Archive for the ‘accountability’ Category

What is the deal with sugar (and well intentioned gifters)?

Before I start pointing fingers, I am just as guilty as everyone else, so if you resemble any of the depictions in this post or if I actually cite you verbatim, don’t be offended. I’ve done it too. What I hope to do, by putting this in writing, is to stop doing it.

Let’s start at the beginning: a few weeks ago, my husband asked me why it is that people celebrate with things that they know are bad for them. In this case, I think this may have been on the eve of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which was complete with cake (two cakes, actually, one of which was gluten-free [and gorgeous]), alcohol, bar-be-que and, generally, more food that you can shake a stick at.

However, it could have been in response to the Thanksgiving that most people in the U.S. celebrated just a few weeks before. Or it could have been in response to the literal trough of food that was brought into my office, starting in October, which involved cookies, candy, brownies, cakes, and chocolate. (I rue the day I told my administrator that I am gluten-intolerant, because now she makes gluten-free stuff that I actually feel compelled to eat – which is so totally messed up, it’s hard to go there….)

Regardless of the precipitating event, it’s a good question: why DO we stuff ourselves, not to mention those we love the most, with things that are bad for them? Namely, why in heaven’s name, did sugar become the celebratory drug of choice for most people?

It get’s better.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and she was telling me about the Great Cookie Caper that she engages in every Christmas. Essentially, she loves to bake (which, I admit, I do to) and every year she makes cookies and mails them out to family and delivers them to friends. And I’m not talking the simple sugar cookies that I used to decorate every Christmas with my mom, but serious, gourmet cookies with pistachios, real chocolate, almonds, walnuts, and about 10 lbs – when all is said in done – of pure, unadulterated butter.

And let’s, of course, not forget corresponding 10 – 15 lbs of sugar.

As she was telling me about her upcoming cookie making weekend, she relayed to me how her mother – her own mother – told her not to send them to her. She didn’t want them. She didn’t even want them in the house. Do. Not. Send. Them.

(Ironically, I was thinking something similar, albeit with an odd twist: 1) Thank God I’m gluten-intolerant and 2) I want to bake some cookies! Sick, Kathryn. Sick.)

My friend’s response: tough, that’s just what I do.

A few days ago, my friend (the same one) was telling me that she had made 17 types of cookies. The process had extended to a week, eating up the majority of her vacation time, and it looked like she was going to be spending the last two days of 2012 sending out her wares.

I figure, that’s cool, she loves to make cookies. Go her.

And then she said it: “You know, I never eat that stuff. I don’t like it. I don’t like it in my body. I don’t like the way it makes me feel, but you know what, I’ve been eating it and now I’m like completely…..” She may have said wired, she may have said jittery, she may have said that she was over it. She may have said that she felt better than she ever had in her entire life.

I truly have no idea, because at that point my brain had fitzed out – not because of all of the sugar (I’d been sugar-free for about ten days at that point), but because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

She doesn’t want it. She doesn’t eat it. She doesn’t like the way it makes her feel….

Yet, she gives it to everyone she loves, out of love.

And as I was sitting there pointing my finger at her (covertly of course), not to mention all of the people who left bags of homemade almond rocca in in my box at work, I realized that I do it too.

I didn’t make, but I bought, everyone in my office dark chocolate caramels with sea salt or (truth be told) the best damn caramels I’ve ever had in my entire life. When I go to the store, I buy my husband cinnamon buns and ice-cream. I usually don’t do it unless he asks, but sometimes I just do it to “be nice.”

The conversation with my friend (shortly on the heels of that relatively off-the-cuff question from with my husband) was an eye opener. Everyone I know struggles with their weight or their digestion in some way shape or form. No one in my life actually goes out of their way to eat more sugar. Even my husband, who has quite the sweet tooth, is trying to cut back. But there I am, buying sweets. Sweets that I don’t eat. Sweets that, if I could actually eat them without having debilitating stomach pains and a migraine, I wouldn’t even want in the house…. Sound familiar?

Next year, no baking for me, unless of course, I figure out a way to reduce the sugar, or to eliminate it all together. And next time I go to the store? Let’s just say Michael J is on his own when it comes to sugary treats.

Does that mean no gift-giving?

No, it means learning to celebrate in ways that don’t put other people’s goals and desires at risk or put my own (to be seen as nice or for the simple act of baking) in front of theirs (to be healthy, happy, and sugar-free).

Because after all, I wouldn’t give alcohol to an alcoholic would I?

Putting a Bow on 2012

This year wasn’t great for blogging, but it has been amazing for the tag-line (“Learning to Love and Cherish My Body From the Inside Out”).

And it’s probably fair to say that it wasn’t a great year for the waistline, either; but that’s beside the point. Because I’m not caring about that as much as I did in, well, every year in my entire life up until now.

Last June, I was a wreck. I hated my job. I hated my body. I was tired and grumpy. I was not in a good place.

I started reading all kinds of books about people who had finally kicked their bad relationships with food – people who were in way worse shape than I was (or ever had been) who had learned to trust their bodies, to really tune in, and, eventually, with seemingly little effort, get down to their ideal weight by eating not whatever they wanted, but whatever their bodies wanted.

I had tried this before and I had never quite gotten out of my head.

This year has been more about inner game than counting calories.

I’ve spent way more time learning how to be present, how to actually listen to the inner wisdom of my body, to trust myself, to forgive myself…. To love myself.

It’s getting better, but it’s not perfect. I still have shitty days and, notably, those days are all more poignant because now I have something – something good, something calm, and something serene – with which to compare them. The discrepancies are more real, but the downward spirals are shorter. I still fall off the wagon, but the damage that I inflict on myself (my body) – what one of my coaches refers to as “self-torture” (she doesn’t pull any punches, does she?) – doesn’t last nearly as long. It’s progress.

Do I still look in the mirror and cringe?



Not all that often. Well, at least not anymore…..

However, when it does  happens, I look deep into my eyes and realize that there really is something more to me than the numbers on the scale (that I no longer look at), the size of my jeans (which still have the ability – at least for a few moments – to cause tears), or the shape of my now middle aged body.

I’ve also realized that age is just as insidious an opponent as weight. In fact, it’s the age I’m feeling more than the weight these days, even though I appreciate that they are close sisters (and twin topics for another post at a later date).

For the most part, I am grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that I live in this body that – with the exception of a faulty thyroid and an exhausted set of adrenals (but then again, whose fault is that?) – functions pretty darn well given the circumstances.

I’ve surrendered, finally. Mainly because I realized that surrendering is not the same as giving up. It’s not the same as giving in.

It’s about letting go.

It’s about learning to fall in love with the process of being skinny (or at my ideal healthy weight) without getting attached to the outcome.

It’s about putting a ham hock in the split pea soup if my body feels like it. It’s about finally appreciating the fact that my body really doesn’t like sugar. I thought she did, but that was my brain. Because after three weeks on sugar, followed by three days off, it is clear to me what people have always said, but that I didn’t want to believe: Sugar is a drug.

Perhaps my biggest insight of 2012: Sugar makes me crazy; it makes me paranoid; it makes me compulsive; it interferes with my ability to think, to write, and to function. Sugar, now, is in the same category as gluten (which gives me migraines) and alcohol (which can, in amounts of more than a glass or two [and I’m talking wine, not liquor]) leave me down for the count for a matter of days. Sugar won’t kill me – not like the gluten – but it is something not to be toyed with or taken lightly. It’s a drug; period.

