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As I celebrate 14 years of sustained weight loss, my own little “self” anniversary, I’m making it a point to look back as well as forward.
Reflection is only useful if it brings greater awareness. Speaking from the beginning stages of weight loss, one of my newer clients asked me, “Oh, don’t you look back and feel bad for those days when you could enjoy eating anything you wanted?”
She was earnest, and honest, but looking through the lens of her own fears. And, no, the pleasures I feel and create today don’t even compare to pepperoni pizza. They couldn’t come close to that meaningless little chocolate truffle. No, they’re not even on the same planet.
Sure, food can be a pleasure but, when your senses are tuned into life, you are constantly creating heightened states of energy, ecstasy, and expansion — within your soul, not just your body.
Part of my real-world research as I lost over 90 lbs involved following naturally thin people around. Asking questions. Posing challenges. Discerning habits. My merciless stalking, if you will, produced a wealth of information I had never learned in my food addicted upbringing.
Naturally thin people are not thin because they are smarter, stronger or have more willpower than other people. They are thin because they have developed habits that serve THIN, instead of making FAT. Here are the top six:
1. Never Eat Unless Hungry – Naturally thin people know hunger cues, and see them as signals for action. Without the green light, they don’t eat.
2. Stop Before Full – Naturally thin people never feel stuffed or uncomfortable. They feel a satiation cue which stops them right before they are completely full. Their connection to their bodies is strong, and they honor the feedback they get from their physical body.
3. Waste Food, Not Waist It – People who never struggle with their weight don’t worry about throwing food out when they are full, whether that means a to-go box, or the trash can. They know that refusing to “waste food” means “waisting” it, which is just like carrying your garbage around on your body for everyone to see.
What a year!
I will never forget 2013!
It was a year of huge transition, growth and learning for me. Some years sweep by in a blurr, a flurry of activity, like when you are pregnant and anticipation is carrying you forward to an inevitable conclusion.
Some years crawl along like the slow, tortuous screeching sound on a blackboard, like the third year of weight loss when you’ve lost 55 pounds and know there’s more to go… but it’s just not happening. Those are the years when a huge opportunity arises: the opportunity to face yourself and refuse to do what you’ve always done before… which is give up.
But this year didn’t crawl or whirl.
Even though this Winter in Wisconsin has been a very looooonnnnnngggg ordeal, it is finally looking like Spring. And I’ve become a spring cleaning whirlwind.
One of the metaphors of losing a substantial amount of weight is holding on. In order to lose weight, I had to let go of old ideas. The less I grasped at trivial things out of a mental sense of scarcity, the more abundance I found. And stuff… well, letting go of the saboteur in my mind was tough, but it mysteriously made throwing away the crap in the attic easy.
So, I love letting go of stuff. And I was busy letting go of lots of clutter in my home office this weekend when I opened a drawer that is sticky and often stuck. It obviously hadn’t been opened in years. I knew that because, inside, were…. old bank statements. Very old bank statements.
Some of the statements were so old they had returned checks inside (yes, that old!).
So, I sat on the floor and dragged this over:
As I began to feed the shredder, I was fascinated by what blurred past my eyes. It was a little snapshot of a true lifestyle change.
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I was once fat. Many people prefer another word but I like “Fat” and, since it was mine, I figure I get to call it any name I want.
In the year 1996, I weighed 242 lbs.! That’s quite a bit of fat, no matter what you like to call it. Like most people, I wasn’t fond of my fat. I desperately wanted to change it, and I had tried for over 20 years to solve fat. My first diet was at age 10. And, when you try to solve something for 20+ years, and aren’t successful, you get pretty pessimistic about the whole damned project.
The way I saw it, Fat got in the way of finding a career I loved. It got in the way of relationships. It affected how I felt about myself.
And, by 1996, I was seeing it pretty much as UNSOLVE-ABLE!
This wasn’t just an obstacle – it was the biggest obstacle of all time in my eyes. No matter what I had tried, and I had tried every diet, intervention and exercise modality known to wo/man, the excess weight always came back.
Like a stalker!
Like it had FAT GPS!
And I thought I was the only one in the world who had this problem!
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2012 is drawing to a close! It’s time for my annual contest where YOU guess how many exercise sessions I completed this year. The winner will receive a set of Catalyst products, including workbooks and CD audio classes worth more than $500, to illuminate your permanent weight loss journey!
