Archive for the ‘goals’ Category

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!

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Happy Belated Anniversary

Wow!

I just glanced over the the sidebar on this blog and realized that I have been writing about these last ten pounds for about a year now; since April 3, 2009 to be exact!

A lot has happened.

I started buying information products on health and fitness.

I went gluten-free.

I stopped spinning.

I started working with a coach.

I learned to love yoga.

I went raw.

I did my first fast (10 days consuming nothing but limeade made with organic limes, Grade B maple syrup, and cayenne pepper) and then followed that up with a 21 day sugar detox cleanse (well, 24 since I haven’t actually had any sugar yet – though, technically, I could)!

I met my weight release goal – in fact, I blew right past it without even knowing it.

I saw a number that I never thought I’d actually see on the scale – at least not while I had both feet on the surface!

I lost 4 pants sizes. Indeed, not to toot my own horn too much, I am sitting here typing in my pair of aspirational pants from the Gap (in case you missed that post, they’re a size 2). And more to the point, they actually fit – well. Further, still, I’m not at home afraid to go out in them lest they split with the slightest touch of resistance; I’m sitting in my office, where I’ve been meeting comfortably and confidently with students for hours.

I got Michael J to eat beets! 😉

It’s been a good year – strange, exciting, and unexpected, but awesome! Over the next few days, I’ll be setting some new goals. Because for the first time in my life, I don’t need to lose weight. It’s really awe-inspiring. I can only imagine the kind space of energy that simple fact alone is going to open up in the brain.

I’ll keep you posted.

And just when I thought I had it beat….

….stress eating comes a callin’!

Ironic, given that I just lost that ten pounds again.

Yes, I am back below 140 and look remarkably different than I did just 5 weeks ago.

All of my clothes are looser, the shape of my thighs are different.

I’ve lost at least one inch off the waist.

I should feel pretty good about now, right?

Then why did I spend the entire evening eating way more than I should and, more to the point, more than I really wanted?

All of the weight loss coaches I know say that you eat to hide your emotions and that you’d be better off journaling them so that you can confront them once and for all. Intellectually, I know that, but it’s so much easier to grab a handful of walnuts.

(The good news is that although walnuts are incredibly fattening, they’re also really good for you. So, in that sense, I suppose it could have been worse).

So what am I feeling?

Besides overfull?

Well, let’s be honest: fear.

Fear.

Overwhelm.

Jubilation.

Excitement.

Fear (oh, did I say that already?)

I know the what; what I don’t know – really know – is the why.

Why am I afraid to be thin?

It’s not about not feeling strong or not wanting to be healthy – it’s about the size and shape of my body. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. When I lost the weight the first time, I was at 142 for all of about 2 days. Last year, I got to 138.4, which lasted a little longer – at least 4 days, maybe 5!

So here are my questions for tonight, assuming I was the journaling type: Why am I afraid of being thin?

And when I figure that one out: What is the end goal? What does it represent to me if I achieve it? And what does it mean if I don’t?

Is it more important to be a solid size four (which means breaking through my limiting beliefs about who I am and what I look like) or to be a semi-solid size six who is comfortable in her skin?

One of my coaches says that if you really don’t want to do something, then that’s the thing you need to do most.

I’ll think about that too.

And who knows, I might even pick up a pen and write about it (because God knows that I’m going to be mad as hell if I get back on that scale come Wednesday and it says 142).

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.

Pretty good (and easy) advice for surviving the holidays without blowing your diet

I am heading home for the holidays, so I have been checking out the resources in my home town.

During the course of my research, I found this rather nice blog post from Whole Foods! Out of all the advice there, the one thing that I need to remember the most is to move away from the food. Like most families, or at least most families in my acquaintance, mine tends to hang out in the dining room – or even worse – the kitchen!

This year’s plan: try to stay focused on the people that I am ostensibly there to visit and the conversations.

How much more pleasant would all of our holiday interactions be if we focused on staying in the moment and really hearing what the other person had to say, instead of wondering – in the back of your mind – how many pieces of pecan pie are left?

