Finding Motivation and Inspiration Through Trial and Error

I’ve been struggling with finding inspiration to BE healthy. And I don’t mean that in a fad diet way, or an extreme way. Rather, I mean it in the same way I make decisions about money, career, and even relationships. I’m able to see the long game, and make decisions today that are healthy for the future. I don’t spend my entire paycheck, I save, without question. It isn’t painful at all, and doesn’t seem like I’m sacrificing. I do the work today without knowing if I’ll even be here to enjoy it in the future.

Same with career. I make sacrifices today in hopes of a better tomorrow – whether that’s a raise (preferred!), promotion, or even more autonomy or being involved in stuff I enjoy, now or in the future. I’d say the career path is harder, as there’s not always a concrete end result. Doing good work, especially as a woman, NEVER guarantees success tomorrow. And I don’t mean that in a victim way. Just that I watch men effortlessly (and without much commitment) get promoted, while the women around me struggle and grind more. But it’s life. It’s unintentional, and I can’t change it. so I roll with it.

Even in relationships, I’m able to look at a situation and determine quickly that some things aren’t worth arguing over or being right just to be right. Or that I won’t take offense to something when my friend is just that way. I see the big picture. I still want to be friends, so I let a lot of things slide for the long-term of the relationship. On the other hand, I’m also good at saying, “This relationship doesn’t benefit me, why do I continue with it?” and sever that relationship. I don’t want EVERYONE to like me. And don’t mind if they disagree or think I’m uncool. I have a good set of friends I feel lucky to have, and I spend time taking care of those relationships today.

So why do I struggle so much with health? Do I like eating more than I like spending money, calling in sick to work or slacking at work, or even being right or putting myself before relationships? I know I don’t do everything right with money, career or friends, but those areas of my life are super successful. Why can’t I care that over to moderate success in health?

I have been trying to find a better fit this past year, and I think part of my issue is depression (which I tend to eat through). Not debilitating but enough that food does bring me pleasure when other things aren’t. And anxiety affects my sleep cycle, which affects my hunger and give a damn. Fatigue also affects other parts of my personal life, mostly my organization at home, which plays directly into some of my food choices. But I’d say by and large, I simply can’t get into a groove I can maintain with eating “well” (whatever that means). Though I’ve done better with working out.

This year I’ve made walking a priority. It’s low impact, low energy requirement, and I’ve even found it’s a huge stress relief. But it’s time-consuming, and I only like to walk outside, so weather can impact my success.

I’ve posted before about being a huge fan of The Firm and Cathe. I do their workouts still (been a fan since the early 2000s). And over the past two years have found some great, encouraging, supportive social media groups of people who are fans of the same workouts. And I’ve actually found The Firm groups to be the most down to earth and long-thinking of ANY diet or exercise group I’ve been a part of. But it feels like time moves so fast. Those in the groups are slowly moving through their lives, intentionally. But I blink and the day’s over and I haven’t done as much as I’d like.

I’ve complicated the matter by purchasing a year with an online coach. I love the coach. He doesn’t try to get me to adhere to HIS diet and workout routine. He and I work together to try to figure out what works for me. I try to tell myself this is going to be good for long-term me, but so far my weight loss is minimal and I still feel lost. But I’m going to carry on until the year is up, in hopes I’ll come out the other side with a clearer outlook. So far, I can say, having someone to check in with has made me very consistent in workouts. And I feel somewhat stronger, but I can’t help thinking if I had somehow just said, “I want to walk, maybe work on jogging, maybe do some gym classes and add in workout videos when I want” I might be in a better place strength-wise. His strength workouts he gives me don’t seem to do a lot for building actual strength. And I don’t get the same sweaty burn (and after-glow) I do with Cathe or The Firm. It could just be at my age I won’t feel the same I have in the past. Or maybe I’m just uninspired.

