September 16, 2011
Tuesday is my day off. I teach exercise classes for a living so perhaps I should specify that Tuesday is my day off from exercise. Come Tuesday, the last thing I want to do is sweat. Unless, of course, I wake up to a morning like I did this past Tuesday. The sky was absolutely sparkling, the kind of day that calls you to come outside and dance with it. It was the kind of day that my friends and I compare to that September Tuesday a decade ago when the Towers fell. This past Tuesday was that kind of day.
So with no effort at all, I found myself on my bike riding around my town. Even people who hate to workout were outside. Not for exercise but rather for the joy of feeling the sun on our skin.
But that’s not what I want to write about today. I want to talk about the opposite kind of day- the day that feels the opposite. Whether it be some specific forecast like rain or even if it’s just basic dreariness, I want to talk about the day that pulls you back towards bed.
Let’s call them Downward Days.
On Downward Days you won’t be drawn outside. so you need to have a plan. Call it Willpower. Call it Precomittment. Call it Implementation Intention. Call it Routine. By any name, the important thing is to be ready for it in advance.
Here is what you can do to be sure you stick with your fitness routine during even the worst of wicked weather.
1. Let Me Count The Weighs- It used to be that experts sad you’d drive yourself crazy weighing in every day, considering fluid vassilations. Now they have found that those who weigh themselves every day, are more successful at losing it. If you keep track of it by writing it down, even better.
2. Watch For Your Symptoms- Notice when you are feeling low energy or frazzled and plan to be vigilant about healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar levels even and your energy even. Notice if you are not sleeping well and make plans to catch up on the zzzz’s. In other words, take care of yourself the way you’d take care of your toddler. If you notice yourself getting cranky, you may need to put yourself down for a little nap.
3. Keep Track- There are many online programs and apps that can help you be detailed (and therefore more successful)about your fitness/diet goals. Here are a few: LoseIt.com, FitBit.com, IdoneThis.com, HealthMonth.com, MyFitnessPal.com
4. Positive Procrastination- If you are a procrastinator like me you might try this little trick I use for things I do not want to do. I put something abborhent in the number one spot then add things like exercise below the top priority. Silly, but it works. I will do anything to avoid cleaning out the basement.
5.Reward Yourself-When you make it through those Downward Day workouts, be sure to treat yourself, whether it’s a manicure or a Starbucks caapucino (non-fat of course)
September 9, 2011
Do you remember that feeling from your childhood? Maybe it was the first night at sleep-away camp or when you moved to a new town. For me even the word homesickness conjures a pit in my stomach. My memories return to first grade where, for the first time ever, my twin sister, Pam and I, were separated and put into different classrooms. The teachers cited independence and individuality but all I know is that it felt like I’d been shipped to Mars.
Every morning for six weeks, I’d wait until Miss Garzcyck turned her back to write on the chalkboard, then I would dart out of the room and barge into Mrs. Stewart’s class next door and scoot into the seat with Pam(who was not missing me at all, by the way). I always hoped no one would notice and by then I was not crying any more. I was home.
Thirty years later, I am dealing with that feeling again, only this time with my son, who just shipped off to college last week. He is every bit as homesick as I was. The only difference is that he is nearly nineteen, not seven. I keep telling him it will pass but he cannot hear me. After 256 text messages, I sometimes feel like telling him what my father used to tell me when my tears started to flow: “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” And although my father is still not what I would refer to as emotionally sensitive, there was some basis to this advice.
Back when I was in first grade, after six weeks, Miss G finally had had enough and one morning she grabbed me before I could pass through the doorway. She drug me back into the cloakroom and gave my shoulders a shake (the little sister of paddling) and told me through gritted teeth that she had had enough and I had to return to my desk.
Which I did. And I never was homesick again in first grade.
But. I haven’t yet told him to dry up or else. Nor have I shaken him (although both ideas have occurred to me).
Here is what I tell him. I am aware that the world can be a horrible place. I do not have all the answers. And forgive me if I sound like a spiritual goofball since I am never more annoyed than when someone mentions God several times in one conversation or when they tell me how many special miracles God has preformed on their behalf. All I know is that when all else fails you, praying can help. It helps you breathe better.
