Thinking Differently – Pushing the Elephant Out of the Room

About a year ago, I posted about the elephant in the room and my need to lose weight. Since then, I took on a year-long weight loss challenge and I am coming up on the halfway point on Monday. I’ve never posted what my goal was, but I am going to lose 75 lbs total when it ends. Yep, you heard me right – 75 lbs – the difference in being classified as Obese to sitting comfortably in the Normal range for my BMI at my height. I have had the advantage of my height helping disguise just how overweight I had become, but you can only go so long before you have to acknowledge the weight gain is showing on your face and is affecting your overall health. That brings me to today.
I have already lost 35 lbs, have gone down 3 sizes in my clothes working on a 4th, I approach food completely differently than I used to and now hang out on the treadmill 5 days a week. It hasn’t been easy, but I am going to continue my approach and routine because it is working for me. Why am I sharing this? Because I know I’m not the only person among my friends struggling with their weight (our loving elephant in the room) and I want others to know there are ways of getting things under control. I recognized if I tried to change how I ate and started a workout routine at the same time and I wasn’t successful in doing one of those activities on a given day, I was more likely to quit both as it would be overwhelming and trying to change too much at once. I chose to start with food as I knew it was a way for me to take control of what I could and by learning to make informed choices, it would have an immediate impact.
My Approach to Food
To me, how we eat food every day should not be about being on diet. Diets create fear of certain foods and when you eat something out of a diet’s parameters, it can create an immediate sense of failure. I wanted to set myself up for the best chance of success possible. It was also important to me to be able to go anywhere at any time and be able to eat with friends and family and not feel like I needed to pull items out of my purse to keep me on a diet. It wasn’t a practical approach (or cost-effective) and I didn’t want to be dependent on purchasing certain products to be successful.
Food was something guaranteed I could control day in and day out regardless of how busy I was. I am the only person who feeds me so I am the only one I could hold accountable for what I ate. I signed up for an online app (MyFitnessPal) and through documenting my food choices each day, I was able to learn the calories in each portion of the type of food I was eating. I purchased a food scale and I took the time to measure my food to get an idea of total ounces of my meat portions and what a cup of food would look like. Some of the descriptions I had been told really didn’t really match up and until I saw it with my own eyes, it didn’t resonate. By the way, a cup of wild rice is much bigger than you might realize! Most importantly, I would ask myself a single question before snacking or making my meal choices – do I want this particular item or is there something that is more filling for fewer calories?  For example, I would ask myself if that single candy bar was worth 220 calories or would I prefer a bag of natural popcorn where I could eat the entire bag for a lot less? I could make a choice to eat something or not. Is there anything I have taken off my list that I no longer eat? No, as it isn’t a diet. On occasion, we still eat pizza or go out for Mexican including the chips and salsa. What I have learned is to make choices based on calorie counts and where I want to be every day. It may sound funny, but I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have a plan in place for what I’m going to be eating the days before and the days after, but I will enjoy all the food of Thanksgiving.  It will be important for me to control my portion sizes to keep the total calorie count down, but I intend to eat my favorites including the apple pie.
To give you an idea of the impact of our food choices, by modifying my food changes I was able to lose 25-30 lbs. I think if I was a regular soda drinker, it would have been even higher. For me, the best part is I am not afraid of certain types of food like I believe many of the diets can do and I certainly don’t have to experience the feeling of failure for not following the rigors of a particular diet. Do note, this was not something I had control of quickly; controlling my food intake took about four months before I felt comfortable with my day-to-day eating habits.
The Start of Working Out
Even though I do still need the occasional reminder from my supportive husband about my food choices, I felt ready to commit to regular work outs about two months ago. For us and our choice to living out in the country, it meant I would be starting with the treadmill in our house. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. Building it into my normal morning routine before work, I am now on the treadmill 5 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes as I continue to increase in intensity and slowly increasing duration. I absolutely dislike having to run on a treadmill and feeling my jiggly parts move with me, but I also enjoy the feeling of the strain of muscles as I know the work is going to help achieve the weight loss I desire. I look forward to the day when things are no longer jiggling! I also know continuing to work out will help me successfully cross the finish line on May 13, 2018, the end point of my weight loss challenge.
While running recently, I noticed something very important – my wedding ring. I think of it now as the ring that keeps my world moving in the right direction as I watch it now spin on my finger when it used to be snug. Every time I run, I now use it as my motivation and focus to keep me going for my entire workout. It is a symbol of my husband, our family and our future and the length we have together is dependent on me being as healthy as possible to be able to enjoy our time on this earth together. When you can start to see the positive outcomes of your efforts, it certainly helps the motivation to keep on going.
So as of today, I am going to say my elephant has been successfully pushed halfway out of the room with the plans in place to keep pushing over the next six months.  For those of you who have seen me in person since I have started this journey, I greatly appreciate your support. For those of you who I will be seeing over the holidays and during the course of the rest of the challenge, know that I look forward to enjoying your company. I hope you will also understand and are not offended if I turn down the appetizers, the sweets, or the drinks. Your friendship, as well as my health, are both important to me.
Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think it could help.  If some of my commentary resonates with you and you have questions, I will be happy to answer what I can.  I’m not an expert, but I can tell you more details of some of the small changes I have made that have been working for me for you to consider. As we get closer to Thanksgiving and the extended holiday season, I wish everyone a happy and healthy season and I look forward to posting a final status in May of my success!

