Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Secret and weight loss

Okay, I've pretty much bought into The Secret--there's some fine-tuning that I need to do to fit their theory with my experience, but I agree with about 97% of what they're saying.

When I lost weight in the 1990s, I never did watch what I ate. I never weighed myself, or fretted about what I could and could not eat. I was attending Weight Watchers, but I just slapped down in the diaries whatever I could remember about my daily food intake, attended the meetings, and went on with my life. And I lost weight.

Oh, sure, I was exercising a lot--about 4 times a week (being single means never having to worry about someone else's schedule). I went to at least two evening classes at the dojang, and then visited the health club on the weekends. Also, because I was attending weeknight classes, I never ate dinner before going. Nothing like getting the spaghetti kicked out of you in a Tae Kwon Do class. So I ate less.

But everything was integrated into my life, and it wasn't laid on top of it in an awkward way. then the weight loss was totally natural and easy. I reached the weight I wanted without any *extra* effort on my part. Nothing unnatural, just doing what I was going to do anyway. It wasn't forced, it didn't require constant vigilance or endless calorie counting and budgeting.

That's why it's like The Secret. With the Secret, you make your desire known to the Universe and then go about your day. The plan falls into place as you change your habits and attitudes to align with your thinking. You're not obsessing and beating yourself up--you're just living your life differently, and then different things happen.

Okay, so I really can't explain how my changed attitudes brought my husband into my life, and that was a Secret-type event. I had written down in great detail what I was looking for in a life partner: His looks, his character, his attitude towards life. Then I tucked it away for a while and continued to live my life the way it was.

When I went to a seminar in Manhattan, I'd forgotten all about that list I made. I never go to Manhattan, and had my hands full just coping with the Big Apple. When I met the speaker, all I knew was that he was from DC and I was from Albany--hundreds of miles apart. But we hit it off. We had a long-distance romance to begin with, moved in together, and then married.

It wasn't until later that I remembered the list I'd made, and found that he matched in all particulars (cue music from "The Twilight Zone"). I can't say that I did anything conscious to bring about our meeting, because I didn't even know he was there.

Anyway, The Secret can help. You don't have to change your eating habits, you have to change your life.

Back then, the saying that I thought about over and over was, "Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How to they learn it? They fall; and falling, are given wings." --Jellaluddin Rumi

I have to remember to fall, and believe that in falling, I will be given my wings.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Like Music

Wow, I can't believe it's been a whole week. But it's been good, overall--I'm down to 252.3! Mostly it's been through skipping the late-night chocolate fix. It's amazing to me that one small change could have such good results.

However, it's still not an easy change, because that little chocolate alarm goes off faithfully each evening, and I have to think of some way to distract myself long enough to get past it.

And now, since the library has finally gotten around to my number on the waiting list, I have a copy of the audiobook of The Secret that I listened to yesterday. I'm thrilled.

I took the day off yesterday, partly because I'm finally out of the Paid-time-off hole I got into last November when DH had some major surgery and my employer let me take time off that I hadn't earned yet. The other part was that I really need to re-think the way my life is going. So I decided that it was time to weed the neglected garden. While I did, I listened to the audiobook.

Now, Rhonda Byrne advocates throwing away the scales and focusing on meditation and fully intending to bring about a perfect, healthy body that stays at the perfect weight no matter what you eat. You put up photos of yourself at your perfect weight, if you'd ever acheived that goal in the past, or photos of what you wanted to look like. Present, but not played up, was the idea that you need to be mindful of what you're eating and how eating makes you feel. That made a lot of sense to me.

I have done a lot of mindless eating, shoveling in the calories while online, or while working, or reading or whatever. But it's better if you put your whole attention on your food while you eat--chew each bite, savor the flavors, feel how your body changes as you ingest the food. I'll make that my new intention.

My intention: At mealtime, I bless my food for supporting my body and increasing my pleasure when I eat it. I savor each bite, noticing the flavors and the texture of the food while I give thanks for the ability to taste and enjoy my food thoroughly. I pay attention to how my body feels, and when it is satisfied, I save the rest of the food for later. Eating is like music, you have to let go of each note in order to hear the melody, and if some food won't be perfect later on, it's okay to let it go and make fresh food next time.

