I had a non-judgmental weigh-in this morning. I needed to see where I am starting from. Last time I stepped on the scale ( I can't even tell you when that was, but likely in the past 2 weeks) I was 181. I have had several non-productive junk food sessions, mostly sweets, and mindless eating of chips with hummus, justifying it because the products are "good" in that they are minimally processed, non-GMO, vegan and organic. In short, until yesterday, I haven't really been doing myself any great favors where my health has been concerned. I have been doing some strange form of mostly-plant-based but when no one is around I will eat chocolate if I damn well feel like it thing, not every day, but a few days. Some of that is caving to hormonal cues (which are based both in real physiological changes in blood sugars and in emotional tidal waves) and some of that is out of sheer confusion over food and how and what my body can do. I am starting to learn about some of my triggers, which is going to be very effective in helping me battle my own self/mind/habits. Here are some of the things I have learned recently.
1. Stress is one of my biggest triggers for wanting to shove junk in my mouth, this isn't a new discovery, but for me my stressors have changed and I am working to discover what they are before they get elevated to a level of discomfort that makes me want to eat. Positive or even rebellious mindset has been quite effective for me in the past.
2. Speaking of rebellious mindset, part of my problem with making the switch to all whole, natural, organic, non-GMO, plant-based diet is not that I know it is so much healthier and can cure or help to completely avoid many diseases including cancer. I'm there on that. But part of me is rebelling against it so hard because I equate it with my husband, who is hardcore in everything he does, and as of late, has been researching some really dark stuff (not food related) that has put him in a really dark mood. This makes me feel negative and dark and stressed out, as I feel like he negatively judges me as well. I know better than to assume things, but I react emotionally and look at him as an extreme person, where I am usually most happy when I have some kind of harmonious balance between something really strict and something totally unrefined. I will always have that little bit of rebel in me that wants to play devil's advocate or question the health of something. My husband and I don't see eye-to-eye on certain things, such as medicating my son who has Aspergers/ADHD/Anxiety Disorder/OCD. He feels the medicines are poison and only line the pockets of those who are evil. I get that, I really do, but I am the one who the school calls when he is standing on his desk threatening the teachers, or when he has wasted half of his day refusing to do his work, I am the one to attend his conferences and IEP meetings, and the one they turn to when he needs something or they want to try something different. I am doing the best thing I can figure out for him, and once we get through the tough teenage years ahead, we might be able to look at other options. I know my husband has my son's best interests at heart, and is only trying to keep him from harm, but I hate that it causes such friction between us. Whew! Tangent and rant over.
3. Confusion leads me to search for euphoria, and that usually translates to food. That doesn't always translate to bad choices, but the thought is always there, and I have to battle it. I have been trying a lot of new, healthy recipes lately, and have found many of them to be quite delicious, but there have been weak moments too that have led to donuts or chocolate bars. When I don't know how to make sense out of what I am "supposed" to do, I just do the complete opposite of logic. It is a system that is largely askew in me, and I haven't discovered this little nugget until trying to switch to this new way of eating. I have always done much better when I have a guide, that I can use like a safety net, that's why I did so well on the South Beach Diet for so long, it was laid out in plain English what you could and couldn't eat. Right now I am using the Fooducate app to help me track everything I eat, but it still confuses me by calculating what percentage of carbs, fats and proteins I have consumed for the day, along with something it calls "food points", calories, and carbs (as that was a focus I set). Yesterday I ate what I consider "healthy" all day with no missteps, and I was WAY over in carbs. Then, when searching for low-carb plant-based programs all I get are people laughing about how that is an oxymoron because plants ARE carbs. Does any of it matter? My husband gave me some vague, unhelpful answer. Maybe I'm just over-thinking things. Since I know confusion is a trigger, and I am somewhat confused still, I have decided to just keep eating the stuff I feel is healthy, in amounts that are enough to satisfy me without stuffing me, and I know I'll learn more along the way. I'm not going to freak out about carbs or make drastic changes or eat donuts just because I'm a little unclear about a few things. When I get back to work next week, I have the option of meeting with a nutritionalist for free anytime I want. I might just finally implement that.
