Saturday, July 31, 2010

Waiting on the Weigh-in

Tomorrow is the 1st of the month so I'll get an official starting weight. I did get on the scales this morning and it registered 230 pounds, a much better result that the 240 in the middle of July after I returned from the family reunion.

Since I did some yard work today and then walked almost an hour in the afternoon heat, tomorrow's weight might be a shade below 230. It doesn't really matter much. The first really important weight will getting below 220 pounds. I haven't seen the 2-teens in a long time.

The next big weight to break though will be 210. Okay, partially it's big because we have this thing about numbers that end in zero, but there are two other key reasons. First, 215 pounds has been a real sticking point for me, both in dropping down and in gaining. My body has a thing for that 215 mark so getting below 210 will be a good indication that I've passed that barrier. And second, the mark between obesity and overweight for my height is around 207 pounds so that will be a big deal to get to the lower edge of obesity.

No point in getting too far ahead of myself here. The first thing is to get into the 2-teens and we'll see if that's a 1 or 2 month project. Let's get that accomplished before looking too far ahead.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Body Doesn't Know It's the Weekend

Friday, a day to let loose a little and celebrate. It's been a good week so I've earned that Wendy's combo and maybe a couple of beers and popcorn as a late night treat.

It's easy and tempting to think that way, but the body doesn't understand that this is the weekend. No, the body would take a combo meal and stow it away in some fat cells just like this is a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. If the body is going to be consistent, then that really means the eating habits have to be consistent without any major setbacks just because it is the weekend. Truthfully, the weekend is the time a person should do better, not worse on their diet. That's what I plan to do between now and Monday morning. It's not going to be painful or difficult. It's something I can easily do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Starting Point and Final Destination

Wednesday morning I weighed in at 232 pounds. Since that comes after about four days of really cutting back, it's safe to say that my "normal" weight was around 235 pounds when I made my change in attitude. That's so much extra baggage to carry around for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year. I'll weight myself again on August 1, and then will limit my weigh-in's to the first of every month. With my new approach, I don't need confirmation of success every day, and I don't need the negativity of slight upward bounces that come even when a person is doing the right things.

My destination is 175 pounds. That will eventually be my top weight, the one where I cut back on the eating and/or increase the exercising if my weight creeps above that level. It's not a number picked out of thin air. Back when I was in my late 30's and early 40's, 175 pounds was my standard weight. It wasn't too thin by any means and it was 10 pounds over my standard weight from my active days in athletics.

One could argue that I was younger and more active back then and shooting for 175 is unrealistic as I edge toward my 60's. On the other hand, I was stronger then and we all know that thing about muscle weighing more. I also ate a lot back then and now I'll be eating far less. Plus, the second half of my plan is to start bring back the exercise. I'm walking now and I plan to get below 200 pounds before putting any significant stress on my joints and muscles. Once I get below 200 pounds, there are definitely plans for a return to tennis and jogging. Maybe other things as well, but jogging for fitness and tennis for fitness and social aspects are certainties.

How long will this take? I'm planning on a year to lose the 60 pounds. Maybe it will go quicker, maybe it will take longer, but it doesn't really matter. As you know, dieting is easy so doing what I'm doing won't be a problem no matter what the length of time. I'm looking forward to getting back to 175. That was really a good weight, a very comfortable weight. I'm also looking forward to getting back to a more active lifestyle. Once my fitness returns, my guess is that I'll be amazed at what a huge difference being fit makes in day-to-day living. I've been out of shape so long that I no longer remember what being fit feels like.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Free Food Isn't Really Free

Is there anything that will derail a diet faster than free food? Pictured here we have a peach tart with a cream topping that supposedly was fantastic. That was brought in Monday by a co-worker. Next we have the bowl of candy that never empties. It's in a central location near the switchboard. Finally, we have a dozen donuts brought in Tuesday by another co-worker. I'm writing this Tuesday evening to post later in the week. There's no telling what other items of "free" food will appear during the week.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, be extremely vigilant whenever you are around food that is free or at a bargain price. That peach tart might have been free of cost but it was full of calories. The same is true with the candy bowl and the donut. The same is true if you pig out at a wedding, birthday party, office party, or any other function. The same is true if you super size your combo meal because it's such a bargain price. The same is true if you buy sharply discounted chocolate after Christmas and Easter--that's one of my major failings from the past.

You can do this. I passed on all of the above and it wasn't because of any great surge of willpower. It really is easy to pass on 2-3 minutes of pleasure in exchange for keeping a diet successfully on track. I saw a lot of the other office dieters partake of the treats over the last two days. They thought the free food was difficult to resist because they think dieting is difficult. I found it easy to pass on the extra calories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Does Success lead to Believing -OR- Does Believing lead to Success?

