Posts Tagged ‘getting healthy’

What’s Holding You Back?

Every time I’ve decided to get healthy, as I’m getting started, I think of a bunch of reasons why maybe I shouldn’t. Let’s face it, change is daunting.

I know all the reasons I should be fit. Every fat person knows why they should start eating healthy and exercising more. To avoid health problems, to live longer, to have more energy, to look better and feel good about ourselves. The list goes on.

But then come the excuses that lead to stopping before we start or very shortly after we get started. If we can identify those things we use to hold ourselves back and push them aside, then maybe we have a chance. At least, that’s what I told myself this time as they crept in when I was starting.

So I made a list. Why shouldn’t  I lose weight and keep it off? Here are my top ten and how they’ve played out so far:

10. Money is tight. How will I buy new clothes?

Well, the weight doesn’t fall off overnight so new clothes are not a problem right away. And really, how many new things do you need to get through the week? Guess what, when I needed new clothes I found the money to buy them. Oh, and it’s fun to buy smaller sizes.

9. I’ll get bored. How can I eat the same thing day in and day out?

Eating healthy can get boring. So can unhealthy eating habits. The difference is you don’t feel like crap after eating a healthy boring meal. I make sure I have options for my meals. Nothing overly exciting mind you, but enough so that I’m not completely sick of turkey, lettuce and tomato at the end of each week.

8. I’m too busy. I don’t have the time to plan, cook and exercise.

Bah. I exercise for a half an hour to an hour each day. So I miss a little TV. Actually I get up early so it’s done with before my day starts. And if your day is really that busy, fit in little 10-minute walks three times a day. I hear that works just as well.

As for food planning, I’m not a planner. And I tend to eat on the run. With all of the choices out there now, this is no excuse. How long does it take to microwave a Lean Cuisine? It’s faster than waiting in line at McDonald’s. And  anything tastes good on a high-fiber, low cal english muffin. Make sure your pantry and fridge are stocked with on-the-go good choices like fruit, eggs and high-fiber snacks, and you won’t need to plan too much.

7. I can’t afford to eat healthy.

Yes you can. Twinkies and Entenmann’s cakes are expensive too. When you stop buying those and trade for healthier choices, the food bill stays about the same. It might go up a bit in the beginning as you are finding your rhythm, but it goes back down.

Oh and when you unload some of those prescriptions and over the counter medicines from the ailments that the weight is causing (like Zantac for heartburn), you can spend more on food.

6. My family, friends, whoever won’t like me anymore if I lose weight.

Anyone who begrudges you finding your way to a healthy lifestyle is not someone you want in your life. If they love you now, your friends (even your fat ones who are envious because they wish they were doing what you are doing), family and whoever will still love you. And they will be proud of you too. You, after all, are accomplishing something spectacular.

5. I might be heavy but I’m in proportion. If I lose weight, I might lose unevenly and end up with a small top and big butt (or skinny legs and big belly…take your pick).

Whatever your body shape is, that’s what it will be when you lose weight. I really worried about this. Guess what, I’m the same proportion, just smaller and tighter. And if you don’t like your body shape, this is your chance to shift it. Exercise! Cardio is a must but also find targeted exercises that work those trouble spots.

4. I can’t afford a gym membership.

I couldn’t. Not in the beginning. But I could afford cheap sneakers and I was able to walk around my neighborhood. Start now while it’s light out in the morning and late into the evening and you’ll be exercising for free before you know it. And you can’t tell me you don’t know how to do a crunch or even a pushup. Those don’t cost anything either. And now, lots of gyms are running great specials to get you to join (they figure we’ll never go anyway). Take advantage if you really want to join a gym.

3. My boobs will shrink down to nothing.

Ok, this one happens. But again, it’s in proportion to your body size so it’s really not that bad. I never had a large bust until after I had children and was 100 pounds overweight. The boobs were the first thing to go as I started to lose weight. They are smaller now, but they actually look so much better on my frame, and my fear of losing the girls was somewhat irrational. They are still there, and while smaller, since my tummy is smaller too, they actually look so much better! I will say though that I’d be lost without underwire!

2. My personality will change.

You know it just might. But do you really think it will be for the worse? My personality hasn’t changed so much as shifted some. I’m still the same person with the same insecurities (I still feel fat a lot of the time even) and same inclinations. What has changed though is I think about me once in a while now. I do things for me. I smile more. I have more confidence. I take a few more risks. I have met goals and accomplished more in this past year than I thought possible. And if I can do this, I can do anything, can’t I? And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you are a nice person, you will still be a nice person. The only difference is you might just be nicer to you. Getting fit is liberating. Enjoy it.

1. Saggy Skin!

We’ve all seen the plastic surgery commercials. The gastric bypass patients who’ve lost 100 pounds in six months. Look at all that skin! I’d rather be fat! No, you wouldn’t.

I really worried about saggy skin. I even figured when I started getting fit this time if it got bad, I would stop wherever it was that was comfortable. I’d rather be a little overweight than have loose skin. News flash. If you lose weight slowly, 1-2 pounds a week, and you exercise and drink water, saggy skin isn’t so much of a problem. I’m 60 pounds into an 80-pound weight loss, and I can tell you that the sagging skin isn’t nearly what I imagined it to be. Yes, I do have some, but I had it before too. And the only one who ever even notices it is me. All of the other changes in my body, like a waist and legs that like to run are well worth it.

Those were my top 10 reasons for not getting fit. And I have a bunch more. The reasons to get fit though so far outweighed them that I chose to ignore them this time.

Try to focus on the things that may be stopping you and write them down. Since they are usually only whispers in the back of your mind, they can be difficult to hear but they are there and they are insidious.