And yes, it is easy to be sad. But. It is easier to be happy. How is he supposed to do that he asks me? I have no idea. But I do know that he can find something to be happy about even if it is just listening to his favorite song. Each of us ultimately, is in charge of our own head and now is as good as any time for him to decide to start finding things in life to enjoy, even if things never get better than right now.
But making a list of things that make you happy can help.
Here is my happy list for this month:
1. Our electricity coming back on after a few days of Hurricane Irene rain.
2. Biking with my friends, stopping at a nearby apple orchard to pick an apple from a tree, taking bites all the way around the apple, then throwing it over my shoulder.
3. Riding in a boat at sunset
4. Lying in bad, almost asleep, and looking out my bedroom window when there’s a full moon and watching the stars come out
5. Pulling into my driveway after a long road trip with four teenagers, then rolling on the front yard with our dog who is even happier than me.
6. Reading the last few pages of a really good book, reading fast while also wanting to read slowly so the book won’t end.
7. Finding a dollar in my coat pocket.
8. My kids looking for me so they can give me a kiss (this doesn’t happen often)
9. Getting a hand written letter from someone I love in the mailbox (this happens even less)
10. Getting a phone call where the first thing I hear is “We’ve got some good news for you!”
11. Getting an email from my favorite people
September 9, 2011
I’ve been trying to sit down and write this article for a week. Labor Day was the writing deadline I’d given myself. That was four days ago and unfortunately for you, my topic is How To get Back On Track. I never even intended to take the summer off from writing. I just kept not writing, today.
Now, two months of todays later, I’ve somehow finally resuscitated the part of my brain connecting my fitness ideas to my keyboard. I have no idea how.
Unfortunately for me, I am clueless when it comes to helping MYSELF. Of course, I can offer complete marathon-length discourses on how YOU can help YOURself. Does anyone sense some disconnect here?
Anyway, here are some excuses, I mean things, I’ve dealt with this rollercoaster summer, not particularly first-hand nor in any particular order: Biking, Surgery, Vermont, Adult Summer Camp, Paris, Cancer, College, Foreclosure, Praying, Swearing, Sweating, Crying, College, Dancing, Laughing, Falling Down, Getting Up, Drinking, (remember these are not in a particular order), Senior Year, Insomnia, Menopause.
Did I mention College. College College?
So if you, like me, have slipped into bad habits or let yourself off the hook day after day, whatever the reason, you still can recover momentum after a break.
Here is my top ten ways to do it:
1. Accountability- Start making yourself aware of all your fitness and dietary habits by tracking them. A few great internet options are MyFitnessPal.com or Lose It! App for smart phones. They are both thorough and quick and sobering as well as addictive! Also research has proven again and again that people who track their eating are the biggest losers, literally.
2. Organize you Morning the night before- Prepare everything the night before. Lay out your workout gear and pack your gym bag. Plan your meals and if possible, have them prepped and waiting for you.
3. Eat earlier. -Make your biggest meals early in the day. This will prevent you from pigging out at night and helps your metabolism burn those calories before hitting the hay.
4. Clear out the Crap- Why test your will power unneccesarily? If there is leftover pizza and that IS YOUR WEAKNESS THROW IT OUT! Half a sleeve of girl scout cookies? Ditch them. Don’t think, just pitch it. I used to have a girlfriend who would eat her fill of her restaurant dinner and as soon as she felt slightly full, she would pour pepper all over the remaining food on her plate. Crazy, but effective to prevent overeating.
5. Find A Workout Buddy- Even if it is your dog, commit to finding someone who is waiting for you at a preplanned time. If this doesn’t work, Hire a personal trainer. There’s nothing more motivating to get you out of bed than someone ringing your doorbell. And you lsing money if you don’t answer.
6. Set Goals- Pick a big event in your near future, a reunion or a birthday and set a weight loss goal. Or pick a road race and start training for it.
