Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mindset

Today was good, with a bit of crazy thrown in. I think most days are like that...

Good: Ate on plan for breakfast, snack, lunch, and *close* to plan for dinner (had a bit of mashed potatoes with my grass fed beef and salad). Went to physical therapy and worked my butt off. Got some cleaning and laundry done and ran errands. Feeling pretty good!

Not-so-good: ice cream. Yes I did. But I did not eat "junk" ice cream... I specifically went out to a shop I like and got the exact flavor I wanted, and ate too much of it. Man was it good...

Anyway, onward and hopefully downward (scale-wise).

I figured something out this evening, after I ate the ice cream and while I was looking over my new physical therapy exercise papers. I was thinking about how I feel like a different person depending on where I am and what I am doing. Let me give an example.

In the physical therapy office, doing those exercises on the weight machines, I feel strong. I feel "like a normal person" who is working on rehabilitating some messed up knees. I am happy and confident and proud of myself as I work. I smile when I tell the therapist that I lost a hundred pounds. I am focused on me, on my recovery, on getting as strong as I can so I can do the things I want to do, live the life I was meant to live. I am absolutely determined to do my very best. I feel open and excited and very much centered on taking care of ME.

When I am eating way too much ice cream, putting that spoon from bowl to mouth over and over and over, I feel absorbed in the ice cream. Nothing really exists except me and that taste... the coldness in my mouth, the creamy sensations, the flavor, the feeling of sugar coursing through my veins and the sensation of my stomach getting fuller and fuller. It is all about ME. It is the most self-centered, in fact selfish, place I can go.

But wait, what's the difference? In the first scene I am focused on ME. In the second scene I am focused on ME. Are they not both self centered? Well, yes, but in very different ways.

I am convinced that the first mindset is the healthy mindset. It is a new place for me: a place where I truly *want* to take care of myself. I want the best for myself. I think I deserve it and I am caring for myself by doing things like exercising, eating healthy, taking walks, relaxing, and going to bed earlier to get enough sleep. It bleeds over into things like better attention to dental care, taking the time to do little things like shave my legs (even in winter) and being sure to take my supplements.

In contrast, that second mindset, which, by the way, is the mindset I had lived in for over a decade, is an unhealthy one. I want the best ICE CREAM for myself. I think I deserve it and I am "caring' for myself by indulging every whim to whatever degree I desire. And it bleeds over into things like reading or watching TV instead of exercising because I "feel like it" or staying up late to "have fun" instead of getting the rest I need.

So you see the two mindsets? I see them. I never saw them so clearly before. I always thought these were two facets of myself that needed to somehow mesh. Now I see that they are two different LIFESTYLES that truly cannot coexist. I either take care of myself or I don't. I either respect myself or I don't. There is not "taking care" or "self respect" when I am eating a bowl of brownie batter. There just isn't. Sure, there is room for some ice cream in my life sometimes. Ice cream isn't bad in and of itself. But not here, not now, not in those quantities and certainly not in that exclusive, addict-getting-a-high, spoiled brat mindset.

The good news is that I think the healthy mindset is mine a good 85% of the time, if not more. I am surprised, actually, that I have changed so much that I now *want* to take proper care of myself and do what is truly best for me. I feel like a different person when I am in that mindset.. different from the person who became morbidly obese in the first place: a person who was trying to escape reality with food and find the pleasure that was missing in her life in a box of donuts. I am new, I am reborn. I just need to now foster and encourage that new healthy mindset so that I am living it every day, always.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an awesome insight!

Now, I need to say that the two scenarios you describe are simply not possible for many, if not most, people. Those of us who cannot afford to get physical therapy, or buy healthier food, or have time to take care of our selves. You are in a priviliged position. I know that sounds incredibly untrue (even ludicrous) to you, given what you have suffered in life, and given your health limitations, and your children's struggles. But millions of people are in the exact same position with health issues and must work 40+ hours a week earning minimum wages AND taking care of their families.

I'm simply suggesting that it isn't about mindset for many of us out here. Part of *it* is socioeconomic privileges that people who have those privileges cannot see or acknowledge. I don't expect you can, either, it is something one usually doesn't see until those are gone.

I'm maintaining a 120 lb weight loss and have no health insurance, work a full time job that pays me far less than I need to live, am struggling to sleep at night because of all the stress, and am so exhausted and in so much physical pain when I come home after work that exercise is the last thing I can contemplate. It is now 4 in the morning and I haven't been able to sleep because of the pain and fear. I have to *get up* in an hour to get ready for a one hour commute and another day of surviving the pain.

Sigh.

But I am holding on to my weight loss, not with a mindset but with my white-knuckled arthritic hands. (Ok, I do see the humor in that statement, so maybe a little bit is still about mindset...I refuse to let this system kill me, but sometimes it is easy to start wishing I could just have that quick mercy.)

Please don't think I am criticising you or your insights. I am not. You are clearly a kind and caring person. You are far from wealthy. You have many struggles with your own and with your children's health. I know that is hard. It is a huge triumph that you have accomplished what you have in spite of your many other struggles. My hat is off to you.

I am saying: some of us can only wish this struggle WAS mostly about mindset or insight. That would be such a privilege. My health is deteriorating fast, and I wish I had the option of having this struggle be more about mindset.

Keep taking good care of yourself. I remember when I had that option. It was wonderful. Heavenly. I see that now.

I am keeping the weight off, but the rest of my old self care actions? A distant dream of better times.

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Lyn, I agree with you, it is like living with a split personality...addict vs. healthy you.

