Nov 23, 2015

Path to the River

A weight loss journey is solo journey. Individually, we choose again and again to stay the course, to push away cravings every time they come at us or to cave into them. To give in to our cravings, does not mean we are doomed to gain back all our weight again and if that does happen, it does not mean we will never be able to get back on program once again. The path to the river is there for us whenever we want to start again.
The path to the river is there for you right now.
There is hope for those who have fallen off program: start again right now. If you fell off a year ago or five minutes ago, start again now. Get back in the river this moment and stay the course once again. Forgive yourself and focus on your goal size. Do this on your own or call Julie's office for a refresher, either way - decide right now to continue your journey. Don't fall to the old pattern of promising yourself you'll start "tomorrow" or after the holidays. The infamous tomorrow never comes and the holidays, well they are for celebrating and what better way to celebrate than by feeling good about your life?

In my recent blog post, Welcome Back, Paula, one of our key-friends indicated she had fallen off program and asked us for help. Some indicated you too had gone off program and that you were able to get back in the river (on program); everyone's feedback was inspiring. Thank you all for your supportive comments.

I hope this inspirational update from Paula will inspire those who are still struggling to return to the river and continue your weight loss journey...
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The outpouring of encouragement, support and love has been overwhelming. For a long while, I thought I was all alone in having gone off the track.
I was surprised at how easy the program was to do when I started, but at how hard it was to get back in the river. I think I was believing that the river was cold and rough. But your posts have reminded me that the river is gentle and soothing - it is about being kind to your body. Giving it nourishment when it is needed. Giving it exercise to help it move and dispel stress. Keeping it free of the things that make it feel sluggish and achy and hungry.

I also realized that I was rather isolated in this process. The only resource I could consult for inspiration was this blog - and it's a great blog!!!
But in my everyday life, I was encountering many folks who would give me the side-eye and chastise me for foregoing fruit, or grains, or for eating dairy.
"No milk" they cry - dairy is bad! You must have fruit daily!"
I need to be stronger in my conviction that Key is the way for me! I know from experience that carbs are not for me. Now I need to let all this "advice" roll off my back with a gentle "thank you for your concern."

I also appreciate hearing everyone's words of wisdom. This is one clever and articulate group. I especially needed to hear that what I need to do is picture myself back in that room and remember what I learned. It is all still in me. I just need to access it.

I am also so grateful to those who shared that they too have sometimes wandered out of the river. I send them support and encouragement too. We are not alone, we have each other.

Finally, I hope Theresa realizes how much this blog means to me - and how much it seems to mean to so many others. Please understand, Ms. Theresa, that you have many, many people who find a great deal of support in your blog and that we are so thankful.

And speaking of giving thanks - some people in my life are questioning why I am getting back in the river so close to Thanksgiving. I have two answers: One, Julie told us at my third session, shortly before Thanksgiving, to write a card to put on or under our plate at Thanksgiving - a card that says that the meal is our gift to ourselves. Two: butternut squash!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. You are all AMAZING! 
Paula, it sounds to me like you are already stronger in your convictions! I'm so glad to hear you are on your journey once again! Your story will no doubt inspire others. Thanks for sharing your optimistic turn-around.

I won't be posting again this week, as today's post is full of incredible inspiration, so I'll wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving today and I'll post again next week.

Nov 19, 2015

Welcome Back

I saw a comment from Paula asking if I am well, as I haven't blogged for a while. Yes Paula, I am well and thank you for asking. I've been focusing on my consulting business: creating documentary videos and family memory videos. I will publish a blog post before Thanksgiving, as it has been way too long since my last post!
These geese are saying "welcome back to the river!"
(taken with my iPhone, not for professional projects)

Meanwhile, I want to address Paula's plea for inspiration:
I am particularly looking for inspiration now, as I am ashamed to say I gained all my weight back and now must start over. Very poor choices on my part, and a number of medical issues - mine and others. So I am getting back in the river, and looking forward to more of your posts.
First, welcome back to the river Paula!

Second, here are a few things to remember as you start you second phase on your weight loss journey.

