Thursday, September 9, 2010

Refocus, or What's Tripping Me Up

While I've been getting a lot done around the house with my new decluttering project, I have noticed a disturbing trend that I think I need to figure out and deal with. Actually, two things:

1. I seem to be *unable* or *unwilling* to focus heavily on more than one "project" at a time. Meaning, weight loss and eating/exercising has been my "project" for such a long time and I had no other BIG projects while I was losing weight. I'd make big goals to declutter or work on the family photo albums or whatever but it's almost like my brain couldn't do both at once, so the other projects always got abandoned. Now that I am truly working hard on my home, my focus on diet and exercise has lagged. I grab the Medifast foods at the right times... that is simple. But when it is time to eat dinner I feel so distracted, overwhelmed, focused on trying to reorganize the garage, that I just "can't handle" cooking dinner or thinking about measuring my vegetables. And I grab whatever is handy and end up eating too much because I don't measure, going over on fats and salt and calories and carbs. I skip a walk here and there because, hey, I am busy going through boxes of marbles and Pokemon cards here. I don't have a healthy snack because dude, I am trying to list 3 high chairs and a play pen on Craigslist here, I don't want to think about celery right now. So... it's like... I am unable/unwilling to do two major brainpower things at once (declutter and diet). This was a problem when I was calorie counting, when I was NOT dieting, and is still a problem now.

2. I am a bad planner and when I am busy I want to grab foods that are easy and convenience. Medifast prepackaged stuff is GREAT for this, but since I have to actually prepare real food, too, that is where I am screwing up the last couple of days. I don't WANT to put in the effort of thinking up a meal, getting the ingredients, weighing my meat, washing/cutting/measuring my vegetables and sitting down to a healthy dinner. And since I have teens who are quite happy to make themselves sandwiches and burritos when I don't cook, it's not a big deal. I *do* think it's important to have sit-down family dinners, but I have let that slack this week because I am "too tired" or "too busy" to deal with cooking and prepping. In fact last night we ordered pizza, which is way, WAY off plan for me, and while I consoled my conscience by telling myself it was ok since it was thin crust, it was really not ok because I ate too many slices, drank some soda, and had a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Result? Major headache this morning from the sugar. Great.

1 and 2 are related. I have noticed this before but just shrugged it off and figured I would work on it later. I know all the tips of having washed and cut veggies ready in the fridge to grab. I know how to cook a bunch of chicken breast or pork loin or ground beef/turkey on one day, measure into portions and have handy in the fridge or freezer. I know how to cook and save portions for the future so all I have to do is grab something from the freezer and nuke it. My kids can cook. There is no valid reason for me to grab whatever is handy, when, in fact, I *do* have easy things like cans of tuna, cartons of eggs, frozen soup that is already measured, frozen measured meat, and washed lettuce, spinach, and cukes in the fridge.

I have resisted this for a long, long time. I have a history of ordering pizza or grabbing fast food because it is easier. But it is NOT easier, really. It is just an excuse to eat something I *want* to eat instead of digging in the fridge and eating a bowl of soup or a salad. I am not sure WHY I am doing this. But I have done it for ages and if I am going to keep this weight off, this is a behavior I am going to have to change. Admitting and sharing it here is, for me, the first step to changing it.

As far as the focus goes, I am not ADD. I went to school and kept a near 4.0 in college while working and raising four kids alone. I can multitask. I have a lot LESS going on in my life now than I did back then, even with the decluttering. I am perfectly capable of doing both tasks (decluttering and losing weight) so why I am not focusing on both, I'm not sure. But that also has to change, and frankly, if I have to stop working on the house and set the tubs aside and sort them later while I sort out the weight loss stuff, that's what I'll do. My health has to be a priority. I will try to do both, but if something has to go, it's not going to be weight loss.

Scale is up, which sucks. Refocusing today and will report back in tomorrow on how it's going.


Lisa said...

I am the same way with the dinner meals...

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

It's a lifetime of habit changing that is embedded in our brains - that's what hard about being healthy. I cooked for the entire week - my lunches and today almost talked myself out of packing my lunch and buying because my kids were already in the car, but than I stopped and packed my lunch, it took two seconds, my kids were okay, and I kicked another "Excuse" that I used to the curb. It's hard work every day, and it sucks some days, but when we get through it, and we succeed, it's so rewarding on many levels - emotionally and phyiscally!!

Dianne Stauber said...

I hear ya, sweetie! When I started my own challenge, my house was horribly cluttered AND I had 231 pounds to lose. We're all different, and this may not work for you, but I totally relate to what you're saying about how you were so focused on decluttering that everything else was taking a back burner.

