Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Eye Towards Weight Loss

I woke up thinking about a question this morning. A question for me, and for all of us to ask ourselves throughout the day:

Is what I am doing *in this moment* conducive to weight loss?

This is profound. This just might be a breakthrough moment for me, when I took some bits and pieces of information that I've known for a long time and put them together into an epiphany.

It started last night when I was watching the Biggest Loser. I was thinking about how they lose weight. It's great. I love to watch. It gets me all excited about weight loss. A contestant on the show made mention that they lost all this weight in 9 weeks without any magic pills or surgery etc. That's true, but it got me thinking. Why them? How come they lose it all so fast and we don't? Well, they *don't* have a magic pill, but they do have a magic gym, a magic trainer, and a magic kitchen in a magic world where they don't do *anything* but focus on weight loss. They have an *eye towards weight loss and nothing else.* They work out 6 hours a day. They don't bake cookies. They don't take a day off and lay on the couch eating pizza. Every single thing they do is focused on losing weight and building muscle. Every waking moment is about weight loss. Now, we (you and I) cannot be thinking of weight 100% of the time. We have lives, jobs, kids, dirty toilets, etc. Real life is like that. But we *can* keep an eye to weight loss *most* of the time... at least when we are not in the middle of something else, and when we are making small choices like what to eat for breakfast or how to spend our down time.

I mean, really, is there any reason I should eat a donut? No, not really. Not if I have an eye towards weight loss. It all depends on how important that goal is to me. I'm going to try and hone my focus so that I *do more* to get the weight loss and *do less* to keep it on. Isn't that the bottom line, anyway? Which are you doing more of?

In other words, if what you are doing *right now* is not conducive to weight loss, stop it and do something that is.

Not weighing daily is my "head in the sand" mechanism for pretending everything is okay when in fact I *know* I am up a few pounds. Just because you don't see the number on the scale doesn't mean you're not fatter. If monthly weighing works for you that's great. It does, for some people. But what I mean by"works for you" isn't "makes you feel okay about pigging out." What I mean is, if you are actually *losing weight* at a rate you are happy with, then your monthly weighing is *working* for you. But don't kid yourself. If you are avoiding the scale to avoid reality, it's probably time to just get the thing out, set it in a convenient spot and start weighing regularly. For me, that's daily. It's conducive to weight loss.

When other things get in the way of our focus, that's when we stall out or "fall off" healthy eating. We get sidetracked. Life happens. Things get stressful. People do stupid, hurtful stuff to us or say things that cause a reaction. The reaction might go like this:

"OMG I am SO MAD about what so-and-so did! This situation is unbearable. My insides are churning, my guts are in knots, and all I can think about is THAT. "

Do you:
1) Take your mind off the uncomfortable feelings by eating something really fattening, sugary, salty, caloric, delicious... which turns your focus to that food for 5 minutes and then to your distress over "screwing up your diet" once again?
2) Take your mind off the uncomfortable feelings by going for a walk or doing some other exercise... which turns your focus to your body and the good feelings of making yourself stronger?
3) Focus on the uncomfortable feelings, think about what you can do to change the situation for the better, and then use that inner chaotic energy to DO whatever that is... which turns your focus to dealing with a problem that *needs* to be dealt with and results in relief that you have done what you could?

Notice that options #2 and #3 are both great responses to stress. So it's not just an "A or B"... binge or exercise... kind of problem. You have C to fall back on. And when 2 out of 3 of your response choices are conducive to weight loss, you have a better chance of success. When your innards are in turmoil, emotionally and mentally, that does not have to turn into an "eating to cope" situation. See that inner turmoil as energy you can use or diffuse with something constructive, be it exercise, housecleaning, or working on a problem.

If your mammogram comes back abnormal, do you eat a pack of Oreos? Or go for a long walk/run? Or sit down and cry for awhile and then make the appointment for the next tests?

