Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lets Talk About "Honesty"

I recently made a video on my Youtube channel about being honest with yourself and not making excuses for your poor behaviors and poor food choices. Basically the video went along with my last blog entry. In this video, I talk about the fact that even though I have lost about 90lbs (soon to be 100...mark my words) it doesn't mean I don't still have "food issues". I received a comment on that video. This is that comment:

" seem so "in control" with your you have no trouble always eating healthy and making healthy choices. So when you say that food is and always will be an issue for you, its like...i dunno...its like you're normal. lol I mean sometimes I watch your videos and I think "Damn, she really has her shit together. She's homefree and has this beat! I'm Jealous!" So to hear that you still struggle makes me feel like I could be where you are someday...."

I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this comment! I loved it for its honesty. This person was willing to admit that he/she had a perception of me that I was easily accomplishing this idea of losing weight. I think thats the trouble sometimes with making these Youtube videos. People see where you are now, and they see where you came from, but unless they've followed you from the very beginning...its hard for them to really understand how long it took you to get here. How hard you had to work to get here. The struggles you've had and are STILL having to get here. And guess what folks? I'm not even "here" yet!!!! According to my doctor, I'm still about 30lbs overweight!!!! Hows that for perspective, huh?

I really meant what I said in that vlog. I am someone who has a problem with food. I used to be embarrassed about that, but now I've seen that I'm not alone in this. Its no secret that most Americans are overweight. MOST of us in this country have an issue with food, the problem is that only a handful of us address this issue and do our best to overcome it. I no longer feel embarrassed about having a "food problem". I will always have this internal struggle going on in my head when someone puts a chocolate bar or a dessert or a super appetizing pizza in front of me. I will always have "the devil and the angel" on opposite sides trying to convince me to lose control (which is the devil side) or to stay in control and do what I know is right and good for my body (which is the angel side).

In my personal opinion, addressing this internal struggle and learning how to deal with it, without becoming overwhelmed, is the key to long term success with weight loss and fitness. Its so easy to become overwhelmed with these voices talking to you all day about food choices. Think about it this way, food is something that will always be in your life. Everyday. No matter what you do. You simply cannot "stop" having food in your life. So think about how overwhelming that can become. An alcoholic can stay away from booze. A drug addict can learn to stay away from the drug. But a food addict? How can they ever "stay away" from food??? The answer is: they can't. Food is a necessity to life. THIS is why it can become so overwhelming. I believe this is also why eating disorders are becoming so much more common within our society.

In my personal experience thus far, honesty has been the one thing that makes it all not so overwhelming. When I'm honest with myself, it calms down the angel and the devil on my shoulders and it helps me to clear my thoughts. By honesty, I mean really thinking about why I react to certain foods the way that I do. If you sit back and truly try to assess why you feel you have no power to resist the ice cream, the pizza, the chocolate, then you'll start to learn about your own behavioral patterns in regards to food. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that you deprive yourself of anything (even the things you know to be "bad"). Deprivation is a whole different topic that maybe I'll touch on in the next blog entry (hint hint). Instead, what I'm suggesting is trying to take the power away from that food. Educate yourself about the food that you, seemingly, cannot resist. Here's an example: For me, I used to feel powerless around donuts. If one was placed in front of me, I would seemingly have "no choice" but to eat it. Then I heard something about donuts that kind of "hit home" for me. Someone told me that donuts were one of the only foods that have ABSOLUTELY NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE. I really got to thinking about that. I researched it, and found this statement to actually be true. There is NOTHING in donuts that does anything for your body. There are no nutrients, no vitamins, no fiber, NOTHING! After I learned this, it made it so much easier to simply just say "no thanks" when one happened upon me in the future. Do you see the process that I'm talking about? I educated myself about that food, and the more I learned about it and what it does (or in this case, what it doesn't do) for my body...the "power" it seemed to have over me, just vanished.

