What I’m doing

One somewhat sad thing about being perilously overweight is that you have to lose an obscene amount of weight before people might mention it to you. I’m down 70lbs (about 20% of my starting weight) and I think I’ve had three, maybe four, people say something about it to me. And the later they wait to say anything, the more surreal/awkward it becomes: what do you say to “hey, are you losing weight?” after you’ve lost 70 lbs?

I don’t know if people are worried I actually have some disease that’s causing the weight loss (for surely, people my size don’t lose weight unless they do the surgery thing, right?). Or if they afraid they might blurt out something about how much I still have to lose.

Anyways, I am anticipating the “what are you doing?” question. I’ve already gotten it once. And I know what’s behind the question. It’s really more like “tell me something magical so that I can have hope.” Because of that, I know that telling them what I’m “doing” would be frustrating, since on the surface, it sounds like some annoying diet. I eat good stuff now. Lots of veggies, very, very little sugar, no alcohol, very little flour.

I don’t weigh, measure, or count calories, fat grams, or anything. Dinner is often fast food, as I haven’t gotten to where I am cooking much. My regulars are a Chipoltle burrito in a bowl, a low-fat sub from Quizno’s or Subway, brown rice shrimp California roll from Whole Foods, and Progresso veggie soup which I add salmon or turkey to along with some extra veggies.

I’m not exercising. At all. Or at least, I’m not formally exercising. I’ve decided that for now, my exercise will be anything that isn’t sitting at my desk at work or sitting mindlessly in front of the TV at home (some day I’m going to write the post about TV as being a lot of fat folks’ secondary addiction…it sure was mine).

And then magic happens…

So when people say “what are you doing?” I understand they want to really know “how are you sticking to it?” I am going to fumble for a while and probably be completely unable to explain it in a useful way. But I’m going to try, and hope that over time, my explanation makes more sense.

Okay, so like Debra, I’ve spent 30+ years habitually starting, cheating on and stopping diets. I hit my “bottom” (I hope anyways) last fall, when I had to back out of a work trip because I physically wasn’t able to face three days at a conference in Las Vegas, with all the walking and standing that would be required. (I wish I knew why walking around pushing 400 lbs wasn’t enough of an obstacle to motivate me sooner, but it wasn’t.)

Shortly afterwards, I signed up for another go at therapy. But I walked in there with a real agenda. I didn’t want to do either the cognitive/behavior mod stuff, nor did I want to do the “so tell me about your hood” stuff. I had decided that what I wanted to do was a variant of the “change your mind, change your weight” concept. What I wanted was to want to be healthy. If I could want to be healthy, then in theory, all the rest would fall into place. I’d be like a thin person who really didn’t obsess about what I was eating. I wouldn’t be the food equivalent of the dry drunk…white knuckling it thru another day of carrot sticks and melba toast (does anybody actually like melba toast??).

What I had going for me was that I really believed it was possible to achieve such a state. And so, I approached what I was doing thru I guess three different perspectives, with a kind of holistic overview. The big picture view I took was to make sure that my goal wasn’t to lose weight, it was to feel better. And I can’t recall how I made the connection, but I started to focus a lot more on energy as the fundamental concept that I needed to care about.

What I discovered over the last seven months or so of practicing was that I experienced what Lincoln wrote about years ago:

At some point over the recent months, I really did have the “a ha” where I realized that I had a lot more control over how I felt than I had ever really appreciated. Once that happened, making good food choices really did become easier.

Yes, I “fell off the wagon” a couple of times. All three times were when I went on vacation and figured I could “indulge” just while away. Oops. Well, the first time, it really was just while I was away. The second and third times, I went back to old behaviors in a big way, and did the “one more day” thing for two or three weeks.

But that said, I was able to get back on track in a comparatively short time. I haven’t gained it all back and then some. Part of my brain got a foothold, and it started saying “this is nuts” much sooner.

So, over time, I’ll write much more about this, but here in a nutshell are the three perspectives I’m working on to make feeling better (and oh joy, resulting weight loss) happen for me.

First, mentally, I needed to find something to motivate me to do this (given that junk food, wine, and lots of TV are such a compelling alternative). For the early part of the year, it was another conference scheduled for May. But afterwards, I realized I had to search for something that was based internally, since conferences, weddings, etc., all come and go. For me, the Abe Lincoln plan has been working quite well.

As an aside, one of the things I’ve become aware of is the extent to which I wanted someone else to “rescue” me and provide the inspiration/motivation. For the life of me, I couldn’t seem to let this go (ref: the apparently false story re catching monkeys, which even if untrue is an interesting metaphor). I’m sure this had something to do with how my overeating was inextricably linked to my relationship with my mother.

Anyways, “do good, and feel good” has turned out to be a great internal motivator once I experienced it. I’d been intellectualizing it for years, but when I actually really practiced this, it wound up being really useful mind fodder to compete with the cravings for crap.

Second, physically, I really started making the food/energy equation work for me. I’ve long been a believer of the role of insulin resistance and weight. I also liked the physiology concepts in diets like Potatoes, Not Prozac, the Zone, or the South Beach Diet (though I didn’t have the discipline to stick with any of them long-term). Side note: I did Nutrisystem in college when it was a low-carb, ketosis-inducing diet. Worked great. I lost 75 lbs over summer vacation, and gained it all back (and more) my sophomore year.

So I knew I had to cut way back on what Oprah calls the white stuff. What really helped this year was getting a copy of SuperFoods Rx. I’d read similar content before (and had clipped endless magazine stories on healthy foods), but the timing was right. I was ready to start to eat in a way that was meant to make me feel better.

I also started on vitamins. I’m taking a multi-vitamin and supplementing with extra E and calcium. I like the concept of the smaller, more frequent meals, but since I’ve been on iron supplementation for anemia (related to perimenopause), I’m more typically doing 3 meals, maybe one snack.

Finally, spiritually, I realized I needed to find a way to answer Einstein’s question, “is the universe friendly”, in a positive manner. This is the hard one really. I’m not overtly religious, but for me, I needed to find some way to feel hopeful. One of the things that really helped me was watching Wayne Dyer’s Power of Intention on PBS (it’s still on regularly). His concept of energy tied in directly with the one I’d been working on with my diet, and it also it warmed me up more to the potential metaphysical implications of a friendly universe.

I think for me this was really critical. I couldn’t go the “God as higher power” route, nor could I go the humanistic “this is all there is” route. I fall in the middle. So, call me crazy, but I’m now trying to be more open to the serendipities of life that are inherent in this kind of philosophy. And that helps me be more optimistic.

So, that’s what I’m doing. My apologies if you can’t make sense of it (I did warn you :). I’m going to try and clear it up over time.

Worth a visit