If your husband tells you that someone else is his soul mate, do you shove those feelings down with a Big Mac Meal and a milkshake? Or strength train for 30 minutes? Or sit down and deal with the feelings and make whatever arrangements are best for you and your kids?

If your child is disabled, and their teacher is treating them like a nuisance and rolling their eyes at you for asking for accommodations, do you bake bread and eat the whole loaf with butter? Or do you go rake the yard vigorously for a half hour? Or sit down and contact a disability advocate and a lawyer about your options?

How about a combination response? Use the energy of stress to do something about the problem, then diffuse the remaining energy of stress by taking a walk, then eat a nice healthy meal afterwards to feed yourself what you need.

Daily, moment-by-moment decisions.
Exercise, or sit on the couch?
Have oatmeal and green tea, or a sausage biscuit and a latte?
Cram my feelings down my throat with food, or express them with words, tears, and actions?
(Have you noticed that we feel our feelings *in our throat*? You know you've felt it. Tightness in your throat when you're angry, a knot in your throat when you know you're about to cry. I think that's part of why we try to silence that signal of distress and inner pain with food.)

I'm learning a lot about myself on this journey. I am glad I am taking the time it needs to do this in a manner that will probably lead to *permanent* weight loss. And I also hope that by paying more attention to my focus now, and keeping an eye towards weight loss more often, I'll get to my goal sooner.


moonduster said...

Excellent post! And I'd never thought about it before, but when I'm super sad and stressed, I do actually feel a tighening in my throat.

Anonymous said...

I definitely think you've had a breakthrough; you are so insightful. I like the idea of being proactive, using the stress of the situation to help solve the problem. And the truth is, we will actually feel better if we stick to our goals, through the stress. Amazing post!

Madame said...

Wow, excellent post indeed! ... I recently had the same revelation in thinking ... Staying focused on the end ... trumps most of those internal struggles I consistently pass along the way in this journey ... and will cater to a permanent healthy lifestyle :)

Kimberly said...

You are exactly right. What are you doing in the moment to ensure your success? Not all moments are going to be stress/pain free. Life does happen.

Another tactic in ensuring success in weight loss is to not beat yourself up if you do slip and have a donut. That just enhances the stress. Forgive yourself and move on to the next moment.

Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

Your post today is hard to read - because it puts the responsiblity right where it needs to be. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN ACTIONS AND THE RESULT OF THOSE ACTIONS

So easy for me (us to say this) but why is doing it so difficult?

Thanks Lyn, great post!

Danielle said...

Awesome post, Lyn, just awesome!
You really give me food for thought.

And while I love love love the Biggest Loser, Kristin's comment really irritated me, too.

kitty said...

I know it doesn't work for everybody, but my weight loss programme really got going when I broke down and bought a scale, and started weighing myself every bloody day. It means I get a little crazy when I plateau, or have a little water retention, when I know perfectly well I've been staying on plan, but overall, that daily accountability moment really does keep me honest.

Becca55 said...

Thank you for this post, it is great! Really gave me something to think about as I am a huge emotional eater. You are so right about this

purple_moonflower123 said...

I too weigh daily. It keeps me in check and I am more aware of the fluxes that may be caused by hormones or types of food that I eat. It also keeps me in check if things get out of hand. I don't see the scale as something bad. I see it as just an extra tool that I need to live a healthier life.

Being focused and reevaluating how I deal with my emotions has been key in my weight loss. I know that back of the throat feeling. It is so much better to talk it out...then eat it!

Anonymous said...

I think I had an AHA moment. Thank you. This is EXACTLY correct, sort of like a WWJD for weight loss. :o)

Tina said...

Such a good post! So much of what you say I think about on a daily basis and this will go on the list. Thanks for sharing what you are learning with everyone else.

Tony said...

Good post, as always. I think that having an eye towards weight loss is important, but for me anyway, I always know when I'm eating something in the moment that will either hurt or help the technical aspect of weight loss---it's not something that I just forget about.