I’ve told some people about my change of attitude from thinking dieting is hard to thinking dieting is easy. The reaction has been what you would expect:

“Yeah, right.”
“I wish.”
“I’ll believe that after I lose 20 pounds.”

Forget about dieting for a second and think about life in general. In sports, does a team believe they can win only after winning, or do they believe in their potential first and that belief motivates them to do the work necessary to become a winner?

Does a person start a business expecting to fail or do they start a business with the belief that they can and will succeed?

Does a couple plan a marriage with the expectations of divorce or with the belief in a long and happy future together?

Okay, if anyone was actually reading this they might say, “Hold on there. You’re mixing apples and oranges. Winning in sports, creating a successful business, a long and happy marriage—those all are difficult to achieve. How can you equate those things to the idea that dieting is easy instead of difficult?”

Good point and I’ll respond with two points of my own. First, you have to believe to achieve, and success is unlikely if a person’s mindset is focused on how difficult and unlikely it will be to succeed. That’s the mindset of most people when they talk about dieting (or about keeping the weight off). In the three examples above, the people who are going to be successful are the ones who go into the situation with a strong belief of success.

My second point is that once a person starts believing in the probability of success, a diet actually is easy. Everyone has the skills needed to successfully diet. Almost everyone can do a little bit of exercise which helps speed up the process. Think about it and tell me what is the difficult part of dieting. Too much temptation? Too little willpower? I don't think so.

Let’s say there are free donuts at the office. Do you have the willpower to resist? What if I offered you $5 to not eat a donut? My guess is that you’d take my money every time. What if I offered you a healthier life in exchange for that one or two minutes of pleasure you would get from the donut? If you believe in the probably of success with your diet, then I think you’ll skip the donut. If you believe in the probable failure of your diet, then I think you’ll eat the donut. It’s not a case of too much temptation or too little willpower that sidetracks a diet, it’s lack of believing in success.

Believe in a successful diet and the dieting will be successful and easy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Turning to Tuesday

Monday had its temptations of free candy and a great looking peach dessert. Everyone raved about the dessert but it didn't tempt me. The candy didn't tempt me. I cut back on the amount of normal food intake all day, never going hungry while also never eating just to be eating. It really was easy.

I almost wrote above that "it really was easy for one day". You see how my mind wants to go back to this concept of dieting being hard. I had a great day of walking in the morning and cutting back on food all day, and here I am wondering "what's the catch". Today wasn't hard, today wasn't painful. Why can't I repeat all of this easy success tomorrow and the next day and the next?

There's is no catch other than the negative catch of feeling like dieting success is next to impossible. I'm not buying that philosophy anymore regardless of what I read or how much others moan about the difficulties they are having. I'm dropping most of my excess weight before the end of the year and it's going to be a snap.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Monday's Game Plan

Sunday went well. A small breakfast, then at the pizza place I had one small slice and two salads, and that was followed by hardly any supper. With lunch being my only significant meal, it doesn't seem like too much harm was done by going back for the second salad. It was an opportunity to eat healthier than normal so I ate extra with hopes that it would last me for much of the day.

I haven't been listing morning weights so far or keeping up with calories. I'd prefer not to do those things. Instead, I'll basically rely on making good decisions to produce good results. I can tell you that the scales actually showed 240 pounds one morning last week, the first time I've hit that milestone. It was after the reunion and all the eating done going to and from the reunion. It was also after a stretch where I generally thought "what's the point of dieting since nothing seems to be working". I had a failing attitude leading to a failing diet plan. This morning that weight had dropped down to 233-234, still too high, but more encouraging than a big 2-4-0. (Added note Monday morning: weigh-in this morning was 232.5 so at least I've quickly gotten rid of that excess which was quickly gained. I might start weighing on just the first of every month. I'll go until August 1 without a weigh-in and see if that lack of knowledge feels like it is helping or hurting.)

There are two or three big things that are in the game plan for tomorrow. Number one, there will be candy readily available at the office. I can easily skip that. Number two, someone will probably bring cookies or cake or donuts for the employees tomorrow. I can easily skip that as well. It's a choice between successfully getting rid of 60 pounds or getting a couple of minutes of eating pleasure. That's really a no-brainer in favor of the successful diet angle. The last thing I need to do isn't really hard, but it's the one I have to watch out for the most: habitual eating.