It’s about dancing with my body instead of trying to beat her into submission. It’s about drawing her outline on a piece of butcher paper and seeing her, for the first time ever, as a work of art as opposed to a work in progress.

So here are the things that I’ve been working with and that will be kept moving forward in 2013:

  1. Get up every morning and have a cup of lemon water.
  2. Write a morning journal entry setting my intention for the day (and bookending that with a similar entry every night).
  3. Do some form of physical activity (including going for a walk outside for at least  15 minutes) everyday.
  4. Eat what my body wants to eat and feed my mind what it really wants – which are ideas and other forms of stimulation than food.
  5. Listen to my cravings; greet them, if you will, and understand that they (like my emotions) are trying to tell my something about myself.
  6. Experience my emotions; witness them and then let them go.
  7. Only eat things that I absolutely love.
  8. Slow down (this is still one that I struggle with, but there are signs of improvement).
  9. Be in touch with my body; when something’s no longer working (whether it’s food or exercise or pleasure), do something else.
  10. Quiet my mind at least once a day.
  11. Do yoga.
  12. Drink more water.
  13. Breathe – consciously and with intention.
  14. Acknowledge the things around me that can’t be seen.
  15. Pray.
  16. Learn to connect without food; even if that means reaching out to someone who I think may have better things to do than to keep me from feeling lonely.
  17. Mix things up – on all levels, as often as possible; experience the unexpected.
  18. Embody my own vision of love, which means being both expansive and forgiving.
  19. Practice gratitude.
  20. And, the most difficult and important obligation of all: to love myself, regardless.

These are not New Year’s resolutions – destined to be forgotten before Valentine’s Day. These are the steps that I’ve been incorporating into my life on a daily basis already. (So, you can see why I haven’t had all that much time for the blog.) These twenty – plus a few others that I have probably forgotten about – are the things that I’ve tried that are currently working for me. They may stop working at any moment – and if they do, it’s up to me to change that. But they also may not stop working – and if they don’t (stop, that is) it’s also up to me to keep doing them, for better or worse, in sickness and in health…. Even if I’m teaching and exhausted.

Next year, I come first. I am my number one priority. Come hell or high water I am putting my own mask on first. Selfish?

Maybe, but not really.

Because if I can take care of myself, I can take care of others. And spare those around me from the nightmare that was my emotional life last March and, let’s face it, every month between then and June. If I love myself first and foremost, I will be able to love others fully and without reservation.

A friend recently reminded me that Westerners like to cite the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. However, they/we/I rarely appreciate the flip side of that: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.

As I let those words sink in, I realized (not for the first time) that I would never abuse or neglect someone else the way I have abused and neglected myself over the years. That – more than anything else – has been the hardest lesson to learn and the one, if truly embodied, will undoubtedly make the biggest difference not only to my body, but to my entire being.

So, that said, what are my New Year’s Resolutions (ones that hopefully will not be forgotten by Valentine’s Day)?

  1. Take better care of myself (and all that entails).
  2. Blog more.
  3. Write a book (I’m thinking a cookbook for starters).
  4. Be happier more of the time.
  5. Love.

Happy New Year.

So Ends the Experiment

For years I have been listening to people talk about intuitive eating and the dangers of calorie counting.

I’ve tried it before and I’ve just finished trying it, again. Both times were an abysmal failure.

I just had to step on a scale for the first time in a year (because of some not routine medical tests) and for the first time in nearly five [years] I am once again, overweight. I am now bigger than I was before all of this started. I am now bigger than the first time when I met my husband – the time that I told him that I was really going to transform my body before I hit 40.

I was 36. I am now 42.

The experiment failed.

I’m not saying that intuitive eating doesn’t work – but it doesn’t work for me.

Maybe it’s the stress. Maybe it’s the whacked out thyroid. Maybe it’s the overactive immune system. Maybe I was just fooling myself when I thought that I knew what my body wanted, when it was hungry, etc. Who knows?

Regardless, I do know one thing – I’m allowing it to affect every aspect of my life, from my work to my relationships. All of the cognitive therapy that I’ve been doing so that I can love my body from the inside out? Well, despite the immense talent of my coach, it folds in the face of the illuminated number on a silver scale. It folds in the face of the double digit clothing that I can barely fit into. It folds every time that someone touches any part of my body that roils underneath the slightest bit of pressure.

So, intuitive or not, it’s time for a little accountability.

If I can’t be truly in touch with my body then I at least need to know what’s going on so that I am not just sitting around weighting (every pun, intended. Do you believe that that was actually a Freudian slip? It was – really) to find the right combination of seaweed, protein, whole grains that just so happen to be gluten-free, etc., that is going to unlock all of the nutritional and weight loss secrets of the universe.

In other words, I am going to revert back to calories in/calories out.

Now, I can hear the groan from my friends – at least a thousand of whom are graduates from one of the best schools of integrative nutrition in the country. But I know that all calories are not equal, so you don’t have to worry that I think that a 800+ calorie bomb from McDonald’s will have the same nutritional value as 2 of my green smoothies (even without all of the cruciferous vegetables that contain goitrogens that suppress thyroid function). But at least this way I will know – that I’ll know that it’s not something that I’m just fooling myself about. I remember the autumn that I gained 10 pounds eating “healthy cookies….” Could it be?

Because if it really is me – then maybe I can learn to do something else. But if it isn’t me (and it really is her, my body who is suffering under the unmitigated stress of my life) then, maybe, I can learn to forgive myself and my body and allow myself to connect not only with her – but also emotionally, mentally, and physically with those other people in my life who really don’t seem to mind if I weigh 140 or 170 pounds.

Seriously, as I even write the number, tears come to my eyes and the thought, unbidden, how could this have happened to me? How did I let it happen?

Ending the Cleanse

I’ve always been told that the way that you do a cleanse is the way you do everything in your life.

In the past, I have followed cleanses to the letter. And I did pretty much the same this time – that is until I ran out of the herbal supplement that I was taking for detox a day early! I was sort of horrified for about a minute and I immediately found myself falling down the rabbit hole of “Oh my god! I don’t have enough a stuff to finish the cleanse! This is awful, etc, etc.” Luckily I snapped out of it and forgave myself for 1) being bad at math – that is, not knowing how many servings I’d need for a 14 day cleanse – and 2) not keeping track of the house supply of Clearvite.

Does this mean that I ruined by cleanse? No. It means that I started the Body Ecology ritual (as opposed to regime or regiment, because, yes, Virginia, words matter) a day earlier. No big deal.

So a few posts earlier, I set my pre-goals for this cleanse.

I jokingly said that I would like to lose 10-15 pounds, but that my real goals were to slow down my eating, to eat smaller portions, and to learn to love my body (note the new tagline). I didn’t lose the 10-15 pounds, but I feel lighter and my clothes fit better. In fact, according the scale, I lost nothing and may have even gone up.

Am I disappointed? Actually, not at all, which is both surprising and surprisingly true.

So what did I accomplish in the last 24 days? Well, I think the biggest thing that happened is I bought a weighted hula hoop and I am having the best time…EVER. I never had any idea my belly was so much fun (not to mention talented)! Thank goodness it’s summer, because I’ve actually started running around in jog bras and crop tops so that I can hula at will and there’s something delightful about feeling the hoop grip your skin. It’s sexy. It’s fun. And my inner child, who never really has gotten the hang of crunches (who can blame her, really?) or yoga loves it.

