Thursday, January 24, 2013

Give Up and Gain

In a recent conversation about my weight loss someone asked me, “What was the hardest thing for you to give up?”  As I thought about it, there’s no one particular food item that came to mind as being particularly hard to give up.  Aside from fast food (which I talk about here), I haven’t really cut many things out completely.  Instead, the past 19 months have been teaching me how to live my life with a healthy balance in my food choices, which is something I’ve never had until now. 

There are things I have definitely cut way back on.  Butter, sauces, dips, and dressings are what I consider trouble served in a little cup.  Think about it…in a restaurant, these items are served in innocent looking small portions on the side of a plate, but they pack a huge calorie wallop with little to no nutritional value, and I’m just not willing to accept that any more.  While I may occasionally have a tiny amount of one if it’s very a good quality, I’ve found that most food actually tastes much better if it’s not swimming in a pourable or spreadable topping!

I really can’t think of anything else that I’ve completely eliminated.  I have made more healthy substitutions and swaps than I can keep up with, and as a result, I haven’t ever felt deprived of things I really enjoy. Throughout my 156 pound loss to-date, I have eaten out at restaurants at least a couple of times each week, I’ve had cake at birthday parties, and survived several church potluck events.  My family and I eat the same meals for dinner together every night (except when I swap broccoli slaw for pasta…I haven’t gotten the kids on board for that one yet!), and we make homemade pizza every so often.  Portion control, more nutritious ingredients, and overall healthier choices have made all the difference!

As I think about it, I guess I have given up some other things, but in doing so, I’ve gained so much more…

- I have given up spending time in front of the television…and gained lean muscle and functional strength by going to the gym to workout!

- I have given up fast food…and gained freedom from severe reflux problems!

- I have given up a negative self-image…and gained a sense of empowerment!

- I have given up the idea that I can do this on my own…and gained a new understanding of Philippians 4:13 that tells me I really can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

- I have given up living in a constant state of denial…and gained a clear sense of reality!

- I have given up feeling out of control…and gained a peaceful balance!

- I have given up overeating…and gained my mobility!

- I have given up defeat…and gained victory!

The value of what I have gained far outweighs what I’ve given up.  There’s just no comparison!  What will you gain if you make the choice to give something up today?

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fast Food Flashbacks

I have mentioned from time to time that I used to eat a lot of fast food.  By “a lot” I mean, in the five years (or more) before I overhauled my lifestyle in June 2011 to reflect healthier choices, I went through the drive-through anywhere from 10-12 (sometimes more) times each week.  Most days Monday through Friday, I would pick up breakfast to eat in the car on the way to work, and then run out again to get something for lunch.  Saturday lunches were handed through the window quite often too, especially during our busiest seasons of rehearsals for our drama productions at church, and many Sunday mornings found me in line yet again to get breakfast on the way to service.  It’s hard to write about this, because admitting your bad habits is never easy, especially in a public forum.  My hope, however, is that by sharing my experiences, other people can find that change IS possible!  The fast food addict is who I used to be, but it is definitely not who I am today!

As I look back, I’ve realized that my addiction to all things served in a paper bag began years ago, when I was still a teenager.  With the independence of driving and having a little money in my pocket came the ability to eat a burger and fries just about any time I wanted to.  It was easy enough to dispose of the trash before coming home, so my parents never knew just how much junk food I was consuming.  As someone who has been involved in music since I was 12 and theatre since I was 14, I’ve always had evening rehearsals and performances to attend.  Once I started going to those on my own, I developed a terrible habit of getting things like milkshakes and fries late at night on my way home.

Since I’ve been in rehearsals for “The Music Man” for the last few weeks, as I’m driving to and from the theatre, I pass by 10 different fast food restaurants (that I can readily think of to count right now), and typically I don’t give them a second thought.  One night recently though, I had what I call a “fast food flashback”.  It was a little thought that I could pull into one of the places for a “snack”.  Now, what’s totally absurd about this is the fact that I have only eaten something from a fast food restaurant 4 or 5 times in the last 19 months, and those have been when we were traveling out West and literally had no other options, and then I only got simple fruit cups or plain grilled chicken and we went inside and sat down (to avoid the drive through itself).

As quickly as the thought came, I was surprised by it, but immediately pushed it aside.  I smiled at the strength I felt as I drove on by, knowing that I truly have no desire for that kind of food anymore.  What it made me realize even more, however, is that temptation will rear its ugly head now and then.  The key to overcoming it, I believe, is threefold.  First, I am determined to see my commitment through to my goal weight and then continuing on to live a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my days.  Second, I did not entertain thoughts of giving in to the temptation.  I didn’t start thinking about how good it might be “just this one time” or how much I “miss it” (I really don’t miss it, and actually, the smell of fast food makes me sick to my stomach if someone around me has it these days).  Lastly, I opened up and told someone I’m accountable to about the temptation.  Even though it was no more than a fleeting thought and I felt no desire to actually run through the drive-through, I told both my husband and my sister about it.  Talking about it with someone I can trust helps strengthen my resolve and re-emphasizes my commitments. 