7. Stay Psyched- If you find yourself losing interest in staying on track, reward yourself with a massage or a new pair of running shoes. New lycra has magical powers that wear off after 3 washes.
8. Close the Kitchen- Pick a time where the kitchen is off limits. Turn out the lights, make a family service announcement. THE KITCHEN IS NOW CLOSED. If you can do this for one week you will notice that night-time eating is a habit that will recede if you stop heeding the call.
9. Aim for Daily Exercise- Of course there will be days where you miss it but if you aim for it every day and put it on your calendar you will at least end up with a solid 4 or 5 days of movement.
10.Give up the Booze- Getting on the wagon is the quickest way to lose the bloat. Not only will you save the extra calories,your willpower will be stronger to resist forbidden foods and your hunger will be more moderate.
Again, like I said, I am good at giving this advice. Good luck with your self.
July 8, 2011
Belly fat comes in two radically different forms. One is slightly annoying and fairly harmless. It is the layer of fat directly under the skin. It’s called subcutaneous fat. Think of it as a layer of fat between the surface of the skin and on top of your abdominal organs. It’s also known as muffin top, love handles or jelly belly.
The villainous other type of fat is called visceral abdominal fat, VAT for short. It’s associated with cancer and heart disease and a slew of other miserable age-related diseases. This layer of fat is beneath the organs and is what gives one that very rotund look of a potbelly. If know people with an exaggerated apple shape, they are VAT as well as fat. These VAT people are more prone to disease because of the nature of serious problems associated with visceral fat.
Another little known fact is that fat in the abdominal area functions differently than elsewhere in the body. It has a greater access to blood supply as well as more receptors for cortisol, a major stress hormone. Cortisol is a fight or flight hormone and is stocked by your body in your VAT because this is your emergency fat; the I’m being chased by a dinosaur fat that is more readily available in the event of a famine or having to outrun a T-rex.
But I also call cortisol the Fat Belly hormone. It’s levels rise and fall throughout the day but when you are stressed out, like when you are running late and stuck driving behind the drop-off bus, or someone blocked you into your parking space and you are already late, your cortisol level remains elevated. When you have consistently high levels of this hormone in your blood stream, something Jillian Jones would consider terrible happens: more fat is deposited in the abdominal area because there are more cortisol receptors in your abdominal wall than anywhere else in the body. So stress can indeed make you fat and not just fat all over but especially fat in your belly.
Another switch that is triggered when we are under stress is the there is a higher Ph level in the bloodstream. This acidic level leaches calcium from our bones. It is not a far reach to suggest that stress-reducing activities, like meditation and yoga and even deep-breathing can help prevent osteoporosis. Who knew that lying silently on the floor could make your bones stronger- and your body thinner?
If we can reduce our stress levels, we can maintain a more alkaline level in our blood stream, which also helps protect our bones.
So reduce your stress by adding meditation or tai chi. It will help your metabolism work better so that your bones can remain strong so that if you fall, nothing will break. It will also reduce the fat-belly hormone so that you won’t get VAT.
July 3, 2011
Fitness-wise, I can’t think of anything to write about except my sister-in-law, Dori. She’s been my personal trainer this week. I visited her in Atlanta these last few days and she’s helped me discover muscles I never knew I had.
I got the call a month ago. Chemo to the brain, my brother told me. Put her on the phone I asked. When she came on the line she complained that she was bored and wanted to get up and walk the hospital corridors. How do you feel, I asked. I need to get home and get back to my walks, she said. She’s always called them “my” walks, which I hadn’t noticed until now. “Time for my morning walk.” or “Oh, I missed my walk today!”
People who walk for exercise call it “a” walk. People who hate to walk just…. walk. But people like Dori who are passionate about moving their body claim them as their own, a part of who they are.
I hung up and immediately turned to Google, who, like a mean girlfriend, always has a way of telling me information in a harsher way than necessary.
Hema Onc is the nickname for her treatment, cruely cute-sounding—it stands for Hematology-Oncology, the AK-47 of chemotherapy. I booked the flight, not knowing that I was so out of shape for what she had in mind for me.
