Being on a Medical Weight Management program like I am can be very isolating around the holidays – to avoid difficult food situations you have to avoid the people you love. To be around the people you love you have to risk sabotaging your program. I know I can’t rely on willpower – I’m no willpower ninja by a long shot – so I had to absent myself from several gatherings of friends I would have loved to attend.

Fortunately I haBest Beach Picve some close friends who understand and were willing to support us in our program by putting off their Thanksgiving feast for a day so that we could spend Thursday with them. I was deeply touched that they were willing to do that for us, obviously, you don’t find friends like that very often. So instead of putting myself and my husband through a tempting ordeal of staring at but not eating delicious food all day long, and explaining to every person present whether we knew them or not why, we went to the beach.

Orange Sunset

We gave thanks for living in a beautiful region where going to the beach on Thanksgiving is an option. We gave thanks that the weather was ridiculously perfect and picturesque all day long. We gave thanks for having friends willing to put off their Thanksgiving feast a day to allow us have a special day too. And I personally gave thanks that I wasn’t groaning and uncomfortable from over-consumption. It felt good to not have any regrets or guilt about my eating.

And it all ended with a glorious sunset and an evening of games, tea, and companionship. I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving day, however you chose to spend it.


Holiday Thoughts

1. Due to my diet program, I don’t have to brave the grocery store this holiday season. At all. Enjoy your mob scene, everyone else!

2. I don’t have to worry about gaining weight over Thanksgiving. I already know what I’m eating, when I’m eating it, and how much I’m eating. And I know that I will lose.

3. My food program makes people uncomfortable around mealtimes. It’s really confounding: what I’m eating seems to be an issue for everyone but me, it really makes people act weird. “Oh, uh, is it ok if I eat?” Yes, yes it is. I don’t expect everyone I know to stop eating just because I had to do something about my weight. Keeping me on program is my responsibility, not yours. So I’m opting to do my own thing on Thanksgiving (going to the coast and tidepools) and avoid large food-focused gatherings. Also I don’t have any family to spend it with anyway, so this removes the occasional obligation I feel to make the day seem festive without a family gathering. It’s kind of nice to have a ready excuse to not bother.

4. I can wear actual pants again. This has nothing to do with the holidays, I’m just happy because last night I pulled out my only pair of jeans and they fit again after years of not. I’ve been wearing yoga pants and other stretchy leggings under dresses for years now because my size 16 pants were all too tight and the bigger options were so unflattering. Size 16 is kind of the cutoff point for me. I’m happy to be able to wear real pants again, not just stretchy pants! I’m still unlikely to wear them often, because they’ve never been comfortable for me, but if for some bizarre reason I was invited to a jeans-required event, I could go!

Good with the bad. Or, I might be a magpie.

Last week I got some very bad news about my beloved kitty cat. He’s had heart disease for a couple of years now but it has progressed to critical and he doesn’t have much longer to live. I spent most of Thursday in bed cuddling my sweet kitty, and generally depressed since then. The vet made it very clear that Cody is not going to get better now, and he has weeks, not months, to live. I had planned to go to Seattle this weekend for a friend’s Senior Recital for her music degree, but cancelled the trip as I couldn’t bear the thought of going and my buddy dying at home alone while I was gone.

Since I had taken the day off for our Seattle trip anyway, yesterday my husband and I went to check out the Star Wars exhibit at the Tech Museum in San Jose. We had also planned to visit the SJ Museum of Art but it is closed on Mondays. Boooo! We got several hours of walking and meandering so at least some exercise there.

After that we had a couple of hours to kill before our evening plans so we ended up looking at dresses for the upcoming Masonic Installation. My husband is going to be installed as the Master of the Lodge, which is something he’s been working towards for several years, and it’s a formal event (tuxes and full-length gowns). I know I have several dresses already which would be fine for the occasion, but also this one dress I tried on was perfect and on sale. So that came home with me and I never have to buy another formal again, I think, as I have one in almost every color now. I really enjoy the opportunities to wear them and will bust one out pretty much any chance it’s even remotely appropriate, so it will definitely get used.