For anyone who’s new to this blog, I’m a proponent of non-diet, permanent weight loss through true lifestyle change.
Diets are temporary ways to eat with endless mind games and emphasize willpower. True lifestyle change addresses the deeper need for food and lasts forever. My twenty-year struggle taught me to deal with the deeper needs in life, so those deeper needs don’t sabotage healthy efforts.
My Approach to Exercise or Activity
I don’t use fancy apps to track my exercise and I’ve lost over 90 pounds without counting a calorie. I know a calorie is not a calorie when it comes to fuel for the body. If you don’t understand the calorie game, get my audio class called “The Hard Cold Truth About Permanent Weight Loss” NOW!)
Here’s my “foolproof” recording method:
Yep, that’s 12 sheets of paper, calendar style, for 2013! It works because the physical act of recording, with a pen, is magical in terms of claiming your work. And you never have to worry about losing it via a computer problem. I have years of these calendars. It’s an instant reference when I need to remember how far I’ve come, or what I was doing that year I lost 20 lbs., or whatever.
Oh, if only a great big stop sign showed up BEFORE we committed some of the actions that destroy our progress towards permanent weight loss!
In my last post, we explored ten things to STOP in order to achieve permanent weight loss. Now, here are 10 more very important steps to further your progress towards permanent weight loss. These are challenges that commonly show up for my weight loss clients and I hope revealing these challenges will make your weight loss easier and more direct. It’s a virtual blueprint to permanent weight loss!
This is Part 2 of a 5-Part Series – So, check back for subsequent posts! Or subscribe! You can now sign up at the right of this post to receive new posts via email notification too!
11. Stop ignoring energy – The need for food is a need for energy. Food is fuel which creates energy. Notice, I did not say “the desire for food” – I said “need” – that is different! We need food for energy and hunger is the cue. So, in order to be in touch with the actual need for food, and fuel our bodies well, we’ve got to be in the business of noticing energy needs. Learning your body’s unique cues and messages is key to long-term success at managing weight.
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One of my fabulous clients described her journey towards permanent weight loss this way: “It’s like I was on a rollercoaster when I was dieting, now I’m in the driver’s seat, driving change.”
I thought this was a great metaphor for dieting v. lifestyle change.
When you are on the diet rollercoaster:
1. You feel out of control.
2. It’s scary.
3. Emotions rage with good days and bad days. Emotions always lead to emotional eating and comfort food.
4. The number on the scale can send you on a binge.
5. Disappointment, sadness, anxiety and other daily occurrences set off eating sprees, followed by food restriction and new promises to diet all over again tomorrow, next Monday, or next month.
6. You follow someone else’s plan – might be a diet, a book, a program. These plans never address your personal body’s needs, but are generalized approaches.
7. You “wake up” with an empty plate, a candy wrapper, a cookie box, or other container in front of you and no idea how it got there or where the food went.
8. You try to control the crazy momentum by counting something (calories, aerobic output, anything at all).
9. You think poor choices say something about your personal character.
10. You struggle. Struggle diminishes your effort, your success and, ultimately, your dreams.
9. You constantly fluctuate between weights, yo-yo-ing up and down the scale. Ultimately, you wind up back at the beginning, where you started, at the “loading zone” of the rollercoaster ride.
You know you are making a lifestyle change, and you are driving change, when:
1. You are the authority on what food is the best fuel for YOUR body and you know exactly what makes great energy for your unique physiology.
2. You consistently fuel your body for optimal energy.
3. You make decisions easily, without mental combat occurring.
4. You address any emotion, obstacle or event DIRECTLY, without buffering it with food.
5. You never make excuses, but OWN every decision and action.
6. You feel empowered. You are driving. You are choosing the route you take.
7. You treat yourself with respect and love in all circumstances, no matter what you ate that day.
8. The ride leads to new places, new discoveries, and wide-open vistas because you aren’t on a “track”, you’re in ever-changing life.
Getting off the diet rollercoaster isn’t just about losing weight. It’s about quality of life. It’s about living a fully empowered life, instead of giving power away to a plan, a diet, or anything that’s not organic to your amazing physical body.
Non-diet weight loss is the kind that lasts too. Isn’t that what we ultimately want when we think of lowering the number on the scale, anyway?