I also started letting stuff go. Emotional stuff. Physical stuff. I shed clothes and shoes and anything that “didn’t serve me” or was ugly. Even things I had spent money on – especially things that I had spent money on and never used. Because even though I didn’t realize it at the time, when I would look at them, I would feel guilty or start to beat myself for wasting money – and goodness knows that guilt never serves. In the immortal words of Willie Nelson, “Regret is just a memory, painted on my brow, ’cause there’s nothing I can do about it now.” There is something you can do: learn the lesson. Bury (or give away) the evidence. Then move on.

I also stepped into my feminine. Well, it’s probably more appropriate to say that I continued the process of stepping into my feminine because it’s been going on for a while and it’s a process. I started small: I started listening to female artists again. I realized that since I have been living with Michael, I have adopted a lot of his music: The Grateful Dead, Daniel Lanois, U2, Talking Heads, etc (though I must admit that I drew the line at Zappa)! While he was away, I went through the music collection and picked out a female artist for every letter in the alphabet and worked my way through. Now, I’m not talking Britney Spears or Lady Gaga – my typical workout partners – I’m talking divas, like Annie Lennox, Barbara Streisand, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge, Nora Jones, Patsy Kline, Sade…. You get the picture. A range of women sharing their experiences of the world.

I have also started doing yoga and meditating. I discovered essential oils. Essential oils help me with meditation because they smell so damn good that it’s pretty irresistible to just sit quietly with them and breathe deeply. I’ve been putting my fork down between every bite and remembering to breathe when I eat; especially to take three deep breaths before food ever passes my lips and to stop and take three more if I catch myself rushing.

I also rediscovered the sensual pleasure of dry skin brushing and wearing short skirts with flip flops on a summer’s day. And I’m sorry to say that I’ve only now fully discovered the importance of presence – not only in my relationships with food, but in my relationships with others, be it family, friends, or strangers. Being in the moment also helps with hula hooping, so it provides a great field in which to practice.

Last night I had dinner with Michael and a a couple of his friends (now my friends as well, as it was the first time we’d met). I drank my water while Michael and Jackie had wine. I ordered the swordfish without the sticky rice or mango sauce, while Jackie ordered the striped sea bass and the sweet potatoes (yum!). I had peppermint tea for dessert while Jackie and Paul split a creme brulee and Michael had an ice cream sundae with extra chocolate sauce. And on the way home, I realized that hadn’t felt at all deprived. I didn’t feel like I was cheated out of having a good time because I didn’t have the wine (I did smell the wine and, I’m not going to lie, it did smell fabulous). But, in retrospect, the peppermint tea (which, unfortunately, was not brand identified by the tag) was the best I ever had and I woke feeling awesome…much better than I felt the last two or three times I’ve had wine.

So today I started the next three month phase of trying to reclaim my immune system. What have I learned so far?

Own every part of myself.
Have more fun.
Laugh more often.
Be present (or as has been said better than I ever could: Be Here Now).
And love yourself – regardless.

Phase One: Down; Let the Mind Tricks Begin

I’m eleven days in, 25 if you count the two week sugar detox I went on before this all started (and you discount out the two glasses of wine I had the night before I officially started).

It was interesting in a number of ways.

One, today is the first day I overate. In retrospect, I’m not even sure if I was hungry, if I was really worried about crashing my metabolism and producing cortisol, or if I just finally gave into the insidiousness of my unconscious mind.

Whatever it was, instead of drinking copious amounts of tea after dinner, which has become my habit (and going to bed slightly hungry), I decided that I should eat more calories today and had a green smoothie. Now, granted, it was a green smoothie and I did leave out the hemp seeds, and it was only 250 calories and most of it was high quality protein (raw hemp powder) and leafy greens. But, the truth is, I didn’t need it. The truth is, I would have been better off with the tea, because as soon as I finished it, I realized that not only was a no longer hungry, but I was stuffed.

I suppose that I could have only had half of the smoothie, but trust me on this: I don’t yet have that degree of self-possession. Notice, I say yet.

Then, feeling bloated and stuffed, I decide not to exercise.

Whoa. Can we say slippery slope?

So I took a deep breath, fully associated into the uncomfortable feeling of being overfull (I even turned it up using my favorite food related submodalities) so that I would not be tempted lest I decide to try it again tomorrow. Then, instead of going to bed like I wanted to do, I went and did yoga. 50 minutes.

It was hard. It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t fun.

But I did feel better…after it was done.

Let’s be completely honest: I don’t really think I was all that hungry.

And I am in no danger of starving.

I did not need the shake.

I think at some unconscious level I was making some misguided attempt to “reward” myself either for ten great days of cleansing or finally getting a handle on a work project that had been giving me the slip. Regardless, it was an old strategy – one that I am glad to say, no longer brings the pleasure it once did.

And, though I never thought that I would every say this (at least not in print), I am glad I did the yoga.

Sometimes old habits are hard to break, but nothing’s impossible. And maybe one day, I’ll remember to reach for the yoga mat before automatically reaching for the BlendTec.


Never be afraid to ask for what you need (or to put your money where your mouth is)

Yesterday, I woke up feeling refreshed; literally like it was a new day. And for the first time in a long time I felt optimistic about my weight loss efforts. I was looking forward to wearing my new clothes and feeling comfortable.

However, I know myself enough to know that wearing a pretty new dress wasn’t going to cut it, at least not on day one.

First things first: I admit that I am a calorie counter. This was a problem, because I was counting the empty calories as I ate them. I’ll continue to count calories, but I will also be more diligent about the quality.

For example, the apple that I had yesterday afternoon was much more satisfying than 1 1/2 Reese’s pieces cups that I get for the same 95 calories!

Remember the candy bowl – you know, the infamous office candy bowl? Well, unfortunately we became reacquainted – after an almost two year hiatus somewhere along the second week of February? (Can anyone say Valentine’s Day?) What started off as one piece of substandard dark chocolate, quickly became became two, and then eventually shot up to 6 or 8 pieces a day. And, much to my chagrin, I was no longer limiting myself to dark. I’ll admit it, I hooked again – not on cheap chocolate, but on the sugar.

And for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, sugar, for some of us, is as addictive as crack.

So the very first thing I did yesterday morning was draft an email to my entire office:

Hello all!

I need your help as I have fallen afoul of the infamous bowl.

If you see me with a piece of chocolate in my hand, or even reaching for one, I will give you $20.00.

Thanks for your assistance in this small, but consequential matter.


Now I would have loved to have seen their faces, when they opened that message. Because, trust me, it didn’t take long for the responses to start pouring in. Here’s a sample:

This is a great decision. I should also become brave like you and participate in the pledge. But, for now, I look forward to making some money this year. I will be watching you very carefully. – M

As incoming chair, I wouldn’t mind if your first official act in office was to remove the bowl in the first place! But I’ll keep an eye on you anyway. Let me know when you want to have lunch. – J

To me it seems like you have infinite will-power, but I will be happy to help out (and take your money!). – D

I shall be vigilant and have started my vigilance by absconding ten minutes ago with one Hersey mini from the infamous bowl. – B

One thing that many of you may not know about me, because this is a blog about food and not money, is that I am about as cheap as anyone can possibly get. I also have enough pride to choke a horse and even though I am willing to bare my foibles here, I am not willing to do so in the office. And though I know that there are going to be times that I am alone in the office, I have enough personal honor to know that if I were to reach for a Hershey’s miniature (shudder) that I really would feel compelled to leave a $20 on the departmental administrator’s desk.

And, knowing her, and not to mention my luck, I can just about guarantee that she’d use it to – you guessed it – buy even more chocolate!

The funny thing is that now that I went public, I am no longer tempted. Nothing’s changed. The bowl still sits right outside my door. But the thought of laying down $20 for a single piece of candy (or $120 for 6) or people watching me do it….