Dori is the new 53. She looks a decade younger and has always been in great shape–watching her weight, eating healthy even before it was fashionable. She was one of those women who prepared cut-up carrots for her toddlers before baby carrots were invented. And before her romance with walking, she was a runner. She never smoked and doesn’t drink. She takes ginko biloba and other new-agey supplements–organic, of course.
She ran a 5K this past Mother’s Day and won her age division and had her picture taken on the podium with the Chik-Filet mascot.
After the race she had a blinding headache which she dismissed as an after-effect of the heat at the race. After a few days, the headache was still there and she called her doctor. The breast cancer she’d conquered a decade ago didn’t really cross her mind.
Two days, dozens of tests and a lifetime later, they put a shunt in her skull and her new life began.
It must be like stepping off a cliff—when you do everything right and damned if something bad doesn’t happen anyway. It’s as basic and terrifying as that. Except. Except that Dori has faith.
Author Barbara Winter said “When you come to the edge of all the light that you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”
Faith, for Dori, is not just something she believes in her head but now it is something she is experiencing in her body. It’s Faith in motion.
The morning after I arrived, she was knocking on my door at 6am, telling me I had seven minutes, if I wanted to go on her walk with her. We had to beat the heat of Atlanta she said. And beating the heat seems to be how Dori is living her life now. It would be so easy to lose your cool in her shoes. Instead, she seems more awake to life than ever. She’s always liked to garden and has kept her bird feeders full, but now, she was filled with a new, deeper appreciation for the simplest of pleasures—the squirrels and hummingbirds– in her own backyard. Seeing these animals through her eyes became amazing, like I was seeing these simple creatures for the first time. I’m almost fifty years old and to think, I’d never stopped to watch the magic of a hummingbird drink at his feeder.
I asked her about her attitude of optimism. She told me she used to be negative, back in the early days of her marriage to my brother, but that she learned that she needed to become more positive if she wanted her kids and her husband- and herself to be happy. She taught herself, she said. Also, over and over, she described her faith in God and what I recognized in her, from my years of talking about it in yoga classes, although I’d never seen it in a person, was enlightenment. She was enlightened.
I watched her closely because I’ve always been impatient with living like that–merely normally–and here she was showing me what a gift it is to live exactly like that—living the everyday life, with all it’s ho-humness and regularity so that each moment takes on a vertical dimension of depth; so that a bird at the feeder becomes a miracle.
When we were due at one of the radiology appointments this week, she’d mention it like we were going to the gym. As she opened the door to her back porch, she’d say, “Hi Guys” to the squirrels that did not dart away.
We talked a lot although I noticed that the small talk seemed too small and the big talk felt too gigantic to mention. Her daily examples of grace and presence to the small gifts each moment presented felt like a new calisthenic, challenging a deconditioned muscle in my heart—not my anatomical heart, but my emotional heart. She had some new moves to show me that I will never learn in Zumba class.
It occurred to me that Dori knows instinctively how to be courageous. Acts of courage don’t always take place near burning buildings, you know. This week they are taking place in Madison, Georgia, in her heart and soul and on her back porch. Dori has her ear to the ground to pick up the soft sound of Divine direction, rather than the confusing, sometimes blinding message from Hema Onc.
I’m back home today, but not without having learned a few new moves from my new trainer Dori. And like her, I’ll keep taking my vitamins—I’ll keep trying to do everything right. And if something bad happens anyway, I’ll try to beat the heat like Dori and remember the hard reality that cancer can come bearing gifts. It can change your life for better by teaching you what’s important. You get your priorities straight. You stop wasting time. You hug more. You tell your people you love them. If it wasn’t for the bad part, having cancer would be the best thing and everyone would want some.
And that is so true.
Except for the bad part.
June 24, 2011
Are you interested in waking up morning after morning with all the energy you need to get ahead? Would you love to be an early riser? Would you like to get those someday projects done? Wouldn’t it be nice to stop running behind and to get ahead? When your day is front-loaded, you are ahead of the rest of the world.
It may sound ridiculous to think of changing some of these life long habits but change is possible and here are some tips to make it probable.