So what am I saying in this entry? I'm saying this: Lets all be HONEST with ourselves. Lets admit that we have an issue with food. Lets not feel embarrassed about telling others about this problem. Think about it, if an alcoholic became a friend of yours and they said, "Hey, can we not go to bars or places where there's a lot of drinking? I'm trying to overcome my problem with alcohol" would you laugh at them? Would you think, "Wow! What a loser!" ??????? No. You wouldn't. You would appreciate their honesty. You would want to be helpful. You would want to be supportive. Everyone else in our lives is the same in this regard (well, assuming that they're good, kind people). So why should we feel embarrassed about admitting our issues with food? We shouldn't! Admit it, be honest, and you might be amazed by the support, love and encouragement you receive from others in your life.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lets talk about excuses.....

I was recently approached by someone in my personal life who was interested in learning just how, exactly, I lost almost 90 pounds and what I thought might help them. (This person shall remain nameless). So, I started to carefully think about the beginning stages of my weight loss. For example: When I made the decision to finally do the work. What foods I started to eat. What foods and drinks I stopped eating. Different exercises I've tried, generally, what worked and what didn't work for me. So when I started to speak these thoughts to this person, they were constantly interjecting and saying, "Oh I tried that, it doesn't work". Or they would say, "Oh no! You can't eat that Julie! Its sooo bad for you!" etc. etc. etc. I could go on with examples of what this person was saying, but whats the point? I'm sure many of you out there know people in your own lives who are like this. It got so bad that I just stopped talking and pretty much stopped trying to help throughout the conversation.

First of all, lets address the obvious: Why would you come to someone, asking for advice or thoughts on something that you know they know A LOT about, yet you refuse to be open minded and take anything they have to say on the topic into consideration? That just doesn't make sense to me. When I don't know something about a certain topic or issue or whatever, but I know someone who IS well educated in that topic/issue, I will seek them out, ask a lot of questions, then shut up and listen to their answers. Obviously THEY know more than I, and I can really learn from them. I simply do not understand people who do not have this mentality. Suffice to say: "When you don't know, JUST ASK! But be ready to accept the answer."

Secondly, lets address the not-so-obvious: This person was engaging in a form of excuse-making. There's nothing I cannot stand more than a person who says: " I've tried every diet there is and nothing works for me." Although I do not advocate any of the fad diets, I have to say that in my opinion, the previous statement is complete bologna in my book. If you're reading this and you're thinking, "Well, I've said that in the past. I think its true. Diets just don't work for me." Then ask yourself this: Did you really commit to the diet plan? And by 'commit' I mean for more than just a month. If you want to be successful with any kind of weight loss, you have to find a program that works for you and YOU have to DO THE WORK and really commit to it for at least 6 months if you want to see some real results. Now, when I talk about 'committing to the diet' this is not to imply that there can be absolutely no slip-ups. Of course when you try any kind of new diet, you're going to screw up. Why? Because its a new way of eating, a new way of cooking, a new way of fueling your body. There's no way you can start up a new dietary plan and be 100% perfect right off the bat. You have to experience a little trial and error before you get the hang of things. The problem is, many people simply give up in this trial and error period of a new dietary plan. This is where that statement of- "I've tried everything! Diets just don't work for me..."- comes from! And THIS is what I'm talking about. If you simply stop when you screw up a bit, or give up when things get a little challenging, then OF COURSE the diet is not going to work.

I've said it before, but I feel it bares repeating: I never had any success with my weight loss until I STOPPED making excuses for my poor eating habits and my food addiction. I had to stop myself and be honest. I had to be real with myself and say, "Julie. Why did you eat that entire pack of oreos? You did NOT "need" them. They are not beneficial to your body. You screwed up! Stop doing this."

Now, lets take it a step further. You also have to start addressing why these certain foods have such an effect on you. Really sit back and ask yourself, 'why is it that I cannot control myself around chocolate?' You might find the answer to be surprising. For me, I found that I was allowing these unhealthy foods to rule my thoughts. Essentially, I was giving the food power over me. When I realized this, I then became more aware of these types of thought patterns with many other foods that often made me feel "powerless". When you take the power away from that food, then the food becomes less appealing. You start to see all food for what it truly is: Fuel.