No way.

I’m not quite willing to offer Michael $40 every time he catches me in the tahini jar, but it’s a close thing.

Exiting the Roller Coaster (Becoming My Own Expert)

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while now. It’s definitely been a long time coming.

Exiting the Roller Coaster – appropriate, but not necessarily enlightening.

Becoming My Own Expert – probably a little more elucidating.

How about, Reclaiming the Owner’s Manual?

Last year was a year of experimentation and disappointments for me in terms of my health, my motivation, and – let’s get real – my weight.

It started with the food allergies: gluten, dairy, soy, and – as much as it pains me to admit it – nuts.

In an attempt to deal with those, I went raw and for 4 or 5 months, I felt great. In fact, in May, I felt (and looked, lest we forget that I am much more shallow and vain than I had ever given myself credit for) better than I had in my entire life. I also weight in at a slight 132.5 (a whole 100 pounds from my high weight recorded in the Weight Watchers office at 21st and Sheridan in 1986).

In June, things started to change.

My energy started flagging. I was no longer working. I could barely get out of bed and on the days that I managed it, I often spent the afternoons on the couch. I think the most worrisome thing for those closest to me was that I was no longer exercising. Not only did I not have the energy, I didn’t want to. Zero interest.

In an attempt to jumpstart my interest – in anything – I started looking to experts. I tried High Intensity Interval Training (which I hated) and, even though it worked for everyone else, it did nothing for me. I read a book where the authors suggested that counting calories was bad and that you should just eat slower and take more pleasure in your food.

Due to a strange twist of fate (numbness in my hands which resulted in a second degree burn), a neurologist did a panel of blood tests and as it turns out, I have Hashimoto’s disease, which means that my autoimmune system is attacking my thyroid. My chiropractor recommended that I start eating some cooked food. My health coach recommended that I start eating small amounts of animal protein at every meal and that I treat the underlying problem using herbal and nutritional supplements without taking the prescribed synthroid.

About this time, I also started working with a fitness coach, who convinced me to separate food from exercise. I took supplements, I cleansed. I didn’t take the medicine as prescribed. The thyroid numbers got worse and worse.

I took belly dancing, yoga. I danced in my living room.

You name it, I did it.

And I still felt like crap and still had no energy.

I cleansed again.

And still my clothes didn’t fit. In six months I had gained 16 pounds…. Ugly.

My mood swings were turning into tilt-a-whirls. I started the synthroid, while continuing the herbal treatment for the underlying adrenal exhaustion.

I have recalled my calorie tracking program and relinked calories in with calories out, even though I do know enough to know that not all calories are created equally.

This is not a New Year’s Resolution. This really is more of a state of the union. The state of the relationship between me and my body.

To date, we are stronger than we were just a few weeks ago.

Why? Because I’ve decided to stop listening to the experts and to really tune in to what I/we need to heal.

But trust us, we have a long way to go.

It’s funny, I used to know what worked for me, but in the last six months, I’ve felt completely out to sea. Not only out to sea, but out to sea without a map and, if truth be told, without a compass.

Over the next few days, I’m going to get serious about creating that map and putting it into place. I am also going to tune into the compass – that is, my intuitive knowledge about myself – that I have also been so steadfastly ignoring. I’m, importantly, I am going to use this blog as a personal and public tool for accountability as I turn this ship around and get headed in the right direction.

And over the next few weeks (and months, as I have no illusions that this can be undone as quickly as it was done), I will chronicle my fears, my frustrations, my joys, my successes, and my aspirations.

I love my body. It’s the only one I have and – barring all medical emergencies or miracles – the only one I’m likely ever to have.

If any of you would care to join me, I’d love for you to come along for the ride. Or if you’re simply willing to bear witness, I’d appreciate that too.

Over Indulgence, Addiction, and Forgiveness

I went out last night with friends for dinner and I had the whole enchilada – meaning that I did the whole drink (1), appetizer, entree, and dessert! I can’t even tell you the last time that has happened.

It was delicious.

It was indulgent.

It was fun.

It was high vibrational – as most of the food was organic and locally produced.

It was rich.

It was also very, very expensive.

Although my soul was filled, my body was overfull. (I also can’t tell you the last time that’s happened).

I didn’t feel good physically and when I got home, and believe it or not, I found myself noshing on leftover delicata squash (see earlier post). The full sensation – the overfull sensation actually made me want to eat more! Not to mention the sugar in the wine and the (shudder) ice cream sundae with dark chocolate sauce and brandied cherries!

I made the decision to have that meal consciously, knowing that for the next three days I am going to have to monitor my food intake closely. I won’t be counting calories, but I will be extra diligent for sugar. Because now that it’s in my system – just like crack! – the craving is there…. Just an idea. Just a whisper. Just an ever present suggestion: Are you sure you wouldn’t like a little bit more?

I would, actually. But I’m going to pass.

Last night, as I crawled in bed, I murmured the following as I rubbed my tummy, anointing it with lavender:

I apologize
I love you
Please forgive me
Thank you

No self-recriminations, just love. I am the caretaker of my body and I – and I alone – am responsible for it’s condition.

The Missing Link: Introducing the CalTrac

I must admit, I have been completely flummoxed over my recent (over the last 3 months) 16 pound weight gain. I’m not obsessing over it (no, really!) but I was curious.

I was still exercising and I do think some of it’s muscle (as I’m still in my 4s – for the most part and my 6s, comfortably), but it’s clear that the belly (aka Bella) has taken on a life of her own.

Granted, I’ve been really sad over the last three weeks or so. Not miserable, but definitely feeling a loss.

I also have had less control over my eating – more peanut butter, more binges, but – in all fairness – my binge eating is pretty tame by most people’s standards. And even though I haven’t been counting calories, even on the days that I was over eating, I wasn’t over eating that much. I certainly wasn’t eating even lose to 2,000 a day, so things just really didn’t seem to add up.

Yesterday, however, it all slid into place.

It wasn’t that I ate all that much more this summer.

It wasn’t that I stopped exercising.

It’s that I stopped moving this summer, aside from exercise.

In the interest of saving time and gasoline (and spending more time with Cat) I worked at home this summer. And I worked a lot. Meaning that on most days, as soon as I finished working out, I took a shower and walked 15 steps to the dining room table (or 8 steps into the living room) and worked – i.e., sat on my ass, which got progressively bigger as the weeks passed.

It didn’t occur to me that this was a problem, because I had stayed tuned into food and exercise – that is, formal exercise – like High Intensity Interval Training, Nordic Track, K-Bells, Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that you actually get dressed for and makes you sweat.

Well, because I am determined to get rid of my extra padding that I put on this summer, I started working with a fitness coach.

This woman, whose name is Susan, has given me a device known as a CalTrac. A CalTrac is beeper-like object that you wear on your waist band and it calculates the amount of calories you burn through movement, separate from the calories that you burn just by being alive.

The first couple of days that I had it, I was actually at a conference, which pretty much mimicked what I had been doing at home all summer.

Guess how many calories you burn through movement when you sit on your butt all day?

Less than 200.

Way less.

Yesterday, I headed back to the office.

Instead of shuffling from the bathroom to the kitchen – like I’d done everyday for the last three months – I parked my car at the gym and walked to my office. I walked back across campus to go to convocation (which, ironically, was pretty darned close to where I’d parked my car). Then I walked back to my office. Then, later in the afternoon, I took a turn around the pond, because I realize that the leaves are turning and I won’t have too many more gorgeous days left. At the end of the day I walked back to my car and then to my belly dancing class, because I figured that it would be hard to find parking (which, as it turns out, would have been had I drove).