I ended up giving myself a period of 6 weeks where I focused on decluttering & organizing. I married a professional slob, so there were rooms in our house where no surface was visible...sometimes not even the carpet. We hadn't even fully unpacked from when we bought our home 3 years ago. A mess!

During the decluttering period, I committed to working out only 2 days a week - but I was not allowed to blow off those 2 days. And I didn't.

In the end, the decluttering was done...I'm still working on some of the minor details...but I made our home much more livable - particularly the kitchen, which I need to be uncluttered in order to take care of myself and cook.

Setting aside a predetermined period so that you can compromise on this task and get it out of the way might work for you. I know it did for me...and I'm much more able to cook for myself and my family now. Cleaning house is a breeze without all the clutter and chaos.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. You will kick butt, girl!

37 pounds down, 194 to go! Follow my progress here: Battle of the Butt
I need all the support I can get!

Leslie said...

As usual, I can relate. When I'm busy or too tired, going through the mechanics and thinking of fixing a healthy sane meal seems overwhelming. And as you said, Lyn, it's actually just a great excuse to eat some crap I really want but shouldn't have. Good luck, and thanks as always, for your honesty.

Theresa said...

decluttering won't last forever, but then will you choose another distraction? I agree it's time to figure stuff out to be truly successful.
You can pop a couple of pills for the headache, dust yourself off and make a plan for the rest of the week. We're all rooting for you Lyn. This is tough, but you're tougher. take care

lafngirl said...

I have been viewed as an awesome multi-tasker, especially in my jobs...but always had issues with keeping my home uncluttered/clean. I was a good student as well (especially when I didnt have to find time for homework) but my life was changed when I finally went through everything with my doctor and we deteremined that I was, indeed, ADD and I started on some medication. Not to imply that you may be- but I wanted to let other people know that its not always what you expect it to be and not always the same for everyone. I am currently un-insured and thus un-medicated...and both my home and health are suffering.

I've been so happy reading your latest posts about the physical purging you are doing of your home... I can't wait until I can get to that point... how freeing!! Congrats!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have done the hardest part, figured out what is wrong. It will be a little painful to change the habit, but you have changed other habits, haven't you? You are a determined lady and I have no doubt that you will get this dinner thing under control.

Bonnie said...

Singing to the choir! For me, after working hard all day on something I think I'd like someone to do something for *ME* and when I have to do the meal prep I'm resentful and just grab what's easy. Childish, I know, but I think I crave the recognition for the hard work and console myself with food.

Melanie Peskoe said...

Boy can I relate to this post and how relieved I am that there is another human in this world (probably more I suspect) who struggles in this way. I have trouble multitasking on big things (ie weight loss and my new Arbonne buisiness.) It's like it takes all the energy I have to focus on one thing. I get so consumed in that one thing that when something else (equally as important) comes along I can't strike a balance. I think that's actually the key word, balance. I'm trying to figure it out too. As for your problem #2, I feel you there too. Unlike you though, I don't know all the tips, tricks, hints, etc that make eating healthy easier. That's why I've joined WW. I'm hoping that throught he meetings and online groups I'll be able to learn some helpful ways to make it easier. That's what it's all about for me. Making it doable. Right now I'm struggling with resisting the urge to eat when I'm not really hungry. My mentality is to eat when I "want" to regardless if I'm truly hungry or how many points I have left for the day. This has left me with only 9 points for the rest of today. Can I do it? I'm gonna sure try. Good luck Lyn. I'm with you and you've come so far! If anyone can figure this out I believe it's you. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how Medifast works, but if it's possible, might you be able to switch things up, so your non-Medifast meal is the first meal of the day, when you're still fresh, and not tired? So, say, a good breakfast, and then your Medifast meals and snacks over the course of the rest of the day?

Vee said...

I'm sure if you talked with everybody, they'd be willing to pitch in. Almost anyone can make tuna salad, scramble some eggs, toss a salad, etc. As a family, maybe you could plan menus for the next few weeks, and assign who makes what for dinner. That way you can eat your medifast Breakfast and Lunch and just be called to Dinner when it's ready!

When I cook a big dish (like chili or chicken), I always make extras so I can put it away either for Hubby's lunch or for a quick dinner when I **don't** feel like cooking. Are you putting up your leftovers?

Also, ever since my boy switched to solid foods (12 years ago!), we have "snack meals" sometimes ... grab snack-type foods like string cheese, an apple, handful baby carrots, crackers and peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, etc. It's not a typical meal but the rule is, it needs to have all food groups: fruit, veggies, calcium, protein, starch. It's actually kinda fun to see how creative my son can get. It took Hubby all of our 3 years of marriage to get used to it, tho. Oh well, if he cooked every once in a while... don't get me started!