  • Forgive yourself. Feeling bad or guilty about what you've done will not help you in any way.
  • Leave behind the reasons and the self-judgement around having to start again. 
  • Believe in yourself and choose to feel good about your journey today.
  • Feel proud of yourself for returning to the river and starting once again. 
  • Leave shame behind, as you can not change the past, you can only change what you do from this moment forward. 
  • Feel proud of yourself that you have returned to your weight loss journey and do whatever it takes to continue feeling good.
  • You can do this; affirm this daily, several times a day if you must. 
  • You have all the tools within you to reset your body and to stay on program.
This may be hard, but you are worth it:
  • Push away cravings and then push them away again and again until they go away. Repeat as necessary.
  • Be patient with yourself and your journey. It may take 2 to 6 weeks for sugar (carbs break down into sugar) to leave your system. 
  • Losing your weight will take as long as it takes, so make this journey the best it can be. 
Stay the course and you will arrive at your goal size and learn how to maintain that size. You are so worth this!

Are there key-friends out there who are willing to share words of wisdom with Paula? We'd love to hear from you.

Words of encouragement from another key friend.

Oct 8, 2015

Plan to Succeed

Benjamin Franklin once said: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" In order for me to be successful on my weight loss journey, planing is essential. Without a plan, I find myself hungry and with no food in the house. This is never a good thing. Exercise is no different. If I don't schedule time into my week to exercise, it just doesn't happen. So, what's a girl to do? Make a plan she will stick to: sign up for a 5K run and encourage a key-friend to sign up too.
Plan to succeed
I'm pushing hard to finish my weight loss journey by the end of January and begin maintenance. It is with this intention that I put exercise as a top priority in my life once again. I had stopped running last December after the Hot Chocolate 5K run in Northampton. A couple of months ago I started training for the 5K this weekend and I ran a few times with my key-friend. It's been inspiring knowing that she too is training and that we'll enter this race together.

One afternoon while I was running alone beside a lake, I reconnected with the runner within me. It felt empowering to have this connection ignited. Meanwhile, my pace is slow and I won't finish all my training before the race. . .

Hush little mean girl!

This is not about perfection. It's about seeing my commitment through. It's about doing the best I can do and not beating myself up when I didn't do as much or as well as I hoped. It's about staying the course. It's about continuing to move forward. When race day arrives, I'll do the best I can and I will feel proud when the race is over.

After the race this weekend, I have 2 months before the 5k in December. I'll continue training and work on increasing my pace.  It's about not finishing first or preparing for a marathon. It's about seeing my goal to the end. It's about pushing my body in a healthy way to reach it's potential.

Staying the course on my weight loss program is no different than staying the course with my exercise goals. My weight loss has taken much longer than I ever imagined it would. My journey has had imperfect moments. Those moments pass and I continue on. This weight loss journey is not a race, but I do want to finish and reach my goal.

What about you? Are you staying the course on your weight loss journey? Are you challenging yourself physically? What can you do today to help your weight loss journey move closer toward your goal size?

Sep 24, 2015

Planting Success

How many things did you avoid when you were at your largest size? Did you avoid certain activities because you physically could not do them or because you felt too self-conscious to do them in public? Gardening is something I avoided for years because it was too painful physically. Bending over in public? OMG, that was not going to happen while I was wearing a 30/32 shorts. Thankfully, those excuses no longer hold up.
December 2012: presenting at a conference
September 2015: gardeninga non-scale victory
Last weekend I planted an Arborvitae in my garden and I enjoyed digging in the soil and getting my hands dirty. I did not have any pain and I wasn't self-conscious about bending over. Well, I was later that evening when my neighbor emailed a few photos she took of me gardening.

When I received her photos, I sighed. I thought I was smaller.

The next day I printed the two photos shown above and glued them onto a card. All week I moved these photos from room to room around the house. Throughout my day, my larger self seemed to be pointing at me standing in the garden saying "Yes, there is more distance to travel, but look at how far you've come!"

Keeping these photos close to hand is a great way to measure my success. I have also uncovered a big non-scale victory: I am free to move about the garden! (Pain-free)

On the topic of measuring success, here's a question that came in from one of you this week:
Are measurements OK? I think of them as a set point like knowing that number on the scale so I have stayed away from taking them. Any input would be helpful. I have reached the size I wanted to be, but am afraid to start maintenance, because there are areas that still do not meet the image I had of myself regardless of my pants size. I am curious about my measurements, so if anyone has feedback please chime in. Thank you. —Anonymous
Yes, taking your measurements is an excellent tool to measure your success. I'm sorry I didn't do this more often. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon my measurements, which I only took once a year. I took my measurements that day and have marked my calendar to do this again in two months.

Another way to measure success is by how your clothes fit. Many of my key friends who are on maintenance have an outfit that they use to measure where they are. Recently I thought this is a good thing for me to do, even though I'm not at goal yet. If I can see where I am in my clothes, it will help me to stay focused on reaching my goal.

