Sunday, November 23, 2014
Beck tells me, as I get close to the end of the 6 week program, that I need to keep on keeping on.
And that I'll need a new "to do" list.
To keep my skills fresh.
It's a horrifying thought, frankly. That I can't just stop. That it can't just be "over".
But for me, dieting is permanent. I am not naturally thin. I must be eternally vigilant and avoid the temptations that I can't resist. (And that's an actual Beck card I made in 2011).
No amount of food would ever be enough food. I'm just as hungry 90 pounds overweight as when I stick to my goal weight.
This Beck refresher certainly brought home to me that my skills had slipped.
I was no longer "arranging my environment" to hide the cheese, the peanut butter and the trail mix. It's amazing to me how much of that stuff I was actually eating.
I was preplanning my food and exercise -- but not carefully enough.
I was no longer sitting down to eat everything, slowly and mindfully. I was eating a lot of stuff standing up. Small thing, but a big thing (and I caught myself this morning licking feta crumbs off my fingers while making my omelette).
I was no longer tolerating hunger and reminding myself that hunger is not an emergency.
And: I was no longer identifying and coping with sabotaging thoughts effectively enough: including my primary sabotaging thought, that having to spend the time doing this just isn't "fair".
All right then.
Keeping on keeping on means keeping these Beck skills fresh.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
This is a fave Beck tip for me.
Because if there's not much fun happening in my life besides eating -- then of course eating takes on a disproportionate and weighty importance. And I feel excessively deprived if I can't eat whatever I want whenever I want. Which I can't, of course. Not if I want to be healthy, slim and fit.
And of course if I DO eat too much and feel obese and unattractive, then I don't "deserve" to do anything else special to enrich my life now. No reason to buy pretty undies or perfume. Plus I'll lack confidence to engage in social activities if I feel the target of implicit criticism because of my weight. I'll lack the self-assurance to go to the beach in a bathing suit. Or turn up at the gym in spandex workout clothes . . .
Failing to enrich my life NOW contributes to that vicious circle of compensating for life's drabness by eating too much. So that I'll feel even less worth of enriching my life now. And so on . . . might as well sit on the couch with the Cheetos (perfectly named, no?)
For Beck the injunction to enrich our lives in the present is full of specific ideas. A check list. What can I do to take my mind off food? What are my new goals? There's a chart in the workbook: travel; buying stylin' clothes; taking up a hobby; signing up for a class; improving the situation at work; looking for a new job; dating; joining a club or a team or a group; going to the beach; making social plans with new friends; volunteering. I do these, most of 'em, at various times . . . and there's lots of space to add stuff.
Beck urges that once I've chosen a new goal or two I should develop a plan. What's the first step? When?
Gotta say, there's a connection between the "comfortable life" and "comfort food".
When did people start saying, "I'm just not comfortable with that" as an all-purpose excuse or justification for . . . not doing what we need to do? Including tolerating some hunger. Comfort is highly over-rated, right? Comfort goes with elastic-waisted pants. Caftans. Granny undies. Which can all comfortably accommodate mac 'n cheese in giant portions!! But don't contribute to genuine comfort within our own skins.
When I'm thinner, I'm actually less armoured. Which makes me more vulnerable, in a sense. And that vulnerability makes me more open to quiet and everyday experiences of joy. Winter sunsets behind the trees in the park. That cardinal deep in the hemlock. The smell of the hemlock. The soughing sound of the wind in its branches. Beck doesn't mention these -- she's more about "big plans".
But for me, paying attention to the ordinary and exquisite pleasures that surround me for the noticing actually matters more. Noticing is a huge source of authentic comfort.
Life itself is rich, yes it is, and that richness is not about stuffing my face with rich foods. But neither is it necessarily the result of more striving and more effort and more goal-setting and more discipline.
The richness of life surrounds me. It's the present. It's there, for the taking.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Nothing's changed here since 2011: I exercise.
I'm a life-long exerciser.
When I'm sick (and I've got a yucky cold at the moment) I take it easy. But I always get back to it.
Not for weight loss or weight maintenance.
But: because is makes me feel great. Keeps me strong. Keeps me toned. Keeps me healthy from a cardio perspective. Keeps that blood pressure optimal.
Golf in the summer. XC in the winter. Gym all year round. Spontaneous exercise zooming up and down stairs, walking to the printer at work -- every opportunity. I like to move.
Can't "out train" a crappy diet though. There is no amount of exercise that will permit me to eat whatever I want whenever I want, or even remotely close.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
My weight is staying steady. I'm on a plateau.
And that's OK. A plateau really is the essence of maintenance.
I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm trying to stop yo-yoing.
Sticking with the Beck program punctiliously is keeping my weight steady.
If I wanted to lose more weight, I'd need to exercise more, eat less, or some combo of the above. But I really can't eat less and meet my nutritional requirements for protein, carbs, healthy fats, various vitamins/minerals etc. which I track in addition to my calories.