4. Not opening the curtains leads to not getting off the couch. Not getting off the couch leads to watching junky TV. Watching junky TV leads to wanting to eat mindlessly and/or non-stop. Eating that way leads to my body looking like junk, makes it harder to breathe, makes my blood pressure go up (my numbers have been high since the surgery), and makes me feel sad about myself. Feeling sad about myself makes me want to eat junk to comfort myself (after all, who else is going to nurture me?). All of these things lead to the vicious cycle that got me to the place I hated being. Hiding (not wanting to be seen) and eating things in private to avoid judgement are two very ugly activities I know all too well, and they have been poking their ugly little heads back in my day, but I know about them and their goal, and I refuse to let them be my version of normal again. Today I have me curtains wide open, and I have discovered that I really enjoy seeing life going on around me, particularly the pretty little birds that visit my feeder.
5. When I don't have anything to do, I don't do anything. Seriously. Not being at work right now has made me much lazier. My procrastination skills are nearly perfected to World Record standards! I have gotten a few things done around the house, cleaned out the garage and such, but compared to my overwhelming to-do list, I haven't done much. I have found, on days when I have things to do, I get a lot more done in a small amount of time. Like yesterday, I got my kids off to school, then sneaked in a 45 minute session in the pool, then went straight to physical therapy for another 45 minutes, then home, grocery store, picked up the kids from school and home to cook a new recipe, all before 5 PM. Anyway, it is true, that old adage about energy begetting energy. When I output some energy I feel a lot more energetic and have a healthier mindset.
6. When something is difficult or "fussy" or requires a lot of work on my part, I have to be interested or I just don't do it. Case-in-point, tracking my food. I am confused about the food/diet composition and what it should be, it is a bit of a hassle to document everything (even though all I have to do is scan it into my phone) and measuring/photos, are they really necessary? I decided today, that I am going to stop looking at these things as hassles or work, and see them for what they are, tools. If I stop tracking my food now that I've got some sort of schedule going, then how will I ever know where to go if I'm not seeing results. And I have learned the lesson of the tape measure many times, the scale only tells part of the picture and often disappoints when you indeed are losing inches/fat that isn't measurable with a scale. So I am going to keep using these things as tools.
One of the courses I just finished was in Human Development, and there are several chapters about the aging process in middle adulthood (40-65) and late adulthood (65+) and it is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I am noticing older people around me and the varying rates of frailty. So many older people come into my office to have their glasses repaired after they've fallen on their face, and I just can't help be terrified about aging. Mainly because, with the damage I've done to my body by being obese for so many years (the vast majority of my life) I am concerned I will not age gracefully. Some of that will be in my control, and some of it won't.
The gym I go to has a pool, and this is where I have started swimming. Both times (yesterday and today) it has been filled with a variety of eldery people, and I am the youngest person in there by far. I have taken note of the varying levels of aging represented in the pool, some are very thin and hunched over, most are very plump and limping, talking about their various falls and surgeries they've recently had to deal with. But today, on only my second consecutive day of swimming in that pool, a group of four elderly people cheerfully invited me to join them in their conversation as I marched past them doing leg lifts and bends. How nice, I thought, if they were my age they never would have been so open and friendly I bet. What a lovely group. I did my "therapy" in the pool and swam a bunch of laps to get my heart rate up, and then as I exited the pool and spent a few minutes in the whirlpool, I realized a class was setting up. Many more elderly people entered the pool, and when I was done in the whirlpool I sat in a chair and watched, to see if it is a class I'd be interested in going to next week. When I got up to leave, someone from the pool said cheerfully, "Come join us!" I thanked her and said maybe next time, as I'd just finished my workout. I noticed as I walked out, that they were all smiling as they did their water aerobics. It really made me happy that I noticed how happy they all seemed, despite all their problems. There is much to be learned from the elderly, and I am more willing and open to doing that now.
I start back to work part time next week, and at first I was feeling sorry that I couldn't have more full days off to myself, but now I think it will be good, it will keep me on my toes, get me moving more and ease me back into full days of work. With my knee about 80% better now, there's no reason I can't go back, I have just been spoiled by the fantastic amount of free time, and the way the house is so so very quiet during the day. But it will be nice to see all my coworkers and my favorite customers. And to be around eyeglasses again, crazy as that sounds.
By the way, my weigh-in this morning:176. I took measurements and photos too, will post soon.