Tuesday, November 25, 2014
I find it interesting that this program is called a "Solution". The book that helped me MOST in earlier years (pre-Spark) was one called "The Solution: 6 Winning Ways to Permanent Weight Loss" by Laurel Mellin, M.A., R.D. That book was developed as a follow up to a program to assist obese adolescents in solving their weight issues, through the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Go figure, I'm looking for a SOLUTION to a PROBLEM. I'm a problem solver. This is, as my son would say, "in my wheelhouse". Also interesting... Beck's program is a 6-week program. I'll be interested to see if she weaves her way around the six winning ways in the process, whether she uses the same vocabulary or not.
When I first came to Spark and looked around, what I observed was that although it is about weight loss, nutrition and exercise, all the things it promotes are goal-setting and achieving skills. Problem solving skills.
The thing about approaching weight management as a problem that can be solved through rational thought and behavioral modification is that this is something that actually WORKS. Behaviors have consequences. Making a different choice is NOT always natural... the person making that choice has to have a REASON to make that choice. And the reason has to be strong enough to stick when the going gets tough.
The first thing one must to in preparing for any program is to acquire the tools. Beck's tools are the low-tech variety: index cards, sticky notes, and a bound notebook. As I work my way through the program, I might be tempted to point out how Spark tools map to what she's saying. But I will be following the tasks, as written in the book because that's how I roll.
Day 1's task is to make yourself an advantages response card. These are all the REASONS you want to lose weight (or maintain your weight or fitness). They need to be reasons that are IMPORTANT TO YOU, deep in your heart. This is because when the going gets tough, you need to remember (as MOBYCARP would say) what you REALLY, REALLY want, and why!
I can liken the advantages response to my Spark people goal board. In fact some of what I said when I made my card last night reflect similar things. But its focus is a little different - more on the why than the what. She gives a list in the book, that might resonate, but I wrote my own, that mean the most to me, personally. Here's what I wrote:
* I feel so much better - knees, back, digestion, and even the allergies are milder when I eat right.
* Being active is so much easier. (Heck LIFE is easier.)
* My athletic performance is improved.
* I can walk up four flights of stairs at work without hyperventilating. (Seriously, this was one of my initial goals... it falls into the category of functional fitness!)
* Airplane seats fit better!
* My clothes continue to fit until they wear out. (Speaks to my frugal nature, there)
* I can shop just about anywhere.
* My doctor is smiling and I want him to KEEP smiling!
Yours will differ, of course. You're a different person, with different desires and motivations. Think hard about WHY you want to lose weight or maintain fitness. Whatever that reason, it goes on your advantages response card(s).
Day 1's task is not just to make this card, it is to commit to reading it twice a day (plus whenever you NEED to, i.e. moments of challenge), and name those times. To post what's on it in other spots besides on the card (just did that in this blog... but this is to be someplace where you'll see it regularly...)
So I have a little bit of thinking yet to do to finish my Day 1 task. Fortunately, there is no time limit on this program. If it takes me more than one day to finish a task, or if I miss that day while focusing on the prior day for a bit longer... it's fine (she even says so in the book)... as long as I do the whole program in the order it is written.
LIFE is good. It's so much better when I'm fit. It is at its best when kindred spirits find one another along the path and offer encouragement. Creatively, consistently and consciously making choices that support those healthy habits, I remain GRATEFUL for each and every day.
May your day be one of peace.
Monday, November 24, 2014
When preparation meets opportunity, what happens? Success!
This is true in every area of life. Diet and exercise, weight maintenance, job searches, career changes, or... retirement (which is just another form of job change, no?)
For diet and exercise, when the motivation factor gets to the level of "whatever it takes" to reach your personal goal, your best bet to succeed is to research and learn... what has worked for others? Try a few out. Figure out what works for you, keeping in mind that this is something (tough news) you're going to need to keep doing for the rest of your life. You need to fall in love with your new lifestyle.
