Warning: I talk about food issues and weight in this post.
So I’m at Week 5 of the 12 Week Body Transformation. Weigh in is Wednesday but I’m on track to lose another 1kg+ which pushes me below my first round number milestone. The program promises to be more than just a diet and exercise regime, promoting itself as a life transformer, part of the outcome being the weight loss and the other part, changing the way you think and behave. At Week 5, I think I really can see some of those changes coming through. And it’s required some fairly big mindshifts as well as some soulsearching and thought self policing. I’m not even sure I can fully articulate what’s changed and what kind of ride this is.
My issues with food are complex and not really something to go into here. But they are separate to issues with body image. Which adds to the complexity. My inner monologue is almost constantly negative. And I tend to use food to fix all that ails me – feel down? feel anxious or angry? feel depressed? want comfort? celebrating a win? Is it a day ending in y? All get a liberal serve of food to remedy. On top of that, I am addicted, I think, to certain foods. Maybe that’s a cop out but that’s how it feels. Food is my drug of choice – lollies and chocolate and icecream to be specific. And muffins and pastries and desserts and and and. Add to that that the exercise thing had kinda fallen by the wayside, the whole OMG the momentum required to put on shoes let alone leave the house!
And you’re not gonna overcome that kind of stuff in a day or a week or even in 12 weeks. And the thought of never going back ever again, still doesn’t feel quite real so I know I have a long way to go. But hey, today when I was hanging out with Jonathan for lunch, I happily chose a salad, considered it a “meal” and enjoyed it. There’s hope.
I’ve actually really enjoyed the nutrition side of this program. To be fair, C has taken on the shopping and cooking for it which is a major deal. I would likely not have been remotely as successful if I had been doing the food stuff on my own. And I think the food is far more interesting and exciting than what I was eating – especially for breakfasts and lunches during the week. So that already makes this hardly a chore. And now, 5 weeks away from bags of lollies and licorice and blocks of chocolate, I can look at it a lot more from the outside looking in and deconstruct a lot of it. Some of which I want to talk about below. But that said, I know that if I were to even taste some of those things, I would be right back there scoffing a bag in a blink and be hooked again. I hope in the future to have a more balanced and healthy relationship with these foods.
The exercise on the other hand has been more of a struggle. You have to complete 6 workouts a week and I find that really hard. I’m juggling so much else in my week sometimes I just keel over. But one of the exercises before the program started was to write down all the excuses you use to avoid doing exercise (or related to food) and you know … I still catch myself trying to fob them off. Like … if you’re injured, that’s fine but you can work around that and still exercise. For me, sometimes my Crohn’s is worse than other days and doing crunches is so not the best thing for it. But now I know that I can just skip the crunches and do something else in the session rather than not exercise at all because I “feel sick”. Big revelation. Also, for me, I tend to find time by jettisoning exercise off first. Now, I’ve discovered I can reorganise my day, perhaps by several hours ahead so I still get in the exercise as well as all the other commitments. I’m still not doing great at this one – I am so overcommitted. And I’m becoming that person I hate – who is too busy to get to things or to answer emails promptly or to prepare ahead of time. I’m working on this one (commitments) and it should be better soon. But I discovered something really important. I had been describing myself as not an active person, or not someone who enjoys exercise. But actually – I do! And I’d forgotten. I’ve had so may moments of flashbacks to when I used to dance and these have reminded me of how exercise and pushing myself to my limits felt back then. And how much I enjoyed that. It’s been really nice to get back in touch with the me of 20 years ago. Before things got screwed up. It’s made me have to readjust how I see myself.
So taking some of what I am learning or skilling myself up to help get through the program has really flowed into the rest of my life. I’ve noticed the same kind of internal talk for addressing other things in my life and have taken to using similar techniques to deal with that. It’s slow and it requires constant awareness of my inner talk and in changing that around but I think I’m making inroads.
I gave a talk on the weekend and I felt that it went terribly. I didn’t feel comfortable up at the front, I hadn’t prepared enough so I ended up reading my prepared notes instead of talking off the cuff, I felt nervous and sounded so and I stammered a bit. I was pretty down about it. At the end of the day several people came over to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk, how it had made them think and so on. But I walked away still saying to myself I’d screwed up and it was a shit presentation. But over the rest of the day, I started to turn the talk on myself – how could I ignore the several people who said differently to how I felt? Why would I value my own self destructive talk over outside of me evidence to the contrary. Maybe all the things I thought about how I went were true but maybe the material I presented overcame that?
And so now I’m looking at tackling two issues I’d like to get straight. One is that I’m having trouble motivating myself to get (more) stuff down (I know I know but …). Back in the postgrad days I used to have a list system that kicked arse – I would write a serious list 0f 10 big deal things I wanted to achieve for that month and then I would divide each down into the exact single tasks or actions it would take to get that big thing done. And then I would give myself a red tick each time I got a task done. A tally at the end of the month for red ticks would determine if or what kind of reward I would get. I have a feeling at the time I mostly was getting stuff from the Body Shop but I’d set a dollar limit and could choose. And being close to the tipover into reward would push me to scour the list to find low hanging fruit. I got a lot done and the system really worked for a while.
I’ve been trying to get back to that system but now I have this habit of moving the goal posts. So I’ll say if X, then Y and then when I do X, I’ll say, yeah but that was easy, now you need to also do W for Y. And no rewards ever get doled out. Which defeats the whole purpose.
Add to that, the very real need for me to find other ways to deal with emotions other than placating with food. I’ve actually found a really good technique for dealing with anger or frustration is to action something. Doesn’t have to be related but just *doing something* when you feel helpless or frustrated really makes you feel better, more in control. Plus you get that thing done. It takes a negative and makes it positive. So I’ve been looking for something to help with other emotions. Something that I could also use as rewards for the getting things done requirement. And it turns out, as I’m doing better and better on this program, I actually feel better about myself. And as I told a friend the other day – you nurture what you love. I feel better about myself. I feel great healthwise as we are eating so much healthy, unprocessed foods. Even my hair looks shinier! And I’m happier.
So last week, I decided to do something about this. I decided I needed to get some perspective on what is reward worthy and hopefully recalibrate my own internal feeling about what is a good job well done. I decided to go to two of my favourite shops – The Body Shop and T2 (since I was at the shops already replacing yet another bung laptop charger) and buy in advance a bunch of treats. They varied in size and value, some just little testers of things I wanted to try and others more luxurious. But all things that would require indulgence once obtained. So the reward would be twofold – 1, I get something! and 2. I have to then use it – to relax, to cheer myself up, to feel good about myself, to destress, to take time out etc.
And then I gave the bag of rewards to C to supervise. So someone else with a nonscrewed up barometer of achievements could help me figure out what deserved reward and when. He cracks me up – when I gave him the bag, went through it and then stood up and nodded and said, yes he had his head around what was in there now, and then swept it off somewhere. To be honest, I felt a little scared at that point! Should I have given up that power?
Today I got my first reward – it was delayed from the promised reward fotr preparing and delivering the paid speaking gig I did on the weekend. I was such a pain in the arse preparing for it and I don’t like public speaking. Still, I sucked it up and I got on with it. And my reward was – picture at the top – Strawberry and Cream tea! And this evening, instead of casing the pantry for after dinner shaped things, I sat with my feet in a hot bath with Radox and I sipped my fruity tea! And it was good.