And how much simpler would this be to accomplish in the living room (or outside, weather depending) than in the kitchen surrounded by the cloying smells of sugar, butter, and starch?

I am also going to do my best to not eat standing up or anything – anything at all – that’s not on a plate.

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!

Finding the “Why”

The other day someone asked me why I was so motivated to maintain my weight release (or, using more conventional terms, weight loss).  Now they didn’t come out and just say, “Why do you want to not regain your thirty pounds?”  It was more along the lines of, “Why are you so committed to exercising, when you’ve already reached your goal weight?”

I sat there for a moment stumped, because I really hadn’t thought about it in a while or, to be honest, ever! I used to have a really good list of reasons why when I first started changing my body three years ago, but I hadn’t really given it much attention – if any – since I had achieved my goal.

Before I tell you what you what my “whys” are regarding my body, let’s spend a couple of minutes on why the “whys” – no matter who you are or what you’re doing – are critical.

When you have a clear reason why you’re doing something the following are true:

  • You’re more likely to accomplish it.
  • You’re better able to garner support from those around you.
  • You feel better about sticking to your goals, which, subsequently, boosts not only your self-confidence, but also your self-esteem!

When you don’t have a clear reason why you’re doing something, the converse it true:

  • You’re less likely to accomplish your goals
  • You encounter more resistance from those around you who don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • You become resentful about the ongoing discipline being successful requires, which undermines not only your progress, but also your self-discipline, your self-esteem, and your day-to-day mood!

The point of this being, it’s just as important to know why you’re doing something as it is to know what you want to accomplish, because the why is the motivation, the fuel, the justification, the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.  Knowing the why and being able to articulate it to others, as well as to yourself, is crucial because recent scholarship in teaching and learning suggests that 30% of the population are why learners.  This means that 30% of your potential sources of social support tune you out if you start with the what.  So, if you say, “It’s really important to me to drop this weight,” and someone says, “Why?”, you need to be able to tell them.  Because if you can’t, they won’t hear anything else you have to say about you and your weight and fitness goals.  And just imagine what might happen if you yourself is part of that 30% that needs a compelling motivation before they can learn (or act)!  Trust me, find your why and learn to articulate to yourself, as well as to others!

So just to give you an idea of how to get serious about finding the why, let me tell you how I rediscovered mine.

Basically, I waited until I had a chunk of time with no distractions.   I got a blank piece of paper and a pen (I chose this method as I tend to self-censure if I’m typing in a way that I don’t when I’m writing by hand!) and wrote at the top: Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Current Weight and put the date on it.  I sat there for a moment, looking at the blank sheet of paper – and actually drawing a blank – until I came up with a reason.  And let me just say, as soon as the ink hit the paper, it was like a dam had broken.  In less than 10 minutes, I had come up with over thirty reasons – some of them better than others in the cosmic sense – of why I was truly and unequivocally committed to maintenance.  (Interestingly, I also gleaned some insight into why I don’t like the term “maintenance’, but that’s another post!)  And, just in case you’re wondering, since I’ve done this, my commitment to maintain has gotten stronger and I’ve been able to marshal more support from my already super supportive partner, MJ.

I’m not going to write out all thirty, but I’ll give you a few examples just to give you an idea.

Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Weight (July 21, 2009)

  • To avoid re-injuring my knee
  • To have more energy
  • To be healthy
  • To get  compliments (sad, I know)
  • To be a better role model for my Little Sister
  • To feel good about myself
  • To succeed
  • To wear fun clothes
  • To be able to wear whatever I want
  • To not have to re-buy all of the clothes I’ve gotten rid of

You get the general idea.  As I said, some reasons are better than others, but I put them all down.  Notably, and somewhat ironically, this list isn’t that much different than the one I had made three years ago entitled “Why I Want to Lose Weight.”  What does that tell you?

If you’re trying to accomplish something – anything! – and you haven’t gotten real on your whys, I highly recommend that you sit down with a sheet of paper (or at the keyboard) and do this simple exercise.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  And it is guaranteed to get you where you want to be.  Or, if you’re in my position, it’s guaranteed to keep you there!

Let me know how it goes!