My life is filled with abundance, for the earth produces perfect food for me all the time, more food than I can ever want, and it's there to share and enjoy and savor. I am a spiritual being in a material form, loving and experiencing every moment of this existence. The air flows through me, the water and food flow through me, experiences flow through me like music.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A new direction

Well, this morning I'm back down to 254.3, meaning that I've lost 3 whole pounds in two weeks. This is a good thing, because it means that the waterweight loss of the first few days has now become actual fat weight loss.

Now I have decided two things probably will work better: One -- I should weigh myself every day, because it keeps me on track. I know not to get too excited if I'm not losing every single day or if I'm up a little one day; that's normal and depends on what I've eaten two or three days previous. It's the general trend downwards that I'm looking for.

Two, I think I'm going to move towards the Atkins type of diet, or at least a diet that's mostly starch- and sugar-free. It won't hurt to knock off the rice, potatoes, white bread, and white sugar for a while. I can concentrate on the veggies, fruits, and reasonable amounts of meat instead.

To that end, I've packed a lunch that has leftover pork medallions from last night (sauteed in canola oil and drizzled with maple syrup--I know, but there's no reason to get all righteous. It's only about a teaspoonful. Besides, I like them that way) and a salad with a home-made light ranch dressing, and some grapes.

I have also discovered Spanx, sort of a control-top pantyhose without the legs. They are great, and let me wear summer dresses and sandals. A big thumbs-up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A heavy sigh

Well, after nearly two weeks of thinking and fretting and blogging, I have evidently lost three pounds and gained back 3 ounces. (I weighed myself twice).

This morning when I stepped on the scale, I had gained three ounces. It's not very much, but still it's not the direction I had hoped to be moving in. On the other hand, I've been so not dieting. I mean, I haven't been following my food plan.

There were all those unauthorized no-bake cookies over the past couple of days when chocolate was calling my name (but they have oatmeal! Isn't that healthy?!?) and potato chips too, when I was floundering in the pit of despair.

At least I've been keeping up my electronic food diary. That's a pain in the tush, because so many things have to be entered by hand. No-bake cookies had to be analyzed ingredient by ingredient, with the whole recipe entered into the FDA's nutritional database ( and then the totals divided by the number of cookies yielded by the entire recipe.

And boy is it discouraging to see what an entire recipe's worth of a single ingredient is, in terms of calories, fat, and other stuff. The face of one particular dietitician swims in front of my face every time I look up the nutritional value of a stick of butter.

This is what she said to me one day:

"Do you know what's in a pie crust?" She leaned in close to me, her eyes narrowed.

"Well, I--"

"Lard," she hissed (which is not an easy thing to do when there isn't a single sibilant in the word), her voice filled with loathing and disgust.

I knew what she was getting at, but I really resented her demonizing a perfectly innocent ingredient. If it's not good for you, don't eat it. But geez, you know?

So anyway, I guess I'm going to have to change my attitude towards food.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Better, now

Okay, I'm over the funk of yesterday. Actually, things aren't so bad--I went to a day-long seminar on Saturday, and didn't eat the hotel's dessert. That's worthy of a pat on the back, because the choices were chocolate cake or red velvet cake, both of which looked yummy. Reports from other seminar attendees confirmed the yumminess, but I still didn't eat one.

I haven't weighed myself lately, but I don't think I'm in such bad shape. I'm trying to change the accumulated habits of 7 years' duration, so I need to go easy on myself. Although I do still need to figure out how to get some exercise into my day. Or maybe how to increase the day to, say, 27 hours. That would be perfect.

Where is Hermione's little time-turner when you need it?

What has helped has been reading Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention. I haven't read or watched The Secret yet, but I think this book is probably better suited to me. I'm learning, bit by bit, to trust that God has a plan for me and that everything will be all right. So when I get all upset about the crises that seem to be rushing toward me, I remind myself that nothing bad has happened yet, and that change is inevitable. Even maybe it is for the best.

Here is my ideal day: I get up at 5:30 and put on some comfy outdoor clothes and go for a short walk around the neighborhood. As I get better at it, I'll be jogging and then running around the neighborhood. Then I come back and take a shower, breakfast, and get DS up for his day. Once he and DH are fed, DH leaves for work and I get DS off to his activities for the day. Maybe on Friday he stays home and the two of us spend the day together. I do about an hour of gardening, maybe, and then go downstairs to write. Then I get a quick lunch, make some phone calls if necessary, and go back to writing until about 3:00, when I go pick up DS.

