally trip over it and FALL forward. But at least that’s going FORWARD! I mean set those goals small enough…..set that bar low enough…and you WILL succeed. You almost won’t be able to NOT succeed if the goal is small enough. And I suppose if you’re me and you can’t get your butt in gear—that’s just exactly what needs to be done!
It’s been about 3 weeks now since I decided to try and pull this sh*t show together. (Excuse my french!) And I have to admit I’m surprised I’m still at it! I mean let’s be honest. I figured this would just be another shot in the dark. Another missed attempt. Another failed reset. But shock of my life! I’m still on the game board!
Setting the bar so low it’s practically underground may not be for everyone but it sure is helping me! I had somehow forgotten that small victories MUST be celebrated like milestones and overtime must be worked on your psyche if a rut is going to be crawled out from. The last few years it seems I have done little more than cry the blues and feel depressed. Almost everything I’ve tried seems to have failed both in weight loss and real life. Relationships have not gone as I had hoped with people in my life. Personal and professional things have gone haywire. Sometimes I still think I’m the target of someone’s prank to screw with a random person just for fun.
Still driving this rental car waiting for my van to be repaired. Still experiencing other issues already previously mentioned with no major improvements. But I’ve decided to worry less, pray more and FORCE positive thoughts into my brain like a mom shoving untasty medicine into her child’s mouth ‘for your own good’!!
I used to be so positive. I used to believe all the promises. But life can pile on the crap, can’t it?? And one thing after another sometimes starts to convince you that maybe it really ISN’T going to be ok??? Maybe it’s actually going to just get worse?! I’ve cried so much I need Gatorade to rehydrate my body but I probably shouldn’t drink it because of the sugar!! So where do we go from here!
On with the show!
I decided 3 weeks ago to start walking again. I’ve gone back to Leslie Sansone who I highly recommend to anyone who struggles with exercise either due to mobility issues OR motivation issues. I downloaded the Daily Walk app which I’ve been using quite a bit. But I also have gone back to one of my favorite videos of hers that has all walks divided into 10 minute segments.
I’ve been using it every day. At first I could only make myself do 10 minutes and the fact that these walks all end at 10 minutes…makes you feel accomplished. I mean you didn’t quit, right?? IT ENDED!! You completed it! YAHOO!!! This is the kind of positive reinforcement my brain needs to feel like I did something ‘good’!
10 Minutes is Do-Able. 10 minutes is not even 15. 10 minutes makes me think maybe I won’t die.
10 minutes is where it’s at!
If that’s too much, 30 seconds works too. I’ve started there before and I would start there again if I needed to. Whatever you’re unmotivated, unwilling self will do—-That’s where the bar gets set!
As the past few weeks have gone by, my motivation has been growing fueled by the small success I had the day before. 10 minutes turned into 11. And 11 into 12. Now I’m walking 2-3 miles a day AND enjoying it!!!!!
I know…I know….I make a point to constantly say how much I HATE exercise. But I always forget that I kind of don’t. At least not walking. Once the walking habit is reestablished, I actually begin to look forward to it (mostly). I still have to force myself into the first 10 minutes many times BUT once I get going I usually hit my groove.
I hope most of you know me well enough by now to sometimes in your mind say….she doesn’t really feel that way. She’s just in a crappy mood! Because I feel bad sometimes when I go back and read my own writing (with a clearer mindset) and see the depressing drivel I’ve written.
But I really and truly with all my heart BELIEVE at times that I hate and despise exercise. That I always have and always will. That I have never not even for ONE moment felt any enjoyment from it. And that nothing will ever change that. NOT EVER EVER!
Please insert picture of screaming toddler having a tantrum
When I talk like this, I believe it at the time. But now that I’ve been walking again for the past 3 weeks AND even looking forward to it, I remember all over again….that what I often believe about myself and exercise is simply just not true.
That’s a disordered thought pattern. A cognitive distortion that many people fall into. Polarized thinking that seems a bit too extreme.
I am famous for this!! What they call “all or nothing”, “black and white” thinking. Whenever you hear “always” or “never” you can pretty much be sure we’ve entered that realm! So while I truly believe that I hate exercise—have ALWAYS hated exercise—and that I have never (not even for ONE moment felt the slightest bit of positivity from doing it)—the reality is that is just not true. I hate a lot of it. But I don’t hate ALL forms of it. It’s hard for me to remember that each morning though. Like the movie Groundhog day I must start again. But with enough time and days strung in a row, I can find my way back. I can reawaken to the reality that not only do I not hate all forms of exercise but in fact I can even enjoy it.
We just have to be very careful not to fall into that trap of lies the mind will tell us to keep us down.
