Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doing It the Bob Greene Way

You know, it's funny. I was getting pretty frustrated with myself about this whole weight-loss thing lately. Then I realized a few things:

1. Despite a pretty large stress load lately, the way I have been eating, I have been maintaining my weight loss, which is about 20 pounds lower than I was in December and about 40 pounds lower than my highest weight.

2. I tell everyone else that sometimes you have so much going on in your life that you can't expect yourself to exert a large amount of energy on weight loss as well as handle the other stuff--and I need to accept that I get into that same place sometimes (not long-term, just for now!).

3. Although running has been great for my body in terms of how I feel and how I look (even Dan's Ph.D. advisor, who is normally rather oblivious to me, recently commented, "Your training is really looking great on you"), when I started training for running a 5k, I went from exercising 30-45 minutes daily to exercising 30-45 minutes every other day. If you look at people who keep weight off long-term (according to the National Weight Loss Registry), over 80 percent of them exercise about an hour a day. I'm definitely not there at this point. Moreover, that's okay! Running has been moving me into a better appreciation of my body and its abilities. It's also done a lot for my self-esteem. But if I'm going to gear up for long-term weight loss and weight-loss maintenance, I will have to keep moving forwards into being more active in the long term.

I'm the kind of person who likes to act quickly. Sometimes I jump head-long into things just to realize they aren't right for me or won't work with me/for me. When I realized that I need to be exercising more to jump-start my weight loss, my first idea was to figure out something RIGHT NOW and start on it RIGHT AWAY.

Then I checked myself. The reason this post is entitled "Doing It the Bob Greene Way" is that in The Best Life Diet (the last diet book I read--in January--and the last one I intend to read for a long time unless I'm researching exercise), Bob says that one problem with many diets is that they have us jump into dieting in exactly the way I often respond to things (the way I have tried not to do it this time). We get really gung-ho, we go at the diet and/or exercise passionately for a short while, and then we start slipping up. We start slipping up because the diet/exercise we are doing isn't really sustainable in our lives; it's too restrictive, or too hard-core. When we slip up, we feel like we are failing, and when we feel like we are failing, we give up--either gradually or quickly. For us to create sustainable weight loss, he says, we need to ease into the process of losing weight instead of trying to jump-start it. Make a few changes, he says, and watch the weight start to come off slowly. Once you are used to those changes, make a few more. Work your way into being someone who exercises regularly. Work your way into being someone who eats meals that are high in veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Treat yourself gently and lovingly, not as someone who needs to be beaten or whipped into shape at a frenzied pace.

It works--it's just not a quick fix, and that's hard for people. But think about it: would you rather be 20 pounds lighter at the end of this year, or would you rather stay where you are now? Would you rather lose 15 pounds in three weeks, but then gain it back six months later? Would you rather be reliant on a diet or exercise plan that makes you miserable?

I sometimes think to myself that if I had lost something like 5 pounds a year from the time I was originally overweight, I would have hit my goal weight by now. Even now, I'm like, But 5 pounds?? That's tiny! And I am not suggesting that it's a huge loss. But a slow loss of 5 or 20 or 40 pounds in a year is a much better situation to be in than sitting somewhere, miserably thinking how you have failed at yet another extreme or odd diet (or how you have gained back that weight yet again).

I remember when one of my close friends was 185 pounds and trying to lose weight. I was somewhere like 215 and trying to lose weight. 185 seemed like a distant, nearly impossible dream. Now I'm the girl at 185! That is NOT a bad feeling.

My life right now is like this: I was promoted recently and am learning that job as well as taking on the stress and responsibility of being the head of my department. There are people who clearly think I should not have the position I have at 26 years of age--I don't let them stress me out, but I know they are there waiting to see what happens. I am working two jobs until I find the replacement for my previous job, which means I am juggling the paperwork, the office visits, the phone calls, the questions from homeowners, etc., that two people normally handle. I am interviewing for that previous job I held. I have worked a pretty decent number of late nights lately, and even when I get home from work at a normal time, I am completely exhausted--completely exhausted. I, who normally enjoy cooking, have come home too tired to cook or do anything day after day. I have gone to bed at 8 p.m. several nights, 9 p.m. on others--and still have felt too tired to get up to run some days, choosing instead to sleep 10 or 11 hours a night.

So is now the time to try to push myself to a new level of exercising to make sure my weight loss shoots up? No, it's not. I can--and have been trying to--be aware of what I eat on a regular basis, continuing to keep sweets in check as an occasional treat, not using enormous levels of fat in foods, not eating fried foods too often, focusing on having at least 5 fruit and veggie servings a day. In other words, I can and have been trying to maintain my current level of commitment to my health. But that's the limit of my energy when it comes to weight loss right now. I'd still like to lose weight by my birthday (a month from today), so I have changed my ticker from 10 pounds (which ain't happenin', honey) to 5 pounds. If it happens, great. If not, but I maintain or lose a bit before my birthday, I will certainly consider that a success. Sometimes maintaining your pace is an enormous success; I know that all too well from the times I've dieted and given up! . . . I know all too well that feeling of anxiety and sadness when the weight starts creeping back up and you go, "Oh, here it goes" and don't feel the energy to stop the upward change. If I maintain or lose just a bit now, I'll be doing very well. It's going against my personality to think that way, but it's true.

In a few weeks, I will have hired my replacement for my previous position. I will train her (all the final candidates are women), she will start to attend some of the evening/weekend meetings I currently attend, and my stress will ease. Some of the stress will ease in the coming month, and the rest of it should ease up some in 2-3 months. If I have to wait a month or two to gear up my exercise to a higher level and start seeing a regular drop on the scales, that is okay.


Anonymous said...

You know what? YOU GO GIRL.

I have watched you shed the weight. I have known you for a long time, and I have the utmost admiration for the way you are handling the stress, the excersize, the eating right. You ROCK. You really do. And those people who think you don't deserve to be in your position at age 26, those people just don't know you. You have your business together and your head on straight. Those people have another thing coming if they think for one second you aren't up to the challenge. I don't have to say more power to you because you are a force all your own. ~L

Kim said...

You may be "ony" 26, but you are a wise old sage. :) I wish that I had my head on as straight as you when I was your age. You are doing so great. Now is not the time to push yourself harder with the exercise and you are going to be so much more successful because of it.

Fatinah said...

what an awesome post!

Anonymous said...

a great post! I haven't read the book, but I think I have finally arrived at that place where I've made little, sustainable changes in my life. This may take a while but I'm going to do it the right way. Not some crazy hardcore way that will only last a few weeks, and end up gaining everything I've lost and then some.

Good luck with work, I hope you hire on a replacement soon so things will be less hectic for you.

Cory said...

That's a great post you've got there. That really did make me think a lot about my own weight loss journey and how I've been handling things the past few years.

And definitely don't let those people at work get to you. You obviously deserve the position with all the work you have on you right now. And working multiple jobs is fairly common at my workplace, so I know how hard it an be. Good luck finding your replacement!