This morning I can feel the addict rearing her ugly, childish, selfish head because the scale is not moving even though I've been working hard. I want to eat something, anything in rebellion.

But I won't. I will make the "responsible" choice to take care of myself by NOT emotionally eating.

Your post has reminded me that I have to let my wiser "adult" side of me step in and take care of myself.

Thanks for this reminder today!

Shan said...

Lyn - it's good that you recognize the two sides of you. With acknowledgment comes a way to handle it.

As to the Anonymous poster - 1st, posting anonymously is silly at best. I don't understand why people have to do that.
2nd - Your struggle, just as Lyn's IS about your mindset. Your mindset struggle just happens to be feeling sorry for yourself b/c of your current economic situation & therefore you give yourself an "out" for making "Take good care of me" choices.
No, I don't know you, or your situation. But - If you are awake and on the internet when you are stressed out...You could be awake and exercising to help release the stress. If nothing else, borrow some exercise dvds from the library (that's usually free) and play them on the computer.
I'm just sayin'.

Throughout the years, I have realized that we (people in general) love our excuses. We love them so much that we convince ourselves that "I just can't help it, I am more unfortunate than ____"

You can fill in the blank of that statement with all sorts of things, and if you step back and really look at it, you'll see the flaw (eventually). We all have our "lot" in life to deal with. It is how we face that lot...and our attitudes toward it that make us a success, or miserable.
Just my two cents early in the morning.

LHA said...

Lyn, what you have described is so familiar to me....the seesawing of the mind as we fight addictive behavior. There is "something" we get out of the physical pleasure of eating things that are not good for us, and finding the balance so that we can maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as enjoy a small indulgence from time to time is difficult. The only thing that I have found that helps during these times is to just try to live moment to moment, remembering what the goal is, and most of all to keep any "splurge" foods to an absolute minimum. I learned long ago that the idea that I was never going to eat some of my favorite foods again only made me crave them more! I am working diligently to eat a really healthy (calorie and carb conscious) diet on a daily basis, and know that I can have some other, less healthy foods from time to time. Knowing that I can eat a small slice of cake at a birthday party keeps me from devouring a whole cake when no one is looking!

Thank you for sharing your journey, as it is very inspiring to so many people.

I would like to add that I also empathyze with the anonymous poster. We are all fighting our battle in our own peculiar circumstances, and you have been very successful with your weight loss! I hope the situation you are in will improve.

Leslie said...

Yes! I was just thinking this morning about how schizy I feel regarding self care. Particularly right now, for some reason...I want to get crackin' on losing and moving in one moment. In the next I'm thinking of holiday confections I want to dive into headfirst. And truly both sound good. ARGH.

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

I am so sorry you are struggling. I know well how it is to work full time and be exhausted and in poverty as I did that for many years with 4 small children. And I am very, very grateful that finally after 20 years I can afford decent health insurance. I know that is a blessing but also one we make sacrifices for.

It sounds like you are in a really bad situation healthwise. I hope you'll look into some way to see a doctor about your issues before they turn into something far more serious (and expensive).

-J.Darling said...

I know what you mean!

Last night, I was looking for a specific stand for my Christmas tree. After going to three stores, I FINALLY found it, but in the mean time I was talking myself OUT of eating something sweet I shouldn't eat. I knew it would just be a vain attempt to counteract the stress, and my boyfriend is coming back in from the Navy next week! I'd rather him see me 5lbs lighter, than with this damn cookie weight!

The evening continued to be stressful. I couldn't park in my garage. By the time I did get into my condo, my roommate and I couldn't get the tree standing up in the stand. When that didn't work, we gave up for the night (around 9pm, I'd already worked a full day and done lots of cleaning). I allowed myself to get into my pj's, turn the lights down low, light some candles, and enjoy 1 cup of fat-free hot chocolate and a late night chat with my man. (My boyfriend is stationed in Georgia right now, and I'm in Cali.)
I recognized my struggles with the selfish me that I can be sometimes. So stubborn and stuck on something like a cookie, instead of solving the problem. But I'm proud of myself last night. :) (Even if the damn tree isn't standing up straight)

cindy said...

So much good stuff here! First off, Lyn, brilliant insight here! I've never thought of my over-eating as selfish or self-centered, but wow, yeah! And you know what, that puts the power in my hands. And that takes away my victim status! Oh so brilliant! I love it. Before, I saw myself as a product of an unhappy childhood, stuffing down my feelings equals me, victim. Now, with this spin...puts a whole different light on it. Thank you.
Shan, "We all have our "lot" in life to deal with. It is how we face that lot...and our attitudes toward it that make us a success, or miserable." Indeed.
Anonymous, I hope things ease up for you. Saying a little prayer for you.

RayBat said...

How right you are n have also never thought about it like that but it is the addict inside indulging in the selfish side. Always enjoy and follow ur blog its great well done to you on all you have achived.

I wish I could write like you it's so spot on and myself and odviously many others can sooo relate. I am also writing a blog and it helps dosent it, its the welcome distraction I find at times when you want to have that naughty choc cake etc, I find I write and dont be naughty as feel better (dont always work)

If anyone would like to follow my Blog It's not as well written as Escape from Obesity but Id aprechiate any follows to encourage me to keep at it and know Im not talking to myself.

Thanks much respect from one Diet warrior to another.

http://raybat-thedietblog.blogspot.com/

Hanlie said...

What a breakthrough in thinking! I kept nodding along as I read... Thanks Lyn, for once again telling it like it is!