Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eating is Not the Focus

You know, every time I think "I've got this!", it sort of falls apart and I have to work to get it back.

It's been like that from the start. No matter what plan I have been on or what I have been doing to get the weight off (because it has changed several times over the years), I go along doing fantastic for awhile and then 'something' happens and I struggle. Maybe the 'something' is a special occasion where rich foods are served. Maybe it is a medical crisis or emotional stress. Maybe it is just me wanting some chips and giving in. Whatever that 'something' is, when I step outside my weight-loss box, it affects the way I think and feel about myself, my body, my journey.

But things have changed over the years, too. I used to calorie count, back in the day. And on days I went way over my calories for whatever reason, I often felt a range of very strong emotions: fear (of never getting back in control), shame (for not being able to "control myself"), anxiety (about gaining back all the weight), and anger (because it "shouldn't be this hard"). I used to place a value on myself that was directly related to how closely I adhered to whatever ideal plan I had in mind for myself. If I varied from that ideal by eating a cookie or putting butter on my vegetables or not taking a walk that day, I was a failure. I felt horrible. And it often took me FOREVER to get back into weight-loss mode. And a dieting cycle was my life.

I have learned that I am far from perfect and that this whole journey is not even really about "staying on plan" or "going off plan" or whether I lift weights on any given day or not, even though I still speak in those terms. I have learned that my life is changed because my *mind* is changed, my *behavior* is changed, and as a result yes, my weight is changed. This is life. The goal of my life is not to be a perfect dieter. It is not to "get over" whatever issues may have led to my obesity in the first place. It is not even to be a shining example of how to eat and how to lose weight, although a lot of people seem to think that is my role. The goal of my life is to live; it is to experience joy and family and friends and health. Yes, health, which allows me to have the richer, fuller life I desire. I cannot even describe for you the difference, for me, that losing 100 pounds has made in the richness of my life. So the weight loss IS tied to my life goals... but it is not THE GOAL.

What has changed the most for me is that my life is rich and amazing whether I am "on plan" or "off plan" or something in between. My "dieting" success no longer dictates the amount of joy I feel in my life. That's not to say I ignore my eating and activity; I need to maintain my loss and continue on (and lose another 30 pounds or so) in order to have the health I desire. And I feel loads better when I am not eating sugar or junky foods. I am just saying, it is pretty amazing to me that I am truly enjoying my life right now, even though I am currently having a bit of an argument with my inner brat about food. My eating since the trip this week has not been that great, so I am working to remedy that right now. But THAT is not my life. Not anymore. My eating *enables* me to have the life I want, so it is absolutely important, but *eating,* whether on-plan or off-plan, is no longer the focus and highlight (or lowlight) of my existence. I count that a big success.

The weekend is here, and for me, that means dog sports! We are off to do some dock diving and tracking and will get some obedience practice in as well. Besides that, my house is in dire need of a cleaning and my daughter wants me to help her build a fairy house today. I hope your weekend is as blessed!


timothy said...

amazing how similar our blogs are today isn't it? lol i too am more than my weight and while it IS important it aint everything! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

so true. i have lost sight of this before.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I've been on Medifast for 4 months and have gone from 190 lbs. to 150 lbs. I'm 5'4", 64 and female. I want to lose another 5-10 pounds, AND I'm concerned about transitioning back to regular food. Shortly into the Medifast program I found out that I'm pre-diabetic. This is the way I'm looking at it. At this point in my life I have had my lifetime share of ice cream, candy, cake, cookies, brownies, pie, Cheetos, chips, and bread. So I won't be eating any more of those things. Eating that stuff is what got me to this prediabetic condition. I am far from having my lifetime share of vegies and fish. I'm probably about where I should be for beef, pork and chicken. So vegies and protein foods are the things I'll be focusing on. I'll have to be really careful with fruit because a lot of fruit has a lot of sugar. Bananas - they are high sugar fruit, and I am sure I've eaten my lifetime share of bananas, 1 every day for years. It will be interesting to see how this goes when I start transitioning to real food. Portion control is another issue. I'm from the clean your plate club and tend to eat everything on the plate, so that also has to change.

