I can't go to the gym and workout for 156 hours straight and call it good for the year - it's much more effective (and physically possible) if I went 3 times a week for an hour. Just like I can't eat a salad once a week and expect to be healthy. What I've been hearing for years and years about "being healthy is a lifestyle choice" is actually true and I'm blown away by it's simplicity - and insane difficulty when actually put into practice. Just be consistent and you'll be "fine". Hm, well, how often is your life consistent? I'm pretty sure no two days are identical and things always come up to get in the way of a routine.
I would say a big part of my success has been due to my ability to stay consistent with a number of things. One being quality of food.
I haven't been eating like a saint every day. In the course of a week I've eaten lasagna, tiramisu and pecan pie. The difference is they were all made by me or my husband and we knew exactly what was going into it. I feel like I've had plenty of sugar to last me a while, but I still ended up being down in weight from the week previous. It's not the occasional indulgence that kills the momentum of my diet - it's the consistency I have in buying quality ingredients and choosing to make my own foods from scratch rather than buy anything pre-made. It also helps to be able to stop myself from overindulging in the sweet stuff - which brings me to my next consistent practice:
I am generally consistent on portions. While I don't carry around the measuring cups as I did when I attempted another lifestyle adjustment in the past, I still know that I should dish out a single serving and then wait a good while to let the food settle in my stomach before even considering another helping. Sometimes I'm super hungry and I'll eat more than one, but for the most part I can talk myself out of extras by remembering to ask myself "who suffers for this?". I still battle with occasional binge eating, but it is only a matter of time before I am tired of being ill all the time and I'll scale it way back. This is how I got back to my pre-vacation weight. I'm not focusing all of my energy on losing weight, but I use it as a way to track progress. It is clear to me that when I treat my body the way it wants to be treated, I tend to lose excess body fat. I'm okay with this.
Maintaining consistency with my walks is back on track as well and I am very grateful for that. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I had a really hard time getting my mind back on track at the start of the new year, but I slowly convinced myself to get out there and walk the dogs every day. They appreciate it and my brain appreciates it within minutes of being outside. I haven't been able to find a substitute for the mental and emotional curing effects of breathing fresh air, regardless of season. I feel better when I breath it and that is enough motivation to stay consistent with going for a walk outside. This is likely a contributing factor to why I don't prefer working out in a gym. It's just not my thing. But I do want to work on my fitness level and find activities that I enjoy doing. I'm still working on my first fitness-related baby step of taking a walk every day. Since it was going well I decided about 2 weeks ago to start doing 20 slow motion crunches every morning. I have remembered most days, and some I wouldn't remember to do until later in the afternoon. Whether it's walks or crunches, if I question it and start to formulate excuses in my mind, I ask myself "can you think of any good reason why you SHOULDN'T do it?". The answer is "no" 99.9% of the time, so that takes care of it. Once I start putting on my shoes the dogs know what is up and start getting excited, so I can't back out once I start the process!
I am consistent about leaving reminders for myself. While being self-employed I have learned that I can't rely on my brain alone to remember every task that needs to be done for multiple jobs - so I have reminders for myself everywhere from calendars and alarms to post it notes and voice memos. I keep future me posted on what things need to be done daily or throughout the week. The same idea for work is applied to my relationship with food. In a moment of weakness I have been able to remind myself of why I started doing this in the first place. It wasn't like all of the other times before. Before it was like some stupid competition I made up in my head where being thin was the winning attribute. Once you're thin, everything will be perfect. Men will love me more, I'd be more successful in my career, and I'd show all of the haters who's got the last laugh now! It was all so trivial and dependent on others. The truth is I started doing this for me because I like myself and if I can help it, I don't want to put myself through a painful experience like diabetes or heart disease. Sometimes it's hard to face the fact that no one is going to do the work for me, or that there's not some magical wand that can let me start over again. I have to do it myself, and there's no time like the present. With the brain I have, I need reminders to keep me on track with my resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes I need to consciously ask myself questions, like the ones I've mentioned above, and sometimes it's just a matter of catching myself when I'm not following my own plan. Such as mindless snacking. It always hurts me either physically or emotionally, so I remind myself how much that feeling sucks. Also, on several occasions I have pretty much staged an intervention with myself. I can stop myself mid-bite, mid-binge and choose to spit out whatever I was currently about to consume. I'll even throw the rest of whatever I was eating away. Then I'll grab my phone and write a reminder to myself never to have that food lying around the house again, as it's proven to be too tempting for me at the moment. It's weird to stop mid-bite and decide to spit it out instead - but also empowering like nothing else I've experienced.
I know that I'll never really get to that magical "Goal Land" where I don't have to worry about my personal health again. This is life long and a commitment only I can choose to make every day. I have the power to go right back to being a size 16/18, eating pints of ice cream, fast food and sucking down all of the Diet Cokes if I want. I am allowed to change my mind and become a tattoo artist if I want, too. It's not that I can't have ice cream or fast food or soda, it's that I choose not to. I feel like I deserve better, so I gave that stuff up. Sometimes that means I have to sacrifice what is known and comfortable to me. Some foods became a comfort to me and trigger all kinds of happy feelings. But at the end of the day, many of those comforts were replaced with regrets, and less than desirable side effects. Why would I choose to return to such a lifestyle?