I eat the same general things at the same general times from Monday through Friday. Rarely does any of this eating occur because I'm hungry. Rarely does the portion size vary. I eat what I eat because that's what I'm in the habit of eating. It's not hard to wait for hunger before eating if a person thinks about their eating instead of going on automatic pilot. It's not hard to cut back on portions if a person thinks about it instead of simply sticking with a routine. All I've got to do in think before I eat throughout the day on Monday. Do that, and dieting will be easy.

Yesterday Was Easy

Believe it or not, it does make dieting a lot easier once you stop thinking that dieting is so hard. When you think something is hard, you naturally assume that you chances of success are small. Combine this low expectation for success with the high desire to eat lots of stuff, and it is any wonder that so few diets succeed?

Let's look at my situation for today. My family is going to meet at a Pizza Inn for lunch to celebrate Mother's birthday. It's a buffet, so the cost of the meal is the same if you eat 2 slices or 6 slices. If my attitude is that dieting is hard and chances for success are low, then it would be easy to allow myself the 6 slices. Why pass up free food that I'll enjoy for a few minutes if the odds of losing weight are the only thing that's slim? It's that self-fulfilling prophecy. If success is so hard to achieve and maintain, then does one really want to try very hard? That's why it takes such strong motivation for a successful diet, motivation that is strong enough to make a person try hard even then they think success is unlikely.

But dieting is easy. It says so right there at the top of this blog. If dieting is easy, then the likelihood of success is high. If the likelihood of success is high, then why would I derail such a good opportunity by eating 6 slices of pizza at lunch? I'm going to pay the same either way, I'll feel the same either way, so why screw up my success for a few minutes of whatever pleasure pizza gives to my taste buds? The choice is easy to limit myself to a fairly low calorie lunch today.

Is this just playing with words? No, it's changing my attitude. I've had an attitude of expecting failure and failure has been the results. With an attitude of expecting success, I fully expect for success to follow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Hopes About Writing This Blog

I wanted this post near the start of the blog so I'm backdating it to July 24 even though I'm writing it on August 1. I've been writing about this "dieting is easy" approach for just over a week and the hit counter at the bottom of the blog indicates that I'm currently writing for myself and maybe one or two others. That's to be expected. After all, I've had several dieting blogs over the last few years with the results being weight gained--why should anyone spend time reading this blog right now?

One could also ask why a person should spend time writing a blog when it is hardly being read. That's a totally different thing. First, I'm writing this because it will help me in the present, and second, I'm writing this in hopes that it will help others in the future. Maybe it will just be one friend who finds this helpful. Maybe it will be one stranger that I never know about. Hopefully it will help a few more than that, but I have no illusions of being America's next great dieting guru.

I'm not guru material. I don't want to write books, sell DVDs, hold seminars, and basically try to make a million bucks off of people struggling to lose weight. I want people to realize that the vast majority of us can lose weight and keep it off without having to line the pockets of those in the diet industry. We don't need diet books, or medication, or surgery, or personal trainers, or prepackaged meals that cost twice as much as regular food. Mostly we need belief in our ability to succeed. Mostly we need support from others instead of hearing that tired old bleating that "dieting it hard". I'm not guru material but I do have belief and I'm willing to be supportive.

Of course all of the above means totally nothing if I'm not successful in losing the 50+ pounds that I have as my goal. Actions speak louder than words, and I'm counting on my actions and results over the next few months to convince people that maybe there is a reason for reading this blog.

Changing my Point of View

Talk to people who are trying to lose weight and the vast majority will tell you that dieting is hard. That attitude by itself guarantees a 90% failure rate. When we think of something as hard, difficult, near impossible to achieve, it becomes very easy to quit when we face a few challenging decisions or when we don't see the rapid success that infomercials tell us we can achieve.

In reality, the process of dieting is easy. It's a matter of thinking about your eating instead of following the patterns that added on the extra pounds. Most of you can probably relate to the following things about my eating habits:

---Rarely do I eat because of hunger. Most of my eating is habitual based on the time of day, or impulsive when there is food easily available.
---When given a choice between wholesome food and junk food, far too often I pick the junk food.
---Even though 300-400 calories is enough to give a person a full feeling, I almost always eat more at meal times.
---Special occasions get treated like special exemptions from dieting.

My eating is mostly a pattern, a habit that has me consistently taking in more calories than are needed from week to week. My subconscious, my impulses, are going to follow that problematic pattern like a plane on automatic pilot. I've got to turn off that automatic pilot and make my choices all conscious choices with the bigger picture in mind. It really isn't that hard and it really will work. Just don't drift back to that automatic pilot mode. Just don't sacrifice long-term health for short-term pleasures while trying to lose weight. And stop telling yourself that dieting is hard--that kind of thinking is a self-fulfilling prophecy.