DS may have some after-school activities, and then we get home at 5:30ish and I make dinner. We can eat about 6:30, which means bath and bedtime is early and I can sit for an hour with DH before bedtime at 10:00 pm.

Now that would be a well-spent day. Time enough to sleep, time to exercise, time to write, time to spend with my boys.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Buried up to the lips

Yeah, things aren't going that well. Not too bad, but not too well. To quote a really bad joke about the sinners trapped in a mud pit in Hell, all I can say is, "Don't make waves!"

Life is an endless round of frenetic activities, all of which leave me emotionally exhausted but physically restless. My feet hurt, but my leg muscles feel as if I've never used them at all. My hands are cramped, but my shoulders are tensed and my forehead tight.

The last time I lost weight, I had an exercise program in place. My free time was devoted to exercising, which led to Tae Kwon Do, which led to that gloriously limp and light feeling that follows a full-tilt sparring class.

Now I've got household chores, and food to make, and family members to appease, which means that on the weekends my feet are nailed to the floor, just as during the week my butt is nailed to a chair.

Well, now that I'm whining, I might as well go for it: I need time to myself. I want my days to be full of gardening, and power walks, and yoga, and pets, and writing, and picking up my son in the mid-afternoon to go to a music class or afterschool sport.

I want to feel that freedom, I want my days to be orderly and purposeful; I don't want to be forced to race panic-stricken through the hours without ever getting the chance to notice the weather.

I'd quit my job in a heartbeat, but I'm afraid it would be terrible for my family. We still haven't been able to dig out from under the last mountain of debts that accumulated after my previous period of unemployment, and I feel responsible for that. It's choking me.

So to release the stranglehold of debt, I'm stuck in this punishing grind, short on sleep, cramped and cranky, trying to hang onto some tiny corner of what I really care about and forfeiting most of it.

And is the debt situation easing up? Nope. Not a bit. It's enough to make a person cry.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sliding down the slippery slope

I'm slipping, I'm sliding, I'm falling off the weight-loss bandwagon. How quickly we forget! PMS struck in a big way, turning me paranoid and spiking a craving for chocolate.

Now, I knew what was going on. As my mood became darker and darker, I realized that there was no genuine reason for the funk. It was all a hormone-induced illusion, including the craving for candy. But I still felt bad. Poor me, I thought, here I am imagining doom and disaster when really everything is no worse than usual. I need to treat myself gently, tenderly...I need chocolate!

It's got me coming and going.

DH believes that there's a link between a woman's menstrual cycle, her craving for chocolate and the iron in her blood. There might be something to that. Although high in fat and calories, chocolate candy is also extremely high in iron.

I asked a nutritionist about this, and she adamantly declared that it wasn't true. When I insisted we look it up in the book, it turned out that chocolate IS, in fact, iron-rich, even more so than spinach, and ounce for ounce equal to the iron content of beef.

So he may have something there. I also crave red meat this time of month. Instead of getting a salad at McDonald's, I fell back to my default order of a cheeseless burger and fries. Today, at my all-day workshop, I made myself a roast beef sandwich.

None of this stuff ever tastes as good as I hope it will. And it especially doesn't taste good without extra salt, which was the one good-eating practice that I did follow. I didn't put salt on anything.

One of these days, I'm going to taste something that doesn't measure up to what I hoped it would be, and I'll stop eating it. Just like that. Why buy the calories if it's not worth the price?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Skipping without Falling

I'm proud of myself. On Tuesday, I skipped dinner, and I didn't break down and eat everything in the fridge.

But I had help, in a way. That day, I was stuck in front of the computer for hours trying to figure out why it was politely declining to do what I asked it to do. No answer, only that annoying message informing me that it had "encountered a problem" and was going to shut down now.

My bladder filled, and my stomach growled, but I never moved. I wasn't going to let this thing beat me. I tried different tactics. Nothing worked. Finally at 2:30 I conceded that the thing had beat me after all, and dashed out to the nearest place.

It was a chinese restaurant, and I got chicken with green beans, which is their best offering. And it was good. It soothed the stress of having wasted so much time over that balky program.