So, I know I've gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but the main point of all this is: Stop making excuses for yourself. Hold yourself accountable. LISTEN when you ask others for help. If you don't do these things then your journey to becoming healthy, active and fit (for life) will be much more difficult than it needs to be.
Consider the following:
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start your way to the top." - Anonymous.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Trip...

Recently, I went back home to Michigan (mainly the suburban area of Detroit) to visit some family along with my sister. It was a great trip, but it was FULL of nothing but poor food choices. Literally, everywhere I looked I saw some of my "old favorites". Ya know how in the cartoons, the words that the characters are saying are in those air-text bubbles? Well, those text bubbles were ALL OVER THE PLACE on this trip. Different foods were screaming, "EAT ME!" while the text bubbles were reminding me, "You know this dish has to be waaaaay over 1,000 calories...". I started to get a little overwhelmed and worried, I mean, I just hit 172 (the LOWEST I have been in my adult life) and I didn't want to throw it all away. But at the same time, I didn't want to be worried and panic-stricken over food for this short, 3-day trip. When visiting my Grandma there are many things to look forward to and one of those things is her cooking. My Grandma cooks southern-style foods. Which means everything is cooked in bacon grease and fried and so so SOOOOOOO good, but not exactly good for your waist-line.

But while I was on this trip, I thought of one thing. My Grandma has cooked and eaten foods like this her entire life (she's now into her 80's) and I cannot remember EVER seeing her overweight or 'obese'! I thought to myself, 'how is this possible?' With all these foods, how has she never gorged herself into an overweight oblivion? And then it hit me, she eats what she wants but she doesn't let herself overdo it! This is a very new way of thinking for me.

Its obvious that many of us who have weight problems have an issue with self control around food. We tend to overload ourselves on the foods that we really like, even when our bodies are screaming, "STOP! I'M FULLLLL!!!!!" we'll keep shoveling mouthful after mouthful down our throats. So for me to think of eating my Grandma's homemade mashed potatoes and gravy without have three or four servings, well...this was something that never occurred to me before. And now, since beginning to live a healthier lifestyle and losing so much weight, I have MAJOR control issues with food, but in the OPPOSITE way. I now exercise TOO MUCH control over food. What I mean is, I strictly regulate what I eat, how much of it I eat, and when I eat it. I literally control EVERY ASPECT of my eating and I've had to do this in order to be successful. So, the thought of NOT controlling these factors in regards to food and just "winging it" while on this trip to my Grandma's, was actually very scary to me.

Before the trip, I was reminded of a wonderful quote/idea/way of life, that one of my FAVORITE celebrities says in her book. Her name is Bethenney Frankel (I love this woman) and here's what she says about food, "Taste everything, Eat Nothing". Hm, think about that for a minute. Its okay to taste, meaning: very small portions of everything (even desserts!) but we stop ourselves from 'eating': which to me, means gorging and having seconds and thirds of things when it is unnecessary.

Think about that as well, when is it ever REALLY necessary to have MORE than ONE serving of ANYTHING??? If you're honest with yourself, then you'll admit that there really ISN'T any time where its necessary. If you give yourself the correct portions of foods on your plate and you do your best to eat the necessary food groups within your meals, then one serving of each food item in your meal is really all you need. So, what I'm saying here is that THIS is what I did on this trip to Michigan. I ate EVERYTHING I wanted, but it stopped with the first serving.

But the question still hangs in the air, "well, did you gain weight?". I'm not sure. I don't FEEL heavier, but I have given myself this past week and even this weekend to get back to my regular healthy foods and exercise routine and on Monday I will be answering that question. But even if I DID gain, to me its no big deal. Why? How is this possible? No, I'm not in denial. No, I'm not going to blame it on water weight or whatever else I could blame it on. No, the reason why its no big deal to me is because I know this gain (if there is one) will only be a temporary gain. Its not permanent. And WHY is it not permanent? Because EVERY DAY I get up and I eat healthy foods. Almost every single day I get up and I exercise for a good 2 hours. Every day I make a good faith effort to be healthy and active and continue to shed weight. Therefore, its only a matter of time before I get rid of this gain (again, if there even is one) and keep moving down in pounds.

