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A new year's resolution that I've truly stuck with

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I never used to be one who put much stock in new years resolutions. After all, don't most people make them and then by February 1st - at the latest - abandon them? Not me. I wasn't going to set myself up for more failure at anything. Especially weight loss. I already had a pattern of yo-yo dieting. I'd go to Weight Watchers, start counting points zealously losing weight as long as I kept going, only to give up the first time that I really blew it and binged. Then began the cycle of eating it all back on PLUS another 10 - 20 lbs. Eventually I weighed 209 lbs on a 5' 4 3/4" frame. (I argued with WW that my drivers license said 5'6" but they didn't listen!)
Nine years ago I woke up on New Years Day and rolled out of bed huffing and puffing as per usual and stepped on the scale - after I emptied my bladder to relieve those few ounces. I hadn't been on the scale since before Thanksgiving. The number displayed on the digital scale shocked me!! I had NEVER weighed over 200 lbs in my life! I dressed, struggling into my size 18 jeans, literally having to lie down to get them zipped up and I was in tears.
It finally hit me. I was tired of struggling physically with so many things in life due to my weight. I was sick of being short of breath. Sick of taking off my clothes at the end of the day only to see grooves cut into my skin from bras, jeans, socks that were all too tight. No energy left at the end of the day because just bending over to tie my shoes caused me to feel exhausted.
I justified it somewhat in my mind. My son had passed away the year before. I was paralyzed with grief, right? That's no time to tackle a diet. I was heading into menopause, my hormones were erratic right? That's a difficult time to start a diet. I had every key, trinket, and gadget that Weight Watchers had ever given for reaching goal and I was still fat, right? That only proved that I'm destined to be overweight. So why bother to start another diet that will only lead to failure.
Then the words of my son came to me. The words that he had learned going through drug rehabilitation successfully. "Excuses are like A**holes. Everybody has got one".
I decided that fateful new years day to finally lose weight and KEEP IT OFF. I made my first resolution if you can call it that. I look back now and call it my salvation, not to diminish my literal Christian salvation, but none the less, I feel like it has saved me.
The first thing that I needed to do was assess what I was going to do differently from my past attempts that only led to eventual failure. Like most people, I thought that I lacked will power. Oh, I may start out with it but eventually it gave out. Must not be in MY genes. A life long perfectionist, I hesitated to do anything that I didn't feel confident that I could succeed or even excel at. I feared failure. That must mean that there was something inherently wrong with me. A personality flaw.
I thought it over and decided that if it truly was a genetic malfunction. A flaw. Then a helluva lot of folks must possess the same trait. Could we all truly be wired so wrong? No, Joanne. Remember - excuses....
I had to learn to forgive myself. If I ate something that wasn't the best choice, it didn't mean that I was a bad person, dieter, failure. It meant that wasn't the brightest choice. Just like the time when I was 16 and forgot to put my dad's beloved Plymouth Valiant into park in our very slopped driveway and it rolled down into the backyard, narrowly missing the big walnut tree back there. That didn't end my driving career. It nearly caused a heart attack in my dad, but he forgave me. Just like I learned to forgive myself for eating too much or the wrong choice. It starts with the next bite...
Next I looked at what else didn't I do previously to sustain my weight loss and the common denominator turned out to be lack of exercise. I could count my points alright and watch the scale go down, but I wasn't building muscle or providing a cushion for those times I did eat indiscriminately. It was one thing to forgive myself for making a poor choice eating. It was another thing to get on the scale and be punished for that one indiscretion all over again.
I joined the YMCA and made a pact with myself to go every day after work. Right after work was a prime time for me. I'm not a get up at 5 a.m. and go to boot camp type of girl and once I get home at night, I'm in relaxation mode. 5 p.m. at the Y worked out nicely. The Y was close to work, I made friends that gave me some accountability, and the cost was doable. A lifelong couch potato, I learned to love exercise. I still work out generally 5-6 days per week. If the weather is bad, I go home and get on the treadmill that I bought for just such occasions.
I set myself some other what I considered "rules" at the time. I now think of them as just positive lifestyle changes. I only eat at the dining room or kitchen table. My husband and I had gotten into the awful habit of eating supper in front of the TV. Not only did we not communicate, but I paid little attention to what or how much I was eating. I couldn't even recall the taste if truth be known. He agreed to the change, thank goodness, or he'd still be eating by himself. We enjoy dinner now and have a lively conservation about our days.
I avoided fast food restaurants like the plague. If we were traveling and it became a necessity, I set some standards -- I either ordered salad or chili. Since I find most fast food restaurant salads somewhat lacking, I almost always chose Wendy's, if possible, for the chili. A large even with onions. Hold the crackers.
I plan my meals around the vegetables. After all, they take up half my plate. The other half is split between a lean protein and a starch. Not just any starch - a complex higher fiber starch. My mantra was low fat, low sugar, high fiber. Watch the sodium. Fats weren't out entirely, but they were the healthy, packed with Omega 3 fatty acid type fats like olive oil.
I learned the difference between a snack and a treat. A snack supplements your eating, quelling your hunger until it's time for a meal. It's healthy. Whole fruit, roasted unsalted nuts, low fat cheese, veggies and low fat dip like hummus.
I skipped menus in restaurants. I looked up the menu on line before ever setting foot in the restaurant and told the waiter that I didn't need a menu. No use tormenting myself with the sights and smells of the other diners meals reflected in the menu. I waited for the time to order and asked for what I had already decided on: salmon or chicken. Seasonal vegetables. Salad without croutons and dressing on the side. Water -- NOT soda pop.
I treated myself occasionally. I lived and still live by the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time I eat healthy. 10% of the time I enjoy a treat. Birthday cake at a party. Ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce for dessert shared with my husband when we are eating out. It's guilt free, especially since I have already eaten sensibly.
Trust me on this. It is true what we people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off say. It gets easier all the time. You'll find that if you do go crazy and "binge" sometime, it is not near what it used to be. My idea of a binge these days if eating 3 pieces of pizza instead of the usual 2. Back in the day it could be a whole large pizza.
My lifestyle has totally changed. I went from a size 18 to a size 4. I collect clothes like a bookcase collects dust. No more tears in the dressing room for me. Where at first the struggle up the Y stairs from the woman's locker room to the cardio room with the treadmills used to wear me out to the point I didn't think I could possibly get on and walk for 30 minutes, I now jog up the stairs and walk at a fast clip for 45 minutes on an incline.
I'm at the point where I finally can say that I consider myself a thin person -- not some imposter.
Ever since that new years day 9 years ago when I decided once and for all to shed the old me and embark on a journey that would prove to be so much more than physical pounds lost, I routinely make out a list of goals for each new year. Some I stick with, some it just doesn't seem to be the right time. But, whichever, I don't berate myself and feel like a failure. I just analyze why the time wasn't right and how sometime in the future I might make it work.
Happy New Years to you all and may this be the year that YOU recognize that setbacks are a part of being human and forgive yourself. Get right back on track to reach your goal. May you gain in spirit as you lose in pounds!!
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