Related Posts

Sep 14, 2015

Shake It Off provides this historical reference to salacity: salacity, once aroused, even in a minister, allows no room for reason or for conscience. That's precisely how I felt for an entire day few weeks ago, I had extreme sugar cravings and my appetite was salacious.
Do whatever it takes to shake it off!
While in this state of mind, I could not reason with myself and I didn't know how to shake it off. I became so consumed with thoughts of having sugar that I could not think straight. The cravings were stronger than I've had in many years, but I kept pushing them back.

I knew that feeding the "beast" large amounts of beef was the best way to calm down my cravings, but wow—I haven't felt such an obsession in years. I felt like a crazy person. I was a crazy person!

By early evening, I was on my way to the movies and the cravings were still coming on strong. I decided to stop and buy some beef jerky to eat before going into the theater. While in the ticket line, many different foods were calling out sweet things to me, like a street corner hooker calls out to a man in a Lamborghini: "Psst...over here."

Inside the movie theater, my belly full of beef jerky, I focused on the movie and hoped the cravings were over. Once outside the theater, I discovered they were not gone. The food smells from restaurants around town were triggering my cravings as I waked around Amherst. Then Negative Nellie started talking to me.

"Just have one cookie. Just have one small one...."

No! Tap, tap, tap!

I told Nellie to go away and I went into Starbucks for a Flat White (coffee with whipped milk).

I wanted to reach my goal of 15,000 walking steps that night, so after my coffee, I continued to walk around town. After reaching my goal steps, I headed to the lot where my car was parked. As I climbed into my car, it felt like a switch flipped off and suddenly the loud voices  that were in my head all day long were quiet. Silence! Ah!

That's when I had an epiphany. In that moment I realize something I hadn't quite understood about the "once and done" concept:
When you have food cravings and you keep pushing them back, and you don't cave into them no matter what—they stop! You just have to keep pushing back.
It really is this simple!  If I keep tapping away those cravings, my goal size is straight ahead of me—I only have to do this journey once and then I'm done (at my goal).

Suddenly I realized if I don't listen to those voices, if I keep tapping them away (pushing back), they go away and I can resume a quiet life once again. No more Negative Nellie tempting me to have "just one bite." No more feeling like a crazy person.

What a relief!

It's been a few weeks since that walk around Amherst. I've been living this lesson ever since and I can see and feel changes in my body once again.

This is so exciting! Yes—I'm doing this!

What about you? Have you been wrestling with yourself about food choices? Shake it off! Say no to those cravings again, and again, and again. You can do this too!

Aug 9, 2015

Success Comes in More than One Way

At the end of the day on August first I was disappointed in myself. I only walked 5,000 steps—half of my daily goal. I was worried I was starting another month of failing to reach my walking goals. Oh no you don' less than perfect day isn't going to get me down. I tossed Negative Nellie (my inner critic and Little Mean Girl's sister) to the curb and on August second I stepped up reach my goal.
August 1 to August 9 Fitbit data: 93,155 steps | 133 floors | 40.17 miles
Not only have I reached 10,000 steps every day since—I've exceed my daily goal—and yesterday I walked 18,997 steps. Yeah! It feels fabulous to be walking consistently once again.

The definition of goal* is: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed. Did you notice failure is not part of the equation in defining goal? It is referenced in "goal in technology:" A goal may fail or it may succeed in one or more ways. Now this I can wrap my head around, as there will be times when our efforts don't add up to the achievement we aimed for that day, that week, or that month. We let go of what we could have or should have done and keep pushing ourselves.

I track my daily steps with a Fitbit. This gadget is not about tracking my failures. It's meant to keep me motivated. It also connects me with my friends, whom inspire me when I see their successes. Negative Nellie sometimes has a field day with my friend's data. She loves to point out how much more someone else is doing than I am.

Listen up Nellie—no matter how you choose to look at this—a glass is always half full—I choose to see the glass half full.

Our weight loss goals may fail or succeed in more than one way too. Those times where we convinced ourselves it was okay to eat giant chunks of cheese at a party, because at least it wasn't sugar. Yes, it's great that we didn't eat sugar, but all that cheese is keeping us from losing more weight.

Do you see how overeating cheese, or whatever you may be eating inappropriately, is keeping you from you longer term effort to reach your goal size? This was my major light bulb moment at the refresher I went to recently.

Each food choice we make and each decision we choose about exercise—moves us closer or further from our goal size. How will you direct your efforts today?