A Goat, A Horse And A Fool

My apologies for my recent absence. I’ve been traveling for work and as much as I would like to make an excuse that it was really busy, I need to call myself out. Yes, life gets busy and there are other things taking a higher priority, but the real answer is I lost focus. I could have written this post while I was traveling. I just didn’t. And I think it is an important lesson for me. I allow myself to lose focus more easily than I like and I use the normal activities of life as my excuse. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a procrastinator, a self-proclaimed victim of the “shiny object,” or something else, but it is certainly something I need to figure out for myself. I know the list of ideas and things I want to do is long and if I keep losing focus, I will never move some of them forward. I ask all of you – call me on it! Help keep this woman on track! I know I am not alone in having this issue and I vow to help you too if you want me to.

So on to today’s post –

I was talking to my husband tonight and told him I wasn’t sure what topic I wanted to discuss in my post. He reads my blog from time to time, usually with my prodding, so he knows what I’m putting online.  His response was to jokingly give me a proverb to use as a starting point, but it may be a better suggestion than he even knew at the time. So what was the proverb?

“Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.”

It made me laugh when he said it and I was rather dismissive to the idea of using it. Thinking about it now though, I think  there is a ton of truth to it. Not getting into the specific references about the goat and horse (those parts are both true too), but the fool.

We come across “fools” all the time. In my opinion, in this case a “fool” can refer to a person or it can be something more abstract like a decision, idea or situation. For me, a fool can be the voice of a jealous friend, an unsupportive family member, or a stranger with an opinion that thinks it should matter. It can also be a bad decision such as spending money you don’t have on something ridiculous, a crazy idea that can’t possibly end well or an absurd situation of which you don’t need to get in the middle — some crazy family situations come to mind as an example. All are things we know in our gut we shouldn’t listen to or do and we generally speaking, we should avoid at all costs.

I think it is also important to point out we have to avoid being our own fool. If we allow ourselves to be distracted from our purpose or have negative self-talk about our ability to achieve our goals, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors. As difficult as I know positive self-talk can be at times, we need to give ourselves the support in our own heads to help us achieve our goals. I don’t know about you, but I know my mind doesn’t shut off from the time I get up until the time I go to bed. My inner voice isn’t always the most positive thing to listen to – there have been some very tough days over the years – but if we let that voice be too overpowering, it can derail all of the positive and good we each have within us to do something great.

Put simply, a fool is a fool and shouldn’t be given a second thought. When you are trying to keep your life on track living on your own terms, as hard as it may be, we need to keep away from the occasional fools we come across. Life may be difficult and getting where we want may not be the easiest, but knowing if we keep looking forward and staying focused on where we want to go will get us there, you need to just keep plugging away it. In the meantime, I will keep trying to stay focused on my goals and the things important to me (like posting here!) and encourage you to do the same. I am going to go get some sleep before I have to go hang out with some goats in the morning…

Have a terrific, productive week!