1.- Check It Off-I always tell people to make a list the night before of things they’d like to get done and to do the hardest thing first. This sounds awful but when you start your day with momentum, you capitalize on it. Everything else seems easy.
2. Create An Irresistible Reason To Get Up- When I use the word irresistible, I am not referring to the dulche de leche version of irresistible. I mean something you cannot say no to. Make an appointment with a personal trainer, plan to meet a friend for an early morning walk or don’t let you dog out the night before so that your dog wakes you up. Make it impossible for you to stay in bed.
3. Develop New Habits- Tell everyone in your house about your new resolve to become an early-riser and have them hold you accountable. Lay out all your clothes for the next morning so that you only have to step into them (and so that if you skip it, you will have to step OVER them)
4. Say No To Snooze-Put your alarm clock across the room so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Never, never, NEVER hit the snooze button.
5. No one ever complains of getting more done in the morning. The hardest part is the first two minutes. Sleep-walk yourself to the bathroom and just keep moving. Once you are vertical, everything will be easy. Keep moving.
6. Exercise Early- Even if you do not prefer to exercise early in the day, getting it done earlier will lead to a better night’s sleep. Exercise does induce a better night’s rest, but if done too late in the day, it can interfere with sleep. I teach a few evening yoga classes and I always notice my inability to settle down to bed on those evenings.
7. Have your hormone levels checked. If your cortisol levels are too high or your melatonin levels are too low you will not sleep well. Supplements can correct this. Check with your doctor.
8. Keep Your Bedroom Dark- This can help maintain your sleep cycle. Darkness spurs the synthesis of melatonin which is a neurotransmitter in sleeping well. Even the light of an alarm clock can disrupt the production of this vital hormone. Wear an eye mask if at all possible.
9. Nostril Breathing- Mouths are for eating and kissing. Noses are for breathing. This is never more important than at night when the respiratory system needs to steel down and restore. Breathing through your nose can oxygenate the blood more efficiently and settle your respiratory system more efficiently.
10. Give Up the Booze- This is the simplest yet hardest tip of all. If you can mange to eliminate alcohol your sleep will improve immediately and noticeably. Nuff said.
June 17, 2011
Which thought sounds more like one of yours:
A. “Okay. I’ll do it. Even though I don’t have the time or the energy because I don’t want to disappoint them. I hate it when others are disapproving.”
B. “Is this request reasonable? If it is, I can handle it even though I don’t like it. Uncomfortable feelings are temporary.”
Do you hear the difference in how each thought is framed?
Many of my folks at the gym allow weight and body image issues to take control of the mental majority of their day. And it’s not always that they are actively thinking negative thoughts. It is usually that they are focusing on what they do NOT like about their life or their body. And wanting what others have.
It makes sense that people who jump to the most negative conclusions often are unhappy. I call them Awfulizers.
Awfulizers drive themselves and others crazy with negative thoughts. And even more of us are shadow awfulizers—meaning we don’t do it out loud but it is just as damaging, whether we say it out loud or not.
But it is possible to learn how to reframe your thoughts in more positive ways by replacing unhealthy mental patterns with healthy thoughts that improve your mood and therefore your functioning, so that your life turns out better.
The scientific term for this is Cognitive Restructuring and this entails changing our distorted, inaccurate thoughts to less negative, more accurate beliefs.
I call it Tweaking Your Thoughts.
Do you ever have thoughts like, “This is terrible and it feels like it will never change.” Or “I should be better, more efficient and more competent at what I do.”
All of these thoughts are common but Tweaking Your Thoughts can help us think less dogmatically (want vs must), can help us be less dramatic about problems, and can increase your tolerance for frustration. It can also help us accept that all of us deserve a break.
Start by paying attention to what you are saying to yourself. For example, you may say you want to lose weight but then pig out every night.
So identify the problem, then ask yourself:
-Is this thought helping me?
-Is it really true?
-Am I overemphasizing the negative?
-What’s the worse that will happen?
-Am I jumping to conclusions?
Then see if there’s another way to look at the solution. There is always another way to see the situation.
