Successful weight loss depends on habits. We know this. The problem with habits is that (the successful ones) are repetitive. Wake up, record my weight, put on my Apple Watch, fill my water jug, and get my lunch… did I lose you yet? Wait, don’t stop reading, this post will get better, hang in there with me.
This is all the good news… I do appreciate my habits, they are in synch and doing what I need them to do – I am losing weight. I am down 5.5 pounds just from April 1st. The “number” is feedback just one part of the process. The thing I’m even happier about is how I am feeling. I have good energy, and I am doing something to take care of myself.
This is the downside… it takes time to figure out the process. Then sometimes, you figure it out, and then something out of your control forces a change that causes a setback. So sometimes (while you’re doing all the work to get the process in gear) you need a little distraction to keep your spirits high. I work with young children, and I can tell you that there is no substitution for a little novelty to get kids to do things that are hard for them. To that end, I have created a little gift of sorts for you in the May Challenge! Take a look, feel free to download it, and come do this with me. It will be fun.
We finally got our first significant snowfall, it came just in time to say goodbye to February 2023. Although it arrived late into the season, I think it’s safe to say, that we Long Islanders are just happy it made it before the spring. It’s kind of a relief to see that familiar white blanket because it confirms our expectations – it’s winter, and in the winter it snows.
When it comes to waiting, everyone can relate to feeling frustrated. Especially when what you’re wating for is something you really want… like ahieving your weight loss goal. Here is the thing you’ve got to consider, there is only so much energy you have on any given day, how do you want to use your energy? You might be thinking, “I can’t help it, I am frustrated because weight loss takes so… l o n g!” All I can say to that is, “I hear ya!” Let’s take a moment just to appreciate that weight loss is hard.
You can do hard things. There are lots of ways you can help yourself along the way. So just in case you need a word of encouragement or some tips to keep you going here is what I have to share:
Anticipate the best-case scenario, you will reach your weight loss goal.
Appreciate the journey by giving yourself well-deserved props you’re doing this!
Set small goals as you go and don’t diminish your joy for accomplishing them.
The benefit of practicing patience is perseverance and perseverance increases feelings of gratitude.
Shift your focus from “the work” to self-care it conserves energy to keep going.
Now I want you to think to yourself, “I got this.”
If the human brain were an appliance would have an extremely high-energy star rating. You’d see that yellow label hanging from it and you’d know you were getting a really good deal. The brain does all that it can to preserve energy. Whenever it encounters a problem it gets to work to problem solve and over time it learns how to deal with the problem, becoming more and more efficient each time. Eventually, it predicts a series of steps to take whenever the problem recurs. You do it without even thinking about it because it is now a habit:
There is a catch… the brain doesn’t care if it’s a helpful habit or a harmful habit – just so long as the problem is resolved. I find this fascinating as I reflect on weight gain or weight loss. We can literally predict our own futures – even if it is on a subconscious basis. But now that you are privy to this information, what will you do? How is your weight loss story going to go? Your habits will predict your fate.
The word victory seems too big for turning down candy at professional development. It is hyperbole to use a word like that for such a small act. Victory is a special sort of word; one that sits high in the curio cabinet, bathed in the light waiting for “company” to arrive. To do something to earn such a word is to be admired. A rarified word that is meant for greatness, and not all meant for simply having some self-control during a work day.
Do you believe that? I really hope you don’t because weight loss is just plain old hard work for so many of us. And listen, if you turn down the candy bowl, or eat the lunch you pointed out and prepared instead of ordering out, and that makes you feel like a winner, I say, “Celebrate your victory!” It’s time to embrace these small acts because they add up and when you’re standing on the other side of “Goal!” with a big grin on your face it will certainly feel like VICTORY then.
Mindfulness is often recommended to those of us who are on a weight loss journey. When I read about it, it makes sense – being present in the now, is better than just looking forward to the healthier version of yourself. I know that mindfulness helps, and yet I do struggle with it. Life is hectic and busy, and it is hard to break that rhythm and slow down. So I decided to practice mindfulness through writing. I have preserved an unremarkable evening. Just one of many from my home to yours.
Dusk Fading to Evening
Outside, the darkening sky envelops the front yard, the driveway, as the minivan slumbers under a moonless sky. Darkness is on the move like a black cat creeping up the brick walkway leading to the house. Inside the house, all is quiet. No TV, no games, no music, only the sounds of the keyboard – click, click, click. Meanwhile, the laundry is hung, the dishes are away, and my lunch is packed. The dog lays sleeping on her side, drawing long slow breaths her belly moving up and down. A small yelp, and flickering paws running in her deep dream state. I wonder what is giving her chase. I smile and think how good it is to have this moment right now. To be present in this moment, not looking to the future, or rehashing the day’s events, or remembering the long past. Now, is what matters most and for me, that is enough.