At the end of the day, I had burned 809 calories through movement – and that’s not counting the 440 calories that I had burned that morning on the stair mill!



That’s a 600 calorie difference just by moving (or not moving) without any consideration of exercise whatsoever.

That’s 3,000 calories a week, assuming a 5 day work week.

That’s practically a pound a week.

No wonder I gained weight!

And no wonder I just didn’t get it.

Because I hadn’t changed what I ate – not that much anyway.

And I hadn’t changed the number of calories that I burned through formal/scheduled exercise.

But I had changed the informal/unscheduled calories that you burn just by walking, just by moving.

It’s a little annoying to wear a little blue device on your belt, but it sure is motivating.

In fact, instead of checking my email when I’m done here, chances are I’m going to take a turn around the pond. It is another gorgeous day after all. But, perhaps even more importantly, it’s another 200+/- calories!

It really never occurred to me that the non-sweat inducing activity of walking (back and forth from cars, between buildings, etc.) could make the difference of a pound a week!

Who knows? I may start parking even further away than I do now (not to mention using the women’s bathroom on the fifth floor instead of the one outside of my office)!

If you’ve changed your routine and you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little thicker around the middle, perhaps you should get up and move a little bit more than you do – and maybe even a little more than that tomorrow.

I know that’s my plan!

Paying the Piper – Stepping Back on the Scale

Yesterday it felt like autumn and I pulled out my jeans.

There’s nothing like putting your jeans on after months of shorts and linen pants to shake up your psyche.

They were snug. And these weren’t even the 4s. These were the 6s!

So, in the interest of being honest (with myself more than anyone) I am going to the gym for the first time in months (MONTHS!) and after my workout I am going to actually step on the scale.

I’m doing this for two reasons.

The first is that I’d hate for three months from now to try on the 8s and have the same thing happen.

The second is that I am starting a new program – this one a little more intensive and comprehensive than the last. And, unfortunately, they want a starting weight…not just measurements.

So I think the key thing for me is that whatever that number says – which I have no doubt is higher than it was in March when I hit the magical 132.5 – is just a number.

It’s just data.

It’s not an endorsement.

It’s not failure.

It’s a starting point.

Just one more point on the road.

Wish me luck and, as always, I’ll keep you posted.

Public Accountability – 1

In my last post, I said that I was committing to morning workouts, because I just can’t seem to get it together if I wait until the afternoon.

Well, yesterday, I didn’t get my act together and I found myself – at 10:00 p.m., which is probably the worst time of day to exercise – clamping on the heart rate monitor and going for it.

And I mean I really went for it, as if there was literally no tomorrow.

In fact, I worked out so hard that I couldn’t even finish the workout! (Though, in all fairness, I was pretty beat when I started, which is just one of the reasons why working out at night sucks to begin with.)

Anyway, I have you to thank for the fact that I did anything at all – well, you and the fact that I told you that I was committing to move my body every single day (come hell or high water). Public accountability. Who knew?

Today, I missed my morning workout as well – this time because when I woke up I was fatigued from lat night – and Michael J and I jumped into a joint editing project shortly after I made my morning smoothie.

What to do? What to do?

Is it really worth it exercising again in the late hours and my heart rate up just before crawling into bed?

Or would it be better to do yoga and really try to turn my schedule around (that is, get up first thing and HIIT the ground running)?

Even though I didn’t do what I said I was going to do – get my exercise in early – it’s amazing how strong the pull to exercise was just because I told you that I was going to do it.

Now I guess I understand all of those women (and some men) who blast out their every food related indiscretion (or success) on twitter. If nothing else, I suppose, it keeps you honest.

So yoga tonight. Or maybe another couple, three rounds of HIIT.

One or the other.

It’s not quite six of one or half dozen of the other, but it’s close.

Thanks for being there. And for making me kick my own butt.

Nowadays it seems like my options are morning…or never

This whole summer it seems like exercise has been the bane of my existence.

I really never quite got there with any of my exercise programs – well, at least not until a couple of weeks ago, when I mashed together one of my favorites (high intensity cardio intervals on the nordic track) and HIIT (or high intensity interval training) on the ground.

That combination – while a total bitch – is killer.

And at the end of two rounds of HIIT, sandwiched between the cardio, I am almost always working out until failure. It’s great. And what’s even better is that I am seeing improvement! I can do more of each of the exercises than I could when I started and my form, for the most part, is improving by the day.

Just as I was hitting my groove on this new and improved exercise routine, however, my subconscious tossed up yet another block: If I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t. And this from a woman who used to teach exercise classes at 5:15 – P.M.

What is going on?

Instead of beating myself up about it, as I am wont to do, I’ve decided to just accept it.

A.M. workouts it is. Now that school is starting again, it’s going to be a little tougher, but I am committing (hence putting it here, in writing).

The reason for the pubic declaration is thus:

Today, instead of working out immediately, I went straight to work and didn’t actually get around to exercising until 5:00. And trust me, by the time I got started, I had I spent more time – and almost as much energy – trying to convince myself to do it than I did on the exercise itself!

My body didn’t feel right.
I’m too full from lunch.
I have a headache.
I’m hungry.
I’m tired.
I feel sluggish.
I don’t want to.
It’s too late.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I don’t have any umph….

You name it, I tried to sell myself on it.

Ironically when I finally got started it turned out to be one of my best workouts ever: 400 calories in just over 30 minutes – heart rate through the roof when it needed to be, coming right back down where I wanted it to be in the short (30 second) time allotted. When I was done, I was a stinky, soppy mess. And I felt great.

But was it worth the hassle of having to fight with myself every step of the way to go get my workout clothes, put them on, find the heart rate monitor, set the timer up, etc?

The jury’s still out.

So, tomorrow, morning it is. And the day after, same thing.

Ever since I was a kid, the Fall has brought with it new rhythms and routines that within just a few weeks became seamless and easy. Let’s hope that this autumn is no different. Until then, morning it is, as never really doesn’t seem like much of an option.

Stepping Out of The Vault (Raw Food Rehab)

At the beginning of the year, I joined Raw Food Rehab, a wonderful on-line resource for those interested in raw food, and checked myself into “The Vault.” The Vault is one of the site’s private rooms – meaning that it’s members only – where you can go to get extra accountability for your weight loss and health goals.

Penni Shelton, the cruise director, if you will, routinely organizes 11 Week Health Initiatives that encourage members to eat more raw foods in their daily lives.

She also posts wonderful recipes and inspirational videos that tap into the inner game of weight loss, and – on occasion – she encourages us to move our bodies.

Although all members of Raw Food Rehab are invited to participate in the 11 Week Initiative, the Vault-lings (as those brave people in the Vault endearingly called) actually commit to posting their before photos, starting measurements, and starting weight at the beginning of the initiative. Then, they are required to log their weight every week, upon threat (and reality) of expulsion. At the end, they post their after pictures, ending weight, etc.

Despite my own aversion to scales, I did this. And it was great.

At the end of the first 11 Week Initiative for 2010 I had lost 14 pounds; and I am now the smallest that I can remember being – ever! An additional and unexpected bonus was the number of good e-friends I made along the way!

The next 11 Week Initiative started yesterday, and after much soul searching, I decided to sit it out. I feel a little remorse about this decision. I also feel a little disappointment.

This disappointment, by the way, is directed not at Raw Food Rehab, the Vault, nor even my own performance during the last initiative.