For most of my adult life... I could have described myself as being in a cycle of phases. I was always in one phase or another of this cycle, which I have described before (but probably numbered differently):
1. I tell myself I don't even CARE! But I'm miserable.
2. I CARE, but it sounds like too much hard work. I feel bad about myself, and may even talk mean to myself about my "failings" as a human being.
3. I CARE, but I have started to examine how I got here and I recognize that I've been in better places at least SOMETIMES in my life. I start talking "nicer" to myself, and patiently wait for motivation to kick in.
4. I got a burr under my saddle! I am motivated. I pick a program and am following it. I am excited, and positive and I start succeeding, losing weight, getting active, feeling good. I may slip sometimes, but I get back on program and keep on keeping on. This is the sweet spot of living!
5. Something happens that discourages me. I get injured. "Life explodes" around me (think job, think relationships, think kid issues...) and I start thinking I don't deserve to live well. I seek comfort in old, bad habits.
* Here is the choice point: do I return directed to 4? Do I fall all the way back to 1, succumbing to the negative self-talk? Do I short-cut back to 2? Do I stop the bad talk, but accept that I'm still going to indulge in some self-comfort with the old habits for a while... i.e. 3? Those are my choices. If I am prepared... the time spent in phases other than 4... is minimized!
The book that WATERMELLEN and SANDICANE have just blogged their way through, The Beck Diet Solution: Train your brain to think like a thin person, by Judith S. Beck , Ph.D. is not a diet or exercise plan. It is a cognitive behavior therapy approach with six weeks worth of practical exercises to work on the inches between the ears... the piece MOST of us have trouble with. I am soon to begin my own journey through this book... already been reading the foreword, introduction, and the first three chapters.
I happen to be a believer in cognitive behavior therapy... I've seen it work in my own life, and some of my success this time around can be laid at its doorstep. It helped me work my way through some scary times, make some big decisions. And in the process, I found the words falling out of my mouth in a therapist's office, "I'm at my happiest when I'm working on it (the weight issues that had plagued my entire adolescent and beyond life)." Cognitive behavior therapy is all about practice and BEHAVIOR... it's all about rational thought applied to whatever area we seek to improve.
If you are ready to start, whatever phase you're in... feel free to follow along. My goal is to stay in that number 4 phase for the rest of my life... or as much of it as I can manage. So with an open mind, let's see what's useful here, as I blog through the days.
LIFE is good. It's so much better when I'm fit. It is at its best when kindred spirits meet and encourage one another along the journey. Creatively, consistently, and consciously making choices that support a healthy lifestyle, I remain GRATEFUL for each and every day!
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I don't know about you, but I find that once I actually start doing the whatever I have been avoiding, I feel better. This weekend I started doing the retirement planning homework in earnest. Of course the seminar I had attended gave me some very good advice on how to go about crunching these numbers, and pointing out how the focus changes from building up the savings to making it last/become income to support me for the rest of my life.
My work this weekend confirmed what I'd sent to my financial advisor in terms of input last week. I was over on some estimates and under on others, but overall, about right.
Proving that I'm a better intuitive budgeter than intuitive eater.
Yesterday temperatures rose to the high fifties... and I took full advantage, with an easy run. Today it got progressively chillier, but I did go walking before it got too much so. I made my big pot of "this week's veggie soup", to get me through the week. I had bought parsnips and turnips this week, and a head of cauliflower... so lots of white this week... add some spinach and green peppers, of course onion and garlic... a can of tomatoes... in short, a good, hearty combination of veggies.
Thanksgiving is promising to be pretty chilly... with the high now predicted to be 29F... so I expect I will be very glad for those wool socks for my run. I have yet to try out the toe warmers, but I wore the new vest yesterday, and with the warmish weather, it was almost TOO warm. But there will be "nothing new on race day", now that I've tried it all out.
LIFE is good. It is better when I'm fit. It is at its best when kindred spirits find one another along the way. Creatively, consciously, and consistently making choices that support a healthy lifestyle, I remain GRATEFUL for each and every day.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
As I said in yesterday's blog, there's not tracking, and then there is not tracking. Several of those who commented picked up on the fact that sometimes "not tracking", one is still tracking. Mentally tracking.