*Modern Language Association (MLA): "goal."

Aug 6, 2015

Sweet Surrender

Have you been wondering how long is it going to take to reach your goal size? Are you at a loss with what to do? Perhaps it's time to surrender. I'm not talking about surrendering to your sweet cravings or giving up your weight loss journey. I'm talking about surrendering to yourself. I recently experienced my own sweet surrender...
I'm half the size I was before I began this journey.
For reasons that I don't understand, I forget how big I used to be. I'm half the size I was 4 years ago—how can I forget that? When my Little Mean Girl and her sister Negative Nellie filled my head with self-doubt and temptations and telling these inner critics to hush didn't do the trick, it was time to look back at my journey, to remember where I started, how far I've come, and to find motivation to keep going.

Seeing my old photographs helps me put things in perspective. Seeing the photos above, especially my 2010 photo, instantly hushed those inner critics.

By March 2011, two months after my sessions with Julie, my weight loss became noticeable. I still remember how incredible I felt when that photo was taken. I was visiting friends in California and they all wanted to know what diet I was following.

By 2012 I dropped enough weight to once again have a waistline. Woo-woo! Jogging and walking had become as essential as brushing my teeth. My waist became more defined, but all I could see was how big my belly and hips were.

I cringed every time I looked in the mirror and I constantly said "My hips, oh my hips—when are they ever going to get smaller?" I don't remember when I stopped focusing on my hips, probably around December 2014, but I'm happy that phase is over.

Today I gathered photos that made me cringe and compiled the image below. I still cringe, but I don't look like these photos today, which is my point—take photos along the way so you can see your progress.
 As I lost weight, all I saw was how big my belly and hips were.
A few weeks ago I had a photo taken of me in the same dress I wore in the summer of 2012. As you can see in photo below, my dress faded—and I  gradually disappeared too; I wasn't able to see my changes until today. There's a whole lot less of me now than three summers ago.
August 2012 vs July 2015
Yes, my belly and hips are still bigger than I want, but I hear this comment from women in size four and up. I let go of what I want my body to look like and focus my energy instead in answering the question: what do I need to do today to help me reach my goal size? Immediately I ponder if I'm on a plateau.

Yes, plateaus are part of the process, as our bodies need time to heal, but try telling that to my Little Mean Girl. Sometimes Little Mean Girl gets the better of me and questions: just how long is it going to take to get to goal size? Why do others lose weight so much faster?

Her sister Negative Nellie then chimes in: it's been over four yearsyou can have this—just this one time.

Looking at photos helped quiet down Little Mean Girl and Negative Nellie, but I still felt stuck, so I took a look at my life in another way: reading my old journals.
December 2, 2001 Journal
Over and over I wrote of promises to stick to (yet another) diet, of feeling like a failure because (once again) I failed to stay on my diet, and of overeating to a point of pain:
September 21, 2009: My stomach aches from what I ate for dinner last night: 8 slices of pizza and an entire pint of ice cream. I don't want to feel this way anymore. Today I begin my new diet. 
September 27, 2009: Tomorrow I will start my new diet.
Reading these words, reminded me what my life used to be like as an obese woman. I'm grateful those kinds of thoughts no longer consume me.

A few weeks ago when I was walking I almost ran into a tree. I was reading my Facebook news feed as I walked, something I do not recommend. In that moment I realized I have been asleep in many ways.
On my morning walk I almost ran into this tree.
I don't want to go through life asleep. That's how I was living before I started this weight loss journey. Eating ice cream as my main meal, I often fell into a coma-like state on my couch. I don't miss feeling that way one bit.

Back to the question: what can I do today to reach my goal size? Forget the question about being on a plateau, it just derails me and puts my focus on feeling sorry for myself.

What else can I do? That's when it hit me: If I'm to reach my goal size, I must surrender. I haven't been able to give up the excess cheese and I haven't been able to cut back on my portions or the fat. This is why I'm on a plateau! I surrendered to the fact that I'm stuck and I need help. I picked up the phone and called to book a refresher.

Little Mean Girl instantly stepped in and filled my head with thoughts of being a failure because I needed a refresher. Once the session began, all those thoughts dissolved. A refresher was what I needed to keep moving forward toward my goal. I'm fully awake and focused once again.

What about you? Have you been asleep or lost your way?

You get to choose if you are able to continue on your own to reach your goal or if you need a refresher.

Either way, it's time to wake up, time to surrender to yourself,  it's time to reach your goal size. Once and done.
Photo-bomb by Linda!