Its Just December Its not the End of the WORLD…

So we are just beginning the last month of the year.  The time when we are supposed to be relaxing into the holiday spirit, enjoying the fact that the end is near, and telling ourselves that we should put off those goals and changes until January of NEXT year.  But for some reason I am just not feeling that this year.  It’s not that I have accomplished so much that I don’t think I need to make the traditional New Year’s Resolutions, it is because I am finally in a comfortable track of working on MY weight loss I don’t want to take a break for the Holidays.

It reminds me of the first year I started this program with Medifast because I was spot on, no cheating, no breaks for the entire month of December and I was perfectly fine.  I didn’t feel that overwhelming desire to eat sweets, over indulge, or test out the treats of the season; and with it came an amazing accomplishment of actual weight loss in December.  Now don’t get me wrong I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, and I enjoyed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, ham, and scalloped potatoes for my Christmas dinner.  BUT I did not write off my ENTIRE month of December in belief that I couldn’t make it through the holidays. 

So this year, I have been back on plan for 7 weeks and it has had its challenges, and I have not be completely successful BUT I have had a general positive movement in getting healthier.  I haven’t been agonizing over being hungry.  I haven’t been stressed out over how boring the food is.  I am even finding myself lost in certain days where I have forgotten to eat my full calories because I am deeply focused on life and not food.  It is finally nice to feel like food is just ONE area of my life and not EVERY waking thought. 

So as I begin to get my mind focusing on those things that are important to me… Yes I am still trying to figure that out, I am confident that food will become less and less important.  Although I can promise you WAY more posts about my struggles and victories as I work through this process.

I even exercised TWICE!!! Now that may not seem like much to most people, but for me that is progress. 

I even got a little giddy and excited when I noticed they are coming out with 2 new food options.  I mean how focused am I?  Now granted it is a chocolate chip cookie bar and what looks like Orange Juice… so how can a girl NOT be excited?

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Chicken Enchiladas

In my vast pile of half-started blog posts I have been trying to search for good topics to inspire my writing motivation. Then, I was reminded of something a friend told me months ago, “You have so many stories, you should write a book of your stories.” It was in that moment, I first considered this silly blog thing idea that got me writing; thinking it could morph into a book some how, some way.  But as I was sitting under my tarp camping in the rain last week trying to decide what to write, I was remembering a fun story from my teaching days. And it all started with Chicken Enchiladas…

I wish mine looked this pretty.

Although I am not the biggest fan of Mexican food, I have developed a legendary Chicken Enchiladas recipe. As I was planning and plotting my next great cooking adventure I thought I could do Chicken Enchiladas because I have heard the ones I make are fabulous. The last time I made them it was for a pastor appreciation month where I got one day to show my appreciation. So I decided to make a meal and of course I couldn’t JUST make the enchiladas, but added the chips and salsa as well as a green salad to go with. The man was full of compliments and praise about HOW incredibly good the enchiladas were and how it took them several days to eat them ALL. There is just something about that action that makes me feel completely happy and satisfied.

Cooking is something I enjoy and it is one of the things I love to give. I am not as good as a certain gourmet friend of mine. And I do not claim to be a master chef or AMAZING baker, but when it comes to those comfort foods that rock the potluck I usually leave my audience impressed. I have even come to master a delightful chocolate chip recipe that I make and donate at any moments notice. Not to mention the bestest CHOCOLATEY brownies EVER, but alas that was a recipe I found off the internet. But this story is about the chicken enchiladas, because I cannot think about the dish without remembering the first time I attempted it.

I was having one of those summers where I was “house-sitting” with the Jr High and High School children while their parents went to Brazil for a couple weeks. I was also their teacher at the time (private school) and so it just worked out to have me stay in their place and manage the house while they were away. I was in my early 20’s and this seemed like such the perfect natural thing at the time. So I don’t know if it was my idea or the kid’s idea for enchiladas; but there I was attempting to follow a recipe and prepare this dish I had never done before. I also think I was attempting to make them from ingredients I had from the house. But some where in the process I managed to neglect noticing this ITEEEY BITEEEY HOT label on the side of the enchilada sauce until it was too late. And I was under some silly impression that a HEALTHY dose of Sour Cream would counter act the effects. Silly SILLY GIRL!!