I think sometimes we all get a bit too worked up over gaining weight when we have life situations (like the trip to my Grandma's). Life happens. There are going to be parties, holidays, birthdays, cookouts, work parties, etc. etc. etc. So enjoy your life, but be as responsible as possible. I've found that when I over-stressed myself about these certain life situations, I would actually LOSE CONTROL at these functions and go on a mini-binge. I find that if you go into these situations telling yourself, "its okay to taste, but leave it at that" takes so much pressure off and allows you to enjoy your life, while still doing your best to make good and responsible choices.

Remember: "Taste Everything. Eat Nothing." - Bethenney Frankel

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Looking for a "Leader".....

I cannot tell you how many times I get personal messages both on Facebook and on Youtube and even to my personal email from people I know in my own personal life, and they're asking me about what I did to lose the weight and what I think they should do to lose the weight they feel they need to lose. I get very uncomfortable in these situations. I have to admit that there has been many times that I simply don't answer these messages or emails. I want to help others and encourage others and I'm all about giving helpful ideas or opinions about weight loss, but I'm not about to sit here and tell you, "Okay do this and that and this and that and YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT." Why am I not willing to do this? Do I have some amazing weight loss secret that I'm just not willing to share with others? No. Its simply because, I'm NOT a medical professional, I have NO formal education or training on food, dieting, exercise or weight loss related issues, therefore I'm not comfortable spatting off about what others should do, when the fact of the matter is: I'm still figuring it out for myself!

Here's the root of the problem (in my most humble opinion): People often look towards others to be their "Leader", their "Personal Savior" if you will. I have always been puzzled by this. I've never understood why people feel they need to be told what to do and when to do it. Maybe its because I've always been very independent in nature and kind of a "natural leader" that I've never understood what makes people want to "follow" others. I can only come to a conclusion that some people simply cannot think for themselves or push themselves to do certain things and it just so happens that losing weight is one of the most difficult things a person can do the math.

But here's the point I'm trying to make in this blog tonight: If you don't put up, shut-up, and do the work....If you don't stop the bullshit and stop your excuses....If you don't get up off the couch and force YOURSELF to do the work....then I personally believe that you will never get to where you want to be. Look at all the greatest success stories in our world today. These are people who knew what they wanted and would stop at nothing to get it, or achieve that level of greatness. Do you think they sat there and just wished for things to happen? No. They got up off their ass and they made things happen! This type of thinking is the ONLY reason I have had the success I have had with weight loss thus far.

The phrases I hate to hear the most are, "I can't..." and "Its so hard..." or "I just wish..." Why do I hate these phrases? Because I feel like they don't do any good at all. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I've never uttered these phrases before in my life, because I HAVE! Of course I've said these things and even believed them! But there came a point where I was saying so many "I cant's" and "I wish"s that it got old and it really started to piss me off....yes, I got pissed off with myself! I remember the day that I literally sat down and said to myself, "Dammit Julie. Its time to cut the shit! Stop making all these excuses for your poor choices and bad behavior and start doing some damn good in your life."

I am of the opinion that there is no one to blame in your life for your weight problems other than yourself. YOU decide to eat what you're eating. YOU decide to sit there on the couch and not go for a walk. YOU make poor decisions day in and day who's to blame but yourself? BUT!!!!! Here is the key: Instead of hating yourself forever for making these poor decisions and getting yourself to the overweight point that you're currently at....instead, decide to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Don't become a victim of your own poor choices. Every time you screw up, LEARN FROM IT! You can either dwell on your screw-ups and remain stagnant, OR you can acknowledge them, correct them, do your damn best not to repeat them, and move on. And that's the only way you're going to really get to where you want to be.

Consider this:
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top...."