Alphabet Soup: Give Me a ‘G’

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve played with the alphabet. If I recall correctly, ‘G’ is the next letter up in my series exploring different words and phrases that have helped me lose and maintain my weight.

the letter gI don’t think anyone will be surprised by my first ‘G’ word: gratitude. At some point early in this process, I realized that in the past, I hadn’t been applying my usual ‘gratitude in all things’ philosophy to weight loss. I focused on what I couldn’t eat instead of the abundance of healthy foods to which I had access. I grumbled about having to exercise instead of celebrating the fact that I could exercise. Gratitude thinking changed everything.

Another game changer was shifting the way I thought about goals. As I’ve written before, my goals used to focus on pounds lost. Period. My week was deemed “good” or “bad” depending on the scale results. Switching to action-based goals–results I could control–meant every week was a good week as long as I followed the plan. And I did!

I’m not even going to try to pretend that I embraced those ideas every single minute of every single day. There were–ahem!–moments. At those times, I tried to remember that I was good enough just as I was. Yes, I wanted to continue the healthy trek, but if I never lost another pound or dropped another size, I had value and worth at every size. Don’t I wish I’d realized that much, much earlier in my life?

Let’s see…gratitude…goals…good enough…yep, that about covers the letter ‘G’ for me. What other ‘G’ words should I consider adding?

This letter G is brought to us by Ganesha Balunsat via Flickr.

AIM: The Organized (or Not) Approach

logo: Adventures in Maintenance with photos

In this month’s AIM post, we’re exploring what role, if any, organization plays in weight management. As always, we hope you’ll join in the discussion!

Until I shifted my primary focus from losing weight to taking control of my life, I didn’t realize the impact organization would have on my success. Organization, in my mind, was something I did fairly well at work, but not as well at home. I never really considered how organization, or in my case, disorganization, affected my weight. I figured out pretty quickly that control and organization went hand in hand, and I needed to borrow some of those organizational skills from my professional life for the transition.

Planning – I’m not a hardcore menu planner, but I usually have a general idea of what I’ll be eating in any given week and can make sure I have the right ingredients on hand to make it happen. And if that doesn’t work, I can practically see the grocery store from my house (as well as Wendy’s and their half Apple-Pecan Chicken Salad), so there’s no good excuse to call out for pizza. Ever.

Exercise is another area for which I generally have a plan for the week. Currently, that’s strength training 3 times per week and walking or biking 3 times per week. I have a slot on my calendar set for exercise, and I get an email reminder of it each morning. The email doesn’t get deleted until the exercise gets done, even if it’s later than planned.

Preparing in advance – I like to get as much of the “work” part of life out of the way early, which is why I do a lot of batch cooking. You’ll find servings of everything from baked oatmeal cups to dinner entrees in my freezer. (And yes, I have eaten baked oatmeal AS a dinner entree. Good stuff!)

For exercise, I keep my gym bag in the car and my sneakers near the door. That’s about all the preparing I need to do. :)

Measuring Progress – I once had a manager who swore by the adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” From him, I learned the importance of establishing actionable goals that can be measured. How many fruits and vegetable servings did I eat? How many exercise minutes did I accumulate? That sort of thing. Part of organization is knowing what’s working and what’s not, so that adjustments can be made.

While I like to stick to the plan as much as possible and keep some level of organization, I never want to be so rigid and controlled that I miss opportunities for living. I didn’t/don’t do all this work just to sit at home and make more plans. :)

But that’s just me. Your mileage might vary, as the saying goes.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the other AIM bloggers to read their (highly organized, I’m sure) thoughts::
Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

aim logoAIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

Enough Sparks to Start a Fire

A really nice thing happened at the gym this morning. Nicer even than the almost empty free weight area, although that was truly wonderful and appreciated. But not as a nice as a body image breakthrough, of sorts.

But first, a little background for those who might be new here: I’m an apple shape, meaning I carry a disproportionate amount of weight in my middle. It didn’t look great 100 pounds ago, and it doesn’t really look that great now. And while I’ve mostly made peace with the deflated balloon look and the accompanying squish belly, there are times when I’m very self-conscious about it. Sometimes mildly, but sometimes the unease is like a big wet blanket on my otherwise sparkly disposition.

But, bit by bit, I’ve been working on the discomfort, and I’ve come a long way. Part of that success is my own good sense (finding some, that is), but part of it comes from the stories and words of other people. Little sparks that fuel my spirit and make me think. Wonder. Accept. Embrace.

Lately, there have been quite a few of those sparks:

  • Listening to The Body Shaming Epidemic, a podcast from Stuff Your Mom Never Told You with a thought-provoking discussion of fat-shaming and skinny-shaming and body image, in general.
  • Watching Tamryn Brumfitt’s Kickstarter video in which she discusses her progress (what some might call “reverse progress”) from hating her body to loving it, and seeing myself reflected in her words and images. Thanks to the campaign, Tamryn will be making a documentary entitled Embrace to explore the body loathing problem and how we can change it. I, for one, can’t wait to see it. (Tamryn already has some powerful messages on her site, Body Image Movement).
  • Reading Tony Posnanski’s story of finding a post-weight loss fairy tale ending that he hadn’t quite expected and having a similar realization.
  • Cheering as I scrolled through Andrea@Imperfect Life’s 10 Reasons I Love My Ugly Body, in which she shares her body love in a sometimes poignant, sometimes funny way.

You see what I mean? That’s enough sparks to start a small fire, something like the one that showed up in my gym this morning as I was working my way through my first set (a single-leg deadlifts/single arm shoulder press chain) and noticed that my squish belly was showing against my t-shirt as I moved. Now, this normally might have me glancing around the gym to see if anyone else had noticed “the roll”. Because, you know, most people at the gym are just there waiting for an opportunity to see my squish belly, at which time they’ll either a) point and laugh, or b) whip out their cameras so they can turn me into a youtube sensation, or c) both a and b. (I never said I was rational.)

But none of that happened this morning, not even the self-conscious over-the-shoulder glances from yours truly. I just used the observation as a navel-into-spine reminder and kept right on going with my single-leg deadlifts. No “what-ifs”, no negativity, no pep talk needed. I was at peace with myself and simply didn’t care whether anyone was watching or what they thought about what they saw. All I wanted to do was keep moving.

THIS is how I envision myself living 99.2% of the time. (I am human, after all, and I don’t expect to be sparkly ALL the time.) :) As a rough estimate, I’d say I’m somewhere around the 85% mark now. I’ll take it…and keep right on moving.

Here’s one more spark, one that resonates loudly with me. It’s from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors and something of a personal hero for what she’s accomplished:

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.

(Bold formatting is mine, but I’m reasonably certain Anne Lamott wouldn’t mind.)

In addition to creating my own sparks for my little world, I’m going to keep looking for them elsewhere, too, and you can be sure I’ll share them when I do! I hope you’ll do the same. If we create enough sparks and fan them like crazy people, we might start a small fire. One that grows and grows until ALL of us are experiencing the peace and liberation of self-acceptance. At least 99.2% of the time, anyway.