Monday, October 22, 2012

The world of absolutes

As part of my mindful eating exercises, I've been seeing if I can challenge some of those sayings I've said and used for SO long, I've actually come to believe they are the sworn truth. You know, we all have them: "I'm not a morning person", "I can't catch a ball because I'm totally uncoordinated", "I have no willpower", etc. The particular one I'm referring to is, "I can't have 'junk' food in my house because I'll eat it all in one go."

Now, this might seem a harmless enough thought to have and even a sensible one in some ways. After all, I don't believe in making life harder if it can be avoided. And it's true to say that when I lost a lot of weight last time, I did actually follow this mantra and I tried as much as possible to avoid having foods in the house that tempt me. But now, I'm flipping this idea on its head. I managed to have a packet of Arnott's Shapes in my cupboard in a container for over a week. In fact, there are still a few of them left even now. I could absolutely eat the whole packet in one go - I've done it before *blush* - but the idea was to see if I could leave them and only have a couple now and then. And guess what - I could, and I did. I'm as shocked as I could possibly be about this because I would formerly have sworn blind it was absolutely something I could not do. See, that's the problem with absolutes. If we say them enough, we start to believe they are as much a fact as the sun going down and coming up every day. And they are so not that.

When I think back to my last semi-successful weight loss "jurneeee", do I think it helped me focus less on food, removing that temptation from my home? The short answer is no, it didn't! Because unless you are planning to go into a monastery version of the Biggest Loser house, where you can live forever without any access to food that is not "clean" and healthy, there is ALWAYS going to be temptation around. For a start, there IS no "food monastery". And if you decided to go out in public wearing blinkers like a horse so you don't see food that tempts you, or with a peg on your nose so you can't smell food that might lead you astray, well, you'd get some odd looks to say the least. Now, of course, I'm being a little facetious here but it's just to drive home my point that it's impossible in the Western world to avoid tempting foods. So if you can't avoid them, the next best thing is to learn to make peace with them, to find a way to coexist in the universe with them where you are the one in control. So, to this end, right now I have a block of this in my fridge which has been there since last Thursday:

This is a biggest test than the savoury foods as I'm far more a sweet tooth, but until yesterday I'd actually forgotten it was there. Amazing story, but true. I wasn't trying to hide it - I just forgot. Last night after I came home from work I had two squares of it. Now, it's Lindt so it's lovely chocolate, quite a cut above Cadbury chocolate, and it's rich. Two squares was actually plenty. I can't believe I just typed that but it's true. :) So, now let's see how much longer I can leave it there, only having a little of it now and then. I have a good feeling about this. I reckon I can make it to about a week. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Interest vs Commitment

Hello, blogosphere. I've just realised I've been a bit quiet this week, probably because I was in recovery from night shift as per my last post. I am waiting for some rice to cool down so I can incorporate into my healthy recipe I'm about to cook now, to be served along with salad. And it's very hot today and the last thing I actually feel like doing is cooking, so the fact that I'm doing it, well, I take it as a good sign!

What moved me to write a post was this quote which I found shared by a friend on Facebook.

This saying really resonated with me and I'm sure there are others to whom it really applies too. You see, I'd have to say that in my life I've always tended to be a bit of a quitter. When things really get tough I'm able to stand it to an extent, but when it becomes what I feel is unbearable, I must admit the white flag goes up and I surrender and usually get totally overrun by the enemy, which in my case is my eating/food demons. It might not happen straightaway but it has seemed almost inevitable because I just get tired of fighting. I think that's why with everyone doing challenges all around me (there's even one at work I could join) I'm resisting. The path is so familiar to me and in my mind, doing things that way appears to lead to certain failure. And it's no wonder I don't succeed with an attitude like that - I'm well aware how it sounds - but to me it's not a sign I have no willpower or am weak. Quite the opposite, in fact. I actually think I'm a fairly strong person, stubborn, even. This is why I feel I need a unique approach to my weight loss if it's to work. As per Mindwise Bodywise, I'm determined to do this for the sake of health, and this means taking out of the equation things like scales and measurements for now. This means using my clothes as a gauge. This means not listening to the inner voices of negativity which, ironically, have gone into overdrive since I'm not medicating so much with food/eating. The fact they are there, well, I actually take it as a sign I'm succeeding. If I were lulled into a false sense of security by thinking as I've thought every other time I've had success, "Right, that's it - I'm all over this now and I will be slim forever and never have a weight problem!" - well, weren't they famous last words! I don't take it for granted that when I do this, I will never have to worry about it ever again, but I do believe once I've worn new paths through my neural landscape of eating like a normal/healthy person, it will be easier. And that goes back to having faith in the process, and that I do have, in spades. :)