Overcoming Procrastination: avoiding the “paralysis of analysis”

Procrastination is not only a formidable enemy to reaching one’s goals, but also to one’s self confidence. Learning to recognize the various forms that procrastination can take and develop winning strategies will help you not only achieve your goals, but to also feel better about yourself while you do it.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a course on information marketing, and the instructor, Eben Pagen, who went from a $0 business to a $20 million business in less than five years, made a reference to something called the “paralysis of analysis.”

I laughed, thinking it was a great term, but I didn’t really think too much about it. I most certainly didn’t think about how it might apply to me!

Now, the reason why Mr. Pagen advised avoiding the “paralysis of analysis”, is that getting stuck there prevents you from achieving your goals! It also undermines your self-confidence and forward trajectory. And when you undermine your self-confidence and forward trajectory, you no longer attract other self-confident and forward moving people into you life.

Obviously, when you avoid the “paralysis of analysis”, you achieve your goals (partly because you’re learning from your mistakes), you increase your self-confidence, you gain forward momentum, and you attract like-minded people into your sphere of influence. Sounds familiar?

You may be wondering why I’m giving you a little mini-marketing recap in a blog about losing the last ten pounds and keeping them off forever. Am I right?

Well, the other day, I realized that I, too, had fallen into the trap of “the paralysis of analysis.” Essentially, I realized that I was spending more time arguing with myself about whether I should exercise than I actually did exercising! It was particularly ironic, when it would take me 20 minutes to convince myself that it was worth exercising when I only had 30 minutes to begin with!

When all was said and done, of course, if I’d just gotten up and done it, I could have had a full 50 minute session (with a 400+ calorie burn to brun)!

There are plenty of other examples, but I’m sure you get the general idea.

Now that I have recognized the “paralysis for analysis” for what it is – a highly sophisticated, yet undermining – means of procrastination, I have developed a better system for for getting around it.

How I get around “the paralysis of analysis” is that I exercise immediately upon getting out of bed; else, I schedule it in the day, as I would any other appointment. And this applies not only to exercise, but to work, writing, calling friends and family, etc. So, now that I recognize this for what it is, whenever I catch myself arguing with myself about if I should do something – especially if one of the key the arguments against doing it is not having enough time – I just do it.

If you are a procrastinator or someone who just likes to analyze (or, one could say, over-analyze), I challenge you to simply do the things that you’re trying to talk yourself out of actually doing. You’ll feel better and I guarantee, you’ll get a heck of a lot more accomplished!

Let me know how it goes!

Moving Toward v. Moving Away

I’ve been doing some learning about the way people make transformations or change in their lives. Typically people are motivated by their hopes and aspirations (that is, what they want to happen or that which they are moving toward) or their fears and frustrations (that is, what they don’t want to happen or continue happening, or that from which they are moving away).

As a general rule, people are much more likely to be motivated by their fears than by their aspirations. Part of that may be that they are unable to fully realize or envision their aspirations, whereas it’s much easier to imagine their greatest fears (especially if they are already living them).

When I started my weight release journey three years ago, I had a really hard time envisioning what I wanted to accomplish. Then, one day, I was over at a friend’s house and I was looking at a selection of framed photos of her around her living room.

“See, I was thin once,” she said matter of fact-ly. “When X is over, I will be again.”

I was floored. And jealous. And, in that moment, it hit me why it’d been so hard to visualize what I wanted. I had no pictures of myself as I wanted to be!

Now, when I was in Weight Watchers, my leader used to talk about visualization and about how you should find the body of your dreams from a magazine and then put your face on it. I also remember thinking: Give me a break!

When I realized that part of my inability to visualize had something to do with never having seen it (what can I say, I’m not a visual person), I decided that I was going to take Judi’s advice, albeit some twenty years after I first heard it. But I didn’t do it using magazines and scissors, I did it via modern technology. Five cheers for photo manips!

The first thing I did was find the photo. I ended selecting a stock photo of Jillian Michaels. I then had Michael take a picture of me standing in the same position, with my head tilted just so. He then used Photoshop (or some other similar software) to create a photo that we joking call KJillian!