Then write down an equal number of reasons to get fit. There are more of these than there are excuses. Consider how you will feel when you’ve conquered your fears and misgivings and have started to meet your goals.

There are good days and bad days when you are getting fit. I was having a tough day today. And I needed to revisit why sometimes it is so easy to get off track. By checking in periodically with how far I’ve come and identifying the reasons I try to sabotage myself, I take the power away from my fears and excuses. I have the power, and with that power, I win.

My Commitment to This Healthy Lifestyle

June 30th is a crappy day for me and has been for a lot of years. It is the anniversary of my father’s death (14 years ago)… and my grandmother’s and two of my uncles. Weird, I know. I often think if something bad is going to happen to me, it’s going to be on this day. After all, it’s kind of proven itself.

But this year, June 30th hasn’t made me as sad as it once did. I’m more reflective. Because I’ve lost so many people that I care about on this day, it makes me realize just how fragile this life is.  I’ve often looked at June 30th the same way I look at New Year’s Day or my birthday. It’s a time for new beginnings. After all when one chapter closes, another opens, doesn’t it?

My father would be proud of me today. The last time he saw me, I weighed 90 pounds more than I do now. I’ve lost 55 pounds this time around, but there were other weight loss stops and starts along the way where I managed to keep off a few of the pounds each time. More than that, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a very long time. I still have weight I can lose, but I’m fit. I exercise, I eat healthy (most of the time), I get enough sleep. My father, his two brothers that died on this day and his two other brothers all died of heart disease. They were all athletes, all in relatively good shape. Three of them didn’t even reach 50. The youngest brother was 41 and made of “blue twisted steel” or so he told us. My father was 63 when he succumbed to a stroke, from the same disease he shared with his brothers – atherosclerosis.

Being fat is a serious health risk in my family. It’s taken me a really long time to own that. But I finally have. And I am committed now to getting and staying as healthy as I can be. If I’m going to drop dead of something some June 30th in the very distant future, it’s not going to be because I didn’t take care of myself or heed the warning signs. My blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and all the other signs of a healthy 50-year-old are there for me now. They weren’t two years ago.

This will be the last time I work this hard to lose 80 pounds. Because I’m not gaining it back this time. I like how I feel in my now healthy body. I like that I can run and that I don’t suffer from reflux anymore. I like that I’ve been able to reduce the one medication that I’m on from three times to once a day. I like that I can see and feel the muscles in my legs and arms. I like having a visible collar bone.

I’m committed to this way of life now…forever. And from now on, June 30th is going to be my commitment day. I will still remember the people I’ve loved and lost on this day. But I will honor them  by being proud of what I’ve accomplished; that I’ve made changes that positively affect my health, my life and the people around me.

I can’t avoid it if I happen to get hit by a bus some future June 30th, but I can certainly do everything in my power to stay strong and healthy.

Stopping the dieting/bingeing cycle

I’ve given up being a lifelong dieter, which has gotten me nowhere as I currently weigh more than 200 pounds.  I’ve lost the weight and then have gained it back every time and then some. There are some diets that seem to work for a time, like Weight Watchers, but for me, there is always a downfall. I would do well for a few weeks, even a few months, but then WW Brownie A La Mode desserts would start to feel like a reward and I’d eat both in the box instead of just one. Dieting for me has always been a struggle between feeling better about myself and feeling like I was cheating myself out of something I really wanted. Ring Dings never taste as good as when you are on a diet.

That’s why this time, I’m not dieting. I’m walking. I’m exercising. I’m looking to be a healthier, stronger version of who I am right at this moment. I kind of like me, even if I’m not a perfect size 8.

I’ve walked every day (except one) for the past 10 days now and I’m up to a mile and a half. That’s an accomplishment. I’ve also added an ab routine back into my day from years ago, when I worked with a trainer to get fit. And I’m feeling better.

I’m noticing a strange side effect too. While I haven’t changed my eating habits at all, I’m finding that I am gravitating toward some healthier choices, like strawberries instead of candy or cookies. Not that I’m still not eating candy or cookies, but I’m not craving it the way I was even a week ago. It’s more of a habit thing I think. Of course, this could change, but I’m going to try to listen to my body instead of just shoveling in what I’m used to or what is being triggered by some emotion, be it boredom, anxiety, whatever. I know I’m an emotional eater, and when I eat emotionally, I’m not reaching for string beans or strawberries.

I read an article in Good Housekeeping magazine this month that touches on this subject. The author, Geneen Roth, writes “what, when and how I eat come from an inner sense of what would feel good in my body at any given moment, of what kind of energy I need to get me through the day, of how I want to feel when I finish eating.” Because she eats this way, she said, even though she eats healthfully most of the time (based on what her body needs), “I am not frightened that, after one day of overeating, all hell will break loose and I will gain 50 pounds. If someone hands me a piece of chocolate cake and I feel like eating it, I will.”

The key, according to Roth, is being able to make the choice. If you aren’t denying yourself anything, it’s easier to choose not to eat something if you are satisfied because it’s not a restriction. It’s a choice.

All of my young adult life, I was told I needed to lose 15 pounds. That, coupled with growing up in a very large family (if you didn’t get to the goodies first, you didn’t get any) created eating habits based on restriction and deprivation. Even when I was eating a piece of cake, I felt guilty about it. But if you didn’t eat that piece of cake when it was offered, it wouldn’t be there in an hour when you really wanted it. I don’t have those restrictions anymore if I choose not to have them. So I’m going to listen to my body a little more, and to the voices from my past a little less. And the next time I eat a piece of cake, I’m going to enjoy it with no guilt.

Geneen Roth has written a couple of books on the subject and has workshops too. You can find out more about her at geneenroth.com. I’m going to check her out myself.