I think having an eye towards weight loss in general is a good thing, but obsessing about it every single moment of your life, is not conducive to weight loss either. It's about finding a balance.

This post echos a lot of your past entries where you have talked about how every bite counts, and how every single decision you make will have an impact on your health. In my experience, it only causes more stress when you worry about every single piece of food you eat.

Best wishes.

Hanlie said...

Wow, I had a few insights from reading this post! I also suffer from the tightening of the throat... My emotions are always ready to jump out!

I got myself a mantra/motto for March: "Navel to Spine". It's a reminder every moment of the day to pull in my stomach / engage my core, which strengthens those muscles. And it's a constant reminder that I'm doing something about my health.

erin said...

This is an excellent post! You've given me much food for thought. (No pun intended.) :)

Anonymous said...

I love this line of thought, Lyn. It's spot-on and puts the responsibility right on our shoulders, where it belongs. Thank you for writing!


Lyn said...


You're very right about obsession. We really do have to find a balance! Maybe what is important is not *worrying* about every bite, but just making wise choices in the moment. After all, if I just make a decision not to eat certain things (like maybe Cheetos or donuts), it actually removes the worry, for me. The deicison is made and it's easier to say no than to waver every time I see a Cheeto bag.

Just now I went for a nice long walk at the park. I did it because I want to lose the weight... just as I will make a salad for my lunch because I want to lose the weight. Knowing this removes the stress of "what should I eat? What should I do?" and just focuses me in on my goal.

I enjoy your blog, Tony. You're a smart young man and if any of you readers haven't checked it out, take a moment and click Tony's name. Great blog!

Pam said...

You hit that right on the head! I love TBL myself and found some words of wisdom in some things brought up last night, and so did you. Keep it up - you are doing wonderfully!

Carol said...

All those moments add together to create a day, and each of those days come together to create a week, and all those weeks, well you get it. Yes, those little moments do add up to a whole life. The other thing I take from TBL is that even though someone is still obese, it is not an excuse for avoiding exercise. I'm talking about the gut busting, sweat pouring, "man this sucks" kind of exercise that makes a real difference (Laura's lesson on last night's show). Yes, those contestants have a lot of opportunity that is not availed to everyone else but look at their long term success rates, Ryan gained back nearly all his weight and others have regained a considerable amount as well. So I really don't think it's that good to lose those large amounts of weight in such a short period of time. Lesson learned is that weight loss is doable but it's a lot of hard work and staying focused. But it is so worth it. Once again it's the old saying: Nothing tastes as great as thin feels".

new*me said...

great post today as usual Lyn! It's all about choices........I am at a plateau right now. My thinking is shifting.........yes the scale isn't moving but each day I'm healthier and stronger than if I wasn't moving and eating well.

Trying to wrap our brains around the big picture is part of the journey :) the moments rather than eating through them.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, I feel your latest post is one of the best you have written so far and it will help just so many people come to terms with the emotional side of weight gain/lose. This is the type of mind set that will be the breakthrough for many people. Thank you from all of us! Carol

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post, Lyn! Very thought-provoking...

Chubby Chick said...

After a year and a half of riding the weight loss roller coaster and ending up at my highest weight ever... I feel like I've finally got my "eye" on weight loss. It's a good feeling... I only wish I hadn't been so blinded in the past!

Anonymous said...

Good post! I live my life with an eye towards weight loss, but sometimes I just need to eat a cookie. I weigh every day, just to make sure there's no surprises. As for your a, b, c - binge, exercise, or deal with the emotions, I could never stop A until I learned C. If I'm really flustered I may need to do my thinking while on a good walk, but I no longer eat out of stress or depression, or anything really but hunger and pleasure.

Karyn said...

GREAT post, as always, Lyn.

Good points on dealing with stress. I tend to do none of the above. No, I don't drown my sorrows with food, but I do tend to distract myself with something that does NOT involve moving - like reading or 'playing' on my computer.

This is a timely reminder for me to use negative energy toward something constructive - particularly toward weight loss.


antgirl said...