My eating is a roller coaster. I’m trying to be VERY aware of over-eating. Why am I doing it? Is it because the food was good? If so, why? Is it because I’m sad/stressed? If so, does over-eating help? But I just can’t seem to make my revelations carry forward from day to day. And I know the eating is what’s hindering weight loss. But I also REFUSE to go back into a restricting cycle. I want to enjoy eating, but not have eating control me. Idon’ want to count calories and feel ashamed if I eat more than whatever my arbitrary limit is. Or have to make up for it with exercise.

Then again, I DESPERATELY want to be two sizes smaller!

I’ve been working through an intuitive eating workbook. Some sections and chapters are more helpful than others. One I’ve really enjoyed and think has helped is honoring what SOUNDS good. Not (well, probably sometimes) just as an excuse to eat whatever I want. But sometimes pasta sauce sounds really good. And I explore whether it’s actual pasta I want (or pizza as they’re similar cravings). Or maybe it’s the sauce itself. If so, what sounds good with the sauce? In the past, I would often just order pizza or pasta. But over the past few months, I’ve found I want pasta sauce with chicken. So I’ll make up a crusted chicken (I also have found I often crave textures, and crunch is a huge one for me), and eat that with pasta sauce and a salad. Kind of like a parmesan chicken. Other times, the WANT for pizza is overwhelming. And I TRY not to judge it, though I’ve found I judge so many things I want, and just order the pizza and eat what I want.

If I get in a judgement space, I find I eat MORE. I eat like, “this is the last time I’ll do this for awhile.” If I tell myself, “This is delicious. I can have this whenever I want” I find I eat less pizza right then AND order it less often. It is SO HARD to stay in the non-judging space, though. But I think that’ll be a key to success.

This past chapter I’ve been working through is being aware of hunger signals, which has been MADDENING for me. I struggle with wanting to eat as a distraction. And thinking about food leading up to a meal in itself is a distraction. If I think about what I’ve brought for lunch, it’s less interesting and distracting than talking about all of the POSSIBLE foods I can eat, and discussing them with a co-worker. I haven’t sorted how to deal with this, yet. But I do know it’s a root of part of the problem.

I’ve also found I want to eat lunch for a break. Meaning, it’s near lunchtime, I can eat and take a break from work. I’ve actually found boredom to be a strange nagging thing in my life recently. When I was in school last year, I found myself mid-final exam wanting to get out my phone and scroll because I was bored taking a test! I think with a lot of the technology in place now, and messaging being fast, fragmented, short blurbs, I struggle with focus and attention on things. To try to counter that I’ve tried to limit my time on social media, and tried to get back into reading. It’s definitely a struggle. And progress is SLOW.

Later in the same chapter, which I finally moved on because I felt like I wasn’t getting much out of these exercises, there is talk about honoring your hunger. If you’re hungry when it’s “too soon” treat it like if you have to go to the bathroom after you’ve just gone. Honor the hunger, and don’t try to shame or ignore or distract yourself from it. I’m going to try that this week along with still honoring what I’m hungry for and why, and being aware of over-eating, while also trying to work on improving focus and not distracting during boredom.

So many things to do! On the workout front, I did purchase a Cathe On Demand subscription because she has a really cool workout blender you can put workouts together with segments of ALL of her fantastic workout library. I’m going to use it to build workouts around the strength workouts my coach gave me so I can still do his workouts and try to get that sweaty afterglow I’m missing!

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Hunger versus Distraction versus Habit

These past weeks I’ve been trying to pay attention to not only what I’m hungry for, but if I am actually hungry. Or am I in the habit of eating now? Or just looking for a distraction. And it is maddening how hard it is to know!

If I think too directly about eating, at any point, no matter how recently I’ve eaten, I swear I feel hungry. But that can’t be. And often times when I want to eat I’m just looking for a distraction. A distraction scrolling though my phone might feed if I weren’t trying to avoid my phone at work. Or a conversation with someone near me might quench the need, but I shouldn’t talk. I should just stay focused, but I can’t, and lunch is a good excuse.

I’ve also found as lunchtime nears, I think about eating. Am I eating my lunch or cheating? No! Not cheating. It’s not cheating to eat what you’re hungry for. So many things to unwind, every single day. And habits are the worst. Whether it’s remembering I’m not eating terribly one last time, or eating some great food because I think I want it because it’s forbidden, or simply eating because it’s lunchtime. Whatever lunchtime is. When people get up from their desks and go to lunch alone, or with friends, or simply to the microwave. They get a break! It’s time!

