Archive for the ‘social support’ Category

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.

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.

Trigger Foods

When I was a teenager, I had friends who went to OA (Overeaters Anonymous) meetings. The premise there is that you are powerless over certain foods and, like members of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), you make the decision to abstain from a particular food, for life. At the time I thought, ‘This is ridiculous–I am more powerful than any food!’

As I have aged, I realize that during periods of my life, I am powerless in the face of certain food. Last season it was Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies. This season, it’s Once Again Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (no salt added).

“It’s organic, how bad can it be?” you ask. Pretty bad when you’re eating it off carrots, fingers, spoons, knives, or anything else to which you could get it to adhere!

It was to the point that every time I walked by the counter, I would have to have a bite (or two). And when Michael (my partner) would empty a jar (leaving at least a tablespoon around the edges), I would oh so generously offer to clean it out for him. My tool of choice was usually a spatula.

Once I admitted that I was indeed powerless in the face of this particular food, things got better. With much chagrin, I asked Michael to 1) put the peanut butter away in a cabinet that I rarely use and 2) put dish soap in the pseudo-empty peanut butter jar and fill it up with warm water.

Fortunately for me, Michael is wonderful and agreed without even so much as a smirk.

I have other triggers, but this season peanut butter is the killer. It’s deadly not because it’s lacking in nutritional value, but because we keep it in the house. Most of my other trigger foods are easier to avoid–such as the “healthy cookies” that I made 36 batches of (and ate) last year when I was going up for tenure, the Dark Chocolate Dove pieces that I would occasionally keep stored in in my desk, or the chocolate croissants at the Dirt Cowboy.

A trigger is not a certain type of food (although most of mine involve lots of sugar and/or fat), but any food that you feel like you have to have whenever you see it. In fact, whenever you have to have anything, you are out of control. And when you are out of control, you are–effectively–powerless.

My first step, like my friends from OA, was to identify the foods not only that I ate uncontrollably, but also triggered the overeating of other foods. The second step was to avoid the ones that I could–that is, I stopped making cookies, I walk down the other side of main street when going into town, and I steer clear of the candy isle at CVS–and make contingency plans to help me deal more effectively with those that I couldn’t. The third step, which was probably the most difficult, was realizing that when I couldn’t manage it on my own, it was perfectly okay to ask for help.