Sunday, October 23, 2011
Evidence: it's what we look for in figuring out "what happened". Investigators of everything from program bugs (that's my personal experience) to crimes and disdemeanors look at physical clues and interview people who might have memories... they accumulate documents, including program logs and outputs (me), photographic evidence from security cameras, eyewitness testimony, etc.
What does "evidence" have to do with weight loss and maintenance? LOTS! What is the single most referenced tool people point to when they are explaining their success? TRACKING! Tracking is a vital piece of evidence in determining why and how we got the outcome we did.
In maintenance, when we stop tracking, it is analogous to turning off the program traces or the security cameras. We start relying on the eyewitness testimony as to "what happened" when we seek to explain our results.
It has been shown that eyewitness testimony is unreliable... how many of us "remember" those licks and samples we took when cooking? That snagged bit of chocolate we took on the way past the office candy dish? If we keep on tracking, we have our evidence if something starts to slip. We can clearly see what needs adjusting.
So, in my toolbox of the ABC's of maintenance is the continuing collection of evidence: of my success, in the monthly snapshots, of my following (or not) the plan in logging my food and exercise, and in a record of daily weights. Evidence to show not just THAT it's working, but WHAT is working (or not).
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Many of us talk about what we're doing with SparkPeople as being on a journey. This lends itself to the metaphor of distance: where we started, where we are now, how "far" we have come.
Some of us have walking, running, biking, or swimming programs going as part of our healthy initiatives... this lends itself to the literal concept of distance. How many miles or kilometers did you cover today? This week? This year? You are accumulating a distance in more than a metaphorical way.
But the concept of distance came to me yesterday in a trip to the grocery store. As I walked through the aisle of Halloween candy (yes, I walked through the valley of the shadow...) I avoided putting any into the cart. That little demon voice wanted to tell me if I didn't buy it today, the "good" kind would be all gone by the time the holiday got here! And believe me, this lady is going to have her little treat that day, and the "good stuff", not something I don't like that doesn't satisfy!
But I have learned that if I keep my "distance" from the danger foods, control it at the grocery store, rather than having to face an abundance of temptation being in my cupboards, I am far better off.
One of the secrets of maintenance is not to *never* have a treat... it is to keep my distance to the point where choosing to have one is in fact a conscious decision, not an automatic response. Studies have shown that "out of sight, out of mind" applies to treats: if the candy sits on the desk, you're more likely to snag a piece. If it's in some distant drawer, not so much.
So, the "good" treats, and even the ones I'm not that crazy about... are being kept at a distance until the day I will distribute them!
Life's good... Spark On!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Once one has entered what we used to think of as "the promised land", i.e. maintenance, things change, and yet, they don't.
What changes is that we no longer see the steady reduction of the readout on the scale. We stop dropping dress or jeans sizes. We have reached the body size that we yearned and worked for.
What stays the same is that to maintain our healthy levels, we have to keep doing a lot of what we did during the losing phase. We have to manage our portion sizes. We have to keep active. And without the kick of the reward? It's hard to keep motivated to keep doing what we did, some of us for long months or even years!
Here's where creativity comes in! Not that it wasn't needed during long loss months or plateaus! But maintenance is the chore of a lifetime, not a day or a week. The pre-canned formula, the same breakfast lunch and dinner and snack, the same exercise routine over that kind of span can get boring.
The creativity that helped us past challenges on the way to goal can help us stay here long-term: planning a work-out change-up from the gym, for example (anybody for a training program to pass the Army Physical Fitness test? Turning your kitten into a weight? Aerobic grocery loading?). Giving ourselves rewards, particularly activity rewards (ride a horse?). Positive self-talk in new and different ways (blog an alphapet once a year?) Linking up with spark friends in real life for some active event (a half marathon?). All of these have been creative / different things I've tried in the year of maintenance. Your creativity may drive you in different ways... but however you exercise it (trying new healthy recipes?)... give yourself credit and accept the joy!
Now it's time to exercise creativity again, and plot out the next year of "things I want to do". Y'all have heard me mention a triathlon in the next year. To make that happen, it's on my list to re-join a gym that has a pool. On the way to that tri, I might have some other fun things on the list... biking to picnics seems like a far-away goal right now, with the chill temperatures, but Spring *will* come again. Envision... and work for it!
Whether maintaining or still working toward getting to maintaining, let's brush off those creative genes and have a blast! Maintaining can be FUN, if we apply a little creativity!
Life's good... Spark on!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Brain and body are not mortal enemies. Research has shown that exercising the body has direct benefits to the brain.
Growing up, I had the mistaken concept that you developed one or the other! I was very proud of my brain... I was that natural A student. Academics came easy. I was good at figuring out just what was expected and providing that and more. Loved getting those great test scores. Learned it was bad to brag about it, never internally learned not to be pleased with my native intellect, though, and the praise it brought.
People should have a realistic sense of their strengths. But, at the same time, I had that mistaken concept about body... if my brain was my focus, my body got neglected. It was almost as though I de-emphasized my body so as to put even more emphasis on my reason for existing: my brain. I wore my fat as an armor that said to those around: she's in the room because of her brain, not her looks.
Funny the ideas that one latches onto in youth and how they linger in the back of the mind. Now I have internalized the knowledge that to take care of that brain, I have to take good care of the body of which it is A PART!
Many folks talk about brains versus beauty... and the nowadays tag line is "thanks, I'll take both"... a healthy body is a beautiful one. And now, my brain and body need to work in harmony with one another: I exercise my body to help my brain be healthy, too. And yes, I need, love, and appreciate both.
Life's good... Spark on!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Ambition is a great word to start off my maintenance alphabet for year two. Ambition encompassses both the drive to achieve a goal, and the goal one is driving to achieve.
"Does he (or she) have ambition?" is asked of anyone seeking office or a higher position in his or her career. Ambition is essential to success in some things. Being naturally talented or gifted only gets one so far... achieving may be easier, but it still needs to be sought.
As many folks discover on reaching mid-life, things that once came easier now require a drive to achieve... so the question about weight and health becomes, "do you have the ambition to reach a healthy weight / lifestyle?"
Now turn it on its head, and we're talking about goals, or the object of our desires. "What is your ambition?" speaks directly to this, and it is worthy of rexamination from time to time. Meditation, even: "What do I want from this?" is closely related to "What is my ambition?"
So answer for yourself: "Do you have ambition?" and if yes, "What is your ambition?"
I believe I do have ambition. What is mine? To live a healthy and meaningful life... and to be happy doing so!
Life's good... Spark on!
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