Where do you want to be one week from now? How about a month? What do envision for yourself by the time June rolls around? Creative Visualization is one way to center yourself around your weight loss goals. Imagining a positive outcome helps all of us stay on track. I like to think of it as writing a narrative for to inhabit. Why not write a positive script for your weight loss journey? Here is how to do it:
Close your eyes
Take a deep breath and picture yourself one day, one week, or one month from now. What about your situation is different? What is the same? How will you be different? How will you feel?
Picture yourself interacting with this new reality. You are not your circumstances, but your feelings about them change how you function within them.
If you imagine a better outcome for yourself, you may find that you end up living that reality. I think we are more powerful than we know. We have it within us to change our lives for the better.
Today my husband picked up a belt he had repaired at our local shoe and leather repair shop. A simple act that resonates deeply with me, I love this. I love it because taking care of what you have is as important to me as making a goal for what you might want next. I love it because the owner of the shop possessed the skill to fix the belt. He had the knowledge and the tools to make the needed repair. It’s never too late to fix it.
Yesterday, I got to see my WW friends from the Greenlawn Moose Lodge. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I credit much of my weight loss success to my Saturday morning friends. Together we created a supportive community and we all felt better for being part of it. Saturday mornings have not been the same since COVID-19 became part of all our daily existence. A year later, and now we are finally planning to get together at an in-person meeting next Saturday at 8:15 am. I will let you know how it goes.
I don’t know if it’s the luck of the Irish or if I just needed a change, but I switched over from the Purple plan to the Green plan. I think it is helping me.. I like that WW offers some choice now, it feels like a more responsive program for weight loss. I have also had two great spin classes on my Peloton. I have started stretching after the class and I notice a huge difference in how I’m feeling. So if you are working out – don’t forget to stretch your body will thank you!
So how are you doing on your weight loss journey? If you have found yourself backsliding into old habits, and gaining weight, know you’re not alone. Do not be hard on yourself. You are amazing, there is no one else in the world like you and you deserve better. Losing weight is REALLY HARD to do and to maintain. I am not suggesting that ignoring it is any better. That won’t help either. So take stock, what can you do to honor your health and wellbeing? Find some people who will back you up – know that I am cheering you on as I do this work too. Take small consistent steps towards change and before you know it your healthy habits will come back strong. You have the tools and the knowledge to make change happen.
January 17, 2021 is a late for an end of the year reflection, but I guess I needed some time to process all that happened and is still happening. To say so much has changed for all of our lives in an understatement. I could write about loss in almost every aspect of my life. Covid-19 has been and continues to be shadow of death and despair the world over. I am wrestling with my feelings of loss for my country both politically and socially. Systematic racism has been revealed to me and it is something that I cannot “unsee” so I am doing the work for how to be an anti-racist.
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”
All the of the deep rooted problems of my nation are being laid bare for all to see this year, I can take some comfort that our society is one where that can happen. We are imperfect, and the work that comes next is to continue to try to “form a more perfect union” a goal which will not be attained in my lifetime but is one worth fighting for for the rest of my life. I do take some solace in knowing that violence, for any cause is not to be tolerated. No one is above the law and people who either incite or promulgate violence will be punished within the parameters of the law.
My health and wellness goals have taken a beating this year. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges of these times, combined with the theft of my systems of support (in person WW meetings, and Spin classes) to maintain my health and weight loss have proved devastating. Community is an invaluable part of my success and I am still grieving the loss of that community but I am not the type of person to give up on a worthy cause. In this case, my health is the worthy cause here. I am dedicating myself to get back to goal.
I weighed myself yesterday and can now quantify the impact of my struggle in terms of black and white. I am working WW for all that it is worth. I am on the Purple Plan because I think it is still the best fit for me right now. The other action I took (with the full support of my husband, Dave) is I bought a Peloton. I can tell you that it is a real bonafide spin bike and I leave my workouts with that familiar sense of relief and wellbeing. It is a great stress reliever for me and I am very grateful to have one.
If I am to be completely honest, and this blog is a place for compete honesty or else what is the point? Not everything I lost was bad, and not everything I found was good this year. Maybe the lesson I am supposed to learn is that it is not really about what was lost or found, it is what remains. My resolve to be the best I can is what remains. Let’s promise to believe in ourselves and try to make the world a little brighter along the way. I will and I hope you will too.
A full week of being fully present on plan has come to a close. Forty-four SmartPoints are left over in my bank, and I am still full from dinner. Switching to #purple and eating whole foods is working for me. It has given me a welcome boost to help me get my head back in the game. Whatever path you are taking on your journey to better health, change it up from time to time because it really does help to keep it keep going.
Weigh in day is tomorrow so wish me luck. I’ll let you know what we discuss over our Zoom workshop.