But complete them I did and they smelled DELIGHTFUL, and for the first second or two of each bite they TASTED delightful. We had chips and MORE sour cream but NOTHING and I mean NOTHING would lighten the BURNING FIRE that had posed as an innocent enchilada sauce. And I remember the scene sitting around the table watching each of us eat these enchiladas: One bite enchilada, chew, chew, chew, One HUGE drink of water. But that just didn’t work, so the older sister, went to the fridge and grabbed the GALLON of milk and we each had the TALLEST glass you could possibly imagine. It amazed me that we were ALL determined to finish these enchiladas, I guess that means they were good? Because some how we continued to eat with each painful bite until we could not stomach another bite. There were plenty left over and I do believe I had to take them to school to SHARE them because we couldn’t endure another night of the FLAMING HOT CHICKEN ENCHILADAS!!!

To this day I check my labels ALL too closely when it comes to ALL Mexican sauces: Enchilada, Taco, Seasonings, Salsa, etc. It doesn’t matter what I am planning because I never again want to be trapped in a situation where all I can do is eat the flame because buried in there the flavor is just SO GOOOOOD I can’t waste it.

Think like an Athlete

Today begins again another attempt to start the restart.  I have been planning for days and working on getting my mind and my motivation ready.  I have cleaned out the house, prepped my food, and moved my mind into a place of submission (for now). But I just can’t help feeling like this is just another futile attempt at something that can’t end in anything but failure. 

What a Failure

How do I ever get back in the game?

And not just one of those I gotta B instead of an A types of failures.  No I mean the kind that brings hopelessness, chaos, discouragement, fear, and “who cares it doesn’t matter anyway” type talk. This kind of place got me thinking about that impossible hopelessness feeling…

I remember those days when it was drilled into my every waking moment that CAN’T was not a word.  It didn’t seem to matter whether it was from school, home, or sports; it was a belief that was spoken with power and conviction.  I am beginning to believe that this life philosophy whether societal, academic, or athletic driven it truly planted a deeply rooted attitude in me.  It didn’t matter what I felt, thought, desired, or believed the meer idea of CANNOT, COULD NOT, UNABLE, IMPOSSIBLE were simply a lazy man’s vocabulary.  All the talk about winners never quit and quitters never win is something I KNOW pushed my average life forward towards an above average goal.  But I sit here wondering where that philosophy went in my life.  I don’t hear myself saying those words of push and promise and drive and ambition and goal focused. 

Instead, I hear myself giving me permission to be less than I can be.  Giving reasons and excuses to why I can’t do this or that.  I have been putting in my resignation before I even TRY to be sucessful and make a difference.  Regardless of the type, if I feel the smallest amount of resistance and I reach for the towel.  I don’t even try to push through the discomfort.  I am convinced there is no gain after the pain.  I am not reaching through the pain or seeing the beauty through the sweat; I am definitely not realizing the Prize of Achievement. What happened to the girl who would run laps because the coach said so.  The girl who wanted the best time even though she had no chance of beating the top swimmers.  The person who went to speech events with horrible material, yet pushed to make finals and walk out with a ribbon.  The woman who wanted to grow more, learn more, know more every day.  Not to mention the Soul who wanted to change the world… where did she go? 

Even thought this simple area of my life seems to revolve around food and exercise with plenty of plans, techniques, promoters, and know it alls; I find it reaches deeper into my soul and identity than a simple choice between a donut and an orange.  With every confusing step I take these days, finding the right motivation, right feeling, right method, right attitude seems to be the only way I find success.  But this has only led me to temporary victories and marginal successes (yes I will agree 93 pounds is a touch more than marginal); but alas it was still just temporary. 

