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Habit

One of the hardest things to do with weight loss is to be consistent.  My day changes constantly. There is a routine that I am in and changing that routine to include exercise is a struggle every day.  The traditional wisdom is that it takes 30 days of effort to establish a habit.  After the 30 days the new behavior becomes a part of your routine.  My routine is to get up, make coffee, check different websites for news and then get dressed for work.  Ii go to work from 7:30 to 4:30.  After work is catch up with the kids, make dinner and eat.  Three nights a week I take one to sports.  Monday night is Scouts for both.  I also like to talk to my spouse and have some conversation.  I read a bit and then its lights out.  So when is exercise?

I do not want to compromise interaction with my children or spouse.  In fact I would like to increase the time I spend with them. I also need to exercise both the body and the mind.  So reading is also non negotiable.  If I exercise in the morning that is the best time for me.  Since I like exercise that is not dependent on gyms that is very doable and the best time to inject a new behavior in my routine.

What is your routine? When is the best time for you to exercise?  What kinds of exercise do you like? How can you best interject a new habit in your routine and still keep the things that are necessary to make you happy. I also need to meditate about the issues discussed in earlier blogs and pray.  I find that prayer is necessary for my spiritual condition.  If I am to be happy during the day I need to be in touch with my spiritual condition and control emotions.  Meditation and prayer are necessary for that purpose.

So it is a struggle and a challenge.  Fortunately the more that I struggle and succeed the better I feel about myself and the urge to mindlessly eat or graze lessens.  I found that living with intention and not just proceeding aimlessly through life is more satisfying and I am happier.  How does this work for you? Take some time to think about your routine.  You will find time for it all when you work at it.  Let me know if living with intention works for you.

Trying New Things

So now the work starts.  You have begun to eliminate junk foods from your diet.  The next step is packaged foods.  Look at the ingredients. When I did this I found lots of preservatives, chemicals, different sugars and sweeteners, and a whole bunch of things I neither knew what they were or how to pronounce.  After I talked it over with my spouse we decided at first not to eat anything we couldn’t pronounce.  This expanded to eating only whole foods.  So we shop in the produce, meat, and dairy aisles.  We do eat bread, noodles and rice but that is all that isn’t on the outside of the typical grocery store layout.  We  eat mostly at home, that way we can be assured of what goes into food we eat. We also experiment with different spices.

Eating this way is slightly more expensive.  So eating at home counters that as opposed to restaurants.  We also have New Recipe Night in which each member of the family cooks a new unfamiliar recipe to expand our horizons and to try out new foods. Sometimes this is great and sometimes it is just another meal.  There are thousands of diets and recipe books.  Try a lot of them.

Learn new recipes with real food.  This puts some fun into what would be a chore.  Doing it this way makes a hobby out of cooking and lets you have some fun, instead of feeling restricted and punished.  The best analogy would be to be a complete geek about ingredients and cooking.

While you are expanding your dietary horizons try different exercises.  When I started I just did the basic cardio and a little bit of weights.  I found that going to a gym was dreadful for me.  It just added another thing I had to do before I could do what I wanted. So I used the same technique in exercises.  I did some yoga and calisthenics.  It may be just a hangover from elementary school gym class but done properly calisthenics is weight lifting.  You are lifting your own weight.  You don’t have to have an expensive gym membership or buy your own equipment.  All you need is a little floor space.  There are lots of programs on TV and You Tube with different routines.  If you go the You Tube route they are free.  Free is good.  Now I am working on Tai Chi Chuan routines.  Tai Chi doesn’t look hard but if you follow the instructions you will break out into a sweat fast.

The important thing for me is not to have a boring routine but to make a new habit, a new life, that is fun and energizing.  I had to break out of the old way of thinking in order to be different and make a new life for myself. One that was healthy and fun.

Second Step

There are two components to the second step.  In First Step you wrote down what you ate and the reason why you ate at a specific time.  Where you hungry, bored, angry?  That realization is a big one and helped you change an unthinking response to a thinking response. You will need to keep up with this habit.

In the Second Step you will start to change what you are eating.  Start eliminating one item of food that you habitually eat.  For me the first step was white bread and products that contained white bread.  After that becomes comfortable add another unhealthy item. For me this was fast food.  I did like Burger King;s double cheeseburgers and sausage croissanwiches.  Don’t go too fast on this, it has taken a lot of time for you to get used to the way you eat gradually move into new habits of eating.

The next component is to begin to exercise.  The doctor okayed you right?  So start to slowly move into exercise.  If you have to take little steps do so.  Start with walking and walk up and down the block until you are tired.  I am assuming that you are not fit and need to take some time.  Do this every day.  Each time you walk go a little further.

I generally walk about 3.5 miles per hour. That is generally my walking pace.  So I walk a mile in about 17 minutes.  You will have to experiment to determine  your walking pace.  Once you are comfortable with walking start doing calisthenics. By calisthenics I mean jumping jacks, squats, pushups, sit ups. You are lifting weights actually you are lifting yourself. If you can try jump ropes. I was never good at this which is probably an indication that I
should work on it.
So lets review, you have reviewed your life and started to question negative comments and opinions by others about you. You are starting to feel better about yourself. You have begun eliminating poor food choices and substituting better food. You have begun to exercise and each day do a little more. A very good start.