Have you ever had a "flashback" of a prior habit?  How did you overcome it?

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Firecrackers and Pilot Lights

As we’re now a little more than a week into the new year of 2013, I have to admit that the sheer number of television and radio commercials dedicated to weight loss products and services is a bit overwhelming.  In addition, retailers are on the proverbial bandwagon as well by putting all things workout-related on sale this month.  It’s as though the whole country starts a collective diet and exercise plan about the time the last of the Christmas dinner leftovers have been eaten or thrown out.

While I’m obviously a strong advocate for eating healthy foods and exercising, and sincerely applaud anyone who decides to make healthy improvements in their life, I can’t help but think of all the money that will be spent for gym memberships that will only be used a few times and forgotten about, and all of the trendy workout clothes that will be purchased only to be donated to the local thrift stores in a few months.  So many people go into the new year with the best intentions for their “resolutions” of diet and exercise.  Sadly, a majority of those resolutions go unfulfilled.

The way I see it, a person can make a resolution regarding changes they want to make in their life, and they’ll either become like a firework or like a pilot light.  Let me explain…

Fireworks are exciting!  They are typically displayed at important times of the year, most often during the holidays or at a big celebration.  Fireworks go off with a “BANG!” and because of this, they draw a lot of attention.  They get the “ooohhh’s” and “ahhhh’s” of onlookers and infuse the air with energy…but only briefly.  You see, that’s the thing about fireworks.  After the initial flash, they sizzle through the air as the spark burns out and they fade away.  There's no long-lasting comittment with a firework.  Fireworks are the perfect example of the expression, “well, it was great while it lasted”.

A pilot light, on the other hand, is not very exciting at all.  Honestly, most people don’t really think about a pilot light all that much.  It’s small and usually hidden away underneath or behind an appliance like a hot water heater or a stove.  No one boasts, “Hey, have you seen my pilot light lately?  Come on out to the garage a take a look!”  The beauty of a pilot light, however, is that it has an ongoing job to do and it just keeps on burning.  Did you catch that?  It just keeps on burning…

Resolutions can be like the exciting, but temporary firework, exploding into the new year with lots of pizzazz but forgotten about rather quickly.  Resolutions can also be like the ho-hum, yet continually burning pilot light that stays committed to getting the work done, day in and day out.

Me?  I’d rather be a pilot light than a firework any day!

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!

Wow!  When I look back over 2012, it was an incredibly full year!  Some of the health and weight-related highlights for me included:

- Losing 92.1 pounds during the year
- Not having to take reflux medicine even once this year
- Regaining strength in my back and reclaiming my mobility
- Joining a gym
- Discovering that I actually enjoy working out
- Running a 5K distance in the local park in under 46 minutes
- Going down FIVE sizes in jeans (from a 32 to a 22)
- Going down from a size 30/32 to a size 18/20 in tops/dresses/jackets
- Teaching my “Reflections” Bible study series to a great group of women

In my blog from 11/1/12 titled “2012 Year End Goals” I listed 7 specific goals I made for myself to accomplish between 11/1/2 and 12/31/12.  Here’s my list of hits and misses:

1) Lose 15 pounds (this will put me exactly 75 pounds away from my final goal weight!) 
            RESULT: I lost 19 pounds across November and December!!!

2) Work out 3 times a week, even on holiday weeks
            RESULT:  As I noted in a previous post, I am in rehearsals for a show called, “The Music Man”, which I am having a fabulous time with, however, it has thrown my gym schedule into a tizzy!  I have not been in the gym nearly as often as I would have liked to have been, however, I’m getting in some cardio in dance rehearsals, and I’m getting ready to start the 30-Day Shred video workouts at home.

3) Increase the intensity of my workouts (higher weights, increased sets/reps, etc.)
            RESULT:  My trainer at the gym has reformatted my workout to help me accomplish this, and as soon as my show finishes, I’m going to head into my new routine.  For now, the videos at home will at least provide a fresh approach and keep me moving.

4) Register for my first 5K run
            RESULT:  I had planned to register for the local zoo’s 5K, which is held in January, however, I’ve got a rehearsal I can’t miss on the day of the run, so I’m going to look for a 5K for March or April instead.  I just need to find one now and get registered!

5) Increase my running speed/endurance (move from running intervals to extended periods of running)
            RESULT:  I have been making improvements in this area, but still have a long way to go!  This will be an ongoing goal.

6) Go down one size in jeans
            RESULT:  Yes!  I was in a size 24 on November 1st, and am currently in a size 22, and  am not too far from moving down again to a size 20.  The last time I wore a size 20 jeans,  I was in the 7th grade!

7) Pay attention to and appreciate the people and interactions at holiday gatherings more than the food
            RESULT:  I had one of the best holiday seasons I can remember having!  I truly enjoyed my time with family and friends and didn’t stress over food.  I wasn’t fixated on the goodies, but I wasn’t scared to eat either.  I kept things in balance far more than I indulged.  I had more hugs than cookies, and that equals success!

How was your holiday season?  Did you accomplish your goals?  What are you working on for 2013?

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)