Wednesday, April 28, 2010

#99 Avoir de Ennui

I was on Facebook today reading a post by a fellow blogger. Lynn has lost 168 pounds, has maintained that weight for 3 years, has shared her journey on Oprah, CNNs Fit Nation, is a member of the Joy Fit Club on The Today show, and is working on a book. I follow her blog to keep inspired and to learn. In her Facebook post, she shared that she was in one of those "I could eat everything and anything" mood, and then posed the question, "What makes you feel this way?" One of her "friends" responded that she feels that way when she is unfocused. I loved that explanation.

Many times I find myself shopping in my pantry, fridge and freezer for something to eat, but have trouble finding "that" something because truly, I'm not hungry. Same goes for those times when I start to eat a few cookies, find no satisfaction, and then start in on something else hoping that whatever I'm eating will take care of how I'm feeling. More times than not, I'm not sad or angry or lonely or happy or bored or..... I'm just unfocused. Many weight programs and books recommend that when you feel a binge coming on or a desire to eat for emotional reasons, you should stop and hone in on how you are feeling. They say write it down then and there and perhaps [hopefully] the feeling will pass and so will this 'unfocused' desire. I've tried this, but again, more times than not, I couldn't figure out how I was feeling.

In high school I took French as my foreign language. While reading a book in class one day, I came across this verse, avoir de ennui. I knew ennui was defined as boredom, humdrum and tedium, but when I looked up this verse in the French dictionary, boredom turned to "I have problems". So, since high school, when I find myself eating when I'm not hungry or eating a whole box or bag of something, I tell myself that I am "having ennui" and try to figure out what the "problem" is.

Do I still have my ennui moments? Mais, bien sur [but ,of course]! However, they are fewer and much farther apart. Actually, I can't remember the last time I felt that way. While I still have thoughts of wanting M&M's at the movies or ordering an ice cream cone and wishing it was more like a waffle cone with all the trimmings, I haven't given into them. And this is why - it's not healthy. Once I stopped denying myself food because it was on the "do not eat" list, and changed my thought process to it's not on the healthy list, I was able to make sense of it. Also, I think one begins to feel this way with maturity and age. Of course there are those youngsters [right now that's anyone under 40] who eat in a mostly healthy manner without thinking twice; I still sometimes have to think thrice.

Alas, because youngsters don't always see the advantage of eating healthy now for a healthy later, they need to be taught. I'm not sure Michelle Obama's healthy no-chocolate-Easter-egg-hunt will change the way kids eat, however, I am so happy that someone with a voice that carries weight and carries far, has taken on this very important healthcare challenge. We need to teach our youth that putting unhealthy foods into our bodies does unhealthy things to our bodies.

I think this should be the message: Staying up late for special occasions is a treat and doesn't hurt you in the long run - the same goes with having a bag of M&Ms or a double scoop ice cream cone. I believe that if you reach a child early enough with this message, it just may stick.

Quote of the Day: Seize the Day! Every Exit is also an Entrance.... [copied from a Facebook post]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

# 98 If You're Not Ready, It Ain't Going To Happen

My son passed his driving test yesterday. He is 17 years and 3 months old. Here in Pennsylvania, a person can get their permit at 16. After six months of driving with one's parents and/or taking lessons, the teenager can take the driving test. Fifteen months ago, when Logan turned 16 years old, he had no interest in getting his permit. He had some fears and worries, and truly, was just not ready. Not wanting to push him, but at the same time not wanting him not to do something because of fear or anxiety, Marc and I told him he should wait until spring when the weather would be better and the roads would be safer. In April, he still wasn't ready, but I gently nudged him along until I lost my patience and told him that I was taking him on Friday at 2:00 [he was off from school] and that he should spend the morning taking practice tests on line. We went. He passed. I think he celebrated with a water ice.

I could give you a blow-by-blow of the months leading up to yesterday, but suffice it to say, he practiced driving, but was never one of those kids who asked, "hey mom, can I drive?". Logan was quite content being the passenger. For his 16th birthday, my inlaws bought him some driving lessons. Again, he wasn't jumping up and down with excitement, but he took the lessons and learned. The instructor was a gem and had the patience of a saint. About six months after getting his permit, Logan took the driving test and failed. Trust me when I say I was more upset than he was.

Here's the point. He wasn't ready!! Some boys at 16 are emotionally ready for this big step into adulthood, and some are not. Like everything in his life, Logan did this at his own pace. He learned to ride a bicycle a little later than some and earlier than others. He learned to tie his shoes in the same fashion. When he failed the driving test for the first time, he deserved to fail. He was not a good driver and the examiner saw it right away. When he passed this time, it was a cinch. He was ready in every way.