Here are some Stress-Reducing Thoughts:
-“I am a worthy human being. I’m going to try to be compassionate with myself as I continue to learn.’
-I’m appreciative for many things and there are many things about my life and myself that I wish were different but I’m going to keep all this in perspective so I can change what I can.”
-“I can’t please everyone all the time. There is no way to go through life without subjecting yourself to some disappointment and disapproval. I can handle it. I’ll listen to my heart and do what’s right for me.”
We cannot always control our thoughts, especially when life comes unhinged. But that makes it all the more important to control the thoughts that are manageable. Choosing kindness, especially towards ourselves, can go a long way towards relieving our own stress.
Change your thoughts, Change your world.
June 10, 2011
Have you heard of TEF? This stands for Thermic Effect of Food which refers to what our stomach does with food after we eat it. Not to be confused with TEFB which stands for Thermic Effect of Facebook, which stands for what Anthony Weiner does with young women after they friend him on Facebook.
And as far as food is concerned, experts used to say that a calorie was a calorie was a calorie and that what went into your mouth was directly related to how much you gained, maintained or lost. Now experts have proven that it’s not just what goes in, it’s also what your body does with it once it is in.
And in relation to Weiner, he used to think that an FB friend was a friend was a friend and that what went on, on the internet stayed on the internet. Now experts have also proven that, yes indeed, what goes on, on the internet very permanently remains on the internet, whether we unfriend someone or not.
Back to food: That is why Weight-Watchers recently changed their ingeniously simple points system, where you used to be able to actually “save” your points so that you could later have, let’s say, two glasses of wine or six oreos and still stay with the program. But they found out that this weight-loss management system was not as simple as that.
And then there was Congressman Weiner, who used to be able to actually have his Twitter version of six oreos and still stay in his political office. But then he found out that this system was not as simple either.
What the scientists behind the scales at Weight
Watchers discovered is that weight control is more complicated beyond how many calories go in.
And what the PR people behind Congressman Weiner discovered is that sexting is more complicated beyond how many FB friends follow you.
All kidding aside, there is a big difference in what your body does with food once you swallow it, depending on what that food is.. For example, if you eat 100 calories of protein, 27 of those 100 calories are burned during the digestive process. If you eat 100 carbohydrate calories, only nine are burned in digestion and if it’s 100 fat calories, a measly 2 calories are burned in digestion.
Another eye-opener is that fiber is the new sexy–if you eat 24 grams of fiber per day, you will burn 90 more calories every day without changing anything else.. This may not sound like much but over the course of a year this could help you burn ten additional pounds without making any additional changes. Sexy.
Did you know that if you eat too much food in one sitting, you will suppress your calorie burn, or TEF as well? This means you don’t burn off as much of it as you would if you ate less per meal.
Also if you eat breakfast your TEF goes up five percent.
This thermic effect becomes more exaggerated between the ages of 40 and 70. As we age, our fat-free mass, which refers to our lean body mass, declines by 40 percent.
This is a big deal because each pound of lean tissue burns 35 to 50 calories per day. So if you lose as little as a half pound of muscle, you will gain three pounds over the course of a year. In the trickle-up theory, this could translate into 25 pounds gained in ten years, 50 pounds gained in twenty years and 75 pounds gained in thirty years. All because you lost one half pound of muscle. Not sexy.
What does it take to maintain one half pound of muscle? Thirty push-ups a day would suffice. So I am going to go out on a fitness limb and say that by simply doing 30 push-ups a day, you could prevent a 75 pound weight-gain over the course of a lifetime. Indeed, little fitness additions make a huge difference.
Simple, but not easy.
Another consideration before you bite into that double bacon cheese burger is the intimate relationship between exercise and eating, or more specifically, exercise and your metabolic rate, which is what your body does with the food you eat. It is called Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Following exercise of sufficient intensity and duration, your body temperature will go up, your fluid retention will regulate and you will expend more energy which means that you will burn more calories, even later on in the day when you are not exercising.
