If I could tell you one thing it would be to stop. Just stop.
Stop trying to do so much.
Stop trying to be perfect.
And for goodness sake, stop putting yourself last.
It seems, as a society, that we’ve lost the ability to focus on one thing at a time. We proudly “multi-task” and brag about how much we can get done in a day. We flit from one thing and then another in an attempt to show the world, and prove to ourselves, how much we can do. Saying that we can DO IT ALL is a badge of honor these days. It’s a competition of worthiness. But, here’s the deal... science (yes, real science, actual facts, real reality) says that we can only do one thing WELL, one thing at a time. To add more things into the time we have means we dilute our successes until great becomes good becomes mediocre becomes phoning it in becomes failure.
This is especially true when learning something new. To absorb and internalize something new, say a language or a skill or a process, we need to break the process down into manageable parts and focus on them one at a time; give each step our full attention. Every day. Learning something new requires consistency and focus. And one more thing... simplicity.
There’s no doubt that you’ve got to be committed to the outcome. You wouldn’t have the goal if you weren’t somehow benefitting from it getting accomplished. Regardless if it’s at work and someone assigned you a goal or if it’s personal and you have something you want to achieve because you care about it and it matters to you, you want to succeed and you want to do it well.
So, why oh why do we sabotage our efforts to be in a right sized body with a multi-tasking mindset? Why do we make it so complicated and so painful that “failure” becomes the only option? We are told from day one of what I call “diet school”, the societal expectation that we must be thin to be of value and the industry that wants us to be yo-yo’s to keep their coffers filled, that to lose weight we must exercise and eat right. The two things go together like peas and carrots, right? You gotta have both to have success.
But that’s not exactly true.
I want you to go back to your last goal setting class. To reach a goal, you break down that goal into manageable pieces with milestones. You start at the smallest increment you can and then work on one thing at a time. Getting into your right sized body (RSB, for simplicity) is no different. Start with the one thing that will have the biggest impact... your food. Master that FIRST. Focus on getting that right to the exclusion of all else. It might take you months. It could take you a year. But so what? You’ve spent great swaths of your life on the roller coaster, right? Why not take the time it takes to learn a new way to eat. You take on food first because it has the biggest impact on your goal to be in your RSB. Exercise can come next, when you’ve achieved mastery over your food.
Uncoupling these two things from your self-care quest is essential. You absolutely want to give yourself the best odds for success. It’s a heavy lift, changing your lifestyle. Why make it more complicated?
Keep it simple, Sister. Stop multi-tasking and start succeeding.
I was going along with the common weight loss industry / socially perpetuated mantra that you must exercise to lose weight. But over the past few years I’d begun to question that belief. As a seasoned weight loss explorer, I noticed that working out more did not get me to my goal of weighing less. 15 year ago I did a 10k. I thought for sure I’d lose weight training for this race. I spent months getting into a running-fit state. Guess what? On the day of the race I weighed the same as I did when I started to train. For me there was a disconnect that I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around.
In January of this year, when I stopped eating sugar and flour and the recommendation was to NOT exercise until the weight was off, I KNEW I was on the right track. This made so much sense to me. Give 100% to getting the food right. Reach the goal. Be all in on ONE THING. Focus on exercise later.
So here I am, getting closer to my goal weight and feeling f.i.n.e. Every milestone has felt wonderful in a way I would not have expected. More and more joy has run through my veins with each success. Even when I was nowhere near goal weight, I felt amazing and clear and happy. There is freedom and all I had to do was be willing to allow it into my life.
I weighed myself this morning and I’m at a plateau. How do I know? Well, I’ve been dancing in the same weight range for a few weeks now. I go down a pound then I go up. Every time I get on the scale I think that it’s going down. I feel good, lighter, freer. But that’s not translating to lower numbers on the scale. I wish I could say I am completely chill about it but I’m not. I’m frustrated. I guess it could be worse. It certainly has been in the past. I’d be on some cockamamie diet and I’d weigh myself and if I was up a little I’d freak out and, well, of course the thing failed, right? And then I’d eat and it would all be over.
That’s not the case anymore. Without meaning to, I gave up the drama of the body scale like I gave up my dependence to sugar and flour. The detox was gradual but here I am 4 1/2 months into this new way of life and the scale has loosened it’s black grip on my happiness.
It truly owned me. It got so bad at one point that I threw my scale away in an attempt to get ahold of my emotions and take control of something I had no idea how to control; my weight. It didn’t work. I continued to gain weight, I just didn’t know how much until I got to the place last year that I was out of control regardless of the measuring device. My clothes had become the new evil and I couldn’t throw them all out because I was mad at them. Irrational. But all is, though I couldn’t see it until now.