What this experience has reinforced for me is that when we are not fully engaged and ready to take on a task/job/project, from soup to nuts, it ain't going to happen. This totally relates to my Trevose Behavior Modification group. For new members, there are lots of rules. For example, you must come to the meetings every Tuesday, you must keep a food journal, you must get weighed at each meeting, and the most important rule of all, on the last meeting day of the month you must have lost the number of pounds you were told to lose at the beginning of the month [for maintainers, they must be within 90% of their goal]. Very simple. The members who follow these rules are successful. My leaders have been in the group for 16 and 18 years respectively. This spring, it will be 10 years for me.

The fact is you can't succeed until the time is right... for you! The commitment has to be for you and you alone. You can't lose weight successfully if it's to make someone else happy; This is your happy. Many people join our group, but not all succeed. Like Logan, they wanted to "get their license", but were kind of wishy washy about how to get there and were not consistent in their actions. They made a commitment, but their hearts weren't' fully in it.

Here's the punch line, don't be too hard on yourself if you fail your driver's test or fall off the diet wagon. When you are ready and willing to fully commit to your goal, success is just around the corner. No one can tell you when the time is right. You will know.

Good luck in all your endeavors!

By the way, just in case you were worried, Logan proofed this babble and gave me his permission to post it.

Quote of the Day: "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up" Vince Lombardi, football coach

Saturday, April 10, 2010

#97 Chaffing Thighs and All That


Is there such a thing as fat serenity? A friend of mine told me that when she was going to Overeater's Anonymous, she spent years "in" Fat Serenity. Part of her knew she wasn't really happy, but the other part wanted to accept herself for the way she was. There are many factors to achieving happiness in life. One way is to achieve satisfaction with your body image. The media, with their skinny models and actors, has told us that being thin is attractive. So, is being 10 pounds over weight unattractive? Some people may feel that way, and some may not.

Let me say here that I believe you can have FS. I mean, really, it's all relative. If you've struggled with your weight for years and finally reach a weight where you can feel comfortable and are able to maintain it, then good for you. The number on the scale is only meaningful to you. For example, I used to work with a man who, for at least 20 years, weighed between 250 and 270 pounds. He was 5'10" and all the charts and doctors told him his weight was too much for his frame. One day he told me that although his life was good, and that no one made him feel fat or self conscious, at least to his face, he needed to do something because he wasn't happy with his body. He always felt slightly removed from that happiness because of the way he felt about himself. He told me that the way he saw himself reflected in everything he did and in all his decisions. Happily, he was finally able to find an eating/exercise plan that worked for him, and he has been maintaining a weight range of 200-210 pounds for the past 8 years. Another man at 5'10" might think 200-210 is "fat", but for Mr. X, it is a dream weight. He knows, feels and accepts that he is still somewhat overweight, but it's at this weight where he feels most happy and healthy. He has achieved a form of FS; he knows he's overweight and he has a positive body image.

If you are not healthy, I think Fat Serenity can be dangerous. I read an article in a fitness magazine years ago that posed the question, "What good is being happy if your weight is a danger to yourself?" It talked about how people think they are happy... while popping pills for their high cholesterol, their diabetes, their joint pain, their heart problems, etc. Of course we can still have these types of problems and illnesses without being overweight, but the point is with modern day medical care, we can mask our weight induced illnesses.

An acquaintance I met on vacation [who I would consider obese], told me that dressing "people like her" had become nicer and more fashionable in the last 20 years. For many years, the fashions for those not in the department store size ranges was pretty awful. Everything was tent-like and stretchy, had awful patterns, and every fat person looked alike. Now there are stores that cater to the very large, and the clothing is fashionable. Does this mean if you look good, then maybe you'll talk yourself into feeling good? Is this FS? There is no judgement here! When I quit smoking I gained 40 pounds in 3 months and weighed 160 pounds. I too was able to find clothing that was high fashion and made me look attractive. Yet, did I feel good and attractive? Not really. Under those pretty clothes, my thighs chaffed, my feet killed because my shoes had gotten too tight, my knees ached terribly when I climbed more than 4 steps, and my tush spilled over too many chairs for me to count.

What it really comes down to is being happy AND healthy at whatever weight you are. We humans have an amazing way of seeing what we want to see and ignoring that which is right in front of us [I ignored that cigarette weight for six months before deciding to do something about it]. I know how hard it is to lose weight. I know how hard it is to maintain a weight loss. There is a saying, "be true to yourself". I don't know about you, but this rings true for me.

In the end, that's all we can do... find [our own] serenity.

Quote of the Day: "A diet is when you have to go to some length to change your width", author unknown