But you are not off the hook by limiting calories either. Low caloric intake is bad but in an inverse way. Studies among elite gymnast and runners found that those with the highest body fat percentage had the lowest caloric intake. So low calorie diets, meaning reducing calories below your energy needs, set off a survival mechanism which results in a lowering of your metabolic rate by 15 percent.
So those of you exercisers that go all day without eating and then wonder why you cannot lose weight, you may be getting duped by your brilliant survival fat cells. Try eating 25 grams of good protein mixed with a few grams of carbohydrates (a cup of yogurt or a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter) within twenty minutes after you exercise. This will tell your body that you are not starving or being chased by a dinosaur.
Finally, now that we are all thoroughly depressed,
there is the factor of genetics. If both parents are
obese, their children have an 80 to 90 percent chance of becoming obese. If one parent is obese, their chance is 40 to 50 percent of being obese and if both parents are lean, children are 15 to 20 percent likely to be obese.
So it pays to be smart about when, what and how
much you eat, as well as making exercise part of your daily routine.
Over the course of a lifetime, miniscule changes, think of them as Tweets, can make a huge difference, sometimes a 75 pound difference. Just ask Congressman Weiner.
June 3, 2011
People (and by people I mean all women) people have a magic number.
It’s that number on the scale that is just on the OTHER side of the gulf.
You know the gulf.
It’s the 5,10 or 50 (fill in the number) pound gulf between where you are and where you want to be.
Most people(and by most people I mean most women) the gulf is like the difference between a passing grade and an “F”, between Harvard and The Belmont County Branch Of Ohio U,
between third base and all the way, between being nominated and actually winning.
And most always, the gulf is wider than it needs to be, with the other side being more beyond reach than it needs to be. The other side is often unrealistic (thank you Uma and Anjelina) and I’ve also noticed that the magic number is usually a few el-bees below one’s “set point.”
Set point is where your body likes to be, weight-wise.
It’s the poundage that your body gravitates towards even when Thanksgiving dinner is served on manhole covers disguised as plates or an evening alone with an open sleeve of Oreo cookies.
It is your stasis.
Your set point is often where you have to battle to go below.
You often discover the definition of the word “plateau”when you try to challenge your set point.
You could be clipping along on a diet or exercise routine, steadily losing one or two el bees a week.Nothing.
You get within a biceps reach of your goal weight and you stop losing.
You practically have to switch to only celery sticks and run marathon type mileage to go below your set point. (Actually I’ve seen women running marathon type distances and still be stuck at their set point).
What’s a girl to do?
Number one is to think hard about your magic number and your set point and the gulf between the two and see if you can somehow, some way
Reconcile the two. (I can hear the deceptively quiet, yet Nazi-like voice in some of your heads, refusing to let go of say, 116 or is it 122? Or maybe 129?)
Can you consider the possibility of inventing a new magic number?
Would it be ridiculous to have the old set point be the new black? The new magic number? On a side note,do you know the feeling that makes you think that your stomach shrunk after a few days of the flu or eating less? Well, that’s not really your stomach shrinking.
The nerves that detect fullness actually recalibrate to detect fullness with less food so you FEEL full with less food. Same size stomach. Different sensation.
So if your gut can do THAT without you having to think it to make it happen, then surely you can do the same type of mental recalibration with your scales. Can you decide to detect less criticism with a higher number?
The next question is what happens when you mentally recalibrate?
You stop fighting something immutable. Fighting to get to a magic number (or worse, simply feeling self-loathing at the thought of not weighing your magic weight) is like fighting high tide.
At a certain point (this is where the word “wisdom” comes in)
you (hopefully) realize that it’s smarter to turn on your back and float or maybe dog-paddle.
I’m not recommending sinking, mind you. Or drowning. Just going with the flow.
Just facing what is and working with it rather than against it.
Geriathletes like me usually like to try the never-before-attempted. All my life I’ve taken chances and attempted the, maybe not impossible, but more like the highly unlikely. I used to drive on an Empty tank,
I used the mens’ room if my bladder was full enough and the coast was clear enough and I drank the milk without checking the expiration date, not that a past due date would’ve stopped me from taking a swig.
