Learning to love being where you are – that’s the start
While true, the maxim above is difficult to execute. Today, I’m five pounds heavier than two months ago.
Eating too well and too much, I’ve rationalized the extra calories by noting my vigorous lifestyle – running around with grandchildren during their summer visit and lots of tennis.
But after putting on clothes that felt surprisingly tight, I couldn’t kid myself. Fat, not retained water, was the culprit. The scales were truthful.
Am I happy about backsliding? Do I love where I am? Let’s just say this wasn’t my first reaction. Quite the opposite. Instead, I berated myself for losing the ground I’d worked hard to gain.
The first reaction was punitive – to go on a strict diet. Wrong! This solution comes out of the same box (the yo-yo cycle of deprivation and decadence) that created the problem. Instead, I returned to basics.
I restarted my food diary, a habit I’d dropped while entertaining. Not keeping track of what I eat is as foolhardy for me as writing checks without recording them in the checkbook.
Next, I removed calorie-dense and nutrition-poor foods from the pantry and refrigerator. I also cooked more consciously – removing extra calories without compromising taste – and monitored portion size.
So I wouldn’t make regressive decisions under the influence of hunger, I prepared low calorie, nutritious entrees and desserts for the freezer.
Daily, I made personal meal plans, eliminating “empty” calories (candy, wine, etc.). To give myself perspective, I set weight loss goals (2 pounds a week) until I reach my regular weight.
Realizing I was distracted by having too much to do, I finished a sewing project, organized my house, and exited from an extraneous project weighing heavily on my mind.
Now that I could concentrate, I began preparations for “The Tipping Point,” an NCTV show scheduled to air this fall focusing on persons, like myself, who’ve made lifestyle changes. (See box for times and dates.)
I also interviewed Robert Spencer (see “The Tipping Point” profile below) whose enthusiasm for his own makeover was contagious.
And even though I’m not a runner, I agreed to join Gayle Lossman and Jeff Ackerman in leading the 5K and 10K Walk/Run at Sunday’s annual Draft Horse Classic. Putting myself on the line reinforced commitment.
Instead of being in a state of freefall, by taking practical steps, I’m once again grounded. My body is a friend instead of betrayer. Food is back in its rightful place – enjoyable but not at the center. Exercise, especially tennis, continues as a source of healthful entertainment.
Weight maintenance, I’m discovering, is a different skill than weight loss and perhaps a harder one to master. In light of its difficulty, what’s surprising is how little attention it receives.
One remarkable exception is “Weight Loss Forever,” a program developed Dr. Henry Chang, a Sacramento physician. Chang doesn’t let his patients lose weight until they have learned how to maintain their weight.
Only then are they are allowed to lose 5-10 pounds. Repeatedly and intentionally, he interrupts the weight loss process so the patient can stabilize before resuming. Success stories by the dozens speak for his effectiveness in teaching the maintenance skill first.
In retrospect, my weight loss period, while demanding, was like a honeymoon – lots of drama, excitement and attention. Maintenance, on the other hand, is like marriage – great moments, for sure, but mostly regular life.
Can I be happy recovering lost ground? Can I transform the threat of failure into useful insight? Can I learn to love where I am, even if I’m struggling?
Whether you’re fat or fit, progressing or regressing, do you love where you are? However difficult, this is the necessary starting point for all of us, myself included.
Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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