I have troubles doing more than one big project at a time, too. I'm intensely working on a book and cooking for that, and found myself, even today, forgetting to eat until I nearly passed out.

Vee at

Happy Fun Pants said...

I think it's interesting how we discover different things about ourselves and our actions as we're working through this journey.

What is different now versus before though is that you're recognizing this is an issue for you.

I'm so happy that you're working on the stuff that has contributed to your weight over the years. Becuase, while you're tackling these, you're able to tackle future stumbling blocks.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this all sounds familiar. I was diagnosed with ADD at age 50, after I had three degrees and close to perfect grades. (Darn poly-sci prof!) I earned my degrees while raising my family, too. I also found out that, for some women, ADD get worse as we age...has to do with hormones, etc. And more recently I found research that shows a strong corellation between A.D.D. and binge eating disorder. It's not that all people with A.D.D. cannot focus--that's a common misconception. No, instead, people with A.D.D. more often CAN focus on tasks that engage them, yet have EXTREME difficulty switching focus to another task once focus is established.

I'm not suggesting you have A.D.D., but your remark about perfect grades in college, etc, prompted me to write in case other women reading this have not been tested and properly diagnosed--and they assume, as I did, that perfect grades and many triumphs in life proves ADD is not a problem. My ADD did not manifest fully until I had lost 115 lbs and was valiently trying to maintain that loss while pursuing other challenges.

In addition, people with binge eating disorder and ADD often use food to self medicate, in an attempt to COPE better with their brain chemistry being off.

Although you may not have ADD, the skills and techniques required to manage the disorder may be helpful to you anyway. There are several great books for women in particular that provide guidance in learning to switch focus and become more efficient in an unstructured environment (such as home life).

I'm sure you will master this issue as you have done beautifully with so many others! Good luck and keep up the self-care and nurturing.


Anonymous said...

Old habits die hard. Given half a chance they resurrect themselves the minute you're tired or not looking. Deb

spunkysuzi said...

Oh i do the same thing. Either the house is clean but my eating sucks. Or my eating and exercising is awesome and the house sucks!! Not sure what the answer is for that.

Liway said...

Lyn...I think we were separated at birth....SERIOUSLY!!! I swear 95% of your posts could have been written by me!! This one is no different!! Good luck figuring this one out - please share when you do!! (((HUGS)))

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly new to reading your blog...have you ever tried counselling for the deeper issues that you described in this post?

Julie said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing to focus on one area. You are making an amazing transformation in your body. I think you can be more forgiving of yourself for having diet blinders on!

Lyn said...


Yes, I can have one big meal anytime of day or I can split it into two smaller meals anytime, but when I eat all my protein/vegs at breakfast I am starving at night. I do best if I have it at lunch, but want to eat with the family for dinner when possible.


Yes, I save my leftovers. I had healthy things in the freezer to choose from but it was somehow "easier" to grab something off plan (hmm)


Yes, I spent some time seeing counselors, but I actually find I have more progress working through it myself.

Anonymous said...


How long do you think you will stay on Medifast? Are you worried about the switch back to home food / non-prep-packaged food, assuming that you likely won't stay on Medifast for too much longer, or at least transition out as you get closer to your goal. I'm sure you must be pretty excited about it, as I remember your love for the farmers market and natural produce etc., but I am wondering about what you are doing (if anything) to prepare yourself for it.

Anonymous said...

My major thought is: hey, that's life. Refocusing is life. The difference between me now (at a healthy weight) and before (overweight) is that now I refocus faster. Keep it up, Lyn, it does get easier...and eventually it will come by habit and desire, not through mountains of prep work! But until then, just keep going. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by desire I mean, actually wanting automatically (most of the time) to eat celery, not the desire to want ot change.

Anonymous said...

I hate to add another "I'm not saying that you're ADD but..."
comment but you can be intelligent, do well in school, hold down a job, raise children, and still have ADD.

My husband (who would like to lose about 15 pounds) has tried time and time again to focus enough to prepare healthy meals (something easy like a sandwich) and not run to McDonald's because it was easier. He does have ADD and was off of his medication during the times he tried to lose weight. Now that he is on his medication again, he's a totally different person, preparing all healthy foods, and losing weight! Really, it astounds me that he could go from "I'm dieting tomorrow" to "I don't care about dieting" to "I've gone three days in a row eating on track!"