But mostly, when I am hungry, am I always hungry? Is this real hunger? Now I’ve thought so much I’m over-thinking. I’m encouraging myself to consider the lunch I’ve brought. Do I need to go out? Or just want a break? Does something actually sound good? Or does eating always sound good?

How do I lift all of these heavy, tangled up layers off one at a time? Or All at once and I tangle them? Can I cut them apart? Or do I need to somehow figure out how to get them back the way they once were? Were they ever even piled up correctly to begin with? Or have they always been tangled and they’re not meant to be sorted? And, instead, I’m meant to figure out the trick is to not overthink, to not be perfect, and to not try to determine the answers to all of these questions? But if I don’t answer these questions, where do I go next?

Helplessness, Hopelessness, Disconnected and Weight Loss

First, I’m not suicidal. Just to be very clear. There is a wide space for depression. And I’m in a space where I feel helpless, hopeless and disconnected. And I can’t decide whether my inability to lose weight causes some of these feelings and reinforces it. Or if these feelings are largely there because I feel like a failure.

I’m trying so hard to NOT restrict and to eat intuitively. But my intuition doesn’t seem to be WORKING. And by working I mean I’m not losing and feel like I’m gaining. Or at the very least I’m bloated and lethargic.

I’m having a terrible time with social media lately. First, we all know social media is where we pretend to be who we want to be. I’m a very honest person, so for some reason watching people lie makes me uncomfortable and even bitter. It’s like the truth exists in a separate place than social media spin. But we all pretend the spin is real.

I’d love to find friends who don’t use any social media, and who don’t text. That sounds insane, right? But the disconnection makes me feel detached and it’s easy to stay isolated because alone or with people who are obsessed with a PR spin, or scrolling on their phone, feels the same. At least alone I can do what I want. And I don’t have to put on nice clothes.

I have been doing a workout every single day. And that’s not helping with my melancholy. I’ve started to be more intentional about taking vitamin D, my iron supplement and B vitamins. Today I dug in the bottom of my vitamin cabinet and found St Johns wort, mucuna l-dopa and l-tryptophan. Things I’d taken in the past for these feelings.

I probably should get on antidepressants, but honestly, finding someone to prescribe and starting the long road of finding the right medicine also feels overwhelming. I do feel like if one or two things would go my way, my mood would turn around. I’ve been putting so much into working out and improving my relationship with food, that it’s mostly the one thing that isn’t working. Of course, my job is also endlessly frustrating and that doesn’t help. And my friends and family all have their own lives and families that take their times. So I just mostly exist. I’m also largely unhappy with my state in this political climate, but can’t find a job elsewhere. So I am also stuck.

I don’t want to be fat anymore, but don’t want to starve myself short term and gain back. I don’t want to keep existing with family and friends I’m low on the priority list of, but I’ve found that most people get married and the friendships I had dissolve once that happens. Most people want to be married, so there’s not much point in finding a new group of friends for the fourth time. And my job sucks, but it pays the bills. And all jobs suck.

So I just wish I could figure out weight loss!

Intuitive Eating when Intuition is MIA

I’m on week 2 (plus a few days) of intuitive eating. The first week was fantastic. I felt very tuned in and enjoyed the process. I felt like I remained aware before, during and after eating. Something on Saturday flipped off and now I can’t get back in touch. And I have no idea what to do. Maybe part of intuitive eating is not having intuition every time you eat? Or maybe there’s a trick to tuning back in? I can’t quite figure out what to do next. And maybe not knowing is part of the learning.

I, unfortunately, stepped on the scale this morning (after about five days of feeling out of touch) and the number wasn’t good. I hope it was at least somewhat sodium and water weight. But having an injury, which is limiting lifting isn’t helping. Plus, having a busier week where walking has been a challenge is making me feel out of control.

But I’m trying to embrace the out of control, rather than turning away or drowning out the feeling with food.