Luckily, it was also tee-ball night, meaning that the boys were foraging for themselves. Not only did I have two whole, blessed hours to myself, but I could do anything I wanted. I could NOT eat, if I wanted. Glorious, glorious freedom.

So I didn't.

My computer at home was cooperative, the weather was fine, and all was right with my world. Don't get me wrong--life would hardly be worth the effort without the boys, but for short periods during the day it's nice to be free.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I've been pretty good on my new eating system (note how I avoid the dreaded d-word).

But it's moments like this, when I've spent hours trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with my newsletter and still get an unapologetic "We've encountered a problem and will have to shut down" that I want to pitch the computer out the window and chow down on the nearest bag of chips.

Crunchy, salty, that's me. You can keep your ice cream and pudding, all those soft, creamy treats that are the downfall of so many. I can politely decline. But oh, those salty, savory snacks!I used to go out with the girls and everyone would order ice cream sundaes and I'd get fries.

I haven't weighed myself in a couple of days because I'm told you shouldn't do that. But according to my little log, which I've kept faithfully, I've been good for three out of the past five days. Friday night was another "day from hell" and we ordered pizza.

WARNING: Whining ahead. I talked to my boss for a few minutes overtime on Friday, which meant that I was late out the door and caught the worst of the traffic on the way home. Once off the highway, I ran a few errands. Library, store, gas station, nothing exciting, but about four places. Finally I got home, exhausted.

DH had taken the day off and puttered around the house. He went to collect DS from his after-school place about half an hour earlier than usual, and the two of them were sprawled in the living room watching the Star Wars special on TV when I arrived. They said hello.

I started to say something, and then got sucked into watching the TV. It was a good show. After a moment I sat down. That felt pretty good.

After I few minutes, I shook myself and said, "So are you guys hungry?"

"Well, yeah," DH said indignantly.

I stared at him, thinking, which one of us just worked for nine hours straight, battled traffic, and then ran four boring but necessary errands? And which one of us lounged around the house all day?

So we ordered pizza. And it was good.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Backward Approach

I'm reading this great book by Laura Berman Fortgang, "Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction." Yes, I want to change a lot more than the sorry state of my weight. But this one exercise really is great! You create a backward timeline, and basically back into what you need to do today to get where you want to be a year from now.

First, you write down what your life is like a year (or two years, or whatever) from now, when everything is all changed just the way you want it. You envision it as real and completely happening.

Then you write down what your life is like six months along, half-way to your goal. How much have you changed? What are you doing regularly? What new things have happened?

Then you write down what's happening three months into the whole deal, one quarter of the way. Have you come up with new ideas, new approaches? Are you meeting helpers and friends along the way?

It's amazing. Suddenly this giant project becomes much more manageable. It makes me feel hopeful.

And it's probably more practical than thinking, "When I win the lottery, I'm going to do X and Y," because you're not wasting time waiting for that event to transpire. You find a way to put the plans in action now.

So next, I'll post what my plans are, a year, then 6 months, and then three months from now.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Darn it, I forgot my crutch

Aaugh! I left my Palm Pilot at home hooked up to its charger, and as a result I have been reduced to writing down my food intake on a piece of paper. How primitive.

My life is too busy right now, and of course I would choose to begin such a huge weight-loss project right when everything is spiraling out of control--the income-producing job looks shaky, the novel-writing career is too new to bring in any cash, my health is precarious--it's a damn good thing that I have a loving DH and an adorable son. They are the lights of my life.

The Palm Pilot is an excellent crutch, though, in terms of keeping track. Writing down the daily food intake keeps the choices you make right in front of you, rather than allowing you to conveniently forget that you ate much more than you should have.

Today, breakfast was a blueberry-streusel muffin (yum), orange-flavored prunes and Starbuck's no-fat, no-whip peppermint mocha, Venti-sized--well, I'm a little short on sleep these days, and I needed a boost.

Lunch will be California-style baked beans, barbecued tri-tip steak (no barbecue sauce in this recipe--just a garlicky marinade that is simply to die for) and cherry tomatoes because I ran out of fresh salsa.

Hey, I never said I'd eat diet food on this diet. I hate that stuff, and I love to cook. Every prepared food on the list (except the Starbuck's) was home-made by me. For the moment, I'm going to eat this way and see if I lose any weight. I've cut out the late-night desserts and the between-meal snacks, and I'm choosing healthy food, not junk.

One step at a time.