I wasn’t expecting to be released from the mental torture of the scale. I wasn’t even trying. Because I needed to know how things were going in my new way of eating, I weighed myself once a week, no more. But as the months wore on I wanted more data so I started to weigh myself three times a week to see what I could learn about the foods I was choosing. It’s been very helpful. The information I’m getting is telling me that my body is responding to something I’m doing (or not doing, perhaps). It’s directing me to my food journal to find the clues that will help me unlock the next stage of my weight loss. How cool is that? And that I’m frustrated rather than spun out is so interesting to me. I’ve scored a serious non-scale victory that has nothing to do with my weight and everything to do with my mental freedom. Ironic that it’s the scale that is showing me that. I’m on this amazing quest to discover and live my best life and THIS is what it looks like.
Adventure in action.
Someone asked me what it was that inspired me to lose weight. I could have said the expected... that I got sick of being uncomfortable in my skin, of my clothes not fitting, of feeling fat. While that would have been the black and white truth, it wasn’t the technicolor truth. The real, full-color truth is I finally surrendered.
"We are always getting ready to live but never living" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
How long have I been "getting ready to live"? How long have I put off the things that I yearn to do but my weight or my food or my numbing behavior has gotten in the way? A long time. Too long.
I planned and I made lists. I had great ideas. I schemed and dreamed, never putting myself out there; never taking the risk of being seen, of being hurt, of being vulnerable. All of my accomplishments were in my imagination. All of my dreams, up in the clouds, never coming true. Such a safe, cocooned life.
To live is to vibrate with energy and to allow the thrill of the unknown to be alive in me. To live is to risk. To live is to take a stand for what matters. To live is to say yes and embrace the full spectrum of emotions. To live is to fall down and get up and keep on doing because that's the sauce, that's the good stuff.
For too long I have believed that if I did it my way, it would work out. Look where it got me. Sick and tired and numb, afraid to live. So here I am, humbled, surrendering, ready to jump into this life with both feet.
A few days ago I watched a movie and that movie clanged a bell in me so loud I swear others could hear it. It perfectly illustrated what it feels like to have sugar addiction. I'll explain.
At the beginning of the movie we see that there are children, strapped into wheelchairs, lined up in a classroom. They cannot move. Not even their heads. The teacher is teaching, as teachers do. As the story progresses, it's clear that the kids are being held by the military and are being restrained because they have been infected with a virus that makes them, in effect, zombies. But they are different. They can speak and learn and function like normal people. Except when they smell human flesh, they freak the eff out.
So, there's a part, near the beginning of the film, when the teacher gets a little too close to one of the kids and one of the tough military guys, the general, sees her touch one of them gently on the head. He marches in, pulls his shirt up, spits on his arm and wipes something off. He shoves his arm under a kid's nose and in a split second the kid goes from normal to bug eyed, straining forward, jaw gaping, teeth chattering insanely, trying to get a bit of the general. The general is clearly making a point that the kids are incredibly dangerous.
Here's what struck me about that scene. That zombie kid, in his full flesh eating insanity? That's how I feel when sugar has me. It's not so dramatic but it is as unremittingly enticing as flesh is to a zombie. I do not have the ability to have just a little or stop when it's enough.
There is no "enough".
When I'm eating sugar and flour, and I mean ANY sugar including sweeteners and ANY flour, my brain does not function properly, like a normal person. There is no ease around food. There is no take it or leave it. When I'm in it, I crave junk. I allow junk into my food system. I lie to myself about what I can and can't have.
All of the diets I was ever on always allowed some form of sugar and/or flour whether it was a cheat day or with points or with moderation. When I am fully under the spell of these ingredients (I want to call them drugs because that's what they are but I don't think we're there yet in our relationship, so for now, they are "ingredients"), I cannot have some, or a bit or a bite or a taste. Pie? Sure! I'll eat the whole thing. Maybe not at one sitting but I'll take care of it for you BL&D.
I become a flesh eating zombie and I don't like it. Not one bit.
Since I gave up S&F, I've finally found some ease. It seems so normal and unexciting but there's no zombie chatter going on in my head and that feels great. It was so gradual as to be almost unnoticeable but in looking back, and as I write this, I can see that in nearly four weeks, I am better.
And instead of thinking that it's forever, I am taking it One Day At A Time.
Today is Day 18 of my new way of eating which consists of no sugar, no flour, 3 meals a day and measuring my food. I gotta say that it sounds awful even when I read it but 18 days in, I feel better, more in control of my food, which is no small thing for a person who has spent the majority of her life in a constant battle with the stuff.
I'm using this space to keep track of my journey. I'll post as often as I need to. I want a record of what this time was like when I took on my food and body and life as a priority.
I'm following the four Bright Lines, created by Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson (Check it out HERE). I started eating with bright lines (irrevocable, do-not-cross boundaries) around sugar, flour, meals and quantities, on January 2, 2019. My goal when I started was to get to a right-sized body. My estimation of what that might be is based on when I last felt pretty good which meant that I have 47.7 pounds to lose. And the last time I was at that 'right sized' weight? It was my wedding day on May 15, 2010.
Follow my adventures as I take on a new life following the Bright Line Eating program.
I am not affiliated with Bright Line Eating and the opinions I express here are mine alone. For more information on Bright Line Eating, go HERE.