So I’m doing the Leslie walks every day. But I was struggling with the app because it only plays on my phone and the screen is too small. My son figured out how to get my app to play from my phone onto the computer. He’s so smart!! If you need to know, it’s done through quicktime player. You just plug your phone in and open Quicktime. You hit “new recording” and it will start playing whatever is on your phone onto the computer screen. You change settings for sound to your phone and then you can hear it too. Good thing I have my son around to help me with things!
I literally started with ONLY the goal to walk at least 10 minutes a day. And no food goals at all. But as I have had this daily success at reestabling my morning walks, I’ve found myself becoming motivated to eat healthier. I even started drinking water again. Another thing I had let go. But it’s not forced. It’s not even a goal. It’s just something I’m doing because I want to. Not because I have to. Isn’t it weird how deciding to force myself to do something for only 10 minutes out of the day has led to other things?
This is a principle that is so important and yet the first one I will forget when going off track. Motivation is NOT required. So if you have none, good news!! You don’t need it. Motivation WILL ignite itself spontaneously when you achieve a small goal of some kind repeatedly. Even if that goal you are working on is not in the same area.
Now let’s face it. I wasn’t motivated to do 10 minutes either so I won’t lie. There is some sheer force of will involved here. You have to make yourself do SOMETHING. But what that ‘something’ is almost doesn’t matter. I have seen this truth played out over and over again in my life. Yet it’s so hard to believe it will work that even after having experienced it first hand I still find it hard to believe.
After the past few weeks of walking, I have become motivated to walk more. After having reset that habit and now gotten to where I’m even looking forward to it, hope has grown a tiny bit where it was lacking. And then I found myself forgetting one morning to get breakfast tacos.
ONE NEVER FORGETS TACOS!
This is a habit I have fallen into which has derailed me greatly with food. From the start of the day, I have immediately flipped the food switch on a bit too early by downing 3 or 4 tacos. Now it’s on (mentally) and all day I think about food. But by having very small success with walking every day for the past few weeks, I have naturally found myself not being drawn to the taco truck.
YAHOO! So I then felt motivated enough to set an ACTUAL goal. Which was…no breakfast tacos in the morning. I know that’s a hard and fast one. Not even really leaning into it with like…2 days this week no tacos?? But it’s ok because I was feeling it. I knew that I had it in me to forego tacos in the morning so I did. And after a week or so of that, I felt motivated to make a new goal. And it’s to have real control over my mornings.
Because I may be inching along but I have to keep inching. Making little additional goals as I move along.
So I’ve divided my day into 4 segments.
6 am- 10 am
10 am- 2 pm
2 pm- 6 pm
6 pm – 10 pm
Those are just about my waking hours. For the first 4 hours, I’ve decided to go no-sugar. For me, I do better with some level of intermittent fasting during the day. It’s not a real fast because I do drink protein shakes during that time. But it’s 4 hours of just drinking water, coffee and/or sugar controlled protein shakes. Most of you know that this is the crux of my main routine to get off sugar and get control. I just haven’t been able to do it full force. But after 3 weeks of walking daily and finding myself slowly gravitating naturally to better food decisions—I am ready to go for it.
So for the past 5 days, I have had that 4 hour window of my morning back under control. And while I haven’t necessarily kicked butt in all other areas, I am making progress. I am recreating that morning habit of control and it is making me feel like hope has grown back into some areas where the land was dry and sparse!!!!
Progress update! 3 weeks ago I was here
2 weeks ago here…
Last week I was here…
And today I am HERE!
It’s only 2.4 pounds lost but I will TAKE IT!!!
This inchworm is still in the game!
This means I have officially lost 10 POUNDS
Instead of gaining I am losing again. And we must pause here to give some level of highlighting to the fact that this is A BIG DEAL. I have been gaining 10 pounds a month for several months IN A ROW. So for me to actually LOSE 10 pounds in a month by not even completely pulling myself together 100%–pretty amazing. Just inchworming along here trying to get my marbles back in the jar one at a time and it’s working. I’m still screwing plenty of things up but I’m a bit more on top of things than I was last month!
This week while I have not made fast and sure plans for what I’m doing in my lunch and dinner life, I have naturally begun going back to the things that worked for me before.
Greek salad (I have a greek yogurt dressing here. Poured on too thick but small steps people!)
Baked chicken drumsticks. And a whole package that I bought was only 3.33 cents!!! (Ranch on the side)
So progress is progress!!! And I’m happy to say for once, however slow it may be, we are moving in the correct direction!
I leave you with pictures of my kids making gingerbread houses. Luckily they are for looks and not eating. I’ve never been tempted to eat a single candy that comes with these gingerbread house kits. It’s all very hard and…NOT chocolate. SAFE!
I can’t lie! My son’s gingerbread house was my favorite!
I hope your week has been going well !!!