So, coming back to the saying about 'commitment', I think it really applies to my life now that I'm a shift-worker. I have to face the fact that I'm probably not going to "feel like" training at the gym a lot of the time, but really, that's too bad. If I'm really committed, that means I go anyway. I've had a new program written yesterday by an exercise physiologist and I've been advised to do it three to four times a week, so that's what I'm going to do. However and wherever I can fit it in around work, I'll do it. If I can find an hour to watch TV, I can find an hour to exercise. My body and my mind BOTH need it in equal quantities. So, just as I'm committed to making my best efforts at eating differently/mindfully from now on, I'm committing to exercise. There will be a way to fit it in and make it work. It's up to me to find what that is.

And that's all she wrote, for now. Ciao!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Working the night shift

Hello, blogosphere. I haven't been able to write an entry for a few days now because I've been working - dun, dun, dunnnn! - the night shift. It is a necessary evil in my line of work and I only have to do it every five weeks or so, but for anyone who's never done it, let me give you an idea of some of its challenges.

First of all, the obvious one is how to manage sleep. While there are people in this world who always stay up all night and sleep all day, for the greater majority this is not how our circadian rhythms work and so being awake at 4am, much less doing a job competently, is quite a challenge. Put it this way - how emergency room doctors/nurses do what they do without harming people accidentally through being so tired, I'll never know and I take my hat off to them. My responsibilities are much less, although they do require a certain amount of alertness for that one call you might get where a person really needs help. And there is a certain point in the night you get to where suddenly it's like you have an out of body experience. You feel as though you are talking in your sleep. You continue to do your job and function but it doesn't feel like it's you who's doing it. It's like there is an automaton who is performing the required job functions in the background while you gaze blearily at your screen and try not to think too hard about your nice bed waiting at home for you. This would be the part I dislike most about night shift. Oh, and the drive home isn't the best, either. You have to make a choice - do you have a mega strong coffee on the way out the door to make sure you stay awake for the drive, meaning you won't sleep once you get home, or do you take your chances, play loud music, splash your face with cold water, etc?

Now, in regards to the new lifestyle choices I am making, I think all things considered I am managing very well, but I am led to the irrevocable conclusion that working the night shift and eating mindfully probably don't really go together. There have been times in the last couple of days when I have been aware I'm eating something and not thinking about it, a couple of times when I've been eating things whilst doing other things (a big no-no if I can avoid it). My appetite has seemed all over the place and I've not been sleeping well because, bizarre as it seems for someone like me, I don't think I've actually been eating enough and my hunger is what's been waking me up. So this morning when I got home I made a point of eating something before going to sleep and that seemed to do the trick. I had the first good sleep I've had in days and I feel semi-refreshed for my last night of night shift tonight (YAY!). My exercise has been sporadic but there has been "some" and considering that I haven't done any for sooo long, I'm pretty happy to have managed to exercise three times in the last six days. I want to be doing some every day but, hey, it's something to build on. I promised myself I wasn't going to cane myself over mistakes this time, so I'm not. I honestly think I've done pretty well this night shift to continue on the path as well as I have. Next time I will do better because I'll have had this experience of night shift/eating mindfully (or trying to!) under my belt.

And with that, I might see if I'm up for a quick 30 minute walk now. Ciao for now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A conoisseur, I am not!

Now, everybody knows who this is, I'm sure.

