I have been on my weight loss journey for 186 days; with that said, it is also possible to look at today as Day 7. The dramatic weight loss that is usually associated with the first few days of a program – often accounted for as the loss of water weight – is what encourages us to keep going, even on the days when we are hungry, tired, and discouraged… not to mention when our bodies are aching from the unaccustomed physical activity.
I am in an emotional funk these days, and it is not the first time. What is utterly unique about this go around with the blues is that I have not turned to food to try to feel better. Food has been an addiction for as long as I can remember. As a child when I was under the weather my mother my grandmother my nanny would give me a treat to make me feel better. I am not blaming anyone else for my gluttonous addiction, I am just examining the genesis.
I should mention that while I am not turning to food for comfort, it is not for lack of want. There have been myriad points over the past week when I have thought to myself how nice it would be to indulge in… fill in the blank. I will not list off all of the comfort foods that I have thought of; we can refer to them as ‘the usual suspects’ which have likely all been listed off or alluded to at some point in the past six months. I want to indulge. I cannot indulge. I want to cheat on my diet. I want to throw my hands up and say FUCK IT, I’M EATING! I have wanted to do that every single day.
I have written so many times of the need to break my unhealthy relationship with food. Until recently, I thought that was going to come organically as a by-product of my self-denial. It is not so easy as that though, is it? No, as Leslie has pointed out to me several times, if I have been using food as a crutch all these years, the only way that I can be successful in the long term is to find a new crutch to replace it with. I am hoping that I can make that crutch exercise… whether that be walking, jogging, Taekwondo, or whatever else it might be. Golf is not a reasonable alternative, owing to the fact that I currently live in a climate where golf courses are buried hip-deep in snow (or at least just closed for business) from November through April. One could make an argument that fitness walking on a cold, blistery winter day is equally unrealistic… but that is not quite true. It is extremely unpleasant, to be sure; with that said, I can bundle myself up in layers of warm clothes and go for a walk every day of the year. Yes, I will have to wear different footwear, but it is possible.
Will exercise be my crutch? I am working my hardest to make it so. I am also using something else as a crutch for the time being: my eagerness to lose weight. What is more satisfying… the plate of Buffalo wings in the evening, or the weight loss registered on the scale in the morning?
The gastronomical indulgence will feel good in the moment, although it will often take only a few minutes for me to feel the short-term negative effects – the ‘I ate too much’ feeling, coupled with the ‘they were empty calories’ feelings. How long will it take for heartburn to set in, requiring me to go searching for an antacid? When I overeat at night, I wake up hungry the following morning. Let’s not forget that feeling of dread when I step onto the bathroom scale the following morning… not to mention when I try to wear a shirt or pair of pants that was borderline too-tight.
The self-restraint might mean that I need to eat nothing in the moment… or a plate of vegetables, or something else equally unsatisfying. If I am not too far from the allotted time, I might be able to enjoy a meal replacement shake. I might go to bed with slight hunger pangs, but the truth is that on my current program, I am eating between 1200-1600 calories per day, which is more than enough for a healthy fifty-year-old male, so the hunger is in my mind more than in my stomach. I seem to be sleeping slightly better (although I miss having Leslie next to me, which always makes sleeping easier) and am having fewer crazy dreams. I wake up in the morning, step onto the bathroom scale, and (more often than not) see a decent weight loss from the previous day. I look in my armoire or closet for a shirt that I know will fit – if it fit last week when I was a couple of pounds heavier, it will definitely fit today. I go about my morning routine, and after walking my pup, I put on a pot of coffee, and make my morning meal replacement. With my coffee and shake close at hand, I sit down to write my daily article on my weight management. During the week, I sit down to my first lecture. Whatever it is, I do it knowing that I might not look any different than I did yesterday… but I look much better than I did just a few short months ago, and if I continue on this path, I will look even better a few short months from now.
Short-term pleasure versus long-term satisfaction. Which is more valuable to me? I am hoping that in my moments of potential weakness I can remember how important that is. This does not mean that I will not have the occasional cheat-meal… but I have to limit those to very occasionally and only for very special occasions.
I woke up this morning weighing not only 1.2 lbs less than I did yesterday morning, but also 14.2 lbs less than I did on July 1. That period includes my fiftieth birthday celebrations, one of the most anxiety-filled six-day road trips of my life, and a week of self-loathing and sadness. There is really no reason for me to not be up five-pounds in that time. Instead, my weight is down, and not slightly. By any standard, losing nearly fifteen pounds in just over three weeks is a tremendous success. I have to continue to remember how wonderful that feels, knowing that instead of giving in to my temptations and losing ground on my diet, my actions and choices have led to a huge success.
According to a quick on-line search, it can take between 18-254 days for a person to form a new habit, and that on average it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit. I am on Day 7 of that journey. I have a long way to go, but if I am able to then it will be worth it.
Against tradition, my diet buddy and I are having our weekly check-in today. It is the first time in a month that we are meeting, having had so much travel and such. I hope she is doing well, and I am looking forward to sharing my positive report with her!
After that, I will head to the supermarket. I have no chicken left in the house, and unless one decides to walk in, strip itself of its feathers, and then commit suicide, I had better go shopping if I want to eat. According to the weather app on my phone, there are only two two-hour windows of cloudy but dry this afternoon, and so I am aiming to go for my walk around 3pm, which means that I will be preparing my main meal prior to exercising. I am interested in seeing how that will affect my progress… and if it will lead to cramps.
Oh, and I did order a new sling for walking, making sure that this one is adjustable to wear comfortably on either side of my body. Hopefully that will alleviate the discomfort that I am sure is attributed to the sling sitting on the same spot near my kidneys every day.
Have a great day folks!