Instead, this disappointment lies squarely in my own inability to see that the little number that appears behind a pane of clear plastic is not an indictment of my entire person, but is, rather, a tool to help me reach – and to maintain – my goals.

Essentially I have come to the conclusion that I am still too emotionally tied to the scale.

Although I know – rationally – that the scale is just an inanimate object, I still give it the power to mess up my day, if not my week.

This is particularly ironic, because given my current weight, I just don’t see me losing any more weight. More to the point, I don’t really think that I need to.

What I do need to do, however, is tone up and add muscle.

A little deeper personal excavation revealed that the real problem lies in the fact that I am having a hard time accepting – at an identity level – that I actually have reached my desired – if not ideal – weight.

What this means is that whenever I see the actual number, I freak out (and eat).

However, if the number goes up, I also freak out (and, you guessed it, eat more).

And, even harder to explain, if the number goes down, I also freak out (which manifests itself not in depression, anger, and disappointment [see above] but in joy, excitement and fear). Regardless of the emotional cocktail, the result is the same: I eat. Specifically, I eat until the number goes back up and it starts all over again.

It really is a no-win situation.

When I think about it, rationally, I can see that the chances of my gaining weight over the next 11 weeks are actually pretty high. Not that I am giving my permission to gain fat, mind you, but I do intend on adding muscle as I continue to work towards my goal of doing 100 consecutive push ups (I did 69 today, btw), and do yoga, K-Bells, and Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred.

So instead of focusing on weight, my personal goals for the next 11 weeks are to 1) stay in my skinny pants, 2) lose another inch off my waist, 3) tone up the crepe-like skin on my arms and thighs, and 4) rid myself of my limiting beliefs about what I do and do not (and should and should not) look like/weigh, etc.

I hope that I’m not just chickening out, but I acknowledge that that is a possibility.

Notably, this is the exact place where I lost my mind when I did Weight Watchers about 20 years ago, and then I still weighed about 10 pounds more than I do now.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Until then, enjoy the day!

Getting Rid of the Shell, While Staying in the Game

Several months ago, I blogged that I had thrown the scale away and how liberating that was.

Well, this year, I joined the The Vault, a group over at Raw Food Rehab really focused and committed to adopting a more raw lifestyle. One of the conditions of being in the Vault is that you weigh in every week. I really had to ask myself if being part of the Vault was going to be worth reintroducing a scale into my life, with all of the craziness that that entails.

After much deliberation, I decided it was.

But the minute I stepped on that scale, my whole focus changed.

The first few weeks were good, if only because I was losing! It’s always good when you’re losing, right?

Then, last Wednesday, although nothing had changed in my diet (except that I had actually eaten somewhat less and exercised a little bit more), I was up a pound and a half. Hmm, not so good.

I think that the most important lesson I learned there (after I stopped sulking) was that I realized that I was going to have to put my money where my mouth was, as I had just spent the last two and a half weeks encouraging my less “successful” fellow Vault-lings that if they just stayed on the path, eventually their body would catch up.

Then, on Monday, I was up three and a half pounds! Ouch.

Then, on Wednesday, not only was that three and a half pounds gone, I’d actually lost a smidgen. I’m sure that all of the women out there (and any of the men who have actually lived with a women) know exactly what just happened, but I digress.

Today, given that my body has released a lot of the pent up gunk and goo that it had been holding on to, I feel totally thin. In other words, I feel like if I got on the scale, yet again, it would be something entirely different. And, chances are, something entirely better.

Then why don’t I? Good question.

Well, the scale isn’t in my house. It’s actually almost 45 minutes away (a two hour round trip once you count in parking, etc). I got up this morning, thinking, ‘I bet if I go weigh in, I’ll have lost more weight when I check in at the vault.’

Then the craziness started. I actually began creating excuses for going into town – all for the sake of a number. A number that, I have come to realize, has nothing to do with my greater path towards health and fitness. Nor does it have anything to do with what I put in my mouth over the week or with what I will put in my mouth over the upcoming weekend.

So, instead of driving 70 miles out of my way in the hope that I will be able to log in a lower number on my virtual community, I am going to log in over at Raw Food Rehab when the Vault opens, enter in my .10 weight loss from the week before and that will be okay. It will be okay, because the number is just that, a number.

And what am I going to do instead? I’m going to sit in the sun, blog, write and love on my ailing cat. I’m also going to figure out what I’m going to have for lunch tomorrow at Grezzo, where my love is taking me in honor of my 40th birthday. I can’t wait! (And I am most certainly not going to count calories)!

Have a great day.

Setting Goals and Seeking Support

I’ve decided to go about setting goals in a different way from here on out.

In the past, I used to set goals, like “I’m going to lose ten pounds” or “I’m going to get into a smaller pair of jeans.”

In other words, I used to set outcome goals.

I also used to set goals that didn’t really change. In other words, I would set a goal and that was my goal. There was no reassessment. Once it was set, it was set. Like cement.

I would also set goals that only I knew about. And trust me, those are much easier to forget about than those that you’ve shared with others.

This month, I’m trying something different.

I set a couple of goals – that is, a couple of process oriented goals – and they are my goals for the month of February.

I also didn’t just tell myself what my goals are. I told someone else and asked him to check up on me. Instant accountability! How scary, uhm, I mean, how wonderful is that? 🙂

And, believe it or not, it really wasn’t that hard. And the good news is that since they’re my goals for the month (rather than for a lifetime) I can assess myself in terms of my progress. I can either renew the goal or (if it’s become a habit or if it no longer serves me) I can choose another.

The day before yesterday I called Michael J from work and said, “I’d like to talk to you about some fitness goals at dinner and I’d like you to help me succeed. Would that be okay?”

Of course he agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t? It wasn’t like I was asking him to join me or anything? Right?

Essentially, we set down and I said: these are my goals for this month and I would like you help me be accountable.

He – engineer and wonderful partner that he is – actually wrote them down on a note card, which he then stuck promptly beneath the salt cellar.

I thanked Michael J for being totally awesome and supportive and then – like the absent minded professor that I am – promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to last night at dinner: “Hey babe,” says Michael J, “how much water did you have today?”

What?! My knee jerk reaction: What’s it to you?!

Then I looked at the little card that he had in his hand with three enumerated points on it:

Drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.

Do yoga at least 3 times a week, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

Take vitamins every day.

Only slightly embarrassed, I did a quick calculation: “Seventy-five,” I replied gratefully, “and I imagine it’s probably going to take at least another five to take those vitamins that I forgot to take at breakfast!”

So, those are my three goals for the month of February: water, yoga, and vitamins.

I’m hoping that what “they” say is true and that it really does only take 30 days to make something a habit. Because, trust me, when I am doing these three things regularly without having to stop and think about them, there are plenty of more small, process-oriented goals ready to take their place…..

But until then, I have Michael J and his trusty note card.

By the way, if you’re reading: thanks, babe, you truly are the best.

Happy New Year! Live from the Raw Food Rehab Online Community

It had been my intention to write a big year end blog and something motivating and meaningful about looking forward, but, to tell you the truth, I have spent almost the entire day over at some other woman’s site! Another Tulsan, mind you, but that’s beside the point.

If you’ve been following me at all these last few weeks, you’ll have noticed a new tag popping up on my entries: raw food.

