Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Holy Grail - Part Four Realistic Goal Setting
The journey of weight loss is more than just dieting. I have found it to be very complex. I used to see it as starvation or my punishment for being fat. I envied others with toned and shapely bodies, those who could do exercise with ease, even just regular physical activities, that seemed illusive to me. I became obsessed with weighing something that was probably unreasonable for my own body. It finally dawned on me, that those with great bodies, put healthy food choices into theirs, more than 95% of the time. They also ate small portions of food compared to me. They also exercise regularly. It was no accident that they were doing better than I. Genetics, psychology, environment, habits, diet-exercise they all play a part. None of us have the same make up of the above equation. Therefore, each of our journeys are unique.
Goal setting I found was and is so important in my success during my journey to new found health and wellness. Many mistakes are made when setting goals. Many times we make too many goals, or they are not measurable, or they are not timed. REALISTIC goals are the key. In today's society where advertisements and marketing are bombarding us with pictures or videos of what we SHOULD look like makes this hard for most. We get caught up in the numbers game. We simply say I want to be 120 pounds, and wear a size 2! Really? I am 50 years old, the odds of me getting into a size 2 are really not all that realistic. Of course, I am sure with a trainer and dietitian at my beck n call, I might, and I say again might achieve such a goal, but maintain it, and look healthy in that body? I doubt it. I have a large frame, the medical books say that I should weigh between 145 and 165 for my 5'7" height. I was 138 pounds when I married at the age of 18. I was in a size 12 at that weight. So see, what I am getting at. What would I need to weigh to realistically get to a size 2? I truly have no desire to be that small, I just want what will be healthy for my body. I believe my body will decide that for itself. How you ask? If you make over your life, and choose healthy 95% of the time, exercise and live right, your body will find it's ideal weight and balance all on it's own. This is when you will STOP dropping weight and begin to maintain. Start out small, only set a few goals, once these are reached add more and so on.
After many hours of therapy and talking about deep rooted emotions, that I had buried for many years. I began to address issues with my father and the issues with my self image because I was told by him at the age of 5 that I was unwanted. I also examined closely the extreme void and pain left upon the death of my son. These were just a tip of the iceberg that I needed to defrost. I learned that these things were reasons that I chose food as comfort. The reason that when sad or stressed, the first thing I would turn to was food and usually lots of it. I had no coping skills what so ever, my idea of coping was eating ice cream. I chose to stuff and ignore these emotions rather than dealing with them. How could that be, I went through counseling when Adam died. How could I have not really dealt with his death I asked myself. The truth was that I had only dealt with it on the surface. The emptiness that plagues me daily, I had not even begun to deal with. I used food to fill that void. I liked how the bad stuff tasted and my body became so overloaded by fatty, carbs and processed sugars that it began craving them, and before I could bat an eyelash, I was an addict. I became a full fledged food addict.
When I turned that train wreck around, I began to see that goals no matter how small, were huge accomplishments. That I had to start setting small ones, and then medium ones, and before I knew it, my large ones seemed actually attainable. Could it really be this simple?
With my band it was easy for me to eliminate foods that would cause me to get stuck. I had no problem with this. I did have problems with all the food, that did not get stuck. I could easily eat ice cream, candy bars, chips, and processed packaged foods with little to no side effects. Although, when I would eat these foods my IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome) would come back with abandon. Do not let anyone out there tell you this disease is not caused by diet, because it is! I was plagued with it for 25 years and when I eliminated high calorie, fat laden foods and meals from my diet, it disappeared. One thing I learned on this journey was that no one was going to prevent me from putting those types of food in my mouth, not even my band. So setting some boundaries and goals was very important early on.
So how do you set realistic goals you ask. I believe it begins with self acceptance. You have to accept where you are, and be realistic on where you are going. You have to learn to love yourself! For me it began with 10 pound increments. This made the 125 pounds that I needed to lose to reach my long term goal of 170 more manageable in my mind. You see, your goals have to be manageable. If they are not, you are setting yourself up for failure. It was not all about weight loss though. I set other goals as well.
Here is a list of some of them:
1. Exercise 4 times a week - consistently NO EXCUSES
2. Drink water as my main source of fluid
3. Eat at least 65 grams of protein each and every day
4. Eat at LEAST 153 grams of carbs each day.
5. Eat 8 servings of vegetables a day.
6. Eat fresh fruit daily
7. Get 8 hours of sleep no matter what
8. Make myself a priority - because I am worth it.
9. Read at least one article of self motivation a day - HUGE
10. Blog - because it keeps my goals in the real time memory.
11. Celebrate each and every NSV
12. Run 3.5 miles
13. Learn to love myself again - just as I am right now!!!
14. Find an exercise that I LOVE and do it often.
15. Use rewards when goals are achieved.
16. LOG every bite I take - NO EXCUSES
17. Don't listen only to the scale - look at the whole picture
18. Customize my life
19. Use my inner strength more
20. Learn to JUST SAY NO!
So lets look at these goals that I set for myself. Notice I said for "myself". That is where the "customize your life," comes into play. What works for me, may not work for you. We are all unique and so our goals will be just as unique.