First Steps

So, you’ve been medically checked out and the doctor says you are just fine but fat.  You don’t have to take any medication and you are free to begin.  Sun Tzu, a great ancient Chinese writer and general, said, (I’m paraphrasing here I can’t remember the quote) if you know your self and know your enemy  you will always win, if you know yourself but don’t know the enemy you will win half the time and if you know the enemy and not yourself you will win half the time.

Knowing your self is the best place to start.  This is going to be an arduous task.  Remembering the past, your emotional responses and how you dealt with difficult events is a hard thing to do.  I don’t believe that diets work.  Diets obviously work as techniques to lose weight but not as a solution to the problem.  If they did the phenomena of the yo-yo dieter would not exist. People could go on one diet, be successful and go on to the rest of their life in blissful skinniness. That doesn’t happen in the main.

I believe that people get obese not just overweight as a result of emotions and using food to deal with those emotions.  I was fat because I ate for comfort, Then I sat at a desk for 30 plus years.  So there was a practical aspect reason for being fat as well.  I am not going to go into reasons, that’s another story.  We all have a back story and we know deep down why we do what we do.

So what are your reasons? Think on that and meditate.  Once you get  past the reaction  of going through negative memories you should be able to pick out the emotional states that led to over eating.  Once you do that and can change that response in your current life, you will be able to lose fat and keep it off.  I said that like its not a big deal, didn’t I?  Well it is, what you are doing is stopping the direction your life is going, and heading off into the frontier of a new life.

Fortunately you don’t have to do this all at once. You can start your weight loss now and do the hard emotional and thinking work while you are walking.  I found that the best way for me to do this is to write down what I ate and when I ate for a week.  I also wrote down the reason why I ate or drank what I wrote down.  Once you get into this habit you can say to yourself, Stop. I am not eating because I am hungry.  I am eating because so and so pissed me off or whatever reason you have.  You can then not  eat.  Also you get the benefit of addressing and resolving the problem which triggered the reaction.

You will find out why you do what you do.  You will also lose some negative and caustic people and you will gain more positive ones.  Or at least that’s how it worked for me.

Why do you want to lose weight, or fat?

Why do you want to lose weight?  Is it a desire to be healthy? A desire to look good?  Are the people you know, friends, family, people you work with shaming you?  There are lots of mixed motives in this game.  When you add in peer or societal pressure, the images that you are bombarded with on media and the internet, all of which are photoshopped its hard not to just accept the idea that there is something wrong with you the way you are and you need to look like, be like everyone else.  Of course the everyone else you think you need to be like, isn’t the people you know and see every day but the images that are false in the media and the internet.

Of course this is just one more symptom of the pressure put on people.  Of Course it is all bullshit.  Media people play games with images, that’s what they do.  Models play games with images that’s what they are paid for.  Clothing designers play games with sizes and styles, its what they do.  The fitness and diet industries and the food industry play games with the descriptions of what is in your food, how to exercise and look because if you were okay with yourself they wouldn’t make any money.

That is my conclusion after being fat since I was 8 until I was 50.  I didn’t feel good about myself, all the above institutions helped me to not feel good about myself and I was on and off diet and exercise plans all that time.  It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Diabetes II that I got it.  The It that I got is: if you have a good reason to exercise and lose weight its easy.  My reason was not dying early.  I want to live a long time.  That provides a good basis for food choices and exercise.

All the mental games that people play do not.  So I ask you What is your reason to lose weight?  Please keep in mind absent some physical condition that mandates it, most of the above reasons are just guilt and shame imposed on you by others.

You are perfectly okay the way you are.  Don’t accept others playing with your emotions and mental states.  Become okay with yourself, become happy with  yourself and you will be far more effective in losing weight or whatever  you want to do and if you still want to lose weight after that go right ahead.  Its what you want to do.

There are lots of ways to lose fat and weight.

The last time I looked at Wikipedia there were at least 162 different diets.  The world abounds with ways to lose weight.  The only thing all these different methods have in common is that they don’t really work on a long term basis.  They are not designed to do so.

I was fat for most of my life up to the present.  From about the third grade of elementary school, when I was eight, until forty five when I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic I was usually 50-60 pounds overweight.  That is just obese according to current weight standards on BMI charts for my height.  I ate emotionally and drank too much beer.  I ate too much of grains, sugars anddairy products.  I am 5’8″ and at my heaviest weighed about 230 pounds.  I was generally 210-220 pounds for most of that period of my life.

I was only able to lose weight under the realistic diagnosis of adult onset diabetes.  With that realization I was able to re focus my life and attention.  I am 175 pounds now and have been for three years.  I am trying to loose another 10-20 pounds.  So I am familiar with the problems of dieting.  That familiarity is why I state that diets don’t work and are mostly marketing.

I have found some life style modifications programs that have worked for me.  There are some basic principles in every diet that work.  There are good books and videos available and I will share the ones that worked for me in the next post.