And, dammit, I’ve been on a clothes-buying moratorium for 6 months now – it started when nothing fit in the stores anyway and I knew I was going to have to go on a diet to get that in check and has continued as I’ve been losing because why buy something that may not fit in a few weeks? Well, 6 months is a long time (for me) to not buy anything new, I’ve been wearing the heck out of my wardrobe and gradually rotating pieces in as they start fitting again, which is great, but mostly getting bored with what I have. And…well, what was that I said about occasionally reveling in the results you’re getting and rewarding yourself? My favorite reward is new clothes. No question about it.

And then we met up with a friend to see the Day of the Doctor and now you know I am a complete and utter nerd. I really enjoyed it, although I spent most of the day worrying about my kitty cat. When we got home he was impatient and hungry for dinner. He started on a new drug and it seems to be helping him feel a little better, which is good. I’m working at home this week and snuggling him every chance I get.

Week 9 Results, and a Bit of a Rant

Last night was our last class until after Thanksgiving, there is no class next Wednesday. So naturally the topic the instructor covered was Negative Thinking. Not surviving the holidays, not strategies for getting through Thanksgiving with your eating plan intact. Negative Thinking. Apparently negative thinking is bad and you should stop doing it because it will totally make you fail, and positive thinking is way better, ok? Alright, good luck with that eating-focused holiday you’re going out to face without any support from us next week! Be sure to track your food and exercise!

One of the other students then said, “Uh, what do you mean by tracking exercise?” And the teacher was at a loss to answer because they had not actually provided any materials or instruction on doing said thing. So she said, “Well, you know, like with a pedometer or whatever.” MASSIVE FACEPALM.

I could teach these classes better blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back. I cannot believe how incredibly poorly conceived and executed the “education” portion of this program is. I don’t expect anybody from my class to manage to keep the weight off because they aren’t learning any skills for doing that.The thing that pisses me off the most is that they will all go on to gain it back and them blame themselves for failing, when the problem is that the program they paid a fortune for didn’t actually provide them with any tools to do it. I consider that to be incompetence bordering on criminal negligence.

Fortunately for me I already have strategies for handling the Holiday Festive Eating Season.

Probably not the case for people who haven’t already been doing this for 10 years. I feel badly for them.

Change this week: -1.5
Total so far: -28

Husband wasn’t at class last night due to a schedule conflict. He’s looking great though.

Scripts for Staying on Track

I’ve said before that I’m an all-or-nothing kind of dieter – either I’m fully focused, no distractions, head-down, full-speed-ahead, or I’m not losing weight. It’s part of why strict diet programs work so well for me – no distractions, no decisions, just do what I need to do and it works. This leads to remarkable success on such programs, which is excellent, but it has a downside. Can you see what it is? Once I’m off such a program it’s extremely hard to be so focused because what I need to do isn’t nearly so clear-cut, and it has no discernible end. I like the simplicity of a strict program for loss, and I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the nebulous nature of having to figure out what to eat on my own. I can do it, and have done it, but it takes more effort and concentration.

So I thought that today I’d share some of the tools I use to stay focused when on a program like the one I’m currently on, since it’s on my mind.

1. Mindset: Great as it might be to taste something off-program, I know it won’t serve my long-range goals to do it. I also know, based on past dieting experience, that it’s a very, very slippery slope, and I’m really afraid to even start down that path. So it’s just easier for me to stick to program food and not have the guilt and negative feelings that I know would come with straying.

2. Failure avoidance:  I would consider it a failure to stray and eat off program, having worked this hard and come so far. I hold myself to a high standard of conduct and success in my personal life and this is no different.

3. Mental Scripts. When faced with a difficult food situation:

  • I can have it when I’m done with the program (in moderation).
  • Which is more important: a fleeting taste or seeing a good loss this week?
  • This will pass, if I can just make it through an hour/20 minutes/a minute (however long).
  • It’s not food for me. My body is getting all the nutrition I need already, it’s not necessary to eat this.
  • My support team. If I eat this, I would have to explain why I cheated, which would be embarrassing.
  • I’m having success!  It’s not worth screwing it up for a (whatever is tempting me).
  • This sort of food is why most people in America are overweight. Not worth it.
  • I want to be get to my goal as quickly as I can!
  • I know what that extremely tempting thing tastes like already – I don’t need to “taste” it. It will be there when I’m done.
  • This program I’m on is expensive! Why would I sabotage myself when I’m paying so much? The only person that hurts is me.