I believe that the first 7 goals on my list are what I learned while having my band. These were ingrained into my brain from the start. I look at food differently now because of these 7 goals. I actually find myself choosing healthy foods over the not so healthy ones most of the time. This is a change to my behavior of nearly 150 degrees. The old me would have chosen bad nearly each and every time. This is not about perfection, it is about consistency. It is also not about deprivation, I know from my old ways when you say I CAN NEVER, then I will want it even more.
Number 8 thru 10 are all about ME! Making me a priority in this busy life I lead. Those of you who are mothers will understand, that once we become Moms, we simply take a back seat to everyone else. Moms are like that, they just take care of everyone else. I had to finally understand that it is OK to take care of ME too! In fact it is more important than anything else. Stop and think about it, if you don't take care of you, how on earth will you feel able to care for anyone else? Self motivation articles or books and blogging is a huge motivator for me, it keeps me on the path of inner peace. Real Time memory is important. I never want my healthy life to take a back burner to anything. Nothing is more important and I mean nothing. When life become stressful I want to still choose healthy!
Number 11 is so important. I think we all lost sight of giving ourselves pats on the backs for a job well done. I cannot tell you how often I read blogs, where someone says I only lost 1 pound this week, like that is an EPIC failure. Whenever the scale shows a loss, that is no failure! We need to celebrate our smallest victories, because they all matter.
Numbers 12-14 are all about moving and realizing that I can do this! Loving myself gave me the strength to push through the I can't do this, or the doubts about my ability to move. Joining the gym was the best thing I ever did. It gave me a place to go, when the weather was crappy, it gave me classes that I can do with others just like me, it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I leave there. Finding Zumba has been incredible. I truly am addicted and love it! The key to exercise is finding what you love doing, because it is easier to do something you love than to make yourself do something you hate!
Number 15 needs to be each and every time. We need to feel like hitting a goal is like winning the lottery each and every time. Reward yourself, if that means buying something new to wear, or going to your favorite night spot, reading a new book, or even eating something you consider forbidden. Reward, reward, reward. This keeps your motivation at it's highest.
Numbers 16-17 can make or break your success in this journey. I do not believe that anyone can eyeball calories correctly! I will repeat that, I do not believe that anyone can eyeball calories correctly. What does a food journal afford you? It gives you a place where you can plug in that bite of whatever and it spits out helpful information, that you need to learn about your body. It will give you all the need to know information on a specific food, or meal. When you see at the end of the day exactly how many calories, fats, carbs, and proteins you are consuming, it becomes much easier to tweak the problem areas. The same for logging exercise. To see what kind of calories we are burning for the work we are doing is fundamental, in creating our caloric deficit necessary to lose weight. Not all exercise is created equal. I was astounded when I found out that when I was walking I was only burning around 400 calories? What the hell, it felt like I was dying in the beginning. This is another reason that I love Zumba, I burn right at 740 calories in 60 minutes. The SCALE, that bitch, that evil, that tiny machine, that can make or break our days. We have been programmed to believe every word she spews out! We wrap our dreams and our goals around her like she is the mother of happiness. Breaking this cycle is hard, it is not easy to give up the power that the scale holds over us. Sure the scale plays an important role, we need to stay accountable. We just have to know how much power to give it, for we are in control here NOT the scale. So when I was not losing I would look at other things, inches perhaps, are my clothes looser? How am I feeling overall physically? This helped me to get over the weeks when the scale did not move.
Number 18 is paramount. You must customize an eating and exercise routine that fits into your own life. You cannot use mine and expect the same results. You can read all the books and blogs you like, but you have to take bits and pieces of what you learn and incorporate that into your own goals and plan of action. Only then will it become part of you, something that comes naturally without struggle. If something stops working, don't give up, find something else that does!
Numbers 19-20 are still works in progress. Saying NO more is hard for me. I do not like to tell anyone NO including myself. Sadly, for me to become healthy and remain healthy I have to learn to. I have to tell those NO who try to sabotage my efforts by pushing food. I have to tell those NO who want me to ditch working out for something MORE important. I have to dig down deep and tap the reserve of my inner strength and hold on to it, when the going gets tough. I can no longer choose my drug of choice FOOD! I have to remind myself each and every day to stay the course, and keep my goals in the for front of my mind.
Being realistic with my goals was another part of the foundation. When we are realistic we set the bar where it can be attained! This is another step in finding emotional balance.
NEXT - Developing Independence