So as I begin the CHOICE today to resume my plan, submerge my feelings, and focus on the goal; I was asking for the key.  The key to knowing how to make this stick, unlock the deep dark love affair I have with food, push me kicking and screaming through the tough times.  Knowing that in the past my emotions always seem to win out in the end, I was struggling to find the reason the motivation the desire the TRUTH to why it is more important to be healthy than happy (doesn’t that sound like a blog post all by itself. )

I prayed for some point of reference that would make sense to me.  Trying to find some real world example where someone continued to try and try and try even after repeated PUBLIC, HUMILIATING, and DISCOURAGING failure… And in pleading for an example, I received the image of every athlete I have ever watched in the Olympics.  So many of them were NEVER brilliant from birth, they did not arrive at the Olympics after years and years of perfect execution of their event.  athletes are the prime example of constant failure, yet that never stops them.  They miss their mark, come in 2nd place or last, drop the baton, hit a pole, miss a turn, slip and fall, or just get BEAT… and with all the press and cameras and people commenting on their every move along with showing it on the instant slow moe replay for 100 times; they still get up and try again and again and again. 

I recently watched a documentary on Chris Evert (one of my hero’s growing up) and Martina Navratilova and their rivalry.  I was reminded of their continued competition for years they would compete.  But for a series of 3 years Chris could not beat Martina, losing 13 consecutive matchs-TALK about discouragement.  Listening to Chris talk about that time, she tried everything she knew to do to try to compete with Martina.  She struggled and struggled but just could not beat her.  In that moment, I heard myself whisper, “Why keep playing if you know you could never beat her?  Why not just take the successes of you youth and walk away?  Why is it worth all the fight knowing you just can’t beat her?” 

I can't do this anymore its too hard

And there it was… the evidence that the fight in me was gone.  That competitive fight I had when I was younger was replaced with the resignation of taking the easy road because victory was impossible.  Yet, Chris didn’t do this.  She kept playing, training, fighting, competing and even though it took her time to achieve her victory over Martina; she did it.  So as I was mentally trying to prepare for the long game of this competition between me and food I was drawn back to my sports days of running laps, fielding grounders, and doing suicides on cement (love softball in California) and asked myself does that girl still live?  Isn’t it time to find take that girl back out onto the field and remind her that a competitor doesn’t quit when they fail.  An athlete doesn’t determine they have lost based on the score, this time they are fighting for the win.  This time could be the Hail Mary pass, this time the record could be broken, this time I could be the winner…. and that only works if I’m in the game. 

Alrighty friends and fans… June 6, 2011 begins the first inning… first at bat… first stretch… first swing… Today I made it through on plan. 🙂

It’s Everything and Nothing ALL in one Post

So what does one write about when there is too much and not enough to write about all at the same time?  I have over 2 dozen half posts started, but not certain I have the energy or time to sort through the emotions and deep thought it takes to masterfully craft a creative post.  Then I was reminded of a friend of mine who says that a blog is supposed to be an account of what is happening now.  What are the things I am thinking now in the moment, kicking around the corners of the mind at this particular time.  And THEN I start to get overwhelmed with all the different things that are kicking around my mind.  So maybe in an attempt to find clarity and cohesive thought a list might be in order (yes I am a list maker, it has served me well over the years, so I do it often):

I am in Sacramento on a work trip, so there are all the TO DO’s wrapped around work, plus the stress of my boss arriving on Tuesday, Go-Live (where we change software systems), Political hub-bub that comes with Regional People on-site.  Being put on the spot for all challenges and issues and questions and hoping upon hoping I did a good enough job with the training that it KINDA sticks enough for the people to do their jobs… YEAH NO PRESSURE.

I am visiting friends and their 2 kids, which is fun but at times I feel I’m in the way, not knowing if I’m contributing enough or spending enough time with them since there are parts of my vacation that I like nothing more than truly being lazy and brain dead.  It has almost become a thanksgiving tradition to do nothing and accomplish nothing; but I don’t know if that is a throw back from my student days where I would half believe I would catch up on school work during these four days… all the while being pressured to just HAVE FUN or veg.

Financially, I made a serious boo boo and paid my bills, sounds harmless, but lets just say my reimbursement check may have been “processed” but my bank hasn’t seen it yet so it might as well not exist.  OOOPS Silly Dave Ramsey, getting me ALL excited about paying my bills.