I think the first step will be to reread my intuitive chapter. And re-state my goals. I also am feeling a bit drawn to meditating, so I wonder if I can find intuitive eating meditations (that are short and easy to squeeze into a day). I also am feeling the urge to count calories and restrict, but I AM resisting that urge.

I wanted to post as I often only post when things are going well. And this time they aren’t. This time I’m struggling with no good plan, and even losing ground. But I figure it’s happening whether I write about it or not. So may as well get right with the feelings, accept them, and set a next step, even if it’s not the right one.

How to stop eating when it’s delicious

I don’t binge eat. But when I’m choosing the food that sounds most appetizing, I can sometimes struggle to stop eating. I swear my brain knows when I’m done, because I think about it. Then I don’t stop. Because I want one more bite, or even one last perfect bite. I truly think if I could sort this, I’d start making huge strides.

Reasons I keep eating:

  1. The meal is better warm. I know I can save it, but it won’t be the same later, even warmed up, so I want to stretch enjoyment now. Why I shouldn’t use this logic: because if I keep eating and feel over-full, I’m not enjoying anything. Over-full isn’t comfortable for me.
  2. It cost a lot, so I also don’t want to toss it when I know I won’t enjoy the leftovers later. Why I shouldn’t use this logic: the money is spent either way. How does over-eating make it more worth it? It doesn’t. See item 1 about being over-full.
  3. I want one more perfect bite. Then one more I perfect bite. This excuse doesn’t even make sense. But I find myself using this void of logic excuse a LOT. Why I shouldn’t use this non-logic: well, it’s not logical at all. But if I want to use it, fine, have one more, thoughtful, final bite. That’s it. Don’t create some sort of checking routine with finishing food.
  4. I might not actually BE full. So, I’ve noticed this week with more thoughtful eating, my brain signals when I should stop eating, even when I don’t actively feel full. Who knew? But for some reason I worry I’m not ACTUALLY full. I should simply stop eating for fifteen or twenty minutes, to see if I am full. Beyond that, I also shouldn’t follow this logic because: part of my form of intuitive eating is being present and trusting my instincts. So I should start!

These are my most commonly used excuses. I’ll keep being aware of them. And try to remind myself of these reasons to stop using these four. I’ll report back.

Eating When Restricting (or Planning to Restrict)

So, my life restricting is a lot of, well, restricting. And my life when not restricting, is eating UNTIL I start restricting again. A lot of shame and guilt. Or a lot of OFF eating. Hardcore off. Making ALL of the choices that are just for today,  because tomorrow I should do better.

When I eat when restricting, I’m often not satisfied. I am TRYING to eat less and less. Then I decide I need to feel full and eat more. Whether it’s a little more at a meal, several snacks or a bigger lunch or dinner. I eat a few or several not satisfying meals full of “OK” foods, don’t feel satisfied, and eventually get overwhelmed, frustrated and hungry. And give up. So then I eat “off” until I’m back on and every meal is a dramatic over-exaggeration of all of the foods I CAN’T or SHOULDN’T eat. All the “bad” foods.

So what does the gray area look like? It means NOTHING is off limits. I eat what sounds satisfying, what I want to eat, but I don’t shove it all in. And that doesn’t mean I was binging on these foods. Because I was never over-stuffing. Sometimes, without meaning to, I might eat fast and then get over-full. Similar to what happens when I eat sushi rolls. It just sneaks up on you. But, mostly, I just eat until I’m satisfied. But almost EVERY meal in the “off” phase is the most dramatic option. A breakfast burrito for breakfast, candy throughout the day, burger and fries or chicken tenders or something similar for lunch, pizza for dinner, and ANY snacks in between. I’m often eating not to binge, but eating when I’m feeling a little hungry at all, chasing the foods I shouldn’t have.