In my new phase of mindful eating, one of the things I'm doing is imagining I'm in Matt Preston mode. While I chew my food, I'm taking more notice than I can confidently state I ever have of the taste, texture, flavour, etc of all the food I'm eating. I'm not doing this because I'm some sort of gourmet or hoping to become one. I know there is no way my palate will ever be that sophisticated. :) But taking time to actually assess what I'm eating has led to some interesting outcomes. Today, for example, I was out at my favourite coffee shop, Michel's. I decided to have a coffee and a piece of cake. Now, remember, I'm not "on a diet" so there's nothing wrong with me doing this and it's not an everyday exercise, but I thought I felt like some. Anyway, this piece of cake, I decided to eat it as mindfully as I could and the plan was to leave some on the plate, which I did. Now, I've been making a point of leaving a bit of food on my plate as part of a "fake it till I make it" exercise. It's not because I couldn't finish what's on my plate because there's no doubt I could. It's more to get me used to the idea that it's OK to do this because the conditioning to clean my plate every time is so strong. But today, well, I left some of that cake on the plate because - incredible story - I didn't really find I was enjoying it. Now, for a sweet tooth to say that, it must have been a pretty damn average cake. It really was. I was sitting there, chewing slowly and putting down my spoon between bites. It seemed to me that at times I felt like I was eating a spoonful of actual sugar and I didn't like it. It was just TOO sweet. Not only that, it was pretty stale and that wasn't good. Cake should be fresh. But in a non-mindful state, that wouldn't have stopped me finishing it. Now, I want to see things differently and if I'm going to have something like a piece of cake, I want to be sure I enjoy it, otherwise what's the point? It totally ruins the experience.

The other things I'm beginning to realise now just how often I've gone on eating when I'm not enjoying things, even to the point when I feel quite ill, sometimes for hours and hours afterwards. I know this is binge behaviour and I'm not proud of it, but it is true. And I really don't even know why I have always felt the need to eat every single morsel of whatever unhealthy food I thought I wanted. Hell, I live by myself - it's not like anyone's going to take it away from me! If, as I suspect, it's because I feel I can't trust myself with these foods and so it's better if they're not there, this is very specious logic. I might have moved house but I'm a five minute trip from a shop. If I wanted to get this stuff, it's hardly difficult. So another thing I have started to do is, if I buy this stuff, measure out a small amount, eat it mindfully and slowly, and then put the rest of whatever it is away. I've never done this in my life and it's very new to me, but so far I've had a bit of success. I have a few honey mustard soya chips in a container which I think I bought over a week ago. I've found, when eating them slowly/mindfully, that even though I like them they don't really agree with me so I've just left the rest there. My next project with this is going to be something sweet because that's a harder thing for me to refuse. But I feel confident I'm ready to give it a good go. :)

Anyway, enough of my philosophical ravings for one night. I've been for a nice swim today and I think I'll sleep well tonight. Ciao, blogosphere1

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fighting the inner perfectionist

Hello, blogosphere. I think it's about time I posted again to summarise what's happened this week.

It's been a pretty good week, really. I've continued to apply very simple rules to my eating and that's all I'm doing, although it seems that when I next see EK I'm going to be expected to commit to doing more exercise. And I'm ready for that, too - I'm going to swim, I've decided. I suppose in a way it is part of my "reconnecting" idea, too. When I was a kid I absolutely LOVED to swim. I would spend hours swimming underwater at my local pool in Townsville. I loved the peace and quiet under the water - see, antisocial even then. :) And with the joint issues I'm currently having and probably will continue to have until I lose some weight, swimming is really the ideal solution. And if I look shocking in my swimsuit, which I know I do, too bad - it's a necessary evil so I can achieve this goal.