Food is always a fun topic, but for some reason I just can’t quite get my emotions to tell me the truth.  One minute I’m in complete control and the next moment all I want is 5 kinds of fast food RIGHT NOW!!! I thought I survived Thanksgiving fine, because I didn’t do sweets and I thought I kept my portions relatively in check; but the scale corrected me and it was a heart wrenching, depressing blow to my ego.  As a result Friday sucked and Saturday isn’t looking much better.  Dang it why does food have to taste so good… all the wrong kinds.

Positive health note: I went for a 1.5 mile walk today and it was easy.  I used my rain coat because it decided to be a GLORIOUSLY rainy Oregon Day in Elk Grove.  But it made walking easy and I had lovely time and it wasn’t hard and I really TRULY enjoyed the time with the iPod and my “driving” mix.  Thank you Lisa for the INCREDIBLE idea of finding songs that make the body MOOOOOOVE!!! So for the record that would be 3 times I have exercised on this trip, which is more than I have done in over 5 months.  SO THERE TURKEY DAY!!! 😛

I have been doing my bible reading just about every day and even though it is not quite the emotional high I want it to be, I am doing it.  I have been reading my Divine Mentor book and keeping on track with the meetings and discussions.  I have been praying and taking quiet time with God and not letting the television run all my quiet time.  Although I have had to fight my chatty Kathy tendencies to make that quiet time exist also.

I am away from my new community and they are having all these fantastic events that I get to hear about through email, yet I am a whole state away.  I miss the interactions and laughter that spending time with them generates.  I am hoping that I will not be forgotten (insert fake sniffle here) and that when I return it will all be the same but different.

Finally, I have been conversing with my X (yes that would be an ex-boyfriend from over a ZILLION years ago).  It’s been a roller coaster of sorts, but for some reason I’m still engaged in conversations.  Some how some way were are bringing out the best and worst of each other during our conversations.  But the more we talk the better it gets, and just when I think this is it.  This is one more chance around the merry-go-round and I AM DONE, something cool happens and it changes.  Hmmm interesting.  Yet I think we have finally reached a more grounded friendship conversation style more focused around life and God and less about US and relationships.  THANK GOODNESS.

So there it is a post about everything and nothing all at the same time.  Enjoy!

FOOD view – Retrospective to July 2, 2010

In an effort to clean out my Drafts folder, I stumbled across this heart wretching, gut-stretching entry that should just be shared.  I feel it some days and not others, but it is not ALL that far away from my thoughts…

This week (July 2nd) overall has been nothing but frustrations and bits of depression.  I have been striving and struggling to do what’s right with food, and with money, and I am failing over and over and over again.  Its been a year since I started the MF plan but I wanted to hit 100lbs or stay on it for 1 year.  but neither one happened.  So even though I have lost 75lbs and 22% of my body weight, I still feel like a failure.  The success does not ooooooze out of my pores like I want. 

People at work have said I’m an inspiration.  They say how good I’ve done and how amazing I look. It was truly a moment of DIVINE pleasure to have one of the warehousemen at work, come up to me in the coffee room and say in hushed tones, Have you lost some weight?  Such care and respect taken on a topic that MOST WISE men know you do not broach without the utmost caution.  But he is a former trainee of mine (former because now he does his job without me) at our company-so he likes me as a person.  I was so honored that he took that risk and spoke out and followed it up with, I wasn’t sure if I should say something, but you are looking really REALLY good.  Good job! This stated after I confirmed – yes I had lost 80 lbs in the last year. 

I couldn't resist the double meaning...

So why can’t I see it.  OR more importantly why can’t I feel it.  I mean I know the energy I have, I know the clothes are fitting better, I know the spring in my step with confidence.  But all these LOGICAL thoughts go out the window with one thought of french fries, taco bell taco’s, or PIIIIIZZZZAAAA!!! I seem to only want the thing I have just imagined.  And I lose sight of everything else, and I think I have not made ANY steps forward at all.  

Maybe it’s because I still see the fat, I still see the purging well actually bingeing behaviors; those times when I feel out of control and hopeless.  That moment when I eat til it hurts, but keep going… moving from one food to another.  SO desperately trying to fill myself with something that will satisfy, make me happy, and make me content, satiate the hunger in the deepest part of me.  I am alone and my only friend that is reliable, unfailing, consistent to me is food.  Why does this issue of food have to be so integrated with my feelings?  Why can’t it just be one of those things I make physical behavioral changes to and I see the results?  Why is it there are people who do the plan, stay on the plan, and just make the change without such a struggle and fight? Yet I have this struggle on a constant basis it seems. 