I agree with Tony on the obsession thing.

We all have to find what works for us. It can take time. I strugged and battled for years until finding the right roads in the right combination.

Just don't give up. :) And, you'll be all right. If you eat something you wish you didn't, don't beat yourself up for it. You're coping with a lot and the best you can. Sometimes I think we just have to accept that about ourselves. We are not superhero, only humans. Our best is good enough even if others think otherwise.

Twix said...

I think I might need post it notes stuck to my forehead!! Lots of things seem to happen so fast and require a fast response, that it's not easy remembering all of your options. What's really cool though is learning and adapting new responses. And soon they become the best response and the old ones fade within time. Still..stick it notes might help! Great post, thanks! ;-)

carla said...

(swing by if you have a moment. yesterdays post. Id love some of your writing?)

Meg said...

Thanks for the great insights! The awareness that you've described is going to be very helpful to me and so many others I'm sure. So you mind if I link o this post?

somebodys mother said...

Excellent post, as always. For me having an eye toward weight loss means a balance between being aware when I need to make a conscious decision about food and removing some of the decisions I have to make altogether. If I am going out to dinner, I have to make decisions and have a plan before I go. I know if I do not, I will overeat and be miserable later. I remove most of the food decisions by doing 2 things: first weekly grocery shopping and menu planning and getting my breakfast and lunch ready for the following day right after I clean up from dinner. Weekly shopping and menu planning keeps me out of the grocery store where I am likely to pick up things just because I want them that moment. Also if I can come home from work and just make whatever is on the menu dinner is ready sooner and I am less likely to be starving by the time we eat. Less chance to overeat. If I get my breakfast and lunch ready for the following day right after dinner when I am full I make much better choices. This also eliminates making choices in the early morning (I don't like to do anything when I first get up)because I know most of the time I will not pack lunch for work in the morning and will just get something bad for me or at the very least get more food than I need. Little changes and choices combined with preemptive strikes against fat are helping me move to the real life changes I am working toward.

Lyn said...

somebodys mother~

great ideas. I think I will try menu planning next week!


Link away! Thanks :)


coming over now. lol :)

wakati said...

Lyn, you are spot on. It takes time to transform the learned response of eating for comfort. I've been working on learning how to handle life head on. Any kind of diversion to me, work, exercise, sleeping, is still a diversion. I am curbing my aversion of stress and stressful situations. That's taking a lot of uprooting of error thinking. The whole thing is a process and a journey.

The mechanics of weight loss is move more, eat less. The key to it is re-learning how to live.

Doug said...

Hell yea Lyn :)

Lovin it.

L1z4 said...

Don't a lot of the people on Biggest Loser regain the weight after the show? I used to like watching that show along with other weight loss shows, now, they all seem too pro ana for my tastes.

Ria said...

Fantastic post, Lyn! I'm currently disentangling myself from a difficult personal/business relationship, and I think that staying aware moment by moment is a concept that really will help me continue to make progress towards my weightloss goals in the next few weeks.

Jelene said...

Lyn... WOW! that post hit a lot of buttons for me and you are so RIGHT!!!
Thank you for posting that. I'm gonna copy and paste in on word and print it off and put in my journal... so when i'm wanna just give up or just feeling really down... i'll be reading this post to shake me up!
I'm keeping my "eye towards weight loss"!!!

Heather said...

sometimes its hard to always be thinking about your own weight loss and health, but it is so definitely necessary. I have that internal conversation with myself daily when I go in the office kitchen and see donuts or girl scout cookies (3 boxes today), and basically have to talk myself out of eating them. but if this is what I want, I have to really think about whether or not my choicse will lead to success.

and yes, those BL people are amzing, but most people dont have the time to exercise for 6 hrs a day and have a kitchen stocked with only healthy foods. the reality is, its hard, but it can be done and in my opinion, if you can do it on your own, you are more prepared for the "real world" and choices than most of those contestants are when they go home.