When i was a teenager, i used to spend Saturdays at my Grandma's house pretending to help her clean and do laundry. I'm sure the things i did helped a little, but like looking back at most things, i wish i had worked a little harder. Anyway, i'm glad that i had the time with my grandparents that i did and got a chance to hear some of their stories. One thing i remember is that Grandma decided she was going to lose some weight. She went to a hypnotherapist who i thought was evil incarnate since he tried to brainwash her into thinking chocolate looked and tasted like animal excrement. He made her keep an elastic band on her wrist that she was supposed to snap herself with whenever she opened the fridge or thought longingly about food. It all seemed very masochistic to me, but the more i learn, the more i think hypnotherapy (psychotherapy?) makes sense because losing weight (and living life) is all in our head.
We all know how to lose weight. Eat less and exercise, right? Well, most of us also know that it is not nearly that simple. I'm not suggesting that i know everything about losing weight, but i'm going to share some of what i have learned over the past 10 months in the hopes that it may help someone get closer to their goal of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. When i say "learned" i really mean "what i have come to believe" about food and eating and my body. Because the beliefs that i had about food and my body's needs were having me eat more than i needed and this was causing me to live a life about which i was not inspired.
So in a way, the process of losing weight for me was learning truths and in a way it has been about "brainwashing" myself into seeing things in a way that has me eating less and differently. Part of it has been about caring enough about myself to do what i need to do to feel better. I read an article that said when you binge you should be gentle to yourself. Don't hate yourself or beat yourself up. My sister, Cindy, told me, "disgust is not a good motivator."
Cindy was my inspiration. She was the reason that i believed that i could actually lose weight. She has been a Weight-Watchers life-time member for years. She is amazingly dedicated and I love how willing she is to share what she has learned and what has worked for her.
As it turns out, disgust actually did motivate me to get to my first WW meeting last March. Can you imagine not being disgusted that i was apparently perfectly happy at this weight? I had a hard time finding a "before" pic of myself. That is possibly because i am more often behind the camera than in front or it could be that everyone else knew how awful i looked and didn't want to break it to me by photographing me. So, yes, i was sick of looking and feeling the way i did, and that got me to a meeting, but what kept me there was the hope that the meetings gave me. I got all kinds of great recipes and formulas for success, which is part of why the program works. Whenever you are discouraged or have a bad day or a bad week, you go to meeting and you realize that you did have some success and that you have people and they are cheering for you. Now don't get me wrong. When i found out that I could only have 32 points (and that included 10 extra points because i was breast-feeding at the time), I was terrified. My eyes bugged out of my face. I thought they were joking. I didn't think it was possible to survive on that few calories.
Low Blood Sugar v. Low Blood Pressure
I really had never eaten that little in my life. I have always thought that i had low blood sugar, meaning when i fasted i would get deathly ill. Well, maybe not deathly, but i would get a horrible migraine (is there any other kind of migraine) and get sick to my stomach and feel like i was on the verge of losing consciousness. Consequently, i rarely fasted and i used my "blood sugar issues" as what i considered to be a perfectly valid excuse. Several events led to me reevaluate the blood sugar thing. My Mother-in-law mentioned to me that whenever she had a headache it was because she was dehydrated. I started to notice that was true for me too. Then my friend, Cherie asked me if i had ever been diagnosed or actually had a blood sugar test when i felt "low." I had to admit that i had not. It was a case of self-diagnosis. And finally, during my most recent pregnancy, i started feeling that, "I am in danger of passing out" feeling right before a check-up and i asked the receptionist for a sucker because i thought what i was feeling was low blood sugar. When I got settled in my room and the nurse took my blood pressure, it was 97/58 or something ridiculous like that. She told me that i needed to drink more water to bring my blood pressure up and that if i did, i would also not feel so spent.
When i remember that moment, i hear an actual "Click... ding dong ding dong ding dong." Wow! It all makes sense!! When i feel like i have low blood sugar, i really just have low blood pressure. This realization has changed my life. I fast now (well, in my husband's opinion, i'm not really fasting, since i still drink water) and i don't get sick. I no longer compose my life around making sure that i have ready access to food at all times. I drink more water (also a Weight Watchers principle). I carry water with me instead of food.
Some more tricks I've adopted:If i think i can't stand the growling stomach for one more second or if i'm feeling sorry for myself (what? you eat when you feel sorry for yourself?), sometimes i'll pop a bag of smart-pop 94% fat-free kettle corn and eat the whole thing, then down a tall glass of water. It makes ya feel kinda full and satisfies the munchies. Probably not the smartest thing, but this is survival, baby!
And truths I've learned: I used to think, "I need to eat a lot now, so i won't be hungry later." What i have learned is that even if i eat a lot now, i will still be hungry later. And if i save half of my Arby's Market-Fresh sandwich for later, i get to enjoy it twice! Because do we really enjoy the second half of our sandwich when we down it all in one sitting anyway (this is one of my mind tricks ~ heh heh)?
I have had a little success in losing weight and believe me, i'm not one of those self-disciplined people. I have to sort of hypnotize myself and consciously play little mind games with myself: First off, like i said, when i start to drag, i try to remember "i'm thirsty, not hungry." Then there is that thing i remind myself about being hungry later anyway, so I don't have to eat it all now. Then there is the story i tell myself that i actually enjoy it when my stomach growls. I remember my mom always told me that my stomach is only as big as my fist so that's the amount of food i should eat (Hang on a second... how come i can eat half a pizza and a thing of crazy bread and still be hungry?). Oh, and that thing she always says about how "it feels better to be thin than it does to eat something fattening." I'm still working on making that one a part of my belief system, and this next one I'm not even sure she believes: "if a food is going to hurt her tummy or her teeth, then she thinks it isn't worth the pain it will cause."
One of my favorite things is to do is to eat a salad or a Smart Ones frozen lunch because it tastes great and i feel like i'm doing something good for myself. I've even started to like things like edamame for lunch. pop a pack in the nuker and 3 minutes later, you are a vegetable-snarfing nut-cake.
Another "trick" that works for me is not to deprive myself. I'd rather go hungry for a week than miss my dad's turkey dressing at Thanksgiving dinner, so I do. I eat salads for a week and drink lots of water ~ or diet soda, which feels like a treat, without the calories ~ for a few days leading up to the big day. Or if i have an opportunity to eat something unplanned but fabulous, i just do it (in moderation... not the whole box of Cherie's hand-dipped rum-nut chocolates in one sitting, only half :)). I promise myself that i'll eat smaller portions for a couple of days or that i'll exercise, and sometimes i actually do, but i (usually) don't let myself feel guilty about it because, as i like to tell myself, that would be counterproductive and even harmful.
For a sweet treat, convince yourself that sugar-free gum is an indulgence... or oh, try one of these. Heavens, there are millions of health conscious treats and snacks on the market! And loads of resources for inspiration and information. One good place is hungrygirl.com. And finally, here's the big secret to weight loss (shhhh!): There is n-o - s-e-c-r-e-t. There's not a shortcut. There isn't a magic pill. You've just got to find what works for you and then you have to do the work. You are the only one who can make a lasting difference for yourself. You have the power. I'm not claiming to know everything. I don't know much, but i do know that the amount of weight i've lost this year is like setting down my chunky little (25 lb.) baby. Imagine carrying him with you all day. It makes your back hurt, doesn't it? I feel great. I have actually (gulp) even felt like running on occasion. I don't do it for long, but i do it in short bursts and it doesn't kill me. So, girls (and guys), whatever stories you have to tell yourself, whatever games you have to play with your mind, do it. It's worth it. You are worth it.