If I allow everything, I’ll occasionally want vegetables (rather than trying to force them). I’ll eat salads a few times a week. Or I’ll have some roasted vegetables. But some days I won’t have any vegetables. If I’m not thinking about restricting again tomorrow, my choices today aren’t as dramatic. Just like if I AM restricting today, my choices aren’t as dramatic. How do I find my way firmly into the gray? A place where if I’m not hungry, I don’t have to eat just to get that last meal in before “being good” again. Or eat that ice cream today because I don’t want to tomorrow. Or choose the wildest item on the menu because I may as well.

What would it look like if I actually looked at the menu for the most intriguing item? Or the most satisfying sounding item? Or the most creative item on the menu? It doesn’t have to be all fried. Or covered in cheese. But if that’s what truly sounds good today, even if I can have it again tomorrow, then that’s OK, too.

Similar to not eating food because I took it, I have to learn to not eat food because it’s the last time I’ll have it in theory. Or because it’s a bad choice and I should make my last bad choice today. Everyday and every choice is OK, and average, and can be repeated tomorrow. I want to make choices like when I’m on vacation. On vacation, I know tomorrow I can have another interesting meal, or choose whatever I’d like to eat, and I’ll truly choose what sounds good, not the heaviest thing.

It’s a matter of realizing the dramatic choices are due to the diet rhetoric running through my head, or thinking I need to stop being this way or liking these foods. Rather, it’s OK I like a variety of foods and today, tomorrow or next week I can choose them. And it’s OK if I don’t today. Becaus they’ll be there tomorrow.

Stop trying to make today perfect. And likewise, stop being as rebellious to imperfect today because I’ll be perfect tomorrow.

Intuitive Eating: A Day in the Life

I ate intuitively today. And I know today is just one of many days. There will probably be days I try to eat intuitively that won’t feel as powerful and positive. But today was a good day.

I think it’s helped I’m eating different stuff this week. By that, I mean, interesting new recipes I really like. Tzaziki and hummus are making my world go around. So are pickles. Likewise, I had gyoza for dinner last night and again as part of my lunch today. Tonight I added some falafel to my tzaziki and hummus love fest.

Note: I’m fighting the urge to tell you which of these foods are homemade and which aren’t, and explaining them. But you know what? The food was all delicious. It doesn’t matter!

I ate until I was satisfied, enjoying bites as I had them, even feeling aware of when fullness was arriving. At both lunch and dinner, I had some urges to keep eating because I was enjoying the food so much. But then I realized more food will be there tomorrow and in the future. I don’t need to eat it ALL today.

Nothing is a scandalous “cheat meal” or “cheat day” that I need to finish up. And maybe tomorrow the leftovers will sound good. Or maybe they won’t. Hell, it’s possible the friend falafel won’t even TASTE good tomorrow because reheating fried foods is always a crapshoot. If the leftovers aren’t good, I’ll know to only make what I want that day. Or if they ARE good, I’ll know that I can make extra and enjoy them as leftovers.

Right now I’m trying to treat everything as an experiment. Be aware like I’ve never been before. Enjoy smells, tastes, textures, temperatures of food. For example, the tzaziki had a fantastic crunchy texture. Not like fried panko, but almost harder like cornmeal on the outside, and warm on the inside. Mixed with tzaziki and hummus was a bit of heaven.

The gyoza, likewise, had some chewy textures on the steamed side of the gyoza wrapper, but nice and crispy on the bottom, with a center that had enough chew to not be mushy, and a lot of flavor from the various ingredients. The spicy salty gyoza sauce was a nice flavor enhancement, and a perfect compliment to the gyoza.

Trying to really be in the moment and appreciate the food I’m eating isn’t always something I do. Maybe if I go to a new restaurant or when I’m on vacation or enjoying food with just the right person I’ll pause and appreciate the first few bites. But this was celebrating food like I don’t normally do.

I also appreciate making and trying new foods is a bit of a risk. And this time the risk paid off. But other times it hasn’t. So while I feel very positive that things worked out, I want to feel as positive to have tried something new even if it doesn’t work out.

I’ve also felt really encouraged I’ve been able to really naturally see where “full” is. I can sense it even before I feel full. The biggest accomplishment was stopping eating even when a delicious food is in front of me, so that’s also a huge step.

So today, intuitive eating was good. And I feel hopeful.

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