The first time I looked at the photo, I had to look away. I thought, ‘How embarrassing.’ In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that it literally hurt to look at it. Seriously, the dissonance was staggering. I literally had to keep it in a manila folder on my kitchen counter. However, over the course of a week, I got used to seeing myself like that. And as the image became more familiar to me, it also became more believable! Eventually, I put it up on the refrigerator.

Just as an aside, my little sister came over, looked at it and then looked at me and said, without batting an eyelash, “How did your head get on Jillian Michael’s body?” I told her. “Cool,” she said. Apparently not so embarrassing after all.

If you don’t have a picture about what you want to achieve (either in reality or in your mind’s eye), create one. Seriously. I’ll admit: thought it was the cheesiest thing in the world when it was first suggested to me, but it was incredibly powerful. In fact, it got to the point that when I would take pictures of myself (in similar clothes and in a similar position), I thought that they looked odd, which motivated me to move my reality towards the image in my head.

The same thing is true, by the way, if you have an image in your head of what you don’t want to be; you will become that. Remember, the one of the strongest human drives is self-consistency! My problem was, previously, that I saw myself as heavy or as someone who was 30 pounds overweight, so that’s what I created (over and over again). Bottom line: get rid of the bad images and bring on the good – even if you have to stoop to using Photoshop to do it!

Now that I have a solid image in my mind of what I want to move towards (that is, my head on Jillian Michael’s body or something similar), I sometimes also use moving away from – especially when I need a good kick in the pants, like a I did the day before yesterday, when I just could not get myself moving.

First, just writing that blog post helped, because I hate to admit that I can’t do something.

Second, I have a pair of pants that I bought at a consignment store. Technically they fit; however, I would never go out in public with them fitting the way they fit at the moment. Ironically, they are the smallest pair of pants that I own, but they make me look huge because they’re so tight.

Essentially, these are the “get leverage on yourself” or the “moving away from” pants. I put those on (to say that I just slipped into them would be a bald faced lie!) and all it took was five minutes standing in front of the mirror to get me down on the NordicTrack, followed up by my moving towards: Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

Are you a moving towards person or a moving away person? If you are primarily one, I strongly suggest mixing it up when you need a little extra motivation!

And if you don’t have a picture of what you want to achieve, get one – even if, especially if, you have to make it yourself!

Family insights — it’s not enough to want it

Last week, while visiting my parents, we went to a family funeral. The deceased was the mother of my mother’s sister’s husband. Or, to put it another way, she was the grandmother of my cousins, though she, herself, was not my grandmother.

The last time I saw some of these cousins — sadly enough — was at our grandfather’s funeral last August.

There, at the wake, one my cousins, referred to me as Skinny Minnie — in a good way. And she kept eying me suspiciously and mouthing: How did you get so skinny?

Well, that was 10 months and probably close to 15 pounds ago.

This time she came up to me and said, “I would love to be as thin as you.”

I smiled, thanked her for the lovely compliment and then said. “It’s not that hard, but it is a daily chore.”

And, she smiled — though hers didn’t quite meet her eyes — and sighed. “But it requires a degree of self-discipline that I just don’t have.”

My gut level reaction, which often gets me into trouble, was: Then you don’t want it bad enough!

But, given that she had just lost her third grandparent in less than a year, I kept my mouth shut.

I’ve thought a lot about that exchange. I’ve thought about why it is that some people (myself included) have decided that it’s no longer acceptable to be overweight (often to an unhealthy degree), whereas others are willing to live with it even though they want to change. I’ve also realized that some people just don’t care. Even though they are heavy, if not morbidly obese, they are seemingly okay with their limited physical ability and (in some cases) their deteriorating health.

Essentially, our exchange reminded me that it’s not enough to simply want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. My cousin wanted to weigh less, but she didn’t want to have to do anything to make it happen.

When I first started this leg of my weight release program — about three years ago, when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now — someone (that is, Tony Robbins) gave me this piece of advice.

1. Set a real goal that is motivating. Don’t just say you want to lose 10 pounds, because that’s not compelling. Say you want to lose 20 pounds of fat so that you stop having knee problems.