Obviously the ultimate tracker is the body itself. Mental tracking goes along with the concept of mindful eating. It has its limits. Ever try to have a mental grocery list? Did you get everything at the store? How long was the list? Don't know about you... but my limit of number of items I can successfully get from my initial thought "I need xyz" into my cart and home to storage... is relatively small. Mental tracking, for me, works best on days when I'm eating a menu I've eaten many times before. This fits right in with Berkeley's Rule 9: eat from a limited menu.
For me, there is an in between, and again a few of yesterday's commenters picked up on this: "Eat what's in the bag"... you've seen me blog that line about a thousand times, over the years. This is a kind of tracking, too. By packing a bag that contains my morning snack (dried fruit, nuts, and a snack bar, all carefully measured), my lunch (salad and an entrée), and my afternoon snack (fruit and veggies and sometimes a string cheese)... I have pre-planned, pre-packed and pre-tracked what I'm going to eat over the course of my work day.
This is a form of what I'll call geographic tracking. To go with my mother's concept of geographic filing (piles of stuff). I've heard of some people successfully doing something like putting their allowed food for the day on one shelf of the 'fridge. Same kind of deal.
Geographic tracking for food is kind of like envelope budgeting... you know, where you put the allotted dollars for a given expense in an envelope, and when they're gone, they're gone... no more spending for THAT expense this month! Probably works best for folks who live alone or separate their eating from the rest of the household (college roommate land?)
Bottom line, you're right when you say on those days when I ate what was in the bag I was tracking, without writing it down.
The beauty of writing it down is that when I forget the bag, or choose to eat something NOT in the bag... is that I can make adjustments and trades with confidence. If I use tools like the Spark nutrition tracker (and others) I can know whether the trade I mentally propose is a reasonable swap (nutrition for nutrition) or if it is "worth it".
I believe that those who manage to successfully transition to "intuitive eating" have a good sense of portion sizes, probably most of the time *do* follow rule 9, and have already experimented enough to know what swaps are worth it for them. As for me, I will probably always need to track the majority of the time, simply because of my sneaky, slippery rebel inner voice that will let me eat and "forget" what I ate... not a terribly mindful eater all the time!
Today, it's back to tracking, because it's Saturday, and I don't pack a bag on Saturday.
LIFE is good. It's better when I'm fit. It is at its best when kindred spirits cross my path, and we cheer one another, like runners passing on the trail. Creatively, consciously, and consistently making choices that support a lifetime of healthy habits, I remain GRATEFUL for each and every day!
Friday, November 21, 2014
There is not tracking, and there is not tracking! Seriously, I think more than a few of you know what I mean. Bottom line, whether you write it down, enter it in a computer, or check boxes or slide windows... tracking our food intake doesn't matter to our bodies. The body is ALWAYS tracking. But this is not about the body, per se. THIS is about the mind and the psyche:
WHY are you not tracking today? Is it to stick your head in the sand and not want to KNOW what you're consuming... so you can indulge your anxiety-driven time-honored emotion soothing using food? Or... is it because you are trying out "intuitive eating" and still pretty much doing what you would have done if you were writing it down? Is it "giving yourself a break" because you're just exhausted from the perfectionism of writing it all down?
I can usually get away with that "giving myself a break" for a few days, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday would qualify as those days. Sunday evening was DEFINITELY the head in the sand, rebel with the bit between her teeth. Monday was somewhere in between the two.
Today, I haven't yet entered anything in the tracker, but I have packed my bag, and it looks like this could be another "giving myself a break" day... AS LONG AS, I reason with myself... I stick with what's in the bag, and my normal supper and evening snack.
Sometimes something has to give. The retirement planning stuff takes some time and attention to detail that I would otherwise be spending on training and tracking food. So, I'm giving myself that break... but even in giving myself that break, I have precautionary notes around it!
LIFE is good. It's better when I'm fit. It is at its best when I find kindred spirits, walking a similar journey, and we can cheer one another along. Creatively, consistently, and consciously making choices that support healthy habits, I remain GRATEFUL for each and every day!
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