After having recently gone gluten-free, my diet has taken yet another left turn. I think the correct term is “high raw,” which means raw until dinner. All that means is that I’m too big of a chicken to give up cooked food all together. I think that this topic deserves some thought, so hopefully I will be back online tomorrow with something meaningful and motivating.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in what’s going on in Oklahoma (other than the two amazing raw food restaurants that I mentioned in my last post), go check out Penni Shelton’s blog. And if you’re interested in all things raw, you should check out her ning site: Raw Food Rehab. Or better yet, check out the video. Though be forewarned, it starts in the middle.

Or for the lower resolution clip in its entirely, see below:

I’ll have more to say on my own reasons for joining this year’s 11 week initiative next time!

May you all have a healthy and happy New Year!

Portion Control: Argh!

I’ve been trying a new strategy: portion control.

Well, not that it’s a new strategy in the cosmic sense, but it is new to me!

I’ve been listening to this weight loss/health gaining program and the instructor talks about learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full.

I purposefully let that awkward sentence structure slide – learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full – because, trust me, if you’re not used to doing it, you’re going to have to learn it. And it’s harder than it looks.

I had no idea that I was a member of the “clean plate club” until I tried not to be. What I found, when I tried to not finish my meal is that it’s a real struggle for me to leave a bite of food on my plate, let alone 20% of whatever I took…unlike my normal weight partner, Michael J, who always leaves a bite or two on his plate! You know, it’s a good thing he’s adorable, because, to tell you the truth, it drives me crazy. But at least not crazy enough, thank goodness, that I feel the need to clean his plate (with my fork!) as I’m putting dishes away! Apparently eating the scraps off of husband’s and children’s plates is a huge weight gain trap for women. So, if you’re doing it: stop it! Just stop.

I do, I admit, tend to eat the last bite out of a container if there’s only one – or two – bites left. Not Michael J, who will all too happily put a two bite “black bean snack” back in the fridge without even batting an eye. Something tells me that I could learn a lot about eating from watching him more closely – not necessarily about what to eat, but how to eat. Again, it’s a good thing he’s cute.

So, back to this 80% rule. Why 80%?

Essentially, it’s because it takes the stomach about 15 or 20 minutes to realize you’re full. So, when you feel 80% full (I still haven’t fully grocked what that means, exactly) you’re actually already full, although your gut hasn’t quite figured that out yet. If you eat until you’re full, technically you’re already over full (around the magnitude of about 120%) When you eat more calories than you need – that is, you eat to over fullness – your body releases insulin, which signals fat storage, etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture.

Because I have such strong – apparently – cultural conditioning not to waste food (even two bites), my new strategy is to take about 80% of what I would normally take. And I try to eat slow…well, slower…so that my stomache is more likely to get the message before I to leave the table.

It’s really hard. Harder than it should be. But even though it’s hard – I actually feel better eating this way. I don’t miss the “stuffed” feeling, even though it’s been a good companion to me for the last 39 years.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to commit to three changes this holiday season.

This is the first: I am going to walk away from every meal, snack, etc. while I still feel a little bit hungry. If I am still a little bit hungry 15 or 20 minutes later, I may have a little more. Or I might just have a cup of tea and let the feeling pass.

I’ll keep you posted.

Scale-less dieting

I realized the other day that I haven’t been on a scale in two months. Actually, the last time was June 17, so technically it’s been a little over two months. That’s the longest time I’ve been off a scale in years! Does that mean I’m not dieting or watching my weight or maintaining (or whatever you want to call it)? No; it means I am dieting/maintaining/releasing without being tied to a meaningless number!

Given that most people who are actively involved in monitoring their own or others’ weight either propose weighing once a day or once a week, why would I choose to do it without a scale? More importantly, why would I suggest that you try it as well?

Practical whys first:

  • I don’t have a scale. I always used one at the gym. When I started working out at home this summer, I decided that it just seemed silly to waste the gas and the time to go to the gym just to weigh myself.
  • I also didn’t want to buy a scale, because I know that the one at the gym – which I have used diligently for the last five years – is at least consistent! I also have to wonder how many scales find themselves either being used as a doorstop or at the bottom of a landfill!

Once I got past the weirdness of not weighing myself, I found myself looking for other markers of success. Did my gut look bigger in the mirror? What are my measurement? How are my clothes fitting? Was the yoga easier or harder today? Was my heart rate up or down since the last time I did this workout DVD? How many days out of the last 7, 14, 21, 28 or even 100 did I have a calorie deficit (I may have stopped weighing, but I love counting calories; I am a total calorie geek)! When was the last time I had a high fat, high sugar dessert? How many weeks in the last 3 months have I had wine two nights in a row? How many times last month (I am also a big proponent of keeping track of exercise) did I do weight training in addition to cardio? Once I stopped focusing on the one number – which fluctuates like a demon depending on what I eat and the time of day, not to mention the time of the month! – it opened up space for me to also realize what really matters.

So, onto the quasi-theoretical whys:

  • Once I gave up the scale, I was able to get real on what mattered and why. Does it really matter if I weigh 145 pounds instead of 140 or 135? Not really. What really matters is whether my clothes fit and the degree and frequency I am putting junk into my body. What also really matters is that I continue working on being as fit and flexible as I can possibly be.
  • Giving up the scale makes it easier to forgive yourself when you make choices that don’t necessarily support your goals. That doesn’t mean that giving up on the scale automatically signs you up for a crash course in self-acceptance (as my post earlier this week revealed), but it does force you to seek out signs of progress, rather than setting your sights on a single number, which may or may not be attainable in a week or even ten days!

So, how do you diet without a scale? Easy. If you have a scale, toss it. If you don’t have a scale, don’t get one.

Now, I realize that if you’re going to Weight Watchers or some other organization that requires weekly weigh-ins, you have to weigh. But have you thought about asking your leader to write it down without telling you and leaving your card at the meeting place? Or could you trust yourself not to look and to put the booklet into it’s plastic sleeve (do they still even have those) and chuck it into your glove compartment?

I remember doing this when I was at Weight Watchers as a teen – mainly because I couldn’t stand it if I gained weight. I hated it and I hated myself (more on the dangers of self-loathing later). And, not surprisingly, when I was in that emotional space it was easier to want to give up.  It was also easier to self-sabotage, because even though it was me I was talking about, why would I want someone I hated to actually succeed?  Further, during the weeks that the weight was climbing no matter how rigorously I stuck to the plan (and there were many of those during my 90 pound weight loss if for no other reason than the body is very smart and extremely efficient at adapting to dietary changes and – you guessed it – storing fat!) there was something powerful (and not in a good way) about seeing the numbers – usually written in indelible ink – steadily rising. There was something about actually seeing the numbers get bigger that led me to believe that that’s just the way that it was.  The plateaus seemed more real somehow. More insurmountable.  But I digress.

So, once you’ve figured out how to be scaleless (if not in reality, than in consequence) pick the outcomes you really want to achieve. Do you want to consistently use more calories than you consume? Do you want to improve the quality of your skin? Do you want to add muscle mass and get stronger?  Do you want to look good in your clothes or wear a different size? Do you want to be healthier or have more flexibility? Do you want to be able to walk up the stairs without being winded or to turn heads when you walk in the door? Do you want to get off of your high blood pressure medication or lower your risk of type II diabetes?  Do you want to have a better hip to waist ratio?  Do you want to run a half maraton – or a marathon – before your 40th birthday?  Or do a triathlon before you turn 50?

These are the things that are important.  These are the things that matter and therefore the things that will keep you on track!  The number on the scale?  That’s just cultural conditioning.

What’s really more motivating, weighing 135 or having the energy to chase your grand kids (assuming you have grand kids) around the park?