But at a certain Nora Ephron phase of my life, wisdom started whispering to me (in my mother’s tone of voice) saying things like “maybe you should gas up”, “pee before you get in the car”, “have a glass of water instead.”Wisdom.
Think about it.
Hoping to get to a magic number that was imprinted in your brain long before pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and supersize is like the kind of praying you do after you’ve spun the roulette wheel.
Which brings me to my last point which is you need to stop hoping and
If you have a GPS system in your car you know that in order to get anywhere, you have to program in your final destination. Any fitness regime worth it’s weight in dumbbells needs to do the same.
Pick a long-term goal (closer to your new magic number,hey! Look! It’s your old set point!) and a long-term date, break it down into weekly goals then daily goals, the minutes.
And just get STARTED on your way.
Never give up.
Never give up does not mean fighting to maintain a weight that your metabolism refuses to maintain.
Never give up
refers to dedication and commitment over the long haul. One week of workouts becomes two. Then a month goes by. You feel better. Your jeans fit better.And so on.
You get the picture.
So start recalibrating your brain about your weight by starting to notice how you feel about where you are now and where you WANT to be.
Mentally try to let go, without letting yourself go. And don’t just talk the talk, Jog the jog.
May 26, 2011
But if you love a hot dog fresh off the grill; if you cannot resist the red, white and blue cupcakes and if you always rationalize eating the nine-layer veggie nacho dip to the point where any vegetarian benefits are swallowed by the quantity consumed as well as the chips used to transport the dip, then keep reading.
If you are like me, you have an abundance of knowledge about the evils of sugar but guess what? Sweet tooths don’t care about knowledge. If this rings a bell for you, then you have just enough time to devise your picnic plan so that you can think outside the picnic basket for this weekend’s food-filled festivities.
Firstly, do not depend on your willpower to resist forbidden food. Will-power weight loss is almost impossible unless you are anorexic. So you must have a picnic plan. DO you have a plan? That is the key to being a weight-loser. It is also unrealistic to avoid wonderful gatherings like holiday picnics. Life is meant to be lived and just saying the word “picnic” makes me happy. So go, but bring along these slick tricks for picnics:
All you have to do is devise a specific plan about what you can and cannot have and then set yourself up for success by doing the following:
1. Find out in advance what food will be at the picnic. If there is nothing healthy for you to eat bring something that fits that bill.
2. Drink a huge glass of water before arrival and have a healthy snack of some veggies. This will make the picnic pies look less patriotic.
3. Sit down to eat.
4. Chew each bite 20 to 30 times.
5. Do all the talking while everyone else eats.
6. Don’t drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks and know exactly what non-alcoholic drink you will switch to.
7. Bring something delicious, yet low-calorie to drink throughout the picnic. This will help keep you feeling full, which will slow you down.
8. Stand as far away from the food as possible. If you cannot reach it, you will not eat it. Don NOT sit down in front of the veggie nacho dip.
9. Find the skinniest person and sit next to them. Watch how they eat and try to eat slower.
10. Tell someone who loves you in advance of your plan and ask them to help you stick with it.
11. Bring a fun game so that eating is not the only activity. A Frisbee or a kite are excellent compliments to a picnic. More activity usually means that everyone has more fun, even the spectators
12. Throw out what is on your plate that you don’t want to eat immediately. When you are finished eating, tell everyone you are finished. Throw your napkin on your plate, get up, grab the Frisbee. If you are throwing a Frisbee you cannot hold a S’more, let alone eat one.
13. Stay busy. If you are not a sun-bather and there is nothing to do but eat, you will eat. If you can’t find anything to do besides eat, it’s time to pack up your basket and say your thank-you’s.
14. Wear clothes with a snug waistband. You will get immediate feedback about when you start to stretch past your comfort zone.
These tips may sound silly individually, but using them together is a solid plan. In technical terms it is called a countermanding action and is directly coorelated with successful weight loss.
These tips are boring but there’s a reason you hear them over and over. They WORK. But you have to actually implement them. Imagine waking up Monday morning feeling like jumping on the scales and looking forward to seeing what you weigh. Now that’s a patriotic idea.