2. Make it a must! This means that you make decisions regarding your health and fitness that are every bit as binding as the decisions that my cousin makes when running her business or raising her child. You have to convince yourself that if you don’t do it, then something disastrous is going to occur — that is, your physical equivalent of bankruptcy! For me, it was the fear of knee replacement and/or carrying that 40 pounds into my forties. For others, it may be the nightmare of hypertension or diabetes.

3. Take quick and decisive action. As soon as you define that clear and compelling goal, take immediate action! It could be something like joining a gym, calling a friend and telling them that you’re going to lose 30 pounds of fat come hell or high water, joining Weight Watchers, or starting a new exercise program. But do something immediately! Do anything! Don’t just make the goal and hope it will happen, because that’s not doing, that’s wishing!

It’s not enough to want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. Hopefully, when my cousin’s ready — if she ever gets ready — she’ll set a goal, make it compelling, and do something about it. Because, truly, it’s the only thing that’s going to get you where you want to be.

Update:

Thanks to a dissent from a reader, it’s also occurred to me to add that you don’t have to want it.

It’s perfectly fine to like yourself the way you are. In fact, it’s probably the best way to go.

Not everyone needs to be thin; in fact, being thin or skinny (God forbid) was never a particular goal of mine. However, regardless of size, I do think that people should try their hardest to be as fit as possible given their own particular set of circumstances.

The little things and the unexpected shows of support

I had lunch today with two delightful young women.

One of them ordered her dessert first (so she’d have room for it), then took half of her seafood paella home! It was classic. The waitress blinked: You’re starting with the ice cream sundae?

Ah, to be in one’s twenties again! But I digress….

At the end of the meal (I skipped the sundae and stuck with my typical wood-fired vegetable spinach salad with salmon), they presented me with a small box.

Much to my delight, they had a necklace made for me, touting a message (or touchstone) that I had mentioned in a previous post: never more than today.

There’s even a four leaf clover charm for good luck, as “they couldn’t find one of a beet!”

It was a perfect gift. I absolutely loved it. But more importantly, and unbeknown to the givers, it came at a good time — a time when, for whatever reason, maintenance is becoming something of a challenge and I am having to rely more on alternative markers of success –that is, resting heart rate, the fit of my clothes, and tape measures to chart my progress.

So, thank you ladies, if you’re reading this. You couldn’t have given me a more perfect and motivating gift. I will cherish it always and do everything I can to live in accordance with its ideal.

Men’s Health

Every year, MJ comes home with a “popular magazine” as his way of tuning into what’s going on in the world. Last year it was Cosmo (which we read together on the couch and laughed so hard we couldn’t take it anymore)! Thank God mother never let us have that in the house. Harlequin Romances, yes. Cosmo, no.

This year, it was Men’s Health, which, as it turns out, is the male version of Cosmo. Seriously, it was all about sex, nutrition, and exercise. And, more to the point, the headlines were almost identical: 125 Best Foods for Men, No-Diet Weight Loss Plan, 30 Red-Hot Sex Secrets, Strip Away Stress, 7 New Rules of Money & Women, Great Abs Made Easy, Melt Away Pounds! 15-Minute Fat Burners, Look Your Best Now! Interestingly, they also have a number of “Short Order Cook Recipes.” They’re obviously designed to impress a date, but they look pretty good. There are also a couple of other random tips in there that I may pass on later.

But the most interesting thing in there by far was an article — that looks like it be part of a series — called, It Works for Me: Master Your Domain.

This segment, or this month’s feature, was on actor Tyrese Gibson.

“Tyrese Gibson, star of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, gained weight and lost motivation. To right himself, he first had to change everything around him.”

On Maintenance:

“He lost his sense of consequence, he says. It’s easy to do: Accomplish something and your attitude can go from I’m working hard for this to This is mine. Do that and you’ve already failed. A boss doesn’t promote you because you did work hard. A woman doesn’t love you because you were devoted to her. They want you in the present and future tense. They expect you from here on in to work hard, to be devoted. Start coasting and you roll backward.”