As for my mindful eating/only eating in particular places and ways project, I'd have to say I am very pleasantly surprised by how much it is helping me. Since I'm not expecting tonnes of weight to fall off in a couple of months, I'm very calm and at peace about this. There is a refreshing absence of the usual diet/perfectionist mentality which has always ruled every weight loss attempt I've ever made (and there have been waaaaay too many to mention!). Since as far as I'm concerned, I'm learning to eat all over again, this puts me in the same category as very small babies/children and I'm perfectly okay about that. And this is why, even though I occasionally find it frustrating and I really need to concentrate while I'm eating (because my default setting has been to bolt my food whilst doing something else, not even giving it a second thought), something which is extremely foreign to me, I can see exactly why it's worth putting in the effort because there is no way this habit is going to change without diligent work. And it's work I don't mind putting in because I can see there's a logical reason for it and it makes total sense. Now, to use an example of something which does not make sense to me, it's very different than if I had decided that my way to good health and weight loss was to switch to a radical low carb diet. (Caveat - this is in NO way intended to be a criticism of anyone doing this so please don't take offence, any such readers!). Now, as you know, I'm 46 years of age and for just about all of my adult life, I have never been a great lover of protein as a food. I don't like most meats - I pretty much only like beef. I don't mind chicken but I find it very boring if I have it too much. I don't mind eggs but I always have to remind myself to eat them for my iron as they are not a favourite food of mine. I actually far prefer to eat a mostly vegetarian diet interspersed with occasional servings of meat/chicken/eggs to keep up my iron. And this is why a low carb diet would never, ever work for me. I could probably stand to do it for a couple of months at the most and it would be a huge sacrifice. And the thing is, for me it is not a sacrifice I need to make. I know people who have lost weight successfully eating carbs. I see absolutely no logic in forcing yourself to eat foods you dislike to reach a goal. And so, even knowing how well it may work in the short-term, I'm not even going to go there with a diet such as this because it is utterly unsustainable for someone like me. As far as I'm concerned, you can only retrain your taste buds so much. If you don't like a food, you don't like it and no amount of forcing yourself to eat it will change that. But fostering, practising, cultivating a different way of eating, underpinned by a different way of treating my body, with respect instead of hatred - that's a goal which is worth all the effort in the world because it's so logical. So I can confidently say right now I am never going to diet again. I've been there, done that, bought way too many T-shirts. If I don't realise by now it doesn't work, I need my head examined.

Along with this mentality of not dieting is going a new attitude to my progress. I know it's okay to stuff up now. I know if I stuff up, it's just something to learn a lesson from and do better next time. This is very different to my usual uber-perfectionist ways, where a less than perfect day of eating was very likely to lead to an attitude of, "Oh, well, I've stuffed up a morning of good eating. I'm just going to go completely nuts for the rest of the day and start again tomorrow." It's not only illogical, it's so unhelpful. I am but a very flawed human being and mistakes are going to continue to happen for the rest of my life. That has to be okay and it's going to be okay. That's what I'm working on.

And meanwhile, I'm going to leave this entry with one of the best quotes I've ever read for this type of "journey". (urgh, I still hate that word!).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


For a change, a post that isn't necessarily to do with weight stuff (although, inevitably, somewhere in the background it is relevant).

I've been having some fun tonight because I've only recently come across some old pics I hadn't seen in yonks. These represent a time in my life when I was actually having a really fun time. I still had not met T. I was single and fancy free, doing a bit of dating and lots of music and theatre and I just loved it all, ham that I am. When I look back at pics like this now, I wonder what happened to this version of me.

I think she is still in there somewhere, but what became of her I cannot say. In fact, looking at the photos has caused very mixed feelings. They make me smile, but at the same time they remind me poignantly of better times and being happier with my life and where it was going. I know we all get older and things change, but surely there must be a way to reconcile that version of me with who I am now. I think the person I am now needs to have more fun. In fact, I think the person I am now has pretty much forgotten how to do it and needs some practice.

I've read where people do an exercise where they write a letter of advise to their 20-year-old selves, their 30-year-old selves, etc. But I think the me in the past needs to advise me now to learn how to loosen up again, to learn how to just do silly things for the hell of it or she's going to end up a grumpy old fart, if she's not there already!

So, here's to having fun and more silliness and less seriousness. I may, in fact, be typing this post with a party hat on. ;) Bye for now!