The good news is that I still have hope.  Tonight (Nov 1) my health coach brought in a 50lb bag of sand and gave us each an opportunity to hold it.  Now I have lugged around a lot of heavy things before, but this bag was actually amazingly heavy.  He wanted us to imagine what it was like 50lbs ago… meaning back when we weighed at least 50lbs more.  Now I am at 80lbs lost since July 2009, and there is just something to realizing how much more weight I was carrying around.  So how do I get that image in my mind on a regular basis, to remind myself that every bite I put in my mouth has long-term effects. 

That for now in this time I need to follow the plan and the sand will slowly fall aside and away from me. 🙂  Hmm what an interesting visual, instead of melting fat, or pounds; imagine the effortless motion of shaking off sand.  Just like returning from the beach and shaking off the excess sand.  So now I just need to remember that each day is just like shaking off a little sand.

Hope – Its not just Fluffy

The beginning of the bolder being moved into change in my life started with FPU – Financial Peace University.  Something about the way Dave Ramsey – say things – Straight, Direct, No Excuse, Funny, with No Apology.  It got me moving.  I am on a plan, I am paying things off and making slow progress, but its is progress.  I only have 3 more years on my debt.  10 year on the student loan.  BUT I am on the road.  This started Spring 2008. 

Then I started on Medifast: Food plan that has gotten me to lose 85lbs so far (July 2010) so far.  But the biggest effect it has had is my perspective on food and the constant emotional struggle and fight I have with myself about control.  It really REALLY comes down to this one area I don’t want to surrender.  I am fighting with myself everyday these days.  But I started to start over every day.  I know this is the right plan and it is working out the character of my real life, who I really want to be.  This started July 2009. 

Even in my season of getting mad and fighting through the feelings of despair and hopelessness, I did not realize how the hope of success carried me.  It wasn’t just a delicate doily in my pocket that I waved in the air.  It was this Marble Pillar I grabbed hold of with all my might and pushed and pulled and wrapped my arms around because I knew what I knew what I knew that this was the future.  This WILL be my success, my HOPE that i would make those daily choices to allow me to keep hold of this victory became the sword that I wielded against every little thought that would attempt to pull me away from my goal.

More than Fuffy

NEW DAY
NEW BEHAVIOR
NEW RESOLVE
NEW DEDICATION!!!!!!!!!!

This is just as important this year as last year.  It means JUST as much to me this year as last year.  It took me almost 2 years to get the Dave Ramsey stuff on track… WHY would the food struggle be any easier. 
 
Behavior change affect the attitude change. The same goes for motivation and achievement. It seems if we are just motivated we will achieve our goals. However, it is just the opposite…motivation comes from achievement. The more you achieve the more you will be motivated.

To me that is such the complete opposite of everything I remember hearing.  I remember voices saying just be disciplined, make the sacrifice, be uncomfortable, make the choice.  And as much as I am realizing there is definitely a place for each of those thoughts and attitudes.  I can definitely agree with a standing ovation in the cheering section, that when I achieve something, no matter how small how insignificant to the rest of the world; I AM MOTIVATED!!!!

I still do battle with the worthlessness, I still hear the voices of self-doubt and I still rebel against what is good for me.  But when I see the achievements, when I feel the improvement, when I KNOW what I know WHAT I KNOW that I have accomplished, achieved, even MASTERED something in ANY way.  My motivation is stronger.  My drive has returned.  My Hope is Brilliant and Glowing. 