Then do what you need to do in order to meet the goals that matter to you.  It may be counting calories, it may be consistently exercising.  If you’re already dieting, just try taking a break from the scale.  Don’t take a break from the diet, just ditch the scale for a while.  And pick things that matter as your new source of accountability and motivation!

So, last Sunday, I told you that I’d tell you how bad it was  – that is, my own diet detour into Mendocino County.  You might be thinking, how the heck are you going to do that if 1) you haven’t been on a scale in two months and 2) don’t have access to one?

Easy.  My gut looks smaller than it did on Sunday.  My KJ Jr.  size 16 girls Lands End pants are tighter than they were when I left.  My sixes still fit so it can’t be that bad; however, to be honest, I haven’t bothered with the fours.

My American Eagle short shorts with a 2 (maybe 3) inch inseam still look like crap (so nothing new there).

I just bought a super cute form fitting Ann Taylor dress at a consignment store to wear to my cousin’s wedding.

My yoga routine was pretty darn good this morning and my heart rate seemed to be a little bit lower today during my cardio workout than it was on Monday.

And, yes, I told you I am a calorie junkie, a quick glance at my food diary tells me that out of the last 21 days, 17 had calorie deficits that ranged anywhere from -13 to -1016!  Not too shabby!

I had been thinking about this post for a while but I held off from writing it because I thought, no one is going to throw their scales away!  But then I bought this amazing book (title withheld until I have finished it) where the woman starts off with a pretty simple message: Get rid of the scale!  I thought, awesome, I like her already!  Her thing is that it’s not about losing weight fast, it’s about keeping it off for a life-time.  As it turns out, this book seems to be full of little gems, many of which resonate with my approach, but many of which seem to supply the missing pieces that I’ve been looking for.

Once I finish it, I’ll review it and probably end up recommending it!  It’s fun, it’s easy to read, and it’s only $27.00!  And in terms of the quality of information?  I got my money’s worth in the first three pages alone!  When was the last time you could say that about a book?

So, off to read and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

The best laid plans of mice and men

Well, my intentions were good.

I’m writing this, really, as penance and to simply put it out there that I have off days (weeks) just like everyone else!

I missed exercise for two days. The first day was just insanely busy and then yesterday I stupidly let myself be talked into going to conferences and meeting people. You know what? I would have been much happier working out and I am pretty darned sure that my eating would have been better as well!

I suppose that when one is at a professional conference, you should take the opportunity for professional development and for social and professional networking. And it is true that I made a lot of contacts with publishers and got some great ideas for future projects while I was not at the gym. In that sense, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But not going to the gym seemed to invite over eating (and, in some cases, over drinking).

Prior to this conference, I hadn’t had more than two glasses of wine in a month, but it seems like I’ve developed a three glass minimum these days ;( Alcohol is a slippery slope when it comes to diet. Why?

One, alcohol is full of empty calories!

Two, alcohol lowers your inhibitions when it comes to food!

Three, alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which causes you to store fat (always a plus – not)!

Four, alcohol is highly acidic and once you start creating an acidic environ in your body, your body craves additional acid! In other words, you crave things like white bread, sugar, alcohol, etc. Essentially, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

I haven’t managed to stop entirely, but I have managed to put on the breaks.

After a pretty indulgent day on Sunday, yesterday, I had my normal shake breakfast (even though hotel ice blends much quicker than ice cubes from a tray, the people next door hate me!), a bagel (highly acidic, but decidedly yummy), a beet salad with avocado and feta cheese, some cashews, a Lara Bar, a salad, some whole wheat bread sticks, and a plate of fabulous veggies (sauteed spinach, baby carrots, and grilled asparagus. (And , uhm, a third of a bottle of pinot noir – nobody’s perfect and we are, after all, in California).

I’ve been drinking my highly alkaline green stuff daily (sometimes three times a day!) but I feel like I’m losing the battle.

This morning, I decided no more excuses. Instead of procrastinating (or networking) I immediately rolled out of bed and went to the gym. All of the machines that I liked were full, but I hopped on the StairMaster anyway. An hour and close to 600 calories later, I realized that for the first time in two days, I felt like myself! I’m not saying that those 600 calories are going to change anything when it comes time to step on the scale when I get back home, but the psychological benefits were definitely real!

I literally danced my way back to my room, still plugged into my iPod shuffle! And even though tomorrow is our last day in a hotel with a gym, I am re-committed to move my body even if it means – poor me – a long walk on the beach!

(Notice, I said nothing about reducing the wine)!

Never eat standing up!

Remember that old wives’ tale, “It doesn’t count if you’re standing up”? Or was it just wishful thinking?

Regardless, according to Judith S. Beck, author of The Beck Diet: How to Think Like a Thin Person,” you should never put anything in your mouth while you’re standing up and that includes while you’re walking.

Why does it matter if I eat standing up versus sitting down?

Because people tend to eat more and more quickly when they’re standing or walking than they do when they’re sitting.

Although this seems like a fairly simple rule, you may be surprised how effective it can be.

For instance, abiding my this single rule practically eliminates the bad habit of tasting – otherwise known as snacking – while you cook!

It also has the potential to eliminate or at least drastically reduce the terrible habit that a lot of women (especially wives and mothers) have picked up of cleaning not only their own plates, but the plates of everyone else in the family as they clear the table after a meal!

Additionally, people who don’t abide by this rule are less likely to count (or even notice) the calories they eat standing up, at least not to the degree they are likely to do when they take the time to prepare a meal or snack and sit down to eat it! Dr. Beck also suggests, by the way, that you limit your eating to the dining room, which means eliminating eating at your desk, in front of the television, etc!

Never eating while standing up also cuts down on a lot of impulse snacking, including the elimination of store samples that on any Friday night in a reputable grocery store can add up to well over 500 calories before you even realize it between the goodies offered at the bakery, the deli, the produce isle, and the prepared foods section. And let’s not even get into how quickly the calories can rack when you stop for the four to six samples of beer and or wine!

Never eating while standing up also has the potential to cut out trips to the office candy jar! Because if you’re like me, if the candy doesn’t go immediately into my mouth, I can usually talk myself out of it before I get to my desk. Same thing with all of the office “goodies” that all of the would-be pastry chefs in my office bring in on most days that end in “Y”! However, if I do actually wait to eat something until I get to my desk, chances are that I’ve made a conscious decision to eat it and, thus, will record it in my food diary!

If you really want to cut down on all of the standing up calories that you consume without usually even realizing it, just stop and sit down. If you’re cooking, ladle whatever it is to a small measuring cup and go sit for a moment. Chances are the smaller amount will cool faster and you’ll get a better idea of what it really tastes like. And if you use a measuring spoon or cup to taste, you’ll be able to keep track of the calories! Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to think they don’t, the calories we eat standing up really matter! A calorie is a calorie, no matter what you’re position you’re in when you consume it!

Tip for the day: If you’re ravenous after a workout, don’t just grab a handful of grapes or chips straight out of the bag. Instead, take a deep breath, decide what you want, take a moment to count (or measure) whatever it is out, put in in or on a small serving dish, and sit down. Just by taking that extra thirty seconds you’ll increase your awareness of 1) what it is that you actually want (instead of just stuffing something in your face), 2) the calories you’re consuming and 3) the taste of whatever it is that you were hungry for to begin with.

If you really want to develop this habit quickly, set up a “tip” jar in your kitchen and/or office. Every time you find yourself (or, if you have a good support system, whenever someone else finds you) eating on your feet, throw a dollar in there. Eventually, usually about the time that you’ve developed the habit, you’ll have enough saved to take yourself (and probably someone else) to a nice sit-down dinner!