Many of these scripts have also worked for me once in maintenance mode. It’s just a matter of remembering to use them when I need them. Which is why I have to write them down every so often to refresh my memory.

Do you have any that you like? What else motivates you to focus on your goals?

A Mug of Tea on a Rainy Night

We finally got some rain today here in Northern California. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts because we likely won’t get any more for a long time. I did actually go out for a run in it earlier this evening, too, so you can’t accuse me of not taking every opportunity to enjoy it!

Tonight I’m staying in now that that’s done, and enjoying some reading, sewing, and tea. I’ve become quite the tea drinker in the last few months. Of my available beverage options it just fits the best, so I drink a whole lot of it. I mean, I can drink water and do, but sometimes you want a little flavor. Diet soda and Crystal Light are ok, but they’re chock full of artificial sweeteners, and the longer I’m on this program the worse they taste to me, my sweetness receptors are out of whack and making sweet things taste too sweet. Plus there’s just a limit to how much soda I should have in a day anyway (that limit is one can, btw). There’s coffee, but as I’ve mentioned before if I can’t have cream in it I don’t want it (hmph). There’s iced tea, which I guess is fine but I’ve never developed a taste for it – sweet or not.

But hot tea, well, it’s really hitting the spot for me right now. It’s flavored, it’s not water, and it’s hot – I normally run cold due to low blood pressure or slow pulse or whatever, and with winter coming on and me on reduced rations sometimes the only way I can get warm is to have a big mug of hot tea. So with my current aversion to artificial sweeteners, I’m almost exclusively drinking green tea because it needs no sweetening. At work it’s the ubiquitous Bigelow bags of standard green tea, but at home I get to indulge in something my sweet husband picked up and I’m now in love with – genmaicha! It’s so good – it’s got a nutty, roasty flavor that just works for me. Not too much caffeine either. I’m having a nice hot mug of it right now.

Here’s to finding something supportive and delicious!

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Inclined to Agree

I went to the company gym today. I had no time to do anything else, but as usual exercise needed to be done. When I packed the gym bag this morning I had to grab the workout gear that was clean and so when I got on the treadmill and started running I realized pretty quickly that I was wearing The Wrong Bra for Running. What to do? I dropped the speed and ramped up the incline. I spent a pretty quick 35 minutes discovering the highest combination of incline and speed I could sustain. I think I got to 7% incline at 3.8 speed (walking). I was definitely working just as hard or harder than running – my face was red, I was sweating and out of breath. Success!

As I was cooling down I was mulling why the changes that make the most difference in losing weight and maintaining it are the ones that people (including me!) are often so unwilling to do. I regularly hear people state that they are totally going to hit the gym hard to lose some weight, and then some several weeks later that they can’t lose weight even though they’ve been working out religiously. Well, it’s true – just working out is likely not going to result in weight loss. It’s the big bad ugly truth about exercise. It feels good, and it feels virtuous, but it’s the smallest part of the equation your body needs to perform. It doesn’t deliver real bang-for-your-buck results in the weight loss realm. You can’t possibly exercise enough to make up for a bad diet.

Working out is for fitness – eating less is for losing weight. But the realization I came to about why that’s so bloody hard is because I can go to the gym and grind it out for an hour a day and get it over with. “There,” I think, “I’ve done something. It took a lot of effort and I didn’t really want to but it’s over now and I can get on with my day!”

Whereas eating better – eating less – that’s 24/7. It’s every minute of every day. It’s never letting up your guard. It’s not taking a piece of the birthday cake someone left in the break room, not grabbing a handful of M&Ms from the bowl on someone’s desk, it’s not stopping at the drive-thru on your way home, it’s taking less than a full plate of lasagne, it’s stopping before you feel full no matter how hungry you felt when you started. It’s not comforting the black hole in your mind with pancakes and mashed potatoes. It’s constant, on-going, every day and that – THAT is hard. Compared to going to the gym for an hour a day? I’d take the one-hour quick fix over the everyday vigilance every time.

If that worked. Which it doesn’t.