I just wanted to add that for anyone else reading, you can focus well enough on your family and career and totally drop the ball in other areas.

By the way, I have ADHD (which is different from ADD), I am not on medication, and I can focus well enough to prepare food for myself.

Dinah Soar said...

You said it near the end, when talking about grabbing fast food not being easier: it's just an excuse.

I've done it myself--made excuses-- so I'm not doing any finger pointing or judging. No criticism intended here.

Our circumstances are what they are. But most of us have some ability to control them to a degree.

Figuring out how to balance eating to achieve our desired goals while very busy with other stuff is part of the learning curve.

Other people do it, figure it out.

And you and I can too. We can't excuse it, we must 'refuse' it--refuse to allow ourselves to make excuses. I.E. come up with a way to deal.

One of my former hangups was eating when I'm out and about running errands. I used to end up eating fast food because it was fast and cheap.

Now what do I do?

I put two half peanut butter sandwiches in my bag and a bottle of water. Each half sand. is 150 calories. And I might pack a banana too if I'm going to be gone all day.

Those foods are easy, cheap, can be healthy, and need no refrigeration.

Problem solved.

When I was making excuses my response to those foods would have been 'yes, but'. But what? But: I want hot food, or I want to treat myself, or I want a hamburger...on and on. I was likely after an 'experience' with my food, something that would make me feel better.

But hey, in the routine day we just need fuel.

As you said, on these busy days you can open up a can of tuna, drain it, grab some raw low carb veg. That's a meal.

You already know the answer. Now it's a matter of employing the knowledge.

Fat Grump said...

"I have a history of ordering pizza or grabbing fast food because it is easier. But it is NOT easier, really. It is just an excuse to eat something I *want* to eat"

Oh I bet that sounds VERY familiar to many of us.

I think we all tucked into 'easy' foods at some point, and regularly too, and now we are fat. I still do this. Sometimes I'll buy pre-prepared stuff rather than make meals from scratch, just because it saves me the hassle of cooking. I may be in the minority here, but although I love cooking, I need some evenings off! If you are busy I think you can justify easy food, but yes, it can add pounds.

I have so many good ingredients in the house. It would be simple to prepare something wholesome, yet doing that does become a nuisance/drag night after night after night. I can find all sorts of more interesting and absorbing activities.

It's all about finding a balance isn't it - because if someone told me that every single night I'd have to go into the kitchen and cook - all home cooking, and forever - I'd not be a happy bunny!

There are times when convenience foods are just that - convenient. I won't swear off them for life but I know I have to limit them and develop good eating habits.

You've been conscious of what's going on, so you can pull back. I know you will. :)

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Convenience really is a healthy eating killer, isn't it? It's just so "easy" to stop in at the drive-thru or grab some pre-packaged crapola at the store. Eating "real" food requires planning, requires thought, requires *gasp* work.

We all fall into the trap of taking the easy way out at times, Lyn. Hell, I detour off track so much that I need a GPS to find my house again, but I know that every detour is taking me out of the way of my main goal. I know that every day that I swerve off path is another day away from being where I know in my heart I really want to be.

This path never seems to get easy, but I've found that it does get easier. I feel empowered by the good choices I make during my day and only a little chagrined by the times when I fall short. This is a forever-and-a-day kind of thing and nobody's perfect, but we all mean well... we all want to do the right things... and that's got to count for something.

Keep your chin up and keep moving forward, Lyn. You're truly an inspiration to a lot of folks (myself included). Keep up the great work!

Lyn said...


I will stay on Medifast as long as it is working for me. So far so good. I don't know what my goal weight is yet but I am guessing between 140-160 pounds. I have several posts up about the Medifast Transition program, which you can read about on my blog or on the Medifast site. It's a schedule of removing Medifast meals and adding back in things like whole grains, fruits, and dairy gradually, so I plan to do that.

I still shop the Farmer's Market almost every week! I love it. I eat lots of fresh local veggies on Medifast. I think the meal I make each day is a good preparation for "life"... I can and will eat higher protein/veg meals forever, I hope.

Loretta said...

I can so relate! You'll get back in to the swing of things!
I'm giving you a blog award. Please come to my blog to pick it up

nikki7 said...

I am thinking of taking "Focus Factor" a vitamin brain supplement, because I am soooooo scattered!!!

NAN said...

Hmm As for focus, I am thinking you really enjoyed going to college and getting your degree and you are not enjoying decluttering/selling/etc. I don't blame you!!! I'm a big planner myself and make lists and rarely procrastinate because I don't work well under stress but if it's a chore I simply hate, I will definitely put it off....I lose my focus.