On Modeling:

“We men have to put our pride and egos and just say, ‘You know what? I need help,'” Gibson says. “Bring something to the table. To somebody who has the keys to whatever door you’re trying to go through, say, ‘Look, man, I have five keys of my own, but I’m trying to figure out how to get these other keys.’

Think of of it this way: Every man is surrounded by better men. A man who’s more financially secure than you are can teach you something, and chances are he can learn something from you. So approach him. Collaborate. Successful men aren’t symbols of your inferiority; they’re examples worth engaging.”

On Upgrading Your Peer Group:

“The five people you spend most of your time with will dictate how far your life and career will go. Slobs will make you a slob. Gibson loved fried calamari, and he had friends who bought it for him all the time. But if you’re friends work hard and eat right, you’ll be embarrassed to eat fried anything around them.

It isn’t easy to switch friends. Gibson knows that. It took him months: less time with this person, more time with that one. Scoops of fried calamari gave way to scoops of tuna on lettuce, now his regular lunch. Guys at the gym taught him new exercises. He runs five miles a day on a treadmill. He lifts regularly.”

I liked this for a number of reasons. One, it reinforces things I already know, which is always good. But, two, this series also gives us a chance to model someone who has been there. As embarrassing at it may sound, something tells me that I may have to start spending more time at Borders lurking in the magazine section!

A month of maintenance

Yea!!!!

I am happy to report that I have maintained my goal weight (within a 1.5 pound +/- spread) for the entire month of May!

For those of you who know me well, you’ll recognize this as the accomplishment it is!

For those of you who don’t actually know me, in the past, I have been very good at reaching goals, but less successful at maintaining them! As a wise woman once told me, “You’re a striver, not a thriver.” In other words, I’m very good at striving, but less good at thriving — and, unfortunately, this applied to all areas of my life! In terms of weight-related goals, it meant that the one or two times that I even got close to 140 in the past, I only stayed there about one minute (the first time) or in the case of the second time, three days!

That I’ve been here for four weeks — in the midst of work-related hell and selling a house — is saying something! Truly, the thought of it makes me smile — at the very least — and want to jump up and down! I definitely think it’s time for a non-food related celebratory gift. Maybe I’ll finally succumb to all the direct marketing I’ve received since purchasing k-b slim and tone on line! I have to admit, it looks fun. It sort of reminds me of the bosu at the gym! But I digress.

Back to maintenance.

So, what’s it been like?

Sadly, for everyone who wants to be able to lose 10 (or 20 or 30 or even 90) pounds and then jump head first back into their favorite foods, it doesn’t work that way. Maintenance is just like dieting, you just get to eat more calories. Other than that, nothing has changed.

I still weigh myself regularly to make sure that I haven’t dropped too low (hasn’t happened yet, but it might!) or gone too high. When I’m up, I reduce my calories for a while. When I’m low, I add them back in.

Through repeating this process again and again, I’ve figured out that I can pretty much eat between 1,200 – 1,500 calories a day when I need to drop a pound or so and that I can maintain while eating between 1,500 – 1,800 calories a day. (This, of course, assumes that I exercise between four and five times a week!) Just knowing this little bit of information about my body has made a crucial difference in my ability to maintain my weight.

Now, does this mean that I just sit around and eat 1,500 calories worth of veggies everyday? No. In fact, just last week, I went out with friends and ended up eating 2,200. When that happens (and it will again), I automatically drop back down to 1,200 – 1,500 for a couple of days until my body stabilizes. It’s been great. And, importantly, it’s been easy!

One of my skinny friends — a woman who rarely exercises and is someone that I never would have assumed ever even thought about her weight — asked me what the difference has been for me this time. I told her and she said, “That’s exactly what I do! I can tell when I’m up. Or when I’ve eaten too much at a meal, I’ll cut back for a few days. And when I know I have something coming up, like a party or a holiday, I cut back a couple of days beforehand.”

Notably, she doesn’t count calories like I do (and I still do, religiously), but she does know what she eats and, perhaps even more importantly, what it does to her body.

So maintenance — it’s really nothing more than a diet with more calories. You still watch what you eat. You still make daily adjustments to your calories. You still weigh yourself regularly. You still — or at least I do — avoid those foods that make you crazy!