And I really am exercising as much as I'm finding time for at this particular moment, about 3 x a week. (Although yup, could always exercise more: exercise just doesn't seem to affect my weight all that much. Important for other reasons primarily . . . mood, toning, cardio fitness and so forth).
Recent physical with new doctor: my blood pressure is optimal. My blood work is perfect. She spontaneously referred to me as "thin" when she recommended I get a base line bone density test (because "thin" is one indicator for monitoring bone density). And pointed out that my BMI is also optimal. (I was incredulous, of course: after all, in my own mind I still weigh 230 pounds, right?)
My goodness it's a lot of work to stay in the same place (sabotaging thought!!). And yes it is. NO CHOICE. Eating sitting down. Preplanning, Tracking.
This probably is my maintenance weight. And this probably is the regime required to keep me at my maintenance weight.
Oh well. Oh well. Oh well.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
OK, I'm dealing with major stress in my life at the moment -- and so I'm "cheating" here, not simply providing a link to my 2011 blog on Day Thirty-Seven but actually copying and pasting it in here.
Because I'm short of time today to provide a "fresh take" and also because -- yup -- the 2011 version really does summarize why it's important to deal with stress, which for most of us is a key factor in triggering overeating.
"Once again, Beck gives us a real cognitive workout, synthesizing previous steps in her program.
People overeat because they are stressed: therefore, reducing stress is an essential element of weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
How to do it? Predictably, Beck treats stress as "problem" to be solved. So once again we need to revisit our priorities: we have to make time for dieting and exercise activities. I cannot permit myself to wallow in the pressures of work. And we need to identify the thinking error at issue in any instance of stress(Day 26), then apply the seven questions technique (Day 27) either to reduce the stress or to conclude that the problem is one incapable of resolution which must be accepted.
Beck believes that stress is primarily related to the thinking error of dysfunctional rules: and in particular the "shoulds" applied to ourselves ("I should be absolutely perfect at my job; I should not ever make any errors; I should win every time; I should stay late every evening to work on files and assist clients . . . "). In addition we apply "shoulds" to others: "My clients should be more appreciative; my kids should be more independent and better launched; my work colleagues should be more helpful . . . ". It's easy to see how dysfunctional rules for myself translate into insuperable burdens for others; after all, if I'm perfect everyone else should be too!! Right . . .
Beck suggests that we can reduce stress by replacing "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" (for ourselves and others) with "It's more realistic to expect . . . ". So: it's more realistic to expect that the scales won't always move downwards. It's more realistic to expect that sometimes I will mindlessly put food in my mouth standing up. It's more realistic to expect that clients will be frightened, angry, resentful at the changes imposed upon their lives. It's more realistic to accept that adult children in this difficult economy take longer to find their feet.
I don't have perfect control over myself. I don't have perfect control over others. And others, of course, don't have perfect control over themselves.
Oh, well. Oh, well.
But mere resignation to this loss of control is not the best result either. I need to think and permit myself to experience how much more humane the world is -- for me, and for everyone around me -- when I relax my "rules" without an "all or nothing" mentality. It's not the case that I'm either perfect or need not make any effort at all. It's not the case that others are either saints or sinners. There is a middle path, and it's only by adopting the middle path that I can stay on this journey indefinitely.
So . . . clearly this is about more than weight loss. This is about uncovering the perfectionism that underlies so many persistent weight loss problems. The best IS the enemy of the good (as Voltaire told us, only in French!).
Beck is a cognitive psychologist, and so she does deal with these issues primarily inside the head. She might have also discussed how (because we are bodies) excess weight creates biophysical stresses: just carrying it around (knee/hip joints); increased likelihood of heart/diabetes/cancer issues. She might have considered the social stressors of being heavy: the snide side glances delivered to the heavy person approaching the airplane seat, or chowing down on a burger and fries at a restaurant, or loading her cart in the chips aisle at the grocery store. She might also have discussed how exercise short cuts much of this cognitive rumination: endorphins are magic -- as I discovered yet again yesterday skiing over crisp sparkly snow late in the afternoon after a very stressful day at work.
So: SHOULD Beck have expanded her analysis of stress in these ways? It's realistic to expect that she could not deal with everything in the few short pages allocated to this chapter!! And: I'm so grateful she provided me with the insights she did, provoking me to think more deeply about stress, its relationship to weight control and its relationship to thinking errors."
You can see I did in fact apply this to me today -- acknowledging that there is no "rule" that I "should" prepare a fresh blog. Acknowledging that it's not realistic for me to do that today.
Not shoulding on myself. Not gonna be shoulding on anybody else either. And I'm sticking with the program when it comes to all the techniques of avoiding overeating when stressed. NO CHOICE. Oh well!
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