I haven’t been posting very often recently. It’s not that I haven’t had anything on my mind – it’s that I tend to overthink things. I’ve started and scrapped numerous posts on complex, heavy issues. The truth is, I have defensible positions on most of the pressing political issues. I have my moral and ethical stance, and I can compare/contrast it with my position as it relates to the law. The truth is, though, that no matter what I say, it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings or alienate someone, and that’s the last thing that I want. I’ve decided that those conversations are best left to face-to-face discussions.
I had the joy of rediscovering an old unfinished piece of writing the other day. It was a piece where I recalled the simple joy of growing up in a large family with dozens of cousins and being able to run and play on acres of woods and meadows with creeks, a lake, and a bounty of imagination. Things were simple then. The rules were simple – be nice, don’t lie, and take care of each other.
At home, there were lots of neighbors with children. The rules were equally simple – if you’re going to leave the neighborhood, tell someone where you’re going and take someone with you. Start walking home when the street lights come on, and be home before it’s fully dark.
Recreation was equally simple. Mom would pack a picnic and we would drive to a park where we would play in a river or creek, hike trails and look for interesting rocks. Sometimes we would stop for ice cream on the way home.
Simple applied to personal care as well. Mom’s makeup kit consisted of a bar of soap, a bottle of CoverGirl Clean Makeup (beige), and a pink lipstick she wore on Sundays.
Losing a lot of weight is a long process. I have a lot of experience. I’ve lost over 100 pounds three times in thirty years. I’m really good at losing weight, but I have always stopped short of the goal. This time is different. It has to be. I’m 50 years old and I intend to make it to 100. I don’t want a damaged, worn out body to be home base for the next 50 years.
The reason this time of change is different is because the changes are permanent and the rules are simple. Simple is best.
- Mental health comes first. I take time off each week to spend a day doing something creative, something fun, or something I’ve always wanted to try. Each morning begins with time to myself to read, meditate or write. A mental health break can be 30 minutes of writing in a journal or 7 minutes of a sun salutation. Keep it simple.
- My goals are completely within my control. I can’t control the rate at which my body sheds pounds or inches, but I can control my approach. My goals:
- Exercise 4 times per week.
- No sugar, no flour, no snacks. I have a protocol that includes meal times and what each meal should look like. It’s dirt simple.
- Weigh, measure and log the food.
- Weigh, measure and log body weight and measurements.
- Drink water. Lots of it.
I stopped eating gluten-containing foods six years ago when I figured out that they were making me sick. Each time I am accidentally exposed to gluten, my resolve to never intentionally eat it again is strengthened. Sugar, too, is toxic for me. I can easily down a bag of jelly beans by myself. I get twitchy walking through the candy aisle. I can’t have “just a little.” For me, sugar is as toxic as gluten is, yet I was still consuming it. It’s true that consuming sugar doesn’t give me the same violent (and disgusting) symptoms that gluten does, yet, the effect of consuming sugar lead me to overeat everything else.
In the past, I would start off with a simple approach. As I successfully lost pounds and inches, I would add “rules.” After a time, I would break a rule “just once.” Having broken the rule, I would take a whole day (week, month) as a reward or simply throw in the towel.
The more complexity you add to a plan, the more likely you are to fail. Keep it simple.
I’ve had to change my relationship with food. Food is fuel. Food is not entertainment. I managed to bypass my favorite gluten-free bakery on Mother’s Day. I had a momentary urge that simply went away. I wasn’t as successful with the popcorn at the movie theater. Although I indulged, my portion was far smaller than in the past. I ate a kernel at a time instead of shoving a handful into my mouth all at once.
Right now the scale is stuck, but the tape measure and my clothing tell the true story. All I have to do is keep it simple, trust the process and the magic will happen on its own schedule.
What’s your favorite simple strategy wen it comes to your health?