Anonymous said...

:) I've written this post a couple of times. :)

You can find my latest rendition on my sidebar, under the picture of the big dog that is holding a banner with the word "health" on it.

It includes an eating plan at the bottom, but the post's message is essentially the same as your post here.

Well, except that I wrote mine when I was annoyed at not doing what this post says! I think I even added my "I mean business" face at the bottom. chuckle.

I think it is the focus we all need to have. Life is for living...dieting shouldn't put that on hold.


Anonymous said...

awesome awesome awesome post!

Mike said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I feel free now that my life doesn't center around food or what the next meal is. I love going to family and friends to enjoy company and DO things rather than to EAT things.

I too posted about this around the 4th of July.

It was such a change from last year when I was so focused on potato salad, hot dogs instead of family and activities.

bbubblyb said...

What a great post Lyn. I've too learned that with time we do realize this journey is about finding happiness in our lives so happy you are finding that joy.

Sonja said...

I truly appreciate your realness. I am in the beginning stages of my weight loss/healthy living journey and became overwhelmed for a few days. I remember saying what was I thinking to have started a weight loss blog. Thoughts did play in my mind if I could keep this up for the rest of my life. I didn't realize how 'all eyes' would be on me and the moment I am feeling a little down I didn't prepare myself for the added pressure of others. Being a business owner there was this slight fear that came over me of how I would be perceived if I didn't meet my weight goal. Having read your blog really inspired me. It's easily to become extremely stressed if you make weight your everything and not give yourself room to grow. I know for me this is a lifestyle and I am like a virgin in the health world. Thanks once again!

❦ fitcetera said...

The very first line ... lol ... omg. It never fails if I utter the words ... I've got this! or I haven't binged!
or I'm going to stick with this new eating plan! :D

Sounds like you're going to have a great weekend, Lyn!
Have fun!

LN said...

I am so happy for you! This attitude adjustment is a major achievement in my eyes. Bravo!

Fish's Guppy said...

I don't know. Once in a while it is okay to take a small taste of a desired food, right? No one is perfect and we certainly won't be able to lead a perfect set of food choices our entire life. We shouldn't feel completely horrid about a small slip here and there as long as we aren't eating an entire plate of spaghetti every night, right?
I would hope that once I get to my ideal weight and am off maintenance, I will be able to make sensible meals on a regular basis with some sweets in moderation while avoiding the really bad foods completely. It is my hope that I won't be on a diet for the rest of my life, but at a place where I can make good choices. Am I being too idealistic?

liz said...

What is a fairy house?

LHA said...

Bravo! I think this post represents a really important milestone...being realistic about the ups and downs of losing and maintaining weight. It took me years to get off the yo-yo roller coaster and get it through my head that one unfortunate choice in food does not ruin the day/week/month. Back when I was trying to strictly adhere to this eating plan or that, my self esteem was shattered and I was filled with self loathing over eating a slice of birthday cake at a party. This usually set off a tsunami of negative thinking that led to a binge. As if that was going to help anything!

I knew I had a very tricky weekend coming up this weekend with a lot of food choices that wouldn't be good for me. I did all of my preparation, planned what I would eat, thought of a lot of non-food fun activities to concentrate on and, guess what? I still ate a couple of things that I didn't plan on. So what? I have had a good time, accomplished some other goals for the weekend and I don't feel one bit bad about not being "perfect". I lived these two days, not "dieted" them!

For me, it is all about the big picture. Eating healthfully, avoiding foods that are really bad for me the vast majority of the time, enjoying my life, looking forward to the future and living each moment the best that I can. I will never be "perfect" at food or exercise, but I am losing weight and I feel good physically and mentally. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

Lyn said...


you gotta watch the second Tinkerbelle movie! The little girl makes houses for fairies. My daughter makes them too :)

Diandra said...

This is a wonderful post.

Is there any "less damaging" food the inner brat likes? (Mine loves chocolate, but can be convinced that broccoli or coffee with milk (no sugar) is just as good; and if she wants crisps, a whole bread sandwich with some peanut butter is fine, too.)