This is why, I suppose, that people always say that it’s not about being on a diet, it’s about changing your lifestyle. Because if you think about it as a diet that you can quit when you reach you’re goal, as opposed to a lifestyle that you’re committing to for life, you’re setting yourself up for failure or, at the very least, a lifetime full of diets.

Living an undivided life – Part 1

Back in March, while crewing a Tony Robbins event, I went to a workshop by a former racer Gary King. Essentially, his shtick, if you will, is that “there is no such thing as an inconsequential lie.” You should be honest with others and honest with yourself. If you aren’t honest all the time — and this means no “little white lies” either — than you are living a divided life. When you live a divided life, it is impossible for you to meet your goals, you have lower self-esteem…. The list goes on and on.

Now, I had been thinking about this a lot lately, as it was. For example, I had gotten back to that place where I was stuck in my diet — this was the weekend back in March, by the way, when I finally decided that enough was enough and took intense and massive action in my fitness and lifestyle regimen. I had been thinking about this — the divided part, not the honesty part — because I had realized that whenever a skinny person would annoy me, I would think — sometimes subconsciously and sometimes not — stupid, skinny bitch!

Essentially, I had realized that I had created a negative association with being skinny, especially if you were female. I assumed — wrongly, I realize — that if you were skinny, you were also a bitch! And, more importantly, given the high value I place on intelligence, you were also stupid.

Now, you’re probably wondering, what about all your smart skinny female friends?

They’re exceptions.

Just like people make exceptions for other stigmatized groups — oh, some of my best friends are X — I, too, embarrassingly enough, had exceptionalized all of the the smart, skinny, non-bitches that I actually know and love.

I know this sounds terrible, but bear with me.

Though I hadn’t fully grasped the extent to which this was a problem, I began to have the sinking feeling that part of the reason I couldn’t lose weight was because I viewed myself as being relatively intelligent, kind, and compassionate woman — at least where non-skinny people were concerned, obviously! 😉

So, how could I want to be something (that is, skinny) that I at so many levels obviously disdained?

The answer is simple. I couldn’t.

Step One: Change my attitude about skinny women.

How did I do this? I began to focus on my skinny friends and how wonderful and smart they were. I also stopped myself every single time I caught myself thinking something negative about a skinny person. I didn’t necessarily think anything nice about them (I haven’t changed that much). But at least I stopped linking bad things to being skinny. After all, it’s just as easy to think someone is a self-centered, obnoxious, cow when they set their yoga mat up directly in front of your perfect yoga spot as it is to call them a stupid, skinny, bitch.

Once I figured that out, I thought I was golden. Oh, how wrong I was.

To be continued….

(Part 2)

A note on goals

In a response to one of the comments on the last post, I wrote:

“I think goals change as we change and it’s more important to be flexible than militaristic. My goal was to lose the fat, which I did. This summer, I would like to tone up and get stronger again. Like you, it’s in my best interest to weigh less — not because I can run a marathon (or two), but because it’s easier on my injured knee. I have no idea where I’ll eventually settle –weight-wise or jean-size-wise. My goal is, essentially, boiled down to this — I wanted to create a body that would allow me to do whatever I wanted it to, without limits. I’m definitely closer than I was to that goal than I was two years ago.”

I thought it was worth sharing, even for those people who normally don’t read the comments!

Thanks, Patty, for your contribution and participation!

C-A-N-I

At the recent Tony Robbins event that Michael and I crewed, Robbins introduced a relatively simple strategy for success, which he refers to as C-A-N-I. Not to be confused with “Can I [Do it]?”, C-A-N-I stands for Constant And Never-ending Improvement. Does that mean perfection? Not at all. It means just what it says; in any quest for positive change, you should strive for constant and never-ending improvement. Some days are not going to be perfect–heck, some hours are not going to be perfect. But as long as you have your eye set on a clearly defined goal, such as losing 10 pounds (or even 40 or 50 pounds) of excess fat or reducing your weight enough to eliminate joint pain and facilitate greater flexibility, constant and never-ending improvement will get you there.