It’s no wonder that I have 5 different songs on my iPod at the moment ALL by different artists with the theme of: It’s a brand new day, New Day, New perspective, New pathway, New Challenge to inspire my psyche as I spend more hours than I care to count in my car. 🙂

The Re-Do Button – New Strategies for Me

Years ago a dear friend of mine returned from a trying and stretching trip to Atlanta, Georgia having spent months working with Habitat for Humanity.  I remember being in complete awe and amazement of her willingness to risk and stretch and GO. I mean my world was so small then that Atlanta, GEORGIA might as well have been another country.  I mean it was a whole whopping 3 time zones away on the EAST coast. 🙂

When she returned, she described a few things that she had learned on her journey.  The most significant concept was that of the Re-Do button.  How many times do I remember as a child playing, where SOMEONE at SOME POINT in our game would yell I want a DO OVER… or a RE-DO?  Mostly we would cite reasons of some faulty piece of equipment, the playing field got in the way, or simply because I wasn’t ready.  For some reason, volleyball serving comes to mind (gotta love childhood memories).  ANYWAY, she describe this Re-Do button as it actually being in God’s hands and he choses the moments in our life and our walk to press it. 

RESULTS:  What ever life lesson, character building exercise, or relationship component, we had not learned the last time we were in the SAME SITUATION would be recreated for OUR OWN BENEFIT.  YES, for our own benefit.  That since we had not learned the lesson, made the right choice, or handled things correctly the first time; that God loved us enough to provide us with another situation (most likely with different people and even a different environment) to do things differently. 

As she was describing the Re-do button, I remember thinking Ohhhh Maaannnn that’s just SOooooOOOOO not fair.  God must be sitting up there with this kind of devious menacing look of HA HA Ha ha haha I’m gonna get her NOW.  But over the years, I started to see a certain personality of man wander into my life, at each time I learned-a smidge at a time-how to interact with him better.  After the 3rd guy (of this personality type), I started to identify these men as they wandered into my life, much MUCH quicker.  But it also lead me to say Oh no… Great. *eye roll* God, what did I mess up last time that I need ANOTHER One of THESE in my life?  But in truth there is a whole world of guys out there like this.  So it is in FOR MY OWN BENEFIT to learn how to deal, work, relate to them. 

I believe I am doing a MARVELOUSLY better job than I did before and am taking comfort in the fact that even in those days when I feel like a failure; that God is not going to let me escape from his plan of improvement.  So I even when I screw things up, take too long to do something, or completely miss the whole point; I will get another chance. 

So as much as I would be sick of hearing myself talk about starting over and getting refocused and getting BACK on plan.  I need as many Re-do’s as I can get.  I seem to fail, fall, come up short-again and again and again.  I am going pretty steady 15 months straight fighting the battle of this food and exercise battle.  And for me it is a battle, it is not just a make a decision and change, it is uprooting years and years of thinking, feeling, handling, and managing my life. 

So here I am October 21, 2010 and I have hit the reset button ONCE again.  But this time I have spent the last 2 weeks trying to seek out a better plan or strategy for those times when I struggle.  Trying to reflect on the things I did the first year that were successful and winning methods.  And this week I have started with 4 new techniques to manage the existing problem areas. 

1) I am using the web resource again to document or food journal EVERYTHING I eat: MF meals, snacks, drinks, ALL of it.  This way I can know exactly what I am eating.  Good friend A is going check this journal and we are going to talk about it each week. 

2) I am going to devise an actual regular exercise plan using all the different methods to add variety and make it manageable around the work day.  Good friend B is going to meet with me twice a month to talk about how I am doing and discuss any short comings and make suggestions on new ideas. 

3) I started a pound per pound challenge with a co-worker that between Oct 24th and Dec 31 who ever loses the most weight is the WINNER.  And the Loser will have to pay the winner $1 per pound for the difference.  For example, if I lose 20 lbs and he loses 15 lbs – He will owe me $5.  Doesn’t seem like much but it has gotten my competitive edge back and figure the harder I push myself the money I will make off him. 😉 

4) I am going to surround myself with reminders – post it notes, pictures, people to talk about this with, reading healthy tips and ideas. 

With this form of accountability and knowing I will have to be honest with someone about what I have done and what I am doing, it will help discourage me from making bad choices just cuz I feeeeeeeeeeeel  like it or am lazy and believe that is doesn’t matter.  So we will see how this new approach (well new this week) works itself out in this battle. 

Thank you Vickie for a wonderful word picture of the Re-Do button to encourage me to never give up.  (Never surrender <–couldn’t resist.)